New Year 2977
I laughed as Denethor spun me around on the dance floor. It was my first New Year's celebration in the City of King's and I was enjoying it immensely. The celebration took place in the Great Hall of Feasts. I found it lovely to see my husband smiling and enjoying life. Even Lord Ecthelion was dancing with Tatiel. By the end of the dance, I needed to sit down. I watched Tatiel and her husband, Lord Angbor across the room. I had never seen a married couple act so cold towards another. Their daughter, Voronda was twirling on the spot to the music, but both parents ignored her. I felt sorry for the child, so I walked across the hall to give her some company.
"Lady Voronda," I said, kneeling before her.
Voronda stopped twirling and gave me a curious look. "You are Lady Finduilas, Princess of Dol Amroth."
I smiled warmly. "That I am, young lady. And may I say that you speak graciously for a girl your age."
Voronda beamed at me. "My mother makes sure I am raised as a true Lady of Gondor. I am already betrothed!"
My eyes widened. This little girl, who was no older than five summers, was informing me that she was betrothed. I could not believe it!
"Lady Tatiel, Lord Angbor," I said, standing up.
Both looked at me. "Yes?" Angbor replied.
"Your daughter has just told me that she is betrothed!" I said.
Tatiel gave a deep sigh, closing her eyes. Angbor however gave me a sharp look. "You heard my daughter correctly. She is betrothed to my closest friend, Duron."
"Duron!" I said in disbelief. "Is he not the man I saw at my wedding?"
"He is," Angbor replied. "Why does that concern you?"
"Duron is in his mid forties!" I exclaimed. "By the time Voronda is legally able to marry, Duron will be old enough to be her grandfather!"
"Who I marry my daughter to is none of your concern!" Angbor said sharply.
"Lord Angbor!" I heard Denethor say behind me.
I froze, feeling me cheeks burning. I did not know if I should have felt embarrassed, or angry with Lord Angbor.
"Why are you speaking in such a tone to my wife?" Denethor continued. Angbor stood, facing Denethor. I thought a fight would begin, but fortunately, Angbor bowed and left the hall. I felt Denethor place his arms on my shoulders and draw me away from Tatiel and Voronda. "Finduilas, what happened?"
"Nothing," I replied. "I was just asking Lord Angbor why he has betrothed Voronda to Lord Duron."
Denethor looked over my shoulder at his sister and niece. "I am afraid it is the way it has to be. The betrothal contract has already been signed – they are legally bonded to marry."
I lowered my eyes, feeling dreadfully sorry for Voronda. "But she is just a little girl."
"I know," Denethor replied. "My father and I are not happy with this arrangement, but there is nothing we can do about it."
I nodded, and Denethor escorted me out to the front courtyard of the Citadel. The last part of the celebration was to watch the spectacular light show. Each level of Minas Tirith had four large fires, which were lit from the seventh level, downwards. Then, in the distance, Osgiliath was seen brightening from a line of fires on large wooden planks that floated along the river. I watched the planks float down the Anduin River towards the sea. Back in Dol Amroth, we would always wait for these planks to arrive, before joining them with our own, allowing them to float far out into the distance. I found nothing more amazing than watching fire float on water.
The snow had started to fall heavier, so Denethor led me back into tho the Hall of Feasts. He handed me a goblet of wine and sat with me in silence. My thoughts were still of poor little Voronda. How I wished I could help her – to take her away from the grasps of her father. From then on, I became determined to help her and her mother. I would not strive to become the Stewardess of Gondor, just to see an innocent little girl be married off to a man much, much older than she was.
News reached Minas Tirith of the death of my beloved grandfather, Prince Angelimir. I cried and cried while Denethor comforted me. My dear grandfather was a wise ruler of Belfalas, and he taught my sister and me so much about the court life of Gondor. His funeral was to take place in Dol Amroth in a week's time, but Lord Ecthelion informed me that I could not attend due to enemy movements. As I left the throne room distressed, I heard Denethor and Ecthelion argue over the matter. My husband was on my side, and wanted me to go to Dol Amroth for the funeral. I knew, however, that as Steward, Ecthelion had the last say.
I locked myself in the privy, and hugged a towel for comfort. Thoughts swirled around my mind of riding to Dol Amroth in the dead of the night, but if Lord Ecthelion was right, I may end up being kidnapped by the enemy. I took a deep breath and wiped my eyes. My grandfather would not want me acting this way over his death. He would want me to continue with life and make him proud. I was going to do just that! I left the privy and sat down to write to my father, who was now ruling the Fiefdom of Belfalas.
I am saddened by the news of my beloved grandfather's death. I am informed that he died without suffering and well content with his life. Please send my condolences to Imrahil and Ivriniel. Also, make sure that Ivriniel is being looked after carefully. After losing her husband, I am not sure how Ivriniel will cope with the loss of another close to her.
I am devastated that I cannot make it to Dol Amroth for the funeral. Lord Ecthelion presents a reasonable case as to why I cannot travel at this time.
Please send my love to our family.
