Author's Note: I was looking through my writing folders and came across this, which was written so long ago that I have no memory of writing it at all. In any case, this very short piece is in honor of Beregond for being such a wonderful fellow, and because I heart Gondorians.

Hope

Not until a black dawn,
hope fades, light is gone,
water breaks, stone burns:
only then will the King return.

Beregond has heard the rhyme again and again; from the mouth of his own father in childhood, from his own son at his games. He too has spoken the words, half hopeful, half disbelieving; discussed it on more than one occasion with his comrades, sometimes at midnight with quiet seriousness, sometimes into their cups with too-loud bravado. He has heard it sung, chanted, whispered; he has sung, chanted, whispered it himself.

In the times before it meant nothing: merely a game for children, a sing-song for wives, a secret yearning for soldiers; never, never did he understand the words. Now he has seen a black dawn; he has felt the hope of the City fail and the light vanish. Now he understands.

This is the time, he thinks and knows and wants so desperately to believe, for the King to come forth. And so he kneels before the clear-eyed man from the north and swears him fealty, and he places his trust in the little rhyme from his childhood, and he hopes.