I own nothing but my OC.
Chapter 9: Many Meetings
Frodo woke and found himself lying in bed. At first he thought that he had slept late, after a long unpleasant dream that still hovered on the edge of memory. Or perhaps he had been ill? But the ceiling looked strange; it was flat, and it had dark beams richly carved. He lay a little while longer looking at patches of sunlight on the wall, and listening to the sound of a waterfall.
"Where am I, and what is the time?" he said aloud to the ceiling.
"In the house of Elrond, and it is ten o'clock in the morning." Said a familiar voice. "It is October the twenty-fourth, if you want to know."
"Gandalf!" Frodo cried, sitting up. There was the old wizard, sitting in a chair by the open window. Gandalf smiled slightly to himself, relieved to see the dear hobbit looking so animated. Those girls had been right. He hadn't had to wait long for Frodo to wake after relieving Sam.
"Yes," he said, "I am here. And you are lucky to be here, too, after all the absurd things you have done since you left home." The wizard had already heard quite enough about the misadventures that took place during their venture from the rest of his traveling companions.
Frodo lay down again. He felt too comfortable and peaceful to argue, and in any case he did not think he would get the better of an argument. He was fully awake now, and the memory of his journey was returning: the disastrous 'short cut' through the Old Forest; the 'accident' at The Prancing Pony; and his madness in putting on the Ring in the dell under Weathertop. While he was thinking of all these things and trying in vain to bring memory down to his arrival in Rivendell, there was a long silence, broken only by the soft puffs of Gandalf's pipe, as he blew white smoke-rings out of the window.
"Where's Sam?" Frodo asked at length. "And are the others all right?"
"Yes, they are all safe and sound." Gandalf answered. "Sam was here until I sent him off to get some rest, about half an hour ago."
"What happened at the Ford?" said Frodo. "It all seemed so dim, somehow; and it still does."
"Yes it would. You were beginning to fade." Answered Gandalf. "The wound was overcoming you at last. A few more hours and you would have been beyond our aid. But you have some strength in you, my dear hobbit! As you showed in the Barrow. That was touch and go: perhaps the most dangerous moment of all. I wish you could have held out at Weathertop."
"You seem to know a great deal already." Frodo said. "I have not spoken to the others about the Barrow. At first it was too horrible, and afterwards there were other things to think about. How do you know about it?"
"You have talked long in your sleep, Frodo," Gandalf said, "and it has not been hard for me to read your mind and memory. Do not worry! Though I said 'absurd' just now, I did not mean it. I think well of you and of the others. It is no small feat to have come so far, and through such dangers, still bearing the Ring."
"We should never have done it without Strider. And Devin and Kitty were of some help to us as well." Frodo said. "But we needed you. I did not know what to do without you."
"I was delayed," Gandalf said, "and that nearly proved our ruin. And yet I am not sure: it may have been better so."
"I wish you would tell me what happened!"
"All in good time! You are not supposed to talk or worry about anything today, by Elrond's orders."
"But talking would stop me thinking and wondering, which are quite as tiring." Said Frodo. "I am wide awake now, and I remember so many things that want explaining. Why were you delayed? You ought to tell me that at least."
"You will hear all you wish to know." Gandalf said. "We shall have a Council, as soon as you are well enough. At the moment I will only say that I was held captive."
"You?" cried Frodo.
"Yes, I, Gandalf the Grey," said the wizard solemnly. "There are many powers in the world, for good or for evil. Some are greater than I am. Against some I have not yet been measured. But my time is coming. The Morgul-lord and his Black Riders have come forth. War is preparing!"
"Then you knew of the Riders already—before I met them?"
"Yes, I knew of them. And I spoke of them once to you; for the Black Riders are the Ringwraiths, the Nine Servants of the Lord of the Rings. But I did not know that they had arisen again or I should have fled with you at once. I heard news of them only after I left you in June; but that story must wait. For the moment we have been saved from disaster by Aragorn and those girls. Devin saved you when you stopped breathing at the Ford."
"Yes," said Frodo, "it was Strider, Devin, and Kitty that saved us. Yet I was afraid of them at first. Sam never quite trusted them, I think, not at any rate until we met Lady Arwen." Gandalf smiled.
"I have heard all about Sam." He said. "He has no more doubts now."
"I am glad." Frodo said. "For I have become very fond of them. Well, fond is not the right word. I mean they are dear to me; though they are strange, and grim at times. In fact, they remind me often of you. I didn't know that any of the Big People were like that; though Devin is rather small for one. I thought, well, that they were just big, and rather stupid: kind and stupid like Butterbur; or stupid and wicked like Bill Ferny. But then we don't know much about Men in the Shire, except perhaps Breelanders."
