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Tales from Tol Eressëa  by shirebound

I’m beginning a series of short ficlets about the hobbits’ possible experiences in the West.  Each ficlet will be written as I think of it -- some will be linked together, and some will be stand-alone scenes (such as this one).  I doubt there will be any angst, so angst-lovers can turn back now!

My view of why and how Bilbo is still alive and well in the West can be found in my stories “Sing Me Home” (chapter 5) and “The Path to Healing” (chapters 1 and 7).

DISCLAIMER:  Professor Tolkien’s wonderful characters don’t belong to me, I just get to think about them day and night.
________________________________________


The Tol Eressëa Lending Library

And they pondered the storied and figured maps and books of lore that were in the house of Elrond.  ‘The Ring Goes South’, The Fellowship of the Ring


Elrond came to call one morning, and even before he reached the hobbits’ spacious home cunningly built into a hillside overlooking the Sea, he knew that his plan had worked.  At least two dozen Elves sprawled on the fresh, green lawn beneath shade trees, avidly thumbing through massive tomes; several prominent residents of Avallónë – one of them Eärwen, Galadriel’s mother – were standing on the front walk, chatting and exchanging slim volumes; and, out of sight, voices could be heard debating excitedly.  Elrond approached the open door of the dwelling, and peeked inside.

“Bilbo?  Frodo?  Are you home?”

“Lord Elrond!” Frodo cried out with delight, coming to greet him.  His dark curls were mussed and his hands quite dusty, but his eyes sparkled.  Today he was wearing Shire clothes – sturdy shirt and breeches – and not one of the new tunics Celebrían had sewn for him and Bilbo.

“Why didn’t you warn us this might happen?” Frodo laughed.  “Bilbo and I haven’t even had time to unpack them all, let alone catalog and find shelves for everything.”

“Elves are a greedy bunch, are they not?” Elrond said with a grin.  He knelt to embrace the hobbit.  “Is this bothersome, then?  Tell me if you grow weary of the constant--”

“Oh no,” Frodo gasped.  “It’s wonderful!”  He peered at the Elf suspiciously.  “You knew this would happen, didn’t you?   Was it just so we’d meet our neighbors more quickly?”

“That was indeed my wish,” Elrond nodded.

“Bilbo and I knew something was up when all those crates were delivered here instead of to your own home,” Frodo said.  “And when you didn’t send for them...”

“I did not bring the entire library of Imladris with me when we sailed, but a good portion of it,” Elrond said.  “I spent millenia writing or acquiring books, and the traffic was much like this in my own home more often than not.”  He looked around at the Elves coming and going, and smiled broadly.  “Can you imagine how long it has been since the residents of this island read tales, songs, or poetry that they had not written themselves?  Once the word spreads more widely, I would not be surprised if you get visitors from every corner of Aman.”

“There’s such a wealth of lore, histories, and maps,” Frodo marvelled.  “Now I know why the home we were given is such a large one, with room for several libraries and sitting rooms.  We will need them.”  His eyes shone with joy.  “Bilbo is beside himself, having so many learned Elves at hand with whom to converse and debate.”  He began to chuckle suddenly.

“What pleases you so, my friend?”

“Many of your books are written in Westron, and few here read that language.  Bilbo is joking about opening a school.”

“A most intriguing idea.  Tol Eressëa may never be the same.”

“Thank you, Lord Elrond,” Frodo bowed slightly.  “We will guard your treasures...”  He looked around at the hustle and bustle, and shook his head in mock dismay.  “…as best we can, at any rate.”

“Doing your best is all anyone can do, ever in their lives,” Elrond said gently.  “I see you are learning this most difficult of all lessons.”

Frodo felt a great peace settle over him.  “And where better to learn, than in a library?”

“Where indeed?” Elrond smiled.

//////////

This is another stand-alone ficlet, the original version of which was written in July 2007 for Laura Mason (Lorie945).  It was posted at the Livejournal community “lories_friends” in February 2008.  This is “for Lorie”, with love.

Betas:  Claudia and Gentlehobbit
 

Never Too Late 

And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.  ‘Many Partings’, The Return of the King


 

The sound of Frodo calling his name, over and over, rose above the music of Elf voices and birdsong, putting Sam’s last fear to rest. He breathed deeply of the flower-drenched air as the ship gracefully slid into the harbor of Avallónë. After a joyous reunion and feast, he was shown to a soft bed.  Sam slept long and deep, while healing music filled his dreams and welcomed him to the West.

When he arose on the third morning, refreshed and eager to wander about, Frodo suggested that they take a walk to “the beach”. Sam didn’t recognize the word right off, it being said in the Elvish with which Frodo’s Westron was now lightly sprinkled, but as they strolled slowly along, he realized where they were going.

“Really now,” Sam said hesitantly, “I don’t think--”

“Trust me, Sam,” Frodo said, his eyes aglow with joyous anticipation.

Frodo led Sam up a small knoll where they looked out upon...

“Is that really sand?” Sam gasped in amazement. “It don’t look a bit like Shire river sand. Why is it so white?”

“I truly don’t know,” Frodo admitted. “Isn’t it beautiful? And wait until you feel it.” He led the way onward until, entranced, Sam was compelled to pick up some of the white stuff.

“This is lovely! It’s as fine and soft as the powder Rosie used on our babes’ bottoms.” Sam let his handful fall slowly through his fingers, the fine grains sparkling in the sunlight. He squished his feet with pleasure in the soft, warm sand.

“The water is so refreshing,” Frodo murmured, gazing rapturously at the clear, turquoise Sea. “This is my favorite place on the island; I think I dreamed of it all my life. Oh Sam, I couldn’t wait to show it to you.”

“It’s beautiful,” Sam whispered.

“I want you to come to know the Sea as I have. Really, truly, know it.” Frodo held out his hand. “Will you try?”

It had been more than 60 years, but had it been 600 Sam wouldn’t have forgotten how persuasive Frodo’s eyes could be. Had another mortal ever been born with such eyes? Frodo looked at him with a confidence that inspired Sam with the same courage it always had... and always would. It put new heart in you, that gaze.

And Sam gazed back at Frodo, whose face was now so peaceful and joyous. He had become who he was born to be... not the Orphan, the Master, Mr. Frodo, or the Ringbearer, but simply... Frodo. He was finally himself. Perhaps that’s what healing really was, when you came right down to it.

“We’ll take it one step at a time,” Frodo said softly.

It was Frodo asking him to try, so how could he not? Maybe he wasn’t too old to learn something new, especially if Frodo believed he could do it.

Sam swallowed hard, then took a deep breath and grasped the hand offered. Frodo led him to the edge of the warm, clear water, and kept going until they were waist deep.

“Learning to swim after all these years,” Sam marveled. “If this don’t beat all.”

//////////

There and Back Again, Part 1

This two-part ficlet takes place not long after Frodo and Bilbo arrive in the West.


