23. Third Age 2983 - Part Two
"Will he return? Will he return safely?" she begged Indis.
The older woman held Finduilas in her arms. "Of course! He is with Amdir. They will be fine and your brother will learn what he needs to learn. You were most brave, sending both of them out like this."
Finduilas sighed. "Most brave when Denethor held me in his arms, but as soon as those arms let me go, my fears take hold. How can I fight these fears, Indis? How have you fought your fears all these long years?"
"With the help of those I love. And you will do the same. You must not think you can fight alone. Denethor will tell you: no man can fight alone. It is in the strength of his fellow warriors that victory is won."
"You will help me then?"
"Listöwel and I will help you. If Elleth were better, she would also help. The poor thing. My heart goes out to her. In fact, I think it best I see her today. Would you come with me?"
"Of course. Mayhap our visit would help to cheer her."
They found Listöwel in the buttery, planning the month's needs, and dragged her, willingly, along with them. As they sat with Elleth in her kitchen, Indis remembered other times spent here. The making of their wedding gowns, the nights worrying about Amdir and Denethor and if they would recover from their burns, the tea sessions that lasted long into the night as they contemplated how they were going to tell their men of their sword fighting lessons, the preparing of herbs for Finduilas as she carried her babes - so many moments spent together in joy and hope and fear. For a moment, Indis' heart ached. Almiel was dead and buried; Morwen was in Edoras, widowed too young; Finduilas was heartsick; and Elleth's health was failing. She looked at her friend. So many years now, they had known each other, laughed and cried and loved through trials and tribulations. Her heart ached for Elleth. Arciryas' medicaments did naught to relieve her friend's pain. Yet, Elleth, as always, smiled and served them and enjoyed their company. 'What a dear sister-friend. What can I do to assist her?'
"What grave matters cloud your eyes so?" Elleth laughed. "If it is my sweet rolls, then I am most saddened."
Indis laughed. "Your sweet rolls are still delicious. You have not lost the knack of those, my dearest. However, a long time ago, we spoke of breaking into Ingold's wine. I do not think we ever did, did we?"
Finduilas looked shocked. "Wine? This early in the afternoon?"
"Sounds very good to me," Elleth agreed. "Though at the moment, I think I should not. My balance is not as good as it used to be. 'Twould not look good for me to fall on my face this early in the day."
Indis howled. "You are right. I can just hear the ladies of Gondor speaking about us!"
"So how shall we help our Finduilas, Elleth?" Listöwel asked.
"Mayhap a sword in her hand?"
"Nay, I... I cannot take a sword. I must confess; I hate war, I hate fighting, I hate violence. It tears my heart apart." Finduilas bowed her head. "I am a failure as wife to the heir, am I not?"
"Nay. There are other ways to support Denethor. And to keep our fears at bay. First, we must vow to help each other, here and now and for always. Then, we must keep our hopes high. If we look to the future, to the children, to Boromir and Faramir, and know that all that we do is for them; if we keep our hands busy, whether with our weapons, or with our needlework, or with soothing fevered brows. That is it!" Indis jumped up. "We should volunteer in the Houses. Arciryas is always complaining about the help, about how women are needed for keeping the woundeds' spirits lifted. We could do that once a week or so. We can give hope and receive hope from our warriors. What think you of that?"
"'Tis a fine idea," Elleth said. "Even I can work one day a week. If Arciryas does not mind not having a set schedule, for I may only work when the body is able."
"Arciryas will be most grateful for whatever time we give!" Indis replied.
"What think you, Finduilas?" The three women turned towards her.
Listöwel put her hand on Finduilas' shoulder. "You seem reluctant? Is there aught wrong?"
"I am weak and useless," Finduilas started to cry. "I am afraid to see sickness and wounds and death. I do not think I could do this."
