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Aiya Eärendil Elenion Ancalima

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“See! this yellow shell is one I never found in Middle-earth. The Teleri used to call her nethig, the little sister, because if you put her to your ear, she sings in a small high voice.” Maglor tossed the shell to Frodo, who caught it in one hand and held it to his ear.

“It doesn’t sound very different to the other one, to me!” Frodo admitted after a moment, smiling.

“Oh, but she does! It’s harder to sift the melody out here on the sand with the sound of the waves washing around us. Let me pick it out for you on the harp, that will make it clearer.” He started to play the tune that he could hear so clearly in the shell, as Frodo listened.

A small white boat with a bright red sail rounded the rocky point at the far end of the beach, sailing south along the sandy shore, heading for the long quays of Avallónë where the great ships put in. A fair wind was blowing the white fast-moving clouds against the sky, and the little white boat leaped among the green waves like a living thing, her bright sail straining.

“Look!” Frodo said, peering at the waves and pointing. “Is there something swimming in the water by that boat? Is it an animal?”

Maglor stood up from where he had been sitting on a wave-worn grey rock, harp in hand, and looked out too. “I think they call them porpoises,” he said. “Three of them. The Teleri are great friends with them. He looked at the waves and made a face. “Rather them than me. That sea looks rough.”

“I am glad we made the crossing before the autumn winds blew up,” Frodo agreed. “I had never seen the sea before then, except in dreams. I didn’t realise that waves could be so large, and clear all the way through, like hills of glass... If you see waves in a river at all, it’s always full of mud. Particularly in the Brandywine. The Brandywine goes a thick, solid brown in the autumn, once the rain gets going... I wonder how things are going in the Shire. I expect they will be well enough, but still, I miss the gossip!”

“Hard to leave home behind, even if the journey’s end is bright,” Maglor said.

“Not a bright journey’s end for you, going in the other direction,” Frodo observed.

“Well, no, but then we were in darkness anyway, chasing greater darkness ahead. And carrying plenty of it with us, too,” Maglor said, uncomfortable. “You’ve heard all about that already. Would you tell me more of the Shire? I’d like to hear more of Lobelia Sackville-Baggins.”

“Would you really?” Frodo asked in obvious surprise. “The small doings of the Shire, and Lobelia in particular, don’t seem like the sort of things that usually interest Elves!”

“But this Elf has had very little gossip of any kind for a very long time, and yours sounds most exotic and exciting!” Maglor looked down at him and grinned. “Anyway, Bilbo has made three rhymes about my family already, and I feel I should reply in kind. Lobelia sounds eminently suitable as a subject for a song in one of the more heroic modes.”

“Well, I never thought I would walk beyond the sea speaking of Lobelia Sackville-Baggins with a legend out of a song!” Frodo kindly did not mention what kind of legend he had heard, though Maglor could guess. “But why not? Have I told you Bilbo’s theory about why she stole his spoons?”

“She stole his spoons? This sounds an excellent story. Shall we walk on while you tell it, if you are feeling well enough?”

“I’m all right,” Frodo said. He looked a little tired, Maglor thought, but there was no sign of the lack of focus or exhaustion that Elrond had warned him to watch for. Frodo seemed quite alert, though he had been badly ill when they had first landed. He looked at Maglor and rubbed his shoulder thoughtfully. “There’s something about the sound of the sea that helps, I think.”

Maglor nodded. “They say that the sea still sings the first songs it ever heard, when the darkness was only full of stars. And so it carries healing and memory. We copy it with songs, to shape the world to life and light, but nobody can make music with such a restless energy as the sea... You wanted to walk to that outcrop at the end, I think.”

Frodo nodded. “It seems as good a spot as any to walk to. But let us watch the porpoises go by first. I’ve never seen anything like them!”

The boat was closer now, and the lone sailor could be clearly seen, leaning out to keep the boat balanced in the wind a tall person with pale golden hair that whipped around his face. Ahead of the boat, the swift shapes of the porpoises could be seen, speeding mostly underwater, but breaking the green surface from time to time with a small explosion of spray.

“It’s coming in,” Maglor said, surprised. The little boat had turned to face the beach, red sail held wide, and was running in atop a wave, the porpoises following. The breaking wave carried it with a scattering of white foam a good way onto the beach, and the lone occupant leapt nimbly out onto the sand, rope in hand, and pulled the small boat up out of the reach of the water in one long movement, as the wave pulled back in foam with a great sighing sound. The sailor reached over and pulled briskly on a rope, and the flapping red sail dropped neatly into the boat. Behind the boat, the porpoises followed the retreating waves and darted swiftly away.

