In the kitchen I found a middle aged woman already busy with the preparations for dinner. She gave me a deeply disapproving look. I guess I could count myself lucky that she nevertheless served me a breakfast of bread, honey, fruit salad and tírithel on a tray to take into the living room. The living room was a mixture of living room, dining room and study. Connected to the kitchen by a wooden door, there was a dais with a long dining table and twelve chairs. Three white marble steps led down to the living room part of the room.
At the other end of the room was a large fireplace, already stocked with great logs for the evening. To the right side of the room were three large windows with deep window seats looking out over the lower levels of the city to the south. On the left side of the room bookshelves reached from the floor to the ceiling.
There I found Gandalf, peacefully smoking his pipe and leafing through an old book. I slumped down on a chair at the great dining table hoping that the tírithel would restore some strength to me. It did not really work. If anything, I felt even more tired. I sighed and rubbed at my temples.
Gandalf raised his head and looked me up and down. Then he took the pipe from his lips. "Go back to bed," the wizard said and put the pipe back into his mouth.
Ha, bloody ha… as if anybody who is not grievously hurt would ever go back to bed in the middle of the bloody day around here, I thought irritably but did not reply to the wizard's suggestion.
But I did take my time to finish breakfast. Afterwards I felt slightly better but only very slightly. Éowyn's brand of girl talk was still reverberating in my mind. And damn it all to hell I missed Éomer, although I had not been at all comfortable in his company after Éowyn's rousing comments. I wondered when and how I would manage to tell him all about me.
"Where is everybody?" I asked the wizard. Gandalf raised his head again from the book. He seemed a bit surprised that I was still there and a little exasperated at the disturbance of his reading. "Up and about," he said. "Somewhere. Not in more trouble than usual. I hope."
The house we were staying in was a white villa on the sixth circle of Minas Tirith.
Aragorn had appointed this house for the use of the fellowship as long as even one member of our company stayed in Minas Tirith. The Lord of Dol Amroth and the Lady Míriël had wanted me to stay with them, and Éowyn had pleaded with me to stay with her, probably thinking that I would be the most lenient chaperone she was likely to get. But to my surprise all members of the Fellowship had argued vehemently that I belonged to them and therefore had to stay with them in the villa. Even Legolas had departed from his usual noble reserve and had told me with the indication of an elegant elvish bow, "You belong here, with us, for as long as the fellowship remains." And Sam had stepped up to the Lady Míriël, had bowed to her very deeply and promised with a very solemn expression on his face that he would watch my every step. No lenient chaperone for Lothíriel. Sigh.
But remembering that, I felt blissfully happy nevertheless. I had felt for such a long time that I did not really belong with the Fellowship because I was not in the stories, because I was only an addition, the tenth walker, more an encumbrance than an asset. Now I knew that Merry, Pippin, Sam, Frodo, Gimli, Legolas, Gandalf and Aragorn thought differently. They really thought that I belonged with them. To have friends to really belong to. I sighed again but this time with happiness. Friends who really wanted me to stay with them, friends, with whom I had shared so many days and nights, so many experiences…
I sat down in an easy chair across from Gandalf, cradling my second cup of tírithel. I tried to think about plans for today, what I should do and where I should go. But again and again my mind returned to the conversation I had had with Éowyn last night.
Suddenly Gandalf closed his book. He looked at me, frowning deeply. "Would you please stop thinking quite so loudly, my dear? Your thoughts running in circles like that makes concentrating on my book virtually impossible."
Wizards. As if it is my fault that he can read my mind. I sighed again. I felt that I did rather a lot of sighing lately. "I'm sorry, Gandalf. I'm just so… upset. You know, up one minute, down the next. It's silly. I know."
"Himmelhoch jauchzend, zu Tode betrübt," Gandalf commented in a gruff voice and in perfect German. "I know. And it is really silly. You worry too much, Lothíriel. If you knew more about the history of earth, you would not be as worried as you are now. It's true that there seems to be a custom of marrying virgins of high birth among all the royal families in all the many worlds – with a few very strange exceptions. But customs and reality are two very different things. Monarchs marry and have married commoners all the time. Virginity is just a way to make sure that the heir will be legitimate and that won't be a problem with that clever little device in your arm."
