Back next


by CRB and Ladyhawk Baggins

24 July 1420sr

Gandalf stood quietly watching the two hobbits sleep. He marveled at the peace which permeated his soul at the sight. Their heads so close together, Lily’s auburn waves against Frodo’s dark curls, created a pleasing contrast, even to his old eyes.

Then he remembered the first time Frodo slept in Rivendell. The pain that coursed through that little body would have, and indeed had, overcome others. A tear almost escaped his eye; he blinked it away.

Now, Frodo had one arm wrapped around Lily; the left. A thought suddenly struck the old wizard. Her head was nestled against the scarred shoulder. He never believed Frodo would ever be completely healed, and yet here he was...

Gandalf’s heart tightened as he noted Frodo’s right hand thrust softly amidst Lily’s tresses. One could almost believe the ring finger was merely hidden behind one curly lock.

The hobbits stirred, and Gandalf started to leave, but found himself mesmerized, for even in sleep each seemed aware of the other. Lily’s hand, lying at Frodo’s throat, slipped around his waist. Frodo’s hand burrowed deeper into her hair, and they settled closer together with a shared sigh.

Gandalf remembered -- it was nearly two months ago now. He shuddered at the memory of what he lifted from Lily. She had accepted what would happen willingly -- nay, gladly, and he knew that had it been required that she bear the burden, even for the rest of her life, she would have done it for Frodo. He did not stay the tear tracking down his weathered cheek.

Elrond stepped up beside Gandalf and whispered, “They are well suited.”

Gandalf nodded once and blinked, composing himself. “Indeed.”

“Gandalf, stay for a time; if they hold to hobbit ways, they shall sleep for a while yet.”

“These two do not hold to hobbit ways, or have you not noticed?” Gandalf’s eyes twinkled at Elrond’s dark look.

They turned in to the corridor outside the bedroom.

“Elrond, have you had an opportunity to speak with her?”

“Beyond introductions? No, not yet. Felena suggested it might be better not to separate them at dinner last night. Her counsel was wise. I must admit, I was entranced at how the young mistress searched the Ring-bearer’s eyes for reassurance, which he could give with the merest of smiles. They hardly spoke a word to each other, and yet the deepest communication seemed to pass between them, not unlike the Lady Galadriel’s gift of knowing the thoughts of others. Frodo’s glance and smile would set Lily at ease, and she would return to conversation with Felena.”

“Then Felena has proven to be a good choice?”

“Indeed yes, Gandalf. She is quite taken with the pair. She finds Frodo compelling, as we all do. Lily... Lily seems to be the daughter of her heart. It is truly quite remarkable.”

With the Sun’s rising came golden light and warmth, streaming through the outermost balcony and into the corridor where Gandalf and Elrond stood. For a silent moment they turned toward the east, and their thoughts rose as one as they gave thanks to the Creator.

The wizard nodded to the lord, and alone he made his way back to where the hobbits slept. He stepped into the bedroom just as Frodo awoke.

“Good morning, Frodo.”

“Gandalf!” Frodo beamed. “Lily, Lily, dearest, Gandalf is here!”

The wizard chuckled as the two sat up in their bed, side by side. Lily rubbed her eyes and stretched, stopping part way through as she realized they truly had company. Frodo took her hand and held it in his lap atop the covers.

Gandalf looked first to one, then the other, and back again.

“Frodo, she is wearing one of your nightshirts.”

“Yes, Gandalf. She stole it in finest thieving-Baggins fashion.”

Lily blushed.

Gandalf smiled kindly. “It looks better on her.”

Frodo feigned offense, but quickly grinned when Felena slipped into the room with a laden tray.

“Good morning. I see Mithrandir could not wait to see you, not even to allow you to rise properly,” the Elf maiden teased. “Here is bread and cheese--” she glanced at Lily, then at both hobbits “--and tea to start your day until breakfast is served.”

“Thank you, Felena,” Lily smiled.

The Elf maiden handed Lily a cup of tea and a filled plate, allowing Frodo to take his own cup of tea from the tray, then gazed pointedly at the wizard. “Mithandir, we must allow our guests to prepare for their day...”

