Gift of the Valar - Chapter 23: Summer Love
Summer wore on and as Frodo's 21st birthday approached Chrys remained living with her Uncle Prody, caring for him as best she could, but each day he became more tired and she knew the time was coming when she would have to make her final good-byes.
She and Frodo spent many hours together; under the watchful of eye of Bilbo they spent time expanding their knowledge of Elvish languages and lore. Frodo liked nothing more than to hear the wonderous sound of his beloved's voice as she sang the hauntingly beautiful and soothing melodies of elven ballads, and they often sat together through the quiet Shire evenings learning new songs. Bilbo watched his nephew grow into a confident and self assured adult and was overjoyed to see the many ways the two young hobbits complimented and balanced one another.
When not engaged in study or helping Bilbo with his translations, the young couple frequently went for long walks about the rolling hills and fair meadows of Hobbiton. These walks were closely chaperoned by none other than Sam, an arrangement that suited the good natured hobbit perfectly, and set Bilbo's mind at ease. Bilbo knew there'd be no impropriety as long as Sam shadowed the two lovers.
During one such walk, as the couple meandered through the shady woods near to the river, they planned their betrothal ceremony. Chyrs was a quiet a moment as they neared the old willow tree. "What's wrong lass? You seem so far away today" Frodo said quietly, his eyes showing his concern. "Oh Frodo, each day Uncle Prody grows weaker....he'll not live to see our wedding day I fear." She said, her eyes filling with tears. Frodo carefully squeezed her hand, "I know lass, I wish I had it within my power to delay his departure, but that is not within the power of mere hobbits." he said softly. "Yes, I know ye can't change his leavin', but we could change what he sees whilst he's here" She said and turned her eyes to his impolringly "Let us make the betrothal cermony special for him" she added.
Frodo looked out across the river, he thought of Bilbo's desires to host a large celebration and he looked to Chrys, knowing that her request was from the heart. "Yes" he said firmly "let us do just that, we can have the ceremony the morning of my birthday." He paused and looking a little abashed said "I can think of no better gift to give than my love for all to see" and he blushed. Chrys stood on her tiptoes and wrapping her arms about his neck, brushed his lips with hers, he blushed still more. "That 'tis a wonderful idea Frodo Baggins, I have always thought ye brillant." she said laughing.
Sam interupted "Ye two best be leaving off on this kissing buisness" they guiltily let go one another "Or" Sam continued "Mr. Bilbo and Old Prody won't let ye outta their sights." "Yes Sam, we'll behave" Frodo said with a raised eyebrow and quick look to Chrys "I'd not want my favorite chaparone out of a job" he said laughing as he ruffled Sam's hair.
The morning of Frodo, and Bilbo's birthday, dawned clear and promised to be a full fledged, Shire beautiful, day. The betrothal ceremony was slated for mid-afternoon, to allow time for the birthday celebration that evening. Bilbo had wanted them to invite many of the elders of the community, wanting to quell any lingering concerns about propriety.Yet, Frodo had held firm as they laid their plans and reiterated his reasons during an early breakfast. "Uncle, this ceremony is not to appease the gossips, who will no doubt say what they wish no matter what we show them....but to bring a few moments of our future to light for a friend who will not be here to share it with us. " He paused a moment and then continued as he stared into his Uncle's eyes "Please allow us to share a moment of quiet joy with your friend so that he may imagine the future she will have in this life..... that he may travel to his next in peace."
Bilbo looked to his nephew with tears in his eyes "what's happened to you lad? You've changed from the shy tween who was too nervous to eat my mushroom stew a year ago...why you've grown into an adult hobbit Frodo, and In my heart I worry that you still need so much of the joys of childhood." He shook his head "Am I doing right by you lad? Is this too much, too soon?" Frodo sighed heavily and turned away from his Uncle a moment and walked to the window to collect his thoughts. The silence lingered as the quiet hobbit struggled to find the words to begin. Bilbo was suddenly worried that his questions had struck a chord of truth with the lad and wondered if perhaps the events of the next few hours ought not to be postponed. The elderly hobbit sat quietly at the table, tea posed in front of him, nervously looking anywhere in the room to avoid intruding upon his nephews thoughts.
Frodo turned suddenly and walked quickly back to the table where he knealt down at his Uncle's side and took his wrinkled hand in his his. Bilbo looked into the the blue pools of his nephews eyes, the pain he saw reflected behind the misty gaze was heart wrenching and he caught his breath "Frodo, my dear boy..." he started to say gently. Frodo held up his hand "Let me speak Uncle" he said insistantly, squeezing his hand as he pulled up a chair to sit beside him said "You know how much it means to me, to be here, to be a part of your life? I will be forever grateful that you found it in your heart to take me in." BIlbo tried to speak, but again Frodo silenced him.
