I was so excited! My family was coming to Minas Tirith! Well, only my brother was, but I had not seen my dear little brother in over a year. I had missed him so much.
I waited in the throne room as my brother walked briskly up to the Steward's throne.
"Lord Ecthelion," Imrahil said, bowing. "It is a pleasure to be in your presence once again."
Ecthelion stood, beaming at my brother. "Prince Imrahil! Without your noble courage, Gondor would be without a coastline. I am forever indebted to you."
Imrahil smiled warmly. "You give me far too much credit, my lord. I am most thankful to have my men by my side during those tiresome days at sea."
Ecthelion nodded. "Your men will be known as heroes for as long as they live. And I hope that they will continue to serve your father as gallantly as they have done so far."
Next to me, I felt Denethor move on the spot. I turned slowly to look up at him. His face was riddled with jealousy. I could not understand why. My brother had just performed a noble cause. Could my husband not show any gratitude?
Imrahil turned towards Denethor and me. "Sister," he said, kissing my hand. "How I have missed you."
I smiled tenderly. "Brother."
"Denethor," Ecthelion said, standing up. "How about you and I take a stroll through to royal gardens? I have matters of the state to discuss with you."
I watched my husband leave reluctantly, not making any eye contact with Imrahil. Denethor's behaviour baffled me!
"Is something wrong with Lord Denethor?" Imrahil asked once we were alone.
"I really have no idea," I replied, shaking my head. "He has been fine all morning."
Imrahil gave a casual shrug before embracing me tightly. "How have you been?"
"Well," I replied. "I have been having these awful nightmares, but a healer in Osgiliath gave me a draught to take. It has worked marvellously."
My brother gave me a concerned look. "I hope it will stop. You never had any nightmares in Dol Amroth."
"I do not why I have them," I replied. "But the draught is working, so that is the main thing."
Imrahil nodded, still looking worried. "I am planning on staying at our house on the sixth level. Do you wish to accompany me there?"
I grinned. "I would love to! I haven't been to our family home in Minas Tirith in so long."
"Really?" Imrahil asked. "I thought the house might have given you some sort of comfort."
I nodded. "The house does make me feel closer to my family, but I did not want to go there constantly in case I started to miss you all a little too much."
"I wish Lord Denethor would allow you to visit on occasion," Imrahil said, sighing.
"I have asked already," I replied. "He keeps telling me that there are not enough men to escort me."
Imrahil gave me a look of shock. "Not enough men? Is he absurd? Gondor has one of the largest armies in Middle-earth. Not to mention that I have written to your husband, informing him that I would come to Minas Tirith and escort you myself."
"What?" I said, spinning around to face him. "Denethor never told me that!"
Imrahil gave me a blank look for a moment, before shaking his head. "I should have known."
"Should have known what?" I asked, continuing to walk towards our family house.
"Finduilas, there is no doubt that Denethor loves you," he started. "It just seems to me that he does not want to... well... share you."
I burst out laughing. "Imrahil, dearest brother. I think you are the one being absurd now. Why would Denethor not want to share me?"
"Look at you, Finduilas," Imrahil said. We were both standing at the front gate of our family house. "You are so beautiful and such a kind-hearted woman. I suppose he is worried your interest for him will diminish."
"Why would my interest for him diminish?" I asked as Imrahil opened the gate for me.
"Well he is far older than you. Perhaps he thinks you will take an interest in a man of your age."
I shook my head. "I am a loyal wife who is bound to obey and serve."
"I know you are," Imrahil replied. "But that doesn't mean Denethor won't worry about losing you."
"Is there a way that I can show him that that won't happen?"
Imrahil sat down in one of the chairs in the front courtyard. "Perhaps. How... affectionate are you towards him?"
I felt my cheeks starting to burn - it was a topic I did not want to talk about to my brother. "I am affectionate towards him."
Imrahil gave me a small smile. "May I ask how often you bed him?"
"Brother!" I exclaimed. "Does that really matter?"
