The next day Frodo and Sam rode a long way out on one of Rivendell's beautiful trails until they came to a particularly high, sparkling waterfall. They picnicked at its foot on a grassy bank surrounded on three sides by thick groves of trees.
"Sam, you brought so much food we're just going to have to stay out here all night until we eat it."
"Sounds fine with me, Mr. Frodo," said Sam contentedly, nibbling on a bit of cake. "You've put back a lot of the weight you lost, but my Gaffer will have my hide if I bring you back looking as if you haven't been well cared for." He laughed at the thought. "He won't care about reasons, sir, he'll just have my hide!"
"Don't worry," said Frodo, lying back in the soft grass. "I'll be sure to tell him no one could have been better taken care of." He smiled. "Maybe I can accidentally tell Rose Cotton, too. About how famous you are, and how King Elessar kneeled to you in front of everyone, and about the songs being sung about you, and...." Frodo looked over at Sam, who wasn't blushing for once.
"That would be right nice of you, sir," said Sam softly. "I'd surely appreciate that."
"She's the one, eh?"
Sam sighed. "If she's still waiting for me, Mr. Frodo, I'll be the luckiest hobbit in the Shire."
She'll be the lucky one, Frodo thought. He turned over on his stomach. "What did you think of all that yesterday, Sam? About Pippin, I mean."
"Well, it didn't surprise me that much, although it surely seemed to be a wonderful piece of news for Mr. Pippin." Sam smiled. "I think there's more to most folks than meets the eye."
"It didn't surprise me much, either," said Frodo thoughtfully. "In fact, the whole thing made me think of something Gandalf and I were talking about a couple of days ago."
"What were you talking about?"
"He was joking around about how the rhyme in Faramir's and Boromir's dream may not have meant what we always thought. You know, about the sword that was broken, and the Halfling standing forth and all. At least, I thought he was joking around. Now I'm not so sure anymore."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, the Ring-bearer certainly seems to have been 'meant' to be a hobbit, that's plain. But not necessarily me. What if I had died, or worse, before reaching Rivendell, Sam? Who would have been Ring-bearer then?"
Sam was aghast at such a thought. "Sir, don't even think about such things!"
"But I do, Sam. I'm thinking that rhyme could have meant any one of us. Any one of you." Frodo picked a blade of grass and chewed on it. "If Pippin was strong enough to pull away from Sauron's hold on him, he may have been strong enough not to...." Frodo sighed. "...not to claim the Ring."
"Mr. Frodo," said Sam quietly, "A thousand things may have happened differently. There's just no telling. And no use regretting anything, either. You were as strong as anyone could be. You still are, and always will be. Look at all you went through and never stopped, never turned back. I never doubted for a second you were the one, sir, and no one else ever did either."
Frodo looked at him. "Thank you, Sam."
"Besides," Sam said with a smile, "I could never have carried Mr. Pippin up that fire mountain. He's too tall. And he's mighty squirmy, that one. He'd have fallen off a dozen times before we got anywhere!"
Frodo collapsed with laughter. Finally he sat up, a mischievous look in his eyes. "Wouldn't it be fun to stand underneath that waterfall? I mean, we may never see one this big again!"
Sam let his eyes drift slowly upward to the top of the falls, then back down. He eyed his friend dubiously. "It's every bit of 200 feet, Mr. Frodo. If you don't drown or get squashed by the water, you might freeze to death."
Frodo grinned at him, motioning to the leftover food. "If I do get squashed or freeze to death you get to eat all the rest of this by yourself."
"Well, there's that, I suppose." Sam sighed. "I'll just sit here in the sun, if you don't mind. I prefer my baths in warm water that isn't going anywhere."
Frodo got to his feet and had begun to unbutton his shirt when a rough, unfamiliar voice was heard off to their right. "And just what are you little rats doing out of the Shire?"
The hobbits turned to see two ill-dressed Men approaching them from the trees. Sam got to his feet, trying to shield Frodo from their mocking stares.
"We may be lost, but you two are *really* lost," said the larger of the Men. "Whatcha doing here?"
"We are guests of Elrond, the Lord of Rivendell," said Frodo. "You are in his domain and would do well to seek his permission if you are traveling these paths."
