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Tales of the Wizard's Apprentice (G) Print

Written by Susana

20 November 2010 | 12086 words | Work in Progress

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Part 1B – Wise Child

Finduilas’ Perspective

I am Finduilas of Gondor, born a Princess of Dol Amroth by the Sea. Daughter of the old Sea Fox Adrahil, and a distant daughter of Númenor and the elves who did not sail.

I do not see the world as others do. I see things that were, and things that may someday be, and things that are, but no one will talk about them, all overlaid on what is actually happening during any given moment. Sometimes it is hard for me to tell the difference between what is now, what was, and what may someday be. I have been this way for as long as I can remember.

My family accepted me, for they bear the same gift and curse, if most to a lesser extent. They helped me learned what was safe to say, and when to say it.

The day that Mithrandir first met me, and realized how strongly my ancestors’ blood manifested in me, I saw my future change.
Gandalf the Gray, called Mithrandir, helped me learn what I would need to wed a Lord of the White City, for he wanted to bring greater elven strength to the blood line of the Stewards of Gondor. Mithrandir also trained me to assist him in his research, because I was smart and funny, and because he understood what it was to be overwhelmed by visions one cannot share.

Mithrandir called me “Anelis come again,” the first time he saw me. Anelis the Wise was my great-great-aunt, my grandfather Angelimar’s father’s younger sister, who died in a vision at the age of 70. She had no children and never married, for her visions were so strong and frequent that she found it exhaustively difficult to remember what was real, and what was not. Mithrandir, with my great-great-grandfather’s permission, had asked Anelis to try to see into one of the seeing stones, to grasp what Sauron might be plotting. The strain was too much, and she died.

But before she died, Anelis warned Mithrandir that one day, a short friend of his would ask for help going out his door, to fetch a child. Mithrandir would want to say no, for he would be in a hurry, and loathe to spend the winter in a hole. But Mithrandir must say yes, or something of immeasurable value would be lost forever.

That is what Mithrandir thought of, the first time he met me. That, and two halflings, a middle-aged one and a very young one, of whom he later told me he was quite fond.

I could have been Finduilas the Wise, unwed seer. But that path, while it would have been my wish in a less desperate time, was not the one I chose to walk. It ended only in darkness, darkness everywhere, darkness without end, and slavery for all beings on Middle Earth. Learning to live in the world, and marrying Denethor, mostly ended in the same darkness, but sometimes there was a light at the end, a light, and two small men walking, the one sometimes supporting the other.

When I met Denethor, I did not yet love him, but I knew I would bear his children, and come to love him. The first day I met him, I saw the shadows of my sons playing together as children.

Still, leaving Dol Amroth for Gondor was a difficult change for me. I love the ocean, and the forests, and I find it difficult to live in a city of stone, no matter how beautiful its gardens. Still, Denethor was very kind to me, and so too were his father, Ecthelion, and his best friend, Thorongil. I made friends amongst many of the ladies of Gondor as well, though some never warmed to me, foreign and odd as I am.

When I went to Gondor, I realized how young and relatively care free was Dol Amroth, for Gondor had endured a thousand years. Thicker than its walls are its ghosts, omnipresent its sad tragedies, but strong is its hope- for Gondor and its ghosts believe the White City may yet flourish again, if Middle Earth is very brave, and very lucky.

When I came to love Gondor, and Denethor, I loved them completely. And our generation – including most especially the Captains Denethor and Thorongil – were the brightest light Minas Tirith had seen in many ages, brilliant and bold, shining against the encroaching dark. Like hope in the night of despair.

My father Adrahil knew both Denethor and Thorongil well. Sitting in the sea wind, after the men of Gondor and the Swan Knights had won a great victory together, I recall my father telling me that Thorongil had “the commander’s gleam,” that something extra that some leaders of men have, that makes serving them a joy. I remember he said that Denethor lacked this gleam, but cautioned me that this was not a criticism, for leaders of men should first be wise, brave and caring, and if they are so, as my Denethor was, their men will fight just as tirelessly, for they know that where their leader goes, they can go as well. I knew that my first son, bonny and bright, would gleam, and my second son, endurance personified, would lead.

