King's Commission, The: 79. Time Passing

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79. Time Passing

Time Passing

            When the time of honor was finished, Arwen stepped forward to place a hand each on the shoulders of Sam and Rosie; Éomer knelt by Merry and drew him into his embrace, his own tears flowing freely; and Faramir came behind Pippin, placed a hand on each of the small Captain of the Guard's shoulders as Pippin continued to stand at attention while tears rolled down his face.  The King's eyes were closed, and his lips moved in what Ruvemir thought was a prayer; finally he opened them and turned to look down at Ruvemir.   Together they turned toward Ferdibrand Took, who stood with a gentle smile on his face.  Again, they looked to one another, and a similar smile touched the eyes of the King.  Lord Celeborn approached Fredegar Bolger and Narcissa Boffin, both of them weeping openly, knelt to offer them comfort.

            At last all quieted, and tears finally dried as mutual smiles were shared.  At a nod from the King, Guild Master Dorion came forward.  "It has been an honor to watch the shaping of this memorial over the past year and a half," he said, "and to see how many have come together to bring it into being, sculptors and apprentices, engineers, masons, gardeners, those who have delighted to serve those who labored.  Men, Elves, Dwarves, Pheriannath--all have contributed.

            "Two of those who have labored as apprentices under Master Ruvemir are this day granted acceptance into the Guild of Carvers as sculptors of stone, both having been presented by their Master as ones who have shown mastery in their artistry and in their ability to shape stone to the needs and desires of patrons and selves.  Gilmirion son of Gildorn and Gorondir son of Maldos, please step forward."

            The two apprentices were taken by surprise, and looked at their master for assurance this was real, and he nodded to them to do so.  He, Faragil, and Orin together stepped forward with them.  All applauded as each was presented with the pendant of a mallet that marked their acceptance to the Guild as full members, and each stood proudly as Faragil placed the chains about their necks.  At last the ceremony was done, and King and Queen led the way, Pippin again walking before them as guard, back into the Citadel with their guests, while the populace formed its own procession to walk about the memorial so each could see it.  Most brought a single flower or green branch lay around it, and many reached out to touch one or another of the figures as they passed. 

            The rest of the day was one of carnival and celebration, with an area of the Pelennor set up with booths for the selling of food and small gifts, with acrobats and singers, races and trials of strength and agility, stages set up for the presentation of pageants and tableaus and other entertainments here and there throughout the city.  When his duty was over, Pippin watched from the walls with regret, for he had not time to go out before he must go to his weapons practice.  Ruvemir brought him a dish of stewed mushrooms he'd asked Cook to send up to him, and the Hobbit was heartened, smiling.  "And to think," he said as he lifted the spoon to mouth, "I don't need to share this with Merry.  I must say your cook has a way with them.  I may try to steal her away from you."  Ruvemir laughed. 

            They shared news of what had occurred in the life of each since Ruvemir had come to the Shire, and spoke of the coming trip that Ruvemir and Elise would soon make to the North.  "I think now it will require only Aragorn's agreement, Ruvemir, and you and yours alone will have the freedom to enter the Shire pretty much when you will, as long as you are accompanied across the Bridge by one of us."

            "That is heartening," Ruvemir said.  "I don't think we will want to come back south in the coming winter, for it will be so soon after the trip north.  It would be good to visit with you during it, although I suspect we might take a house actually in Bree, for we will have two apprentices with us, and the babe to come."

            "You are expecting?  When?"

            "I'm not certain, for I have not yet been advised by Elise this is to come.  I'm not certain when she plans to tell me, in fact."

            "But you know she is expecting?"

            "Our Lord Aragorn and Lady Arwen have been giving her looks that tell me of it."

            Pippin laughed.  "She might not wish to tell you for fear you will call off the trip in concern for her before it is any danger."

            "I've considered this might be true."

            After a time, Pippin put down his spoon and looked down at the crowds of people below, then turned his head to watch the line of folk still passing by the memorial.  "Narcissa has been shining with happiness."

            "Yes, I know."

            "Can you tell me why?"

            "Do you have time to come down to our house, do you think?"

            "I think so.  It will give me the chance to woo your cook."

            As they made their way past the line of people still in line to go up past the memorial, Ruvemir explained, "I've tried to honor the Lord Frodo's desire that the King not know of his artistry, at least until Lord Samwise has given me leave.  But I wish you to see two more pictures he left here in the city and which have come to me." 

