Title: The Roan
Warnings: see below
Disclaimer: These characters, written for fun, bear no relationship to Tolkien’s originals – other than in their ghostly outlines.
Notes: This is for savageseraph, who asked for Gondor and Rohan, and expressed a preference for BDSM. Greetings of the Season!
Eowyn gazed about the wooden circle; tall trunks stripped of their bark driven into the earth upright and so close that not even a spur could be driven between them. She could hear the horse trapped in the tunnel behind the high gates, snorting, stamping the ground. The earth in the circle was bare, all grass worn away, but the footing was soft, loose and sandy, to give some quarter to a fallen man or beast. Just now half of the ring was in shadow, but the midday sun had made a furnace of the rest of the corral. Once more her gaze was drawn to the chests set back into the circular walls where feed and water and all the harness she might need lay ready.
It was Eomer who had ridden down the roan, brought him back plunging at the end of a rope, and Eomer who had run him into the tunnel, put on the first halter the roan had felt against his hide, risking bared teeth and a rolling eye. But Eowyn knew that once the gates were opened to let the roan into the ring, he was hers to make or mar. Eomer would mount up and ride away from the wooden O. This was his sister’s trial.
Scuffing her feet in the sand, Eowyn kicked against the iron ring set into a block of stone buried at the centre of the ring. If she needed to secure him that was where the rope would tie off. From behind the gates, there came the sound of a silver bell ringing and then the gates swung back. In the gloom of the tunnel she could see the shape of Eomer’s raised arm as he cracked the whip and drove the roan before him out into the sunlight.
A strip of cloth as blindfold had been tied to the halter and the horse juddered uncertainly to a halt, just inside the ring, stiff-legged, head down, as Eowyn saw Eomer come to the mouth of the tunnel, smile briefly at her, a flash of white teeth, and turn away, drawing shut the wooden doors.
The gates rattled on their hinges and the horse skittered forward a few steps, then stood trembling slightly, sides heaving. Eowyn could see his nostrils flare as he tried to locate the human in this world of darkness. There was sweat running on his shoulders and a few strands of his tail were stuck to his flank.
So softly it was barely a murmur in her throat, Eowyn began to sing an old song. She thought she might have heard her mother sing it once and the simple tune hung about her. Across the ring, the roan stamped and swung his head from side to side, but as she began the song again louder, letting the sound flow out towards the horse, his head stilled and he stood, neck bent, listening.
Heat, heat beating down on his hide and sand beneath his unshod feet that shifted if he stamped. His breath came short through his nostrils. He shook his head again but he could not shift the darkness over his eyes. There was a glitter of light about the edges but the dark enveloped him; too dangerous to step forward.
There was a human in the dark. He was sure of it, caught a faint scent on the hot air… A buzzing in his ears, he thought he could feel a fly crawling over his skin and he shook his head. Not a fly…a thread of sound, low, rhythmical, vibrating through the air and he froze to find it…a human sound, a woman sound…coming towards him…he tensed, ready to strike…but it stopped.
The sound did not stop…the sound wrapped about his head, but it did not approach him. In the heat and the dark, the sound lulled him, soothed him…his head was low…and now he knew the woman was close…she was the smell, the sound, twining about him and when her hand laid on his shoulder, the sound had hobbled him and he did not pull away.
She was moving the skin beneath her fingers in little circles, push, pull, push, pull and the sour-sweet smell of clover grass trodden underfoot came off her skin, push, pull. The hand ran down his neck, down his shoulder, slowly over his flanks…and still the sound ran along her fingers to vibrate on his hide, to gentle him.
And it was gone, gone…all was silence and he was alone in the dark…except that he could still smell the clover…as the quiet lengthened he wished for those fingers pushing at his hide.
The sound was come again, quiet and low, somewhere ahead…he would be one with that sound and took a step on stiff legs almost before he had realised it and the sound was closer…another step and the warm hands were laid on him and the woman’s song rippled over his skin.
