18. Treachery Revealed
I watched as Pippin sat on Faramir's bed, gently laying a hand on the sick man's arm. My heart was touched, as always, by the simple, enduring love of this Hobbit. My eyes misted as I remembered what Pippin replied to Denethor; the Steward had tried to release the Hobbit before we took Faramir to the House of the Stewards.... "But from my word and your service I do not wish to be released while you live. And if they come at last to the Citadel, I hope to be here and stand beside you and earn perhaps the arms that you have given me..." Never before had I seen such courage at a time of such despair, but even at such a show of loyalty, Lord Denethor could take no hope.
At last, Pippin looked down at me. "I'm glad you're staying by his side. I still have duties to perform, you know. They tell me I'm still a part of..." The Hobbit blushed and my fondness grew. "A part of Gondor's army. I don't know what they'll want me to do, but I guess I can learn. I wonder if they'll let me go home, when all this is over."
I so wanted to comfort him, but the only other living being who knew my secret was dying before my very eyes. I decided, if Faramir died, no matter whether the Enemy won or no, I would soon leave the City, travel south towards Harad, and perhaps hope that another of my kind might be found. There are none left here in Minas Tirith.
"Rohan finally came, did you know, Alqualondë? Before Denethor died, but he didn't hear the horns. It's a shame. He might have lived if he'd known. I wish I'd had the wit to tell him, those last few moments. After he sent the Red Arrow and lit the beacons and all - I think it would have helped him, gave him some hope. What do you think?"
I sat with mouth open. Disbelief clouded my thoughts. After many moments, slow anger began to build in me; my arms trembled to their depths. Rohan answered, I thought wildly, Rohan answered and none told him. He went to his death thinking he had been abandoned by all. I ran in circles trying to relieve the horror that overwhelmed my entire being. Pippin looked on, eyes terror-filled.
Just then, the door opened and he walked through it. A sudden blackness overwhelmed me. Fury such as I had only known once before, when I looked upon my mother's bruised and lifeless body, engulfed me. I jumped at him, my claws fully extended; I roared my anguish. I tried to rake his face with them, tried to kill him, tried to tear him apart. I could hear Pippin screaming my name, begging me to stop, but I could not; I would not!
Another swept me up into his arms and held me close to his chest. Wildly I screeched my hatred. 'You knew! You knew Rohan had come and yet you did not tell him! He would have lived; he would have found some measure of hope to pull him back! You used him, just as he said you did! You used him as a shield and then you let him fall, tossed him aside! How could you?' I shrieked bitterly. 'How could you let him die like that?'
The other held me closer. Gentle words were spoken and my fury slowly lessened, finally dissipating in my exhaustion. I realized my thoughts had flown out so strongly that all in the room had heard them. Even this stranger. I began to weep and the comforting arms held me closer. Gently, a large, warrior's hand stroked the top of my head. More words of comfort flowed into me. After many long moments, my weeping stilled; my heart calmed.
"Gandalf, leave us."
I looked up into the face of my comforter. He smiled down at me. "Little Swan, my name is Aragorn, son of Arathorn, Elessar of the line of Elendil. Perhaps you would know me better as Thorongil. I would have your service, if you would grant it."
A/N - 1) The italicized quote is from ROTK: The Siege of Gondor. 2) This blasted chapter came about after I reread a few chapters of ROTK. At the end of Siege, Gandalf is by the Great Gate and hears the horns of Rohan; then, at the beginning of Pyre, Pippin tells him about Denethor's madness. It absolutely galled me to think that Gandalf knew the Rohirrim had answered Denethor's call, yet did not tell Denethor. Others have said that there was no time, but the chapter is very long and Denethor and Gandalf speak for a long time. There was plenty of time for Gandalf to tell Denethor... Now... would that have made a difference???? 3) ROTK: Ch. 5: The Steward and the King (for Aragorn's telling the Cat his name is Elessar) 'Here is Aragorn son of Arathorn, chieftain of the Dunedain of Arnor, Captain of the Host of the West, bearer of the Star of the North, wielder of the Sword Reforged, victorious in battle, whose hands bring healing, the Elfstone, Elessar of the line of Valandil. Isildur's son. Elendil's son of Numenor.'
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