Faramir lay with eyes closed. The sense of peace that permeated the room was broken by the occasional whispers of his 'visitors.' Pippin's voice reminded him of some delightful, childhood song, light and lilting; the Cat's thoughts were punctuated by what Faramir swore were purring noises. Trying to stifle a laugh, he reveled in this wondrous moment. He could not remember the last time he lay abed without a care or worry. The battle was over. His father had full control of the Citadel and the army. He had a sense there was someone or something he should remember, but he could not. Instead of trying to remember what it was that niggled at him, he decided that rest was more important - again, for the moment. However, the next question out of Pippin's mouth caused his eyes to open in surprise. He looked towards the window where the two sat, Pip on the sill and the Cat on his lap. Alqualondë asked the Hobbit to repeat the question, for which Faramir was grateful. He had wondered if he had heard rightly.
"How does my body know not to fall out of bed when I sleep? I mean, Merry says I bump and move all over. How come I don't fall out?"
Faramir's shoulders shook in silent laughter, but the pain the shaking caused brought forth a low moan. Instantly, his two friends were at his side.
"Did we wake you, Faramir? We're awfully sorry. We were trying to whisper."
"Never the mind," Faramir grimaced one more time. "I needed to be up. Where is everyone? Have I missed father? Did he come whilst I slept?"
An indrawn breath from Pippin and a slight, inadvertent hiss from me alerted him. "Was father hurt in the siege?" Faramir's eyes misted. "Please tell me. I would go to him."
"Gandalf was supposed to be in sometime this morning," Pippin began awkwardly. "We're not supposed to say anything until you speak with him."
I hissed in helpless irritation. Lord Faramir was no fool; he would immediately know something serious had happened!
The hairs on Faramir's neck rose. "I would have you tell me, Pippin, is he dead?" His voice cracked and he began coughing fearfully. The wound tore at him as each cough roiled through his body. He groaned aloud.
"I'll get the healer. Don't move." Pippin ran from the room.
After a moment, the coughing subsided. "Alqualondë," Faramir gasped. "Please tell me. I have not misread what the Hobbit said. Father is dead, is he not?"
I jumped onto Faramir's stomach and curled up. 'He has fallen.' My heart broke again.
Faramir put his hand out and began stroking my back. "Tell me about it. Was it painful?" Tears coursed down the Steward's face. "Was he alone?" He choked and the coughing began again.
Ioreth rushed into the room. "Lord Faramir. Please lie still. I have brought some of that stranger's tea. He swears it will help you. And I believe it. Others have recovered strength after drinking. It comes from near my home. Only the best things grow in Imloth Melui. Please, drink it."
Faramir nodded, used to the woman's chatter, and forced a few sips down. He waved the cup away as another bout of coughing shook him. She waited silently until the coughing subsided again, then offered the cup. Faramir took a few more sips, then lay back, exhausted. He knew things were indeed grave if Ioreth held her tongue!
"He must be left alone," Ioreth turned towards Pippin in consternation. "He must needs rest. Can you not see that or are Hobbits uncaring? My Lord Denethor spoke of your manners. It is not very good manners to keep a sick man up when he needs his rest. Obviously, you cannot keep quiet as you promised. You must leave."
Pippin blushed. "We were whispering," he murmured. "I'm sorry." Then his face twisted into a frown of consternation. "What about the Cat? Shouldn't he leave too?"
"What harm can a cat do?" Ioreth asked aloofly. "Naught a poor little kitty like that can do but give the Steward some comfort. The cat stays."
Pippin opened his mouth to speak and realized it was useless. His face brightened. "Is Merry awake? May I see him?"