6. Quiet Moments
The next morning Pippin found Frodo sitting alone on a bench in one of the courtyards, the very place where the Council had been held nearly a year ago.
"Come sit with me, Pip," Frodo said with a smile. Pippin sat down next to him and handed Frodo Arwen's gem on its chain. Frodo took it without comment and placed it back around his neck.
"Frodo," Pippin whispered, "What is that?"
"I don't know," Frodo said thoughtfully. "Arwen didn't say, but I've thought a lot about it. You know about how the Elves long ago made rings, rings that had great power to them." Pippin nodded. "I saw one of them, Pip, on Galadriel's finger. It was like a star. Like the starlight in the Phial you saw last night. I don't know where the other rings are, or what they're like."
Pippin looked at him curiously. "But what about them?"
"The One Ring seemed to take, and corrupt, and, and overpower whoever had it. But the other rings, I think, somehow give back, make things better, keep people whole and strong. I believe the Elves didn't just make rings, I think they made things like this too." Frodo fingered the beautiful, star-shaped gem. "Things that help you hold yourself together, keep your hope alive, give you strength when you need it..." Frodo's voice trailed off. He had never verbalized any of this before, not even to Gandalf or Elrond. He smiled at Pippin and put an arm around his cousin's shoulders. "I have no idea if any of this is true, Pip, I just think maybe it is."
Pippin leaned against Frodo. "I think maybe it is, too," he said quietly. "Do you have to give it back?"
Frodo was quiet for awhile. "Any bad dreams last night?"
Pippin shifted uneasily. "No. I don't want.. I don't want to dream about that ever again."
"If you do, Pip, you need to tell us. I think Gandalf can help, he said he wanted to know if it happened again. All right? Promise?"
Pippin didn't say anything for a minute, just looked down at the ground. "Yes," he said at last, "I promise."
The two hobbits just sat, enjoying the sound of a nearby fountain, the cool autumn breeze, and each other's company.
"Frodo," Pippin said, "Does Bilbo want to come home with us?"
Frodo sighed. "This is his home, Pip. It has been for ever so long, now."
"I just feel like I never really got to know him very well. I was only 11 when he left."
"I know." Frodo smiled at his cousin. "Try to spend some time with him alone before we leave. He's so amazing, I would hate for you to miss this chance." He laughed. "Ask him to teach you something! Elvish, poetry, history... something about your parents when they were growing up, anything. Stories.... he may be the only hobbit you ever meet who's seen and talked to a real dragon!"
Pippin smiled. "I'll do that."
"Where's Merry today?"
"He and Sam went out riding. Elrond showed them the best trails to take." Pippin turned to look at Frodo, all traces of his smile gone. "I never really knew about Sam. I mean, I knew what he did for you and all, and that he was very brave and went through a lot, but until last night I never really.... I mean..."
"Pip," said Frodo softly, "If not for Sam I would be dead, and Middle-earth enslaved in Darkness. It would all have been for nothing. All of it. Gondor would have fallen. No king, no peace, no hope. The wraiths wouldn't just be nightmares, they'd be..." His voice trailed off. "Don't ever forget what Sam did, Pip, all right?"
"I won't." Pippin hugged Frodo fiercely. "Or what you did."
Frodo smiled at him. "Or what you did, Peregrin Took, Knight of Gondor and Messenger of the King, Prince of the Halflings and Troll Slayer! And let us not forget which brave hobbit helped destroy Isengard and saved the life of Prince Faramir!"
Pippin looked at Frodo, his eyes sparkling with excitement. "Who?"
Frodo looked puzzled. "I can't remember his name just now. Maybe it'll come to me later."
"Oh Frodo," Pippin laughed. "Thank you for letting us come adventuring with you."
"Any time, Pip," Frodo laughed and hugged him. "Any time."
Frodo was in the stables brushing his pony when Merry and Sam returned in the early afternoon. They were both laughing as they rode up and swung down from their mounts.
"Why Mr. Frodo," said Sam in amazement, "What are you doing here? The Elves will tend to that sir, or I will."
Frodo smiled and continued brushing. "I know, Sam, but I think Strider misses me. Besides, when we get back home there won't be any Elves to take care of him, you know."
"There'll still be me," said Sam, his eyes dancing. He gave Strider a pat before he and Merry began seeing to their own ponies' needs.
"We've all travelled so far, Frodo," said Merry, "But there sure is a lot of Middle-earth to see yet. The countryside around Rivendell is just amazing."
"Yes," agreed Sam. "I thought it mightn't take long to ride to Mirkwood and visit Legolas, but apparently it's ever so far from here, farther than I thought. Even though Elrond said we wouldn't need permission from King Thranduil to go there, even though he said..." Sam blushed and looked away.
Frodo looked at Sam and then Merry, puzzled. "Even though he said what?"
Merry clapped his hand on Sam's shoulder, and Frodo saw the same respectful look on Merry's face as he had the previous night. "He said," Merry continued softly, "That Sam would be welcome anywhere."
Merry suddenly looked up, grinning. "And you, too, Frodo!"
Frodo laughed. "As long as I'm with Sam, you mean!"
Sam blushed even deeper red and took the ponies aside for some water. Frodo and Merry watched him, smiling.
"The herbmaster was asking for you, Merry," said Frodo. "He said you had an interest in learning about healing herbs."
"Thanks, I'll go find him," said Merry. "I want to learn everything I can while we're here, and I've been interested in herblore ever since we found out about what that kingsfoil 'weed' can do. My gosh, what that stuff did for you, and for me and Faramir and Éowyn...." He grew thoughtful. "There's so much we can bring back to the Shire, Frodo, so many things that we've seen and learned. Maybe I'll write a book of my own someday. Maybe...." His voice trailed off as he gazed into the distance.
Frodo turned to Sam, who had rejoined them. "Maybe you'll write a book of your own as well, Sam."
"Maybe I will, Mr. Frodo." Sam surprised them both by nodding his head thoughtfully. "Maybe I will at that."
It was late, close to midnight, when Frodo was awakened by Pippin climbing into bed with him. He could feel Pippin's shaky breaths and pounding heart.
"Another dream?" Frodo felt Pippin nod. "We'll talk to Gandalf in the morning, all right?"
A faint whisper. "All right."
Frodo pulled his cousin close, wrapping his arms about him. "I never told you about the first time Bilbo tried to teach me to cook, did I? It was awful, Pip, you never saw such a mess." Frodo felt Pippin relax as the story began to distract him. "You know how many seeds go into a seed-cake, right? Let me tell you about all the places we were finding seeds until..." Frodo kept talking, softer and softer, until Pippin fell back to sleep.
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.