1. ...And do all such good works
She was being watched. Without turning, she slowed her pace for just a moment, then quickened it, looking for a more hidden corridor in the labyrinthine passageways of the lowest levels of the White City. Her silken chemise clung to her as she began to perspire out of fear, but desire also…
She ducked into an alley. Painfully aware of the rough surface of the stonework behind her as she carefully shuffled away from the main path, she breathed quietly, clinging to the wall. Sure steps slowed, then stopped.
He followed her. As he slowly stepped into the corridor and walked toward her, she felt her heart beating at least thrice its normal speed. It was not possible. This man - this young man, no more than twenty - bore the face of one of her charges, yet he was far older now, and as she looked into his eyes, she saw a heated passion there that only mirrored her own desire. His familiarity and yet utter strangeness added to her sense of recklessness, and when he approached and grasped hungrily for her, she responded in kind.
Warm lips to lips, tongues delving deeply and sweetly, previously unknown tastes to her encouraging her to devour him whole - her hands roamed tentatively, then urgently; recently trimmed nails of one hand now clenching a downy, hair-encircled hardened nub on his chest, even as her other hand ventured further down, to the insistent protrusion below his nonchalantly half-knotted belt… He leaned into her, breathing in her ear, even as she unlaced his breeches and he responded with vigour, causing her to gasp. His hands had undone the delicate side lacings on her outer dress and now his adventurous tongue traced circles around her breasts, first one and then the other, and she longed to cry out.
She gently held his soft sacs even as with one surreptitious hand he delved inquisitively between her thighs and found a rather damp, awaiting presence there, which he then plundered with two fingers. She bit down on her bottom lip even as her hands raked down his muscled back, planting them firmly on his buttocks. With a look of pure adulation, he withdrew his hand, then slowly placed his fingers in his own mouth, savouring her most secretive scents.
Even as she clung to him, he entered her, and she clenched her teeth around his ear so as not to moan aloud. Absolutely full with him, she moved her hips away and close again, surrounding him as he held her, leaning her head back as she felt a dizzying wave of sensations, her now naked legs clasped around his back, feeling an increasing throbbing that was bound to consume her, to consume him…
Herith threw her arm over her eyes, her elbow blocking out the morning sun.
She did not want to wake up.
There was a dream, a beautiful man in the shadows, whispers in her ear…
Suddenly she sat up, eyes wide to the light. What she had dreamt was abominable. Horrific. Terrifying. The man in her dream was, as of yet, only a child. And yet somehow she knew that he would grow up and be very much the passionate man that had haunted her dreamscape moments before.
His ardours would never be for her, she knew, but still, she felt queasy. Leaning over to her bedside table, she poured a glass of water for herself and drank a sip. She had almost relaxed into the glow of the morning light when she was abruptly reminded of what else the day held for her, and she dropped the small tumbler, which shattered on the floor.
Today was the funeral for the Steward's wife, her dear friend, and mother of the children who had stolen her heart even as she served as their nursemaid.
Though the details had been vague, gossip had travelled as a silent wildfire among those in the royal court. Herith was there only peripherally, invited out of a sentimental sense that she had not felt that the Steward Denethor even possessed, but she stood in the front of the small throng nonetheless. The Steward looked haggard despite being clean shaven and wearing his most officious cloak and bearing a standard. His sons followed behind, Boromir looking especially wretched and his brother, Faramir, looking almost ignorant of the proceedings.
Denethor was not much of one for pageantry, and anyone regarding his face knew that he wished this particular event to come to as quick of a close as proper protocol would allow. Sadly, he was rather alone, even as the small entourage neared the obscenely white marble table at the House of the Stewards.
It was only when the couple of dozen people had entered into the sombre chamber that Faramir showed his penchant for the dramatic. Herith was grateful for his interruption even so, as it allowed her to release her dark rivers of ague as she bathed him in her tears after he ran to her arms.
“Herith!” he choked quietly into her slight frame. “Why is momma gone? I would do anything to make her better, I would. I promise I will never climb trees again! I promise!”
To her ears, his sniffling within the marble walls must have carried for several leagues, but Denethor did not turn his head. His bloodshot eyes were turned to the stone that would now cradle his beloved, and none of the noises of the living could reach him.
As she comforted the five year old Faramir, Herith was surprised to feel Boromir as well encircle her in his boyish arms. Rearranging the younger son of the Steward so that he was balanced on her hip, his runny nose buried in her hair, she took her other arm and wrapped it around the eldest. There they stood, even as Denethor spoke a few words, though it was what he did not say that drifted through the still, quiet air of the room.
Herith let her thoughts meander like the dust motes that fell through the few rays of sunlight, even as she tried to reconcile herself to the scene before her. She, too, had come from Ithilien, though born to much more common parents than Finduilas, yet their commonality had strengthened the friendship between herself and the wife of the Steward. She knew that her liege, her friend, had suffered. She had had more than an inkling of how deeply that suffering had festered. But this action - this falling from the tower - she had not seen. Now her responsibilities to the sons of the Steward would take her down far more serious paths, and there were not enough good works in the world that she could do to make up for the yawning absence of Finduilas' gentle soul.
Would that she had had wings, Herith mused into the silence.
Looking at the Steward of Gondor, unreachable, untenable, and undone, another thought reached her.
Would that all of us had wings.
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.