When we have shuffled off this mortal coil

Nothing Gold can Stay

1. Nothing Gold can Stay

Author's notes and warnings:
*no plot - just lots of adjectives ;-)
*still quite beta
*movie-verse, more or less, for appearances
*bad poetry - and a probably entirely unjustified use of é ;-)
*dodgy botany - I have no idea what bugloss and/or valerian smell
like: I only know what Aussie beaches smell like ;-)
*1000 words
*the title is taken from a poem by Robert Frost

The first faint gold of sunset began to paint the walls of the room. From below, laughter and piping calls told that children still played in the long summer evening. Finduilas lifted her head up, trying to see down to the garden below her, before letting it fall back to the pillow. With a wasted hand, she reached for the book that lay beside her, its worn red cover soft and the pages furred at the corners from use.

Finduilas cradled the book in her hands as she watched the deepening gold of the sunset, before opening it to where a marker held a long familiar place. The book fell open on a page of black ink, of strong crisp letters and straight-ruled words.

My golden one, my lovéd one,
My soul and heart and joy,
My girl of sand and shore and sea…

She read the lines of poetry until they ran and faded before her eyes. The book slipped from her hands and her throat trembled with swallowed sobs. Still could she see her husband as he was when he wrote those lines – a man in the heart of his strength, both warrior and ruler. Now he came to her with sorrow dark upon his face, worn by responsibility and grief.

Through the window, the sky was a vault of gold; all shades from the palest silk where it stretched endlessly above her, to the deepest fiery orange-gold that burnt in streaks below. Outside, someone called her children’s names. Come now, it insisted, come for dinner and baths and bed. Finduilas listened and wept again that it would be other hands that washed and dressed them tonight, other hands that tucked blankets around their small forms. Each day they came more reluctantly to see her; the smallest one who was beginning to forget already the mother she had been, and his brother who remembered all too well, and feared to see each day’s changes.

They had come today, shepherded in as usual before morning lessons and after her husband had left her. Faramir stood silently as his nurse prompted him ‘Tell Mama about…’ while Boromir came to sit beside him with a look of grim determination that broke her heart. He gruffly asked how she felt today and the aching pain in his eyes tore at her in a way neither her gnawing pain nor fading strength did. Talking was almost beyond her, so she listened in silence as he told of his sword lessons and of what Faramir had eaten; of the fish he had caught down in the deep pool and of how Faramir had read a new book. She watched him as he spoke, worshipping his golden-haired beauty and his long-limbed strength. When even listening tired her she lay with her eyes closed and focussed on his smell: myrtle-scented soap and the rich smell of straw and oats from his morning run down to the stables. He brought with him all the freshness of the world she was losing.

Finduilas reached for the book she had let slip down beside her. Straightening a page crumpled in its fall she placed it carefully on the wide stone windowsill, where the sun’s dying rays splashed it with colour. The marker she kept, though. She smoothed it across the back of her hand, where the skin stretched ghostly pale across sharp bone, and stroked a finger down its smooth braids. Three strands there were – one the colour of newly ripened corn, one tinted with the fires of dragon gold and one the deep clear gold of the shores of Dol Amroth. Each strand wove itself into the others, separated, cleaved once more and finally blended into an intricately woven point. Tears slipped slowly from Finduilas’s eyes as she touched it.

Here was the hair of her firstborn, her Boromir: as pale a gold as the first sun on snow. She followed its woven length, and saw as she did her son grow from a babe with a head of the softest down to a golden-haired child who ruled the court with his beauty to a serious boy who bound his hair tightly back in emulation of his father’s squires.

The deepest gold was hers. She looked from it to the brittle, faded wisps that remained and mourned with tearless, burning sobs: mourned not for loss of beauty, but for loss of life. The hair in the braid shone with the bright clear sunshine of Dol Amroth even as she withered in this stone city.

She pressed her tears against her sleeve and clutched the braid more tightly. It was smooth and cool within her hand. She looked back down at it. The last strand was both the softest, and the scarcest. Firelight and dragon flame danced in its depths as she touched it. Denethor had cut it from their youngest son the day of his fourth birthday, and brought her this intricately woven braid the day after. He had grown too old and careful for poetry and had simply said ‘My gold.’

With an effort, Finduilas moved herself so she could once more see the sky. It burnt with golden brilliance, as sharp and fiery as a dragon’s flame. She stretched out a shaking hand to grip the window embrasure and pulled herself upright. Her breathing ragged, she slumped against the window and felt her face caressed by a gentle breeze. It brought the scent of drying hay and of the herbs that lined the courtyard below to her, but she smelt instead salt drying on the shore and the sharp bitterness of bugloss and valerian. The sky began to change: fires of red and brilliant orange burnt away the gold from the horizon as darkness crept down the sky. Finduilas shifted slightly: brought the braid of hair to her face and pressed it to her lips. Outside, the gold faded: the fires burnt down and a soft blooming purple took the sky. Inside, the room grew silent.

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.


In Challenges

Story Information

Author: Avon

Status: Beta

Completion: Complete

Rating: General

Last Updated: 08/09/04

Original Post: 08/09/04

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