This chapter ends our story (and also breaks the "Frodo and one person" rule just a bit).  Thank you, everyone, from the bottom of my heart.  New stories are coming soon!

Chapter Note:  Círdan's words are taken from The Silmarillion, 'Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age'.  Elrond's words are taken from The Fellowship of the Ring, 'The Council of Elrond'.

Responses to reviews are located at the end of the chapter.

DISCLAIMER:  Of course. The characters don't belong to me, I just get to think about them day and night.

LIGHT OUT OF DARKNESS

Chapter 6 -- West of Rivendell, October 7

As night fell and the light of the fire began to shine out brightly he began to tell them tales to keep their minds from fearThe Fellowship of the Ring, 'A Knife in the Dark'

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Pippin awoke with a start, instantly angry at himself for falling asleep.  No one had slept at all the previous night, after Frodo had taken ill.  Ever since they had crossed the River, Frodo had been withdrawn and silent, but as the sun set and darkness grew, he had become delirious with fear, seeing Black Riders where there were none, and clutching his shoulder in pain.  The hobbits and Gandalf had kept vigil all night, reassuring Frodo that nothing could approach the camp, or him, with all of them on guard.  They had not broken camp this morning, but kept the fire going and tried to distract Frodo with songs and stories as he alternately woke and slept, still in the grip of whatever haunted him.

It was fully dark, and as Pippin sat up, he realized that Sam and Merry lay asleep nearby.  Gandalf and Frodo sat together near the fire, and as he watched, Gandalf left Frodo's side and strode off through the trees -- to gather more wood, Pippin assumed.  Their supply had been nearly exhausted.  As he walked over to the fire, Pippin was relieved to see his cousin look up and smile at him.

"Feeling better?"

"Yes," Frodo answered.  "What a strange couple of days, Pip.  I don't know what came over me."  He took a deep breath.  "Whatever it was, it's gone now."

"Good."  Pippin plopped down next to Frodo.  "Sam forgets to cook when he's worried, you know."

Frodo smiled at the light words, hiding -- he knew -- deep feelings.  There had been such praise heaped on him in Gondor.  Minstrels had sung, there had been feasts, tributes, honors... yet all he had longed for was this.  Just to be a hobbit again, and treated as nothing more.  Or less.

Pippin threw a few small sticks into the fire.  "Are you warm enough?"

Frodo nodded, then turned back to the fire and gazed into it.  "It took me a long time to feel comfortable with fire, after... after the Mountain," he confided.  "Fire, even a small one, reminded me of... what happened."

Pippin saw Frodo absently rubbing the place where his finger had been.  He took his cousin's hand and stroked it gently.  "I had the same experience," he said after awhile.

"Did you?" Frodo asked curiously.  Then he nodded slowly.  "Denethor."

"That was awful," Pippin said.  "Oh Frodo, you can't imagine how scared I was.  Well, maybe you can.  What I mean is..."

"You must have been terrified," Frodo said gently.  "Do you want to talk about it?"

"For so long, after that, whenever I saw fire, I... I saw him," Pippin whispered.  "And not just him, but..."

"Pip," Frodo turned and faced his cousin.  "What is it?"

"Fire," Pippin whispered, his eyes filling with tears.  "When I saw Him... the Dark Lord... there was so much fire.  Oh Frodo, how could you bear it?  You were right there.  He could have... you could have been..."  Pippin suddenly burst into tears, burying his face in Frodo's shoulder so as not to wake the others.  Frodo held his cousin until the weeping subsided, and only small sniffles could be heard.

"Oh Frodo," Pippin sniffed, "I'm so proud of you, I can hardly stand it."  He felt his older cousin catch his breath, then tighten his arms around him.  There was a very long silence.

"Thank you, Pip," Frodo whispered at last.

"Have you eaten anything?" Pippin asked, wiping his eyes.

Frodo chuckled softly.  "I had to.  It was the only way to convince Sam he could lie down and get some sleep."

"Sleep," Pippin sighed.  He yawned, sliding down until his head rested in Frodo's lap.  "I like fire again," he remarked, gazing into the dancing flames.  "It makes me feel safe."

