Beyond the Grey Havens
Or "Frodo Lives!"
"Do not be too sad Sam. You cannot always be torn in two. You have so much to be and to enjoy and to do."
"But I thought you were going to enjoy the Shire too, for years and years, after all you have done."
Sam Gamgee woke up with a start. He had just dreamt, and not for the first night, of Frodo's passing across the sea. This time, however, the dream felt real. Turning over, he saw his wife Rosie lying in a sound sleep. He crept out of the room and into the one next to it, where his master slept. Quietly closing the door, he peered over the bedside and saw Frodo's face twisted in anguish. Then it dawned on him.
"The sixth, of course." It was the sixth of October, the day several years ago when a Nazgul on Weathertop had wounded Frodo. On that day each year, he fell extremely ill. Sam sat by his master's side and gently smoothed a brown curl from his forehead. He quietly sung bits of an Elvish song to him, with the hope of easing his pain. He bent down and whispered in Frodo's ear, "Mr. Frodo, don't you worry, you'll get through this with your Sam around." He took his master's frail hand and without meaning to, fell into a heavy sleep.
"Sam? Samwise?" Rosie Cotton's voice rang out. "Why, you've been sitting with your Mr. Frodo here almost all night." Sam turned one bleary eye towards her. He'd fallen asleep at his master's side. Frodo appeared to be no better, and he felt guilty that he was considering leaving him to eat with his family. After a small debate with himself, he decided his master needed him more than he needed breakfast.
Frodo slept silently until early evening, when he suddenly opened his eyes. Sam gasped when he saw him. There could only be one emotion in Frodo's eyes: fear.
"Please don't leave me Sam," he croaked in barely more than a whisper.
"I won't Mr. Frodo, don't you worry about that," Sam replied reassuringly, trying to get him to forget the awful things he must have seen during his sleep. He thought back to his dream of Frodo sailing out from the Grey Havens. He swore to himself that if Frodo ever decided to accept the Lady Arwen's offer, he would not stop him. At least Frodo would be in peace in the realm of Valinor. He saw Frodo shudder violently and cry out in pain. He was grasping at the chain around his neck that once held the One Ring. Sam, in great distress to see Frodo in this condition, gently took Frodo's hands and laid them by his side. He looked at the pale face that belonged to his master and thought he caught a glimmer of the light that sometimes would shine within. Sam could not explain it in words, but it gave him hope. He quietly rose from his chair, letting his master sleep in peace.
"Sam?" called out a soft voice. "Sam?"
"Right here, Mr. Frodo," Sam said in response. He was reading the Red Book in Frodo's study. Frodo came in, looking worried and frightened. He collapsed in his favourite chair and sighed.
"Is it over, Mr. Frodo?" Sam asked in a hushed voice.
"Yes, for now." Frodo looked at Sam, and it struck Sam how much of his master's old innocence was lost. The deep brown eyes were still there, but they were now filled with wisdom and suffering. How Sam wished to relieve poor Frodo of his memories of their journey through Mordor. He remembered lying there on Mount Doom, Frodo by his side, waiting for death to take them both. He looked over at Frodo again, and saw that he had his eyes closed, and was breathing heavily. He didn't have the heart to wake him, so he carried him to his bed.
Frodo woke up to the sun shining in his face from the window. He felt much better, and slowly rose from his bed. He vaguely wondered how he had gotten there, as his last memory from the night before was walking into his study. He didn't know how many more years of these illnesses he could handle, as they were progressively getting worse. If it wasn't for Sam...well, Frodo didn't know if he would be able to manage at all. He wandered into the sitting room, finding that Sam was already there, sipping a cup of tea.
"Mr. Frodo!" he cried, running up to Frodo. "I trust you feel well?"
"Yes, Sam, there's no need to fuss over me."
"Well, come along now, have a seat. You shouldn't be up, you need rest."
"Well, if you insist, but I am fine, just a little ill spell, that's all." Frodo took a seat beside Sam.
"Now, Mr. Frodo, it was more than an ill spell, as you call it, and you know that very well." Frodo started to protest, but Sam gave him a knowing look, and he fell silent. Sam noticed Frodo's face still appeared to be slightly pale, and his hair was hanging limply over his forehead. Frodo was trying not to shiver, but was obviously cold. Sam offered Frodo his cloak, but he refused, so Sam came behind Frodo and pulled it over him.
