Beyond the Sea

by Lothithil


East Of West
Chapter 9, part 1
The Journey North



Eldarion was sad the day Frodo came to tell him the time had come for him to depart. Legolas and Gimli insisted on riding with him to the Gulf of Lune. Frodo conceded, though he was thrilled actually to have the company of his old companions, he felt guilty to take them so far away from their lands. He went with Legolas to see his home in Ithilien, and he agreed; the Elves had made it a beautiful garden again. Their small city was made of soaring flets among the fragrant pines, after the manner of the Galadhrim of Lorien, and wondrous caves delved into the hillsides, which delighted the hobbit and made him feel very cozy.

Frodo went to visit Faramir while Legolas went about setting into order the affairs of his kingdom. He rode to Emyn Arnen with Gimli, and spent several days with the aging Prince. Eowyn, still lovely but no longer cold and sad, made the two visitors welcome and they sat together for long hours, speaking without pain of the events that had ended an Age.

Frodo felt again his great affection for this Man, and looking upon him and seeing that soon the weariness of the world would settle upon him and his beloved wife, Frodo held back no word of praise or love; he sang to them and held their hands in his own, wanting to comfort them with his friendship and respect.

He stayed for several days,until Legolas had set his affairs in order and appointed an Elf to govern in his absence. They rode from there to Helm's Deep, now the site of Gimli's Dwarven kingdom in Aglarond, the Glittering Caves. His people were very friendly with the Rohirrim, and they dwelt in peace in their own kingdoms, involved in trade to the betterment of each race. Helm's Deep was now rebuilt to a matchless stronghold, so formidable that Frodo could not imagine anyone trying to storm it again. He toured the Caves and was as impressed as any by the natural beauty that he found there. Gimli was delighted to be his host, and there was a great celebration among the Dwarves, honouring the Heir of Bilbo, Hero of the Third Age; Frodo the Dwarf-friend they named him. Frodo's face was red as a beet-root, until after his second mug of malted beer.

Then came time for them to leave. They rode a little east and then north through the Forest of Fangorn, which Frodo had not seen yet, and by great luck caught Fangorn himself sunning on the little hill where he had met Merry and Pippin. He greeted the Ringsbane respectfully, and offered them all a draught of Ent-water. Frodo found the drink quite stimulating, and though he did not grow any, his hair certainly had an extra curl in it thereafter.

On they rode, singing songs and speaking merrily of the past, and hopes of the future, which they all had in abundance. Gimli frequently asked Frodo to describe his lady, Melyanna, and to tell him of Valimar and Elrond's home on Tuna. He clung to any word of Galadriel Frodo would give, for the Queen of the Elves had bewitched his heart.

"What did I say, when we were going to Lothlorien, Frodo? 'Beware the Lady of the Golden Wood!' Alas! I have lost my heart and will never have it again. But safe in my Lady's keeping it lies, until the End of the world."

The singing of Frodo and Legolas attracted the few elves who lingered in that land. Umanyar, Grey Elves, still dwelt in the land of Lorien, though its power had faded with the waning of the Rings and the departure of Galadriel. Some were frightened by the strange voices, and hid themselves, but some came forward and welcomed them. When Frodo shared his tale with them, many asked to accompany him back to Valimar. The last ship had sailed, and some had missed it, tarrying or unwilling to depart. Now they saw one last chance to answer the call of the sea in their blood.

Frodo told them he welcomed them, but he was unsure of how he himself was going to depart, if his little boat did not return. It certainly would not contain so many Elves. But he could not refuse them hope; he would go and see what was there, and he allowed all who wished to accompany him.

They had quite a merry following soon, and they travelled swiftly through the Anduin River Valley. As word spread, more Elves came to beg Frodo's permission to join his following. And Frodo was happy to be with Elves again, though his failure to find his Silmiriel weighed heavy on his heart. He began to think only of going home, not the Shire but Tirion, and Bilbo's glade in Sam's garden.

And so he grew slowly melancholy as they rode on, reaching the Carrock with an escort of five score elves picked up along the way.

