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Section XLIX-Friends in Rivendell

I no longer feel quite so rough around the edges. The new clothes the Elves provided fit me splendidly, though a glance in the mirror tells me my frame is nowhere near what it used to be. To my way of thinking, I'm decidedly on the thin side, not at all proper for a hobbit. Hopefully, the food here will soon rectify that particular shortcoming.

Gandalf filled me in on the things I do not remember of the last few days with information provided by myself. It seems I talk in my sleep. Fortunate for Gandalf, for he did not have to wait for me to awaken to learn of all that I have been up to in the last month. Is it only a month? A lifetime would describe it better. Unfortunately for me, now he knows everything, including the folly that befell this sometimes-foolish hobbit. Alas, I am to be spared nothing. Gandalf only smiled and assured me he was not entirely disappointed in my efforts.

As my mind clears, I'm remembering a few things of my own. When Sam was finally allowed to see me awake, I was quite touched by his grasping of my left hand, checking to make sure it was warm and not cold, as it had been. The Gaffer would probably consider it being above himself to show more than a servant's concerned duty, but Sam is more than a servant; he is my dearest friend. I do hope dear Rose waits for him. Sam does not know it, and I have told no one, in part because I did not realize it at first myself, but he is my reminder. He and Rosie represent in large measure all that is best about the Shire and why I struggled on; it must be protected, no matter the cost.

Gandalf assured me, Sam refused to leave my bedside throughout most of the ordeal of the last few days. Even so, he still managed to quickly learn his way around the place where we now reside. I hesitate not a moment entrusting myself in his care to show me about. What a pleasure to go for a walk without feeling rushed or looking over my shoulder. Briefly, I could almost believe we are on one of our past hiking trips, but for the slightly different feel in the air. Then there is the fragrance surrounding us, pleasant but unfamiliar. The light is a little different as well. Not to mention the trees and plants I have not seen before. I cannot help but smile to myself. Truly, the only thing here that is anything like our walks in the Shire is that I am walking with Sam.

We round a corner and are found by Merry and Pippin. I find myself warmly embraced and my back thumped heartily by each of my cousins. The sight of them gladdens my heart. What a pleasant surprise, though in truth not entirely unexpected. Sam warned me they'd be lurking about nearby, wanting to know how I was faring, when they weren't busy catching up on their eating of course. I am certain they will be the best of guides in that direction, if the apples in their hands are any indication, and I know they are.

Merry and Pippin both complain about Gandalf and Lord Elrond refusing them entry into my sickroom. Something about the Wizard and the Elf thinking it best I recover quietly, to begin with anyway. Carefully, I stifle the escaping chuckle at their emphasis on 'quiet.' At such odd moments, I realize just how young they really are.

Finally, we happen on the one I've waited to see, all this long while, Bilbo. The years surely have caught up to him, though I would have recognized his 'Frodo, my lad' from anywhere. We are quickly lost in conversation. As he shows me his book, There and Back Again, I am amazed by what he's accomplished. There -- there is the map of the Shire. My heart aches for home. Most of my life, I dreamed of adventuring, as Bilbo did, but my own adventure turned out quite different. Bilbo is happy in Rivendell. He is where he wishes to be. I surprise myself, as a longing for the peace and comfort of Bag End sweeps over me.

Quiet memories of the Shire fill every corner of my mind. I wander back to my own room, and what do I find? Sam, obviously thinking of the same thing. It appears I've caught him packing. The appeal of adventure fades for him as well. He sees things so simply. We did what was asked; the Ring is safe, and we're both ready to go home. My heart is warmed and lightened by the thought. I try to reflect the hope in Sam's eyes.