This time when the song ceased and the hands were gone, he waited, waited…and the song began and slowly he walked forward, until he felt the woman’s hands. Now her fingers drew their little circles about his ears, brushing against the rope halter. At that he threw his head up, snorting, breathing fast, but the touch and the song held him close and so he did not plunge into the dark which was alone but stayed with the woman. And when she took a step away, still singing low, one hand laid on his neck, he followed her into their darkness which was warm and soft and smelled of clover.
Back and forth about the ring Eowyn led him, careful to move slowly through the bar from sunlight to shadow which, even though he was blindfold, could startle the roan. And when she judged them both tiring, she brought him into the shade and carefully untied the blindfold. Sweat streaked the skin beneath the cloth, but his eye was dark and soft.
For a long moment they stood together, watching one another, until he lowered his head and butted it against her, when the clever hands stroked over his ears and down his neck.
Moving quietly to the chest Eowyn drew water, dipping a cup for herself into the bucket before she let him drink and then sitting down with her back to the wooden wall to rest. The horse stood quietly beside her and let his head drop onto his chest.
The worst heat of the day had passed, but the roan still worked up a sweat in the circle. Judging that enough time had passed, Eowyn had risen, collected a long rein from the chest which she carried looped up in one hand. Then speaking softly to the horse until she was sure that she had his attention, she turned her back on him and walked away…
The woman was going, leaving him…
He had walked after her and when she stopped, he came up to her shoulder, to feel the fingers moving on his face, jaw line, stroking. Now she moved off with a click of her tongue and a firm “Walk on” and he walked at her side. When next they stopped she had laid one hand on his neck and the other, clutching the rope laid against his flank. Eowyn saw muscle in his neck flinch, but she had spoken quiet and firm to him. And so they went until the roan followed her at the walk and to halt at her bidding.
She had left him halted in the middle of the ring, had gone to the edge and called him and he had answered her command. Then she had unrolled the rope and trailed it on the ground, where he shied away from the ‘snake’. She had sent him away from her, sent him running about the ring and always he would come back to her, fall in at her shoulder if she would let him…until the ‘snake’ writhed on the ground towards him and he would run from it.
When finally he stood, ribs heaving, dripping sweat by the palisade, she had come up to him and had slipped the end of the long rein through the ring on the noseband of the halter and buckled it shut. He had shivered and for a moment looked ready to fight her, but Eowyn held her hands, palms cupped over his nose and he could feel his own breath against her skin, flowing back to him soaked in her scent.
Eowyn had brought him to the wall and exchanged the long line for a short rope tied to a ring driven in at waist height. The lead rope was held by a silk thread that would break if need be, but the roan had stood well for her as she washed him down. With cool water poured slowly over him, carrying the sweat and dust from his hide, letting her hands sweep over neck and shoulders, a strong back and well-muscled haunches, running her hands carefully down his legs, until the unfamiliar touch made him shift and stamp.
When his skin glistened with the water, she’d taken it off with a scraper and then with a comb set to work on the tawny mane. He’d sidled about as she lifted the tail to brush it out, but a gentling hand on his flank and a quiet word had soothed him.
Eowyn sponged his nostrils free of the red dust that had gathered there and as she worked quietly about his head, slipped a thumb into the side of his mouth, letting it lie there until he began to play with it. Taking it out, slippery with saliva, hearing the first sounds, a whicker deep in his chest, she was decided. She’d not use a bit in his mouth. She wanted to hear him.
When he had dried off, she fed him from her hand, wanting him to know that his feeding and watering were at her behest and she relished the feel of soft lips moving on her palm as the roan took a piece of apple. Then she untied his head but hobbled him to stand, dozing, whilst she ate a little.
Now Eowyn was more confident in how the roan might react and her movements were neat and sure as she caught him up, exchanging the halter for a bitless bridle and attached the long rein to a ring on the noseband. There was a switch in her other hand, which the horse eyed suspiciously, but she turned it in her grasp and ran the handle of the whip lightly over his back and haunches, before leading him out into the arena. Working at first at his shoulder, she repeated their walk-and-halt lessons and soon stood in the middle the roan circling her at the end of his rein. With the whip pointing to the ground and where he could see it, with a command she sent him on into a trot.
