I was amazed to have received a letter from Imrahil, declaring that he had fallen in love. Her name was Lady Rochele. Her father was the Mayor of one the towns along the Belfalas coast. I was so happy to hear that my brother was finally settling down. I knew that he had a wild side and enjoyed being a bachelor, but he did need an heir to succeed him in the future. I continued to read his letter with delight. He wrote of her natural beauties and gracefulness under pressure. Apparently, he had met her during one of his tours along the coastline. He had stayed in the town for a month - a little too long a stay at one town during a tour. However, he also wrote that she had not shown too much interest in him at first, declaring he was nothing more than spoilt royalty. I had to laugh at her courage to call him that. I was already beginning to like her. He continued the letter with how she begun to warm up to him, but then declined his offer of marriage, and he left the town in a fit of despair.
I felt my heart sank at his words. My brother did deserve love. He was a good man; full of kindness and bravery. I began to wonder what the reason was for Lady Rochele to decline his proposal. Maybe she did not warm up to him as much as my brother had thought.
My heart clenched when I read the next paragraph; Agoron had wedded Lady Liviel before the New Year. I knew who she was; she was the daughter of Lord Corinir. Agoron did not love her; I believed that to the bottom of my heart. He may show her kindness and treat her as a husband should treat his wife; but it would not be enough for him to fall in love with her. I had his love in my keeping, and it would remain that way until the ends of our days.
I placed the letter on the table next to me, and watched Faramir toddle around the nursery. He was so adorable and found everything curious. His physical appearances were darker than Boromir's, but there was no mistaking that they were of the same kin. Boromir adored Faramir, and spent most of his spare time in the nursery, playing with his younger brother. Boromir would show Faramir how to place all the toy soldiers in proper formation, and how to use the toy catapult. Denethor, however, was not so pleased that Boromir was 'wasting' his free time playing in the nursery. He wanted Boromir to watch him work in his study, or practise with his sword. Boromir retaliated, claiming he had every right to spend time playing with Faramir. I smiled at Boromir's forcefulness. He had the exact stubbornness of his father, but Denethor refused to admit the similarity. He kept telling himself that Boromir was nothing like him.
In the middle of summer, Lord Ecthelion died of illness. The entire kingdom went into mourning. Everywhere you looked, black banners, trimmed with silver and gold were hung in remembrance of the Steward. I was required to wear mourning gowns for three months, along with the rest of the court. The sceptre and sword of Stewardship were laid in front of the two great thrones for an entire month, while the Council of Gondor prepared for Denethor's ascension to the Steward's throne.
Boromir understood what was happening. He wore black garments matching Faramir's, and spent most of his time with Denethor, assisting in any way he could. Faramir, however, did not understand a thing. His obliviousness did not bother me, for he was only one year old. Denethor was not so happy. Once, he asked Faramir why he was playing with a toy ball in the garden, when he should be remembering the late Steward. Faramir ended up crying when Denethor took the ball away from him. I was so glad that Boromir comforted his brother that day. It made me feel so relieved that Boromir was not acting as his father wanted him to act around Faramir.
A few days later, I decided to take Boromir and Faramir for a walk down to the lower levels of the city. By the time we reached the first level, the nursemaid was carrying an exhausted Faramir. Nevertheless, he was still very intrigued by all that he saw. Boromir was walking beside me, talking about all the plans his father was going to make now that he was the Steward of Gondor. Most of what my son said did not surprise me.
"Father is going to strengthen the army," Boromir said happily. "He is also going to build more defensive weapons along the walls of Minas Tirith."
"Such plans make me feel so much more secure," I said, feeling a little obedient.
"Father also says that we are lucky that the Dark Lord has not yet attacked us," Boromir continued.
"Perhaps the Dark Lord will never attack us," I replied. "He may find that Gondor is too much of a threat to him."
Boromir shook his head. "Father says that the Dark Lord will attack during his reign."
I frowned. "But how does he know that?"
