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

Written by Susana

03 September 2011 | 6650 words

Story: Tales from a Cat’s Eye View
Title: Ecthelion the Cat, or, the Three Ecthelions of Prince Adrahil’s Acquaintance
Author: Susana
Series: Desperate Hours, Prologue to Tales from a Cat’s Eye View
Feedback: Please use the form below.
Rating: PG
Warning: Mention of spanking.
Disclaimer: All recognizable elements are Tolkien’s

Summary: Prince Adrahil and Steward Ecthelion, discussing military appropriations.

Beta: None, all mistakes are mine.

A/N: This occurs sometime in Thorongil’s sojourn in Gondor, before Denethor and Finduilas are married.


Ecthelion the Cat

“Adrahil, there is no way that I can afford to pay that level of mark-up on chemicals for your new fire weapon. You’ll have to find something less expensive, from somewhere closer than Khand.” Ecthelion the Steward of Gondor explained, incredulous, but firm.

The Prince of Dol Amroth gave his old friend and ally a tireless smile. He knew Ecthelion’s bladder had to be full. Adrahil had purposely had his pretty young daughter Finduilas interrupt them three different times with variations on an iced drink she was planning to serve at the upcoming mid-summer celebration. “Now, Theli,” the old Sea Fox argued persuasively, “Nothing else has quite the same…discouraging effect, on the krackens. You wouldn’t want our brave sailors to die, just to save some money from our pockets?” Adrahil hid a smirk as he saw Ecthelion weakening on this point. His old friend Theli had been an excellent commander in his earlier days, before the old Steward Turgon had passed on. That argument had appealed to him. Adrahil would have to remember to thank Denethor and his young friend Thorongil for suggesting it, the other night at dinner. Thorongil… there was something about Denethor’s new sworn brother…something odd… something that reminded Adrahil of nothing so much as his old friend Elladan the elven Lord, in his quieter, more somber moods.

“Well…” Ecthelion mused. “If its a safety issue, perhaps some arrangement could be reached. We couldn’t pay the amount upfront, but maybe an agreement to buy in bulk, if they would offer a discount?”

Adrahil nodded thoughtfully, as if considering that. It so happened that the Khandian merchant was so grateful for the Prince of Dol Amroth’s business that he had already agreed to provide the first shipment for free, which would get them most of the way to a price Ecthelion could afford. But Ecthelion didn’t know that. “I suppose I could talk to the man.” Adrahil offered. “But if he agrees, to say a 5% discount on double the amount specified, then I have your approval as Steward to sign for the purchase, and Gondor’s word the balance will be paid?”

Ecthelion raised a hand, “Now, Adrahil. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. You’re a honey-tongued demon when you want to be, but those men from Khand are strange. I know you could probably talk the Witch-King out of Minas Morgul, but it doesn’t mean that you’ll get the Khandians to agree to what is, essentially, robbery on the high seas.”

Adrahil purposely widened his eyes. It wasn’t entirely a fake reaction; he had once talked the Witch-king out of Minas Morgul, and it was rather strange Ecthelion had picked that example to illustrate his point. The memories from that incident were also rather painful. It was when Adrahil had acquired the ache in his knees that went from painful to near intolerable when he had been sitting for hours, as now. Elladan and the other Ecthelion had told him to avoid anything that gave him that much pain, but Adrahil knew that the best way to get this Ecthelion to agree to these expensive purchases which were for his own military’s good was to keep the Steward in an all-day meeting. Ecthelion’s will to bicker over details was worn down more quickly than Adrahil’s. “Really, Theli, its extortion on the high seas.” Adrahil commented, then tried to make himself look uncertain, but from the look on his friend’s face he was only half-successful. Curse it, Adrahil needed Ecthelion to think it was unlikely he could barter the merchant down 5 percent. If the Steward thought he was likely to actually have to make that expenditure, Ecthelion was sure to disagree. Adrahil needed a distraction, and fast. Unfortunately, it was 15 minutes before Imrahil was scheduled to interrupt next.

