It's all the Professor's
Undying gratitude for my betas, Haleth and Andreth.
With the ship that had brought Galadriel, all the Exiles had finally returned home. The feast had lasted two weeks and Frodo marveled at the merriment of the Elves. A grand pavilion had been set up with tables laden with food and drink. The elves had even been kind enough to bring in low tables with foods more to the Hobbits liking. They sang and danced and ate. The party never seemed to stop. Elves would come and go at all hours, ensuring that the festivities never slacked. Bilbo and Frodo were toasted and a few songs sung in their honor.
On the last night, he and Bilbo sat at edge of the celebration on low chairs specially made for them. Bilbo was nodding off and occasionally woke with a small start mildly exclaiming, "Oh, how wonderful!" or something similar. Frodo watched the celebrants dance and sing, just soaking in the joy of the occasion. He noticed one couple in particular who stood off to the side, content with only each other for company. He watched their silhouettes, the elleth rested her head on his shoulder and he had a reassuring hand about her waist. They gently swayed in time to the music being played. Frodo saw her turn her head his direction and then whisper something to her companion. The ellon then looked Frodo's direction and nodded to her. They turned and, hand in hand, walked towards he and his sleeping uncle. As they neared, Frodo, began to make out their faces. He recognized the elleth as Galadriel but he did not know the ellon. His hair was long and flowing, and had a similar color as Galadriel's. The ellon was equally as handsome as she was beautiful and Frodo began to perceive a family resemblance. Frodo nudged his uncle and stood as they stopped in front of him.
Bowing, Frodo said, "Lady Galadriel."
She gently smiled and waved off his formality, "Please, Frodo Baggins, here I am just Galadriel, there is no need for such ceremony." She noted his sleeping uncle with a chuckle and added, "From either of you." Frodo saw none of the ache in her eyes he had seen on their voyage and noted genuine happiness in her voice.
Frodo blushed in embarrassment for his uncle. He moved to stir Bilbo but Galadriel's companion gestured him to stop.
In a quiet, gentle voice, he said, "There is no need to wake him, he has earned his rest." Frodo noted a hint of a grin on the ellon's face.
Frodo, apologized for Bilbo, "Please pardon my uncle, he tires easily and this festival has been quite a happening."
Awe appeared in Frodo's eyes as he looked at the ellon before him. In undisguised wonder he almost whispered, "You must be Lady Galadriel's brother Finrod, King of Nargothrond."
Finrod smiled and bowed, "And you must be Frodo Baggins, Hero of the Ring. Mae Govannen."
Frodo reddened again at the accolade.
Finrod continued, "What my sister has said about you is all too true it seems. There are those here who would wear your honor like a crown, yet you blush," and chuckled.
Seeing Frodo turn a deeper shade, Finrod apologetically added, "Forgive me if I embarrass you, Master Baggins, your humility should be a lesson to us all."
Frodo, still flustered, managed to reply, "Thank you, Lord Finrod."
Finrod held up his hands, "Please, Frodo, call me Finrod. After all, I have you to thank for the return of my sister."
Frodo stared up to him confused. Finrod gestured towards a group of dogwoods near by and gently asked, "Would you come talk with me?"
Frodo looked at his sleeping uncle. Galadriel kindly said, "I will see that he does not wake alone," She settled next to Bilbo and resumed watching the dancers.
Frodo, relaxing, turned back to Finrod. "I would be honored my lo... Finrod."
Finrod smiled, amused at the hobbit.
Once they were out of hearing from the relaxing elleth and sleeping Hobbit, Finrod, in a hushed, serious tone said, "You know she almost accepted it."
Frodo watched his feet and quietly replied, " I thought it would be safe with her. But, yes, I do."
They reached a stone bench and Finrod sat gesturing for Frodo to join him. He hopped up and settled, dangling his feet. They sat a moment watching the two they just left.
Finrod finally spoke, "But it would not."
Frodo peered up at him and saw no rebuke in the statement.
Finrod continued, "She has grown wise... I am not sure Artanis could have refused."
Frodo looked puzzled for a moment, Finrod explained, "That was her name here, Celeborn gave her the name she answers to now."
Frodo sensed there was more and remained silent.
Finrod sighed and proceeded. "I knew the moment you offered it to her. For one moment, I felt her heart shout with exultation and desire. And I was afraid. Had she accepted it, she would have achieved her heart's hunger. She would have had dominion over all Middle-earth."
Frodo hesitantly asked, "Would that have been such a bad thing? She is kind and good. Couldn't she have mastered it?"
Finrod gazed down at his small companion and thoughtfully replied, "She is great indeed, Frodo, some say even greater than her uncle, but you of all people should know that there is only one master for that Ring. She would have sought to dominate the will of all she ruled, ordering things as she saw fit. And in the end, completing Gorthaur's designs. Taking away free will."
Frodo suddenly felt ashamed and stared down at his hands in his lap.
