When they reach the hermit's layer, Varuthil says to the others, "Perhaps you should stay back for a bit. I do not think he would be comfortable with a crowd--and I, at least, am someone he recognizes. And I know a bit about how the Shadow can affect a person's mind.
She ventures forward and knocks on the hermit's door. It is a bit of a wait, but eventually the hermit comes forth. Varuthil greets him with all the warmth she can muster. "I have returned, but not to trouble you again. I thought I might be able to do you a favor in return for the one you did in taking us in. The ax head you gave Aerth proved a great treasure to the Woodmen and now the chief of the Woodmen has come to speak to you. More than that, he would like to invite you to his home, so you no longer have to live here among the spiders and other things of darkness. But he will not force you. If you wish to remain, you can. But I two have suffered under the oppression of the Shadow--I lost both my parents to orcs when I was young--and I think some time away from Mirkwood can do you some good. If he comes to speak to you alone, it is not likely he can compel you against your will."
Varuthil is later saddened to hear the hermit is not in fact Ignomer's son. "I am sorry, sir, to have caused you false hope. But, while the truth may be bitter, medicine often is. I hope in the long run the knowledge of what truly happened will allow you to heal your grief."
Upon their return to Woodland Hall, Varuthil spends a great deal of time in Wuduseld, studying the carvings. She is amused by Pipkin's efforts to compile them into a book and tries to help the hobbit interpret them properly. In so doing, she frequently asks one of the Woodmen's elders for more information about the carvings. Spending so much time in great hall, she cannot help but see many of the interactions between the men. She finds them intriguing and studies them, more closely than she has ever studied her own people. She finds herself gaining greater insight into people's motives and what turns of phrase and manners might offend or gladden someone's heart.
Varuthil also spends a lot of time alone, wandering in the snowy wilderness. She likes the Woodmen and Pipkin, but at heart she is a loner and feels the need for a great deal of solitude. As she wanders, she brings to mind much of the lore she has studied over the years--and gradually finds herself beginning to understand what the frozen stream, the snow-covered tree or boulder, or the stray crow is saying. Their speech and thoughts were very alien--but Varuthil finds herself intrigued, studying them as much as she studies the Woodmen in their hall. By the end of the winter, she has begun to master the art of listening to and speaking with the wild things and "inanimate" objects, which are alive in their own strange way. When the others ask her about what she does in her wandering, she says nothing, keeping her new found talent to herself.