Ecthelion, interest engaged, leaned forward. “You really think you can do it, then? I’m not sure if I can commit…agh!” The last comment was directed at a giant black cat, one nearly the size of a medium dog, which had just thumped onto the table in front of the Steward from an open window high in the wall. The cat held in its mouth an impressive catch; a young octopus.

Adrahil, thrilled with this distraction, which he had not planned, greeted the cat “Why, hello there, Ecthelion the II. It looks like you have found a fine baby kraken of your own. Perhaps the Steward shall be inspired by his fierce namesake, and shall be willing to make a little wager on whether or not I can successfully convince the Khandians to give us that discount.”

Ecthelion the Steward looked at the feline curiously, his facial expression a mixture between appalled and amused, and asked “You named your pet cat for me? Really?”

Adrahil smiled, and discreetly poured the octopus into his abandoned coffee glass, while petting and praising the cat he’d spent the last two months trying to get to leave his castle. It was a good thing Adrahil’s persuasiveness did not extend to animals, like his son’s seemed to, otherwise he would have lost out on a distraction. Fortunately, Imrahil seemed to like all animals, and had probably encouraged Adrahil’s timely, furry little interruption to stay. The rooms occupied by Imrahil were a virtual menagerie, but Adrahil had drawn a line at the oliphaunt offered by a visiting bey from Far Harad. “I only had one son, and his mother named him.” Adrahil said quietly. “Ecthelion here is a fine hunter, as you see, and quite popular amongst the ladies, or so the profusion of black furred, abnormally large kittens would suggest.”

“Hunh.” Commented the bemused Steward, thoroughly distracted. “Well, if my little namesake here can take on a kraken, I suppose we should make it so that Gondor’s sailors can, as well. If you can get the discount, Gondor will be good for the amount.”

Adrahil nodded and smiled slightly, still petting the cat, which was purring, and acting like it and Adrahil really were best friends. Adrahil hoped it was a he-cat, or at least that his friend Theli would be unable to tell if it were not. Ecthelion the elven healer would have known in an instant – he had a way with animals that rivaled Imrahil’s. Hmm…the Steward seemed in a very good mood, and a bit off of his game. Perhaps…“Theli, that’s a wager for Gondor and Dol Amroth. How about a wager between you and I? If you’re right, and I can’t convince the Khandian merchants, which even I admit will be a challenge, then I will agree to detach the Lord of Anfalas’ older son from the navy, to serve in the army, for a period of six months.”

Ecthelion grinned, very amenable to that idea. Baranor was an excellent commander, and as politically neutral as they came. He was also a soothing influence on Denethor. “Done. Oh, wait. I had promised to never make a bet with you without knowing the stakes again. What is it you will win, if Khand agrees?”

Adrahil paused, as if thinking about it. “Thorongil.” He said at last. “I like Denethor’s newest man, and I think he’d make a fine sailor.”

Ecthelion shook his head. “Only if Thorongil agrees. He’s a visitor here, and a guest in my home, as well as a captain in my army. I will not ask him to serve in the navy if he is not amenable. He is from the far north, and may even fear the ocean.”

“Done, then. Six months of Thorongil’s service for Baranor’s, but only if Thorngil agrees.” Adrahil smiled, and shook hands with the Steward, sealing the deal. Just on time, Imrahil entered, accompanied by Finduilas, Denethor, and Thorongil.

Imrahil didn’t pause a beat at seeing Adrahil practically cooing over the great black beast instead of throwing things at it and cursing. His boy was quite the diplomat, Adrahil reflected with pride. Ecthelion greeted their young people, with a special word for Thorongil, who had only just recovered from a fever the previous week, then quickly made his exit. Though he paused to bid the other Ecthelion farewell and happy hunting.

His children and future son-in-law took seats around the table, eager for the play by play from the meeting. Thorongil, nursing a sore backside from Ecthelion’s response to his young Captain’s decision to lead his men into battle while seriously ill, elected to stand. Finduilas waited for the Steward to be well out of hearing range before turning to her father with a whimsical smile. “Ecthelion the cat?” She murmured, “Really, Ada. That is not a cat’s name.”