"You don't know much even about them, if you think old Barliman is stupid." Gandalf said. "He is wise enough on his own ground. He thinks less than he talks, and slower; yet he can see through a brick wall in time (as they say in Bree). But there are few left in Middle Earth like Aragorn son of Arathorn. The race of Kings from over the Sea is nearly at an end. It may be that this War of the Ring will be their last adventure."
"Do you really mean that Strider is one of the people of the old Kings?" said Frodo in wonder. "I thought they had all vanished long ago. I though he was only a Ranger."
"Only a Ranger!" cried Gandalf. "My dear Frodo, that is just what Rangers are: the last remnant in the North of the great people, the Men of the West. They have helped me before; and I shall need their help in the days to come; for we have reached Rivendell, but the Ring is not yet at rest."
"I suppose not." Frodo said. "But so far my only thought has been to get here; and I hope I shan't have to go any further. It is very pleasant just to rest. I have had a month of exile and adventure, and I find that has been as much as I want."
"Frodo!" Sam cried with excitement when he entered the room and saw him awake. "Mr. Frodo!" He ran over to his bedside. Gandalf raised an eyebrow. It would seem his advice to get some sleep had been ignored.
"Sam." Frodo said, pleasantly surprised.
"Bless you, you're awake!" Sam said.
"I thought you were supposed to be resting?" Frodo said.
"I couldn't sleep." Sam said. "We were that worried about you. Weren't we, Mr. Gandalf?"
"By the skills of Lord Elrond, you're beginning to mend." Gandalf answered, glancing up as the elf-lord entered the room to check on his patient. The face of Elrond was ageless, neither old nor young, though in it was written the memory of many things both glad and sorrowful. His hair was dark as the shadows twilight, and upon his brow was set a circlet of silver; his eyes were grey as a clear evening, and in them was a light like the light of stars. Venerable he seemed as a king crowned with many winters, and yet hale as a tried warrior in the fullness of his strength. He was the Lord of Rivendell and mighty among both Elves and Men.
"Welcome to Rivendell, Frodo Baggins." Elrond said graciously.
Meanwhile, Kitty and Devin were chilling in one of the elven gazebos, watching the waterfalls while sharing the earbuds for Kitty's ipod.
"You know, Devin, I've been thinking." Kitty said.
"Uh-oh." Devin said, bracing herself.
"Maybe we should stay." Kitty said seriously.
"You want to stay?" Devin asked dubiously. "You realize it's just going to be more of the same if we do, right? And these batteries won't last forever. Normally you can barely even handle losing your connection to the internet for an hour."
"Pfft! Who needs the internet when you've got magic and big evil to slay?" Kitty retorted.
"I thought you preferred Harry Potter."
"Well, we're not in the Potter-verse. We're here; and I'll take what I can get." Kitty said firmly. "Come on. Do you really want to go home? This has to be like a dream come true for you! It's not like we really have anyone waiting for us back there."
"You have your parents and your brother." Devin reminded her. Kitty frowned. "Besides, it's not like they need our help. We both know how this ends. They're more than capable of saving this world without us. But we need to get back to ours before you run out of medicine." Right now her greatest concern was taking care of her best friend.
"Don't treat me like I'm crazy. I can take that from anyone but you." Kitty said sternly. "And don't talk to me about my family. You know how I feel about them. I don't want to leave. I haven't felt this alive since—since before you know what. I want this. I need this. Our whole lives we've dreamed of going off on some big adventure, and now we've landed smack dab at the beginning of the biggest one of all! Please, don't make me leave. Not now. This'll do me more good than any amount of pills ever could; besides, aren't you worried about them? These guys are your childhood heroes and something is seriously out of whack here. We need to stay and brainwash Aragorn into becoming king."
"Don't you mean convince?" Devin asked.
"Now, Devin," Kitty said, "you know the only 'convincing' I do is with my fists…"
"Okay, 'brainwashing' it is." Devin said, smiling wanly. "If you're sure this is what you really want then I'll stand by you. To be honest, I'm also worried about what might happen to our world should Sauron win—if two powerless girls can manage to slip through an inter-dimensional rift I'd hate to think what an evil Maiar like Sauron would be capable of, if he ever found it. But if at any point you start to change your mind, and decide you need to go home then please, please tell me. I can't lose you, too."
"Don't worry." Kitty said, smiling as she hugged her best friend. "I promise to give you a heads up if I start noticing any red flags that mean I might be heading for a relapse. Come on, let's go find the hobbits. Frodo should be awake by now, right?"
"All right." Devin said. "But we should probably let Elrond and Gandalf know we changed our minds; you know, before they waste valuable time trying fix a problem that's no longer a rush-job for us."