Gandalf smiled at the hobbits, but made no effort to move. “She is quite right, you know...”

Felena raised her brows. “It is not as though you shall not see them within the hour, at breakfast...”

The wizard chuckled. “You are correct, dear Felena. Enough teasing for this morning.” He nodded to the hobbits and followed the Elf out of the room, shutting the door behind him.

Frodo and Lily stared after them, then glanced at each other and laughed.

Lily fed her husband her last piece of the cheese, and followed it with a soft kiss.

“Mmmmm... Mistress Baggins... did you sleep well, beloved?” He took her empty plate and the cups and set them on the floor beside the bed, then turned his full attention back to his wife.

“Very well, indeed, Mister Baggins. Thank you.” She grinned. “And the bed is very soft, as you said.”

Lily offered Frodo a lingering kiss, then acquiesced when he gently pressed her back against the pillows, deepening their caress.

Suddenly he stopped, and pulled away. Then he lay back, and drew Lily into his arms. He murmured breathlessly, “I wish there were more time this morning.”

Lily sighed, and nestled close. “They’ll be expecting us, will they not?”


They sighed together, then laughed.

“Best start the day, then,” Lily pouted, then giggled.

“Yes.” Frodo grinned, “but there is always later, Mistress Baggins.”

“Promise, Mister Baggins?” Lily did not attempt to hide the sparkle in her eyes.

“I promise,” Frodo stated solemnly, then swiftly kissed his wife and rolled out of bed, dodging the pillow thrown at him.

Felena, far down the hall, heard laughter issuing from the hobbits’ suite of rooms. What an interesting race, she smiled wonderingly.


Gandalf was seated at a table suited to Frodo and Lily’s size, when the couple arrived in the feasting hall.

“How was your trip, my hobbits?”

“Wonderful,” Lily glowed.

“Thank you, Gandalf,” Frodo offered.

“Whatever for, dear lad?”

“You provided well for us, and with a number of things I hadn’t thought of at all.” Frodo decided not to mention the extra large bedroll, clearing his throat.

“The athelas was most welcome,” he went on, “and the cave -- the one you told us of last fall? -- well, it came in handily, I must say. Lily and I sought refuge there, against a storm, only a couple of days back. We stayed comfortably dry and warm.”

“Good, good,” Gandalf smiled. “And has the packpony been suitable?”

“Pippin is perfect,” Lily enthused.

Gandalf raised his brows. “Pippin?”

Lily giggled. “Frodo gave me a pony I named ‘Merry,’ and then, when we acquired the packpony, my dear Frodo decided it simply wasn’t fitting to have Merry without Pippin, so he named the packpony Pippin.”

“I see.” The wizard carefully choked back a smile.

“And he has been a very good pony,” Lily continued.

“I am glad to hear it...” Gandalf smiled, then glanced in the direction of the main doors.

Elrond approached the table. “Good morning.”

“Good morning,” Frodo and Lily chorused, then blushed.

Gandalf and Elrond smiled at the pair, then the wizard stood.

“Are they here?”

“Yes.” Elrond nodded once.

Gandalf turned to the hobbits. “There is a small company of Elves arriving from Lothlórien. The Master and I need to greet them. I am awaiting news. No, no, you two need to stay and finish your second breakfast.” He then gave Lily a meaningful look. “You shall have the opportunity to meet them later.”

The wizard and the Elf turned and strode from the room, leaving the couple from the Shire to finish their meal.

“Lily, we’ve a bit of time yet, before Bilbo wakes -- would you like to see the conservatory?”

“Yes, please.” Her eyes lit with excitement.

Frodo held out his hand.

A gentle smile touched Lily’s face. “Frodo-love, do you realize that when we started courting, you always gave me your left hand to hold, but now, you give me your right?”

Frodo glanced down at their intertwined fingers, then back into her eyes. “Because of your loving persistence, I’ve discovered an unexpected -- comfort -- in the way you hold my hand...”

Lily’s heart swelled, then she lifted his hand to her lips, and kissed where the finger should have been.

“Beloved Lily,” Frodo breathed.

“Your gift from Ilúvatar,” she sighed, “as you are mine... must--” she blushed lightly “--must we wait until tonight?”

