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When I wrote "The Archive Incident" there were many calls to tell what happened with that poem about Thorongil. When Shirebound answered my meme on LiveJournal with a request to tell what happened the next morning after the story, I knew the time had come to reveal all.
ABOUT THAT POEM…
Frodo sat up, and glanced at Pippin, still slumbering next to him. From the sun through the window, it looked as though they had slept straight through second breakfast, and it was coming up elevenses. Merry and Sam were no longer in the bed, and judging by the smells emanating through the open door, they had been busy in the kitchen.
He sniffed. Bacon. Potatoes frying. Fresh bread, And …
"Mushrooms," Pippin mumbled. He opened one green eye, and sniffed, then smiled and sat up. "Good morning, Frodo."
"How's your knee, Pippin?" Frodo asked, as he reached behind himself to pull up his pillows.
Pippin pursed his lips in thought, and Frodo could see him shifting his leg slightly beneath the blanket. "Better, I do believe. Still a bit twingey, but much better than last night."
Just then, Sam and Merry came in, Merry bearing a huge tray laden with enough food and dishes for the four of them, and Sam had another tray with a teapot and cups.
Soon they were all seated around the trays in the huge bed, enjoying their elevenses, and chattering away.
"I hope, Frodo," said Merry, around a mouthful of bread and butter, "that you will remember from here on out, to leave word of where you've gone while we are here in the city."
"Yes, Uncle Meriadoc," said Frodo wryly.
Sam shook his head, "No call for that, Mr. Frodo. Mr. Merry is quite right. You gave us a fright, you did!"
Frodo cast his eyes down, abashed. "I am sorry, Merry and Sam, I don't mean to make light of your worry. And yes, I do have every intention of leaving word from here on out."
Pippin, who had just polished off his plate of thirds, said "Does anybody want the last piece of bacon?"
The others laughed, and gestured to indicate that Pippin was welcome to it.
"By the way," said Frodo, "Pippin and I found a *very* interesting poem yesterday."
Pippin's sudden bark of laughter caused him to start coughing, as he nearly inhaled a bit of the bacon he was eating. Sam pounded him helpfully on the back, and he tearily took a sip of his tea. "'Interesting' is one word for it, Frodo! I would give anything to hear Menelcar recite that!"
Just then, they heard a rap at the edge of the open door. "Did I just hear someone taking my name in vain?"
"Menelcar!" Pippin exclaimed. "Come in! Come in!"
Frodo grinned. "Ah, Menelcar! There's something you need to see! Sam, would you get that scroll out of the clothes press. Let Pippin give it to Menelcar."
The Court Bard looked very intrigued.
A few days later…
Aragorn glanced behind him at the Guardsmen who followed, and sighed. He was simply going to the guesthouse where the other Companions of the Ring were staying. Would he ever get used to having guards everywhere he went?
Faramir, who walked on his right, chuckled. "It is part of being King, sire."
"I know that. I accept that. It does not mean that I have to like it." He tried to avoid sounding cross. Who would have ever thought a simple dinner invitation could be so complicated?
Prince Imrahil, who was walking at his left, changed the subject. "I thank you sire, for including me in this evening. Are you certain your hosts will not object to my presence."
The King laughed at that. "They are hobbits. The more people whom they can feed, the better they like it." The Prince had arrived in Minas Tirith that afternoon, with information the King had needed about the situation on the coast since the end of the War.
They entered the courtyard of the guesthouse. Two of the guards automatically stationed themselves at the entry to the courtyard, while two others went to stand on either side of the door--the guards would remain at their posts until the King was ready to return to the Citadel.
Before Aragorn could knock upon the door, it popped open. Pippin stood there grinning. He was dressed in his hobbit-style clothing, and he held a tray. "Hullo, Strider! Faramir!" He gave a slightly more respectful tilt of his head to Imrahil, "Your Highness," he said.
The Prince found himself amused that he received more formal respect from the pherian than did the Steward and the King himself. But of course, the young halfling did not know him so well. He inclined his head graciously. "Sir Peregrin".
Pippin blushed, but then said, "Please go in and make yourselves at home. Sam sent these out to the guards," and he stepped past them, holding the tray up to one of the Guardsmen. On the tray were several scones, still steaming hot. "Here, Borondir. They're savoury scones--they have bits of cheese and bacon in them. You have some, too, Artamir. And I'll take the rest over there to Adrahil and Cemendur…"
Aragorn shook his head and chuckled as they entered.
"You will allow them to eat on duty?" asked Imrahil under his breath.
"If I do not allow them to, Sam's feelings will be hurt, and Frodo and the others will be offended. The hobbits feed my guards whenever I come down here."
Faramir said quietly, "Hobbits take hospitality very seriously, Uncle. They would not be able to stand the thought that other folk were in here feasting while the Guardsmen stood hungry at the door."
Imrahil nodded. He was learning more and more about the pheriannath. Theirs was a fascinating culture.
Just then Frodo and Merry came up to draw the new arrivals in. Besides themselves, there were, of course, Gandalf, Legolas, and Gimli. The sounds and mouth-watering smells from the kitchen indicated Sam's whereabouts. And the sound of a harp in one corner meant that the Court Bard Menelcar, a dear friend of all of the hobbits, was also here.
Just then Pippin returned. "Remind me," he said, "to tell Sam that Cemendur wants the recipe for those scones, to give his wife."
After a delicious meal, which Imrahil was only slightly surprised to discover had been prepared by all four of the halflings, the group repaired to the main room. Though the night was mild, a small fire was on the hearth, lending light and cheer.
