6. Tol Eressëa
Frodo had assumed that it would take as long to sail this “straight road” as it had to sail the Seas now bent forever behind them, but that wasn’t how it happened. It took only a few days longer, as far as he could tell, and the buoyant, joyous feeling of acceptance and love and welcome never left him, not even in sleep. His dreams were peaceful, and vivid, and unfolded vistas and faces before him that, after several nights, began to feel as familiar as the Shire and the folk he loved.
There seemed always to be a gentle, sparkling mist in the air that made it difficult to be sure exactly how many days were passing. But one evening after his meal, he went on deck to find that it was raining -- or was it the mist, just heavier and wrapping them more closely? It lasted all that night, and as the hours passed, or seemed to, he found himself drawn from his bed again and again, finally giving up on elusive sleep to join a large number of Elves up on the deck who had also sensed… something. Gildor saw the tiny Ring-bearer and came to his side.
“Something’s happening,” Frodo whispered in delight. “Are we close?”
“Yes, dear one, we are close. May I?” Gildor reached down and Frodo came willingly into his arms. The Elf lifted the hobbit high, and then lowered his arms until Frodo was sitting on his shoulders. “Now you can see what there is to see,” Gildor smiled, “without all these enormous Elves crowding your vision.”
Frodo looked around, delighted to be so high. He was soaked to the skin, as was everyone else, but they felt neither cold nor uncomfortable. There was only the mist, and the sound of sweet singing.
“Do you smell that?” Gildor took a deep, full breath, and Frodo did the same. The fragrance was delicate and wonderful, and reminded Frodo of something he was unable to quickly identify. It smelled like…
Frodo gasped as suddenly, from every direction, the mist abruptly lit up with a silver brilliance. Frodo began to tremble with recognition. A night of rain… fragrance and singing and… This was his dream! He had never forgotten the unusual dream that night in the house of Tom Bombadil and his Lady. This was… this was the same. His conversation with Círdan rang in his head.
“Sometimes I think I have dreamt about the Blessed Realm. I’ve seen… places and things of such beauty…”
“I believe you have. Irmo, lord of dreams, has shown it to you.”
Frodo closed his eyes for a moment, and when he opened them again, everyone was still, and quiet, as, for just a moment, the Elves stopped singing. Some knelt, some bowed their heads, and some, Gildor among them, wept with joy.
The mist was gone. Before them was Tol Eressëa, the Lonely Isle.
Although they were still far off, and what he beheld had been described to him as the less fair, eastern side, Frodo beheld wide, pure white shores and green hills. The sun, just rising behind them, lit the island in a rose-gold hue, and a single tower, visible even at this distance, gleamed white as a beacon.
“What do you see?” Frodo asked Gildor. He knew that an Elf’s eyesight was keener than that of any mortal.
“I see ships large and small anchored in the harbor,” Gildor said softly. “I see a city of great beauty and simplicity, gleaming white against the hills, and many fountains… the Mallorn bloom, as do flowers I do not recognize. But most of all…” Gildor smiled, and reached up to grasp Frodo’s hand. “I see people, Frodo. The docks, harbor, shores… filled with people. I hope this multitude will not unsettle you.”
“They will hardly notice two small hobbits,” Frodo laughed, “and I suspect Bilbo and I will be able to slip past them unnoticed. It is Galadriel, and Elrond, and all of you, whom they wish to welcome.” Frodo suddenly noticed Bilbo standing nearby. Gildor lifted him and set him gently onto the deck, and Frodo ran to Bilbo and enfolded the old hobbit in his arms.
Frodo had assumed that the ancient harbor of Avallónë would look the same as that of the Havens, but it resembled no place he had ever seen or imagined. As the graceful ship slid into its awaited place, and its ropes were made fast to the dock, Frodo gripped the rail, with Bilbo and Gandalf beside him, and tried to take it all in.
The water itself was clear and deep -- so clear, Frodo thought he could see the shadow of the ship’s hull on the sandy bottom, far, far below them. Every building, bridge, gate, and road within Frodo’s vision was exquisitely crafted, showing the millenia of loving skill that had been wrought in every delicate arch and harmonious line. Flowers bloomed everywhere, and fountains threw up sparkling waters in every shape and hue. There was no sign, anywhere, of age or wear or neglect. Avallónë was a beloved jewel set against verdant hills, and no dream had ever prepared Frodo for such beauty.
