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We Three Together  by Baylor

Part One: We Three Together

Chapter One: Faramir the Great and Magnificent

Faramir, age 9

When I was a very little lad, my father would grab me up in his arms and call to his cousin, "Here, Merry, catch this!" Then he would swing me high in the air and toss me into Cousin Merry's waiting arms. I would shriek and pretend I was afraid I was going to fall, but I knew they would never drop me, and it was my favorite game in all the world.

I am bigger now, too big to be tossed about, but just last winter, my father let me ride on his back when it snowed very deep in Tuckborough, and as he walked he told me about trying to cross a mountain in a blizzarding snowstorm and how Lord Boromir carried him on his back when the snow was too deep. Father was great friends with Lord Boromir, but he died, and I am named for his brother.

Father doesn't tell very many stories about Boromir, just a few about him teaching Father and Cousin Merry to swordfight, but I know that he was killed because he was protecting Father and Cousin Merry. Frodo Gamgee told me this, and his father has told him almost everything that ever happened during the Great Years. I think that Lord Boromir must have loved Father very much to die trying to help him.

But Father has lots of other stories to tell. My favorite is about Treebeard and the Ents, which are sort of like talking trees. Everywhere we go, I look for the Entwives, but I haven't seen any yet, not even when Father took me way away to the North Farthing with him.

I also like all the stories about Cousin Bilbo, especially the one about the trolls that almost ate him and the dwarves, but Gandalf the Wizard saved them. Father does not tell many stories about Gandalf, either, even though Frodo says they traveled far together. Once I asked Cousin Merry why after Father told me he didn't have any more stories about Gandalf that he would tell me. Cousin Merry said Father misses Gandalf is all, because they traveled alone together a long way, and were together at the Siege of Gondor. Then he said those stories aren't any good for hobbit lads and lasses, anyway, as they are too scary for even grown-up hobbits. I never think about my father being scared of anything, but when I said that Cousin Merry laughed and said Father has been plenty scared in his lifetime.

I am always looking for adventures of my own, but they are hard to find in the Shire. I know that Father and Mayor Gamgee and Cousin Frodo once met Elves in the Green Hill Country, but I have never seen any when I ride through there with Father to Buckland. I asked Father if Elves ever come to the Shire anymore, and he said he had not seen any here since I was a baby. But at least that means they have still been here since the Great Years, because Mayor Gamgee says many of the Elves left then forever.

I also have tried to spy Tom Bombadil or Goldberry in the Old Forest, but it is difficult when one is just trying to peek through the cracks in the Brandybucks' gate. I snuck into the Old Forest last summer during Buckland's great Litheday festival, and Goldilocks Gamgee kept watch, but wouldn't you know that her brother Hamfast got scared and told on us, so Cousin Berilac nabbed me before I was more than 10 feet in. Father spanked me for it, which he doesn't do very often, but later when I was supposed to be asleep, I heard Cousin Merry laughing, and he said, "We always knew you would get yours someday, Pippin. That apple doesn't fall far from the tree." I think he meant that Father got into lots of trouble when he was a lad.

Goldilocks and I are going to go off on a great adventure as soon as we are old enough to travel to overnight places by ourselves. She says we can handle anything that comes up, because most of our relatives have come across every type of danger there is, and we know from their stories what to do about it. We would certainly never leave the Road in Mirkwood, and we would stay away from trolls at night, and we would never fall asleep in the Old Forest. And we will go to Fangorn and drink Entdraughts with Treebeard so that I will be as tall as Father. Goldilocks said she hopes her hair doesn't grow more from the Entdraught, because there really is a lot of it right now. This autumn she got caught by her hair in a bramble bush when we were hiding in her grandfather's fields and I had to cut a hunk out with my knife before she could get loose. Goldilocks is my best friend, but her hair can get in the way.

Father says he will take me traveling as soon as I am old enough, and we will go to Bree and Rivendell, and someday to Gondor, and I will see the High King again. He came to the Brandywine Bridge three years ago, and picked me right up, even though I was getting too old for that. Father says someday we will go to the White City, and he will show me where he stood on the wall and watched Gandalf save the Lord Faramir. Mamma's face gets all pinched when Father talks about traveling, but she doesn't say anything.