I gasped. How did Gandalf know about Implanon?
The wizard grinned at me unrepentantly. "I'm a wizard. It's my 'job' to know things. Last but not least, I think you underestimate Éomer. And that, my dear, won't do at all. Now, will you do what I told you to do?"
I stared at him. "Do what?"
The wizard shook his head. "Go back to bed and leave me to read in peace. You are weary from travelling from Cormallen to Minas Tirith and all that turmoil of heartache that you insist on having. Go back to bed. Sleep through the day. We will share a nice dinner among the Fellowship tonight with no Éowyn and no Éomer to upset you. Then you go to bed again and sleep some more. And tomorrow the world will look all the better for it."
He was really serious. His eyes were filled with warmth and he winked at me in a friendly way. How was it possible that the mightiest wizards of the world could act so… grandfatherly? Gandalf's smile grew even broader. He probably had heard that thought, too. Anyway, he raised one of his magnificent bushy eyebrows at me and asked, "Now will you go back to bed like a good girl?"
I really did feel exhausted. Not so much from the travelling, but from the emotional upheaval I was experiencing. Falling in love does not feel good at all. At best you feel like a fool. At worst you feel absolutely horrible. Love is different. Love is so much more than falling in love, being in love. I had thought twice in my life that love was within my reach. But both times love had escaped me. I had been left alone and wondering what had gone wrong, whether there had been any opportunity for love in those relationships at all. I think with Boromir there had been a possibility for love. But Boromir was dead.
"Go – to – bed!" the wizard repeated, disturbing my musings. He enunciated each word slowly and carefully, making sure that I got the hint this time.
What could I do? I nodded meekly and crept back upstairs to my room and into my bed. I think Gandalf must have put some small spell on me, because I could not think about love or Éomer or any other serious matter anymore and was asleep almost instantly.
When it was time for dinner, Gandalf told Pippin to go upstairs and wake me. Sometimes even white wizards make mistakes.
I did not wake from several knocks on the door.
I did not wake from my name being called in bright hobbity voices.
I did not even wake when my door was virtually crashed by someone hammering against it with his fists.
I was woken by several bodies jumping me.
"Pippin, Merry, Frodo, you can't do that! She's a lady!" Sam's voice held a note of desperation. "He told us to wake her, not to attack her!"
"Well, I am waking her, Sam! Come on and help us!" That was Pippin.
"But that's not proper!" Sam pleaded.
"She's wearing leggings and a shirt," Frodo said. "Come on, Sam. Help us!"
I looked around wildly, trying to make sense of what was happening and found that Frodo was holding my arms tightly, Merry was sitting on my legs and Pippin was tickling my feet with a feather.
I am very ticklish.
I convulsed into laughter, at the same time trying to get away from Frodo and Merry. But that's difficult when you can hardly breathe with laughing. I wriggled like a landed trout. In next to no time I was squeaking and hollering with laughter. But I could not get free.
Finally I managed to gasp: "Sam! HELP me for god's sake!"
I should not have said that. Sam is all fight and no keeping back. He simply jumped Merry. Both of them fell right on top of me, knocking the air out of my lungs and giving Pippin even more opportunity to tickle my bare feet. I was beyond laughing. I was only screaming by that time, tears of laughter rolling down my cheeks. My screams, however, alerted Gimli and Legolas.
And that's how a tickling attack turned into a pillow fight that ultimately destroyed my bed.
Not because our weight took it down, though it creaked ominously when Gimli threw himself into the mêlée. It was destroyed because Gandalf joined in the fray.
Gandalf kind of lost control when Pippin decided to try and see if the wizard was ticklish at all.
Yes, Gandalf is ticklish.
More ticklish than I am.
And I don't accidentally throw flames.