"I feel the same way," Frodo smiled.  His fingers gently combed out some of the tangles in his young cousin's hair.  "Remember, when you were little, we used to 'camp out' in front of the hearth at Bag End?"

"Mm hm," Pippin murmured drowsily.  "You draped blankets over chairs, and we'd crawl under, pretending it was a tent.  You told the best stories, Frodo."

"Someday you'll make a tent for your own children," Frodo said quietly.  "Think of the stories you'll have to tell them."

Gandalf, returning to camp with his arms full of downed branches, found himself also gazing at the small campfire, and the hobbits taking comfort from its warmth and light.  A voice long-forgotten came to mind, and it was as if Círdan once again stood before him.

"Take now this Ring, for thy labours and thy cares will be heavy, but in all it will support thee and defend thee from weariness.  For this is the Ring of Fire, and herewith, maybe, thou shalt rekindle hearts to the valour of old in a world that grows chill."

At Elrond's council, he had sensed that he would not be at the Ring-bearer's side in Mordor; somehow they would become separated, and other tasks would require his presence.  He had thought, at one point, to give Narya to Frodo, to lend him strength at need -- but the Balrog had come, and there was no time.  What strength Frodo needed, he had found.  Elrond had spoken truly, indeed.  "This is the hour of the Shire-folk, when they arise from their quiet fields to shake the towers and counsels of the Great."

"It seems only yesterday that you were a child, Pip.  Look at you now -- nearly all grown up!" Frodo teased.  He looked down and realized that Pippin had fallen fast asleep, his peaceful face softly lit by the gentle campfire. 

Moving as little as possible, Frodo removed his cloak and lay it over his sleeping cousin.  He smiled down at the youngster.  Troll slayer... Knight of the City... prince of the halflings...  "All grown up," he whispered. 

"Yes indeed, my dear hobbits," Gandalf murmured softly to himself, "you have all grown up."  I am no longer needed here, he thought.  It is time to leave Middle-earth.

There was a rustle from behind Frodo, as Sam and Merry awoke and hurried over to see how he fared.  Sam seated himself to his left and Merry to his right, both overjoyed to see the smile on Frodo's face.

"You must be hungry, sir," Sam declared.

"I am, a little.  Would you like a bit of late supper, Gandalf?"  Frodo looked toward the wizard with a smile.

"Is Sam preparing it?" the wizard asked, coming to join them.

"Are you, Sam?" Merry asked hopefully.

"I suppose," Sam sighed, secretly pleased.  He set pots of water to boil.  "Can't have you lot starvin' to death, can I?"

It took Sam only a short time to prepare a supper from the supplies given to them by the Elves.  "Here you go, Mr. Gandalf."  Thrusting a fork and heaping plate at the wizard, Sam scurried back to Frodo's side, unclasping his own cloak to wrap about his master's shoulders -- and not taking 'no' for an answer.

"Thank you, Sam," Frodo smiled.  "Sit now, and enjoy the fire."

As they ate, the friends spoke together quietly.  They spoke of simple things -- cooking and eating, the next day's journey, the look on the faces of Pippin's family when they saw his new height and maturity.  Always speaking of simple things, as ever they had.

"You look happy, Gandalf," Frodo observed.  "What are you thinking about?"

Hobbits… clear lights for eyes to see that can.

"I was wondering," the wizard said casually, "how long it will be before you realize that Peregrin is awake, and reaching for your fork."

.

-- END --

Aewyn:  Most definitely one of the delights and privileges of fanfiction is that we get to add 'depth' or new perspectives to familiar, beloved characters -- if only from our own points of view.

Ainu Laire:  We all have an inner-fangirl, I suspect!  I wrote so many stories in a row with Aragorn and Frodo, it's odd not to have that scruffy Ranger hanging around.  He kinda grows on us, doesn't he?

angelsflame265:  It took me a long time to include Elves in my stories, and Galadriel is a tough one to write -- thank you for the compliment.

aprilkat:  I always thought my perspective about Frodo was unique -- that the Blessed Realm would be open to him because he grew to belong there, more than he belonged in Middle-earth.  (I think all of "Sing Me Home" was an attempt to tell that very story.)  It's such a joy to find people who share that viewpoint.

