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Tales from a Cat's Eye View (PG) Print

Written by Susana

03 September 2011 | 6650 words

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Title: An Uncomfortable Truce
Author: Susana
Series: Desperate Hours, Tales from a Cat’s Eye View, 4
Feedback: Please use the form below
Rating: PG
Warning: AU
Disclaimer: All recognizable elements are Tolkien’s
Summary: A story from Trouble’s perspective in Minas Tirith.
Beta: None, all mistakes are mine.
A/N: This is not long after Trouble adopted Faramir, so he is still a student at the academy, and just turned 15.

An Uncomfortable Truce

I quickly decided that I do not like the man who rules here, in the stone city where my boy lives. His name is Denethor.

I like the boy’s brother, Brom, who will rule here next. And the man Denethor, the Steward, seems unhealthy, his face is strained and his hair is white, like the muzzle of my long-father Ecthelion the cat, not long before he died. Perhaps the boy’s brother will rule here soon. I think that would be good.

The boy and his brother are kin to my old human master, the great Prince Adrahil. But the boy is not the man’s son. His brother is, but the boy is not. Everyone seems to think he is, but if you are a cat, it is quite clear. The boy smells like Adrahil’s get, as does his brother. His brother smells like the Steward, but my boy does not. He is no son of Denethor’s.

But his brother is, and Brom is a good human. He has a loud booming voice that startled me at first, but his eyes are kind, and his hands are gentle. He teases my Faramir, but only when my boy is in a good mood. When my boy is sad, Brom cheers him up, almost as well as I do. Brom calls me “Faramir’s cat,” not my name. But that is fine. I do not mind being called by my title rather than my name, and “Faramir’s cat” is an honorable title. It is better than the names Brom calls my boy – but they are all said with love, “pest,” and “bratling” and “nuisance” and “kit.” I have known honorable cats with all of those names, so they must not be too bad. And Brom does not call my Faramir those names in front of strangers or their father, only in front of their good friends, or me.

Denethor, the Steward who rules here, did not notice me for many weeks after I first came to live in the stone castle. Mostly I go where the boy goes, so I stay at the academy, or in the archives. But this is Yule, when the humans bring in trees, but do not mean for cats to use the trees to mark territory (our long-mother Ancalime was quite clear on this point; one never marks the inside trees. One goes outside in the cold to mark territory, even though it is unpleasant. Marking the inside trees upsets the humans). For Yule, the boy lives with his brother and the Steward in the stone castle, so I live there too.

I was watching the boy and his brother play cards one evening, while the snow fell on the stone city. The Steward came storming into their rooms, to complain about his councillors. He stopped talking for a moment when he saw my boy, then continued, without even greeting my boy, though he greeted Brom by his longer name. Perhaps Denethor is part cat, and knows that my boy is not his son. If Denethor were a good cat, he would care for my boy even so. But male cats, even good ones, can be strange about this, without a mate to whap them into good behavior.

At one point in his tirade the Steward pauses, and looks at me, and it is as if the years roll back from him, and I can see the man he must have been in his youth, the man who was once worthy of becoming the mate of a daughter of Adrahil. “Ecthelion?” He addresses me at first, before logically realizing, “No, that is not possible. Whose cat is this?” He then asks his son.

Boromir would normally say, “Faramir’s cat.” That is what he called me, when his friends asked whose cat I am, or when the archivists asked. To his father, he says carefully, “It was Imrahil’s cat, but he gave it to us for having helped him with his combat simulations, last season.”

Denethor nods. “Treat her well. She’s a beautiful creature, and from a line of great mousers.”

“She’s Faramir’s cat, really.” Boromir then explains, seeing that I am not about to become a cause for parental disapproval.

Denethor looks at my boy weighingly, and I see more than dislike, more than indifference. There’s dislike, but there’s more pain, and hurt, and anger. Not just at my boy, but also at himself. And there is love, too. And admiration mixed with disdain. It is a very strange look. He must be a very complicated man, this Denethor, to have so many feelings about his wife’s last child. Loving kittens should be simple. I would know – I’ve taken in several who were not my own.

“Imrahil likes cats.” Denethor finally said, before asking, “Faramir, what think you of Lord Tarsten’s latest gambit at gutting our military spending?”

My boy, surprised to be asked, still had an answer ready. “I think that Lord Sendar would be willing to fight it for us, if you point out that it will reduce the availability of naval escorts for the merchant vessels carrying his goods.”

Denethor nodded, still giving my boy a look, as if it had been a long time since he’d seen him. “That’s a good thought, Faramir. Boromir, have a word with your friend Galdoron, see if he can’t arrange an accidental-on-purpose meeting between his father and I.”

Brom nodded, seeming very happy that my boy and his father were interacting pleasantly. “I’ll try, Ada, but Sendar is still upset about Galdoron’s going to soldier. Galdron can probably manage a meeting, but Sendar won’t be in the best mood.”

“Hmm.” Denethor considered this. “Perhaps I should have Lady Lindorie ask instead. Thank you for your input, my sons. I think you have saved me much frustration, this night.” Turning to regard me again, Denethor offered me his hand. I am a Lady, and I was raised to be polite. He had treated my boy well this night, and I knew my behavior would reflect on my Faramir’s. So I sniffed the Lord Steward’s hand politely, and let him pet my head. I did not purr, but I blinked as if I was pleased. It is not necessary to purr, the first time a human pets you. It is a gift, a sign of high regard, and the Steward has not earned it.

“What is your cat’s name, Faramir?” The Steward asked, voice pleasantly polite. Not the tone of a man speaking to a beloved son, but at least that of a man talking to a valued subordinate, one with some potential. A better voice than he usually used to, or about, my boy. I kept my tail from lashing, and gave every evidence of enjoying the Steward’s regard, though I did not purr.

“Ah…her name is Trouble, Sir.” Faramir explained.

“Trouble?” The Steward asked, his voice fond, amused. Not warm enough to be a father’s voice, but perhaps a distant cousin’s.

“Yes, my Lord Father.” Faramir explained hesitantly. “She was already named, when I met her. Imrahil said that she is good at finding trouble, and at dealing with it.”

“Ah.” The Steward actually smiled. “Let me call for some wine, my sons.” He said fondly to both boys, Brom and even my Faramir. “I have a story to tell you, about both of your grandfathers, and a cat named Ecthelion.”

I listened intently as the Steward told his story, though I went to my boy’s lap. For tonight, for the sake of his decency to my Faramir, there was an uncomfortable truce between myself and the Steward. As long as he did not act openly against my boy, I would not act openly against him. But I am already with kitten, and I will treat my kittens well, and train them well. Their loyalty shall be to my boy, and within several generations, the loyalty of all the cats of the stone castle shall be his, as well. The Steward will find that he is uncomfortable, when he is mean to my boy. The cats will not keep his room free of mice, and cats have other ways of expressing our displeasure, without it being clear that we are the culprit. Yes, we cats have our ways.

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The following people read the story, enjoyed it, and would like to thank the author: Minkicat , Minkicat , Aneyrin , TrollCookie

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1 Comment(s)

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Thank you for such a lovely story! I love cats (and Faramir, of course) so the combination is terrific.

— Moni    12 September 2011, 10:49    #

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