Queen of Númenor

Portrait Of A Queen

1. Portrait Of A Queen

   
   
   

Life, thinks the little girl, is very unfair.
No-one will tell her who the lady is that comes to her in the night, the lady from the portrait, the tall lady with the long black hair and terrible sad eyes.
People cough embarrassedly and mutter things about little girls who should be seen and not heard and hurry away, or they tell her that the lady is nothing but a dream and that she should think of other things instead, like her studies.
The little girl does not like this one bit, but she does not say anything.

It would not be "proper".

*

Life, thinks the little girl, is very annoying.
Why should she have to sit quietly, and wear bows and dresses and ribbons, when all she wants to do is run and play and wrestle in the mud with the boys?
Her grandfather's courtiers scowl at her and tell her that as a lady of Númenor she should do well to be more ladylike, lest she end up at a Bad End.
The little girl cannot think of any end worse than ending up like the courtiers, but she does not say this to them.

It would not be "proper".

*

Life, thinks the girl, is very strange.
She dreamed about the tall lady with the long black hair again last night, for the first time in years, and went to find her portrait, only to find a bare space on the wall where it had been, and no-one will tell her what became of it.
One even told her not to be so silly- there was never a portrait there to be seen in the first place.
The girl knows this is a lie, but she says nothing, because it would not be "proper".

*

Life, thinks the girl, will be a lot different when she is older.
People will not tell her what to do, and they will not tell her what not to do, and they certainly will not lie to her.
Today she went hunting through the castle crypt- trying to find the portrait of the tall woman with the terrible eyes, which she knows is there, the tall woman told her it was there, in a dream- and they caught her, and she has been locked in her room as punishment.
She has never been punished so before, and she does not like it one bit, but she says nothing.
Because she saw the look in her father's eyes as he slammed the door.

And it was most certainly not "proper".

*

Life, thinks the young woman, is turning out to be a dreadful bore.
The tall woman visits her in her dreams every night, filling her head with wonderful tales, but she cannot share them with anyone.
The only time she has mentioned them everyone went quiet, and her grandfather flew into a rage and ordered that "that dreadful girl" be removed from his presence.
"That dreadful girl", indeed, she thinks.
One day, things will be very different- but for now she stays silent.

It is only "proper".

*

Life, thinks the young woman, is an utter waste of her time.
Why on Earth would anyone want to waste their days fawning on some man, who will spend all his time trying to bend her to his will and crush her dreams, her spirit?
The court is in uproar- the man they found for her to marry has been rebuffed, and with such language as would make a fishwife in Andunië blush, too.
She is proud of herself- and the tall lady with the long black hair in her dreams is proud of her too.
It is not "proper", the courtiers whisper, but she does not care.
She is a lady of Númenor, and a daughter of kings, after all- she is merely living as she wishes.

That, she thinks, is more than "proper".

*

Life, thinks the woman, is a dreadful business.
She has just attended at the birth of her brother's first-born, and is more convinced than ever of the disgusting nature of it all.
So much blood, so much screaming…
No, it is not for her.
The woman with the terrible eyes smiles when she tells her this, alone in her room, and says nothing.
No, there shall be no children for her- she shall stay young and beautiful and slim all her days, she tells the woman from the painting.

The woman who smiles even wider when she tells her this, but says nothing, and needs not say anything.

After all, it would not be "proper".

*

Life, thinks the Queen, is wonderful.
People fawn on her every word, on her every whim…

They have even brought the painting of the tall woman with the terrible eyes out from the crypt- where she knew it had been hidden- and it takes pride of place on the wall opposite her throne.

Let people whisper about their kingless Queen- let them first find her a king worthy of her!
Let them find her a king who will not try to mould her to his will, who will not try to usurp her rule…

Then she will marry him.

Anything else would not be "proper".

*

Life (thinks the Queen) is a very odd business indeed, sometimes.

Searching through the records, she can find no reference to other ruling Queens than her, and yet she is sure that they must have been.

Otherwise why would the woman from her dreams- the woman from the portrait- wear the great Crown of Númenor?

There are gaps in the records, granted, but that just proves even more of a mystery- why should anyone be stricken from the records so thoroughly?

When she finds out, she thinks, people shall be taken to task.

It is only "proper".

*

Tar-Ancalimë, muses the Queen, sitting on her throne, staring at the portrait opposite her.
That was your name- is your name.

Why were you stricken from the records, why will people not speak of you?
She will ask her father, death-bed ridden as he may be- will wrench it out of him with a chain to rival Angainor if need be.

She is the Queen, as Tar-Ancalimë was Queen before her, and she shall know her ancestor's secret.

It is only "proper".

*

The Queen has had all the record books changed- Tar-Ancalimë has once again her proper place in history.

This is only right and proper, thinks the Queen- why, then, do people whisper behind their hands about her?

Why do they whisper that she is mad, a searcher after knowledge best forgotten?

Nothing must ever be forgotten, she thinks, her face grim on her throne- least of all her.

She shall be greatest of all of Númenor's rulers, and her portrait shall never be locked away in a crypt and forgotten, she thinks, her hands clenching into fists so tight that her nails cut bright crimson crescent moons into her palms.

No-one will ever strike her from the record books for daring to live her life the way she wanted.

No, that fate is not for her- and woes betide anyone who should suggest it to her.

It would not be "proper".

*

The Queen is getting old, and she knows that soon people shall turn to muttering behind their hands about her- that it is time for her to give way and let another take her throne.

Let them mutter, she thinks, standing on the balcony and looking out at the Meneltarma as a cold wind whips around her- let them mutter all the want.

She will give up this kingdom- this Queendom, she thinks smugly- only when she sees fit.

Only when it is "proper".

*

Lying in her bed, her eyes dulled with age and pain, the old Queen still clings grimly on to life with the ferocity of a bear at bay.

Four-hundred, the courtiers whisper, and yet she still will not pass on the Sceptre.

No good will come of this, they whisper, but they whisper it only when they are sure they are out of her hearing- her rage is terrible, even now.

Even with her power waning she knows this, she tells the woman with the terrible eyes, cackling as the woman nods and smiles, silent as ever- even at the last they fear her… and so they should.

It is only "proper".

*

It is only as the life in the old Queen's eyes finally flickers and dies that the new King allows himself to exhale.

It had seemed the old woman would never die- even at the last, when all sense was gone and all she could do was rant and rave, a horrible, maddened thing thrashing and cackling to itself, a living skeleton- paper-thin skin stretched too tight over crumbling old bones.

He will never rule as long as her, he thinks- would not want to.

He saw what she became, by the end- maddened by things only she could see, haunted by voices only she could hear.

Her portrait will hang in the halls of Armenelos, and her body lie in Noirinan, and Númenor shall go on.

It is only "proper".

*

Tar-Telperien was the second Ruling Queen of Númenor. She was long-lived (for the women of the Númenóreans had the longer life, or laid down their lives less easily) and would wed with no man. She ruled for one-hundred and seventy-five years, and was succeeded by her nephew, Tar-Minastir.

The fate of the painting of Tar-Ancalimë is unknown, but it can safely be assumed that (as with all things of Númenor) it was lost in the Downfall of that land in SA 3319.

There are those who would say that this was only "proper"…


This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

   
   
   

In Challenges

Story Information

Author: Aruthir

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Rating: General

Last Updated: 06/05/10

Original Post: 04/17/07

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