6. The Swan Feather
Dawn drew close, and the dim beams of light that entered through their window allowed her to see him as she had never done until that night. A thrill of excitement ran through her body when she thought that no one could see the lord Denethor like she saw him now. He looked so different when he slept! No lines creased his brow, nor was the set of his jaw so tight and stern. He looked wonderfully... relaxed, not only his face but his whole body, and thus she remained quietly watching as his chest rose and fell, and with every breath a sly, pleasant smile twitched the corners of his mouth in a most becoming way. Was he dreaming, or was he remembering their love the night before?
Reluctantly taking her eyes away from her lord, she looked around her new chamber discovering traces of the night before: her white gown lay on the floor still, and her shoes where she had carelessly dropped them. Denethor's shirt was on the bed, along with the clasps that had tied her braids; and, on top of the table by his side, he had carefully placed her blue bag, her bride's bag. She didn't exactly know why she had brought it along, or why she had even dared show it to Denethor. But, to her surprise and pleasure, he had not thought it a childish custom; instead had smiled, kissed her, and then had set the bag on his table as the tradition directed.
Inside the velvet bag, she knew, were the things every bride in Belfalas carried with her on the day of her wedding: a belonging of her mother's, for happiness, and she had brought a dolphin pin; a gift from her husband-to-be, a book Denethor had given her when they were courting; something from her land to secure motherhood, and she had brought an oyster-shell; and one item for the wedding night: the swan feather. She shuddered upon remembering the swan feather in her bag, and how she had forgotten to sew it onto Denethor's pillow. She felt compelled to reach across for the bag; but, that would wake him, and he seemed so contented! `Twas such a silly superstition! Old maid's talk to scare girls who let those fancies take to their heads. And yet, according to the custom, the swan feather would ensure fidelity and love in their marriage... After their night, it didn't seem as though love could ever fail; but...
Taking a deep breath, she slipped out of the bed as quietly as she could in search of the bag, and a needle somewhere so that she could sew that feather and go back to sleep. She may have made some noise as she fumbled with the things inside the drawer, for next she heard Denethor's voice.
"Finduilas?" he called, still more asleep than awake. "Is there aught
"Nay, lord," she timidly replied. "I am... looking for a match."
"A match?" he asked, now fully awake. Finduilas thought she heard something like dread behind his tone. "Whatever for?"
"Well, to light this candle, my lord," she had to admit. "And, since you already know that, I may need a needle and some thread."
"Why would you need any of that now? I cannot guess."
" 'Tis hard to explain, Denethor. But, you see-" she hesitated, yet decided that it was best to let it all out, especially because the feather needed be sewn before dawn and there was no time to waste, "in my homeland, 'tis said that if... if a swan feather is attached to the husband's pillow on the wedding-night," she stopped, unable to believe that she was paying heed to such customs, "then the couple is ensured fidelity and love," her voice ended in a whisper, and for a few moments a heavy silence wrung between them, until she heard what resembled the sound of muffled chuckles.
"What amuses you so?" she asked, more out of disbelief than indignation. "I understand that it may seem silly to you now, but it's always important to follow one's traditions-"
"You amuse me, my lady," he said tenderly as he knelt by her. "And it amuses me to wonder about what you may think when I tell you that you will find no matches in that drawer."
"But, I need them, Denethor!" She was surprised at her increasing distress. "If I don't sew that feather to your pillow before dawn-"
"Had I known I had married a lady who cared so much about these things, I would've ordered for more superstitions to be taken into account for our ceremony. There is a myriad of them, you know." She thought she detected the faintest trace of mirth as he spoke, but the dim light made it impossible to determine whether he smiled or not.
"More?" was all she managed to ask.
"Indeed," he said while retreating to the bed. "Many; such as the one that prescribes that there should be no lights lit in the newlyweds' chamber after the candle is blown out at night. It brings ill luck," and with that, he went to sleep. Finduilas knew not whether to cry, or to laugh at what her husband had shown her about himself. She still regretted not being able to sew the feather, but heaving a sigh, she was happy to climb back into his arms which quickly wrapped about her, enveloping her with their warmth. The next morning, however, she had to smile upon seeing the feather, safely secured to Denethor's pillow with her mother's dolphin pin.
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.