The Popular Crowd - Chapter 9
Recap: The Hobbits and the Teens are safely in Rivendell. Elrond successfully removed the blade from Ruby's shoulder the night before.
Frodo awoke, still sitting in the chair beside Ruby's bed with his head rested upon the matress. He blinked and sat up. And then, to his surprise, Ruby was sitting up, resting against her pillow, biting her nails, as always.
Ruby: Good Morning Sunshine......................You look terrible.
Frodo jumped up and hugged her tightly. To his surprise Ruby pulled back and looked at him strangly.
Ruby: What was that?
Frodo: What was what?
Ruby: I save your life and all I get is a hug? If I remember correctly this is the part of the story where the hero kisses the lady. I've been getting a little impatient here.
Frodo: Of course. How silly of me.
Ruby laughed playfully and wrapped her arms around his neck as the two of them kissed and slowly pulled back and smiled.
Frodo kissed her again. Ruby held him in her arms. A small tear fell from her eye. Though she had been asleep, she was aware of how much time had passed, and she had desperately missed her hero. But she tried not to think sad things. She suddenly remembered the teens and wondered how the three of them had handled the whole affair.
Ruby: Those kids haven't been causing trouble, have they?
Frodo: Do you mean Merry and Pippin or Danny, Zack, and Laura?
Frodo: No. No trouble. Except we were all worried about you.
Ruby: Ah. I feel so loved.
Ruby smiled playfully. She was about to start biting her nails again when Frodo took her hand in his and studied her nails.
Frodo: Well, it looks like you've picked up that horrid habit again.
Ruby: What! You do it.
Frodo: Yes, but you quit it a long time ago.
Ruby: Oh, I only quit because I was told it wasn't attractive to men. Why are we talking about this anyway? I'm in a good mood. Don't you spoil it!
Frodo: But how does your shoulder feel?
Ruby hadn't even thought about it till then. She put her hand on her right shoulder and she could feel the bandage wrapped around it. It didn't really hurt that much. It was just strangely cold. She looked at her right hand. It was slightly more pale than the other.
Ruby: I guess its all right. Where is Gandalf?
Frodo: He will be back soon. I think he just went to speak with Lord Elrond for a moment.
Ruby: Oh. And the others?
Frodo: Still asleep I believe.
Ruby: Oh good. So, its just me and you. Now shut up and kiss me!!!
Frodo happily obeyed, but just at that moment Gandalf walked in. They stopped kissing and turned to face him. He just shook his head and sighed.
Gandalf: Yes, I am here. And you are lucky to be here too, after all the absurd things the two of you have done since you left home.
Ruby: What can I say, Gandalf. I'm an imp.
Gandalf told Ruby what had happened. Ruby already knew everything of course, but listened intently. Once Gandalf finished telling the tale, Ruby fell back into a deep untroubled sleep, free of the dark nightmares that had haunted her the past three days.
She awoke not too long later. And before she knew it, Frodo and Sam were leading her to the others and talking her ear off about all the things that had happened the past few days and about how lovely Rivendell was. Ruby was amazed at every thing she saw. It was even better than she had imagined. And that's saying something cause she had quite a imagination. Everything was just so big and beautiful. Perfect was a understatement.
Merry and Pippin greeted her happily. The Teens were happy to see her as well but were too cool to show any sign of it. They each gave her a smile and told her they were happy she was all right, but that was it. Ruby didn't mind. She was too happy to mind anything at the moment.
They went in to the feast happily altogether again. Ruby walked beside Frodo with her hand in his. Ruby took a seat beside Frodo. Frodo and Ruby noticed the dwarf that was sitting on Frodo's right and they stopped eating to look at him. He noticed them and stood and bowed.
Gloin: Welcome and well met! Gloin at your service.
Frodo: Frodo Baggins at your service and your family's. Am I right in guessing that you are the Gloin, one of the twelve companions of the great Thorn Oakenshield?
Gloin: Quite right. And do not ask, for I have already been told that you are the kinsman and adopted heir of our friend Bilbo the renowned. And you, madam, must be his lady.
