The Undying Lands - (chapter 29)

The journey progressed and not much was said, for the countryside was stunning and all thought was turned to that instead. Ariengil had always wished to travel when she was young, but was never allowed, and so this was her dream come true.
In the distance, to the company's right, there were great mountains of Ered Luin, and to the left, where great stretches of fields, hills and small forests. There were beautiful ponds and paths leading from them to the woods, and beyond this was the enchanting land called the Shire.
Ariengil remembered her talk with Frodo when they had just met, which was years ago now. They had talked for hours about the Shire and Ariengil had always wanted to visit. Hurriedly, she made Silmewesta canter over to Harma.
`Harma,' Ariengil shouted. Harma slowed down slightly so the two could talk, `The Shire is near, please could we stop and visit?' asked Ariengil.
`We have no time,' came Harma's short reply. He was, truth be known, a little scared of hobbits, for some reason. Ariengil guessed it was because hobbits were small and interesting- something out of the ordinary. Harma did not really like things to be different; nice and normal was good for Harma. Ariengil laughed to herself, then asked again.
`Please Harma; we aren't so far from the Shire- it would not be such a big detour. Please!'
Harma could not resist Ariengil's sweet and innocent smile, so he agreed. He announced the plans to the others and they turned sharply to the left. Mereth started to complain that Nieninque needed attention from healers as soon as possible, until Nimtheryn pointed out that hobbits could heal as well.
As the riders cantered along, Ariengil looked out for signs of hobbits, such as chimneys from the little hills, screams and shouts from hobbit children or people visiting the woods to collect berries, or such like. But there was nothing. No sound other than a few birds singing in the trees. It was very worrying.
`Harma,' whispered Ariengil, `why is it so quiet?'
`I don't know,' he replied, just as quietly- it seemed wrong to talk in a normal tone of voice. Then, all of a sudden, a gasp was heard in the trees and then giggling as a couple of hobbit children ran across the horses' path.
The two children, one a golden haired girl in a pink dress and one a handsome boy, presumably her brother, ran towards the hills which Ariengil now saw had smoke rising from them.
Ariengil sighed in relief. She had been worried that orcs may have reached the Shire and could have destroyed the beautiful place. As the riders approached, a few hobbits stepped out of their homes and waved, although they were slightly embarrassed. More and more hobbits came out of their lovely hobbit holes and watched in awe as the riders trotted towards Hobbiton.
When they reached Hobbiton, Ariengil dismounted and stood by Silmewesta, smiling at the charming hobbit children. Slowly the crowds parted and two very old hobbits stepped out.
`Greetings, friends,' said one in a croaky voice. `I am Peregrin Took, and this is my friend, Meriadoc Brandybuck. We are honoured to be in the company of elves once more.'
Ariengil smiled as she remembered Pippin and Merry from Frodo's tale. She turned and whispered this to Harma, then spoke to the old hobbits. `My name is Ariengil; this is Harma, and Mereth, and Nimtheryn. Nieninque is another of our friends, but she is hurt and we would appreciate it if she could lie down somewhere. I am a friend of Frodo Baggins, and I met Samwise Gamgee recently.'
Murmurs were heard among the crowds as Frodo's and Sam's names were mentioned- they were somewhat a legend. Merry's and Pippin's faces lit up in excitement at their friend's names.
`Sam made it all right then? I am glad,' said Merry happily. `Would you like to bring your friends to Bag End, Pippin and I live there now; and you can all come in for some ale and a pipe.'
Ariengil smiled gratefully, although she did not really fancy smoking or drinking any of the hobbits' drinks. They entered Bag End and had to bend their necks so as not to hit their heads on the beams. Mereth carried Nieninque to a bed that Merry offered, and lay her down gently. Pippin hurried in with a towel and a bowl of water, placed them on a small table and rushed back out again.
As Mereth began to dampen Nieninque's forehead, Pippin entered again and gave Mereth some leaves. `Rub them on her lips, they should wake up her senses soon because of their strong smell, and she might regain consciousness soon,' he told Mereth.
Mereth smiled broadly and thanked Pippin profoundly. He rubbed the dark green leaves onto Nieninque's lips with great care and gentleness then sat back to watch her with a frown on his face.
Merry smiled kindly at Mereth and put his hand on the elf's shoulder. `Come and eat something. She won't be awake for quite awhile. Do you fancy something to drink?' asked Merry considerately.
Mereth forced a smile and stood up slowly, walked over to where the others were sitting and joined them. Merry brought out a piping hot teapot from the fire and poured eight mugs full. Two hobbit women and one male hobbit came through the doorway of Bag End, laughing merrily.
Suddenly they hushed and looked in honour at the elves. The younger of the women stepped forward and curtsied, then ran to Pippin, in embarrassment. Pippin laughed and called the other two to him.
`My new friends, this is Goldilocks, my newly wed daughter-in-law, this is Diamond, my lovely wife, and Faramir, my noble son. Goldilocks is Samwise's daughter,' then he whispered- pretending that Goldilocks couldn't hear, `she really misses him.'
Goldilocks giggled and kissed Pippin on the cheek, `I do a little, but you are here for me, as a... second father, isn't that right Faramir?' she turned to her husband and stretched out her hand for his. He gladly grasped Goldilock's hand and squeezed it gently.
Faramir now turned to the elves and welcomed them. `We are very pleased to have you to stay in our house, and we can't wait to hear your tales of your journey.' He laughed and the couple slipped out of the room together.
Pippin sighed, `Still young at heart.'
Ariengil thought of this and looked towards Harma, and then to Nimtheryn. Still young at heart. She was still young at heart, so why was she so worried about marriage and love? `Love is so confusing,' she thought to herself sadly as Mereth walked back to his love.
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