Imrahil grinned. "For a man it does. Men want to feel loved. It cannot just be verbal affection, Finduilas."
"And how would you know all of this?" I asked stoutly. "You are not even married!"
My brother chuckled. "That is true. But I do have married friends. Believe it or not, Finduilas, men like to boast about their intimate relationships with their wives."
"You have not done anything... dishonourable? Have you?"
Imrahil sighed and stood up. "No sister. I am a man of honour towards women. Just as our father is."
I smiled. "Good. I am glad to know that. I would hate for you to father an illegitimate child."
"Now, now, Finduilas. You know how much I love children."
"Very well," he replied. "You have my word."
I spent most of the day at my family home with Imrahil. It was lovely to spend some quality time with my brother, as we had much to talk of.
"So, how is Ivriniel?" I asked, thinking of my dear sister.
Imrahil shrugged. "She is not the same woman that she was before her husband died. She still dresses in black."
"Still!" I could not believe it. My late brother-in-law had died almost two years ago. "Has father said anything to her?"
"No," Imrahil replied, shaking his head. "He lets her dress as she wishes. Though, he has been making plans for her to remarry at some point in the near future."
"I have a feeling that will not work out well," I said. "Why would father make her remarry?"
"I think he is hoping that she will stop grieving if she is given a new husband."
I shook my head in disbelief. "That is far too harsh for Ivriniel. I do not think she will ever stop mourning for her late husband."
"Maybe you should write to father then," Imrahil suggested. "He might listen to you. After all, you are his favourite daughter."
"Now why do you say that?"
Imrahil grinned. "You are married to the next Steward of Gondor. You are the first Princess of Dol Amroth to make such an important marriage. Father feels proud of you. He always boasts at court about your marriage and how wonderful it will be when an heir is born."
I tightened my grip on the chair's arm. "I am having trouble conceiving."
"What?" Imrahil said, scrunching his face up with disbelief. "I do not see how that is possible. Our family has a high reputation of being fertile."
"Yet I have been married for over a year and I still have no symptoms of being with-child."
"It takes time, Finduilas. Everyone is different. I am sure it will happen this year."
"You are sure?"
"Positive," he replied, sitting back in his chair.
"I hope I have a son," I said, smiling faintly. "I would love to have a son first, and then a daughter. I can see Denethor doting on his daughter, spoiling her in front of the entire court."
Imrahil smiled. "I do see Denethor being a proud father to a daughter. But he will need to have at least one male heir."
"I know," I replied. "That is why I want a son first. Though, whatever comes first is for nature to decide."
My brother nodded in agreement. "You will make a wonderful mother, sister."
That night I sat in my chamber as Denethor paced the room.
"Is something wrong?" I asked.
"I am just concerned," he replied, "about the growing threat from Mordor."
Valar! I hated hearing the word Mordor. Saying it always seemed to darken the room. "Dearest," I said, standing up. "Please, can your worries be left outside this chamber?"
Denethor smiled. "I am sorry, Finduilas. I just worry that our marriage will not be as blissful once I am Steward."
I looked at him with confusion. "Why do you say that?"
"Because I have watched my father struggle with Gondor's defences all my life. It pains me to see him so. Therefore, I do not want to be like my father. I want to focus mostly on the enemy and the movement of my troops. I want to build better catapults along the walls of Minas Tirith. I want my soldiers armour to be stronger..."
"I understand all that," I said. "I know your duties. I have mine as well. But my duties are to be a dutiful wife to you and a good mother to the children we will have." I sighed heavily. "I will support you through any decision you decide to make, as long as it is good for the people of Gondor. Having said that, I do not want you to overwork yourself. When we have a family of our own, I want you to be there for our children. They will need their father."
Denethor held both of my hands and kissed them. "I promise you that I will be a worthy father to all the children you give me. They will be my pride and joy. I even have plans for my first son."
I gave my husband a curious look. "Really? Tell me these plans." We both got into bed, and Denethor ran his fingers through my dark hair as I rested on his shoulder.