“Distraction” would have probably been better,” Imrahil, ungrateful child that he was, observed with good humor to his sister and friends, “Ada probably overplayed his hand, and Ecthelion, formerly known alternatively as either “Midnight” or “Target,” saved him. Denethor, my brother-to-be, what think you?”

Denethor eyed the cat. He neither liked nor disliked the beasts, though he had to admit they were useful at keeping the rodent population under control. Denethor had some tolerance for any creature, or man, who was useful. “Ecthelion is not a bad name – it must be quite a feat for a creature which dislikes swimming to capture an octopus.” The Steward’s son observed, mindful of his duty to his father, and to his father-by-law.

“Thorongil,” Prince Adrahil asked, curious, “What would you have named the beast?”

Thorongil, who did dislike cats, considered that for a moment. “I would have named him “Diversion,” but calling him Ecthelion probably made for a better one.”

Adrahil smiled slightly, and nodded. Oh yes, Thorongil would do. Thorongil would do well.

Title: Not Because of That
Author: Susana
Series: Desperate Hours, Tales from a Cat’s Eye View, 1
Feedback: Please use the form below
Rating: PG
Warning: Mention of spanking.
Disclaimer: All recognizable elements are Tolkien’s

Summary: A story of one of Ecthelion the Cat and Ancalime the Cat’s descendants.

Beta: None, all mistakes are mine.

A/N: Faramir is just fourteen in this story.


Not Because of That

Trouble paused, whiskers twitching. This was the boy who had made the bad dog go away. Why was he disembarking here, they were not back at the sea castle home yet. Trouble ran up to the boy and meowed frantically. Well, not frantically. Trouble was a great hunter and warrior. She meowed with dignified urgency.

The boy turned, he had always understood her people well. Better even than the dark-haired Prince and his children, and they were better speakers of cat than any other humans Trouble’s people had ever known. The boy stroked Trouble’s soft silver-gray and black striped fur gently, and spoke to her in the humans’ language, his gray eyes kind, his red-gold hair waving in the breeze. The boy meant to leave, to go back to his stone city.

Trouble hissed at the dark-haired Prince who was her owner. He should not have been so thorough in chastising this boy. This boy was good.

The dark-haired Prince rolled his eyes. “Faramir, tell Trouble that you are not leaving because I spanked you.”

“You paddled me, Uncle Imrahil. And I don’t see why Trouble needs to know that, one way or another.” The boy whispered, his pale cheeks flushing. Trouble narrowed her eyes and lashed her tail. She had never bitten the dark-haired Prince before, but if the boy left…

“Faramir, I am not jesting with you. Tell the cat that you are leaving because it is time for you to go back to your father and brother, and not because I punished you, or I will spank you.” The dark-haired Prince ordered.

The boy looked sad. “I don’t understand.”

The dark-haired Prince sighed. “Sorry, I forget sometimes that you don’t know the cats of Dol Amroth as we do. Trouble is the current matriarch, and if she takes a dislike to someone, the cats will all leave that ship. I’ve had sailors have to go on short rations because their food-stores were overrun by vermin. Please, just tell the cat that you’re not leaving because I gave you a well-earned paddling.”

The boy frowned, but knelt to do as he had been bid. “Its not …because of that, Trouble, miel-nin. I am leaving because I was only visiting, and I must go home. My brother would miss me.”

Trouble did not approve, but she understood that her boy was not leaving because of anything the dark-haired Prince had done. After all, her boy was not full-grown, and a half-grown kitten would have been smacked with a paw for fighting a kraken of that size. The boy stroked Trouble’s smooth head one last time, before turning to embrace the dark-haired Prince.

“No more wrestling sea-monsters, please, nephew.” The dark-haired man said, with tears in his eyes.

The boy gave a choked laugh. “No more sea monsters, at least not for awhile.” He gave the dark-haired Prince a brave smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “I have enough monsters of other sorts to deal with.”

