Memorial Day Onlist Challenge

War and Remembrance

33. Payment

They are asleep now, one in each arm. Just a few minutes before they were greedily suckling, filling their little bellies. How peaceful they look now. The storm has passed, calmed with mother’s milk, rocking, a poorly hummed rendition of the rider’s lullaby and love, angry red faces replaced with the peaceful sleep only children know. Carefully I rise and ease my way over to their little bed. I set one down as carefully as I can and then the other. For a moment one stirs, and a fear grips me that they will wake and I will have to lull them again, but luck is with me and they settle in for a good sleep. I put the little quilt the queen gave me over them, and it settles around their tiny forms softly as only silk and down can. Hopefully they will keep it on, for even in South Ithilien, late February nights are cold. I watch for a greedy moment, before the fear of waking them drives me away.

Softer than any burglar, I close the door. There, in the main room, dimly lit by the fire, is my husband looking thoughtful and sad. I sit next to him on the couch, and he admits me under the blanket draped over him.

"This night is hard for you," I say.

"It will be two years on the morrow," he answers. "I should have gone. It was my dream, it should be me who is dead."

"Do not judge your past with the knowledge of what came after," I answer. "None know the outcome of the decisions they make. The prudent choice oft goes awry, foolish mistakes save the day."

"But I could have gone if I had insisted as my heart demanded," he answered. "My weakness sealed my brother’s doom."

"It is two years to the day, today, that my cousin Théodred fell. I marked the hour, sunset, with a quiet prayer. I do not know if it was in vain. It is beyond my keen to judge such matters. Only the Gods can say. I tell myself, he died to save me and our people and am thankful for the gift," I answer.

"Your choice did not seal his doom," he says.

"Gandalf and the King have both told me that our fate hung by the slenderest of threads. I prefer to think that the sacrifices of those I love were the grain of sand that tipped the scale in our favor. Would you have had your brother live only to see the fall of Gondor?" I ask.

"You do not know that would be the case," he answers.

"I know it as well as you know that your taking his place would have saved his life, which is to say not at all," I answer.

He is silent for a long while, staring into the fire. "As always, your wisdom is hard to refute," he says sadly. "I just wish I had some sign, to know I did the right thing."

I stand up and reach out to him, "Come." He takes my hand and rises, following my lead.

With a practiced skill, I quietly open the door to the girls’ room. We enter as thieves, and look at the peaceful repose of the two tiny princesses huddled together under their quilt and our arms find each other. A tear comes to my eye and looking at him, I see the same. I whisper in his ear, "The Gods have repaid our loss in full measure."


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: HA Writers Group

Status: General

Completion: Ongoing Serial

Rating: General

Last Updated: 05/28/03

Original Post: 05/25/03

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