Their arrival at that landmark was timely. The King of the Greenwood himself, Thranduil, backed by a host of Green Elves, was very nearly ready to sail into battle with the Beorning leader, Adanbeor, and his woodsmen. They had received word of the pilgrimage, and were contesting the right to receive the travelers. When they saw the size of the company, they laughed and threw in together, combining their supplies to produce a great party. Elf-lamps and bees-wax lanterns lit the valley like a hundred-hundred fireflies. Mead spilled and the fruits of the forest were presented to the delighted travelers.

Thranduil greeted his son warmly, and asked if Legolas intended to depart with Frodo. The King knew in his heart that Legolas's spirit was lost to the sea, but the wise old Elf cared deeply for his son, and wished to delay his inevitable sailing.

Legolas smiled at his father and reassured him; he was not ready yet

to go, he said. There was still much to accomplish in the south.

Thranduil greeted also Legolas's friend Gimli, and he and the Dwarf shared some humorous tales about their people, to the amusement of all.


The next day the travelers bid farewell to Thranduil and the Greenwood. Adanbeor himself led them safely through the High Pass, and refused all offers of payment. He brought them down into the very valley where Elrond once made his Last Homely House.

     Elrond had gone, but not all the Elves; here among the fading buildings a great gathering of Elves dwelt, singing their songs sadly and sweetly. They welcomed Frodo and his companions, and built a great fire in the old Hall, and gathered round eagerly listening to Frodo's tale. Their excitement was so great that Frodo could see starlight shining from their radiant faces even near the bright fire.

And so the escort grew to an army, following Frodo, Legolas, and Gimli like a long silvery serpent. As they wound through the Wold on the grassy road, they crossed and re-crossed the path that Frodo had once taken on a different quest. The memories that came to him brought no pain, but he grew sad, watching the barren hills roll by, seeming to have changed not at all in all the time that lay between, an Age ago it seemed.

As they drew near to Bree-hill, a gathering of Men were seen far ahead on the Road. King Aragorn and his Queen were waiting there with their daughters, having heard through the palantir of their coming, and through other messengers of the size of the party. There were pavilions raised and food and drink for the travelers. But as soon as Frodo saw the tall Ranger, he leaped from his saddle and ran into his embracing arms. Of all his companions, Strider was the one who's guidance and friendship he desired

most at this time. He burst into tears when the strong arms enfolded him.

"My dear Frodo!" Aragorn's voice was rough, but he wore a joyful smile. "I thought you had retired and given up on adventures. Had you run out of material to write about, that you come back to venture more?" he said, when he could speak again.

    Frodo dashed the tears from his face, smiling. "Nay, good Aragorn. I come back only to find my heart, lost to a lady beyond my deserving. Now I know the wound of the heart, to be parted from a loved one beyond hope," Frodo answered sadly.

"No, not beyond hope, my dear Hobbit. You have worked toward your prize, ever unknowingly, accomplishing the means of your success. See, you have healed the palantir of Denethor so that my son can speak to me in need, and you have freed the Druadan Forest of a great evil, indeed the whole of Middle-earth. What other seeds have you sown that will grow to fruition? But listen to this council, if you will, and I will tell you what I have seen.

"Out on the sea is the answer to your riddle, Frodo. I have seen an island in the sea, just on the edge of the Occluding Darkness. Is it sunken Numenor, its great peak as yet still unsubmerged, or some other island, covered with mist and mystery?"

"I saw the sea, also, when I used the Stone, but I didn't see anything but water. Strider, do you really think she is there?" Frodo could not suppress the flair of hope in his breast.

"I believe it is the next place to look. Rest here with us for a little, and meet my other children, daughters as beautiful as their mother. Then you shall be off to the Havens, and all our prayers and love will go with you."


King Aragorn and his family rode with Frodo, Legolas, and Gimli as far as the border of the Shire, and they bid farewells with fair words and many tears. Frodo kissed the hands of Aragorn and Arwen's daughters, each truly as beautiful as any ladies Frodo had ever beheld. He bowed low to Queen Arwen, words failing him as he beheld her loveliness again. She kissed him once, and once again, 'for her father', she said smiling.

Aragorn took his hand in a firm hold, wordless himself but smiling with eyes shining. Frodo rode away with a high heart, crossing the Brandywine Bridge in the grey evening right past the shiriff nodded sleepily in his chair. The silver serpent wound into the heart of the Shire through the fading twilight.

