Summary: A very unwise attempt, on my part, to explore what happened to the women of Middle-Earth following the War of the Ring, mainly from the perspectives of Arwen, Éowyn and Lothíriel. It's meant to be an expansion of Tolkien's books, with some exceptions. The boys, of course, will likely make the occasional guest appearance.
Before I saw my father for the last time, we walked into the hills of Rohan, spoke long and parted bitterly.
I knew, even then, that he would not understand. He had faced the same choice long ago, and still had no change of heart. He knew what lay ahead for me. He knew that which I had doomed myself.
Perhaps he could not see what it is to love something that is not wholly your own, how small a price is freedom to possess it. Perhaps he does not understand what it is to belong to two worlds that can never be reconciled. Perhaps he did not know that still, I would have sacrificed a part of myself, still I would have left something behind, had I faded into the West with my people.
And then I think of his eyes when he kissed my brow for the last time, knowing he would live still and I would go to reaches unknown, even to those as wise as he.
And then I think, perhaps he does understand. Better even than I.
I look out over the ledge. And my eyes, as ever, are drawn to the fields.
I see much work has been done in the months since the battle. Corpses were retrieved, some born on biers to the Silent Street; while others, beyond recognition or form, were burnt in the cold, necessary fashion of war. The pyres, I notice, have been beaten down, pressed into the earth as though they had never existed. And I think this strange, somehow; for my people build mounds and mark them with spears, to remind us that it was here that great warriors fell, departing to some greater glory. My people are, perhaps, more used to death. These strangers wish to erase all trace of it.
My restless eyes still scan the land for that which I know I will see, the mark where the Black Beast fell. It will always mar this place, I think. Where once wheat and flowers grew, there shall be none. Not for many years yet, and perhaps always.
A great number of men have been summoned to cover it, tramping out into the fields at dawn, returning at dusk with grim faces. And the next morning, the black soil it still there, entrenched as before. I have heard the guards at the gate in passing, remarking on the wasted efforts in completing such an impossible task, which had stretched for weeks without visible result.
Soon afterwards I spoke to Faramir, and said it would be fruitless, and could he really spare these men when there was so much need within the city? He looked at me strangely then, and asked how I knew this. And I confess I could not suppress a slight flare of anger, and replied, perhaps with more bite than intended, I understand many things others do not, before finally clamping my tongue with my teeth.
Yes. Of that I do not doubt, he said, holding my glare with questioning eyes.
And his calm nature infuriated me all the more, because I could not find any condescension in his tone that would justify my irritability. It was the first time I had spoken to him in anger, and the first moment I sought to conceal something from him.
I did notice, after our exchange, that the men did not venture out to the fields any longer, laden with spades and small instruments, weariness heavy on their shoulders as they attempted to turn the ground, to lay some fresh growth that would only die before nightfall, as it had so many times before. Yet still I stand in the garden of the Houses, where I had first cast my darkness down, and seek out the shadow that scars the golden fields of the Pelennor. And I feel some relief when my eyes find it, and a heavy breath escapes my body, and I wonder why I feel compelled to look upon it each day.
Beyond the Eastfold, along the borders of my land, there is a black mark that does not wash away, nor disappear with the winter snow's passing. It is the place where my father was slain, where my family was broken, and made new again. And it has led me here.
I look out on the fields with restless eyes. There is something still stirring out there; I can feel it in this arm that once held a shield.
I will not fear.
The night I was born, it is said, there were three omens; the moon darkened, my mother died, and my father's heart broke.
Some say the Valar took from my father what he valued too greatly. Others say it was my mother who was foolish to desire another child, when my brother's birth had been so difficult. The Prince had three heirs already, there was no need for more. There was no need for me.
Yes, I have heard all these things whispered behind stone walls and velvet curtains, behind the graceful, pale hands that fill my father's small court. But they do not anger me as they once did, for I believe we have some control over fate, if only that we choose one of many paths before us. Still, I cannot help but think that there was some warning in it, that night without light, for darkness seems to have followed me in some manner all of my life.
I was told later by my nurse, after much entreaty,that my father knew my mother was lost before entering her chamber. Whether she knew this by some look or sign of grief, I do not know. Yet, he plucked me from the midwife's arms, kissed my brow, and gave me the gift of my mother's name. I wonder, sometimes, if he does not regret it now.
