Two weeks after Voronda left for Lamedon, a letter arrived addressed to me. At first, I had hoped it to be from my dear brother, but all excitement faded when I saw the House of Lamedon Seal on the back of the envelope. Hesitantly, I opened the letter and saw it was from Lord Angbor. From the way wrote, I could tell he was not pleased with me. He told me of Voronda's sudden change in attitude, claiming that she was acting far too childish. By the end of the letter, I was so tempted to write back to him in the same fashion, that I took a deep breath and thought about my options. I could not lower myself to his standards and formality. I did not want to start turmoil between Minas Tirith and Lamedon, for I knew Lord Ecthelion would be very displeased with me. In the end, I decided to write back to Lord Angbor, apologising for my actions around his daughter, and for allowing her to stay in the nursery. It sickened me to write in such a sense, but I would not ruin all the hard work my father-in-law had done to maintain peace with Lamedon.
After sending the letter away with an emissary, a maid came into my chamber, informing me that Denethor wished to see me in his study. For the year that I had been married, I had never been in Denethor's study.
When I entered, I saw dozens of white shelves lined with books – some thin and some very thick. His desk was quite large with a small stack of books and a neat pile of parchments. Behind him, a large map of Gondor hung like a tapestry. It was a cosy room. I liked it very much.
I sat down at his desk and waited for him to finish writing what seemed to be a very long letter. "I have some news," he said, looking up at me after he had finished. "The scouts on the Island of Tolfalas have rallied reports back to Dol Amroth and Minas Tirith of a fleet of Corsair ships sailing towards the Bay of Belfalas."
I felt my heart starting to beat fast. The Corsairs had not troubled my family's city in many years. I had no idea how to respond to this news.
"Finduilas," Denethor said quietly. "Your father has asked me to tell you that he and your brother are preparing their navy to meet the Corsairs before they reach the peninsula."
I nodded, feeling fear swell within me. "Who will be taking command of the navy?"
"Your brother, Prince Imrahil."
I lowered my eyes, dreading the fact that my brother was going to war against the Corsairs. I loved him too much to see him get hurt. "How many ships are they taking?"
Denethor flipped through some parchments. "I believe Prince Adrahil is sending out two hundred ships."
"Do they know the size of the enemy's fleet?"
"It was estimated that the Corsairs fleet were of about one hundred to one hundred and fifty vessels."
I did not like the sound of that. I was not even aware that my family had a navy that large! This battle in the open sea was not going to end well. "Have you heard from my brother?"
"Imrahil was far too busy to send me a letter," Denethor replied. "I am sure once the battle is over, I will hear from him."
I took a deep breath, wishing that there was something that I could do to help. My father had always considered me the diplomat of the family. I was always good at solving disputes between people, even though my own dispute with Lord Angbor was not going very well. I suppose personal disputes are a lot harder to sort out.
I felt sorry for my father being pulled into his first battle as Prince of Dol Amroth so soon into his ruling. The Corsairs had always been a constant threat to the Bay of Belfalas, but usually they only dared to attempt to raid the city of Linhir. Fortunately, Linhir had its own port and a reasonable sized fleet of ships.
"Finduilas." Denethor's voice drew me from my thoughts, and I saw that he had a look of concern. "I can understand that you are feeling nervous or frightened from this news, but I assure you that Gondor's forces are stronger than the enemy's."
I nodded. "I know, Denethor. And I know my brother will do well in defending the bay. I just hope he does not get seriously wounded in the process."
"I know," he replied. "But all we can do is wait for the outcome."
The next few days felt like years had passed. I was on constant alert of hearing news from Dol Amroth, but none came. I hated the waiting game. I was never good at being patient when it came to the wellbeing of my family. I tried to move my thoughts of worry aside and focus on matters that I could be of use to. That morning, I offered Denethor to help him with some of his tasks. He was rather surprised by this kind gesture, but he allowed me to go and visit the widows of recent fallen soldiers in his place.
So, I found myself walking down to the fourth level of Minas Tirith. It was tiresome and my two guards kept asking me if I would rather ride down. But ever since I started walking with Denethor, I found the slow pace of my feet much more appealing.
Before that day, I had never in my life given my condolences to widows of war. My sister always did that. I felt so nervous, wondering about how these poor women would act when they saw me.
When I arrived at the community hall on the fourth level, I kept my breathing steady and my hands clasped together at my waist. I entered the hall, seeing it was dimly lit by the sunlight seeping in from the high windows. I walked along the wide, deep blue runner towards the dozen women standing at the end of the hall. As I got closer, I could see many were holding handkerchiefs, wiping their swollen eyes. I could feel my heart starting to beat faster. I was afraid to talk in case my voice showed my nerves.
"Ladies," I said, bowing my head in respect. "I give you my complete condolences on behalf of my husband, Lord Denethor, his father - Lord Ecthelion, my family of Dol Amroth and the entire nation of Gondor." I took a deep breath before continuing. "Without all your husbands' bravery, this city would not be as grand and fortunate as it is now."
"Thank you... m-my lady," one woman said, wiping her eyes. "I hope that no other woman of Gondor will go through the pain we are all suffering now. But I know that when the next battle is over, a fresh batch of women will be standing in our places, hearing your rehearsed condolences."
Rehearsed condolences? I did not rehearse a thing! "I am sorry if you feel that way, but I am merely trying to offer some sort of comfort."
