1. Gathering the Pieces
"But the Steward’s son," they told me, "is a strange man with eyes full of bitter thoughts. An excellent captain with a brilliant mind, but a strange man, the Lord Denethor."
I laughed at that and remembered their words as I walked across the hall, three steps behind my father, to greet him. I remember thinking that he was taller than any of the men I had seen and that his face framed by his raven hair was just a little too stern and proud to be handsome.
I did not know, then, the gleam in his eyes when he smiles.
He does not understand me and he does not approve. I know him too well to pretend.
He looks at me with a sad smile and his eyes betray the question he dares not ask. There have never been questions before, there cannot be now. He does not ask, he just looks at me, his eyes full of doubt.
"Promise you will be happy," is all that he says as he leaves and I nod, tears blurring my vision.
There can be no questions now, brother, because you know that – for the first time – I have no answers.
"He has inherited his father’s eyes," I say and he laughs as he kisses my brow.
"Finduilas," he says in that deep warm voice I love so much. "Finduilas." Again and again and I smile.
They tell me that he has waited outside all night, pacing the hallway, his face pale and his hands clenched to fists, trembling. It is the kind of thing he would do.
The shadows are deeper here and the winters longer. I was never one to be afraid of the dark, but he says that I talk in my sleep, tossing and turning, my face twisted as if in some great pain. He says that he is afraid, afraid for me.
Of my dreams I remember but shreds and pieces, like broken glass impossible to put back together. Yet I cut my fingers time and time again, seeking answers in the mists of oblivion, finding nothing but shadows.
But sometimes, I believe, I dream of the sea.
I have never seen him look so pale and worn, never so haunted and restless. "I was so afraid," he says after he has made sure they have all left, his voice barely more than a whisper.
The last night is but a blurry dream of pain and voices calling my name. In my memory it is his. Finduilas. Finduilas. Until I wanted to drown just to escape the agony.
"My son" is all I can say. "My son."
He tells me I am pale and that my cheeks are hollow. I know that he would take me home if I asked him, yet I will not ask.
"Don’t be so stubborn," I hear my brother say, somewhere in the vastness of memory. It seems so long ago.
But I remember his eyes full of pain and his voice full of fear. "Don’t leave me," he says, his face haunting my dreams. "Don’t leave me."
I know what they say in the streets, the words they will not let me hear. They talk of death, of the shadow rising and the end of the world.
I do not believe them.
Would he forgive me if he knew there is no pain? Would he believe me if I told him of the peace that shines like a candle in the mist, flickering on the edge of vision, solidifying only when I’m not looking?
"The Steward’s son," they told me, "is a strange man with eyes full of bitter thoughts." I believed them, then, and laughed because I did not know the gleam in his eyes when he smiles.
The night falls slowly and I don’t even notice until I realise I can’t see his face anymore.
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.