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Ploughshare Seasons
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Ploughshare Seasons

The war is over. The eagle brought word, singing the news: It is done! Rejoice, for the long Shadow is gone!

And they do: from Minas Tirith to Pelargir, to the rolling fields of Rohan where Meduseld stood still proudly, from the Dwarven halls to the newly Greenwood, from mellyrn-fenced Lothlórien to the hidden home of the Dúnedain of weary old Arnor, Men and Dwarves and Elves sing, give voice to wonder:

It is over. It is done, thank heaven in its glory, at long last, it is over!

Let the living begin!

~ 0 ~

The war is over. He looks east, for the first time sees hope dawning there. Grief, too, but that is a sunset – may be a sunset. Someday. Later. Or perhaps soon. She'll stand with him, and Faramir shan't be forsworn to him who feared once enough to command him so: Live and be well.

The war is over. On the airy keel of Minas Tirith, she breathes freedom at last. Stranger in a strange land, she finds the wind to her liking, and the gentleness in his eyes remakes a world Éowyn had discarded for one of steel.

They do stand together, and learn a new way of falling and landing alone. But the war is over, even if wars remain, and so they find that there is – for a wonder! – time left to them yet to make amends. Love has its own seasons and means of mending what breaks, if they'll but come with open hands bespeaking open hearts.

In the end, there is no contest, for he's put down all swords, and she has learned they are deceptive props, not to be respected overmuch. Iron-fisted memory loosens; they slip away to fight no more, forever.

~ 0 ~

The war is over. The Black Gate fell to dust before his eyes, and having ever had a hearty sense of joy, he forges ahead in this new life. Imrahil's a canny sailor; he'll risk fortune's winds – after all, haven't they blown her his way, beyond hope and darkness both?

The war is over – inside and out. She'd never much dwelt on possibility – the war against remembered horror, like the one raging everyday around her, would go its own way to an end, will she or nil she. But Hethlin is glad of this ending that opens onto bounty unexpected.

'Tis not all smooth sailing; there is still evil in the world, darkness, pain, fear, suffering – the more cruel, they, against the miracle of peace. But 'tis worth it still, the risk of love and life's strange chances – why not? Failure's a gentler thing lately; they've both risked more of themselves on worse odds. So she'll let life play her, see who it brings and hold for that one, newly trusting he might come her way. And he'll let time spin, confident he has some now to play with. Peaceful adventuring that undoes the fearful coil, letting defenses fall...

~ 0 ~

The war is over. He's not shaken – there is always war, though he can do without this one gladly enough. Andrahar will watch lord and love, family and friends, breathe a new rhythm; he'll keep to the old, but someone must, and he knows no other way.

And so he continues, wresting every day from a world that never has been home to much kindness. 'Tis the more to be treasured where it's found, but in the mean time, one must, one must struggle. For it's not in the triumphs – death will take those in time – that meaning is made – that he is made. Fatherless, he knows the truth – life's not given, but taken everyday, forever. Life is war.

He thinks sometimes that Boromir might have known this – that perhaps, just perhaps, that is why it was not one night for them, that what they'd had outlasted the count of years and the handful of trysts. And so he feels, sometimes, that he knows why it had to end on Parth Galen. War is wearying – it wears one out and away, and God, God, is there an outside to it?

Only if there's an outside to life itself.

~ 0 ~

It comes one day for him, as it does for all men – war, of course, where life and death shake hands, as the Haradrim say. It has been a long, hard struggle – well-fought, but what of the end?

In a house otherwise empty, a lone figure stands in the midst of a room and raises up a sword. Brand closes his eyes, flows into the steps like water falling, and Nightshade flashes in his hand as it did that day in Harad, when he avenged his foster-father.

'Tis done now, vengeance. He's spent most of it in the desert, and if grief remains him still, what was left of rage went out of him when he heard Andrahar's will read out, just between himself and Imrahil, Cuilast and Peloren. There had been little enough written there – one thing only of real import. Brand finishes the form, opens his eyes. He looks once more upon Andrahar's blade in his hand, thinks of the crypt, where forever after none shall ever find a blade, and he smiles.

Perhaps it needs another fatherless lad to know, or the son of this particular man, but he understands. The Third Age was an age closed over on itself in war, and it left its mark upon them all. But everything ends in time, and if he can take up this sword, 'tis only because a well-loved other has finally laid it – and all of war – down.

Welcome to the Fourth Age, Father!


Happy belated birthday, Isabeau! One day, I will write you a birthday fic that 1) is not about Haradrim, 2) does not revolve somehow around death. At least this one is happier?

Inspiration for this story must be blamed upon Imhiriel, who said, in one of Isabeau's journals:

I like the notion that Andra leaves Nightshade to Brand. But he should be buried with a sword, it seems fitting. Maybe one he used before Nightshade? Or one Glorfindel gifted to him?

Isabeau didn't give a definitive answer, and didn't have one even when she came up to visit me this summer, which pretty much guaranteed the nuzgul a home at my place 'til now.

“Fight no more, forever” - Chief Joseph. I couldn't resist, despite feeling a bit bad about using the line in this different a context.


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