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Sam looked with some trepidation to the far green country on the horizon. Green was good, but he wasn’t entirely sure that he, a Ringbearer for a mere few hours only, would be as welcome in the West as Mr. Frodo and Mr. Bilbo had no doubt been.

He did hope one of them was still alive to greet him. Aside from them, he was entirely uncertain of his welcome. That made two of them, he supposed.

He was quite thankful to have a companion for this voyage, having never messed about with boats before.

As if he’d heard his thoughts, Maglor glanced over at him with a wry smile.

“Worry not, Master Gardner,” he advised. “If either of us have cause for concern, it is I, not you, who should be worried.”

“You’ve managed the ship just fine,” Sam pointed out. “So clearly your worry that Mr. Ulmo hasn’t forgiven you was just you fretting. And I’ve asked you several times now to call me Sam. Master Gardner was all very well as Mayor of the Shire, but it’s a bit fancy for any other occasion.”

Maglor laughed.

“Master Samwise, then,” he said. “But I would wager that Ulmo will be happy to wait until you’re on dry land to sink the boat out from under me, even if I am on this one by your leave.”

“I can’t see where you need my leave,” Sam grumbled. “You’re returning to your own country. It’s only right, seeing as there doesn’t seem to be much room for elves in this new age of the Big Folk.”

Maglor’s laugh this time was almost sorrowful.

“Yes, it does seem that both your folk and mine are surplus to needs in the new Age, and the dwarves into the bargain. It’s just as well you’ve chosen to sail. I don’t imagine I should have enjoyed fading, and my grandsons might well have refused to let me on their boat should they choose to sail.”

Sam couldn’t help the harrumph.

“It seems to me you might have sailed long ago, at the latest with Master Elrond and Lady Galadriel,” he said sternly. “Grateful as I am that you were still about to manage the actual sailing part, I don’t see why you delayed. You certainly weren’t expecting to man a boat for a hobbit.”

“As gracious as Galadriel was to your company, I assure you she would have been considerably less so if asked to share a ship with me,” Maglor replied, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. “Even for Elrond’s sake! But look – I believe that is Tol Eressëa we are passing now.”

“Do you suppose that’s where Mister Frodo and the rest are?” Sam asked hopefully.

He had gotten his sea legs eventually, but he would still be quite happy to get ashore and not have to set foot in a boat again except perhaps for short fishing trips. He had heard you could catch fish from a boat that didn’t go in to shore, and was curious to see what a day fishing from a boat rather than a riverbank was like.

He also had a suspicion that elves who lived by the Sea would know a great deal about cooking fish. Saltwater fish had been a rarity in the Shire, and he was eager to learn more ways to prepare them. His first attempts during the voyage had not been up to his usual standards, though to his surprise Maglor had eaten the results without complaint.

“I could not say for certain,” Maglor replied. “But I rather doubt it. Your friends sailed with my kin, who all have relatives on the mainland. I suspect that is more likely where they would choose to settle. But we’ll know soon enough. I do not think it is a good idea for us to sail right into Alqualondë, but there are smaller villages to the north or south we might put in at and ask after news.”

“I can’t say I’m much fussed where we land, just so long as we do,” Sam said in relief. “No offense to your Mr. Ulmo, but I shall be happy to have good solid earth under my feet again.”

Maglor said nothing, but adjusted the sails to set them on a more northerly course.

As the shoreline drew closer, Sam saw he was aiming for a small village that appeared fairly quiet compared to the larger city down the coast. At least, it appeared quiet from a distance. By the time they were close enough to dock, a small crowd had gathered.

“So much for a quiet landing,” Sam chuckled.

“Yes, I should have realized sooner that our ship looks little like those of the Teleri in this age,” Maglor sighed. “There was little hope we would not attract attention.”

“At least we’ll have our news,” Sam said bracingly.

“We may have more than that, my good Master Samwise,” Maglor replied, his voice a bit odd. “Help me ready the mooring ropes, if you would?”

There were more than enough elves on the dock waiting to assist them in mooring the ship, and eager voices called welcomes.

Sam was happy to help as best as he could with docking, though he did reflect just for a moment on the unfairness of elves living thousands of years without their knees getting creaky.

“Welcome, Samwise Gardner, to Valinor,” Maglor said solemnly. “You have quite the reception committee.”

Sam blinked, and looked at all the assembled elves somewhat dubiously.

“I doubt all these fine folk are here for me,” he said.

Particularly as he could see several folks with reddish hair – which unless he had misremembered, meant they were almost certainly kin to Maglor.

Maglor laughed softly.

“I think you underestimate yourself.”

He extended a hand to help Sam clamber from the ship to the dock. Where a gathering of hobbits would have promptly swarmed round, the elves were somewhat more patient. Well, most of them.

He’d been right about at least one of those reddish heads, for a lady whose brown tresses sparkled as if they’d caught the sunset leapt forward to first embrace, then shake his companion.

“Makalaurë,” she said sternly, “don’t you ever -”

“I think I may safely promise, Mother, that I will never do that again,” Maglor replied, sounding closer to sheepish than Sam had ever heard an elf before. “May I introduce my shipmate, Master Samwise Gardner? Master Samwise, my mother, Nerdanel Mahtaniel.”

“I am please to meet you, Master Gardner,” Nerdanel said, and to Sam’s complete surprise, it was accompanied by a bow.

“Please don’t trouble yourself, my lady,” Sam said hastily. “Just plain Sam will do.”

“If that is your wish,” she replied. “But I should warn you that many will wish to pay their respects – though we will wait a day or two. I suspect there is someone else whose company you would enjoy more than ours, particularly today of all days.”

She smiled, and beckoned to a pair of elves Sam was relieved to recognize.

“Why, bless me, Lady Galadriel! And Master Elrond! I hope you didn’t go to any trouble!”

“No trouble at all, Master Samwise,” Galadriel said. “We are here to bring you the last few lengths of your long journey – your coming has been eagerly looked for.”

Sam glanced at Maglor.

“Go!” he said. “I’m in safe enough hands here. And no doubt we will visit you soon enough.”

“Yes,” Elrond laughed. “Everyone will be patient tonight, but your sitting room may get rather crowded tomorrow.”

Sitting room sounded encouraging so far as Sam was concerned. He made to heft his bags onto his shoulders only to find Master Elrond taking them instead.

“Is this all you brought?” he asked, sounding somewhat concerned. “No matter, you’ll find new clothes easy enough to come by.”

Sam hadn’t the heart to say he hadn’t thought over much on clothes, and most of what he had packed would probably be of no interest to grand folk like elves.

He followed Master Elrond and Lady Galadriel away from the docks and toward the houses beyond. They were different to anything he’d seen in the Shire, but he supposed that was to be expected.

