Half an hour had passed since the party’s arrival at the thickly-walled town and harbor called by the hobbits the Grey Havens, and by the Elves, Mithlond. Gandalf had been there to greet them, as well as many Elves who lived and worked at the harbor or nearby. Frodo and Sam had never dreamed that so many Elves lived west of the Shire; in living memory, no other hobbits had ever ventured this far, or had ever seen the Sea.
In the swirling joy of many greetings, and embraces of old friends, and stabling of ponies and horses, Frodo slipped away from the group and found himself wandering back to a small glade of trees outside the gates. He did not think he would be missed, as Elrond was settling a drowsy Bilbo to rest in a nearby house, and Sam was in animated discussion with a friendly Elf, who spoke their tongue, about the enormous coils of rope that seemed to be everywhere.
Frodo sank down beneath a tree and pressed back against it, trying to quell an unexpected sense of panic. He closed his eyes, and his toes curled into the warm ground as if reluctant to release their hold on this last, familiar piece of Middle-earth.
“You are Frodo.”
Frodo looked up to find an unusually tall Elf smiling down at him. Before he could scramble to his feet, the Elf sank gracefully to the ground and sat next to him.
“Yes sir,” Frodo said. “At your service.”
“Thank you, Frodo. I am Círdan. I, and this place, are at your service.”
“Do you live here?”
“This has been my home for years uncounted.”
“Is it time to leave?” Frodo asked, hoping it wasn’t. “I have been told that ships must sail at certain times.”
“Frodo,” Círdan said softly, “it is true that those who will sail with you had planned to leave soon -- at the turn of this day’s tide. However, one day more, or even two, would be of no consequence. The ship will sail when you are ready, and not before.” He smiled at the hobbit, then let his gaze travel outward. “It is very beautiful, is it not?”
Frodo found the Elf’s presence very relaxing. He appeared to be very old, and spoke slowly, as did most Elves, as if there was all the time in the world -- but in Círdan there was a unique quality that Frodo couldn’t quite define -- something more infinitely patient than anyone he had ever met.
“All our lives we have heard tales of the Sea,” answered Frodo. “I never dreamed… it’s like…” He gazed, enraptured, at the sparkling colors and infinite expanse before him. “It never stops moving,” he marveled.
“It is always the same, yet ever-changing.” Círdan’s gaze grew distant. “I have known war, Frodo. I have tried to understand the hearts of Men and Elves. I have seen reckless passion, and valor, and wisdom hard-won; yet I have learned the most from the Sea, by simply watching, and listening, and waiting.”
“Sir,” Frodo murmured, “do you know… where we are going… are there trees there? Is there grass, and…” He faltered, unable to continue.
“You wonder if the Blessed Realm will feel like home to you.” Círdan turned to Frodo and clasped the hobbit’s small hands in his own. “I can assure you that it will, Frodo. The trees and flowers and waters -- even the stars themselves -- may not in all ways be what you are used to, but I believe you will find them familiar and welcoming -- yet with a splendor of which you may only have glimpsed in dreams.”
“Sometimes I think I have dreamt about the Blessed Realm. I’ve seen… places and things of such beauty…”
“Yes,” Círdan agreed, “I believe you have. Irmo, lord of dreams, has shown it to you.”
Frodo sighed. “When I returned to the Shire, it felt as if I was falling into a long, slow, sleep -- what had once been my home had become the dream -- somehow unreal.”
“Home is that place, or that person, that sings the song we recognize, Frodo, and which recognizes us.”
“I’m not sure I understand you.”
Cirdan smiled at him. “You will.”
“What…” Frodo struggled to bring the conversation back to something he understood. “What do you do here at the Havens, Círdan?”
“I am a builder of ships,” the Elf said simply. “I build, and repair, and gather news, and keep this port in readiness. It is my honor and joy to be of service to those who have need of this place. The journey you are about to take is long, but my ships are sound; you need have no fear of that on which you will sail.”
“I do not fear your ship, sir, but…”
“Please, tell me what else concerns you.”
For some reason, Frodo felt that he could open his heart to this gentle Elf.
“I have not been well, and we will be at Sea when…” Frodo swallowed hard. “In just a few days, I may fall quite ill; it is something that happens to me at this time of the year. I do not wish to be a burden to anyone.”
“Nor will you be,” said Círdan firmly. “If you are indeed overtaken by illness, it will be the last such you will ever know, and you will be tended with skill, and devotion, until you are well. In the Blessed Realm, and perhaps even before you arrive, Estë will guide you towards the healing you require; you will find what you seek, and receive what you need.”
“You are very kind, sir,” Frodo said softly. “You speak as if you know me.”
Círdan looked deeply into Frodo’s eyes, then closed his own eyes for a moment as if listening to something. “I believe this journey is necessary for you to make, Frodo; Middle-earth is a place of deep roots and happiness for many -- but no longer, I suspect, for you.”
Círdan once again turned his clear, ageless eyes to Frodo’s.
“I, too, was a Ring-bearer. I, too, relinquished a ring of power and have lived with its loss. Someday I, too, will sail West. I will embark upon the last ship, and make my home on the farthest shore.”
Frodo gasped in amazement. “You… you were…”
Círdan nodded. “Although the power of The Three is now gone, each carries yet a unique virtue and energy. Mithrandir, Galadriel, and Elrond still bear their rings; you and I, however, do not. We are much alike, Frodo.”
Frodo gazed at him in wonder.
“Who are you, Círdan?”
The Elf released Frodo’s hands and rose to his feet.
“I am but a shipwright, my young friend, nothing more. Will you come with me to the harbor, and do me the honor of seeing my handiwork more closely?”
“It would be my honor, sir,” Frodo said, standing and bowing deeply.
Círdan smiled. “A number of my folk will be sailing your ship, but a greater number still will yet remain with me here. All of them wish to meet you, and are happy you have come.”
Frodo smiled back, his heart lifting. Cirdan held out his hand, and Frodo took it.
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.