The sailor looked across the beach at Frodo in obvious curiosity, and came towards them, pulling the light boat across the sand, higher up the beach. Unusual, to see one of the Teleri with a golden beard, but there were some like Círdan who did grow them.

“Frodo Baggins, at your service!” Frodo said in his careful accented Quenya, and bowed. The hobbits had discovered almost at once that in Aman, most people were more likely to understand their formal Quenya than any other language.

“Eärendil son of Tuor, at your service and your family’s!” the sailor replied in passable Westron, to Frodo’s obvious delight and Maglor’s considerable alarm. “An honour to meet you, Frodo Baggins.”

So this was Eärendil, Lord of the Havens of Sirion that Maglor and his brothers had attacked and brought to ruin, father of the children Maglor had stolen.

Eärendil the dragonslayer, bearer of the last, stolen, Silmaril.

Maglor began to retreat quietly and cautiously towards the rocks, careful not to think of Silmarils, in the way that long ago had been habitual. Fortunately, the novelty of Frodo’s small size had kept Eärendil’s eyes firmly on the hobbit.

Frodo said, indicating Maglor; “And this is my friend Maglor, son of Fëanor.”

Ah.

Hobbits had such optimistic views about the natural goodness of Elves. It must be hard for even the keenest enthusiast of history to comprehend the nature of a grievance of many thousands of years, with a body that would naturally live only a hundred or so and a spirit that would travel beyond the world leaving, presumably, all such things behind.

Eärendil’s eyes swept over Maglor, noting sword and harp, and then in one swift graceful movement, he had a boathook in his hand, a long wooden shaft with a wicked spike and hook fiercely curved. Maglor had fought fishermen with boathooks at Alqualondë. They were not made for war, but they could kill.

Sword or harp? It had to be the harp. Elrond would not forgive the sword. Maglor left his sword sheathed, playing the first ripple of notes hurriedly and took a breath, wondering if there would be time for the song to bring sleep before Eärendil pulled his guts out.

Did Eärendil have the Silmaril with him now? If he did, and Maglor left him unconscious, even Elrond was unlikely to believe Maglor did not want the thing.

Eärendil took a step towards him, boathook in hand, his faded blue eyes watchful and face grim.

Frodo hurried between them, looking alarmed.

“Now, please!” he said, holding up his hands. “I know there are many grievances between you, but let us not become overexcited! There’s no point at all in re-fighting old wars, and I am quite sure Elrond would be most unhappy at the idea of the two of you doing so in particular.”

Maglor paused, his eyes on Eärendil, then nodded and let his hand drop from the harp. After what seemed a very long moment of hesitation, Eärendil gave the faintest nod too. He put the boathook back in the boat.

“I don’t have it with me. I left it with my wife. It belongs to her, I only carry it,” Earendil said, looking at Maglor, but speaking still in Westron. He meant the Silmaril of course. Maglor thought of wave-music, just in case, and did not reply.

“Surprised you’re permitted to wander armed and unsupervised.” Earendil's face was wary and suspicious.

Maglor shrugged. This was safer ground. “But I am not. I am watched by one of the great heroes of Middle-earth. Hador, or Húrin, or Beren himself would be no more able than is Frodo. Shall I tell you of his great deeds?”

“I’ve heard something of them, here and there, as it happens.” Eärendil’s voice was unhurried, considering. “But I had not realised that hobbits were so small.”

“Yes, everyone comments on it here,” Frodo said. “I fear it’s something I am unable to do anything about, though by now I’m starting to wonder if wearing a very tall hat would help.”

Eärendil laughed. “My apologies!” he said, in his slow, thoughtful voice, and bowed low to Frodo. “I didn’t mean any offence. We have all heard a great deal about you, of course.” He looked at Maglor again, dubiously. “And something of you, too. Do you always use that thing on people who happen to land in front of you?”

“Do you always point a boat-hook at anyone who happens to be holding a harp?” Maglor replied. “I was only singing of seashells when you arrived!”

“It’s not for everyone that a harp is a weapon. Elros said you could raise a storm, bring hillsides down and call a river into spate...”

“Can you, really?” Frodo asked, interested.

“Yes,” Maglor told him. “Didn’t you say you’d seen Elrond raise a river? I showed him that.” He looked back at Eärendil. “You spoke with Elros? I thought you were never to set foot in Middle-earth again, you and Elwing both, under order of the Valar.”