"I am, well, I am different from other hobbits Uncle, you well know this....you've seen and lived the events we've endured these last months." Frodo paused. "Yes lad" Bilbo nodded "it's been one frightful experience after another for you these past months" he agreed sadly. Frodo took a deep breath and stared into his Uncle's eyes "Have you not wondered why such events would be brought upon us, upon me over and over? Have you not wondered why I did not die in the face of such pain?" Bilbo felt a chill pass through him as Frodo's stare grew in intensity, until the elder hobbit felt himself drawn to his nephews every word. He scarely breathed waiting for the next words to come crashing over him as he knew they must.
"As I recovered from the drowning" Frodo's voice took on a flat and toneless quality " I wandered in my dreams Bilbo... I wandered through the future. I saw things that will change the world, and while I don't know why, I know that the future will somehow be changed by my presence. 'Lle ne amin'....I am the one Bilbo, the Valar have told me so."
The room was quiet, the silence heavy and opressive as Bilbo stared in awe at his quiet and sensitive nephew. The early morning sun framed him gently and a light seemed to radiate from within. "My dear boy...I ..I don't know what to say." Bilbo was at a loss for words. "Say Uncle? I'm afraid there really is nothing to say any longer, words will not change this road I am to travel. No, there is nothing to say, now is the time to accept." Frodo looked again in the direction of the window. "I am being given a chance to save what I love Bilbo; the Shire and all it's quiet glory will have a future...or at least the chance of a future, If I succeed in the task set before me." He turned back to stare again at his Uncle " I have seen that my future, my life will be short. It seems dear Uncle, that my future is now." He sighed and ran his hands through his dark brown curls " I have been blessed to find a glimse of future happiness with Chrys...our time together may be brief, but the vision of her, the thought that such a wonderous lass wants to link her fate to mine..." Frodo's voice broke as his emotions cascaded from him, he gripped the edge of the table with such force that his knuckles were whitened with it's intensity, his eyes swam in unshed tears. "She's my hope and my light Uncle, I will find my way through any darkness to be with her. Have I not spent enough time wandering alone in my darkness?"
Bilbo wanted to take his nephew in his arms, wanted to reassure him and bring him comfort but found himself frozen to his seat, unable to help his charge through his pain. Frodo stared at his slender hands "The ways of the Valar are not always clear, I'm prepared to risk much to complete the tasks set before me, to travel the path chosen for me, but I must have my hope Uncle. " He looked up, a moment of anquish in his eyes "Do not ask me to cast Chrys aside, for whatever else our future holds...it will hold each other." As Frodo finished his voice took on a calm certainty and Bilbo noticed a look of peace and serenity come over the lad. He got up from his seat and came around the table, grabbing Frodo's upper arms, pulled him to his feet "If it's hope and light you're seeking my lad, I will do all in my power to see that you and Chrys have all the time for all the love you can find." He pulled Frodo into the comfort of a long awaited hug, they stood thus for a long moment....holding onto the love they held for one another.
Frodo broke the hold first and said "Thank you Bilbo, thank you for all your help, your faith and your trust...we shall make you proud" he whispered. "You already have my dear lad, you already have" Bilbo said with a smile. Bilbo turned aside and from the ledge above the hearth he took a beautifully wrapped box, "now then, did you not have a special gift for your lass?" he teased.
Frodo's eyes widened in the shock of his rememberence "Stars Bilbo, I nearly forgot I'd promised Chrys a quiet moment beneath the party tree!" He grabbed the gift from Bilbo's hand and with a last grateful glance towards his Uncle, he bolted boyishly for the door, leaped over the gate and was down the path towards the party tree in a flash.
Bilbo was transfixed by the sight of his serious nephew so caught up in his moment of enthuasism and he knew somehow that this would be his last glimspe of Frodo's boyhood.
Frodo ran breathlessly down the path, leaped two more gates and was at the north entrance of the party field within moments. He paused to catch his breath and found his breath caught up anew in the beauty of his beloved. He slid silently behind the large tree and was entranced by a moment of unsuspecting observation, where his Chrys sang an elven ballad, swaying gently to the music as the sun caught her hair in a spectacle of bronze fire and gold. He closed his eyes a moment and recognized 'the lay of Luithian' as she swayed to the melody. His heart froze and for a moment his resolve waivered. ' Am I doing the right thing?' he wondered 'should I follow my heart or let my mind lead me?' He wanted to rush up and take her in his arms and tell her that all would be as they had dreamed, but he knew he could not offer such assurances. He steeled himself, stepped out from behind the tree and vowed that by his actions he would show her the strength of their future.