"His strength returns." Elrond observed as he and Gandalf watched from a balcony while Frodo walked out into the courtyard below with Sam to reunite with Merry, Pippin, Devin, and Kitty. There was great joy and relief on all their faces. Kitty pulled a surprised Frodo into a tight hug and spun around with him while Sam fussed and the others laughed. It was obvious they had all become good friends.
"That wound will never fully heal." Gandalf said. "He will carry it all the rest of his life."
"And yet to have come so far still bearing the Ring the Hobbit has shown extraordinary resilience to its evil." Elrond pointed out. Even now Frodo was continuing to heal much faster than they had anticipated.
"It is a burden he should never have had to bear. We can ask no more of Frodo." Gandalf said.
"Gandalf, the enemy is moving." Elrond said pointedly. "Sauron's forces are massing in the East. His Eye is fixed on Rivendell. From what those girls told us yesterday it sounded as though we should be able to defeat him, yet I cannot see that happening; and they also say something is wrong with the way some events have proceeded up to this point. I have not known an elf named Glorfindel since the first war against Sauron. Given their emphasis on how much of an effect even the most seemingly insignificant change can have, I find this troubling. And Saruman, you tell me, has betrayed us. Our list of allies grows thin."
"His treachery runs deeper than you know. By foul craft, Saruman has crossed Orcs with Goblin-men." Gandalf said. "He is breeding an army in the caverns of Isengard. An army that can move in sunlight and cover great distance at speed. Saruman is coming for the Ring."
"This evil cannot be concealed by the power of the Elves." Elrond said, furrowing his brow. "We do not have the strength to fight both Mordor and Isengard!" Gandalf fell silent and looked away. "Gandalf." The great elf-lord said firmly. "The Ring cannot stay here." As Gandalf looked up he could see some of the 'guests' the girls had mentioned were arriving at the gates of Rivendell: a fair-haired elf clothed in the style of Mirkwood rode in on a splendid white horse; and several dwarves, among whom were one or two familiar faces.
"This peril belongs to all Middle Earth." Elrond said, following the wizard's gaze with his own eyes. "They must decide now how to end it. The time of the Elves is over. My people are leaving these shores. Who will you look to when we have gone? The Dwarves? They hide in mountains seeking riches. They care not for the troubles of others."
"It is in Men that we must place our hope." Gandalf said, turning back to face his old friend.
"Men?" Elrond asked. "Men are weak. The race of Men is failing." He turned and walked back inside his study. Gandalf followed. "The blood of Númenor is all but spent, its pride and dignity forgotten. It is because of Men the Ring survives. I was there, Gandalf. I was there three-thousand years ago; I was there the day the strength of Men failed. It should have ended that day, but evil was allowed to endure. Isildur kept the Ring. The line of Kings is broken. There is no strength left in the world of Men. They are scattered, divided, leaderless."
"There is one who could unite them." Gandalf said. "One who could reclaim the throne of Gondor." The girls had hinted at this as well when they spoke of Aragorn and the shards of Narsil.
"He turned from that path a long time ago." Elrond said. "He has chosen exile."
Later that day Devin was enjoying some alone time while Kitty showed Merry and Pippin how to make paper airplanes, and had decided to take a walk and explore a little more of Rivendell. She paused when she felt eyes on her and turned to see that a very handsome, even beautiful, male elf with shining golden hair and silver eyes was staring at her with open curiosity. He must not have seen many humans her height before. Everyone (aside from the hobbits) seemed to be absurdly tall in this world. She stared back, taking in more details about him. He was dressed in mostly greens and browns, and his clothing was of a different style than the Rivendell Elves. He was also wearing a traveling cloak and leading a white horse. From this it was obvious he must be a traveler who had just arrived; the bow and quiver of arrows slung over his shoulders were the final clues as to who he might be.
"Am I correct in guessing that you are Legolas Greenleaf, Prince of Mirkwood? If you are looking for Lord Elrond, I believe you will find him in that building." Devin told him, pointing to the one she had met with him in earlier to discuss her and Kitty's change of heart. "If not, then I'm sure you'll at least be able to find someone who knows their way around better than I do."
"You have me at a disadvantage." Legolas said with a polite smile. So perfect and graceful in form was the human girl before him, despite her small stature, that one might have mistaken her for a young elf. He could not help but be intrigued by her unusual eye-color. Her irises were such a deep blue that they were nearly violet. "For someone I have never met before you seem to know much about me, yet I know nothing of you. Tell me, what is your name?"
"My name is—" Devin began to politely introduce herself, when she was suddenly tackled from behind and nearly knocked off her feet by a very familiar body mass.
"—Devin!" Kitty shouted excitedly, jumping up and down. "Devin! Devin! Guess what? I just saw some dwarves—and even they were taller than you! Haha, isn't that funny?" Kitty froze mid-laugh when she noticed Mr. Tall-blonde-and-handsome standing just behind her short friend. "Well, hello there." She said flirtatiously, putting on her 'come hither' eyes, while she leaned on Devin. "And who might you be?"
