I sat very still for many moments while he waited patiently for my answers. I thought of the regard that Pippin had for the wizard; I thought of the same from the Elves and the Rohirrim at today's meeting; I thought of Boromir and Faramir who also held him in high esteem. I pondered all that had happened these past few months; I knew that I must apologize to the wizard. But that no longer seemed to be the question of most import.
He asked me again, "Would he have accepted me as his King?"
What answer could I give? I had only one, after all I had seen and heard. 'I cannot say what Lord Denethor would have done, nor if he would have accepted you. Know you this, Elessar, I would have. In fact,' I stood and padded to his side, 'I offer my allegiance and my service to you, Elessar Telcontar. Here do I swear fealty and service to Gondor, and to the King of the realm, to speak and to be silent, to do and to let be, to come and to go, in need or plenty, in peace or war, in living or dying, from this hour henceforth, until my lord release me, or death take me, or the world end. So say I, Alqualondë of the line of the Cats of Berúthiel, Queen of Gondor.'
"And this do I hear, Elessar, son of Arathorn, of the line of Valandil, High King of Gondor and Arnor, and I will not forget it, nor fail to reward that which is given: fealty with love, valor with honor, oath-breaking with vengeance."
His eyes began to twinkle as he took me in his arms. "I am not yet crowned King so you probably would be able to wiggle out of this oath if you deemed it valueless, if and when I return from the Morannon."
I shook at his words and nuzzled close.
"You must tell no one, Alqualondë. I know I can trust you with my very life. The people of Gondor are not yet ready to crown a King. Let no one know our secret, not yet."
'I will keep it in my heart, but I will never forswear it.'
"If that is your wish. Now, I leave Faramir in your care. He has many wounds and will need your love and kindnesses. The Warden of the Keys, I believe his name is Húrin, will guard Minas Tirith until I return. Give him whatever he asks. He does not need to know of your gift. It is at your discretion, whether or no to tell him. I leave the Lady Éowyn in your care also. She is dear to me. Not that way," his smile lit the tent. "She is a friend and swordsister. I would have her happy. And the Hobbit, Meriadoc. He will need you, too." He stopped in consternation. "I am leaving you with quite a few charges, am I not? And you newly sworn to my service. Forgive me."
'I would go with you.' I rubbed against his chest and purred loudly.
He smiled again, even brighter than before, and placed me on the floor of the tent. "Sadly, I must decline the offer. Stay here and continue your duty to Gondor. If we do not succeed, Alqualondë, the people of Minas Tirith will desperately need your cunning. You know the hidden tunnels that lead to the mountains passes. Ecthelion had told me of them when I served him as Thorongil. Help Húrin lead my people away. Save them, if you can. Now, go to Faramir whilst I prepare. I will fare you well before I leave."
I swallowed my chagrin, gave one last little nudge against his leg, and padded towards the Houses of Healing, my mind awhirl. Yet, I felt a strange sense of peace and happiness flooding me. I shivered in surprise.
A/N - A paraphrasing of Pippin's oath to Denethor. ROTK: Ch. 1: Minas Tirith. "Here do I swear fealty and service to Gondor, and to the Lord and Steward of the realm, to speak and to be silent, to do and to let be, to come and to go, in need or plenty, in peace or war, in living or dying, from this hour henceforth, until my lord release me, or death take me, or the world end. So say I, Peregrin son of Paladin of the Shire of the Halflings."
And this do I hear, Denethor son of Ecthelion, Lord of Gondor, Steward of the High King, and I will not forget it, nor fail to reward that which is given: fealty with love, valour with honor, oath-breaking with vengeance." Then Pippin received back his sword and put it in its sheath.
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