Ruby: I am. Ruby Baggins, also at your service.
Gloin: Allow me to congratulate you on your recovery.
Ruby: Thank you very much.
Ruby suddenly realized she had called herself "Baggins" with the Teens present. She giggled a little. She slowly turned her head toward the place they were sitting. Yes, they had heard. They were all three sitting starring at her with wide eyes. She laughed under her breath at them. She lifted her left hand and pointed to the ring sitting on her finger. How had they not noticed it? There it was: a wedding ring right in plain view and they hadn't noticed. Ruby laughed in her throat at them and then turned her attention back to her, can you believe it, husband.
Zack: This has got to be some kind of joke.
Laura: I have a bad feeling its not.
Danny: That girl is just full of surprises, isn't she? This can be no trick!
After the feast they followed Elrond and the elves to the Hall of Fire. Where they were to hear many songs and tales, if they could keep awake. It was there that Ruby saw dear Bilbo again. Ruby was just as fond of Bilbo as Frodo was. From the time she was a small lass she had loved to listen to Bilbo's tales. Before Bilbo left the Shire, he had been completely supportive of Ruby and Frodo, though many of Frodo's other relations had advised him not to marry her. They had hoped he'd marry a normal hobbitess who would knock some sense into him. But no, Frodo married a lady who had even less normal hobbit sense than he did, if that was possible. Bilbo was very happy for the two of them, obviously.
So, while Frodo and Ruby and Bilbo and Sam listened to songs and tales and all that jazz, the Teens had there own little conference thingy in Danny's room.
Danny: It was right there all along and we never put two and two together. I can't believe it.
Laura: Great! The most amazing guy I've ever met and he's taken, by Ruby no less. This sucks!
Danny: I wouldn't know.
Laura: I certainly hope not.
It happened that at that minute Merry and Pippin walked in with proud smiles on their faces.
Merry: So, we hear you three finally noticed Ruby's wedding ring tonight.
Pippin: So, Ruby wins the bet. She guessed the 25th. Almost right.
Danny: What are you talking about?
Merry: We had a bet as to when you would notice. Today is the 24th and Ruby guessed the 25th. She wins.
Pippin: I was going to guess the 24th. I should have stuck with my first instinct. Why did I say the 15th?
Zack: Wait guys. We didn't notice. She showed us.
Pippin: She what?
Merry: Drat! Now nobody wins.
Laura: Sorry to disappoint you. Sheesh!
Pippin: Oh well. We'll come up with something else to bet on.
Danny: Yeah whatever. Hey, how long have Ruby and Frodo been married?
Merry: It will be thirteen years this November
Zack: Thirteen years? How is that possible? She's seventeen.
Pippin laughed and threw back his head. Apparently he found that amusing.
Merry: So Ruby hasn't told you about the time difference, has she?
Laura: What do you mean?
Pippin: Well, what Ruby says is that when she comes back here to Middle Earth time completely stops in America. Which is why no one ever notices she's gone even for months at a time. None of that makes any sense to me of course, but that's what she says.
Merry: Also meaning that while only seventeen years of her life have gone by in America, here in Middle Earth she's a lot older than seventeen.
Danny: Just how old is she?
Pippin: Hoy! There's our bet! You three guess how old she is and the closest wins.
Zack : Oh goody.
Laura: Well, I'm glad about the whole time stopping thingy. Now I don't have to worry about missing "Joey".
Danny: Yeah, but the thing is I thought we had missed a whole month of school. So, its kinda disappointing.
Zack: Yeah, but at least we won't have to explain where we've been all this time. I wouldn't want any of my other girlfriends to worry.
Frodo and Ruby had been sitting with Bilbo in his room for some time. Looking out at the stars and talking together as only hobbits can talk. They spoke of old memories the three of them had together. Bilbo, as I said before, was rather fond of Ruby. She was the only lass in the Shire who loved to hear about his adventures, and she loved to go walking out in the woods of the Hobbiton and Buckland with him and Frodo.
As they were talking there was a knock at the door. It opened and Sam poked his head in.