I was lucky that I was not in my bed anymore but trying to get my pillow away from Gimli. With no success by the way. Legolas was not helping me.
There was a sudden flash of lightning.
When we could see again, my bed had been reduced to a heap of smoking ashes.
"Wow," Merry said.
"Cool," Pippin added.
But at least he let go of Gandalf.
We finally calmed down, sitting on the floor of my room, gasping for breath, now and then emitting a last unhinged giggle. I had known that adults can be just as silly as kids. I had been not so sure about dwarves, elves and wizards. Now I know. I guess they can be pretty silly, too.
"That was fun," Pippin finally said, beaming at everyone.
"Fool of a Took," Gandalf commented, still breathing heavily.
"It was you who destroyed my bed," I told the wizard.
"You're awake now, aren't you? You don't need a bed at the moment," Gandalf replied grouchily.
"You can have my bed, Lothy," Sam offered, always courteous. "I don't mind sleeping on the floor."
"No, thanks, Sam. I think it will be possible to get it replaced. And I am indeed awake now." I giggled. "Very awake. Wide awake." I was. Awake. And I felt as relaxed as you can get without… ahem…
"Why did you wake me, by the way?" I asked Pippin. "And in that… kind of unusual manner, if you don't mind my asking?"
Pippin grinned broadly. "'Cause it's dinner time and Gandalf said we should wake you nicely. I thought that was rather nice. And you did not react to our knocks before we tried my way of getting you awake."
"And whose fault might that have been?" I asked no one in particular.
"You needed your sleep," Gandalf said, somewhat sheepishly, his nose colouring in a pretty pink shade.
We were very late for dinner.
Aragorn was already waiting when we finally came into the living room.
He looked at us, taking in our flushed, red-cheeked and dishevelled appearances and frowned.
"What in Arda did you do up there?"
Gandalf gave him an innocent look out of his almost baby-blue eyes. "An emergency. There was a 'mus musculus domesticus' under the Lady Lothíriel's bed." The wizard winked at me. I rolled my eyes at him. German and Latin. Wizards are worse than teachers… they simply have to know everything.
"A what?" Aragorn stared at the wizard.
"A mouse. The Lady was quite upset." Gandalf gave the King of Gondor an innocent smile. I glared at the wizard. I like mice. I would never burn my bed because of a mouse.
Aragorn raised his eyebrows at us. "And to get rid of that mouse you needed four hobbits, one elvish warrior, one stout dwarf and one wizard? And how did you get rid of the mouse if I may ask? Did you scare her to death with you laughter?" He sniffed lightly. A ranger has very acute senses. His nose is just as keen as his eyes or ears. "Or did you set fire on the poor animal's tail?"
Gandalf shrugged and grinned sweetly at his friend. "It worked so well with the werewolves that I thought it would be rather a success with the mouse, too."
I don't know how I managed to keep a straight face at that, but I turned to Aragorn and asked, "By the way, could you perhaps arrange it for me to get a new bed?"
Four hobbits, one dwarf, one elf, one woman and one wizard collapsed into laughter once more.
All of the above made for a very relaxed dinner that night. Just a couple of friends who had shared good times and bad times. We ate a three course dinner and drank red wine and dark beer (the hobbits and the dwarf).
After dinner we moved to the easy chairs in front of the fireplace. Aragorn, Gandalf, the hobbits and the dwarf produced their pipes. Legolas produced a lute he had bought that day.
It had been made in Dol Amroth. To my surprise Legolas told me that there were no finer lutes and harps than those made in Dol Amroth, and no finer lute or harp players than the musicians of Prince Imrahil. Keeping away from the smoke of the pipes, we settled down in a wide window seat laid out with thick red cushions, and Legolas showed me the basics of playing.
Then he played what he called a simple lullaby for us. It was not at all simple. Well, perhaps it was for him. It was a sweet and yet sad tune that went straight to our hearts. I caught a look of Gimli listening to that song, and there were tears in the dwarf's eyes. Love takes many forms. Here was one of them.