A woman with long, gray hair shook her head. "I have been married to my dear late husband for over twenty years! He was my comfort and now he is gone because your father-in-law sent him to help defend Lamedon!"
A few women muttered in agreement and I was deeply shocked. "With all due respect, Lamedon is part of Gondor, hence the soldiers of Minas Tirith are bound to defend any part of Gondor's realm."
"Just leave," another woman said. "Please, do us all a favour and leave! You have no idea how lucky you are to have a husband who does nothing at all but sit at his desk all day. Go back to the Citadel and stay there! You are of no comfort to us."
I felt my face burn up with embarrassment. I could feel the eyes of the other occupants of the hall staring in my direction. I quickly bowed my head and left the hall in a hurry. The guards who were waiting for me outside stood up quickly, surprised by my quick appearance. They followed me up to the fifth level, but I could not take it any longer.
"Oh for Eru's sake!" I said, turning around and giving them an annoyed look. "I dismiss you from my service. I would suggest that you go now, back to your families - to your wives and cherish every moment you have with them!"
I stepped back a few times, looking at their stunned faces. I closed my eyes and burst into tears. Everyone in the street started at me, wondering what to do. My two guards did not leave me; instead, they took each of my arms and gently led me down a side alleyway, away from the continuous stares. I sat down on a stone bench, wiping my eyes, but my tears would not stop flowing. One of the guards handed me a mug of cold water. I tried to say thank you, but it sounded more like a splutter of random words.
"My lady, what has happened to cause you to weep?" one of the guards asked. I looked up at him and saw his long dark hair draping out of his helmet.
"Th-those widows," I managed to say. "P-please, I want to be a-alone."
The guards looked at each other and gave a hesitant glance before bowing and leaving me be. I placed the mug down on the floor and let my head fall into my hands. I was not crying over humiliation, no I was used to the hard life of court. I was crying because I had no way to understand how those widows felt. They all had looks of broken hearts, and their eyes showed fear of what their future would hold. I knew I would never be a war widow. Denethor was nowhere near a warrior. I did not know whether to be grateful or ungrateful. Sure, my husband had grown on me during the year of our marriage. I thought I was in love with him, but then at times I felt nothing for him.
My feelings were mixed and I suppose it was my entire fault. I could tell by the way that Denethor looked at me that he was in love with me. Every night he would hold me in our bed, and during the days, he always made sure that I had everything I needed.
Suddenly, I sat up and looked up at the sky. It was blue, with no clouds in sight. I smiled, taking in the fresh air. I had just realised how lucky I truly was. It did not matter if my husband was a warrior or a scholar. What mattered was that he cared for me and looked after me. Not many women in Gondor had the same luck as I did. Most noble women hardly ever saw their husbands due to constant business travel. Denethor, however, was always in Minas Tirith. If I wanted to go down to the first level, he would go with me just to make sure no trouble came upon me. I shook my head in disbelief – my husband truly did love me. I was such a fool to think otherwise. That is what my title should have been. 'Lady Finduilas, the Foolish Princess.'
I laughed to myself, wiping the last of my tears away and drinking the last of the water. Coming to this realisation, I felt so... refreshed, so clean, and pure. I almost ran back up to the Citadel. As I made my way towards Denethor's study, every kind action that Denethor had done towards me played in my mind. All the gifts he gave me, the long walks in the evening, the short walks to the Houses of Healings, the comfort he gave me after I had a nightmare – everything!
I opened his study door without knocking and I saw that he was rather startled by my presence. "Finduilas, you are back far quicker than I had first thought."
I smiled at him and walked over to where he sat, kneeled next to him, and kissed him. I honestly do not know what ran through his mind that day. I had never acted so openly towards him, but I do not think he would have complained. He pulled me onto his lap and I kissed him again.
"I love you Denethor," I whispered. I did not let him reply. All I wanted to do was cherish this amazing moment of realisation. It took a year of marriage for me to realise it, but it was worth it in every way.
That night, I got out of bed and stood by the window, watching Mordor. I do not know why I did it, but I always got this urge to go the chamber window and gaze out across the Anduin River. Night times in Minas Tirith were never silent. There was always the rumble of thunder from Mordor, echoing over the Mountains. I closed my eyes, sighing. I turned back towards my bed where Denethor slept. I smiled before turning back towards Mordor. As much as I had found my love with Denethor in this world, it did not stop that fear of Mordor, which struck me every time I looked east. Perhaps the Numenorean in me allowed me to sense this evil so strongly. Whatever it was that gave me this special sense, I wished nothing more than for it to stop. Dear Valar! I just wanted everything in my life to be perfect.
Thinking of perfect, my hand moved to my lower abdomen. I secretly hoped that I had conceived a child that night. If not, then the nights to follow. After spending so long with sweet little Voronda, my mother instincts were craving for another small child to fuss over.
After Voronda had left, I spent many days slowly packing away the toys in the nursery. I would stare at some of the dolls, remembering all the memories of Voronda playing with them and having little tea parties with her friends. I laughed quietly, thinking of all the fun times I had with Voronda. I missed her so much!
I made my way back to my bed, dreaming up names that I would like to call my children, and the lessons I would be able to attend with them. Oh, I could teach so much to them! Dancing, poetry, literature, music, art and so much more! Having my own child meant that I could run my own household, choose who the tutor could be, though I immediately assumed that Denethor would tutor his children in most scholarly fields.
I sighed as I rested back on my pillow. The months to come could only get better.