Ten Thousand Years will not Suffice

by Agape4Rivendell


19.  Third Age - 2989

‘Who betrayed whom?’ he thought. His heart ached more fiercely now than it had done then, though the sharp pain, the pain as of a dagger in his heart, had left him. Now, it was an ever-shuddering, constant flailing in his body. ‘Did I betray her? Was I not the man she needed?’ Tears fell again. As always. When away from prying eyes, when a moment came when he should have peace, he had pain and tears. ‘So I am the cause of everything?’ He shook his head. He would not indulge himself in self-recriminations. These were the times when Amdir would come and make him smile. Another pain. Another loss.

‘Did she betray me? She came into my heart, forced her way in even when a child, and then she left it.’ He ran his hand over the oaken desk, the cool feel of the wood assuaging some of the pain. Too many times, of late, he would find himself looking at nothing, his mind a blank. And he would have to force himself to think again. To look to Gondor’s defenses… his heart recoiled at the thought. ‘Gondor’s defenses,’ he wanted to scream. ‘What about my defenses? How am I to guard myself from these thoughts, these feelings? How am I to go on?’

They had failed each other. In some way, unknown to him, they had failed. His father had been right. Yet it was Gondor that Ecthelion had feared for, not his own son. The pain would not go away.

“The Council stands ready for you, my Lord.” Berelach had knocked twice, entering when he had no reply. He bowed and left.

Denethor rose. The Council could wait for just a moment more.

He found the lad on the steps by Finduilas’ garden, looking out into the sunshine. “Faramir,” he called softly. The boy turned. No expression crossed his face and Denethor sobbed inside. He sat down next to him. “What are you doing?”

“I am waiting for Nana,” the boy said softly.

He sat with his huge hands folded on his lap. Looking down at them he wondered if they would ever again hold anything as precious as Finduilas? This son was precious to her. Precious to him. He had tried, this whole last year, to decide what he would do with the lad. Boromir would be in training soon, but Faramir? What was he to do with Faramir? He could no longer tolerate the blank, pinched face that looked out upon the garden. The child seemed to have withered and died inside. Firieth would have known how to help him. He could not treat him as his own father had done. He could not force him to grow up. He was only six. Bending forward, he took the boy in his arms and placed him on his lap. “Shall I wait with thee, ion nîn?”

Faramir looked up in surprise. His chin quivered. Huge tears filled his eyes. “Ada,” the boy wailed and flung his arms about his neck.

Denethor’s sobs shook his own body. Great gulping sobs held back for so long. ‘Oh by the Valar, I cannot do this alone,’ he thought. “Ion nîn, ion nîn,” he whispered.

He felt a hand on his shoulder. Boromir stood behind him. He made room on his lap and Boromir sat. He did not cry. He stroked his brother’s cheek.

They sat there until the sun set, and warmth left them. Someone had come into her chambers and lit the sconces on the walls. A fire had been started and the crackle of the kindling sounded. He stood Boromir up and then stood himself, still holding Faramir in his arms. He led Boromir to the fireplace and sat on the settle in front of it. Faramir fell asleep.

“Wilt he be well, Ada?” the boy whispered.

“Aye, Boromir, as long as we love him, he wilt be fine.”

“I wilt always love him, Ada.”

“I know thou wilt, Boromir, I know thou wilt.”

“We wilt not lose him as we did nana?”

“Nay, Boromir. Do not dwell there. Nana was sick. Faramir is not. He wilt heal from this heart wound. Someday.” He looked long at his eldest. “As wilt thee and me.”


“My Lord,” Indis said, “I dismissed the Council, though they were not pleased. Are you well?”

“Aye. But Faramir is not, Indis. Is it right that a boy should grieve so for his mother?” His brow furrowed as he questioned her.

“‘Twould be wrong if he did not.”

“Yet, she was ill almost his whole life.” He wondered.

“And he sat with her. And when she became too ill and tired to read to him, he read to her, and sang her songs, and nuzzled next to her, giving her comfort.”

“Are you saying I did none of these things?” he asked, his cheeks hot with shame.

“Nay. I am saying he spent long hours with Finduilas. He did not need childish games, nor constant prattling, nor trips to the market to love his mother. He needed her presence and she gave it to him fully. He spent too much time with her, for his sake, but for her sake it was a blessing.”

“I see what you mean. I cannot give him that time. I could not give it to her,” he groaned, “else I relinquish my title and give it to someone else, let them govern Gondor while I care for my son. Ecthelion would turn over in his tomb.” He sat for another moment, the fire fading quickly. “He still does not talk. Rarely. I remember being concerned and Finduilas laughing at my concern.” He saw them sitting on this very settle, speaking of their youngest.

“Why does he not speak? Why does he make those dreadful noises?”

Boromir sat on the floor in front of the fireplace in his parent’s chambers. The boy had a great book laid out upon his knees. Faramir sat close beside him, peering at the illustrations as Boromir pointed to and named each of the Stewards, sometimes turning the pages too quickly for Faramir. Now and again, Faramir would make a sound that only he and Boromir could understand; then Boromir would slow the turning of the pages.

“Methinks it is because Boromir speaks too much. There is not time for him to find an opening.” Finduilas laughed.

“Then separate them. I find it grating.”

She looked at him in horror. “I canst separate them. They are as twins, joined at the hip.”

“Mayhap my father had been right in toughening me up as a child. And what will happen when Boromir must leave to defend Gondor? Who will speak for Faramir then?”

“They are but children, Denethor. The foundation of their love and respect must be laid now.”

Indis hand on his arm brought him back to the present. “She had great wisdom, Indis. I have none.”

“Do not say that, Denethor. The City, your people, consider you wise. With your sons, you will have to learn wisdom the way you learned wisdom for your people. You will not fail your sons, my dearest brother. They know you love them, and that is more important than anything. Do not forget that.”

He held her close. “Without you, gentle sister, I would be dead now. I would have walked into the Anduin and never come out of it.” He shrugged. “You will not leave me, will you?”

How could she answer such a question? Her heart spoke for her. “If it be within my power, Denethor, I wilt not leave thee.”

He pulled away from her. “Please.” He stammered. “I… I would ask you not to speak that tongue again.”

Her eyes opened wide. “Not speak... Of course. If that is your will.”

“It is. I cannot bear to hear it.”

“All right, Denethor. But will you deprive your sons of their heritage? Of the comfort of the Sindarin and what it means to them? I think you would be foolhardy. They speak it fluently.”

“For a little while, I will allow it. But I will ease them out of its use, if I am able. It speaks only pain to me.”