Eärendil grinned. “There’s plenty of Arda that isn’t rightly either Middle-earth or Aman. Ulmo knows very well that there are many rules that depend on tide and weather in his domain. I don’t only sail the sky.”

“Is that why you speak the Common Tongue?” Frodo asked. “It doesn’t seem to be much spoken, here. But if you meet with sailors from Pelargir sometimes...”

“Something along those lines,” Eärendil replied, rather evasively, Maglor thought. “Elros never sailed any further west than Númenor, and I have never again set foot in any part of Middle-earth.”

“But you found a way to meet anyway?” Frodo asked smiling.

Eärendil’s weathered face and blue eyes looked very innocent. “I may have done. Complicated things, tide and wind and fog. Easy enough to get it wrong and end up close by unexpected company. And then it would be rude to not tie up and have a drink or two.”

“That is good to hear,” Maglor said, pleased for Elros, that he had found his father again. It hurt a little, but probably it should do. “It was hard on them, when they heard that you and Elwing must stay in Valinor and would not be allowed to return.”

“Yes, he mentioned that.” Earendil regarded him thoughtfully with shrewd blue eyes for a moment, then, apparently deciding that Maglor was not an immediate threat, turned back to his boat, and began to remove the sail from the boom and pack it neatly into a canvas bag.

“I owe you three apologies,” Maglor said, still tense. Eärendil did not look up. “For our attack on the Havens of Sirion, the death of your people, and for taking your children. Will you accept them?”

Eärendil said, over his shoulder, “I’ll think on it. You’ve spoken to my wife already. There’s no rush.” He paused. “You could have made a worse job of Elros, all things considered.”

“They made a good job of each other, he and Elrond,” Maglor said. “I would have liked to do better, but... anyway, Elrond will be pleased you’ve come: he didn’t know you’d returned from journeying.”

“I got blown off course a little and got home a few days early,” Eärendil said. “So I thought I’d have a little fun and take the dinghy over to the Lonely Isle, rather than endure that wallowing barge they call a ferry.” He finished stowing the sail away and turned to Frodo. “Are you going back to Celebrían’s house? I believe she has the honour of being your host. I know it’s along here somewhere, but I don’t spend much time on the Lonely Isle.”

“We were out walking, but we can do that another day,” Frodo said. “Shall we go back, Maglor?”

“If you like,” Maglor said. “Thank you.”

“What for? I didn’t do anything,” Frodo said, puzzled.

“You stopped him from killing me! Though that doesn’t sound quite right. Perhaps it should be the other way around? You saved the Evening Star from an evil of the ancient world? Not that I intended to do more than send him to sleep to save my skin, but misunderstandings have led to trouble before. And it sounds much more heroic like that.”

“An evil of the ancient world? You don’t look much like a Balrog,” Frodo said, amused.

“You don’t know what he did,” Eärendil said dryly. He had pulled the little boat up beyond the rocks now, onto the fine dry sand high above the tideline. Maglor winced.

“I think I do, in fact,” Frodo told him. “I’ve read Bilbo’s translation of Quenta Silmarillion, and heard the Noldolantë. And I’ve had a chance to ask a few questions by now, too.”

“His own telling,” Eärendil said.

“Well, yes, that, and Elrond’s. I wouldn’t say that Maglor’s version of events is over-kind to him. But I have seen Mordor too. More than that, I saw its shadow come into my home as well... the house is this way,” Frodo said and led the way up towards the cliff

“Did you? I’d not heard that part of the tale,” Eärendil said, joining him. Maglor followed them.

“The great tales never end, but I suppose you don’t always hear the parts that happen to people after they have fallen out of them again,” Frodo said. “Did you know I took your light with me into Mordor? Galadriel gave it to me in a phial. It helped us against the darkness. We spoke of Beren and his quest. Then later I called out your name, and Galadriel’s and the light answered.”

“I know that part of it,” Eärendil said. “I was listening.”

“You were?” Frodo looked startled.

“I don’t learn languages entirely from chance-encounters with the mariners of Pelargir,” Eärendil said pausing to allow Frodo to go ahead through a narrow gap between gorse-bushes. “You hear a good deal, as a star. There wasn’t much that I could do, but I was listening.”

“Well, I wish we’d known that at the time! It would have been cheering. Anyway, when we got home, we found that Saruman had got there first, and brought a nasty taste of Mordor with him. Not as sad as losing your home and your children, I know, but enough to give some idea of what it might be like.”

“And yet after that, you’d call a kinslayer your friend?” Eärendil asked.

