Out of the Frying Pan: a Hobbit Yule

by Orangeblossom Took

How Frodo managed to hide it from Sam would remain a mystery to the faithful Hobbit but he knew enough of Elves to suspect Master Elrond had something to do with it. Sam was speechless and gazed on the precious object with wonder as it gleamed in the copious candlelight spilling from windows of Bag End to join the moonlight in shining on the fresh snow blanketing the garden.

It was winter in the Shire, the darkest day of the year, in fact, as the Shire-folk were accustomed to bringing in boughs of evergreen and red berries to brighten their houses during darkest days. They lit their homes without regard to economies of wax, exchanged gifts, and made themselves merry with food, drink, and good company. If the Mayor had considered the matter thoroughly, he would have been suspicious of receiving such a gift more than a year after they had left Rivendell for the last time but Frodo’s leaving was such a horrible thought to him that he never questioned why the frail Hobbit seemed intent upon divesting himself of any of his worldly goods that might prove useful to his kith and kin. Anyway, it was Yule and not time to dwell on gloomy thoughts.

Frodo, for his part, had an amused smile on his face and looked very much as Rosie’s large, brown tabby-cat did when it caught a particularly juicy mouse. He remember how, the autumn before last, he had been resting and reading amide the gold and russet of Elrond’s garden when, in a rustle of silken robes, the Elf Lord sat next to him on the ornate stone bench and asked him what prized object he might most desire.

Frodo could think of nothing for himself save for healing and he had been given as much of that as he could get on this side of the sundering sea. However, he informed the Half-Elven, Sam needed something. Elrond quirked an elegant black eyebrow and leaned toward Frodo to hear the Hobbit’s whispered request.

When he heard Frodo’s wish, Elrond’s laugh rang merrily in the crisp air and he laughed again at the bemused expression on his smith’s face when he gave him the order.

“That is a kingly gift, my lord,” he said, “But, although it is much less than the Bearer of the Ring deserves, I confess my heart quails at the thought of using such a precious metal to make such a homely object.”

There was some severity in Elrond’s voice when he replied, “It is what he desires, Master Smith. It is not our place to question. There have been baser objects made of Mithril, to be sure, and, if the item is homely, it will be nobly used. Anyway, what use will precious metal be to us across the sea?”

The smith hung his head and assented that Elrond had the right of it. He took much care in making what Frodo asked for because of the esteem in which all Elves held the Ring-bearer. When it was presented to Frodo, the Hobbit smiled to think of Sam’s reaction when he saw it and secreted it away for a special occasion.

That occasion came amid the festivities of Frodo’s final Yule in the Shire and he had begun to realize that his time was, in fact short. For the minute, however, he would enjoy his cousins, the goose, the potatoes, pie, hot cider, and the last of Bilbo’s old Winyards. The smell of fresh, vanilla-scented beeswax from the multitude of burning candles mingles with the scent of pine and the rosy glow from the fireplace melted the trouble from his bones. When Sam finally found his voice, it brought Frodo back to the present.

The Mayor of Hobbiton held up a gleaming pan which mirrored the candlelight and his and Frodo’s faces.

“You shouldn’t have, my dear Frodo,” said Sam, “Isn’t there something you could’ve asked for yourself?”

“No, Sam” he said, “What I need, that couldn’t give me. We could not have survived without your pans in any case and I know you grieved over them. I daren’t have asked for a full set of such precious stuff but I daresay you could fry up a nice batch of potatoes or eggs and bacon in that pan.”

The eyes of both Hobbits became moist as they shared certain memories and they tearfully embraced.

Then the smell of mulling spices and a knock on the door brought them back to the present and Pippin, looking more rosy-cheeked and cheerful than either of the older Hobbits had seen him in a great while, arrived with a pretty, golden-eyed lass who he introduced as Diamond of Long-Cleeve. This was especially gratifying to Frodo, who felt it like a cold dagger searching for his heart when he thought of the tender age at which his cousin had endured great danger because of him.

Then Rosie came in and everyone admired little Elanor and said there never was a prettier little lass. Frodo noticed Rosie’s swelling abdomen and gave Sam a look that made him blush and admit they were expecting again.

They all toasted, Rosie with the cider and the rest of the party with the last of the Winyards. Merry arrived with the lass he was courting, Estella, and they made merry until the fire died down and the stars were fading into a pink and lavender dawn.

If the fragile Frodo felt weary, you wouldn’t have known it from the way his face shone with wine and laughter and, although many gifts were exchanged that night, none was exclaimed over and admired as much as Sam’s mithril frying pan.