There's a Greek myth about how each soul is only one half of a soul and spends the life searching for his or her missing half. Most people think this story is about love in the marriage kind of way, with sex and all that. But it isn't. Or the original myth isn't. It's about who you are, what makes you – you. About the one person who will complement your every thought. Most people will think, well, isn't that what love and stuff is all about? But it isn't. You can truly love in all ways that love offers, and not have that feeling about your lover or your husband. This missing half part is different. I guess it can come with the marriage kind of love, but it does not have to. Most people never find this missing part of a soul kind of love anyway, I think. Perhaps it's only a myth and probably not applicable to Middle-earth either – no Greek mythology there, after all. But as I watched Legolas playing his lute for Gimli, and Gimli's eyes were brimming with tears, I felt sure that this myth is true. Here were two souls that had found each other.
They belonged to each other in a way not many lovers of any race or gender ever belong to each other. Perhaps that's the reason why they never found a lover to settle down with, at least here, in Arda. But there's always the possibility of Aman and a foursome happiness there. Ever since that night in Minas Tirith I have believed that the stories are true that I read once, long ago, in a different life, in a different world. I believe that when the time comes for Legolas to pass away into the West, he will not go alone. And I would very much like to believe that they will find a nice dwarf lady and a nice elleth there and settle down in that western paradise together, that they will have many children who grow up to become just as good friends as their Dads are, and that they will live there happily ever after until the end of time.
I'm sentimental as hell. But I guess you know that by now.
When the tune was over, everyone sighed happily.
"Ah… that was beautiful," Gandalf said appreciatively. "I did not know that you can play like that, Legolas."
The elf shrugged. It was a liquid gesture, a French shrug, saying so much more than mere words. But he did add in a very dry voice. "My father made me learn when I was but an Elfling. I never really took to it, but these lutes they make at Dol Amroth are truly special. I could not resist. I really enjoy playing this instrument… however, I would be grateful if you did not pass that on to my father. I'd never hear the end of it."
"Were you a quarrelsome Elfling then, huh?" Gimli asked with a grin appearing in his bushy red beard.
Legolas raised his delicately slanted eyebrows. "Depends on whom you ask that question."
Gandalf snorted but did not comment.
For a moment the room was silent. It was a comfortable, companionable silence. Suddenly a thought occurred to me. There was a question I had wanted to ask for a long time now, but there had never been a good opportunity to ask it.
"By the way, Gandalf, I've wondered and wondered, and I still have no clue. When I met you that day in Franconia, what was it that you were doing there? I can't believe that you were only waiting to get me into trouble," I asked.
"You can't?" Frodo commented wryly. "You should ask Bilbo sometime about the incident with the dwarves and Gandalf's involvement in it."
I had to restrain myself from giggling as I saw that Gandalf had the grace to look slightly abashed at that comment.
"Well, what did you do in Franconia at the time?" I repeated. "Or is it some great, dark secret you may not talk about?"
The wizard blew out a couple of smoke rings that slowly whirled up to the ceiling, where they stayed, wavering slightly, but not vanishing into thin air like the smaller smoke rings the hobbits were blowing into the air. Then Gandalf looked at me, and his eyes were sparkling with mirth.
"No, it's not a great secret. I can tell you what I did there," he replied, the corners of his mouth curling up with a smile.
I raised my eyebrows at him and waited patiently for him to continue.
"Well," the wizard said. "If you insist… I bought a new pipe. In Nuremberg. I am rather fond of that pipe manufacturer there. You know, Vauen."
He held out his pipe to me. The stamp with the letters "Vauen" was easily recognizable in the beautifully grained wood of the pipe. But what I had not expected was that I would recognize the pipe, too. It was the "Gandalf"-pipe that Vauen produced to go with the movies of "The Lord of the Rings".
The wizard winked at me.
When I went back to my room at the end of the evening, I discovered that the heap of ashes in my room had been replaced with a new bed. And although the room still smelled a bit of fire and ashes, I fell asleep at once and with a smile on my face.
There are not many things in any world that are better than a cosy evening spent with friends.
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.