    They crossed the Shire by night, and the Elves camped in the woods by day and laughing at the oblivious hobbits as they worked in their fields, sometimes mere feet away from a score or more of dreamy Elves. One night after they had camped in the woods of Tuckborough, they rode up a small hill and then they could see Hobbiton and Bywater, lights twinkling in the distance like stars nestled in the rounded terrain. Frodo breathed deep the peace that was the very air of the land, and his memories of happy days that he had spent there came fresh and clear into his mind. Legolas and Gimli rode at his side, watching his glowing face and not speaking, but dining in the warmth of Frodo's joy.

The great chain of wandering Elves insinuated itself into the night, threading the gardens and homes of the Shire-folk. Frodo gazed around at the world he had once known so well. There was much that was different, new homes ad barns, and the trees were not the same, though they were well grown and healthy. The land was not different though, and the hills still undulated like restless seas. Frodo sighed as he looked about, and Legolas and Gimli exchanged glances over his head.

"Go down into the village, Frodo," said Legolas. "Look upon the places of your youth. I see in you that you wish to do this."

"I... well, I'd like to... but I probably should not," stammered Frodo. "What if I am seen?"

Legolas gave him a sad Elvish smile. "Who will recognize you, Frodo? Do you ralize how many years have past since you last stood here? I think that it is safe enough. It is unlikely that anyone will remember your face." The Elf's words were kind, but Frodo shook his head.

"Come on, Frodo!" urged Gimli. "If not for yourself, do it for me! I would go with you, if you take me to the famous Green Dragon Inn. I have not had a decent malted beer for a long dry road. I should be distracting enough to divert any attention from an ordinary hobbit like you."

Frodo looked at Gimli and laughed. Dressed in rich but travel-stained clothes, the Dwarf would undoubtedly attract all the attention in the hobbit tavern. His laugh released him from hesitation. "All right! I will take you to the Dragon for a pint, my friend. I owe you one, I am sure!"

"Go on with the two of you, then," said Legolas. "I will be waiting for you on the Road. I have no desire for bitter ale or dull hobbit parties."

Frodo and Gimli rode on, and their ponies carried them unobtrusively to the lighted inn. Music welled from the open doors and windows and sounds of singing drifted over the Water. Frodo left Ol'orin grazing beside the Pool, and he stared up at the Hill rising beyond into the evening twilight sky. Soft lights glowed in its homey windows, and Frodo could smell the flowers of the garden clearly. His eyes misted. He turned with the Dwarf and went inside the noisy tavern.

There was a mighty crowd gathered, even as old as the evening had become. A party of Dwrves were there, loud and boisterous, along with many assorted hobbits in rustic garb. They were rinsing the dust of a long weary day away and spared but a glance at the newcomers.

The Dwarves waved to Gimli, inviting him to their table. Frodo followed him, but paused in his stride as he passed a hobbit sitting at a table, drinking alone. Frodo had to suppress a gasp; the hobbit looked so much like Sam that he nearly called his name aloud! He forced himself to walk past and join Gimli, where he watched the lone hobbit discreetly over the rim of a mug of ale.

    Mugs were quickly drained, and Frodo was picked to take them for refilling, as the hobbit-lasses were all too busy at the moment. Frodo juggled the over-full tray and set it upon the bar carefully. The hobbit at the tap was a jolly fellow, and he chattered to Frodo lightheartedly. On an impulse, Frodo asked him about the solemn hobbit in the corner.

    The chatty bartender lowered his voice and breathed in Frodo's ear, "That there is Mr Gardner, from up t' Bag End, sir. A right gentlehobbit he is, but he's not a happy one, these days. Misses his ol' dad, he does." The hobbit sighed, setting full mugs on the tray. "Aye, we all do. Mr Gamgee was a real fine hobbit, he was. Mr Frodo there isn't the only one who misses him."

    Frodo carried the mugs carefully, for his hands were now shaking unaccountably. He glanced up at his own namesake, and found the hobbit was gazing straight back at him. Frodo looked away casually and joined the loud Dwarven bantering.

    Gimli's elbow caught Frodo in the ribs, and he looked up in time to see the door swing shut behind Frodo Gardner. The Dwarf tilted his head toward the rear entrance; Frodo slipped out the back and circled the tavern quietly.