I don't tell Father, and Gondor would be splendid and all, but I would rather go to the Lonely Mountain and Long Lake and see the dwarves and the elves. I have only ever met one elf, and I was very little and barely remember him, but he sang me a song that I still remember all the words to. Dwarves come through the Shire a bit, so I have seen them, and I love the way they tramp and their deep voices when they sing. Every year on Cousin Bilbo's birthday, special toys from the Lonely Mountain come to Bag End, and Father and Cousin Merry and I go visit for birthday dinner. Cousin Bilbo went away long ago, of course, before I was born, even before Father and Mamma were married, but Mayor Gamgee says we will always have birthday dinner for him and Cousin Frodo, whose birthday is the same day, but he left the Shire before I was born, too.

After dinner, Goldilocks and I go outside and sit on the Hill and look up at the stars and the moon and make plans for when we will go on our adventure. If he's being good and not crying, we let Hamfast come with us. We shall be the most famous hobbits that ever lived, and they will call me Faramir the Great and Magnificent.

Goldilocks' brothers Merry and Pippin say we are silly and will never go further than Bree, and only that far if we are lucky, but Frodo says, "Don't listen to them! Maybe you will go further than any hobbits have gone before."

I think he is right.

(NOTE: The wonderful Marigold with her wonderful stickses once again acted as beta for this story, and I am deeply grateful, for who but a true friend could edit a story about true friendship? The title of Part One, “We When Were Very Young,” is taken from the title of a collection of poems by A.A. Milne, better known as the author of “Winnie-the-Pooh." This chapter has been posted previously as a stand-alone story.)

Goldilocks, age 11

It would not be so bad, being a lass, if I didn’t have quite so many sisters. Or at least if more of them were not so, well, clean. When I am with my brothers and our friend Faramir Took, I never worry about dirtying my dress or tangling my curls, or what a lass should and should not do, but then one of my sisters will come along, and I don’t bear up to the comparison.
 
It snowed at Yule, during the big party we had at Bag End, and how could I not want to go outside and play in it? Then Merry threw that snowball right at Hamfast and hit him smack in the face, so what could I do but tackle him and hold his face in the snow bank? Then Pippin grabbed me by the waist and dragged me back off of Merry, but I wasn’t standing for that so I threw myself backwards as hard as I could and Pippin and I flipped right over into the other snow bank.
 
At any rate, I lost all but one of my pretty new velvet hair ribbons, and I tore a button off my cloak, and somehow that beautiful blue dress that Rose-lass looked so pretty in a few years ago got soaking wet and muddy and the hem ripped -- well, Mummie cleaned enough of it to make a little dress for baby Robin.
 
When I came inside, Daisy’s hair ribbons were all perfectly in place, and Primrose’s dress wasn’t even wrinkled, and Rose-lass had all her buttons, and Elanor was the most beautiful lass in the room.
 
I wouldn’t talk to any of them all night, the silly, prissy things, and turned my face to the wall when I got into bed. My Ruby came and cuddled up to me though -- she never looks horrified when I come into a room, and she never scolds (never you mind that she can’t), and she isn’t afraid of a little dirt or water or tussle, either. Some days, I would trade all the rest of them for a few more Roos.
 
The lads don’t mind if I’m not tidy, though, and by now they sure know better than to tell me I can’t do something because I’m a lass. I can run as fast as Merry, and throw as sure as Pippin, and climb as well as Faramir, and do just about anything better than Hamfast. I am not quite so good at conkers as Frodo, but he has been playing much longer than I, so he doesn’t really count.
 
I haven’t told anyone but Faramir yet, but when I am old enough, I am going to play roopie, you just see if I don’t. I can throw and kick and run and dodge, and Dad says he can’t believe he has a child who thinks so fast on her feet. If all that won’t make me a good roopie player, then I don’t know what will. I am not so big for my age, but then neither is Faramir, and his father is already practicing with him a bit. Faramir thinks it is splendid that I will play roopie, and has promised to show me what his father teaches him, so that I will not be behind when we are old enough to play. I would ask Merry or Pippin to help me learn, but they are not always entirely trustworthy. Frodo is, but he also does not like to do anything behind Dad’s back, and I don’t quite dare bring it up to Dad and Mummie yet.
 
I don’t think they mind so much, though, Dad and Mum, that I am not so proper all the time. When Dad travels to Buckland or Tookland, he most always takes me, and not one of the other lasses. I’ve been on walking trips, too, and Dad taught me how to start a fire, and catch a fish, and set a snare. And when that oaf Dory Sandyman hit Hamfast in the head with a fishing pail and I grabbed it away and then hit him right in his ugly face with it, Dad did make me stay home from the Fair, even though I was supposed to go, but then he said, “Hitting isn’t the best way to solve something, but you don’t let no one hurt the ones you love, Goldilocks. You’re right about that.”
 
