As we walked through the first circle of Minas Tirith, it was plain to see where the children found the stones they kept carrying to the grave mounds along the eastern road. Of the first circle of Minas Tirith not much remained. Many houses were ruined by missiles thrown by the enemy; many more were burnt to the ground.
The Old Guesthouse was one of the few buildings that had survived the siege almost unscathed. It was in the Lampwrights' Street, the Rath Celerdain, and as it was situated close to the Great Gates, it was the traditional guesthouse for any messengers that passed through Minas Tirith. It was an ancient building; the white stone of Minas Tirith in its walls had faded to grey with wind and weather of many hundred years. It had two wings at its back and a small green garden in a courtyard between these two wings; the left wing had lost its roof during the siege, but apart from that, the Guesthouse was undamaged. From this small garden a flight of stairs ran up to a pillared porch; on sunny days breakfast and dinner was served out on the porch. Next to the right wing a large stable was situated. The façade of the building that faced the street seemed bleak and stern and not very inviting.
Bergil walked ahead of me with the quick easy strides of an energetic boy. Before the door of the guesthouse he halted and tolled a brass bell hanging next to the door.
A young girl opened the door, looking pale and tired. "Hello Bergil," she said, then she noticed me and curtsied. "My lady."
"Captain Gerath sends me. Lady Lothíriel is on her way to Cormallen with a message for Prince Imrahil, but she's tired and needs to rest for a day or two. Do you have room for her and the horse?" Bergil asked, his voice still the high sweet voice of a child, although his eyes were dark and weary from the war he had seen.
The girl frowned, obviously almost too tired to think straight. "Well, we are almost full with wounded, just like everyone else. But if you don't mind sleeping in a chamber above the stables, my lady, I think you can stay."
"I don't mind at all. And I can take care of my horse on my own. The wounded are more important than a healthy horse and its rider," I told her.
She nodded. "Very well, my lady. I will see to it that the chamber is made ready. Bergil, could you show her the way?"
"Sure, Cara. I'm to take her to the Houses of Healing to see the Lady Éowyn anyway. Don't trouble yourself."
The girl gave us a weary smile. "Thank you, Bergil. My lady."
She indicated a quick curtsy and closed the door again.
"Come, my lady, the stable's just over there." Bergil led the way. "I am sorry that we can offer you no better quarter, but as Cara said, we have wounded fighters everywhere in the city. They have taken many private houses away from their owners to quarter Gondorian soldiers there, but the wounded foreigners, the elves and the Rohirrim, are in public houses. You know, because of people's sensibilities…" He snorted as he opened the stable doors for me. "Sensibilities! Superstitions, more like! They should be grateful that so many foreigners came to our aid. There, that's it."
The stable was clean and empty, apart from a black kitten that was blinking at me sleepily from a bale of straw. The chamber was just upstairs from the stable. In normal days it was probably the home of the stable boy. It was clean, with white washed walls, a tiny window, a narrow cot, a small table and a stool. I threw my backpack on the bed and went back downstairs. In the few minutes I had been upstairs, Bergil had unsaddled Mithril and had spread a thick cover of straw in one of the stalls.
"Thank you," I said.
The boy grinned. "No problem, my lady. She's a beauty! All the horses of Rohan are, but she's a queen even to them."
"She's a Meara," I told him, as I started brushing Mithril's shiny coat. "Her sire is Shadowfax."
"The wizard's horse?" Bergil's voice was full of awe. "Indeed a queen of horses, then. I will go and get you some water and oats." He disappeared through a small door into the inner courtyard of the guesthouse.
I had just finished cleaning Mithril's hooves, when he appeared again, carrying a large tin bucket and a small sack. When Mithril was supplied with water, oats and hay, we were ready to leave.
"We can acquire some refreshments for you on the way up to the Houses of Healing, my lady. It's quite a way," Bergil told me.
"That's alright, I am not hungry." I swallowed dryly at the memory of the Fields outside the city's walls. Bergil looked at me with a grim expression on his face.
"If I had not been appointed page to the guards because so many of them were killed, I would still be with the burial detail," Bergil commented. "I prefer running errands for the guards."
The gates to the next level of Minas Tirith were not far from the Old Guesthouse.
Here there were only two guards in the black and white colours of the Citadel.
Bergil gave my name, business and the appropriate password and led me through the gate.