Then through the Calacirya, the Pass of Light, the radiance of the Blessed Realm streamed forth, kindling the dark waves to silver and gold, and it touched the Lonely Isle, and its western shore grew green and fair.  There bloomed the first flowers that ever were east of the Mountains of Aman. 'Of Eldamar', The Silmarillion


Encouraged by the smiling faces around him, Frodo dipped the forkful of white meat into a bowl of hot, melted butter, and studied it closely.  The morsel didn’t smell like fish, nor did it look like any meat he was used to.  Closing his eyes, he put it into his mouth and started chewing.  Celebrían and Eärwen, Galadriel’s mother, began to laugh as the hobbit’s eyes flew open in surprise, and Elrond smiled knowingly. 

Frodo swallowed, and reached eagerly for another forkful.  “What is this?”

“Lobster,” Eärwen told him.  “This meat is from the tail, and is particularly succulent.”

This time Frodo boldly dipped a piece into the tart juice of lemon, one of his new favorite fruits, and then the butter.  He almost moaned with ecstasy at the blend of exquisite tastes.

“This is wonderfully sweet,” he enthused.  “Is ‘lobster’ a fish?”

“It is a hard-shelled, rather dangerous-looking creature from the Sea,” Celebrían said, pushing the bowl of melted butter closer to Frodo’s plate.  The afternoon sun splashed patterns on the lawn-table at which they sat outside the home she and Elrond shared.

“A small group of mariners enjoy the challenge of diving for these,” Eärwen said.  “Only lobsters of a certain size are caught, and only at certain seasons.”

“Delicious,” Frodo proclaimed, dipping another piece. “And I’m delighted to hear that you have seasons.”

Celebrían smiled gently.  “They are subtle, but we sense changes in the air and water.  Animals and birds – even creatures of the Sea – teach us many things by the rhythm of their lives.”

“I was also happy to see so many animals and familiar plants,” Frodo continued.  “Bilbo and I were quite relieved to find butter available here, and tea.  And sweet cream and cheeses, honey, and--”

“From what I have seen thus far, the island is quite large enough for farmsteads and orchards,” Elrond said, spearing a piece of lobster for himself. “My wife tells me that it is home to quite a few animals and plants with which we are familiar; indeed, many originated here in the West, and were introduced to Middle-earth long ago.”

“I wish to learn more,” Frodo said.  “How does everyone occupy their time?”

“I was curious about that, as well,” Elrond told him.  “Nearly everyone has become extremely specialized in what they do.  There are farmers, fisherfolk, sculptors, glassmakers, jewelers, potters, herders, instrument makers, those who build and repair docks, boats, homes...”

“Of course, as time is not an issue,” Eärwen added, “crafts take many years to create and deliver.  However, fisherfolk, chefs, farmers, and herders work with more haste to utilize what the earth, sky, and sea provide.”

“From what I remember of Middle-earth,” Celebrían said, “our marketplaces are not unlike those of Men, or even hobbits.”  She looked with pleasure at Frodo’s nearly-empty plate.  “I am delighted you enjoyed this dish, Frodo.  I apprenticed to one of the master-chefs, and was hoping this would please you.”

Frodo offered her the last piece of lobster, but was not unwilling to be urged to take it himself.  He sat back on his chair, piled high with cushions, and licked his lips free of butter and lemon.

“I’ve been eager to explore the island, now that Bilbo is settled,” Frodo said, accepting a hot cup of tea.  “Are there maps?”

“Not of the island itself,” Eärwen said.  “We are well familiar with our home, and Elves do not forget a path once trod.”

“There were maps in Rivendell,” Frodo said.

“Yes, many,” Elrond agreed.  “However, they were drawn for the use of the Dúnedain.”

“Many of us choose to sail from one place to another, rather than walk – or ride – directly,” Celebrían added.  “Mariners have mapped the coastline, which changes subtly over time, as well as the reefs and other areas of interest – such as where lobster can often be found.”

“Bilbo and I will have to draw our own maps of the land, then.”  Frodo looked from Eärwen to Celebrían.  “I wish to explore the trails and forests, of course, but also the coast – all the way around.  Do you suppose the mariners would agree to let hobbits sail with them?  I am especially curious to see the western side of the island, where the first flowers bloomed so long ago.”

Eärwen laughed merrily.  “I am astonished to hear your words, Frodo.  Your knowledge of ancient lore is vast, and your willingness to sail once again most surprising, after such a long voyage.”

“My experience with boats has not always been the most pleasant,” Frodo said, “but I do not fear them.  We would hope not to be a bother to a ship’s crew if permitted to accompany them around the coastline.”

Celebrían looked at him thoughtfully.  “Perhaps that can be arranged.  You said ‘we’; would Bilbo enjoy such a trip?”

Frodo smiled happily.  “He wouldn’t miss it, I’m certain of that.”

“As am I,” Elrond chuckled.  “As a matter of fact, I can think of several people who might wish to accompany you, Frodo... including myself.”

** TBC **

 

There and Back Again, Part 2

He woke up with a horrible start, and found that part of his dream was true.  ‘Over Hill and Under Hill’, The Hobbit

He found himself wondering at times, especially in the Autumn, about the wild lands, and strange visions of mountains that he had never seen came into his dreams. ‘The Shadow of the Past’, The Fellowship of the Ring


“Olórin,” Eärmir murmured, bowing.

Gandalf looked down at Frodo and Bilbo and winked slightly, then bowed in turn.

“We are most grateful for your kindness in allowing us to take ship with you,” Gandalf said gravely.

“I am honored, sir,” the awestruck elf said.  He greeted various folk from Rivendell, then gave his full attention to Elrond, Frodo, and Bilbo.  “The son of Eärendil and Lady Elwing is most welcome, as are the Ringbearers. I bid you welcome on board Telperion.”  The pride in his small ship’s sleek hull and sparkling deck was obvious as he motioned for everyone to board.  A small crowd had gathered at Avallónë’s busy dock to see them off, and those who had not yet met the Ringbearers murmured softly at the sight of their small forms.

Frodo helped Bilbo up the ramp, walking slowly, excited at the chance to see the entire coastline of Tol Eressëa.  It had only been a few weeks (as far as he could tell) since expressing the desire, and was grateful that plans had been made so quickly.  Elves had all eternity to dream and plan, but mortals didn’t have that luxury.  He settled Bilbo onto one of the large cushions on the deck, where all the activity could easily be seen, then stood breathing in the salty perfume he had already grown to love.  It was a beautiful day with gentle winds that ruffled his curls, and sea birds soared and cried out overhead bound on errands and journeys of their own.  Sunlight reflecting on the water glittered with sparks of gold and silver.

The cry of “Cast off!” startled Frodo out of his reverie, and he wondered how long he had been wool-gathering.  It was so easy, here, to let one’s thoughts drift.  Part of his healing, he was realizing, was simply the gift of time... time to think, to sort through feelings and memories, to regain a sense of who he was, and who he was not.