I don’t know how Hamfast would make it through the world without me around, honestly. He almost fell off the back of the cart on the way to market when he was just little but I grabbed hold of his shirt and pulled him back up (though he was almost as big as me, even back then) and let him blather all over me. Least, that’s the way Elanor tells it. He is such a crybaby sometimes that it makes me angry, and I stamp my foot and say we’ll leave him behind if he doesn’t stop it, but I’d never really leave Hamfast behind. He’s scared to be by himself, and anyway, it’s a wonder he doesn’t get lost in Bag End, his sense of direction is so poor. We’d never see him again if I didn’t keep track of him.
 
Mummie likes that I look out for Hamfast, and mostly I think she doesn’t mind if I run wild (which is what Rose-lass calls it), but sometimes she covers her face with her hands when I come inside, or when she hears what I’ve done. “Goldilocks, love,” she’ll say, “I don’t know if you’ll be the death or the best of us all. Now get in the bath!”

Faramir’s father doesn’t mind one bit when I tear my dress or get dirty, and he gave me a slingshot as a birthday present several years ago and taught me to shoot it. I told him once that I want a real sword someday, and he said the Valar should save the lads of the Shire, but I promised him that I would only use it on monsters and other unnatural creatures, so he said that was all right, then. Someone has to protect us all.

Mr. Pippin says it is in the Gamgee blood, protecting other living things, whether they are trees and vegetables and flowers or other hobbits. I just want to make sure I’m ready.

Hamfast, age 8

I am not a scaredy-cat, no matter what Goldilocks and Merry and Pippin say. Faramir believes me, you just go ask him.

None of rest of them really understand about the terrible things that are out in the world because they don’t listen to the stories like I do. They only hear about elves and dwarves and kings. I hear about giant spiders and wargs and evil trees and bad Men, and things that used to be hobbits but have turned into something worse than anything because they were us once.

You have to be careful of those awful things, or they will get you, and then maybe you will be something bad and sad and horrible someday too. Goldilocks says don’t be silly! We have learned from our parents, and we know how to stay out of trouble. But Goldilocks sure is in trouble an awful lot, so I’m not sure I believe her.

So maybe I am not so brave as Goldilocks and Faramir, because even when I do the same things they do, I know I’m lots more scared. But Frodo says sometimes brave just means stupid (though I think he was talking about Merry and Pippin here) and usually when we are afraid it is for a good reason. The trick, he said, is to know when there is a good reason and when we are just imaging things. I haven’t figured the trick out yet, but I am still not very big. Frodo never laughs at me or turns me away when it’s too scary at night and I want to crawl into bed with him. There are funny noises in the dark at night, and I can hear tree branches tapping on the window as if they are trying to get in, and hooves on the road that really might be something bad coming, and things that sound like dogs but just might be wargs. But it is safer in Frodo’s room, even though he is all alone in there and I share with Merry and Pippin and Bilbo. Frodo’s room is on the Hill side, and there are no windows, and you can’t hear funny noises, and the door is big and heavy and nothing would get through it. Also, Frodo is there, and he is too big to let me get caught by bad things.

Frodo knows I just like to hear the good parts of the stories, and he tells them all better than anyone except Dad. I like to hear about Goldberry and Tom Bombadil, and about Beorn and all the good things Mr. Bilbo had to eat at his house, but I don’t like to hear about Old Man Willow, or Barrow-wights or Mirkwood. Frodo has all kinds of funny stories about Bill the Pony, who was Dad’s very own pony for years and years, and the adventures he got into traveling through the Wild back to Bree all on his own. Frodo knows how to make them not-too-scary, though, but even if they were scary, it would not be so bad, because they are made-up. It is the not-pretend scary things that are the worst.

Mr. Merry sat me on his lap once when I was little, and the story about Mr. Bilbo and the trolls had made me cry I was so scared. “Hamfast,” he said, “you know that we have a king now, and while no one can make all the evil in the world go away, he has driven away much of it, and Middle-earth is a safer place. And you know that even the evil things that still exist are far away from the Shire and Bag End and will never find their way to you.”

