I found Peregrin with Beregond at the escarpment. I should have known. He seems stifled by the Citadel itself. A shudder ran through me at the thought. I have always loved the Citadel: its Tower jutting into the air, the smell of the mountain snows behind me, the feel of the grass under my paws as I walk upon the Court of the Fountain, all telling of the glory of Gondor. What makes me shudder?
Beregond looks at me in surprise. "Alqualondë," he says and gives me a stiff bow. "What purpose have you here?"
I walk to the Hobbit's side and rub along his leg. I allow him to pick me up.
"Is that his name?"
"You have met before?" At Peregrin's nod, Beregond replies, "The Lord Denethor himself named this cat. His history is long; his forebears lived with a queen of Gondor, Berúthiel, by name."
Pippin's eyes lit up. "I have heard that name before. Aragorn spoke of it in the mines." A heavy sigh left his small mouth.
Beregond looked at him in surprise. "I know you have had many campaigns before you came to Minas Tirith, but what mines do you speak of? And who is this Aragorn?"
A shudder ran through the Hobbit and I knew he was remembering Mithrandir's orders to hold his tongue. "The mines were, ah, near my home, and Aragorn is a, ah... What did you say the cat's name was, Beregond?"
"Alqualondë. Thank you." He turned towards me. "Perhaps someday, when the sun shines again, we can share our family histories? Would you like that?"
I wanted to laugh at such an incongruous thought. That the Hobbit should think his family's history could hold a candle to mine, but I like the imp and I will put pride aside, for a moment. I purr and nestle into his arms to muddy Beregond's conjecture at the Hobbit's slip. I am surprised that I enjoy the touch of his small hand so very much.
"What does Alqualondë mean?"
"It is the name of an Elf home. There was a terrible deed done there. Do you know about the Valar?"
"I do. At least, I know a little."
"Well, the Valar, one of them, cursed the Elves. Denethor, some believe, uses the cat to curse those he... hm, those he is not fond of. So, Alqualondë means to some, the curse of the Noldor. And Denethor's Alqualondë means the curse of Denethor."
He smiled, but I could see the concern in his eyes. I laugh now, thinking about it. As if I could curse anyone. Yet, the Lord Denethor did not gainsay the people's reasoning of my name. I knew he called me that because I was as white as any swan. And Alqualondë means Swanhaven. I, I thought sadly, was his Haven. As much of a haven for him as the original was for the poor Teleri. I failed him!
Peregrin turned back towards the Pelennor. "Where do you suppose Faramir is? Gandalf is worried about him."
They began to discuss the Steward's remaining son. I knew where Faramir was, why the Steward had not recalled him, but I kept my tongue. The Hobbit's hands squeezed me, tight, very tight. I understood the second it happened, for my ears heard the cry too. Peregrin dropped me, crouched and held his ears. I wished he had held mine. I was at the mercy of the cry. Fear filled me, turned me to stone as it did the Hobbit. Far off yet so piercing. Beregond did not cower, yet fear filled his voice as he called Peregrin to stand up and look. I shook myself; I could not let a Hobbit stand whilst I hid under the bench!
The fell beasts came close to the very walls of the City itself, then swung in an arc, five of them, and back out across the Pelennor. I watched as the Hobbit pointed. There, on the vast expanse of the Field, were four men on horse, not five as Peregrin thought. My eyes are sharp still. I shuddered as the shrieking continued, throwing the horses of the men into confusion. It was a hideous sight to watch. They are lost, I thought, as I watched one after the other thrown from their mounts.
Another wailing screech and the Hobbit almost fell on me in his rush to hide. I joined him under the bench, my back arched. Hisses fell, useless, from my lips. Yet, in the midst of it all, I heard the horn's call. I knew, immediately, that it was the Steward's own son, his Faramir. I knew who it was before Beregond even spoke. How cruel this fate. Faramir would be lost as was Boromir. I wanted to run to Denethor's side, to be there for him, but I could not move. I found Peregrin had taken hold of me and held on as if for his very life.
Beregond was screaming in horror and fear. His love for Faramir contorted his face. He shouted all sorts of things; I could hardly hear him for the panting fear of the Hobbit next to me. But at last, Beregond ran from us. This seemed to give courage to Peregrin and he stood, allowing me to escape from his hold.
I ran towards the Tower, towards Denethor. I must be with him when he hears the news; I must. But, then I heard it. The Hobbit's voice calling out, "Gandalf! Gandalf!" I turned and ran back to the wall. Suddenly hope filled me; Mithrandir was rushing towards Faramir and his men on that great white stallion of his. I watched in horrified wonder as he poured forth a light that confounded the beasts, it seemed, and drove them away. I heard Peregrin screaming in joy, urging Mithrandir on. I called out too, hissing at the beasts as if I could lend some magic to the wizard's own. The beasts flew off and Faramir was saved.
I left then, left the Hobbit behind and ran to Denethor. He must know. He needed to know that his son was safe.
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.