"Thank you Sam," Frodo said gratefully. Already some colour could be seen on his cheeks. Truthfully, Frodo still felt a little tired, but he didn't want to bother Sam, so he didn't say anything. Sam, however, did notice something disconcerting about the way Frodo was acting today. Usually, he was quite cheerful, but today it seemed like something was bothering him. What he didn't understand is why Frodo wouldn't tell him what was wrong. He always shared his thoughts with him, and had come to expect the same in return. He shook his head, and continued sipping his tea in silence.
Though Frodo was no longer ill, Sam thought he looked far away and distant. He was looking out the window, humming quietly to himself. Sam walked up to Frodo and gently tapped him on the shoulder. Frodo spun around, eyes widened.
"It's just me, your Sam," he said in a kindly voice. Frodo relaxed and looked relieved. He sat beside him and thought how he would say what had been running through his mind all day. "Umm, Mr. Frodo?"
"Yes, Sam?" Frodo replied wearily.
"Well, I don't quite know how to say this, I've never been good with words, but..." He paused, and then continued. "I think you should consider using the Queen Arwen's gift and sail to the Blessed Realm. Not because I want to see you leave, not at all, it would hurt me deeply to see you go. I just think it would be the best for you, I hate seeing you in so much pain." Sam was almost in tears after he said these words, because even though he would nearly die inside knowing he would never see his master again, most of all he wanted Frodo to be at peace. He chanced a look at Frodo and saw his eyes glittering, the glitter that had been gone from them for quite some time. He laughed with some of his old vigour and finally spoke.
"My dear Sam, I would never even contemplate leaving Bag End. Whenever things look dreadful, I just remember those long days in Mordor and am thankful to be living here in the Shire. We all have things we must overcome." Sam smiled, but the smile soon faded. He could feel Frodo's penetrating eyes boring into his own, and for a moment, actually felt Frodo's pain. It was a sorrow far deeper than wounds or stings. Then it passed, and Sam saw Frodo sitting in a sort of trance.
"Poor Mr. Frodo," Sam thought to himself, "I don't know how he can deal with this everyday." Having a sudden desire to comfort his master, he lightly encircled Frodo with his arms, and then laid his head on his shoulder. Frodo gave a small sigh, and then fell asleep in Sam's arms.
Frodo felt himself being shaken by a pair of rough hands. He wondered dimly who the hands belonged to, until a steely voice commanded, "Up. Now. Our Lord wishes to see you." He glanced at the hands, and saw that the right one bore a golden ring. Frodo trembled inside, knowing what ring it was.
"The...the One Ring," Frodo managed to stutter. The voice laughed.
"Yes, of course. What other would it be?"
"But... but why aren't youinvisible? Wasn't it destroyed?"
"Invisible?" the voice cut off. "Our great Lord has powers beyond your halfling imagination. If he desires to have his servants visible, it shall be so. The Ruling Ring can never truly be destroyed." Frodo's shoulder felt cold to the touch. He seized Frodo and carried him out of his room. As they walked through Bag End, Frodo mustered up the courage to ask another question.
"Where is Sam?" he demanded.
"The other halfling? We have made sure he will keep silent. You will not see him for awhile, to be sure." Frodo let out a strangled cry. The man silenced him with a blade in his right arm. He felt light-headed, then promptly fainted.
A time later, Frodo did not know exactly when, he was brought to a dark tower. His mind still felt hazy, and as he was carried up flights of stairs, he felt a sense of the doom that lie ahead. They finally came to a steel door, and the man slowly opened it. Frodo was thrust onto his feet, and they walked down a long corridor. As they turned a corner, Frodo saw what his worst nightmares could not describe. All that was there was a horrible eye. It was red and much too large to be normal. The eye turned towards him, and Frodo felt all of his memories, his deepest secrets and fears, being read, as if they were pages in a book. Its presence was felt all through the small room, and its voice could be heard, though not in words. Frodo screamed, though he did not know why.
"Mr. Frodo! Mr. Frodo!" an urgent voice spoke. "Wake up, Mr. Frodo!"
Frodo's eyes snapped open. He was lying in his bed, in Bag End. Sweat covered his forehead, and he was breathing unevenly. Sam was standing over his bed, his face creased with concern.
"Wha...what happened?" Frodo asked hysterically.
"Well, I heard you yelling and all, and I ran in here, thinking something bad happened, and when I came in, you were screaming and fidgeting. I suspect you had a bad dream, is that it?"
"Yes, Sam," Frodo replied weakly. "A bad dream." He gave a false grin, then tried to recollect the nightmare. After a moment, it came rushing back to him. He shuddered involuntarily at the memory. Sam placed a caring hand on Frodo's cheek and took Frodo's shaking hand with the other. It pained Sam's heart when he felt the gap where his finger once was. He stroked Frodo's hand in a kindly manner, and very carefully helped Frodo out of bed. Frodo leaned slightly against Sam as he walked to his kitchen. Sam could see Frodo deep in thought and wondered what he was thinking about. Frodo was always reserved, but lately Sam thought he had been extremely withdrawn. He just didn't seem to care about anything anymore, not even the Shire.
