9. Chapter 9
The logistics of getting me away posed difficulties. I was still confined to bed, unable to walk or even sit unsupported for more than a few minutes. I would have to be carried on a litter and then taken by wagon to the quayside; to save my embarrassment at this ignominious departure, it was arranged that we would leave at dawn. Accompanied by Tamir, I was hustled away at first light with no one to wave me off or to mark my departure.
I remember little of the journey. I believe it possible that the herbs and potions of the healers kept me comfortable and sedated, but I do not know for certain and I did not ask.
Dol Amroth was like another world; I was cozened and cosseted by my family and Tamir fussed around me like a mother hen. I had a suite of rooms within my uncle’s quarters and had the full-time attention of his personal physician.
As the days passed, my strength improved, my appetite returned and within a week I was able take a few steps and to sit out in the sun. Morning and night, I was dosed with potions and every morning I was prodded, pummelled and massaged to within an inch of my life. My shoulder still gave me pain but the wound was healing as well as anyone could have expected; my right arm was slow to improve. It was weak and my grip poor; I could barely make a fist and had to resort to using a sling. I submitted to the healers’ care with as much patience as I possessed, willing to do as they bid in an attempt to minimise the disability of my arm.
Needless to say, I was content. For the first time since coming of age, I had no responsibilities, no duties, and nothing demanded my attention beyond the need to look to my own health and wellbeing. I slept late, spent hours reading, and sampled foods and flavours I never dreamed existed. I pushed Gondor further and further from my thoughts until a whole hour could go past without my thinking about it.
Every day, my uncle would find time to spend with me, and as the weeks passed, we took longer and longer walks in the gardens or down by the seashore. I swam in the clear warm waters of the bay and allowed the song of the sea to steal into my heart, its comforting sighs relaxing my mind and clearing my thoughts. Prince Imrahil was a calm and gentle companion but ruthless in his compassion; I was allowed no secrets, allowed to hide nothing. We talked and discussed the past and when fears and memories threatened to overwhelm me, he would prod and poke, soothe and comfort until I had faced down the demons. Sometimes we would talk about my mother and he would tell me about her past and her childhood and about our family visits to Dol Amroth when we were children. The memories brought me comfort. I dreamed about my family, dreams of love and laughter. I wept long and often, finally allowing my grief to surface, to acknowledge the pain and the hurt and the loneliness, and to mourn for those I had loved and lost. Loving arms held me, making no attempt to stem the tears, for with the tears came healing.
My uncle had arranged to return to Minas Tirith for when the Riders of Rohan came to collect the body of their fallen King. I wished to return with him but required the confirmation of the healers that I had recovered sufficiently and was fit enough to travel. I was fairly confident of their approval and thought myself to be well on the way to recovery. A week before the proposed day of departure, I received an unpleasant reminder of just how badly my system had been affected by my trials. I had spent the morning reading on the terrace, dozing and luxuriating in the feel of the sun on my face. Just before noon, Tamir came to remind me that I had arranged to dine with my uncle. He collected up my books and helped me to my feet, and I followed him through the corridors.
We had to pass through the main dining hall to reach my uncle’s private chamber beyond. I got halfway across the hall when a servant carrying a pile of crockery slipped on the polished floor. Her scream of alarm and the crash of breaking pottery had me immobilised with shock. The sound reverberated within my skull, echoing and multiplying in intensity until I was back on the battlefield, the screams of battle battering my senses as the darkness descended.
When I came to my senses, I was lying on a couch in a small ante-chamber, Tamir and my uncle at my side, concern and worry clouding their faces. I was confused and disoriented; my head ached and my shoulder throbbed. Someone pressed a glass to my lips and I tasted sweet wine. After a few moments, I heard the healer’s voice and listened as Tamir explained to him what had happened. After the servant’s fall, I had fallen to the floor, keening and crying in fear and panic, banging my head as I collapsed insensible on the cold stones. I had not roused when they carried me from the Hall and had remained insensible for many minutes. I struggled to sit up and as I did so the blanket covering me slipped to the floor; my uncle retrieved it quickly but not before I noticed that my leggings and tunic were wet. My body had betrayed me in the most public and embarrassing manner; I cringed with mortification, pulled the blanket to cover my embarrassment and begged them to help me to my room.