            Pippin paused as they approached the house.  "It looks different now.  All seems more--settled, more comfortable." 

            Ruvemir explained as they entered in that he and Elaine slept in the study as had been done by Frodo, and Pippin nodded.  The sculptor led him into the dining room and indicated the picture on the wall.  Pippin smiled to see it as he set the bowl on the table.  "The old White Tree, before they laid it to rest," he said, smiling--and then he stopped, his eyes widening as he saw the image of the Queen in the branches.  "Oh, my," he said.  "I'd not seen another he did in that manner.  The Lady Arwen?" 

            Ruvemir smiled.  "I wanted you to see that one before we look at the other picture, for this image is the more obvious.  Now, Master Iorhael said that this was given him about a month before the new White Tree was planted, before any of you had any idea that the marriage was coming."  Pippin nodded.  Ruvemir led the way then into his own room, and indicated the painting of Bag End.  "Look with open eyes," he suggested.

            Pippin examined it for several minutes, then looked at Ruvemir and shrugged.  He looked again, and finally saw one of the faces.  "Pearl," he said.  "He put Pearl into...."  And then he paused, looked again, went closer.  Finally he looked at Ruvemir with a smile.  "So, she saw this, then."  Ruvemir nodded.  "The women whose regard he had come to care for most at the time, Rosie, his mother, Pearl, and Narcissa."  He looked at it long.  "I rather hope Aunt Esmeralda and my mother don't see this, for they'd be heartbroken, I think, not to find themselves in it."  Again Ruvemir nodded. 

            They went out onto the lower balcony, and Pippin checked the sun and determined he had time for a pipe.  Lighting it, he asked, "When will you come north?"

            "In about six weeks.  I am finishing up another figure, using one of the blocks gifted me by Lord Gimli."

            "Who is it of?"

            Ruvemir laughed.  "Oh, it is of the Ghan Peveset of Mundolië," he said.  "He was intrigued by my work, and found himself wishing to have a figure of himself done to place before his people.  His request was relayed here a few weeks past, and it appears he wishes it to be as tall as our Lord Elessar's height.  This block when it came to me showed me it held the image of someone who thought of himself as tall.  In actuality the Ghan is not much taller than you, but he wishes to be seen by the world as equal in majesty as our own Lord King.  Yet this block is very happily accepting his shape.  We are almost finished with it, and the King has promised to see it carried to him.  He also is heartily amused.

            "After the figure is done, which should be in the next few weeks, Elise and I will go to Bavarin in Lossarnach to see to the fitting out of our new travel coach, and to purchase horses to pull it.  We will then return here briefly and then begin north."

            Pippin smiled.  "We will be not that far ahead of you, I think, but enough to ready things for your arrival.  Which of the apprentices will remain with you?"

            "Celebgil and Armanthol."

            "I can't wait till you tell me the promised tale of how he came to be among your apprentices."

            "It is a complicated one, and best told when all who may wish to hear are there together.  Perhaps tonight in the common room for your quarters?"

            "Good enough."  Again Pippin checked the sun and then the watch he carried beneath his mail.  "Well, I must be off.  And again, the memorial is far better than I'd dreamed it could be.  How did you get Frodo's feet so well, by the way?"

            "The Queen did a drawing of them for me."

            "She, too, has the soul of an artist.  She did the King's banner, by the way.  Did you know?"

            "No, but now that I do I have a mind to put a plan in action."

*******

            A party was held shortly before the feast was to begin in the quarters set aside for the Hobbits, one which was attended by King and Queen and several amused high Lords and Ladies of several realms.  At it officiated a small, golden haired Hobbit lass, who with remarkable dignity greeted all and distributed presents.  The King received a book of poetry, one that had been written by Bilbo Baggins and copied and bound by Frodo Baggins, a gift he accepted with solemn pleasure the depth of which even he could not fully express.  Pippin, who had supplied this from the Great Smial, smiled with satisfaction.  The Queen received a table cover of lace work done by Marigold Cotton.  Miriel received a self-portrait done by Elanor herself, and Ruvemir a picture of the small Hobbit House that now stood in the garden of Bag End.

            As Sam accompanied Ruvemir to the door as he set out to dress for the feast to come, however, the Hobbit pressed a heavy leather satchel into the mannikin's hands.  "I promised you it would take about a year, and that's what it did," he said.  "Marigold copied it for me.  She's a treasure to have as a sister, you know."

            The pleasure of the King for his gift was matched by that of his sculptor as he cradled the satchel holding his own copy of the Red Book to him with great tenderness.