"Sam," Frodo blurted out, "I've been thinking a lot lately, and I have come to a decision."
"And what would that be?" Sam asked, even though he already knew the answer. Frodo was leaving forever, and not even his Sam, his loyal servant, could follow.
"I would dearly like to go on another journey," he started. "Perhaps to Rivendell? We may even see old Gandalf and the others again."
"But Mr. Frodo," Sam replied, "Rivendell no longer is the land it once was. After the Ring was destroyed, the Elven lands were as well, if I remember correctly."
"Indeed you do," Frodo said with a sigh. "Then I suppose we shall remain here, no?"
"Well..." Sam's voice trailed off.
"Well what?" Frodo asked with a slight tone of annoyance.
"Terribly sorry to interrupt, Mr. Frodo, but I've been meaning to say something to you for awhile, granted you don't mind me telling you." Sam blushed, and shuffled his feet awkwardly, waiting for his master's approval.
"Of course not, dear Sam," Frodo replied reassuringly. "Bring up a chair and speak to me, now that's a good fellow." Sam tried to form the words, but they got stuck halfway up his throat. He made an odd coughing noise, then tried again.
"Mr. Frodo, I feel that you've being trying to establish a distance between yourself and the rest of the world. You're still here, living day to day, but most of the time you're inside your own world, if you follow me." Sam wished he could speak better, as his words sounded confusing to even his own ears.
"Sam, I don't think you understand." Frodo's face was grave and full of concern. "The Ring has lasting effects. I will never be the same, I cannot suddenly become my old self. Shadows still linger in my soul. My actions these days has been my way of dealing with the pain. And yet I do not want to trouble you with these trivial problems, as it is my burden alone, and I chose to accept whatever fate the Ring may bring me." Sam swallowed and felt his tears brimming from his eyes. How he wished he could be the one in distress rather than his master. After careful deliberation, he spoke again.
"But Mr. Frodo, isn't there any way I could share the burden with you?" Despite Sam's serious tone, a flicker of a smile passed across Frodo's face.
"My faithful Sam," he murmured. "You've always been self-sacrificing, rather see yourself in misery than myself. But alas, the burden has been bestowed upon me, and in time, I will be complete again, and on that day, I hope that you will be by my side." Sam couldn't help but feel at ease at his master's eloquent words. He felt a sudden admiration for Frodo, not that he didn't think highly of him as it was. At this moment, he realised that Frodo was everything he could ever want to be. He represented the qualities Sam never had in himself. How he yearned to tell Frodo these thoughts, but decided they were best kept deep within his heart.
"Now, Sam, let us enjoy this day." Sam was suddenly drawn away from his thoughts. "Didn't you say you wanted to show me some new arrangements you planted in the garden?"
"Yes, Mr. Frodo, indeed I did." They walked out together to the beautiful garden out back. Ever since the scouring of the Shire, Sam had been hard at work to restore what had once grown there. Of course, the seeds the Lady Galadriel had given him had helped. They strolled through the beautiful sunflowers and lilies and gazed at the small shrubs that lined the fence. Frodo then went inside and came back out with a small book, of which Sam could not see the title. He saw that the hedges might need a trimming, so he took the clippers and started on them. Frodo was quietly reading in a chair, occasionally glancing up to observe Sam at work. For the first time that week, Frodo felt calm and untroubled. It was odd; the simplest things in life could be the most enjoyable. This, he mused, sitting here in his backyard, letting the autumn sun shine softly upon his face, and the only sound being the quiet rustling of the wind and the clicking of Sam's shears, this is what they sacrificed so much to attain during the War of the Ring. It was well worth it, he decided, if not even for himself, but Sam and the other hobbits. He could hear Sam humming quietly to himself.
"What are you singing, Sam?" Frodo asked. Sam turned around, and looked embarrassed.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Frodo, it was just a song I remember from Lothlrien." He loved singing, but wished Frodo hadn't said anything. Frodo gave Sam a warm grin, and he felt immediately at ease. Frodo beckoned for Sam to come over, so Sam put down his shears and walked over.
"Sam, take a break from your work and read some of these stories. They always sound much better when you read them to me." Sam saw that the book Frodo was holding was in fact the Red Book, the book Bilbo and later Frodo had written in about their journeys. Sam was afraid Frodo might become upset at the reminder of the awful memories, so he didnt know whether to oblige or not.
