The Boon by Lbilover

Galadriel watched the small figure approach, hesitation in his every step as he made his way toward her across the flower-strewn carpet of grass. She smiled gently in greeting and moved forward to meet him. “Do not be afraid,” she said in a kind voice, holding out her hand. “You are more than welcome here.”


He took her hand and bowed reverently over it. “My- my lady,” he stammered and fell silent, words seeming to fail him.


“What is it that you wish of me?” she asked, and his eyes flew to hers in dismay, as if he were a child caught out in some mischief. Galadriel laughed, the sound clear as a bell in that peaceful glade amidst the trees. “For that is why you have come, is it not? To ask a boon of the Lady Galadriel?”


Drawing a deep breath, he replied bravely, “Yes, Lady. I do wish to ask a favour of you. But not on my own behalf.”


“No, you would never presume to ask on your own behalf,” she agreed, “but perhaps on behalf of one whom you love?”


He nodded and began haltingly, “If it would not be asking too much. I know that I have no right-“


A gesture from her stayed his speech. “You have every right,” she contradicted him, a hint of sternness in her voice. It softened as she went on, “Indeed, there is little that would not be granted to you, by me or by any who dwell here. Now speak, and ask of me what you will.”


So he took his courage in both hands, and did. When he had finished, Galadriel laughed again, but this laugh held a hint of bitterness. “This is no small boon you seek. And alas, it is one that cannot be granted by me, for we are not now in Lothlórien and it is not Galadriel who holds the power here. It is Manwë himself who must decide."


"But- but you could ask him, couldn't you, my Lady?" came the timid, hopeful question.


She replied gravely, "It is no light matter to petition Manwë Sulimo, even for one such as I."


His face fell. "I see."


But Galadriel smiled. "Be not downhearted. For did I not say that there is little that would not be granted to you? I shall make your request to Manwë, and when the day comes, you will not be disappointed. For the chief of the Valar knows of you and all you have done, and he will not deny you."


***


The snow began shortly before dawn. Large, perfect snowflakes tumbled gracefully through the air, twisting and turning as if performing an intricate dance. They sparkled and glittered like mithril in the growing light, and settled gently on the ground, as if fearing to cause the slightest harm to grass or flower. By daylight the gardens surrounding the dimly seen smial were lightly covered, and the trees bore a mantle of white. The light grew stronger, and revealed that beyond the gardens and past the cliffs, the golden sand beaches bordering the Sea glowed with a new lightness. The birds in the garden, awakening to a changed world, twittered and hopped in the snow-frosted tree branches, leaving delicate footprints behind where none had ever shown before. Seagulls and terns wheeled and cried above the shore, their shrill voices sounding muffled and far away.


The sun climbed higher and the snow showed no sign of stopping. Smoke could be seen rising out of the smial's several chimneys as its occupants awoke and began their day. Outside, all was peace and stillness, until the silence was broken by the ringing sound of laughter, high and clear and sweet.


Around the corner of the smial there appeared two small figures: hobbits clad in elven grey. They were running at full speed through the snow, and laughing as they ran. It was clearly a chase, for the hobbit in front looked back in mock alarm, while the one in pursuit brandished a snowball threateningly.


Looking back was the undoing of the foremost hobbit; he tripped on some obstacle unseen under the snow, flailed his arms and made a valiant attempt to stay upright. To no avail: his feet went out from under him, and he went down on his back with a cry of surprise. His pursuer, close on his heels, tried to stop, but skidded in the snow, lost his balance and ended up sprawled face down on top of the other hobbit.


“Ooof,” Sam's breath let out with a whoosh as Frodo’s slight weight landed with some force on his stomach.


The two hobbits lay stunned for a moment, then Frodo exclaimed, half laughing, half alarmed, “Sam, are you all right? I’m so sorry!”


“As you ought to be, chasing me with a snowball,” Sam said righteously, if a bit breathlessly, trying and failing to keep a straight face. His warm brown eyes were alight with amusement.


“Only after you stuffed a handful of snow down the back of my neck!” Frodo protested, making no move to rise from his comfortable position atop the other hobbit. Instead, he propped his head on his hands and gazed down at Sam who, red cheeked and red-nosed from the cold and with his damp hair a riot of curls, was to his eyes the most beautiful sight in all Valinor.


Unable to resist, Frodo stretched out his hand and gently ruffled those curls, dislodging the snow that clung to them. Sam caught the hand and brought it to his lips, pressing a soft kiss in the palm. "Frodo-love," he breathed, all laughter fled. Brown eyes held blue for an endless moment.


Sudden tears sprang to Frodo's eyes; his breath caught on a hitch as he said, "Oh Sam, it seems like too much happiness to bear, having you here, and now this miracle of snow on Yule." He looked up in wonder; snowflakes caught on his eyelashes and sparkled like gemstones in his hair. They melted on the warm skin of his face and mingled with the tears there.


