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Sacrament

by CRB and Ladyhawk Baggins

10 August 1420sr

Yesternight, before supper, Lily delightedly overheard Frodo ask Felena if it might be possible to arrange for food to be placed in their rooms, enough for the whole of the coming morning...

With carefully concealed excitement, Lily anticipated the fulfillment of the need she herself had been feeling. The evening meal in the Feasting Hall had been a struggle for them both, for Lily knew Frodo could see in her eyes what she could sense in him. It was difficult not to cut short conversations with the other residents of Rivendell and hurry back to their rooms after the meal ended. As much as they wished to abandon the singing and poetry in the Hall of Fire, they silently agreed they needed to attend for at least part of the evening.

They sat close together but not quite touching, and as the presentations wore on, they found themselves unable to resist the temptation of their nearness; their only recourse was to be as unobtrusive as possible. And so Lily lightly ran a finger down the back of Frodo’s hand, and Frodo pushed a curl back from her cheek. Lily shifted slightly, her foot brushing Frodo’s, and Frodo settled against his cushion, momentarily pressing his shoulder to hers, until finally, they could bear it no longer; they glanced at each other surreptitiously, and slipped out of the hall.

Then they were finally alone, the door locked, and several candles lit. Not even during their niwealdor had the intensity of their love been like this. Her husband loved her deep into the night. At first she was almost overwhelmed by his joy, but she sought deeper for strength to match him. He offered her every consideration, filling her body and soul, giving of himself, until she fell asleep in his arms. Then at her first stirring this morning, he began again his tender pursuit, pleasuring her until her desire was sated. Never had she felt so cherished, so treasured.

Surely such devotion and adoration would result in a child, wouldn’t it? Her fears were only fleeting, as her lover once again captured her full attention, the love in his deep blue gaze banishing all thought.

---------

At luncheon, Frodo and Lily wandered, hand in hand, into the Feasting Hall, and found Bilbo waiting for them at their little table.

“Good afternoon, my dears,” Bilbo grinned. “Lily, you are simply glowing.”

Lily blushed softly and sensed the old hobbit’s compliment was sincere. “I imagine it is the magic of Rivendell, Uncle.”

Bilbo considered it a moment, then chuckled, remembering Felena’s adamant refusal to allow him to search for the couple earlier in the day. “I suspect it’s more the magic between the two of you!” He suddenly realized what he had said and hurried on, “And I must thank you for giving me so much time to myself, as I’ve been able to finish a poem I’ve been working on for tonight’s festivities. Which reminds me, I’ve been thinking, Lily, it would be lovely to hear one of our Shire songs, maybe a lullaby? Why don’t you sing one?”

Lily’s eyes widened. “I don’t know...”

Frodo remained silent, uncertain if he should encourage Lily or rescue her. She seemed a bit uncomfortable, but he was unable to tell if it was simply the surprise of the request or if she truly preferred not to acquiesce.

Before Bilbo could further his campaign, Felena brought a tray of breads and fruits, and set it on their table. “What a wonderful suggestion!”

Frodo helped his wife sit, buying her a few moments to collect herself; she smiled in appreciation. Then she glanced at the older hobbit and the Elf. “I fear even the Shire lullabies are not nearly as elegant as the music of the Elves.”

Felena smiled, “But surely they are beautiful?”

Lily returned the smile. “Mayhap I can think of something appropriate.”

“Good. It’s settled, then,” Bilbo chortled.

---------

The rest of the afternoon was spent listening to Bilbo reciting his verses; he seemed oblivious to the notion that they would be heard again that night.

Frodo noted that as Lily held his hand, she laced and unlaced their fingers, except when she poured their tea, and seemed unusually distracted. He knew she was fretting for the evening to come, and smiled encouragingly whenever he caught her eye; and Lily returned it, grateful for the comfort he gave.

---------

When they finally returned to their rooms, they prepared for the evening’s festivities in silence. Frodo watched as his wife gave herself one last glance in the mirror, then turned to him. He searched his lover’s eyes.

“Lily? Should I have rescued you?”

Her eyes widened. “From what?”

“From Bilbo’s request...”

A light blush touched Lily’s cheeks. “I must admit, I’m more than a little nervous.”

“You have a beautiful voice.”

“Mister Baggins, you are decidedly biased,” she stated sternly, then smiled, her eyes sparkling. “Thank you. In truth, I’ve never actually sung in front of a group.”

Frodo blinked. “Never?”

Lily giggled at the look on her husband’s face. “I take it you have.”

“Many times.” Then Frodo smiled. “Living with Bilbo demands one be able to hold one’s own. You’ve mostly only seen the storytelling Bilbo, but I remember visiting with the Dwarves and the Elves when I first went to live with him. And he enjoyed hearing a good story as much as telling one. Many an evening was spent singing and reciting, and everyone present was expected to contribute in one way or another.”

