The Magnificent Speaks

by Avondster


CHAPTER 15

There is a passage in the Hobbit that has always intrigued me: "It was often said (in other families) that long ago one of the Took ancestors must have taken a fairy wife. That was, of course, absurd, but certainly there was still something not entirely hobbitlike about them..."
The character I have written into this chapter is based on this passage.



CHAPTER 15

Once again a silence that usually never occurred there lay heavily on the living room of Bag End, only interrupted by some stifled sniffs and sobs. Merry was not even aware of his tears until one fell from his face right into his teacup. “I can still feel it,” he said in a voice that was barely more than a whisper. “The mud under my knees as I kneeled down on the bank… The icy cold in Frodo’s hand when I touched it… Pippin threw himself to the ground, crying with grief and despair. Sam’s grief seemed too great for tears. And I… I had still not quite realised what was happening. I sat there, holding a sobbing Pippin and staring at the motionless body before me, but I could not yet let it in.”
“But Frodo was not dead,” said Hamfast triumphantly. “It was not his time yet.”
“No Ham lad, it was not,” said Merry thoughtfully, “but I have always believed that that was the moment when the old Frodo was truly gone for ever. You can say that, in a way, a part of him did die. But at this moment in the story however, we were under the impression that he had died altogether, and we grieved.

Yet Glorfindel hurried over, gently pushed the three of us away, and examined the body. “Despair not!” said he. “Your friend and kinsman still lives, but only just.” He spoke a few words to Frodo in the Elven tongue, and though there was no response I fancied seeing the faintest colour returning to his face. Then Strider picked him up almost lovingly, and carried him over to where Asfaloth still stood, meanwhile rapidly speaking with Glorfindel.
“Where are you taking him?” I asked, but they did not seem to hear me. Strider put Frodo on the saddle, holding him steady so that Glorfindel could mount. Then the Elf-lord put one arm tightly around Frodo, and with his free hand he grabbed the reins. “He is not going to last much longer. I must get him to Lord Elrond immediately. Aragorn shall lead you on to Imladris. Here, our roads must part for a little while.”
“But I… my master…” said Sam in a strangled voice.
Glorfindel looked at him earnestly. “I am afraid that there is nothing you can do for Frodo at the moment but pray to the Valar for his salvation.”
“How?”
The word just escaped me. Frodo had told me of the Valar a few times, and I was desperate to do something to help him, anything at all; but how could I send a plea to them? How could they hear me? And would they even listen to a little Hobbit?
The Elf eyed me keenly, and a small smile came upon his face. “If the prayer comes from your heart, Meriadoc, have no fear. They shall be listening.”
With that, he urged Asfaloth forward and after a last wave of farewell, disappeared into the distance.

We hurried along in the horse’s footsteps as fast as we could, not saying a word. I was trying to pray as Glorfindel had told me to, but I still couldn’t quite understand how to do it. I thought about Frodo and how much I cared for him, and found myself begging in my thoughts: ‘please, if you can hear me… let him live. We can’t do without him, we need him. Let him be spared. Save him.’ And somehow I got the feeling they were indeed listening.

At the setting of the sun, we finally got the valley in sight. And though we were still scared and worried for Frodo, the first view on Rivendell took all our breaths away.
“This must be where the sun was born,” whispered Pippin in awe. And indeed, the sun seemed to belong in this valley. It winked at us on the rippling waters and made the roof of the Last Homely House light up as if in greeting. Strider sighed as one returning home after a long time. “Nay, the Sun was not born in this valley, young Hobbit, though she loves to dwell in it, especially on mornings in spring, when she wakes up the flowers. Alas that you cannot see that now! But perhaps you shall return here in merrier days. Let us hurry now!”
The enchantment passed as the sun was sinking and darkness fell. The first stars were beginning to appear in the sky when we arrived at the House of Elrond.
A tall, fair-haired Elf was waiting for us on the large terrace, and although he courteously smiled, his eyes were worried.
“Is he Lord Elrond?” I whispered.
I had expected Strider to answer, but the voice that replied was Sam’s. “I don’t think so. Mr. Bilbo described him very differently in his stories.”
The Elf bowed to us and made an Elven greeting gesture towards Strider, then began speaking to him in the Elven tongue. Yet Strider held up his hand to silence him.
“If there is any news of Frodo, these Hobbits have a right to hear it as well.”
“Begging your pardon,” said the Elf with another bow towards us. “I did not mean any discourtesy. My name is Lindir, and I am greeting you on behalf of my Lord Elrond, as he is looking after your companion’s injuries at the moment.”
“How is my master?” asked Sam immediately.
Lindir’s face grew grave. “I cannot say, for Lord Elrond has not allowed anyone inside his chambers. I fear you will have to wait for news of his condition. But come now,” he said, raising his arms. “You are weary of your travels, and there are baths, beds and a decent meal made ready for you all.”