Azla:  I wish I knew where all these ideas come from!  I actually have a LiveJournal called Shirebunnies to archive all the story ideas I don't have time to write, and hope others will use.  I tend to be fascinated by the Professor's "unanswered questions" and "blank spaces", and feel an urge to come up with something to answer or fill in the blanks.  Maybe I'd best not analyze it too closely!

Bookworm2000:  It's a joy to give someone something to read that they "really need to read" that day; thank you for saying that.

Connie:  Thank you so much, Connie.

cpsings4him:  Every chapter is your favorite?  Yay!

Elwen:  Thank you for the hug!  (I think our stories are an attempt to give Frodo the hugs he didn't get in canon.)

esamen:  I do my best to write from a "positive side".  Thank you so much for your lovely words.

Firnsarnien:  Thank you so much.  I do like to think that the West called to Frodo the same way it called to the Elves.  ("Sing Me Home" is my attempt to tell that story.)

fliewatuet:  I'm glad to hear that the 'theme' of these vignettes works to pull together the chapters.  I wasn't sure it would work.

G:  If anything about this story "shimmers with joy", that truly makes me shimmer with joy.

GamgeeFest:  I'm convinced that we've barely scratched the surface of the stories we can tell about these characters, and how they think, feel, and interact.

Hai Took:  It's interesting to see Frodo through the eyes of other people, isn't it?  I've learned a lot by writing this story.

hobbitfeet13:  I really appreciate your insights.  You've made connections between things and people I never even thought about!

Lady Eleclya:  Sorry the story was so short, but more stories are coming!  Thank you so much for your lovely comments.

Laughing Half Elf:  You like Pippin??  How about that?  :)

Leia Wood:  Omigosh, I love how you say that: "Frodo has been changed, through his ennoblement he has been made into a different person, able not much longer to remain within marred Middle-earth."

Lily the Hobbit:  Frodo was always very humble, from him wondering, in Rivendell, why everyone was being so kind to him, to his quiet life in the Shire after saving the world and being honored by the King.  I love him (and the other hobbits) so much.

lindahoyland:  Thank you so much.  I do like to think that the West called to Frodo the same way it called to the Elves.  ("Sing Me Home" is my attempt to tell that story.)

Maura Labingi:  Oh Maura, I wish I knew where these ideas come from!  I'm just so happy they show no signs of stopping anytime soon.  I think I just have this need to explain things, and fill in the blanks.  I read the books, and see questions that need answering and blanks that need filling in.  Why did Arwen's pendant help Frodo?  Why do Ringwraiths fear fire?  What the heck happened on that ship to the West?  (Those kinds of questions.)  If you find something that bothers you and begs you to figure it out, you'll have your inspiration!

mayaar:  I do love exploring why Frodo was seen as a rare 'Elf friend' -- thank you for highlighting that part of Chapter 5.

Meldewen Ilce:  Galadriel's singing in Chapter 5 would have been very beautiful -- and I thought it important to show that only Frodo heard and was drawn to it.  As I wrote in "Sing Me Home", I believe that Frodo was being drawn West by a song or longing that only he (and the Elves) could hear and feel.

Nivina:  In ROTK, it says that when Frodo, Sam, and Bilbo rode with the Elves to the Havens, the Elves "delighted in honouring them".  I like to imagine that the Elves saw the true 'light' in the Ringbearers that was perhaps shrouded to others.

Parker:  I think it fascinating that Prof. Tolkien wrote that Sam could see Frodo "shine".  I don't see why others couldn't see it too, if they looked.

Pearl Took:  Thank you, Pearl.  It's so gratifying to know that folks feel peaceful and 'cosmic' (!) after reading something I've written.

Periantari:  You wouldn't be much of a hobbit if you weren't curious!  I hope we all stay 'curious hobbits' for many years to come.

Pipwise Brandygin:  This is one of the more 'peaceful' stories I've written.  Feels nice!  And I'm glad you like 'my' Frodo... he's the only Frodo I have in me.

Raven Aorla:  I'm glad I could give you a Galadriel scene!

Scifirogue-klutz:  Glad you enjoyed the story.  I couldn't think of a suitable chapter idea for Legolas-Frodo that hadn't already been covered by Galadriel-Frodo -- or I would have written one!