Elements: Dreams of the Dead, Visions of the Living - chapter 5

The Final Element
Infinite Love and the Dreaming Spirit

“Well, Merry, would you just look at that,” Pippin said, admiring the beautifully worked mithril items resting in their little gold caskets.

After passing a goodly time away in the Golden Hall with Éomer King before he passed away that autumn, the cousins left Edoras to spend their remaining days in Minas Tirith, where their names were held in great honor, and their deeds told to a new generation of the children of the Men of Gondor. At every turn, in every shop, tavern or home, they were celebrated. They were not only honored guests and friends to the King and Queen; they were heroes of the Ring War, and had even served as Counsellors of the North Kingdom for many years.

The children of Minas Tirith, the rest of Gondor and Rohan, along with all the villages and hamlets for leagues around had heard tales of these brave little people, the Ernil i Pheriannath and his bold kinsman Meriadoc the Magnificent, whom they were all sure held an office of lordship beside the Ernil in their homeland. In spite of the corrections of those who knew them best, including the royals of both countries, the people had grown so fond of the idea that Sir Peregrin was truly the prince of the halflings that when they passed the tales on to their children, the title stuck. Their deeds had grown in the telling as well, much to the amusement of both Merry and Pippin.

As moved as they were by the treatment received from the citizenry of Minas Tirith, they were yet more moved by the welcome they had received from Aragorn and Arwen, both of them laughing and shouting in a manner many would not regard as being exactly regal. Eldarion, too, greeted them with great joy. In him the best of both sides of his family shone forth, and in him could be seen the bright future of Middle earth.

Upon learning that the hobbits were soon to come to Minas Tirith, Aragorn had sent for Faramir and his son Elboron, in whom, it is said, the very best of Faramir, Éowyn and even Théoden and Boromir was personified, in looks as well as in strength, heart and wisdom. Both hobbits nearly burst with joy upon seeing him once more, for in Elboron the Faithful Star they could see their beloved friends; those still living as well as those now passed on.

Faramir had been overjoyed to see them, and after fond embraces, he proudly beckoned his son to come forward and greet his dear friends. Upon seeing them, Elboron had knelt, bowing his head respectfully. Then, with wide smiles, he and the hobbits embraced one another as kin. The honor of that sentiment was not lost on Elboron, for, like his father, he could read the hearts of those he met. Nor did he ever forget their bravery and loyalty, for he was his mother’s son as well as his father’s.

How he had grown since last they had met! Now tall and fair, in looks, much like the Stewards, Elboron had grown to the fullness of a man, and such a man as to make anyone who loved him proud. His eyes were the eyes of his uncle Boromir, who had inherited their opalescent seawater color from his mother, Finduilas. Though proud, his pride was tempered with understanding. He had the inborn ability to lead men and to inspire in them bravery as well as loyalty. His smile recalled that of his father, as did his understanding of beasts and men, and his love of old tales and history. He was as brave and devoted as Éowyn, as steadfast and thoughtful as Théoden: the flower of all the good in the leaders of Gondor, Ithilien and Rohan. Bold he was, as well, and dedicated to the arts of defending Kingdom, Fief and Principality, down to the last ‘rick, cot and tree’, a phrase learned at his sheildmaiden mother’s knee, and one he often used.

As a brother he was to Eldarion, son of the High King. This pair had grown up as close friends, and Eldarion regaled Merry and Pippin with tales of Elboron’s exploits as a child, saying, “My father tells me Boromir was born full of sauce and never lost the taste for it. Poor Elboron, born with a likewise nature, and poorer still his nurse! Once, when he was visiting, an emissary from Harad was foolish enough to say something rude, and Elboron drew his little wooden sword and called him out. The emissary turned to father and said that Elboron should be thrashed as an insolent pup, and Elboron swung his sword and shouted, ‘Shall you be the one to try?’ Prince Faramir was horrified, but my father smoothed the ruffled feathers and quietly had a guard take us riding. Later, father gave Elboron the horse, and bid him use the bridle on his tongue, should it become wild once more.”

Eldarion and Elboron made quite a pair. The one balanced out the other, Eldarion’s patience and understanding countering the fiery spirit of Elboron, and Elboron’s enthusiasm inspiring Eldarion. Merry and Pippin were glad in the knowledge of the close friendship between the future king and his future steward. With such a one as Eldarion on the throne, and with his Faithful Star to help light the way, all could plainly see before them the promise of a better life for all of their children’s children, no matter what race or place they sprang from.

