The Popular Crowd - chapter 8
Zack awoke feeling unrested on his second morning in Rivendell, thankful that he had been able to get any sleep at all. Even though all their troubles were far away and could not reach them, the hobbits and the Teens had been having trouble sleeping, still unable to shake off the horrors of the past month. Zack figured he had probley gotton at least 4 hours last night. That was pretty good considering the previous evening in which he had only slept a grand total of 1 and a half hours. They had all been so tired when they arrived that one might think that the second they got to Rivendell they'd all just pass out on the nearest couch. Not so, I'm afraid.
The only one who hadn't had any trouble sleeping was Ruby. Indeed she hadn't woken at all since they had arrived. She tossed and turned in her sleep and mumbled sometimes, but none of them could quite catch what she said. Zack tried to remember what Elrond had said was wrong with her. He knew she had been stabbed but he couldn't quite understand why she was still in so much agony when it had been weeks.
All he could remember of Elronds words were that a piece of the blade was still stuck in her shoulder and he had been unable to find it his first attempt. But eventually he would have to try again because if he didn't the blade would find her heart and she would be lost to them forever. She would suffer a fate worse than death. She would be a tortured servant of the enemy for all eternity. That was more than Zack could take in. He had only a month ago found out that such powers were real and now a young lady he had known since 7th grade was battling them. She could not awake and escape her battle, she was trapped in a dark land of constant nightmares.
Putting these thoughts aside, Zack got out of the oversized elven bed and began dressing himself in the new clothes that had been made for him. He looked in the mirror and tried to do something with his hair, but without his gel it was hopeless. He shook his head and decided it didn't matter. Aragorn wore his hair really messy and he had a girl friend. Oh yes, Zack had seen the looks Aragorn gave that one elf who looked a little like that one girl from "That Thing You Do".
So with his hair the messiest it had been since the day he was born, Zack left his room to see if the others were up yet. Danny's Room was right across from his so first he put his ear to the door, hopping to hear Danny getting ready or something. Nothing. He tried Laura's room. Also nothing. He passed by the rooms the hobbits slept in. All four were empty.
Then he tried Ruby's room. He couldn't help but think of the movie "Cheaper By The Dozen" when he opened the door. Frodo was asleep cuddled up beside Ruby, Merry was asleep with his back resting on the frame of the bed, Sam was asleep in a chair beside the bed and Pippin had cuddled up on the very foot of the bed like a puppy.
Zack let out a sigh and leaned up against the wall. How had Ruby been so blessed with such loyal friends? He knew that if he were in her position his friends would pity him and worry but they wouldn't stick by him 24/7 like this. Every now and then Merry and Pippin would leave to get something to eat or to try to get some more sleep, but they were never gone very long. And Frodo and Sam hardly left at all. Only if they absolutely had to.
As Zack was thinking these things, Ruby shifted and moaned a little in her sleep. Frodo awoke and sat up. He studied her face to make sure nothing was wrong. He sighed and gently stroked her feverish fore-head, pushing her dark curls off her face. He smiled at her. A small tear fell from his eye to her cheek, sliding down onto the pillow. He whispered something to her that Zack couldn't hear.
Zack decided he should go before Frodo saw him. But just as he was about to step out, Frodo turned his head and saw him.
Frodo: How long were you standing there?
Zack: Not long. I..I was just checking to see if any one else was awake.
Frodo: Well, I am. But I don't think the others will be waking any time soon. It's been very stressful the past couple days.
Zack nodded and looked out the widow. The sun was shining in and illuminating the whole room. The light reflected off of Ruby's necklace and into Zacks eyes. He had just then noticed the necklace. He had seen it before of course. Ruby wore it nearly everyday as long as he had known her. The chain had two items on it. One was a silver locket, oval shaped, with a unusual design on it. The other was a silver ring with a multi colored stone set upon it. It reflected different colors when shifted in the light.
Zack: Where did Ruby get that necklace?
Frodo turned and looked at the necklace. He played with the locket and smiled then turned to Zack to answer his question.
Frodo: The locket was given to her by her parents when she was born. It has her name and the day she was born written inside of it. And the ring, her mother gave her just before she died. She has only taken it off a few times since then. It's very special to her. Why do you ask?