Frodo’s breath caught in his throat. “No...”

“Then may we see the conservatory later?”


As they walked back to their room, Felena found them.

“Your Uncle Bilbo is asking for you,” she smiled warmly.

Both Frodo and Lily hid their disappointment from the Elf, and each squeezed the other’s hand.

“He’s up early today,” Frodo observed, smiling, and they headed toward the old hobbit’s quarters.


“So, tell me, how is Bag End?” Bilbo asked eagerly, as the couple entered the cluttered room.

“Mayhap Lily can answer that better,” Frodo grinned.

Bilbo turned full to the young mistress. “Does it suit you, my dear? It’s one of the best smials in all the Shire, you know.”

“It suits me very well indeed. It’s a beautiful smial. I never dreamed I’d be so blessed...”

“She keeps flowers in every room, Bilbo.”

The aged hobbit smiled wistfully. “And sprigs of lavender under all the mattresses?”

“Yes!” Frodo could not hide his wide-eyed surprise. “How did you know?”

Bilbo sighed. “Your mother did that. When you and your parents came to visit me, one of the very first things your mum would do, almost before your bags were settled, was stuff lavender sprigs under every single mattress in the smial, and arrange bowls of flowers in the rooms.”

“Did she?” Frodo swallowed hard. “Why do I not remember?”

Bilbo smiled conspiratorially. “She only did it at Bag End. She wasn’t allowed to at Brandy Hall. Mirabella Took thought it wasteful, and too much work, with everything that needed taking care of at the Hall.” The old hobbit shook his head and smiled. “Not a romantic bone in her body, that one, not a one. How she managed to marry, I’ll never know... wonder what old Gorbadoc saw in her... oh, yes -- she could cook like no one’s business. Yes, indeed, in fact, that’s what drew your father to the table so often!” Bilbo chuckled, then nodded and dozed off.

A deep sigh escaped Frodo. He spoke softly so as not to awaken their host. “I wish I remembered more of them... my parents. Truly, it seems to be altogether some other life, not mine...”

Lily reflected her husband’s soft tone. “What do you remember?”

“Picnics,” Frodo smiled. “By the river... sometimes with other families, sometimes alone. I used to have friends my own age, until -- until the accident. Then it seemed my friends did not know how to talk to me any more, and we drifted apart. But Sam and Merry and Pippin and Fatty were all so far removed from that part of my life. They knew me no other way than without my parents, so there was never the awkwardness of what to say and what not to say.”

Bilbo snorted and woke as an Elf entered bearing a laden tray.

“Good! Elevensies! Set it just here, thank you. Now, where were we again? Oh, yes, Brandy Hall! Frodo, my lad, however did you stand all the ruckus, night and day, day in and day out?”

“It wasn’t so bad, Bilbo. It filled in the quiet, especially after...”

“Yes,” Bilbo replied thoughtfully. “I imagine it did. Not common being alone in a place where everyone’s a part of so much. Good thing you came to live with me. We had some adventures, didn’t we Frodo?”

“Indeed we did.”

“Uncle Bilbo?” Lily hesitated.

“Yes, my dear?”

“Would you -- would you tell me more about Frodo’s parents? I should like to have met them...”

“Hmmm... indeed. They would have liked you. You remind me of dear Primula. Sweet and quiet, she was, but something more... most folk didn’t see it, but Drogo was smart enough. Some folk criticized Drogo for deferring to Primula, thought him weak, they did...”

Bilbo’s face grew thoughtful. “Primula wasn’t as hardy as other lasses. The food was good at Gorbadoc’s table, and plentiful, and it wasn’t that dear Primula couldn’t cook; she could, but trying to keep up a house all on her own was none too easy for her, not to mention she wanted to spend as much time with her son as she could. So you see, living at the Hall afforded time, for both of them, to be with you, Frodo.”

A misty smile lit Frodo’s face.