"Umm, Mr. Frodo, not to sound disrespectful or anything, but maybe it wouldn't be a good idea for me to read to you. I don't think it would be good for you to hear some of the things in it, because, well, you know." He gave Frodo a helpless shrug.
"Sam, Sam, Sam," Frodo sighed. "I wrote many of the tales in this book, why would it do any harm to hear some of them?"
"I suppose you're right as always. Which one would you like to hear?"
"How about the part when Aragorn was crowned king? I always liked that one."
Sam sat down beside Frodo, and began to read. For a moment, it felt to Sam that he was reading to his own children, even though Frodo was several years older than him. Frodo was a fragile spirit, therefore, he needed a lot of care. But Sam didn't mind, he had always been protective of Frodo, ever since they were young. He remembered when Frodo first came to Bag End.
Sam was very young then, as Frodo was still a child himself. Sam's father, who worked for Bilbo, told Sam that one of Bilbo's cousins was coming to live in Bag End. He mentioned to Sam that he was around Sam's age, so Sam begged to be allowed to come to Bag End. When they arrived, Frodo was already there. Bilbo introduced them to each other, but Sam was in awe of the spacious house, and felt a small pang of jealousy towards Frodo. While Sam was gazing at the beautiful sitting room, he saw Frodo go off into his room. Curiosity overcoming him, he followed. The door was now shut, but Sam could hear quiet sobbing coming from the keyhole. He knocked lightly on the door. No answer. He knocked again, and this time, the door slowly opened. Frodo was there, now sitting on his bed, staring at the wall. Sam apprehensively went over and sat down beside him.
"What's wrong?" Sam asked. "Nervous about moving in here?"
"Nothing's wrong," Frodo said in a hollow voice. "I'm fine. Perfectly fine."
"Now, that's not true, I heard you crying in here, something must be upsetting you."
"You wouldn't understand. Stop asking me about it." Sam didn't know what to say, but he wanted to help Frodo so badly, even though he clearly didn't want Sam's support. He sat there awkwardly, not knowing the right words to say.
"Why do you care about me anyway?" Frodo suddenly asked. "You don't even know me."
"I know, but you look so hurt, and I really would like to help you in any way possible, even if it's just listening to your problems."
"I don't need help, I'm fine," Frodo insisted. Sam hesitated, but then decided that the time wasn't right to talk to him yet. He stood up and started to walk out the door.
"Okay, but if you ever need a friend to talk to, I live two doors away from here."
Three days later, an unexpected knock was heard at the Gamgee's. Sam opened the door and saw Frodo standing there, red streaks running down his face.
"I think I need a friend right about now, Sam," Frodo said in a small voice. Sam led him to his own room, and felt uncomfortable, as his own room was much smaller than Frodo's. Frodo didn't seem to notice, and laid down across the bed.
"I'm afraid I wasn't honest to you on our first meeting. I've been really upset lately." Sam smiled knowingly.
"Just worried about moving in somewhere new?" Sam asked. "Then I know how you feel, I remember moving here when I was li..."
"No, no, it's not that." Frodo sighed, frustrated.
"Then what is it? I can't help you if you don't tell me."
"Sam, haven't you wondered why I moved in with Bilbo?" Sam's face went blank. It was odd, he supposed, suddenly moving in with a relative you barely knew.
"I had to move in with him. I don't have anyone else to live with."
"What do you mean?" Sam was now very confused.
"My parents died, Sam." Sam's face went pale.
"I'm...I'm so sorry, I...I didn't know, or I wouldn't have pressed you about it. How did they...when?" Frodo sighed.
"One night last week, they went out boating and never came back. I'm never going to see them again." A tear trickled down his face. "Even worse, my last memory of them is seeing their boat tip over and drown them both. I was watching from my window. I saw the whole thing and didn't do anything to stop it." He frantically wiped away the now flowing tears off of his face. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have let you see me cry." Frodo buried his head in his hands. Sam moved closer towards Frodo, not knowing what he should do. He wished he knew how Frodo was feeling. He put an arm around Frodo and whispered a few words to him. Frodo looked up at Sam with wide eyes, and started crying on Sam's shoulder. Sam patiently waited until Frodo was done.
"Thank you, Sam," he said. "I really needed that."
"No problem, Frodo. I'll always be here when you need me most."