Telperion was skillfully guided away from the dock, then one gleaming white sail after another was hauled aloft by the small crew.  Suddenly the ship was nearly dancing on the waves, heading north, and Frodo whooped with delight.  He heard Bilbo behind him, in conversation with one of the crew, and was so grateful that his uncle was still eager to experience new things and could enjoy their time together.  Ships of various sizes and designs filled the seas, their sails decorated with swans, stars, or emblems of an Elf’s House and lineage.

Eärmir and his crew were lighthearted and skilled, and sang almost constantly as they went about their tasks.  They served their guests meals of fish, fresh fruit and vegetables, and sweet cakes, and had prepared rooms belowdeck for sleeping; but after the first evening's supper, both Frodo and Bilbo chose to stay on deck, watching the stars overhead from the comfort of the soft cushions they shared before they were rocked into slumber by the gentle swell.

*~*~*~*~*

On the third day, Frodo was waiting at the rail with Bilbo, Gandalf, and Elrond when the small ship rounded the tip of the island and faced into the west.  Just then, the Elves burst into a song of praise for the Valar.  Far across the Bay of Eldamar, there suddenly loomed a range of mountains higher and longer than the hobbits had ever seen, or imagined.  Frodo gasped in amazement, and Bilbo just stared, dumbfounded.  The massive peaks stretched as far north and south as they could see, and the lands that lay beyond them were hidden from view.

The only break in the massive, steep-walled peaks was the deep cleft of the legendary Calacirya.  Above it soared a snow-covered peak, the top of which could not be discerned by either of the hobbits.

“Behold the Pelóri, my friends,” Gandalf said softly, motioning to the steep walls of rock, “and Taniquetil, whereupon rests the dwelling of Manwë and Varda.  You are gazing upon the highest mountains in Arda.”

“At last,” Bilbo exulted. “Real mountains, Gandalf!” He suddenly began to weep with joy, and Frodo put his arm around his uncle. There were no mountains anywhere more magnificent than these, and he rejoiced that Bilbo had lived long enough to see them.  But he, himself, was filled with a vague disquiet.

“I’ve seen this before,” he said quietly.

“How is that possible?” Elrond asked.

“It was but a dream, Lord Elrond,” Frodo said, “or so I thought.”  He was unable to tear his eyes away from the spectacle before them.  “I once dreamed of mountains that I never forgot, and there was never anything to match them even in my travels.  This… this is what I saw…” He fell silent.

Elrond exchanged a look with Gandalf, and slowly shook his head.  That Lord Irmo had gifted Frodo with a glimpse of Aman, years before, filled him with awe and wonder.

Frodo filled his eyes and heart with this rare sight he felt so privileged to witness.  So close, yet so far… he knew that no mortal would ever again set foot on the shores of Aman, yet he was content.  What hobbits could dream of even seeing the West at all?  Only himself and Bilbo… and maybe someday, Sam.

“And here is something else you should not miss,” Gandalf smiled, turning the hobbits about.  They had been so mesmerized by the Pelóri they had forgotten to look back at the island.  But there before them, at last, was the western side of Tol Eressëa.  It appeared wonderfully wild and untamed, with massive cliffs from which thundered waterfalls hundreds of feet high that spilled into the sea.  Brilliant patches of unusual flowers bloomed in unlikely places, and birds darted in and out of the cliffs and small valleys. 

As they sailed slowly through the nearly windless Bay of Eldamar, the Pelóri towering over them, the hobbits were so fascinated by everything they were seeing that they had to be reminded when it was time for meals.  Eärmir felt his heart swell with gladness that he had been chosen as the first mariner to give these small ones such joy in the sight of Valinor, that hallowed land of the Valar.

*~*~*~*~*

Telperion sailed south, then southeast… and finally, after many days of wonder and delight for crew and passengers, once again neared Avallónë, where the trip had begun.  Throughout the journey Frodo, Bilbo, and Elrond had pored over Eärmir’s hand-drawn map of the coast, comparing it to what they were seeing. Tol Eressëa was nearly as large as the Shire, and the hobbits enjoyed every moment of the journey encircling it – the first of many Frodo would take, although he did not yet know it. 

On their last afternoon aboard, Elrond and Gandalf sat at luncheon with Frodo around a small table on deck. Bilbo had left the table early for a nap, and lay nearby on one of the cushions.

“I’ve been wondering about those mountains, and why I dreamed about them,” Frodo said after awhile. “Dreams are strange things, aren’t they?”

Elrond gazed at him. “Frodo, I remember that you spoke at the Council of seeing Gandalf in a dream, but I admit to being startled when you spoke of glimpsing the mountains of Aman.”

“He gets that from his Baggins side,” Bilbo called out unexpectedly.

“I thought you were sleeping, Bilbo,” Frodo laughed.

Bilbo opened his eyes. “I may sleep more often than I used to, Frodo lad, but I am occasionally awake and aware.” He sat up, his eyes twinkling with mirth, and turned to Gandalf. “Remember our little 'adventure' with the Dwarves? I dreamed of the goblins’ attack in the cave before it happened; that’s why I woke up just in time to give a yell. Everything was too confusing after that, with being taken prisoner, and stumbling across Gollum and all, so I forgot to tell you about it.”

“Hobbits,” Gandalf laughed. “I will never cease to be surprised by them.”

“Never underestimate my Uncle Bilbo,” Frodo said firmly. “He’s the most remarkable hobbit who ever lived.”

“One of them,” Elrond nodded. “One of them, to be sure.”

Frodo sighed with contentment. “Thank you for arranging all of this, Gandalf,” he said. “I loved seeing what we could of Aman.”

Gandalf smiled gently. “The lands behind the mountains... someday I will return there; but not yet, my dear hobbit. Not yet.”

Frodo smiled back. It was a comfort to be surrounded by familiar faces – Bilbo, Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel, and others from Middle-earth he had come to call friends. And he somehow knew, without asking, that Gandalf would remain close by for as long as hobbits called this island their home.

** END **

Written for the Baggins Birthday Mathom Exchange on Livejournal.


ONCE UPON A TIME

As the gentle years passed, it became a tradition for the two hobbits to spend their birthdays simply, and with only one another for company. Someone always seemed to remind the elves what day it was (Frodo suspected Gandalf), and baskets of cakes, fruit, smoked fish, and savory breads (as well as small wrapped packages) would appear on their doorstep in the week leading up to what would be – in Middle-earth – September 22. Frodo would ask Bilbo to pick one of his favorite places, and there they would picnic and talk, nap and dream, for several days and nights. This year, Bilbo had spoken longingly of the grove of the White Tree, and its clear blue lake where at night the stars glittered so brightly on the waters.

Elrond and Erestor took them there on their horses, and would return to bring them home.

A blanket was spread beneath the Tree, after which the two hobbits waded into the lake to see the fish. Covered baskets stood ready, brimming with delicacies... and gifts that would remain a surprise until opened. Now they sat together, hand in hand. There was one more tradition to be observed.

