|Through the Night
Author: Fair-Ithil PM
Fifteen years after Perdition. Elboron comes to know the truth of his parents’ relationship. Part five of five. COMPLETE!Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Angst - Eowyn & Faramir - Chapters: 5 - Words: 8,867 - Reviews: 17 - Favs: 7 - Updated: 05-14-05 - Published: 01-16-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2222776
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
History is man's making of the past.
Had Sauron won, the tales of the fourth age would likely paint the Men of the West as bastards rolling in the mud.
I looked at the mantle on the chair, my grandmother's mantle, my mother's mantle now, one day it would be mine to gift to some maiden, some keeper of my heart, but for now it was Eowyn's, gifted by the Steward of Gondor on the day the Shadow fell. This mantle that warmed my mother but could not ward off the chill of the red glow cast by the east; this mantle that had been wrapped around me, around Morwen, about Neinor and Haleth in their own turn, this mantle that fenced in the sky and smelled of athelas, held the pieces of my past as much as it did my mother's and grandmother's. It held my father's past as well, and Boromir's who we went silent for once a year.
Had they too known the feel of their mother's warmth as they rested their raven heads against her lap, with her humming lullabies of the sea as they drifted to sleep? Had my father found comfort in it too when he first dreamed of the smothering dark, of the mourning wails and roaring waves? Had he placed it on my mother's shoulders and seen her fair hair, felt sword worn hands and loved her as he had not loved since he'd last seen the raven locks and sea grey eyes of the woman he called mother still though he knew her not? Had he seen her as a woman, beautiful and brave, mourning for the life that she'd lost, afraid of the one that lay ahead and seen her, Finduilas, reaching her own untimely death, with a kernel of hope, of love, of life buried beneath the ashes?
My mind made words from my father's words; words that made my heart ache under their weight.
He had married her for love and hope.
Where did this leave my mother?
The mantle in my lap suddenly felt as heavy as my heart. A vision flooded my weary eyes and I saw a dark corner in a dimly lit room. I blinked and it dissolved. I rose steadily from my seat on the floor, the weight of the mantle leaving me though my heart remained burdened. I walked from the study, tomes of written history behind me, towards the chest from my vision, and hopefully the answers I sought.
My mothers halting slanted letters filling up a page of parchment, a letter her brother.
There were many letters I dared not read past their beginning, save for one that left me knotted inside: "I am sorry to say that he stirred today my lord. And it was in that movement I knew this child is every bit a child of the Mark, but he will be both strong and wise like his father, more scholar than warrior, for I find myself hoping this son of ours will not know battle. I hope that this letter finds you in the utmost health and safety. You will return soon, I know it, my time draws near and you will return so that you might feel this child move within my womb, so that when the time comes and he arrives, you might hold him and call yourself father, and you, love, will be worthy of the title… I know of your desire to name him Barahir but I have thought of another name, one that I hope will make the other easier to bear. Elboron…"
I removed from within its depths the folded white standard of the Ruling Stewards, the bloodied and tattered banner of Rohan's old king, a crumbled piece of paper that held the rough beginning of Ithilien's banner. I removed leather gauntlets fitted with the elven rune for B with the White Tree above it, a shield like brooch, a gold ring fitted with a stallion's head, with twin emeralds as blazing eyes, long dried blades of glass weaved into the shape of heart, not unlike the one that hung over my parents' bed. There was a broken hilt of a sword wrapped in a heavy fabric, my mother's sword with two mare heads rising up the blackened blade. These were the remains of the sword that slew the Witch King, buried away instead of proudly displayed for all the world to see. I dared to lift the sword, remembering the grip of my hand about it, the weight of it. It was heavy, I could not imagine my mother wielding it, in battle no less, against so great a foe. But with a shake of my head I recalled there was much I could not imagine from my mother. I placed the sword gently to the side, and continued my search. I knew not what it was I looked for in that great trunk only that I sought out some answer to grab at in whatever form it came.
The contents of the box were seemingly endless, in that dark depth of black cloth, the broken pieces of a horn; black arrows broken jaggedly in half, their pointed ends cruel. Inside a little box of yew I found a necklace of sea shells, a feather and small tinted bottle of rose oil. I found a ring of silver burned and deformed so that I could barely make out what it was. There were books, some younger than those my father kept in his study, older than those that come from the city, with sand set in the bindings between the pages. I found a dress wrapped in thin paper, of a deep red, embroidered with gold threads that were worn and beginning to come undone, locks of hair, flaxen like my mother's, kept inside of long silver box. I found a poppet, small and simple, lying perfectly in the palm of my hand, with knotted yellow yawn for hair, two dots of fading blue for eyes and a simple line of red for a mouth. Limp limbed, head falling to the side, the soft fabric of her green and white gown hem less, slowly coming undone, it was not like the dolls any of my sisters called their own. This had been made in the home, a gift for a daughter from her mother.
I saw my mother then, a little girl with this poppet clutched to her side, without a mother or father to hold her, only an elderly man who she did not know and a cousin she rarely saw and a brother who in hope of protecting her would later trap her inside the gilded hall perched atop a lonely rock. This little doll that would remain with her for the rest of her days, safely concealed within her skirts, even on her wedding day, a little doll that would ride to battle within her jerkin and later be pressed into my father's hand as he left her, his White Lady, once more for the city of white stone, with only the promise on his lips that he would return for her.
All around me were the remains of a living, breathing past, more real than words on parchment, with eyes and hearts all their own. A mother's gown, a brother's gauntlets, a father's ring, a little boy's book, a gift from a wizard, a little girl's doll, and her sword from a time when she was a little girl no more, but instead a woman without fear or hope alike. All of them tucked away in a box, reminders of an age gone by, an age that little by little belonged only to books and bedtime stories. My mother had sought to escape this, it came to me like a blow to the heart, she had looked for freedom from the past, from the stories of honor and glory and death. No life in Rohan then, like the Gondor of my father's time when men won nobility through death rather than life. And they had been just that to one another: life. There was no shame in that, no shame in the silence that was still too new to fill. It had been on silence and half truths that my family had been built on, on a need to forget and willingness to move on.
Carefully I placed everything in the chest anew, the tiny doll I laid in last, perhaps the most precious of the things I had come by.
"You still wish to find me?"
Her voice was low, but her head was held high.
I looked at her and thought of all I had come by through the course of the night. I thought of all I had planned on saying as I walked here, her mantle clutched in my hands. I thought of the stories, the half truths and half lies and the forgotten language born from the sorrow and despair, a language that for all my learning I would never know.
"You are my mother, I will always find you."
She bowed her fair head for a moment and in that moment I saw her not as Mother but as Eowyn, a woman who knew her own mind, her own choices, a woman who had done what she thought was needed and could not free herself from some things no matter how much she tired. I pitied her then, pitied her for the woman she'd been and the sorrow that had cut her too deeply to ever be truly healed.
But she raised her head and she was herself again, proud and gentle, my loving mother who had walked bent forward so she might hold my hand and still allow me to walk on my own. She was my mother, and the Steward's wife, a lady both noble and fair, with a beating heart, and stirring spirit, who inspired admiration and hope, leaving no room for pity. She took my hand and called me son, turning to me and I allowed myself to cling to her as a child might.
We parted and turned back towards the brightening sky.