“How did you keep from getting nervous?” Lily wondered curiously.

Frodo considered her question. “I was nervous; I just didn’t mind being nervous. I knew I was among friends,” he finished simply.

Lily smiled softly. “So it isn’t unusual to be nervous...” at her husband’s nod she continued, “and we are among friends.”

“Indeed we are,” Frodo grinned. “What are you going to sing?”

Lily wrinkled her nose. “If I tell you, then you’ll not be surprised.”

Frodo laughed.

Lily’s heart fluttered at the sound. Had she ever known him so unfettered? What joy it was. She offered a silent prayer of gratitude to Ilúvatar.

All her thoughts scattered when her husband wrapped an arm around her waist, drawing her close, then slipped his hand into her long tresses. He gazed into her eyes; his were dancing as he quietly held her.

Finally, she whispered, “Frodo.”

He chuckled softly, and lowered his head. At last he brushed her lips with his own. Lily almost gasped at the fire racing through her. She slipped both hands into his silky curls. But when he began to ease away, she pulled his head back down, gazing first into his eyes and then at his lips; deliciously red they were, like... roses, no, apples, no... raspberries, yes, raspberries. She smiled, and gazed up into his eyes again. With purposeful slowness, she softly caressed his lips, tenderly tasting...

She felt him trembling against her, and slid one hand from his dark locks, inside his coat and around his chest to his back, then pulled him closer, deepening their kiss. A shudder of her own echoed through her when he tightened his hold about her waist. His warmth stirred her soul, and a thought stole through her mind: surely she carried her beloved’s child. Then she pressed herself closer yet...

The bells sounded throughout Rivendell, announcing the call to the evening meal, and Lily and Frodo broke apart, breathless. She was pleased to note they were only a little disheveled; it would take a little simple smoothing and straightening to return them both to presentable states.

Frodo swallowed hard. “When will I learn I should not tease you so...”

Lily’s smile was warm and inviting. “I hope never... It is something to look forward to, my love, after my singing, whether I do well, or no.”

“I love you, Mistress Baggins,” Frodo smiled broadly, gradually getting his breath back.

“Mister Baggins...” Lily giggled as she entered into the spirit of their game. “I love you with all my heart...”

“We’ll be late, Mistress Baggins, and I love you with all that I am...”

“Only a little, Mister Baggins, whom I’ve loved for years and years...”

Frodo opened the door, struggling not to laugh out loud, and offered Lily his arm. “Mistress Baggins, I shall love you for ever after...”

Lily took his arm, then reached up and kissed her husband’s cheek. “See that you do, Mister Baggins. For I shall love you for ever and ever...”

They navigated the corridors to the Feasting Hall whispering of their love, each for the other. When they were in sight of the hall’s entryway, they stopped.

Frodo chuckled. “Shall we call it a draw, love of my life?”

Lily smiled mischievously. “Keeper of my heart, what say you we pick up where we left off, after the singing... I may need to hear how much you love me.”

He whispered in her ear, “I love you, so much. Lily-sweet, you could sing all the notes out of tune, and still it would be beautiful.” Then he kissed the tip of her ear.

“I love you, so much more, dear heart,” she whispered, then led her husband in for the evening meal.

---------

Lily was quiet throughout supper, endeavoring to remember what Frodo told her about it being all right to be nervous and being among friends. She glanced around the table several times, and knew he spoke the truth, but she worried her offering would somehow be lacking in comparison to the music of the Elves.

After their meal, Frodo helped her down from the table, and she searched his eyes. Then she returned his encouraging smile.

He whispered in her ear, “Lily-sweet, why don’t we listen to the music for a while. It will ease your fears, I think. Remember that your song, whatever you’ve chosen, will be different but just as beautiful in its own way.”

Lily nodded and breathed deeply, then settled close to her husband to enjoy the evening’s entertainment. And he was proved right; she found herself relaxing and worrying less and less about her own presentation, until she realized it was almost time for her offering.

Felena endeavored to be patient and refrained from giving Lily a gentle push. The Elf watched the couple enjoying the music, and noted the lateness of the hour. The Ring-bearer’s bride would need to retire soon. Then she noticed the little hobbit rise from her place beside her husband, and take her place to sing.

Lily glanced around the Hall of Fire, and nearly froze; the room was filled to overflowing. Not an empty seat could be seen anywhere and those standing spilled out onto the balconies. What had she been thinking? Her searching eyes found Frodo, gazing up at her. A smile touched his lips, and he opened himself to her. She felt his depthless love and adoration, and everyone else faded. She would sing to her lover. Her voice, though not strong, was clear.

