Finduilas carried her two-year-old son with her into the dungeon. She could not stop thinking of Thorongil, and the horrible scene of what her own husband did to him with his very hands.
She had decided, in her mind, to come and aid the man, no matter what would happen; she had the supplies, and her son would help.
Finduilas could feel how the boy woke and shivered in her arms. She shushed him, assuring him that he was safe with her. His little mind understood that he could soon play with the guard and kick him like how he did with his toys whenever his father preferred to be elsewhere instead of playing with him.
The guard lowered his weapon when he noticed the Steward's wife walking toward him with her child.
He bowed and spoke gently, "My lady, this is not a good place for you and the boy to be; you should be with your husband."
Finduilas looked at the guard, and said simply, "Well, my husband prefers to be elsewhere."
"Is there anything that you need, my lady?" The guard asked.
"Yes, there is," She answered and added, "Please take care of my son while I do my duty."
She placed Boromir in the guard's arm, while she took the things that she needed, and walked through the hallway, her eyes searching for the cell where Thorongil was kept.
She sighed heavily when she found him, and motioned with her eyes for the guard to open the cell.
The guard walked to her, and tried to protest, "My lady, I cannot. He is a criminal."
"Open up!" She ordered, and was relieved he obeyed.
Then she said with grace, "This man did nothing wrong, and no man should be lying there, waiting for death to take him away."
Before Finduilas entered the cell, she kissed Boromir on his forehead, and then she stepped in, her hand gently caressing the man's blooded features.
She flinched when the man moved a little away from her touch and in her heart, Finduilas cursed her husband for his cruelty to this man who did everything within and beyond his might for them.
"Please…" Aragorn pleaded, not wishing to be touched any more, not with the heat from the pain still clouding his mind.
"You are not alone… my dear Ranger," Finduilas tried to assure him, but was surprised as the ranger shrugged her hand away as he felt her touch.
"I am here to help you…" She started again, feeling only nothingness beneath her fingers as the ranger moved away yet again.
"No one can help me…" He muttered quietly. His lungs were burning with every breath he took, and he found it increasingly hard to talk.
"I can help you, my friend." She said, desperately hoping to ease the pain that made him suffer that much.
"Need no help… I can… Manage on my own… Fair lady." Aragorn replied, gritting his teeth as the pain climbed up his body.
Finduilas stared at the ranger, noticing the pain that showed from his grey eyes. She could not simply watch and do nothing; she had to do something at least to ease the pain.
"Please…" he asked in a weak voice, coughing as his throat turned dry.
Finduilas had no drinking water to offer, but she took a piece of cloth she had brought along, and, pouring some water on it, she started to clean his battered back.
Aragorn grimaced at the pain, then slipped into the darkness by the time she started to clean the next wound.
The steward's wife watched the ranger apprehensively. She had never seen him so fragile and yet not seeking any help, and Finduilas hoped to break through that wall the ranger had built around himself.
She set her eyes back on Thorongil's back, and cleaned the torn flesh which was starting to grow infected, all the while thinking of how to help the man escape from her cruel husband.
'I hope you can forgive my husband's action, young man,' She thought and then softly whispered into Aragorn's ear, hoping he could heard her, "I will help you, Thorongil. Just stay alive."
She finished wrapping him in bandages after cleaning away the blood, and then after one last look before she left the cell, she promised to herself what she had whispered in his ear, "I will get you out of here, my young man."
The cell door was closed, and Aragorn, known only as Thorongil, lay alone, covered in bandages on the cold floor, pale as the moonlight.
Finduilas sent a glare toward the guard to say nothing of her coming. She did not wish to know how her husband would react if he found out what she did. As she left, she thought she heard the guard sigh in relief.
Finduilas then returned to the palace, and entering their bedroom, placed Boromir into his little bed beside her husband and hers, then she leaned towards her husband, and kissed him gently, making sure that he was asleep.
As soon as she was sure, she left the bedroom, and hurried toward the hallway that led into the library. She was seeking some information about something she needed to know was within their home and not outside Minas Tirith.
As she opened the pages of the book, she sighed in relief, glad that what she wanted was in fact very near the palace. All she had to do now was to collect it.
The next day, Finduilas left her son with the maiden who helped watch over him while she did her errands.
As she passed through the garden in the bottom level, a basket in her hand, several women came to her and quietly asked her of the man in the dungeon, concerned for his safety. The steward's wife felt overwhelmed as she never guessed that this young man was so popular in Minas Tirith, more so than her husband.
Encouraged, she told them her plan and they agreed to help her collect the herbs that she was looking for. In fact, they soon returned with more than enough for two cups of tea.