“Are you ready, uncle?” Frodo asked. A breeze ruffled their long curls, and Bilbo nodded with a smile.

“Once upon a time…” Frodo began softly, in that familiar way that Bilbo so loved. The old hobbit closed his eyes, his head resting against his nephew’s shoulder, the soft Elvish tunic gently brushing his cheek.

Frodo spoke of a wanderer named Strider, whose courage, noble spirit, and strength of will brought him the kingship of an ancient land and the lady of his heart’s desire. It was Bilbo’s favorite story, and every time Frodo told it, it seemed to grow more exciting -- the mountains higher, the deeds more daring, the end more joyous. Frodo played a part in the story, as did the Gaffer’s son, and their cousins, even Lord Elrond and others he cherished. Oh, it was a tale well told, sometimes even beginning with Bilbo himself, an Adventure from long ago when he was young and foolish and dreamed restless dreams. Life was peaceful now, his days calm and every moment treasured, here in this land of light and color and no visitors who were unwelcome or wearying.

“And the king and his lady lived happily ever after,” Frodo finished, stroking Bilbo’s hair.

“Thank you, dear boy,” Bilbo murmured. “That was lovely. Perhaps we should have our luncheon now. Would that be all right?”

“Yes, uncle,” Frodo smiled. “Everything’s ready; you don’t have to worry about a thing. Ever again.” And we lived happily ever after, he thought contentedly, breathing in the fragrance of elanor blossoms that dotted the soft grass on which they sat, and the sweet scent of the Tree rustling gently above them. And when the stars came out, one by one, he and Bilbo called them by their Elvish names, and rejoiced in their beauty.

//////////

Song lyrics below by J.R.R. Tolkien


THE MAN IN THE MOON

The first gems that Fëanor made were white and colourless, but being set under starlight they would blaze with blue and silver fires brigher than Helluin; and other crystals he made also, wherein things far away could be seen small but clear, as with the eyes of the eagles of Manwë. ‘Of Fëanor’, The Silmarillion



“It is an heirloom of the House of Finwë,” Elrond said. The tiny gems woven throughout the intricate carvings glittered and flashed.

“Is this gold?” Frodo asked in awe, running a gentle hand across the surface of the tube, which was about six inches long. “Why are they giving me one of their heirlooms? I haven’t met anyone named Finwë.”

“No, you have not.” Elrond leaned back against the tree beneath which he and Frodo sat, nearby the hobbits’ home on the cliff overlooking the Sea. “He perished long ago. This was made by Fëanor, his son... my great-great-great uncle, more or less.”

“More or less?” Frodo asked, his eyes sparkling with interest. Elrond couldn’t help smiling; he had no doubt that Frodo would someday insist on knowing every detail of his unusual ancestry.

“It’s all right,” Frodo grinned. “You don’t have to go into it this minute.” He thought about what Elrond had said. “Fëanor means ‘spirit of the sun’.”

“That is how his name translates in the Common Tongue,” Elrond agreed. “However, he was born in the Day before days, before the golden fruit of Laurelin was set in the sky. The true meaning of his name is ‘spirit of fire’.”

“He’s the one who made the Silmarils.”

“Yes.”

Frodo looked up, but Vingilot was not yet visible in the sky. He began to inspect the tube more closely. “This must be incredibly old.”

“Indeed, Fëanor lived a very, very long time ago.” Elrond sighed. “He created much beauty, but was the cause of much tragedy, as well.”

“Is that why I haven’t heard much about... oh!” Frodo gasped, as what had appeared to be a seamless tube suddenly twisted at the end. “Have I broken it?”

“No,” Elrond assured him. He covered Frodo’s small hands with his own and showed him how the device was constructed – the main cylinder held two smaller ones, each of which could be pulled out smoothly, one from the other, until the total length was nearly two feet. With a gentle push, he collapsed the sections once again.

“This is called a viewing crystal.”

“There’s a crystal inside?” Frodo looked through the tube, but saw only a blurred bit of light through what seemed to be glass.

“There are several,” Elrond said. “Fëanor’s mastery of the earth gems was unsurpassed. His creations have never been duplicated by anyone else.” He pointed out to Sea. “Do you see that ship? The one with the three swans on its sail?”

Frodo stared at the dark speck. “I will trust your word that it is a ship, but I cannot even see a sail, let alone what might be on it.”

“Look through it – no, from this end. Grasp it with one hand, and slowly change its length.”

Frodo held the device to one eye, and did as Elrond had instructed. After a moment, he gasped, pulling and twisting the cylinders to adjust them. The blurred light slowly sharpened into a brilliantly clear image of dancing, sparkling waves. Astonished, he located the ship.

“There are four Elves aboard!” Frodo cried out in excitement.

“Yes.” Elrond remained silent as Frodo grew absorbed in different sights on the Sea, and over the land as well. As the Sun began to set behind them and it grew more difficult to see, Frodo lowered the tube, his face alight with wonder.

“You may thank Gandalf for this gift, the next time you see him,” Elrond said. The sudden look in Frodo’s eyes took him by surprise. “What concerns you?”

“Is he still... Gandalf?” Frodo asked hesitantly, giving voice to a fear he had harbored for many weeks. “I’ve been wondering if he would take a different form here, or if we should call him something else, or not bother him too much.”

“Frodo,” Elrond said gently, “Gandalf is very fond of you and Bilbo, and always will be. For you, he will always be Gandalf, and would be greatly distressed if you treated him differently than the dear friend he has always been. I assure you that he will visit often, and continue to be exasperated and delighted by his beloved hobbits.”

Frodo smiled with relief.

“He hoped this gift would please you and Bilbo, and persuaded Fëanor’s family to part with it for a time.”

“We’ll take good care of it,” Frodo promised. He gazed thoughtfully at the Moon, round and full above them. “I’ve always wondered why it looks as it does, with those dark patches.” Frodo raised the tube again, and Elrond saw the hobbit’s mouth form an “O” of amazement.

“Tilion, who guides the Moon on its course, once was assailed by the forces of Melkor; however, Tilion emerged victorious,” Elrond said. “In the battle the Moon was scarred, and bears the wounds you see to this day.”

“We have songs about the Moon, but I never dreamed...” Frodo’s voice trailed off, and after awhile, he shifted his focus towards a thick patch of stars. “Do you suppose, when Vingilot rises...”

“You will see it as never before.”

“What a wonderful gift,” Frodo whispered. The tube was growing heavy, and he set it in his lap.

“Use it to view whatever you wish, but do not gaze at the Sun,” Elrond said. “Be sure to warn Bilbo about that.”

“I will,” Frodo said. His mind was racing with possibilities. “Will this work under water?”

“I have no idea!” Elrond laughed. “You will have to let me know.” He looked east suddenly, to a brilliant star low on the horizon.

“Here,” Frodo said, handing him the tube. “Perhaps you’ll see him even better with this.”

