It was a fine and sunny day when we left Pelargir. The warm summer breeze from the coastline swept up the Anduin River and through the port of Pelargir. As I sat in my carriage, looking out of the shutter, I watched the children paddle around the shallows of the River. I smiled, remembering of how wonderful it was when I was a child. I never had a care in the world, and I dearly wished to go back to a time like that.
"Finduilas," Denethor said, opening the carriage door. "I have decided to spend the journey to Linhir by your side... if you permit it."
"Of course I permit it," I said kindly. "It is far more relaxing in here than on horseback. I will be glad to have your company."
Denethor sat next to me, closing the carriage door. "We will be departing in a few moments. I have informed your handmaiden to ride along in another carriage."
"Very well," I replied, feeling the carriage wheels starting to turn. It felt rather pleasant having Denethor by my side. He may not have been a great warrior, as my brother was, but I always felt safe and secure in my husband's presence. I knew to the bottom of my heart that he would never let anything dreadful happen to me.
I rested my head on his shoulder, and he placed his arm around me. We did not speak, but our physical actions showed another how deeply we cared for each other. My realisation of my love for my husband was sudden all those weeks ago. I now admit to being incredibly stubborn towards my personal feelings. At the beginning, I did not want to love Denethor; I did not want to have a happy life with him. I did not see him as the man of my dreams. I used to weep in my chamber in Dol Amroth when I had first become betrothed to Denethor. I never thought he was the man for me.
Valar! How I had been mistaken...
The constant rocking of the carriage as it wheeled along the South Road caused me to feel very fatigue. I tried to keep my eyes open by fluttering them and shifting my body about. However, it did not work and my eyes closed. I did not sleep straight away; I listened to the continuous creaking noise of one of the wheels of the carriage. For some odd reason, I found it very soothing as it kept in rhythm. As relaxing as it first was, it began to remind me of the last time I was in this carriage, when the Corsairs ambushed the company and tried to take me aboard one of their vessels. Images of the hairy, filthy Corsair who carried me through the mud kept whirling in my mind. His dirty face kept smiling at me, waiting for me...
It could not take it any longer. I snapped my eyes open and sat up straight. I looked about the carriage, trying to see if something was wrong. Fear of another ambush was fresh in my mind. I turned towards Denethor, who was looking at me oddly.
"Finduilas, is everything all right?" he asked, stroking my hand.
I tried to give him a reassuring smile. "Yes, I am quite all right. Just a bit restless."
"Do you need anything?" he asked.
"Mmm." I lay down, resting on his lap. "Would you tell me a story?"
Denethor stroked my hair. "What would you like to hear?"
"Tell me the story of King Tarannon and Queen Beruthiel of Gondor," I said.
"The Twelfth King of Gondor, Lord Tarannon was. A powerful and noble ruler who was loved among the people. He won many victories and when he became King, he expanded Gondor's territory westward and southward to the coasts. He was known as the 'Lord of the Coasts' and built a fine house south of Pelargir where he resided in.
"A few years later, he met a young woman by the name of Beruthiel. She was dark in complexion, with piercing dark eyes and black hair. She arrived in Pelargir one summers evening as a guest from the south where the Harad resided in. King Tarannon immediately recognised her among the crowd as she danced, twirling her black and silver gown on the dance floor. She captivated the king. He saw a woman far different to the other noble ladies of the court.
"The next day, Tarannon wrote up a document to send to Beruthiel's father, informing the Lord of Harad of his request to make Beruthiel Queen of Gondor. Before the letter had reached Beruthiel's father, Tarannon courted Beruthiel, telling her everything she wanted to hear, and promised her a life in Osgiliath. Once the courting was finally over, and their marriage consummated, Tarannon broke his promise to Beruthiel, telling her that they would continue to live by the sea. This angered Beruthiel and the royal couple spent many long hours arguing. Their love for each other ceased months later, and Tarannon vowed never to share a bed with her again. Beruthiel moved to Osgiliath with her cats. As she left the King's house, she publicly announced that Tarannon would never father a legitimate child, and hence degrading the line of Kings.
"And so the marriage of King Tarannon and Queen Beruthiel ended only a couple of years later when he arrived in Osgiliath with a letter informing the Queen that she was to be banished from Gondor. He casted her and her cats adrift on a ship that sailed south towards Umbar and the Corsairs."
"Such a sad story," I finally said. "Yet it is one of my favourites. Do you think they would have been happy if they moved to Osgiliath?"
"No," Denethor replied. "Queen Beruthiel was a mean-spirited woman. She deceived the King and in some way assisted in the downfall of the line of Kings."
"Because she did not give him a male heir?"
"Exactly," Denethor replied. "If a male heir was to be born of Beruthiel, who knows what would have happened."
"Surely she was not completely dishonourable?"
"She was a black Numenorean, Finduilas," Denethor replied. "She was from a race of people who became corrupted by Sauron. There was never any good in her."
I decided not to argue my point. Instead, I sat up and kissed my husband. I felt him wrap his arms around my waist, holding me tightly. Our short intimate moment felt like a lifetime. The only sounds that could be heard were the squeaking of the carriage wheel and the soft pats of the horses' hooves by the carriage.
"Denethor," I whispered. "I love you."
"I love you too, Finduilas," Denethor replied.
