Ch. 36 – Fortress

Fortress – Finduilas POV – 6 of 6

In which there is a visit paid, a warning given, a dance performed, a challenge issued, a dream recounted, an apology offered, a seduction continued, a vision intrudes, a plan hatched and a soul transformed. Pretty much in that order.


And this chapter probably isn’t safe for work – depending on the kind of place you work, of course.

Mr. Snarly finally has to deal with his intimacy issues. Heh.

On the one hand, he is madly in love with her. On the other, he has spent his entire life intellectualizing all of his erotic feelings and impulses, as well as avoiding emotional connections to most of the people around him. Aiavalë and his grandfather are the only people who have been able to be as close to him as Finduilas. At some level, he can’t act towards her in a carnal way. That is the barrier he has drawn between himself and his father – he fucks, I don’t.

It does not have to do with female purity, either, which was a difficult construct to avoid. There is no concept of original sin as we understand it in Middle-earth. There is a natural modesty, there is the idea of eternal soul-bonding, but you don’t have an explicit dichotomy between lustful males and chaste females. Both genders, as long as uncorrupted by Shadow, are happily horny with their proper mates.

There’s also a power trip going on here. Denethor is making Finduilas beg. He’s keeping himself in control by not allowing himself to be in the position of having to ask for anything. The burden of sexual desire and expression is placed upon her even though he is the older and (equivocally) dominant partner of the pair.

What he doesn’t expect is how it will affect him when he finally does have sex with her. The irony here will be that her matter-of-fact desire will put her in sexual control of their relationship in a way Denethor will never quite be able to overcome. The act devastates him, shattering all the barriers and boundaries he has erected (ahem) over the decades to try to prevent forming attachments to this too-mortal world.

Which will be the immediate topic of the next chapter, from Denethor’s POV.


PS – I need to take care of some things the next few days, so probably won’t get around to posting the next set of chapters, 3 from Denethor’s POV, until the weekend.


2 thoughts on “Ch. 36 – Fortress”

  1. All these last chapters, I kept thinking — “You go, girl!”

    Finduilas obviously thought much about her mother’s advice (that recurs in the story) — it is in your hands to make things a pleasure or a misery. (That should be taught in management schools…) But I also see some influence from her new husband, from earlier — learning to be a proper prince, and amidst an ongoing battle.

    Once again, I so appreciate the realism balanced with myth. Of course just because they’re finally married their relationship is not suddenly going to be all hearts and flowers. And these two *would* do it in dreams first, heh heh. But the reality is messy and not always easy. Still, though, I’m glad you gave them a transformative experience at the end!

    Denethor’s reluctance and sequestration of that part of himself makes perfect sense to me, according to previously formulated opinions, as well as in-story. I imagine there’s a kind of Elvish influence on the Númenóreans… bodily desires aren’t supposed to matter that much. And see what happens if you let go of control (drowning, ahem). But of course that only takes a mortal man so far. Sex and death are two sides of the same coin.

    And THANK YOU for making the effort to avoid the female purity trope!

  2. Yeah, Finduilas really knocks it out of the park. She makes a habit of this.

    I like that she is exceptional in a completely ordinary way – being a keen observer of human behavior who knows how to act to achieve her own ends. In fantasy stories in general, there is often so much focus on the derring-do and the mystical, the effect of ordinary acts and how they take excellence to perform get shoved to the side. In a way, this is the perspective I’m giving Thorongil. He just doesn’t see Finduilas as a regular person who does stuff. She’s the idolized maiden on a pedestal, made *for him* to adore and venerate. It’s all about what she is to him, what she does for him, what she can provide for him, etc.

    Luinil and Denethor see a smart, subtle, thoughtful, capable political actor. They treat her (and teach her) in a way that respects her talents. Of course, Mr. Snarly finds it as sexy as hell. He also acknowledges her as a peer in a way that other men do not, which makes *him* sexy to her in return.

    Their love life will get a lot messier before it gets better. And then it will get messy again, and find new heights, and go off track, and be reaffirmed, and be stymied, and give them strength. Just like in real life.


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