Will I? Startled, Elrond took a deep breath before peering through the device himself, and Frodo saw a slow, joyous smile light his face.

“You may borrow it anytime you like,” Frodo said softly.

“Thank you,” Elrond murmured. After a few minutes, he, too, focused the crystals of Fëanor on the face of the Moon – the hallowed vessel bearing the last flower of Telperion -- and marveled at details he had never before seen. As he watched, he grew aware of a soft humming, then a sweet voice singing.

“There is an inn, a merry old inn
beneath an old grey hill,
And there they brew a beer so brown
That the Man in the Moon himself came down
one night to drink his fill...”

Far, far above, Tilion caught the notes of a sprightly tune, conveyed with innocence and a childlike joy. Into the West had come at last something young, a new song blending seamlessly with the ancient Music. It was unexpected, but not unwelcome. And he stayed his course for a moment, delighting in the sound.

/////

Written for the Livejournal lotr_community's "Out on a Limb" challenge


LIVING JEWELS

There is some work that may be accomplished once only,” she had said long ago, and such was the truth. But lately, an urge had been growing to set her hand to a new task, and the means to do so had arrived on yestereve's tide.

And so Yavanna had taken to herself the Rings of Sapphire, Adamant, and Ruby, still faintly a-glimmer with promise and purpose; and also the crystalline phial containing the essence of the Silmaril of Fëanor, its brilliance potent, and achingly familiar. All four had been freely given by their bearers, bestowing upon each person a great virtue.

She stood alone beneath the stars, murmuring words to each jewel in the pure language of Eä. Then she knelt and pressed them deeply into the moist earth with her own hands before rising, and spread her arms wide.

Her song was long in the weaving, but after twelve turnings of the Sun she felt the stirrings of new life beneath her feet, a pulsing eagerness. Here, in this verdant meadow, a sapling would rise, tall and fair. Its flowers of white and blue and rose would radiate warmth, their mingled fragrances and colors blending in harmony. And the light of each bloom would be soft, out of necessity, lest the eyes of the mortals who now dwelt here be overwhelmed.

She saw the Tree full-grown bringing forth sweet fruits, their seeds carried to far-flung gardens and lovingly tended. In time, new saplings – sons and daughters of living jewels – would flourish.

Each earth-gem had contributed its essence – vigor, healing, preservation, resolve. And so the faithful Maia, the weary hobbit children, Finarfin’s proud daughter, the Peredhel who had begun to mourn the separation from his home and loved ones... each would come in search of refreshment for their song. Here they would discover the opening notes that would guide their healing; she could already sense faint strains of Music.

All of this Yavanna perceived in her heart and mind before the seed had pushed out the first tendrils toward deep waters and open sky. Of the Tree that would stand here one thing alone she did not know: its name. It would be given by the small one who yet lingered in Middle-earth. Even now, her cherished gardener walked here in his dreams.

When all was prepared, she spoke a soft blessing to the earth, and felt it respond. And then she was gone, only a faint whisper of breeze and sparkle of air to mark her passing.

** END **

Written for the LJ 2009 Baggins Birthday Bash Great Mathom Exchange


FOR THE WIZARD WHO HAS EVERYTHING

'And how it draws one to itself! Have I not felt it? Even now my heart desires to test my will upon it, to see if I could not wrench it from him and turn it where I would -- to look across the wide seas of water and of time to Tirion the Fair, and perceive the unimaginable hand and mind of Fëanor at their work, while both the White Tree and the Golden were in flower!’ Gandalf, ‘The Palantír’, The Two Towers


Gandalf rarely found himself speechless, especially these days, but when he did, it was usually due to astonishment for or admiration of something involving hobbits. As he dismounted from Shadowfax and lifted down Frodo and Bilbo, he looked into their hopeful, eager faces and tried to compose himself.

“However did you know?” he asked softly.

“Pippin told us about his journey with you on Shadowfax, and all the things you talked about,” Frodo explained.

“You won’t be breaking any kind of rule,” Bilbo assured his old friend, his eyes sparkling with excitement. When he and Frodo had requested this ride, they had not told Gandalf why they wished to visit this place… until now. “We asked Elrond, who apparently told his mother, who happened to mention it to one of the Eagles, and I assume somehow Lord Manwë heard about it, and well…”

“It’s our birthday gift to you,” Frodo said, gazing up at the wizard joyfully. The Tower of Avallónë soared above them, and he reached out to touch the pure white, sparkling stone, smooth as glass. “Oh, isn’t it lovely?”

“Go on,” Bilbo urged Gandalf. “Now, be sure to remember everything, and if you can share parts of it, do let us know. Promise?”

“I promise,” Gandalf whispered. “Thank you.” He knelt to embrace them both, then straightened. Taking a deep breath, he began his ascent to the high, ancient chamber where the Masterstone waited.

"I knew he'd like it," Frodo said happily, settling down to wait. Shadowfax playfully nosed the hair of both hobbits, pushing long, wind-whipped curls into new and amusing shapes, before wandering a short distance away.

"A positively inspired birthday gift, my boy," Bilbo agreed, lying back on the soft grass. “I don’t know how we’ll top it next year. Still, how are we to explain all this to Lady Galadriel? We’re only giving her peach crumble."

"From your mother's very best recipe," Frodo reminded him.

"True, true," Bilbo chuckled. He looked up and up, to the top of the gleaming white Tower, and his imagination took him even higher.

“Do you think you’ll ever want to look into the Stone yourself?” Frodo asked.

“I longed only to see mountains,” Bilbo said contentedly, “and the most glorious ones in all of Arda are here in the West.” He closed his eyes. “And you?”

“Someday, perhaps,” Frodo smiled. “Happy Birthday, Bilbo.”

"Happy Birthday, dear lad."

*~*~*~*~*

Thither Elendil would repair, and thence he would gaze out over the sundering seas, when the yearning of exile was upon him; and it is believed that thus he would at whiles see far away even the Tower of Avallónë upon Eressëa, where the Masterstone abode, and yet abides. ‘Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age’, The Silmarillion

Written for the lotr_community anniversary challenge on Livejournal.

Challenge: Choose a line from the hobbits' walking song in the chapter ‘Three’s Company’ from The Fellowship of the Ring, and write a story or poem or create a work of art based on that line.



IN SHIPS MADE OF DREAMS

“Mist and twilight, cloud and shade,
Away shall fade! Away shall fade!
Fire and lamp, and meat and bread,
And then to bed! And then to bed!”

There was a cry of approbation when Frodo finished his song, and he bowed and resumed his seat on the high cushions on which he and Bilbo enjoyed the entertainments in the Great Hall of Avallonë. The Elves then turned in expectation to Bilbo, who delighted them by repeating the song in Quenya in a somewhat shaky but still tuneful voice. The listeners, especially those who knew little or no Westron, clapped and asked to hear it again, to which Bilbo happily obliged. Finished, he bowed deeply, flushed and pleased.