“She had a sense of humour too, she did,” Bilbo continued. “Those at the Hall didn’t really know that, as she never let it out in crowds, so to speak, but I’ll never forget the day your da took you for a walk after being stuck inside for a couple days because of rain. It wasn’t long before she had me in stitches, she did! Teasing me about the Sackville-Bagginses -- not that she was disrespectful -- but she had a way of seeing things... She didn’t like to hurt anyone, but she could see the funny side of almost any situation... you’re more serious, Frodo-lad, more like your da. Truth is, I see quite a bit of both your parents in you.”

“Did they visit you often, Bilbo?” Lily wondered, but he had nodded off to sleep again.

She turned to Frodo and whispered, “Do you remember visiting often?”

Frodo shrugged. “I can’t remember... Lily, do you think -- do you think it’s because of the -- the Ring?”

Lily considered her words carefully. “I don’t think so. I know I have trouble remembering anything around the time of my mother’s death, and I was much older than you... and I still remember nothing, but what you’ve told me, of the day my father... I think it’s more likely you don’t remember because of the loss of your parents.”

“But the memories seem to be happy ones, from all Bilbo says. I can understand choosing to forget the sad things, but why the happy times?”

“I’m not certain the heart knows the difference in these things. Happy or sad, you were with those you loved. You lost those you loved, and memories, any memories, would bring sorrow at first, mayhap more so since you were so young and it was so completely unexpected, with no chance to say goodbye...”

“Do you think I’ll ever be able to remember?”

“You’re already starting to remember...”

“Why now, I wonder?”

“Mayhap because now it is safe to remember...”

Again an Elf entered with a food-laden tray and Bilbo woke with a start and a snort.

“Did you ask me a question, my dear?” The old hobbit stifled a yawn.

“I wondered if Primula, Drogo, and Frodo visited you often?”

Bilbo buttered a chunk of bread as he thought. “Well, Drogo was a Hobbiton Baggins, so whenever there was a family gathering he was invited; Yule it usually was... He and Primula could have stayed with Drogo’s family, but Primula wasn’t particularly comfortable there... I was made privy to some comments that were made about Primula’s background -- you know, being a Brandybuck and all. I offered to have them at my home... that was before Frodo was born. Then they simply came and stayed with me from then on... so it was usually once a year that they came to visit, and I went to visit a time or two... couldn’t resist Gorbadoc’s table myself.” He laughed, then blushed; Frodo and Lily both started at the sight.

“Truth be told,” Bilbo continued, “I didn’t pay Drogo much mind at all -- he was such a quiet sort -- until he married Primula. That choice certainly upset the Hobbiton Baggins-family applecart! I knew then I needed to get better acquainted with him. I never heard a sharp word between Drogo and Primula. And they adored you, Frodo! Never was a child more loved than you. I always thought it why you dealt with their passing as well as you did, for you seemed to carry within you a knowing... you knew you were loved from the day you were born, and that knowledge never left you... yes... you knew, so much...” Bilbo’s eyes saw afar off until his head bobbed and dropped to his chest again, the soft snoring beginning anew.

Lily looked in wonder at Bilbo, then turned to watch her husband. She found him staring out at the view beyond the balcony, a tear sliding down his cheek. Before she could speak, he did.

“They did love me, Lily. All my memories of them are bound up in a deep love I did not understand then...” He turned his tear-filled gaze to his wife. “But I think I’m learning to, now.”

Sitting side by side, they embraced, and held each other tightly.

They lost track of time. Then Frodo eased his hold and smiled, as an Elf entered bearing a tray with cups, a steaming teapot, bread, fruit, and cheese.

Bilbo stretched and yawned. “Tea already? Where has the day gotten to? Don’t imagine it’s been very exciting spending your first day in Rivendell with me, dozing off like I do,” he grinned.

Lily smiled. “It’s been delightful, and we came to Rivendell to see you, Uncle Bilbo.”

The old hobbit blushed to his toes. “Ehem, yes, now -- where were we? Oh, yes, talking about our young Frodo here, when he was still knee-high to a grasshopper.” He paused at the sight of the young lass blushing, then shrugged it off. “You should have seen him, Lily, my dear. Most curious child I’d ever seen! Reminded me of my Auntie Belba’s cat. Had to know about everything! Your mum and da were considerably better than most parents about satisfying your curiosity. Old Rory, and especially Menegilda -- now there was a lass what was a spitting image of her mother-in-law, in her way of thinking any way -- well... where was I? Oh yes... well... be that as it may, they thought your folks entirely too indulgent. For myself, I never saw any harm in it, since you simply wanted to know why things were.