    Frodo-lad was standing in the road, staring up the Hill as Frodo had done himself earlier. He seemed to be speaking, but Frodo was too far away to hear his soft words. He shook his head slowly, losing some debate with himself, and began to walk up the path that led to Bag End.

    He stopped suddenly before he crossed the bridge over the Water. Frodo crept nearer, keeping the thick hedge between them. Frodo-lad was looking at the lovely little grey horse that King Elfwine had given to Frodo. He held out a hand to Ol'orin, who came up to him unhesitantly and nuzzled his palm. Sam's son stroked the horse's proud neck and murmured to him. Ol'orin nickered softly and stuck his nose in Frodo-lad's ear.

    Frodo-lad laughed a rich happy laugh that reminded Frodo of his own last sweet summer in the Shire, before he and Sam had made that dreadful journey. Frodo's heart went out to the lonesome hobbit. He had known that his friend would join him eventually, but here was one who had lost his father and his best friend as well, and had no hope of ever seeing him again, in life. How could Frodo comfort him, without giving himself away or making the pain worse for him? He watched impotently, as Frodo-lad patted Ol'orin's flank and walked slowly up the Hill into the darkness, sadness following him like a cloak.

   

    Westmarch was laid out in a lovely landscape, obviously lovingly designed by gardeners. Frodo had a prompting desire to slip up to the windows of one of the holes and see the comforts concealed within. But he held to his road, patting Ol'orin's proud neck and trying not to increase his pace.

    After the Tower Hills had been passed, and the Blue Mountains were behind, the land began to slope down, down, the road winding on until the three Elf-Towers sprung up before them, and the air was faintly scented with salt.

    And on they went, and it was not just Frodo who had to restrain himself from hurrying. The Elves sprang forward, eager to see the Havens, where so many of their people had passed. They flowed around Frodo and his friends, a river of starlight and laughter, the salt-smell was heavy in his air, and the sea just beyond the rising hill. Now Frodo felt reluctant; that he was being pulled away by forces beyond his ken. Just for a moment, he felt like the young hobbit that once set out on an errand of hope against all reason, to succeed beyond his own reckoning and yet fail, to be forgiven and uplifted. He gripped Ol'orin's mane and rode on, and there was the sea, spreading out before him like a familiar road that led Home. Frodo sighed and urged Ol'orin to a canter.

    For to his wondering eyes, bobbing at anchor on the Gulf of Lune, were three white ships, and on the quay a gathering of fair folk calling out a welcome. And there were Caraborn, Ngolfin, and Arbeleg, standing before the crowd, waving and smiling. Frodo rode down to them with a mixture trepidation and delight, for even the faces of his rivals were comforting to him. He introduced his friends to them, and they bowed with great respect.

    Caraborn said, "Prince Legolas, Lord Gimli; Hail to the Companions of Frodo! Your legends are told in the Blessed Realm, and it honors this Elf to meet you in this place. Will you be coming with us?"

    "Nay, my good Caraborn," answered Legolas. "Some day, but not yet. Though the sea calls, and she calls to me with the voice of a lover I can hear even while I walk in fields and mountains, I must wait. Lucky are those who dwell in the Blessed Realm."

    "Lucky are they that dwell near my Lady Galadriel," added Gimli. "Convey to her my respects, Frodo, and tell her that I treasure all the gifts she has given."

    "Thank you, Gimli. Take care of Legolas, and keep his feet on dry land for as long as you can manage. And Gimli my friend, do one last thing for me and I swear I shall not ask ought of you again: Take Ol'orin back to Hobbiton. See that Frodo-lad gives him a good home. Tell him that it is a gift from his friend Faradoc... that is not too far from the truth.

    "And you, Legolas; thank you for being my companion, and lending your light to my life. You have been... you both have been... the best Companions this hobbit could have had. Peace to both of you." He embraced them again, and lingered with them as the Elves filed onto the ships, the small boats filling and emptying, filling again, rowing back and forth until only Frodo, Caraborn, Ngolfin, and Arbeleg stood on the dock. Ngolfin had won a game of chance to have the honor of bearing Frodo back to Aman on his ship. Legolas moved slightly apart and was deep in converse with Caraborn and Arbeleg.

    "Why are you three here?" asked Frodo of Ngolfin. "Have you given up the search for Melyanna, or were you as stumped as I by the mystery of her whereabouts?"

