3. Wind Lord
Frodo was interested to see that Sam was apparently having a very earnest conversation with Elrond, Gandalf, and Galadriel, and seemed quite adamant about whatever he was telling them. As he and Círdan approached, however, Sam abruptly stopped speaking, and turned to Frodo with a smile.
“Isn’t this an amazin’ place, Mr. Frodo? And so close to the Shire all this time.” He sighed. “I’m just sorry for the reason we’re seein’ it.”
“I know, Sam.” Frodo held out his hand. “Will you come with us? This is Círdan, and he’s to show me the ship he’s built for us.”
Sam bowed to the tall Elf. “An honor to meet you, sir.”
“The honor is mine, Samwise.”
Hand in hand, the two hobbits accompanied the tall Elf through the small harbor town, followed by a steadily growing crowd. Their eyes grew wide at the number of beautiful ships, large and small, that lay waiting along the harbor -- but dwarfing them all was an enormous, pure white vessel, the sight of which took Frodo’s breath away. It seemed ancient and brand-new at the same time, and graceful in its every curve and line. As they drew closer, and the hobbits had to tilt their heads back to look up and up at the ship’s prow, Frodo and Sam could see that delicate strands of silver, or perhaps mithril, entwined into images of leaves, stars, and waterfalls, decorated the hull at intervals, causing the entire ship to sparkle and glitter in the late-afternoon sun.
Sam was speechless with wonder, and it took Frodo a few moments to find his voice. Without taking his eyes from the ship, he addressed Círdan, who stood behind them.
“You… Círdan, you built this? However does one build such a lovely thing as this?”
The Elf smiled happily. “We have labored long years to bring her to full beauty.”
“I never dreamed any ship could be this beautiful,” Frodo sighed. “Does she have a name?”
“You will name her, Frodo.”
“I will?” Frodo turned to the Elf in astonishment, then saw that a large crowd had gathered into a semicircle around Círdan, waiting. Waiting for him.
“Frodo,” Círdan said softly, crouching down to the hobbit’s level, “wherever you go in the Blessed Realm, you will be known, and esteemed, and given whatever you need. I, too, wish to honor you, as you begin your journey home.”
“Home,” murmured Frodo, tears springing to his eyes.
“Yes,” Círdan smiled at him. “You will soon understand. I must ask you now -- do you feel ready to sail?”
“Yes,” Frodo whispered. “I am ready now.”
“Then I wish to honor you, and my ship, and ask you to name her.”
“I…” Frodo faltered and looked around at everyone smiling at him. “My Elvish isn’t---”
“The language matters not. It is the spirit, and the meaning, that is most valued.”
Frodo looked up at Gandalf, who nodded at him. Círdan rose to his feet and stepped back, joining the semicircle of onlookers, leaving Frodo and Sam alone. Sam tried to step back as well, but Frodo held tight to his hand.
Frodo wiped at his eyes with his free hand, and turned to face the white ship. What name could he give? How could he convey what he was feeling? This journey, he hoped, would take him from weariness and pain, to healing… it represented hope…
Frodo suddenly gave Sam’s hand a squeeze and turned back to the waiting crowd.
“Her name is Gwaihir.” Frodo gazed up at Círdan, half expecting the Elf to laugh.
“Wind-lord,” Círdan said approvingly. “A noble name for a noble vessel, Frodo. How came you by it?”
Frodo looked at Gandalf. “I do not remember the lord of eagles who brought Sam and me out of the fire; memory of that journey from despair to hope is forever lost to me.” He turned back to Círdan. “The sight of this ship lifts me once again from despair to hope, and this journey I will remember. Or…” Frodo faltered, “I will remember as much as I am able.”
“Now Mr. Frodo,” Sam reassured him, “these folk will take good care of you.”
Elrond stepped forward. “Frodo,” he said gently, “we know you are concerned about falling ill in but a few short days. It may be that you will do so -- but we will do everything we can to aid you.”
“Oh Sam,” Frodo sighed. “I’m not used to any fuss. Did you tell everyone?”