I could not tell him that I am not afraid the bad things will come to Bag End (except sometimes at night when there are strange noises) but that I will have to go to the bad things someday. That is what happened to Dad -- he did not want to go on any adventures, but he had to, for Mr. Frodo. Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin did not want to go with Mr. Frodo to destroy the Ring either, but they had to, because they loved him, although Elanor says Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin would have been adventurers no matter what.

I am afraid that is the same for Faramir and Goldilocks. They will be adventurers no matter what, and I will have to go with them, because I love them. I am not always much use when we are doing adventurous things, but then Dad didn’t think he was much use to Mr. Frodo either, and Mr. Merry says that there would be nothing but evil things in the world now if Dad had not gone with Mr. Frodo.

Faramir’s horrid cousin Aggie jumped out of a cupboard at me last year in the middle of the night when I was staying at the Great Smials and I was so scared that I cried until Mr. Pippin gave me some tea, and then I was very sleepy. Mr. Pippin rocked me and I felt oh-so-safe, and then he asked what I was so afraid of, anyway, and I told him my big secret, that what I am most afraid of is that I won’t be brave enough when I really need to be. Mr. Pippin was quiet for a long time, and then he said, “But I know you will be, Hamfast. You are a hobbit, and sometimes it takes something tremendous for courage to wake up in a hobbit. But it’s there, in all of us. You just wait and see.”

I sure hope Mr. Pippin knows what he’s talking about. He is the Thain and all, but Mummie says to take everything he says with a grain of salt, which means that sometimes what really happened might not be as grand as what Mr. Pippin says about it. But it doesn’t seem like this is the type of thing Mummie meant when she said that.

I am trying to be braver, though. I went on a boat on the Brandywine River this summer, and that wasn’t so bad once I got used to it. I climb trees with Faramir, and I even slept outside at night on a walking trip with him and Mr. Pippin. And when Bilbo woke up crying in the middle of the night and said there was a monster under the bed, I leaned way over and looked underneath, and it was just one of the cats. And I’ll follow Faramir and Goldilocks anywhere they go, no matter how far away.

Dad says old Mr. Bilbo used to say it was a dangerous business, going out of your door, and that if you didn’t keep your feet, there was no knowing where you might be swept off to. Since Faramir and Goldilocks are always looking for trouble (that’s what Mummie says) I guess it will sweep us right into a heap of it.

I sure hope Mr. Pippin knows what he’s talking about.

(NOTE: Sam is quoting Frodo quoting Bilbo at the end. In “The Fellowship of the Ring,” the chapter “Three is Company,” Frodo says, “’It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,’ (Bilbo) used to say. ‘You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.’”)

“Do you think,” Goldilocks asked, squinting into the falling dusk, “that the Entwives are real? Really real?”
 
“Of course I do,” Faramir answered, turning to give her an exasperated look. “Treebeard told Father all about them, after all, didn’t he?”
 
“Well,” Goldilocks said, “Treebeard told your father about something that happened long long ago, and your father told us about Treebeard telling him, which was a long time ago itself, and sometimes things get changed around in stories, is all.”
 
Faramir scowled at her. “Father would never tell us something that isn’t true,” he said stoutly.
 
“Your father told us that it was the troll in the cellar at Bag End who left those beer mugs in the kitchen at Dad’s birthday party, and ate the leftover cake, and knocked over the umbrella stand in the hallway,” Goldilocks said sensibly.
 
“Oh, well, that,” Faramir said dismissively, turning back around. “That’s different.”
 
Goldilocks sighed, and shifted position on her tree branch. “I just think we might be out here a long time, and still not see an Entwife,” she said, squinting into the twilight stretching out over the Green Hill Country. “And it’s past suppertime.”
 
“Just a bit longer,” Faramir said softly, and watched with hopeful eyes.

***


“Maybe Mummie won’t notice,” Goldilocks said hopefully, but Faramir and Hamfast exchanged a quick look and then shook their heads ruefully at her.
 
“No?” Goldilocks asked. “I can’t look that bad!”
 
The lads nodded their heads at her in unison and Goldilocks tentatively prodded at the swollen eye. “It’s not my fault, you know,” she huffed. “Stupid Mat Bolger with his big fat mouth. He’s just lucky I tripped before I could catch him.”
 
Faramir rolled his eyes -- Mat easily weighed half over Goldilocks. Then he jumped excitedly as an idea struck him. “Oh, wait here!” he cried and bolted out of the shed. He returned 10 minutes later, out of breath and flushed, with a big, floppy, flower-bedecked hat in his grubby hands.
 
