Having been less eager to see an afternoon meeting end than his peers, Peldirion strode under stone arches, not caring to admire the architecture. It was just stone, after all. Stone that may soon break under the enemy’s hand. Consumed by the records he needed to search for in the archives, the unmistakable sound of a woman weeping reached his ear.
Peldirion hesitated at the sound, but continued on. Such a terrible sound, and one that drained his patience rather than fueling his sympathy as he knew it should. Several paces away he stopped. Sighing heavily as he was struck by his conscience, the man turned and marched reluctantly up the steps in search of the weeper, prepared to promptly depart if the woman had a poor excuse for wasting precious water.
Huddled in a corner, sitting beside a large, empty canvas sack, the woman’s face was hidden in her hands. In her grey tunic she was actually rather difficult to spot against the sooty stone, and Peldirion nearly missed her. To her credit, she was crying rather quietly, but the marble corridors had a strange way of carrying sound.
Halting to tower over her (though it was not his intent to do so), Peldirion’s brows drew together in a frown as he recognized her cowl. “Cold stone offers little comfort, Sister,” he said quietly. While as stern as ever, his voice was not unkind.
Feira hiccuped in surprise, and immediately swiped at her face. “Oh! …h-hello!” she said with forced cheer, smiling through her obvious tears and stopped up nose. “How do you do, Captain?”
Peldirion peered down at her, his dark eyes narrowed. “I am as well as one can be… though I am not so sure you can claim as much. What has a Sister of Emeleth in tears and hiding in a corner?” he asked, careful to not let his voice project too much. Had the woman been a complete stranger he could make sure she wasn’t injured and depart, but unfortunately he knew the young woman, and more unfortunately he felt a little bad for her. Reaching a hand beneath his breastplate Peldirion drew out a handkerchief and tossed it down to her.
Feira’s fine, slender fingers took up the kerchief and she dabbed at her eyes and delicately blew her nose before rising. “Oh, I… it’s nothing. I succumbed for a moment to a bout of self-indulgence, that’s all.”
Peldirion grunted as if a dry chuckle might have nearly escaped him. “Miss Feira, I hardly call a bout of tears self-indulgence. Are you… sure it is nothing?” He fixed his dark gaze on her and arched a brow, clearly not convinced.
Feira finally met Peldirion’s eyes for a long moment, clearly struggling over whether to share her burden or keep it to herself. Her pretty face wracked with guilt, her eyes begged for understanding.
Women, he thought rather grudgingly. Peldirion sighed, not quite in defeat, and glanced behind him. “Why don’t we remove outselves from this echo chamber, hmm?” he asked, the glint in his eyes and tone of his voice far warmer than his still-stern expression as he offered her his arm. He really was trying.
“…s-surely you haven’t the time…”
“Only till I am called to keep the enemy back from breaching the walls, dear lady,” he responded mildly. Or if you refuse my offer again. The sound of crying was like nails on slate.
Feira considered Peldirion for a moment, then stooped to collect her bag and stepped towards him. She did not take his arm, and instead folded the great sack over her arm. “…where do you suggest?”
Letting his arm fall to his side, Peldirion motioned further up. “Few soldiers man the wall on this level, and Minas Tirith is fond of putting benches just about anywhere,” he commented cooly. Clasping his hands behind his back he began to ascend the remaining steps.
Finding the landing unoccupied, and a bench equally so, he waited till she sat before taking a seat on the opposite end. Feira looked out over the landscape; what little could be seen in the struggling light. “It is so changed…” she murmured quietly, her brow creased.
Peldirion nodded slowly. “The consequences of war. When was the last time you saw it?”
The young woman blanched, realizing now that she had spoken aloud. “I… I was here three years ago,” she replied haltingly.
The man cast a sidelong glance at her. “Three years can be a long time. You said before you were originally from here, yes?”
Peldirion adjusted the collar of his cloak as he observed the view with a neutral air. “Was it the changes that brought tears to your eyes?”
Feira pressed her lips together, her eyes on the stone below their feet. “No. That… will never change.”
