"Are you sure he wanted to speak with all of us?" Pippin asked Merry as they steered the ferry across the river.
"That's what the letter said, Pip. It said that Lord Glorfindel of Rivendell wished to see us again. And he mentioned us by our titles, too: 'Master Brandybuck,' 'Thain Took,' and 'Mayor of Michel Delving.'" He took a look behind them on the ferry. "How are you holding up there, Sam?"
The Mayor grimaced as he held tight to the railing, "I'll be well enough when we're on steady ground again!"
"You never were quite suited for water travel, were you?" Pippin asked rhetorically. He smiled kindly at Sam then turned his eyes back to the elf. "He doesn't look very friendly at all, does he, Merry?"
"He was friendly enough while we stayed in Rivendell, Pip. And he saved Frodo, too."
"I wonder what he wants."
"Only one way to find out, isn't there?"
The ferry was expertly guided into the slip, and Sam rushed off to beat them to land. Laughter rang out around them, and the Thain and Master chanced a covert glance at the elf who hadn't moved at all. There was a smile on his face, and somehow that made them feel much better about meeting him. Trudging up the bank, Pippin shouldering a pack of food enough for the four of them over his shoulder, they came to stand in front of Glorfindel, all politely bowing and greeting him.
"It is indeed my honor to meet you again, young halflings. I was almost certain you would not meet with me."
"Why not?" Pippin asked. "We're glad to reunite with friends." They all stood looking at each other, unsure of what to say next. Fortunately, it was practical Sam who got straight to the point.
"What brings you to visit us, your lordship? We've not seen any elves since we said goodbye to Legolas at the White City."
By mutual consent, they all sat down on the ground and Pippin opened the pack of food and began serving it out. Glorfindel's smile warmed. He remembered how much he'd been told of the halflings' love for food over all else. Apparently, this occasion was no exception. Accepting the food handed to him, he looked at each curious face and wondered what their reactions would be.
"I have decided to sail to the Blessed Realm, my friends. It is time."
Master Samwise reacted calmly, as if he expected this news all along. Master Meriadoc and Master Peregrin were both agog with eyes boggling at him. If not for the seriousness of his announcement, he would've found their twin expressions amusing. The food was temporarily forgotten.
"I thought you said that you were going to stay with Elrond's sons," Merry recovered first. "That was what Frodo told us after your meeting in Minas Tirith."
"For a time, I thought I would too. I have lived in Imladris for years upon years, and it is home for me. But, I feel the pull west. I have been called home. My dreams of the sea-crossing have been numerous and frequent."
"How can you have two homes?" Pippin asked, clearly confused.
That surprised Glorfindel. "Is not my tale in the books Master Bilbo wrote? Did he not give an account of my life?"
"Only that you are a great lord of Rivendell, and highly respected," Merry answered. "Is there more to it than what we've read?"
"Much more, Master Meriadoc. So much more than you know."
"Well, we certainly have the time to hear it, if you are not in a hurry to get to the Grey Havens, your lordship."
And so, they ate and listened while Glorfindel told them of his life – two lives, as written in some histories – and the reason that he claimed two homes. He also regaled them with pretty tales of fair Valinor, darker tales of his time in Mandos' Halls, and wondrous stories of new life and discovery in Imladris, or the realm more commonly known as Rivendell. He explained, as best he could, the sea longing and why he felt the overwhelming need to heed the call to the Blessed Realm.
"It sounds a lot like what we felt like when we just wanted to come back to the Shire, after Sauron was defeated." Trust Sam to find a way to relate Glorfindel's story to their own. "I remember just wanting to come home so bad that nothing else mattered."
"And it is similar for me, Master Samwise. My family, my friends, the land I first called 'home' lies just across the sea. I shall sail the Straight Road until my ship makes berth in the harbor of Alqualonde."
"Will you see Frodo there? And Bilbo?" There was an incredible sadness that still lingered in Sam's voice, and Glorfindel could see the same feelings mirrored in the other halflings' eyes.
"I have every hope to see the ring-bearers again, as it has been my pleasure to talk with the third ring-bearer and his friends." He extended his hand and held each one in turn. "Shall I deliver messages to them for you?"
The three hobbits looked at each other, but said nothing. It seemed that they reached some sort of decision and then turned smiling faces back to him. "If you could," Pippin said for the first time since his question about having two homes, "please tell them that we love them and miss them terribly. Tell them the Shire hasn't been the same since they left."
"Has there been trouble here?" Glorfindel asked, alarmed.
"Oh, no sir! Nothing that we can't handle. It's just that life was decidedly more interesting with the Bagginses in residence."
Glorfindel let out a whoop of laughter, surprising the hobbits into laughter of their own.
Hours later, the food was gone, the sun was close to sinking beneath the western horizon, and the air was growing chillier. It was time to say farewell. Rising to their feet, the hobbits wished Glorfindel a safe journey to the Havens and a swift, safe sea voyage. In turn, Glorfindel wished for them a happy and healthy life filled with peace and contentment.
"Perhaps one day, we shall meet again," he told them as he called for his horse. "It would gladden my heart to think so."
"Ours as well," Merry spoke for them all.
They watched Glorfindel mount his house with grace and ease. It was easy to see the animal was already longing for a good run. Arms raised, the hobbits called their good-byes and Glorfindel waved back. The horse reared back on two feet, startling the trio, and then took off. Glorfindel's golden hair and his horse's silvery mane resembled flags as they rode together into the sunset.
"That was a grand meeting," Merry said as they turned to go back to the ferry.
"It was indeed," Sam added. "I'm glad he came to talk with us."
"Do you think we should've given him some food before he left?" Pippin asked to no one in particular. A short silence fell between them until Merry began laughing.
"Always thinking about food, Pip," he said. "I daresay he had some of that lembas bread with him."
"Yes, of course he will." Setting the ferry in motion, they were once again on the Brandywine, slowly moving back across the river. "We'll be late for supper." Pippin sounded disappointed.
The nighttime silence was broken with the sound of laughter. It was definitely good to laugh.