“Thank you, friends.” Celebrían sat near the hobbits with her husband and Erestor. “As you are learning about us through our songs, so we continue to learn more about your folk.”

“I fear that you may learn no more,” Frodo said with a rueful smile, taking a sip of the excellent wine. “Over these years, I think that Bilbo and I have emptied our memories of every song we know.” He gazed fondly at his uncle. “Bilbo wrote most of them long ago, and they are no doubt sung throughout the Shire to this day.”

“Surely you know a few more songs?” Erestor asked in dismay.

“Hobbits have not thousands of years in which to pour out endless prose, my friend,” Frodo said with a laugh. “Bilbo, do you remember any other...” His voice trailed off when he saw that his uncle was absorbed with writing something in a small book of bound pages. “Uncle, are you writing again?” he asked, delighted.

Bilbo nodded, slowly looking up from the blank page on which he had scrawled a single line.

“It’s true, my lad, I haven’t written poetry in ever so long, but I had a dream last night that... filled me with such peace. I remembered nothing else about it when I woke, save for one line of verse. It just came back to me:

“Set sail through the Music so long ago sung.”

Frodo’s jaw dropped in surprise. “Bilbo, I woke this morning with a bit of verse in my head, as well!” He closed his eyes for a moment, trying to remember.

“There's no growing old, while the Sea is still young.”

“Well now... that’s rather a comforting thought for someone as old as I am,” Bilbo said, repeating the line to himself.

"That is quite a nice beginning,” Elrond said encouragingly. “Why do you not write something together?”

“What a splendid notion!” Bilbo said.

“Together?” Frodo chuckled. “Bilbo, why didn’t we ever think of that?”

Erestor looked at the hobbits thoughtfully.

“My friends, your hearts and spirits are becoming as much a part of the West even as they resonate to your sweet Shire. I can think of few things more inspiring than the Music that came before all songs, and the Sea in which we will hear Its essence for as long as Arda endures.”

Frodo suddenly took up Bilbo’s pen and book, and swiftly put down two more lines that seemed to flow effortlessly from the first two.

Through starlight we fly in fiery streams,
Past mountains of crystal in ships made of dreams...

As Frodo and Bilbo huddled together over the page, oblivious to all else, Elrond quietly rose to his feet, and Celebrían and Erestor did the same.

“I suspect we will be hearing a new song very soon,” Erestor said happily, as they left the hobbits. “Lord Irmo has gifted our friends with a shared vision that will, if we are fortunate, be the first of many.”

After what seemed like just a few minutes, Frodo looked up from the pages he and Bilbo had filled with poetry, and was startled to see that the Hall was empty. Through the open roof, he observed that the stars of evening had set and the sky was beginning to lighten. He gently touched Bilbo’s shoulder.

“My goodness, have we been at it all night?” Bilbo asked. He yawned and stretched. “Is there any wine left? Writing is thirsty work.”

Frodo refilled their glasses, overjoyed to see a glow in Bilbo’s eyes that he had been sorely missing. With a glad smile, he raised his goblet.

“It appears we’re in for a new adventure, Uncle.”

Bilbo beamed at him happily. “And whyever not? Remember what I taught you, dear boy? About the Road?”

“It goes ever on and on,” Frodo said quietly.

“Indeed it does,” Bilbo agreed. He and Frodo listened as the distant, sweet voices of Elves sang the stars to their rest, and the Sun into a new day. “Indeed it does.”

Author Note: My thanks to those who responded to my request for Elvish translation advice. I greatly appreciate the assistance.

Written for the 2014 birthday of Mews.

***********

ALL RIVERS RUN TO THE SEA

‘Come dear folk!’ she said, taking Frodo by the hand. ‘Laugh and be merry! I am Goldberry, daughter of the River.’ Then lightly she passed them and closing the door she turned her back to it, with her white arms spread out across it. ‘Let us shut out the night!’

The hobbits looked at her in wonder; and she looked at each of them and smiled. ‘Fair lady Goldberry!’ said Frodo at last, feeling his heart moved with a joy that he did not understand. He stood as he had at times stood enchanted by fair elven-voices; but the spell that was now laid upon him was different: less keen and lofty was the delight, but deeper and nearer to mortal heart; marvellous and yet not strange.

‘In the House of Tom Bombadil’, The Fellowship of the Ring


Very quietly, Frodo left Celebrían’s house where he and Bilbo were staying while their own cozy hole was being built into a hilltop overlooking the Sea. He had dreamed again of Sam’s children, with Sam and Rosie and Aragorn and others he loved watching them grow, and the feeling of loss and longing with which he had awoken felt like a heavy weight upon his heart. He walked through the fragrant gardens, their blooms aglow with the morning’s first rays of the Sun, then let his feet travel what path they would, lost in his thoughts. When he finally looked around, he was surprised to find himself on a trail leading through a thickly-wooded area some distance from the house. He had stopped just in time to avoid walking right into a swift, sparkling tumble of water that cut the path neatly in two. Listening to the soft splashing, he was again assailed by memories of home both sweet and bitter. Closing his eyes, he could easily imagine that he had left the Blessed Isle and was once more in the Green Hill Country of the Tooklands, where he had for so many years rambled happily with Bilbo, and later with his cousins.

As he stood there, a strange, tingling dizziness grew in him, and he felt momentarily breathless. He quickly opened his eyes and reached out to the nearest tree to steady himself.

“Frodo,” came a soft voice, and a tall, beautiful lady with golden hair stepped out from behind the very tree he was grasping.

“Oh!” Frodo gasped. “I didn’t see you there, Lady. Do you dwell nearby?” And then he bowed deeply. “Your servant, to you and your family.”

“And I to yours, Elf-friend,” the lady said gravely. She took one of Frodo’s hands in hers, and his feeling of weightlessness increased, until he felt that he could at any moment float off above the trees. He unconsciously dug his toes into the sandy soil to anchor himself to the earth more fully.

“Fear not.” Her voice seemed familiar to Frodo, and he sought to place it. “Very few of the Firstborn ever perceive my presence, and to none of the Secondborn have I spoken until now. Your fëa is troubled, as Siriel told me would be so.”

“Forgive me,” Frodo said, confused, “but I don’t remember meeting anyone with that name.”

“Ah, but you did, and her memories of you are strong.” The lady’s eyes grew distant. “My sister made her choice long ago. Binding herself to love narrowed her guardianship to a small land, but although a great Sea and more now separate us, the waters carry her song even here, and we are at every moment less than a heartbeat from one another. Such is the same with you, and the loved ones you left behind in Endórë. Your connection to them is of the heart, and can never be broken. It will endure for now and always.”

“Of whom do you speak?” Frodo asked in awe.

She knelt, and touched her free hand to the clear water. Through the hand that still held his, Frodo felt a sudden, intense connection to this tiny brook, to all brooks and rivers, to the Brandywine far away, onward to the Withywindle, to... the smiling face of Goldberry that, even in memory, caused his spirits to lift.

