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Dreamflower's Mathoms II  by Dreamflower

 

Fifteen Years After by Dreamflower
Thain Peregrin visits with his old friend Menelcar...


AUTHOR: Dreamflower
RATING: G
CATEGORY: General
SUMMARY: Thain Peregrin visits with his old friend Menelcar.
AUTHOR’S NOTES: [1] Marigold gave a list of four categories of elements for each writer to choose from. I chose the following:
Category one: A leader
Category two: A celebration
Category three: A palace
Category four: A minstrel
[2] This story takes place in S.R. 1436, during the visit of King Elessar to his Northern Realm. Peregrin has been Thain for two years.
DISCLAIMER: Middle-earth and all its peoples belong to the Tolkien Estate. I own none of them. Some of them, however, seem to own me.


STORY #4

FIFTEEN YEARS AFTER

Thain Peregrin stood upon the high walls overlooking Lake Evendim, amazed at the vistas open before him. Below, the celebration of the King’s return to his Northern Realm was still going on.

The palace was amazing. The Dúnadain had begun building it not quite ten years ago, the same year as the King’s Edict for the Shire had been made permanent. There was an almost Elven grace to the building. It was as strong as the Citadel, which Pippin remembered so well, yet it did not so obviously resemble a fortress. He glanced to his right, where a low wing of the building extended toward the southwest. From a distance, its architecture did not seem any different than that of the rest of the palace, and yet, up close it could clearly be seen that that portion of the building had been built with hobbits in mind. The low roof, the round doors and windows, the profusion of flowers and other plants growing beneath the windows and round the doors, all showed great care for the sensibilities of any visiting hobbits. He smiled at the memory of Diamond’s amazement at how homey it all was, when the party of hobbits had been shown to their quarters. He, Merry and Sam had all given a good deal of advice to the wing’s construction, though he thought perhaps the help of Berilac Brandybuck, who had gone there several times during its construction, and of Rollin Banks, who had actually stayed there and assisted in the work for three years, had more to do with it.

Pippin turned then and looked up, to the pinnacle of the palace, where the King’s great standard blew proudly. It was the very standard which Queen Arwen had wrought with her own hands, back before anyone in Gondor knew that Strider the Ranger was the King Returned. For a moment, Pippin remembered the siege of Minas Tirith, his own despair, and how his heart had lifted when he *knew*--just *knew*--that Strider and Legolas and Gimli were sailing up the Anduin bringing much needed help to the beleaguered White City. No one, of course, heeded him, so convinced were they that more enemies had come. Perhaps, if he had been able to convince Lord Denethor--but no, the palantír had already ensnared the Steward by then, and he was too far gone in madness to heed anyone, much less one that he scorned so much as a *halfling*. Yet it was a moment Pippin would never forget, his joy at knowing his friends were coming to his aid.

“Pippin?”

Pippin whirled, a grin of joy lighting his face, and he sprang forward. “Menelcar!” he cried, giving the Man an exuberant hug.

“Now,” said the minstrel, returning his embrace, “that is scarcely the dignified behavior of a Thain!”

“Dignity be blowed!” Pippin exclaimed. “It’s so good to see you Menelcar!”

Menelcar laughed. “I know you saw me already. You were among the audience when I was singing before the feast.”

“That’s hardly the same as seeing you to talk to!” Pippin retorted.

“Which is why I sought you out! What do you think of this northern palace, and the new city of Annúminas?”

“It’s beautiful!” said Pippin. “And the best part is that Strider says he will stay here for at least two years! I’ve missed him so! And you shall be here too!”

“I know I am speaking to the Ernil i Pheriannath when I hear my Lord King Elessar referred to as ‘Strider’!” chortled the minstrel.

“Ah, now, Merry and Sam call him that, too! We have his leave, nay, his command to do so, unless it is a formal occasion!”

“This is true, very true! But it is good to hear it once more!” The minstrel came and leaned against the balustrade next to Pippin, the wind blowing in his hair. Pippin noticed that his old friend had a great many more grey strands amidst the ginger since last he had seen him. “You have been busy! A wife, three daughters, a son--and Thain! A far cry from the lad I met so many years ago, determined to remained unfettered by responsibility!”

“I wonder what my life would have been like if I *had* gone with you, Menelcar?” Pippin sighed. It was easy to remember sometimes the many reasons why he had not wished to be Thain.