He led us into a magnificent corridor full of flickering torches illuminating the breathtaking carvings and paintings on the walls. We, being only simple Hobbits after all, gaped at the beauty of the House of Elrond as much as our weariness and worry would allow it.
When we arrived at a great staircase, Lindir turned to Strider. “I trust you still know the way to your quarters, Est… Aragorn?” he said with a small smile.
Strider returned the smile, and after bidding us all goodnight, he walked up the stairs, while Lindir led us to a room on the ground floor (thankfully).
As he opened the door we looked into a large room with a view on the water and the pine forests in the distance. Four beds were made ready – I felt a sharp pang of pain as I looked at the fourth bed and hoped it would not be long before it would be occupied – and I could see steam emerging from the door to the next room that was ajar; our baths.
Sitting on one of the beds was an Elfmaiden in a long blue gown. She stood up as she discovered us, and curtsied. I noticed her studying each of us keenly through her long eyelashes. She had long, raven hair and was very small for an Elf – only about a head’s length taller than I was – though it was quite clear that she was not a child.
“Linnadín shall provide you with everything you need,” said Lindir. “She knows much of the customs and needs of the Shire-folk, having dwelled among them herself once.”
“Really?” said Pippin, forgetting his weariness for a moment at this interesting fact. “That must have been long ago indeed, for I have heard no stories about an Elf living in the Shire. This is interesting. Do you, by any chance, know the Tooks?”
Linnadín said nothing, but suddenly smiled very mischievously, and a feeling of recognition filled me as I saw that smile, one I knew better than any other.
“Even more so, Pip. I think she IS a Took.”
There was no mistake. The resemblance was striking. I had never quite believed the stories about some Took ancestor marrying a Fairy or an Elf or indeed anything other than a Hobbit, but now I suddenly found them a lot more credible.
Pippin’s eyes nearly doubled in size when I said this. He looked at me, then back at the young Elf, who was still smiling with her eyes fixed on the floor.
“Am I right?” I felt very pleased with myself as she slowly nodded.
Pippin stood dazed for another few seconds before the questions came tumbling out. “Does that make you my ancestor then? Have you lived in the Great Smials? There is nothing about you in the family tree, who were your close relatives? Why did you leave? And why aren’t you saying anything?” he said in one breath.
“She cannot,” said Lindir, who was still standing on the doorstep. “Linnadín never speaks.”
I patted Pippin on the shoulder. “I take that back, Pip, she cannot possibly be related to you.”
Pippin grimaced at me, and I saw Lindir and Linnadín exchanging a look. Lindir was trying hard to keep a straight face. “Well then, I shall leave you now.”
“But what about my master?” cried Sam. He had followed the exchange between us with interest, but had not said anything. His eyes were brimming with tears.
Linnadín hurried over and kneeled before him, gently wiping the tears away and holding out her hand in a friendly, yet resolute fashion.
“Perhaps you will be able to find out more about his condition later, master Samwise,” said Lindir. “But right now you need to think about yourself also. Let Linnadín take care of you now, and then we shall see what might be done.”
Having said this, he bade us farewell and left.