“Siriel!” Frodo realized with sudden clarity. “That's Elvish for 'river daughter'!”

“We are guardians, she and I,” the lady said simply, “two of many.” She caught Frodo’s gaze, and held it. “The waters of Arda speak as one, and echo the Ancient Song. Hear their message, Frodo. To dance, to sing, to flow, to wait patiently, to rush to meet a new day, a new beginning, to swell, to recede, to nourish and be nourished… There is nothing the waters cannot teach you.” She dipped her hand once again into the water and then raised it high, smiling at each crystalline droplet as it fell. “Waters of Arda,” she murmured, “let the healing begin.”

The birdsong hushed, and everything around Frodo went silent. Suddenly, from what he had believed to be a simple brook came a bubbling, rushing pulse of sound, at once ancient and new, powerful and gentle, simple yet wise. As he stood, transfixed, a pure song of air and water and light filled all of his senses. He closed his eyes as something deep within him loosened the stinging, hard knot of homesickness. The bitter pain was softened, released into a vast and cleansing Sea.

“Enough for now,” whispered a voice. Frodo felt the lady release his hand, and the air was filled once again with the call of birds, the busy splashing of water over small rocks, the rustle of woodland creatures. He opened his eyes, feeling light and buoyant, suspended between his old home and this new one, understanding for the first time that he could draw strength from each. The Song, which for a moment had caught him up and left him breathless, had already faded in his memory, leaving behind a brilliant, slender strand of liquid gold -- a pathway linking him to the hearts of those he loved, and they to him.

Frodo looked up, wishing to thank the lady, to ask her name and if she might meet him here again, and so many other things, but he was alone. He raised his hand wonderingly, still warm from where she had held it, and remembered another hand holding his, from another time. Smiling at his foolishness, he sent a tentative, grateful thought out along the golden thread.

I will never forget you, lady Goldberry. Thank you for sending your sister to welcome me home.

And far away, among the deep woods of a small and protected land, a woman danced barefoot in the rain, taking joy in every step and twirl.

“Laugh and be merry, Elf-friend!” she called out, and the raindrops echoed her words, and the waters sped them far away over the Sea, and Frodo, his heart stirred to a sudden carefree merriment, began to laugh, his bright voice joining that of the tumbling waters below and the song of birds above. And just for a moment, he imagined that he felt a soft brush against his brow, as if a gentle kiss had been bestowed there.

** END **

THE KINGS' BLESSINGS

"I will take your gift, O Bilbo the Magnificent!" said the king gravely. "And I name you elf-friend and blessed. May your shadow never grow less (or stealing would be too easy)! Farewell!"

Then the elves turned towards the Forest, and Bilbo started on his long road home.

‘The Return Journey’, The Hobbit


Aboard ship, Frodo and Bilbo slept soundly in comfortable beds. So deeply did they slumber they never quite knew whether one night had passed, or several, before arising refreshed to smell the salt air and enjoy the sparkling of the sun and stars on the ever-changing Sea. When they arrived in the West, the same uncertainty remained regarding the passage of time; therefore, it took them both quite by surprise when, one lovely afternoon, Gandalf arrived on Shadowfax at Celebrían’s house, where they had been staying, calling out, “Happy birthdays, my dear hobbits!”

“My goodness, has it truly been a year already?” Bilbo asked. “I believe I may have lost track of the time.”

“As have I,” Frodo said, smiling up at Gandalf. As the wizard dismounted, Frodo caught a glimpse of shimmering silver paper and deep blue ribbon in their friend’s hand. “What have you got there, Gandalf? It’s not the custom of hobbits to receive presents on their birthdays, you know.”

“This was entrusted to me before we left Rohan,” the wizard explained, joining them on the wide porch. “Men receive gifts on their birthdays, and Aragorn hoped you would forgive the disregard for hobbit custom. Bilbo, there is also a letter.” He produced a folded note, sealed in wax showing a tree with seven stars.

“For me, from the Dúnadan?” Bilbo asked, as excited as a child. “Read it to me, would you, Frodo?”

Frodo nodded, taking the letter from Gandalf. He carefully broke the seal, unfolded the note, and began to read:

Dear Bilbo,

Before Frodo left Mina Tirith, I gifted him as richly as he would accept, but had we showered him with a dragon-hoard of silver and gold it would not have been enough. I cannot even now bear to imagine the fate of Middle-earth had he not endured and overcome tests that would have broken many an elf, dwarf, or man. If Frodo is beside you now, as my queen foresees will be so, know that his humility, courage, strength of will, and love for his home will be sung forth by minstrels for a thousand years. Thank you for raising such a fine lad.

Frodo blushed with embarrassment, but Bilbo’s eyes were filled with pride.

“Go on,” he urged.

May you and Frodo find in the Blessed Realm all that you could wish for, and may you look back on your lives with pride and no regrets. You set forth willingly to broach mighty mountains within which deadly danger awaited, and saw your tasks through to the end. It is an honor to have known you both.

The box containing your gift comes to you from Gimli, Legolas and myself, and we hope it will remind you always of three kings with whom your life has been woven. Legolas did the carving, and sends greetings and respect from his father, who first named you elf-friend. The banding was wrought by Gimli, in remembrance of the King under the Mountain. And the jewel comes to you from me, in honor of our friendship.

My old friend, I regret not being able to see you again before you sail with my foster father. We shared many secrets and much laughter over the years, and when next we meet beyond the bounds of Arda, we will have a great deal about which to speak. I hope to once more enjoy your poetry, and perhaps you will wish to hear tales of the southern realms you were not able to visit… and the beautiful elf-maiden you knew who became its beloved queen.

For now it is namárië, ‘fare well’. I trust that we will meet again.

With respect and love,

Aragorn

“Oh my,” Bilbo said softly. He looked up, his vision blurred, to see tears also in Frodo’s eyes, and they embraced. Frodo once again peeked at the parcel in Gandalf’s hand, and pulled gently on one of the ribbons.

“Aren’t you going to open it, uncle?”

Bilbo laughed as Gandalf handed him the small package. How Frodo had always loved gift giving! He wiped his face with a handkerchief and slowly undid the ribbon. When he parted the silver paper, he gasped and held up a cunningly wrought box, rounded and meticulously carved.

“Look, Frodo!” he cried out excitedly. “It is a barrel, exactly as the dwarves and I rode all the way down Long Lake.” The barrel was banded with fine gold and delicate mithril, and its clasp was inlaid with a single green gem. On an impulse, Frodo drew out the star glass gifted to him by the Lady of Lórien, and its gentle shimmer was caught by the perfectly-faceted emerald, radiating beams of green and gold and silver all about them. Elves passing by stopped to gaze at the sight in wonder.

Bilbo slowly opened the catch and raised the lid of the box, and for a long moment he said nothing, but just looked, and tears once again misted his vision. Then he reached into the box and pulled out a key, intricately wrought and obviously very old.

