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61
In the Company of Heroes

For Bodkin for her birthday (sorry it's a bit late). With thanks to RiverOtter for the beta.


~~~

“But if you take it freely, I will say to you that your choice is right; and though all the mighty elf-friends of old, Hador and Húrin, and Túrin, and Beren himself were assembled together, your seat should be among them.”

Elrond to Frodo, FotR, The Council of Elrond



In the Company of Heroes


He was seated at the Feast that was seen as the proper place of Reunion amongst the Hobbits of the Shire when Olórin entered the grove and sat by his side. “Frodo, will you come with me? There are some who would speak with you, if you will come to them.”

Reluctantly the Hobbit rose, and then realized that Aragorn had risen also, as had Sam and Bilbo. “Yes, they come with us,” the Maia advised him. “The summons is as much for their sake as it is for yours.”

Intrigued, Frodo started away, then turned to see himself still seated at the table amidst all he’d loved in his younger life, before the Ring and the Sea had torn them asunder. The Ring had been a destructive influence, while the Sea had been closer attuned, he thought, to surgery, cutting away that which had become damaged and dying flesh that the whole body and its inhabiting spirit should not die betimes with it. Then, washed clean, the wound had at last healed and the fëa had finally begun to recover its brightness. He’d not wished to allow any of his spirit to linger on this side of the Silver Bridge; but it appeared that his own nature had insisted he join the Feast with the rest of his kind.

“Do not be surprised,” Aragorn advised him. “For we who are allowed death as a gift are accepted here as a courtesy that our memories may remain ever within Arda. But even now you and I dwell more fully there, the other side of the River, well across the Bridge. And where you did not enter in yourself, others may yet bring you to halls where your memory will linger in blessedness.”

They were brought to a great court where sat many great seats of honor. There was a different feel about himself, and looking down, Frodo realized he was clad no longer in Hobbit garb, but in garments of softest white, white trousers that brushed against his skin, a white tunic beaded with silver and soft blue crystals over a long-sleeved shirt of white lawn embroidered with sea waves and a great star down the arms, with a red sash shot with mithril threads bound about his waist and red beads about the cuffs and collar.

Aragorn’s garb had changed from black breeches and soft red shirt to a black robe embroidered with White Tree and seven stars, the uppermost made of a great, sparkling crystal.

“Not especially practical,” Sam sighed, looking down at the garb in gold and green he wore, embroidered with the image of Laurelin, with the Sun in glory on each sleeve.

“You are not expected to do particularly practical things here,” said a woman of great beauty who came forward with a mithril circlet in her hands as she approached them.

All looked at her with fascination, and Aragorn suddenly was bowing. “My Lady Melian?” he asked. “I see how it was that Lord Elu was enchanted by you from his first sight of you!”

She laughed with delight. “Ay, but it would be you that would recognize me, Dúnadan,” she said, looking at him with approval. “Descendant of my daughter, and husband to my thrice-great granddaughter! Welcome! Come and join the company, for we would honor you as you deserve!”

And there, amongst that company joined there they saw many of renown, including Elu Thingol, Beleg Cuthalion, Celebrimbor, and----

“Oh, my Arwen!” Aragorn whispered, moving forward to take his wife once more into his arms.

“Although I embraced mortality for your sake, meleth nín, a part of my awareness will be here ever,” she explained as she returned his embrace. “I cannot totally leave behind the Elven heritage I have borne all my life, and I, too, must honor those who have ever been greatest amongst Elf-friends. Come now, and meet those whose company you shall ever know!”

She, too, bore a mithril circlet, and now settled it about his brow, even as the Lady Melian was doing for Frodo Baggins, and as another dark-haired individual who resembled both the Maia and Arwen was doing for Bilbo, giving each a kiss of welcome.

“Our Lady Lúthien!” Bilbo appeared greatly gratified at the kiss bestowed upon him. She, too, laughed, reaching out to take him by the hand. A golden-haired elleth was pressing a circlet upon Sam, who was submitting only because he could think of no graceful way to deny such a lady. Bilbo examined her momentarily, and hazarded, “And you are the Lady Nimrodel?”

“Ah--they told me you were a scholar,” she replied, having seen the circlet settled on Sam’s dark golden curls. “Indeed!” She gave Sam a kiss of greeting. “You are well come indeed, beloved Lord Samwise,” she told him. “And so it is with all of you. But, come! The company awaits you!” And all were led to empty seats.

A woman dressed in a feathered cape came before them, leading a blushing Gimli by the hand. “We rejoice to welcome you here, to the company of the greatest elvelloniath in the history of Arda and Ëa. Come, join and meet them--Hador, Húrin, Túrin Turambur, Barahir, Beren, Elros Tar-Minyatur, Inziladûn Tar-Palantir, Tuor, Amandil the Faithful, Elendil the Tall, Gerontius Took, Isildur Elendilion....”

Most were Men, but there were a variety of Hobbits, including Bucca of the Marish and a few of those who’d crossed over the mountains from the valley of the Anduin into Eriador, and even a few Dwarves. Frodo straightened to his full height as he stood before the seat prepared for him, then turned to look up at the Maia. “What Lord Elrond said, there at the Council----”

She looked down at him with love and honor in her eyes. “Indeed so, small lord, you indeed will be ever numbered among the greatest of Elf-friends. Rejoice, as we rejoice to greet and honor you. Now come, and take your seat.”

And so each took his seat, Sam flushing still, Frodo’s face pale save for the bright color of his cheeks, Aragorn with that mixture of competency, pride and humility that was ever his, Bilbo merely delighted and beaming, Gimli somewhat out of his depth with a dazed smile behind his beard.

Hail ever, Elf-friends! they heard spoken deep in their hearts, and as much from their mortal companions as from the immortals who surrounded them.

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