“Don’t mind me,” Maglor said to Frodo. “I’ve heard worse!”

“Why not?” Frodo said to Eärendil. “I failed, just as he did. I was always going to. I’m sure it’s difficult for a dragon-slayer to imagine, being hopelessly overmatched at a task you can’t do, knowing that you’re going to do something terrible instead. But it seems very familiar to me.”

“You didn’t choose to kill anyone though,” Eärendil said. “Still less your own people!”

“I didn’t swear some elaborate oath of revenge — that wouldn’t be very hobbitish anyway; we don’t go in much for that sort of thing — but I did choose to be the Ringbearer. I didn’t know exactly what I was taking on, but then, nor did Maglor.”

“A flattering comparison,” Maglor said. “But not one I’d make myself! Particularly in the hearing of anyone from Alqualondë.”

“I was lucky that when I claimed the Ring for my own, I wasn’t in a position to kill anyone to keep it,” Frodo said to him, his small face troubled. “I did try. The reasons that I’m standing here are about one half that dear old Sam Gamgee is far too obstinate to know when he is beaten, and one half down to Gollum. He was a kinslayer, if you like, and quite eaten up with guilt and murder. There was barely a chink of light left in him. But even for him, there was still that small hope... and as it turned out, we could have never done it without him.” He looked at Eärendil “I’m glad we had the star-glass. It helped. But in the end, it wasn’t light that was the answer. I was lucky again that Gollum took the Ring from me.”

“It’s said that some people make their own luck,” Eärendil observed, as they climbed up the path above the sea among the late-blooming gorse.

“You can make it for other people too. We gave Saruman another chance, though he didn’t choose to take it.”

Frodo paused at a turn on the cliff path, to catch his breath, and look out at the sea. Then he looked at Maglor, and at Eärendil with a very hobbitish smile. “Isn’t it very inconvenient, keeping up an argument for such a long time? It’s bad enough for us, in the Shire, where at most you only have to avoid your appalling relatives for seventy years or so, and even then, there comes a point when it’s just easier to invite them to things and simply arrange the seating plan so you don’t have to say more than the pleasantries. It must be much worse to have to keep it up until the end of the world!”

Eärendil laughed. “There is that. Sometimes it seems it would have been so much simpler to just forget and go on. But Elwing wanted to stay with the Elves, so here we still are.”

“Trapped in Aman with your appalling cousin unto world’s end,” Maglor said. “I am afraid there’s not much I can do about that, except try to be less appalling in future.” He could, of course, have refused the pardon, and stayed in Middle-earth. Or he could take the path that Maedhros had taken to Mandos. But he had refused that way long ago, and he was disinclined to take it now for the convenience of distant cousins. And Eärendil had put the boat-hook down, too.

“Keep trying,” Eärendil said absently, as they came to the road. “Is this the house?”

“It is,” Frodo said, and then, delighted. “And here he is! Elrond, we have found your father on the shore and have brought him back with us. Eärendil, this is Elrond.”

Elrond turned towards them. His eyes went wide with surprise, and flickered for a moment to Maglor. Eärendil laughed. “I haven’t damaged your kinslayer,” he said. “Though I’ll admit I did enjoy making him jump.”

“Welcome, father,” Elrond said, smiling and coming forward to greet Earendil. “It’s good to be able to see you again after all this time. My thanks for leaving Maglor in one piece: I’m rather fond of him. Come in and meet Celebrían, and our other guests. I am sure that Bilbo in particular will be very interested to meet you. He also has an interest in dragons.”

“I’ll see you later, “ Maglor said to Frodo, preparing, with some relief, to retreat.

“Oh, no, don’t,” Eärendil said, turning and clapping him rather hard on the shoulder. “Come in and talk. It seems that both my sons have something to say on your behalf, strange though that seems. Not to mention Frodo here.”

“You didn’t accept my apology,” Maglor said, cautious.

“Yes, and I trust you about as far as I could throw you,” Eärendil said, with an easy grin. “So I’d prefer you to stay where I can see you.”

“Come in and have some wine,” Elrond said. He looked happy enough, which probably counted for something, though his mind was diplomatically shuttered closed, so it was hard to be quite sure.

“I thought you’d never ask!” Eärendil said cheerily, and followed him inside.