Indis walked over and took Finduilas' tear-streaked face into her hands. She slipped into Quenya in her grave concern. "Thou art not weak, nor useless, nor foolish, dearest sister. Thou art but a fair flower that hast been transplanted, whose roots have not yet taken hold. Thou wert sheltered by thy father. Little steps will help thee. As wilt thy friends." She knelt before her. She spoke in the Common Tongue again. "Perhaps you can sit in the garden and read to those who are close to recovery, who are far from illness and death. You will find strength in giving, but it will be in a safe place, away from those things that disturb you now. Who knows, mayhap after a short time doing that, you will be ready to come into the Houses and help in other ways. If not, that would be sufficient, I think."
Finduilas' eyes shone. "I could do that. I know I could do that. I love to read. And in the garden, I could feel the fresh air and smell the scent of the flowers and not dwell on illness and... and other things." She smiled.
"Then it is settled," Indis jumped up and smiled. "I will tell Arciryas that we will all come tomorrow morning, and he can show us where we can help most. And dearest Elleth, if you are unable tomorrow, then next week perhaps."
She hugged each one in turn and laughed. "Now, 'tis time for tea!"
Shouts echoed off the banked eastern side of the road as dust rose. Denethor could see the patrol coming their way, horses at full sprint, running from the enemy. He ordered the signal and then the charge. With shouts and banners flying, his division overtook the patrol and continued towards the Orcs. Baranor waved to him as the sortie turned and joined his men. They continued onward and soon found themselves in the midst of battle. As Denethor had thought, the Orcs first looked towards Amdir's division; they were caught unawares when Denethor's joined the fray. Already swords were heavily laden with the black blood of Orcs.
He looked to the right and saw that Imrahil's band would converge in a few moments, helping to further confound the enemy. It would be a rout. He drew his sword as the first of the beasts came towards him, lunged and drew the blade across unprotected flesh. The Orc fell, but another replaced it and fury filled its face. It ducked as Denethor lunged, then jumped and grabbed his arm. Denethor kicked it in the face, and the beast fell back, but not before it too was mortally wounded. His men slashed and hacked at the Orcs with a fury inflamed by the audacity of the enemy. Even in the face of the large number that attacked them, as Denethor had thought, the Orcs gave no indication they were the least bit fearful. Another and another came, but they were slowly being beaten back. Denethor had ordered that none be left alive and the battalion was doing its best to see it done.
A brief respite came and Denethor wiped blood off his sword in anticipation of further attack; then wiped blood off his face and sword arm. As he looked up, he saw Amdir, still battling in a pocket of men who seemed surrounded by Orcs. Denethor spurred his horse forward and hacked his way through the wall of bodies. He reached Amdir's side just as an Orc prepared to swing at his friend. The Orc soon lay dead on the ground. Amdir smiled; then screamed in fury as another attacked him. The brief respite was over; Denethor was full in the battle again. For well into the morning, the battle raged. Men and Orcs lay dead on the road and the nearby forest floor. As the sun rose, the Orcs' faces fell. The sun became Denethor's friend as the Orcs tried to escape it and the Knights of Gondor. But these men would not let them escape. No matter the cost. They would kill every last one of them, every one that would dare to trod the roads of Gondor.
"Long they dwelt in their first home by the water under stars, and they walked the Earth in wonder; and they began to make speech and to give names to all things that they perceived." Finduilas read and the soldier sat, spellbound. "Themselves they named the Quendi, signifying those that speak with voices; for as yet they had met no other living things that spoke or sang." She stopped. "Do you want me to continue? You look tired."
"Yes, please," Hirgon begged. "I knew naught of Elves before. Is it true, what you read?"
"My father says it is. I found this book in the Great Library. It is one of my favorites. It tells all about the Elves and how they were found. There are parts that are sad, but the beauty of the Elves o'ershadows everything, in my mind's eye. I am glad you like this book. But you do look very tired. I think you should return to your bed. I will come back next week, I promise."
"Will you walk with me to my room?"
