Steward and the Queen, The: 3. The New Queen Settles In

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3. The New Queen Settles In

Arwen went back to her borrowed apartments with Laebeth. Idril, the rooms’ rightful owner, arrived shortly afterwards with her maids and lists and the three women had lunch together in the solar.

It was Idril who raised the question of opening and refurnishing the old royal apartments. Arwen demurred: “It doesn’t seem right to trouble ourselves over rooms for me when the City lies in ruins around us.” she said.

Idril snorted gently. “By your leave, my Lady, unless you intend to wield a hammer or trowel you have already done all you can to further the rebuilding. And while I do not begrudge you my chambers I am getting rather tired of sending up the hill a dozen times a day for things I need.”

“I do not mean I am reluctant to move.” Arwen said hastily. “Only that there is no need to bother about furniture and hangings and the like. A decent bed, a table and a chair are all I need.”

“It does Gondor no credit to have her Queen sleep and eat in bare rooms.” Laebeth pointed out mildly.

“And what of the King?” Idril pressed. “Would you have him come home to unadorned walls and empty chambers?”

Arwen smiled at that. “I doubt he’d even notice. I’ve yet to meet a Ranger who cares two straws where he lays his head.”

“Then humor your people, my Lady, for they do care.” Laebeth said firmly and Arwen gave in.

“Oh very well, it’s not as if I can think of anything more urgent that I should be doing. Where are these apartments, Idril?”

On the other side of the Citadel it seemed. Soon the new Queen found herself walking between Idril and Laebeth - trailed by a small procession including Laebeth’s lady companion and Idril’s four maids in waiting - through a series of narrow high walled alleys. They stopped at last before an ironbound oak door and Faelivren came forward to offer Idril a heavy ring of keys. She chose one and unlocked the door which opened onto a grand white marble stairway. They climbed two flights under the sightless gaze of gilded and jeweled statues to a landing dominated by a pair of cast bronze doors overlaid with gold and silver. Idril selected another key from her ring and opened them.

The room beyond was long and vaulted, its walls wainscoted with colored marbles beneath bare white plaster marked by hooks for hangings or paintings. The floor was patterned with pale stone and at the far end there was a small dais with the white tree carved on the wall behind it.

“This was the King’s presence chamber.” Idril said and led the way down its length to a second, smaller door to the right of the dais which she also unlocked. “And this was his privy chamber.” It was perhaps half the size of the outer room but no less grand, dominated by a massive fireplace carved with trees and ships, and inset with a golden sun and stars of adamant. Behind it was an ante-chamber or robing room and beyond that the bedchamber half filled by a huge bedstead of black lebethron wood overlaid with mithril.
A door to the right of the bed led to a small private closet.

The Queen’s chambers were tucked behind the King’s. Her bedchamber with its bedstead of ivory and gold adjoined the King‘s closet. Her robing room stood at the end of the file of rooms with a door opening onto a long parallel gallery with windows looking eastward over a small walled garden. This had a private closet for the Queen at one end and a little guard chamber at the other with three more doors: One leading to the King’s bedchamber; one to the gallery overlooking the courtyard between the Hall of the Kings and the feast hall; and the last to the Queen’s privy chamber. Her presence chamber was beyond that, both with tall windows opening onto a narrow terrace.

Looking down at the little garden from the terrace balustrade Arwen saw it was still green but overgrown and ill tended. Her fingers itched to set it in order. As for the rooms, they were somewhat over ornate by Elvish standards, and ill lit - she’d want to cut a few more windows someday - but quite acceptable.

“I will need bed and bedding and that table and chair if I am to sleep here tonight.” she said.

“And hangings and rugs to muffle the chill.” Idril said. “We will find all we need in the Great Wardrobe.”
***

The Great Wardrobe included not only the wardrobe of the robes - where they had found the clothes Arwen and Aragorn now wore - but the wardrobe of the beds, full of feather mattresses, bed linens, curtains and coverlets, and the wardrobe of the coverings containing tapestries, wall hangings and carpets. Like many Elves Arwen had a love of fine cloth and she dug into the contents of the wardrobes with real enthusiasm. She chose pale blue silk curtains, lined with soft felt and edged with gold lace, and a blue damask coverlet worked with spring flowers in a rainbow of silks for her bed; a cream colored carpet patterned in blue and rose and gold for the floor, and wall hangings of blue and rose and cream all stamped with patterns in gold.

The maids were dispatched to the Queen’s bedroom with the spoils while Arwen, Idril, Laebeth and Laebeth’s Woman went on to the lumber house where furniture was stored. There were rooms full of tables, in all sized and shapes; and of chairs and benches and stools; and still others stacked almost to the ceiling with chests and cupboards and presses. The furniture, though finely made, seemed chunky and ungraceful to Arwen’s eyes and far too heavily ornamented with carvings and inlays. But after long searching she found a simple table with slender legs and top inlaid with ivory and blue glass; an ivory clothes chest delicately carved with flowers, and a golden chair with a high, leaf shaped back.