Still, although our generation handed Mordor and its allies some of its worst defeats in many a century, Sauron’s influence nonetheless cost us dearly. A young Prince of Rohan was killed in a drunken brawl, putting paid to talk of a possible alliance. The man who killed him was said to have Haradrim features, but he disappeared, never to be found. One of Thorongils’ most trusted lieutenants vanished on a mission requested by Denethor, and the Gondorian lieutenant who was supposed to have relieved him was found in an alley with his throat cut. Most devastating of all for our family, all of the Healers and midwives skilled in the birth of overlarge babes to first-time mothers were dead or vanished from Gondor when the time came for me to birth Boromir, and all did not go well.

The best foresight cannot predict all the ways in which the human body can fail. When I gave birth to Boromir, something inside of me was hurt, badly. For want of a good midwife, my other child may never have been. The shadows of my second son became thinner, and the future more often seemed to end in darkness. Sometimes, I only saw Boromir in the future, lonelier and less kind and thoughtful having grown up without his brother, but still sometimes enough to help off set the darkness. But not as often. I had a choice to make. And the darkness was growing in those days, as the rift between Denethor and Thorongil grew, and the other sons and nephews of the House of Húrin fell, one by one, fighting the darkness.

I chose to betray Denethor, and Thorongil as well, in order to fight the darkness. I love both my sons, for all Faramir is a daily reminder of my greatest betrayal. My beloved husband Denethor is a great man and a strong one, but sometimes his foresight fails him. I could not get him to see, nor could Ecthelion, that Gondor needed another son of Denethor, despite the possible cost to my health.

Denethor never knew of my betrayal. Ecthelion saw to that, giving his son twice the normal amount of shahel (an herb from Dol Amroth with intoxicating and aphrodisiac properties) one night, from which he woke angered at his father, and believing he had betrayed his vow not to risk my life by getting me with child, when in truth, even drugged, he would not empty his seed into me.

And then there was Thorongil, my husband’s former best friend and now greatest rival. But more, for Ecthelion’s purposes, and Eru forgive me, my own – Thorongil looked very much like my husband. He too, could look into the hearts of men, if not so clearly as my husband. Thorongil, with his Dunedain strong reaction to the Dol Amroth herb shahel. We knew of it, because my husband’s men once gave him some, and would have laughed as he went to a state of unconsciousness where he called for a lost love. But my husband had scolded them and sent them away, and sat up watching his best friend until Thorongil returned from the trance many hours later. Thorongil, his dream of lying with his love Arwen, and my great betrayal. Ecthelion says it was not a betrayal, for Gondor’s need was too great. I know he was wrong, a betrayal it was, no matter how good the reasons. I committed it aware of the cost to my own honor and the loyalty I owed my husband, but more afraid of the cost of not betraying, should the absence of one pale boy-child make the darkness never-ending more inevitable.

When I was pregnant with Faramir, and sick again, I sat many hours with Ecthelion, talking over how Gondor might better resist Mordor’s encroachment. Sometimes Denethor joined in those conversations, despite his anger with his Father, and to a lesser degree, myself. When Denethor was absent, Thorongil sometimes joined us, discussing the Dunedain manners of fighting the enemy. On one of those days he wished us farewell, and told us that he must return to his own people. I told him he would return again, to be Gondor’s hope in a dark hour. Then I went and planted King’s foil in the Steward’s garden, and in the King’s abandoned, weed-choked garden, where the herb flourished ‘neath the dormant white tree.

In due time, I gave birth to a second son. The birth nearly killed me. My five year old son and my husband sat by my side for day upon day, and slowly, their love, and that of this new babe, helped me overcome the pain and return to this world for the few years I have left. Children are remarkable, even very young. Remarkable in their ability to love, in the clarity of their vision and in their courage to act upon their convictions. Brom loved Fara, from the very first. He worshiped his Father, yet he chose not to follow Denethor in shutting out the young babe Faramir, chose to love his brother, for all it would cost him some of his own childhood, and his carefree comradeship with his father.

