7. A Nightly Farewell
Note: I am absolutely appalled at this dreadful display of melodrama. I swear it won´t happen again –well... maybe it will. (cough)
A Nightly Farewell
(two days later)
The young woman lay unmoving, her head upon the pillow. Watching the entrance, she listened intently for the familiar sound of small feet tiptoeing across the corridor.
Soon afterwards, she heard a faint creaking sound, and then a smaller one, sharp and metallic as the door to her inner chambers was clicked shut. Her lips curved into a smile, that grew sad even while she rolled aside to make room for the cold body of a child.
"Come here" she whispered, holding the covers open. Inziladûn accepted the invitation mutely, his expression still full of distress, and pressed against her swollen belly in search of comfort. "What was it?"
A short, tremulous silence.
"It was... that one again." he muttered after a while. "The Sea was coming for me. People were drowning... and I ran, I tried to run faster and faster, but I couldn´t!"
"Ssssh." she hushed him, caressing his dark hair. "I have you."
This seemed to calm him to some extent, though his body was still tense minutes later. Since he had been but a baby, he had suffered from an uneasy sleep full of nightmares, and Inzilbêth had blamed the gloom of that palace of cold stone. Most nights, the dreams were so vivid that he dared to brave the shadows of the corridors and the eyes of the servants to slip into his mother´s bed, and she had never had the heart to refuse him before.
She embraced him, forcing a painful knot down her throat.
"What´s the matter, Mother?" he asked. Realising that he had noticed her distress with that precocious perceptiveness of his, Inzilbêth shook her head as she could.
"Nothing, my dear."
"Is the baby hurting you?"
Her tears almost turned to a choked laugh.
"Of course not. It is sleeping too, at this hour of the night!"
"Lady Masra says that babies do not eat or sleep until they are out."
"Lady Masra is wrong. Babies sleep in their mother´s womb."
Inziladûn fell silent again at this, and Inzilbêth assumed that he was pondering the matter with a frown. She wiped her eyes with the hand that was not holding him close.
What would she do when he was not there anymore? She remembered the dreary months when she could only approach him under the vigilant gazes of her husband´s servants. His nightmares had become worse than ever, but he had stopped asking her for songs and tales. Even today, the child she was holding in her arms was not the same that she had left in that garden with his father, and this had caused something like a small, persistent wound to grow in her heart.
Of course, that would not be the matter any longer. She held him a bit closer, and shivered.
"Mother, you are hurting me."
"Sorry." she mumbled. He pulled some inches away, until he was able to distinguish her face in the soft glow.
"I do not want the baby to be born."
Inzilbêth´s eyes widened, and she sought his glance. He was looking intently at her, ever so formal, so serious.
"Why... not?" she asked, weakly.
"Because people say that he will be heir instead of me, and that Father will cast me out when he´s born."
Inzilbêth forced herself to smile, even as the weight of the letters scribbled by a kinsman on a piece of parchment crushed her heart and chilled her soul. The sound rang hollow, almost like a choke.
"This is nonsense. You know that your father loves you, don´t you, dear?"
Inziladûn´s face showed no signs of reassurance at her words. For a moment, a look of raw uncertainty crossed his eyes.
"I don´t know." he mumbled. Inzilbêth embraced him again in silence, wondering how much he had been able to gather- how much had his sharp glance been able to perceive on its own.
As he laid his head over her belly, one of her hands broke carefully free again, and it sought the familiar warmth of the jewel hanging from her neck. Her eyes closed while she allowed its comfort to seep through her distress –oh, how she wished that time would stop forever in that very moment.
But it didn´t, and a mother could not bring further ruin upon her child.
"Inziladûn... I have something important to tell you. Listen to me with attention."
Surprised at his mother´s change of tone, the boy stiffened again. His hands grabbed at her nightgown, in an instinctive impulse that made Inzilbêth think, for the madness of a moment, that he had already guessed what she was going to say.
"Because of this child, I will be... sick for a while." She swallowed. "You will... not be able to meet with me, Inziladûn."
The Princess forced herself to inhale a large gasp of breath. She had to be strong.
"I... do not know. But you... must not seek me. Do you understand?"
The hands grabbing her nightgown strengthened their grip, as the boy looked up and sought her features. Before she could even have had the time to look away, Inzilbêth felt herself sized up, pierced like she had never had been before by the eyes of anyone. In her shock, she smothered a gasp, and flinched.
The boy, however, said nothing. He simply looked.
"Do you understand, Inziladûn?" she repeated, trying to regain her composure and some measure of authority. He did not nod, nor shake his head. She began to grow frightened.
"Will you tell me a tale, then?" he interrupted her. "Because I won´t be coming for a while?"
For a moment, she blinked in incredulity –sighed in painful relief-, and then tears welled upon her eyes, and she could not see anything in front of her anymore.
"I will." she answered as well as she was able, nodding many times. "I will."
Inziladûn´s grip froze. Slowly, she felt him take his hands away, retreating some inches further. Wiping her tears again with a furtive swipe, she sought his expression, and froze in turn.
He was crying. Shaking in silence, with his cheeks full of tears that gleamed under the pale light of the moon.
"Then, it´s true." he sobbed. "You will never see me again."
"Inziladûn!" she cried, then smothered her voice in sudden fear of someone listening behind the shadows. She tried to gather him in her arms again, but he pulled away from her, and sat upon the edge of the bed.
"You must... understand." she implored, willing her voice to sound calm and her tears to stay, even though her heart was breaking. "You are your father´s heir. You belong with him, not with... me, and my child´s tales. You are older now, Inziladûn." A sob betrayed her. "Forget about me and pursue your destiny. Learn to be a king of Númenor, and make me proud."
"No! I do not want to understand!" he shouted. "And I do not want to be a king of Númenor!"
"Hush!" she cried, listening for noises on the adjoining room. If Gimilzôr found him here... she thought, trying to grab at the last straws of normalcy until the terrible realisation dawned upon her that nobody would be able to take her son from her again, because she had sent him from her side herself.
Unable to keep her feelings at bay any longer, she bowed her head, and her body shook with wrenching sobs. The boy stared at her in silence, but when she grabbed blindly at him he did not pull away.
"I love you. "she whispered on his ear. "I will always love you, more than anybody else in the world. Never forget this."
He accepted the declaration in silence, clutching her nightgown again. Inzilbêth felt a painful pride stir inside her aching chest, at her little child that understood everything like an adult.
And yet, she realised through the blur of her own tears, he was still crying like a little child.
"Come, now." she muttered brokenly, lying over the mattress again. "I will tell you the tale. I promised... remember?"
Inziladûn let himself be manouevred again without offering any resistance. As his own body touched the mattress, however, he suddenly wiggled away from her grasp, jumped from the bed, where he stopped for a moment to look at her –and disappeared into the shadows.
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.