“Primula always smiled when you asked another question. Your folks were glad to be able to turn your queries over to someone else from time to time. They were quite astonished that your questions seemed to cease when you came to visit me, but I think it was simply because I gave you so many stories you didn’t know what questions to ask first!” The old hobbit laughed out loud.

He turned his full attention to Lily. “It wasn’t long at all before he knew my stories better than I did. I couldn’t elaborate or change any detail, because he’d remember from the last time he’d heard the tale! Should have embellished more from the start.”

Frodo and Lily laughed along with Bilbo.

“I think the only one who loved my stories more was little Samwise Gamgee! He was quite enthralled.” Bilbo leaned closer to Lily. “Did they ever tell you that Frodo was really the one who taught Samwise his letters?”

Frodo shook his head. “You did, Uncle Bilbo.”

“Hrmph. I may have started it, but you carried it through. I meant to teach him more... but, be that as it may, Frodo took over the lessons, like a good lad. In truth, that’s partly how Sam started acting as his manservant. Frodo would give him a lesson once he’d been up and had his breakfast, so Sam would help the process along a bit, making sure Frodo didn’t sleep too long!”

Felena entered the room and smiled at the hobbits. “Dinner will be served in an hour. And singing shall be offered this night by the Elves from Lothlórien before they continue on to the Grey Havens.”

Frodo sighed. “Uncle Bilbo, shall you be attending dinner?”

“Indeed! I wouldn’t miss it! There’s a haunting beauty to the songs of the Lothlórien Elves.”


Lily felt sad memories stir within her husband. “Felena, would you mind helping me prepare?”

Frodo smiled. “My wife worries about looking her best, not realizing, pretty as she is, she needn’t fret over it.”

Lily blushed pink.

“Better go along with Felena,” Bilbo declared. “She’ll not leave us in peace with the dinner hour so close.”

Felena smiled serenely. “You do not answer to Lord Elrond.”

Bilbo snorted. “He is a bit of a stickler for starting meals on time. You’d think he’d not worry so much, living as long as he has, but there you are. I’ll see you at dinner... or maybe at the singing after...” He wandered into his dressing room.

“Is Lord Elrond such a difficult master?” Lily wondered.

“Not at all,” Felena assured. “He is simply very conscious of his guests. Shall we go?”

Frodo and Lily nodded, and followed the Elf back to their rooms.


Bells echoed throughout Rivendell.

Lily glanced at Frodo as she finished tying a ribbon in her hair. “What is that?”

“The call to dinner,” Frodo smiled.

Lily furrowed her brow. “I do not remember hearing them last night. Was I so weary?”

“No, beloved.” Frodo led his wife into the corridor, then offered her his arm. “They did not ring last night, as we were the only guests. Remember, Gandalf and Elrond met a company of Elves from Lothlórien this morning? Dinner will be a more formal affair this evening, followed by singing in the Hall of Fire.”

The couple walked leisurely through the fragrant passages. They breathed deeply of the night air. It smelled almost as magical as a Shire night in May. Flowers, ivy, and fern grew in every small place a plant could take hold. Some flowers were still open, as if keeping vigil for the coming of the Sun on the morrow, but most had gone to sleep, their buds furled shut.

Lily clutched Frodo’s arm more tightly as they strolled into the feasting hall, already filled. Several Elves followed them in. A quick glance told them Bilbo was not present, but Gandalf was, and nodded to them. He pulled chairs out at the head of the table, placing Lily between himself and Frodo. The young mistress’s small sigh of relief was not lost on the wizard, who was seated next to Elrond.

Frodo helped Lily up onto her cushioned seat, then scrambled up onto his own. The head table was filled, as were several smaller side tables.

Gandalf leaned down and whispered in Lily’s ear. “Allow all that you sense to ebb and flow within your heart. Do not resist it, nor endeavor to focus on anything, for the Elves are themselves intertwined, in their souls. Their memories stretch far back, long before there were hobbits. They have known much sorrow, and accept it. When it becomes more than you can bear, release the anguish by allowing Frodo’s joy to fill you.”