When he would shy away from the wooden wall and some imagined threat outside, Eowyn brought him back to the harness chest and fitted blinkers to the bridle, so that now he could not see her or the nameless fears at the palisade, he could only hear her. He was not in darkness, but her voice once again became his compass and he had commands to obey, surety in the voice that travelled down the rein to him.
The light was fading to a rose-gold, turning the roan’s tawny mane to fire. It was enough for today. She brought him to a halt and walked him back to untack him. For the first time in many hours, the roan was free of all his harness and he sprang away from her, leaping, feet off the ground, whirling about and then folding himself down onto a particularly soft place to roll in the sand, coming back up to shake himself all over in a cloud of red dust, snorting.
Meanwhile Eowyn was fetching him water and he wandered back across to her and thrust his head into the bucket to drink. By the time that she had fed both of them, the shadows were creeping across the ring and Eowyn had barely time to get him settled for the night before the blue of dusk surrounded them. When she closed the gate on him, the roan was stood, quiet and shadowy, at the other side of the ring, but as she rolled herself into a thick horse rug by the side of her small campfire, she could hear an occasional snort coming from the other side of the wooden walls and finally, she drifted off to sleep beneath a blanket of stars.
A light mist covered the plains by morning. From their vantage point on the hillock that held the corral, it looked to Eowyn like a sea of thin milk, the cream skimmed off it. They’d been fortunate that the mist had not come so high, to chill and wet them, she thought as she briskly rolled up her bedding and poured water over the last embers of the fire. They would be working once more this morning before she set him free. Eowyn wondered briefly if she would see the roan again, for a moment feeling again his breath on the palms of her hands, but she put it from her mind. If this lesson was to go well, her focus must be all on the horse.
When she swung open the heavy gate, stepping from the dark of the tunnel into the grey dawn within the ring, he was standing beside the water bucket. It was nearly empty and when she bent to pick it up she felt a ruffling on her hair and knew the roan was nuzzling her. As she straightened up, she spoke low and sweet to him, ran a hand down his shoulder.
Once the bucket was filled Eowyn looked to him, said “Walk on” quietly and turned away. She could hear him follow her across the ring until she set the bucket down and then let him settle to drink before she moved away. She’d not feed him much before they worked, but let him lip at some apple from her hands, before she started grooming him.
He had stood quiet enough as she put the bridle on him and once on the long rein again, they had gone over the lessons learnt, warming up his muscles. Eowyn was trying to get him to slow at the trot, stretch out each stride, but at last she deemed him fit to move on.
By this time the sun was well up and warmth was beginning to seep into the circle. This would be their last lesson and it would likely be a test of whether this partnership endured, of whether he could learn to move beyond his natural gaits to what she would ask of him, but first she must ready him. She pulled open the chest of harness and searched through it for what she sought, a set of stallion harness consisting of a roller girth with a crupper attached to it and side reins.
He stood quiet enough as she fitted the girth, tossed his head once as it was tightened, although Eowyn thought that was more to shoo away a fly buzzing about his ears. The crupper lay over the swell of his haunches, but as she lifted the tail near its root to thread it through the loop of leather, the first faint groan escaped him. The upward pull of the harness was angling the plug inside him, pressing it downward to his sweetest agony. Eowyn tightened the crupper until she heard a noise in his throat and then stood back watching him, before turning to the harness chest and fetching out a flask of oil and a thin leather strap.
As he sidled from foot to foot, cock beginning to swell above the low swinging balls, she placed the strap between her teeth and poured oil into her hand. Then she reached down to grip him firmly, letting her hand slither over the hot flesh which twitched and throbbed at her touch. Taking the leather from between her teeth, she bound the balls up to the base of his cock and then ran the free ends up to attach to a ring in the centre of the girth. Her roan was beginning to breathe short, sweat coming on his back, but she soothed him with her voice as she buckled short reins from the sides of the noseband to matching rings on the roller.