“I will hold another Council tomorrow,” he said, changing the subject. “Please send announcements to the members. Now, if you will excuse me. I am tired and would to bed.” He kissed her lightly on the cheek and went to Ecthelion’s chamber.

“How strange that I should end up here, like my father before me, in a widower’s chamber, bereft of all I hold dear.” He drew in a ragged breath and fell onto the bed, not even removing his boots.

An hour later, his manservant came in, removed his boots and covered him with an eiderdown.


He heard the cries in the night and ran to his brother’s room. Faramir was sitting up in bed; his nanny was nowhere to be seen.

“What troubles thee, Faramir?” Boromir quickly sat next to him.

“I want Nana,” Faramir wailed.

Boromir held him close. “So do I, little one, so do I. But I am here for you. Dost that not comfort thee?”

Faramir tried to stop crying, but Boromir was not enough. “I want Nana,” he sobbed again.

Boromir stroked his hair, tangling his fingers in the tear-soaked strands. He did not know what to say. “Shall I bring Ada here?”

“Nay,” Faramir choked. “He frightens me sometimes.”

“Ada, Faramir, it is Ada. Thou canst not be affrighted of him! He loves thee very much.”

“He looks at me strangely, sometimes.”

“Thou hast the look of Nana, Faramir. It must hurt him sometimes.”

“I do not want to hurt him, Boromir.”

“I know that, you silly, but there is naught thou canst do.” He took his little brother’s face in his hands. “Thou must not be affrighted by Ada. Thou must not think Ada dost not love thee. Do not take Ada’s sadness upon thee. It is not thy fault. Dost thou understand this?”

“I do, Boromir. I wilt remember it.”

“Very well. Losto vae. Oltho vae. Remember, if thou wouldst call, I wouldst answer thee,” Boromir whispered as he put Faramir to bed. “I am near; I stand betwixt thee and thy fears.” He kissed him warmly, walked to their mother’s chair by the fire, and sat. In a very short time, his own little head fell in sleep.


The horn sounded and Denethor looked up in surprise. The call told of a delegation from Dol Amroth. He hurried to the window and looked out. Far below, he could see the banners unfurling in the wind. It looked to be a Swan. There had been no missive received. He had not summoned anyone. He walked to the Great Hall. Whoever it was would be shown to him.

Indis ran into the Hall crying, “Denethor! It is Listöwel. She has returned.”

Tears were in his sister’s eyes, but Denethor’s heart quailed at the thought of meeting her once again. He had failed Amdir, failed to protect him, and now Amdir was dead. She would not forgive him for this. He bowed his head in consternation.

Indis would not let him suffer. She knew what his thoughts were and spoke. “Your friend’s wife is here to visit her husband’s tomb, Denethor. We must welcome her. Do you not remember, brother, her tender care of Finduilas? Would you let her enter unwelcome?”

“Nay! Of course not. She will always be welcome. Berelach,” his aide stood behind him, as always. “Send to the cook and have him prepare a feast for this evening. And find the chambermaid and tell her to prepare a room, near to Indis’ own.” Berelach turned to leave. Denethor stopped him. “Nay. Amdir was your friend too. Give the orders to another and return here immediately.” Berelach smiled and left.

Horns sounded in the Courtyard of the White Tree. Denethor drew a breath, prepared to wait, but the thought of his old friend burned his heart, and he stood and ran to the doors. Indis followed in joy. He ran out the door and down the steps just as she was coming up them. “Listöwel,” he cried and hugged her tightly. “Listöwel, forgive me. I should have come to you. I should have sent for you…” He could not speak.

“Nay, my Lord and friend. I could not come myself. I know your grief as you know mine.” Her throat constricted as she felt the warmth of his arms around her. Too long had it been since she had felt such love, such a warm embrace. Her tears fell as she hid her face in his black robe. “Forgive these tears, my Lord.”

“I will not forgive them; I will add mine to them. You were sorely missed, Listöwel. The whole of Gondor rejoices in your return. Are you…?” He did not know how to ask. He let his arms drop.

“I have returned for good, my Lord. I could not stay away. Though Dol Amroth was my home from childhood, it long ago ceased to be such. My heart is here, by my husband’s tomb. With my friends,” she smiled at Indis, “and with your sons. I should have returned earlier.” She turned towards Indis. “My dearest sister-friend,” she cried, “too long has it been. I have so missed you. How are you? And Firieth? Where is Firieth, with Boromir and Faramir?”

Indis started. Pulling back from her friend’s embrace, she replied, “Listöwel, Firieth passed before Finduilas. Did you not know?”

Listöwel sighed in confusion. “I… I have forgotten many things this past year. My mind seemed to lay in a fog for sometime.”

“Oh, Listöwel. I understand. You will grow strong again. You will come with me to our practice room and we will swing our swords again. I have missed my battle companion.” She smiled. “It is most good to have you home again.”

Listöwel turned towards Denethor. “My Lord. Who watches the children? Who cares for the boys? Did Firieth’s daughter, Ioreth, take her position?”

“You do not know the woman who now is there nanny. She has been a trial and a nuisance. She does not love my sons. I have been at my wit’s end as to what to do.”

“Then put thy mind to rest,” Listöwel slipped into Sindarin. “I wilt be thy sons nanny. I love them as if they wert my own.”

Denethor’s face crumbled at the sound. Speaking in Westron he accepted her offer. “My heart will be at rest with you as Faramir’s nanny, Listöwel. Boromir begins his training next year. He does not need a nanny, but he will need a friend. I thank you for your kind offer and I find I am obliged to accept it. You have been a faithful friend to Finduilas; now, even in her death, you serve her.”


It was opportune that Listöwel had returned when she did for Elleth was near to death. The two friends spent many hours together sitting at Elleth’s bedside. The Houses of Healing felt cold to Indis. They had stopped coming, to her own shame, after Finduilas passed. The soldiers forgotten. How could she have done this? They too needed surcease from pain and thoughts of battle. She would return to her duties here once Elleth… ‘Oh!’ The thought took her breath away. ‘Twould be so hateful to lose this friend, her comrade-in-arms, her sister. Tears fell. Elleth smiled weakly.

“There is naught to cry for, my sister,” she whispered. “My life has been good and has had purpose to it. I lacked for nothing; neither love, nor friendship, nor son…” At this, her voice broke. “Dearest Amdir. I have missed him so. I cannot go to his tomb. It brings anger to my heart that he was lost so needlessly.”

“Needless were not his actions, Elleth, nor his death.” Indis admonished her gently. “Amdir gave his life for good cause. His name will be sung in the Great Hall for ages to come. A brave and valiant warrior of Gondor. A beloved friend.” Her own tears fell.