Once everyone was seated comfortably, Frodo turned to the King, and said "Strider, we've asked Menelcar to prepare a very special entertainment for you. Pippin and I found a poem in the Archives, which we have asked him to declaim for you!"
Aragorn studied Frodo's face. The blue eyes were opened wide and guileless, but there was a certain gleam in them that he mistrusted. "A poem?" he asked.
Frodo nodded. "Yes, and you must promise to let him recite the whole thing!"
"I can deny you nothing, my friend," he said mildly, but he let his own skepticism show. Yes--there it was, Frodo hid it well, but there was definitely a hint of a smirk on his face. Well, if Frodo had found something to laugh at, he would most certainly go along with it, whatever his misgivings.
"That's wonderful," Frodo grinned. "Menelcar, if you please?"
Menelcar stood up to his full height, and wondered if this evening's amusement would be worth the King's anger. But he had not been able to resist the appeal of the hobbits, especially when Pippin turned those big green eyes on him. Oh well, he might very well have had the briefest appointment as Court Bard ever, but if so, he'd go out laughing.
In a solemn voice, belied by the twinkle in his eye, he began:
"He came from oh, so far away,
Aragorn looked puzzled, but Imrahil's jaw dropped. Surely not!
"No other warrior had the skill
The King turned bright red, and cast a look of reproach at Frodo, who returned his look quite innocently. With a sigh of defeat, Aragorn leaned back.
Imrahil put the palm of his hand to his face. No, oh no!
“From the north he came
"I told her 'dread' and 'raid' did not rhyme." Imrahil muttered softly. The King's head whipped round, and he gaped at the Prince, who stared back, shrugged and bit his lip.
As the dreadful verse continued, praising the mysterious Captain Thorongil's many exploits in ever worse and more lurid rhyme, the listeners were trying to suppress their own laughter.
"He was so very handsome and tall,
Menelcar spoke the last line, and bowed with a flourish, and the room erupted into laughter. Aragorn's face was flaming with embarrassment, but he too, laughed along with the rest--it had been so very dreadful!
Finally, wiping tears of mirth from his eyes, he turned a reproachful glance at Frodo. "Truthfully, Frodo, you *never* found that in the Archives! You *must* have made it up!"
The offended look on Frodo's face was almost enough to make up for his own embarrassment. But before Frodo could make any hot denials, Imrahil spoke up.
"I am afraid, sire," he said, "that they did indeed find that in the Archives. You see, I hid it there myself."
There was a stunned silence. Then Faramir said in a choked voice, "You could not have possibly written that, Uncle!"
"I never said I did! I said I *hid* it. Your Aunt Ivriniel wrote it!"
"I must have this tale," said Aragorn.
"It's quite simple. My older sister had a very strong infatuation for y--for Captain Thorongil. She mooned about you--him--constantly, to my own everlasting embarrassment. I was only a lad at the time, and I loved to taunt her over it. Our mother, of course, was appalled, for at that time no one knew who Thorongil was or what his birth. Our father found it funny, but was not otherwise displeased, as it made her turn other suitors away, and he thought his first daughter still too young for courting, for all that she was seventeen. It never occurred to him that she might attempt to make a declaration of her feelings.
After another spectacular naval victory led by Captain Thorongil, our family accompanied him here to the city, where the Steward had a grand celebration planned.
Shortly after our arrival, I overheard my sister in her room, seemingly speaking to someone--yet her voice did not sound quite right. I peeked through the keyhole, and saw her declaiming a poem to herself. It did not take much thought to realize it was of her own composition, so I did what any little brother would have done: I opened the door, and offered a bit of literary criticism. She was furious, and grabbed me by the hair of my head, breathing fire and threats. In self-defense, for I knew I could not strike her, I grabbed the poem from her hand. She shrieked and let go of me, and I took off running. She chased me for quite a while, until we came near the public parts of the Citadel, and she realized her behaviour might be seen. I however, kept running. I thought of the perfect place to hide the poem."
"In the archives!" Faramir exclaimed. He was thoroughly fascinated with this bit of family history. It was hard to imagine his staid Aunt Ivriniel as a besotted young girl. It was easier to imagine his uncle as a mischievous child--he sounded as though he must have been much like cousin Amrothos at that age.
The Prince nodded. "She threatened me with all sorts of reprisals, but I alone knew where it was hidden, and *I* threatened her to show it to all my friends if she did not leave me alone. Which she did. I do not believe she ever completely forgave me, but she did give up writing poetry after that."
Aragorn, who had been listening, said "Thank all the powers that be!" He tried to imagine what he would have done if suddenly faced by a lovesick Princess of Dol Amroth. Thorongil might have had to leave Gondor many years earlier.
Frodo lay a hand on his arm. "Strider, do you forgive our little prank?"
He turned and looked into the hobbit's face--only merriment and laughter was there, and not a trace of sorrow for the moment. Even if this joy only lasted briefly, it was worth it.
"Of course I do, you scoundrel!" he laughed.
"I wonder what else might come to light in the Archives?" said Gandalf, a twinkle in his own eyes.
"Perhaps I should search some more," said Frodo.
"Just so long as nobody else gets locked in!" said Sam decisively.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: i am hoping I made no mathematical errors when I was figuring out this story. Aragorn left to go on his "wanderings" in TA 2957. According to what I could discover, Ivriniel was born in 2947 and Imrahil in 2955. Assuming that Aragorn, as Thorongil, spent about 7 years building his reputation in Rohan before moving on to Gondor, Ivriniel would have been about 17 and Imrahil about 9. Just the right age for that sort of spat.
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