Quickies Qtr 1, 2003

Tears of a King

1. After Her Passing

A king does not weep. The thought remains above all the clamor in my mind, drowning out the multitude of voices that wail at me as I stare down at her lovely face, so cold and pale. I remember, as if from long years ago, how vivid her color was in life, how flushed her cheeks became after a horseback race across the fields. Now she looks stiff and artificial, like a stone image of herself. How can I weep for this? This is not my Elfhild, my beloved, my bed-companion. Somehow, her doll-like look makes it easier for me to keep my calm, to hold back the cries threatening to escape me.

The midwives cleaned up the bloody sheets and towels before I came in, of which I am truly glad. I do not think I could bear to look at my love amid the reminders of her painful death—the death I brought on her. For did I not get her with the child whose birth took her life? I kneel next to her bed and bring her ashen hand to my lips, pondering on the cruelty of men. We take women for our desire and think it only a small grief when they die birthing our offspring! And if they do not die then, we work them into an early old age and wear them out. In spite of my efforts, a single tear escapes me and dampens her lifeless skin.

At least she loved me. I know that much, for she told me so, many and many a time. And she also had joy of our love—she told me that too. Poor Elfhild! My heart wrenches painfully as I remember how excited she was when she discovered she was finally with child. I remember her many preparations for its birth, the tiny clothes, the beautiful blankets she wove with her own hands. She was a queen, she did not have to concern herself with such things, but she did them to show her love. That is what I remember of her. She was always ready to show her love...even if I was not ready to show mine.

I hear a wail from the next room, and the cooing of the wet nurse as she feeds the babe. I have just come in from the hunt, I have not even had time to hold him. Nobody told me she was dying. No one even told me she was birthing! It all happened too fast, said the midwives, and they are right. She died too fast. Oh, my Elfhild, how quickly I have lost you. How quickly your beauty has left this world.

The midwives say my babe is a man-child, but for me, hearing the good news is like a starving man trying to fill his stomach with grass and sticks. There is no substitute for true food. Not even a son could replace my beloved. At least I will not be forced to take another wife, I think. The house of Éorl must have heirs, and even in the midst of my grief, I am glad that Elfhild is the mother of my son. Elfhild was a rare sort of woman, and I would not willingly raise another to the station she once occupied. Wedding some woman simply to get a son is abhorrent to me, and I am glad I will not have to do it.

They are asking me now if I want to hold him. I shake my head. In the face of Death, that vibrant new life seems almost an insult. I can already hear the whisperings of the women: how he loved her! how dear he held her! Faithful husband, noble king...the praises ring empty in my ears. If I was good, it was because she made me good, with her gentleness and patience. And now she is forever taken from the world, and part of me is taken with her.

At long last, I turn from her deathbed and leave the room. I cannot help but think of the funeral I must arrange, the funeral fit for a queen. Yes, the women will weep for her, and the men will raise her mound high. They will lay about her all the honors of her queenship, all her jewels and silks, but not a single ornament will be as fair as she was to me in life. Yes, I must lay her in the mound next my mother's, and the simbelmynë will cover her grave, but I will not forget her. I vow to myself that there will be no Queen in Rohan while I am yet living. No woman will take the place that she hallowed with her goodness and beauty. No woman will ever take her place in my heart.

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: Tindomiel

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Rating: General

Last Updated: 03/05/03

Original Post: 02/17/03

Back to challenge: Quickies Qtr 1, 2003

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