(Note: Set in 1451 SR, so Faramir is 21.)
Hobbits. No one ever warned me about hobbits.
They seem so innocent and innocuous when you first meet them. Utterly refreshing as they are, my first encounter with this race made me feel as though I had not walked these lands for nearly an Age. My laughter easily rose to answer theirs, and I rediscovered simpler joys of food and family and friends.
All tricks, of course. There is nothing innocent about these wretched little creatures. No one ever warned me that hobbits are trouble waiting to happen. And when it is over, will anyone blame the sweet, innocent little hobbits? Or will they point their accusing fingers at the ageless elf imparted with the wisdom of the Eldar?
“Pippin, why would you ever let him try such a thing?” I can hear Merry far below me asking his cousin.
“Well, I thought he could do it, of course,” Pippin answers in an appalling display of inadequate parenting skills. “He seemed very confident about it.”
Merry snorts, then shouts upward, “Legolas is nearly to you, Faramir. Just don’t look down!”
In the branches above me, Pippin’s incorrigible and overconfident offspring answers with a little whimper that surely only reaches my ears. I move steadfastly upward, as familiar with these woods of my childhood as I am with the lines on my own palm.
“Who would have thought a Took would be afraid of climbing trees?” Pippin muses beneath me. “He starting climbing that great old one in the Smial’s west field when he was just the tiniest little thing.”
“Pippin, look at how high up he went!” Merry counters. “That old tree doesn’t go half so high up as he is now.”
To think, I found this banter an endless source of amusement when I first became friends with these two. I wonder what kind of damage it would cause if I were to drop acorns on their heads from this height, but then, remembering past retributions for similar experiments I have conducted, abandon the idea with a reluctant sigh.
I begin listing past grievances in my head, one for each branch I step upon. Roopie lessons. Indecent limericks. Forced pipeweed inhalation. Stolen desserts. Being bullied into stealing desserts. Never even getting a fair share of the stolen desserts. Defiling the waters of the most pure fountain of the Golden Wood to dredge Pippin out. Being defiled in a quite disgusting Hollin bog to dredge both Merry and Pippin out. Snowball ambushes. Rest interrupted by nocturnal hobbit squabbles over blankets and elbows. Rest interrupted by hobbits insisting that they are too cold to sleep alone after their fellow hobbits have evicted them from the hobbit sleeping pile. Rest interrupted by pouncing hobbits. Well, one pouncing hobbit. Unwarranted reprimands from elder hobbit cousins about playing too rough with said pouncing hobbit. Bewildering lessons in hobbit genealogy. Lessons in hobbit food preparation. That whole dreadful incident in Ithilien with the questionable brew, resulting in the drinking-song humiliation. Conkers.
“Conkers?” an incredulous little voice says, and I realize both that I have spoken aloud, and that I have reached my goal.
“Conkers,” I answer Faramir firmly. He is seated in the crook of two branches, holding on for dear life with all four limbs. I lean directly into his face. “Faramir, whatever were you thinking?”
“I wanted to climb to the top and see above the trees, like Cousin Bilbo did,” the young tween-ager answers promptly. “I wanted to see if there were glorious butterflies, like the Red Book says. But then I got too scared to go further, and then I got too scared to go down.”
I reach for him and begin prying him off the branches with some difficulty. “What I want to know ,” I tug harder and manage to transfer his arms from the tree to my neck, “is what the Tooks will do when I am not here,” this small hobbit has remarkably strong legs, I realize when I finally get him to wrap them around my waist, a little too snugly, “to save them from their own foolishness.”
“But you will always be here, Legolas,” Faramir answers assuredly, his voice somewhat muffled as he has buried his face in my neck to avoid the reality of our altitude.
The curse of the Eldar, indeed. I have never felt it so sharply as I do at the thought of countless generations of sharp-nosed, trouble-attracting, yammering Tooks.
“Legolas,” the Took in my arms now squeaks, “are we going up?”
“Legolas,” his father shouts from the ground at the same moment, “I said to bring him back down! What are you doing?”
Presumptuous, tyrannical Tooks. For unforeseen generations.
“Really, Legolas, there’s no need to frighten the lad more. You ought to be ashamed. Bring him back here right now!” Merry adds.
Not to mention self-righteous, overbearing Brandybucks. Thank the Valar that Sam has been prolific -- perhaps his brood will be able to bring some common sense and self-restraint to the race.
“Legolas!” Faramir wails in my arms. I ignore him and break through the top of the trees. I close my eyes briefly and let the soft breeze caress my face.
“Open your eyes,” I whisper in Faramir’s little ear. I then open my own to watch his reaction.
Green eyes wide, bow-shaped mouth hanging open in wonder and awe. All fear leaves the small body and he lets go of my neck to reach his arms out to the incredible vista before us, as though he could grab it all and wrap himself in it. “Oh, Legolas,” is all he says in a breathless voice.
We are in our own little world for some time, but eventually I become aware of shrill, demanding voices from below. “We’d better go back down,” I say to my small companion.
“Does Father sound like he did about the whole wine-barrel mess?” Faramir asks, and I nod in verification. Faramir puts his arms back around my neck as I prepare for our descent.
“Thank you, Legolas,” he whispers into my ear, and then squeezes me rather chokingly.
I lean my cheek against his silky curls and hold his warm little body close. No one ever warned me about hobbits. No one ever told me that once you learn to love them, no amount of aggravation, humiliation, pain or disgrace can remove them from your heart.
“And I am sorry about the wine barrels,” Faramir adds as we descend beneath the tree tops.
“I know,” I answer him.
Unforeseen generations. I suppose that at some point, I will get used living in a constant state of disgrace, and of love.