THIRD AGE 2988
'If thou leavest me and returnest to Dol Amroth, thou wilt not returnest to me.'
'What dost thou say, my love? Thou art my life, my very breath. To thee wilt I ever return.’
He took her in his arms and held her very close. The thinness of her body once again startled him. He had to be so very gentle. Almost - he was afraid she would break in his arms. When had he first noticed this thinness? He felt her lean against his embrace, the warmth of her body next to his, the bones of her shoulders jutting out into the palms of his hands. Hope seemed to flee from him, but he dragged it back and clung to it. He turned his face away from hers, as the tears, unbidden, fell. He moved his arm so his tunic would catch the tears and she would not feel them. She could not see him weep. She could not know the despair that flitted at the corners of his mind as he held her. She must think him strong, think that she could rely upon him in all things, think that he would survive while she was gone, think that he would be able to care for their sons. Faster the tears came at the thought of his dependence upon her. How was he to bear this time apart? And yet, Arciryas thought the sea air would revive her, would help her to heal. The healer had always been right before. The forced separation, the air of the sea, must be the cure for her malaise. It must be!
She gave a small groan and he realized his vehemence of thought had transferred to his arms. 'My love, forgivest thou me,' he cried.
'Nay, ‘tis I who should be forgiven. To be forced to leave thee. My heart would be stronger. My will falters. Thou deservest more, better...'
'Shush,' he said as he put two fingers to her lips. 'Speak no foul words about my love, my own. Thou art the fairest, strongest, bravest woman in all of Gondor.'
She smiled up at him and saw the tracks of his tears. 'My love,' she cried.
'Shush,' he bid her again. 'Thinkest thou only of thy return to me. Thou knowest I will be here waiting.'
He kissed her gently and then carried her to the carriage. The children were waiting beside it, their nurse crying. He wanted to flail her. How dare she cry openly in front of the children?
Listöwel came forward and touched his arm. 'We will return shortly, my Lord. I will do everything in my power to make her well again and bring her home soon.'
He kissed her on the forehead and spoke words of praise and strength to his old friend's wife.
'I am deeply grateful that you are accompanying her. I would be hard-pressed to let her go with anyone else.'
Listöwel opened the carriage door and he gently placed his love inside. He lifted their eldest to the seat next to her. The lad's eyes were large and tear-filled, but the tears did not fall.
'Take care of Father, Boromir; he will need thy strength until I return. Wilt thou do this for me?'
'Of course, Mother.' Tears threatened the little face, but blinking stopped them.
'And thy brother? Wilt thou comfort him in the night, wilt thou not fight with him, and wilt thou love him until I return?'
'Oh Mother!' This time the tears fell and Boromir angrily batted them away with his sleeve. 'Thou knowest I wilt love him as thou dost. I wilt never leave him, not let him cry out in the night, nor suffer any harm to come to him, whilst thou art away.' His chin shook and she took it gently in her hands and kissed his sweet lips. 'Thou art a true son of Gondor, my Boromir. I knowest that thou wilt keep thy word. Knowest thou that I lovest thee.'
He took the child from her, stood him on the ground, and passed their youngest to her. She could not lift him to her lap and so he picked him up and placed him there.
She held him close to her chest, rocking him ever so gently, and then kissed his forehead, his cheeks, his lips. 'Thou art my sweet and precious son, Faramir. Obey thy Father, love thy brother, and wait thou for me. I lovest thee.'
The child clung to her and wept bitterly. His little heart knew not what was wrong, only that somehow his whole world was being torn apart. Then he felt his father's hands pulling him away and he howled in surprise and pain, 'Mother!'
She turned her face away and Mount Doom stared back at her. She shivered.
He stepped quietly into the carriage, took her tiny hands into his large warrior ones, covered them with kisses, then kissed her forehead, her eyes, her ears, her nose, her cheeks, her chin, her neck, and finally, with tender passion, her lips.
'Healest thou quickly, my love. I will wait for thee.'
And then he quickly left her side, stepped down from the carriage and helped Listöwel into it. With a signal to the driver, the carriage started to move away. Faramir tried to run after it, but he picked him up and showed him how to wave good-bye. Boromir stood close, his hand clutching his father's tunic. Listöwel's heart broke as she saw the little trio standing in the Court of the Fountain with the dead White Tree behind them.
The errand rider arrived before the sun set.
He had heard the hooves on the marble of the courtyard and his heart had turned cold.
He sat on the Steward's Chair, his hands clutching the black marble. His mind screamed, 'No!'
Baranor stood behind him, tears streaming down his face.
'My Lord,' the errand rider said, 'we have lost the Lady Finduilas.'
The Steward did not blink; he stared forward and the rider, thinking he had perhaps not heard, repeated himself, 'My Lord, we have lost the Lady Finduilas.'
Baranor motioned him to silence. An hour passed. The three men had not moved.
He sighed. 'Where is she now?'
