2. Last of the Ringbearers
Frodo awoke to what felt like a Middle-earthquake or a small explosion, but it turned out to be the unpredictable force of nature known as Peregrin Took leaping on his bed and shaking him.
"Are you going to sleep all day?" More shaking. "You're only 51 you know, not 151!"
Frodo groaned and opened his eyes to find his cousin's face only two inches away, beaming at him. More shaking. "Pippin," Frodo sighed, "They really liked you in Gondor, you know. Have you ever thought of going back there to live --- permanently?"
Pippin pulled the blanket off Frodo and sat on him.
'Oooof. Or Fangorn," Frodo continued, "We could send you back to live with the Ents and eventually you'd grow so tall that.." He frowned. "What did you say?"
"Fifty-one, cousin! Happy birthday!"
Frodo slowly smiled. "Oh. You know, last night when Bilbo talked about today being his birthday I didn't even remember that..." He shook his head. "Are you *sure* I'm not 151?"
"Get up, get dressed, get *moving*, you lazy hobbit!" Pippin dragged Frodo out of bed.
"What's the hurry?" Frodo laughed, starting to get dressed. "Everything I own is in that little pack by the door, I can't exactly spend the day giving out presents to everyone!" He looked up at Pippin. "Not even any of my clothes would fit you now!"
"This isn't about you giving us presents," said Pippin, helping himself to the leftover food on Frodo's table. "It's about a beautiful day outside, and we're all alive and well and almost home, and you not sleeping until your *next* birthday, that's all." He calmed down for a minute, thinking about what Frodo had said. "Say, maybe I will go back to Gondor someday. Stri---- the King said something about putting all that tattered Orc-stuff you and Sam were wearing in a museum. I could charge admission and give a little talk about my brave, amazing cousin who saved everybody from the Shadow and used to sleep all *day*!" He pushed Frodo out the door. "Come on!"
Frodo let Pippin pull him down the corridor and down the stairs. The halls seemed strangely deserted.
"Pip, you ate my breakfast. Can't we get some food before you drag me around Rivendell all day?"
"Sure, Frodo," said Pippin, pushing him into the Hall of Fire. "All you want."
Nearly every Elf in Rivendell was in the Hall, smiling at the two hobbits as they entered. Frodo gasped and stopped dead in his tracks as they all turned to face him, bowed, then started cheering and clapping.
"Merry and I taught them that," said Pippin smugly. "Go on!" He gave Frodo another push.
Walking hesitantly forward, Frodo saw that Elrond, Gandalf, Sam, and Merry stood around a large table laden with fruit and cakes and an incredible variety of other foods. Bilbo sat a little apart, deep in an intense conversation with several Elves. Frodo finally reached the table, shaking his head in disbelief at the scene before him. Gandalf stepped forward.
"Good morning, dear boy," he said.
Frodo laughed. "Gandalf, you make me feel like I'm Pippin's age again. Are you responsible for this?"
"You can blame me for many things, but not for this! This was a purely hobbit-planned celebration. You have three *very* persistent friends." The Wizard smiled at him. "Happy birthday, my dear Frodo."
"Thank you," Frodo whispered, still a bit in shock.
The rest of the day was a blur of food, singing, poetry, food, talking with Bilbo, being congratulated by scores of Elves, laughter, and food. That evening all of the inhabitants of the House, Bilbo being carried by no less than Glorfindel, were led by Merry and Sam up to a grassy slope where they were treated to one of Gandalf's incredible fireworks displays. Most of the Elves had never seen anything like it, and talked of little else for days afterward.
Frodo rested contentedly in the grass surrounded by hobbits. "What a wonderful day," he sighed. "Thank you."
It was quite late by the time Frodo returned to his room, his head still whirling from the unexpected events of the day.
"Frodo," said a soft voice from the door, "May I come in for a moment?"
"Lord Elrond, of course!" Frodo led Elrond to one of the larger chairs, and pulled up a smaller one for himself. "Thank you so much, I can't remember when I've had more fun."
"It was our pleasure, Frodo. A rare time of joy for my people, who may hereafter find it only in the West. We enjoyed this day as much as you." He smiled. "I know it breaks with hobbit tradition, but I have a birthday gift to give you, if you will permit me."
Frodo frowned. "You gave me back my life, Lord Elrond. There is nothing else you need ever give me."
"You ask for nothing, Frodo, while deserving everything. But I have thought of one thing within my power to grant for all you have accomplished and endured. It is not precisely a gift for *you*, but I think it will bring you joy." He paused, reaching forward to lightly touch the gem that lay on its chain about Frodo's neck.
"Before my daughter and I parted, she told me that she offered you her place across the Sea." Frodo nodded. "No one can foresee what will happen, or what you will need in the future. You may choose to use this gift, Frodo, or perhaps not, but I am glad it has been offered to you. I have talked long with Mithrandir, and have consulted also with Galadriel as we traveled. We are all in agreement that there is something left undone."
"What do you mean, sir?" Frodo could not imagine what Elrond was talking about. "What have we left undone?"
Elrond looked at him gravely. "It is our fear that even a moment of contact with the One Ring can carry with it unlooked-for repercussions. For Bilbo, for you...." He hesitated. "Or for Samwise."
Frodo stared at him. "Sam? But-----"
Elrond held up his hand. "Perhaps, Frodo, there is no way to tell. Samwise may live a long, happy life, with never a hint of Shadow or haunting from the past. Or there may come a time, someday, when his time as Ring-bearer weighs heavily upon him." Elrond leaned forward and took Frodo's hands in his own. "If that time comes, he, also, is permitted to sail to the West and find healing. You may tell him anytime you wish, in any way that feels appropriate; perhaps as a gift to him on one of your future birthdays!" He smiled gently. "For the rest of his life there will be a ship waiting at the Havens in which Samwise may leave Middle-earth and find healing and peace in the West, if he so chooses. I will see to it."
Elrond stood and laid his hands gently on Frodo's head, then left the room without another word. Frodo sat in total shock for a long time, unable to move or think as tears slid down his cheeks, tears shed in joy and gratitude for this priceless gift to his dearest friend.
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.