Linnadín proved to be very capable of taking care of tired and famished Hobbits. She ushered us to the bathroom and left, and when we came out again there were three sets of new, clean clothes laid ready for us – Hobbit clothes. Made of Elven fabric and with a delicate Elven touch to it, but they were made in a Hobbit size and fashion. I wondered about them for a moment. Why did they have these in Rivendell, a valley of Elves? Surely they would not often have Hobbits come over.
When we re-entered the other room, we found that ‘our’ Elf had set up a low table and some comfortable chairs – once again Hobbit-sized – and a great deal of food, plenty even for three hungry Hobbits. But even though the food was terrific and we had not eaten a good meal since leaving Bree, we ate very little, with Pippin’s lack of appetite being quite alarming. I saw Sam shifting restlessly in his chair and chewing his food absent-mindedly. Finally, I decided to ask the question he was obviously nervous of asking.
“My Lady,” I said softly and a bit awkwardly, “not that we do not appreciate your exellent care, but we would really like to know how Frodo is doing right now.”
To our great surprise, Linnadín made no sign of protesting at this request. On the contrary, she nodded gravely and gestured to us to follow her. Sam jumped off his seat and took her outstretched hand. She took up the hem of her dress with her free hand and set off into yet another corridor with us hurrying after her, turning left and right and finally going up a stone staircase.

Several other Elves were standing at the door of what appeared to be Frodo’s room, Lindir and Glorfindel being among them. I noticed that the golden-haired Elf still had his riding gear on, splattered with mud. I saw great concern in his eyes as he greeted us.
An agonized cry came from behind the closed door. I felt Pippin cringe beside me and I, too, felt as if a mighty fist was squeezing my heart. Sam had leaped forward at the sound, but Linnadín quickly sank down on her knees and held him tight.
The following hour we remained motionless in the corridor. With every cry that came from the room I closed my eyes tightly and held Pippin more fiercely as he pressed his face into my shoulder. Linnadín was still holding Sam, but he was no longer struggling, merely crying.
Then the door opened, and a shabby-looking figure in tattered grey robes emerged.
“Gandalf!” cried Pippin.
“How is Frodo doing?” I asked him.
“And can we see him?” said Sam.
Gandalf looked older than ever, and there was an expression of sadness and pain on his face.
“Lord Elrond is doing all he can, but Frodo is still in great peril,” he replied heavily. “You cannot see him tonight, I am afraid. He sleeps now, thankfully, and I suggest you do the same.” He looked sternly at Linnadín, who nodded. She resolutely picked up Pippin in her arms and put him on her hip as if he were an oversized toddler. He made to protest, but even before his head touched her shoulder, he was already half asleep. With her free hand she gently yet sternly guided me and Sam along, and put as all to bed as if we were unwilling children. Despite my weariness I had trouble getting to sleep, and when I finally drifted off into uneasy dreams, Frodo’s screams of pain were still echoing in my ears.”


With special thanks to Mel Baggins for letting me 'borrow' Lindir.


CHAPTER 16

Merry slowly turned his head and gazed dreamily at the window, peeking between the half-drawn curtains. The sound of raindrops against the glass had ceased, and a few stars shyly reappeared from behind the clouds. He wondered what time it was.
Sam seemed to be thinking along the same lines and cleared his throat loudly. “Well, it seems to be gettin’ late, an’ we’ve all had a long day. Why don’t you let Merry have a smoke and a rest, an’ we continue the storytellin’ tomorrow, eh?”
His proposition was met with a cacaphony of protests.
“It’s not that late!” cried Primrose.
“It’s always dark early in September!” yelled Pippin-lad.
“You can’t stop now, it’s just getting exiting!” begged Daisy.
“We’ve all had naps after the arrival this afternoon!” said Rory.
“And my Da can perfectly tell stories while he’s smoking,” grinned Athelas.
Pippin laughed out loud. “It looks to me like you are far outnumbered, Sam!”
Sam, looking slightly crestfallen, tried to regain his fatherly authority by announcing that ‘at least Robin and Tom should go to bed’. The glare he received from his two youngest was so fierce that, in spite of Robin’s massive yawn that followed, the Mayor sat back down, defeated. “All right, fine, stay up, then,” he mumbled, while several of his daughters kissed him on his cheeks. “That is, if Merry thinks he’s up to it.”
All heads turned back to Merry, who had been watching the display with amused interest. The tall Hobbit sighed dramatically, stretched, and yawned widely, then looked up at Pippin still sitting on the arm of the chair. “It is awfully late, isn’t it Pip? What say you?”
The Thain grinned back and handed his friend the pouch of pipeweed.