Sam's mind was brought back to the present. Frodo was lying nearly in Sam's lap, waiting for him to start reading again. Sam was reminded again of the unhappy little hobbit that had lost his parents all those years ago. All Frodo wanted was to hear a story, and he gently tugged on Sams sleeve to let him know that. Sam almost laughed; it was quite funny to see his wise and intellectual master acting so child-like. He ran his fingers tenderly through Frodo's hair in a rather parental gesture. Then something in Frodo changed, and he sat up sharply. Frodo had reverted back to the old hobbit that he was. He stood up and paced around the garden a few times. He stopped in front of Sam.
"What's wrong with me?" he practically yelled. "I haven't been right at all lately! I'm falling apart, Sam. I will never be complete again."
"Now, now, don't say that. You'll be fine soon, I know it." Sam hated when Frodo started going off like this, it made him feel uneasy. Frodo was his master; he was supposed to be the calm, collected one. Sam didn't like when suddenly the roles were reversed and he was the one trying to reassure a hysterical Frodo. He never held resentment against Frodo, however, as he understood Frodo had had a very tragic life. Sam heard a crash. It was Frodo, lying on the ground motionless.
Frodo felt an odd sensation. It was as if he was swimming against a black tide. He could vaguely hear his name in the distance, but when he opened his mouth to respond, no sound came out. Then, from the darkness, he felt himself being lifted up and his focus becoming clearer.
"Mr. Frodo," a voice called out. "Can you hear me? Mr. Frodo?"
"Ugh," was all he could say. He opened his heavy eyelids and was greeted by Sam's anxious face. The surroundings were unfamiliar. He wasn't in his own home.
"Where am I?" he asked in a slurred tone, not fully comprehending how he had gotten there.
"We're in Brandy Hall now, Mr. Frodo. Oh, you had me so worried, I had no idea what had happened to you." Frodo blinked, not understanding Sam's hurried words.
"Repeat that, my dear Sam, I didn't quite catch it all." He managed a weak smile.
"Maybe I should start from the beginning, Mr. Frodo?"
"Yes, that would help."
"Well, we were in the garden, and you suddenly fainted, and I didn't know what to do, so I hurried with you on Bill, and went to get Pippin, and then we came to Brandy Hall, hoping Merry would know what to do, and now here we are."
"Where are they?" Frodo looked towards the door, hoping to be able to see his old friends again.
"They're here, don't you worry about that, and they've been tending to you nearly all day. I'll go call them in." Sam left, leaving Frodo feeling utterly alone.
"What are you worried about, he'll be back in a minute," Frodo thought angrily to himself. He was just being irrational, and he knew it. As he expected, several moments later Merry and Pippin, with Sam following closely behind, rushed in.
"Frodo! Frodo!" cried Pippin, hurrying over to Frodo's bed. "When was the last time we have spoke? You have changed greatly since I last saw you. What happened to you, Sam has only begun to explain it all. Are you feeling all right? Are you..."
"Ah, Pippin, they will never find a cure to your inquisitiveness." It suddenly struck Frodo that he had missed his friends greatly. Even though he would always hold Sam dear to his heart, he still felt a deep friendship with his younger companions. Frodo smiled, and explained to Pippin he couldn't answer his many questions, not yet anyway. He noticed how tall Pippin had become. He was barely an adult, yet at least a head taller than Frodo. He remembered Pippin before the War of the Ring: he had been young and naive. Now he held the bearing of a noble warrior. Merry handed Frodo a mug of some sort of hot liquid. He took a sip, and felt rejuvenated.
"What is this, Merry?" Frodo asked.
"Some herbs I acquired on our journey. When blended, they make quite a potent concoction." Frodo's eyes were averted from Merry when he caught notice of Sam. He was pacing around Frodo's bedside, fretting about something.
"What's bothering you, Sam?" he asked. Sam gave a forced laugh.
"Nothing, nothing," he said, quickly glancing at Merry and Pippin. "Why would you think that?"
"Merry, Pippin, could you please excuse Sam and I for a moment?" They nodded and left.
"What's wrong Sam? Talk to me."
"Not meaning any disrespect to you, Mr. Frodo, but what's wrong with you? You should be the one talking to me, not the other way around. I'm worried about you, you know!" Frodo sat up quickly.
"Why do you keep asking me, you wouldn't understand!" Frodo snapped. "I've already told you, but you just don't have any idea, do you? The ring has everlasting effects, you know." A sudden fury built up inside of Frodo. He scowled at Sam. Sam, already having tears well up in his eyes, started to sob loudly when he saw Frodo's wrathful face. It was as if Frodo plunged a dagger straight into his heart. Frodo's face paled, and he collapsed back on to his bed.
