It seemed to Frodo that the very air in Lothlorien brought healing to his body and soul.  After lunch he was returned to his bed, where he slept long and deep, awaking refreshed just as the very rim of the sun dipped beyond the horizon.  To his surprise, Sam was waiting to help him bathe and dress. 

His clothes had been cleaned and a new pair of breaches, in the softest black fabric provided, along with a simple, but perfectly proportioned, walking cane.  Frodo tried to question his friend but Sam just looked flustered. 

"Strider said I was to help get you ready.  That's all I know, Mr Frodo.  He says we're goin' to meet someone."  Sam helped him on with his jacket and handed Frodo his stick.  "I reckon it's that Lady they've all been on about," he added in a conspiratorial tone.

Even with the stick and Sam's help, Frodo found the walk to the entrance of the pavilion quite difficult for his leg was stiff and his ribs still ached.  He was not too upset, therefore, when Aragorn offered to carry him to their destination, especially when he saw the long staircase winding up the huge tree before them.  Frodo tried to memorise every step of that journey.

The trees about him were huge and tall beyond belief, their smooth bark shining silver in the moonlight filtered through a thousand leaves.  Between their branches the deep blue of the sky was thickly scattered with brilliant stars about a huge mithril moon.  The staircase they trod was carved from pale wood, its intricate arching roof hung, here and there, with finely engraved glass lanterns set with the soft light of candles; their honeyed scent blending with the lighter perfume of night blooming flowers and the underlying musk of rich, leaf strewn, loam.

Soft elven voices blended with the rustle and whisper of leaves and the splash of running water in a delicate harmony that drew them upwards, their feet hardly seeming to touch the steps.  The hobbits did not like heights and yet there was no fear in this climb.  It was as though the song caught them and held them safe, spiralling them higher and higher within its melody.

At a great height above the ground they came to a wide talan, like the deck of a great ship.  On it was built a house, so large that almost it would have served for a hall of Men upon the earth.  They entered behind Haldir, and found that they were in a chamber of oval shape, in the midst of which grew the trunk of the great mallorn tree that they had been climbing.

The chamber was filled with soft light: its walls were green and silver and its roof of gold.  On two chairs at the bole of the tree sat Celeborn and Galadriel.  Aragorn set Frodo down and the Fellowship waited, in awe.  The Lord and Lady stood and they were very tall, both grave and beautiful.  They were clad wholly in white; and the hair of the Lady was of deep gold, and the hair of the Lord Celborn was of silver long and bright; but no sign of age was upon them, unless it were in the depths of their eyes; for these were keen as lances in the starlight, and yet profound, the wells of deep memory.

Each member of the company was led forward to the Lord, who welcomed them, and bade them sit.  The Lady Galadriel remained silent, but looked long upon each face.  When all had been greeted and offered a chair the Lord looked on them again. 

"Here there are eight," he said.  "Nine were set out: so said the messages.  But maybe there has been some change of council that we have not heard.  Elrond is far away, and darkness gathers between us, and all this year the shadows have grown longer."

"There was no change of council," said the Lady Galadriel," speaking for the first time.  Frodo's eyes widened at the sound of her voice, clear and musical, but deeper than a woman's wont.   Her eyes fell on him and it seemed to Frodo that a song rose in his heart once more, enfolding him in love and hope, healing and strength.  "He has fallen in to shadow."

Celeborn questioned them long but Frodo let others tell the tale.  He had eyes only for the Lady Galadriel.  Even now, if he closed his eyes, he could hear the faint melody of her soul.  Here was the voice that had sustained him on the long road from Moria.  Within, he heard her ancient song once more, edged with great sadness and regret. 

When the tale was done the Lady held each with her eyes once more.  "Your Quest stands upon the edge of a knife.  Stray but a little and it will fail, to the ruin of all.  Yet hope remains while all the Company is true."  None could withstand her gaze for long, save Legolas and Aragorn.  When she reached Frodo he heard her voice, once more, within his mind.  So strong was it that he would have fallen if Aragorn had not caught his shoulder.

Even as he heard her, Frodo was aware that Lord Celeborn was speaking, "Go now.  You are worn with sorrow and much toil.  Even if your Quest did not concern us closely, you should have refuge in this City, until you were healed and refreshed.  Now you shall rest, and we shall not speak of your further road for a while."

Yet, within his mind, Galadriel's voice gave portent for him, alone. "Long have I waited to greet the owner of such a strong and pure song as I have heard set firm within your heart.  You were well chosen.  Almost, it would seem that it was appointed for you at the moment of your birth; each event within your life a different chord to draw the music to this point.  This Quest will change your melody and yet it will, forever, be a thing of beauty, woven deep within the symphony of this world.  Welcome, indeed…………….Ringbearer."

                                    THE END