The day dawned dark and miserable; a strange cloud emanating from the Shadow Mountains crept across the sky. It must have started sometime during the night, for I had not been aware of it before. Its progress was slow, but inexorable. I could feel fear in the streets and in the people's hearts. Even the animals, cats, rats, mice, even the horses, skittered about the City as if a fire or flood were coming. It was a most disconcerting day.
Along with the dawn came the wizard and his Halfling. They approached the Lord Denethor who had a seat placed next to his for Mithrandir; the wizard gave me a quick wink before he sat. Peregrin looked thoroughly miserable. I realized, belatedly, that I must offer the Halfling, Hobbit, I must remember that! I must offer the Hobbit my apologies. I believe the milk I was given was a part of his rations. 'Or,' my brow furrowed in surprise, 'mayhap the wizard gave me his.' A small tingle ran down my back and I chanced a quick look towards him. He gave me a gentle smile and placed a finger to his lips. As if this were some secret between us. It made me uncomfortable, for secrets belonged only to the Steward. I nodded and turned away.
I smiled discreetly at Peregrin's reaction to Denethor's quip about the food rationing. Of course I had told him about the Hobbit's response early this morning to the meager fare. It always did my heart good to see the Steward given obeisance for supernatural qualities. I quickly covered my mouth with my paw, ostensibly to clean my face, and laughed.
I did shine with pride at the Hobbit's promotion as esquire for the Steward of Gondor. I preened myself, knowing that it was my recommendations of the Hobbit's good qualities that swayed Denethor into making Peregrin his esquire.
But when the Steward asked the Hobbit to sing, I truly was startled. Not the kind of day, I would think, that invited song. Peregrin looked completely nonplussed and I found myself again charmed by his humility. Of course, and I should have realized it, Denethor did not ask for song. Not this day. However, I loved his answer. Proud and noble. My heart lurched as sudden sorrow, some premonition, assailed me. Thankless indeed were the deeds of the men of Gondor. Did those in the far reaches of this land know of the sacrifices made by the stalwart knights of this fair land? Of the sacrifice of the Steward's own sons? All for lands and countries such as this Hobbit came from. Free, for a time, from evil, because of the Lord Denethor's sense of duty. My heart sang in praise of him.
I sat, slightly behind the Chair, in my accustomed place and collected myself. After a very long time of standing doing nothing, Peregrin looked up in surprise; the Steward had turned to his esquire and bid him leave. I watched as he left the Hall. Such a forlorn looking creature. I truly wanted to follow him; he seemed somehow lost this day, more so than his first day in Minas Tirith, but I knew the Lord Denethor expected me to stay by him. Now, more than ever, I knew he needed me. Were not Boromir lost and Faramir away? Who else did he have?
Those present spoke of many things of which I had little or no use for, but my ears perked up as I heard the gentle tap of little feet on the cold marble floor. Peregrin had returned from his errand and looked magnificent! I wanted to jump into his arms and purr and congratulate him, but, of course, I could not. None other seemed to notice his new livery. He was relegated to stand again near the door. I could see his shoulders slumped and I wondered what had caused this change in the happy demeanor that I had so come to love.
At last, around the eleventh hour, we were allowed to adjourn for the evening meal. I was famished. I left by the back way, so that as few as possible would see me. My uses are for subterfuge; I am not comfortable being in the limelight. All possible attention should be upon the Steward, so I make myself small. As the Hobbit did today. My heart goes out to him. Mayhap, we might meet for the evening meal. Since there is rationing, I will try to meet him at the buttery. He will need some comfort. But first, to Lord Denethor's rooms; mayhap there is a small amount of salmon left over.
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.