Lord Denethor had decided that we would stay in Dol Amroth for a month, while he had gone back to Minas Tirith less than a week after the funeral. I had not minded, for I missed the scents and sounds of my home --such familiar things steadied me. Boromir and Faramir did not care where they were. We walked the shores daily, and it seemed to me that the boys, too, were soothed by the ocean. They would tear up and down the sand until they tired of running, then they would sit and let the water wash over them, troubles momentarily gone.
Faramir trailed me like a lost kitten, and he had taken to calling "Nanny?" at intervals, as if he were afraid that I, too, would suddenly be gone. Boromir was by turns sullen, quiet, or frantically involved in some activity. Only when he was with Faramir or running along the beach did he seem anything like his old self. I knew this was to be expected, and I knew that eventually, the first shock of grief would fade, but it tore at me to see their peaked, bewildered faces.
Now Boromir, Faramir and I had been back in Minas Tirith for a week, and we were just beginning to settle back into our routines. I was weary beyond belief, and was looking forward to finally getting a day out again. I had had no such luxury while we were in Dol Amroth -- I could not leave the boys so soon after laying the Lady Finduilas to rest. I had not wanted to leave them.
But there was no mistaking the fact that I needed to get away, just for a few hours. I went to bed exhausted and woke up exhausted. Every night I was awakened by one, or both, of the boys crying, and I would go and sit with them or hold them until they drifted off again. Of course I was glad to give them comfort, for they needed it badly, but it was taking its toll on me. After so long in Dol Amroth, the walls of Minas Tirith pressed in on me closer than ever. It was particularly bad in the Citadel. A deep silence seemed to have fallen over everyone, especially those of us who had been in the Lady Finduilas' service for years. Chambermaids were unnaturally reserved, pages wore grim expressions, guards appeared to be weighed down by sorrow.
Part of this was, no doubt, due to Lord Denethor's temper. If what I heard was to be believed, his mood veered from dark and snarling to apathetic and empty in the space of a heartbeat, and those who were regularly in his presence walked on eggshells. He had never been a frequent visitor to the nursery, preferring to have the boys come to him, but as yet, he had not summoned nor come to see them. I wondered how long he planned to avoid them, though neither boy asked for him often. They were still too confused.
I was overwhelmed with relief simply knowing that I was going to be able to get away from the bleak atmosphere of the Citadel. I had no plans other than to walk the City; of course Minas Tirith was in mourning, but in the streets it would not be so suffocating and all-encompassing.
The girl who would be would be looking after Faramir while I was out would arrive soon Today Boromir had taken up his studies again, but Faramir was still too distracted for even his simple lessons, so he was not to start again til the next week. He followed me while I brushed out my hair, frowning suspiciously, and kept pace with me when I went back into the playroom to wait. He climbed onto the couch, and sat next to me without speaking, resting his head against my arm. I started to read him a story, and soon there was a knock at the door.
The girl, Halwen, was terribly young, but I had been told that she had numerous siblings, so I had no true fears as to her competence. She was a scribe's daughter - I did not know which one. I showed her around, told her the rules, introduced her to Faramir, whose frown had deepened, and let her know when I would be back. She seemed kind, and though Faramir did not speak to her, I thought they would get along well.
"Faramir," I said, "I am going out for a bit, but Halwen will keep you company. Shall I bring you a gingerbread pig, or would you like something different today?"
Faramir ran across the room to me, looking stricken. "Where are you going?" he demanded, grabbing onto my skirts with both hands. "Are you coming back?"
I knelt down to face him. I had anticipated this reaction. "Of course I am. Why wouldn't I come back? I am just going into the City, rabbit."
"No, stay here." Faramir shook his head. "You stay here with me, Nanny. You don't need to go into the City.You need to stay here."
"I do, Faramir," I said gently. "I want to go to the markets, and I have to go out to do that. Halwen will play with you while I am gone."
"I don't want to play with her," Faramir replied, voice rising. "I want to play with you. She doesn't know my games!"
"Then you will get teach her," I pointed out, rubbing a smudge from his cheek. "I will be back before dinner, Faramir -- that is not very long, is it?"
"No," he said. There was a note of alarm to his voice. "No, don't go. You stay here and play with me. I want you to stay here!" He grabbed hold of my wrist and held it so tightly that his hand shook. "Please, please --- stay here. I don't want you to go out!"
"Faramir, I will come back," I reassured him as he began to cry. "It is just for a short while…."
"Please," he said again, voice desperate and cracking. "Please please please, don't go out, Nanny. Stay here -- I'll be good, I won't run and be loud -- please stay here!" He buried his face in my shoulder, weeping brokenly. "Please," he kept repeating, and with each repetition, he grew louder until he was nearly shrieking. "Please!
I was astonished. I had known that he would not be happy about my leaving, but I had not expected this. I had expected a mild tantrum, but this was not simply Faramir throwing a fit to get his way. His entire body shook against me as if in fear or fever, and each time he wailed, "Please!", his tone had edged closer to hysteria. Now he was clutching at me, pulling at my sleeves, choking on his sobs.
I wanted to get out and be alone for a while. I needed to get out of the Citadel. Knowing that I was going to be able to escape its gloom had been the only thing which had made the last few days bearable. But how could I leave him like this?
I sat on the floor, and drew him into my lap. "Ssshhh, little one," I murmured into his ear as I stroked his hair. "All right. All right, I will not go. I will stay."
Halwen had been waiting patiently, and now I looked to her. "We will not need you today," I said, trying not to let my disappointment show. It was not easy, for I felt like bursting into tears myself. I was so tired. "You may go."
"Miss?" she said, puzzled. "But -- what am I to do? What am I to tell ---"
"I don't care," I said wearily, rocking Faramir back and forth. She seemed a bit wary at my tone; I supposed she had heard that I could be stubborn, when it came to my boys. "Consider yourself at leisure, if you like. They will not be expecting you back for a while, so you should take advantage of having a bit of free time. But I will not be going out today."
She looked startled by the notion of having free time in the middle of the day, but merely nodded. "Shall I come back next week?"
"Yes," I replied, wishing she would just go and leave us alone. "We will try again then."
Halwen left, and I turned my attentions to calming Faramir. He was clinging to me, still crying weakly. I held him tightly, saying nothing, until he finally quieted. Then I washed his face with a cool cloth and gave him a drink.
"Shall you and I go into the City?" I asked, for I was not going to stay within these walls, and it would also do Faramir good to leave the Citadel.
Faramir rubbed at his face. "You'll stay with me?" There was still an underlying hint of panic in his voice.
"I will stay with you," I told him, finding a smile somewhere. "Now come - we will get a lunch from Mag, and we will go look at the fountains."
He held out his arms, I picked him up, and he nestled against my neck. He was really too old to be carried around, but he looked so fragile that I could not refuse him. It was only a week, after all, and by then he would be with his tutor when I left. I glanced at his careworn little face, and hoped that the dark shadows in and under his eyes would soon fade.
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.