|Celandine's Chronicle (celandineb) wrote in cels_fic_haven,|
@ 2007-08-08 14:30:00
(1) Urimë is equivalent to August in the calendar of Gondor.
(2) "The Last Ship" is number sixteen of the poems collected in the volume The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, and other verses from The Red Book, which can also be found in The Tolkien Reader. According to Tolkien's preface, this poem "must be derived ultimately from Gondor," and so I have taken the liberty of using it here, though the version published may have been altered by Bilbo from that which Finduilas and Faramir would have known.
A scant month later, she lay in the bed she had shared with Denethor for many years, and knew she would never again leave it.
"Bring the boys," she told her husband.
"Surely you do not want them to see you like this," he protested.
"I promised that I would bid them farewell. I am dying, my heart. I must redeem that promise now, or die an oathbreaker."
Even now, he winced at her blunt use of the word. I know, my love, you would still deny it if you could, but you cannot do so any longer.
He sent a servant to bring them, unwilling himself to leave her side. Even the duties of the Steward he ignored, the only time she could remember that he had ever done so.
Boromir and Faramir stood close together by her head, fear and the beginnings of grief in their young faces. Boromir was trying to be strong, she could see that, and she respected his efforts, saying simply, "I love you, Boromir. Grow into a good man, and always remember that your mother's love is with you."
He nodded, brushing at his eyes angrily, then bent to kiss her and ran from the room, leaving Faramir behind. The little boy climbed onto the bed to hug her. He said nothing, but the tears ran down his cheeks as she kissed him and whispered, "Farewell, Faramir my son. I love you forever." He clung to her until a nod from Denethor brought the nurse Rhîwen to carry him away.
Now they were alone again, she and Denethor. The healers had all withdrawn from the room, leaving a last draught of syrup of poppy to ease her passing when she should be ready. They had come near to a quarrel on that, as near as either dared. Denethor had not wished to let her leave a moment sooner than he must, and it had taken much effort on Finduilas's part to convince him that waiting would simply prolong her pain unendurably, overwhelming all else. Now only one task remained to her.
"I must persuade you of one thing yet, dearest," she said through lips as dry and cold as the expression on her husband's face.
"What is that?"
"To let me go willingly, and in love."
Denethor shook his head. "How can I? Without you, all will be darkness. You are my joy, my light - there is nothing else, save duty to my land."
"There are our sons," she reminded him. "If you love me, you must not ignore them in their grief - you must show your love to them as well."
"How can I bring happiness or even ease to them, when I shall have none myself?"
Finduilas could tell that he was asking this not idly, but truly could see no way to do as she wished. She cast about desperately for some answer, and could think of none.
"I do not know," she said at last. But you must promise me to try - or my life will end in torment, to think that our sons will be abandoned to grief, when I am no longer here to bring comfort, and indeed am the cause of it. You are grown, you have lost your mother and father already, and have endured it, but they are young. If ever you have loved me, promise me this now."
Denethor met her eyes for only an instant, then looking away, he gave a single sharp nod. "For your sake, I will try; but I do not know if I can succeed."
Relief washed through her and she pressed her face to his shoulder. "That is all I ask, love."
Outside the winter sun dropped to the horizon, red light brightening the southerly windows, as Denethor reluctantly gave his wife the cup that would end her pain. Wasted as she was, he still saw the lovely girl who had caught his heart. With her passing the mesh of that soft cage did not disappear, but rather turned to bonds of iron.
She drank, then set the cup aside and nestled to him, her eyes fixed on the window and darkness approaching there. Denethor held her frail body and felt her breathing become more and more shallow. Just as the evening star appeared, she turned to give him a final kiss.
"Farewell, my heart. I will look for you beyond the borders of the world," she murmured.
Outside the door, the healers waiting heard their lord give a great cry.