15 April 2004 @ 12:58 am
True Love (Lord of the Rings)  
Title: True Love
Author: Lilith ([info]lilithilien)
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Pairing: Denethor/Finduilas
Disclaimer: Not mine, really.
Warning: None really. Well, there's character death, but you knew that already. I think I wrote a G-rated story. *feels forehead for signs of fever*
Author Notes: This is very, very different from any of my other stories – it's more of a character study packed with angst and an unhappy ending. Shout out to my betas, [info]dernhelm and White Rose of Rivendell, for all their helpful comments. Originally posted at LiveJournal.

True Love

Chapter One: The Maiden

I fell in love the moment I saw him.

I never expected this to happen. I had always dismissed the idea of love, knowing that my marriage would be a political affair. With my body, I would play my part in ensuring the peace of Belfalas. The most I could hope for was a union with a kind man; I had no childish dreams of romance.

So it was with little excitement that I went to my father's hall to meet the man to whom I had been promised. He was older, I knew, and I expected to see a weathered face with a white beard. There were several such faces in attendance that day before my father. I waited unannounced behind his chair, taking a few moments to search their features and discern which I found least displeasing.

My gaze rested instead on a handsome young man. I at first took him to be about my age and wondered about his place in this company. He was not deferent to them, as a young man would be to his elders. Rather, he had a commanding presence – proud, but not haughty – that caught my attention. He resembled the statues of the ancient Númenóreans that stood in our square at Dol Amroth, as if one had broken free of his marble cage and come to life.

I had never seen such a man in the flesh. From my vantage point behind the throne, I drank in his features. His long, dark hair was tied back with a silver cord; wisps of it had escaped and fallen onto his cheek. I imagined that I was pushing them back behind his ear, stroking his fair face with my fingertips as I did so. I felt the rhythm of my heart pulsing in my breast, as if it had never truly beat before this day.

Suddenly he turned and saw me. A look of pure astonishment crossed his face; then he smiled boldly, as if he knew me – as if he knew my thoughts. I quickly cast my eyes down, feeling the blush rise to my cheeks.

My father followed the man's gaze and saw me. He held out his hand and drew me to his side. "This is Finduilas, my daughter, the pride of Dol Amroth. I give her to you, Lord Denethor, son of Ecthelion. With your marriage and your progeny, Belfalas is bound to the realm of Gondor until the end of time."

I bowed my head, fearing to look into the eyes of my new husband. My heart, which had only just learned to beat, was now on the verge of breaking. In a single moment I had discovered one to whom I could gladly give my heart – indeed, one who had already taken it – and I was to be promised to one of his companions. I had spent all the years of my short life without love, and now I had found and lost it in an instant.

I felt more than saw one of the men move toward me and take my hand in his. "Finduilas," he said softly. Only then did I look up to see the man I had fallen in love with standing before me.

Chapter Two: The Steward's Son

I saw her the first time I looked in the Palantir.

I was but a young man at the time, not yet twenty. One of my greatest pleasures had always been to rummage through the forgotten treasures of the citadel. Dusty books of lore, relics from long-dead kings, strange objects that I could find no reason for – these were the things that held my interest more than riding lessons or swordplay. As I grew older my time became more and more scheduled; perhaps that was why I sought out these opportunities to rummage through the past
with even more vigour.

I can never forget the day I came across the Palantir. At first I thought it might be one of the crystal balls used by the fortune tellers at fair days. I had seen these many times, irresistibly drawn by their users' professed abilities to see into the future. I had even looked into one once, but had seen nothing but clear glass.

The orb I found was different, for when I gazed into it I felt as if I'd been caught in a swift river current. The surface clouded over, then the clouds broke to reveal a solitary figure, the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. She could not have been more than five or six years old, yet already her copper hair tumbled in ringlets almost to her hips. Her fair face looked like it was carved from the whitest ivory, marked only by a few freckles that danced across her nose. But she was no rigid carving. As I watched, she looked at me with the most trusting blue eyes I had seen, and a dazzling smile lit her features. I started at her glance – could she see me? Was she even real? – but when I touched the surface of the glass she disappeared.

I hastily gathered the orb into my cloak and took it to my quarters. I had no idea what I had found – it was only later that I learned of the seven stones and studied their use – but even without this knowledge it was always easy for me to see her. For many years I watched her, seeing her transform from a child into a stunning young woman. I wondered if she could somehow see me too, and what she might think if she did.

I searched Minas Tirith for the lovely lady, but to no avail. And after a time, other matters claimed my attention. The enemies of Gondor were many, and my enemies numbered even more. Waging war became the only thing that mattered, an activity to which my heart had never warmed. My father's affections turned to a northern ranger who became the warrior son he had always wanted; I turned to the Palantir for the knowledge I needed to stay one step ahead. I needed every advantage to preserve my position.

