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Story Notes:
ONE-SHOT.
Complete story.
The Steward and the Swan

or

Just Like In the Fairytale

Denethor. Son of Ecthelion. The Steward of Gondor.

Warrior. Ruler. Lord.

Stern, proud warrior, the man who would be king in all but name, if he had his way.

Regal and just ruler in the absence of the King, whose return he dreads, for he will not be supplanted by anyone.

Lonely lord, longing for a great destiny that slips through his fingers. Longing for a greater purpose than merely existing... but what?

He has seen war, pain, destruction. He has dealt judgment, and he has witnessed death. He rules a country that longs for its rightful king. At all times he feels this burden, the accusation of the White City: You are not Isildur’s Heir. You are not King.

Denethor wants nothing so much as to be King, to be great, to be a warrior. His hands are stained with blood, his soul in pieces he does not even realize are missing.

Like a wraith or a shadow of a man, he exists, not truly living as men ought but merely going through his pitiful life day by day. There is nothing to live for. There is no hope, no purpose, no higher calling.

Until he sees the Swan.

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Finduilas. Daughter of Adrahil. Princess of Dol Amroth.

Healer. Musician. Lady.

Her hands are the hands of a healer, for her people of Dol Amroth are descended from the Elves of Old, and ancient blood is their birthright. She cures with herbs, with whispered words that lift the spirits of the sick, weary, and wounded. Her hands, soft as a swan chick’s feathers, and deft, and the lady’s quick mind succor the people of Dol Amroth from all hurts and illnesses.

He sees her first, however, playing a tune on the street for a peasant child. Her rose lips kiss the ends of a set of reed pipes as her breath, like soft summer wind, plays a melody like ocean waves and moonlight upon swan wings.

She is a lady. The little peasant child on the street knows this. She bobs a pretty courtesy to the princess, and scampers away.

Tossing her pale, golden braid over one shoulder, she slips the pipes into a small, silk pouch on her belt, and glides down the street, accompanied by her guards. Denethor sees flashes of white- swan feathers and sea shells braided into her locks.

A swan... she moves like a swan...

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When they are introduced, he walks with her for a time in the gardens. She glides like a swan swimming upon a lake. He swims beside her, an ungainly fish.

“No,” she says. “You are a great creature of the water, sleek and proud and strong. But I... I am the ugly duckling. I am nothing as compared to you, Lord Denethor.”

Nothing he says changes her mind. He wonders why not.

They see each other often, nearly every day. He is not at all shocked when she arrives with muddy feet and tangled hair, a swan feather on a chord around her neck. She does not scorn him when he tells her his fear of the darkness.

“It is darkness, usually, where the demons hide, waiting for us,” she told him when he asked her why.

He dances with her, her in her silver gown trimmed in white feathers, a silver chord with a white feather about her neck. It is a masquerade, after all, though he would always know who she is, swan or not. His heart calls out to her, recognizes her. Even the white mask cannot change this.

He asks for her hand.

“Yes,” she says.

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Time passes. The seasons change. The Swan is wed to the Steward, and they are happy. A year passes in a blur of pale green, royal blue, golden red, and glistening white. The wheel turns, and another year comes and goes.

The lady mourns. No one knows why. Her heart breaks in her chest, and none can offer her comfort. She can find solace in her lord’s arms no longer.

No longer does she dance gaily upon the sands, or run through the lush gardens upon their dirt paths in her bare feet, feeling the earth coming to life. It has been a while since white feathers were seen around her neck or in her hair. Always, grief and longing shadow her eyes.

Belly round with child, Finduilas gazes out upon the White City, longing for the crashing waves of the sea. In the murmurs of the household of the Steward, she hears the song of the ocean. In the shrieks of hawks and hunting birds, the cry of seagulls. She yearns for swan-white sea foam, ocean spray.

“Will you ever know the Sea, my babe? Will you ever know the love of the Sea?”

She bears a son.

Boromir.

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The servants whisper, the people gossip. Rumors fly like poison darts. Could it be true? After all, it has been nearly five years.

The heir, Boromir: strong, healthy, rambunctious as any little boy. Already he tries to wield his father’s sword, being as tall as it is long.

But people speak still, in hushed tones, about the Steward’s wife. Four times, the life within her was quickened by the lord’s seed. Four babes swelled her belly. Four babes now lie rotting in the earth, lost from the Princess Finduilas’s womb in a fountain of scarlet blood.

The Court knows it to be rubbish. The lady, pale and sick and ripe with child again, frightened to death, still mourns her lost dear ones. But some accuse her of witchcraft, of dark sorcery, killing the Steward’s seed within her womb.

Clad in somber black, plain as peasant clothes, she sits at her windowsill and weeps. There is no joy in her despair choked bower. She prays- oh, how she prays- that this time, her babe will live, and be a beautiful, healthy daughter.

She knows a daughter will spell her death. Yet she longs for her still.

She bears a son.

Faramir.

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Blood.

There is so much blood that this time she knows she has lost the babe, or her life. So exhausted is she that it does not matter to her. Finduilas is at the end of her strength. She cannot offer that last push to bring her babe into the world.

The Healers try, but there is nothing to be done. The princess, bloodless as death, moans as her babe fights to be born.

“My lady, you must! You must push, you must! For the babe!”

One last try... but she is so tired... so deathly tired...

It is then that she understands: her daughter is coming. This babe, this last child, is the seventh child of the Steward. There was magic in that... somehow... and somehow, she had to deliver this last innocent, sweet child. Somehow...

She clenches her fist. More blood spills from the nail-driven crescents in her skin. She knows she will tire quickly. She is screaming. She cannot stop- the sound keeps her conscious.

She must finish this, she must!

Monumental effort. Tearing pain. More blood flows, too freely.

The wail of a newborn...

Darkness.

This time, a daughter is born.

Miriel.

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Princess Finduilas is dead.
Chapter End Notes:
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Disclaimer: I do not own the Lord of the Rings. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Please leave me a comment as to what you thought. Miriekis an OC.
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