The house they stopped at had clearly been either made or remade with hobbits in mind. The door had two knobs – one at elf height, the other at hobbit height. Even without that, the sheer number of plants around would have given away that this was a hobbitish place.

Lord Elrond knocked, but it was Lady Galadriel who opened the door.

The house within was just as interesting a mix of hobbit and elf as the outside.

The tiled pattern in the floor was nothing Sam had seen before, but the cozy room beyond would not have been out of place at Bag End. And…

“Bless me, Mr. Frodo!”

“My dear Sam!”

Frodo was sitting on a sofa, with one bandage-swathed foot propped up on a cushion in front of him.

“Oh, Sam! I wanted to greet you at the dock with the others, but I was so excited to see the ship finally coming in that I missed a step coming down from upstairs and twisted my ankle so badly I had to rely on Elrond to bring you here instead.”

Frodo sounded quite disappointed.

“As you can see, he is safely here, Frodo,” Lady Galadriel said, a twinkle in her eye. “Is there anything else we can get for you? Otherwise I think you will wish to be left to yourselves this evening.”

“No, you’ve both quite generous as it is!” Frodo exclaimed. “Thank you again!”

With a smile and a bow, the two elves slipped out, no doubt returning to the docks and Maglor. Sam was sorry only for a moment that he wouldn’t get to see if Lady Galadriel truly was as cross with her cousin as he seemed to think.

“Oh, dear, Mr. Frodo, your ankle,” Sam said fretfully. “This is what comes of leaving you on your own, I expect - for I don’t suppose Mr. Bilbo is still around, is he?”

“I’m afraid not, Sam,” Frodo replied. “He went peacefully about twenty years ago, much as they say the early Numenoreans used to do. He told me one day that he had decided it was time and then some for another adventure, arranged a Farewell Party, and when he went to sleep the evening after the party, that was that.”

“I am sorry, Mr. Frodo. I’d have come sooner if I could have. But I didn’t think Rosie would manage the journey and I couldn’t leave her behind a second time. I had to wait for her to do the leaving, as it were.”

“My dear Sam,” Frodo sighed. “I never expected you would leave Rosie. I am only relieved to see that you’re here at long last. The ankle really is my own fault. Trying to take stairs like a boy running headlong down the Hill, at my age! You’d have told me off as thoroughly as Elrond did had you seen it.”

“Well, you’ll not be doing it again,” Sam said sternly.

“No, I’ve learnt my lesson!” Frodo said with a sigh. “Not to mention my tumble quite ruined my plans of having a proper dinner ready for you – I imagine it was tight rations by the end of the voyage, unless you managed to pack a good deal more food than it looked like in your little ship.”

“No matter, you know I can cook well enough, Mr. Frodo,” Sam replied. “And I’ve had a good deal more practice since you left! But you needn’t fret, we ate well on the boat, even if it was a little boring by the end.”

“We? It wasn’t just you?” Frodo asked in surprise.

“No…” Sam said slowly. “It’s a bit of a tale, but I had a travelling companion.”

“Well there’s a story here for certain!” Frodo exclaimed. “Who did you sail with? Have Elrond’s sons sailed as well?”

“I shall tell you about it over supper. Just point me at the kitchen and I’ll get started. It’ll be good to cook properly again after all those weeks in a boat.”

“I’ll point you at the kitchen, but proving how well you cook can wait until tomorrow,” Frodo laughed. “Elrond and Galadriel made supper for us, seeing as I couldn’t very well manage it. Elrond said he trusted you’d be sensible enough to keep me from trying to stand too much tomorrow morning. But I can hobble to the kitchen well enough to help with anything that can be done sitting down.”

“Never mind your hobbling,” Sam sighed. “Just you sit tight, I’ll bring supper in here. And then you can hear my tale.”

---

In point of fact, Sam did not get to his tale that evening. The surprisingly hearty meat stew and lovely rich bread that was keeping warm on the kitchen hearth was a welcome change from waybread and fish, and Frodo was keen to hear all the doings of the Shire, with particular attention to his old friends Merry, Pippin, and Fatty in addition to Sam, Rosie, and their family.

Frodo was delighted to hear about Sam’s children, though he said ruefully that he shouldn’t like to be quizzed on all the names and birthdays right away. They talked until well into the night, until Sam couldn’t hold back his yawns any longer, for it had been a very long day.

“Off to bed with you!” Frodo cried. “You should have said something hours ago rather than let me keep pestering you for all the news of the four Farthings in one go! You’ll find your room ready, just at the top of the stairs. I’m usually in the other room up there, but Elrond forbade me to try the stairs for several days at the least, so I’ll take Bilbo’s old room down here. He had a dreadful time with stairs in the end, so we turned what was originally the library into his bedroom. I haven’t gotten round to turning it back into a proper library yet, so there’s still a bed in there.”

Sam insisted on helping Frodo to bed first, to be sure he didn’t take another fall. Only then did he climb the stairs to find that as homey a room as he could have imagined had been prepared for him, with a lovely soft bed covered in a quilt that put him in mind of the ones Rosie had made when they were first married. Now why hadn’t he thought to bring one of those quilts with him? Elenor, Daisy, or Ruby could surely have spared him one... 

He dropped off to sleep almost the moment his head met the pillow.

In the morning, he discovered his bedroom window faced the sea – and if Mr. Frodo’s did as well, it was no mystery how he’d seen their ship long before it had reached the dock. Sam was more pleased to find that there were window boxes full of rosemary, thyme, and bee balm. This was a house a hobbit could be happy in!

He came downstairs to find Frodo already stirring, and quite insistent on helping to make breakfast.

Sam had his own thoughts on that, but he supported Frodo through to the well-appointed kitchen all the same.  Sam was eager to actually use the kitchen, for with that stove and so much space to work, it even put Bag End to shame!

“And let’s have it out now, Sam,” Frodo said as they reached the kitchen. “You needn’t call me ‘ Mister Frodo’. We’re both gentlehobbits living out our golden years among elves. I expect Galadriel and Elrond will say something similar – even most elves don’t stand much on titles here, not unless it’s a formal occasion.”

“Probably on account of so many of them have been kings at one time or another,” Sam muttered as he settled Frodo on one of the interesting benches in the kitchen. He realized on closer inspection that they had been made so that both hobbits and elves could sit at the same table without either being uncomfortable. “I’ll do my best, Mist- I mean, Frodo. But it’s the habit of a lifetime, you know.”

“Oh, I know,” Frodo laughed. “It took me some time to get over being on first name terms with so many famous elves I’d read about in history books! But now you have to tell me all about how you came to have a companion on your voyage – and who it was!”

Sam sighed as he began assembling the ingredients they’d need for breakfast. Best to get it over with right away, he reckoned.

“I sailed with Maglor,” he said briskly.

Frodo nearly fell off his seat in surprise.

“Maglor Feanorion?” he demanded in astonishment.

