1. Distant Maiden
– Distant Maiden –
The night was quiet and still, and the people of Gondor still lay in their vigil for those who had gone to seek the Dark Lord, praying to the Valar for their guidance in the dark days to come. The long arm of the shadow had already encompassed Minas Tirith: its unnatural darkness lay about the City like a cloak, blocking out the shining stars and the guiding light of the waxing Isil, and the city no longer shone pale in its light. The night was still rather young, yet no children played in the streets under the light of the torches, nor did the adults hurry about their business. Only the guards were left out in the dark, while the citizens stayed in their ruined homes, their doors locked as best as possible, as they tried to block out thoughts with forced mirth and drink.
The Houses of Healing was silent as well, the wounded no longer calling in pain, for their voices were hushed in deep slumber; their pain forgotten as they dwelled in the world of dreams for yet a while.
And yet, a single torch was held aloft in the building, its flickering flame lighting the way for its sleepless bearer as he went from room to room in the east tower. Occasionally, he would open a door softly to glance upon its occupant, and then close the wooden door with a sigh, before moving on to the next.
At last he had reached the room he had sought for, though it was not his own. Sliding the torch into an empty holder as the side, he opened its door, heart in his throat, for fear that she was awake. Yet, his fears were unfounded; for his love was asleep, the soft coverlets drawn over her slight frame. A solitary candle burned on the nightstand beside her, its extinguishing flame casting shadows over her pale face, and making her golden hair shine, creating an ethereal halo. She was an angel.
He leaned onto the doorframe, looking at her, he saw a small smile graced upon her lips as she slumbered, and wondered to think what she was dreaming of.
Was it him?
Or was it another man who had already stolen her heart?
She looked so peaceful in sleep that if he had not known her for the past days, he would have reckoned that she had not a care in the world. As best as she tried to hide it, he knew she feared for those she loved who had gone into battle, and fervently wished to join them. It too, served to hide her icy demeanor, and her will of steel. But appearances were often deceiving.
Especially where the White Lady of Rohan was concerned.
He remembered the day when she had asked to see him, and asked for his help. He had been taken by her, and completely willing to attend to her wishes, though he was not yet sworn to be Steward. Her face had spoken of sorrow, and he had felt that a maiden as fair and young as she should not be forced to live in these dark times, and longed to ease her pain, her untold burden that was shown in her eyes.
In his heart, he pitied, yet cared, for her. She had lost much in her short time upon the earth, if the hobbit had spoken true. And though she was but three years past her coming of age, it seemed that her experiences had made her far older than her age belied. He had seen steel concealed in those clear blue eyes of hers, a lone flower that withstands the harsh winter.
He had hesitated to approach her the next day, afraid that she would give his –rather misguided and unneeded –company a look of haughtiness, or perhaps that of disgust, as bode well with her exterior demeanor. And she would walk away or dismiss him; her head held high –like a lady of royalty should, when turning down those of lesser ranks.
But she did not.
As they had roamed the gardens of the Houses of Healing, sometimes silent and withdrawn to their own thoughts, sometime talking, and exchanging ideas and feelings, he had felt his love for her grow everyday. Yet he knew that her heart was not with him, as much as he wanted it to be.
But she only delighted in his company, and for someone to confer with.
He tried his best to humor her, to gain her respect, her trust, and perhaps someday, her love. He had always looked forward to her melodious laughter, and the mirth that would fill her eyes and take away the pain in them.
He had sympathised with her over the loss of her uncle and parents, for he had too lost those he had loved dearly. There were times when he believed that it was knowing he had lost someone dear to him that brought her to talk with him. They were together in their grief for them, though she had decided not to know it, and her eyes often strayed eastwards.
He knew she loved Aragorn, for high and mighty he was. She wanted to be his Queen, for she had often dreamt of valor and honor, glory and victory. And though she had won renown killing the Witch King, she still wanted for more. But in him, all she saw was someone to confide in, and to pass the dark days with for but a while.
A slight chill roused him from his thoughts, and he noticed that her room windows were open. The breeze had blown out the candle, making the white wisps of smoke from the extinguished flame coil and twist upwards towards the ceiling.
Gently walking into her room so as not to wake her, he closed the windows, shutting out the cold wind blowing outside. Then, walking to her bed, he tucked the blankets close to her, brushing his lips lightly across her cheek that it was naught but a soft caress. At the door, he cast her one last glance at her angelic face, relaxed in slumber, and closed the door behind him.
Taking the torch from its holder, he made his way back towards his room. Tomorrow, he would gift her with the deep-blue mantle that once belonged to his mother as a token of his love for her, and perhaps, something for her to remember him by; for her beauty and grief would always remind him of his mother before she passed.
Though her heart and love was not for him, his would always be with her.
My apologies for any discrepancies [since I do not own the book].
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.