*******

            At the New Years Feast that night a very small lass sat in the place of honor beside the King of Gondor.  The rest of the Pheriannath sat at places on the inner curve of the table, save for Merry who was serving Éomer that night, and Samwise Gamgee, who sat beside Queen Arwen.  Sam was plainly embarrassed, Ruvemir noted, but handled it well enough, particularly as his wife sat opposite him, and every time their eyes met his expression would lighten automatically, a reaction that Rosie appeared to be provoking deliberately. 

            Musicians played throughout the meal, and afterwards there was dancing and much talk between those in attendance; and at the end there was singing.

            Garata of Rhun was surprised to find herself enjoying the feast and the unaccustomed attention she was receiving, for in Rhun wives did not attend feasts nor speak with their husbands' guests unless they were family.  Here she saw husbands and wives attending together, speaking freely to whomever they wished, even holding children from time to time, although she was assured that the attendance of children at a feast was not a common event even here.  Men, Elves, Dwarves, and Periannath were mingling freely; and folk from Northern and Southern kingdoms were equally courteous to those from Rhun and Harad as to those from Rohan and one another; Lords spoke comfortably with artisans, Ladies with merchants of note.  She saw an Elven Lord with a child of the Periannath in his arms, obviously engaged in conversation; a Dwarf with the daughter of the Queen and King of Gondor on his shoulders, both obviously comfortably familiar with the situation.  She herself was attended by a Lord from Arnor who served as interpreter. 

            It was confusing and overwhelming, yet at the same time highly stimulating as well.  Garata of Rhun found herself wishing the evening would not have to end.

*******

            A week later there was an audience in which the King officially recognized the work done by his sculptor and saw to the awarding of his fee.  Ruvemir accepted it with great dignity.  He'd come with his wife and Ririon, Miriel and Folco.  Miriel had come accompanied by a woman that was unfamiliar to the King, but who was being eyed with some interest by the Lady Arwen. 

            "As for the house you have dwelt in--I know that your own preference is to travel freely throughout the two realms to accept commissions, but it is our hope that you and Mistress Elise will agree to return frequently to Minas Anor, particularly during the winters.  We give the house exclusively to your use and that of your wife for the remainder of your lives, that there always be a place to return to.  The same with the smaller workspace once owned by Varondil--we have purchased it from his wife, and it is now set aside for your use.  The larger workspace we continue to lease from her, until another will take it, so that if, during your stays, you may wish to take apprentices you may do so.  All who have labored under you speak with great pleasure of your teaching and your patience."

            "Thank you, my Lord King," said Ruvemir with a deep bow. 

            Ruvemir was wearing this day the shirt Miriel had made to replace the damaged shirt she'd made for his wedding.  The design was similar, but was on a soft green silk, and on him it looked very well.  The King noted it with pleasure, and turned his attention to the Master Embroiderer.  "Your own skill shines, Mistress Miriel,"  he said.  Ruvemir smiled, for he had just played directly into Miriel's hands.

            "Thank you, my Lord," she said.  "And I wished to present you with the newest Master Embroiderer recognized by our guild."

            The King looked with interest at the woman next to her, and the Queen suddenly straightened, her eyes amused but on guard.  Pippin, who stood before the throne, suddenly grinned openly, and Elise returned it, then looked back at the Lady Arwen.  Miriel continued, "My Lord, may I introduce Guild Mistress Morweth of the Guild of Tailors and Seamstresses?  On the basis of an item suggested for consideration, she and the rest of the guild have agreed to present this honor this day."

            The King bowed his head, a smile coming into his own eyes.  He looked at Mistress Morweth and asked, "May we inquire who this person is?"

            "The Lady Arwen Undómiel, our Lord King," Mistress Morweth answered, curtseying deeply.

            "But I have not presented a work for consideration to the guild for this purpose," the Queen protested, yet smiling.

            "We know this, our Lady Queen; however, all have had the chance to see and review the King's standard, which we have been given to know came from your needle."

            "Yes, but----"  She looked at her husband.  "You have reviewed the guild charters.  Can they do this?"

            He laughed aloud.  "Ah, my lady love, yes, they can."  He arose and took her hand, drew her to her feet from her chair beside him.  "Come, beloved, for this is one honor you definitely deserve."