Finduilas took a deep breath. "I will walk with you to the door, then the doorwarden will take you inside. I will see you next week, I promise."
As they approached the door, Indis stepped outside. She smiled at the soldier and moved aside. The doorwarden met them and helped the man inside.
"How did you feel, Finduilas? Was it very difficult?"
"Nay," Finduilas gave a small smile. "He asked me to take him to his room, but I could not."
"Better for you to know your limits than to be so uncomfortable that you are unable to return. I am most proud of you. And Denethor will be too. But come, I am finished for the day and would visit Elleth. She was not able to come. Her bones creak louder than the willows at the creek, she says."
"I am tired myself. If you do not mind, I would like to go home and rest. I have not seen the children since morning and I miss them." She blushed.
"That is a very good reason to go home!" Indis laughed. She hugged Finduilas, waved fare well, and walked towards the Great Hall.
Finduilas turned towards the Citadel, but a loud crash drew her attention back to the Sixth Gate. An errand-rider had jumped from his horse, overturned a flower urn in his haste, and was rushing towards her. She put up her hands in alarm, but he ran past her and into the Hall. She hurried after him, fear closing her throat. The man strode to the Steward's Chair and halted. She could not go forward. Ecthelion would be most upset if she dared to enter the Hall without his permission, but she needed to hear what was being said. Slowly, she skirted behind the statues lining the Hall until she stood almost parallel to the Chair. She still could not hear. But the look on Ecthelion's face was grim. She crept back towards the entrance. She would stop the soldier as soon as he passed through the door. Perhaps, as Denethor's own, he would answer her questions. She stood waiting, impatiently tapping her toe as her heart beat faster and faster.
The soldier stood and spoke for such a long time that Finduilas thought she would scream. At last, Ecthelion dismissed him and he turned. She stepped outside into the sunlight and waited. The soldier started when she called to him, but came over, bowed and asked what she needed.
"Is all well with the garrison at Osgiliath?" She would not mince words; she needed to know immediately.
"Mayhap you would ask the Steward, my Lady. I have no authority to give out information. I am sure Ecthelion will speak with you, if you ask."
"Nay, I need to know now. There is something wrong, is there not?" Her voice rose and the soldier looked about him in concern.
"Please, my Lady, sit here and I will go and ask Ecthelion if I might speak with you."
"Nay, stop now." She almost screamed and willed herself to a measure of calm. "Please, I must know."
"My Lady, my orders were to report to the Steward. I cannot divulge anything without his consent. You would ask me to disobey my Lord and that I cannot do."
Finduilas broke into tears. "Something has happened to Denethor! I know it. Please tell me, please!"
The man stood next to one of the benches outside the door and gently bade Finduilas sit down. "My Lady. You are asking me to commit treason; for disobeying my liege lord is treason. Punishable by death. Please, my Lady, do not ask this of me."
Indis came hurrying out from the foyer. "Finduilas! What has happened?" she cried.
"I know not, but this man will not tell me. Make him tell me, Indis, make him tell me."
Turning towards the errand-rider, Indis asked, "Have you made your report to the Steward?"
"Yes, my Lady."
"Then I will go speak with him. Stay here with the Lady Finduilas until I return. You have no orders that you need to obey at the moment?"
"Nay, Lady Indis. I will stay here."
"Thank you." She hushed Finduilas, turned and ran up the stairs and into the Hall.
"Father," she bowed as she stood before him. "An errand-rider has come from Osgiliath. Is there aught wrong?"
Ecthelion looked perplexed. He was to meet with his Council and had just been about to leave the Hall. "Why do you ask?"
"Finduilas spotted the man and is concerned."
"You mean she grows hysterical. I have seen this before. Is there naught you can do about it? I do not like these fits of hers. Unnerving. Mayhap she should return to Dol Amroth. The nurse can take care of my grandsons. It would be best for all if she left."
Indis stepped back, horror written on her face. "Father! You could not ask that!"
