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Author: Shirebound
Title: Keep the Home Fires Burning
Rating: G
Theme: “What was happening in Rivendell during the quest? PJ makes some suggestions but Tolkien does not. What do you think was happening?”
Characters: Gloín, Bilbo, Arwen, Elrond
Summary: It’s time at last for Gloín to leave Rivendell and return home.
Word Count: 1147



Keep the Home Fires Burning

“Very well, very well, Master Elrond!” said Bilbo suddenly. “Say no more! It is plain enough what you are pointing at. Bilbo the silly hobbit started this affair, and Bilbo had better finish it, or himself. I was very comfortable here, and getting on with my book. If you want to know, I am just writing an ending for it. I had thought of putting: ‘and he lived happily ever afterwards to the end of his days’. It is a good ending, and none the worse for having been used before. Now I shall have to alter that: it does not look like coming true; and anyway there will evidently have to be several more chapters, if I live to write them. It is a frightful nuisance. When ought I to start?”

Boromir looked in surprise at Bilbo, but the laughter died on his lips when he saw that all the others regarded the old hobbit with grave respect. Only Glóin smiled, but his smile came from old memories.


‘The Council of Elrond’, The Fellowship of the Ring



Gloín had planned to leave Rivendell several times after Gimli and the Company of the Ring departed, but each time changed his mind. He was now of advanced years, and sensed rightly that he would not be undertaking any long journeys again once he and his small escort returned to the Lonely Mountain. He would not be coming back to this valley, and his King would wish to know all he could relate -- not just of the Council, but of Elrond’s folk and how Bilbo was faring -- and so he had stayed, and explored, and spoken with Bilbo and as many Elves as would share speech with him. But one morning he awoke with the sound of eagles in his ears and the smell of good, sun-baked stone in his nostrils, and knew that it was time to go home.

After alerting his companions to make their preparations, he packed his belongings, as well as those items Gimli had of necessity chosen not to take with him. He said his farewells to those in the House whom he had learned to call friend, and then sought out Elrond in the Great Hall, who seemed to be expecting him. Out of respect, he requested leave to depart the valley.

“Go with our blessings,” Elrond said kindly. “It has been our pleasure to welcome you here once again. May your road home bear you swiftly and without incident.”

“I thank you,” Gloín said gratefully.

“Please take my greetings to your king and kin, and... try not to worry overmuch,” Elrond advised him. “If your son has learned well from you and is true to his heart, his courage will not falter when the road grows dark. When I agreed to his request to accompany the Ringbearer, I sensed that the quest would benefit by his presence.”

“I appreciate your words, and your hospitality,” Gloín said, and he bowed. He then gifted Elrond with an intricately-wrought display of the Hall of Fire he had crafted out of fine wood, which the Master of Imladris accepted graciously.

Finally, he went in search of Bilbo.

*~*~*~*~*

“Gloín!” The Dwarf heard his name being called out, somewhere behind a thicket, and followed a cleared path around the foliage.

“Your ears are still as sharp as ever, Master Burglar,” Gloín chuckled, coming around to where a bench had been placed next to a clear pool. Although the air was chill, he had learned that this was one of Bilbo’s favorite spots “for sitting and thinking”.

“Oh, forgive me, Lady,” he said hurriedly. The Elf lord’s daughter was seated on the bench next to Bilbo. “I did not know you were here.”

“You do not disturb us,” Arwen assured him. She motioned for him to join them.

Bilbo’s smile faded when he noticed that Gloín was dressed in his old tunic and traveling cloak. “You're not leaving us already?”

“It is time, Bilbo,” Gloín said regretfully. “My lord awaits news, and I should not linger here any longer.”

“You will find that food has been prepared for your journey, although we have no Dwarvish waybread to offer,” Arwen told him.

Gloín chuckled appreciatively. “Thank you, Lady. Frankly, I never was very fond of cram. But how did you know I was leaving?”

“I am the daughter of Elrond, and mistress of this House,” Arwen said with a smile, and then her eyes kindled with a quiet joy. “Hold to hope, my friends. We have each sent off someone dear to us, and must trust that they who walk into darkness will never lack for the light, nor cease to feel our love wherever this quest takes them. Master Dwarf, I wish you safe travel to your home, and a peaceful heart for all of your days.” She rose to her feet and smiled warmly at Bilbo. “I will see you at supper.”

After she left them, Gloín and Bilbo sat in companionable silence.

“Bilbo,” Gloín said after awhile, “if Elrond and Gandalf had permitted you to go South, as you requested, I would have gone with you.”

Greatly moved, Bilbo reached over to pat the Dwarf’s hand.

“Although what use an old Dwarf could have been on such a desperate journey, I cannot imagine!” Gloín said with a grin.

“Or an old hobbit!” Bilbo chuckled.

“Your nephew does you credit,” Gloín said. “His courage and strength honor you.”

“And your son honors you. Perhaps they are our greatest contribution to what is yet to come.”

“Perhaps.” Gloín looked about him. “Are you happy here, Bilbo? Truly?”

