I must have had the Valar on my side that night, for soon after Denethor fell asleep, he rolled over. Feeling released, I could not stop grinning. I tiptoed over to my dresser and wrapped my dark blue coat around my nightgown. As I observed myself in the mirror, I began to wonder if I was doing was the right thing. Of course I should not be sneaking out of the citadel to see a man! Agoron, to me was not just any man. He and I went back many years, and even though I was married to Denethor, my heart truly belonged to Agoron.
I walked across the room, hoping I would not trip on anything. As I made it to the door, I turned to see if Denethor was watching me. Thankfully, he seemed to be in a deep sleep. I opened the door and carefully slid out into the corridor. Looking in both directions, I placed my hood over my head and made my way down the dimly lit corridor. I was fortunate enough to make it to the servants' quarters without seeing one person. I actually found this very odd. Usually in the late hours of the night, the servants would still be running around, preparing for the oncoming day. Maybe I had snuck out at a later hour than I had first thought.
I softly ran down the flight of steps that let me into the kitchen. Annoyingly, the two large kitchen doors were securely locked. I restrained myself from banging my fist on the doors out of frustration. I turned to my left and saw another door, but where it led, I did not know. I had come this far, so I had nothing to lose. I opened the door as far as I needed and squeezed through. There were no candles lit, and the only light in the room shone from the moonlight seeping in through the high windows. I stood, frozen on the spot when I realised that I was standing in the servants' sleeping hall.
I took a deep breath and looked around to see if there was another exit. To my happiness there was. On the same side of the hall, there was a small, wooden door only several meters away. Without checking to see if anyone had spotted me, I tiptoed over and opened the door. Closing it shut behind me, I turned around and saw that I was in the kitchen. I rested my head against the door and sighed with relief. I easily exited the kitchen and into the back courtyard. From there, I scurried down the narrow lane and past the big tree. I went down a small flight of white stone stairs that led me onto a stone platform. I stopped there in awe. In the distance, I could see the Anduin River glimmering from the moon and starlight. It was utterly breathtaking. How was it, that the servants' walkway gave a better view of the Anduin River than my own chamber? This was outrageous! Yet, it did not surprise me, for it seemed I never got my own way here.
I sighed and continued down a longer flight of steps. I figured these stairs led me down to the sixth level. I began to grow concerned when I saw two guards at the end of the stairs. Was I that much of a fool to think that the stairs would not be guarded? I hung my hood lower over my face and bravely walked down the last few steps. The guards paid no attention to me, but I knew getting back in would be far trickier.
For the rest of the journey, the streets were silent and bare. I hated it! There was no sound of the rushing ocean, nor the whooshing of a fast sea breeze. The only noise I could make out was the sound of my heart beating fast.
Fardaer's front door was easy enough to find, but I could tell why Agoron wished to meet there, for it was nestled deep into the city, away from the busy streets. I knocked loudly four times and waited. From within, I could hear heavy footsteps approaching.
"What do you want?" an angry man said as he opened the door.
I bit my bottom lip, feeling very nervous. "I-I... is Lord Agoron present?"
The man towered over me. He was largely built with long, curly black hair. "Agoron! There's a woman here to see you!" He turned back towards me, taking in my appearance bit by bit. "She seems important too!"
"Are you Sir Fardaer?" I asked quietly.
The man chuckled. "Yes."
I felt my heart skip a beat as I looked over Fardaer's shoulder and saw Agoron standing there. "Agoron," I squealed. Valar! Why did my voice have to fail at that moment?
"Finduilas," Fardaer said, staring down at me. "Aren't you Lord Denethor's wife?"
My eyes filled with fear. "Y-yes."
"It is all right, Fardaer," Agoron said. "She is an old friend of mine from Dol Amroth."
Fardaer stepped aside, but did not take his eyes off me. "I hope you do not bring trouble to my father's home," he said sternly.
"Lord Denethor does not... appreciate me," Agoron said, grimly smiling.
Fardaer laughed. "What's not to like about you?"
Agoron shrugged. "Please, I shall show Finduilas to your sitting room."
Fardaer shut to front door and mumbled something to himself as he walked off in the opposite direction.
As Agoron shut the sitting room door, he pulled me into his arms. Valar! I had completely forgotten how wonderful his scent was! I felt dizzy with joy. "Oh, Agoron," I whispered. "I have missed you."
I felt tears swelling in my eyes.
"Hush now," Agoron whispered. "Do not weep." He wiped my tears away with his thumb. "You look as beautiful as ever!"
I laughed and wrapped my arms around his neck. "You still know how to make me smile."
Agoron grinned. "You've changed, though." He let go of me and I stepped out of his arms. "You seem more drained."
"Your liveliness seems to have diminished," Agoron continued. "You look as if you no longer know the meaning of fun!"
I wearily smiled. "My son gives me enthusiasm, and so does my husband's niece, Voronda."
Agoron nodded. "I congratulate you on the birth of your son."
I grinned. "Thank you. I am glad I birthed a boy. I would hate to go through all that pain again."
"I thought you wanted many children?" Agoron said as he sat down and pulled me down to sit beside him.