“When I woke up the next morning, it seemed that the rainclouds that had been following us on our path through the deserted lands, had now reached Rivendell. Rain was lashing down on the roof of the Homely House, so fiercely that I could hear it through the ceiling.
I opened my eyes and saw Linnadín sitting on a chair by the door, just as she had sat when I fell asleep. In her lap was a jacket I immediately recognised as Pippin’s. Her skilled fingers moved quickly and surely as she sowed a tear in the fabric back together again. Well, at least the mystery of the Hobbit clothes was solved, she cleary knew what she was doing with them.
I watched her for a while as she continued mending our clothes and even some things that were Strider’s. I also noticed that, while she seemed to have no problems with handling the incredibly filthy Ranger’s garments, a spasm of disgust passed over her face as she touched the hole in Frodo’s battered shirt.
“What time is it?” I said aloud, more to announce that I was awake. She couldn’t answer anyway, though a reply did come from another corner.
“It is about eleven, I would say,” said Pippin’s voice. I sat up in my bed to see him sitting at the low table, half-dressed and with messy hair. He smiled weakly and added: “Sluggard.”
I got out of bed and ruffled Pippin’s hair affectionately. “It does not look to me as though you have been up for hours, Master Took, so I do not think you are entitled to lecture me. But…” – and here I turned to Linnadín – “I would like it if I was wakened somewhat earlier.”
She looked up from repairing my waistcoat, smiled, and nodded in understanding, then gestured with her free hand towards the table, indicating that I should eat breakfast.
I sat down opposite Pippin and took some toast, nibbling on it absent-mindedly. Then I realised something familiar was missing in the room. “Where’s Sam?”
“Gone to see Frodo I think,” said Pippin. “He was already gone when I woke up. I don’t think he’s had much sleep tonight, even less than we had. Merry,” he said with a suddenly shaking voice, “why were you crying in your sleep?”
“I was?” I said, trying to sound puzzled.
“Yes. You were crying and tossing and turning and only settled down when Linnadín put her hand on your forehead. Were you dreaming?”
I stared at the tablecloth, feeling the eyes of Pippin and the Elf on me.
“About Frodo?” asked Pippin carefully.
Memories of the past night flooded back to me. It had been so real. Frodo, lying in a bed that seemed far too big for him, cold and still. Sam lying next to him, looking far too thin and pale. And finally dear Pippin on another bed, covered in blood and not moving, with empty eyes staring at me without seeing…
“What happened, Merry?” Pippin’s voice was barely more than a whisper.
I shook my head wildly. “It was just a dream, Pip,” I said harsher than I meant. I looked up to see Linnadín gazing at me intensely, as if she was trying to read my mind.
I shook off the feeling and got up from the table, patting Pippin’s shoulder a bit awkwardly. “Well ehm… I think we ought to go and see Frodo now.”

A little later, as we were walking through the corridors once more, the rain was still falling steadily and the wind was howling around the Homely House. I was gazing dreamily at the water falling from the sky, and was startled out of my reverie when Pippin asked:
“Linnadín, this is not the way to Frodo’s room, is it?”
The young Elf, guiding our way, just smiled at us in an ‘you’ll see’ kind of way.
She led us to a room on the ground floor, very similar to our own, and knocked on the door three times.
“Ah, about time,” said a voice behind the door, a voice I vaguely recognised…
Linnadín pushed the door open and showed us a large rectangular room, luxuriously furnished. At the far end of it was a large window, and before the window there was a desk. A small figure was sitting at the desk, bending over something, holding a pen in wrinkled hands.
Linnadín walked into the room and beckoned us to come closer. The figure turned around and I saw a very old Hobbit, a thousand wrinkles in his face as he smiled and took Linnadín’s smooth, white little hand in his own two. “Good to see you again, my dear. I was just working on that poem I read to you last thursday. It is still far from finished, but if you like I shall read some of it to you… who have you got with you?”
The young Elf stepped aside and walked back to the door to close it, while the old Hobbit eyed the two of us intently, his brow furrowed. Then his features broke into a smile.
“Merry Brandybuck! What a pleasant surprise! Why, I almost did not recognise you, you have changed so much. So you are here, too. That is good news indeed!”
I finally managed to squeeze a word out of my open-hanging mouth. “Bilbo?”
Bilbo Baggins beamed at me and adressed a bemused Pippin. “And little Peregrin Took! My, have you grown, lad! Well, of course you have. How silly of me, I forgot how long ago it’s been.”
He ruffled our hair and grinned. “So, still always together, are you? Some things just never change. I can still remember the two of you chasing Frodo through the garden…”
His voice trailed off as he got lost in memories past. I bit my lip and looked at Linnadín questioningly, then exchanged looks with Pippin, wondering if Bilbo knew…
“You don’t have to be the bearers of bad news, lads. I already know about Frodo.”
I turned back to Bilbo, who fixed me with a shrewd gaze. “In fact, I was about to go and visit him when you arrived. Will you accompany an old Hobbit?” Without waiting for a reply, he took my arm and, leaning on it, followed Linnadín’s lead to Frodo’s room.

