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XIII. At the Turn of the Tide (Pippin, Finduilas)
The tension between Steward and Wizard as they faced each other across the stone table terrified Pippin. It did not keep him from clinging to hope that both would survive, and poor Faramir too. And himself, and Beregond. But hope was growing dim.
And then Pippin’s head, and that of the maddened Steward, turned at the sound of a lady’s voice.
“Denethor!” called Lady Finduilas from the door. She did not speak as softly as she had when Pippin had met her on his arrival in Minas Tirith. Rather she swept into the House like a blue-grey wave off a stormy lake.
The Steward’s Lady reached them, spared Pippin a slight smile, then faced her husband. She spoke in Elvish now, her voice clear and carrying. Pippin remembered Gandalf telling him how the lady had been sickly most of her life and had almost died when her sons were small boys. Finduilas looked anything but frail now.
Denethor answered, also in Elvish. The two of them went back-and-forth, he imperious, she implacable, for what seemed an hour but was probably a much shorter time. Pippin was reminded of his own folk: it was said of Pippin’s Dad and Mum that when the Thain was on his high horse, only his wife could get him off it. Gandalf was just about holding his breath; while Beregond’s frightened gaze jumped from the Steward to Lady Finduilas, back and forth, as did Pippin’s own eyes. Only Faramir was peaceful; and Pippin knew they would all have given anything to have him sit up and start talking.
Denethor finally dropped his fierce gaze. He also dropped the palantir. Pippin dropped a sigh of relief. The Lady glided forward to reach Denethor. Lord and lady embraced, black and blue-grey cloaks mingling together. The Steward bowed his head over hers.
Years later, when Faramir sent word of his mother’s death, Pippin remembered the great Lady of Minas Tirith. He hoped that Lord Denethor was bearing up without her; he had rarely seen married folk so devoted to each other; particularly since Denethor, as proud and lordly as he was, couldn’t be too easy to live with. Pippin knew that he would always remember the scent of lavender she bore, along with the Elvish air that Faramir had too. Queen Arwen was beautiful, no doubt, but he could not imagine Minas Tirith without the Lady Finduilas.
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