"I could and I will if she cannot compose herself. The entire Citadel is up in arms every time some small thing happens to disturb her. 'Twould be better for the whole City if she left."
Drawing in a deep breath, Indis stood tall and straight. "She is the mother of the Heir. She is needed here. For the sake of Gondor, she must stay. I bid you reconsider, Father."
"Indis," her father took hold of her arms. "You have always been most sensible. Do you not see the chaos that forms around her? Do you not think it would be better for her to leave? Yet, I see you do not," he said with a sigh. "Well, I will bow to your wisdom in this. I tell you, I like the woman, but I am deeply concerned about her fits. I place her in your care."
"Thank you, Father. And now, about the missive from the errand-rider?"
"Ah. A band of Orcs was spotted and Denethor has decided to attack. It is a little thing, something he has been trained for. I expect another missive ere the end of day. Come back at the sixth bell, and I will tell you more." He waved her off and walked towards the Council Chambers.
Indis quickly walked outside, thanked the soldier and waved him away. She sat next to Finduilas. "All is well, for the moment. There is an attack planned by Denethor. We will know later today how successful it was. Finduilas," Indis took her in her arms, "This is why Denethor went. This is why you allowed him to leave Minas Tirith, and this is why you are trying to learn courage. You must trust that he knows what he is about. He is a great warrior. He has many battle skills. And Amdir is with him. Try to put aside your fears and trust him."
"When I saw the rider, and the haste at which he ran to give his report... my heart stopped. Forgive me. You are right." She took a huge, shuddering breath. "I will go to my chamber and rest. I cannot see the children now. I am too distraught. They would notice. Poor little lambs. I dare not put my fear on them. But, I thought you were going to see Elleth?"
"I was. I was on the balcony with her when I saw the rider come in. I left her as soon as I was able. And just in time, I think."
"Yes. 'Twas just in time. I was going to make a fool of myself."
"Ah, sweet sister. You will learn in time. Do not be harsh with yourself. May I walk you to your rooms? Mayhap we can share a cup of tea?"
"Oh, Indis. I would most like that," she sighed. "Thank you!"
Soon, Denethor had to search for a beast to kill. Their numbers were greatly reduced and the battle won. As Denethor sat back in his saddle, he searched the remaining men for a glimpse of Imrahil. The lad was still fighting a small group of Orcs, though others had joined his division to help. Denethor rode towards the pocket of combat, sword still drawn. As he approached, an Orc swung at Imrahil. Denethor knew it was a killing strike, but he was close now and knew he could maneuver his horse between the beast and Finduilas' brother. He did not see the dip in the ground. As his horse stumbled, the blade struck Denethor's back instead of Imrahil's. Fire ignited every part of him. He fell.
Imrahil dispatched the Orc, jumped from his own horse, and knelt next to him. "Denethor," he cried out, but Denethor was past hearing.
When Denethor came to, he found himself in his own room in Osgiliath. Siriondil was leaning over him, forcing tea down his throat. Denethor started coughing violently, and the healer pulled back.
"You must drink this, my Lord."
He drew in a ragged breath. "Where is Imrahil?"
"He is unharmed. I am re-bandaging your wound and then we will move you to Minas Tirith. You need to be in the Houses."
"Nay," he whispered, for the breath seemed to leave him, "Bring Amdir to me."
"My Lord Denethor, you must stay still. Amdir will accompany us to the City."
"Now! I must see Amdir now." The coughing started again; Siriondil helped him sit up. Pain coursed through his entire body, and he stiffened and gasped. Siriondil held him close. "Hold on to me, my Lord. It will pass. The tea will take affect soon. Hold on just a little longer."
His head swam. "Amdir," he choked out the name. He fought to stay awake.
Knowing Denethor's stubbornness, Siriondil shouted orders to a guard stationed nearby and the man ran out of the room. Within moments, Amdir was at his side.
