6. Chapter 6
Gandalf put his goblet down and laughed softly to himself. Beside him, Galadriel said, “have I missed a joke, my lord Mithrandir?”
“Nay, my lady,” Gandalf said, turning to smile at her. “I was just reflecting on the successful completion of labours, and on the chances that have brought us all together. I would never have expected to hear Meriadoc Brandybuck telling tales of the Shire to Elladan, yet there they are.”
“Despite their differences in age and race,” Celeborn commented, “my grandson and Master Brandybuck are remarkably alike.”
“Mischief-makers,” Galadriel said, smiling across the table at her lord. “I wonder whose idea it was to seat the young hobbits next to the twins.”
Elrohir turned from an animated conversation with Pippin on his right and patted his grandmother’s hand affectionately. “Mine, of course, my lady. I asked Estel, and he saw no reason for us not to become better acquainted.”
“And it seems that hobbits can teach the Elves something about practical jokes, despite having much less time to practice them,” Elladan put in. “I’ll remember that one, Meriadoc.”
A servant came to take away empty dishes, and another to refill the wine.
“As I have been saying for a while now,” Gandalf said, “hobbits have a lot to teach many of us. Though I do hope we are not all to be attacked from all sides with these practical jokes.” He looked hard at the foursome from under his eyebrows.
Elladan and Elrohir exchanged glances, and then both succeeded in looking as innocent as their small neighbours.
“We’ve had enough of being attacked, Gandalf,” Pippin said brightly.
“And of attacking,” Merry agreed. “It’s all right, we’ll save them up for when we get home. Plenty of small cousins to play them on. And older ones,” he added, glancing up the table at Frodo.
Gimli leant over. “Could someone pass the bread rolls?”
Gandalf picked up the basket and watched it pass from hand to hand until it reached Sam, who took one absently whilst listening in fascination to Frodo and Faramir, deep in conversation.
“That is my dream,” Faramir said, swirling the wine in his goblet thoughtfully. “I hope that now, maybe, I shall not have it again.”
“Dreams can be strange things,” Frodo said. “I wonder where they come from.”
“From the West,” Elrond suggested, glancing across at the hobbit. “Though mayhap you would be best asking Gandalf, or Galadriel, about that.”
Faramir shrugged. “Perhaps I will, if neither the Lord nor the Lady object, and if my duties allow me the time. But if dreams come from the Lords of the West, my lord Elrond, why did a dream take my brother from me?”
Aragorn looked up at this. “It was not the dream that took your brother from you, but something much more powerful.”
There was silence. Sam cast an anxious look at his master, and then a beseeching one at Aragorn, who smiled reassuringly back. Frodo’s eyes flicked down at his plate, and then up again.
“I’m fine,” he said. “Do not worry about me, Aragorn.”
“If we worry,” Aragorn returned, “it is only because we have not seen much of you.”
“I was tired,” Frodo said, “that’s all. I’ll be all right again soon.” He paused. “Oh, a man in a pie shop asked me to thank you for setting the City back to rights. He refused to let us pay for the food.”
“Good pies,” Sam interjected, a gleam in his eyes.
“Which level of the City?” Faramir asked.
“The fourth, I think,” Frodo said.
“I’ll find the shop and ensure he gets a good supply of meat,” Faramir suggested, and Aragorn nodded approvingly.
“Arwen and I will ride down and visit him too,” he said. “Such generosity should not go unrewarded.”
“Which reminds me,” Arwen said, laying a hand on her husband’s arm, “I was bade to tell you that your coming is a great event, and that you have chosen your queen well.”
“Who said that?” Aragorn asked, laughing, clasping Arwen’s hand in his tenderly.
“A Guardsman on the fields. He was concerned that there may be more fighting. Our brothers were of course delighted at the idea, but the Guards wish only for peace.”
“The City has been long at war, my lady,” Faramir said. “We all wish only for peace.”
“And I hope we shall have peace,” said Aragorn.
Elrond nodded in agreement. “My sons are on occasion too lively, my lord Prince,” he said to Faramir. “Indeed, did I not know better, I would think them mere boys, all too often.”
Faramir smiled, and glanced across the table at his uncle, involved in a lively talk with another Elf who looked like a mere boy.
“Archery, mainly,” Legolas was saying. “We have become accustomed to hunting silently, and a bow serves best for that sort of combat. In a wood there is never a shortage of materials for making and repairing bows and arrows. If these things interest you, my lord Imrahil, you must come to the Greenwood, and see its beauty for yourself.”
Imrahil’s eyes lit up. “Indeed I would be honoured,” he said. “But in return, you must come to Dol Amroth.”
Running a finger along the stem of his goblet, Legolas shook his head. “No. I think not. I fear that if I came to Dol Amroth, I would not return home. In my heart, I am not ready to leave the woodlands yet.”
“Besides,” Gimli said, “you have other places to visit too.” The Elf and the Dwarf exchanged grins. “Legolas,” Gimli explained to Imrahil, “has extracted a promise from me that if I visit his forest, he must come with me to visit my Mountain. And the Caves of Aglarond, Legolas, remember your word!”
“I understand from his Majesty that we are to expect a party of your people to help repair the walls of the City,” said Imrahil, breaking off a piece of bread to mop up sauce from his platter. “That will certainly cause a deal of excitement.”
“In time, aye,” Gimli said. “And as I’ve told Aragorn, the walls do need repairing.”
He paused, as the servants hurried around again to clear away plates and the dishes from the centre of the table, which were all looking decidedly empty. They were replaced with baskets of fruit and some large silver salvers holding sweet biscuits. The hobbits, save Frodo, immediately reached out to sample the biscuits. “Filling up the corners,” sighed Pippin happily.
At the head of the table, Aragorn pushed back his chair and stood up, and they fell silent. “I am glad to see you all here this evening,” he said, looking around at each one of his guests. “My queen, my kinsmen, my lords, and our Fellowship. That we are here at all is a matter for wonder and for joy, and all of us owe something to all the rest. I thank you for all your labours.”
He lifted his glass, and drank, and after a moment the company stood and drank also. Gandalf met Aragorn’s gaze, and nodded, a sparkle in his eyes.
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.