“There’s only one Maglor so far as I know,” Sam replied.

“Sam! You’re joking, surely – Maglor Feanorion ?” Seeing the look on Sam’s face, he whistled softly. “How ever did that come about?”

Sam paused from stacking eggs into a bowl and tried to decide how best to start.

“Well, I suppose it began with the Red Book,” he said slowly. “Bilbo wrote a good deal, you wrote as much again about the Ring quest, and I added a few bits after that, though nothing near as substantial, mostly just a few small things about Merry and Pippin and such, what they did in later years. Oh, and a bit about Fatty, I thought he deserved it once the full tale of what he’d done at Crickhollow and after came out. Pippin copied my additions into the book he made as well, the Thain’s Book.”

Frodo smiled, for thanks to all the talk the night before, he now had a fairly good idea of how things had gone for Merry, Pippin, and Fatty after he had left the Shire.

“Here, give me the eggs, I can crack them and beat them while you get started on the bacon,” he said.

“It may have been the making of the Thain’s book that started the ball rolling,” Sam continued, passing the eggs over as requested. “Pippin began copying out the Red Book for his father not long after you left. Mr. Paladin had concluded that it wasn’t wise to have but one copy in all the Shire, for what if something should happen to it? So he asked for another copy to keep at Great Smials.”

“Sam,” Frodo interjected. “Why will you call Merry and Pip and even Fatty by name, but Pippin’s father is still ‘Mr. Paladin’? You were master of Bag End and Mayor!”

“True enough,” Sam admitted, trading the bowl with the now beaten eggs for onions and mushrooms to be chopped while he finished doing the bacon that was just beginning to hiss in the frying pan. “But Mr. Paladin was the older generation, and I still felt like plain Sam Gamgee most of the time, not Samwise the Brave or Sam Gardner the Mayor, so I kept on as I’d begun. It was one thing to use familiar names with Merry and Pip and Fatty, and another to say ‘Paladin’ or ‘Saradoc’ or even ‘Scattergold’ to the older folks.”

Frodo snorted.

“I doubt they would have batted an eye. My goodness, Sam, after the Battle of Bywater, I imagine Cousin Paladin’s only possible objection to you would be that you married Rosie Cotton rather than one of his three daughters! Pimpernel and Pervinca were both your age, you know.”

Sam chuckled as he flipped the bacon.

“Mr. Paladin wouldn’t have stood for them chasing the hired lad at Bag End, and things would have been settled a good deal sooner between Rosie and me had it not been for the business with the Ring. So the Tooks missed out! In our generation, at least – I don’t recall if I told you last night that my Goldilocks married Pippin’s boy Faramir, and my Pippin his Eglantine.”

“Politic of you to have so many children that two could marry Tooks without the rest of the Shire howling in indignation about it,” Frodo said with a smile.

“Oh, there was still some grumbling,” Sam shrugged, taking the bacon off the fire. “But they’d all been thrown together since they were kids, so what could anyone expect? My lot and Pip’s and Merry’s and Fatty’s were constantly in and out of all four houses – practically living in each other’s pockets, as we used to say – so why it should surprise anyone that so many marriages came of it is beyond me.”

He collected the onions and mushrooms from Frodo, and started the onions in butter before turning to the eggs.

“At any rate, I wouldn’t have argued with Mr. Paladin even if I hadn’t seen the sense in what he was saying. What if there’d been a fire at Bag End? It might well have been the end of the Red Book and all that work you and Mr. Bilbo did for naught. So Pippin came to Bag End and copied it out. He was nearly a year with us just working on the copying, never mind having it all bound properly afterward. He’s also the one who talked me into naming small Merry – I was going to name the boy for him, as he was there, but he insisted Merry should have the honor first, being older. He’d only another two years to wait before young Pip came along, but we weren’t to know that at the time!”

Frodo made a motion to get up, but Sam waggled the wooden spoon he was using for the eggs warningly in his direction and Frodo settled at once.

“I can definitely see all that experience cooking with children in the room!” Frodo sighed.

“You know perfectly well Master Elrond said you’re to keep off that ankle, so you’ll keep off of it,” Sam said firmly. “And if you need added incentive, I shan’t carry on with the story if you insist on standing!”

“Oh, well, in that case,” Frodo laughed.

“Anyway, Pippin asked me a great many questions while he was copying out what became the Thain’s book, and not all of them ones I could answer. He checked with Merry on a few things, seeing as Merry had heard some things the rest of us hadn’t in his time in Gondor recovering, and been to Rivendell besides to put together what he called the Tale of Years. Merry turned into quite the scholar, he added a fair bit to the Red Book, though that wasn’t until later. But Pip also sent off a flurry of letters, mostly to Gondor, but I think one or two went to the Golden Wood and Mirkwood as well, for Celeborn and Thranduil are still there, or were last I heard.”

Frodo frowned.

“I somehow can’t quite picture King Thranduil writing to the Shire,” he said slowly.

“They were good questions, not silly ones, and he did answer,” Sam replied, most of his attention back on the stove, where he was now doing the mushrooms. “Pippin asked him quite a bit about the Ring War, trying to find out more about the battles up in the north. All any of us knew was what had happened in Gondor and Rohan. I suppose he might have asked Legolas, but that would have been a tale twice told, as it were, and Pip preferred to have it from someone who was there.”

Frodo nodded.

“Bilbo was the same,” he said. “’It’s better to ask someone who knows, Frodo my lad, not just someone who heard’, he used to say.”

“Pip did find answers for most of his questions, but if he also asked Thranduil about anything before Bilbo finding the Ring, he didn’t say. I’m only guessing, but I suspect he let his questions about the old history steep, as they weren’t terribly important for the Thain’s book. And he had other things to think on in those years, what with courting Diamond and all. Questions of elvish lore had to wait. But he didn’t forget about them.”

“I am intensely curious to hear how this gets from ‘elvish lore’ to you sailing with Maglor Feanorion!” Frodo exclaimed.

Sam grinned as he set two plates of hearty hobbit breakfast fare on the table – scrambled eggs; nice, juicy bacon; mushrooms; a mess of onions cooked until they had caramelized nicely, and some leftover elvish bread from the night before toasted golden brown.

“Well, for several years none of us realized anything would come of it,” Sam said, gesturing for Frodo to tuck in. “Pippin married, and he and Diamond had just had their second when he became Thain. Of course he couldn’t go off adventuring then, but every now and again he’d get that look in his eyes – what Mr. Bilbo used to call ‘feeling Tookish’.

Frodo laughed.

“Pip is a Took,” he said. “I should think he’d be Tookish all the time!”

“You know what I meant,” Sam snorted. “It was all well and good for Mr. Bilbo to go off when he felt Tookish. But he could only do what he did because he was a bachelor, or waited until you were old enough to take over Bag End – a married hobbit can’t go running off adventuring and leaving his wife and young children for a year or more at a clip!”

