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Akallabeth in August
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But Elendil did all that his father had bidden, and his ships lay off the east coast of the land; and the Faithful put aboard their wives and their children, and their heirlooms, and great store of goods.

Fear and Wonder by Lady Roisin

The muscles in Isildur’s arms burned from exertion while he and his brother lowered a heavy crate to the floor. Despite their best efforts to place it down gently the box thumped heavily against the wooden planks of the ship.

“Watch your feet.” Anárion’s head peered over the large box, a smirk upturning one side of his mouth as he reached for a coiled rope sitting nearby.

“Too late, “Isildur chuckled, reaching for the free end of the rope Anárion passed to him over the top of the crate. “At least this one didn’t require the pulleys to be brought below deck.”

“And thank goodness it stopped raining for a few hours,” Anárion chimed in. “Is this the last of them?”

Isildur pulled his end of the rope through one of the rings set into the floor, “I believe so. Father wanted them divided among the ships.”

“At least we managed to get the sapling onboard without attracting too much attention,” Anárion said with a laugh as he stepped away from the crate. “That would have been a difficult to explain.”

Isildur straightened his posture and turned to see his wife descend the stairs, carrying a basket in her hands. He could not help but notice the puffy skin underneath her eyes or the way she turned her face away once Isildur met her gaze. Isildur waited until Anárion departed up the stairs before approaching Tindalómë with slow, measured, steps. At first he simply lent a hand in emptying the basket of its contents and placing them in the proper containers, unsure how to appropriately begin a conversation to try and distract his wife from her current mood.

“She has not come with the others,” Tindalómë whispered. Isildur looked up from the container he just placed the last of the athelas into. He could see his wife gripping the edges of the basket, her knuckles white from the effort to try and keep her emotions in check. Isildur did not have to ask to know whom Tindalómë referred to. So rarely did they mention her in recent days, especially since Elendur arrived in their home some years back. Even so, neither of them forgot the secret they bore together in silence. Sometimes Isildur saw hints of the memory reflected in the brief glances he shared with his wife, or the wistful way she spoke of their nieces.

Isildur crossed the floor until he stood behind Tindalómë, his hands following the line of arms before resting upon her shoulders. “Have heart, there is still time and she may yet come to the ships.”

“And what time do you really think we have?” Isildur blinked upon hearing the sudden bitterness in his wife’s tone. “You know what the King plans. It puts us all at risk, and we could be gone tomorrow! But even so your father commands me to stay close to the ships while my child is somewhere in Númenor, out of my grasp!”

Isildur’s eyes flicked to the top of the stairs before turning back to Tindalómë. “Take care of what you say. There are others aboard.”

“I could care less who is about, “Tindalómë snapped sharply, forcing Isildur to take a step back in the face of his wife’s ire.

“She could be out there, hurting, dying, and we would never know. Does that mean nothing to you?”

Isildur bristled and crossed his arms in front of his chest. “You are being unfair. If she did not matter to me then I would not have sent all the money I have, the medicines and clothing. I have sent multiple letters, bidding her to come with haste to Rómenna. I would go fetch her myself if I was not needed here so direly. What more do you wish of me?”

Tears brimmed in Tindalómë’s eyes, her voice shaky with emotions that spent too long buried deep inside her. “I wish you had never asked me to let her go. I wish I had been allowed to be the mother I wanted to be to her. I wanted to hold her near, and I let you tell me it would be better for her, for me, for all of us, to let her go. But it has not been so has it?”

Isildur’s heart jolted to a brief halt to see Anárion descend the stairs and give him and Tindalómë a perplexed look. Isildur wondered how much he had heard. His hands reached out to try and pull his wife near in an attempt to comfort her. Instead, Tindalómë placed her hands against his chest, pushing him away before rushing past Anárion and to the upper deck. The brothers stood in awkward silence in which neither seemed to want to address the scene that had just unfolded.

“I found the last Palantir,” Anárion spoke up casually. Isildur could not be any happier for the change of subject, even if it meant moving another overly heavy crate used to conceal the priceless heirlooms.

“Thank goodness,” Isildur breathed, grateful for the distraction while he followed his brother from the lower deck.

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The storms returned with an even greater fervor once the sun set. Isildur and Anárion sought to continue loading the ships with those who came to help. But the downpours made the harbors slick and the sheets of water falling from the sky made it almost impossible to see one’s hand held out in front of him. Somehow Isildur and Anárion managed to find their way back to their grandfather’s house.

Isildur rubbed his hands over his arms in an attempt to warm the skin and banish the bumps that rose upon it from the chill. The scent of herbs reached his nostrils once he entered his chambers. The fire in the hearth welcomed him, but Tindalómë was nowhere in sight. The herbal fragrance grew stronger the closer Isildur drew to the bathing chambers. He found his wife within, resting her arms against the side of the tub and cradled her head in the center of them. She lifted her face to regard her husband with a tired glance. Usually she was quick to make some witty remark along with her greeting. Isildur found himself actually wishing she would make some comment about the chambermaid being upset over the water he tracked through the house. Instead she offered him only a vacant stare.

“Would you mind terribly if I joined you?” Isildur took a few tentative steps further into the room before stopping to remove his boots and wet cloak. Tindalómë nodded slowly without lifting her chin from her forearms. Isildur would have to investigate the root of her silence later. But for now the warmth of the water beckoned to his sore muscles. His wet clothing dropped to the tile floor forgotten rather quickly as thoughts of having his aching limbs soothed.

The water within the tub sloshed clumsily while the majority of Isildur’s body became immersed in it. He lay back against the stone surface, letting the warmth of the water ease away the weariness from the day. “I sent a messenger to search Rómenna, in case Isilmírë is somewhere in the city. If he comes back without news, I shall go search myself.”

Isildur released a heavy sigh, his sight resting upon Tindalómë’s back. “You are not the only one who is troubled that she has not come yet. I understand you are afraid, all of us are. None us knows what shall become of us, or if our days in this world run short. I do not know what shall happen when the King’s armament departs.”

Tindalómë turned around at last to face Isildur, meeting his eyes for the first time that day. “I simply feel as if the world is set spinning, and I do not know when it shall stop, or where it shall end up. It seems our lives have been on constant upheaval for so long.”

“I know,” Isildur murmured, holding his hands out to his wife to offer her their comfort if she wished it. “But we have to continue on, if only step by step. There is much to be done yet.”

Tindalómë slipped forward into Isildur’s arms, the side of her head dropping to Isildur’s chest. “Why did we let her go?”

“Because we were young, “Isildur murmured with a heavy sigh. “And I thought I was protecting you and her both by sending her away. If I knew the things I know now, and how much pain it would cause all of us, I never would have let her go. I would have brought her back to Rómenna with us and found a way, just as we did with Elendur.”

Isildur bent his chin so that his lips brushed against Tindalómë’s brow. “I fear there shall be so many more to discover great regrets by the end of all this. So many lives are torn apart, and I do not know how the world could ever mend from so much pain. All we can do is hope, and that is what we shall do right now for Isilmírë. We have to keep believing she will come and that things will be set right again.”

A heavy silence fell over the room as words seemed futile in an attempt to convey the immense weight both of them carried in their thoughts and hearts. Tindalómë wrapped her arms around Isildur’s waist and he simply drew her tighter in his own embrace. Who knew what would become of any of them from one moment to the next. At least there was a measure of peace that dwelled with them inside the safety of their chambers while the storms raged outside.

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