1. On Hither Shores
till Moon should fade, an orbéd star
to pass, and tarry never more
on Hither Shores where mortals are...
- from the ‘Song of Eärendil’
Her smile is still the same and her beauty still outshines the stars, as it does in my memory. And her voice, her voice recalls the lullabies she used to sing when we were young.
It is strange how it all seems to flood back into my thoughts now, a time I had long thought lost beyond recall. But I know every word now, every second, every shred I tried so hard to get hold of, feeling my way through the mists of oblivion until I began to doubt any of it was real.
What is this place? How I came here I do not know. All I know is that the journey was long, so long the days and nights blur in the distance, inseparable, impossible to tell apart. But I remember the stars above, like candles in the mist, comforting, guiding me, floating, floating to nowhere.
Once, I think, I saw my brother’s face, full of sorrow. His hands reached out for me and he called my name. I remember yearning to answer but could not think of words to say. But I remember wanting to tell him I am sorry... so sorry. But for what, I do not know, all I know is the infinite sadness that lingers in my heart, a dull ache in my chest that won’t go away. I wanted to tell him I’m sorry...
But the tide came and swept me away, past days and nights that mattered not beneath the singing stars. The journey was long, that is all I know, and I should have been afraid of the silence but in my heart I found only peacefulness and the dull ache of loss, though what I had lost I remembered not.
The tide came and swept me away, past a world of blurred shadows and colours in motion, dancing a strange dance to a voiceless song. If I wanted to, I’m sure I could hum the tune in my thoughts and whisper the words to the wind. It is the clash of swords and the call of the trumpets, it is the storm that rips the banners and the horses’ hooves beating a muted heartbeat on the boundless plains. It is... anywhere but here.
“Mother... what is this place?”
I believe there is a hint of sadness in her smile as she looks at me, her raven hair framing her pale face like a velvet veil, never once moving in the wind, and I believe her voice trembles a little when she speaks.
“Home,” she says. “And yet not home.”
She turns away then and I follow her gaze, follow her eyes into the distance. The sea is calm, reflecting the stars, millions and millions of them, the last of them becoming one with the horizon. And then her eyes linger for a moment on the city nestled in the bay, as if to seek shelter from the icy wind. It seems to be made of shadow, a dark outline against the twilight sky, and I know.
“Yes...” she says, very quietly, as if she were speaking to herself. “But the streets are empty now and the halls are cold... and the life I knew is but the shadow of a memory.”
When she turns to me there are tears in her eyes. “All of this is but a shadow of the world we knew, it’s but a reflection of the dreams we dreamed and a pale image of the truth we left behind... You must not linger...”
It is then that I remember. The horn’s cry fading in the distance, unheeded, distorted in a note of pain. The arrows flying, black with death, black as the hand that held the bow. Once. Twice. Thrice. And the eternity in between.
Once - for my betrayal. And his eyes as he forgave me.
Twice - for my ignorance. And their voices full of sorrow.
Thrice - for my failure. And the endless, endless waters.
Oh Faramir, your eyes so full of pain and loss, your hands reaching out for me, your voice breaking as you called me... Brother mine, I wanted to tell you I am sorry.
But in the silence there was no sound and when I listened for my heartbeat in the stillness, emptiness was all I found. I should have known, I should have known then.
“Go, Boromir...” she whispers. “You must not linger... Go...”
“Where to, mother? Where to?”
“I do not know.”
“Will you not come?”
She does not look at me.
“No, my darling son, not yet. I have lost count of the years I have waited and must wait a little longer yet. But it will not be long now... “
She seems to have forgotten I am there, her eyes turned to the East. Home and yet not home. A slight shudder runs through her body, like a leaf shaking in a sharp gust of wind, her pale lips parted as if in breathless anticipation.
“No,” she whispers, her voice trembling. “I’ve seen the fire in my dreams... so very soon...”
And as I watch her slender figure shrink and fade away in the distance, her raven hair like a widow’s veil, mingling with the shadows, I wonder what it must be like, waiting for a face in the shadows of remembrance.
Author’s Note: based on this bit from “The Departure of Boromir”:
“But in Gondor in after-days it long was said that the elven-boat rode the falls and the foaming pool, and bore him down through Osgiliath, and past the many mouths of Anduin, out into the Great Sea at night under the stars.”
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.