“No, you’re quite right,” Frodo conceded. “I suppose it must have been some years then before Pippin could do anything.”

“Not as many as we should have liked,” Sam said somberly. “Diamond caught the fever that went around in 1443, one of the earliest to go down with it. We didn’t know then that the first ‘recovery’ was a false one like as not.”

“Oh, no!” Frodo said softly. “She didn’t…?”

“It was a fine day. Diamond was feeling herself again and wanted to sit outside. Several of the Took girls were out doing the washing, so it seemed safe enough since there’d be others right at hand if she needed anything. Diamond stood up to go back inside after an hour in the sun and dropped like a stone,” Sam replied heavily. “We lost several others as well before folks put two and two together and word went round to keep the anyone thought recovered resting abed and looked after careful another seven days at least to be safe.”

“Oh, poor Pippin,” Frodo murmured.

“Poor Faramir, Boromir, Emerald, and Eglantine as well,” Sam reminded him gently. “Not to mention the girls who’d been outside with her - I don’t know as Bella Took ever got over the shock. We brought Pip’s girls to Bag End for several weeks after the funeral. I think it helped them to have our lot making a fuss over them.”

 There was a somber silence for a few moments, and on Sam’s part some slight guilt, for it was plain the news had put Frodo off his breakfast.

“At any rate,” Sam finally took up the tale again. “Pip got very Tookish after that. But he couldn’t go off at once, not with Emerald only just turned five. He threw himself into collecting books and lore to improve the library at Great Smials, and we were fooled into thinking the Tookishness had passed. But in hindsight, it was plain he was using that as an excuse to gather information and prepare.”

“Prepare for what?” Frodo asked, with a touch of impatience.

“He had decided to write a history of the elder days, starting with the story of the Noldor in the West,” Sam told him. “He’d begun before Diamond fell ill, in fact maybe even before they married. All the histories we had were fragmentary, and some contradicted each other. So he set out to write one tale from start to finish, and to set down the family trees all proper like. Among other things, he was hoping to settle the debate about just whose son King Gil-galad was.”

Frodo finally smiled again at that.

“He picked a terrible time to take that up, with Elrond and Galadriel gone! Though I suppose Cirdan might have been some help?”

Sam shook his head.

“He did write to the Havens, but we didn’t get a reply. I don’t know if Cirdan happened to be away, or if he just thought it was an impertinence for hobbits to be enquiring about the particulars of elven-kings’ lineages. I suspect the former, for he’s quite eager to sail himself and goes out on some very long cruises these days when he’s not needed to supervise shipbuilding or loading.”

“I suppose he’s waiting for Elrond’s sons?” Frodo asked. “If they mean to sail, that is?”

“And Celeborn,” Sam replied. “I can’t help thinking the Lady Galadriel may have had words with him about what would happen if he sailed without her husband! But I think I’d be quite impatient after three full Ages as well.”

Frodo laughed, and it seemed to dispel the lingering unhappiness at the thought of Diamond’s untimely death.

“Poor Cirdan!” he said. “Though being the elder, I should think he could bear a reproof from her better than you or I.”

“I hope for his sake he doesn’t have to!” Sam said fervently. “At any rate, Pip wrote a good many letters and got word from Thranduil and Celeborn, as well as extracts from the archives in Minas Tirith and Dol Amroth, and the library at Imladris. But he eventually hit on the idea that old Maglor must still be alive somewhere, for he was nowhere recorded as having died. So he decided to go searching for him, for how else was he going to get answers about things that had happened ages ago on the other side of the Sea? There was no one else left to ask. Particularly not when he was keen by then to learn about the family of King Finwë.”

Frodo contemplated his breakfast plate for a full minute, as if what was left of his eggs and toast might enlighten him as to how Pippin had concluded that the only reasonable course of action was to go looking for an elf straight out of legends of the elder days.

“Did you not try to talk sense into him?” Frodo asked at last. “Searching for Maglor was quite the popular pastime for elves in the early Third Age, once the peace set in. Elrond said both his sons had tried it several times after they came of age, but they only ever met him if he came to them , not the other way around. If other elves couldn’t find him, I don’t see how Pippin thought he would!”

“You know Pip when he gets an idea in his head,” Sam shrugged. “At any rate, he waited until Faramir came of age and married before he actually did anything about it.”

“Did he pull a Bilbo?” Frodo demanded suspiciously.

“Not quite,” Sam chuckled. “He waited until a week after the wedding to announce he was giving Faramir a taste of what it was like to be Thain, and if they were lucky, he would return in a few years.”

Frodo looked appalled.

“Oh, he’d warned both Faramir and Goldilocks beforehand what he meant to do,” Sam laughed. “And Merry and me as well! So while there were a few outraged folks, most of the Shire didn’t know the first thing about it until much later. The Tooks did what they usually do about adventures – hushed it all up.”

Frodo shook his head.

“It was still rather unfair on Faramir and Goldilocks, I think.”

Sam waved that off.

“They married a bit quicker than they might have otherwise, so it wouldn’t be improper for her to be living at Great Smials without Pip there, not that I think they’d have gotten away with anything with all the older Took ladies about. But they weren’t a bit bothered. Faramir took more after Diamond in temperament, so I doubt he particularly wanted to go travelling. He was quite happy to stay in his smial and see to the planting and pipeweed. Pip took young Boromir with him, which worked out, him being the sort more likely to want to go on an adventure. And our Goldilocks is even more of a homebody than Faramir. You’d have a time of it to convince her to go as far as Bree on a sunny day.”

He paused.

“I brought a few of Pippin’s letters, along with the book he wrote. He decided it should be a book of its own rather than be added to the Red Book. I thought you – and Mr. Bilbo, if he were still here – would like to see them.”

Frodo brightened.

“I would!” he exclaimed. “But don’t think that means I don’t intend to hear the rest of this story.”

 “Well then,” Sam said briskly. “I’ll just see to the washing up and we’ll go back into the sitting room. I think the bag with the books was left there last night.”

“Oh, leave the plates,” Frodo suggested. “It is your first day here.”

“You’re in no state to be standing at the sink to do the washing up,” Sam grumbled. “And I’ve a notion we’ll be having guests sometime this afternoon.”

“No doubt,” Frodo said with a laugh. “If anything, we should be thankful they’ve not come calling already – probably expected you’d sleep late! But they won’t give a hoot about dishes in the sink. And once I’m back on my feet, we can follow the same rule I did with Bilbo – whoever cooks doesn’t do the washing up unless they’ve been terrible and used every pot, pan, and plate we have.”

“I’ll remind you later you said that,” Sam predicted, helping Frodo to his feet.

“What, that we should share the kitchen chores fairly, or that the visitors won’t care about washing up in the sink?”