“Exceedingly so. Why do you ask?”

“It is just that I never felt entirely... anchored in this place,” Gloín said. “It is as if the stars above this valley pull one upward with more force than the earth is able to pull one downward. Something about this land feels adrift, as a boat on a river, rather than fully a part of solid ground.” He shook his head. “Forgive me, I do not know how to explain it.”

“But you have,” Bilbo assured him. “Perhaps I’m more at peace adrift with the Elves, and wherever their river may take me, than I would be elsewhere, however solid the ground beneath my feet.” He grinned suddenly. “And the food is very good here.”

Gloín laughed. “It is good, isn’t it?”

They embraced, and Gloín got to his feet.

“May the river bear you gently, Bilbo.”

“And may the stones bear you firmly,” Bilbo responded with a smile.

“I do not suppose we will meet again, my old companion,” Gloín said softly. “We have seen quite a bit more of the world than many, and lived to see our young ones off on adventures of their own.” He reached into a pouch that hung at his waist, and placed a small gem in Bilbo’s palm. “Take this as a reminder of the Mountain, and the new life you helped us begin. I found this near where Thorin and his nephews lay in honored rest. Remember us, Bilbo, as we will always remember you.” He bowed low, then turned and swiftly walked away.

His eyes filled with tears, Bilbo gazed in wonder at the polished opal. The sunlight ignited brilliant sparks of red, yellow, and orange. The fire of a dragon... No, not that. The fire of a warm and welcoming hearth at the end of a long day, or a long and full life.

This is my home, and my lad will soon return, Bilbo thought happily. He wiped his eyes, and tucked the gem securely in the pocket of his vest. Now for a nice second breakfast, and a nap before luncheon. There will be singing tonight, I believe, and I have a poem to finish.

He stretched his arms wide, breathing deeply of the scent of pine, before strolling slowly and contentedly back to the House.

** END **

Comments

( 37 comments — Leave a comment )
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elwenlj
Jan. 1st, 2017 09:30 pm (UTC)
It is as if the stars above this valley pull one upward with more force than the earth is able to pull one downward. Something about this land feels adrift, as a boat on a river, rather than fully a part of solid ground

What a stunning description! And the language all the way through sounded so Tolkien. Thank you.
shirebound
Jan. 1st, 2017 10:11 pm (UTC)
Thank you for such a lovely compliment, and for such an inspiring request! I'm very glad you enjoyed this.
nancylea57
Jan. 1st, 2017 09:47 pm (UTC)
Your comment about the red yellows and oranges making bilbo think dragon fire minded me that as each bilbo and gloin have send off their respective best those will see hazards similar and so vastly different, the fire-y eye. But as always you paint so clear a scene i almost feel i should be able to frame it and hang it where i can admire it multiple times a day. Happy new year
shirebound
Jan. 1st, 2017 10:11 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for your kind words. I'm glad the images ring true for you. Happy New Year!
addie71
Jan. 2nd, 2017 12:06 am (UTC)
That is so bittersweet and lovely. It's sad to know that this is the last time they will see each other.
shirebound
Jan. 2nd, 2017 12:16 am (UTC)
How delighted Bilbo must have been to see Gloín again. I do like to think that Gloín stayed on in Rivendell, after such a long journey, enjoying the company of his old companion and gathering information for his people. Thank you so much for reading! :)
engarian
Jan. 2nd, 2017 12:34 am (UTC)
My comment was eaten (sigh) - totally my own fault.

I really loved this gap-tiller that concentrated some attention on those who were left behind after the focus switched over to the Fellowship. Such a wonderful friendship Gloin and Bilbo had to celebrate. Thanks for writing this, I loved it.

- Erulisse (one L)
shirebound
Jan. 2nd, 2017 01:30 am (UTC)
Thank you. And I love that icon!

I'm so glad you enjoyed this story. The Professor left us so many gaps to fill, and it was great to have Elwen's inspirational prompt to work with.
lindahoyland
Jan. 2nd, 2017 03:07 am (UTC)
I loved this bittersweet tale. Bilbo must have enjoyed seeing Gloin again.
shirebound
Jan. 2nd, 2017 05:09 am (UTC)
Thank you. I'm sure he did! It's lovely that Bilbo found a second happy home in Rivendell.
claudia603
Jan. 2nd, 2017 02:17 pm (UTC)
Very bittersweet indeed. I had not thought what it would have felt like for those left behind...
shirebound
Jan. 2nd, 2017 03:59 pm (UTC)
I'm glad Elwen offered this prompt... I don't think I ever thought about Rivendell *during* the Quest. There's so much that could be explored here.
curiouswombat
Jan. 2nd, 2017 05:19 pm (UTC)
What a lovely glimpse of these two old adventurers.