Your faithful daughter and servant,
By the end of my letter, the ink was running down the paper from my tears hitting the parchment – I was a mess. During the whole week, I did not leave the Citadel. I did not go to the Houses of Healing; I did not stand out in the front courtyard. I did nothing. On occasion, I would wonder through the royal library, browsing through the hundreds of books along the shelves. I found no topic of interest, but I enjoyed the serenity the library gave me.
By the end of the month, Denethor came into our chamber early in the afternoon. "Finduilas."
I turned from the window and saw he had Voronda at his side. She gave me a deep curtsy and Denethor placed his hands on her shoulders. "My sister has requested for her daughter to spend several weeks in Minas Tirith due to enemy legions approaching Lamedon."
I opened my mouth slightly. "Enemy legions? When did this happen?"
Denethor moved into the chamber and sat Voronda on his chair. "A few days ago, scouts reported a large band of orcs moving by boat across the Anduin. For reasons unknown, they are heading towards Lamedon."
I nodded, feeling frightened. "Very well. I am glad to see you again, Voronda."
Voronda gave me a small smile. "I am glad to be in your presence, Princess Finduilas."
I smiled, looking back up at Denethor. "I shall leave you two be," he said, parting our chamber.
"Princess Finduilas," Voronda said, drawing my attention back to her.
"Please, call me Finduilas," I said, tucking a few strands of her hair behind her ear.
Voronda sighed, frowning. "I am not allowed to call you by your name only."
"Well then, how about you call me auntie Finduilas," I suggested.
Voronda stared at me curiously. "I suppose I could, but I prefer to call you Princess Finduilas."
I sighed, defeated. "Very well, you may call me that."
Voronda smiled. "Princess Finduilas, in what part of the Citadel is my chamber going to be in?"
"Nobody has shown you to your room?" I asked, surprised.
"If somebody had, I would not have asked you that question, Princess Finduilas," she said.
I raised my eyebrows. "Lady Voronda, you should not talk to someone of higher rank in such a tone."
She lowered her eyes, and I saw two tears fall. "I... I am sorry Princess Finduilas, please do not punish me."
My heart sank seeing the poor child weep because of me. "Sweet Voronda, do not cry." I picked her up and embraced her. At first, she was startled by my act of kindness, but gladly accepted when she saw I meant her no harm. "Come, I will show you to your chamber."
Since Voronda was so young, I led her to the nursery. When I opened the door, I saw it had not been used in many years. The curtains were drawn and sheets covered all the furniture. "Is this my chamber, Princess Finduilas?"
I stared at her and smiled. "Once we clean it up it will be."
She nodded and walked over to try to open the curtains. I assisted her, and then we pulled all the white sheets off the furniture and had servants bring in fresh linen and pillows for the small bed. I managed to open the large chest and found it full of toys. Voronda gasped excitedly and ran over to help me sort through them.
"Mama and papa never allow me to play with toys," she said, fixing the dress on one of the dolls. "But my nurse allows me one doll to sleep with at night."
"Why are you not allowed to play with toys?" I asked.
"Because papa said a real lady of the court does not have toys."
I frowned. "I am sorry to say, Voronda, that your father is incorrect. You are just a little girl, and little girls are entitled to play with toys."
Voronda looked at me happily. "Thank you for allowing me to play with these toys, Princess Finduilas." I laughed, hoping she would eventually stop calling me by my full title.
By the end of the day, Voronda and I had played with nearly every toy we could find in the nursery. Her favourite toy was the dollhouse. I managed to find some of the missing doll furniture in a cupboard, which evidently, had more toys inside it. In the evening, I bathed her and helped her into her nightgown, and then tucked her into bed. She asked me to read her a story, which I happily did, but by the end of the second page, she was fast asleep.
She was such a lovely girl and she made me want to have a child of my own. Of course, there had been no symptoms of carrying a child for me. I knew Denethor and Ecthelion were starting to wonder if I was able to carry children. It annoyed me that they expected such an event to happen so soon in the marriage.
I stood up and turned to leave the nursery, when I saw Denethor watching me from the doorway. I placed the book on the table and walked over to him. Denethor closed the door behind me and led me to our chamber. "I did not know you were going to place her in the nursery," he said, opened our chamber door for me.
"Was it wrong to do so?" I asked.
Denethor closed the door behind him and sighed. "No it was not wrong to. She is at an age where she should still be in a nursery, but Lord Angbor made it very clear in his letter that she was to be placed in a chamber."
"Well as long as Voronda is in my care, she will be living in the nursery, as she should be doing in Lamedon. Denethor, I do not understand why they treat her as an adult."
"Lord Angbor is not very maternal," Denethor said, sitting down. "He does not understand such responsibilities."
"What about Tatiel?" I asked. "Surely she wants her daughter in a nursery."
"Tatiel obeys her husband, as a wife should do."
For some reason, I felt that remark directed at me. I sat down. "Is something wrong?"
He gave me a weary smile. "No. I am sorry, but these matters concerning the enemy have exhausted me."
I nodded, and then we both retired.