1. A Boon Companion
Characters: Elrond, Bilbo, Maedhros.
I walked slowly to the large balcony overlooking the magnificent gardens of Rivendell. They say that the lady of Rivendell herself planted these rose bushes and tended to them until the terrible business of her ordeal and departure from these lands. Now the loyal elves still tend to these gardens making them the most wonderful gardens after those in the Shire.
Elves were singing hymns to their beloved stars. I smiled as I remembered how amazed I had been when I had first heard them do this. Years later, I still retain a sense of awe for the elves.
I heard a rustle of robes from the corner. There, standing alone and gazing up at the night sky was the Lord of Rivendell himself. I walked to him hoping for a conversation. He is always very obliging to put up with my songs and stories, and gifts me with praises and gentle smiles at the end. I am a vain creature; maybe I have become one after my association with the wizard Gandalf. So Lord Elrond is a long suffering elf.
Today, however, I was surprised by the melancholy in those grey eyes that usually contain reassurance and wisdom. He is clad in a plain red robe that somehow makes him look younger than usual, more vulnerable than usual. In all the times I have seen him, I had not noticed this sadness that was now radiating from his very core.
He slowly averted his gaze to me and smiled saying pleasantly, "My friend, why do you stay in the house when better company can be had in the Hall of Fire or the gardens?"
"If it is all right with you, I will have your company for a few more moments," I said respectfully, not wanting to intrude upon his sadness, yet curious enough to see if he would willingly tell me something about it.
He said nothing and turned back to the dreary contemplation of earlier, but now he had his gaze on Aragorn and Arwen walking hand-in-hand near the fountains. I saw a spasm of pain on the Lord's features as he gazed sadly at his only daughter.
"Did you know when she was born?" I asked inspite of my intentions not to intrude on his privacy.
"That she would love him? No. That she would love enough to give up her immortality for his sake? No." Elrond smiled sadly. "Even the wisest cannot predict all the ends, as Gandalf is fond of reminding me."
"Why didn't you separate them when you could?" I asked curiously, that was what we did in the Shire.
"I tried to," Elrond said, slightly embarrassed. "A variety of underhanded tricks that you would have never expected of me. I even tried to make her fall in love with Legolas, the prince you saw today. His father will never forgive me for forging his son's writing in a love letter."
I laughed and he smiled weakly, his hands clasping and unclasping nervously. He looked younger than usual. I understood that underneath the usual facade, he was in truth a soul who wanted to lose no more of his kin.
"You seem much different today," I remarked as he ran his hands through his unusually loose hair.
He glanced at me before saying, "Let us just say that today is an important anniversary in my life. It makes me most difficult to get along with. That is why I avoided company."
"I would not dream of invading your personal matters," I said hastily. "But if you want a kind of unbiased ear, you have mine; you know I am ignorant of Elven history."
He smiled again, now it was his gentle smile that he usually bestows on me. I wonder if he knows to laugh, I have never seen him laughing. Even all the antics of Merry and Pippin have not made him laugh.
"I was born to parents who had mightier causes than raising my twin and me. My father was charting a course to the west and my mother was clinging to the ill-gotten jewel." He looked at me.
"The Silmarilli!" I nodded. "I hear almost nothing of that story here."
"There are reasons," he said grimly. "It was on this day millennia ago that the sons of Fëanor attacked my mother's lands and ended up with two orphaned elflings. She chose to leave us to their mercies. We were terrified, but they took us in, raised us as their heirs, taught us everything they could. We loved them, they were our parents in all but blood. You must think me sentimental."
"No!" I dispelled the lord's sudden insecurity. "I raised Frodo myself, took him in after his parents had that accident in the river."
He nodded and continued, "Then there was a war. The enemy was overthrown. The sons of Fëanor returned us to our cousin Gil-Galad." He waved at the statue of an elf in armour, "Then they tried to retake the Silmarils and failed." His face was darkened by shadow, his eyes swirling with turmoil. "Today is the anniversary of that too, and my brother chose mortality because he did not want to live an Elven life knowing that our foster parents were beyond redemption. He made me promise not to do the same." He sighed. "Today is the anniversary of my brother's death too. And there was war again, this time it was my cousin, the King, who fell. Again the same day. Then loss-stricken, I married my wife, she was so beautiful and kind...I loved her so." He smiled faintly. "There was happiness until the fateful day, again the same day. I now hear that my daughter pledged her troth to Aragorn on the same day. It is amusing, is it not?"
"You will find happiness on the same day," I replied with conviction. "All that you suffered, there will be rewards. Even a simple hobbit can understand that!"
"My wife chose to forget her existence here during her healing, according to Gandalf's words." He shrugged as he stepped away from the balcony. "Goodnight, dear Bilbo, it has been a relief to talk to you."
"You called Aragorn hope," I said quietly.
He met my gaze and said in a low voice, "Aragorn is hope, Bilbo. To everyone except me. I no longer believe in hope."
In the following days after the fellowship left, Lord Elrond and I were often together, walking through the gardens or watching the stars. He was patient, soft-spoken and wise. It broke my heart to see the sadness that clung to him. I had resolved to make him laugh somehow. But even the most comical tales had no success.
The fellowship succeeded. I stayed back in Rivendell because of my physical frailty. Elrond went to give his daughter's hand in marriage. As they stood in the courtyard readying their mounts, I sidled up to Elrond and requested for a word with him.
"I will not tarry there." He smiled. "I will bring Frodo to you as soon as possible, my dear Bilbo."