Menelcar looked at his small friend thoughtfully. “I do not think it would have been possible, Pippin. You had a destiny. Think how things might have fallen out, had you not gone with your cousins.”

“That’s rather an uncomfortable thought, Menelcar, as if I’d had no choice.”

“Of course you had a choice. You could not have abandoned them, though. Even then I could see how dearly you loved them--you would have been miserable without them, and, I think would have made me bring you home.”

Pippin was quiet for a moment, thinking about it. “You are probably right.”

The two gazed out once more over the view of the lake, and Pippin was softly humming.

Menelcar glanced over at his companion. “That’s a new tune. Is it one of yours?”

“No, it’s one of Cousin Bilbo’s.” Pippin looked very pensive.

The minstrel’s face lit up. “A song by Bilbo Baggins! I thought you had already taught me all of his songs!”

“Not this one, Menelcar.” Pippin was silent for a moment, and then said, “It was the last song he wrote. Made it up on the way to--to the Havens. Sam remembered it, and wrote it down later, taught me the tune.” He sighed.

“That must have been difficult, saying farewell to Frodo, and to Master Bilbo.”

“You’ve no idea, Menelcar. It’s been fifteen years now, and it still hurts. Sometimes, it’s just a pleasant ache, and other times it’s as sharp and fresh as if it had just happened. But it had to be. We would have lost him anyway, had he stayed. He just kept getting worse instead of better.”

Menelcar sighed, and blinked away the tears that had gathered at Pippin’s mournful admission. “I am the most fortunate of Men, Pippin, even moreso than our King.”

Pippin glanced up in surprise. “Why do you say that?”

The minstrel smiled softly. “Because, alone of all my race, I was lucky enough to meet and get to know Frodo Baggins before the burden of his task. Even your ‘Strider’ did not meet him until he had taken on the responsibility of removing the Ring from the Shire. When I met him, he was still carefree and happy there. He enjoyed his life in Bag End, and I can remember how much he cared about you and Merry and Sam. I shall never forget standing in the kitchen and watching Frodo, Sam and you prepare ‘elevenses’ as you hobbits call it--you all seemed to take such delight in what you did, and in one another.”

Pippin blushed. “If I remember correctly, I was rather in disgrace with Frodo at the time. He was not happy with my intent to run away and become a bard.”

Menelcar laughed. “This is true; but it didn’t seem to make any difference to him. He delighted in you just the same.” He shook his head, and his expression became more sorrowful. “When I met him again in Minas Tirith after the War, I was struck by how changed he was. He was still very proud of you three, but he seemed grimmer, less open, less curious. I worried about him then.” He stopped and cleared his throat, and let out a deep breath. “So, will you teach me Master Bilbo’s last song?”

Pippin gave a wistful smile, and then, casting his gaze as far to the West as he could see, began to sing:

“Day is ended, dim my eyes,
But journey long before me lies.
Farewell, friends! I hear the call,
The ship’s beside the stony wall.
Foam is white and waves are grey;
Beyond the sunset leads my way.
Foam is salt, the wind is free;
I hear the rising of the sea.”

Tears had gathered in the green eyes, and began to roll unheeded down his cheeks.

“Farewell, friends! The sails are set,
The wind is east, the moorings fret.
Shadows long before me lie,
Beneath the ever-bending sky.
But islands lie behind the sun
That I shall raise ere all is done;
Lands there are to west of west,
Where night is sweet and sleep is rest.”

As Pippin began the next verse, another voice joined in. Menelcar turned to see Sam and Merry standing in the doorway leading out to the wall. Sam had begun to sing as well…

“Guided by the lonely star,
Beyond the utmost harbour-bar,
I’ll find the havens fair and free,
And beaches of the starlit sea.”

Sam moved up and put his hand on Pippin’s shoulder, and Merry came to his other side, joining his own, slightly deeper voice to theirs.

“Ship my ship! I seek the west,
And fields and mountains ever blest.
Farewell to Middle-earth at last.
I see the star above my mast!”*

As the three hobbit-voices faded away, Menelcar realized that the King was also standing behind them and gazing silently to the West. There was a silence that seemed to stretch between them all, as they recalled those they loved, gone forever out of reach.
__________________________________________
*Bilbo’s Last Song by J.R.R. Tolkien





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