12. Epilogue: THe Lady of Minas Tirith
Today, as on every day, the Lady Finduilas stood on the ramparts of the Citadel looking north. The wind was freshening out of that direction and its coolness had sent the maid running for the lady's cloak. Now the girl sat in an embrasure and sighed deeply, tugging her own cloak tighter around her and wondering what sin she had committed to earn this dismal duty. Finduilas stared north, seemingly lost in thought, much as she had taken to doing for hours on end most days now.
On those days she wasn't found staring, as if mesmerized, north, the Steward's Lady was deep in the great Gondorian library, leafing through dusty tomes and making careful notes in the leather-covered book she kept safely locked in a metal strong box hidden in her room, the silver key always with her. She had learned to protect what was hers by painful lesson. Besides the book, the box contained letters from her sister-in-law in Dol Amroth, letters exchanged by the two women that probed the history of the Dúnedain, and folded between them, the other letters, the paper ornately patterned, the handwriting firm and bold.
Finduilas took tea with Mithrandir whenever he was in the city, seeking answers, yet not seeming to ask questions, playing a delicate, elusive game with him. She was now nearly as much an expert on Isildur's line as the wizard. Her need to know, her desire to know, kept her sane though her mental state was much in doubt in the Steward's court.
That morning, Denethor, tired of the spectacle of his unbalanced wife, walked out on the pinnacle, waving the grateful maid inside. He was growing more and more perturbed by Finduilas' erratic behavior. Whispers of madness in his court, present for four year now, had grown louder since the birth of Faramir. Denethor was agitated, nervously jingling the keys and coins in his jacket pocket. He had just left the nursery. Boromir was a burly, tow-haired lad of nearly four, ready to wrestle with his father and eager to be swung squealing in delight, high into the air. His second son, a year old, had the coloring of his mother, and when he had looked down at the child in his cradle, he was shaken when he saw his brother's blue eyes looking up at him.
Drink was no longer Denethor's companion, but guilt was a demon that haunted him most waking and sleeping hours. His father's death in the spring had revived old ghosts he thought put to rest. Now most nights, he sat up in his office unable to sleep. Often he would start up from his writing, listening intently, hearing companionable voices laughing at some shared joke and boot steps in the hall; the banter of two good friends; two long-missing City Guard officers returning from their mission to report. Dozing at his desk in the late watches of the night, he sprang up more than once, calling out their names loud enough to bring the guard running to question if he were all right.
The Steward stood for a long while in the wind at her side, the sun skipping in and out of the scudding clouds, staring north himself, trying to discern whatever it was she stared at on the far horizon. When she did not acknowledge him, he grew angry.
"You must stop this madness! They will never be coming back!" He scoffed, and then shouted. "They are both dead, long dead and best forgotten!" Finduilas touched the folded letter in her pocket. It had arrived that morning by private messenger from Rivendell. She could close her eyes and see the tall pines, and hear the wind soughing through the needles of the woodland he had described to her so long ago. She would soon lock it away with the others, next to the first, the one stained with blood droplets. But now, it still seemed to hold warmth and strength from its author and gave her courage to face her husband.
"That is not so," she stated it as a fact. "Fallon is dead. But the man you know as Thorongil is very much alive." Then she turned on him, a fey light in her violet eyes, and Denethor almost did not know his meek wife. Her hair blew around her like a demon's locks, she clutched that pale pink pearl she wore like a witch's orb, and in a fell voice, she intoned. "He is my champion, you know; and when he returns, sorely concerned he will be by your mistreatment. When he returns," she said in a far-away voice, "when he returns, it will be at the head of an army. When he returns, it will be for the crown of Gondor. When he returns, husband mine, it will be a dark day for the Steward."
Denethor felt a chill of prophecy run through his soul, a great fear filled his mind. For the first time in many months, he struck her, knocking her to the granite pavers where she crouched, laughing madly.
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.