The End of Dark Days, Part Two
As startled as I had been to run into Mag at the City gates, it was nothing compared to my shock when I found my brother Pilimór loitering in one of the corridors in the Houses of Healing – I had not known that he had taken part in the any land battles, as he was first and foremost a sailor. Yet here he was, with a broken arm, fading bruises, and a wide smile. Caliniel and Dinen were overjoyed, for Pilimór was one of their favourite uncles.
“I did not fight on the Pelennor nor at the Gate,” he agreed, “I had all the battle I could wish on the Anduin and in Pelagir Port. But I knew that our family had ridden with the Prince; I much wanted to discover what toll this war had taken on us without waiting for word through official channels, so I came the White City.”
I stopped dead in my tracks at the expression on his face. “Who has fallen?” I asked, throat suddenly tight.
“Mellonar and Inthenin,” Pilimór said gently, but with no hesitation. “And though I am sure it will soothe you not, know that they fought bravely, and were together at the end.”
I sat on one of the benches which lined the corridor, feeling as if I had been slapped. I had never lost a member of my family, and now, to lose two at once was staggering. Oh, who was going to bring this dreadful news to my parents? I did not want to be the one to do it.
Pilimór sat next to me, and let me lean on his shoulder til I could weep no more. “I know this is a great blow,” he said quietly, and I could now see the lines of sorrow in his face, for he and Mellonar had been very dear to one another, “but Talagan lives, and did not take a scratch. And your husband and son are alive, sister. I have visited them every day; they are mending as well as can be expected, and that is a great blessing.“
“I suppose you are right,” I said, wiping my eyes. Only now did I noticed that the girls were sitting on a bench across the corridor. Caliniel had her head in Dínen’s lap, and both were almost asleep. “Pilimór, please, you have seen them – tell me what wounds they took?”
Durvain, he said, had broken his leg in several places; the healers had been afraid they would not be able to set it properly, yet they had done their best. Although he would walk again, he would have a severe limp for the rest of his life. Hinaur had broken one of his shoulders and was spending much time asleep under the influence of pain-killing herbs; worse, he had lost an eye.
I was glad Pilimór was here to comfort me; though he was often at sea, and did not visit as much as I would like, we had always been close and his presence gave me strength. “Come now,” he said, squeezing my shoulders, “you have traveled a very long way, and I am sure that you are eager to see your menfolk, are you not?”
“You are a part of my menfolk,” I said, managing a faint smile, “and it’s glad I am to see you safe, brother mine.” I hugged him fiercely, being careful of his broken arm, and he held me tightly for a moment.
“I will sit here and rest and keep an eye on my nieces for as long as you need me to,“ Pilimór said, and when I glanced back at my daughters, I saw they were well and truly asleep. “Go, satisfy yourself that Durvain and Hinaur are well – they are just down the corridor.”
Though the bench did not look comfortable, I did not want to wake the girls, so I left them – and our meager baggage - in my brother’s care.
Though his face lit up with joy when he saw me and his welcoming embrace was so tight I could scarcely breath, Durvain was not at all surprised that we had come to Minas Tirith. “If I had to guess,” he said with a grin, “I would imagine that your Mag sent you word, did she not? I remember how she used to know everything that went on in the City! And I cannot imagine that you would be content to sit and wait to hear what had become of us.”
I laughed, a little giddy with relief to at last be able to reassure myself that my husband and son were indeed alive and well. “Yes, she did,” I admitted, taking his hand in mine. “And I am grateful, for I was so worried for the two of you.”
I cast a glance at Hinaur, who was indeed fast asleep, on a cot next to his father. His face was still darkly bruised, even this long after the battle; one eye was well-bandaged and a long scar marred his handsome face. He was also encased in some very odd contraption that kept his shoulder immobilized and was, Durvain assured me, very unpleasant when he was awake. The healers did not want him to move any more than necessary and Hinaur was not the type of young man who liked to keep still; I could well imagine how he would rebel at forced inaction.
I reached over and brushed my son’s hair away from his pale face. He looked so young; I remembered how proud he had been, to ride off to battle with his father, and how reluctant I had been to let him go. “Let him go” – I had not “let him” go; he was a man full-grown and I had been given no say in the matter.
Durvain squeezed my hand gently. “He will be fine, love,” he said softly. “He is alive, and in that we are more fortunate than many other parents.”
“You have the right of it,” I nodded, “and I am more fortunate than many other wives.” I knew it was true, but it did not make it any easier to see my strong husband bedridden, unable to walk on his own, or to see my lively son lying so still.
Durvain and I talked quietly for a bit; of the girls, of home, of the long, very different trips we had each had to Minas Tirith. He clutched at my hand when he spoke of the chaos of battle and his terror when he had seen Hinaur struck down, but he did not seem to want to speak of his fears in detail, and I did not press him. He would tell me more when, and if, he needed to.
After a time, Pilimór delivered the girls to us – they were sleepy-eyed but happy to see their father, and he was much cheered by their appearance. However, it was not long before Caliniel and Dínen were yawning again, and soon they were curled up on an empty bed, sleeping soundly.
Durvain surveyed our children as I made sure they were all well-covered and as comfortable as I could make them without disturbance. “ ‘Tis very homelike now,” he said with a smile, “but you are not planning on sleeping here in the Houses? I have missed you all, but it will not be comfortable, you may trust me in this.”
“Mag said that she would try to find a little corner for us,” I said, rubbing my eyes and stretching my back. Weariness was starting to take its toll. “I should go to the kitchen and see if she had any luck – if anyone could find three empty beds in this City, I am sure it will be Mag.” Durvain chuckled, and then I remembered. “Oh! I must ask her what happened to Faramir as well – she said the strangest thing in the note she …Durvain?” I trailed off, for he was looking at me with startled eyes. “What is it?”
“You…have not heard about Lord Faramir?” He looked apprehensive, sympathetic, and extremely reluctant.
“I have heard nothing but rumours so wild none of them can possibly be true,” I replied, suddenly uneasy for no reason I could name. “Durvain? What happened to Faramir? What have I not heard?”
His jaw tightened, and then he let out a long sigh. “Sit down, love.”