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Forty Days

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Truly, he has travelled far, travelled too far and seen too much;
And what he has seen -- it haunts him, haunts his sight and his dreams so he cannot look away.

He has felt the North's breath against his cheeks, felt his hands quiver with Helm's cold,
Seen the stars shine down on the Deeping-coomb and witnessed Aulë's gift in the Aglarond.
And he has gathered spring's first wildflowers at Dunharrow, jumped the fire at midsummer,
Scythed at October's first wheat till his back shone with sweat.

He would count himself blessed, aye, blessed indeed, if that was all he had seen;
But he has seen those pale blue eyes smoldering with resentment,
Fires kept low (if still burning), for why should one with Wulf's hair lead their éored?
In Gondor, 'twas his Eriador-tainted speech, and his closed lips, but the eyes were the same:
Grey glinted with contempt, and with the surety that they knew. These were his citizens?
And he was their king?

So he travelled, travelled ever further, ever south, ever searching, until even the stars were strange
He searched for an honest man, an earnest man, a guileless man,
A man with ears open to hear his unspoken words, his silent plea:

"See me."

And he had found her, found Fatima, the one who was like mirror to his Evenstar,
Mirrored her in her heart if not in his affections: for she never waxed, never waned,
Only faced what Fate demanded of her with even spirit.

Forty days Estel hs trudged from the dune where her body lays.
Is it covered now by the shifting sands? He wonders, sometimes.
For he has not the strength to bury her;
The strength of arms, perhaps, but not of heart.
He could not cover her people's foul work, and so left her exposed.

Yet he was Estel, and Hope -- Hope, that worst of Evils -- Hope always dies last.
Forty days he has traveled, and for forty days he has cursed the wells,
Cursed he drink that binds breath and bone beneath the harsh sun,
Cursed the road that bore him out of the dark --
Bore him North towards hearth, towards home, towards destiny.
He has let the road sweep him away, carry him to where it would,
And for his part -- for his part, Estel did not resist.

At times he longs for the sweet kiss of the sun's warmth to carry his weary soul away;
He would lay down in the desert sands and never wake.
Ai, that he could rest!

But that is not his fate.

He has seen much, seen too much,
And his throat is parched with something crueler than thirst.
Still, he has breath, and strength, and duty.
And hope -- hope that will not die, will not fade, will not let him fade:
Hope that he may be Hope yet again.

That will bide him, for a while at least.