            "You'd best beware," she said as they walked together down the stair, "for the folk of the Bard's Guild have been looking at you closely, you know."  His laughter rose again as they came down to stand before the Guild Mistress.  Rosie Gamgee caught the pleasure in the eyes of Miriel daughter of Elainen and Mardil of Lebennin as she watched her Queen formally inducted into the Guild.

*******

            Budgie Smallfoot found himself attending on the King and Queen several times as they made their regular visits to the Houses of Healing, and spent more than one evening in discussion with the King and Healers from that establishment on treatments of various maladies, surgical techniques, the uses of herbs.  He was amazed to find himself listened to with respect, and to be learning from those he was dealing with as well.

*

            Ferdibrand Took spent a good deal of time speaking with one of the Healers of the realm of Gondor, who examined his eyes but who also spoke with him on how he had come to use his walking stick to aid in finding his way, what other ways he had developed to do what he wanted to do since he had been blinded.  One evening he spent with Ruvemir's sister Miriel, cooking a meal together in Elise's kitchen, watched with growing respect by Ruvemir and Elise's cook.  But it was the quiet talks with the King and the Elven Lords he found he came to treasure most, as they discussed the Light of Being and how it was perceived and expressed.  He realized he, too, was coming to deeply honor the Lord Aragorn Elessar, and knew he would miss him as he headed north once more.  But he found he now had several more points of Light he could follow, both here in Gondor, and he realized as they finally set back out for home, in Rhun and throughout Arnor as well.  He was finding the darkness lifted increasingly in the past few years.  And now, he realized, there was near to him along the way the golden Light of Samwise Gamgee that would always be nearby.

*

            Fredegar Bolger found himself enthralled with the White City, and with his sister and Diamond spent much time exploring it, visiting the archives, speaking with artisans and merchants and lords and ladies, even watching the weapons practice that Pippin must attend.

            The tall Man against whom Pippin was matched managed to best the Hobbit, but they saw that Pippin was not making it easy for him, and he even came away with a few bruises on his legs from the flat of Pippin's foil.  Finally he managed to disarm the Hobbit, at which time said Hobbit rolled under his guard, tackled his legs, and brought him crashing to the ground.

            The King laughed as he disengaged himself, then helped his guard to stand.  "Stubborn Took," he smiled, "even when apparently beaten you will keep on, and thus win through at the end.  I salute you, my friend."  The King bowed deeply, and Pippin drew himself straight, flushed and proud.

*

            It was with deep regret that the Lord King Aragorn Elessar bade goodbye to the Periannath, seeing them mounted and back in their carriage, once again on their way back to the Shire.  "I must come north to Arnor in the summer, although not with a full court," he advised them.  "Will you come out to Bree to meet with me, at least?"

            "You know that full well, Strider," Sam assured him.  "You just make certain that you take care of your daughter.  That one is a treasure."

            "And the same is true of you, my friend," the King said.  He and his guards rode alongside them and the Rohirrim to the opening in the Rammas Echor, and watched with pride and the sadness of parting as they disappeared into the north once more.

            A month later he was bidding goodbye to Ruvemir and Elise as they set out in their special carriage for Arnor.  He was amazed at it, half house, half wagon, comfortably fitted with beds and table and benches which doubled for storage, even a small galley similar to one of those found in ships.  His grief at the departure of the sculptor was quite deep, he found, and he knew he would rejoice the more when the two of them returned.

            Ruvemir took him aside quietly before they departed.  "My Lord," he said, "when her time comes, where should I look to find a competent midwife?  And when will that be?"

            "She's not told you when the child is due yet?"

            Ruvemir sighed.  "She's not yet told me it is due--I suspect she's afraid I'll try to remain here, although she knows I'm as keen as she is to head north.  She so wants to see Arnor as well as Gondor, you see."

            Aragorn laughed.  "It will be due in September.  You can find competent help in Bree, in Annúminas, in Rivendell, or in the Shire.  You have the papers confirming your dispensation to enter the Shire with you, do you not?"

            "Captain Pippin gave them into my hands himself, and with great smugness, I will add."

            "Bless him for it," the King said, smiling.  "I would suggest you head for the Shire about that time, then.  They will delight to see your child born."  His expression grew more solemn.  "Go well, small brother.  And I pray the Valar to protect and defend you."

            "The Valar and Gilfileg," Ruvemir said.  "I regret he leaves you now."

            "His heart is of the North," Aragorn said quietly.  "And I think at last he is considering marrying.  There was a lady some miles from Annúminas who captured his attention some years past, and I think that he will finally approach her, now that he is content with having finally made peace with his mother's family."