Zack: Just curious. When is Elrond gunna......you know.
Frodo: He's going to try again tonight. I feel so torn. If he doesn't do it she will become a wraith, only she'll be weaker. If he does it's very likely she won't live through it.
Zack: Oh man! I didn't know it was that serious. Can't we wait and try to find another way to get the blade out?
Frodo: No, the longer we wait the more chance there is of loosing her, either to death or to the enemy.
Zack: Well, that sucks.
Frodo: It does indeed. Zack, I think you and the others should know that the way Ruby has been behaving the past month is very unlike her. She was very stressed about our journey and such. And that's why she was taking it out on you three, so to speak.
Zack: Oh. So, she doesn't always have a look on her face like she's about to grind your bones into dust?
Frodo: No. Usually she's the sweetest lady in the Shire. But she was already angry that we had to leave the Shire just to walk into danger and then you three came and that only made matters worse. But I have a feeling that when she awakes she'll be in a more civilized mood.
Zack: That's good. But we deserved the things she said. We treated her terribly. But, you know, I haven't said this to Danny or Laura yet but since we got here, in Middle Earth, I feel as though a new life has begun. Since arriving here I've been slowly but surly forgetting my life in America. I'm hoping that all of us, me, Laura, Danny and Ruby will be able to forget our past feuds and fights and learn to get along. I mean we're probley gunna be here a while so we may as well try.
Frodo: I'm sure she'll agree with you. She told me that she did feel guilty for the things she'd said to you too. Its like....did you ever see the movie "You've got mail"?
Needless to say Zack was a little shocked to hear those words coming from Frodo of all people.
Zack: You've seen that movie?
Frodo: Oh no, of course not. Bt it's one of Ruby's favorites so I know all about it. There's one part where the Meg Ryan's character said that when she finally was able to say what she wanted to say the moment she wanted to say it, guilt come over her. And she knew that she should have known better than to say what she said. But she was too proud to take it back. That's what's been happening to Ruby the past month. And last I spoke to her about it she felt horrible. I hope you believe me.
Zack: I do.
Pippin: Hoy! What is the time? I'm hungry!
Zack told Danny and Laura about his conversation with Frodo. He told them that from what Frodo said Ruby wasnt the type of person to hold them there against their will. If any thing she probley would send them home if she had the power.
Zack: We need to call off the plan Danny.
Danny: How do you know Frodo isn't lying to knock over our suspicion?
Laura: Frodo? He wouldn't do that. He's the sweetest guy I ever met.
Laura: Yes, Zack. That's right. I think Frodo is more of a gentleman than you'll ever be.
Zack was shocked. No girl had ever said another guy was better than him. At least not to his face. And Laura was the last person he expected it from. He stood up and was about to say the rudest thing he could think of at the moment. But somehow it occurred to him that might not be the best way to win back Laura affection. He had been dating her for a year and he wasn't about to loose her now.
Zack: You're right Laura. I'm not half the man I could be. I'm going to try though. Please believe me.
Laura: Wow! Zack! Um.....Yes, I believe you. Thank you.
Danny: Excuse me. But we still have a problem. Zack says we should call off the plan. I say we go on with it. What do you say Laura?
Laura: I think Frodo and Ruby are telling the truth. I say we completely call it off. If we do it and it turns out we were wrong who knows what they'll do to us. The Ring is more powerful than we thought. Those creatures nearly destroyed Ruby trying to get it. I don't want any of us going any where near it. Using it to get Ruby to send us home could be dangerous even if you are right.
Danny: Well, it's two against one then. All right, you've got your wish. We'll suffer here in Fairy Tale Land at the hands of Ruby, if that's what you want.
Zack: You know what? Part of me doesn't want to go home any way. You know. I feel like when we're here we're more than just a few teenagers our teachers have to put with. I feel like if we grew up and got our act together we could make a difference in the world. Do you now what I mean?
Laura: I really don't.
Zack: Well, I have a feeling that if we stay here much longer you just might.