From that gate we walked along the main street to the cliff that jutted out from the soft slopes of the Hill of Guard like a great keel of some petrified ship. The road went right through the cliff in a dark tunnel that was lit by a handful of torches. The tunnel could be shut by iron doors, and these, even though it was only the second ring of the city, had withstood the onslaught of the enemy.
Behind the tunnel, after perhaps another thousand feet or three hundred meters, the next gate opened to the third level of the city. In that manner tunnels and gates led from circle to circle in a long, winding route from the Great Gates to the Citadel on the summit of the hill.
Although the doors of the tunnel of the second level had been held against the enemy, most of the houses of the second and many buildings of the third ring of the city were burnt, collapsed and ruined, barely recognizable heaps of stone and blackened beams.
But from the fourth to the sixth circle of the city there were fewer and fewer destroyed mansions. Although the ravages of the siege were plainly visible in walls and houses even as high as the sixth level, on the sixth level no house had been destroyed completely.
The Houses of Healing were situated on the sixth and smallest level of Minas Tirith, in the shelter of the cliff. No missile or hostile fire had touched these Halls because Gandalf himself had tied spells of safety and endurance to their stones as I was told later. The Houses of Healing were surrounded by a beautiful garden with grassy lawns with many flowers and sparkling fountains, shaded from the hot southern sun by great plane trees. It was the only public garden in Minas Tirith. But even this idyllic spot had not survived the war unscathed. Now the fountains lay quiescent and dry. One of the great plane trees had been hit by a fiery missile and now lay broken and blackened on the ground.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed seeing green grass and sweet colourful spring flowers under the deep blue of the evening sky after the gruesome images that had assailed me since I had entered the Pelennor today.
Bergil led me into the entrance hall of the Houses of Healing. This was a white, domed hall set at the centre of three wings of houses. In the roof of the dome were many glass windows to shed sunlight on an indoor garden that had been planted at the centre of the hall. Here the fountain was already working again and murmuring peacefully in its basin of white marble.
As soon as we entered the hall, an old woman dressed in grey robes walked towards us.
"That is the Mistress Ioreth, chief of healers at Minas Tirith," Bergil whispered to me.
Then he bowed to the lady. The lady in question was perhaps sixty or seventy years old, her face line with care and smiling, but her chin jutted out stubbornly and her eyes held a sparkle that betrayed a lively temper. Here was a healer that would not put up with any nonsense from her patients.
"What is it this time, Bergil? Have you tried to fight a troll on your own again or have you brought me another patient?" Ioreth's keen eyes dropped to my bandaged wrists.
"No, mistress," Bergil said respectfully. "This is the Lady Lothíriel, she is on her way to Cormallen with a message for Prince Imrahil, but she is a friend of the Lady Éowyn and wanted to see how her friend has recovered."
An enigmatic smile appeared on Mistress Ioreth's face. "The Lady Éowyn is doing just fine. I will take you to her in a moment. Bergil, why don't you run off to the kitchen? You look starved and the Halfling is driving the cook crazy."
"Halfling?" I asked, feeling excitement sweep through me. Then Merry was alright!
"A hobbit. He was wounded at the Battle. Do you know him?" Ioreth narrowed her eyes, scrutinizing me.
"I was with the company that set out from Rivendell. We were parted at Amon Hen."
"Then you have travelled with Boromir?" Ioreth asked and her voice was full of ill concealed grief.
I swallowed hard. "Yes, I was."
"He is dead, did you know that?" the Lady continued, her eyes searching my face.
I looked down at my feet. "Yes, I do. I think I saw him die."
"Then there is someone else in these Houses you have to talk to," the Healer said, but this time her voice was soft. What had she seen in my eyes?
I swallowed again, feeling a lump in my throat. "Yes, I know."
"And you are hurt, too." She pointed at my wrists.
"I'm almost good as new. The wounds were stitched and I think they are getting better. They don't itch anymore and they don't hurt anymore."
Ioreth nodded. "That sounds promising. Let me have a look at the stitches. You don't want them to grow into your skin."
I gulped. I had steeled myself against talking to Faramir. I had not imagined having any stitches removed today.
But I was at Ioreth's mercy. I could hardly run away screaming.
She led me into a quiet room that sported all the appliances necessary for what went under the description of healing in Middle-earth. It isn't medicine what they do in Middle-earth. They are at once more primitive and much more sophisticated. They don't have the machines and stuff you need for modern medicine, but their herbal remedies are superior to anything found on earth. They have a more… I don't quite know how to explain it… a holistic approach. They do wonders for psychological and mental afflictions. And then there are those with well, magical abilities, and some of them can do just about anything. However, there are no anaesthetics and no aspirin.