            "I look forward to meeting her, then," Ruvemir said.  He looked up quietly, already regretting leaving this one, yet still eager to be away.  "You keep well also, my Lord Aragorn.  Keep well, and be happy."

*******

            Two winters later the great coach returned to Minas Anor with the winds of November.  Armanthol was driving it, and it was noted he now wore a sword. 

            Celebgil opened the doors as grooms at the outer stable came to meet the coach, and already the pony cart was being brought out to carry whatever items Ruvemir might indicate up into the city to the house in the Sixth Circle, as well as the occupants of the coach. 

            Ruvemir swung himself out, and was saluted by Captain Beregond.  "Welcome home, Master Sculptor," the soldier greeted him.  "The King is sitting in judgment and cannot come down, but he sends his greetings."

            "Thank you, Lord Captain," Ruvemir smiled.  "It is good to know the Lord Faramir is  here also."  He turned to the doorway and called, "I will take Sam now, dearling."  Elise appeared and handed down a small child into Ruvemir's arms. 

            "Your father is also in the capital, arrived four days since, and is staying in the house of Mistress Idril with his wife.  Ririon is wild to see you, and has haunted the Gates, just went back up to the Second Circle not an hour since."

            "And we look forward to seeing him, too," smiled Ruvemir.  A basket was placed in the doorway, one that moved alarmingly.  "A gift from the Lady Elanor to the Lady Melian," the sculptor explained.  A second one was set alongside the first.  "And that one is Sam's, here."  He looked up.  "Lord Samwise is now Mayor Samwise as well."  They shared a smile.

            The Captain of the White Company laughed as he peered into one of the baskets at the kitten it contained and then set them both in the cart, assisted the grooms from the stables in loading chests and boxes and bags.  Finally husband, wife, and son were in, with a small dog the final passenger.  It appeared the house in the Sixth Circle was going to be active for the next few months.

            The storage room for the small workshop had been filled with blocks of marble from Casistir as well as local stone, and within days Ruvemir was once again engaged in sculpting within the city.  He produced several works in the next few months, including a figure of the King himself for the Hall of Kings.  He was often in attendance on the King, and the King frequently came to his workshop and even his home.  Celebgil was formally inducted into the Guild of Carvers as a sculptor of stone.

            In March sculptor and wife were away again.  They returned two years later in April, bringing word that both northern commissions were now complete and that Meriadoc Brandybuck was now Master of Buckland and Brandy Hall, introducing the King and Queen to their new daughter, Gwineth.  In May Celebgil was recognized as a Master Sculptor, and purchased the workshop that had once belonged to Varondil; and the city of Kings rejoiced at the birth of the King's son, Eldarion.

            They remained in Minas Anor for three years, then set out north again to Tharbad accompanied by Owain this time, returning the next winter.  The following spring Ruvemir accepted a commission in Lamedon, then another in Dol Amroth.

            They returned two years later, and after working on several works for the city, Ruvemir asked Lord Gimli's assistance in cutting the top of the great block.

            He labored on this between other works for six years, and when asked by his son why he took so long about it, he laughed.  "There is no hurry for this one," he said.  But it was one block that was ever covered when people came into the shop to speak with him, and was never undraped when the King visited.  Then he let it lie, untouched and unfinished, for several more years while the family, including Master Carver Ririon of Minas Anor, worked once more in the North, in Annúminas, assisting in the completion of the Citadel there.  The Princess Idril was four years old when he returned to Minas Anor.

*******

            The King sat back on his heels after laboring in the herb garden for the past two hours.  Arwen sat nearby, sewing on the wedding dress she was making for Gwineth, daughter of Ruvemir and Elise.  She was marrying a sculptor who had been jointly trained by her father and Master Celebgil, and Ruvemir had come back to the City for the wedding.  He'd been busy since his return, working in his workshop in the Fifth Circle much of the time, having announced he had a work there that he felt he needed to finish now.  Samwise son of Ruvemir had shown concern for this, and had been seen with a marked crease between his brows.  Aragorn wondered what work it was that Ruvemir was doing, for he'd not appeared to have started anything new, and every time the King visited he'd have the one block in evidence, one which had been part of the workspace he'd used for as long as the King had known him, draped with heavy, quilted tarps.  Aragorn could not imagine what it was meant to be.  He brushed the back of his gloved hand across his brow and smiled at his wife.