"I'm so sorry Sam, I don't know what came over me. I didn't mean any of the things I said. Can you forgive me?" Sam slowly nodded. "I thank you, Sam." Frodo smiled, and wiped a tear from Sam's cheek.
"But why?" was all Sam could say.
"What do you mean?"
"What have you become?" Sam squeaked out. "Our journey has changed you, and not for the better. I almost think you believe you have nothing to live for anymore." Frodo gave Sam a searching glance, then let out a deep sigh.
"I suppose there is no way for you to fully grasp what I am dealing with. It is hard for me to explain to you. My life is filled with darkness now, and there is no light for me to see." Sam felt the tears returning to his eyes.
"Do not say that, master! There is light in even the darkest of tunnels. Just think of everything that is still good and pure in this world. Think of even the smallest joys. Do you see the light now?"
"No, Sam. Everything that exists is still tainted with even the faintest of shadows."
"But what about Rivendell, or the fair land of Lothlorien? Surely you cannot say the same about them."
"The power of the Three has diminished, therefore so have the lands that were created by their power."
"But there must be some hope left, Mr. Frodo."
"No, Sam. Not for myself. But you will go on, and see the light that I never could, and achieve the things I will never do." Frodo yawned and closed his eyes. "I'm sorry, Sam, but I am quite tired today."
"Yes, Mr. Frodo, I'll let you sleep." Sam pulled a sheet overtop of Frodo, and quietly closed the door.
"So what happened, Sam?" Pippin asked when he caught sight of him. "What's happened to Frodo?"
"I'm not entirely sure myself. He keeps saying these vague statements about what the Ring has done to him. Has Merry any idea of what could be bothering him?"
"No, we thought you'd know better than any of us. Here, could you fetch a warm cloth for Frodo's head?"
"Yes, of course." Sam hurried to the kitchen and retrieved the cloth. He came to the room where Frodo lay, and paused momentarily. He felt an odd sensation, but it soon passed. He walked in, and brought a chair to Frodo's bedside. He placed the cloth on Frodo's forehead, and watched Frodo sleep. Although his master didn't know this, he did this often. Frodo always wore a peaceful face in his sleep, and Sam found it strangely touching. Sam supposed Frodo's dreams were the only place where he could truly escape and be at peace. It was all Sam could do from stopping himself from reaching over and stroking Frodo's soft cheek. He stood up, took one final glance at his beloved master, then strode out of the room.
"Master Pippin?" Sam asked as he walked into Brandy Hall's kitchen.
"What, Sam, I'm busy." Pippin always had a sort of disdain for Sam, but even so, Sam was taken aback.
"I'm sorry," he whispered. Perhaps Merry would understand his concerns better. He went to look for him, but didn't have to go far. He collided into Merry as he turned a corner. Merry nearly fell over, but had a kind face.
"You should watch yourself, Sam, or you'll fall into the river while you're here," said Merry, grinning. Sam did not return the smile.
"Master Merry, I've had some concerns lately."
"Oh, yes? And what may they be?"
"Well, it's mostly about poor Mr. Frodo in there. I have a feeling something is going to happen."
"What do you mean? Something bad?"
"No, well, maybe, I'm not sure yet. It's just a feeling I get, I suppose."
"Well, I wouldn't be too worried, I think Frodo knows what he's doing."
"If you say so..."
"Yes, yes, you're worrying about nothing. Now, go and don't let me catch you checking up on Frodo, I've already taken care of that." Sam scurried off, leaving Merry standing there. "Hmph," was all he said, and then he turned around to join Pippin in the kitchen.
A crash was heard outside the door of Brandy Hall. Frodo bolted out of bed, nearly passing out in the process. He closed his eyes until the light headed feeling passed, then walked out to see what was making all the noise. He looked out the window, and suddenly had a vivid flashback. Two young hobbits were boating carelessly in the Brandywine River. They were talking, laughing, and by the way they looked into each other's eyes, obviously in love. One of them stood up, and the boat was capsized. Frodo could faintly hear screams for help. He was brought back from this memory when he realized the screams were real, though the voice had changed. Running out, Frodo could now see the shape of a body flailing about in the water. As he neared, he saw that the body belonged to Sam. To Frodo's relief, he was now climbing up the bank onto the grass. He was coughing and spluttering, and looked in amazement to Frodo.
"Oh, Mr. Frodo, I thought I was going to die out there!" he exclaimed.
"But why were you by the river at all? Didn't you realize how dangerous it is?" Frodo said in exasperation.