As she led him out into the centre of the ring on a lead rein, a thin switch in one hand, he jig-jogged beside her, snorting and sidling, the sweat now running on his shoulders. Caught between the side reins that kept his neck bent, blinkered head held down to go where she would have him step and the insistent throb of his flesh, there was a moment when he almost thought to let go of the slip of silk clutched in the hands bound behind his back. It would end then, but he wanted to please the woman who fed him and led him safely in the dark and smelt of sweet clover, so when she brought him to a halt and ran a gentle hand over his shoulders and down his legs, he took in great lungfuls of air and stood like a rock.
Then she asked him to “Walk on” but as he went to take a step, there was a sting behind his knees, as though an insect would bite the soft flesh. Another step and the sting came again, hotter, and when he lifted a knee high to paw at the ground, his mistress called him “Good lad” in a warm voice. Now she said “Walk high” and the sting was less the higher he brought his knees and the bites transferred to the tops of his feet, so that he must point them with each step.
His mistress was pleased, he could hear it in her voice, such warmth and pride and he wanted so much to please her. It was a slow walk; he was bringing his knees up and the bound cock and balls, aching with need, slapped on his thighs and the plug inside him rubbed on the sweet place. He gritted his teeth, lost in the feeling, his only guide his mistress’ voice which urged him onward, stroking him with praise until he could bear no more and roared from deep in his chest.
“Stand!” The voice was firm, reaching to him through the noise of his body. As he struggled to be still, he felt clever fingers about the girth and then his cock and balls were released and a slick hand closed tight about him. His mistress’ thumb rolled about the head, teased at the slit and he hunched, leaning into her, eyes tight shut, thrusting upward with all his strength, letting out ragged cries and the warm stuff spurting between his mistress’ fingers.
He was gasping, ribs heaving, but when his mistress stirred against his shoulder, he struggled to stand tall for her again. He could not see her, but her voice was commanding, and he would answer with a low whicker. Her hand came up to his nose and he could smell himself on her, so he licked her fingers, his tongue laving across her palm and when her hand was clean again, she gave him a slice of apple.
At the last his mistress led him back to the centre of the ring and had him kneel by the ring in the sand. Then, one piece at a time, his harness was taken from him. The side reins were unclipped from the girth and he might have thrown his head up, but he stayed bowed before her. Then the girth was loosened, the crupper removed from about his tail and the roller and all lifted away. Next the blinkers were unfastened from the bridle. He had closed his eyes again, not only because the sudden light would dazzle him, but also because he felt light, almost giddy, lost without his bonds anchoring him to the sand beneath his knees. Strong fingers undid the bridle and brought it over his head. He could hear the chink of harness metal as it was piled on the ground beside him. As hands were laid, one on his shoulder, the other on his tail, grasping the head of the plug, it was almost in him to resist, when a soft voice in his ear murmured “Sshhh, love”, his breath escaped in a sigh and with a slow glide it was pulled from his body. He felt more empty than he could remember, but already Eowyn was unbinding his hands and finally he forced his fingers to unclench, to let the silk fall from his grasp and then he sank to the ground, his body cradled by Eowyn’s arms.
She had stroked and kneaded the stiffness from his muscles as he lay on the warm sand, had let him doze beneath a blanket whilst she collected harness and set all straight again. Finally, she had brought out the bundle of his clothing, kneeling beside him and leaning down to kiss him awake again. When Faramir opened his eyes, it seemed to him that the sun cast a halo of fire about her head.
As they walked from the circle, hand-in-hand, Eowyn burned to know if she would ever see her roan again, but he needed time to remember and to work through all he had gained, and lost, in the ring.
There was a narrow walkway that rang around the outside of the wooden O, set so high that viewers could watch the training within and one day, many months later, Aragorn and his lover stood there as Faramir was led into the arena, no trappings other than his skin. He laid him down and was tied hand-and-foot to the centre ring with Eomer lying across him, as he took Eowyn’s brand. The straining body that howled to the empty plain was beautiful.
From the gallery above, Aragorn and Boromir stood silent watching, until Faramir had been released from his bonds and lay panting in Eowyn’s embrace. As they turned to leave, Aragorn caught Boromir to him, long fingers sweeping down his flank.
“Someday,” he said and placed Boromir’s hand on his own chest, “someday.”