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Gandalf and the Seahobbit  by PIppinfan1988

Chapter Ten

I lean upon the clean, white railing of the ship Cirdan has built and silently watch the shore shrink away until it is a thin, waving line in the distance. One of my companions stands at my side, peering in the same direction as he stands upon a low wooden crate, dark curls blowing in the swift breeze. Cirdan built this ship for just this purpose; to sail the First Born, and others accorded a special place, back home. My thoughts are on our last farewell.

I lay a kiss of farewell upon each hobbit’s head, whispering a blessing that shall remain between myself and he alone. After the kisses and blessings I hear the music of Peregrin laughing, though he is yet weeping. He tells Frodo that I am the one who gave away his plans this time.

It is amid his laughter and tears I reply, *”Yes, for it will be better to ride back three together than one alone.” I smile, knowing that this will not be the final time we see one another. Then I say, “Well, here at last, dear friends, on the shores of the Sea comes the end of our fellowship in Middle-earth. Go in peace! I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.”

I continue to smile, knowing that I shall see each of these courageous souls again, but not on this side of the Grey Curtain. I cannot convey this to them, as they surely will not understand.

Then as I turn to walk aboard the ship, I hear my name called out from behind me. I turn around and there is Peregrin; he runs up and catches me around my waist. He is nearly thirty-one now--a grown hobbit by some standards. It has been a long time since one of these little hobbits has done this. It is but a mere second that I recall my memory and respond accordingly. I lean down a bit and gently wrap my arms about him. I whisper words to the lad that will encourage him when he feels most alone and vulnerable, and then I wipe the tears from his cheek. It is in doing this that I fondly remember the other hobbit of long ago; one of many of whom I will greet on the other side of the Curtain.

Farewell, Ernil i Pheriannath.

* * * * * * *

Gerontius and I sit in the north gardens, smoking our pipes and blowing smoke rings up into the blue sky. “One doesn’t need to look farther than Isengar if there’s trouble about!”

“Surely you don’t think that of your own flesh and blood.”

“Well…no, Gandalf,” he replies, “but he is full of mischief--like all young hobbits his age.” Gerontius absently blows three smoke rings through my one large smoke ring, then says, “He’s my last, you know. Born on my seventy-second birthday.”

“Yes, I know.” Then I fashion one of my favorites smoke rings; a sailing ship much like the one his youngest son had the recent pleasure of traveling on. “He loves you, Gerontius. And his mother, and his brothers.” I empty my pipe to make ready to leave. “Tell me, dear friend, is this another Took trait, or do all hobbits behave in like manner?”

The gleam in his old, green eyes tells me another hobbit lesson is forthcoming. “This behavior can be found amongst most hobbit families, but of the Tooks, this is a gift. Our love is deep and abiding. No Hobbit, Elf, or Big Folk shall ever come between me and my kin--or a dear friend.” He puts his hand on my knee; I see there is a fire in his eyes that I have not seen in years. Apparently, to him I am accounted as a friend, and it renders me speechless. I am moved by the fierce love of this halfling.

~ ~ ~

I have said my farewell to Gerontius this morning after our smoke in the garden. As I approach the stables, my pony is being readied by none other than Isengar Took. Part of his punishment it to assist the stable workers for the rest of the summer. Not difficult work in the least, but enough to keep the lad busy and out of trouble…or so they think.

I gaze down at the young Seahobbit who is handing me the reins as I climb into my cart. He then goes around to the back and tethers a pony to my cart. After that, he walks up to passenger’s seat and carefully climbs up. He is still healing a bit, but since his stitches were removed yesterday, he is once again a rambunctious tween.

He humbly returns my inquiring gaze, “I asked Isengrim if I could ride with you for a bit. Do you mind?”

My countenance eases and I smile my reply. Isengar smiles in return. I lightly flick the reins, then the pony starts us down the path towards the road. As we travel along the lane I notice the lad is unusually quiet.

“Your father tells me that you have taught your young nephews how to tie various knots.”

A slight smile plays along his face. “Adal’s a bright lad; I never would have thought to tie my sisters together with their own apron sashes.”

He sees my stern look and then relents. “I mean, I’ll have to give the boy a serious talking-to when I get back.”

“Too late for that. He has already received a serious reprimand--and more--from his father.”

Isengar winces at the bit of information. “I’m sorry, Gandalf. Perhaps I should’ve waited until he was older--like Fortinbras.”

I perceive Isengar is genuinely apologetic. “There is nothing wrong with sharing your knowledge of the outside world, Isengar…when it is appropriate. This is something you will have to learn for the most part on your own. You will have to decide who you divulge your understanding to, and when.” I refrain from telling the young hobbit that knowledge is like power.

“I never thought of it like that,” he replies. “I shall be more careful.”

“Let us hope so. But I am not leaving the Shire for good, lad. I will return when I can, and do not forget that I have friends here in the north that know your every deed.” Of course, it’s only a half-truth, but I feel that someone must keep this lad in complete order now. The remnant of the Dúnedain will help to keep an especially close eye on him in my absence.

Isengar warily looks around in all directions and answers, “I suppose I must learn to be on my best behavior.” I smile at my own ingenuity. The rest of the ride to the East Road is filled with Isengar’s smiles and laugher. He is a fine traveling companion.

Just before we reach the town of Waymoot I bring the cart to a halt. “I believe this is where you and your brother agreed you will return from.”

Isengar’s face is now downcast. “Yes, sir.”

Something within me tries to bring back a smile to his usually jovial face. “Perhaps in another five or six years, when you are of age and are a more responsible hobbit, you may come with me to visit the Elves.”

The lad does perk up a bit, but merely grins. “You mean, Im…Imla…”

It is terrible of me, I know, but I cannot help but smirk at his first attempt to pronounce Imladris. I know the Elves must have told Isengar about it when they spoke to him on Cirdan’s ship. It is rare that I jest, but I answer him, “When you are able to say the name, then I may consider you accompanying me.”

Fortunately, he understands that it is a jest. A smile does appear on his face, and I am pleased that it does.

“Goodbye, Gandalf.” The lad climbs down and unties his pony from the cart.

No sooner than I flick the reins that I hear a shout from behind me. Thinking the worst, I stop and climb down from the cart. I see the young hobbit running towards me and then throws his arms around my waist. I thought the lad was in pain again, so I pick him up in my arms. He instantly throws his own arms around my neck and kisses my cheek, “Please come back again, Gandalf!” he says. “I won’t be naughty anymore--I promise to be a good lad.”

I hold tight onto the lad. I am feeling something that I have not felt in what has seemed to me to be ages. It is for a time that I hold this lad in my arms. It is through this small vessel of the One that I am now encouraged and strengthened on my journeys. My fight and flight in Middle-earth is for these, unthanked though it may be.

I finally lower the young hobbit to his feet. I try to make light of an awkward situation and smile at him. “Do not make promises you cannot keep, lad.” I wipe away the tears from his cheeks. “I have told you before that I will return, and I will.” Before departing, I reach into his vest pocket and offer him his own handkerchief. “We will meet again, lad. Farewell, Isengar.” Middle-earth’s only Seahobbit.

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