Months had passed since Voronda had arrived in Minas Tirith. In those months, I ended up spending more time with Voronda than with my own husband. Denethor started to seclude himself away from everyone while he worked out plans to expand the armies. I did not really understand why he enjoyed working on his own. You would think that working on a delicate situation would require more than one mind at work.
In those four months, I was also deathly ill in the mornings. It became so bad that it drained nearly all of my energy. Most of the days, I would remain in bed and rest. During that time, Voronda would join me and I would listen to her practise her reading and watched her draw pictures of Apricot. I found it quite intriguing that Voronda had grown so attached to a chicken. Most children wanted a pet dog or cat, but never a chicken.
Apricot had grown a fair bit, and Voronda had spoiled it so much that the poor chicken was becoming quite plump.
"I want Apricot to have babies," Voronda said one day as she rested next to me.
"Why?" I asked sleepily.
"Because, then I can have more baby chickens!" Voronda exclaimed.
"Has she even laid eggs yet?" I asked.
Voronda shook her head. "No."
"Then you will need to wait until she produces eggs first," I said.
"When Apricot grows up and has babies, can she have a house of her own?" Voronda asked.
I chuckled softly. "Chickens do not live in homes."
"I meant chicken homes," Voronda said. "Apricot will need more room."
"Very well," I said, sighing. "I am sure we can arrange something by the time that day arrives."
Word arrived in Minas Tirith that Voronda's father, Lord Angbor had remarried. It was expected, but I could not believe whom it was he married. She was not even of noble blood! Her name was Mistress Níndes. She was the daughter of Lord Angbor's secretary, and if rumour served truthfully, Mistress Níndes had conceived Lord Angbor's child out of wedlock. I supposed it should not have surprised me that he would do such a thing, but I felt so sorry for Voronda; she was innocent in all this mess. Denethor and Ecthelion sent a purse of gold in congratulations of the marriage and the now Lady Níndes condition. I would only ever accept this woman if she sent for Voronda to return to Lamedon, where she would be warmly welcomed by her new stepmother.
Time went by, and still my pregnancy caused me to have terrible mood swings and severe illnesses in the mornings. Sometimes I could barely move because of it. The physicians continued to tell me that I was one of the misfortunate women in Middle-earth to suffer symptoms of child bearing so severely.
When I began to show, Denethor started to dote on me. His actions made me wonder if before I was visibly with-child, he may have doubted my condition. I suppose it did take five months before people were looking at my stomach. I enjoyed having Denethor care for me devotedly as he did during those months. He told me to never get out of bed if I did not feel up to it, and I was given anything that I wished for. That also meant that Denethor gave me permission to have Voronda's classes in our chamber. For when I was almost full term, I found it incredibly hard to walk long distances. I spent most of my days sitting in my chamber with the curtains closed. There was no way I would look at Mordor, or let the thought of such evil enter my mind while I was carrying an innocent child.
"What are you going to name the baby?" Voronda asked one day. She and I were sitting on the bed as she placed her hand on my stomach to feel the baby kick.
"If it's a boy, then Boromir," I replied.
"Boromir," she repeated. "There is a Boromir in our history."
I nodded. "There is. I see you have been paying more attention to your history lessons."
Voronda smiled. "It's not so bad anymore."
I rested back on the pillows as I winced in pain. The baby was stretching... or at least I presumed it was, for it would push against my ribs, making it rather hard for me to breathe.
"Are you all right?" Voronda asked, watching my face.
"Yes," I said, trying to position myself up more. "The child is moving a little too much for my sake."
"Is it hard having a baby inside of you?" she asked curiously.
"At first it is quite content," I started, "but then when the child grows and grows, it becomes quite a burden."
"I don't like the sound of that," Voronda replied. "I do hope I never have to carry a baby in me."
I chuckled softly. "One day when you are my age, I highly doubt you will be childless."
Voronda cringed. "No, no. I am never having babies."
"Very well then," I said gently. I felt no need to argue with the child, for she was still very young and had a lot to learn about the attributes women must carry through their lives and having children – especially a son.
"How long before the baby leaves you?" Voronda asked.
"Leaves me," I repeated. "Do you mean how long before I must give birth?"
Voronda shrugged. "I suppose."
"I am almost full term," I said. "I am quite looking forward to birthing this child."
"Why?" Voronda asked. "I have heard that having a baby is very painful."
"Is that another reason why you do not wish to have children?" I asked.
Voronda nodded. "I don't like pain."
"Neither do I," I replied. "But sometimes pain is necessary."
"I hope you won't be in pain for a long time," Voronda said. "I wouldn't like to see you sad."
I smiled weakly. "I assure you I will be fine. Do you wish to be present for the birth?"
Voronda sat in thought for a few moments. "I don't know. Will it be scary?"
I grinned. "The only person, who will find it scary, will be me."
"If you find something scary, then I will find it scary too," Voronda protested. "If you cry, I will cry."
"Darling," I said gently. "When the time comes, you can decide if you wish to be present. But if you feel it will make you upset, then I want you to go to your chamber and practise your music with the harp."
Voronda nodded. "I will."
From then, it took only two more months before I found myself going into labour. It started early in the afternoon while I was watching Voronda practise her calligraphy by my bed. I felt sorry for the child, because when it started, I let out a cry of pain.