“I know that you do. Rely on Boromir, and my man in Minas Tirith, and for Eru’s sake, have a care.” The dark-haired Prince lectured, love and fear in his voice.

Trouble stiffened. The boy was being sent back alone, into a predator’s lair. The dark-haired Prince didn’t want to send him. It was a new thought to Trouble, that there might be a human more powerful than the dark-haired Prince and his sire.

“I’m always careful, Uncle.” The boy assured. The dark-haired Prince smiled, but to Trouble, he smelled even more worried.

Trouble paused. The elder cats said her long-mother, called by the humans Ancalime, had come from a further away place. A place with strange smells, where cats were almost worshiped, where they kept humans in cages. Ancalime had saved the life of He-Whose-Boots-Smelled-Of-Fish, and when Ancalime had been caught by a mean seller of fish, Fish Boots had saved her. Fish Boots had given Ancalime to the dark-haired Prince’s mate, and that was how Trouble’s mother’s line had come to the sea castle home.

Gathering her courage, Trouble meowed to Stalker, “The watch is yours, sister. I have made Ancalime’s choice.” Then Trouble leapt on top of the bag carried by her boy, butting his face gently with her own.

The dark-haired Prince sighed. “Bid her good-bye again, Faramir.”

“Ah…she says that she’s coming with me. That Stalker will take care of the ships now.” The boy said, startled.

“I…see.” The dark-haired Prince replied. “Well, I suppose she will be easier to explain to your brother than Sergeant Menohtar.”

“Admiral m’Lord?” The sergeant who smelled like the dark-haired Prince inquired alertly.

“Menohtar, you are not going back to Minas Tirith with Faramir. That I could not explain to Boromir, or Denethor.”

Title: Ouch!
Author: Susana
Series: Desperate Hours, Tales from a Cat’s Eye View, 2
Feedback: Please use the form below
Rating: PG
Warning: AU; mostly playful spanking
Disclaimer: All recognizable elements are Tolkien’s

Summary: Boromir normally doesn’t mind Faramir’s pets, but this one kitten is getting on his nerves.

Beta: None, all mistakes are mine.

A/N: Faramir is about 17 or 18 in this story.

__

Ouch!

The golden haired one had once again put on the scent that made him irresistible. She crouched down, tail lashing. He hadn’t seen her yet; her moment would yet come. Wait, wait, Mother Trouble had said. This kitten knew how to be patient.

One boot thumped to the ground… then another… the moment was hers! She charged.

Ouch!“ The youth with the sunshine hair cried out, then “Fara, that accursed kitten of your accursed cat just got my ankles again!

Trouble’s boy, also still stripping off clothes that smelled fascinating, appeared in the doorway, an amused expression on his handsome face. “Aww, poor Brom.” He teased his older brother, adopting a lilting tone that was quite different from the normal, deep, soothing tones he used with Trouble, and her kittens. “I didn’t realize that the big, bold, brave Captain of Gondor was afraid of a little kitty.”

The sunshine hair lunged suddenly across the room, in a quick, cat-like motion that Trouble would have praised. He seized his red haired brother around the waist, and flopped them both on top of the bed under which the kitten lurked. “Oh baby brother, I am not afraid,” The golden haired one said, smacking the bottom of his slighter red-haired brother, who was still struggling not to laugh, “but I should not have to worry over my ankles getting clawed in my own room!”

“Ouch!” The red haired boy cried, wriggling under his brother’s half-playful swats, “I’m sorry… haha… I’m sorry, Brom. Um, if you haha… Ow!… wash your ankles, most of your trouble with the kitten should go away.”

The golden haired boy stopped, and sat back, still holding his brother down. “I wash my ankles everyday, idiot. Why do I need to do so again?”

Trouble’s boy looked up from his prone position with a half-apologetic grin. “Promise you’ll let me up, or I won’t tell you, and the itty bitty kitten will keep preying upon your oh-so-manly ankles.”

“Faramir…” The golden haired boy said warningly.

“Ok, ok, someone may have put fish oil inside your boots.” The red-haired boy said, half laughing, half worried.