I especially like “It is as if the stars above this valley pull one upward with more force than the earth is able to pull one downward. Something about this land feels adrift, as a boat on a river, rather than fully a part of solid ground.” It is just a perfect description I think.
shirebound
Jan. 2nd, 2017 06:08 pm (UTC)
Thank you for highlighting that passage. Rivendell is special in many ways, and I can't imagine that it would only be elves and hobbits who would sense it. I really enjoyed imagining this scene. :)
dreamflower02
Jan. 2nd, 2017 06:31 pm (UTC)
What a beautiful farewell between the old friends!

I love this characterization of Gloin and his courtesy towards his host (especially his parting gift) and their courtesy in return as they see he has all he needs for his departure.

But the conversation between Bilbo and Gloin was lovely, warm and hearfelt, and showing well the differences between Dwarf and Hobbit, while also showing how deep their friendship has grown.

Such a wonderful gift for Elwen!
shirebound
Jan. 2nd, 2017 09:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you for such lovely words! Imagining conversations is my favorite part of writing fanfic. I've learned so much about the Professor's Dwarves by writing about them, and imagining how they might perceive the world around them. Hospitality and courtesy towards guests seem to be two of the focuses of Elrond and his household, and I like to think that Gloín would be spending his spare time creating something for his host. I'm so happy you like this. *beams*
lignota
Jan. 2nd, 2017 09:11 pm (UTC)
This is a sweet and warming story.

I especially liked this line: "Something about this land feels adrift, as a boat on a river, rather than fully a part of solid ground.” as a description of a place nurtured by one of the Three Elven-rings -- and Bilbo's response is very fitting for someone who will sail away with the Elves!
shirebound
Jan. 2nd, 2017 09:50 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you! That's exactly what I was trying to convey.
rs9
Jan. 2nd, 2017 09:43 pm (UTC)
Beautiful!
shirebound
Jan. 2nd, 2017 09:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you! *beams*
bigheart03
Jan. 3rd, 2017 02:04 pm (UTC)
As Engarian well said I too enjoy these "pictures" which talk about the fate of those we haven't followed in LOTR by Tolkien. This masterpiece paints Rivendell and our beloved characters so lively and lovingly that my tear came out silently from my touched heart. Thank you very much, Shirebound! I truly don't remember reading such a poetic and deep line said by Glóin about the life in Rivendell. I shurely am going to read the whole story several more time! <3
shirebound
Jan. 3rd, 2017 03:57 pm (UTC)
Oh my, thank you. Your review warms my heart. Our beloved characters are so inspiring, and there's just no limit to the ways we can fill the gaps the Professor left for us. ♥
(no subject) - bigheart03 - Jan. 3rd, 2017 10:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
ambree40
Jan. 4th, 2017 03:14 pm (UTC)
What a lovely story.
Bilbo feeling adrift with the elves instead of rooted on solid ground is so fitting when you know about his destiny.
Tolkien tells us how Bilbo expects to spend the time of waiting: "I listen for returning feet and voices at the door". You make that image a bit more cheerful by reminding us that: "the food is very good". :-)
Thank you!
shirebound
Jan. 4th, 2017 03:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Ambree. On the whole, Bilbo was very contented in Rivendell... and I like to think he would never doubt that Frodo would return (as he did). I'm glad you enjoyed this.
julchen11
Jan. 5th, 2017 05:31 am (UTC)
So lovely and so very touching, my dear. So this will separate forever, it's surely hard to bear for both of them.
You put a wonderful fem in our minds, elwen. Thank you so much for sharing! *wipes tears away*
shirebound
Jan. 5th, 2017 05:43 am (UTC)
Thank you, sweet friend. I do love the special and long-lasting friendships in the Professor's amazing tale.
blslarner
Jan. 7th, 2017 07:50 am (UTC)
Oh, but I do love this! And the opal was the proper gift at the end of it for both Gloin as the bestower and Bilbo as the recipient.

Frodo and Sam will face their fire, but will be saved from it, so Bilbo's decision to see it as a home fire proved the proper one. And I rejoice that both Bilbo and Frodo found their boat with the Elves brought them to the peace they both so desired and needed.

So wonderful a story! I love it!
shirebound
Jan. 7th, 2017 03:56 pm (UTC)
Oh my, thank you! What a lovely review. The bestowing of the opal was the very last thing I added when I was smoothing out this story, so I'm really delighted that you enjoyed that part.
cathughes
Jan. 8th, 2017 05:24 pm (UTC)
A beautifully written little gap filler which I absolutely adored. The language you used fits perfectly into Tolkiens universe and your description of how Bilbo feels about Imladris was exeptional - “It is as if the stars above this valley pull one upward with more force than the earth is able to pull one downward. Something about this land feels adrift, as a boat on a river, rather than fully a part of solid ground.”

A sad piece in that it is the parting of the ways for these two old friends yet also uplifting in the way you show that they still have hope for their kin and look forward to seeing them again.

Simply wonderful.
shirebound
Jan. 8th, 2017 05:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you for such a lovely review! You really made my day. I'm just delighted that this piece moved you, and that it feels "true" to what might have happened. I never tire of exploring these little gaps the Professor so kindly left for us.
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