"It's happening!" she yelled, running out of the chamber.
The pain stopped briefly, and I was able to get up and take my robe off.
"Auntie Finduilas," Voronda said, running back into the chamber. "I found a servant."
I tried to smile, but the pain started again. "Thank you."
The servant helped me into a chair while Voronda was sent off to inform my husband of the news.
She returned moments later with a midwife and a few female maids. Voronda came up to my side and rested her head on my shoulder. "Are you all right?" she whispered.
I nodded. "The pain has stopped."
"For good?" she asked hopefully.
"No," I said. "It will start again."
"Should I leave?" she asked.
"That decision is up to you," I replied.
"I think I should leave," she finally said. I watched her hurry out of the chamber.
During the whole process, I wanted nothing more than for it to end. The pain was far greater than anything I could have imagined. The midwife had promised me that it seemed to be a quick birth, but seven hours of pain did not seem quick to me.
"Women who give birth for the first time are always fated to long hours," the midwife said, putting a wet cloth on my forehead.
"You said it would be quick," I moaned.
"My lady, you need to prepare to push again," she replied.
I felt my energy starting to drain. I did not know whether it was good or bad, but I had other matters to focus on. I wanted to hold onto something as I endured the pain, but all the servants were assisting the midwife at the end of the bed. It annoyed me greatly that not one of them chose to stay by my side.
"Why are you all away from me," I shouted. "I'm not a disease."
"I am sorry, my lady," the youngest servant said. "But your husband, Lord Denethor, commanded us to be of great assistance to the midwife only."
"Only," I repeated. "What about me? Did he forget about me? Am I nothing? Do I not exist?" I let out a cry of pain and frustration. "I am his wife! And right now I am only attempting to give birth to his child!"
All the servants seemed to be terrified of me by my words. When I came back to my senses after the birth, I did not blame them.
"I will never do this again," I said, catching my breath. "If this is how I am to be treated during child-birth, then I am never giving... him a child again."
"My lady," the midwife said. "I am sure Lord Denethor is concerned for the health of the child."
"What about my health!" I shouted. "What about me...?"
Now, when I look back at it, I was quite the terror during that birth.
It was almost over; at least that is what the midwife kept telling me. She finally gave me some good news that she could see the child's head. I sat up as straight as I could to push one last time.
I collapsed onto the pillows as I heard the cries of a child. One of the servants walked over to me and handed me a dry cloth to wipe the sweat off my face. I was still breathing heavily, but I was relieved and surprised that all the pain I had endured was now gone instantly.
"My lady," the midwife said as she walked over to my side, carrying my child. "You have given birth to a healthy boy."
I laughed. "A-a boy. Thank the Valar!" She handed me the child, and I felt tears of happiness swell in my eyes. My child – my son. He was the image of my father and brother. Though, he had Denethor's serious, dark eyes.
"Boromir," I whispered. "Hello." My son continued to cry and the midwife took him out of my arms. "May I not feed him from my own breast?"
The midwife looked at my incredulously. "A Queen... or Stewardess is not allowed to feed their own children, my lady."
My bottom lip quivered and I felt fresh tears coming to my eyes. "W-why?"
"It is the law," the midwife replied. "A wet-nurse is here to feed him, and will continue to do so until he no longer needs a woman's milk."
I lowered my head. This is not what I wanted. No, I wanted to feed my own child. My mother was permitted too, and she was the Princess of Dol Amroth! How could the laws of Minas Tirith be so strict?
Once I was cleaned and made presentable, I sat up in the bed and watched as my husband came in and looked down into the cradle on the other side of the room. I could not see his facial expression, as he had his back to me. Finally, he turned around, smiling.
"You have given me a son," he said gently as he walked over to my side. "A healthy, strong son."
I nodded. "I have. Are you pleased?"
Denethor leant over me and kissed me soundly. "I am. You have done your duty to our people."
I managed to smile. I suppose he was right. After all, it was my duty to the people to give Gondor an heir. But I did not see my son as only that. Boromir was my son, and I wanted to raise him as I pleased. I knew that would never be allowed, though. Denethor had plans for him.
"What happens now?" I asked.
"Boromir will be presented to the court in two days time," Denethor replied as he held my hand. "During that time you must rest and regather your strength. When you are able to appear publicly, a celebration will be held in honour of our son's birth."
I nodded again. "Sounds wonderful."
Denethor looked at me. "Is something wrong?"
I shook my head. "No. I am just exhausted, and... well I wish my family were here for this."
"Your family is here," Denethor said. "I am your family, as is Boromir."
"You know what I mean," I said. "My brother and father... my sister."
"You have not seen them in some time, Finduilas," he said. "Who knows how long it will be before you are reacquainted with them."
I lowered my eyes. "I know. You are right."
My answer pleased him, but I did not know how long it would be before my husband's mood would change again. For now, I could sense that his love for me was far greater than it had ever been, and I knew it was because of the birth of our son.
Our son... my son... Boromir. Little Boromir of Gondor. My sweet little boy.
I heard the rumble of thunder from the window and was greatly displeased to find that somebody had opened the curtains. I saw Mordor's shadow, and I swore I could feel its evil looming into the chamber. My focus snapped over to the cradle, and I jumped out of bed and hurried over to my son. Gently picking him up, I wanted nothing more than to shelter him from the evil that was lurking just outside the window.