He did not look to her as if to afford her some bit of privacy. By the Valar, don’t start crying again. “What will?”
The young woman let out a long breath. “There’s someone I wronged. I saw him today and… asked his forgiveness. He wouldn’t.” She lowered her chin. “I don’t know why I’m telling you this. I… there’s no one here I can talk to.”
Lucky me. Peldirion sat quiet for a moment before slowly nodding once. “I take it becoming a Sister means a great deal of sacrifice and acquired humility,” he said in a practical tone. “If you have asked for forgiveness, then you have done your part. Being unable to forgive is not your burden to bear.”
Feira released a soft, tight laugh. “…you are very wise. That is just what Sister Arcanis said. And she is easily three times your age.” Despite her attempted humor, he sensed that her wound ran deep.
Peldirion turned his gaze to her, and studied her quietly. It was strange to him. Even in armour one could figure out what kind of man wore it, but her drab robe and cowl made attempting to assess her a frustrating feat. “Learning from one’s mistakes is part of wisdom, as is the pain along the way. I do not know what you did to this man, and it’s not really my buisness to pry it from you, but in my experience you can either learn from it and move on, or dwell on it and allow it to define you.”
Stifling tears, she nodded. “Oh,” she said thickly, “I should be so very wise by now.” She smiled, pained, out over the scorched fields of Pelennor.
Peldirion grunted. You’ll be an ass if she cries now and you walk away. “How old are you, Miss Feira?”
Feira blinked, caught off guard. “…twenty?”
“Then you have seven more years of misery till you are as wise as I.” He fell quiet for a moment before continuing. He had his own bitterness, some that he quite happily held on to. What could this poor, weepy thing have done? Refused marriage or ruined a family arrangement? Gods, he was glad he was a man. “I’m not very good at encouragement. Some things cannot be atoned for, but I cannot see you asking for forgiveness and not mean it. You have taken responsibility for your side of whatever the matter was and that is all that can be asked for.”
Feira’s lips quirked in amusement at Peldirion’s first words. She sobered and nodded slowly. “My mind knows your words to be true. …my heart on the other hand.” She takes a deep breath. “If it were anyone else, anyone else, I think I might… let go the forgiving once I have asked for it. But… there has been no one I esteem more in my life.”
Peldirion gave her a thoughtful look. “Have you ever thought that those you hold in high esteem may be flawed persons like everyone else?”
Her brows quirked. “Well… yes, of course everyone has a flaw or two.” She seemed to be speaking in general, however.
Peldirion’s expression turns exceptionally serious, and he forced back all the memories of times he’d apologized for things that were never his fault. “Then perhaps this man needs time before realizing he should be the one asking for your forgiveness.”
The woman watched him for a long moment, as if wishing to argue. But slowly, she considered his words. He remained silent, letting his words carry their own weight (though his dark look and low voice probably helped).
Feira’s brow eased after a time. “May I ask you something?”
“Why do you always look so severe?” she asked with a small smile.
Peldirion’s eyes narrow as they might if he had smiled. It was not a question he had expected, but it not surprise him. “For many reasons, Miss Feira. Time has seen me become the armour I wear, and only in the company of a few does the thought of not donning it occur to me.”
Feira’s smile blossomed further. She turned her eyes out upon the Pelennor again. “Ah, but your actions belie your frown, Captain. You are a gentle heart.”
I’ll be damned if I am, he thought rather defiantly. Just a few weak spots. Peldirion considered her for a moment before looking out to roofs of the lower circle that peeked over the railing. “Tell my secret and I will see to it that your mentor makes your training miserable.”
The young woman released a bubbling giggle, but it is quickly stifled.
Peldirion’s mouth twitched at her giggle, and he slowly rose to his feet. “If you do not wish for an escort back to the Houses I should be on my way.” So much female emotion. He was probably allergic.
“I can find my way. …thank you, Captain.”
Stepping back, he offered her a gentlemanly bow. “It was the least I could do, Sister. Do try and enjoy the rest of your day.”
(Thank you to Feygil for RPing as ‘Feira’ (Lalaith)! Post taken from in-game RP, and has been edited for tense and exposition.)