“Would that I could have held him one more time,” Elleth sobbed. “To hear his voice, to feel his face, to know his laughter. My heart cannot bear this separation.”

Listöwel sobbed quietly, unable to give any comfort but her tears.

“You are still needed here,” Indis cried. “Please, dearest sister-friend, do not leave us. Your sword is needed. Your sewing skills. Your tea parties.”

The three sobbed together.

Ingold entered the room and they parted for him. He nodded his head towards them and walked to her side. The women quickly moved forward, hugged Elleth and left them alone.

He sat and gently pulled her to him. “My love, will you not avail yourself of the healing offered in this place? And then come home with me?” He wiped the tears from her eyes. “I too miss Amdir, but he died a soldier’s death. One that any would wish for. Saving his Lord and Steward. Saving his friend. Could you not let him make this sacrifice without giving your own?” His jaw tightened. “Come home with me, my own.”

She did not speak again.


He walked out of the Council chambers shaking his head. They would never learn. He had proposed; they had declined. He felt the burden that Ecthelion must have felt. He would not let this happen. His Stewardship would not fail. His heart started pulsing as he walked up the stairs. The White Wizard had come to help bury Ecthelion. But Ecthelion’s own preferred wizard did not come. The smile on Denethor’s face was grim. Much as he hated Curunír, he hated Mithrandir more. So it was with some pleasure that he noted that wizard’s absence. He had found it strange that the locking spell on the lower level of the Great Library had been lifted after Mithrandir had visited the Library. After the Grey Wizard left, Denethor had availed himself of the books from that level. Some in Quenya he had given to his translators. During this past year, they had hardly touched a small portion of the tomes in that part of the edifice. He exhorted them to hurry their work. Upon his father’s death, he had gone to every room, tower, and cellar that had a key on the Warden’s chain. He knew about it from legends he had read as a child, but thought it was only that, a legend. He was a fool. He had to open his eyes to all things. Nothing deemed just a legend would be considered as such. It would be given careful thought and research.

Unlocking the door, he stepped into the high chamber. He had used it once before, immediately after Ecthelion had passed, but the fear he had felt had been too strong. It fed on his grief. Now, he was stronger. He would use it, for was not he of the line of Anárion? And was not this the Stone of Minas Tirith, the palantír of Anárion?

Ion nîn – my son
Losto vae – sleep well
Oltho vae – sweet dreams


She had come to Minas Tirith from Dol Amroth as Morwen’s handmaiden. Remembering how she had admired, even envied, the friendship of the women about her, she had soon found that she was part of that friendship. Now, there was only Indis and herself left. Finduilas, Elleth and ‘Wen were gone. Morwen, along with their mentor, Eledhwen, was in Edoras. She recalled with a smile how flustered Morwen had been when the call had come for Thengel to return to the Mark and be crowned King. He had ranted and raved for a week before Ecthelion commanded him to leave and take up his rightful place as ruler of the Rohirrim. Unlike Finduilas, Morwen had loved the White City, her husband had been content, and their children had thrived.

Listöwel sat and listened as Indis read the letter from their beloved sister-friend. Edoras had been in an uproar of late, Morwen wrote. It seemed love was in the air; many of her friends were beginning the troth pledge. Théoden was officiating at ceremony after ceremony and joy filled Rohan. She told of the abundance of foals that came in the spring and rejoiced at the news that Théoden planned on giving one of the best of the lot to Boromir for his twelfth birthday. For herself, she often rode out into the countryside with Eledhwen, who had become her handmaiden. Loath had been Listöwel to leave Gondor, though Morwen had never given thought to asking her. Morwen knew Amdir would not even consider leaving Gondor. However, Eledhwen was more than happy to take on the added duties. They were still practicing their sword fighting, Morwen wrote, though Théoden had forbidden his mother to join any more patrols. Indis and Listöwel howled with laughter as Morwen wrote of the failed attempt to circumvent his orders, and the disastrous tongue-lashing she had received from her King-son.

Sitting back with a sigh, Listöwel said, “ ‘Tis good to hear from her again and look to fond memories.”

“Aye, she sounds well. How she must chafe against her orders – for The Steelsheen to not partake in any sorties! I would not want to be Théoden. He must have an earful from her everyday!” Indis laughed. “Well could we have used her sword in Emyn Arnen. She wielded it as well as, or better, than many a man in the Company.”

Listöwel blanched at the name. Indis’ eyes widened. “Oh my dearest sister. I am so sorry. I did not mean to hurt you. I… the battle was hard. When I saw you fall, I thought I would die myself. I remember at the time how I had wished she were with us. Please, oh please, dearest friend, forgive me! I am a fool.”

Through tears, Listöwel said, “I love her letters,” effectively stopping Indis’ words. “It is almost as if we were together again.”

Indis turned from her friend and sobbed. Emyn Arnen, such a beautiful place; she remembered it well. Heavily wooded, peaceful, herb-scented -- yet full of hideous memories. It was Emyn Arnen where they had been attacked by Orcs before they found the mutilated body of ‘Wen. It was Emyn Arnen where they had almost lost Denethor and Amdir in the fiery remains of the Rangers’ home. It was Emyn Arnen that Amdir was returning from when he was killed by Orc.

Listöwel sat still for a moment. Then she turned towards Indis and caught her in a fierce hug. “I love you, dearest sister. Nothing you could ever say would tear us apart. Forgive my weakness.”

“Nay,” Indis cried. “You were not here. You were denied the right to grieve at your husband’s deathbed. Have you been to his tomb yet?”

“I could not bring myself to go.”

“Well, of course you could not. What sensible person would want to go alone to Rath Dínen? Come, my friend, I will go with you now.”

“Would you, Indis?” Listöwel sobbed.

“Aye. Right now.” She put the unfinished letter aside and led her friend out the door.


He flew down the stairs as if all the minions of Morgoth were behind him. “Berelach!” he bellowed as he entered the Courtyard of the White Tree, “Berelach!” and all looked upon him in amaze.

“My Lord.” Berelach ran forward.

“Send a missive to Captain Amlach in Osgiliath. Tell him a sortie of Orc is approaching the Crossroads.” He lowered his voice. “Tell him Captain Ingold has forded the Anduin north of the city. He must stop him. He must. I believe he is going to certain death, and is claiming it for himself. He has a fey look in his eye. He must be mad with Elleth’s death. Grief has finally overcome him. Tell Ingold to take a battalion. The number of the enemy is large.”

