Ch. 59 – Exchange

Exchange – Denethor POV – 2 of 2

In which Denethor must enter into a number of exchanges to get what he needs – words, thoughts, lessons, promises, kisses, vows, blows and confessions. Some given, some taken, all have their price.


Halmir and Beregar should compare notes on how to deal with irritating headstrong relatives. Or they should just observe Brandir. When the Fool decides to stop fooling around, even Denethor steps lightly.

There’s a weird moment when Denethor enters into Finduilas’ Númenor dreams. She tries to deliver a message, but neither of the men are listening.

Thorongil is very distracted. He’s pretty much fighting all the time with Halmir, he knows (or thinks) that Umbar may win him Arwen, he’s completely at sea as to what to do about Denethor, and he’s beginning to understand that there’s a lot more at stake here than fighting an enemy. Then he gets his final lessons when Denethor tells him the history of Gondor’s (and thus the Dúnedain’s) survival in a set of tales.

The stage is set for all hell to break loose.


8 thoughts on “Ch. 59 – Exchange”

  1. The combination of “It is too late” and “It is not yet time” in this set of chapters is intriguing. There’s a lot of tension in the push and pull of Powers, humans, and events. “Stray but a little and it will fail, to the ruin of all” comes to mind…

    I like how Ecthelion’s standard closing statement for the Council becomes more fraught as we go on.

    Wow… kinda figured Brandir might have it in him, but didn’t reckon on quite that much. Good for him. And on ceasing to drink, too. (Probably has something to do with it…)

    Good job, Denethor, on taking up the “burden” of birth control for yourself! I think this is the first I’ve read of this in fic.

    What a nice interlude with Morvorin and Luinmir, and funny. I love the comments from the peanut gallery.

    I love the nickname (or mother-name) Morcollë, by the way.

    So I’m curious, and will be lazy and ask you rather than looking it up — was Mardil the grandson of Míriel? I can well believe that some royal link could exist. (And re-reading “Annals of the Kings and Rulers”, lots of things related to this story are jumping out… nice.)

  2. Everything stands on a knife-edge. It is always already not time. Until it is.

    Ecthelion is running out of options and getting a bit testy over it all. Heh. Then again, the law of unintended consequences is coming into play. The Steward probably *would* have sent Denethor to lead the fleet to Umbar – except that Finduilas would have forbidden him Boromir. Had he done so and Denethor fallen, then the obvious heir is Thorongil, so the Steward could have seized Boromir from Finduilas. If Denethor came back, then Ecthelion would face his wrath as well as hers, plus Thorongil would have been diminished. The big question is could Thorongil have returned north without the Umbar battle? He wouldn’t have thought so, and thus the Kin-strife would have kept grinding away…

    Brandir will have much to do once he’s back in the City.

    Yes, since I know so many impressionable young ‘uns will be reading the story for the smut, I figured I’d toss in a bit of practical sex advice like use a condom, kids. Yes, you boys are welcome to bring one. Practice a bit! Did you know the US birth rate fell 50% after vulcanized rubber condoms were introduced?

    I knew what was coming and had to put in a bit of fun for Morvorin & Luinmir, especially after how much shit they went through to get there.

    Wait until you read Faramir’s nickname.

    Yes, Mardil is Míriel’s grandson – she was married to Pelendur, their son was Vorondil the Hunter, and his son was Mardil Voronwë. Now, was Pelendur married to Míriel? Hell if I know. I just invented it. The absence of named wives leaves things wide open for interpretation and interpolation. It also makes dynastic sense that a royal cousin would take over rule with the minimum of contestation.

    My real AU supposition is that Gondor would have accepted Firiel back as ruling Queen, but Arvedui was too greedy to let his wife have it. It would fit the model of truly stupid northern rulers.


  3. Yes, in the mid 19th Century, vulcanized rubber was used to produce the first truly effective condoms, and the anti-contraception movement was born. This is a UK picture, but the same thing:

    They were pretty durable and meant for multiple uses. There was actually public concern that the dropping birthrate would harm the health of the nation (slower economic growth, no cannon fodder) and were condemned from various quarters. Ironically, the dropping birthrate meant more opportunity for immigrants – just as its doing now in a number of industrialized nations.

    In my never-to-be-written-Denethor-lives AU, Aragorn has to argue for why he has a right to the throne and it is by claiming descent from Firiel, all done against a background of Denethor and Gandalf battling about the claim. Denethor wants protocols followed and Aragorn to stand beholden to the Stewards for his rule, while Gandalf is badgering everyone to shut the fuck up and crown your rightful king already.

    Then Faramir brings up the little problem that this would-be-king is an oathbreaker…


  4. Ha! Trust Faramir to throw the real wrench in things…

    Did we already talk about Nesta’s fics, in particular her version of post-Houses of Healing Faramir having to deal with the political practicalities of this claim? I think so…

  5. I can’t wrap my brain around a submissive and dutiful Faramir. Oh, yeah, on the surface, but this guy has spent his entire life quietly resisting authority for the sake of doing what’s right. He will *always* do what is right, no matter the command of the Steward. Or the King. He’s like his parents that way.

    I don’t think we’ve talked about Nesta’s Faramir fics. Link(s)?

  6. She’s one of the very few I’ve encountered so far who gets Faramir right to my mind, with enough similarities to Denethor. The two fics in particular that deal with post-war difficulties are short, not nearly as much machinations going on as with this story, but accurate, and I think her versions of the characters mesh well with yours: Black Hour ( and Strange Meeting (

    And then a later one deals with the fact that some folk begin calling themselves Steward’s Men: (

    Day Shall Come Again is another favorite ( though I like all of hers. Some are there on, the rest on Stories of Arda.

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