Sunshine hair sat back on his heels. “Fish oil… in my boots.” He said wonderingly. “That’s… just odd enough to be true, with your lot.” All of a sudden the golden haired youth lunged forward again, this time running light fingers over his brother’s exposed ribs and feet.

“Please…hahahaha… stop… haha… stoooppp… hahaha… .Brooomm… “ Trouble’s boy laughed helplessly.

“Oh, I don’t think so, Faramir.” The golden-haired boy teased, “I’m going to tickle you until you tell me whose idea this was, or agree to take that…beast, with you, next week.”

“A… hahahaha… kitten in… haha, please… haha… mercy, Brom!” The youth called Faramir cried out as he tried to get away from his brother’s tickling fingers.

“Yes, a kitten in Henneth Annûn. Maybe you and your irregulars can drop fish oil on the orcs, or into the boots of the Haradrim, and use this demonic beast’s gifts for the good of Gondor.” The youth called “Brom” said, chuckling.

The kitten cocked her head. One of the delicious smelling ankles was again in her reach… she pounced.

“OUCH!” Boromir cried again, moving his leg so quickly that the kitten went flying, only to be caught by Faramir.

“Don’t worry, Ouch.” Faramir soothed the somewhat alarmed kitten, “You’ll love Henneth Annûn. There are plenty of fish.”

Ouch purred. She was the first of her litter to be Named. And Ouch thought she would like to travel, and go with Trouble’s boy, to the away place, which might have exotic, good, smells.

Title: To Catch a Thief
Author: Susana
Series: Desperate Hours, Tales from a Cat’s Eye View, 3
Feedback: rosasusana7@…
Rating: PG
Warning: AU
Disclaimer: All recognizable elements are Tolkien’s
Summary: A story about Ouch the cat in Henneth Annûn
Beta: None, all mistakes are mine.
A/N: Faramir is about 20 in this story, a very young Lieutenant in the Ithilien Rangers.


To Catch a Thief

Ouch twitched her tail. There was an aggressive squirrel that kept coming into their cave-home, and stealing their grain. And Ouch meant to end his bushy-tailed, thieving, life tonight.

Her boy —no longer a boy, a man really— was sitting beside his Captain, maps spread out on a make-shift table in front of them. A table under which her prey had scurried… that would not save his life, not again tonight, Ouch resolved. She sprang.

She caught her prey under the table, accidentally upturning it as she and the squirrel, who was about a third of her size, fought their fierce battle. She, to vanquish a long-disliked foe, one who was stealing her rangers’ food. He, for his life.

Captain Andacar swore fulsomely, as table, maps, candle, and stone markers went flying.

Lieutenant Faramir winced, though at least he’d caught the candle as the table went careening off its base.

Lieutenant Damrod chuckled. “Cheer up, Captain sir. She’s caught the squirrel. Good girl, Ouch.”

Faramir handed the candle off to his captain, who sighed in resignation as his youngest Lieutenant (also his youngest ranger) commanded the cat to let the rodent be, then tossed a knife with deadly accuracy at the furry thief who’d wreaked havoc amongst their food stores last winter.

“Ouch, a squirrel is a big opponent for a cat.” Faramir chided gently, looking the feline over for injuries. “Leave the squirrels to us, eh? You keep up with the mice.”

“Hmm.” Corporal Mablung commented dryly. “She’s definitely your cat, Lieutenant. I think I’ve had this exact same conversation with you.”

Faramir blushed, but had a clever comeback ready. “That was about trolls, Mablung. I always leave the squirrels alone.” The young ranger quipped.

Captain Andacar sighed. The army had a strict “no pets” policy, but Ouch had proved too useful for him to send away, even once he was forced to take official notice of her. The Ithilien Rangers had a strict “no children” policy, but he’d been forced to accept teenaged Faramir, then Dervorin. And they’d both proved too useful to send away. He hadn’t yet been forced to take official notice of them jumping the border on their little intelligence gathering trips. And the information they brought back kept saving lives, and making it easier for the rangers to do their job of making Ithilien too costly for Mordor to take and hold. So, lucky another day, cat and rangers. Their Captain would just hope that Faramir’s and Dervorin’s luck would keep holding out.

