“Are you sure up to this, Frodo? You don’t want to overdo it so soon after getting up from your sick bed.”
“I’m all right, Sam dear,” Frodo assured him as he led the way down the leaf-scattered hall. Through the open arches, they could see half-bare trees dressed in autumn gold and red. “I’m anxious to explore Rivendell now that I’m finally on the mend.”
“Is there summat in particular you’re wanting to see?” Sam suspected there must be from the spark of determination in Frodo’s blue eyes, and when Frodo turned right without noticeable hesitation as they came to the intersection of two corridors, he was sure of it.
Frodo gave Sam a smile that held a slight hint of mischief, and the sight was a balm to his weary heart that was still recovering from the long anxious days and nights spent worrying about Frodo. “There is as a matter of fact. It’s something Bilbo told me about years ago, a special room here. I asked him about it again last night, and he told me how to find it.”
“A special room?” Sam asked. “What’s so special about it? Seems everything in this place is downright special.”
“Oh, I don’t want to spoil the surprise. You’ll just have to be patient. It won’t take long to get there.”
And not another word would Frodo say, despite Sam’s quizzing, so that he was positively burning with curiosity by the time they reached their destination, a wooden door tucked away in a corner, beneath a stone arch carved with a relief of Elves frolicking in a meadow.
Examining the relief while he waited for Frodo to open the door, a startled Sam suddenly realised exactly the sort of frolicking that was being depicted, and his jaw dropped in amazement. “Frodo, them Elves there--"
But Frodo had taken the door’s metal ring in his hand, turned it and pushed the door open, and it was too late. Besides, Sam’s attention was immediately diverted from the frolicking Elves by the sight of the room. “Why it’s a library,” he exclaimed. “But I thought a library would be much larger than this in a place like Rivendell!”
“Oh, but this isn’t the library, Sam,” Frodo said, shutting the door behind them and turning a large skeleton key in the lock. “This is a sort of… reading room, you might say, quite separate from the main library.”
Indeed, it was (by Elvish standards) quite cozy, with a thick rug spread across the stone floor, several plushly upholstered armchairs and a leather chaise longue. There was a fireplace with tinderbox, kindling and wood set ready to light, and Frodo quickly went and knelt on the hearth, brushing away Sam’s instinctive offer to light the fire.
“You’ve done quite enough, Sam dear,” Frodo said firmly, setting several logs on the brightly burning kindling. “Now we are going to find something- ah- nice to read and have a glass a wine.” He went to a small table that held a decanter filled with golden liquid and several wineglasses.
“Why, it almost seems like someone knew we’d be coming,” Sam commented.
“Not exactly,” Frodo replied. He unstoppered the decanter and poured two glasses of wine. “From what Bilbo said, this room is always kept in readiness for those who wish to retreat here for an, um, quiet hour or two of reading. So, what shall we read first?”
The small room held several walnut bookcases well filled with books of all sizes and shapes. Sam walked over to the nearest shelf and pulled a thin book out. It was beautifully bound in blue moiré silk with marbled endpapers. Sam flipped to the title page:
it said, and just below in an oval frame there was an ink sketch of two hobbits who looked remarkably like himself and Frodo. Sam was walking beside Frodo through the woods, but his hands appeared to be cuffed behind his back!
“Frodo!” Sam exclaimed. “Come look at this.”
Frodo came and peered over Sam’s shoulder.
“Well I never,” Sam said in amazement. “If it don’t look just like the two of us. But who’s this Fennelseed person, and why am I in handcuffs?”
“Oh, it’s Cuffed!” Frodo said in delight. “I’ve heard about this story. Yes, I think that will do excellently to start with. Come, let’s sit down with our wine and read it together.”
The armchairs were (of course) sized for Elves, so made a lovely comfy space for two hobbits, and Frodo and Sam sat close together with the book open on their laps and began to read.
Within a very few minutes, the wine was forgotten, and Sam was blushing and squirming in his seat. He could hear Frodo’s breathing coming rather fast, and a quick glance showed that he was as flushed as Sam. But so engrossed in the story were they that neither said a word except for Frodo’s “Ready to go on, Sam?” when he reached the bottom of a page, and Sam’s breathless, “Aye.”
The story wasn’t terribly long, but if it had been any longer, Sam felt certain that he would have spontaneously burst into flames, and Frodo’s body plastered against his own felt just as hot. When they reached ‘The End’ and Frodo closed the book and set it aside, the evidence of the book’s profound effect on both hobbits was blatantly obvious.
That Fennelseed person was a caution and no mistake, Sam thought. He imagined what it would be like to be on his knees in front of Frodo with his hands cuffed behind his back and Frodo half-undressed and erect, and as for the other part, where Frodo held him there while he peed…
Just then Frodo put his hand on that precise location, squeezed and said in a sultry voice, “I think we’ve read enough for the moment, don’t you, Sam?”
“Nngh,” replied Sam, and that seemed to be a sufficient answer. Frodo gave him one final squeeze, took Sam by the hand and led him to the chaise longue. There, to their mutual enjoyment, they reenacted certain scenes from the story they’d just read, using one of Sam’s braces in lieu of handcuffs and the edge of the chaise longue as a sort of tree trunk. Both worked quite nicely, and the scent of the burning logs gave a woodland effect that added to the realism of the atmosphere.
“Frodo,” Sam said when they had done and were taking a short recuperative rest, “what is this place?”
“The Rivendell Slash Library,” sighed Frodo happily. “The largest slash collection in Middle-earth, Bilbo says. There are dozens of stories about us here, you know.”
“Imagine that. An entire library of stories about us,” Sam marveled.
“Mmm. I expect we shall have to visit here every day if we’re to get through it all before we leave.”
“I wonder if that Fennelseed has written anything else about us.”
“Oh yes. I believe they have her entire body of works here.”
Sam beamed. Their stay in Rivendell, that had started so inauspiciously, was definitely looking up.