The Man stared at him in astonishment. "If that ain't the fanciest talk I ever heard, and from a Shire rat no less!" He gave his friend a nudge and leered at Frodo. "We interrupting anythin' here?"
Sam gasped and clenched his fists at his sides, wishing he was armed. "Do you know who you're talking to? This is-----"
"I don't care who he is, but I can sure see *what* he is. He nudged his friend again. "Right pretty, ain't he?" He took a step toward Frodo.
Sam was torn between standing between Frodo and these ruffians and trying to get to the long, sharp knife sticking out of the wheel of cheese behind him. Just as he had decided to try for the knife, two arrows thudded into the ground directly in front of each Man's feet. Quicker than the Men could react, three Elves approached from different directions, each with an arrow nocked to their bow pointed at the Men's chests. The hobbits recognized them as the Elves who had claimed the honor of attending Frodo a week before, on the night they arrived.
The Elf who had spoken to Frodo that night stepped forward and addressed the Men, a grim look on his face. "You are not worthy to speak to these two, but I will hear your apology nonetheless."
The Man calculated the odds and didn't hesitate. He turned to Frodo and Sam, a fake smile on his face. "We're sorry fer disturbing you, little masters. We'll not be bothering you again." He turned to the Elf. "Can we go now?"
"Do not come back," said the Elf. "We will not be so restrained a second time." The Man gave his friend a shove and they both backed away, then turned and started to walk off. The Elf smiled and shot, his arrow missing the Man's arm by inches. At that, both Men took off running into the trees.
"Our thanks to you," said Frodo. "I was unaware that Lord Elrond had assigned to us such valiant protectors."
The Elf smiled ruefully. "He did not, Ring-bearer. We saw no other way to express our appreciation to you for what you have done, than to watch over you while in Imladris." He looked at his companions and chuckled. "We did not truly believe our assistance would be needed, however!" He bowed to the hobbits. "I am Arnen."
"Noble waters," murmured Frodo.
Arnen looked pleased at Frodo's understanding of Sindarin. He introduced his companions, each bowing in turn to Frodo and Sam. "Regretfully, my companions do not speak any language save our own."
Frodo looked up at Arnen's companions and smiled. "Elen síla lúmenn omentielvo." Both Elves grinned delightedly at the words.
Sam sighed. "You must teach me that, Mr. Frodo."
Frodo took Arnen's hand. "We are most grateful, Arnen. We did not think it necessary to carry weapons within the borders of Rivendell."
"You should not have to," said Arnen. "This valley has always been well isolated. We must inform Lord Elrond that these Men are about. There may be others."
"They said they were lost," Frodo said. "We were going to enjoy these 'noble waters'.." he motioned to the waterfall, "...but now perhaps it would be best to return to the House."
"I believe that would be wise, Frodo," said Arnen with a smile. "Now that you are aware of us, with your permission we will accompany you." He whistled, and three beautiful horses came galloping out of the trees. The Elves helped the hobbits pack up the remains of their picnic, then they headed back for Elrond's House.
Arnen rode close to Sam. "As we approached, Samwise, I could see no fear on your face. You were determined to defend Frodo, am I correct?"
Sam looked up at him. "I think I was too angry to be afraid. That waterfall was so loud we never heard them coming. I would have done what damage I could with that knife behind me in the grass, that's for certain. I don't rightly know how, but I wanted to get one of our ponies running back to the House. Surely someone would notice and come looking for us. And maybe Mr. Frodo and I could have shoved one of those Men down the embankment and-----"
Frodo stared at Sam in amazement. "You thought all that up in those few seconds, Sam?"
Arnen translated what Sam had said for his companions, then grinned broadly at the hobbits. "I suspect we did not need such vigilance on your behalf, Frodo, with such an ingenious companion at your side."
"He is more than ingenious, Arnen," said Frodo with a smile. "No matter what tales you have heard, they cannot do justice to Sam's courage and spirit. I do not know how I earned such a friend."
"Mr. Frodo," Sam murmured, "You mustn't-----"
"Just practicing what I'll tell Rose on your behalf, Sam!" Frodo burst out laughing and Sam joined him. The Elves looked at each other with delight.
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.