“My Lord, did an errand-rider come from Henneth Annûn or Osgiliath? How do you know this?”

“Never mind!” Denethor snapped. “Just do it. And tell the messenger to ride like the wind. Delay will be fatal.”

Berelach saluted, turned and ran to the stables.

Denethor took a deep, shuddering breath and walked to the escarpment. He stood looking out towards Osgiliath, heart wrenching in pain and sorrow for his friend’s father. The sun had begun its descent into the west and he found it difficult to see.

It had not been easy, looking into the stone. Black and empty it had seemed for nigh unto a half an hour. He had been ready to give up the attempt when a slight fogging roiled from its innermost depths. Throwing his shoulders back, he concentrated more fully. Slowly, lines and colours turned into blurred impressions, and then blurred impressions turned into images. Land lay before him, hilly and green. He could not discern where it was. Forcing himself to concentrate, he moved his eyes and the landscape moved with them. “Ah,” a soft sigh escaped his lips. The river moved into sight. It was the Anduin. He cried aloud in recognition. But the cry tore his mind from the task and he lost sight of it. Furrowing his brow, he continued. There it lay before him again, swift flowing and clear. He could not look further. It was as if the stone had frozen in one place. ‘Never the mind,’ he thought, ‘I will spend time looking at this sight; see if I may, perchance, see clearer, with more detail.’ As he looked, the Dome of Stars appeared before him, broken and crumbled into dusty ruins. His mouth lifted in a small smile. He could see the steps rising to it. Then, he saw the Tower of Stone of Osgiliath. Excitement filled him as he drew closer and closer to the scene before him.

Suddenly, movement on the Pelennor caught his eye, for it was indeed the Pelennor that now commanded his attention. He spied a small blur rushing towards Osgiliath. Putting all his might into forcing the stone to show him what he wanted to see, he focused on the spot. It was a rider dressed in the livery of the Gondor. ‘I must see who it is, who rushes so swiftly towards Osgiliath.’ By now, his head hurt and his eyes burnt, but he could not stop, not without knowing what was happening. As the stone bore down upon the figure, he drew in his breath. It was Ingold. He pushed further and caught sight of the Captain’s face. Fell and harsh was it. He shivered. The man veered to the north after passing the gate. He was not going to Osgiliath. Denethor watched in horror as the man drew close to the western shore of the river, then began to cross it. The current was strong there; Denethor knew it well. The man would never be able to traverse it. Yet, Ingold turned his horse into the running water. The horse struggled, then started to swim. After what seemed hours, his mount reached the other side. Denethor wanted to pull away, send for help, but the stone called him deeper. As he watched, the scene changed to Ithilien. It was easy enough to determine it was Ithilien for he noted the Crossroads lying before him. As he watched, a large band of Orc came into sight. They walked as if they owned the road. His anger flared. He tried to count them, but there were too many. They swaggered down the road, if swagger one could call their hideous walk. Swords and terrible weapons were clutched tight. Armour covered them. As the stone drew closer to the band, Denethor noted that some of the foul creatures had the White Tree emblazoned upon their chests. He choked as he realized they wore garments of his own men, Knights of Gondor. They had stripped their victims of their livery and wore it in mockery. Denethor’s anger flamed so that the stone began to turn red. His breathing came in hitched gasps. He dropped the stone onto its resting place and reeled backwards, catching himself upon the wall. Sliding down, he lost all thought. When he came to, the startled remembrance forced him to his feet. He had to save his friend’s father!


“Your presence was sorely missed,” Indis said, once they returned from the grave.

“I came back because this is my home.”

“Boromir and Faramir thrive under your care. Faramir even speaks more often, much to Denethor’s delight.”

Listöwel blushed at the compliment. “Finduilas laid a strong foundation. Never have I seen brothers so dedicated to each other.” Her heavy sigh stopped Indis’ reply.

She waited, but Listöwel did not speak further. Finally she leaned forward, putting her hand on her friend’s knee. When Listöwel looked up, she asked, “What concerns you so deeply?”

“Boromir will be made squire in just three months. He will move to the barracks to live with his Company.” She stood and walked to the fireplace. “I do not know how Faramir will fare with this separation. I wish Denethor would wait a year or two.”

Indis stood and walked to her side. “I understand your concerns. They are not unfounded. Denethor was made squire when he was but seven years old. I am grateful he has not continued that tradition.”

Listöwel smiled. “He has not continued many traditions. None of the coming of age ceremonies has been performed for Boromir.”

“Well I know it and I have wondered. But, as punishment, Ecthelion withheld many of Denethor’s ceremonies. I think he has not continued them because of that. They hold a sour taste in his mouth. There will, however, be a grand ceremony when Boromir comes of age and is made a Squire of Gondor. I have even begun some of the planning.”

“You will allow me to help with the preparations?” Listöwel pouted eloquently.

“Indis laughed. “Of course. But now, I must return to the Houses. Please stop by this evening for supper. I miss you and so does Arciryas.”

Listöwel herself laughed. “Once the boys are bedded, I will come. I will only stay for a short while though; Faramir still suffers from nightmares. Too often I find Boromir asleep on the chair by his bed. It breaks my heart.”

Indis hugged her tightly. “Soon, with your love and care, Faramir will be healed of these.” She took the letter with her as she left the nursery. “We will finish this when you come for supper,” she laughed as she waved it over her head.


Those who had witnessed the incident wondered. Rumour spread quickly throughout the City that Denethor had indeed been endowed with the Númenórean gift of foresight. He gave scarce attention to it. He walked into the White Tower and sat heavily in the Steward’s Chair. There was naught further he could do. Closing his eyes to the brightness of the torches, he waited.

His mind returned to Osgiliath. After his father had passed, he had striven to prepare Gondor for the fell time that he saw lying ahead. He had called upon his old friends, Dúinhir of Blackroot Vale, Angbor of Lamedon, Adrahil, Prince of Dol Amroth, Baranor of Lossarnach, Hirluin of the Green Hills, and Éomund of Rohan. Denethor had used his time wisely, whilst they remained in the City in the days following the funeral rites, and had taken each aside. He knew their weaknesses and strengths and played upon them, as his father had taught him. He grimaced at the thought, but necessity ruled. They had answered his call and come, with men, to support Denethor’s attempt to reclaim Osgiliath. They had been successful, though many brave men had died. The garrison of East Osgiliath was now firmly in Gondor’s hands under the Captaincy of Húrin, while Amlach captained West Osgiliath. Denethor had vowed he would not lose it again. The bridge had been rebuilt, though not nearly as well as the bridge of his ancestors, but it served its purpose – to keep both sides of the city connected, and to aid with troop movement and supplies. Denethor had placed blinds along the road, with seasoned troops hidden within. Blinds had also been placed in the trees of Emyn Arnen. Nowhere could one wander in that part of Ithilien without being seen. Orc had not dared to attack, once a few bands of them had been surprised and riddled by his archers arrows and his Knights swords.