Then each of the ladies left for her own home, waiting to hear from the steward's wife the next day to know if it went alright. Once they knew that it had worked, they would do the same for their own husbands and unite to work as one.
But first they needed to keep this to themselves, and not let their own husbands or anyone else know of their plan, or it might end as it had started – like a wind that swept away the ashes from the ground.
When Finduilas returned to her chamber at the palace, she started to work on this specific herb, comforted in the knowledge that if it did not work, she had another ace in her sleeve that she could use. For now, she needed to know for sure how much time this herb would buy her.
She breathed in the scent of the mint as she prepared the sleeping draught for her husband in the kitchen. The mint calmed her that so that she did not feel the enormous weight on her shoulders, and that was good.
Later as daylight faded, she was ready.
Finduilas watched her husband as he returned, noticing the black circles that surrounded his eyes. Taking the drink she had made earlier, she came to sit by him and passed him the cup.
"Denethor, you're looking very tired. Here drink this tea, it will soothe your mind." Finduilas said, relieved as he drank it all down.
She helped him to move into their bed, and then she sat on the chair beside the bed, watching her husband sleep while she calculated the duration to know how effective the herb was.
After a while, she walked down the hallway until she reached Boromir's room where the maiden was there taking care of him. She smiled, happy that her son was being cared for even in these darkened times.
It would only take a moment for her to leave the palace to check on how Thorongil was faring. Hopefully, Daren, or the others who cooperated with her husband, was not around him.
She hurried toward the dungeon in the darkness, and as she walked down the stairs and heard the screams, her hopes were dashed.
Finduilas took a cautious step, only to see Daren whipping Thorongil without mercy and demanding to know who had treated his wounds when the Steward had given the order not to.
The Steward's wife glanced at the floor and noticed the bleeding guard, who seemed to have taken most of the beating before Daren found Thorongil to put the blame on.
Even so, she was relieved that no one had betrayed her to Daren, as, if the man found out, she might never be able to free the young ranger from her husband's cruelty. And she now knew she had to act the very next day, or death would take Thorongil.
Finduilas left the dungeon with haste, not wishing to meet Daren anytime soon. Walking back to the palace, she entered the bedroom where her husband was still resting and joined him in their bed.
The next day, she went down a level to meet with the ladies she had met previously, and each of those brought back some of the herb for their husbands.
She knew she had to work fast; there was no room for any hesitation, as they needed to move Thorongil away from Minas Tirith and Denethor's cruelty.
And along with those ladies she met, Finduilas knew that this was the time they rose from the ashes, took control and fought for something they stood for. Thorongil, the one who stood beside Ecthelion II and fought against the villains, gave them the courage because they knew they owed him this at the very least, for all the good that he had done for them.
It was time for them to take a stand.
Every one of the ladies prepared the herbs before daylight ended, before giving them to their loved ones. Even Daren received a cup before darkness fell. Soon, the men were asleep, and at the gates, the women were in control, having roped in a few boys to help open the tall, heavy gates.
Soon, with darkness and silence as her guide, Finduilas gave a kiss to her son, leaving him with the maiden as she left the palace, for the dungeon, knowing that now she had to make arrangements both for Thorongil and also the guard who had indirectly saved her life. She owed them as much.
As she hurried down the stairs, some five to ten women joined in to help with whatever she needed, and so, they carried both Thorongil and the guard up the stairs where some other women had prepared a wagon for them.
Finduilas sat beside the young ranger and carefully tended to his wounds while the other women directed the horses to pull the wagon through the city.
Once they reached the large gates, Finduilas left the men in the wagon and went over to the women, nodding at them. With a strong creak, the wooden gates pulled open to reveal the full moon in the sky.
The women quickly untied the horses from the wagon, preparing the two horses for Thorongil and the guard. As the women helped the men mount, they checked that they were doing well, and passed them a small supply of food and water for the journey ahead.
The Steward's wife turned to Thorongil. "You are a free man now," She said and patted his leg lightly before continuing, "Ride through the Druadan Forest; it is the fastest way to escape from my husband's cruelty. Go and may the Valar watch over you."
Aragorn only nodded, not knowing how to thank her as he was still stunned by what Finduilas and the other women did for him.
Then the gates were closed and Aragorn turned around to stare at the large gates, hoping that nothing would happen to Finduilas for his sake, as she had a heart of gold and such deep courage to stand up for him.
He urged his horse faster through the forest, sensing that the injured guard was right behind him. Not knowing what might happen on the road, he rode faster and tried to ignore the pain as he rode toward his home at last.
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.