“My song does not bear the enchantment of the Elves, but it is dear to me, as my sister taught me it, to sing to my niece. She told me it was my mother’s favourite lullaby.”

Frodo recognized the song from Brandy Hall, and remembered his Auntie Esme singing it to Merry, when he was a babe, then wondered if his own mother ever sang it to him. Amazement filled his heart as he realized that his wife’s singing created within him the same peaceful feeling the Elvish music always had, but it wove a different pattern in his mind. The Elvish compositions escorted him far away, to fanciful places he did not know. Lily’s melody enveloped him within the circle of her love, painting scenes of the Shire and Bag End.

Little one day is done
The Sun waves fond farewell
Welcome the Moon
Shepherding His friends
The night and the stars above.

Little one day is done
As sleep tiptoes in ‘til day
Work and play wait
Upon the shelf of slate
Renewed with dawn’s awaking.

Little one day is done
Night’s invitation whispers
Come dream with me
In my sheltering company;
It is gentle, swift, and sweet.

Little one day is done
The Sun wanders off to bed
Night’s blanket drawn
O’er the Shire’s weary sight
Bids hobbit babes sleep ‘til light.

Little one day is done
Moon, stars, and fire-flies
In the gloaming flicker
Shadowed echo of Her burning
Sleep deep, my child, my light...

The utter silence of the room lengthened, but Lily was only aware of the tears streaming down her husband’s cheeks. She smiled softly for him, then he stood and held out his hand to her. When she stepped forward and took his hand, all the Elves bowed low as one.

From his chair by the hearth, Bilbo woke with a snort and wiped the wetness from his face. Then he applauded, unaware of the Elves straightening. “Beautiful, dear Lily, simply beautiful. Worthy of any Elvish setting, don’t you agree, Lord Elrond?”

Elrond allowed a smile to touch his mouth, unashamed of the single tear sliding down his cheek. “Indeed, my old friend. We are fortunate to be blessed with such unlooked-for beauty. Thank you, dear lady. And now the hour grows late, and I imagine you would prefer to retire?”

Standing within her husband’s light embrace, Lily met the Elf-lord’s eyes and nodded.

Felena smiled as the couple passed, and then they stopped.

Frodo glanced at Lily, then turned to the Elf. “Felena, if they are available, for our first meal of the day on the morrow, might we please have mild cheese, a sweet loaf made of cornmeal, and pears?”

“Certainly.” Felena bowed, and suppressed her curiosity.

---------

In their rooms, Frodo took his wife into his arms, and whispered in her ear, “I love you, Lily-sweet.”

“Show me, Frodo-love,” she murmured, against the warmth of his mouth. “Show me, like yesternight, and this morning.”

Frodo trembled, and caressed her lips.

---------

11 August 1420sr

Felena knocked, and heard the call to enter. She knew well enough from the sound of it the couple had been out on the balcony. They were frequently seen there in the mornings, Lily standing in front of Frodo, with Frodo’s arms about her waist. The fresh bloom of the couple warmed every heart in Rivendell, and Felena again felt blessed to be the one to serve them. She entered their room, carrying a tray laden with the foods requested the previous evening. She turned to go, then stopped, and turned back.

“May I ask a question?”

Lily and Frodo smiled at each other, then Lily answered. “Certainly.”

“Every day of the week, you are unconcerned about what I bring for breakfast, but one, the same one, like today. Why is that?”

The couple blushed. They glanced at each other, then Lily nodded.

Frodo cleared his throat. “By Shire reckoning, today is Wednesday. Lily and I were wed on the first of June, a Wednesday. So, every Wednesday we try to share some part of the day we wed.”

“No easy task,” Lily giggled. “As days here in Rivendell don’t seem quite the same as in the Shire.”

“Indeed,” Frodo smiled warmly. “When we were home, we made certain there was a fresh bowl of roses from our garden in our bedroom, just as on the day we wed. We also prepared something special, such as a food basket, to share during the day. On our travels, we endeavored to share a food we each had for one of the meals on that day. We also choose a memory from that day to share, and one of the moments in our ceremony.”

“What a charming custom,” Felena smiled. “Do all couples in the Shire celebrate the day they wed every week?”

Lily searched her husband’s eyes, then turned to the Elf. “No. That is something Frodo and I have chosen to do.” Lily wondered just how interested the Elf might be in Shire customs, then she sensed Felena’s curiosity, and continued.

“In the Shire, after a couple is wed, they share ten days alone together, in what is called the niwealdor, or the new life. It is a period set aside that all in the Shire respect, to help the new couple settle, leaving the past life, lived apart, behind and starting their new life together. The blending of two lives is no easy matter and much must be overcome in simple day to day living; for example, I need more sleep than Frodo.” She felt his smile, and warmed to her subject.