Though he knew his men would be able to destroy the Orc band that was trying to slither through Ithilien, his concern was more for his friend’s father. What had betook Ingold to enter Ithilien alone? He had known grief himself, yet he could not understand this. He stood and strode up and down the hall. Should he look into the stone again? Nay, the warning had been given; his men were doing what they could. He walked to the door and opened it. Night had fallen; the Orc would be emboldened.

He remembered Amdir at his side, standing upon the bridge, smiling. ‘We shall look for that field of irises one day,’ his friend had said. Though now they never would. He must save Ingold – if for nothing than for the memory of his friend. But Ingold had been more than friend's father; he had been his captain long ago, and also his friend. He remembered the night he had encountered the Wizard. How his heart and flesh had turned to mush. In the midst of it, Ingold had hugged him with fierce friendship, chiding Denethor for his reserve. The closeness of the man in that moment eased the fear that had all but taken Denethor. And now that man was riding to his death. He raced up the stairs, unlocked the door and strode into the room.


“Théodwyn is to be wed!” Indis almost shrieked, waving the letter in the air.

“When? When?” Listöwel peppered her with questions. “Are we invited? Is there time to find a proper present? Who? Who?”

Indis hugged her friend. “Stop it now, Listöwel, you are making me laugh! She is marrying Eo… Oh, what is his name? Those Rohirrim; they insist on putting Eo on the beginning of all their names, even the women! Éomund!”

“I remember him now. We have met him once.”

“You are right, dearest sister. A tall, handsome man.” Indis smiled.

“Are not all the Rohirrim tall, handsome men? I love their hair.” Listöwel blushed.

“I prefer the hair of Númenor.” Indis rejoined.

“You may go on preferring them; I will look to the west.” Listöwel smiled broadly. “And you will look to the east - to a certain Healer, no doubt?” She hugged her friend. It was good to laugh again, to think of men with joy and not sorrow.


But sorrow ever dwelt in Gondor. Listöwel dressed in black now, for Ingold, her husband's father, had died. The men of Osgiliath had arrived too late; the man had ridden hard and encountered the Orc alone. His sword had been found at his side, broken in two. The Orc, of course, were hunted down and destroyed. But little comfort did Gondor take from that.

As Captain of the Armies, Ingold would be laid in one of the great houses in Rath Dínen. Denethor stood by his side, in the Great Hall, and wept. The Hall was dark, lit only by a few braziers. He mourned alone. None were allowed into the Hall as of yet. Dimly, he remembered something from his past. As he stood, hand upon the shoulder of his dead Captain and friend, the memory returned. His father had stood just so, with his hand upon the shoulder of Cranthir, his mother’s brother, as he lay broken and dead. Denethor had come into the Hall that dark night, led there by Indis, and his father and he were reconciled. Death could serve a purpose, but this night he found no such purpose. Black were his thoughts. 'What good is the stone if too late comes its warning!' He vowed, upon Ingold’s dead body, that he would learn to more effectively wield the stone. He would spend time studying it, holding it, delving into it until he learnt all its secrets. Then he could protect Gondor and his people.


They had found Edoras crowded, cold and dusty. The winter rain and snow had yet to arrive, hence the dirt flew in the heady north winds, blinding and gagging them. The only respite came when they were inside, but the smoke from the fires, stoked high to relieve the chill, was almost as choking as the dust outside. Couple that with the number of people overstuffed into Meduseld itself for the actual ceremony, and Indis was not surprised at the feeling of ill health that assailed her.

The boys, however, were in their glory. The past month’s holiday in the Mark had rejuvenated them. Faramir was eating well and, at times, it was nigh until impossible to keep him quiet. Denethor had stared, wide-eyed, when, innocently enough asking Faramir what his horse’s name was, the boy had launched into a blow-by-blow description of the horse, its coloring, temperament, favorite foods, and anything else that the lad could think of. Denethor had been standing when he asked the question; by the time Faramir had stopped for a breath, he had been seated near half an hour. The smile on his face cracked wide in surprise and joy. For the rest of that day, the smile never left Denethor’s face.

The ceremony, what Indis cold see of it, was beautiful. Théoden’s favorite sister was bedecked in the most colorful of gowns. A silver and gold circlet lay upon her long, golden hair; her cheeks were flushed with happiness; she stood silently beside Éomund. Indis remembered the friendship betwixt the House of Húrin and Eorl and rejoiced. Théoden King passed the wedding cup to them; they drank, and then the hall erupted in a cacophony of noise; horns were blown, glasses were raised, great cries rose to the ceiling as the revelers pushed and shoved each other aside to hug and kiss the fair bride, and cuff and jostle the groom.

The light-heartedness of the assemblage flowed over Denethor in welcome waves, wafting fear and sorrow from him. ‘No wonder Faramir is healing,’ he thought. ‘How could one not with such camaraderie?’ He took his cup and clinked it against Théoden's. “ ‘Tis a good day for Rohan,” he smiled.

Théoden blinked tears too near for comfort. “They act as if they thought this would never happen. Is not this the way of life; that one marries?”

“In Gondor, men usually marry much later. Though I am finding it is a good thing to marry young.” A small pain touched his mind, but he pushed it aside.

Théoden grasped his shoulder, squeezing it tightly. Both men knew the loss that shadowed their hearts.

“They will be living in the Eastfold?” Denethor quickly sidestepped the pain.

“Indeed. My sister has already outfitted their home, much to Éomund’s chagrin. He has been accustomed to living in stark, soldier’s quarters. There are drapes on the windows. Drapes!” Théoden chuckled and nudged Denethor. “If you want to see a man sputter, mention the drapes.” He broke into laughter.

Denethor howled along with him. “I will be certain to ask.” He grew serious for a moment. “How long have you known of their love?”

“Nigh unto two years now, I believe.”

“I knew the first time I met him.” He paused remembering the campfire, the songs, and the innocent young soldier inquiring about a certain Rohirric woman. “It was the year we first renewed our trade agreement. You were on your way to Minas Tirith for my own wedding. I was in his camp. He wondered aloud if Théodwyn was with your company. The look on his face told all.”

Théoden smiled. “The next time you discern something of such import to your friends in the Mark, I hope you impart that knowledge in a more timely manner,” he said gently.

