2. Farewell to Dol Amroth
I can guess what his feelings will be now as I never could have done before bearing my own two sons, she thought. There could be no more helpless feeling than knowing that your child will die, and you powerless to intervene.
So she hesitated, uncertain how to begin, until Adrahil spoke first.
"What is it you wish to say, daughter?" he asked kindly. "Thrice now you have opened your mouth to speak, and thrice remained silent. Did you merely want to walk with your old father before your departure tomorrow?"
Finduilas tucked her hand into her father's elbow and drew him to a bench. With a part of her mind she registered that she had chosen the same place as that where she had spoken to Imrahil.
May it bring me luck, then. Imrahil accepted the news well enough, I hope that Father does the same.
She took a deep breath and spoke.
"I did wish to speak, Father. For when I leave tomorrow," her voice faltered for an instant. She steadied it and went on, "it may be for the last time."
"Why, what do you mean? Denethor is jealous of your time, I know that, but surely he would not keep you from visiting your family. It cannot be that you would not desire to return to your old home," said Adrahil half-jokingly; but his daughter could see the pain in his eyes as he strove to hide his unwanted understanding of her meaning, even from himself.
"No, Father. I mean that the healers here have confirmed what I suspected for some time in Minas Tirith, that my ill-health is no passing malady. They made no predictions, but I think if I live to another summer, I will surprise them," she bowed her head.
Adrahil took her chin in his fingers and lifted it so that she had to look at him. "I understand. Your mother… she went the same way, as you know. We had hoped that her frailty would not be passed on to any of our children, but what must be, will be. I am glad, at least, that you were able to make this last visit, little dove."
The childhood nickname almost made Finduilas weep. She embraced her father fiercely and leaned her head against his chest, fighting back the tears as she remembered how she had admired and loved him since her earliest days, believing that his strength and wisdom could solve all her childish troubles. So it had been, for the most part; but this was a trouble beyond his ability to heal.
Adrahil's arms surrounded her, and he patted her back, rocking with her as if she were still that trusting child.
Face muffled against his chest, Finduilas spoke.
"I am sorry I could not tell you sooner, Father."
"It matters little," Adrahil reassured her. "Soon or late, I am glad you had the courage to speak while you were still here, rather than waiting to give the news in a letter, or not at all. At least this way we can make our farewells in the full knowledge that they may be the last, and I can tell you how proud I am of you, my belovéd daughter. You have been all that a father could ask. I was reluctant to agree when you wished to wed Denethor, heir to the Steward though he was, but he seems to have brought you happiness and given you two fine sons as well."
"I have been happy with Denethor, indeed. He has his failings, but so have I - and I love him, not for his position, but for the honor of his character," said Finduilas.
"As you should. Have you yet told him the sad tidings?" asked Adrahil.
"No, for when I left Minas Tirith I still hoped that my fears would prove unfounded. I shall speak to him as soon as I return. May it be that he takes this news as calmly as you have!" Finduilas said.
Adrahil shook his head. "For your sake, and your sons', and for his own as well, I hope so too, daughter. Do you want to tell the rest of the family here yourself, or would you wish me to do it?"
"I have already spoken to Imrahil, but I begged him to hold his tongue until I had told you myself. No one else yet knows. If you would not mind waiting until we depart, it would be well - I would prefer not to spoil the last few hours I may ever have in Dol Amroth with hearing condolences and regrets," Finduilas requested.
"If that is what you wish. It will be hard for me not to let slip something, but I will do my best to let you depart with only pleasant memories," her father said.
He stood and added, "Even in the sun, my bones begin to complain when I rise too quickly. One of the trials of age that you will be spared, my dear, though hardly adequate recompense. But come now, we had better go inside. You will not want to be late for the feast we hold tonight to mark your leavetaking, and I know how long ladies take to dress their hair finely and don their best gowns!"
Adrahil took Finduilas's hand and helped her rise. "So, daughter, unless you wish folk to guess that there is something not right, you had better put on your pretty things and turn a smiling face. Especially for your sons' sake!"
"True. They should not yet guess that aught is amiss with their mother - nor have anything to cloud their reunion with their father. If they see me reluctant to leave, they could misunderstand," Finduilas agreed.
Father and daughter returned slowly to the main hall, speaking no further but taking such joy as they could in the beauty of the garden. They parted silently in the dim coolness of the hall. Finduilas passed up the staircase to her rooms, and Adrahil stood for a moment watching her fragile form retreat. Then he sighed, and went sadly to deal with the business of the land. He could no longer help his daughter, but he could ensure that Belfalas prospered.
No one watching Finduilas that evening would have guessed her secret, unless perhaps her care to bid farewell to each person attending, guests and household members alike, betrayed something unusual. She ate with all the appetite she had ever had, and when the tables were pushed back and the dancing begun, she willingly took her place with Imrahil to lead the first of the patterned dances.