Still, I like to think of that image, whenever I desire comfort in the night, when solitude becomes too heavy or I pity myself a little too much. It lightens my heart to think of my father blessing me so, for he never again looked at me without some grief in his eyes. And thus I have only known love that is tinged with sorrow, as moonlight draws silver tendrils upon the sea.
So I grew up with my brothers, and stayed as far as I could from my father's eyes, so that he would not hurt quite so much. For children have gifts we do not understand, a manner seen as selfish and stubborn to those who do not recognize it, a gift wielded innocently only by those still unhurt by the wounds of time. For children are keenly aware of how others react to them; they do not need to know what a thing is to know that they feel it, that they provoke some feeling in another. Thus even when I did not know that I looked like my mother, that I had her dark hair and light eyes, her voice and her smile, that strange quality known only to her people, I felt it when I looked at my father; or rather, when he looked at me. And that is when my heart grew cautious, for I could not accomplish what I desired most; to be the source of some joy where there could be none.
Faramir understood this in me, for it was a bond my cousin and I shared, though he was much older and wiser than I. And he tried to help me overcome my need to make my father happy, as much as it could be done, with what he had learned living with a father far less loving than mine. I am glad now I knew that of him, that he did not (and, in truth, could not) hide his father's cruelty from me; for it made me realize that I was quite fortunate, and did not twist my nature towards self-pity. I would have been truly insufferable otherwise, I think; or so he likes to remind me, with those laughing eyes of his.
We devised many methods of escape, he and I. By the sea, he would tell me the story of Amroth and Nimrodel, and sing the tales of the great mariners of Númenor, and teach me a little Elvish, now and then, when I could sit on my hands long enough to listen. I became fascinated by these tales, though not enough to keep my attention pinned to any serious lesson he attempted. Even now, I remember his voice as he gave life to their verse, merging with the sounds of the sea, his tone cresting with each new adventure, each kiss the lovers shared, each tearful loss they suffered. And so it was that the stories came alive to me, and I could live though them, be in them, just by touching the water.
But I was also a wild thing, growing up among my brothers, doing as they did, wishing to be a part of it all. And it was Boromir, I think, who knew my desire for freedom, to be unencumbered by that which oppressed me in ways I did not yet understand. And I loved him with every ounce of childish adoration one can bestow on the handsomest, bravest, most daring of cousins. Faramir still teases me of the time a six-year-old girl with dark hair and light eyes was captured during a seaside game of Corsairs-and-Kings, her big cousin Boromir holding her headfirst over the cold sea waters, the captured princess shrieking her protest, though laughing all the while. Her brothers tried to steal her back, of course; but her cousin, already a soldier hardened by battle, was too quick and nimble, and held her squirming figure high aloft, beyond their reach.
And when he finally put her down, quite exhausted from her futile attempts at escape, he laughed, and told her that she must learn to fight harder; for one day, when she married, a man would take her away too, far away from her brothers.
"But Boro," she said, gap-toothed and grinning, "then I'll just marry you."
Faramir liked to bring this up quite frequently when I was younger, more often than not when we were dining among guests I would have liked to impress with some measure of grace befitting the daughter of the Prince. And I can tell you that each time, without fail, someone would sputter wine all over the table, and I would try my best to wither my cousin with a sharp look. But then his eyes would crinkle up, and he would give me a wolfish grin, and I could not help but love him. All the more because his story reminded me, as he often did, that I was happiest then, and well-loved by all around me.
But as the years waned, and my cousins were called to duty by a growing peril in the East, they did not return quite so often. And so it fell to my brother Amrothos, the one closest to me, to remind me that I was often too serious, to determined in my quest to fit in at court, to make my father proud. Thiri, he would often say, his dark hair falling into his earnest eyes as he spoke, you cannot be everything to everyone.
Then I would wrap my arms around him, and kiss him affectionately on the cheek, and whisper my challenge in his ear. And to my words he would smile, roll his eyes a little and nod, to signal that we had made our pact in secret.
Once darkness fell and all was quiet within my father's white halls, Amrothos and I would meet on the shore, and race each other into the sea. For at night, we were not bound by propriety, or rules that deem daughters of a certain age too modest to swim any longer; but by our desire for freedom, for something we could not yet touch, but would still hold in our hearts a little while longer.
We always said we would swim to the place where the summer moon seems to meet the sea; where all the stories of my childhood take shape, where all the hope I will allow myself resides. But once under the broken waves, seduced by its dark, cool embrace, I think of nothing but the perfect silence beneath the water, lulling me to sleep as my mother never did.
For in the sea, I am weightless.