In the month of August, everything had changed. Captain Thorongil left, and I watched Lord Ecthelion become saddened over his departure. Of course, my husband's mood lightened and was far more talkative around people. I took his change of mood as a good sign. With Denethor's high spirits, I was able to get along with him more easily. But, the best thing that had happened in that month, was that Voronda arrived! I was so ecstatic to see her that I embraced her for a long time.
"Princess Finduilas, you are taking all my breath away!" Voronda said.
I released my grip and noticed her eyes were red. "My dear girl, have you been crying?"
Voronda nodded. "I miss my mama."
"I know," I replied, tucking her hair behind her ear. "I miss her too."
"Do you think she is somewhere better?" Voronda asked hopefully. "I would feel better knowing that she is happy."
"Of course she is somewhere happy," I answered. "She is now resting in a place where she can forever be happy and still see you."
Voronda smiled. "I was told that I am to live with you now."
I nodded. "You are. How does that make you feel?"
Voronda shrugged. "I am not sure. You are nice, so I suppose I could be happy living here."
I chuckled. "I am positive your life here in the Citadel will prove to be pleasant."
"I shall take your word for it, Princess Finduilas," Voronda replied, gazing at the scenery around her.
I hesitated. "Voronda, now that you shall be living with me, I would like you to call me auntie Finduilas."
Voronda lowered her eyes and remained silent for a few moments. "Very well, auntie Finduilas."
I grinned, embracing her lightly. "Thank you, my darling. Now come, I am to show you to your chamber."
"Do I not get to stay in the nursery?" she asked.
I shook my head. "No, I am afraid not this time. You see, I am with-child."
Voronda's face lit up. "You are going to have a baby?"
I laughed. "Yes, I am."
"That means I am going to have a cousin to play with!" Voronda said happily.
"You shall," I replied, touching the tip of her nose. "So the nursery has been set up for your cousin, for when he or she arrives."
"I hope it is a girl," Voronda replied. "Girls are far more gentle to play with."
"Boy or girl, your cousin shall be gentle. Besides, you will be the older cousin, and peers must respect those older than them," I replied.
Voronda nodded in agreement. "I hope you are right. So what chamber shall I stay in now?"
"Come," I said, holding her hand. "I shall show you."
I led Voronda down many corridors until we came near the end of the palace. "This is a long walk," Voronda complained. "Why am I to live in this section of the palace?"
"Because," I started, "the view from your window will be far more enjoyable and pleasurable."
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"You will not be able to see the land of Mordor from this section of the palace," I replied. "Instead you will be able to see the White Mountains and the plains of Lossarnach in the distance."
Voronda nodded. "Lossarnach is a very pretty place."
"It is," I replied. "I would love to visit there again."
"Can I come with you?" Voronda asked hopefully.
"You may," I replied.
We reached the chamber door and when I opened it, Voronda jumped up and down with excitement. "It is so pretty," she squealed, "and so big!"
I laughed and entered the chamber. It was not as large as the other chambers in the palace. In fact, it was one of the smallest. However, I had to agree with Voronda – the chamber was very pretty. The curtains draped to the ground in shades of light blue and pink. There was a four-poster bed and a dressing table. Honestly, it was not much for the granddaughter of the Steward of Gondor, but I supposed at the time it was suitable for a little girl to be sheltered from the shadow of Mordor.
"You have some new dresses," I said, moving toward the dresser.
"I do!" Voronda exclaimed, skipping over to me. "How many?"
"Five," I replied. "It is only a start, but I thought we could go and buy some more cloth in the days to come."
"I-I," Voronda stammered. "Do I deserve it?"
I knelt down. "Why would you say that?"
"Because," she replied. "I had to deserve such kindness back home."
I sighed. "You are the Steward of Gondor's granddaughter. You are entitled to such luxuries."
"Am I really that important?" Voronda asked.
I nodded. "You are."
Voronda walked around the room, taking in all the detail. "Are you the only person who is going to look after me?"
"No," I replied, standing back up. "You are to be given two handmaidens. They will care for you daily and wait upon you at night. Also, if need be, one of them shall remain in the chamber during the night if you wish not to be alone."
Voronda smiled sadly. "Mama used to stay with me during the nights."
I kissed Voronda's forehead. "Come, you are required to present yourself to your grandfather, Lord Ecthelion."
As we left the chamber and made our way to the Steward's study, we met Denethor along the way.
"Uncle Denethor," Voronda said, giving him her best curtsy.
Denethor knelt down and gave his niece a kiss on the cheek. "My dear Voronda, how are you?"
"I am well," Voronda replied. "But I miss mama."
Denethor sighed. "We all do. She is in a better place now."
"I know," Voronda said, grabbing my hand. "Auntie Finduilas has already told me so."
