He did not know, of course, that she would die untimely.
And how it would be - he would carry her out onto the terrace, one last time, and note with alarm how light she had become, see her sweet face upturned to him. He would do it because she asked him.
"Lift your eyes to the stars," she would whisper, "Denethor, son of Ecthelion." Her voice would fade like the merest sigh of wind among the branches of far-off trees. "Lift your eyes to the stars, for in them there is always hope."
And he would feel a vague stirring of foreboding then, an inkling of what would happen - a fact that he had long known, but that he denied to himself and to others.
He would hold her even tighter then, as though fearing that some wayward breeze would blow and carry her away from him - and suddenly he would know, oh, Finduilas, Finduilas, Finduilas, that this was that end that he feared.
And at the same moment, Faramir would cry - shrill screams, something that he had not done for months now. The sound of pattering feet and a quick hush-hush now, you will wake your mother.
But Denethor would be numb, and stand and let feeling wash over him.
He would stand the same at her funeral, and merely watch like an interested bystander who knew the Lady only by name and, perhaps, by one fleeting glimpse of a white hand, a soft voice. He would stand, and watch, and die inside.
In the night, cold and dark, alone in his grief, he would want to stride to his sons' room, shake them by the collar, shout to them: Why did your mother die? Why did your mother leave? But he would not – he could not.
He would fling himself, then, into his work - into the affairs of Gondor, into the matter of her people and her lands, and watch the Enemy on his borders with an ever-vigilant eye. And his sons would grow - the elder bold, and valiant, and strong, the younger no less a brave man, but with his mother's turn of mind, with his love for the sublime - and he would watch them, like an outsider pressing his face against a pane of glass to watch the family within.
It would be like a slow death - a slow drifting away, like a piece of wood tossed at the mercy of the waves, away from all that he had cared about.
A year would pass - a year, two years, five years, ten - and her memory would grow more distant. He still loved her, of course - missed her, cherished her memory - but somehow it did not affect him, as he carried out the country's affairs with grim, steely precision.
When the King returns! When the King returns - ay, he will not return, not now, not ever!
In later years - his older son out to war, his younger growing steadily more distant from him, and, so it seemed to him, more cold, when the palantir beckoned and his mind slowly plunged to ruin, in moments of irrational anger, he would try to feel rage not at himself, but at her - rage at her weakness, rage that she had left him. He would try to see her dead, dead violently, tossed into the sea to lie forever among the stones and the sand in the deeps, the green sea-kelp tangling in her hair. He would try.
But all he would be able to see - the intent look on her face, as she rocked her younger son to sleep (how much she must have hated me, he thought, to leave that behind); the mad dashes she had with the elder, around and around the room, Mama's going to get you, get you, get you; the look on her face as she looked at him, the loving moments they shared.
And then he would feel anger at himself once more for even daring to have such thoughts of her.
But he did not know this – not now, not yet! – and so he strode to his room and fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.
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.