Frodo sat in a chair beside Ruby's bed. She was lying quietly not moving a muscle as if she knew what was about to happen and was preparing herself. Frodo held her hand tightly and caressed it with his thumb. Any minute now Elrond would enter and once again try to retrieve the blade from her shoulder. Bilbo and the others would come too. They all felt it would be wrong not to be with Ruby on the night that could be her last. Tears fell from Frodo's eyes as he tried to memorize the face of his beloved. With his choking voice he decided to sing to her one last time.
Frodo: She would never say where she came from
Yesterday don't matter if it's gone
While the sun is bright
Or in the darkest night
No one knows
She comes and goes
Good-bye, Ruby Tuesday
Who could hang a name on you?
When you change with every new day
Still I'm gonna miss you...
Frodo was interrupted by the sound of feet walking down the hall. It was time. He laid his hand on Ruby's cheek and whispered.
Frodo: Eru, Father of all, be with my Ruby tonight.
Ruby: Then Captain Hook lost his balance and went tumbling into the ocean where the crocodile was waiting for him. He swam as fast as he could while the crocodile followed. Mister Smee got into a life boat and paddled after him. And that was the last any one saw of Captain James Hook. At least until "Hook" the movie was made.
I said earlier that Ruby was stuck in constant nightmares. That wasn't entirely accurate. Every now and then the darkness would leave long enough for her to have a somewhat normal dream. In this dream she and Frodo were just kids again and were going camping together. They had been telling stories to each other and now it was Ruby's turn.
Frodo: So, what happened to Peter and Wendy and the others?
Ruby had always hated the way "Peter Pan" ended. Loved the story, hated the ending. So she told him how it should have ended.
Ruby: Well, Wendy decided that it was just stupid to even think of going home, where they would have to grow up and all that sad stuff. So she and John and Michael stayed in Never Land forever and ever with Peter and the lost boys. They took over the pirate ship and sailed away together. And they all lived happily ever after .
The thirteen year old Frodo looked at her happily. He seemed to like that ending.
Frodo: Well, done again, Ru. I think that is a perfect way to end such a wonderful story.
Ruby: Yes, all the best stories end with the good guy sailing away to somewhere where the bad guys will never get them. That's the way Huck Finn ended. Thats one of my favorite stories. Except a lot of adults, particularly parents, don't like the ending. It's my favorite part. What, did they expect him to stay? As he said, he'd been there before. He wanted to go places he'd never seen. Where new adventures awaited him.
Frodo: I wish we could sail away.
Ruby: Me too.
Frodo: But where would we go?
Ruby: Away from the things of this world. We'd go to someplace where fairies and elves live.
Frodo smiled at his nine year old friend and ruffled her hair. It was then that they heard the sound of people coming, calling there names.
Frodo Oh no! Its Uncle Saradoc. Come on! Hide!
Ruby: What? I thought you said he knew you were going walking with me!
Frodo: I lied.
Ruby: Oh man! Why do you find it so amusing to run away from Brandy Hall every chance you get?
Frodo: Its difficult to say.
Ruby: Of all the best friends in all the world, I had to get you. The nephew of a dragon slayer!
Frodo: Your the one who said we should have more excitement and adventure in our lives, even in the Shire.
Ruby: No, that was you.
Frodo: Oh yes.
But then the dream ended and Ruby could feel the darkness creeping back. The woods of Buckland shattered like glass right before her eyes and she was surrounded by darkness and cruel mocking voices telling her to give up her fight. They whispered to her that she had no choice, that her attempt to help Frodo was pathetic and useless. Ruby was tired of fighting and part of her wanted to give up and just let them have her.
But every time she came even close to giving in she heard a small but strong voice say to her "Ú-erich leithio" You cannot let go. The voice that she had heard so many times before when she was distressed or frightened or confused was still there telling her not to give up. Not to let her life go. Not to give up without a fight. She would not go quietly. She wasn't done yet. She was going to live on.
Then Ruby felt something really strange. She knew that whatever it was it was happening in the waking world. She could feel herself crying out in her physical form. She suddenly realized what was going on. The blade! The darkness! The nightmares! They were somehow being taken from her. With each day the blade had gotton closer and closer to her heart and now she could feel it being removed. It was painful but at the same time wonderful that she was finally free.