Ioreth unwrapped my wrists. I was surprised to see that they almost looked like wrists again.
Humming under her breath, Ioreth got out tweezers and scissors and without much ado pulled out the stitches. I think I went fairly green in the face. It hurt like the dickens, and there were faint traces of blood where she pulled out the thread.
But when she had cleaned off the blood, my wrists looked almost normal again, apart from the deep red scar that circled my wrists. The scars were about two inches wide, but they were fairly level and did not inhibit my movements.
"Not bad," Ioreth said. "You moved a lot during the last weeks. That has kept your hands mobile. That was lucky. Otherwise you would barely be able to move your hands now.
The feet, too, presume?"
I nodded weakly and lay down on the stretcher, putting my feet up to her ministrations.
She also removed the stitches at my ankles. "They have healed well, too. And I think you will keep your full mobility, my lady. You were really lucky."
I looked at my ankles. They looked worse than the wrists. I had never realized how easily I could have been crippled for life.
Ioreth produced a jar with an athelas salve, lathered my wrists and ankles and bandaged them again neatly. "There. That's it. I will have a small jar of that salve and some additional bandages ready for you when you leave. The king swears on that salve. I have seen it used where all else failed. 'Tis a miracle, athelas is. It will be most beneficial for your wounds, too. Keep the bandages on and lather the salve on it in the morning and in the evening for two or three more weeks. That should reduce the scars and prevent any additional scar growth."
"Thank you, my lady," I said, clenching my teeth against the burning sensation of the salve on the irritated scars.
Ioreth smiled. "You are welcome. It's nice to see some wounds that will heal well."
The way she said that implied that she had seen too many wounds during the last days that would not heal well, if they would heal at all.
"Now I will take you to the Lady Éowyn. Likely we will find the Lord Faramir with her. Since they are up and about, they like to spend the evenings together on the terrace at the back," Ioreth told me.
Faramir? Éowyn? A broad grin spread across my face. Now wouldn't that be wonderful if the stories were right on that account, too!
Ioreth led me back into the entrance hall and then through the hall to a front of what we would probably call French doors; high glass doors opening on a terrace just behind the sixth level's walls. The terrace looked to the south, and there were southern plants set about it in great earthenware pots, oleander and lemon and sweet smelling jasmine. They were sitting on a warm blue blanket spread over a white marble bench in the last golden-red rays of sunlight.
A tall, dark haired man and a tall, slender woman with silver-golden hair flowing down her back to her hips. The man was reading something to the woman, and suddenly she laughed, and her laugh was bright and happy and young.
Sometimes I'm such a sentimental git. And all that emotional turmoil of that waiting and the gruelling sights of the battlefields and then the relief had barely settled in my heart… Whatever the reason or excuse… there were tears in my eyes when I heard Éowyn laugh like that. I had never realized just how worried I had been for her.
When I glanced at Ioreth standing next to me, I was surprised to see the old woman smiling joyfully. It's Faramir, I thought, remembering Bergil's voice when he had spoken that name. They love him.
Then Ioreth cleared her throat and I had no more time to ponder the affection the inhabitants of Minas Tirith had for Faramir. "My Lady Éowyn, my lord Faramir, you have a visitor."
Éowyn turned and simply stared at me.
Oh, Éowyn, I thought, seeing how ill and pale my friend still looked, her shield arm held lifeless in a sling before her chest. Oh, Éowyn.
But I had no time to think anything else because Éowyn was on her feet in an instant, calling my name and running for me, and then she embraced me and I cried and she cried and then she laughed and I laughed, too. A moment later she tried to tell me everything that had happened to her at once and I did, too, and I think I heard the name Faramir about twenty times in three seconds, and at last we sank down on the bench holding hands and gasping for breath.
And that is exactly how it should be when friends meet again after war and darkness.
Faramir had risen to his feet, too, and had apparently watched the show from a safe distance.
Now he looked at me with great curiosity in his eyes.
I looked at him in turn and I caught my breath in sharply, feeling suddenly a painful lump in my throat. He looked very much like his brother and yet he did not look like his brother at all. They had the same, dark, wavy hair, the same clear cut, aquiline features, the same thin nose and the same stubborn chin. But Faramir's face was softer, his eyes were warm and grave and they held a hint of blue among the grey. He was not quite as tall and not as powerfully built. And the way he held himself was not as fierce and arrogant as Boromir's stance had been; Faramir seemed to be much kinder, friendlier.