“And we truly did start a new life, for both of us, the day we wed, and we never want to forget, or take for granted, that Ilúvatar gave us each other. So we celebrate the gifting at every opportunity. But we nearly forgot, our third week together. So much company stopped by to wish us well, we lost track of the days and a full week slipped by without us reflecting once on the day we wed. In a way, it frightened us a little that we could so easily be swept up with everyday living that we would forget... By choosing to celebrate the day of the week we wed, it allows us to remember every week, no matter how busy things are, how very blessed we are to have each other. And in truth,” she grinned, and lowered her voice, “we remember more often because we are planning for the coming day.”

Felena stared at the couple in open wonder. Without thinking, she murmured, “Ilúvatar chose well.” She blinked as if coming to herself. “Thank you for sharing this with me.” Then she bowed and slipped from the room.

The couple started in on their meal, then shared a smile and fed each other.

“Lily-sweet, what would you like to do today?” Frodo sighed contentedly, and leaned back in his chair.

“I’d like to go to the Conservatory,” Lily decided.

Frodo chuckled. “How was I blessed with someone who fits me so perfectly?”

Lily giggled. “It seems Ilúvatar remembers even the tiniest details.”

“Indeed,” Frodo agreed, more seriously. “Ilúvatar has blessed us beyond measure. Is there anything particular you’d like to study?”

“No...” Lily paused, stopped by a sudden thought. “Yes.” She searched her husband’s eyes. “I’d like to look at the maps.” She glanced away, then back. “Would you show me -- would you show me the path you took?”

Frodo expected a sharp pang of sorrow, but it did not come. A sadness touched his heart, but nothing of the despair he once knew so intimately. He offered his lover a gentle smile.

“Yes... yes, I will show you the way we traveled, on the Quest.”

Lily felt his peace, and an overflowing happiness filled her heart. “Thank you.”

Frodo offered her his hand and softly kissed her cheek, then they headed to the Conservatory together, where, hours later, Bilbo found them. The maps of the Quest had only just been put away, and a map of Minas Tirith pulled out.

“Come along, you two, it’s a fine day to be out!”

Lily giggled. “Uncle Bilbo, in Rivendell, it is always a fine day to be out.”

Bilbo blinked in surprise, then chortled. “I suppose it is, but now I have company to enjoy it with me, so off we go.” At this he herded the couple out of the Conservatory, through several corridors, and into a quiet garden, with a table set for tea.

Frodo chuckled. “You clearly had this well planned and anticipated no argument from us.”

“Indeed,” Bilbo declared, hooking his thumbs into his waistcoat pockets. “In truth, I’d have brooked no arguments from you.” He winked broadly. “Mind your elders -- you’ll live longer.”

Frodo and Lily laughed out loud, and settled on the bench Bilbo indicated, to listen to stories the old hobbit had gleaned from Aragorn in his younger years, including the first meeting with his future queen, the Lady Arwen.

Adber saw to it the empty dishes and teapot were replenished, until it was time for the evening meal. Then Felena escorted her charges back to their rooms, to ensure Master Bilbo did not detain them so long they ran out of time to ready themselves for the Feasting Hall.

---------

This night, Lily did not care what the Elves thought, and during their time in the Hall of Fire, she sat close to Frodo, her head on his shoulder, her hand intertwined with his in her lap. Never had she imagined she could feel so content and at peace, especially in such a place as Rivendell, so far from the Shire.

She sensed Frodo’s deep peace as well; it had come to him after he had shown her the route he and Sam and the creature Gollum had taken on the Quest. The lovers were as one, and Frodo’s shoulder was warm where Lily’s head lay upon it.

They listened for several hours, content in the company, hearing the stories of the Elves woven in song. Then Felena invited Lily to dance.

The hobbit had watched the Elves bend and sway in a fashion both pleasing and new to her. She gazed up at her friend. “Just me?”

Felena smiled. “Not with this.” She touched Lily’s forehead. “With this.” She lightly touched the young hobbit’s heart.

Lily opened herself to the spirit of the Elves and stepped into a dance, while Felena sang of Lúthien and Beren. She found herself at first endeavoring to blend the grace she felt from the Elves with the dances she learned in the Shire. Then she remembered Felena’s words, and suddenly her childhood memories of dancing alone in fields of flowers released her body to the joy of expressing itself.

She finished only slightly breathless, and with a new exhilaration. How could something so simple change her? -- and yet, she knew it had. And as she settled beside her husband once more, she realized he never participated, only watched and listened. Instantly, she knew: all deigned he had done his part, and now it was their part to offer him ease...

Her heart spoke clearly. Lily drew Frodo to her, leading him back to their rooms, then loved him deep into the night.