"Well, I just wanted to explore the grounds a bit, I haven't been around here much. Even though you know how much I hate the water, the river was almost beckoning to me, and before I knew it, I fell in. I suppose you know the rest." He stood up, soaking wet and tried unsuccessfully to shake out some of the water that was in his hair.
"Come with me, Sam, and let's get you cleaned up," said Frodo, leading him back towards the house. "You will have to explain the details of this whole ordeal to me, as I'm still wondering about a few things." Sam followed behind Frodo, feeling very uncomfortable in his drenched clothes.
When they reached Brandy Hall, they were greeting by Merry and Pippin.
Both looked extremely anxious, until they saw Sam. The lines of worry quickly turned to smirks.
"Oh!" was all Merry could say. He elbowed Pippin, who was trying very hard not to laugh. Pippin began coughing wildly until Merry silenced him.
"Come now, Sam," said Frodo between Merry and Pippin's giggles. "Let's get you out of those clothes. Go take one some of mine and change." Sam disappeared into the guest room.
"So what happened Frodo?" Pippin asked excitedly. "Did Sam really fall right into the river? Why was he out there in the first place?"
"Now, now, one question at a time. I heard someone yelling outside, and I went out and found Sam nearly drowning in the Brandywine. Why he was there is beyond me." He shrugged, as if to emphasize his point. He turned around and saw Sam's head poking out of the door. "Ah, there he is now. Why don't you ask him?" They nodded in agreement, and Frodo left them silently to talk.
Several hours later, Sam peered into Frodo's room. It was dark, but he came in anyway. Frodo was there, sitting on his bed.
"Master?" Sam asked in a whisper. "Mr. Frodo?" Frodo seemed to snap out of a reverie.
"Hmm?" Frodo replied in a dazed voice. "Here, I have something I must tell you."
"What is it, master?" said Sam, sitting on the bed beside Frodo. "What do you need to tell me?" Frodo sighed heavily.
"Do not rush me, Sam. This is the hardest decision I have had to make in my life, yet I know what I must do. Sam, I am leaving. Leaving as in forever. I will pass across the sea, and then I suppose I shall live in a quiet peace. Perhaps we will meet again, but perhaps we will not. Do not worry, for you have the Shire and Rosie and the children that are yet to come. I ask that you let me go freely and inform the others of where I will be going. You may come along, but only to the shores of the Grey Havens. Then we shall part."
"But Mr. Frodo," Sam squealed in a strangled tone. "I couldn't go on without you. I would rather face all the armies of Mordor than to never see you again. I have always idolized you, and wished I could be half of what you are. You are the intellect, the respectable one, while I remain but a simple gardener with simple values. I have never felt that you treated me as an inferior, as you are more than just my master, you are my best friend. I have known you since we were very young, and can't imagine a day without you by my side. During the last stages of our quest, I carried you on my back to Mount Doom. We went days without food or water, through the darkest land in all of Middle Earth. We have been through so much together, yet you are willing to forget that history? I know that you must go where you can at last be at rest, but could I not come with you? I was a Ringbearer too, even if it was just for a short time. I would dearly love to see the elves again, you know how I had always had a fancy for them. Couldn't we spend the rest of our days together, remembering all the times we had, whether good or bad?" Frodo paused, his eyes clouding over.
"No, Sam," he said, with a voice cold and void of any emotion. "You will remain here in the Shire. You were never a Ringbearer, you merely stole the Ring from me when it was rightfully my own. Your deeds and actions were middling. For everything you have done, you do not deserve to dwell in that sacred land, as you are, and forever will be, a mindless servant." Sam sat there in shock, slowly absorbing what had just been said to him. Here he was, after pouring out his very heart to the master whom he had such a love for, and had been remorselessly torn apart. He couldn't believe it, he cared for Frodo more than he cared about himself, and this was the treatment he received? He ran out of the room, tears streaming down his face, with mixed feelings of hurt and anger.
Frodo sat mulling over what he had just done. He buried his head in his hands and cursed himself again and again. He couldn't believe the words that had come out of his mouth. He called his faithful, loyal, devoted Sam senseless, a mediocrity and worst of all, a thief. Without thinking, he gathered his belongings, and set off, hoping to never return. Once in Valinor, he could forget everything that he had ever done. He mounted one of the ponies, and galloped through the darkness.
Sam sat resting against an old oak tree, trembling with fury, disgust and misery all in one. After all that had happened, he couldn't bring himself to be completely angry with his master. Perhaps he really was all the names he had been given. But, no, he knew in his heart that Frodo wouldn't have made it all the way to Mordor without him. No, Sam deserved the recognition he received back in the Shire. But what made Mr. Frodo say all of those awful things? The light steps of a horse could be heard in the distance. Sam's heart froze. It couldn't be a Black Rider? He then realized it was foolishness, as all the Ringwraiths perished at the fall of Sauron.