“What is it?” Frodo asked in a hushed voice.

“That, my lad, is the key to Erebor,” Bilbo said quietly.

“You mean the key to the secret door in the Lonely Mountain?” Frodo asked in amazement. “The very same one? Wasn’t it buried with Thorin Oakenshield?”

“I never saw it again after Thorin opened the door for the first time,” Bilbo said. “I always assumed it stayed with him, but apparently someone – possibly his cousin Balin – took it as a memento. Perhaps Balin left it behind when he traveled to reopen Moria, and it came to Gimli as an heirloom.”

He looked up at Gandalf. “This is a wonderful gift, Gandalf. But… did Aragorn forget that it’s also Frodo’s birthday?”

“Uncle, I don’t need any-- ” Frodo began.

“He did not forget,” Gandalf said. “Would you both come with me? I have something else to show you.” Taking the box from Bilbo, he slipped it into his pocket, rose to his feet, and led the hobbits to Shadowfax. He lifted them onto the great steed’s broad, smooth back, then mounted lightly behind them. Shadowfax seemed to know exactly where to go, and cantered smoothly about a mile through the flower-carpeted valley, towards the base of a low, broad hill that overlooked the Sea. There he stopped and whinnied excitedly as Gandalf helped the hobbits to the ground.

“Look,” he said softly, pointing out a newly-cleared path paved with white slabs of smooth stone that led up the hill. “And can you see what’s there, through the trees?”

“It’s a hobbit hole!” Frodo exclaimed. “With a green door! Oh, Bilbo, aren’t those gardens lovely?” He looked up at Gandalf in wonder, his eyes shining. “The Elves made a home just for us?”

“They did indeed.” Gandalf retrieved the ornate box from his pocket and opened it, then handed it to Bilbo. “The smiths who crafted the door’s lock assured me that this key will fit.”

“Imagine opening our door with the key to Erebor!” Bilbo marveled.

“I see something sparkling above the door,” Frodo said, eagerly peering ahead. “Are those strips of glass, hanging there?”

“Ah, you’ve discovered Aragorn’s birthday gift for you, Frodo,” Gandalf said. “Those sheer crystals were mined and shaped by Gimli’s hand. Embedded at the top, where the fastening strings come together, is an ancient, very rare gem from the treasury of Gondor that will catch and hold the Sun’s radiance long after twilight. Should you return home after sunset, the gem will glow brightly enough to light your path.”

“How splendid!” Bilbo said with delight.

“Gandalf smiled down at the hobbits. “I hope you have enjoyed this birthday, my friends. All who had a hand in planning it wish both of you health and happiness. Your possessions, household goods, and ample foodstuffs will be delivered within the hour. And now… Frodo, will you escort your uncle home?”

“Gladly,” Frodo said softly. “Thank you so much, Gandalf, for everything.”

As Frodo and Bilbo walked up the path, hand in hand, the Sea-breezes caressed the delicate crystals of the wind-chime, filling the air with the sweet music of tiny bells.

“Welcome home, my dear friends,” Gandalf murmured with quiet joy. “Welcome home.”

** END **

Joyous Yule, my friends!  Written for the Livejournal "Yuletide4Frodo" challenge.


Getting to Know You

The elves living near the hobbits' dwelling were quite puzzled at first, for even with their sharp ears they had heard no movement outside their homes. Yet in the morning they found that small bags had been hung on their posts or door latches, filled with unusual but wonderful-smelling confections. The baked goods had been fashioned in various sizes and shapes of people or trees, and decorated in bright colors. Because the anonymous gifts arrived only a few moon cycles after the arrival of the Ring-bearers, the elves hurried to the Istar, Gandalf, to consult with him.

“Ah, these are rare treats, my friends!” Gandalf informed them, peering into the bags and parcels and inhaling appreciatively. “They are gingerbread-hobbits and sugar-elves, and the trees are those most beloved by the hobbits. Frodo and Bilbo are wishing you a joyous Yule, a festival that falls about this time in Middle-earth, when their folk give thanks for the year’s bounty, and share sweets and small gifts with their neighbors.”

“What are we to give in return?” the elves queried anxiously.

“The hobbits expect nothing, I assure you,” Gandalf told them. “It is their joy to give of what they have, and I am certain it gives them comfort to continue a tradition that reminds them of their home. Merely convey your thanks and wish them a blessed Yule when you see them...” He paused, then smiled knowingly. “Wait, there is one thing more that they might like.”

That evening, Frodo and Bilbo sat together on the small bench outside their dwelling, as they did each night after supper. They sipped eggnog and talked quietly, enjoying the bright stars as they appeared and the perfume of night-blooming flowers. After awhile, Bilbo laid his head on Frodo’s shoulder, and Frodo stroked his white curls very gently.

As the night grew darker, they saw with surprise and great joy that their neighbors had set candles in every window of their homes, and were lighting them one by one. The multitude of soft, flickering lights shone with warmth and a peaceful glow. And the hobbits' attention was caught by strings of colored jewels that had been hung amidst the branches of a noble fir tree, interlaced into the shape of a star. As the brilliance from Elbereth's stars hit each faceted surface, the gems sparkled brightly.

“It's lovely here, isn’t it?” Bilbo asked happily. “I did so hope it would be.”

“It is lovely,” Frodo agreed softly, and he smiled. “Good neighbors make for a good home, as Aunt Dora would say. Happy Yule, Bilbo."

“Happy Yule, dear boy,” Bilbo said with a sigh of contentment.

** END **

Inspired by a challenge from Dreamflower:  Include these 6 words in a story of any length:  grass, sunshine, soft, pleasant, song, water


A Simple Song

“We sang ever so many of your songs along the way, Bilbo,” Frodo said, “and Gandalf did too. You can’t imagine how many people up and down Middle-earth heard them!”

He and his uncle were sitting in the sunshine on the soft grass beside one of the many fountains near their home on Tol Eressëa, the music of the falling water soothing to their ears.

“My word, how extraordinary,” Bilbo said, shaking his head in amazement. “But not the Bath Song, surely!”

Frodo grinned. “Even the Bath Song.” He shared with Bilbo only the lighter, more pleasant aspects of the Quest now, and he delighted in his uncle’s frequent smiles and laughter. “Why don’t we sing your new one? Maybe there’s an Elf or two in the vicinity who might hear it.”

Needing no urging, Bilbo started out:

“Sunshine on the Sea
brings joy to all who see.”

And Frodo continued:

"Stars that light our way
Speak “’Welcome friend, and stay!’”

As the verses went on, the hobbits’ voices blending as one, an Elf indeed was nearby, walking through a grove of ancient trees. Pausing to listen to the simple words that conveyed such happiness, Elrond bowed his head in gratitude that two of his dearest friends, for whom he had labored long towards healing and ease of spirit, had at last found peace, and a home, in the kindly West. And when he went on his way he found himself smiling, and humming softly.





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