"I am grateful," I said, laughing. "But I wanted to ask something else which has nothing to do with Frodo or me."
"And that is?" He raised an eyebrow.
"Try not to be bitter while you give her away," I said quietly. His eyes darkened in pain. "She would want you to be happy. Don't force her to choose between you and him."
"I tried to, once. And she made her choice, though not in my favour." He shrugged wearily.
"Try to be happy for her, it will make your parting easier," I whispered sadly, wishing that someone could lift his sadness away.
"Thank you," he smiled gently. "You are a boon companion, my friend. Elbereth watch over you."
I heard that he had tried his best to cover his sadness. But he returned a mere shadow of himself. Everyone agreed that sailing west was the only cure for him and me, for now I was very fragile. His sons had decided to delay their choice. We knew that they did not say that they had chosen mortality because of their father. I have never seen elves fade. But Elrond seemed to be wearing out, Gandalf was very concerned.
As we stood on the deck side-by-side watching the sun rise for the last time on Middle-Earth, he sighed and placed his hand on my bony one. I clasped it as tightly as I could to reassure him.
"If I were not a lord," he said wryly, "I would be running back to Rivendell. I have lost them all."
I did not know what to say, still I tried, "Your parents will wait for you there," I nodded to the west.
"Somehow I am not excited at the prospect," he muttered as a frown creased his weary features.
I could see Galadriel standing alone on the deck, her head bowed. She too had lost all, her husband was staying with her grandsons. Her daughter had chosen a different life. All she had was her son-by-law and these two had never got along. Even on the ship, they avoided each other, blaming each other for their mutual losses.
"Does she have family there?" I asked Elrond.
"Hmm…" he glanced carefully at her. "She has her parents waiting for her, I daresay. But I don't think she is looking forward to this any more than I am. Still," he squeezed my hand, "I have the luxury of having a friend by my side."
We reached the shores. There were hundreds of elves waiting to receive us, all unknown, but friendly faces. With much pomp, we were escorted from the harbour. Gandalf was gone with a couple of elves who had greeted him enthusiastically. Frodo and Sam were gone too. Galadriel was clutching Círdan's arm as they made their way through the streets. She too had been weary, I realized.
"Well," Elrond said exhaustedly, "My parents have not come. I suppose that makes things easier."
"Where will we stay?" I asked thinking practically.
"Come," he helped me walk, "Let us go to that lordly elf," he dragged me there and spoke softly to the elf, who seemed very impressed by us and escorted us to a palatial mansion.
Elrond saw me settled in a cosy armchair by the fire before retiring into the next chamber asking me to wake him if I needed anything. I did not sleep that night. I wanted to make things better for him. How?
I am very friendly with the cook here. He tells me stories of all the elves in these lands making me laugh. Already I felt better than I ever had in the Shire. Elrond, on the other hand, became increasingly withdrawn and lonely.
One day the cook was talking to me and I was sampling his culinary exploits whole-heartedly. A soft knock on the open door was succeeded by the entry of a tall, extremely handsome elf. I knew that all black haired elves were Noldorin and the rest were Sindar. But this elf had flaming red hair that shone like copper.
The cook got to his feet and bowed deeply. I imitated him and looked up at the elf who was staring at me rather stunned.
"My Lord?" the cook asked softly, "What can we do to help you?"
"My apologies for barging in," the elf smiled, "I merely wanted to know if Lord Elrond would receive company."
"He doesn't, My Lord," the cook said sadly.
"No," I hesitated, "But I think it will do him good to see someone as he has been cooped up here for days and nobody comes to visit."
Anxiety flared across the tall elf's face and he said softly, "Tell him that an old acquaintance seeks his company."
Elrond refused to meet his august visitor saying that he could not care less even if the Valar came to visit. It was yet another anniversary of the losses he had. I had enough of his brooding and decided to apply my hobbit sense which is more practical than elvish wisdom always.
I went to the guest and said, "Sir, there is no way he will come down to meet you. You must come up."
The cook was about to protest but the other elf jumped to his feet and asked me to direct him. I tripped on a stair and he reached out with his left hand to steady me. Curiously, I wondered why he should not use his right hand as that was nearer.
We walked into the room. Elrond was still in bed, dark circles under his closed eyes. He did not even open them to greet his visitor.
"Pitya," the visitor whispered worriedly as he hastened to the bed and placed his left hand on Elrond's forehead.
Elrond's eyes shot open as he rose unsteadily in his bed and stared open-mouthed at the visitor. Then without warning, he rose to his knees on the bed and launched himself in a fierce embrace onto the other elf. His hands roved over the elf in a quest to determine if it was truly not a dream.
"Elrond," the stranger soothed him, "I will not leave you again."
I went downstairs even as I heard Elrond's voice breaking into sobs, the cook was sitting ashen-faced there.
"Who was that?" I asked curiously.
"The Lord Nelyafinwë, or Maedhros as the Sindar called him," the cook said tremulously, "They say that he was Lord Elrond's foster-father in many ways. He died many centuries ago. I wonder why he was sent back."
"At least Lord Elrond is happy," I said quietly, "That is all that matters."
Years later, Elrond stood by my bedside as I neared death. He was silent, eyes filled with unshed tears. But I smiled, at least he had found a measure of happiness with Maedhros. They were as close as any father and son could be. Someone would see him through this parting.
"You were a boon companion." Those words were the last I heard in life.
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.