"Denethor. You must not speak. You must stay still and let Siriondil care for you. It will not be long. We have a cart ready to take you home.
"Listen to me, Amdir. You must not take me to the City."
Amdir looked stunned. "Denethor..."
Trying to grasp his arm, Denethor grimaced in pain. His breath came in short gasps as throbbing filled him. "Promise me."
"Yes. I promise. You will not be moved."
Denethor gave in to the pain and lost consciousness.
Siriondil turned to his captain. "He must not stay here. The wound is deep and will easily become infected."
"He will not be moved. Prepare a note for Arciryas as to the supplies you will need and a description of Denethor's wound. I will send an errand-rider immediately. If he does not want to go home, he has his reasons. He is not a raw recruit, Siriondil. He knows the extent of his injury. There must a reason strong enough to cause this decision. We will obey him, do you understand?"
Siriondil took in a breath himself. "Yes, Captain. I will do what I can. Arciryas should be here by morning. I will try to keep him alive until then."
"You will keep him alive." And Amdir left the room.
A moment later, the errand-rider stood in front of the healer. Quickly, Siriondil wrote, folded the missive and handed it to him. "Ride fast. Our Captain-General's life depends upon your speed. Stop for naught. Speak to no one. Take this to the Master Healer, to Arciryas, and no one else. Now, go!"
Amdir walked back into the room. The rider saluted; Amdir gave him another note, whispered orders to him, and the man ran. Moving quickly towards the bed, Amdir knelt down taking Denethor's hand into his own. "Hold on, Denethor, my friend, hold on."
Imrahil looked in. "Captain, may I come in?"
Amdir looked up. "Not yet. I need Baranor."
"Yes, Captain. I will find him and send him in."
"Papa, Mama? When wilt Papa return?"
"Soon, my love, my own. Very soon. Hast thou eaten all thy carrots? Thou needest carrots to see. Bunnies see very well. And dost thou know why?"
Boromir's eyes opened wide. "Nay, Mama, I dost not."
"It is because they eat carrots. Thou wants to see well, dost thou not, Boromir? So that thou canst stand at the top of the cliff near Dol Amroth and see the whales?"
"Oh, Mama, that would be wonderful!" The boy breathed a sigh of joy and ate all his carrots. How often his mother had told him tales of the whales that swam in the sea. He wanted to see them with all his heart. "When wilt we go to the sea, Mama, when?"
She sighed. "Soon, my love. Soon. Thy father promised me we would go in the spring. Uncle Imrahil wilt come with us too. We shalt run on the beach and feed the seagulls and watch the waves crash." A tear slid down her cheek. She wiped it away, but the lad was quick and saw.
"Mama, may we go now? Ask Papa. He wilt take us now."
She hugged him to her. "Soon. We wilt go soon." She took in a deep breath. "It is time for thy nap. Wouldst thou like a story?"
He clapped his hands and giggled, and the laughter was infectious. "Ah, Boromir. You are my light."
"Faramir too, Mama. Forget not Faramir."
She hugged him even tighter. "I wilt not forget Faramir. He wilt come with us too. Is that agreeable to thee?"
"Oh, yes, Mama. Faramir must come. Though I think he wilt probably cry. It is a long way to the sea. He wilt want to eat." Boromir clicked his tongue. "All he does is eat." He suddenly looked up at her. "When wilt he be able to play with me, Mama?"
She laughed again. "Oh, soon, Boromir, soon."
"But Mama. Everything is soon and soon never comes!"
Picking him up, she kissed him over and over again, on his eyes, his nose, his ears, his chin. The child laughed in joy and Finduilas joined him. Reaching the rocker, she sat and hugged him tight. "What tale wouldst thou hear?"
"The big dog, Mama; the one who talks. Tell me that one, please."
She settled in the rocker and started the tale of Huan. "He wast a hound, Boromir, the biggest that ever lived..."
