Format: Short story
Characters: Finduilas, Faramir, Ioreth
Pairings: Finduilas/Denethor, Faramir/Éowyn
Summary: Ioreth has a gift for Faramir.
“Pretty!” said Faramir. He reached out a small finger towards the bowl on the table and touched it gently then scrambled on to his mother’s lap..
“It’s just an old bowl,” Boromir said scornfully.
“I like it,” Faramir insisted.
Finduilas smiled at her youngest son. “That bowl is very precious to me. A potter in Dol Amroth made it for me as a wedding gift. He captured the colours of the sea and sky in it and my favourite little star flowers, or celandines as they are sometimes called.”
“I’d like to see star flowers,” said Faramir.
“I am certain that you will one day,” said Finduilas. “They only grow in the countryside, though, not here in this city of stone.” She turned her head and looked wistfully out of the window.
Many years later
“Fancy bumping into you here in the marketplace, Lord Faramir,” said Ioreth, placing herself squarely in front of the Steward. “I hope you’re taking good care of yourself. You shouldn’t be doing too much after suffering the Black Breath, my lord, you shouldn’t. There’s a chill in the air today too. You need to wrap up well against the draughts or you’ll be catching a chill.”
“I promise, I will, Dame Ioreth,” said Faramir. He made to move on.
“As I was saying, Lord Faramir,” Ioreth continued. “Fancy bumping into you here. It will save me walking all the way up to the Citadel. I heard you were meaning to get married to Lady Éowyn, poor sorrowful lady.”
“I hope I can ease her sorrows,” said Faramir earnestly. “Now I really must be on my way. I have a meeting with the King within the hour.“
Ioreth remained standing in front of him. “I’m sure the Lord Elfstone can wait a little while. Now, as I was saying, Lord Faramir, I heard you mean to be wed, so I’ve something here for you, I thought you’d like to have.” She rummaged in the large basket she carried and rummaged in its depths, reaching for a cloth wrapped object.
“Why thank you, Dame Ioreth, that is most kind of you,” said Faramir, his heart sinking. He had already received a selection of wedding gifts from well-wishers and was certain he now owned more dishes than the potter, and enough spoons to supply Gondor’s entire army, not to mention a selection of truly hideous ornaments.
“You should sit down to open it, my lord,” said Ioreth, shepherding him towards a bench. “You don’t want it to get broken, you don’t.”
Faramir’s spirits sank even lower. He had hoped to open it in private and express his thanks in a vague and tactful missive. He found it near impossible to tell a falsehood, yet he did not want to hurt the old woman’s feelings. She had been so kind to him while he was in the Houses of Healing. However hideous her gift was, he would have to find something good to say about it. He obediently sat down beside Ioreth and carefully unwrapped the concealing cloth to reveal a blue bowl. Not just any blue bowl, but one that reawakened treasured childhood memories. He was grateful that Ioreth had one hand upon it, or he might have dropped the precious object in his surprise. He was silent for a moment gazing into the bowl’s blue depths. Ioreth smiled at him benignly. “My mother had one just like this,” he said at last.
“I know full well and it is the very same you’re holding, Lord Faramir.”
“I thought it had been lost years ago,” said Faramir. His fingers traced the delicate pattern of celandines.
“I came to the Citadel soon after your poor, dear mother was taken from us,” said Ioreth. “Such a lovely lady she was and she had such pretty things. I was sent for one day to tend your brother. He’d sprained his ankle a few days before. Always getting into some scrape or other was Lord Boromir, now you were a careful child, my lord, you caused the healers much less work: not that it wasn’t a pleasure to tend Lord Boromir. Now as I was saying, I was sent by the Warden to see how Lord Boromir’s ankle was healing and came across a great heap of things in the yard that had belonged to dear Lady Finduilas that Lord Denethor was throwing away. I imagine he couldn’t bear be reminded of your poor sweet mother, but it was a crying shame to throw such lovely things away. I’d seen the bowl in the sweet lady’s room when I’d tended her and thought it was so pretty, so I took it and put it inside my healer’s satchel, as it was going to be thrown away with the rubbish. Maybe I shouldn’t have done, but I’ve cherished it in Lady Finduilas’ memory all these years, but now it’s time for you and your bride to cherish it instead.”
Faramir’s eyes prickled with tears. He remembered how pretty he’d thought this bowl as a child. He had forgotten about it for years, assuming his father had destroyed it with so many of Finduilas’ possessions. It was still most fair in his eyes. It were as if some small portion of his mother had returned to him. Beside him, Ioreth coughed, reminding Faramir of her presence. She regarded him somewhat anxiously. The Steward collected himself and smiled at her.
“Thank you, Dame Ioreth I am so glad that you kept this. I shall always treasure your gift.”
Ioreth beamed. “I’m glad to hear it, my lord, but I must be on my way. I can’t stay here all day talking. I’m due at the Houses in an hour and I’ve still not bought any eggs, and if I don’t hurry, the fresh ones will all be gone. You’d never believe what some of the farmers try to sell you, last week one sold me a dozen eggs that floated, but I wasn’t born yesterday, I wasn’t. I demanded my money back!” Still chattering, she rose from the bench and made her way towards one of the stalls.
Faramir made his way home carefully clutching the bowl. Soon he would dwell in fair Ithilien where the celandines grew in profusion. He would gather some with his lady. They would fill the bowl with water and let the celandines float in its depths like stars against the night sky.