Disclaimer: I don't own the characters of the poem at the end, which I have Faramir speak. The poem is an segment from The Fallen by Laurence Binyon.
They rode in silence through the dark woods, to Amon Hen, where the statues slumber under watchful trees. A feeling came over them, King and Steward, as they left their guards behind to wait, this, at the last, too private a journey.
All about them in their land was renewal, the sun awoke in the East each morning no longer marred by smoke and black clouds; here the land seemed still untouched from ages past and there's was a journey back in time, whether the air felt thick with remembrance.
They tied the horses, left them, for their hooves made noise too much. They walked the final distance, close together, their gait measured and slow. They walked on the silent feet of Rangers, close enough but not touching.
Easily found was the tree, for the remnants of the armour of their enemies was strewn about. Their swords still lay, perhaps, at the bottom of an Elven craft, beneath the feet of a ever-sleeping soldier, peaceful at long last, drifting ever further into the embrace of the sea.
The Steward went ahead while the King remained behind, paces back, watching with sorrowful eyes. Young the Steward was yet, though old he felt as he touched the rough bark of the ancient tree where a soldier had laid dying.
It felt not alive, the roughness under his palm, though he knew it was and the leaves were not seen green to his eyes, nor the woods peaceful, but stretched out there was a field bathed red with gore, earth churned up, where mangled bodies lay of the dead and dying, foe and friend alike. The final stiff solitude of death grasped at his limbs in memory and a chocking, gasping moan rose from his throat and he fell.
He knelt trembling where his brother had laid and died. His breathing sounded harsh in his ears when he remembered he was breathing for his death was not to be yet. He was not one of the fallen. If it had been so it may have felt a blessing. He shuddered with remembrance of the faces of the dead, their parody of shocked slumber. But had he been counted among them he should be proud through his sorrow to have fought and died for the protection of others whom he loved though he knew not.
His grief, held fast so long against all his sufferings, gave way and his throat closed against words with the pain of his cries. His chest burned with tears and his shoulders slumped in the heaviness of his sorrow.
Rough hands made gentle dropped against his stooped shoulders but such grief broken free could not be contained. The King knelt before him and strong arms closed around him. He gave into the extended comfort and felt his pain take him, unaware but for the awful ache and that which tied him to this place, memory overtaking him until the storm had passed.
He felt smaller, slight, limp and weighted in the arms of the King when his eyes dried and his throat stopped, hoarse with sobs. He raised his eyes, head still resting on the offered shoulder for he momentarily lacked the strength to life it further, and any shame he felt erased for there were his tears echoed on the calm face of the King; the understanding of his spirit mirrored in grey eyes.
He let his head lay back upon his King's shoulder and closed his eyes. The King's hand upon the back of his head, upon his dark hair, and it felt a blessing. They spoke not as they remained.
When they returned to their city the silver trumpets blew and they were given unlooked for welcome. The people had guessed the purpose of their errand. The whispered rumours had curled round the circles of the city and the people had come out to greet them, their purpose on this journey.
They lined the streets, parents and children, sisters and brothers, soldiers old and new wearing proudly the uniform of the White Tree. Neither King nor Steward knew the words to speak to them.
Bright red lined the white stone streets. Red flowers, that swayed on slim stalks as a carpet across the field once torn by battle, were clasped in bunches within the hands of widows and children, fastened into the buttons on the breasts of soldiers and old men. Their blossoms were scattered upon the ground beneath them, winding up high before them.
They rode without speech through the circles. The crowd was silent. Red petals fluttered away from the breeze made by their horses' hooves. A strand of dark hair escaped its fastening and blew across a pale cheek, catching on the wetness of a tear.
The King looked at his Steward as they reached the ending of their people, who stood still in silence behind them, then before them as they turned still upon their steeds. He was surprised to sight the twin rivers had been renewed upon the Steward's cheeks, though they were but slight traces of a trickle, not the rages he had seen under past trees. They gazed upon the city, upon the fields, upon the people.
Into the silence the wind whispered of laughter past, the tears murmured of grief current, the red flowers sang of remembrance ever and the White City stood for hope.
Into the silence the Steward spoke:
"There is a music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncountered:
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember 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.