Nevertheless, he reminded me a lot of his brother.
I blinked my eyes hard, trying to discourage a new deluge of tears.
Éowyn smiled at me. She smiled at Faramir. She positively glowed. And he glowed right back. "My Lord Faramir, this is the Lady Lothíriel; she came from Rivendell with the fellowship and is my dearest friend."
Did I mention I am really soppy sometimes? I had to dash at my eyes quickly before I could get to my feet and bow to the Steward of Gondor.
"My lord," I whispered. Faramir bowed to me, too. I blushed. I think I will never get used to that etiquette.
"It's a pleasure to meet such a good friend of the White Lady of Rohan."
I looked at Éowyn and saw with considerable satisfaction that now it was her turn to blush.
The introductions complete, we were interrupted by a couple of servants carrying one table, one comfortable chair for Faramir, several lanterns, one iron basket to light a fire in to warm the terrace and a huge tray with wine and food. They set everything up and disappeared again as quickly as they had come.
Faramir smiled at us. "I think the Mistress Ioreth has decided that we should invite you to dinner, Lady Lothíriel. Would you care to join us?"
"It would be a pleasure," Éowyn answered for me. I grinned at her. Our friendship – sprung to life in the heap of manure at the Royal Stables of Edoras – had somehow made it through weeks of war and darkness. Now it was warm and strong. Faramir's eyes brightened at seeing Éowyn so easy going and light hearted.
"Is that true?" he asked me.
I smiled happily. "Of course it's true. Not that I would ever dare to contradict Éowyn even if it wasn't!" Éowyn actually giggled at that remark. Faramir poured red wine for us, cut bread and cheese, passing it around with a bowl of sweet raisins.
I turned to Éowyn, reaching out with careful fingers to the arm in the sling. "You did it, didn't you?" I said softly. "What no man could do."
Éowyn shivered with the memory. Her eyes were suddenly haunted.
"Yes," she replied in a voice filled with pain. Her uncle had died then, I remembered suddenly. I had never met King Théoden. But I knew she had loved him very much.
"I am so sorry for your uncle."
She nodded and closed her eyes.
When she opened them again, they were dark, but there were no tears. She was such a strong woman. I could never keep up a façade of strength like that.
Abruptly Éowyn changed the subject. "Now it's your turn, Lothy. What did you do to my horse?"
Faramir raised his eyebrows. "To your horse? What has the Lady Lothíriel got to do with your horse?"
"Oh, not that horse. She is currently the rider of the second best horse in the Royal Stables of Rohan," Éowyn said, then fixed me with a gimlet eye and added. "I hope."
I grinned at her. "Mithril is perfectly alright. She's down at the stables in the Old Guesthouse, munching on oats and hay, and eager to run some more."
"Pray, my ladies, would you tell me the whole story?" Faramir asked. "Because at the moment I am afraid that I cannot follow you at all."
Looking at the face of my best friend in Middle-earth and the brother of the man I had shared love with in dark and dangerous hours I made a quick decision.
"It is a very long story," I said.
"We have time," Éowyn replied softly.
The sun was setting in a glow of red. But with the fire basket the terrace was comfortably warm, and the lit lanterns placed around us and on the table were bright and colourful.
We would be cosy here for as long as the story would take. And there was enough wine to loosen my tongue.
I took a sip of the wine, then considered for a moment where I should start.
A line of a silly song floated through my mind. Start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…
"You have to know there are many worlds in the universe, scattered through time and space. The world I come from is very different from this one. There are no elves, no dwarves, no hobbits, and very little in the way of magic. But somehow, knowledge about this world here and its history has travelled across time and space to my world. There are books about your history in my world. That's where I got my name from."
They gaped at me. "My mother read about your world in those books, and she came across my name, and she liked the sound of it so much that she decided to call me 'Lothíriel'. I guess that is where this story really started."
Faramir put his chin in his hands and was listening raptly. Éowyn was shaking her head. She probably thought that this naming business was pretty silly. Well, I guess it was. But if my mother had not indulged in her spleen there, I would never have come here, would never have found the true home of my heart.
"I was a law student. Someone who studies the laws of a land to become a judge, or a lawyer."