The errand rider jumped at the suddenness of the question, the breaking of the silence.
'The company has turned round and should be here by morning.' Silence.
Then he motioned for the rider to leave. 'Baranor?'
'Do not bring her here. She does not belong here. She belongs by the sea. Send a rider to the company and tell them to turn around and go to Dol Amroth. Have another rider prepared. I will give him a missive to take to Imrahil.'
'To my Friend and erstwhile Brother,
She is gone, taken from us, the fairest flower of all of Middle Earth, indeed of Westernesse itself. I would tell you all that is in my heart, but you, dearest Brother to my beloved, know it all, for oft have we spoken of the quality of that fair Lady.
I try to think, but find my mind is empty. There is nothing left there. Her departure has swept every vestige of sanity or thought from it. It aches with the violence of her life's removal. My heart has been stabbed as if by an accursed Morgul-knife. The pain is beyond words or thought or comprehension. I can hardly swallow for the constriction that unshed tears have forced upon my throat. I can say these things to you and no other, for I know as you read this, that you are now my Brother in sorrow.
I will survive this, for my mind, what little is left of it, tells me I must go on, for our sons, for Gondor, but I tell you, my heart recoils at the thought of living without her sweet presence... The days stretch before me and I quake at the thought of the loneliness before me, the desolation of time to come.
My lips tingle with the remembrance of our last kiss, gentle lips pressed to mine, and I would shut my eyes, and put out everything but that remembrance. Imrahil! May the Valar be with me. I cannot do this alone!'
He lay his pen down and leaned back and became as oak in the great oak chair that Thengel had helped him build. Dead these past eight years, but not forgotten. Another face drifted before him. Cranthir and Turgon and…. others. Tears finally stung his eyes. He did not sob nor shake; they just fell in torrents unbidden, uncontrolled, unhealing... Never had he felt such tears. Some part of his mind reminded him of the falls of Henneth Annûn, flowing constantly, great torrents of water, eating away at the cliff. He could feel the tears now eating away at his face, carving great gullies where they ran. In the back of his mind, he wondered, 'Where do all these tears come from? Is my body being squeezed like the sea sponges? Will I look like one after, if there is an after, the tears have stopped? Shriveled up and full of holes and hard to the touch? How will I hold my sons if I am hard and shriveled and scratchy?’ At the thought of his sons, the tears, impossible to think it, fell even harder.
Baranor stepped into the room. 'My Lord,' he said gently. 'The errand rider is ready.'
'Give me another moment,’ he said.
He wrote again:
'I cannot come to you, to Belfalas, to Dol Amroth. I cannot. I would have you bury her in the Houses of her Father in the Númenörean way. Princess of Dol Amroth, as she deserves - not Steward's wife. No, she is much more than a Steward's wife, though she deigned to be that for awhile.
I know not when I will come. Give Listöwel my leave to stay in Belfalas if that is her wish. If she deigns to stay, please give her all my love and tell her I will never forget her or her kindness to her Princess.
I bid you farewell for now. With my deepest sympathy to you and your family, I remain
*My apologies for the language used… see Tolkien’s notes below… regarding the familiar form I use for Denethor, Finduilas and their children…. Forgive me if I am wrong, but it brings warmth to my heart to hear them speak thus.
Appendix F - I The languages and Peoples of the Third Age
So that at the time of the War of the Ring the Elven-tongue was known to only a small part of the peoples of Gondor, and spoken daily by fewer. These dwelt mostly in Minas Tirith and the townlands adjacent, and in the land of the tributary princes of Dol Amroth.
(The Rohirrim) They still spoke their ancestral tongue …. But the lords of that people used the Common Speech freely, and spoke it nobly after the manner of their allies in Gondor; for in Gondor whence it came the Westron kept still a more gracious and antique style.
The Westron tongue made in the pronouns of the second person (and often also in those of the third) a distinction, independent of number, between 'familiar' and 'deferential' forms…. This was one of the things referred to when people of Gondor spoke of the strangeness of Hobbit-speech. Peregrin Took, for instance, in his first few days in Minas Tirith used the familiar forms to people of all ranks, including the Lord Denethor himself. This may have amused the aged Steward, but it must have astonished his servants. No doubt this free use of the familiar forms helped to spread the popular rumour that Peregrin was a person of very high rank in his own country.
AUTHOR’S NOTES: From a deep-seated belief that I am unable to change or help a person who has chosen to die. I can do everything in my power to try to help them, from prayer to forcing them to seek counsel, to personally attacking them, to whining, to tears, to separation, to loving them. I can do everything – but they must chose to live. Someone near and dear to me chose not to live.
I ran from writing this part of 2988 because of this. But standing upon the rocks of New Zealand, on a seashore that could have been Dol Amroth, Denethor cried out to me – write of her death, tell of my sorrow, speak my pain. And so, after three days of tears in the midst of the beauty of that island, I wrote. May the Valar be praised.