Sam, looking exhausted and teary-eyed, opened the door of the room. His jaw dropped as he saw who we had with him.
“Hello, young Samwise,” said Bilbo. “I’ve come to visit my cousin, if you don’t mind.”
“Not at all, sir, not at all,” mumbled Sam, opening the door a little further and allowing us in, still gazing at Bilbo with wide eyes.
Frodo was lying in a beautiful bed that was a bit too big for him, apparently asleep. Bilbo carefully sat down on the edge of the bed and gently touched Frodo’s face with a trembling hand. He cleared his throat a few times before he managed to say: “I believe he looks a little better than he did last night.”
If that was true, I did not want to imagine how he must have looked the previous night.
Even in the gentle glowing light of the many torches and the small fireplace, Frodo’s face looked deadly pale and terribly hollow. His eyes and cheeks were sunken, and his hair was tangled and damp from sweat.
“Aye sir, he finally fell asleep just an hour ago, sir,” said Sam a little nervously. “But he’s been tossin’ and turnin’ all morning, and moanin’ too, sir, and he won’t keep any food down, neither. And his poor hand, sir, it’s so cold…” Sam’s voice trembled and trailed off, and he busied himself with preparing something to eat while we sat with Frodo.
Bilbo held his beloved cousin’s left hand and vainly tried to rub it warm, not taking his eyes off Frodo’s worn, sleeping face. Pippin held his other hand as if he’d never let it go, and I assumed the same position I had back on Weathertop, sitting by Frodo’s head and stroking his forehead, which was neither warm nor cold to my touch, as if it was not even alive. Frodo’s breathing was so shallow I sometimes wanted keep my finger to his lips to make sure he was still breathing at all.

I can’t remember how long we sat there, an hour, two hours, or five… The rainstorm outside had turned into a raging thunderstorm. At the first clap of thunder Frodo’s body shuddered in a terrifying spasm, and he gave a hoarse cry of pain and fear. After that he kept twitching, rolling his head from side to side, and moaning deliriously. We anxiously tried to comfort him, but he did not seem to notice we were there.
Then Lord Elrond entered the room. I knew it was him even though I had never met him before. There was an air of authority over him as he stood there, tall and fair, and smiled sadly at us. “I fear it is time for you to go now, young masters. I must see to Frodo’s wound and I shall not be needing your presence. But I shall let you know if anything changes. Bilbo, perhaps you can take your young kinsmen to your chambers and read some of that exquisite poetry to them. I will send Linnadín to you with some supper.”
“If you don’t mind, Mr. Elrond sir,” said Sam. “I’ll just wait outside until you’re done.”
Elrond smiled gently at him. “If you wish, Master Samwise.”
We all bowed awkwardly to the Elf-Lord as we exited the room. Sam sat down beside the door, while Bilbo slowly headed for his room, leaning heavily on his walking stick and looking very old and exhausted.
Pippin and I hesitated as we stood in the corridor, looking at each other questioningly. Sam gazed up at us and seemed to read our minds. “Why don’t you go and keep Mr. Bilbo company, sirs. I’m sure Mr. Frodo wouldn’t mind. I’ll stay here.”
I nodded. “All right. Thank you, Sam.”
Pippin and I hurried over to Bilbo and lead the old Hobbit back to his room.”