“It’s Auntie Pervinca’s,” he said, holding it out. “Go on, no one will see your face with this on.”
 
“Is that the Gamgee lass?” Iris Took asked Pervinca at supper. “Wearing one of your hats, I believe.”
 
Pervinca narrowed her eyes as she looked over at the children’s table, then sighed. “Well, at least she’s finally taking interest in her appearance,” she said to Iris. “It’s nice to see her in something fashionable, even if it doesn’t fit.”
 

***

 
“Go on, Hammie,” Faramir urged. “It’s more scared of you than you are of it.”
 
Hamfast doubted that, but he drew in a fortifying breath of air and reached out his hand.
 
SNAP!
 
He was too shocked to scream, really, and just stood there, the turtle hanging from his index finger by its strong, curved beak. Faramir and Goldilocks were wide-eyed and open-mouthed in a combination of awe, horror and delight. Then Hamfast found his voice and let out a yell, followed by much frantic shaking of his arm and shrieks of, “Get it off me!”
 
“Oh, stop, Hammie, you’ll hurt it!” Faramir cried, to which Hamfast hollered, “I’ll hurt it? It’s hurting me! Get it off!”
 
Goldilocks stepped forward and grabbed the turtle by its shell, effectively ending Hamfast’s desperate bid for release. “You let him go!” she said firmly to the turtle, and Faramir began to laugh.

“I don’t think you can tell a turtle what to do, Goldilocks,” he giggled, but apparently she could, because it released its jaw and popped its head back into its shell. Faramir stopped laughing and looked sufficiently impressed by the power of Goldilocks’ command.
 
“There,” she said in satisfaction, and waded into the stream to set the turtle down on a rock. “We’re sorry, turtle.” She waded back to shore and put her hands on her hips when she saw Hamfast’s trembling lower lip. “Hamfast Gamgee, don’t you dare cry,” she said. “We still have lots to do today, and we don’t have time for you to be a baby. Look, you’re not even hurt,” and she grabbed his finger and shoved it in front of his eyes. It was red and marked from the turtle’s beak, but the skin was not broken.
 
Hamfast sniffled in a small show of defiance. “You’re catching the frog then,” he said sullenly.
 
“All right,” Goldilocks said cheerily, and waded back out.

***


“Tell us about Gandalf’s fireworks,” Hamfast pleaded.

“No, tell us about Bard and his black arrow that slew Smaug and saved Laketown!” Goldilocks demanded, jumping to her feet on the bed in excitement.

“Tell us about how you saved Gimli from drowning in the pond!” Faramir added to the chorus.

Pippin rolled his eyes good-naturedly. “Well, I can’t tell all of those!” he said. “It will be morning and time to get up if I sit here and tell all those.”

“That’s all right, Father,” Faramir said, settling himself onto his pillows. “We will listen for as long as it takes.”

***


“Briony,” Goldilocks whispered, and peered boldly into the old nurse’s face. Briony slitted an eye open.

“Young lass,” she said sternly, “can you not tell when an old hobbit is napping?”

“Briony, we’ve brought you a wonderful thing!” Faramir exclaimed.

“Oh, well, that’s a different tale, isn’t it?” Briony said, opening both her eyes and setting her mending aside. “Let’s see it, then.”

Faramir presented a small, smooth stone with a hole directly in the center of it. “It’s a fairy-stone!” Hamfast piped up, excitement overcoming his usual reticence.

“Oh, yes, that it is,” Briony said in all seriousness. She rubbed gnarled fingers over the smooth surface, turning it around in her hand.

“It will show you things that are true if you look through it,” Faramir said eagerly, leaning against the side of her rocking chair. “Do you like it?”

“Oh, I know what it will do,” Briony said crisply, “and it is a right marvelous gift. Thank you, my lambs.” She held it up and peered through the hole at the three young faces beaming up at her.

“What did you see?” Goldilocks asked as Briony lowered the stone.

“You three together,” the nurse said with a smile.

(NOTE: I am shamelessly promoting my own material with the reference to Pippin saving Gimli from drowning, which takes place in my first-ever Lord of the Rings story “Splashing and Sputtering.” I also am stealing shamelessly from other authors, with their kind permission. The troll first appeared in the cellar at Bag End in Shirebound’s “Quarantined,” and I learned of fairy-stones in Budgielover’s “Recovery in Rivendell.”)