Denethor accepted the rebuke with crimson face. “My friend, I stand chastised. You are correct. I will remember this in the future.”

Théoden put his hand on his friend’s shoulder again. “Come! Let nothing stand betwixt us. A long time ago I gave you my pledge. I still hold to it. It is time now for friend’s to celebrate!”


The morning dawned clear with the never-ending cold chilling him through the coverlets. As sleep left him, he realized two small bodies warmed his sides. He looked askance. He had not remembered them entering his chambers. Faramir’s feet were freezing, but Boromir’s breath blew warm on his face. His smile returned, though his head ached. Halfway through the night, the revelers had turned from drinking mead to something stronger. What concoction it was, Denethor had not a clue, but it was potent, nonetheless. He vaguely remembered singing; thankfully, it had been in a group. If Amdir were there, he would have laughed. ‘Shades of sorrow,’ he thought. ‘They come unbidden, these thoughts.’ At that moment, Boromir stirred. Denethor smiled as the beloved grey eyes stared back at him.

“Ada,” the boy whispered. “I missed thee.”

“Thou didst not. Too busy hast thou been to think of thy father.” Denethor, still sleep lulled, slipped into the Sindarin and immediately regretted it. Pain shot through his heart.


 Faramir stirred, smiled at Denethor and hugged him tightly. “I am sorry, Ada.”

Denethor frowned. “And what makes you sorry this beautiful day, my son?”

“Ion nîn, Ada,” Faramir gently reprimanded him. His eyes filled with tears. “Am I not thine ion nîn, Ada?”

Closing his eyes, Denethor took a deep breath. Mayhap, as Indis had said, it would be too hard on his sons to change their family’s speech. “Thou art and always wilt be my ion nîn, Faramir. Thou art right to remind me.”

The boy’s face glowed; he hugged Denethor again and stepped back.

“Now, what didst thou say thy horse’s name wast?”

“‘Tis not a horse,” Faramir almost burst with laughter. “‘Tis a pony, Ada, and her name is Snowflake and I may ride her anytime I want. Won’t thou takest us out today, Ada? Thou promised such last night.”

“I promised?” Denethor asked, puzzled.

“Ada,” Faramir said patiently, “when we came into thy chambers last night, cold and affrighted and thou invited us to thy bed, thou promised us.”

Denethor groaned quietly. ‘I seem to remember vowing to Amdir that I would be careful in the amount of drink I took. Seems I have not learnt my lesson.’ He turned to Faramir, took the little chin in his hand and kissed him gently. “Aye, Faramir. We will ride today, but thou must speak in the Common Tongue here. Théoden’s people do not know our tongue and it would be impolite on our part. Get thee back to thy room and dress. We will meet in Théoden’s hall, break our fast, and then ride out. Now, shoo!” and he pushed them lightly from the bed. The boys ran with speed, almost falling over themselves in their excitement, and Denethor had to stop himself from laughing aloud. His heart was peaceful here. Always, when he had dealings with the Rohirrim, some sense of peace and light-heartedness o’ercame him. He shook the feeling of laziness that would keep him to his bed, rose and quickly washed and dressed. No matter the speed with which he had prepared himself, his sons’ speed was greater; they waited in the hall.

The Golden Hall shone this day with a light from the happy pair. They had spent many days, secluded, and now had come forth for their first breaking of the fast as a couple. Théodwyn looked shy, her face brilliantly shining, but shy nonetheless. Éomund’s face was nigh unto scarlet, but a smile was fixed upon that face and all laughed in joy that saw him.

Denethor frowned as he entered the hall; he had forgotten the day’s festivities. Faramir would be disappointed. ‘Nay, mayhap we may slip away ere the day is too far gone.’ He walked to the King’s table, gave a gracious bow to Théoden, then turned and kissed Théodwyn gently, lovingly. She accepted his token of friendship and then, bursting into tears, flung her arms about his shoulders. ‘Thou gavest good care to my Éomund whilst he was in Gondor. I thank thee from the bottom of my heart.”

Her halting Sindarin touched his heart, and he smiled, gently extricating himself from her embrace. “Thy husband was a great help to Gondor. I thank thee for allowing him to aid us against the Enemy.” He quickly moved to Éomund’s side and crushed him with a hug. “Your wife is beautiful and kind. It is I who am in Rohan’s debt for your part in reclaiming Osgiliath. That is a gift beyond measure. I had not the time nor the wit to thank you then. I do so now and renew my pledge of Gondor’s continued support in the Eastemnet. Mayhap we might spend some time, ere I leave, to discuss your plans for that part of the Mark?”

“I will try to make time, but,” and here his face turned a deeper shade of red, “she is most demanding.”

Denethor burst into laughter. “And well she should be. Forgive me for even requesting such a thing.” He again hugged his friend and walked to the banquet-laden tables. Just as he sat, a rush of wind blew past him and behold! Boromir and Faramir stood at his side.

“May we go now, Ada? I am not the least bit hungry!” Faramir entreated, tugging at Denethor’s sleeve.

“What say you to that, Boromir? Will you miss your meal to accommodate your brother?”

Boromir’s eyes looked longingly at the table. Denethor could almost see the saliva pooling at the corner of his mouth.

“I can manage without food for a time, Ada, if Faramir truly wishes it.”

Denethor sat in stunned silence. Boromir’s devotion knew no bounds.

Having pity on him, Denethor said, “Faramir. I would take you out immediately, but my stomach grumbles. Would you wait a moment more, while I eat a little?”

Faramir’s mouth opened into an ‘o’ and then closed. “Forgive me, Ada. Nanny said I was much too selfish.” He sat quietly and pulled Boromir down next to him. Boromir immediately grabbed a plate, eating as he filled it.

When the meal was finished, Denethor looked about him. The guests were still in the midst of their festivities; he deemed they would be little missed if they left now. Motioning to the boys, he walked out of the hall into the bright sunlight. Blinking, two little ones ran into his back. “If you knock me down, I will not be able to ride with you," he laughed loudly. Some soldiers nearby looked towards him and smiled. The boys, having been in Edoras for the last two months, had won the heart of many a Rohirrim.

They walked to the stables, Faramir chattering all the time about Snowflake and what a wonderful pony she was. Denethor could not understand the radical change that had come over his son. Only last year, still hardly speaking unless spoken to; now, it was difficult to not tell him to stop!


‘It has been too long,’ Listöwel moaned to herself. Her sword arm was not near as strong as it had once been. How had she let herself become so weak?