Bilbo was, indeed, delighted to meet Eärendil. The ancient hobbit had slept almost all the time since Maglor had first met him on the road to the Havens, and in Middle-earth he had seemed feeble and confused. But arriving at Tol Eressëa had refreshed him, although he still spent a good deal of time asleep. Now, he had just got up after an afternoon nap, and found the energy to voice the briefest show of modesty before preparing to recite the whole of his Song of Eärendil to its subject, something that both of them and Gandalf (who greeted Eärendil as an old friend) seemed to find deeply amusing.

Gandalf excused himself from hearing the entire performance and left about his own mysterious business, rather to Maglor’s relief. As envoys of the Valar went, Gandalf did not appear particularly fearsome, but Maglor found his sense of humour uncomfortable, and often wondered if he was saying more than he seemed to be.

“I like the scabbard of chalcedony,” Eärendil said after he had heard it, chuckling. “I’ll have to see if they can make one for me in Tirion. But I think I’ll leave out the chainéd rings! I hate wearing armour aboard ship. Nightmare if you end up going over the side.”

“The rings make a very handy rhyme with the ancient kings, though,” Bilbo said, and laughed. “I never thought I’d hear ‘on strands of pearl / where ends the world the music long, where ever-foaming billows roll’ myself. Though at the moment it sounds less musical than angry! Is the wind getting up?”

“It is,” Frodo said, looking out of one of the many-paned tall windows. “I think there may be a storm on the way. The sky is very dark.”

Eärendil went over to look out too. “Yes, the wind and rain will be here very soon,” he said. “‘For ever still a herald on an errand that should never rest’. Ha! I’m glad that’s only hobbit poetry, when the sky looks so dark! I would not want to be setting out into this, even in Vingilot. Manwë will be walking through the storm watching his own borders tonight.” He came back to the light of the fire burning in the hearth in the middle of the long room.

“We’ll find a room for you,” Elrond said. “You are very welcome to stay until the storm is over,” Then more quietly; “‘and yearned again to find afar, his home through shadows journeying’... Was that line ever true, or is that only poetry too?”

Maglor, looking at his face, began to play quietly, as he had played sometimes, long ago in Himring, as Maedhros had discussed awkward matters of policy with his allies and his brothers, a quiet unvoiced music that subtly caught the ear and filled the silences. Nearby, in the small chair that Lindir had fetched for him, Bilbo had fallen asleep again, the firelight brightening his small face.

“They left us no home to yearn for,” Elrond's father said. “We thought you were both dead.”

Elrond frowned “Before the war, you did, yes. You must have known long before the last assault that we were alive. It was a different thing for our mother: she stayed in Valinor, waiting. She had the worst part of it anyway, with no choice but to flee. But you did come back. We looked up from the burned and ruined plain, and saw you kill the dragon, saw it fall and smash the mountainside. We saw you stand triumphant above it, with the Silmaril. Did you not want to come down?”

“It wasn’t permitted,” Eärendil said, and shrugged, a little helplessly. “You know there’s no return from Aman to Middle-earth. I can’t set foot there. You were both full-grown by then anyway, with duties of your own. It was far too late to save you, by then.”

“As it happened, we didn’t need much saving,” Elrond said, looking at Maglor. “Other people, yes. Not us.”

“It wasn’t as though you were still children,” Eärendil said. “I thought I’d see you soon in Valinor anyway. ”

“Someone had to stay,” Elrond said. “We couldn’t all go off west and leave Middle-earth in ruins. Or leave it to Sauron, either. It turned out to take longer than I had thought. It was a very long defeat. But I don’t suppose you’d know about that.”

Eärendil made a face. “Frodo said to me on the way here that I didn’t know what it was, to be set an impossible task, or to face defeat... But I didn’t know I’d get to Valinor. I thought I’d be lost, as so many others had been already. And then Morgoth would break through to the Havens, and that would be it for you, and Elwing, and the last of our people, just as it was for Gondolin. If Gondolin couldn’t stand against his armies, there was no hope for the Havens. Every time I came home, I wondered if this time, there would be a home to come to. It was your mother who went on hoping, organising, building. Elwing never knew Doriath, you see. She was too young, she didn’t remember anything but the Havens. I don’t think she ever quite realised quite how weak we were. But I remembered Gondolin, I knew what we’d lost... I went on looking for Valinor, because there was nothing else to do. I never thought I’d find it.”

Elrond sighed. “And you wanted to choose the path of Men, anyway. Elros told me that, long ago. You’re only here still because our mother chose to stay with the Elves.”

“That’s right,” Eärendil said, simply.

“I never wanted to take the path of Men,” Elrond said, thoughtful and remote. “I always wanted to see how the story would go.”