Éowyn frowned at that. But Faramir understood what I was talking about. "A councillor, a lore master, is that right?"
I nodded. "Yes, something like that. In my world and my time women do about the same things as men do, they choose a profession and work for their living. Not all of them, not everywhere, but more or less. It's complicated. And not really important for the story. I can tell you about it some other time." I could see that Éowyn would want to know a lot about that part. "One day I discovered that I did not really like what I was doing, and that nobody really needed me doing it. There were thousands doing the same thing as I was, and doing it better than I was doing it. I realized that in fact I had no real life of my own at all."
Éowyn sighed deeply. I smiled at her but continued, "I felt at odds with the world and with myself. I decided to take a break, to decide what I wanted for me, my life. I left my studies and went hiking for a couple of weeks."
"Hiking?" Éowyn asked, confused.
"Walking for pleasure, sleeping out in the open, trying to find some peace of mind in the hills and the woods," I elaborated.
She nodded. "I always felt better about my life when I could get out and ride for a few hours, ride fast and far," she said.
"Exactly. It helped me, too. After a few days, I was sure that I did not want to go back to my studies, and I had realized that I did not feel as if I belonged where I was at all. I had almost decided to go home and travel to another country and try my luck there, when I met Gandalf."
"Mithrandir?!" They stared at me, perplexed.
"Yes, him. Wizards can travel between the worlds apparently. I have no idea what he did in my world. I did not even realize it was him, at that time. But we talked, and he discovered that I knew the books about this world, and I guess he thought that my knowledge could perhaps help in the battle against Sauron. Anyway, somehow he managed to spirit me away from my world into this world."
"That's why your things look so strange," Éowyn said suddenly. "And why you…"
She trailed off, thinking back to our first conversation at Edoras.
"And then Gandalf took you to Rivendell?" Faramir asked.
"No," I shook my head. "That would have been too easy. I arrived a few miles away from Bree; that's close to the Shire, where the Halflings live. I met Aragorn there, and the Hobbits. Fortunately Aragorn was inclined to believe me about what I knew… or perhaps he only thought that I was mad and might be dangerous back then. Anyway, he allowed me to travel with them to Rivendell. There I met Gandalf and realized that it had been him back in the hills of my world. By then I felt at home here." I paused for a moment. "I have no idea when or how it happened, but when I arrived at Rivendell, I already knew that I never wanted to return to my world but stay here, forever."
"You must be mad," Éowyn told me. "Falling for a world at the brink of war and destruction! Leaving a world where women can do everything they want to do for this! You have to be completely out of your mind!"
I shrugged. "Perhaps. I did not say that it was a reasonable decision. Well, at Rivendell it was decided to include me in the fellowship, in the hope that my knowledge might help."
"And did it?" Faramir asked.
I looked at Éowyn, a silent question in my eyes. She reached out to me and gently squeezed my hand.
"Yes and no," I said finally. "There were several small things before Rivendell, and afterwards, too, where I was… perhaps an aid to the fellowship… but it's difficult. Sometimes painful things have to happen so that something very good and beautiful can happen in the end. Sometimes, no matter what you know, you cannot escape fate."
I pressed my lips together tightly, gathering courage. I had been honest up until now; I had to keep being honest. Let's hope they still talk to me when they know… Will they think I'm a slut?
I looked at Faramir and gulped. "My lord, I came to know your brother very well. He was a wonderful man. And we were very close."
"How close?" Faramir asked, his voice suddenly cold. Did he think I had come to get money out of this connection? My heart pounded, I felt terribly hurt.
But I went on in a calm voice, trying not to let my feelings show.
"We were very close. He asked me to allow him to court me when we were safely in Minas Tirith. I was not sure about this, but I agreed. But it doesn't matter now, does it? He's dead."
I had to stop for a moment, drawing a deep breath. This was going to be difficult.
"He… the ring… the ring had this horrible power over the mind and the heart, especially of men. I only withstood the ring because an Elf-Lord of Rivendell trained me in a special kind of meditation that guards the mind from such influences. Boromir was never taught something like that. He was helpless against the power of the ring. Even when… we were close, he was going mad from the power of the ring. I tried to help him as best I could, with all my heart and –"
Say it, damn it. You know it's the truth. Perhaps it had been much more important than any oh so wise pieces of advice about shielding the mind and the power of the ring. I gulped again. Then I inhaled deeply and continued.