“Faramir, take that squirrel to whoever’s cooking dinner tonight, and you and your cat go get some sleep. It’s late, and you’re off early in the morning.” Andacar commanded gruffly. He was frustrated with the cat’s interruption, but they hadn’t been getting anywhere, anyway. They didn’t have enough information.

“Yes, sir.” Faramir said with a grin, picking the unhurt Ouch up to set on his shoulder, and lifting the squirrel gently. He was glad that Ouch had stopped the squirrel’s raids, but Faramir regretted even that small a loss of innocent life.

Andacar, Mablung, and Damrod shook their heads as the youngest ranger left their company. There was no need to vocalize their discontent – they were all in agreement. Faramir made a good ranger, but it was not easy for him. And they all knew, where Faramir and Dev must be going, to bring back the details they did, on the planned movements of the Haradrim and their allies the orcs. They knew, but they needed the information. Though, if the boys got injured, Mablung might well tell Faramir’s brother, Captain Boromir. Mablung wasn’t an officer or a noble, nor did he have a family to protect. Besides, Andacar wasn’t the kind to severely discipline a subordinate for acting out of conscience. He was a good man, their captain. But one determined to make the best use out of all of the tools in front of him. And that included the Steward’s younger son, and his brilliant mind.

“I’ve a squirrel for you, for the stew pot.” Faramir gently handed the creature to Dervorin, who looked at it for a moment, before putting it aside with a grin.

“Its the squirrel.” Dev exulted. “Good kitty, Ouch. What a good kitty. I knew I was doing the right thing when I put that fish oil into Boromir’s boots…what a clever cat he sent us, such a wonderful hunter.”

Ouch preened. Her person’s friend knew her so well.

Faramir chuckled. “How is it that you keep ending up on cooking and clean up duty, anyway?” He asked, amused.

Dev waved a hand. “Baseless accusations about pranks perpetrated by yours truly. No proof, but they blame the new guy. You know how it is.”

“Right.” Faramir replied, voice wry and amused. “No drugging anybody.”

“Faramir, you wound me. Would I do that?” Dev asked in a light, aggrieved tone.

The older rangers, observing this interaction, looked a bit uneasy. Madril, who had joined just after Faramir, but before Dev, came over. “Dev, I’ll, ah, take over for you. If you’d like. I know a great recipe for squirrel.”

“If you insist.” Dev replied happily, following Faramir, who still cuddled Ouch, to a place right by the falls, where they could speak without being overheard.

“So, we’re on for tomorrow?” Dev asked with a grin, “And thanks for the save, by the way.”

“We’re on.” Faramir confirmed, less excited than his friend. “But we’re going to practice conversational Haradim until dinner, you and I. We need to find out more about where the Bey’s army is wintering, but I’m…worried. The Bey’s men have become more aggressive, and I don’t want to get caught, or conscripted, neither.”

Dev nodded. He didn’t think they would run into any problems, they never had before. But practicing their language skills sounded like a better use of time than cooking dinner.

Ouch purred in her person’s arms, unaware that Faramir’s next scouting trip would come within a hair’s breadth of being his last. Lulled by the strange sounds of the other language her person sometimes spoke with his friend, the gray and black striped tabby fell asleep, dreaming of mice.

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.

Title: Trials, Trouble, and Torment
Author: Susana
Series: Desperate Hours, Tales from a Cat’s Eye View, 6
Feedback: Please use the form below
Rating: PG-13
Warning: AU; Real emotional and verbal abuse of a teenage child in this ficlet. Please do not read if that will upset you.
Disclaimer: All recognizable elements are Tolkien’s
Summary: Denethor and Faramir without Boromir, when Faramir was a young soldier.
Beta: None, all mistakes are mine.

A/N: This takes place when Faramir is 18 or so, and in Minas Tirith on leave from the Ithilien rangers.