Gimli and Legolas, too, had come, and upon their arrival, the remnants of the Fellowship took a celebratory meal alone with the Queen and Faramir. As the meal ended and the hobbits filled up the last corner in their stomachs (a considerable feat in itself) Aragorn stood, and, taking a small, ornate box from a silver cart at his side, nodded to Gimli and Legolas, as though to signal something. Arwen took the box from Aragorn and stood. With one slender hand, Arwen motioned for Merry and Pippin to remain sitting, and the others gathered on either side of the hobbits as she placed the box on the table between them. She lifted the lid of the box——a gold box, filigreed and encrusted with green jewels of every shade——and dipped her hands inside the box to draw out a pair of smaller boxes of like workmanship. These she placed before each hobbit, and bade them, “Open them, and receive these gifts made for each of you, as yours, and yours alone.”

Merry and Pippin looked at each other and grinned, for they knew that today was not the birthday of anyone there. These were gifts obviously made in advance of their coming, and must be very special. They opened the smaller boxes, eager as faunts on First Yule morning. As they beheld their gifts, they both gave a hissing intake of breath.

Inside the boxes lay matching collars, one the very twin of the other. These were mesh collars on which white stones had been lovingly mounted, stones that looked exactly like the Tear of Parting.

“Gimli made them,” said Legolas. “Also the boxes that held them.”

“They are mithril,” Gimli said. “The stones decorating the boxes came from the Glittering Caves at Helm’s Deep.”

“The stones on the collars,” Pippin said shakily, “From whence do they come?”

“Ah,” Aragorn smiled, “They are not what they seem. These are not the Tears of Parting made in the far mists of time by your ancestors.”

“You——you know about Pippin’s necklace?” Merry said.

“Faramir, too, bears one of the Tears of Parting,” Arwen said. “As I understand, he was always given to dreams and visions. But when you placed your stone around your neck, Pippin, the magic of the Sidh awoke in Faramir’s stone. Much was seen and learned from Fairy blood and Fairy stone.”

“How——how much?” Pippin said, a worried look on his face. He suddenly felt like a youngster caught keeping secrets of some mischief from his elders.

“We know everything, dear Pippin,” Aragorn said, laughing at Pippin’s demeanor. It called forth memories of a much younger Pippin to him, and his heart swelled with fondness at the memory. “Faramir told us. He knew, from the moment you placed the Tear of Parting around your neck. He knew when you first saw your future wife in your own stone. He happened to be looking into a mirror, just as you were. He told us he cried out with astonishment and joy when he saw you and your stone, but that the image of you faded before you could make out his face. He also learned how you came to receive the stone, and the message that Gandalf left for you in your pocket. He said Gandalf slipped the envelope in your pocket when he embraced you in farewell.”

“I saw other things as well,” Faramir said.

“Oh, dear!” gasped Pippin. He thought of the many times he had done foolish or silly things. Once, he had even caught his own breeches on fire in a misguided attempt to make fireworks. Then there was the time he had accidentally locked himself out of the bathhouse, naked as a newborn, after chasing a pup that had strayed from the barn and snatched Pippin’s towel, running off with his nice, clean towel dragging in the dirt behind it. He had been forced to make a mad dash through the private kitchen in an effort to get to clothing unseen. Which, of course, was futile. Diamond had been entertaining her friends and relations in the private sitting room just by the kitchen, and had to rescue him with a tablecloth. And there were other, far more embarrassing moments. Had his friends been privy to all his worst moments?

Gimli roared with laughter at the worried look on Pippin’s face. “Oh, do not look so alarmed, he saw nothing that you would mind any of us knowing, laddie.”

“He saw one thing in particular, though,” Legolas added.

“Indeed,” said Arwen, placing a hand on the shoulder of each hobbit, as if in comfort.

“That day you saw Boromir look into the Mirror of Galadriel," Faramir said. "You both shared the visions it held for my brother, and I beheld the visions as well, and found much comfort in what I saw. I also heard Boromir speak to you, for he spoke to me also, through our fairy stones. Great was my wonder; greater still, my joy.”

