Today’s the day we learn who won the Most Faithful Friend Award! Who will it be? Gurgi? Janner? Horace? Neville? Or Detective Tuatu?
Let’s go! The ceremony is about to begin!
For the past two weeks, Hobbiton had been in an uproar, and Samwise Gamgee was ready for the noise and crowds to go away. Not that he didn’t appreciate the Silmaril Award Ceremony and what it stood for and, especially, the recognition given to faithful friends. But he could do without the added stress of feeding and hosting so many strangers in their quiet little town and preparing for one of the biggest celebrations of the year. They had set up tents throughout the shire to accommodate the guests and contracted with neighboring towns for enough food to feed them all. It was enough to turn his hair grayer than Gandalf’s, before his run in with the Balrog. Perhaps next year, he should consider returning to Rivendell.
Samwise strode through Hobbiton, walking off the nervous energy threatening to consume him. The evening was crisp. The stars bright. The lanterns had been lit and the stage set for the ceremony to begin, but the guests of honor had still not arrive.
He padded his pocket where he had placed the thick envelope with the official wax seal of the Silmaril Award Ceremonies. For nearly two weeks, he had kept it well hidden and secure from the prying eyes of a few sneaky hobbits wishing to know its contents. Mainly, Pippin and Merry. He glanced around hoping he wouldn’t find them up to their usual mischief. Although hosting the Most Mischievous Imp would keep Pippin busy. Very busy. Sam chuckled.
Booths lined the road to the party field, selling various refreshments and pints of ale. Throngs of people mingled and made their way toward the constructed stage at the edge of the field. Many had already staked out their spots and waited for the ceremony to begin. Beyond the field, dark shadows blotted out the horizon, and Sam froze. A memory of great danger and greater darkness coursed through his soul. For a moment, Sam forgot the shire. Held by those memories until a burst of laughter broke the shadows’ hold.
Tents. It was only tents.
His gaze settled on the golden lanterns glittering along the field and at every hobbit hole, marking a pathway to the stage. Tears stung his eyes and a smile softened his lips as gratitude chased away the chill that had seized him. The darkness had passed as promised, and now the good sparkled and glittered before him on that evening like so much gold even Smaug himself would have been jealous.
Samwise shook himself. He had a job to do. A scurry of noise and voices drew his attention to a booth selling apple tarts.
“What in the shire is that?” A woman chased a furry creature from her wares with a broom. “Get on, you!
The creature stuffed one of the tarts in his mouth. “Thank you for me munchings and crunchings!”
The woman shrieked.
“Wait!” Samwise raised his hand. “Gurgi? Is that you?”
The creature turned his big round eyes up at him, half hidden by his shaggy fur. “Gurgi is starving. Gurgi needs his munchings and crunchings.”
“Indeed, but we have a ceremony at hand and you, sir, are one of our finalist.” Samwise ushered him toward the stage and handed him off to his assistant to keep an eye on him.
Another man approached, looking quite uncomfortable and out of place among the hobbits. Even if other humans milled about, he was not one of the humans of middle earth–of that, Sam was sure. Neither did he look like a knight or the youth.
“Hallo, there, might you be Detective Tuatu?” Samwise greeted the man.
“Yes,” he replied a bit uncertain. He offered his hand, but then lowered his arms.
“Good, good! This way then.” Samwise directed him toward the stage.
Next came Horace Altman. Sam knew it was him, the way the young man held himself as any knight would. Sam welcomed him and made sure he found his spot with the others.
A young boy of twelve strode toward him with a parcel books and journals under his arm and his lively family jostling about him. Samwise recognized him right away. Janner Igiby himself. The young man had won the 2022 Silmaril Award for Most Epic Hero. Certainly, he had deserved it. His bravery and loyalty to his family had won the hearts of many, and gave him a place among the Most Faithful Friend Nominees and now finalist! But the question whispering through Hobbiton would be answered tonight. Would he possess TWO Silmarils now?
A loud crack rent the sky and Samwise ducked, glancing wildly about. Had Merry been messing with Gandalf’s fireworks again? Surely, the hobbit would have learned his lesson the first time. Shadows descended from the sky, and for a moment, he thought dragons were attacking, but the glow of the lanterns revealed men and women riding broomsticks and definitely not from middle earth.
Sam strode up to them. “Hallo, Neville Longbottom?” He directed his question to a tall lanky man at the center of the group. The man grinned and nodded.
“These are my friends,” he motioned to four others joining him. “Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Luna.”
Samwise greeted each of Neville’s friends.
“Neville!” An older woman approached with a loud flowery dress and a fancy hat that looked as if a dead, stuffed goose perched atop.
Sam raised his eyebrows and Neville quickly added. “This is my grandmother.”
Sam nodded his greeting at the formidable woman. “I reckon we can get started with the ceremonies then.”
Neville and his company found their seats up front with the other finalists as Sam climbed the steps to the stage and slipped the thick envelop from his pocket.
He surveyed the gathering, waiting for the crowd to quiet. Blast the nerves! But tomorrow, Hobbiton would be back to its quiet pace and maybe he’d take Rosie and the kids out for a picnic away from it all.
Once the crowds hushed, he launched into his practiced speech. He quickly went over the boring bits and standard commencement of the Most Faithful Friend Award before he dove into introducing the finalists. After each of the finalists stood, silence settled on the people as they waited eagerly for the results.
Samwise turned to the finalists. “It is an honor to be nominated, for a I reckon you have demonstrated estimable qualities of faithfulness among your friends.” He broke the seal and slipped out the parchment. “In fifth place, we have Gurgi.”
Gurgi grinned and waved at the crowd. A woman approached with a basket of apples and presented it to him. “Munchings and crunchings!” And he grabbed the basket and rushed off the stage.
Sam smiled and shook his head. “In fourth place, we have Detective Tuatu!” A smattering of applause lifted from the field.
“Third place goes to Horace Altman. ” Another round of applause.
“In second place, we have Janner Igiby.” A loud cheer went up as everyone clapped.
“And in first place, the 2023 Silmaril Award goes to Neville Longbottom!” The crowd erupted in applause again and his friends shot a few bright sparks and glittery swirls into the night sky over the field. Nevillle grinned sheepishly and waved.
Thank you so much for visiting and participating in this year’s Silmaril Awards! Don’t forget to check out the other award ceremonies! Find them here: 2o23 Silmaril Awards