23. Reality and Relief
Beregond stood guard outside; silently, he wept at Faramir's question. Immediately after, anguish, such as he had never heard, filtered out into the hallway. It was the Cat; it was Alqualondë. He covered his head with his hands and wept more bitterly, for, once he recovered from 'hearing' the cat, he felt a great remorse fill him. 'Nay, Alqualondë, you did right. I was the one who failed.' Remembering Mithrandir's words, that he had saved his young lord, brought only bitterness to his heart. "I should have saved Denethor, too," he whispered brokenly, "I should have slain his servants, put out the torches, and pulled him off the pyre."
A hand touched his arm and he turned, trying to wipe the tears from his eyes.
"You did what you could do, more than any other did, from what Mithrandir tells me. Be not distressed nor ashamed. When the time for judgment comes, you will have a defender on hand who will stand for you."
"My Lord," Beregond saluted the Prince. "You are returned from battle and whole."
"I am," Imrahil smiled. "Whole and in charge of the City until Faramir wakes. Grateful am I that you saved my nephew. It is a deed, though hard in coming, that I will not forget. Now, may I see my nephew?"
"He has been told."
Imrahil blanched. "Mithrandir told me he would tell him and the wizard has been with Aragorn much of the night."
"Faramir surmised much of what happened."
"It was a mistake, an accident. I ask that you question me no further."
"You told him?"
Beregond near choked! "Nay. I would never. It slipped from the mouth of one who watched over him."
Imrahil's eyes misted, but he nodded. "I see. With all we have seen today, with all the horror and death, I am not surprised. Only saddened. I hoped he could have heard it from someone who loves him."
"I believe Peregrin loves him." Beregond said not a word about the Cat.
At that, Imrahil smiled. "So the perian told him. I suppose that is only right and fit. Well, let me go in and see him."
Beregond saluted and Imrahil opened the door. His eyes widened as he looked at Faramir, seeming at peace, with Denethor's cat on his stomach. His nephew looked up at him and smiled. "Uncle," he breathed and tears choked him.
Imrahil strode quickly forward and knelt at his side, taking his nephew's hands into his.
"Faramir!" No other word could issue from his lips, so thankful was he.
At last, Faramir spoke. "I met someone. I have wracked my brain trying to remember who it was. I was in the midst of fog. My mind betrays me."
Imrahil waited a moment. I had listened with eyes closed, feigning sleep; I now deemed it time to stir. "I see Alqualondë lets you command him?"
Faramir smiled. "He does. Commands! That is the answer!" He grasped Imrahil's arm. "I saw the king, Uncle. He was here and I knew him. I offered him my service. "
"I have seen him too, Faramir." He smiled gently.
At that very moment, in walked Merry and Pippin, smiling widely.
"Imrahil!" Pippin cried. "It is good to see you again. Doesn't Faramir look splendid? He's healing well."
"He does indeed look splendid, Sir Peregrin. And who is this that you have brought with you?" The Prince turned towards Merry and bowed slightly.
"This is my very best friend and first cousin and esquire to Théoden King and helper of Éowyn."
Merry's face fell at the mention of his liege lord and then he blushed. "I am tired and would sit, if I may?"
"Of course!" Imrahil quickly brought a chair forward. "Please. Sit here. Faramir was just telling me of his meeting with the king. Have you met him?"
Merry smiled and Pippin broke into peals of laughter. I looked on in surprise.
"Of course we've met him. We traveled with him from Rivendell. We and Gandalf and Boromir and…"
Faramir's moan was low and stifled, but they all heard it.
"Lawks! I've botched this twice now. Gandalf should have thrown me down the well."
"It's all right, Pippin. I'm sure Lord Faramir forgives you."
"Please, Merry, if I may call you Merry?" At Merry's nod, Faramir continued. "Please do not call me lord, for at the moment, I am but a poor recovering soldier. My uncle, I think, has Gondor well tended."
Imrahil nodded. "I must leave you. There is much to do and since your friends have joined you, I will leave you to their happy chatter." He gave Faramir a last embrace and left the room.
Both Pip and Merry looked at his departing figure with some surprise. Then, they looked at each other and giggled. "Chatter," Pippin whispered to Merry. "Chatter," Merry agreed.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.