"Sam Gamgee, there goes your imagination getting the better of you," he said angrily to himself. The footsteps grew louder. Sam wondered who could be out this late. He could see the small outline of a hobbit poised on the pony. He knew at that moment who it was. It could only be Frodo, trying to run away from his problems as usual. He halted in front of Sam, and clambered down.
"Sam," he began, "You know I didn't mean anything I said tonight, right?" Without a thought, Sam gave the most malicious sneer he could force.
"I hate you, Frodo Baggins," spat out Sam in response. He stalked away, but Frodo quickly caught up to him.
"You can't mean that, Sam," he protested. "You can't!"
"Just like you can't mean that I'm a thief and I did nothing but be an extra piece of baggage during our journey? Of course, my words mean nothing to you. I always thought that you considered me your equal, but I was just blind. Now I know that I'm just a servant, someone who can easily be replaced."
"No, Sam. No one could ever replace you. I would trust you with my life, and I owe you several times over for saving me from almost certain death. I remember more from our adventure than you think, and I know that you often went without food and water during the last days just so I could have a bit more strength in me. I couldn't begin to tell you how much you mean to me. Every day, I look forward to hearing you wake me up first thing in the morning, and hearing you bid me goodnight at the end of the day. You know me better than I know myself, sometimes so well it frightens me. You always know exactly what to say to me, and even though I know you don't think highly of yourself, you have more sense then even some of the very wise. I do wish I could show you that I couldn't live without you, but I haven't been right at all lately. I remember being calm and quiet, but after losing the Ring, something in me snapped, and I became what you see now, distant, aloof, and completely thoughtless. Could I ever prove it to you that I am being sincere?" There was a moment's silence.
"No, Mr. Frodo," Sam said finally, "because I already know your words are truthful." Frodo broke down and hugged his friend.
"Thank you, Sam. Thank you."
"You knew I didn't mean that part about hating you, right? Because it just slipped out, I would never really think that you know."
"I know, Sam. Just as I meant nothing of what was said back in Brandy Hall."
"Now, Sam," Frodo said slyly. "It will be pretty hard being the only hobbit in the entire land of Valinor. I think I shall need a companion, perhaps one who would like to see an elf or two. Do you know anyone that would like to come with me?" The beginnings of a smile spread across Sam's face.
"Well, there's always your trustworthy gardener."
"Excellent." Sam clambered up on Frodo's horse.
"To the Havens?" he asked.
"To the Havens," repeated Frodo.
They rode together for several days and nights, only pausing to rest and eat some of the food Frodo had packed. At last, they had reached the very edges of Middle Earth, where the Sea loomed out ahead.
"So here we are," Frodo said at last. "And my heart is glad to have you with me, at the end of all things, as I have said to you before. Are you sure you are willing to leave it all behind?"
"Yes, Mr. Frodo, I do think so. Although I am sorry I never got to say goodbye to Rosie and all the others back home, I believe this is the best. I could never bear to have an entire sea separating us."
"If this is what you truly want, then I have no position to stop you. But can you just up and leave your old life? What about Rose? What will she do? You really should have thought about that before, you know." Frodo gave Sam a condescending look.
"Well, it will hurt her so when she finds out just exactly where we went. But my destiny is to be here with you, and I won't be meddling with that." Sam could hear light-hearted singing close behind them. "What is that?" he asked Frodo.
"That will be the elves," he replied. "Here they come now!"
Among the large group of elves were familiar faces to both Frodo and Sam. They saw Elrond, Haldir, Galadriel, and to their amazement, Gandalf with his horse, Shadowfax.
"Gandalf!" they cried out. "Gandalf!"
"Yes, it is Gandalf," he said with an air of satisfaction. "And now has come the time for the Ringbearers to make their way into the land of Valinor." A blazing red ring was set upon his finger. "For I too possess a Ring. I am the wearer of Narya, one of the Three."
"Are you ready, young Frodo?" Galadriel asked, walking up to them. "And you, gardener of the Shire?"
"Yes," they replied without hesitation.
"The ships are waiting," Galadriel gently reminded them.
And with that, the last of the Rings of Power and their keepers passed across the sea. Frodo and Sam could now see the small island that was Valinor shadowed in the fog.
"This is a time for new beginnings, Mr. Frodo," Sam said wistfully. "We are to never return home. We've left it all behind for the hope of better things to come."
"No, Sam," Frodo replied with a smile. "Because this is truly home for me."