My life did not grow any better. Denethor's unnatural age continued, and even Boromir was starting to notice the sudden change in his father's appearance. It was not only that which was changing, but his personality too. He would snap at anyone who dared speak against his desires. He even started to become more forceful towards me. I was no longer allowed the privacy of my own chamber. I was to share his bed every night for the rest of our lives. I was also 'ordered' to appear at court more often, so the nobility could see me. The reason why I hardly ever attended court was that I had no interest in court life. The women there gossiped about matters that baffled me, and the men were too busy talking amongst them, or trying to receive favours from Denethor. I much preferred to spend my time with my children, or on my own.
Recently, I had no desire for anyone's company. I felt far happier being withdrawn from the world. If I secluded myself in a room with no windows, I could pretend that I was back at Dol Amroth with my family, or I would sit out in the front courtyard, close my eyes, and imagine that the wind blowing on my face was the ocean breeze. I knew there was no possible way that I would be able to go to Dol Amroth now that Denethor was the Steward of Gondor. He wanted me here, in this cold city, by his side. I understood that, for I was his wife and the First Lady in Gondor. Nevertheless, everyone needs to escape at some point in his or her life. For me, escaping was going back to Dol Amroth, swimming in the ocean, and searching for shells. I could do neither of those things here. You could not swim in the Anduin River due to the ships that would sail up and down. There were no shorelines, so you could not collect shells.
During the nights, I would wake up sweating in fear. My dreams were clouded with darkness and images of creatures under the service of the Dark Lord. Sometimes, I felt the fear of Mordor's shadow while spending time with my children. No matter where I went, I was haunted by it. I was beginning o believe that Denethor was right when he said that the Dark Lord would attack during his reign.
When Denethor rose to power, the people cheered at the prospect of a new Steward. I watched their faces as they smiled and shouted words of good fortune to Denethor and me. The people were optimistic. A new leader always gave off a vision of a new, fresh start. That is what the people wanted and expected. I told Denethor that and he agreed fully, saying he would bring greatness and victory to the people of Gondor. I started to appear more in the streets of Minas Tirith, walking on my own, watching how my people lived their lives. Sometimes I even felt bad when I saw someone living in poverty. I would always give them three gold coins out of charity. I did not care if some nobility thought I did it just to become popular amongst the common people. I cared not what was being said about me by the other ladies of the court. I wanted to do what was best for the people, while Denethor was busy strengthening his army when he should be caring for the people's health. I really wanted to tell him what was going on, but I never found the right time.
I was sitting in the antechamber, having a midday meal when a letter arrived. I accepted it and turned it around to see it held no royal seal. It had to be from Agoron, who else?
My dearest Finduilas,
How does this letter find you? It would lift my spirits knowing you were in good health and enjoying a prosperous life. I, myself have reasons to rejoice. My wife, Lady Liviel has delivered a healthy girl. I have a daughter, Finduilas. She is most beautiful in every way. Liviel and I have named her Anthel; meaning gift. She has her mother's deep, brown hair and my silver-grey eyes. I cannot express how happy I am being a father. Anthel is the greatest gift Liviel has given me. I do hope that one day you will have the opportunity to meet my daughter, as I have met Boromir.
Tell me all that has been happening in your life. How are your sons? I would like to meet Faramir in the near future. You have written so often of his soft and gentle ways; you seem very fond of him.
As always, I give you my love and friendship.
He has a daughter, I thought to myself. I closed my eyes painfully and carefully folded the letter. Now I know how he must have felt when news reached him of the birth of Boromir. How could he hide such strong emotions from me? It was like a sharp piercing pain in my heart, knowing that another woman had given Agoron such joy and happiness. I was jealous - oh, very, very jealous. But who could blame him? I was untouchable; Agoron had to, no needed to move on. I could imagine him, peering over the cradle, fondly gazing at his beloved daughter with his wife at his side, her arm tucked into his. They were happy. Did he love her? I cringed, I could not think of it. I had always seen Agoron as mine. It was too late to change the past. Why could I not move on?
I fought up the courage to reply to his letter. I had to be happy for him, for his sake. It should have been I, who had given him a healthy daughter, who was living happily by the sea with a handsome husband and a beautiful daughter. I envied her; I envied Lady Liviel.
As the weeks went by, I discovered that scouts of orcs were attacking the trading routes, and food was becoming scarce because of it. The people were starting to panic.
"Denethor, we must stop these raids," I pleaded to my husband in his study. I found myself kneeling on the ground next to his large chair. "The people will starve otherwise."
Denethor sat in thought for a few moments. "The enemy may want us to prevent these raids. I could be sending my men into an ambush."
"Then send a lot of men," I suggested, not knowing how foolish I sounded; I had no idea how military strategies worked. "You have to do something."
"I know I have to do something," Denethor said, standing up. "I know that you spend a lot of time with the poor, and for that, I am grateful. You are a kind woman, Finduilas. Perhaps it is possible to change the trading routes. We could send resources via ship more often than by cart. There would be less chance of a raid that way."
I smiled gratefully, feeling relieved Denethor was seeing sense. "That is a plausible solution. I am sure the people will feel much relieved; there is panic in the city, and a few riots."
"Riots must be dealt with," Denethor said sharply. "Where would the glory of Gondor be if the people started acting uncivilised?"
"Who cares about the glory of Gondor when the people are starving?" I asked, standing up.
Denethor glared at me. "I care about the glory of Gondor, and so should you. Without the glory of Gondor, how can we show our pride and greatness to our neighbours?"
I frowned. "Who cares what our neighbours think of us. You must put your people's wellbeing first. Your father would have done that."