    Ngolfin smiled, answering, "My fellows are shipwrights. We set sail as soon as our people could outfit our vessels. While you were here wandering and adventuring, we were sailing blinding seas and dark waters, lost beyond return and hope. Then Lord Ulmo came to us in the moment of our greatest despair, and he told us where Melyanna was hidden."

    "He told you! He-" Frodo sputtered.

    "Bide a moment, Frodo, and listen! He told us, and when we found that place, we were greeted by three fair elf-maidens. But we found not Melyanna, for they would not permit us to seek her. And when I laid eyes upon Aerwen, I knew that she was the Lady for whom I have labored. She is the fairest maiden in all Aman, and other ladies are as fading flowers next to her loveliness."

    "Nay!" exclaimed Caraborn, who stood nearby with Arbeleg and Legolas. "My Lady Nimiril is by far the fairest of the three, and she will be my own by her word, when we return thither."

    "Listen to them not, Frodo." advised Agbeleg. "You and I know who the fairest maid is; the sweet Melyanna, who arranged this timely meeting! Yet my heart cleaves to Tarabeth, and I graciously step back to allow you the right you have earned beyond doubt and duty. Come with us, Frodo. We will take you home."



East To West
Chapter 10
Home Again



    So Frodo took ship, and waved to his friends as the evening tide took them out into the open sea. The light of Earendil's star burned in his hand, and the path opened straight before them on waters calm and inviting. The darkness that lay on the sea parted as if cleaved by their sharp prows, and Frodo felt that particular sensation not unlike the feeling he had when he crossed into Lothlorien so long ago, afeeling of moving beyond the circle of mortal time, to a land which never changes and never fades.

    But suddenly an island loomed, too soon and too small to be Tol Eressea, and Frodo called out to the helmsman. But the ships tacked for the islet, and as they drew near he saw a small harbor, and shining figures waiting upon a quay. The ships sailed right up to the pier, and Frodo walked as if in a dazed dream, down the board to the waiting arms of Melyanna, who laid a warm cloak over his shoulders and took him into her arms even before the witness of all the Elves on the ships and shore, and embraced him soundly. He thought he would die; in his chest was a sharp pain he had never felt before, and he clung to her, saying her name softly, "Silmiriel, Silmiriel," and brushing his lips against her hair.

    "Frodo. You did not hurry, did you?" She spoke his name, echoing a jest made long ago, and the awful pain turned suddenly to joy. He laughed out loud, and cried out to the heavens in excess of delight.

    The Elves celebrated with them, and there was feasting and merriment. Caraborn, Ngolfin, and Arbeleg, together with their ladies the handmaidens of Melyanna, offered to sail everyone on to Valimar, but Frodo and Melyanna declined. There was a fair residence upon this isle, made by the hands of Men long ago, for it was indeed the highest peak that once adorned Numenor. The Elves that had accompanied Melyanna in her seclusion had added much, installing a lovely underground house that reminded Frodo very much of his beloved Bag End. They had decided to stay there, and dwell in peace within the sight of Calacirya's light. Many Elves elected to stay also, and there was much coming and going between Tol Numenn and Aman, for this island lay on the hither side of the sundering darkness, near the Blessed Realm. When word was delivered to Tirion, Elrond himself came by ship to visit them, and Gandalf came also, and many other friends; an exodus of Elves came with blessings and eager hands to shape and fashion Tol Numenn into a suitable home. Naturally, many guest houses and kitchens were needed, as well as extra gardens and pantries, and there was ever a throng of folk there, visiting and rejoicing.


    One day a ship appeared om the grey horizon, coming out of the East, and its sail was decorated with a leaf of green bordered in glittering gold. The Companions Legolas and Gimli landed at Tol Numenn and greeted Frodo with much excitement and pleasure. Legolas presented his son Naugellon to Frodo and Melyanna, and they exclaimed that he was truly the fairest child they had ever beheld. sweet with the youth of the Eldar and not yet saddened by the passage of time.

    Frodo was delighted to see his old companions, and he opened his home to them, as he had to all who wished to linger near him. Legolas bowed with much show of grace to Melyanna, as did Gimli, now an aged Dwarf indeed, but his eyes twinkled still with fire, and his beard was long and streaked with reddish gold. He announced that Melyanna was the fairest lady he had ever seen, saving only Galadriel herself. The Dwarf was obviously still smitten with the Elf-queen, and he agreed to remain for a short time with Frodo on Tol Numenn only after learning that she was bound to come there soon, for a special gathering.