With Ecthelion’s encouragement, while I was pregnant with Faramir, I began to delve deeply into our archives, into forgotten stories and tales passed down, from family to family. My goal was to develop a body of knowledge to help Gondor resist the encroaching darkness of Mordor. I learned how the dark lord nearly won the first time. Then I taught my sons and anyone who would listen Sauron’s preferred strategies and tactics, that they might be forewarned. Families who had stayed in Ithilien for generations taught me how they had evaded the orcs and other minions of darkness, and I listened, and recorded, and thought about how their techniques might be adopted by our soldiers and people. This became my research project, and despite my husband’s disapproval of my working due to my delicate health, I know I lasted longer because of it. I did not expect that Faramir would become my apprentice, that he would be the one who would inherit my research. I did not expect to live long enough. But Faramir surprised me.

I did not notice my baby had learned to read, until 8 year old Boromir explained to me that his tutors had been much happier with him, since his toddler brother started assisting him with his homework. My husband laughed at Boromir’s funny joke, but I knew he was serious. Lying beside me on my sick bed for hours and days at a time, my littlest one learned to read and write before he trusted his voice to speak. At five, he is so beyond where he should be in his lessons – by the time he was four, he was helping me every day. There is a conspiracy of silence between me and my boys, and the librarians, and those servants of Ecthelion’s who remain. We know the work I do is important, though my husband does not fully appreciate it, nor would he be glad to know that our second son is unnaturally intelligent.

Faramir and I were in the library today continuing this research. I am so glad that we were, for Mithrandir clearly needed some help, and one has so few opportunities to surprise a wizard of his age. But Faramir astonished him, much to my amusement. I was also grateful, for as much as I would like to ask Mithrandir what he thinks of my research, and share it with him, Denethor has demanded that he remain ignorant. My husband does not trust Mithrandir, which may, someday, be Gondor’s undoing.

The next day, I was not surprised to learn that Mithrandir had left during the middle of the night. Denethor complained of the poor manners of Wizards, but I knew that Mithrandir’s quest had been urgent, and that it had been Faramir who had helped him. I know, for my poor younger son was squirming uncomfortably in his seat. My husband, noticing this, asked Boromir what Faramir had done now.

Boromir explained, “It wasn’t really Fara’s fault, Ada. He was sleep-walking from my room to his, and tripped ‘oer the basket of council dolls that Lord Sendar had made for us, breaking Lord Sendar in half. Still, Nurse had to birch him, for he must learn not to sleep walk, or break things.”

Faramir looked down, pretending to be ashamed. Boromir’s eyes widened, as he does when he lies.

My husband, who thought dolls of council figures were ridiculous, and who does not like Lord Sendar, laughed loudly. He actually comforted Faramir, telling him that he would out-grow sleep-walking. Then Denethor offered to take both his sons to the river to swim, should the weather clear.

I know, as my much-loved husband does not, that Boromir would never raise a hand to Faramir, nor let anyone else do so, merely for sleep walking. I also know that Faramir is almost preternaturally graceful, and never breaks things even when he does sleep-walk. More, I know that Faramir’s nurse has never birched him, for he is entirely too clever and fey for her to be able to deal with. My poor dear Faramir, tempted into mischief to help Mithrandir. His poor older brother, who hates to cause him pain.

Still, it was needed. Now Mithrandir knows that Faramir can help. He will not forget, and he will help mold Faramir, as he molded me. Faramir will know when the time is right to share with Mithrandir the fruits of my research, which he will continue.

I would that I could take these burdens from my boys. I wish I could be there everyday with them, like a normal mother, the touchstone and mainstay of their lives. I long to heal the rift between my husband and my younger son, that I fear my death will only widen. But I have learned through painful experience that mourning for the time I lose being sick, and the mother I cannot be, only poisons the time I have left. I will do my best to give my boys good memories of me, and of my love for them, to which they can hold on throughout the long years to come.

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The following people read the story, enjoyed it, and would like to thank the author: LN Tora , Treedweller

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2 Comment(s)

NB: Comments span all chapters and may contain spoilers!

Oh my God, Faramir is so cute! He’s so adorable, I want a son exactly like him someday.

— Anna    7 October 2010, 21:00    #

Oooh, and the second chapter is even better! (I should have waited to comment, but just couldn’t help myself.)
I love how cunning you’ve made Finduilas—that whole thing with Thorongil, I can’t wait to see how that turns out.
Awesome story!

— Anna    7 October 2010, 21:14    #

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