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In Empty Lands: 17. "Trust in Their Friendship"
Originally written for the There-and-Back-Again Community "Four Loves" challenge.
"Trust to their Friendship"
Frodo Baggins sat alone on a low, wide stool that he appeared to prefer, listening to the singing in the Hall of Fire, his face alight with that special joy that seemed to take him when he was lost in Elven song. If he did as he had since his awakening from the removal of the Morgul shard, he would eventually fall asleep sitting up, a delighted smile competing with a look of intense longing on his face.
Elrond sat watching the Ringbearer, still trying to make up his mind as to what two others to add to the Fellowship, which so far was comprised by Frodo and his companion Samwise, Aragorn, Boromir of Gondor, Legolas Thranduilion of Mirkwood, Gimli Glóin's son from Erebor, and Gandalf the Grey. He'd made up his mind in spite of Gandalf's advice to send the two younger Hobbits back to the Shire. His foresight told him that evil was gathering there, and he saw that these two were meant to face it--somehow. However, it seemed to him that they were subtly different when he saw then fighting that evil, and he could not say how....
The other three Hobbits, two of them each carrying something, entered the hall as quietly as only such creatures or Elves seemed capable of. They paused near the door and leaned their heads together. Then Samwise came forward, approaching Frodo from the rear, shaking out his burden to reveal one of the warm yet light blankets that had been provided for the Hobbits. This he gently, reverently draped over Frodo's shoulders. Frodo looked up, plainly surprised yet also obviously grateful. He murmured a word to the gardener, who flushed, smiling, as he wrapped the blanket more about his master, then came forward to sit on the cushion that Lindir had taken to setting at Frodo's feet for the use of his companion.
Once Sam was settled, the second one, Meriadoc, entered fully. It could be seen he carried a small tray of drinks. Tea, or so Elrond guessed. Merry offered the tray to Frodo, allowing him to choose one of the cups. Again the Master of Imladris saw that expression of surprised thanks form on the Ringbearer's face. Frodo smiled as he took the cup between his hands and held it where he could inhale its aroma before sipping from it as Merry dropped to sit on the second cushion one of the listening Elves pushed forward for him to Frodo's right, allowing Sam to take another of the cups from his tray. At the same time young Peregrin was approaching. Frodo slid slightly to the right on his stool, offering to share it with the youngest of the Hobbits, holding out the blanket also to share with him. In moments Pippin was also wrapped in the blanket, pressed close to that vulnerable left side. Sam took a third cup from the tray and passed it up to the youngest Hobbit, and Merry took the last one for himself.
A conspiracy, Elrond thought. A conspiracy to see he is warm and comforted and--not alone; and able to remain awake as long as possible for his enjoyment. Certainly Meriadoc and Samwise's now-satisfied smiles made that plain.
As for Frodo himself, his attention was on his young kinsman as much as on the song being sung, assuring that young Peregrin was comfortable and warm. As Pippin rested his head back against Frodo's shoulder Elrond suddenly appreciated what Gandalf had meant when cautioning him to trust to the friendship amongst these four.
He needs them, he realized. He needs them to remain centered and grounded as Frodo of the Shire rather than merely as the Ringbearer. And he realized something else--the two younger Hobbits as he saw them facing the evil gathered within the Shire were not as they were now--they were taller, grimmer, even in height. But now--now Peregrin was decidedly the shortest of the four.
They must go with him. They must go with him to help him keep his hold on himself as long as is possible against the call of the Ring. And they must grow into the role they will play upon their return. Elrond realized that he would send no others in the company of the Fellowship. It was this love shared amongst these four that had sustained Frodo to arrive here in time to allow for the removal of the shard. He must indeed, as Gandalf cautioned, trust to that friendship.
That concern lifted from his shoulders, he turned his attention more fully to the music, noting vaguely how Frodo's own appreciation for it had also been increased.
And from across the chamber Boromir turned his attention from the song being sung to the sight of Frodo Baggins seated with his fellows about him. The older one was entering the room carrying a platter filled with soft sweetened rolls for these, his kindred and countrymen. How the Man found himself envying the Hobbits their companionship. He felt alone here, the only Man now within the Vale of Imladris….
His attention shifted, and he saw the clear gaze of the Lady Arwen fixed upon the four Hobbits. And what did she think of this small Ringbearer, he wondered.
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