He heard a voice singing in the distance, a slow gentle song he thought he had heard before, ages ago in Rivendell. He was running to find who it was that sang. Something told him that the voice would guide him home. He started to run faster, drawn by the voice, but his feet began to sink deep into the wet sand. The more he tried to pull himself out, the deeper he sank. The effort exhausted him and his lungs burned. "I can't go on any further," he said sadly.
He felt something warm on his forehead and opened his eyes. He was still aboard the ship, to his dismay: the rocking was now more gentle but it still made him feel sick. Instead of Gandalf looking down at him, he was staring at a female Elf, dark-haired with blue eyes full of kindness. It was her voice, singing to him, that he had heard in his dream. She had placed a warm cloth on his forehead, and her warm hand grasped his cold left hand. She sang to him in a quiet voice, stroking his dark curly hair.
"I know your song," he whispered, his voice dry and cracking. "I heard you calling in my dream. I tried to run to your voice, but I fell deeper into the sand."
"Of course you know it, Frodo," the Elf said in the Common Speech. "I sang it to you in Rivendell, when you were ill. It is a song of healing. Your friend Sam very much enjoyed it."
Frodo felt an ache in his heart at the name of Sam. He swallowed hard. "I can't remember much from that time. I am sorry, Lady."
She laughed softly. "There is no need for an apology." Her hands and voice were tender. "My name is Bethilien. I am a healer that dwelt in Imladris with Elrond and I came West with his household. I helped him tend you while you were ill. Mithrandir asked me to stay with you for a while." She placed her hand on his cheek. "Are you feeling better?"
Frodo's chest hurt from his earlier crying, but the pain in his shoulder and side had lessened. The room was not quite as dark and cold as it had been before. "Yes, Lady...Bethilien. Thank you."
Bethilien smiled. "We are closer to Valinor. It is now late in the morning." Frodo still felt weak, but he had questions he wanted answers for. "Why did we leave so early?"
She laughed again, a joyous sound. "Mithrandir told me you would ask questions. The reason why we left early is because of you, Frodo," she answered. "He wanted to get you here as soon as he could. He had wanted to take you straight here after you arrived in Eressea, but it seemed to him that you wanted to rest and he reconsidered. Once you fell ill last night, he decided to take you to Valinor immediately. You will still be ill when we reach it, but the sense of darkness will be weaker."
Frodo tried to remember the night before. He recalled having dinner with Bilbo and a large group of Elves, and then they had all gone to a hall to have music and storytelling. Bilbo had fallen asleep, but Frodo had remained awake, listening to the fair voices speaking in the ancient tongue. Had he fallen ill? He did not remember. The first thing he remembered was being awakened by the Elves and Gandalf. He had been in bed, but could not recall how he had gotten there.
Bethilien seemed to sense his train of thought. "You fell ill, and I and another took you away and put you in bed. I found Mithrandir and told him what had happened, and he told me to dress you warmly and prepare you for the trip to Valinor. I offered to come with him so you could be cared for."
"You were there, before." Frodo dimly remembered her, clutching his lifeless left hand as the other Elf carried him through the hallway. Bethilien nodded. "I knew right away what had happened when I saw you lying in the hall, pale-faced, cold as night, and haunted by a dark dream. We had hoped in Imladris you would make a complete recovery, but the wounds of the Enemy are grievious." The Elf wrapped Frodo's blanket closer around him. "Are you hungry?"
Frodo considered this. The rocking of the boat, gentle as it was, was still making him feel sick. "No, thank you," he said. "I'm just a bit thirsty." She gently lifted Frodo, taking care not to injure his shoulder even though the wound was long closed, and let him drink some water in small sips. It was cool and felt relieving on his parched throat. She placed him back down on the bed, dipping the cloth in a bowl of warm water near the bed and placing it back on his forehead. The warmth comforted and relaxed him, and he felt sleep come over him again. It was so hard to stay awake when he was ill...