Eledhwen laughed. “I am glad to see that you feel your lack. It shows wisdom. But not much. For it would seem it would have been wiser to have continued your practice after I left Minas Tirith. You did not need me as Swordmaster. Denethor has many who would have sufficed. Your arm is as weak as a child’s!”

“Do not chide her o’ermuch, Eledhwen. She only returned to the City this year; we only began practice again a few months ago. Give us time. We will return to the warrior women you remember,” Indis intervened.

This time it was Eledhwen’s turn to laugh. “Warrior women! I remember no such women. Even at your best, neither one of you hardly held the sword high enough, nor took cuts strong enough. Only my Morwen shone brightly.”

“You are narrow-minded, sweet Swordmaster. Your allegiance is to the Lady of the Mark. We will forgive you,” laughed Indis. “Now, stop your chiding, and teach us. We would once again win your favor.”

They practiced the entire morning and well into the afternoon. At last, Eledhwen stopped. “You are too tired to even lift your swords. I suppose you crave sustenance?” Her eyebrow arched in mock annoyance.

“Sustenance or no,” Indis cried, “we have not the strength to hold our swords any longer, never the mind even trying to make a parry or a thrust. You are a hard taskmaster; I had forgotten.”

“You have forgotten many things, but I will remind you.” She smiled suddenly and the warmth of Rohan filled the chamber. “It is good to be amongst you again.”

Morwen lowered her sword. Of the three, she was the least taxed by their practice. “Come. We will to the dining hall. I am sure there are wine, ale and mead to sate our thirsts. Also, a lamb was slaughtered this morning, and awaits our pleasure. Come, beloved sister-friends. I have waited for this moment since you arrived.”

They returned their swords to their places, laved their faces in the bowl by the door, and walked together, arms wrapped around each other’s waists, into the Golden Hall.

“With all the preparations for the troth-pledge, we have barely had a moment to speak,” Morwen began. “Now that the guests are leaving, I would spend time with you. Mayhap we may embroider tonight? I have a garment I am making for Théodwyn and have reached an impasse. I know not what else to do. Listöwel, you learnt much at Elleth’s side, mayhap you will help me?”

They all fell silent at the mention of dear Elleth’s name.


“Faramir,” he said as he threw the stone into the stream, “what didst thou mean when thou said thou wert selfish? Wast it Listöwel who told thee such?”

Faramir’s eyes widened. “Nay, ‘twas the angry one, the one who put her hands always on her hips and tapped her foot.” Faramir threw his own stone into the stream. It skipped twice, but he hardly noticed. He had turned to Denethor, put his hands on his own hips, tapped his toe, and scowled, “You are always thinking of yourself, Faramir. You never think of how tired I might be.”

Too shocked by the words to smile at the excellent impersonation, Denethor froze. Faramir, seeing his father’s look, thought he had done something wrong. He started to stutter an apology when Denethor fell to his knees in front of him. “Ion nîn,” he pulled the boy to his chest, hugging him fiercely. Then he turned towards Boromir, “Why didst thou not tell me?” he asked, trying to keep his anger and shame in check.

Boromir looked at him in surprise. “Ada, thou knowest everything.”

Tears sprang to Denethor’s eyes. The utter trust he saw in his eldest moved him beyond words. He swallowed hard. “I do not, Boromir. None ever know everything.” He paused for a moment, thinking hard. “Thou mayest help me, Boromir.”

“Oh, mayest I help too, Ada?” Faramir chimed in, looking up at Denethor.

“Aye, thou must tell me how hard one must throw thy stone to make it skip across the water three times. And,” he held Faramir at arm’s length, “thou must forget this foolishness. Thy nanny was mistaken. Thou art most giving. Listen to thy father, Faramir. It was thee loving thy Nana that made her smile in the morning, and thee giving of thy time to read to her in the afternoons that caused her to sleep so peacefully at night, and thee giving of thy love to me that gives me courage to face the day and all the Orc of the Enemy. Dost thou understand this?”

Faramir’s eyes had widened as Denethor spoke. “Aye, Ada,” he whispered. Then his little face took on a look of consternation. “I give thee courage, Ada?”

“Aye. Thou givest me courage and thou makest my heart light. Thou art precious to me, ion nîn.”

Faramir’s breath left him as he lunged forward and hugged Denethor.

He led them to the raised lip of the dell they had walked down earlier. Under the shadow of a thicket of trees, he stopped. Faramir lay down next to him. Boromir sat on his other side.

“I have one question of you, Boromir,” he said as he lay on the cool grass. He picked one of the Elven Crown blooms from the ground and put the end in his mouth, twirling the long-stem with his teeth as he lie back upon the ground. “You have been most quiet these past months. I would know why the change.”

Boromir turned his head away. “I am as I always have been,” he murmured.

The gentle slap of the stream, hurrying over its rocky bed, was the only sound that disturbed the air. Denethor waited.


Silence still. Denethor picked up another flower and twirled it in his hand. The little crown that surrounded the seed pocket bobbed with the movement. He wondered indeed if it resembled an Elven crown.

“Ada, are there really Elves?” Faramir had been watching his father intently, seeming to read his mind. It startled Denethor.


‘Sometimes it seems silly to train,’ Indis thought. Morwen was strictly forbidden to go out on sorties let alone go to battle, Listöwel definitely did not have the old fire that had once caused her to hatch the plot that had first started them on the path of warrior women, and she herself was care-worn and tired. Though their time here in Edoras was lovely, it was but a pause. Denethor now had full reign of Gondor and needed her more than ever. She had learned so much as she helped Ecthelion. Their father had woefully lacked in the training of Denethor. And poor Denethor was well aware of it. This time away would have to be brief and yet, she had been here two months!

“Ever did your thoughts stray in Minas Tirith, Indis,” Morwen laughed. “Still, they sway here. Will you not answer your sister-friend? Is this too plain?”

Indis laughed as Morwen held out an exquisite case for a pillow. “Too fancy for the plains of Rohan. Mayhap would be better for her to keep it in her rooms here at Edoras.”

Morwen blushed at the compliment. “Thank you. Now, I entreat you. What were you thinking of just now. Your forehead was furrowed.”

Indis looked up and full into her friend’s face. “I was thinking of how poorly Denethor was raised. Of the uphill battle he now has to govern Gondor. He is ill equipped for much more than waging war. At that he is very good.”

“Gondor needs a battle-hardened leader, Indis. Even here in Rohan, the forces of evil sally forth, attacking at will. We are hard-pressed to guard our own borders, let alone Gondor’s.”

“Well I know it. As does Denethor. He is most grateful for Théoden’s allegiance.”