“When Faramir shared your vision, he found comfort, knowing what he knew by the virtue of the Tears of Parting; his and yours. We all found much comfort in it,” said Aragorn. “For we saw that though the Ring took Boromir, it could only take him on his own terms. He saw his doom, and knew the Ring would work its will upon him. Yet he chose a path that would spare him, and all Middle-earth, an evil and lowly end. He went willingly, bathed more in love and honor than in his own blood. As a soldier that charges into the breach, knowing full well that his death is upon him, he went willingly and bravely. In this, he was victor over even the Dark Lord himself. How Sauron must have howled in rage to see Boromir defy him so!”

“Aye, Gimli added. “ He was not so much taken from us, you see. That he gave himself is closer to the truth.”

“Bitter dregs for the Dark Lord to drink,” said Legolas, “A draught on which I believe he surely must have choked. Such a prize Boromir would have been to him! In taking Boromir, He would have crushed the spirits of the men of Gondor, especially Denethor and Faramir, and so won his victory the swifter. For Gondor was the last hope of Men, and Boromir would have made a powerful tool for the Enemy to use at His will. To take Boromir would be to take the very heart of Gondor.”

“’Twas the Lady’s own gift to Boromir, more precious even than his belt of golden leaves,” Faramir said.

“But that is not all of the story,” said Arwen. “For when Faramir shared that vision with you two, he beheld something else. He saw his brother bent over the Mirror, and saw his brother’s tears fall into the Mirror."

"And so into Lothlorien I sent Gimli and Legolas," Faramir said. "And there in the basin of the Mirror lay the stones you now see on these collars, and one more also." Here Faramir paused, pulling his own collar of mithril mesh with its white stone out from under his shirt. "My own fairy stone I have given to Elboron, but around his neck, the Tear of Parting sleeps.”

“The stones on these collars are another kind of Tear of Parting, then,” said Merry.

“Aye,” Gimli nodded. “These, the very signs of the Sidh’s fealty in our hour of direst need, are two of but three stones in all the world. For we learned, through Faramir’s fairy stone, that the magic of the Sidh worked with the light of the Lady’s Mirror to leave these, the stones of Gondor’s Faithful Jewel. Rare gems, and precious they are.”

“Rare and precious, indeed,” said Arwen, “For two who are also rare and precious, themselves, the third belonging to the brother of him who shed them. Three stones, for three who were held dear by the one who shed them, left in the basin of the Mirror of Galadriel, by the Grace of the Valar and the power of the Sidh. For he shed his tears and his blood willingly, and has passed into that fair and distant hall, where, it is said, no tear has ever been shed in sorrow, and no blood spilled. But neither Valar nor Sidh would suffer us to doubt Eru’s wisdom, for Boromir was meant to do as he did, just as you, Pippin, were born to carry the blood of the Sidh on your journey, and you, Merry, were born to help slay the Captain of the Nazgûl. And who roused the Ents, and brought about the fall of Saruman? Sauron in his arrogance proposed, yet it was Eru who disposed, and was surely pleased in the ones He chose to do and to build as He bade.”

"And who saved me from certain death?” Faramir added, giving Pippin's shoulder an affectionate squeeze.

“We have come to believe Boromir knew his choice would rankle Sauron,” Aragorn said, “and add to his troubles, so that he was visited with confusion, doubt and desperation, at least in some measure, and cause him to spring into battle in haste.” Aragorn paused, then with a wolfish grin, he added, “Between Boromir’s choice and your mischief with the palantír, he was right. Splendid strategist, he was. I often wonder if the Enemy did not sputter with anger and frustration at his ill fortune. Had he any hair, surely he must have torn it out by the roots. Who could have guessed that four hobbits and one stubborn soldier could have caused him so much trouble? He could not have foreseen the roles that would be played by Frodo and Sam, with their faith, strength and wisdom, all added to three fellows so alike in their contrary natures as Boromir of Gondor, Meriadoc Brandybuck of Buckland and Peregrin Took of the Great Smials.”

Merry burst into peals of laughter at the puzzlement on Pippin’s face. “Oh, dear,” Merry gasped. “You cannot work out whether or not that was a compliment, can you?”

“You concern yourself needlessly,” Arwen said amid laughter that rang like a little silver bell. “It was a compliment, dear Pippin, given with love, as these gifts have been given with love. We hope you both find them to your liking. Shall we fasten them around your necks, now?”