    Frodo stared into the looking glass at his reflection, then adjusted and smoothed his tunic for a fifth time. He was more nervous than he had ever been, even when he had stood up in the Council of Elrond. "What are you nervous for?" he asked the image in the mirror.

    His reflection chuckled at him. "Are you afraid of happy endings?" it asked him.

    Frodo rubbed his thumb over the scar tissue on his right hand. "No rings," Melyanna had said, and Frodo knew it was a joke. He had had made for her a special gift, two thin bands of mithril, woven into an elegant knot, similar to the traceries he had seen in the hall of Meduseld. Frodo asked Elrond to find a smith who excelled in small delicate work to perform the task. He had fretted about it arriving in time, but the box bearing the ring had come by ship with Lord Elrond yesterday, and Frodo's worries were replaced with new ones.

    "Will she like it?" he had asked Elrond, gazing into the box.

    Elrond had shaken his head, not to indicate a negative reception, but with amusement at Frodo's jittery anxiety. "Of course she will like it. Celebrimbor wrought it himself! Aule has blessed it, and Varda herself held it aloft and adored it!"

    Now Frodo was preparing for the ceremony. Weddings were done rarely in the Shire; Samwise's wedding had been the first and only one he had ever been to, except for Aragorn and Arwen's in Minas Tirith. The custom among Hobbits had always been to elope, the happy pair disappearing for a time and then coming back and quietly settling into a cozy hole together. There were few places on Tol Numenn to disappear to, with all he visitors about. Frodo and Melyanna had discussed it, and decided to arrange an official party to announce their union.

    Thinking tenderly of Arwen and Aragorn, Frodo pulled out the silver chain he still wore, and looked at the white jewel. He wished that his friends could all be here to see him so happy. He settled the necklace carefully upon his breast, then fussed with his tunic again.

    "Alright there, Mr Frodo?" Samwise came into the room, carrying the pelisse that Vaire had woven for Frodo to wear. It was beautiful leaf- green, and it shimmered with light along the embroidered lines. Samwise put it upon him, letting the folds of cloth fall over the shining mithril shirt, then took a step back.

    Frodo stood up straight, posing. "Well?"

    Samwise nodded. "You're the picture of a groom, Mr Frodo. Now, I got something for you, too." He held up a glowing jewel on a thin circlet of silver. "I'd be honoured if you wore it today, sir."

    Frodo gasped. "The Star of the Dunadan! Sam, I cannot wear this! Aragorn gave it to you." He allowed Sam to place it on his head. It lay perfectly upon his dark curls, and glowed in harmony with the gem in his chest. "O Sam! thank you!"

    "'S only fair, Mr' Frodo, after you let me wear your mithril shirt at my own wedding. Rosie-lass, she does have a thing for a hobbit in ironmongery!" Sam blushed slightly as he confessed this to Frodo. "Now you look like a Prince of Hobbits! Mistress Melyanna, she deserves nothing less, after the long wait you gave her." Sam laughed at Frodo's indignation, turning him away from the mirror and leading him out of the room by the hand.

    The garden was full of Elves, sitting upon the bright grass and standing under the trees. Elrond and Gandalf were talking together, and they nodded in approval at Frodo's appearance. Gimli stood nearby, surrounded with elven-maids who seemed very interested in his neatly braided beard. Legolas was nearby, his young son standing at his elbow; they were both laughing at the jealous faces of the Elves who had lost their escorts to the Dwarf.

    Bilbo was standing beneath a vine covered trellis that bore flowers of many colours. He embraced Frodo warmly, and cast his eye over his nephew's rainment. "You look like a prince, Frodo my lad."

    Frodo's face was scarlet, but he was smiling. "I am so glad that you are here, Bilbo!"

    "I would not have missed it, not for anything! I always knew that you would be destined for great things. And here comes the greatest thing of all..."