"I know you are tired." Bethilien's voice was kind. "Rest now. The journey will soon be over, and you will be on dry land and away from the rocking." He felt her hand stroking his hair as the urge to sleep conquered him again.
It was nearly sunset when Gandalf roused him. Frodo had not had another dream, which he was grateful for. He also felt a bit stronger and was able to sit up, though Gandalf insisted on helping him. He missed Bilbo terribly and longed to see the old hobbit. He hadn't wanted to be separated from him so soon, and even though Gandalf had told him not to worry, Frodo still did.
"Bethilien told you about what happened," Gandalf remarked as he sat back down on the bed after helping Frodo sit up. "I am sorry that I did not leave you in bed at Avallone today. I thought you would be sick, but I never expected you to fall as ill as you did. As soon as she told me, I wanted to take you here as soon as I could."
"I am still amazed that these great people take the time to show me such kindness," said Frodo. This made Gandalf laugh. "You are the Ringbearer, Frodo!" he exclaimed. "You are an Elf-friend and a great person in your own right, although your hobbit humility prevents you from seeing that." He stood up from where he was sitting on Frodo's bed. "Do you feel strong enough to walk a bit? I think the fresh air will do you good. We are also coming into view of Valinor, and I would like you to see it."
Frodo nodded. "I would like to see it, very much." With the help of Gandalf, he slowly got out of bed. He was still dressed warmly in the travelling clothes Bethilien and her friend had put on him. He found he could move his left arm a little more, but his side and shoulder still hurt. Gandalf wrapped the thick blanket around Frodo and kept his hand on his right shoulder as the hobbit took a few slow steps. The boat was still rocking gently and so it made it harder for Frodo to keep his balance, but Gandalf was steadfast against him and would not let him fall. Slowly, Frodo and Gandalf walked upstairs to the main deck.
Frodo's vision, still slightly dim, was filled with the golden light of sunset. The sky was filled with color: red, purple, and coral all mixed to make the most breathtaking sunset Frodo had ever seen. The water of the Sea glinted at the edges in the low light. He walked with Gandalf to the edge of the deck and stood there, feeling the gentle warmth of the wind running through his hair. He breathed in as deeply as he could, feeling a sense of renewal in the air. "It's beautiful, Gandalf," he said, his voice filled with awe.
Gandalf pointed ahead with his left hand, his right one still against Frodo's shoulder. "Look, Frodo," he said. "We are just beginning to see Valinor." Frodo looked in the direction he pointed, and saw a long white shore with high cliffs and tall green mountains in the distance. "Sunset is the most celebrated part of the day here. The Elves sing as the Sun disappears over the horizon and the stars rise soon afterward." He paused. "This is my home, Frodo: Middle-earth was just a stopping point, a place where I was sent to do what I had to. I could never call any other place but Valinor my home." Gandalf fell silent, lost in his own memories.
Frodo felt honored to be by Gandalf's side, and was amazed by the beauty of the land in front of him, but his heart still longed for the familiar hills and woodlands of the Shire, even though it promised no peace. Valinor, to him, seemed a place of dream rather than reality, a distant place spoken of only in song and story. Even though it was now in front of him, he still felt separated from it, as if it were a dream he would suddenly wake from. Would he ever find a place he could call home, or would he be doomed to wander as Gandalf had in Middle-earth?
Gandalf felt Frodo's disquiet, and patted him gently on his shoulder. "Out of all the sacrifices made in the name of defeating the Enemy, yours is among the most grievous. I know that you miss the Shire and all you knew, and you may spend a very long time missing it. Such is the price you have had to pay, and you did not deserve it." He looked down at Frodo, who still stood, looking forward to the white shore in front of him. "I know that Valinor seems distant to you right now, Frodo, but it will not always be that way. You are meant to find a place to call home, and you will." The two of them stood there, at the edge of the deck, still shadows against the golden light of the Sun as the ship grew closer to the Blessed Realm.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.