"With all my heart and my body. Look, I did not know your brother very well, but I cared very deeply for him. I can't say that I loved him because I believe that such feelings need time to grow, but I cared more than I can ever say, and I tried to help him withstand the lure of the ring. I tried with everything I had."
This time Faramir's voice was soft when he asked, "Could you help him?"
I shrugged helplessly, feeling tears well up in my eyes. I blinked them away. "I don't know. He was losing it when we came to Amon Hen. I tried to reason with him, but he was so changed, I think he was slowly going insane. He was angry beyond words, and then he shoved me, and I stumbled and fell into the lake. When I managed to get out off the water, he had run away. He had run off to find the ring bearer. What he said to Frodo, I do not know. But the fellowship was broken that day. Frodo and Sam went away on their own. Merry and Pippin ran off into the woods. We went after them, Boromir and I, and Aragorn and the others went looking for Frodo. Boromir and I found Merry and Pippin. But we were too late. There were orcs about, orcs from Mordor and from Isengard, and some that had followed us out of Moria. The orcs found the Hobbits first. We tried to fight the orcs. For a time, we held out against them. But in the end there were too many orcs. Merry, Pippin and I were taken. Boromir was killed. I saw how he was hit by several black arrows, and then I lost consciousness."
Faramir moaned and covered his face with his hands. "Oh, Boromir! How could you fail like that?"
"No," I said, finally giving up trying to hold back my tears. I felt the tears running into my nose and my mouth. My voice sounded choked when I went on. "He did not fail. Gandalf told me later at Edoras. Boromir went to Frodo and argued with him. He was angry and shouted some, and Frodo was frightened and knew that it was the lure of the ring that was affecting Boromir. So Frodo ran away. But Boromir never tried to take the ring. I have no idea if that has anything to do with… what was between us, but in the end Boromir's strength did not fail. You should know that."
I rubbed my sleeve across my face and sniffled a little bit, trying to get calm again.
"Love makes all things possible," Éowyn said in a soft, clear voice and she smiled at Faramir. Faramir lifted his head. I could see that he had been crying, too. But when he looked at Éowyn, the grief and pain left his face for an expression of tenderness and happiness that touched my heart. Their gaze locked, silver-grey eyes and blue-grey eyes, giving comfort to each other, healing the losses they had experienced.
I sighed. At least one good thing had come of this war.
"I do believe that it was you that saved my brother's soul," Faramir said suddenly, his voice darkened again. "You knew my brother only for a little while. But I knew him very well and loved him dearly. He was proud, and arrogant. Stubborn. He could not believe that the strength of a warrior might not be the key to solve all problems. No, if he found the strength to withstand the lure, then it was because of you. You have to realize, no woman ever really touched his heart enough to make him angry."
Suddenly Faramir smiled. "And so many have tried… he took all the advantages of his position, but he always remained strangely aloof… keeping his heart safe from the girls, living a warrior's life. If you made him so angry that he could not even speak anymore, you held his heart in your hands."
At that I completely lost it and I simply started sobbing like child. I had managed not to think about Boromir for the last weeks, busy and full of fear as they had been. Or if I had thought of him, it had been only for very short moments and then I had shoved any thoughts and memories ruthlessly away, to be dealt with later.
Now that I had told Faramir all I could say about the last days and the death of his brother, I could finally begin to let go. And so I sat and cried once again for soft touches and an easy smile and sweet might-have-beens gone from the world in a shower of black arrows at Amon Hen.
As I cried, Éowyn simply sat next to me, stroking my back, saying nothing. She had changed a great deal from the angry, infatuated young woman I had first met at Edoras. She was no less fierce, but she was not as judgmental as she had been, softer in her attitude towards herself and towards others.
When I had cried myself out and Faramir and Éowyn had dried some tears of their own, our talk turned to other matters. I told about my ride through the Paths of the Dead, and Faramir and Éowyn related the Battle of the Pelennor. We stayed on the terrace talking late into the night. When the fire in the iron basket had burned down, we simply moved into Faramir's room and continued talking in front of the fire place.
Only when the sky was already bright with a new morning, we stopped talking, having relieved our minds of every thing that had disturbed us or made us happy during the last weeks and many things besides. For another hour we simply sat together in comfortable silence as you can sit with only the best of friends.
I never made it down to the Old Guesthouse that night but was finally led to a small chamber with a clean, narrow bed by a young woman in the grey robes of a healer.
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.