Time passed, and the beautiful maiden was forgotten until I saw her standing behind her father in Dol Amroth. When her trusting blue eyes looked into mine as we were proclaimed husband and wife, I thought I knew everything there was to know about love.

Chapter Three: The Mother

The next years were like a fairy tale.

Minas Tirith was beautiful, far beyond anything I had ever dreamed. My husband was handsome and kind, spoiling me with gifts of all kinds – fine linens from the city's best weavers, exotic fruits from Harad, even a beautiful mare from Rohan's royal stables. I only had my love to give back to him, which he seemed to value more than any gift. Neither of us had expected to find love in our married unions; now that we had, we held onto it possessively.

Our first son was born during our second year of marriage. He was a perfect baby, round and sturdy, with his father's dark hair and my eyes. Denethor insisted we call him after his own namesake's firstborn. Boromir. When I reminded him of the name's Elvish meaning, he lifted our son into his arms and said, "And that is what he is, our precious jewel."

The days passed quickly, as they do when children are young, and before long I was expecting again. Unlike before, it was hard to carry this child. I was constantly sick and even confined to my bed for the last two months. Finally, after an excruciatingly hard labour, my daughter came into the world. She had no life in her, and the midwives would not let me even touch her face, but I blew a kiss to the tiny still being.

I slowly recovered from the physical pain, but the anguish of losing my little girl was too much to bear. Although the midwives cautioned me against another pregnancy, I knew the ways of my heart and knew that only another child could heal it. Within another year, I was pregnant again.

Denethor was overjoyed at the news, for although he was always concerned for my health, he knew nothing of the midwives' warning. His joy became my own, and for many months it was enough to conquer my fears. For a short while I felt safe.

Later I learned that my fears had merely been resting and recovering their strength. When they returned, they brought the full force of hell with them. Blood is all I remember from those days – the blood covering the tiny infant who protested unceasingly against the harsh world he had entered, the blood that would not stop flowing until I was empty and cold, the blood pouring from Boromir's forehead when he crashed into a sharp table the first time he ran to see his baby brother. I was so weak that I could do nothing but wipe it with my nightgown; he was so excited that he did not notice the pain. As I slid the tiny babe into his arms, I remembered how Denethor had held his first son. My husband was not here now. He made sure that I was cared for, but he would not touch me, and he had yet to touch his second son.

It was not only my broken body that left me feeling empty and cold.

Chapter Four: The Widower

I killed my wife five years ago, and today I bury her.

Finduilas had been everything to me. I hardly remember my life before her. I know it had been filled with insecurities and fears that disappeared the day she arrived in Minas Tirith. With her, I had found happiness for the first time. It sounds too simple to be true, to think that one person can transform your world and make you feel as if you have been sleepwalking through life, but that is exactly what she had done.

When I first learned that she was expecting our first child, I was not overly pleased. I wanted to possess my wife completely, never sharing her with anyone, especially not an infant that would greedily demand her time. But when I held my son, I realized that he was everything a father could want. Boromir was a healthy and hearty baby who grew into an even heartier toddler. I embraced fatherhood in my heart even as I embraced my wife and son with my arms.

The birth of our little girl, the child never meant for this world, changed Finduilas. She lost her softness as she became increasingly desperate for another baby. I am ashamed to say that I did not even notice it at the time. The sudden departure of Thorongil, my old rival, had left me with many new duties and I strove to replace him in my father's estimation. I thought not of the pain that my wife had suffered, nor of the grief that I held inside. If a baby would make her happy, then I could give her that.

And so, with my love, I killed my wife as surely as if I had sliced her through with my sword. She died on the day my second son was born. She lay bundled in swaddling to stem her bleeding and looked up at me with hollow eyes. They told me that my Finduilas was gone. Her body hung on for five years longer, but the woman I had loved was dead. She slipped through my fingers and left me alone with two little boys, one who will always remember her, and one who will
always make me remember.

On this day five years ago, she bore Faramir, the "sufficient jewel" that Finduilas believed would make our family complete. It is on his head that I want to lay her death. I want to convince myself that it was his arrival that took my wife from me. But in my heart I know that it was not he that killed her. Faramir was merely an instrument. I killed her, with my lust and with my seed. I could not touch her after that. She was dead, and though she still breathed her light was gone. I
could not bear to think of the pain I had put her though, or of the life that had seeped from her.

Instead, I turned to the Palantir. In its glassy stare I watched a little girl with copper hair playing by the sea. I watched her grow into a lovely young maiden who smiled at me through the cold orb. I watched a mother, a son, and a proud father grow old together. They looked complete, and they looked safe. They looked as if nothing in the world could ever harm them.2