A Yule gift to all, and particularly to Ainu Laire and CuriousWombat for their birthdays. Joy to all!
Frodo and Sam returned to door to the guesthouse they shared, there on the edge of the great gardens north and west of the city of Avallonë. It was a beautiful night, slightly chilly, but not uncomfortably so.
Sam looked up, his face alight with appreciation for the beauty of the stars. “It’s been a long time,” he said softly, “since I saw the stars like this. Not since we left Rivendell, I’m thinkin’.”
You are right, Sam, Frodo returned. But then it is Yule, and we Hobbits don’t usually see that much of the night sky in midwinter, do we? Between fear of sudden winter storms and our love of being comfortably warm, we are usually under cover on the nights when these stars might be visible. I remember traveling to Buckland for Yule and looking up at their beauty, and imagining that I was the only one anywhere to appreciate their loveliness during December.
Sam took a deep breath, smiling gently as he nodded his understanding. Then he looked at his companion curiously. “I thought as you couldn’t count time proper here in the Elven lands,” he commented.
Frodo’s laugh was delightful. I can’t. But we were invited to a solstice celebration, if you will remember. And the solstice celebration is held on Yule. His own smile broadened. It’s the only way I can begin to keep track of what time of year it might be. I can remember every solstice celebration I’ve attended, but can’t keep track of time at all. Isn’t it odd?
“They call it Mettarë in the King’s cities,” Sam commented. “We’ve spent a few now with Strider, once in Gondor and several times in Annúminas. And there was one time, there after we come home with little Tolman, accompanied by Strider and the Lady Arwen and their family and all, we had a most interestin’ Second Yule sunrise. Snowballs--all of us, Strider, Pippin, Merry, and me-- we was all hit by them! And no one ever saw the one as threw’em. We just heard him laugh, and saw as where he’d woke, there in the middle of the pavement.”
Frodo’s face lit with joy. Then it wasn’t but a dream!
“You thought as it was but a dream?”
There was snow on my feet....
They shared a smile that deepened, and their Lights flared. They turned toward the gardens, and followed the path to the White Tree. Frodo looked to his companion in question. “No, you first,” Sam said. Frodo smiled, then reached toward the trunk.
Returning from the lighting of the Mettarë fires, the King Elessar and his beloved Queen paused by the White Tree of Minas Anor even as the Sun began rising over the mountains to the east. The King laid his hand on the trunk, then his tired smile brightened.
In the Shire Frodo Gardner and his older sister crept out of Bag End, leaving the rest of their families asleep. Together they walked down to the Party Field and the mallorn that grew there, a feeling of excitement growing between them.
“I hope that they are together,” Elanor said softly.
Frodo nodded. “I am certain they will be. This is one time of year that our Sam-dad always counted on knowing that Uncle Frodo would be there.”
Still, they shared an uncertain glance between them before first Frodo and then Elanor reached toward the silver trunk....
Sam watched the brother of his heart gently lay his hand on the rind of the Tree, then pause, a bright smile lightening his features. They are there! Frodo shared.
Quickly the gardener reached forward, and immediately sensed his two eldest and the King’s presence. “Well, and if’n the Queen ain’t there, too!” he murmured with pleasure. “Yule greetin’s, all of you!”
“Joy to you, my blessed friends,” Aragorn said. He looked to his wife. “Apparently the family has gathered about Sam for Yule. And Frodo is joyful to notice that, I think. His presence is so strong and happy this morning.”
Arwen nodded, but her eyes were distant as she felt for other presences she seemed rarely to sense. No, her parents and grandmother seemed to leave the White Tree mostly to Frodo.
Her husband divined her sadness, and shifted his hand to touch hers.
“The Lady Arwen is sad,” Elanor said. “But Uncle Strider is with her, and is glad we are here for Daddy.”
“He thinks Da’s still here,” Frodo noted.
“We’ll have to tell him when he comes north in the spring,” Elanor said.
He nodded before whispering, “I’m glad you’re together, Da, Uncle Frodo. We love you.”
Above them on the Hill the door of Bag End opened. “Dad?” called Holfast. “Shall we start preparing first breakfast? You have a number of impatient faunts waiting for you!”
Brother and sister laughed ruefully. Sending one more regretful thought of love to the others who stood beneath their own trees, they pulled away.
There--their lives are full, Frodo shared in thought with his friend. I rejoiced every time I felt you called away, knowing that indeed you were living as I could not, not there in the Shire. His attention returned to the one hand he still felt in the King’s City. They are not here, not on Tol Eressëa, he tried to reassure her. They do their best to keep watch over you in thought from afar, even as once you kept such a watch over your beloved, but their pain is still so new. Know this--they will never stop loving you. They will never stop caring for the welfare of you and your children--never. And the pictures you sent----
But a great Light could be seen approaching, and Frodo’s mouth opened in surprise and delight. Feeling the touch on the White Tree of Minas Anor grow tentative prior to pulling away, he thought vehemently, No, my Lady! No--wait but a moment! Please!
Arwen was about to pull away from the Tree, her eyes downcast, when she stopped, raising her face in confusion.
“What is it, my most beloved?” her husband asked her.
“He does not wish me to leave as yet,” she murmured, glancing uncertainly at him.
“He is aware of you?”
“Yes! Sam’s children have pulled away, but he remains beneath his own Tree, apparently. But both are growing increasingly excited. Excited and pleased--very pleased, in fact!"
He withdrew his hand from hers, and returned it to the trunk of the Tree. Yes, there was no question that Frodo was most pleased about something, and pleased to sense the return of his attention, although the Hobbit’s own attention was mainly fixed upon something approaching him.
And then he and his wife both felt....
Ion nín--sell nín--are you there? Do you realize how very, very much we love you?
And among the other presences there was one of which the Queen had been bereft for far, far too long.
“Oh, Naneth!” she murmured. “You are well--well and happy! How glad I am! How very glad I am!”
And he who had been Aragorn son of Arathorn smiled as he saw the tears of joy that had sprung to his Evenstar’s eyes.