I sighed. "Situations are different now. Perhaps if I married you, I would be glad to have a bunch of children. Sadly, however, my marriage to Denethor has somewhat dwindled recently. Ever since we arrived back from Pelargir, he has been different. He no longer shows me compassion or affection as he used to do. During my pregnancy, I often thought that he doubted my condition. The only joy he seems to show with me is when we speak of our son, Boromir."
Agoron nodded and held my hand. "Imrahil tells me that Lord Denethor is always a cold man."
I chuckled. "Yes, Denethor is a cold man to those who do not know him properly. Sadly, I just think that is how he naturally is. I do believe there is a warmer side to him. I saw it in our early months of marriage." I smiled dreamily. "Those were the days where I believed my marriage would have had a happy ending, but now, I see that my marriage's ending will be anything but happy."
"Why do you think he has changed?" Agoron asked gently.
I shrugged and sat back in the chair. "I honestly do not have a clue. Denethor is a hard man to read. I do see the warmness is his eyes when he looks at or holds Boromir. I do know that there is some bliss left within him, and it wants to be set free. I do wish that he would let his emotions run loose. It would make everyone's life far easier."
Agoron nodded. "Well, I do believe if you try hard enough, Denethor will let his emotions run loose."
I looked at Agoron funnily. "You wish to help my marital problems?"
Agoron grinned. "By listening to what you have said, I do believe that a happier marriage would make you happy once more. Finduilas, I want to see you happy."
"Oh, Agoron," I whispered, moving into his arms. He caressed his hand over my cheek.
"I should not kiss you," he said quietly. "I do not wish to dishonour you."
I painfully closed my eyes. He was right. I did not wish for my honour to be ruined, but who else would find out? "Kiss me," I whispered. "A kiss is a kiss."
Agoron sighed heavily and continued to gaze into my eyes. "I still love you."
"As I love you," I replied.
Agoron leaned closer to me and kissed my cheek. "I will have to think about this. You are the future Stewardess of Gondor. I do not wish for a scandal to be attached to your name."
"What scandal?" I asked in awe. "There is nobody else here!"
Agoron sighed again and stood up. "I know little of Minas Tirith, but I do know how the lords of the court play. They have spies, as does the enemy. Your husband has spies – possibly some of the best. You cannot always risk coming to see me." He ran his fingers through his hair. "Now that you are here, I am beginning to doubt this arrangement. Sooner or later our secret will be discovered."
Agoron was right. Our secret meetings would never last forever. "After everything you and I have done together... after all that we have meant to each other, you are willing to give it all up?"
"If it is what's best for you, then yes," Agoron answered. He grabbed my hands and kissed each of them. "You are and always will be the most important person in my life. If anything were to happen to you, I would never forgive myself."
I lowered my eyes. "Please, do not send me back to the citadel without knowing that I can see you again." I looked back up with him – my eyes were filled with pain. "I have few female friends. Most I cannot talk to about private matters anymore, because I know they will tell others. The women of this court always gossip. The closest thing I have to a friend is a small girl, Voronda. Yet she is too small to carry my burdens. I have nothing here, save for my son."
Agoron embraced me tightly. "You have Lord Denethor, also."
I stepped out of his embrace with disgust. "Your love for me does not even compare to the love that Lord Denethor gives me. He tells me that he loves me deeply, but he never shows it anymore! In order for a wife to feel loved, her husband needs to show it and prove it. He does neither of them anymore. He no longer buys me gifts, or walks with me in the evenings. He never dines with me in the nursery or in our chamber." I sighed heavily. "I loved him once. I admit it. He did bring me great joy, but no longer. That joy has been replaced with loneliness. Some days, I just wish he would sit with me in the gardens and wrap his arms around me. Despite my stubbornness towards him now, I do like feeling close to him. After all, he is the father of my child!" I threw my hands up in the air. "Denethor frustrates me nowadays."
"Finduilas, calm down," Agoron said soothingly. "Here." He stooped over me, kissing me lightly on the lips. "If this is the only way to calm you, then I shall have to kiss you."
I stood in shock for a moment. He had kissed me! It was not as romantic as the kisses from our previous relationship, but still! "I should get angry more often in your presence," I breathed.
Agoron chuckled. "Please, I think it is time for you to leave." Agoron opened the sitting room door. "I would be more than happy to see you again in two days time. Tomorrow, I plan on riding out to Osgiliath to check on my ship, so I will not be in Minas Tirith all day."
I sighed. "I wish I did not have to go."
Agoron smiled sadly. "I wish that also, but I also wish for you to not be deemed missing from the citadel!"
I chuckled at his remark. "Very well. Tell Sir Fardaer that I appreciate his patience."
"I shall," Agoron said. As he led me to the front door, he kissed my hand. "Until two days time."
I bowed my head in acknowledgement. "I cannot wait."
I practically ran up to the sixth level. As I made it to the servants' entrance, I found myself blessed to see that the guards had fallen asleep. That night was my lucky night! I smiled the whole way up the stairs and to my chamber.
I quietly opened the door and peeked inside. My nerves calmed when I saw Denethor sleeping soundly.
I had made it!