For two days I lay in my bed, ignoring all visitors by feigning sleep. Food was sent back to the kitchen untouched; I accepted the healer’s ministrations in passive silence. I kept sending Tamir away but he kept returning until I gave up the battle and accepted his presence. The fragile façade I had built up in the last few weeks was shattered along with my peace of mind. I knew I was being unrealistic not to have expected setbacks but my body’s treacherous betrayal had shattered my confidence and I couldn’t bear the thought of facing those who had witness my humiliation.
On the second evening my uncle entered my chamber carrying a tray of food. He sent Tamir off to supper and sat in silence by my bed. After a while he pulled a piece of parchment and a quill from the desk and sat looking at me expectantly. He asked me what messages I wanted to send with him to Minas Tirith as I was obviously not yet sufficiently recovered to accompany him. I had to smile at his un-subtle manipulation and told him that blackmail was an unattractive attribute and probably breached all manner of laws and that I would report his infamy to the highest authority. He laughed and embraced me and marvelled at my miraculous recovery.
I sat and picked at the supper while he proceeded to lecture me. Gently but with stern authority he gave voice to all of the thoughts that had been swirling round my head for the last two days; it was as though he had read my mind. He urged me to be patient and to be kinder to myself; I had seen enough of the effects of battle to know that even the strongest and bravest of troops could be felled by battle fatigue and yet I could not accept or forgive it of myself. And it was true. In my arrogance I had never believed it could happen to me. I clasped his hand and voiced my greatest fear: that it would happen again and shame me in the eyes of the King. He couldn’t reassure me that it wouldn’t happen again but he was sure that the King would find nothing shameful about an affliction caused by bravery and sacrifice. I had to accept his assessment; he knew the King better than me, but my fears remained.
The journey back along the Anduin was uneventful. I enjoyed watching the scenery of Gondor unfolding before me and revelled in the familiar scents that drifted across the waters. As the sun-kissed towers of the city came into sight, my heart thudded in my chest. I stood at the prow and watched my city grow before my eyes until I could see the banners fluttering from every turret. The quays of Harlond thronged with boats, large and small, and while we waited for a berth, I spied a crowd of figures waiting to greet us. After we docked, two tall graceful figures broke away from the crowd and ascended the gang-plank. I recognised Legolas but his companion was a stranger to me. Legolas introduced the stranger as Lord Elrond, father of Queen Arwen and foster father to the King. I found myself subject to the close scrutiny from the tall Elf Lord who drew me aside and explained that the King had asked him to meet me, in his capacity as a healer, to see if I required assistance for the short journey back to the city. I reassured him that I was well and that I wished to ride into the city. His eyes ranged over me taking in my immobilised arm; I saw him throw a questioning glance over to my uncle, and though he looked doubtful, he nodded in acceptance.
Our welcoming committee, including Merry and Pippin and an escort of mounted troops, waited on the quayside. Tamir and Legolas helped me into the saddle of a tall but placid looking mount; I would have been insulted in normal circumstances to be given such a mount, but it was many weeks since I had ridden and I was conscious of my infirmity and diminished strength. I returned the salute of the guard with a smile and we set off for the short ride across the Pelennor. As we rode I was flanked by the two Elves who rode so close to me that I’m sure they feared I would fall at any moment. It took all my concentration to control the horse with my left hand and maintain my balance. By the time we had passed through the ruined gate and ascended through the levels of the city, the effort of riding was taking its toll. Legolas and Tamir helped me to dismount and assisted me to my chamber, where I sank onto the bed with relief. I must have dozed for a while, but I woke feeling refreshed and was able to welcome the many visitors who dropped in to say hello during the course of the evening; it was lovely to see them but none stayed for long. Tamir had obviously been given instructions that I needed to rest and soon discreetly chased them away.
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.