The sixth bell had not finished ringing when Indis entered the Great Hall. Ecthelion sat in his Chair. An errand-rider was just leaving. He bowed to her as they passed each other. She stood still, waiting for her father to bid her come forward.
"Indis. You are a timely little thing, are you not! Come to me. I have received word of Denethor. He has been injured. It is not serious, I imagine; else they would have brought him to the Houses. Mayhap you would want to journey to Osgiliath yourself, to see him. I believe Arciryas is going in the morning. You could accompany him."
"Thank you, Father. I will do that." She kissed him lightly on the cheek and he blushed. "Thank you!" She turned and forced herself to walk towards the door. As soon as she was outside, she ran to the Sixth Level and into the Houses. Arciryas was not in his office. She walked the halls, hoping she would see him. She turned a corner and almost ran into him. He spilled what he was carrying and she laughed. "Let me help you." The look in his eyes stopped her. "What is it, Arciryas? What has happened? Denethor! Finduilas was not mistaken. What has happened to Denethor?"
"He has been injured. He does not want to return here, but Siriondil says the injury is serious. I am going to him now. I believe he did not want Finduilas to know."
"I am coming with you." She turned on her heels and ran out the door, his voice followed her, calling her name.
She went first to Finduilas. She could not lie, so she had asked Ecthelion to give her another duty to perform, once she had seen Denethor. "Father has bid me visit the farms on the Pelennor. There has been some dissension about the harvest and he wants me to act as peacemaker. I will only be gone a short time. Would you please remember to visit Hirgon in the morning? He will not expect you until next week, but Arciryas has told me he needs his mind taken from thoughts of his last battle. Would you do that for him?"
Finduilas mouth dropped open. "Well, of course, if you think I can help. But Indis, how came this sudden order?"
"Finduilas. You know I must obey Father. As I said, there was some altercation and a member of the Steward's family must go to iron out the difficulty. Father would send Denethor, but he is on patrol. I will return," she said quickly, noting the concern in her friend's eyes. "I promise."
"I will miss you. Is there aught I can do to help?"
"Nay, I must pack tonight so that I will be ready in the morning. I will leave at first light." She hugged Finduilas, threw a kiss to Boromir and ran out of the room. As soon as she was packed, she ran to the Houses.
Arciryas was waiting for her. Two horses were saddled. Gondor's Master Healer helped her mount and then turned to his own horse. Pulling himself up, he smiled at her. "Denethor is strong. He will not succumb. Now, let us hurry," and the tone of his voice belied the spoken words of comfort.
Siriondil had done everything in his power to keep Denethor alive. Arciryas, bending over his friend, congratulated the healer on his excellent stitches, his assessment of the wound, and his quick thinking. Siriondil smiled at the praise; however, he was more grateful that the Master Healer had arrived when he did. Fever and infection had been his main fear, but Arciryas knew how to prevent those things even better than he did. He stood back, took a deep breath and walked away. He had others he must tend to.
Denethor's back healed quickly. Though the wound was deep and long, the medicaments and attention of the Master Healer of Gondor prevailed. Indis returned to the City after a fortnight. Within a month, he was up and about, able to at least hold his sword, though it would be at least another two months before he would be able to wield it with any strength. The men, especially Amdir, who had sat by his bedside for the first week, hailed the Master Healer one night in the main dining hall. Ale was set for all. Songs and laughter filled the room. No Orcs had been spotted since the battle, and the garrison stood in peace, for the moment. Tomorrow, Denethor would return to Minas Tirith; tonight the men would bid him fare well with a soldier's night of feasting. Long into the night the festivities continued, but Denethor left early, still plagued by fatigue. Amdir followed him to his room.
"I would have you come with me, Amdir, back to Minas Tirith. Too long have you been gone from Listöwel's side. I will ask Father, upon my return, to station you in the City."
"I will come back to Minas Tirith, Denethor, but only for a short visit. What we do here is most important and I have grown to love this forsaken piece of land. I ask your generosity in letting me stay here."
