1. Made of Grass
Here down in the valley!
Pippin! Thank you for coming to hear one last story from your Uncle Bilbo while Frodo is sleeping. I know you'll all be leaving Rivendell soon, for adventures goodness knows where, and before you go I wanted at least one of you to know a story of mine that never made it into my book. You see, that book was for everyone, to read even to the hobbit-lads and lasses, and this story is a little, er, personal.
Stop blushing! You know what the end of a hobbit's pecker looks like as well as I do, and you'll know it a whole lot better by the time you're my age. Well then. Where were we
As you should remember, I was on my way into Rivendell for the first time when I first heard Elvish singing:
O! What are you doing
And where are you going?
Your ponies need shoeing!
The river is flowing!
What brings Mister Baggins
Down into the valley
Pretty fair nonsense indeed, but how did they know my name? I stopped my pony and looked into the darkness where the Elves were dancing. Thorin and company were hurrying on, but I wanted to see these Elves, as much as I could in the shadows.
Finally one stepped towards me. He had long dark hair that reflected the starlight and grey eyes that shone like the moon. I stood, unable to move. How had I lived fifty years unaware of such beauty under the skies? He laughed. "Bilbo the hobbit on a pony!" he exclaimed, with a strange delight.
"At your service," I said, and I meant it with all my heart. Then he disappeared into the shadows from which he had come, and I stumbled on with my company the last few steps into Rivendell.
I saw this magical Elf again the next evening, as I went to wander alone under the bright stars of Rivendell. I had just entered Elrond's magnificent garden when I saw him. I stood, stunned once more by his beauty. He turned and bowed to me. "At yours and your family's," he said. I was unable to speak. "Is that not the proper response among your folk?" he asked, seeming absurdly hurt by my silence.
"Why do you know about hobbits, Lord Elf?" I finally stammered out. "And how do you know my name? And what makes you so familiar with guests in the house of Elrond?"
"I am his son," he answered. "Elladan of Rivendell, at your service. I have watched the Shire for many years in my travels. I know you better than you can imagine."
He moved towards me, and his eyes reflected starlight. "Why are you silent?" he asked.
"Because I have never in my life seen anything so beautiful," I answered, truthfully.
"Are not my father's gardens a wonder?" he asked, purposefully misunderstanding. "Come, let me show them to you."
We walked slowly through the garden, and every tree, every flower had a name, a story. Yet none was as beautiful as the wonder that walked beside me, and, stranger yet, somehow knew me and desired my company.
We came at last to a grassy plain, looking over the garden on one side and the river on the other. I looked up at my guide, unwilling to turn from him to any marvel of nature.
He sat beside me. "Come," he said. "Perhaps sitting we will be eye to eye." I sat beside him, but I was still far shorter. "Well, then," he said, "perhaps lying down we will be the same height." And so we were.
Ah, Pippin, the kisses of the Elven-folk are sweeter than any joy of Middle Earth. Sweeter than anything in all of Arda, unless the Elves keep some wonderful secret in Valinor they don't share with us hobbits. Of course, you'd probably say the same about the kisses of your young friend Merry. Hm. I see I guessed right. Young lovers. Well, on with the story.
When I left Rivendell I bid Elladan a tearful farewell, and he seemed almost as sad to see me leaving. I had given my word to Gandalf to see these Dwarves and their quest to the end, but I swore to Elladan that when the quest was complete I would return to Rivendell and to his arms.
As you know, I did return to Rivendell when the quest was over, with rather more knowledge than I had when I left, and a rather troublesome ring. When I stumbled into Rivendell that second time I thought to seek out Elladan, but somehow I was just too tired. So I went right to bed.
That night I was woken by the sound of Elvish singing:
The river is silver
The shadows are fleeting!
Merry is May-time
And merry our meeting!
I looked out the window at the Elves below. "Your lullaby would waken a drunken goblin!" I shouted.
"That was precisely the intention," said Elladan from my doorway, a sparkle in his eye. He bounded across the room and swept me up in his arms, laughing as joyfully as the Elves who sang below.
Now, Pippin, I tell you Elladan was every bit as beautiful as he had been before. But somehow his kisses gave me no pleasure. As he reached to unbutton my shirt all I could think of was the ring. What if he saw it? What if he touched it? What if he tried to take it from me? I pushed him away, and muttered something about needing to sleep. He looked hurt, and confused, but did not argue.
I left Rivendell as soon afterwards as I could.
Gandalf explained it to me later, when he found out more about the ring. You see, while I carried the ring I could not grow. Oh, cut out the snicker! That's not what I mean, although that is true as well. But it is mostly that loving someone makes you grow inside, makes you change, if you love with passion, with all your heart. And the ring wanted me to stay as I was, bound to it only, forever.
I kept the ring for most of my life, for sixty-one years, until, as you remember, my eleventy-first birthday. By that time Gandalf had long been pestering me to give it up but, of course, I did not want to listen. It made me angry, as if he wanted it for himself. I had a good life in Hobbiton, and there was Frodo, and you and Merry of course. A part of my heart yearned for journeys, and for Rivendell, and for what I had left behind there, but I took no notice, preferring to finger the ring that I kept always in my pocket.
Until, one day, Galdalf came to visit. This time he did not ask me anything, or tell me any stories, but only held out to me a leaf-wrapped package. "A present," he said, "from Elladan."
It was a ring, made with special Elven skill, from the shimmering green-gold grasses of Rivendell. It looked like jewels and starlight, yet I knew that, magical as it was, it could last only a short time. By the time all the leaves were gone from the Shire trees this too would dissolve, fragmented, into the earth from which it came. It fit one finger, and one finger only: that on which I had worn the ring.
After so many years I had taught myself to believe that Elladan had forgotten me, although I had known that time means little to the Firstborn. Yet as I held this wonderous token in my hand I remembered our first kiss on the hilltop above Rivendell, and I knew what I had given up, and what I was continuing to renounce with every moment I spent away.
"Tell Elladan I will be wearing his ring when I return," I said.
And here I am. I wish I could say that all has been right since, that I have taken the same delight in my beloved's arms as I did all those years ago. But this story doesn't have a happy ending, at least not yet. I carried the ring for too long, you see, and I am still not entirely free of it. Elladan tells me that if the quest ends happily he will beseech the Valar to allow me to go with him to Valinor to find healing. Perhaps. In the meantime he holds me at night while we watch the stars, and, while I am sorry for the years we have lost, I am happier than I have ever been.
I wanted you to know this part of the story so that you could watch over Frodo. And Sam, poor lad. He's on a hopeless quest, and I don't mean for the Fires of Doom. But Frodo, especially. Gandalf tells me I had no choice but to give him the ring, but I am sorry for what it has done to him. Still, I should like to see it again. After all, it has been a part of me for so many years.
I should like to see it again.
Quoted verses are taken from The Hobbit, as is some dialogue.
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.