Written for the lotr_community anniversary challenge on Livejournal.
Challenge: Choose one or more lines from the hobbits' walking song in the chapter 'Three's Company' from The Fellowship of the Ring, and write a story or poem or create a work of art based on that line.
IN SHIPS MADE OF DREAMS
"Mist and twilight, cloud and shade,
Away shall fade! Away shall fade!
Fire and lamp, and meat and bread,
And then to bed! And then to bed!"
There was a cry of approbation when Frodo finished his song, and he bowed and resumed his seat on the high cushions on which he and Bilbo enjoyed the entertainments in the Great Hall of Avallonë. The Elves then turned in expectation to Bilbo, who delighted them by repeating the song in Quenya in a somewhat shaky but still tuneful voice. The listeners, especially those who knew little or no Westron, clapped and asked to hear it again, to which Bilbo happily obliged. Finished, he bowed deeply, flushed and pleased.
"Thank you, friends." Celebrían sat near the hobbits with her husband and Erestor. "As you are learning about us through our songs, so we continue to learn more about your folk."
"I fear that you may learn no more," Frodo said with a rueful smile, taking a sip of the excellent wine. "Over these years, I think that Bilbo and I have emptied our memories of every song we know." He gazed fondly at his uncle. "Bilbo wrote most of them long ago, and they are no doubt sung throughout the Shire to this day."
"Surely you know a few more songs?" Erestor asked in dismay.
"Hobbits have not thousands of years in which to pour out endless prose, my friend," Frodo said with a laugh. "Bilbo, do you remember any other..." His voice trailed off when he saw that his uncle was absorbed with writing something in a small book of bound pages. "Uncle, are you writing again?" he asked, delighted.
Bilbo nodded, slowly looking up from the blank page on which he had scrawled a single line.
"It's true, my lad, I haven't written poetry in ever so long, but I had a dream last night that... filled me with such peace. I remembered nothing else about it when I woke, save for one line of verse. It just came back to me:
"Set sail through the Music so long ago sung."
Frodo's jaw dropped in surprise. "Bilbo, I woke this morning with a bit of verse in my head, as well!" He closed his eyes for a moment, trying to remember.
"There's no growing old, while the Sea is still young."
"Well now... that's rather a comforting thought for someone as old as I am," Bilbo said, repeating the line to himself.
"That is quite a nice beginning," Elrond said encouragingly. "Why do you not write something together?"
"What a splendid notion!" Bilbo said.
"Together?" Frodo chuckled. "Bilbo, why didn't we ever think of that?"
Erestor looked at the hobbits thoughtfully.
"My friends, your hearts and spirits are becoming as much a part of the West even as they resonate to your sweet Shire. I can think of few things more inspiring than the Music that came before all songs, and the Sea in which we will hear Its essence for as long as Arda endures."
Frodo suddenly took up Bilbo's pen and book, and swiftly put down two more lines that seemed to flow effortlessly from the first two.
Through starlight we fly in fiery streams,
Past mountains of crystal in ships made of dreams...
As Frodo and Bilbo huddled together over the page, oblivious to all else, Elrond quietly rose to his feet, and Celebrían and Erestor did the same.
"I suspect we will be hearing a new song very soon," Erestor said happily, as they left the hobbits. "Lord Irmo has gifted our friends with a shared vision that will, if we are fortunate, be the first of many."
After what seemed like just a few minutes, Frodo looked up from the pages he and Bilbo had filled with poetry, and was startled to see that the Hall was empty. Through the open roof, he observed that the stars of evening had set and the sky was beginning to lighten. He gently touched Bilbo's shoulder.
"My goodness, have we been at it all night?" Bilbo asked. He yawned and stretched. "Is there any wine left? Writing is thirsty work."
Frodo refilled their glasses, overjoyed to see a glow in Bilbo's eyes that he had been sorely missing. With a glad smile, he raised his goblet.
"It appears we're in for a new adventure, Uncle."
Bilbo beamed at him happily. "And whyever not? Remember what I taught you, dear boy? About the Road?"
"It goes ever on and on," Frodo said quietly.
"Indeed it does," Bilbo agreed. He and Frodo listened as the distant, sweet voices of Elves sang the stars to their rest, and the Sun into a new day. "Indeed it does."