"Chrys" he called "Oh there you are my lass" he said as he pretended to be surprised to see her there. "Here I am indeed Mr. Baggins. And where might I ask have you been keeping yerself? I was afraid ye'd given in ta one of Mr. Bilbo's tales and had quite forgotten about me you silly hobbit." He approached her with an unspoken apology written across his face as he took her hand. "Ye'll jest have ta learn that it does not do ta keep a lass waiting Frodo Baggins...it jest doesn't pay ta be late." she said as she wrapped her arms around his neck. "Ah, late, yes" he said grinning smugly as he carefully unwrapped her hands from about his neck and dropped a kiss in her fiery curls...."but for a very good reason" he said mysteriously as he patted the pocket of his weskit and raised an eyebrow at her. "Stop yer teasing Mr. Baggins....first ye keep me waiting, then yer taking pleasure in teasing me...why I ought to...." she said as she narrowed her sparkling eyes...."No" said Frodo " I may want to..." and his lips stopped both their thoughts and words as he kissed her. He kissed her softly, gently, worshipping her fully... a kiss he'd waited a lifetime to find. and to give and when he stopped he found his hands about her trim waist and hers running through his dark unruly curls. He stared a long moment into the warmth of her eyes, memorizing her very essence as she looked to the endless blue of his dancing eyes.
" 'tis that the betrothal gift ye promised me?" she asked as she grinned playfully at him "for if it is, I'd have another ta be certain it's a good fit." she said with a twinkle in her eye. Frodo laughed out loud, he tweaked her nose "you are incorrigible lass, you'll have to see how well we fit at a later time or we shall have all the gossips of Hobbiton camped out at BagEnd." She pouted "Oh very well, consider it a loan then Mr. Baggins...until yer next payment comes due." she said smiling as she laughed, a pert grin lighting up her face.
She broke from the grasp of his hand and sat upon a blanket spread beneath the tree, he followed, feeling suddenly the shy lad once again. He sat beside her. "I did bring you a gift Chrys, I searched to find just the right thing...then Bilbo contacted Elrond and he suggested this..." he said as he handed her the box. She opened it and was astounded to see the beauty of Mithrial and the most wonderous of gem stones intermingled on a simple chain. The pendent was shaped as the sun, firey and delicate in it's mithrial setting. The stone, whose changing angles caught the color of her hair, reflected the miracles of red, gold and bronze that adorned her head.
Chrys gasped " 'tis the most beautiful of gems Frodo...what is it called she whispered as he began to fasten the glasp about her fair neck. "It is amber" he said...."it is revered by Elves for it's healing powers and it's firey spirit. He paused as he took a moment to finish clasping it. He found himself admiring the way that the pendent tried to slip to the secret spaces between her breasts..."just as I feel for you" he added simply. His comments were filled with simple truth as he said "you have brought back my light and my health"
He clasped her hands tightly, as he said "you have been a light to me in dark times, I will love you and you alone until the end of time....." His breath caught in a near sob as his heart was suddenly caught between the pull of two forces....the bright certainty of his today at war with the darkness he knew his path would lead him to. He reached to hold both her hands in his. "Am I being selfish asking you to share a future that seems to hold no promise? I love you" he said stongly."and I wouldn't see you hurt....I'd understand Chrys...if ...if you decided to take up with a quiet,dependable sort of Hobbit lad...one that was more to your liking." he said quietly.
Chrys narrowed her eyes, staring at him with eyes that showed her hurt, her frustration and her anger. He readied himself for her ire, for he know she had a temper. She stood and stared at his readied visual stance and softened in the light of his discomfort . "Foolish Hobbit" she whispered, "ye've gone and ruined me for other lads and don't you go and think for one minute that I'd let you get away from me for you've gone and spoiled me for all others. Where else could I find a hobbit with such spirit, intelligence and compassion....for there is none like you Frodo Baggins." She raised his hands to her lips "and I'll have no other, no matter the cost. You are the path I must follow. You and you alone will lead me to all that is good in this world. She paused meaningfully and stared intently into his eyes "or any other" she whispered. She took his hand and cradled her chin gently within it's confines, molding the smoothness of her cheek to the slender grace of his hand.
Frodo felt all awash with emotions; pride, fear, determination and love flooded through him in equal measures. He was lost to the intensity of his feelings and while his mind sought another venue, seeking desperately to lead him to a rational decision, he followed his heart. "I love you with all that I am or can ever hope to become" he whispered. He cupped her face in both hands and with his heart in his eyes said " I can make this world a better place because I have you with me." He wrapped her, as if she were the most precious of delicate creatures, in his arms and looked briefly to the sky in a moment of secret thanks to the powers above. He was certain that she to had been set upon his path by the Valar and would play a role in the changes to come. He held her but a moment and then with a tender kiss to the top of her head he whispered "be off with you then future Mrs. Baggins, you've a betrothal ceremony to attend in an hour and it wouldn't do at all for the future mistress of Bag End to be tardy for this social engagement."
With a quick squeeze of Frodos' hand and a graceful lingering gaze that told the world of her love, she turned and ran gracefully through the field and back to the Gamgee's. As Frodo made his way back to Bag End, his heart was full...for he knew he had the promise of tomorrow.