Lily nodded.

The wizard straightened, and smiled. “Tell me about your journey. I trust it was uneventful?”

Lily glanced at Frodo, who smiled encouragingly. Their travels flashed through her mind, and suddenly she realized there was much she did not wish to share.

“It was lovely. Frodo took very good care of me, ensuring I rested as much as I needed. We were a bit short of food our last day, as the rainstorm we told you of lasted longer than we expected. But Frodo went without, so that I would not need to. He showed me Weathertop, and the Stone Trolls, and where the beryl was found... Then when Merry spooked at a falling branch, Frodo caught us up and pulled him to a stop. He also showed me what to do so it would not happen again. We saw deer and a fox and birds and trees and bushes and flowers I’ve never seen before in my life. We also saw catkins!” Lily caught her breath and blushed crimson, realizing all eyes at the head of the table were focused on her.

An Elf maiden from Lothlórien sat across the table from the hobbits. She smiled warmly. “This is also my first visit to Rivendell.”

Lily’s eyes grew wide. “You’ve never been to Rivendell?”

“No, my lady. I have lived the whole of my life in Lothlórien. I am pleased our journey shall take us through the Shire, so I may see your country. You spoke of catkins with such delight; they must hold a special meaning for you.”

For a fleeting moment Lily sensed a grave sadness, and even something akin to envy in the Elf maid’s countenance, which was otherwise serene. It was disconcerting.

“I -- I find them beautiful and unusual; the soft grey buds contrast against the hard brown branches. My mother gave me a bouquet of a dozen branches when I turned twelve, and I still have them.”

Gandalf smiled. “Yavanna was particularly pleased with how they turned out.”

“Yavanna?” Lily turned her attention to the wizard.

“Yes, one of the Valar. She sang into being the growth of the earth.”

The Elf maiden across the table smiled. “If I may, my lady, when our meal is finished, I shall sing you a song of her.”

“Oh, yes! Thank you,” Lily smiled.


Lily and Frodo walked hand in hand to their rooms, talking of the delicious dinner and the beautiful music they had enjoyed.

Frodo opened the door to their suite and bowed with a flourish, allowing Lily to enter first; then he followed her and locked the door behind them. “No unexpected guests this time,” he grinned. He gazed into his wife’s eyes and easily read the desire there, as he caressed her cheek with his hand.

“I love you, Lily-sweet... how grateful I am for you.”

Lily smiled. “And I love you, my beloved Frodo. Ilúvatar has richly blessed us.” She slipped her fingers into her husband’s curls and pulled his head down to brush her lips against his.

A deep sigh escaped Frodo, and he wrapped his arms about his wife, holding her closer, then deepened their kiss. He heard her soft susurration of pleasure, and held her tighter.

“Lily...” he whispered against her lips, and trembled when she claimed his mouth hungrily. The intensity of his response matched hers, then surpassed it. He felt her knees weaken, and held her more tightly. This was not a faint, not at all; when she leaned into him for support at these times he was ever amazed, and loved her the more for it.

“Frodo...” she murmured, and kissed her lover again, clinging to him, pulling him closer, fighting to stay with him, to strengthen herself...

And she did draw strength from him; he sensed it, and wanted to give her more, as much as she wanted. Anything she wanted; all she wanted.

Their breathing was ragged when finally they broke the kiss with several soft caresses.

Frodo gazed lovingly into the green hue of his wife’s hazel eyes, then smiled, but his speech was far from calm, much as he wished to appear so. Then he wondered why it mattered at all, as he spoke. “Did you enjoy your first day in Rivendell, beloved?”

“Very much, Frodo-love.” Lily closed her eyes and struggled to concentrate as her husband offered a trail of light kisses from her lips, across her cheek, to her ear, first on one side of her face, then on the other. “It’s -- it’s so good to see Gandalf... what do the Elves call him again?”

Her breath caught. How long had it been for them? Two days? Three? But it felt more like a fortnight -- yes, that was it, a fortnight since Bree and a soft bed...