And Gildor had been correct -- Elves crowded every available walkway and cleared space, wearing robes and gowns of so many gentle colors and delicate design, they appeared, themselves, as vibrant and life-filled as the flowers most of them were carrying, and the multi-colored birds darting in and out of the trees.
“Oh,” Frodo whispered. “Bilbo, there are children here!”
Bilbo just nodded, as captivated as was Frodo. Neither of them had ever seen an Elf child, and there was a whole group of them by one of the fountains, laughing and playing some sort of game.
Frodo’s attention was caught by the sight of Galadriel walking slowly down the ramp to the dock, the first of any to leave the ship. At the bottom of the ramp she hesitated, as if uncertain of what welcome she might receive, but then this daughter of the Noldor, exiled no longer, was nearly crushed in a joyous, weeping multitude, all trying to embrace her at once.
“There now,” Bilbo murmured beside him. “Everything’s all right, then.”
Elves now streamed off the ship, some into waiting, loving arms, some welcomed with flowers and warm embraces.
“Look,” Bilbo said softly.
A beautiful woman, the first to have run to Galadriel and thrown herself into the Lady’s arms, had separated herself from the throng, and now stood at the bottom of the ramp. She wore a gown of pale blue, with silver and gold flowers embroidered around hem and sleeves. Frodo realized that she looked very much like Arwen, although her hair was golden, and flowed nearly to her feet. Her cheeks were wet with tears, and, with a cry, she suddenly ran to the top of the ramp, onto the ship, and into Elrond’s arms.
Frodo felt he would never see a more glorious sight than that of Lord Elrond laughing and crying and twirling the slender Elf woman about, then pulling her into an embrace, and a kiss that seemed that it would last for as long as the stars shone. It was with an effort that he pulled his gaze away from the lovely sight to look up at Gandalf, who was patting him gently on the shoulder.
“Come,” the wizard said softly, and he walked forward to the waiting couple, Frodo on one side of him and Bilbo on the other.
“Mithrandir,” the woman murmured, “it is good to see you again, dear friend.”
“Celebrían,” the wizard kissed her hand. “This joyous day has at last arrived.” He was about to introduce the hobbits when she smiled at him, her eyes twinkling. She knelt, and took Bilbo into her arms.
“Bilbo,” Celebrían murmured to the hobbit, “we are overjoyed that you are here at last.”
“Lady Celebrían,” Bilbo said, bowing deeply, “it is an honor to meet you.”
She turned to Frodo and pulled him into a warm embrace, then looked deeply into his eyes.
“Frodo,” she murmured, “I welcome you home.”
“T. .thank you, Lady,” Frodo whispered, also bowing low. “I… I bring you greetings from your daughter, who wishes you to know that she is happy and well.”
“Thank you, Frodo,” Celebrían said softly. She caught sight of the chain about the hobbit’s neck, and she gently drew it out. She took the jewel in her hand and kissed it, then smiled at Frodo and pressed her lips to his forehead before rising gracefully to her feet. She and Elrond moved away, and Frodo came out of his awed reverie to find that Gildor, once he had greeted the former Lady of Imladris, had come to stand before the hobbits.
“Frodo, Bilbo…” Gildor smiled, “will you do me the honor of accompanying me, as we disembark?”
“Of course, Gildor,” Frodo said. “We can just…” He suddenly realized that they were nearly the only people left on board, but the crowds below were, if anything, even larger.
“What are they all waiting for?” Frodo asked, puzzled.
“They are waiting for you.” Gildor knelt in front of the astonished hobbit. “I do not know how mortals see each other, Frodo, but when we look at you, we see a being of such beauty and Light that I cannot truly describe it. You will not lack for friends, or a very joyous welcome.” Bilbo chuckled, and beamed with pride.
“I am sorry, Frodo, but you and Bilbo will not be able to slip by unnoticed, as you had hoped.” Gildor smiled warmly. “Will you come and feast with us, and enjoy a proper homecoming?”
“Feast?” Bilbo grinned. “Come, my lad. Let us see if these Elves know how to properly ‘feast’ a hobbit or two!”
Frodo laughed and threw his arms around the old hobbit. “Oh, Bilbo” he murmured, “we’re here!”
“Indeed we are, dear boy,” Bilbo grinned. He breathed deeply of the sweet air, and his eyes sparkled with excitement. “Whatever will two simple hobbits do in such a grand place?”
“I don’t care what we do.” Frodo took Bilbo’s hand. “This is our home,” he said with a joyous smile. “We’re home.”
** END **
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.