But now that the darkness was gone and Ruby no longer had to fight to keep from becoming a servant of the enemy, she felt her life slipping away from her. She was dying, she knew it. "I don't even care anymore. I'm too tired". She saw he entire life flashing before her eyes. From her birth in the Shire, being somehow taken from Middle Earth to America, being adopted by humans and then going back to Middle Earth again and all the other confusing and adventurous things that had happened in her life to the day she fell into darkness in the arms of her lover.
As Ruby was falling deeper and deeper into death she heard that voice speak to her again. Telling her she had held on too long and come too far to just give in now. She was stronger than that. She just had too hold on a little longer and keep fighting for her life and then she could rest and all would be well. But she wasn't sure if she could. She could feel that in the physical world, they were fighting for her too. It would be wrong for her to die so that all their efforts would be in vain. She saw a small light ahead, shining in the darkness, calling her home.Once again she heard the voice "Rago!" Reach! So, with her last effort she reached for the small light that was ahead of her. The light completly surrounded her and finally it was over. She could feel her heart beating. She felt the darkness leaving her and she was peaceful. And so she felt herself slip into a normal sleep and she continued to dream.
In her dream Ruby opened her eyes and saw that she was in the dinning room of the very hobbit hole where she had spent most of her childhood. It wasn't any thing terribly fancy but it was one of the biggest in Frogmorton. She saw the same family portraits on the wall and the same blue curtains just as the had been there the first day she entered the small but comfortable home.
So she rose from the table and went searching through the halls and bedrooms.
Ruby: Mama! Mama, are you here? It's me, Ruby! I'm home.
Ruby heard no reply. But this was a dream. And somehow in dreams you know if someone should be there or shouldn't. And Ruby just felt some where in her heart that her birth mother should be there. Don't get me wrong. She loved her human mother very much. But right now she needed to talk to a hobbit relation. There was just something about good old fashioned Hobbit sense that no other race could hope to replicate.
So Ruby continued to search the hobbit hole. Finally she heard a voice, familiar, yet strange, calling her. It was coming from the very room where Ruby used to sit and think. She'd stare into the fire place and make a thousand plans for herself. And it was in that room where Ruby's mother, Posie Sandybanks, was sitting peacefully starring at the roaring fire, as if she had never left. She hadn't aged a day. She was wearing the same blue dress she'd been wearing the day she and her only child had been reunited, only to be separated again.
Posie turned to face her daughter and a sweet smile came across her face and her brown eyes sparkled in the light of the fire. Ruby cried out with joy and ran to her mother and encircled her arms tightly around her.
Ruby: Oh Mama! I know this is only a dream but it feels so real!
Posie: I know, my darling, I know. I'm so sorry for leaving you as early as I did.
Ruby: It's all right Mama. You had no choice.
Posie: Well, if I had fought as hard as you did just now I might have had a choice. But lets not speak of that now. Oh sweetheart! I'm so proud of you. No other girl in all the Shire would have the courage to do what you did for your Frodo.
Ruby: It didn't take courage. All it took was love. I was frightened Mama. I was. But I couldn't let Frodo get stabbed.
Posie: Being frightened has nothing to do with not having courage. Having courage is simply about being able to do the thing your frightened of.
Ruby: Well, frightened or not, I did it. And now I'll have to walk through life carrying the wound.
Posie: Don't think of it that way. Think of it as a symbol of just how much you love you're man.
Ruby: I'll try Mother. But I fear the poison of the enemy won't let me think of it so.
Posie: You're stronger than any poison or weapon Ruby. You have Eru on your side. Who do you have to fear?
Ruby: You know in America Eru is called God? Just a little side note there.
Posie: Yes, the Father of All has many names. But no matter which name you call him, he is still the Father, and He will watch over his daughter. Though you and your love literally walk in the shadow of death you have nothing to fear.
Ruby: I'm not afraid of death Mother. I'm afraid I'll fail in helping Frodo.
Posie: You know from what you have learned in America that the Ring will be destroyed.