Pippin’s hand went to his throat. “Yes, please,” he smiled. “As Faramir gave his Tear of Parting to his son, I shall give mine to my own son. He is a Took, after all. It should go to him, and not with me, since he is now the Took and Thain. I shall give it to my son before I pass away, just as Faramir gave his own to his son. But I feel there is something more in it for me, before I let it go, so I should very much like to wear the other, as well.”

With her own hands, Arwen fastened the collars around their necks. She stepped back to admire the gifts adorning their two friends, “More handsome than ever,” she said, and laughed merrily.

After this event, things settled down for a while, and Merry and Pippin were quite content to have it that way. At last they were at their leisure, to do or not to do as they would. Eldarion and Elboron kept them company when duties allowed, for both young men wanted to learn from these old hobbits all they may concerning the Pheriannath. Much of the time, they were left to do as they pleased. Pippin often spent time attempting to finish his carvings, but the little figure still refused to take the shape of either Merry or Pippin.

One winter evening, Pippin sat with his carving while Merry dozed in a chair nearby, an old map in his lap. Pippin sat staring at the carving, puzzled by his inability to make it take the shape of one or the other, of Merry or himself. Why, it was as if his Sidh blood was trying to tell him something, but he could not guess what that might be. He yawned and closed his eyes, caressing the wood of the unfinished piece with his thumb, and felt himself slipping off into a dream.

He felt himself drifting, floating weightlessly in some unseen current of…what? Water? Air? Light? No, none of those things, but exactly what made up the current he could not have said, for there seemed to be no word for it. Feeling a kind of pressure and warmth on the bottoms of his feet, he realized he must be standing on something. He opened his eyes and looked down. Sand, he was standing on sand, fine and snow-white, and strewn all about in the sand lay every kind of jewel, from diamond to pearl and beyond; some of them he did not recognize, and knew somehow they were not of this world. All about him shone the purest white light, and he could hear music, like no music that had ever fallen on mortal ear.

“You’ve come, at last!”

Pippin turned.

Boromir…it was Boromir! The bitterness of his inability to recall Boromir’s voice as well as his laugh and his face dissipated like fog in the bright sun. The sweetness of familiarity regained washed through him. He suddenly realized that he was young again.

“Oh, dear, I see now that you have yet to come,” Boromir said.

“What?”

“It is not yet your time,” Boromir said. “You are in a kind of dream, given to you by the Tear of Parting. Or perhaps it is my own dream, given by my own stone.”

“Do you dream?” Pippin asked.

“Why, of course.”

“Of what do you dream?”

“Many things, even things for which there are no words.”

“That is no answer,” answered Pippin.

Boromir only laughed, and then asked, “What would you have me tell you, then?”

“Only, just what is it you dream of? If you have not a simple answer, then just tell me what the best dreams are about.”

“Well, the best dreams are the ones in which I am dying,” Boromir said. Only there was something wrong with his voice. He didn’t sound like Boromir, he sounded like…

“Merry!” Pippin cried, waking with a start. The sun had gone down and the room was now almost completely dark, save for the glowing of the coals banked in the brazier.

The boys that served as their pages heard Pippin cry out. Plainly this was a cry of distress; a high, quavering keen filled with despair, or something very like it. They rushed into the room, having abandoned their posts outside the door. They had been warned that this could happen. In their haste, the youngsters had rushed into the room without a light, thinking that the halflings would have lit their lamps by now. The older boy quickly snatched an unlit torch from a sconce beside the door of the inner chamber and lit it by thrusting the end of it into the banked coals of the brazier. The torch sputtered, flickered, and then the flame burned more steadily. The coals in the brazier gave little light, and the lamp that normally lit the room had burned itself out, meaning the halflings must have fallen asleep while reading and carving. The torch burned brighter, painting shadows on the walls and floor. In the growing light the youngsters saw that the Ernil knelt on the floor beside his kinsman, holding Sir Meriadoc’s hand pressed to his crumpled, weeping face. The map that Sir Meriadoc had been studying had spilled onto the floor and lay half-curled beside his foot.

The older of the boys knelt beside Sir Peregrin and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. The aged halfling trembled beneath his touch. He sobbed deeply, yet nearly soundlessly, as if sure that his body would simply shatter should he attempt to speak. The older page turned to the younger, and, with tears coursing down his cheeks, said, “Have a guard notify King Elessar. Sir Meriadoc has passed away.”

