Indeed, he, rather than Denethor, had stood vigil by her side during that public viewing. When he had arrived with Adrahil in the city and made his way up to the Citadel, he had been shocked, no, appalled to find that Denethor had withdrawn into the Tower of Ecthelion some hours before and not been seen since. At least he had told his sons of their mother's death, first,thought Imrahil grimly.
The Lord Steward had finally emerged at sunset to greet his brother- and father-in-law. Standing beside Adrahil, he had looked almost as old as the Prince. He had offered hospitality absently, and told them of the plans for Finduilas's burial.
"She will lie in the House of the Stewards, next to my mother, until such time as I join her," he had informed them, looking out the window towards Rath Dínen, invisible through the wall of the seventh circle. "I will speak the words of parting myself."
Imrahil had wanted to object, but only his father had that right - and Adrahil had said nothing, only looked more wearied than his son had ever seen him. So Imrahil had held his tongue.
She should lie in Belfalas, he thought now, listening to Denethor speak of Finduilas's life, and bid her spirit find ease beyond the world's borders. Her spirit may be gone, but she loved the hills of her childhood, overlooking the sea, as I know she never loved this city of guard. It would be better for her body to lie there, to return to the earth, rather than be imprisoned in the stone of that great tomb.
He felt a touch on his leg, and glanced down to rest his hand on Faramir's head. Boromir stood on the right, next to his grandfather; members of many of the other great houses of Gondor gathered behind, and beyond them a number of the household folk and even commoners from the city, come to pay tribute. Only the immediate family could enter through Fen Hollen and tread the cobbles of the Silent Street to accompany Finduilas to her rest; the others would remain outside, to honor the memory of the Lady of Gondor.
The gate was unlocked, and its keeper bowed respectfully as they passed. Denethor walked immediately behind those who bore his wife's body; the others came after him in pairs. When they had seen the stone lid sealed, tears fell unashamedly down Imrahil's cheeks, and Adrahil's; but the eyes of the Steward and his sons remained dry.
As soon as they returned to the Citadel, Denethor excused himself and disappeared into the Tower. Adrahil looked at his son, opening his mouth as if to speak, then shook his head and walked with slow step back to the guest room that had been allotted him.
Imrahil was left alone with his nephews. Taking their hands, he led them back past the Tower to the courtyard of the White Tree and sat on a bench there, saying nothing, simply letting them know that he was there. First Boromir, then Faramir got up and wandered about the desolate winter garden, returning now and again to sit or stand by Imrahil for a little while, then moving restlessly away once more. The sun fell below the peaks of the mountains to the west, and the first stars began to appear in the sky. Both boys were back sitting next to their uncle when he finally broke the silence.
"It is not easy, I know," he hugged each tightly with one arm. "Although I was older, I lost my mother too young, too. It is all right to grieve, Boromir, Faramir. To mourn for your mother, to miss her, honors your love."
Boromir looked up at his uncle, confused. "But Father says that a Steward should not weep."
Imrahil bit back intemperate words - Denethoris their father- and said only, "You are not the Steward yet, though, are you? And your grandfather is a prince, and you saw him weep for your mother today. If your father disapproves, then you need not express your sadness thus before him, but you should be able to grieve for your mother, and remember her."
Glancing upwards brought back a memory of the evening Finduilas had first spoken to him of her impending death. He looked at her sons - there is so little of her to be seen in them; they are so like Denethor in appearance- and continued, "She wanted me to tell you something, both of you. Even though she is gone from the world, she still loves you." He lifted his hand and pointed toward the west. "You see the brightest star there, Eärendil the Messenger? Your mother chose that star to remind you of her; that every time you see it you may think of her, and how she loved you, even though she had to leave you untimely."
Faramir trembled against him, and he knew the little boy was crying. Boromir, too, leaned on his uncle, his shoulders shaking with silent sobs. Imrahil let them cry themselves out, then picked up Faramir and held his hand out to his older nephew.
"Come. We'll wash up and get you both some supper, and then bed."
"How long can you stay, uncle Imrahil?" asked Boromir as they reached the boys' rooms.
Imrahil sighed. "Only a few more days, I fear, but I will talk with your father and see if he will give leave for you to come stay with us in Dol Amroth someday soon. All right?"
Boromir nodded and hugged his uncle tightly. Faramir said nothing, but Imrahil could see his eyes shining at the thought of a visit south.
Denethor was uncooperative when Imrahil broached the idea to him later that evening, however.
"No. I will not send my sons away. I promised Finduilas that I would not leave them alone."
Can you not see that you haveleft them? Being present in body is not enough; and locked in council chamber and Tower all day, you are hardly even that. Moreover, having them visit their mother's kin is far from leaving them alone.
He tried to say something of this to Denethor, and met with cold rebuff and a refusal to understand. Knowing that pressing his brother-in-law would only make the man more obdurate, Imrahil desisted, saying at last, "It is your decision, of course, Denethor, but do not forget that your sons have kin beyond yourself - and that they should know us. I am as yet unmarried and heirless - should some accident befall me, Boromir would be the next Prince of Dol Amroth. He should know something of that city and its lands, not Minas Tirith alone."
Denethor inclined his head. "I will bear what you say in mind."
When Imrahil and Adrahil took their leave several days later, the two boys and Faramir's nurse accompanied them to the docks on the Anduin to say farewell. Denethor permitted this short trip,thought Imrahil, as a substitute for a longer visit.
First Adrahil, then Imrahil, hugged each boy. As Imrahil straightened up, Faramir caught his hand and pointed at the gulls wheeling around the masts.
"That's how I think of Mama now, as a great white bird, soaring high and free and looking down on us, but not able to talk to us anymore."
Imrahil smiled. "That's a beautiful way to think about it, Faramir. Let the cry of the gull remind you, then, as well as the star." He stepped back and waved. The nurse Rhîwen took her charges back down to the dock.
As the ship slipped her anchor and swung to the south, he did not look back to see his nephews returning in sadness to their home - but his thoughts followed them.
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.