Boromir shrugged. "I don't know. He told me that he has seen it."
I began to wonder what he had meant by that. 'He has seen it' – How had he seen it? I knew Denethor did not possess abilities to see into the future. He was not that powerful, despite what Boromir thought.
My thoughts were halted when I saw a young woman walking by. I was stunned to see she was wearing the necklace I had thrown over the wall. She must have picked it up from where it landed. Actually, I was surprised to see that it had not shattered by the fall.
"What is it mother?" Boromir asked, watching me stare back at the woman.
"Nothing, darling," I answered. "Come; let us go up to the watch platform."
That evening, during dinner, I watched Denethor closely. Lately, he seemed to have aged a bit. Not a lot, but it was visible. I knew he was not getting any younger, but this ageing did not seem... well natural.
"Husband," I started cautiously. "Boromir told me today that you have 'seen' that the Dark Lord intends to attack Gondor during your reign."
Denethor gazed at me. I could not read his expression. "That is correct," he replied. "He is massing forces behind that mighty fortress of his."
I leaned over the table. "But how do you know that?"
"Like Boromir said – I have seen it," he replied simply.
"That does not explain it any easier," I said, sitting back in the chair. "In fact, you rather seem to be avoiding answering my question."
"I do not need to tell you how I receive such information," he said, a little too calmly to what I expected.
"But I am your wife," I pressed. "I have a right to know what my husband is doing."
Denethor placed his knife and fork down on his plate. "Finduilas, state affairs do not concern you, and if you think they will now that you have become the Stewardess of Gondor, then you are very wrong indeed. Your duty as my wife is to raise Boromir in the most gracious and correct manner possible."
"And Faramir," I added, crossing my arms. "Faramir needs raising too."
"Faramir is not heir to the Steward's throne," Denethor replied.
"He is second-in-line," I replied. "Does he not require the exact same teaching as Boromir?"
Denethor shook his head. "No."
"How long is your act of coldness towards Faramir going to last?" I asked assertively. "He is not weak anymore. He is very healthy and Boromir adores him. Everyone except you adores him."
"I see him for what he really is," Denethor said, picking up his wine glass.
I glared at him and slammed my fork on the table, before standing up and storming out of the dining room. When I reached my own chamber, I slammed the door closed and sat down at the desk, taking a few deep breaths. After I had stopped shaking with anger, I placed a parchment of paper in front of me and began to write a letter.
Oh, how much I miss your company. I need you now more than ever. My life seems to be in shatters. Denethor does not show Faramir the proper fatherly love, as he should. My son has done nothing to deserve such treatment. He is innocent of everything. I do not know what I should do anymore. I feel so awful. I cannot even bare to hold a conversation with Denethor now. Everything he says makes me angry. I barely share a bed with him now, for I am fearful of conceiving another child.
Boromir is in good health. He adores Faramir, and for that, I am so grateful. I love my boys so much, and it pains me to see them being compared to each other by their own father, who should love them equally. I no longer know what to do about this. I have no control over this situation. All I can do is watch it all unfold in front of me, and it breaks my heart.
I want to write things that are more positive about my life, but I cannot at this moment. I am so sad, Agoron. This is not how I wanted my life to be. At least not how I wanted Denethor to treat his children.
Please, tell me what to do.
Your dearest friend,
I was crying so hard now. The letter to Agoron had several teardrops on it; some were even making the ink run a bit. It did not matter to me, though. At that moment, I did not care about a thing. I sent the letter off to Dol Amroth and then walked quickly to the nursery where Faramir was sound asleep. I pulled a chair over to the small bed and sat down, stroking Faramir's dark hair. I kissed his cheek and forehead, taking in his warmth. I loved him so much. I just wished that Denethor loved him as much as I did. I wanted my husband to get past the horror of Faramir's birth, and see that we have an amazing son who has the capability of aspiring as high as Boromir can. It was not right that they should be compared to each other, as if they were in competition for their father's love.
They were kin; they were brothers.