She had promised both her sons that on this last night, they could stay up until the end of the dancing if they were able. They had spent most of this last day of their visit at the seaside with other children from the household, supervised by her cousin Elenna. After a day of running about on sand and shore, Finduilas doubted that either boy would remain awake for long. Boromir was playing a dice game with a little group of other lads. As she whirled by, she could see him struggling to hold back his yawns.
Imrahil bent to her and said, "Do you remember the dances when we were children? How I envied you when you could remain until the end, and I was shepherded off to bed early!"
"I know," smiled Finduilas. "Although there was little difference between beginning and end, as you learned soon enough! But of course it was the lateness of the hour that seemed so excitingly forbidden, rather than the dancing itself. See, Boromir cares not at all for the music and movement, he was merely pleased to have longer to play with his friends. I suppose by now Faramir is curled up asleep somewhere - I should see that he is taken up to his bed."
"Nay, sister," Imrahil laughed. "He is not asleep, nor like to be. Look up towards the top of the room where Father sits."
Finduilas saw that the little boy stood on the raised dais, one hand firmly clasping his grandfather's knee, head nodding to the rhythm of the music, eyes intent on the intricate pattern that the dancers wove below him.
"You are right, he seems determined to watch the whole of the dancing. Well, we shall see whether stubbornness triumphs over exhaustion."
"In which event he will simply follow in your path tonight. Is that wise, Finduilas?" said Imrahil quietly, but seriously.
She raised her eyebrows at him, a look that had quelled him in childhood, but no longer. Seeing her brother about to repeat his question, she murmured, "It will matter little. Once we leave tomorrow, on shipboard I will sleep long and soundly with the waves rocking me and the cry of the gull for lullaby. Faramir, too. And if Boromir is less at home on the sea than usual in our family, he loves to explore the ship and pester the sailors for their stories, so he will be content. But please, Imrahil, no more speech tonight. I want only to take delight in the music and the dancing, not to think of what cannot be prevented."
Imrahil acquiesced to her request, although for the rest of the night he looked graver than his wont, and his eyes followed the light form of his sister as she skimmed about the room, her wine-colored dress standing out among the lighter shades usually favored by the women of the southern lands.
At last the evening ended. The few who had danced till the final songs drew up, flushed and laughing, to take a final draught of spiced wine before seeking their beds.
Faramir, staggering with weariness, had finally allowed Adrahil to pick him up and seat him on his lap. But his eyes were still open as Finduilas came to bid her father goodnight, and he held out his arms to her.
"No, love, I am too tired to carry you now. Father, can you help bring Faramir up to his room? I saw Boromir led off hours ago," said Finduilas.
"I imagine I have enough left in me to carry even this great lump of a lad," said Adrahil, rising stiffly and lifting his grandson in his arms. "I hope this does not mean you have overset yourself," he added for Finduilas's ears alone.
"Tomorrow - well, today - I will be tired, yes, but it is worth it. Now we had best get a few hours of sleep, though. Our ship departs on the noon tide."
Finduilas climbed the stairs, Adrahil following with Faramir. At the door to the boys' room, she took her son.
"Goodnight, Father. Rest you well," she kissed his cheek.
"And you, daughter," he said, watching with concern as she leaned against the threshold for an instant before taking Faramir inside to his bed.
The next morning, only the family accompanied Finduilas, Boromir, and Faramir to the quay to say their final goodbyes. Finduilas felt a pang of guilt as her cousins embraced her and told her how much they looked forward to seeing her next summer, or whenever she could spare the time for a visit.
But if I had told them, then I could not keep it from my sons. And Denethor does not yet know, either. No, this was the only way.
At last only Adrahil and Imrahil remained to take leave. Boromir had already taken his brother below to their cabin, to explore the cunning ways that the furniture fit into the room.
Adrahil said no word, but embraced his daughter for a long moment. He kissed her brow, and she knew it for a benediction and farewell as he turned and went blindly down the gangway, refusing to give in and look back.
Imrahil said, "Goodbye, Finduilas. I know that you cannot tell for certain how matters will progress, but do not shrink from sending for me if there is need. Father will be glad to spare me to you."
"I know, Imrahil. I will not forget. And at least I can hope to see you at midwinter, if you come to Minas Tirith then as usual; for all the healers shake their heads, I believe I will see next summer and more, if determination has anything to say."
"The blessings of the Valar on you, then. I love you," Imrahil pressed his cheek to hers.
"I love you too, brother," said Finduilas softly. "Farewell!"
Imrahil strode back to the dock and watched, shading his eyes with his hand as the Seawing cast off and moved slowly out to sea.
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.