1440 SR, Bag End  

Merry had dared Goldilocks, which was always certain to guarantee she would take the bait. Just to make the dare more tempting, he added that both he and Pippin had already done it.  

“We sneaked in last year and held it,” he boasted. “We weren’t scared, like you are.”  

“I’m not scared!” Goldilocks declared, and stomped her foot. “I’m going to do it right now.”  

But now that it had come to it, she was scared, after all. They had sneaked into Dad’s study, and she had opened the chest, but now stood frozen above it, her hands poised to grab the prize, but not quite able to make herself reach in.  

“See, I told you she wouldn’t do it,” Pippin said to Merry behind her back, and suddenly Goldilocks’ hands fastened about the hilt, and she lifted the blade.  

The lads fell silent, and all three of the children looked at it in awe. “It’s heavy,” Goldilocks gulped.  

“I know,” Merry said, his voice almost a whisper. “It’s splendid, isn’t it?’  

Goldilocks nodded, impressed. She wanted to swing it about a bit, but it seemed too heavy for her tiny hands to manage such a feat so she thought she had better not. Just holding it made her want to hunt dragons and giant spiders.  

Just then the study door opened and Faramir came tearing in, Hamfast at his heels. Goldilocks jumped, and nearly dropped the blade, but managed to maintain her grip.  

“Goldilocks!” Faramir cried. “You know you mustn’t!”  

“Hammie, you little tattletale!” Goldilocks snapped, turning narrowed eyes on her brother.  

“You only didn’t want me to know because you knew I’d say it was wrong of you!” Faramir came back. “Now put it away!” and he reached out for the blade. He and Goldilocks scowled at each other in soundless confrontation for several moments, but then Faramir stepped closer to her, his eyes flashing, and she grudgingly turned it over. Once it was in Faramir’s hands, though, he hesitated, feeling its weight and power.  

“See?” Goldilocks said smugly, brushing bothersome locks out of her face. “Now you want to play with it too.”  

“Children,” said a quiet voice in the doorway, and all five of them turned, horrorstricken. “Dad!” four voices cried, while a fifth squeaked, “Mayor Gamgee!”  

Sam stood in the doorway of the study at Bag End and studied the young, terrified faces in front of him. Finally, he walked over to Faramir and held out his hands.  

“Give that here, Faramir-lad,” he said quietly, and Faramir gently gave it over, his own hands trembling.  

Sam stood looking at the blade a long time, not seeming to take any notice of the frightened children. Finally, he sighed deeply and sat down.  

“Perhaps this is my fault,” he said. “I have not taught you as I should have. I have not told you proper how I came to own this.”  

Hesitantly, the children circled ‘round him. Sam finally looked up at the uncertain faces.  
“Do you know what this is?” he asked sternly.  

“It’s Sting, sir,” Merry said promptly. “It’s your sword.”  

“And it was Cousin Frodo’s,” Faramir added. “And Cousin Bilbo’s before that.”  

“Yes, that’s right,” Sam said. “Mr. Bilbo gave it to Mr. Frodo as a gift when we left Rivendell. Mr. Frodo gave it to me as a gift, later, but that is not how I first came by it.” 

“After you killed Shelob with it,” Goldilocks provided.  

“I don’t know that I killed her, Goldilocks,” Sam said, “though I did manage to drive her off. But I want you to think of what I saw the first time I took this sword in my own hand. It was Mr. Frodo, bound up by her foul ropes, and her already dragging him away, like a spider in the garden does to a tiny fly she plans to feast upon. And there was Sting, lying on the ground, and I picked it up without thought or leave, because I could not let her have him. Have you thought about that, children, when you’ve heard the story? Merry-lad, if it was your Pippin you came across, bound and helpless, or one of you three, finding another like that?”  

The children were silent, suddenly chilled and frightened. Sam had never spoken to them thus, never asked them to entertain such thoughts, and they were sharply aware of the seriousness of his words. Suddenly the story was no longer just a story.  

“It weren’t bravery, me taking up this arm,” Sam said. “If I’d’ve thought about it, I suppose I would have run screaming away, because nothing you can imagine is more like a nightmare as that creature was. But I did not think about it, and that is a blessing, because then I was able to drive her off, me and the power of the Lady Galadriel. But it was for naught, or so I thought.”  