Ruby: Yes, but at what cost? Frodo is going to have to practically sell his soul for Middle earth. And I cannot handle the idea of him walking around Bag End when its over, having lost his will to live, to love. He'll hide it well enough from the others how miserable he will be. But I will always know. I will have to watch him slowly give in the grief. And then he'll be so miserable he'll leave me alone in Middle Earth. I won't blame him, but what will I do?
Posie: I know what it is like to live without the one you love. Its a worse punishment than any other craft Melkor himself could create. But did it occur to you, my daughter, that things will not be as you fear?
Ruby: That's what I'm saying. The whole reason I'm going with him is to in some way lighten his burden. Make the quest somewhat less horrible for him. If there is any thing I can do to take away even some of his pain, I will do it.
Posie: Blessed am I to have a daughter such as you. Surely God gave you a heart of stronger stuff than that of mine. For I loved your father just as much a you love Frodo. But I fear I have not the warrior spirit you have. But then I never needed to be anything more than a wife and a mother.
Ruby: If only I could live a life as simple as that. But I was cursed with a life more complicated than any hobbit in history has ever lived.
Posie: Don't think of your life as a curse. Remember, your trials make you stronger, bringing you closer to perfection.
Ruby: That's what CS.Lewis said.
Posie: Yes. He was very wise for a human.
Ruby: Well, even if the trials don't make me stronger I'm still going with Frodo. I have to make this journey easier somehow.
Posie: I'm very proud of you, Dear heart, but it is too big of a job for such a little girl to do all by herself.
Ruby: I won't be by myself in it. Dear Sam and Merry and Pip are coming too.
Posie: Yes, and the four of you will take very good care of Frodo. Sam will be there for him when the burden becomes to heavy. Pippin will make him laugh. Merry will keep a clear head for him and you will show him all love can be. But perhaps it will be even better if you brought one more person.
Posie: Or two, or three.
Ruby: Oh, I see where this is going. You can't possibly be suggesting that those teenagers will be of any help.
Posie: Ruby, sweetheart. You certainly don't believe that they were brought here for no reason.
Ruby: Well, I know they are here for some reason. But what help would they be?
Posie: Eru's will has a purpose. You will find it out soon enough. Just be patient.
Ruby: I am patient!!!! I'm just afraid they will do more harm than good.
Posie: I know. But you must give them a chance. Forgive them.
Ruby: I have. Really, I'm too much of a lady to hold a grudge that long. I could have a civilized conversation with them. I think a month ruffing it really did them some good. But where we are going there may not even be a return for them, or me for that matter.
Posie: Well, you wanted my advice. I have given all I can. Whether you follow it or not is your own choice. I can only wish you peace and safety now.
Ruby: Thank you Mama. I guess I really did know what you were going to say. Even though I had to grow up without you, I've always felt I knew you from your diary. I used to read it every night before I went to sleep.
Posie: I know. And its time I was going.
Ruby: Really? I have to wake up now? It hasn't been that long has it?
Posie: Time flies when your dreaming.
Ruby: I guess so. But before you go, are Frodo's parents there too?
Posie: Of course.
Ruby: Well, do they know about me and him?
Posie: They do. Believe me, we have ways of finding out about all the absurd things the two of you have done since we left. But as for the two of you falling in love, they told me and your father just a decade ago that they couldn't have picked a better wife for their son. Yes, you've made him live your crazy life, but you've taken away his pain. For that Prim and Dro are truley grateful.
Ruby: Oh good. I've always been so worried that if they had been alive they wouldn't have very pleased with me.
Posie: We are all very proud of you darling, and Frodo. But now I have to go.
Ruby: All right. Tell Papa I love him.
Posie: I will. Farewell Princess. You had better wake up now. Frodo is worried sick about you.
Ruby: I know. Bye Mama.
If thou art near when life is closing
All joyful shall I fall asleep,
Be thou with me as I awaken,
And claim my soul when I arise
If thou art near when life is closing,
All joyful shall I fall asleep,
Ah, how serene, were thus my passing,
Thy tender hand upraised in blessing
Would sanctify my slumber deep
Be thou with me, as I awaken
And claim my soul when I arise.
To be continued..............