“Both,” Sam said direly as they headed to the sitting room.

“We managed well enough, Bilbo and I. And the ‘unless they’ve been terrible clause’ was added after an attempt at an elvish recipe on my part that went rather badly!”

“That doesn’t surprise me,” Sam snorted. “Mr. Bilbo knew his way around a kitchen well enough – and knew when a dish was beyond his skill.”

“I’ve learned!” Frodo chuckled. “That experience cured me of overconfidence!”

Sam helped him settle back in, foot propped up again, before digging in the bag that was still sitting on the floor from the previous evening.

He pulled out several books and a bundle of papers.

“I had a copy of the Red Book made, with all the additions, to bring you,” he said, passing it over. “You’ll want to look through it, I expect, to see what we three added – I did ask Fatty if he wanted to put anything in, but he said he’d tell me whatever I wanted to know so long as he could be excused writing.”

“That sounds like Fatty,” Frodo said fondly, flipping immediately to the last section of the book to see what had been added after his departure from the Shire.

“But here’s the things to do with Pip’s adventure,” Sam said, handing over a sheaf of letters, a small bound book marked with a Feanorian star, and a larger book in plain brown leather. “And his book.”

Frodo set the Red Book aside at once.

“I suppose I ought to give that little book back to Maglor. I’m not sure how Pip persuaded him to take it in the first place, much less give it back again a few years later. But I couldn’t make head nor tail of half of what he wrote, and not just because of the sloppy handwriting. For all I know it’s all the beginning of songs he was making up. Or the middles, I suppose. I wouldn’t know the difference.”

Frodo laughed.

“If it’s a composition book, no doubt he’ll be glad to have it back. Did he ever finish the Noldolantë?”

Sam sighed.

Don’t ask about the Noldolantë,” was his terse advice.

Frodo laughed until he cried at the expression on Sam’s face.

“Oh, Sam,” he gasped once he calmed down. “Is it really that bad?”

“The song itself is marvelous,” Sam said wearily. “It’s just that once he starts with it, he doesn’t stop. And you can’t exactly go anywhere on a boat to get away from it.”

That set Frodo laughing again.

“It’s only funny because you weren’t the one there,” Sam grumbled.

“Yes, I’m sure, that’s why I’m laughing!”

“Just you wait, I’ll get him to sing some at you ,” Sam muttered. “He changes it every time, you know.”

A knock sounded at the door.

“Who could that be?” Frodo asked. “I really wasn’t expecting anyone would stop by this early in the day.”

“I don’t know, but just you sit,” Sam said when Frodo made to get up. “I’ll find out.”

He made his way to the door, feeling a bit odd as he did. Homey as it might be, he’d been here less than a day, it certainly didn’t feel like it was his house yet to be letting in visitors.

He swung the door open to find the last person he’d expected to see.

“Maglor? Should you not be settling in yourself?” he asked.

His former shipmate laughed ruefully.

“I tried saying that as well, Master Samwise, but my mother and grandmothers were quite keen to thank you.”

Sam blinked, and looked beyond Maglor to find several lady elves. Fortunately for his confidence, Lady Galadriel was one of them.

“He was not the only one who tried to dissuade them,” another voice added. “But as you can see, we were overruled.”

“Master Elrond! I’m glad to see you again, sir,” Sam said in complete honesty. 

At least with Elrond he would have some idea where he stood. 

“But where are my manners? I beg your pardons, ladies. Do come in!”

He wasn’t ready for so many visitors – and with the kitchen all a mess! – but he couldn’t see what else was to be done.

Fortunately for his state of mind, Frodo seemed to take the visitors in stride.

“Well, this is quite the company – Sam, you have two queens of the Noldor calling on you the day after you’ve arrived!”

Sam had been about to offer refreshments, but this pronouncement threw him for a loop.

“Queens?” he repeated in befuddlement.

“Frodo, do stop teasing him,” Galadriel suggested kindly. “I’m sure he’s not up to it yet.”

Despite his distraction, Sam noted that Elrond had the air of a man saying nothing because he knew perfectly well that the ladies would not pay any mind to whatever it was he would say. He had never before imagined that happened among elves just as it did among hobbits!

“Yes, well,” Frodo sighed. “The lady with the silver hair on Maglor’s left, my dear Sam, is Queen Miriel, and the lady to Galadriel’s right with the golden hair is Queen Indis.” 

Sam was thankful that they had different color hair to help distinguish them, for they were dressed very alike, differing mainly in the flowers in their hair- Miriel wore roses in her hair, while Indis had starflowers. 

“Then there is Maglor’s mother Nerdanel,” Frodo continued.

“We were briefly introduced yesterday,” Nerdanel said with a smile. “Though we had no time for conversation, as my grandson and niece whisked him away after only a few moments for ‘well met’ and ‘we shall meet again’.”

The look she gave Elrond was empty of any real disapproval, but Elrond looked somewhat chastened all the same. Galadriel looked as serene as ever.

“The other silver-haired lady, before you ask, Master Samwise,” Maglor said before his mother could steer the conversation anywhere else, “is my mother’s mother Rilmë.”

“My word!” was the closest to a sensible response that Sam could manage. “This is a surprise and no mistake! Welcome, ladies! If you’ll just give me a moment, I’ll fetch some refreshments.”

He did not quite rush from the room, but he was already fretting as he went if there would be anything fit to serve to two queens and Lord Elrond’s grandmother. He knew he should have insisted on doing the washing up right away!

It didn’t help when he reached the kitchen to realize that he still didn’t know where everything was kept. He busied himself filling the kettle. Get that on first, then look for the teacups.

He nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard Lord Elrond’s voice from behind him.

“Unless I miss my guess, you will find sufficient anise cakes in the cupboard just there that Frodo usually keeps baked goods in, and there should be lemonade in the icebox.”

Sam wasn’t sure whether to be grateful or confounded that he needed help from a guest to serve his other guests properly, but he did find a dozen lovely little anise cakes. Frodo must have made them fresh yesterday before his mishap on the stairs.

“Galadriel and I did have an idea you would have to suffer a few visitors today,” Elrond continued. “And I certainly saw enough of Bilbo fretting on the subject to suspect you would be mortified not to have some small treat for guests.”

“Thank you,” Sam said, deciding simple but heartfelt would do. “Will the ladies feel slighted that there is nothing fancier?”

“Hardly!” Elrond replied with a quiet chuckle, getting out the plates and glasses for the lemonade without the least hesitation as to which cabinet they might be found in. “You will discover that not everything elves do is ‘fancy’. Many of your neighbors here live as simply as any hobbit of the Shire, though perhaps with slightly more maritime interests.”

Sam found that difficult to believe, but he did take heart at the idea. He also took up the tray and nodded politely for Elrond to precede him out.

“I suppose we’d better get back out there. I don’t know what Maglor can have been telling them.”