Denethor stood up, looking at me. "Your aunt is quite wise."
"I know that as well," Voronda replied.
Denethor smiled. "Are you both going to see the Steward?"
"Yes," I answered. "Would you care to join us?"
"Certainly," Denethor replied.
I accepted his offer to take his arm, and I held Voronda's hand with me free one. I felt rather... uncomfortable. I could not feel as close to him as I once did. Not after our public quarrel. I could never forget how he treated me that day, despite my reckless behaviour.
Denethor opened the study door for us, and Voronda gave Ecthelion a deep curtsy.
"Ah!" Ecthelion said, standing up. "My beautiful granddaughter! Come!" He held his arms out, and Voronda ran into them.
"Grandfather," Voronda said quietly. "I am to live with you now."
"You are," Ecthelion replied. "How does that make you feel?"
Voronda shrugged. "I was sad at first. I did not want to leave my home for good. But I am happy now."
Ecthelion smiled. "I assure you that your time here shall be pleasing by all means possible."
I could not help but smile. Voronda was such a beautiful girl, and her smile filled my heart with such warmth and happiness. I felt so fortunate that she would be living in the citadel when my child was to be born. I knew I could count on her to help in the nursery.
After Voronda was reunited with her grandfather and uncle, I spent most of the day in Voronda's chamber, helping her unpack her belongings and settle in. Sitting by the window, I watched the people below hurry around the city. It was quite a beautiful sight. No matter what direction I looked in, I could not see the Shadow of Mordor. It made me feel so happy and content, being able to find a place in Minas Tirith that did not give a view of such darkness.
"My lady." I turned to the door and saw one of my handmaidens enter and curtsy. "A letter has just arrived for you."
"Thank you," I replied, receiving the letter. My heart skipped a beat when I opened the letter and noticed Agoron's signature at the bottom.
I am very glad to hear that you are in good health and that you are with-child. I wish you all the best for the life you have made in Minas Tirith. I have no doubts that you are being looked after exceedingly. I, too, am in good health. The sweating illness did not plague Dol Amroth as severely as other cities of Gondor. Your family is fine. In fact, I have been sailing with Imrahil quite frequently. Your brother speaks of you often, so I am kept well informed of your progress in Minas Tirith.
I am deeply sorry that you are enduring nightmares. I wish I could be there to comfort you. In saying that, I have never hated you or thought ill of your actions. Nor do I blame your father. It was my father, who delayed our betrothal, and for his actions, I shall never forgive him. He stole the one chance of my receiving such a jewel in this world that I have longed desired to have in my keeping. So now, that jewel has been given to another man. A man, who I thought at the time, did not deserve it. Perhaps I was wrong to think as I did. With the arrangements for our betrothal, I was aware of them. I had intentions on surprising you. Obviously, these plans did not go according to plan.
As for the jewel I have lost forever, I do hope that she is happy.
I still love you, but now, you are untouchable. I have reason to suspect that Lord Denethor would be suspicious of me if I ever show my face in Minas Tirith. I hope that one day, in the near future, I do hope to see you in the flesh. I miss you. I am willing to risk everything that I own just to see you. I shall not come to Minas Tirith without your consent. I would hate to make you unhappy or uncomfortable.
Tell me of your marriage. I am eager to know how Lord Denethor treats you as his wife. I know so little of him. In fact, the only information I am told of him is from Imrahil. From the way Imrahil speaks of him, I have reason to suspect that your brother is not highly fond of him. Do you know why? Has the Lord Denethor done something to displease him?
I must cease this letter here, for I am being called to duty on my ship. The Corsairs are far more daring these days.
With all the love I bare,
Commander of the Fleet of Dol Amroth
I could feel tears swelling in my eyes. I was not certain what my emotions were - they were mixed. I was joyed because I had not lost Agoron's love, but sad at the same time because I missed him and felt guilty. I felt I needed to blame someone for this mess, but I did not know whom.
I folded the letter and placed it up the sleeve of my gown. I did not want to know what the penalties were if someone had discovered this communication between a man I was in love with. Valar! I felt like such a fool. I had found myself in the worst situation possible. If Denethor knew...
I shuddered just thinking about it. I knew what I was getting into was so very dangerous. Denethor had spies. Ecthelion had spies. In fact, nearly every Lord in Minas Tirith had spies working for them. I wondered if my husband would put me under surveillance. I was not planning to be romantic with Agoron. I would never ruin my honour. I just wanted to see Agoron again. I knew Denethor would not allow me to spend time alone with a man he did not know or trust.
I suppose I should be grateful to be married to a man who wanted nothing more than to protect me, but I did not need protection from my friends.
I suppose only time will bring out the fortune and misfortune of the events to come...