"Prince Legolas of Mirkwood." Devin deadpanned, unamused to find herself being reduced to Kitty's armrest. "Legolas, Kitty. Kitty, Legolas. There, now we all know each other's names." She said, introducing them. "Kitty, please get off me. You know I how demeaning I think it is when you do that."
"Greetings, your Royal Hotness." Kitty purred at the elf-prince as she eased off of the somewhat disgruntled Devin.
Legolas raised an eyebrow at Kitty. No.
"I thank you for your advice, Lady Devin. I shall go see Lord Elrond at once." He said, excusing himself. The two girls watched him walk away.
"Call me." Kitty called after him. Devin smiled wryly and shook her head.
"I can't believe you."
"What? I can't help it. Elves are pretty. It's practically a reverse-harem up in here."
"You're incorrigible." Devin said, laughing.
"Have I ever mentioned how much I love it when you oh so casually use words over three syllables long?" Kitty said with a grin. "Come on. It's almost time for the 'Yay, Frodo survived!' feast. Let's go decide what to wear so you can help me tame this massive mane of gorgeous blonde curls into something a little more black-tie."
The girls had only just finished doing each other's hair in Devin's room when they were summoned to the hall by the ringing of many bells. They met up with the hobbits along the way, and found the hall of Elrond's house was filled with folk: Elves for the most part, though there were a few guests of other sorts, some of whom they had already met. Elrond, as was his custom, sat in a great chair at the end of the long table upon the dais; and next to him on the one side sat Arwen, on the other side sat Gandalf. Once again, Devin noted that Glorfindel appeared to be absent. She was beginning to think he may not exist at all, which she found very strange and puzzling.Frodo looked at them in wonder, for without the poisoned splinters in his wound to cloud his vision, he could now see Lady Arwen in full beauty. Young she was and yet not so. The braids of her dark hair were touched by no frost; her white arms and clear face were flawless and smooth, and the light of stars was in her bright eyes, blue as a cloudless night; yet queenly she looked, and thought and knowledge were in her glance, as of one who has known many things that the years bring. Above her brow her head was covered with a cap of silver lace netted with small gems, glittering white; but her soft grey raiment had no ornament save a girdle of leaves wrought in silver. Such loveliness in a living thing Frodo had never seen before nor imagined in his mind; and looking closer even Gandalf, whom he thought he knew so well, was revealed as a lord of dignity and power beside Elrond. The wizard's long white hair, his sweeping silver beard, and his broad shoulders, made him look like some wise king of ancient legend. In his aged face under great snowy brows his wise eyes were set like coals that could leap suddenly into fire. The hobbit was both surprised and abashed to find that he had a seat at Elrond's table among all these folk so high and fair. Though he had a suitable chair, and was raised upon several cushions, he felt very small, and rather out of place; but that feeling quickly passed. The feast was merry and the food all that his hunger could desire. It was some time before he looked about him again or even turned to his neighbors.He looked first for his friends. Sam had begged to be allowed to wait on his master but hat been told that for this time he was a guest of honor. Frodo could see him now, sitting with Pippin, Merry, Kitty, and Devin at the upper end of one of the side stables close to the dais. He could see no sign of Strider.
His friends also noticed this from their table; and, though she said nothing, Devin was very curious about where he might be since she was pretty sure his whereabouts during this time had remained secret even in the book. Kitty somehow managed to end up in an eating contest with Pippin and Merry, and Devin soon found herself in conversation with the red-haired dwarf seated across from her.
"I am Gimli, son of Glóin." He introduced himself pleasantly as he piled more food onto his plate, and pointed out his father, who was seated next to Frodo at the table on the dais. "And you, lassie?"
"I am Devin Gladwin, daughter of John Gladwin." Devin replied politely in the same fashion.
"Hmm… those names are strange to me." He said thoughtfully. "Where are you from, Devin Gladwin?"
"Just 'Devin' is fine. I come from a land far, far away from here." She said with a wry smile. "And I shall leave it at that for now. A girl has to have some mystery in order to remain interesting, don't you think?"
"You're interesting enough without it." Gimli said as he ate. "It's nice to see two girls with such healthy appetites."
"We're making up for lost time." Devin said with a wry smile. "It was a rough journey here for us, but I don't want to bore you with the details. I'm sure you'll hear about it at the Council tomorrow." Once again Devin felt as though she was being watched. She looked up and found herself staring into the clear and bright grey eyes of Legolas again. She felt her cheeks heat up slightly as she looked back down and took another sip of wine. She hoped she wasn't blushing. She didn't usually get flustered so easily. Maybe she should lay off the wine…