A/N: As you may have guessed, they aren't my characters. Sorry for the long time between updates, but the Den/Fin Files have been eating my brain. I've almost completed the 50 for the challenge, but for the first anniversary of accepting the 50lyricsfanfic challenge, I figured I'd update my first (as yet unfiled) File. "Golden Leaves" has also made Gondor's Finest at The Last Ruling Steward Archives. Check out all the Denethor goodies at http/whitetower.onlyfiction. net/ (without the space.)
"This one," Denethor decided, stopping in front of a rather small, heavily creaking vessel. "Looks like a good ship for this weather, if your father can be persuaded to let us use it for a few hours."
"I'm sure Father will have no problem with it, but it's the owner's permission you need to get. Many of these smaller boats are privately owned. They're too small to carry enough men to hold off a raider's frigate," Imrahil explained, feeling rather distrustful of Denethor's idea of "a good ship." His sister released his arm, starting angrily towards the Steward's heir. From her stormy expression, Imrahil derived another reason why he would much rather be sitting in the relative peace and safety of a rain tent.
Imrahil missed the curious look that passed between the two others, focused as he was upon finding shelter. Finduilas shook her head miserably at their guest, praying that the man would have chosen any ship besides that one. It was not for the state of the vessel, though she knew as well as her brother did that it was possibly the most run-down ship to float in the docks. "Don't bother, Lord Denethor. I know the owner, and he does not risk his ship needlessly," she attempted to dissuade him.
The Steward's son was not so easily thrown off the track. "Then it is a good thing that I do not mean to put his ship at risk. You have said yourself that the men of Dol Amroth sail in worse weather than this," he replied glibly.
Finduilas wracked her mind, fishing for a ghost of a good excuse that he could not turn back on her. "Sea Mist had a sister ship." There, it was out before she could second-guess herself. Denethor turned from his study of the boat and raised an indulgent eyebrow at her. "Her sister was the Sea Gleam," she paused, looking to Imrahil for backup. His spine had tightened at the mention of that name, but her brother still pretended to ignore them, his search for shelter not yet willingly abandoned. "Randil's ship," she whispered reluctantly.
"Ivriniel's ship," Imrahil spat. "I recognize the name, even if you and Father saw fit to hide the ship itself from me."
"Sea Gleam's gone," Finduilas said, taking a step towards her brother.
Denethor paled in consternation beneath his hood, though Finduilas took no joy in the sight. "Forgive me, I did not know." The proud head bowed towards the siblings. "Another ship would serve just as well."
"No," Imrahil said before his sister could suggest an end to their trip. This was likely to be a very, very long day, but somehow, Imrahil no longer minded. "No, this boat will do perfectly. I'll talk to the owner." At long last, the young man disappeared under the shelter of a rain tent. His sister took a few halting steps in his wake, but stopped before she came close to the tent, her posture sinking.
"Are you well, milady?" Denethor asked, approaching from behind. He stood little more than an arm's length away, and his bearing was the most awkward Finduilas had ever seen from this self-possessed man of Minas Tirith. His spine remained ramrod straight, but his arms were crossed tightly before him. After a moment, Finduilas realized what looked so unusual about it: instead of the left arm guarding the right, as was typical in that position, Denethor had unthinkingly put his sword arm before his left.
She decided to ignore the fact for now. "Aye, I suppose," she replied, avoiding looking into his face. "But Imrahil may not be. He was so young when it happened… We thought it best to keep the details from him, but he has always been overcautious about the sea since that day."
"I would not blame him, though he seems rather reckless in what pursuits I have seen him at," Denethor said, glancing towards the tent. No lightning-bolt illuminated the interior, nor did the wind blow loose the heavy canvas flaps, secured tightly from the inside. The wind did, however, manage to chill Finduilas's rolling stomach, as the rain had chilled her extremities. The rain also eliminated any chance of overhearing the conversation between Imrahil and the ship's owner.
"Is that so? He seems positively guarded of late to me," she replied, trying to hide her distress by lightening the mood.
"Well, to you, I suppose he would." There was no obvious merriment in Denethor's tone, only the usual sarcasm verging upon chastisement.
A great comfort, that man, Finduilas thought. Makes me feel like a naughty child when I try to open up to him. She sighed, nibbling restlessly at a strand of hair and watching the rain tent. Well, if I am going to be naughty, I may as well at least be sensible. "Come on," she said, tapping upon the tarp. "There's no sense in standing out here all day." Finduilas reached inside the canvas to let herself in, to find her brother trying to stare down a grizzled old sailor. She dropped her hood, trying to shake some of the excess water from her coat. Denethor followed silently after her, tying the canvas back into place before squeezing the water out of his own sleeves.
At their appearance, the captain and the young princeling had gone silent. "For her?" the sailor asked at last.
"For my sister." Imrahil looked straight at the captain, neither confirming nor denying his suspicion.
"Never. It's too close, too alike. I'd never sail in this weather, anyway. We've lost too many good men, and not just in that storm." The Sea Mist's captain rose and began to pace.
"I'm sure we can make it worth your while, sir," Denethor spoke up, dropping his own hood and jingling the belt pouch at his side.
Finduilas turned on him, as scandalized as a cat caught in fishing net. "My Lord Denethor! This is not a simple matter of money!"
"Indeed, it is not," Imrahil knelt before the old captain. "Sir, if you grant me use of this ship, just this once, you shall have the gratitude of my house, and I shall grant you whatever favor it is in my power to do for you."
"Why such fuss? It is naught but a pleasure-cruise for you nobles. There are other boats you might use, which you might buy for a few hours' sailing in miserable weather. But this one is my life, my living. No purse is worth what she's given to me. No deed is worth risking her for some later favor. Your gratitude would be appreciated, milord, but of what good is it if you and your friends get yourselves killed in this storm?" The captain pointed towards the unquiet ocean beyond them.
"Because I saw the way she smiled at him. I saw the earrings she wore, just for him. Because she was my sister, and she chose to go to him. I don't think the waves knocked her off that pier." Imrahil looked steadily up into the old sailor's eyes. Finduilas stepped up behind him, clutching his shoulder firmly. Her expression was loving, but sorrowfully exasperated as she looked down upon him, shaking him slightly.
"Immy," she whispered. "She's not out there, Immy; not where we can reach. Let her go."
"A fine thing for you to say." The young man never made eye contact with his sister.
"She speaks the truth. I'd listen to her, my lord." The captain studied the trio before him consideringly. The youth had dropped his gaze with the lady's approach, and continued to study the wet wooden pier beneath them, looking for something that only he could see. The girl clung to him with both hands upon his arm, her eyes flitting between the boy's face and the apparent object of his stare. She chewed nervously upon a straying tendril of her autumn-blonde hair, awaiting her younger brother's reaction. Behind her, the man in the doorway squeezed dark gray eyes slowly shut, allowed himself a quiet sigh, and came forward to put a hand upon the boy's other shoulder.
"We're going." Denethor's voice brooked no more argument.
"But, -" Imrahil spluttered, the words dying upon his lips as he looked into the eyes of the two standing over him.
"We shall try some other day, then." Denethor nodded to the captain and pulled Imrahil to his feet. Finduilas wrapped her arm about her brother's, helping to turn his steps away from the rain-tent as quickly as she could.