“Only that they’ve a pair of hobbits to thank for him being chivvied onto a ship at long last,” Elrond laughed. “Be grateful his father and most of his brothers haven’t returned yet, or you’d have had a much larger and more boisterous group of visitors. I am assured that the twins are the most easygoing of the lot, not to mention the youngest. As such, they were easily persuaded that we were already verging on too many and they had much better wait a week or two before offering to take you tramping about the countryside.”

“That’s very kind of them,” Sam replied.

They found that Frodo had been happily making Maglor’s acquaintance while they had been in the kitchen, and was enquiring how the voyage had gone.

“Sam was just on the point of telling me how it was that he came to sail with you,” Frodo said as Sam passed the cakes around and tried not to gawp at Elrond handing lemonade to everyone.

“We would be delighted to hear the tale as well, if you would indulge us, Master Samwise. Kano has been maddeningly closemouthed on the subject.”

Sam nearly dropped his plate at being directly addressed by Queen Miriel.

“Of course, your majesty,” he stammered.

“Please, do not stand on titles,” Queen Indis said in a voice that was like birdsong. “It has been a good many years since either of us were stuck with the responsibility of Queen of the Noldor.”

“And longer still since either of us wished it,” Queen Miriel added tartly. “Just Miriel and Indis will do, my good Master Samwise.”

“I don’t usually hear so much ‘Master’ either, my lady,” Sam replied when he found his tongue. “I’m mostly just plain Sam, or Samwise Gardner if my daughters are annoyed with me. They come by the habit from their mother.”

“Very well then, Sam,” Indis smiled. “Won’t you indulge our curiosity and explain how you came to persuade our stubborn grandson that it was time and past that he sailed?”

Sam had to work not to laugh, for Maglor now looked every bit as embarrassed as he himself had been when he first discovered who his visitors were.

“Funny you should put it that way,” he chuckled. “For that’s more or less the words I believe were said.”

“No, no jumping ahead of yourself, Sam!” Frodo protested. “You were only just starting the tale, with Pippin setting out to find Maglor!”

“So I was,” Sam sighed. “Well, Pippin – that’s Peregrin Took, as I suppose you’ll have heard if you know the tale of Mr. Bilbo and the Ring War – took a historical turn after his wife went and had it in his head to write a history of the ancient days. Of course that would mean elvish history, for hobbits don’t come into it until much later. He gathered all the information he could, but he still had a good many questions…”

Sam trailed off, unsure how to say without embarrassment what the chief of those questions had been.

“Do go on, Samwise,” Galadriel requested. “I am sure nothing you can say of Pippin’s questions could be surprising.”

Sam sighed.

“Well, as you insist, my lady… Pip wanted to unravel the full story of King Finwë and his descendants, and he had a good many questions about Queen – that is to say, about the matter of Miriel and Indis.”

He was certain his face must be aflame, having to confess such impertinence to the ladies themselves.

To his immense surprise, Indis giggled, and Miriel all but roared with laughter.

“How ironic, that the Valar making a muddle of everything should be the catalyst that finally brings the last of them home,” she gasped when she could speak again. “I shall be sure to mention it to Eonwë, should he show his face in Tirion anytime soon!”

Galadriel was smiling, but Nerdanel and Elrond both looked slightly flummoxed.

“Oh for goodness sake,” Galadriel sighed. “Sam, Miriel and Indis are on intimate terms and regard each other’s grandchildren as quite their own. Grandmothers, I’m afraid Middle-earth has a rather distorted notion of how the pair of you would get on given how my uncle behaved.”

Turning to the others, she added, “it really was in no way difficult to explain!”

“Only because you’ve skimped a bit on the part of the explanation that might scandalize our good hobbit,” Indis pointed out gently. “Though you may be right to do so, I think he’s rather overwhelmed as it is! But no matter. Sam, we would be most grateful to hear the whole tale, and whether your Peregrin Took found the answers to his questions.”

“Well he must have gotten some answers,” Frodo put in, holding up Pip’s book. “He wrote a book after all! But they may not have been the right answers. We’ll have to read to see how his account stacks up.”

Sam would sooner have bitten his tongue off than asked what Indis and Miriel thought of each other marrying the same man, but if Frodo wanted to ask, that was up to him. He would have been more disposed to believe Pip’s theory that Miriel had expected Finwe and Indis to marry had they been hobbits, but it seemed somewhat remarkable for elves.

“I should like to read that book,” Miriel added. “It can’t be any more ridiculous than some of what Pengolodh wrote before he sailed! We had quite a time correcting him .”

“Speaking of books,” Sam said, feeling as though the conversation had quite gotten away from him. “Here you are, Maglor.”

He handed the little red book over.

Maglor’s face broke into a smile.

“Had I known you had this with you, I’d have asked for it while we were still at sea, and you’d have been a good deal less bothered by my efforts on some of those songs that aren’t finished yet,” he said. 

“Had I known that, you’d have had it back the first day out from the Havens,” Sam grumbled.

“I believe I owe you an apology,” Maglor chuckled. “With pen and paper, I can generally work out the trouble with a verse by writing it out. Without it, I find it necessary to sing. You were terribly polite about it, and a good deal more patient than most. My brothers would have insisted I stop long before you did. Some of them would have been rather forceful on the point.” 

“I hope you did not drive poor Samwise to distraction, Makalaurë,” Nerdanel said in a tone that made it clear that she suspected the opposite.

Sam wondered if all mothers naturally knew how to do that.

“No, Mother, though I believe he could have done with a bit less of the ballad I’ve not yet finished about Aragorn and Arwen,” Maglor replied.

“Aragorn and Arwen, was it?” Sam asked, puzzled. “All I heard was about the Anduin. You kept going through those verses about the river so much I thought that was the whole song - and I’d have said I knew it as well as you did a few days in, except that you kept changing it slightly every time.”

“That section was rather troublesome,” Maglor agreed equably.

“Go on, Sam, tell us about Pip’s adventure,” Frodo said.

“Are you sure you wouldn’t rather hear Maglor’s song?” Sam asked with a grin.

“Not if it’s not finished!”

Miriel looked a bit bemused, but the reply came from enough of their guests that it was clear Sam wasn’t the only one who had experienced Maglor grumpy about a song that wasn’t coming together as he’d intended – and working doggedly at it until it did.

“In that case,” Sam sighed. “Pip had been gathering information for several years before he set out, but he never rightly explained to anyone how he got the notion that Maglor was to be found in Andrast or Anfalas. It may be he found something in one of the books he had sent up from Gondor, but it’s just as possible Elrohir or Elladan said something in a letter that started him thinking. Your boys, Master Elrond, made another go at finding Maglor not long after you sailed – without success. At any rate, the westmost bit of Gondor was where Pip decided he needed to go.”