"Friend I call you and have much need for you at home. Yet I cannot put my own needs over those of Gondor. You speak rightly, as you always have. Come with me tomorrow. Stay in the City for a few months, and then return. I will leave Baranor here. He will lead the men while you are gone."
"Then I will come with you." He smiled broadly. "It has been almost six months since last I saw my bride. 'Twill be good to hold her again."
"It is settled, then. We leave on the morrow. Finish your revelry with your men and leave me to my bed." He clenched Amdir's arm tightly. "And thank you, my friend."
He lay on their bed, a light sheet covering him, waiting for her to join him. He could walk, and sit, and breathe without a twinge, yet the scar was deep and not yet completely healed. He would keep his back from her.
As she lay down next to him, he held her close, keeping her arms at her side. The night passed and he fell into a deep sleep. She woke before morning, turned towards him and ran her hands lovingly down his arms. She kissed his shoulder; then slipped her arms about his waist. He did not stir. Affectionately, she stroked his back, then stiffened in alarm. Slowly, she moved her hand again and found the wound she knew she had just felt. It was new! He had been injured! She pulled her hands back and moved off the bed. Walking to the other side, she pulled down the sheet, and looked in horror at the long, deep red welt that went from his lower left shoulder to his right waist. The wound was still ugly, stitch marks quite visible, and it wept slightly. She put her hand over her mouth and fled the room.
He woke sometime later and felt for her. The bed was cold. He sat up and looked around. She was not in their bedchamber. He stood, put his robe on, and walked into the outer chamber. She stood, cold and stiff, by the garden doors. He walked to her and took her in his arms; she pulled away.
"My love! What ails thee? Why dost thou withdraw from me?"
"You lied to me. Everyone lied to me," she spat out the words, anger overtaking her. "When did it happen? When were you going to tell me?" She looked at him in revulsion. "You were not going to tell me, were you? You were going to treat me as a fool, hide things that should be known between husband and wife! How could you?"
"Listen to my words, come here," he tried to assuage her anger, tried to touch her, but she moved away.
"Speak not to me in terms of love. I will not hear Quenya again from your lips for you have turned it into a language of deceit."
"I do not understand. I tried to protect thee." He understood at last. "The wound hast healed. I am well. Forgive me. I thought only of thee."
"I am leaving here. I am taking the children and returning to my father."
"What did you say? Thou wouldst leave me for this?"
"Stop this!" she screamed, forgetting herself. "I wilt not stay here to be lied to, to be deceived."
"When will you leave?" He resigned himself to her decision.
"On the morrow. I canst not stay here another day."
He turned and left her. Putting her hands to her face, she bent over and wept. He heard her sobs. Running back into the room, he knelt at her feet and cried, "My lady, my own. Forgive me. I canst not live without thee. 'Twas wrong of me to deceive thee, but fear took my heart, fear that thou wouldst fall into despair. Canst thou not understand my fears?"
She looked at him in astonishment. "Thou canst not fear. Thou art Denethor, Captain-General of Gondor, mighty warrior, Knight of the Tower of Guard. How canst thou fear?"
"I am a man, Finduilas. I am only a man who loves thee passionately. And would die if thou shouldst leave me. Doest thou think I cannot be afraid? I am afraid always, that thou, fairest flower of Belfalas, Princess of Dol Amroth, wilt grow to hate me and leave me. I couldst not bear that."
She knelt beside him. "I couldst not bear it either. I am sorry." She kissed him.
"There is nothing to forgive. I should have trusted thee. I should have told thee immediately. I will ne'er keep secrets from thee again. I promise." Taking her into his arms, they knelt together. The wind stirred and he rose. Taking her hand and helping her up, they walked into the garden. Winter would soon be here and the flowers would fall. They walked to the great pool and sat beside each other. He held her close; she felt the scar under his robe and she wept. The mountain rumbled, but she did not notice.
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.