Sam: Begging your pardon, but I was wondering if you would be wanting anything.
Bilbo: And begging yours, Sam Gamgee. I guess you mean that it is time your masters went to bed.
Sam: Well, sir, there is a Council early tomorrow, I hear and she only got up today for the first time.
Bilbo: Quite right, Sam. You can trot off and tell Gandalf that they have gone to bed. Good night Frodo, good night Ruby. Bless me, but it has been good to see you two again! There are no folk like hobbits after all for a real good talk. I am getting very old, and I began to wonder if I should ever live to see your chapters of our story. Good night! I'll take a walk, I think and look at the stars of Elbereth in the garden. Sleep well!
Frodo: Ruby what is it? I'm trying to sleep.
Ruby: I was just thinking, if Dharma and Greg hadn't been canceled do you think they would have had a baby?
Frodo: I...I suppose. I don't really know anything about it.
Ruby: Yes, but on the last episode that's what it sounded like they wanted to do. Why did they cancel it? It was such a great show!
Frodo: I have no idea. Why do you ask me? I've never seen it. You've just told me about it.
Ruby: Well, you know. Sometimes you just feel like saying your thoughts out loud. Its not good to keep things bottled up inside you.
Frodo: All right, but why did you have to wake me up?
Ruby: Cause its crazy to talk to yourself.
Frodo: But why did you have to wake me up?
Ruby: Why do I bother?
It was the day of the Council. As you may remember Ruby didn't feel like sleeping the night before, so she had kept Frodo up till three, forcing him to have pillow fights with her and sing the entire soundtrack to Grease with her. But none the less, he still woke up ready for the council that morning. It wasn't the first time Ruby had done that kind of thing to him since they had married. He just kept reminding himself that he knew perfectly well she would make him stay up late with her to do who knows what when he married her. He asked for this.
Ruby: This place is so beautiful. I've wanted to come here since I first heard the name and now I'm here. It's great, isn't it?
Frodo: That it is, my love. That it is.
Ruby: I feel like I could sing.
Frodo: Oh good heavens!
Ruby: It feels like Home to me. Feels like I'm all the way back where I come from. (singing)
The two of them walked hand in hand along the terraces by the river with Sam following close behind.
The Teens were probley still asleep. Merry and Pippin were either asleep or raiding the kitchens as always.
As they walked along, the path turned and they saw Bilbo and Gandalf sitting together talking.
Bilbo: Hullo! Good morning! Feel ready for the Great Council?
Frodo: I feel ready for anything.
Ruby: Well, if I really thought about it, I might be able to come up with something I don't feel ready for. Like a giant ice cream cone falling from the sky, or a.....
Frodo: But most of all we would like to go walking today and explore the valley. I should like to get into those pine-woods up there.
Gandalf: You may have a chance later. But we cannot make any plans yet. There is much to hear and decide today.
Just then a bell rang loud enough to make Ruby jump out of surprise.
Gandalf: That is the warning bell for the Council of Elrond. Come along now! The two of you and Bilbo are wanted.
They followed behind Bilbo and Gandalf. Ruby followed a little hesitantly. The seven words Frodo was going to say in a hour or so were ringing in her ears. Frodo saw the worried expression on her face and turned her to face him. His eyes looked deep into hers questioningly.
Frodo: Ru, what is it?
Ruby: What do you mean?
Frodo: I know that look in your eyes and by now I've learned to pay attention to it. What's going to happen?
Ruby looked around to make sure no one was listening. and then leaned in closer to whisper to him.
Ruby: Are you daft? You know I can't tell you that!
Frodo: Didn't it occur to you that Eru gave me a wife who had seen my future for a reason?
Ruby: Of course it did. And if I think it good, later on in this thing, I will tell you what may happen. But right now you'll just have to trust my judgment. Everything is going to be fine dear heart. Just relax. Heaven knows I can't!
Ruby gave him a tight hug and kissed his cheek.
Ruby: Come on.