Morwen sat back. “I did not mean to say aught against Gondor, Indis. I only consider the burdens that lie upon my son’s back.”

Indis had to laugh. “The same burdens that lie upon Denethor’s. See, we are sisters in need also!”


“When I was younger, Faramir, I went to visit your great-uncle in Dol Amroth. I was sleeping in my own room when I heard a sound; some small sound woke me. I still do not know what it was.”

“An Elf,” Faramir stated with certainty.

“Aye, it was an Elf, but Faramir, Elves do not make noise. I do not know why I heard him, unless ‘twas his will that I did. I looked towards the window and he stood on the sill, looking at me quietly. Then he smiled and slipped onto the balcony. I ran to try to speak with him, but he was gone. I do not know how he left the balcony. It was high up and the cliffs of the Bay dropped straight down. There was no balcony nor door to right nor left of my own. I still do not know where he went that night.”

“Mayhap he flew!” Faramir’s eyes were wide with wonder.

Boromir hid his mouth with his hand, trying to stave the laughter that tried to escape his lips.

Denethor smiled at the lad’s discomfiture and thought how kind of him not to gloat nor tease his brother. “I do not think Elves fly, Faramir. I have never heard tell of one with wings.”

“A dragon, Ada,” Boromir offered.

Faramir liked the idea. “A fire-breathing dragon, Ada, with great black wings and a tiny head, and a saddle for the Elf. I can hear the wings now. Boromir, can’t you hear them, beating?”

At that moment, a wind blew up and both boys looked in astonishment, not a little fear flickering across their faces.

Denethor shook his head. This was not where he wanted his tale to take them – to fear. “Nay, Faramir. Elves ride on eagles. I am sure of it. Great, swift eagles with a wingspan as wide as the tunnel is long at the Sixth Gate: fair and strong are they. I believe the eagles speak to the Elves. At least, that is what I was told as a child by your mother’s mother. The Elves ride at the eagles’ pleasure. Eagles are not beasts of burden, like the oxen of the Pelennor, but free.” He smiled as their shoulders relaxed again. “Then, when I was older and had fallen in love with your mother, I slept the night in her garden. She did not know it. I was afraid --“

“Ada,” Boromir was perplexed, “you are never afraid.”

“Boromir,” Denethor laughed, “where do you get these ideas? I am a man. I have fears and…” He stopped. If the boy needed him to be fearless, then he would be fearless, at least for a time. “I did not know if your mother loved me, so I waited outside her window and hoped that she would look out. An Elf appeared from nowhere. He walked to my side, motioned for me to sit on one of the marble seats, and stood before me. I was a little afraid, Boromir, just a little. He was much taller than I and his hair was golden, but not the yellow of Théoden or Théodred; it shone brightly in the moonlight. His face was thin, but fair. I started to speak, but he put his finger over his mouth. I waited. He looked at me for a long time. I felt he delved into my very being, but said nothing. Then, he turned and disappeared.”

“He turned into nothing?” Faramir misunderstood.

“Nay, he walked off into the night. But so quickly, I scarce saw where he went. So, Faramir, there are Elves. I have never seen one again.”

“I want to see an Elf, Ada.”

“Of course you do, Faramir. And you, Boromir?”

The boy did not answer. Denethor remembered his original question. He pulled another Elven Crown from the ground and lay still. Though Denethor had kept the pace slow and gentle as they rode to river, it was more than Faramir was accustomed to. Soon he was asleep.

“Boromir, thou hast not answered my question.”

The lad lay down beside his father. “I do not wish to answer it,” he said mildly.

Denethor could not think of what to say. He was dumbfounded by Boromir’s reticence. Something was clearly not right here. Yet what it was, he could not discover. He closed his eyes, hoping the child would relax and respond.

“Was Nanny a bad Nanny?”

“Why do you ask?” Denethor asked, trying to imagine what prompted such a question.

“You said she made a mistake with Faramir. Could she have made other mistakes?”

Denethor had never heard Boromir speak so quietly, nor so haltingly. “She did not do what I wanted her to do. She made many mistakes. I was very happy when Listöwel returned, for I knew Listöwel would care for you well.” He looked towards Boromir and his heart constricted. Tears were streaming down his eldest’s face. “Boromir, what ails thee?”

Boromir flung himself across Denethor’s body. “She said Nana said I talk too much. That I was the cause of Faramir’s lack of speech. I would do naught to hurt him, Ada.” The sobbing shook the little one’s shoulders. “I,” a hiccup interrupted him, and Denethor remembered how tears always ended with hiccups with the lad. “I stopped talking because I wanted Faramir to talk. I remember you said you would separate us if he did not talk. I would die without Faramir, Ada, truly I would.”

“By the Valar, Boromir, I do not remember saying such a thing.”

“I was not supposed to be listening, but I had a dream, and I came to your room. You and Nana were talking about Faramir.”

“Ah,” he moaned, “I remember it.” Tears welled in his eyes. “I was so wrong, Boromir. I cannot promise that you will never be separated. You will both be warriors someday. You will have to go to wherever you are stationed. You know that. But you will always return to Minas Tirith. There will be many reunions between us. But that time is long from now. Do not let it concern you. I, as well as your Nanny, was wrong.”

Boromir snuggled closer. “Faramir told me you were teasing. I’m glad he was right,” the lad said just before sleep took him.

Denethor sat there for a long time, pondering his mistakes with his sons and his wife. Amdir’s face came into his mind. ‘Do not carry the weight of mistakes on you, Denethor, my friend,’ he seemed to say. ‘You learn from your mistakes as others do not. Rest now.’

Denethor awoke with a start. Was it one of his dreams or had Amdir actually come to him? ‘Nay,’ he thought. ‘I am tired and disconsolate. ‘Twas my imagination.’ The sun was slipping towards the horizon. He prepared the horse and ponies, and woke the boys. Faramir ran to the river to throw ‘just one more stone’ and Denethor laughed. Boromir held his hand tightly. As he looked down, he saw such love shining in the lad’s eyes that his own welled with tears. Picking him up, he hugged him tightly. “I will not be able to do this much longer with you, ion nîn. You will begin your training in a few short months. I will miss these times with you. Do not become too busy to visit your old father?”

Boromir sobbed and hugged Denethor back. “I will always visit you, Ada, and someday, I will let you rest and become Steward for you. Then you may laugh all you want and fish with Faramir. And I will watch over Gondor and care for her,” he said solemnly. Denethor could only hug him; there were no words sufficient to express his love for the lad. They mounted and rode towards the West.