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Chapter Four: A Primer for Sam
Written for the September 2010 Back to School LOTR Genfic Community Challenge. Posted here 9/2011.
Frodo carefully drew his quill from the ink bottle and poised it for a moment over the fine parchment that was on top the hardboard that rested across his knees. It was a fine day and the water gently lapped against the shore, at times tickling his feet, as the quill scratched across the paper.
The Ring-bearer stared at the words, lingering most on Sam’s name and his own. Who was he anymore? It was hard to tell, since he had lost so much, but he had come to these lands to find out. He was still adjusting to the fact that Sam was no longer at his side, nor Merry or Pippin, which is why he had wanted these lessons at first to be at the water’s edge, to be as close as he could to those beloved ones he had left. Yet while the pain of those losses was great, he had the opposite and steadily growing joy of adjusting that another part of his heart was returned to him and always with him.
A Quenya Primer For My Sam
Composed by his brother, Frodo Baggins
Bilbo watched him, his heart stirred by love, pride, grief and joy. His heartson looked up at him at times and each time Frodo saw a tender, sad smile full of love that he returned and hungrily drew into his shadowed heart so it would begin to fill again. The loving gaze that accompanied it was so similar to Sam’s yet even more beloved. Each time he saw it and returned it, a little more life returned to the barren landscape within and his heart beat a little stronger, nourished anew instead of being torn apart by the Ring. And it wasn’t just Bilbo who fed the Ring-bearer. The air was saturated with presences of great power and love that consoled his grief.
Frodo focused on the lesson that was to begin from Galian, an Elf who had befriended them from the first and who approached them now, book in hand.
The golden-haired Elf opened the book, one ancient of days but well preserved. “This is how I learned,” he said.
Frodo looked at the book in wonder and then up at his new friend who shone in the bright daylight with the combination of youth and agelong years that graced his race.
“I’m learning from the same primer as you?” he asked in awe.
Galian smiled. “You object, Iorhael?”
The Ring-bearer touched the cover reverently. “Do I deserve such an honor?” he asked, knowing he did not.
The Elf bowed. “It is entirely my own honor to teach you from here.”
Frodo stood and bowed as well. “Then it is my honor to learn.”
Bilbo smiled at the courtesies. He knew his lad was just beginning his recovery and yet had to rediscover his worth, but he considered it a big step already for Frodo to accept that there were those who wished to honor him.
Elf and hobbit sat down then and Galian taught both of his new friends, but elder Ring-bearer found himself distracted by watching Frodo and so paid little heed to the lesson. How he rejoiced in being near the beloved child of his heart, even as he grieved over the terrible damage done to him. Yet, the light and beauty that had only grown through the years to continually enchant the old hobbit remained and continued to grow even now. Frodo was wholly absorbed in the lesson and did not see that Bilbo’s full attention was focused on him. Only chance glances caught each other’s eyes and held them in a loving gaze until drawn back to the lesson.
The younger Ring-bearer carefully read each word out loud in Quenya after Galian and Bilbo delighted to hear the Elvish tongue spoken with a Shire lilt. After each word, Frodo wrote it in his primer, in Westron and in Quenya, pronouncing it several more times until he felt satisfied that he truly could speak it and remember it. Slowly sentences formed and he read those out as well.
“Vandë carna, Iorhael!” Galian praised. “Well done! You speak our tongue very well. Now when someone asks you, do you speak Elvish, Ma quetil i lambe Eldaiva, you can say...”
“Tancavë,” Frodo said, “titta.” [Yes, little.]
The Elf smiled. “That little will be much soon. You have an ear for the words as one of our own do.”
“He is that rarity,” Bilbo said, “an Elven hobbit.”
Frodo smiled under his uncle’s proud and tender gaze and that of his friend’s. Another tendril of peace stole into his ravaged soul.
“You gave me that love of Elven things, Uncle.”
“But I did not give you the light that could have others mistake you for one of their own children, my lad, or the heart that is so open to new ideas and adventures.”
Galian smiled at the ancient hobbit. “Yet you nourished the seeds planted there by Another in this calmar, this child of light.” He looked back at Frodo. “Auta i lóme. Aurë entuluva. The night is passing. Day shall come again.”
Frodo looked at his friend solemnly for he knew which night the Elf referred to, and he thoughtfully drew those words into his heart where he could ponder them further.
The lesson then continued until Frodo had filled both sides of a page and the sun was beginning to fire the sky with red.
Galian rose and bowed to both of them. “Nai i Eru ar i Valar as elyë. Á lorë vandë. May the One and the Valar be with you. Sleep well.”
Frodo and Bilbo rose and returned the bow. “Hantanyel for teaching me,” the younger hobbit said.
“Nan alassëa núrolya,” the Elf said with another smile and bow of his head. “I am your joyful servant.”
“As I am yours,” Frodo said with another deep bow.
He wrote out the other words Galian had spoken and placed them at the end of the page where he looked at them for a long time. He then looked up at the darkening sky. One night was beginning, but another was indeed perhaps coming at long last to a close. Dawn was still far off, yet he could hope more fully to see it.
So concludes your (our) first lesson, my Sam, he scribbled at the very end and then closed the book.
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