Less than a month later, Pippin took the Tear of Parting from around his neck. He had finally seen the last magic in the stone he had been waiting for. He placed the Tear of Parting in the little golden casket that had held his gift. He held the little box for a moment, understanding that he would not see this precious symbol of his family legacy again. He placed the little casket into the larger gold box, and beside the smaller gold casket, he placed the little wooden box that held his carvings and his knives, along with a letter explaining everything to his son. Beside the letter he placed yet another letter——the one Gandalf had slipped into his pocket those many years ago. He gave these items to a page, the very same one that had held the torch that terrible day, and instructed the boy that it was to be sent to the Thain of the Shire with care and haste.

It was the sixth day of Rethe, by Shire reckoning, Súlimë the sixth, by the King’s calendar, the anniversary of the Breaking of the Fellowship and the death of Boromir, when Pippin received confirmation that the box had been received at the Great Smials. Aragorn and Faramir brought the news to Pippin themselves, and the three sat beside the fire, sharing a flask of red wine.

“The years may come and go,” said Aragorn, refilling Pippin’s goblet himself, “But not a year passes that I do not remember this day.”

“Nor I,” Pippin said, and lifted his goblet.

Faramir said nothing, but raised his cup in salutation; eyes misted with tears unshed, for the men of Minas Tirith seldom weep, and bought their tears dearly.

Aragorn raised his cup as well. “To Boromir,” he said softly.

“To Boromir,” Pippin said. “They will be waiting, you know. Merry and Boromir, they will be waiting for me. My darling Diamond will be waiting too, with Estella and Éowyn. I am afraid they shall not have much longer to wait. You must make sure my Faramir knows my thoughts lie with him. Be sure he knows how much I love him, and remind him that he must use the Tear of Parting with great care. I have asked him if he would mind finishing my carvings. I should like them to go to the museum at Michel Delving, when they are done.”

Aragorn said nothing, but only looked into the fire and nodded sadly.

“Faramir, do be sure that Elboron understands what the Tear of Parting is," Pippin said. "You must be sure he understands fully it’s powers as we know them, and warn him that it may have powers unknown, as well. Though it sleeps now, it may awaken some time. And we cannot guess how much power it might hold for him. I have written my son and warned him that while the stone still spoke clearly to me, I learned that its power may wax with one and wane with another.”

Faramir did not speak, but only sighed deeply.

Again, Aragorn only nodded.

“I am very tired,” Pippin said wearily.

Aragorn still said nothing, but only nodded again.

“I looked into the Tear of Parting, once, and beheld the world as it will be far in the future. I did not care for what I saw. There were not enough wild, green places left. Everywhere there were machines and devices I did not understand, nor care to understand. There were wars, always wars. So much hate, so much anger. Oh, there was good, as well, and I knew it was wondrous, for good to keep striving against evil for so long. But it was not a world for hobbits, I fear. Men were everywhere, though I saw none of the other races. Not so much as a sign of a hobbit. No, it was not a world for the likes of me, my friends. The world will be quite mad, someday. I am glad I shall not be around to see it. I do not envy the elves in that regard——nor men.”

Yet again, Aragorn spoke not, but only nodded his head.

“I am very tired,” Pippin said again. Faramir, silent as well, sat next to Pippin and took his empty cup, setting it aside along with his own. Pippin leaned gently against Faramir, a habit he acquired during the days of the Fellowship when he had taken to leaning against Boromir. He had found that this calmed Boromir’s worries somehow, and gave the man comfort, though he must have thought the reverse true—that Pippin must have leaned on him to comfort himself. Pippin had never thought it necessary to correct Boromir’s assumption, and smiled a little at the memory. Leaning now on Boromir’s brother, Pippin looked at Faramir as if grateful, seeming to explain a need for comfort, and Faramir smiled sadly and gently. Faramir could not have known that Pippin now asked for comfort with this small gesture where he had given it many years ago. Pippin nestled closer, seemingly reassured, closing his eyes with a sigh: a weary wanderer resting his tired head at last.

Aragorn rose and lifted Pippin from his place beside Faramir, laying him gently on the bed. For some time, a king and a prince knelt at the bedside of an old hobbit. Each held Pippin’s small hands tenderly, heads bowed. At last, Aragorn stood, and stepped out of the chamber. Turning to the new page that waited there, he whispered, “Minas Tirith grieves. Sir Peregrin has passed away.”