“Because you thought Mr. Frodo was dead,” Hamfast whispered. He was clinging to Faramir, and the older lad put an arm about his shoulder.  

“But he wasn’t, Hammie,” Faramir said firmly.  

“No, but I thought he was, I surely did,” Sam said sadly, “and no blacker moment have I ever known. I hope none of you children ever feel even the littlest bit as I did that day. And then I felt even worse, because I realized what I must do, that I must go on without him.  

“And so I took Sting as my own. I gave him my own sword, though it was the lesser, and it tore at me to do so, but if I was to finish the quest, and get into Mordor, to the fiery mountain alone, I reckoned I would need it. And that’s what I told him. ‘If I’m to go on, then I must take your sword, by your leave, Mr. Frodo,’ but of course, he could not give me leave. So I took up his sword, and I took up his Burden, and I took up his Light, and I left him behind, because I thought it was the right thing to do.”  

“But you went back,” Goldilocks said. “You went back and saved him from the orcs. You didn’t leave him, after all.”  

Sam laughed softly and sadly. “No, I could not leave him after all,” he agreed. “And I saved him from the Tower, and if you ask me, it was by the grace of Elbereth herself. And later, after we escaped from the orc-company, Mr. Frodo asked me to carry the Light for a bit longer, as he had no where to keep it, and said, ‘But Sting I give to you.’ I tried to give it back, and he wore it at least for the feast at Cormallen because I asked him to, though he said he wished for no sword. He threw off his weapon near the foot of Mount Doom, and said he would not bear one, ever again, fair or foul.”  

The children were scarcely breathing now. Sam had never spoken of these events in such a manner to them before. He had always made his travels sound like a grand adventure when he spoke of them, and talked about elves in Lórien and the High King newly crowned and the blowing of horns and the singing of songs.  

“Once more he gave it to me, though he did not name it of itself, when I traveled with him for the last time, and he said to me that I was his heir, and all that he had and might have had he left to me.  

“So, I took it first without asking leave, and second asking leave but not having it, and third by his bidding, and fourth by his love,” Sam said, cradling the sword carefully in his palms. “But never have I held this blade without need or cause, nor would I have any of you children ever do so. Do you understand?”  

“Yes, Dad,” and “Yes, Mayor Gamgee,” they chorused solemnly.  

“Good,” Sam said with a sigh. “Now, who got this out?”  

“I did, sir,” Goldilocks confessed.  

“All right,” Sam offered out the sword, “put it back proper.”  

Goldilocks took Sting from her father’s hands as carefully as she would have a baby sibling. It still felt heavy in her hands, but as she set it in the chest and covered it with its velvet wraps, she thought that its weight might be that of her father’s love.  

(NOTE: Sam quotes himself directly from “The Two Towers,” from the chapter “The Choices of Master Samwise.” He quotes Frodo directly from “The Return of the King,” from the chapter “The Land of Shadow,” and indirectly from “The Grey Havens,” in the same book.)  

Faramir, age 8

The journey through the Wild had been long and difficult, but now at last we neared the ancient home of Elrond Half-Elven. I gripped my weapon tightly, hoping we could find the secret path before we encountered any trolls.

“Faramir, wait!” Goldilocks whispered in my ear. “I hear something coming!”

“I hear it too!” Hamfast squeaked, and promptly dropped his weapon. “It’s big!” He clung to Goldilocks’ skirt.

Now I could hear it, something large and terrifying creeping through the fallen leaves. “Don’t worry, Hammie,” I assured him, “we’ll protect you.” My heart pounding, I stepped forward, weapon in front of me. “Who goes there?” I yelled into the forest.

“Grrrh-wahhh!” An enormous figure sprang from the brush and rushed toward us. I sliced at it with my sword, but that just seemed to make it more angry, and the next thing I knew, it had picked Goldilocks up and was swinging her around!

“You put her down!” I yelled, and whacked its legs with my sword again, but it was already too late for poor Goldilocks.

“No, no, no, Mr. Merry, please!” she shrieked. “No more tickling, please!” And then she was laughing too hard to speak.

“No more tickling?” Cousin Merry teased. “But I thought you were looking for danger and adventure.” But he set her down gently, and then yanked my stick out of my hands, a bit less gently.

“Faramir,” he said quite sternly, “what have you been told about hitting people, even with pretend swords?”

“You’ve scared Hamfast,” I said to him, though I knew it was backtalk. But I was right, and I pointed at Hammie to prove it. He was hiding behind a tree with his hands over his eyes.