Sam raised his free hand and tenderly wiped away the wetness from Frodo's face. "No tears, Frodo," he said, "Today's not for tears, but for joy."


"Sam, dear Sam, they are tears of joy,” Frodo assured him, “For I feel joyful, so joyful that I could sing and dance." And he laughed again, for laughter was never far from him now, "Like Merry and Pippin on a table at the Green Dragon."


"And so you shall, me dear, this very day, at Bilbo's Yule party; and I'll sing and dance with you.” Sam grinned. “We'll show them Elves a thing or two.”


“Oh we shall indeed,” agreed Frodo, eyes alight with mischief- and something more. “But not, perhaps, everything..." He lowered his head and gave Sam a long, lingering kiss that was a promise of private celebrations, after the Elves departed. Then he stood, and helped Sam to his feet, and brushed the snow from the back of his cloak. And when he was done, Frodo opened his arms, and Sam stepped into them eagerly, as one arriving home after a long absence.


Frodo’s arms wrapped tightly about his Sam, and they stood thus together in blissful silence, and such was the virtue of the Blessed Isle that the soft hush of the snow as it fell around them sounded like sweet music to their ears.


It was Frodo who eventually broke the silence. "Isn’t it odd, Sam, to think of it snowing on Tol Eressëa,” he mused. “For it never did, you know, in all the years that Bilbo and I lived here before you came. I didn't think it could snow here, so near the Sea. And for it to happen on the very day Bilbo chose for our Yule celebration, too. Why, it's almost as if someone knew and planned it, just for us."


"Not for us, my dear. For you," came the low reply, and, startled, Frodo raised his head from Sam’s shoulder where it had been resting. He searched Sam’s eyes intently.


"Sam, do you mean to tell me that you knew…?"


Sam cupped Frodo's face between his warm hands. "Aye," he said in a husky voice, "I knew. Happy Yule, Frodo-love."


"Sam, dearest Sam, but how? Have you indeed become the wizard I once predicted you might?" Frodo asked, amazed, covering Sam’s hands with his own.


Sam shook his head, blushing a little. "Nay, nor ever want to be. To tell truth, Frodo, it were Bilbo put the idea in my head, when he told us about the Yule celebration. Do you recollect what he said? 'Pity we can't order snow for our party, Frodo my lad. I know how much you used to enjoy it when there was snow for Yule, back in the Shire.'"


"I remember," Frodo said slowly, smiling a little at Sam’s imitation of the old hobbit’s voice. "We were teasing Bilbo for claiming that he could always tell which day Yule fell upon."


"Aye, that’s right, and it made me that sad, Frodo,” he said in a voice thick with emotion, “knowin’ you'd never see snow again for Yule. After all you did and sacrificed, why, it didn't sit right with me that there was something you wanted but couldn't have. So I thought, why not ask? If the Lady could keep Lothlörien green and beautiful all through those dark times, why couldn't she give you snow for Yule?"


"You went to see the Lady Galadriel?" Frodo could not have looked more astounded.


"I did,” Sam confessed, “one day when you and Bilbo went into Avallonë without me. Mr. Gandalf took me to her, and I was fair shaking the entire time, to tell the truth. What she'd think of my boldness, I didn't dare guess. But she was that kind, and promised me that she'd arrange it all.” Sam paused, and then added quietly, “Frodo, it is Manwë himself who sent the snow, at the Lady’s request." There was a moment of silence as the two hobbits considered the enormity of this statement and understood the greatness of the gift that had been granted to them.


"How can we ever thank him, Sam?" Frodo whispered. "For one of the Valar to do such a thing..."


"I expect he knows, and the Lady, too,” said Sam with absolute conviction. “They can see what is in our hearts, me dear."


At that moment, they heard a familiar voice, shouting: "Frodo? Sam? Where are you, lads?" Bilbo came into view, and waved to them. "Come along, you two,” he called. “Stop billing and cooing like a pair of lovebirds. There’ll be plenty of time for that sort of thing later. Right now we have more important matters to worry about. We have to build a snow hobbit before our guests arrive." He set his hands on his hips and said sternly, "I'll be waiting for you in front of the smial," before hurrying away.


"More important matters?" Frodo repeated, lips twitching. "And he wants us to help him build a snow hobbit. Oh, Bilbo!" Frodo gave Sam one final kiss, fierce and possessive, then stood back and held out his hand. "Come on, then, Sam Gamgee," he said. "Duty calls!”


And hand-in-hand, carefree as children, Frodo and Sam ran through the falling snow to join Bilbo.


***


The Lady Galadriel passed her hand in a slow, sweeping motion across the surface of her mirror. The water within it stilled and grew opaque, reflecting only her face and the gentle smile upon it.


The figure at her side spoke. "Their happiness glows brighter than the sun shining on the slopes of Mount Taniquetil. You did well, daughter, to ask this boon of me."


And Manwë smiled as well.


~end~