I found myself resting back on his shoulder. The warm breeze continued to sweep through the carriage. It felt nice having the wind on my face. Eventually, I fell asleep.
I woke up feeling more tired than I had originally. Denethor was awake, reading one of his books, but I also noticed that it was dark outside.
"How long have I been asleep for?" I asked, continuing to look at the dark night sky.
"You slept all day," Denethor replied, placing the book on his lap. "I believe you needed it from you last ordeal."
I nodded, straightening my gown. "How close are we to Linhir?"
"We should be there in several more hours," he replied, fixing the brightness of the lamp that hung from the carriage's roof. "Lord Tarondor of Linhir is expecting us sometime before dawn."
"We are to journey through the night?"
"Yes, we are. I would not dare to stop travelling after what happened on the journey to Pelargir. I will not risk your life."
I smiled. "I am sure such an event will not happen again."
"Let us hope so," Denethor said grimly. "I am in no mood for another ambush."
"You were not present at the last ambush, if I recall correctly."
Denethor gave me a sharp look. "What are you implying?
"N-nothing," I stammered. I turned away from him and continued to look out of the shutter. I heard Denethor sigh behind me.
"Forgive me, Finduilas. I am weary of this long journey. I am worried about my father, his health is declining."
I slowly turned back to face him. "I know, but there is nothing we can do. Men are not immortal."
My husband smiled faintly. "Unfortunately, that is true. I can sense my reign as Steward of Gondor approaching, and I wish to prepare myself."
"What is there to prepare?" I asked, confused.
"Once my father has died, his household will be dissolved. I will be instructed to make my own household in his place. You also will have your own household. There is also the concern of the enemy growing stronger. I need to recruit as many young lads as possible to train for the years to come. And there is... you."
Denethor sighed. "Finduilas, I love you. You of all people know that. I care deeply for you, more deeply than any woman I have laid eyes on. Yet, we have been married for well over a year and you have not yet produced me a male heir."
I stiffened. I despised this subject. A few months ago, I had begun to wonder if I was with-child due to my breasts aching for a few weeks, but sadly, my monthly course had came. "Denethor, I have no power over whether I conceive or not. This is not just my fault. It is yours as well. It takes two to create a child."
I watched Denethor blush, abashed by my words. However, I could not tell if I had embarrassed him or insulted him.
"My father is questioning me," Denethor mumbled. "He wants answers, but I cannot give him any."
"I know I must give the Line of Stewards a male heir. But the way you and your father continue to question me, makes me feel under severe pressure. Perhaps that is why no child has been conceived."
Denethor sighed again. "Perhaps. Only the Valar know why we are in such a situation."
I nodded. "We need to resolve this problem."
"And how do you propose we do that?" Denethor asked wearily.
"We never speak of this subject again," I said sternly. "If we let our worries leave our mind, perhaps a child will come. Why don't we enjoy our marriage before we are blessed with a child, for a child will bring much chaos to a household with its constant crying and need for attention. Do not expect to have a decent night sleep once a child is born."
Denethor chuckled. "I admire your ability to see the brighter side of situations. And you are right, the nursery is only down the hall from our chamber. I should be cherishing this time I have with you."
I smiled. "Yes, you should be." I moved closer to him, wrapping my arms around his neck. "Do not worry dear husband. Our life will be blessed with chaos, I guarantee you that." We both laughed at the thought of a screaming child keeping us awake all night. "Do I also need to remind you that my family has a reputation for having high fertility?"
"No," Denethor said, shaking his head. "Before we were betrothed, my father kept acknowledging that fact to me."
"Well," I said, kissing him softly. "If I am of high fertility, then it must be your fault that we have not yet conceived a child."
"Findu-" I cut Denethor off by kissing him soundly. I was in no mood for his protests. I just wanted my husband to be happy with his life, and sometimes hearing the truth leads to happiness.
"I already have name chosen for our first son," Denethor said moments later. "Boromir."
I smiled. "The Steward Boromir also had a father named Denethor."
"Yes, but that is only a coincidence."
"Then why are you planning on naming our first son Boromir?" I asked.
"Because, Boromir was a great captain and leader among men, that even the Lord Nazgul feared him. If our son rises to that greatness on the battlefield, then our enemy will not stand a chance against our defences."
"So you see the name 'Boromir' as being blessed in life by the great quality and swordsmanship by the first Steward to be named Boromir?"
"I do," Denethor replied. "And Gondor needs a leader who is blessed on the battlefield."
I nodded. "I understand you desire to have a son who is a great warrior. But what if he ends up being... like you? A man who is mostly interesting in lore?"
Denethor shook his head. "I will be happy for my son to learn lore as I have done. But he will have to be a warrior first. Gondor will need him to be a warrior first. I will make sure he is taught how to wield a sword from a young age, so when he becomes a man, he will be able to lead the armies to victory for many, many years."
I was rather stunned to discover that Denethor had plans for his heir already mapped out. I suppose I should feel proud knowing that my son would be a great warrior, loved by the people. But I also felt concern. I did not want my son's mind to be filled with issues of war from a young age. Every child deserves a fun youth, full of toys and laughter. I just hopped that Denethor saw that too, and would not make a soldier out of a little boy who knows so little of life.
I suppose only time will tell of how this outcome for our future son will be...