“Just Lord Elrond, and Gandalf, and the Lady,” Sam replied, blushing, “and maybe Gildor and… and a few others.” He still held Frodo’s hand in one of his, and now he boldly took the other, as well. “I won’t be there to look after you, sir, but all these fine folks will be, and no mistake.”
Frodo sighed heavily, then smiled in relief. “Dear Sam.”
The crowd broke up, each returning to his or her chosen task, while Elrond, Círdan, Gandalf, and Galadriel moved off and stood together.
“I have not seen a brighter spirit in a mortal in many an Age,” Círdan murmured. “Could not his own people recognize him?” He shook his head in amazement. “Perhaps those who do not value a treasure deserve to lose it.”
“Samwise sees him truly,” Gandalf said softly, “but few others, I suspect. And speaking of others…” He broke off and smiled fondly at two hobbits on ponies, riding madly through the gates.
Frodo barely had time to register the blur that was Pippin before he was wrapped in his cousin’s embrace and nearly knocked into the water.
“You tried to give us the slip once before and failed, Frodo.” Pippin hugged his cousin with a laugh, although he was crying.
“Pippin,” Frodo sighed, holding him tight. “Oh, Pip.”
After Pippin had said his goodbyes, Merry tore his gaze away from the Sea, and the ship, and came to Frodo’s side. Without a word, Pippin stepped away and Merry took his place, gathering Frodo into his arms for the last time.
“Merry,” Frodo sobbed.
“Frodo,” Merry said softly, his face wet with tears, “travel safe. I hope you find everything you need, to be happy.” He looked up at Gandalf, who was standing nearby. “Make sure they feed him, Gandalf. You know hobbits.”
“No one knows them better, my friend,” said the wizard with a gentle smile.
Merry released Frodo, reluctantly, and Frodo saw that the Elves were beginning to board the ship. Elrond had Bilbo in his arms. Círdan was embracing each person as they boarded, and he caught Frodo’s eye.
“Come,” said Gandalf softly. He led Merry and Pippin a short distance away.
“Sam,” Frodo whispered. From behind him, he felt a hand on his shoulder. He spun around, then, and fell into Sam’s arms. “Sam…”
Sam embraced Frodo and let his tears fall. “You don’t have to say anything, sir. I know.”
A freshening wind blew through their hair, and they both knew it was time.
“Go on.” Sam looked long and lovingly into the beautiful blue eyes, into the face of the master he had loved throughout life and to the brink of death, and back again. “Go on, sir. They’ll take good care of you…” He smiled through his tears. “…until maybe I’ll see you again.”
“Until then, Sam.” Frodo, for his part, was memorizing every inch of Sam’s dear face, or what he could see through the tears blurring his vision. “Dear Sam. Until then.”
“I don’t suppose I’ll ever see you again.”
Círdan knelt at the foot of the ramp, leading to the ship, and took Frodo into his arms for a long moment.
“I do not know, Frodo, but I am happy that we have met.”
“Thank you,” Frodo whispered.
“Remember what I said,” Círdan spoke softly. “Home is that place, or that person, that sings the song we recognize, and which recognizes us.” He stood up and lay his hands on Frodo’s head. “May the stars shine upon you, Frodo Baggins. Journey with a fair wind and a light heart.”
Frodo wiped his eyes and took a deep breath, then walked up the ramp and boarded the ship.
Frodo stood at the rail, gripping it tightly, as the ship began to slowly move away from the dock. The crowd of Elves on land raised their voices, as one, in a song of farewell and new beginnings.
Frodo saw Sam, Merry, and Pippin, standing together, arm in arm, watching him. How could he show them how much he loved them… how much they meant… With a sure hand, he withdrew the crystal phial from his breast pocket, and held it up.
As Frodo filled himself with the love he felt for his friends, for his Shire, and for Middle-earth, the phial blazed forth with a radiance so bright that many of the Elves on shore, and most of those aboard the ship, knelt before it. As Eärendil’s star shone on their faces, the voyagers burst into song, and Frodo found himself joining them, singing words he didn’t recognize, but which fell easily from his lips for as long as the music lasted.
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.