            He was not certain at first what the change he felt in the fabric of Minas Anor presaged, but he knew that something of import had just occurred.  He sat up, trying to focus on it--realized that, somehow, it centered on Ruvemir son of Mardil.  He straightened, dropped his tools and gloves unheeded, began moving out of the garden, around the Citadel.  He had reached almost to the gate to the Sixth Circle when Samwise appeared at a run, his face white.  "My Lord," he said, "it's my father--he was working on the effigy, and he just collapsed."

            The King was running now, the slender young sculptor behind him and his guards as he raced to the workshop in the Fifth Circle.  Ruvemir's apprentice knelt by the sculptor's head, and a healer was there already as well.  Elise followed her son into the workshop, her face white with shock.

            Aragorn son of Arathorn and foster son to Elrond of Rivendell knelt by the stricken sculptor.  The healer already present looked up into her King's eyes.  "Seizure of the heart, my Lord," she said quietly.  "He's alive, but in great distress."

            The King nodded.  He began the invocation, let his fingers feel deep, felt the insult to the heart and its vessels, realized this was serious and likely to be beyond his aid.  He looked to the healer beside him.  "Go to the Houses.  Have the water and an infusion of willowbark and athelas waiting for me."  She indicated understanding, rose and left.  He resumed the invocation, sang it through, then carefully lifted the small form into his arms and looked to the wife.  "He is still living, Elise, but the situation is very serious.  I must take him now."  She nodded and followed after as he carried his sculptor to the Houses of Healing.

*******

            "How do you feel?"

            He almost laughed, would have had he been able to do so.  He again lay partly propped up in a bed in the Houses of Healing.  He looked up at the familiar presence by him.  "I won't be leaving on my feet this time," he managed to whisper.

            The King's face was quiet, drawn with tiredness and impending grief, full of the acceptance of what was coming.  He answered quietly, "No, I don't think you will."

            Ruvemir managed a small nod.  "I'm ready for it," he whispered.  "It's been a good life."  His eyes shut briefly at the new flare of pain, then opened again.  "Rejoice with me, my beloved Lord Aragorn.  Please--I won't be able to stand by my daughter----"  He stopped with a gasp.  The King held his hand, felt the relaxation as the spasm eased again.  At last he looked again into the King's eyes.  "I will await you in the Presence, my Lord," he finally said.

            Elise entered with Sam, Gwineth, and Ririon.  He looked to them, smiled.  "Oh, how I love you all," he whispered.  "I have been so blessed...."

            He did not have the chance to finish his words.

*******

            The following day the King Elessar walked down to the Fifth Level to the workshop in which Ruvemir had worked much of the last many years.  Sam was inside, polishing a figure, finding relief for his grief and loss in the work of his hands.  He turned around almost guiltily as he realized he wasn't alone, looked totally shocked. 

            "No, my Lord," he said, but the King had already seen, seen and understood.  He smiled sadly.

            "He was preparing for me, then?" he asked.  It was a stone sarcophagus and tomb cover that lay before him, the effigy obviously that of the Lord King Aragorn Elessar Envinyatar Telcontar.

            Master Celebgil had followed him in, having seen his approach to the smaller workspace.  "He saw that this was what the great block held when it was first gifted to him by Lord Gimli," he said quietly.  "He said it was an honor to be allowed to carve it, release it from the stone, but that he was glad it would not be needed until long after he was already gone."

            The three Men who had deeply loved the mannikin sculptor looked at one another in understanding and mutual grief.  Celebgil continued, "He did not wish to be buried here, my Lord, but in Bavarin, and with no effigy over him." 

            The King looked down at the effigy, the last work of Ruvemir son of Mardil, with appreciation.  He looked up into Sam's eyes, then Celebgil's.  "I only wish I had that freedom as well."

            He walked back to the seventh level, back toward the Citadel, then paused at the memorial to the four Hobbits.  He reached out to touch the fingertips of Frodo Baggins, looked into the stone eyes.  He was, he realized, weeping again, but these, he knew, were cleansing tears. 

            "If only you could have known him, Frodo," he said softly.  "If only you could have met him and known how deeply he came to love you."

            He paused again at the White Tree, placed his hand against its bark.  And suddenly he felt the urge to laugh, though he didn't know precisely why.  Suddenly he felt Frodo's awareness, knew that something had pleased him.

            He was not even aware that he was singing one of Bilbo's walking songs as he sought out his wife.


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.

Story Information

Author: Larner

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: 4th Age

Genre: General

Rating: General

Last Updated: 04/25/08

Original Post: 12/05/04

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