14. Love Lost
At dinner, Miriel asked, "Did the Lord Frodo ever fall in love?"
The Hobbits exchanged sad looks. Finally the Thain answered, "Once, briefly. He was very popular as a tween, and there were many lasses who hoped to catch his eye, and I suspect as many families behind them whose own hopes for an excellent marital alliance were dashed when Frodo fell in love with my daughter Pearl.
"Pearl fell in love with Frodo when she was about eighteen. By the time Frodo was twenty-six, the attraction was mutual. Frodo was one of those whose heart could be given only to one at a time. And he was not one to take advantage of others. It used to be that when he went to parties or feasts he would dance all night, delighting in the admiration he received. But he was too shy--and too decent--to insist on more. Once his heart was set on Pearl he would rarely dance with other lasses unless they were too young to be seen as possible mates, or were obviously devoted to others, but their preferred partner was not present or at the moment able to dance."
"So, after he settled on Pearl, he danced either with her or with partners who were obviously not competition?"
"What happened between them?"
It was Samwise who answered: "Lobelia Sackville-Baggins got her claws on Pearl and filled her head with tales on how likely Mr. Frodo was as to die if he were to do too much, and how any children they might have would be like to be weak hearted." To the unasked question in the Thain's eyes, he answered, "I asked Mistress Pearl, sir, after Mr. Frodo left. I'd always wondered."
"She never told us why all of a sudden she was no longer answering his letters, why she was finding excuses to be elsewhere when we went to Bag End, why she would try to avoid banquets or dinners or parties where he might be present, why, when she did go, she avoided him. Nor did she apparently tell him. He would look after her with such puzzlement in his eyes, and eventually the mention of her name would cause his face to draw in pain. For about three years he mourned before his heart healed."
"And then," Mistress Esmeralda said with bitterness, "the Ring came to him, and he lost the ability to love."
Miriel was shocked. "What would the Ring have to do with his ability to love?"
Pippin answered, "It was when Bilbo left the Ring to him that he could no longer feel attracted to anyone any more. Suddenly he didn't seem to notice lasses any more. If' they asked him, he would dance with them, but otherwise they were just--just folk. And it hurt him, when he thought on it, to not be able to appreciate a lass any more. He said so to us."
The Master nodded, his face full of pain for his lost cousin. "Yes, he said the same to us, a few days before he left." And Ruvemir saw that his wife and brother-in-law were nodding in agreement. "Would you care for potatoes?"
After a while of silence, Miriel asked Estella, "How did you come together, you and Sir Merry?"
Estella looked at her husband, who just shrugged. "We've known each other from childhood. We're second cousins, also. We're all at least a bit related to one another and to Frodo.
"During the time of the Troubles, once it became known my brother was leading one of the groups of Rebels, as the Big Men called those who opposed them, our folks were driven out of our hole and most of our possessions confiscated by Lotho and his Men. My parents managed to get me to the Tooks, who hid me on a farm outside Tuckborough for the rest of the time before Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin got home. After the Big Men were thrown out of the Shire and Sharkey was dead they had to find me and bring me home. Merry was the one I saw first.
"Took a while for our home to be restored and refurnished and all. The most valuable items my folks had hidden early on, and so we weren't completely destitute afterwards. But it seemed Merry and I just kept accidentally meeting each other here and there throughout the Shire, and then one day he just asked me to marry him, and after taking a few days to think it over, I accepted him.
"How about you, Mistress Miriel--are you spoken for?"
Miriel blushed. "No, but then until we heard Ruvemir was in Minas Anor ill and almost to the point of death I almost never left our home. It's not easy to feel comfortable when most of those who live surrounding you see you as different and therefore either dangerous somehow, or in some manner an offense against nature. But when word came from our Lord King himself that Ruvemir was seriously ill, I overcame my fear and set out to the capital to come to his side, and found I was better accepted in Minas Anor and here than I was near my home."
Mistress Esmeralda bristled. "As gentle and accomplished as you are--there is anyone who would give you such offense? That is a great offense in itself!"
Miriel looked at her with appreciation. "I thank you for your courtesy, my Lady Esmeralda," she said.
Estella turned to Ruvemir. "And you, Master Ruvemir--is there one you have come to love?"
Ruvemir found himself smiling broadly. "I'd not thought to find it in Minas Anor, but yes, I have found love, and I hope we will marry soon after I return to the city."
"What is she like?"
"Elise is taller than I, which is to be expected, as I am considered short even among my own. Yet she is herself quite small and well proportioned, with a mouth made to smile and eyes that are bright with laughter. Her hair is the color of ripening wheat, pulled back into a braid at the back of her neck. And when she is gently teased she colors beautifully, and her eyes shine with delight."
"It sounds as if you are very happy."
"Oh, very happy indeed," Ruvemir answered.
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.