Serving men carried the furniture back to Queen’s bedchamber followed by Arwen and her companions. They found the bed made up with mattresses, linen, coverlet and curtains, the carpet spread on the floor at its foot and the white plaster walls covered by soft hued hangings glimmering with gold. The table went under the window to the right of the big bed, and the chest was placed against the left wall next to the door to the King’s chambers. The chair was set on the carpet with a silver gilt candle-stand behind it and a gilded bronze brazier beside it.

Arwen, standing in the doorway to the robing room to take in the completed chamber was surprised by how lovely it was with its soft colors and gentle shimmer of gold. It looked nothing at all like her rooms at Rivendell or Lorien and yet it felt like home - a home that she could share with Aragorn. “I think I will be happy here.” she said at last.

“I very much hope so, my Lady.” Idril answered gently.

She chose a serving maid to sleep in within call in the robing room, and men from the Citadel guard to stand watch in the little guardroom at the end of the gallery. Arwen did not demur, she understood that a Queen must have attendants. And she realized that Idril and Laebeth had been right - having a room that was her own made her feel more at home and less like a guest in the Citadel.
***

That evening, followed by her new maid and with two of her guardsmen to light her way, Arwen went down to the Houses of Healing to see how Eowyn and Faramir were faring. Eowyn she learned was fast asleep, and had been since just after midday.

“She ate her lunch then dropped right off, the poor lamb.” the elder of her two nurses said, smiling tenderly. “Worn out by her morning outing - bless her.”

“Bless her indeed.” the Queen agreed.

“I had my doubts about letting her go out,” the Woman continued, “but it was just what she needed - she was fretting herself to death within doors.”

“Inactivity and confinement come hard to a spirit like hers.” Arwen agreed.

The Lord Faramir was not asleep, or even abed, but frowning over an open tome on a table littered with books and papers.

“My husband meant for you to rest mind as well as body, my Lord Steward.” Arwen said from the open door.

He rose to make her a bow. “I am trying to sort out the legalities of King Elessar‘s accession.” he explained. “Do not mistake me, my Lady, he is welcome and accepted by City and Realm but there are some tangles in law that need smoothing.”

“Leave it for now,” Arwen ordered, “when your tenday of rest is finished you may take up the task again but not before. That is my command as healer as well as Queen. Now sit down and remember you are a sick Man, my Lord!” and she sat down herself in a chair by the fire.

Faramir pulled his own chair to face hers and settled into it. “Not sick anymore, my Lady, but still weak.” he smiled wryly. “I have been making such poor progress that a respite will be welcome. Hopefully the difficulties will seem less dire when I am stronger.”

“I don’t doubt but they will.” said Arwen. “How do you find the Lady Eowyn, my Lord?”

His face turned grave. “I saw she sorely troubled when first we met, my Lady, and I feared for her. But she seemed better today.”

“I thought so too.” Arwen agreed. “She has wept, and that is to the good for she has much to weep for.”

“So I understand.” said Faramir.

“And you, my Lord?” she probed gently.

“I have not been too proud to shed my share of tears.” he answered quietly. “I miss my brother more than I can say. And I will regret to the end of my life that I never made peace with my father.”

Arwen’s hands clenched involuntarily on the arms of her chair. Faramir of course noticed and she felt it necessary to explain; “I too parted badly from my father. But at least Elrond still lives and I can hope for a chance to...to beg his forgiveness.”

“I wish I could do so with my father.” Faramir said, courteously pretending not to notice the pain that made her voice catch. “The wrong was not all on his side. I too was sometimes cruel.”

“Why must those who love each other, hurt each other so?” Arwen demanded despairingly.

Faramir could only shake his head. “That is a mystery beyond my solving, Lady.”

“Or any one else’s, I fear.” she said.
***

Arwen returned to her room to find the curtains drawn, the candles lit and the bed warmed and turned down. And somebody had put a bowl of yellow and white lilies and a gently steaming golden goblet on the table by her bed.

She drank the warmed wine, let her new maid replace her gown with a nightdress and obediently crawled into the bed as the Woman blew out the candles and withdrew with a soft, “Good night, my Lady.” - practically the first words Arwen had heard from her.

Lying in the big bed Arwen reflected this was probably not the best time to explain she almost never slept and could dream anywhere and anytime. No, better let her new people become more used to her before asking them to deal with her difference.

When she was sure her maid must be asleep she got out of bed and drifted noiselessly through the robing room to the gallery where she settled herself in a window to look down at the garden and plan its renewal.

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.

Story Information

Author: Morwen Tindomerel

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - Ring War

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 12/14/04

Original Post: 10/08/04

Go to Steward and the Queen, The overview

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