“I’m not scared!” Hamfast said shrilly, but he stayed hiding.

“Oh, Hammie-lad,” Cousin Merry said sympathetically, and picked him up in a big hug. “I’m sorry. Come on, it’s time for you children to go in anyway. We’ll have you tucked safe in your bed in no time, Hamfast.”

Goldilocks and I groaned. “It can’t be bedtime!” she declared.

“Well, you may not think so, but your mother says it is. Come on,” and he began leading us from the grove of trees behind Bag End back to the smial, carrying Hamfast, “Periadoc and Éowyn are already in bed.”

“Periadoc and Éowyn are babies,” I pointed out, but I followed him anyway. As we came up the Hill, I saw Father sitting atop, smoking his pipe. “I want to talk to Father, please,” I announced, and looked hopefully at Cousin Merry.

“All right,” he said with a sigh. I could tell Goldilocks wanted to come with me, and so could Cousin Merry, because he said, “Oh, no, not you, my lass. Rose-Mum said bed.”

I waved at them as they went to the kitchen door and then I ran up the Hill and tossed myself into the grass by Father. “Back from Rivendell already?” he asked.

“The Tickle Troll made us come back, for Mrs. Gamgee said it’s bedtime,” I answered, then laid my head on his outstretched legs and asked, “But can I stay out here with you for a bit?”

“Hmm,” Father said, but I could tell he was too comfortable and full and content to argue about it. “For a bit,” he answered, and reached down to smooth my curls.

It was Cousin Frodo and Cousin Bilbo’s birthday, and we had had a glorious party at Bag End earlier. The Gamgees always throw a party on this day, and it is just for them and some of us Tooks and Cousins Merry and Estella and sometimes Cousins Fredegar and Maisie. The cake had been very good, and even though it was not his own birthday, Mayor Gamgee had little gifts for us children, which he said he was giving to us since Cousin Frodo was away.

My gift was several nice new marbles, and they had been Cousin Frodo’s when he was a lad. I pulled one out of my pocket and held it up to look at it. It blocked out the stars that were beginning to appear when I squinted at it. I put it away and turned so I could look the same way Father was looking.

“Which one is Eärendil, Father?” I asked.

“Which one do you think it is?” he answered, and I pointed. “That’s right,” Father said.

“I do not understand how a Man can sail a ship in the sky, even if he is Lord Elrond’s father,” I said, and Father chuckled.

“Maybe we are not meant to understand all things,” he said.

“I don’t see why not,” I grumbled. “I should like to.” I pulled another marble out and held it up and squinted so that Eärendil twinkled against its smooth surface. “It is nice of Mayor Gamgee to give presents out for Cousin Frodo,” I said. “I imagine Cousin Frodo gave splendid gifts, didn’t he, Father?”

“He did, indeed,” Father said softly.

“Do you think he has birthday parties over the Sea?” I asked. I hoped so. I wouldn’t want to live any place that didn’t have birthday parties.

“Oh, certainly,” Father said. “Gandalf is there too, remember, and he will make certain of it. He loved a good birthday party.”

“With fireworks!” I said. “The most glorious anyone has ever seen!”

“Wouldn’t be a proper party without them,” Father said. “And you know that the Elves bake the most delicious cakes.”

“And singing and dancing,” I said. “They’d had lots of that, the Elves would. I should think it was a very good birthday.”

“I’m certain it was,” Father said, and stroked my hair again.

I yawned and curled up a little against his legs. “I should like to see the Sea someday. Tell me again what it’s like,” I requested.

“Oh,” Father sighed, “it’s like nothing else. I had always thought it would be like a big lake, but it wasn’t. It’s the smell of it -- you know right off that it’s alive and moving and changing and ancient. It’s beautiful, but there is something sad about it.”

“The Yellowskin says Isengar went off to sea,” I said. “I wonder what happened to him. Do you suppose he found someplace else to live?”

“Maybe he did,” Father said. “I used to think that he became a pirate on a ship of Men, and became very wealthy, and always drank the best of ales and had grand adventures.”

I yawned again, and let my eyes shut. “That would be splendid, but I don’t think being a pirate is so glorious as being a knight, Father,” I said, and he laughed.

“I should hope not!” he answered, but I was drifting off, dreaming of a sea of stars.

(NOTE: This is the end of Part I. I don’t know when Part II will be posted, but it is in the works!)





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