Finrod gently added, "I did not bring you here to rebuke you, Frodo, I wanted to thank you. I was not the only one who felt her temptation. The Valar sensed it too, and when she refused, they were moved to compassion. They lifted her ban to return home. Though she constantly strove against Sauron, only when she denied her age-long desire did she atone for her rebellion. And further more, her struggle against him was finally ended when you destroyed the Ring and him with it."
Frodo interjected, "But, my lord, I didn't really, I...I..."
Finrod gently placed a hand on his shoulder. "I know Frodo of the Nine Fingers. We all have our breaking points. I, too, know the power of Sauron. Though when I strove against him, he was but a shadow of the might you faced. And you were able to resist even to the heart of his domain."
Frodo was still downcast, "But I failed, Lord Finrod. It may not appear in the songs, but I know it. I took the task myself and faltered at the end. They didn't ask me, I offered... Sam is the real hero, he's the one all the songs should be about. Sauron would have won had it not been for him."
Finrod studied him for a moment. Then speaking in the tone of a teacher, asked, "What was your task, Frodo?"
Puzzled, Frodo answered, "Take the Ring to Mount Doom and destroy it."
Finrod continued, "And did you?"
Frodo stammered, "Yes, but..."
Finrod raised a hand, cutting him off. "You received help from a friend and the task was completed. Through your sacrifice, the Ring and Sauron were destroyed and Middle Earth saved from the brink." He paused and looking off into the distance, quietly adding, "I, too, once faltered at the moment of truth because of my own failings. But because of my sacrifice, Beren survived. With the help of Luthien, he succeeded on his quest. And through that success, Morgoth was finally defeated." He paused again and turned back to Frodo. "Think about all the heroes Frodo, they all could not have succeeded without help. Beren had Luthien and I, though I was just a small part." Aside, Finrod added in a conspiratorial voice, "My sister and others would say that Luthien had Beren." Returning to a more serious tone, he said, "Earendil had Elwing... and you had Sam."
Frodo continued to look down, but Finrod perceived understanding slowly come to the hobbit next to him. He felt Frodo hesitantly begin to forgive himself.
Tenderly, Finrod said, "It took me a long time to forgive myself, too, Frodo. But take comfort that you persevered when even the Wise might have abandoned hope."
A tear made its way down Frodo's cheek. He looked up at Finrod and the Elflord kindly smiled in a way that reminded him of Gandalf. "Thank you, Finrod, I had never thought of things that way."
Finrod patted Frodo on the knee. "Come, let us rejoin our companions, I believe your uncle would be more comfortable in his bed."
Frodo looked up and saw his uncle still blissfully slumbering and his friend's sister watching the revelry, content to just sit and enjoy the peace.
Galadriel turned at the movement and saw her brother and Frodo returning. She saw the beginnings of serenity in Frodo's eyes. She had hoped her brother would help ease the gentle hobbit's heart. What ever it was that they had discussed had been beneficial for Frodo. She gave her eldest brother a grateful smile and he returned a gentle nod and smile of his own.
Bilbo chose to awaken just as Galadriel was rising and Frodo and Finrod arrived. He rubbed his eyes and pushed up out of his chair. He straightened his clothes and cleared his throat.
"Frodo, my boy, who do you have there... No, wait..." He looked from Finrod to Galadriel and back. "You must be her brother... now which one had golden hair." Bilbo distractedly scratched his chin pondering.
Frodo gave an exasperated sigh and started the introduction, "Lord Finrod, this is my uncle, Bilbo Baggins. Uncle, this is Lady Galadriel's brother Finrod... Finarfinion, oh, I hope I got that right."
Galadriel gave a light chuckle and said, "Perfectly, Master Frodo."
Finrod smiled and said to Bilbo, "Mae Govannen, Bilbo Baggins of the Shire. I hope you did not mind me stealing your nephew away while you enjoyed the festivities?"
Ignoring the fact that he had obviously been asleep when Finrod had come by earlier, Bilbo cheerily replied, "Why no, my lord, your sister was kind enough to keep an old hobbit company, and I dare say that I would be greedy to ask for better."
Frodo just shook his head as Galadriel coyly laughed and Finrod chuckled.
Finrod assumed a more formal manner, "Master Baggins, I would be pleased if you and your nephew would come to our family's home and stay for as long as you like. I hear you are something of a historian and I offer you free access to our libraries, which, I will have you know, dwarf Elrond's collection.
Frodo smiled to himself, wondering how Bilbo would react to that very tasty bait.
Not missing a beat, Bilbo replied, "We couldn't ask that of you and yours, my lord, we don't want to put anyone out on our account."
Finrod waved off the polite refusal, and chuckling to himself replied with a wink, "Please, Master Baggins, it would be an honor. After all, how much trouble could two small hobbits be?"
Though Finrod was killed late in the First Age, the Professor wrote that he "now walks with his father under the trees of Eldamar".