1. His Precious
Yet not quickly enough. Not before I recognized those soulful blue eyes, eyes that have seen too much.
You do not forget eyes such as those.
It was those eyes that saw what others so often missed. They saw more than mere twigs in the bird's nest he brought me that Yule near twenty years past.
"My Salvia," he said as we walked across the field hand in hand. "Wait here, love, Sméagol has something for you." And he ran ahead, to an old rabbit hole where he often stored his treasures. A few moments later I heard his padding footsteps approaching again. He was almost to me before I saw what he held in his hands.
I held it in my hand, turning it in the moonlight, trying to decipher its worth. 'Twas merely twisted branch and tufts of feather! Yet my love considered it a fitting gift for his Salvia.
"Why?" I asked him, probing his eyes for some hint at the answer to this riddle.
He looked at me, confusion clouding his face. "Because it is like us, my love." He traced a branch as far as he could, poking his long finger through the nest. "Little bits, weak on their own, but tucked and turned into something else. Where does one end and the other begin, Salvia? They are one and the same. And they make a safe home."
And I kissed him, then. Our first kiss. My lips touched his cheek, and he turned in surprise. And he smiled.
His lips were second in my heart only to his eyes, yet least of all for kissing. There was really no need, and so many other uses we could put them to. We would go deep into the forest together, where the moonlight shimmered through the boughs like silver rain, and he would show me the wild flowers growing on the trees. Then he would break off the end and suck the juice out through the tip, and show me how to do the same. And when we had sucked all the flowers dry we would lie against the mossy hills, watch the caterpillars climb up the trees and the squirrels leap from branch to branch.
Yet for all our moonlit walks together, I most missed the sunlit afternoons, lying on the riverbank cooling our feet in the water.
The grass grew thick there, at our special spot, and it always seemed greener than anywhere else. Though I suppose that is probably just the imaginings of a reminiscent heart. Whatever else it was, that bank was ours. It was there that he gave me my wood-pipe, just like his own.
They were two simple pieces of wood, or so you might think. Hardly thicker than a limb on a tree. But I knew better. Sméagol had bought them from the Big Folk -- he had befriended some of them when he was younger -- and there by the river we found another use for my Sméagol's lips: music. His voice was raspy even then, so it was usually I who sang when the mood struck us. Yet he would blow into his pipe, and his nimble fingers would move along its length, and the clear tones would sail to the heavens. I do not think even a dwarf-horn could match his pipe-playing.
The bird in the meadow and his mate in the tree
Filled the air with his joyful tune,
As the cricket's soft sawing and the buzz of the bee
Joined their song in the afternoon.
Birds sing a song, rest join along,
'Till night brings the birth of the Moon.
Or so the old song went. He played it on his pipe, and after he taught me how I joined him. At first my squeaks frightened away even the bullfrogs, but as the weeks passed my pipe-playing came to rival the songs of the sparrows. Or so my Sméagol said, at least. I didn't believe him, but it didn't matter.
Those lips proved to be quite talented, indeed. Good for sucking eggs and teaching new songs, playing riddles -- Sméagol knew more riddles than anyone else I had ever known! But still, his eyes were always more dear to me. In them I saw a wonder and a curiosity rare even among hobbits. Such wonder and depth! And maybe I was imagining that, seeing things that weren't there. Love blinds, they say. But somehow I don't think so.
"Mama." A small hand grabbed my finger then, tearing me from my reverie. She is beautiful. I picked her up in my arms then and swung her around, her brown curls bouncing as I jostled her up and down. "Have you had a nice afternoon, Lily?"
She smiled at that, nodding. "I made a hat for Rory," she said, pointing over at her brother walking along the bank further upstream.
I could not help but giggle at that. The sight of twelve-year-old Rory, a ring of daisies adorning his ruddy face and unruly hair, is a sight to behold indeed. And as I smiled at my son, I caught a last look at Sméagol plodding on along the bank into the sunset.
This might have been yours, my love, I thought to myself, wondering if he ever thought the same thing. This might have been ours ... you wanted it once. Do you remember? But they called you murderer. Thief. They threw you out.
I sighed. But that never bothered me. I would have come with you, if you would have asked.
"Mama?" Lily asked, laying her hand on my cheek. I turned back to her and blew on her nose, eliciting another giggle.
Hobbit mothers can be most persuasive, I thought, stealing one last glance at Sméagol. I am sorry.
"Mama, who is that?" Lily asked me again. Her smile was gone now, replaced by a most pensive look. Clever child.
"A friend," I said at last, climbing up the bank away from the river. "He was Mama's precious, and Mama was his. But that was a long time ago."
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.