    Frodo turned, and beheld Melyanna. She was standing in the garden, her maids arranged behind her, and she out-shown them in loveliness as the first of day of May exceeds in fairness the last day of December. She wore a sea-green gown that shimmered like mother-of-pearl, and lace as delicate as sea-foam frothed at her cuffs and hem, and trailed down behind like a waterfall of mist. Her hair was arranged loosely with flowers and shell combs, and she seemed to drift above the grass like a vision, so graceful was her step. He was speechless; his heart was again throbbing with that almost painful beat that he always felt at the sight of her.

    She floated down the petal-strewn path, and all the host of guest gathered around them. Her maids and their escorts stood behind her, and flanking Frodo were his Companions.

    "Friends," spoke Bilbo, "Observe these people as they plait their lives into one strand, adding to the tapistry of life. Listen as they raise their voices in harmony, making a song that we can all sing together."

    Melyanna spoke, "I am thy companion, Frodo, thy mate and thy love. Whither goes thou, there too I shall go, even beyond the circles of the world, if Eru permits it."

    Frodo had to swollow before he could speak. "To thee, Melyanna, I am commited entire. All that I have I give to thee, my heart, my body and my soul."

    Frodo realized that he had forgotten something very important, and he turned to Sam, who wordlessly handed him a small polished wooden box. Frodo sighed with relief and breathed, "Sam, what would I do without you?" Sam smiled.

    Frodo opened the box, and drew out the ring. It sparkled magnificently as he slid it slowly upon Melyanna's finger. She had tears running down her cheeks. Frodo kissed them away, and overhead fireworks exploded in an awesome display. Frodo looked at Gandalf, who shrugged eloquently.

    "Don't look at me! I didn't bring any fireworks to this party."

    Everyone watched the smokes and lights. Gimli's eyes had grown misty watching as the lovers exchanged their vows, but his eyes lingered upon Galadriel mostly, who stood nearby with Celeborn, Elrond and Celebrian. The twins Elrohir and Elladan, together with Legolas and Naugellon, raised conch horns and blew, signalling to all the end of the ceremony and the beginning of the feast. When Frodo heard the horns blowing and saw the fireworks exploding overhead he laughed, for he knew then that all of the Fellowship were gathered around him now, in his happiest moment. He smiled deep in his heart, and it shown out through his face.


    When the coloured lights had faded and the smoke dispersed, and the guests of honour were sought, all that could be found of them where they had last been seen, was the Star of the Dunadan pillowed upon a veil of delicate lace, lying beneath the flowered trellis at Bilbo's feet.



epilogue


    Long the friends of Frodo and Melyanna lingered upon the fair island, and so were present in later months to witness the birth of Frodo's twin children.

    On their naming day he introduced them; Randir, in honour of Gandalf (who bowed and smiled with delight); and Lothithil, who was lovely as flowers sparkling in the moonlight. Melyanna presented the babes to Elrond and Gandalf, who became as Grandfathers to them, delighting in their first words and steps, and teaching them games and songs.

    Lothithil displayed early a gift for languages, and Gandalf saw that she would become a great wielder of power. Something of her mother was in her, some essence of the Maia which made her more like the people of the Vala than her brother. Whether it would be that she would be of that race or that of her father's, he could not say; the answer was hidden from him. So he taught her, with her parents permission, all the skills and wisdom he could impart, and she grew into a lovely maiden possessing a gentle, loving heart, and harboring impressive power.

    Her brother, the darling Randir, was the apple of Frodo's eye. He was a handsome, merry lad, with curly hair on head and feet, and as much like his father in looks as can be, but with the sparkle of the afternoon sun on the sea in his eyes. And he grew in body and mind much as his sister did, with a hunger to know, and see, and absorb. He loved the stories his father told, and he read the books that Elrond brought him, and listened to everything the wise Elf would tell. He began to compose poetry and songs of his own that delighted listeners, and held them spellbound as he spoke, calling up images to the eyes of his audience, just as the great Elvish Bards did in long ages past.

    The children of Frodo and Melyanna grew into handsome souls with much love and respect for their parents and for their mentors, and for all the Elves who lived with them and visited the island.

    Legolas and Gimli sailed on to Valinor, but they came as frequent visitors to the isle, and Naugellon and Randir and Lothithil became fast friends, growing together in knowledge and love, dwelling on the island of Home off of the coast of the Blessed Realm, beyond the Sea.



The End ?

The story continues in Legacy of the Ringsbane, by Lothithil
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