The page stood frozen in his tracks for a moment before scurrying off to deliver the news to Queen Arwen and the herald, for he had never beheld the tears of a king.

So, thought Pippin, I wonder if this is that far, green country Gandalf spoke of. Well I must say, it surpasses even my most wonderful fancy of the place, and I have yet to leave the shore. Look at all the gems sparkling. Gimli would dance with joy at the sight. Now, where to, where to? Ah, I see a footpath!

Pippin followed the little path up to higher ground. Before him lay a vast field, covered with grass so soft, so green, that he might be treading upon emerald velvet. On either side of the path grew flowers of unearthly beauty. In the distance, he heard birds singing songs of impossible beauty and clarity. The path grew steeper as he approached the hills a short distance away. From a distance, he heard music, enchanting and clear. He hurried along, eager to find the source.

He saw the place on the horizon as he topped the crest of one of the higher hills. There at the top of the highest hill, at the feet of distant mountains, he saw it: a great hall, made of white stone that gleamed like diamonds and pearls in the sun, and beside it a silver river singing. As he approached a tall gate, he heard the clear, sweet sound of bugle and bell, and the gate swung wide. A tall figure stood waiting, arms open in welcome.

“At last! This time, you really have come. Welcome home, dear Pippin!” Boromir said, and he knelt and embraced Pippin warmly.

Pippin wept with joy, but only briefly. He had too many questions to ask. “Am I dreaming again? Or is this really happening? Where are the others? I was certain they would be here,” he said. “I am eager to see my Diamond, and Merry, too. Is this the far green country? Or is this a different place than the one Gandalf spoke of? Why are none of the others with you? How did you know I was coming? Is that your Tear of Parting? How is it you managed to bring it with you? Is this your home now? Will I have my own home? Or do we share this place? Why are you laughing?”

Boromir at last catching his breath after such a fit of laughter said, “So many questions! We have all been eager to hear you ask them, and eager, too, to give you what answers we have to give. Come, they are all waiting! They did not come with me because it is my blessing to be the one to greet you all, since I was the first to depart. Much has been done to make ready for us, and we have our own special place, made just for those of us who strove against the Dark Lord.” He rested his hand on Pippin’s shoulder as they walked toward the great hall on a path of purest gold. Inside the hall was an open space, graced with a fountain whose waters shone silver-blue.

“Oh, my,” said Pippin, “There, by the fountain, that looks like the Mirror of Galadriel!”

“It does bear a resemblance to it, yes, but it is not,” Boromir said. “You see, in this place, wonderful things happen, without one having to do anything to make them happen. I had been dreaming of my living loved ones, and I happened to wish I had a way to see them, and the mirror simply appeared. One moment it was not there, the next it was. It was in this Mirror that I saw you, Merry, and Faramir, that day you were given the vision concerning my choice. As for my Tear of Parting, I do not think the one I have on now is the same one I had in life. That one, I believe, rests with my mortal remains, wherever that shell that held my spirit now rests. This one is a kind of reflection of it, as is my gold belt. You shall see many such things. That is not to say they are not real; they are as real as we are.”

“I am glad you spoke of your choice, because I have always wanted to know something about it,” Pippin said. “Was there no other way?”

“Of course there were other ways, as well you know, but they would not have been good ways.”

“I understand, I do. I only wish there had been another way. It seems so very unfair. I do not understand why it had to be that way.” Pippin stopped and faced Boromir.

“My dear Pippin, it did not, in fact, have to be that way, as you put it. I was shown the paths I might have taken, and I made my choice. ’Twas of my own free will I made my choice. Well I know the pain it brought to those dearest to my heart, yet had I taken any other way, all I loved would have fallen into unending darkness and despair.” Here Boromir knelt and laid a hand on Pippin’s shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze to emphasize what came next.

“Do you imagine,” he said gently, “I could have chosen otherwise? Nay, I could not. Had I done nothing, as you know, we all would have been killed except for you halflings. Had I taken that choice, my dignity and pride would have remained intact, but what good would that have been, when the world would have gone to ruin? Had I taken the Ring, your friend would have been dead anyway, for I would have become a stranger to you, foul, corrupt and evil, and through me, all would have been destroyed, leaving in my wake a world of ash and blood and horror.”

“So you had to pretend to let the Ring take you?”