“Mithrandir,” Frodo breathed, and eased his wife into their bedroom without releasing her. “What else did you enjoy about the day?”

An unmistakable light flared in Lily’s eyes, as her husband again offered tender kisses about her face. She closed her eyes and fought to speak.

“Bilbo was -- wonderfully sweet... and -- kind.”

“Yes, I told you he would love you,” Frodo smiled, and kissed her neck. “You taste so sweet, Lily...” He felt her smile under his kisses. One more question...

“What else pleased you?”

A giggle escaped Lily. “You, beloved Frodo. You please me...” She delighted in the blush that tinged the perfect alabaster of her husband’s cheeks, and offered him a deep, slow kiss.

Frodo heard a low sound rise from within himself; Lily knew only too well what these deliberate, passionate kisses did to him -- for him. He came up for air, but the dizziness felt good, after all, and he tilted his head, kissing her again with abandon, wanting to give her what she gave to him, wanting --

Gently, Lily ended their kiss, their breathing unsettled, uneven. “And -- what did you enjoy about the day?” she returned, the words coming out in a rush.

As he attempted to form a reply, Lily rained feathery kisses beneath his jaw to his right ear, then traced the same warm path back to his left ear, lighting afire his senses and his spirit as she whispered endearments there. Then she kissed his throat, and he shuddered in her arms; his pulse was warm beneath her mouth.

Lily heard him murmur her name, his voice hushed and unhurried, so unlike the swift beating of his heart against her own. She buried her face against his neck and allowed her hands to stroke his back. It was all something like a dance, and she knew the dance would be made sweeter with each passing moment. He was still endeavoring to reply, and she smiled against his neck, delighting in what she was able to make him feel, the loss of himself into her; and she would lose herself in him.

“Yes?” she prompted with difficulty, kissing his neck once more. He was all warmth, all strength, all beauty.

Frodo relished this particular game. They had discovered it the third day of their niwealdor, and had enjoyed it immensely. They would try to converse for as long as they were able, until further conversation was impossible. He was not giving up yet, although he wished to; he had savored his turn at distracting her from speaking, now it was Lily’s...

“Waking--” Frodo struggled to follow his thought “--waking in a soft bed, with you in my arms... and hearing Gandalf’s laugh... hearing him say the nightshirt looked better --” He trembled as she kissed him at his open collar. “--it looked better on you... You’re so beautiful, Lily. So beautiful...”

“What else?” she murmured faintly against her husband’s throat. She felt him swallow hard, and he tensed in her arms, but in a different way.

Lily pulled back and was surprised to see the blue-green in his eyes; they only looked this colour when tears were forming there.

The game had turned in a new direction, passion ebbing slightly, but Frodo was not sad for that. Lily was his, forever. He would not lose her. She would not leave him.

“Bilbo’s memories of my mother and father...” His voice caught as tears closed his throat. “I am so glad you asked him about them. You’ve no idea. I forget--” he struggled, then finally mastered the tears. “I forget that I can ask him. I forget he knows. He knows so much about them! I’m not sure how I could forget such a thing. Maybe the memories were too much to bear, when I was alone. But I have you now, and everything is easier to bear. Everything.” He kissed her forehead, then laid his brow against hers.

“Dearest husband, I truly am so grateful we decided to make this journey. It has been well worth it for today alone,” Lily comforted, and tipped her head to tenderly caress her lover’s mouth.

She sensed within him his readiness to return to the game, though suddenly the thought of removing his coat and his waistcoat appealed to her even more. Just one last question. “What else pleased you?”

Lily felt her husband go still, as he watched her methodically unbutton his waistcoat and then his shirt. One more sentence, and the conversation game was up. Words of the day would vanish from their minds, instead filled with endearments, until finally only the rich music of their love would remain, like songs without words, blossoming in the nurturing warmth they created.

“You, my beloved wife,” he managed, his voice hoarse and far away. “You please me...”

Blessed silence reigned, but for the sounds of their own breathing, and adoration; and the ever-present babbling of waterfalls, and some ways off a night bird; and beyond that, the singing of crickets in Rivendell on a warm summer night.