"I want my first son and heir to be my leader among men. I want him to lead the armies of Gondor to victory."
I nodded. "It would be good to have our son lead the army. At least the men will be under the command of someone we can trust."
"Exactly," Denethor replied. "I want all the sons I have to grow up to be warriors of Gondor."
"What if we have a daughter?" I asked.
"I would like a daughter," he said in thought. "I have always wanted to have a daughter at some point in my life. I would like to guide her through life and teach her all the necessities of being a noble woman of Gondor. I would also like to give her a male education."
"Why?" I asked.
"Because then my daughter will be more intelligent than the other noble women of the court. I would like to have her help me in office, but be there for you at the same time."
"I believe our children will be in great care under your guidance."
"I hope so," he replied. "All we have to do is try to conceive."
"It will happen," I said reassuringly. "We have to wait for nature to take its place and give us what we want. We cannot rush these things. Anything that is rushed never ends well."
"You could not have spoken truer words, my dear wife," Denethor said, kissing my hair. "I love you."
I snuggled into his shoulder. "I love you too. I always will."
The next morning I went to visit my brother. I walked by a bakery and bought a loaf of freshly baked bread. It smelt so wonderful! Imrahil and I ate the bread with some fresh fruit in the dining hall of the family house. The dining hall offered a wonderful view over the plains, looking west towards the sea. I so badly wanted to return there.
"Sister, I believe I will be returning to Dol Amroth in two days," my brother said.
My heart sank. I did not want him to leave so soon. "I wish you could stay longer."
Imrahil shook his head. "I am sorry, but father needs me in Dol Amroth."
"I know. I understand the duties of men," I replied.
Before Imrahil could reply, a pageboy ran into the dining room.
"Lad, do you know the importance of knocking?" Imrahil asked.
The boy looked exhausted. "I have just come here in great haste from the Citadel. An important letter from Lamedon has arrived, addressed to Princess Finduilas."
I stood up, startled. My thoughts turned too little Voronda. Something must be wrong. "Thank you," I said, taking the letter from the boy and gesturing for him to leave at once.
I sat back down and opened the letter. My hands were shaking, so my brother took the letter from me and opened it on my behalf.
"Dearest Lady Finduilas," Imrahil said, reading the letter aloud. "It is my deepest regret to inform you that Lady Voronda has fallen dangerously ill at her home in Lamedon. My wife, Tatiel has asked for your company during this dire time. If you and your husband, Lord Denethor are able to make the trip within the week, my wife and I will be indebted to you both. Yours faithfully, Lord Angbor."
My eyes had widened. "I must leave at once." I stood up and hurried out of the house. Imrahil followed me up to the Citadel, still holding the letter.
I ignored everyone I walked past and opened Denethor's study door, without asking. "Finduilas," Denethor said, standing up and hurrying to my side. He must have been concerned for me, as I had tears falling down my cheeks.
"I-I just r-received a letter from Lord Angbor, asking that you and I travel to Lamedon," I said, wiping my face with the back of my hand. Imrahil and Denethor helped me sit down in front of the desk.
"Why does Lord Angbor want us to travel to Lamedon?" Denethor asked, kneeling down next to me.
"Voronda has fallen ill," I said. Imrahil handed the letter to Denethor.
My husband stood back up and paced his study as he read the letter. After a short while, he placed the letter on his desk and sighed. "I see that my niece's health concerns you greatly, therefore I will allow this trip to happen."
I sighed with such relief. I was so worried that I would be denied to leave the city again. "Thank you, Denethor."
"Imrahil, would you give your sister and I a moment alone?" Denethor asked my brother.
"Certainly," Imrahil replied. "I shall go and inform Lord Ecthelion of this arrangement."
After my brother left, Denethor pulled me to my feet and embraced me. "Everything will be alright, Finduilas."
For some reason, his words made me cry even more. I was just happy that he let me release my fears of Voronda's health. The poor child.