Spring, at first promising to be warm and sunny, turned into cold mornings, cloudy days and rainy evenings. However, the wind was changing and days were getting longer. The people of Gondor were looking forward to summer.
“Tonight.” Perenduin looked again at the letter he had received from Muriel. A note, better say, since it only contained a couple of sentences – she had made a decision and would like to see him. He could hardly wait till the evening. Many questions were in his mind, all without answers. In order not to get absorbed by the overcoming feeling of helplessness, Perenduin checked again all he had prepared, should it come to a sudden escape. And so the day nearly passed, the hour of meeting was approaching.
This time he went to the White Tree. The symbol of Gondor, it grew on an open space on the top of the city, near the Steward’s palace. “At the hour of dusk”, her note said. So it was. The sun was setting, hiding behind the mountains on the East. Its last rays were lightening the Tree, making it look golden, with auburn sparkles. A light breeze was touching its branches without leaves. It had been ages, people said, since the Tree last bloomed. The times of the King…
“Good evening, Captain!”
A familiar voice brought him back to reality. Muriel was standing next to him. Why did not he hear her coming? Did the guards of the White Tree not notice anything? Perenduin, still surprised, looked around. The guards were still at their positions, but pretending not to look at them.
“My lady… This is a delight to see you!”
“It is a pleasure for me, too” she replied. They walked towards the gates of the palace, to the arcades. Guards were marching to and fro, patrolling the passages but after a while Muriel and Perenduin found a place without surveillance.
Muriel spoke first.
“Captain, I thank thee for coming.” She was quite nervous – formalities were no longer needed (as the reader may remember), but somehow she forgot about this. “I thank thee as well for the time that you gave me.”
Again this coolness and distance between them… She might have, after all, decided to stay in Gondor. Why else such an attitude? It can’t be… There is always hope!
Perenduin nodded. “I understand your concerns, my lady.”
There was something in his voice… some incertitude. She looked at the Captain again and a sudden thought pierced her mind. He was afraid of what she would say next. She could no longer stay so reserved, pretending that nothing was going on. Muriel came closer to Perenduin and gently touched his cheek.
“If staying in Gondor means to be alone… then I choose to flee. Perenduin, I want to be with you!”
“You will never regret it, my lady! I will do my best to take care of you.” The Captain leant forward and kissed her, wrapping his arms around her waist.
* * *
…Stars were shining above the city, all was quiet and peaceful. Two travelers rode out of the back gate, heading north. Muriel and Perenduin were at last together and it was all that mattered. They will have challenges in the future, and face death protecting each other – but that is another story; a story of their journeys in Middle-Earth.