“That’s quite the journey from the Shire!” Frodo said with a whistle.

“Yes, and would have been even had he gone direct, but he didn’t,” Sam said. “I suppose that may have been by design – so many folk had tried to find Maglor over the years, generally coming at it very direct and business like.”

“It would be like Pip to hit on the idea of meandering in from the side,” Frodo nodded.

Maglor laughed.

“As it happened, his method worked.”

“Hush, you - let me tell the tale without interruption up until the part where you come in, and then you can take over,” Sam said firmly. “Seeing as I only know what Pip was willing to admit to, and it sounds like there’s a good deal more to be said.”

Nerdanel and Rilmë both chortled a bit at that, but Sam went on.

“Pip took his younger son Boromir with him, and they went down the Road, stopping first at Edoras to visit with Eomer King and Lothiriel Queen. I believe they took a packet of letters from Merry and Stella and gifts for the children. After that they went on to Minas Tirith, where they called on the King and Queen for a bit, and Pip arranged to have young Boromir serve as a page. Then he went on to Ithilien on his own – yes, Frodo, you can see that’s what the letter there is about, Legolas had played a good joke on him and Merry once before, having the watch pretending not to know them – and visited with Legolas a bit.”

Sam took a sip of lemonade before continuing, as much to give Elrond a moment to explain quietly to the ladies who Legolas was as for any true need to wet his throat.

“He doesn’t really talk about it in the book, but he told us later he’d gotten some advice from Legolas on how one might find an experienced elf who didn’t much want to be found, and practiced up a bit. Hobbits can move right quiet when we need to, but this needed a bit more quiet than usual.”

Maglor snorted, but held his peace.

“Only then did he take ship to Edhellond and start a cross-country trek, and this is the bit I suppose Maglor ought to tell, for Pip writes and talks as if there were no great difficulty and he just stumbled across Maglor one fine afternoon on a beach in Langstrand. But I suspect it took a bit more doing! At any rate, I know he found Maglor somehow, stayed with him for a time, and came back a few years after he’d set out quite pleased with himself, with a good many notes and family trees drawn out, and settled down to writing his book calm as you please.”

Maglor laughed, but there was little mirth in it.

“I should confess first that I had been in Minas Tirith during the War of the Ring, and even attached myself to the expedition to the Morannon – I had the thought that if nothing else, I might be able to keep Elrond’s boys alive should all else go ill. Had I shown myself, I feel certain Sauron would have shifted his attention to me and they might have made their escape.”

He gave Elrond a small smile.

“It turned out to be unnecessary in the event, so I returned quietly to Minas Tirith, and witnessed from afar Elrond’s arrival, as well as his daughter’s wedding. I knew my chances of remaining in the city undiscovered were not good with Arwen there, so I removed first to Lebennin, and then to Anfalas when it proved that the return of the King and his peace meant there were more folk willing to live in the lands where the rivers met the sea than previously.”

“Do you mean to say Pip might have found you more easily just after the War?” Sam demanded. “Just as well there’s no way to tell him that!”

“He already knows,” Maglor replied, “for I told him at the time. But I am ahead of myself. So I’ll ask the same courtesy you wished of me, Master Samwise – allow me to tell my part of the tale before asking any questions, if you please.”

Sam waved politely for him to continue.

“In truth, the legends of me haunting the seashore are much exaggerated – and I found it rather convenient to have them so. No one looks for a figure out of legend in simple inns or public houses when everyone knows he’s to be found somewhere in the wild, singing his regrets to the Sea!”

Elrond made a sound of sheer exasperation.

“You might just as well have been singing in Imladris for a good many years,” he said reproachfully. “Regrets or otherwise!”

“Perhaps,” Maglor replied. “But I didn’t want to chance it – I was no more convinced that the Doom had been lifted than I suspect my little cousin was, particularly in light of Tyelpë’s fate. And even if the Valar were no longer inclined to hold me to the letter of the Doom, had so much as a whisper reached Mordor of my whereabouts, you may be sure Sauron would have taken notice. He had no more forgotten me than I had forgotten him. You didn’t need such trouble, not with a Ring and nowhere left to go but the Sea.”

Elrond looked like he wanted to argue the point, but stopped at a shake of Maglor’s head.

“At any rate, I was living quietly in Anfalas – in a snug little house, I might add, not wandering around sleeping in the open – when out of nowhere a hobbit popped up at my front door just as I was sitting down to breakfast one morning. I still haven’t any idea how he did it. ‘It’s no use pretending you’re not an elf,’ said he. ‘You might as well skip any pretense on the matter and tell me who you are really.’ I tried a pseudonym, but he laid it out plainly that he was searching for Maglor Feanorion and wasn’t about to stop until he found him. And it was clear he was more than halfway convinced even before I admitted my name.”

“That part certainly sounds like Pip!” Frodo laughed.

“I suppose I might have tried giving him a pseudonym, but I suspected he’d either hang about long enough to see through it or I’d have to pick up and move elsewhere, with no guarantee he’d not find a way to follow me. So I confessed. He generously offered to keep my secret, but he wanted two things in return. The first was easy enough – he wanted to talk to me about my family, my early days, and life in Beleriand. It wasn’t entirely comfortable to talk Beleriand, and talking about home made me rather melancholy. If Master Samwise thinks he’s heard a good deal of the Noldolantë, I can say in perfect honesty that Master Peregrin heard more!”

“In which case I’m surprised Pip didn’t set it down in writing,” Sam marvelled. 

“And the other condition?” Galadriel prompted. “You said there were two things he wanted.”

“Yes, the other was that he wanted to give me a notebook and collect it from me again some years hence. The notebook was no bother, but the collecting it part was troublesome – I could not be certain how long I’d remain in Anfalas, for I moved about every so often even in times of peace. So at last we settled that I’d hang onto the book for ten years, and then make my way up the coast to the Baranduin, where it would be no great journey for Peregrin to meet me.”

Rilmë raised an eyebrow.

“Kanafinwë Makalaurë, if you expect me to believe that little book contains all that you wrote or worked on in ten years…”

“I don’t claim everything went in the book!” Maglor chuckled. “Nor did I tell Master Peregrin any such thing. It was only to jot down bits of song, and anything else that might occur to me could be useful for the histories he was working on. At any rate, Master Peregrin set off – he had to collect his son from Minas Tirith. What’s more, he had told his people to expect him back in a few years, and he was stretching the usual hobbitish understanding of ‘a few years’ as it was.”

All eyes turned to Sam.

“He said a few years, and was back in four,” Sam shrugged. “Given how Mr. Bilbo’s disappearance went, and that only a few of us aside from the Tooks understood he was out of the Shire, no one worried over much, excepting perhaps young Faramir Took.”