"My father is no longer Steward," Denethor grumbled. "And you better be sure to remember who is Steward now. You must become accustomed to my new laws, Finduilas. Otherwise, I will become very disappointed with you."
My happiness sank.
The next day, I visited Voronda's grave. I placed a bundle of flowers atop of it and kissed the stone tomb. I still dearly missed her, and yet my memory of her face was slowly disappearing. Nobody had bothered to paint a portrait of her; then again, she was still quite young when she died.
"I miss you, sweet little Voronda," I whispered, before standing up and leaving. I did not know how long I had sat there, thinking of all the pleasant memories I had spent with Voronda, but when I returned to the citadel, I saw Denethor with Boromir in the garden.
"This is who you are named after," I heard Denethor say.
I stood behind the wall and listened to their conversation.
"Who is Faramir named after?" Boromir asked curiously.
"A man who was not as worthy as Steward Boromir," Denethor replied.
"Why was he not worthy?" Boromir asked.
"Because he made foolish actions and died because of them," Denethor replied curtly.
"That does not sound very pleasant," Boromir said. "Why would you name Faramir after a man like that?"
"It was necessary," Denethor answered.
"Why?" Boromir pressed.
"That is enough questions for one day," Denethor said. "Come, you must go to your afternoon studies."
I quickly hurried away to the nursery. I wondered if Faramir would ever know the true reason as to why he was named 'Faramir'. It made my heart clench.
I found my youngest son playing with his usual toys in the nursery under the watchful eye of his nurse. I smiled at them both when I entered and sat down by the fire.
"Mama," Faramir said, climbing up onto my lap. "This... a ... ball," he managed to say proudly.
I grinned. "It is." I was so proud of Faramir. For a very young boy of his age, he was able to speak rather well.
"And... that..." he pointed at the rocking horse, "horse."
I picked him up and placed him on it. He laughed happily, as it went back and forth.
"Mother." I heard a shout and turned towards the doorway. Boromir came running in with a book in his hand.
"What is it, darling?" I asked, picking Faramir up.
"Look! I am writing a story!" he exclaimed, holding the book up at me.
I placed Faramir down and took the book. I sat down and opened it. I was impressed by Boromir fluent sentence structure and the neatness of his writing. I read the first paragraph and realised it was a story about a boy and a horse who were embarking on an adventure through the northern mountains.
I smiled at Boromir. "This is very well written." Boromir beamed at my praise. "Have you shown it to your father?"
Boromir frowned and shook his head. "No. He would not understand, but I knew you would."
I chuckled at his remark. "That I do. You must finish this story so I can find out what happens."
Boromir nodded eagerly and ran out of the nursery with his storybook. I turned my attention back to Faramir, who was jumping around the room, holding his ball. He seemed to have grown an attachment to that ball. His nurse even told me that he slept with it next to him.
2986: I received an invitation from Imrahil a few months later. He was inviting Denethor and me to his wedding in Dol Amroth. I was so excited! Somehow, he was able to persuade Lady Rochele to reconsider his offer. It must have taken a fair few months to accomplish, for Imrahil wrote of how immensely in love they are with each other. I felt like crying with joy that Imrahil was finally settling down with a woman. The invitation also meant that I would be able to go to Dol Amroth!
"We cannot possibly go," Denethor said an hour later.
"What!" I shouted, feeling all my hopes shatter before me. "Why?"
"This is not the time to be travelling to Dol Amroth," Denethor replied assertively.
I placed my hands on my hips. "To you, it is never a good time," I shouted. "My brother is getting married. I want to be there."
"It is not my problem that he has chosen a bad time to get married," Denethor retaliated.
"Why is it a bad time?" I asked.
"They enemy is massing against us," Denethor said sharply.
"Since when?" I asked, folding my arms.
"It does not matter," he replied. "What does matter is your wellbeing and safety. Dol Amroth is too far away. Do you want to be kidnapped again in the process?"
I glared at my husband. "So you are afraid to travel in your own country?"
Denethor opened his mouth to reply, but he did not answer me. "You may leave my presence now, Finduilas. We are not going to Dol Amroth and that is final. I shall send our best wishes to him and a gift. You may choose the gift if you like. But there is no way we are going to Dol Amroth."
I stormed out of the room and into the corridor. I ran out into an alcove and sank to the ground. I hugged my knees as I wept. I knew that Denethor was too afraid to travel through Gondor. That is why he did not answer me when I asked. We could have taken a ship to Dol Amroth. It would have been far quicker and much safer. None of these alternatives would have pleased Denethor. He did not want to leave Minas Tirith, and that was that. His words were always the ones to finalise anything.
The fact that I would not be able to see my own brother getting married broke my heart. It had been years since I had seen him and our father. Letters did not suffice. I missed them both so, so much. I knew that Imrahil would understand the reason as to why I would not be able to be there, but I still felt guilty.
Denethor tried to reconcile with me as the days went by. I accepted his apologies only to have him leave me alone. I did not want his sympathy – I found it worthless. He was making me feel like I was his prisoner, not his wife. He said his actions were out of love, but lately, I did not feel much loved by him. He was changing ever more, and I felt his mood shifting for the worse. I soon discovered that he was spending a lot of time in the Tower of Ecthelion. He disallowed anyone else to enter the tower without his strict permission. So I began to wonder what it was that he was doing up there. Some nights I would wake only to find myself alone, and the guards would tell me 'he is in the Tower of Ecthelion'. Occasionally he would spend all night up there. If I ever asked him about it, he would quickly change the subject. His actions made me grow ever more suspicious.