“You are like your mother, then. I wanted the story to come to an end, and go on to something else! Not that I’m saying that I regret it. One of us had to make the decision.”

A deep rumble of thunder rolled in the distance, once, and then again. A sudden burst of rain spattered against the windows, and then deepened to an urgent drumming. Frodo closed the curtains and came back towards the light of the fire.

Elrond turned to him. “We were talking of the choice, to be Men or Elves... I wondered what you thought. Lúthien, Arwen and my father all chose for love rather than because of where the path led in the end. But I chose the path first, and so did my brother... If you had the choice, would you stay and watch the world with the Elves, or go on?”

Frodo looked startled at the question. “I’ve not thought about it,” he said. “Elves seem very different, to us! Not the kind of people that I could ever choose to be. It would be like choosing to be a flame, or a song. Or a star.”

“Yet here you are, in Aman beyond the world, among the flames and the waves and the star,” Elrond said.

“Yes,” Frodo said, thinking about it, as the sound of rain beat against the house, and further away, the waves roared and thunder grumbled. “I suppose I followed the story on... I had to leave my old life behind in the Shire, because I couldn’t keep on being me any more. I couldn’t see it properly, all the things that should have been solid and real; friends, children, cakes and cups of tea, potatoes, pubs and little streams had all begun to fade. I can see the flames and hear the songs, even if it’s dark. But wanting to be a flame would be a different thing again.”

“And yet, surely you are a song too?” Maglor asked, interested. He shifted the music that rippled across the sound of the rain on the windows into a theme that he had heard Lindir playing from Gondor, the song of Frodo of the Nine Fingers And the Ring of Doom.

Frodo recognised it and laughed. “I suppose I am. I’m less than I used to be, in that sense. I don’t mind being a hero, but I used to be a hobbit. It was a good thing to be. Some people can manage both, of course. Sam does, and doesn’t even seem to notice. Bilbo did it for years, even if it does make him tired now.”

“Tell me, or Gandalf, if things seem to be fading,” Elrond said. “That is something that can be helped. You can live in all worlds at once, here. No need to be without cups of tea, or potatoes.”

“I will. But to answer your question, no, I don’t hanker to be an Elf! I can bear to close the book at last and go on.” He looked at Maglor. “It seems that remembering every detail can be a mixed blessing, at best.”

The door opened, and Celebrían came in holding a lamp. She was tall and shining against the dark that had come with the storm.

“You have sat here talking while the evening has come on!” she said. “I have brought a light, and the news that it is almost time for supper.”

“We have been talking of stories, and of songs,” Elrond said getting up to greet her. “Frodo says that he followed a story into the West.”

“Haven’t we all of us done that?” Frodo asked. “The story picks you up and carries you along for a while, then you fall out of it. I’m only glad I fell out in the end somewhere so pleasant.”

“It’s certainly better to sing the songs than to be in them,” Maglor agreed wholeheartedly.

“Sam would agree with you there. Though your part of the story was darker than ours... I wonder if anyone who is picked up and swept along by one of the great stories would not prefer to be somewhere else while it’s happening, even Bilbo?” Frodo gave the old hobbit a look of affection, as Bilbo blinked awake.

“We were talking of stories, Bilbo. Would you say that you enjoyed your adventures while you were having them?”

“I enjoyed the music and the food!” Bilbo said, cheerfully “Going to new places, finding out new things, meeting the people. I wouldn’t want to have gone without seeing the Mountain, or Dale, or Rivendell. But that’s not being part of a story, that’s just a holiday, there and back again. The more story there was to it, the more awkward and uncomfortable and miserable it got, so far as I recall.”

“I suppose it’s the uncomfortable things that people remember. Those are the things that make a difference,” Frodo said.

“It’s not every story that makes a difference,” Maglor said. “Or not for the better.”

“I have not managed to persuade my father to accept Maglor’s apology,” Elrond told Celebrían gravely.

She turned to Eärendil. “I’m surprised by that. I didn’t think you so unforgiving.”

“I’m not,” Eärendil said, and gave her an impish grin. He turned to Maglor and gave him a very knowing look. Maglor might almost have called it infuriating, if he were not waiting to see if a richly-deserved apology would be accepted or not. “All right. I have taken my revenge, and made you wait! I accept your apology. I will even forgive you, though I won’t forget. It was all a very long time ago, and if it hadn’t been you, it would certainly have been the Balrogs and orcs. I do remember what that was like in Gondolin. The orcs would not have left me two sons, alive and well and determined to tell me that the people who captured them were not so bad. Did someone say something about supper?”