“Oh, dear,” Boromir stood, beckoning Pippin to go with him. “Come,” he said, "and sit by the fountain with me a moment.” Pippin followed him to a bench by the fountain and sat beside Boromir, who placed his arm around Pippin’s shoulders. “Dear, dear Pippin,” he sighed. “I did not pretend to let the Ring take me.”

“But…”

“You see, Frodo would have known had the threat not been real. The Ring had sunk its fangs in me, and even in Laurelindorenan, the poison from that bite was coursing through me. The Ring would take me, I knew. I could not fight it. It worked its madness on me, and I knew there was little I could do, as if I had a fatal illness. Yet, I did not say there was nothing I could do, only that there was little I could do. I chose not to fight it. I would bide my time, and when the hour was right, I would let it do its worst, and only resist once I had accomplished my goal, to see Frodo break away from the Fellowship and meet his destiny. My pride would suffer, I knew. But what is the pride of one man against the fate of the world? And so I let the Ring take me, and met my own destiny, which was to be the first here, to make ready for the time when we would all be together again.”

“You are the Steward of this place, then?”

Boromir laughed. “There is no need for a Steward here, my dear halfling. Nay, this is my reward! My reward is in being here, waiting for you all to come home, and greeting you all as you do so. And now, I would have us go on to see the others——Diamond and Merry, Éowyn and Éomer, and Théoden, too. And there are others that you never met, like Théodrid. Do you not hear them? Come, my friend, we rejoice! Only a few more do we await. I shall greet my Faramir next! Arwen and Aragorn shall come after.”

He rose and offered Pippin his hand, and as they approached an arch gleaming with opals and pearls, Boromir said, “Close your eyes, and let me lead you now. There is a surprise awaiting you!”

Pippin held Boromir’s hand and allowed himself to be led for a while, now guided one way, now another, until Boromir stopped. “Open your eyes—now.”

They had made their way near the silver river. There, lining a shady pathway on one side were… hobbit holes? Yes, they were hobbit holes! And such hobbit holes they were, nestled amid sumptuous gardens filled with verdant and fragrant blooms undreamt of in the wildest imaginings. They surpassed by far even the Great Smials and Brandy Hall in beauty and luxury. One of the doors—a red one—opened. Through it came Diamond. She threw herself into his arms, and once more Pippin wept with joy. Gone were all traces of the illness that had consumed her, and she shone more beautiful than ever she had in life, and in her joy, she laughed more sweetly than ever she had while she lived.

And then another door opened, and from that hobbit hole came Merry and Estella, and Pippin’s joy expressed itself in clear, high laughter as he embraced his cousins. Pippin bounced on the balls of his feet as he patted Merry’s shoulders again and again, as if to confirm that his dearest friend really was there, and not an illusion, however pleasant. Pippin gazed joyfully at the broad smile on Merry's face. He saw Merry wore his collar around his neck, and Pippin raised his hand to his own throat to find that he wore his own collar.

“Faramir shall have his, too,” said Boromir. “Tears of Parting they may resemble, but they are not. These were the Tears of Promise, given me as a sign that I chose well, and left for the brother of my flesh, and two brothers of my heart.” Then Merry took one of Pippin’s hands and Diamond the other, and they led him further down the path. Boromir walked behind them, resembling a herding dog with his sheep. His hand rested on Pippin’s shoulder as though to hurry him along. At last, they stopped before the last hobbit hole.

Pippin could not believe his eyes. This one enjoyed a bright green door. The door swung wide, and out stepped Bilbo, Frodo, Sam and Rosie.

“Now, cousin,” Frodo laughed. “It was only Valinor and the elves that were undying! This is not that far, green country, for it is not bound to the world. You did not think we would be excluded from this place, did you? No, even Valinor is not so wonderful as this place!”

But so great was Pippin’s joy that he could not speak, for his heart felt as if it would burst, so full of happiness it was. He embraced Frodo so enthusiastically that Frodo nearly lost his footing. Sam and his Rosie with Bilbo surrounded Pippin with joyful embraces and thumps on the back. The laughter of hobbits filled the air. Pippin heard Boromir laugh as well, and turning, embraced his friend again, so great was his joy. He saw Boromir’s face alight with happiness in seeing the hobbits reunited at last. From the look on his friend's face, Pippin understood now what Boromir had meant when he had said that this was his reward, for Boromir's face shone with white light, clear and pure.