“I am glad to hear he did not run into any trouble over his longer than expected absence,” Maglor said. “I kept the book, and decided as the time approached to make my way north that I was perhaps due for another change of residence. I wound up my affairs in Anfalas and set off. I met Master Peregrin and his youngest daughter at the Big Bend of the Baranduin at midsummer.”

“He never said!” Sam exclaimed. “Though I suppose that was one way to give Emerald a bit of adventure. She was the more Tookish of the girls.”

“Yes, Miss Emerald was quite pleased to meet an elf, though she was quick to understand that her only hope of further adventure was to keep quiet about having met an elf quite so close to the Shire. I believe she was under the impression I was on my way to Mithlond, and neither I nor her father corrected her at the time.”

“In speaking to Master Peregrin once Miss Emerald had gone to sleep, it came out that he was a bit concerned about you , Master Samwise,” Maglor continued. “Your wife had recently had what Peregrin termed ‘a bit of a turn’. He did not explain further, but I understood it to mean she was no longer in the best health. He spoke of his conviction that you would sail after her death, if you were in any condition to do so. I confess I did not take that as having anything to do with me.”

“At least, I did not until several years later when Master Peregrin nearly startled me into a ditch in Harlindon and informed me that he expected Rosie would ‘go’ at any time and he would very much appreciate knowing that you would not drown yourself in the Gulf of Lune trying your hand at boating for the first time. As he saw it, having had no part of any Rings, neither he nor your friend Master Meriadoc could help you with sailing, but as an elf I could and what’s more, in his opinion, should . In short, I found myself badgered into agreeing that I would take myself to Mithlond and arrange for a ship for two. Peregrin was so insistent on the point I had no choice but to agree.”

“Well I never!” Sam exclaimed. “Pip didn’t say a word to me about any of that. I thought it was just a bit of luck running into you on my way into the Havens. Though I did still have to do a bit of talking to convince you, you were wavering about sailing yourself right up until we actually cast off!”

“Yes,” Maglor sighed. “Despite my words to your good friend, I did not see how my presence in a ship would make the passage safer. In fact, I thought Ulmo and his maiar were likely to dump me into the Gulf of Lune sooner than you.”

“After three Ages, I should think if Mr. Ulmo was still so upset with you he’d have found a way to let you know sooner,” Sam snorted. “Or just told Master Cirdan not to let you have a ship in the first place.”

“Perhaps he didn’t think he needed to say anything. Cirdan wasn’t exactly keen on the idea,” Maglor admitted. “He grudgingly agreed to my proposal when I said it was for a Ringbearer, and I would only go myself if you wanted me to.”

“Is that why I had such a time persuading you I didn’t know the first thing about boats?” Sam asked.

“Go on, Sam!” Frodo laughed. “Tell us how that went.”

Sam sighed.

“I was on my way to the Havens,” he explained. “I knew the way as I’d gone along when you and Mr. Bilbo sailed. But I was more than halfway wondering just what I thought I was doing. I thought about turning back, but aside from a few old friends, there was nothing for me to do in the Shire. It just wasn’t the same without Rosie around. I’d wrapped things up nicely, said all that needed saying to my children. Might be I would have just seen if I couldn’t go as Mr. Bilbo did.”

“My dear Sam,” Frodo said sympathetically.

To Sam’s surprise, Indis took his hand in hers, and for all she was an elf who had never left the West, he could see by her eyes that she knew .

“It is very hard to lose one’s mate,” Indis said softly. “And I suspect that is true even when you knew it would happen.”

“Yes, you understand quite well, I think, my lady,” Sam said, trying not to choke up thinking of Rosie and how he’d felt in those days between the Shire and the Havens. “At any rate, I felt I had better go on because Mr. Frodo was expecting me. But I might still have been discouraged if I hadn’t chanced on Maglor just outside the Havens.”

Sam paused.

“Pip may have surprised him, but not half as much as he surprised me, appearing out of the evening mist to tell me there was a ship ready if I meant to sail. Gave me a start, I can tell you! But even though I didn’t know him yet at the time, I was still glad to find someone who seemed to know who I was and what I was about. It wasn’t until the next morning that he started waffling and talking about just seeing me to the ship.”

Elrond sighed at that, but said nothing.

“So I started asking him questions,” Sam went on. “And eventually got out of him who he was and that while he knew how to sail, he thought it likely that him on a boat would bring back luck to the voyage or some such.”

“Or some such!” Maglor scoffed. “I was worried about the boat being sunk out from under us if I was on it!”

“You might have just said that plainly,” Sam sniffed.

“I tried to,” Maglor protested. “You were having none of it.”

“I don’t recall you saying ‘the boat will sink if I’m on it’, just a lot of guilt about things that had happened three full Ages ago,” Sam said. “I couldn’t see that it did anyone any good. And what I told you in return was only sense – of the two of us, you were the only one had been on a sea voyage before. I’d only ever been on the water in Lady Galadriel’s boats on the Anduin during the Ring Quest, and I was really just along for the ride in those! So you knew what you were about in a boat much better than I did. After all, you’d gotten to Middle-earth in a ship.”

“Reminding me of that was not your best argument,” Maglor told him. “It was ‘I’m like to upset the boat if left to manage it all myself, do you really want that on your conscience’ that got me. Not that I was convinced I would do much better! I can’t say I breathed easy the entire voyage – and may have gone a bit overboard with the singing as a result. I’m not sure which of us was more surprised to find that we landed safely here in Surilondë, but I think we are both rather thankful we did.”

“Hear, hear!” said Frodo. “And you’re not the only ones – we are all quite thankful to have you here where you belong, are we not, Master Elrond?”

“We are indeed,” Elrond agreed.   

“Very much so,” Nerdanel added, her eyes sparkling. “We thank you, Master Samwise, for your part in the matter. And would very much like to thank Master Peregrin if only we could!”

“I’m sure Pip saw it as killing two birds with one stone, as it were – looking after me and doing Maglor a good turn at the same time,” Sam said quietly. “Though I’d quite like to thank him myself, the sly thing!”

Actually, he’d have quite liked to pop over to Great Smials and let Pippin know how it had all worked out, and that he might have said something about it, and how grateful he was to know his old friend had been looking out for him. It seemed Frodo wasn’t the only one who was prone to not noticing his friends knew what he was planning on important matters before he knew it himself!

“Have a word with your father, dear, and see if he can’t contrive something,” Indis suggested to Elrond.

“Yes, please, Master Elrond – I would very much like Pip to know that it’s all come right in the end,” Sam added. “And to thank him for looking out for me when I was in no state to think of anyone other than Rosie.”

“I should have liked to meet your Rosie,” Indis said. “You must tell me of her sometime, when you feel you can.”

Sam nodded, grateful that she understood it was still too fresh.

“In the meantime, perhaps we should read a bit of this fascinating book. I’m as curious to see Master Peregrin’s conclusions about us as Miriel is.”