“Your brother never tried my patience thusly!” The Steward Denethor yelled at his younger son. Faramir had gotten so occupied in perusing a scroll, that he’d forgotten to appear at dinner, to sit beside the Steward after their council defeat of earlier that day. The world was falling apart around Denethor, and because of Faramir, who would rather lose his head in some ancient manuscript than pay attention to the real world, Denethor did not even have his wife to stand beside him. Denethor was furious, and Faramir was…a target who had never fought back. At least to his father.

Trouble jumped down from her book shelf, and went to stand by her boy. Well, he was a man, now, but Faramir was still hers. She twitched her tail as she reflected sadly that Faramir would stand up for others, even to Denethor, although he usually tried to have Boromir do so for him. And Faramir would even stand up for himself, with Boromir and Imrahil and even his academy commanders or Captain Andacar, who cared about Faramir and listened to him, as much as they’d listen to any teenager of Faramir’s age, experience, and maturity. But Faramir would never stand up to his father-who-wasn’t-really-his-father, at least not to Denethor’s face. Trouble wasn’t sure why, and rather thought it was a shame, as Denethor might have reconsidered a Faramir who argued back with him. Or hated him even more…

Faramir merely stood silently, bearing the verbal abuse. “I am sorry that I lost track of time, my Lord Father. And that my brother is not here, sir.” He said softly.

Denethor scowled, “Well, I couldn’t trust you as I do him, that is for certain. You flinch at killing the enemy.”

Trouble blinked as Faramir stiffened, and curled her tail around herself, turning to look at Denethor as Faramir answered, “But I do kill them, do I not? I am what I am, Father. I am less than my brother, but I, too, serve Gondor to the best of my abilities.”

Denethor sneered, “I might as well have had a daughter,” he spat at Faramir viciously, before leaving, and slamming the door behind him. Denethor meant, he might as well have lost Finduilas for nothing. Faramir knew that.

Faramir sighed, and knelt down to gently scratch Trouble’s head, just the way she liked.

“Well, that’s always unpleasant, isn’t it?” Faramir murmured softly, continuing, “Yes, my father is always in a foul mood when the Council blocks him on something. And yes, he takes it out on me. Although he is quite right, I should not have lost track of time, and missed the chance to show him and the Lords of Gondor my support at dinner. Boromir would never have forgotten something like that.”

Trouble purred, because she loved her Faramir and he knew exactly how to scratch her head, but really….“Mrrowwl.” She told Faramir sternly, but with love.

Faramir huffed a laugh. “I don’t know what Boromir would think, of how Father acts. Boromir’s rarely if ever seen it. It’s just how things are, when he’s not here. It’s better, Father’s less….like that, when Brom is here, or Uncle Imrahil, or even another Lord of Gondor or one of my friends. But…” Faramir’s face settled into the lines Trouble was growing to know and hate, the lines that said Faramir would do whatever he had to do, sacrifice whatever he had to sacrifice, “My father apparently needs an emotional punching bag to be the Steward of Gondor, in these dark days. And if that’s what he needs, I can be that.”

Trouble purred, because she loved her boy. Even though she wasn’t happy with the situation, and she knew Faramir wasn’t, either.

“Meow.” Trouble assured Faramir, reaching up to rub her face gently against his, marking him as hers so that Denethor might know to leave him alone. Trouble would do what she could…Denethor’s hounds loved their master, but they loved their master’s son, too. And so they had stopped chasing Trouble, when she went to Denethor’s rooms after rolling in the poison ivy, and rolled on his sheets. And her fur was the same color as theirs, so Denethor would never suspect her.

“Ah, Trouble.” Faramir cautioned, “I’m not exactly sure what you’re thinking, and I know enough of command to know that one does not pen in one’s capable allies with too much in the way of supervision. However, ah, please keep in mind that my father does need to rule the Kingdom, in the King’s stead.”

Trouble just purred. Denethor was already grumpy, being itchy couldn’t make him much worse, in Trouble’s considered opinion.

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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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