But he was still Peregrin Took, full of inquisitiveness and still unquenchable. He tugged at Boromir’s sleeve, and, looking up at his friend, he asked, “What of your father, Boromir? Does he know at least some measure of peace?”

Boromir knelt beside him once more, and patted Pippin’s shoulder affectionately. “My dear Pippin, I never doubted you would ask after him. When I first came here, I did not have this place. I was sent to another place, a place much like a house of healing. There I dwelt for a while, until my heart was healed enough to be sent here and start my true work. Others, I was told, would bide a while in that healing place before they came. Bilbo first, and then Frodo, soon followed by his Sam. We were there but a short while. My father, I fear, will take some time longer, for he bore many wounds of the spirit, but I am assured he will be healed. My mother, too, dwells there with him, so he is not alone in his suffering, for my mother died of a broken spirit and a broken heart. She, too, I am assured, shall be healed in time.”

“Assured? By whom?”

“Why, by Him who made us all, of course!” Boromir said with surety. “And now, if it so pleases my friends, let us join the others in the courtyard, for they are all eager to see you once again. I know you can hear the music, but can you not smell the feast?” He laughed, seeing the eagerness in Pippin’s eyes. Even in this wonderful place, hobbits were, after all, still hobbits.

And so at last was Peregrin Took reunited with his lost loved ones, also meeting some whom he had only heard of, Théodrid, and Éomer’s queen, Lothíriel, among others. Even Ioreth was there, no longer aged, but as young and fresh as spring, as graceful and beautiful as she had been in her youth.Beregond, along with so many who served in the War of the Ring, too, dwelt in this most perfect of places. He knew the greatest of joys in that place, where blessings are so great, varied and many that no words, known or unknown, can tell, for none exist that can name them all.

The riddle of the dreams of the dead was solved when he dreamed of his own death, for in that dream, he could see his life as it stretched out behind him, yet also could he see an eternal life filled with infinite love ahead of him in this perfect place of perfect repose and perfect joy. Boromir had been right. Those were the best dreams he had ever had. Faramir arrived next, and though Boromir went alone to greet his brother, Pippin found he could actually feel their joy. It would be a while yet before Aragorn joined them, and then Arwen, for she had surrendered her immortality and so could find the blessings waiting to be shared with her husband.

Pippin was not sure if there was such a thing as time in that place, yet it had moments, as if there was a sense of time. Upon one occasion, as he and all his friends here rested around the fountain, listening to Ioreth sing while Estella, Diamond, Rosie and Éowyn danced around the fountain, he found himself near the Mirror, with Boromir, Faramir and Merry. Pippin decided to look into the Mirror, to see what he might see, and reflected in the water were the faces of all who wore a silver collar adorned with a white stone, Boromir with his Tear of Parting, Merry, Pippin, and Faramir with the Tears of Promise. As they gazed into the Mirror, their faces faded, and instead, they saw two other very familiar faces.

And in the Great Smials, Faramir Took placed the last of the little wooden figures into the box his father had decorated with the symbol of the White Tree. They were finished at last, first the one of Merry, and lastly, the one of his dear Papa. He would take them to Michel Delving, himself. He stood and stretched, as if he had been napping, though actually it was the carving that did it; he could never remember actually doing the carving. The wood seemed to simply reveal the figures by itself. He placed the little box on his desk and stretched once more. Smiling, he touched the white stone at his throat. “Hullo, Papa, I can feel that you are watching!” Faramir laughed, and then went to a large mirror by the door of his study. Looking into the mirror to admire this beautiful and remarkable heirloom, he caught a glimpse of something in the reflected stone in the collar. “Hullo, Elboron,” he said.

“Greetings, Faramir! How fare you today?”


finis



author's notes


Descendants of the House of Húrin

Húrin of Emyn Arnen :

Pelendur

Vorondil

Mardil Voronwë

Eradan

Herion

Belegorn

Húrin I

Túrin I

Hador

Barahir

Dior Rian

Denethor I

Boromir

Cirion

Hallas

Húrin II

Belecthor I

Orodreth Morwen

Ecthelion I (one generation)

Egalmoth

Beren

Beregond

Belecthor II

Thorondir

Túrin II

Turgon

Ecthelion II House of Dol Amroth

Denethor II === Finduilas

House of Eorl

Boromir Faramir === Éowyn

Elboron

Barahir

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