It wasn't long before Ruby realized that it was quicker to read about the council than to actually be there. She had to keep pinching herself to keep awake through it all. So to make it easier for herself she switched off and began daydreaming. That's what she had always done in school and it came in handy know. She was thinking about that screen play she was considering writing when she got back to America, about a super hero girl who fell in love with a guy from the fairy land.
Frodo always knew she was daydreaming if her left knee started bouncing. I know it sounds weird. It was a habit she had started when she was 12 and hadn't broken yet despite pretty much everyone she knew telling her that it looked weird. So Frodo gently nudged her with his elbow. She looked at him wondering why her had interrupted her muse. He looked sidelong at Elrond who was speaking at the moment and then looked back at her and raised his eyebrows. Ruby took his hint and rolled her eyes then forced herself to pay attention.
Ruby felt inclined to listen a bit more when Bilbo spoke, for she hadn't yet heard the true version of his story from his mouth. After he left the Shire Frodo had told her and she had read it when she discovered the existence of the book, but as I said she hadn't heard it straight from Bilbo.
Frodo was very nervous when it came his time to tell his part of tale. He hated doing that kind of thing, and Ruby knew it. So, the entire time she kept her eyes on him to encourage him. When he finished she and Bilbo reassured him that he did fine.
Bilbo: Not bad. You would have made a good story of it, if they had not kept on interrupting. I tried to make a few notes, but we shall have to go over it all again together some time, if I am to write it up. There are whole chapters of stuff before you ever got here!
Frodo: Yes, it made a long tale. But the story still does not seem to complete me. I still want to know a good deal, especially about Gandalf.
Glildor: You speak for me also!
Ruby: Here we go! (rolling eyes)
If I tried to type up everything that happened it would take a least 10 pages. It's 22 in the book in front of me. Oy Vey! So I'll skip to the good part.
Bilbo: Exactly! And who are they to be? That seems to me what this council has to decide. Elves may thrive on speech alone, and Dwarves endure great weariness; but I am only an old hobbit, and I miss my meal at noon. Can't you think of some names now? Or put it off till after dinner?
It was completely silent. You'd think everyone had just fallen asleep right then and there. The bell rang but still no one spoke. Ruby braced herself. She looked to her husband who sat silently glancing at the faces of the council. Then he turned to her. She smiled and nodded her head as if to say " Do what you have to do. I won't try to convince you otherwise".
So with a last effort he spoke and wondered to hear his own small voice.
Frodo: I will take the Ring, though I do not know the way.
Ruby sighed, both out of sadness and a feeling of relief. It was done, Frodo's destiny was set.
Elrond: If I understand aright all that I have heard I think that this task is appointed for you, Frodo; and that if you do not find a way, no one will. This is the hour of the Shire-folk, when they arise from their quiet fields to shake the towers and councils of the great. Who of all the wise could have foreseen it? Or if they are wise, why should they expect to know it, until the hour has struck? But it is a heavy burden. So heavy that none could lay it on another. I do not lay it on you. But if you take it freely, I will say your choice is right; and though all mighty elf friends of old, Hador, and Hurin, and Turin, and Beren himself were assembled together your seat would be among them.
Ruby didn't say it but she was thinking "Making me among Morwen, Nienor, and Luthien. Fantastic!"
Sam: But you won't send him off alone surly Master?
Sam had popped up out of no where, surprising everyone.
Elrond: No indeed! You at least shall go with him. It is hardly possible to separate you even when he is summoned to a secret council and you are not.
Ruby: And I shall be going too.
Even Elrond was shocked. A woman going to Mordor? A 3'5" woman no less. Ruby saw the looks of surprise on the faces of everyone at the council.
Ruby: Well, he's my husband. And where do I belong if not by his side?
Frodo: Ru, I don't...
Frodo: I don't think that....
Frodo: I just...
Ruby: Frodo! Sweet heart! I am going with you! And there's nothing you can do to stop me. And nobody here has a problem with that, do they?
Ruby looked around at every face, daring them to challenge her will. When no one spoke she smiled and turned back to Frodo.
Ruby: You see, my darling, their all right with it.
Sam: A nice pickle we've landed our selves in, Mr. Frodo!
To be continued..................