Kneeling down beside my son I glance to where he is pointing at. I'm not yet sure what it could be, so I wait until we are a little closer. I don't know why, but suddenly I remember my brother's warning. Could it really be?
"Can you see it?"
I feel my body tense. I'm not able to answer him, so I just nod and turn my eyes towards the eastern shore.
"I advise you not to go too far down. There are some dangerous currents down by the hills."
The hills. We have already reached them. Is it really possible that we have come that far? Again my eyes wander to the spot pointed out by Frodo.
"I'll watch out. We won't go that far."
I have not been very cautious all afternoon for I did not think we would move that fast. Rory said there is a current. I observe the river.
I do not hear him. My eyes are fixed on the water. We are drifting fast, too fast. How could I not have realised? The water is rushing more fiercely now. Have I been so lost in thought that I haven't even recognised this?
"There are some dangerous currents down by the hills."
We must get away from here. Quick! Turning around I shout: "The current!" We've come too far south! Paddle or we shall be driven to the rocks!"
Drogo reacts swiftly, gripping a paddle he starts to drive it into the water. Meanwhile I grasp Frodo and, telling him to sit down and grab hold of something, I too start to paddle with all my strength. Frodo is looking around in desperation. The fear in his eyes reminds me of my own anguish. I want to calm him, but find that I am not able to speak. We have been too careless all afternoon and have realised too late what danger is upon us. Now we have to use all our strength to escape.
"Mama, why aren't we moving?"
His voice grieves my heart. It is long since I last heard so much fear in it. But he is right. We are not making any progress. For a short instant my eyes meet Drogo's. In his eyes I can see that he must have realised it too. I try to paddle harder. The frightened look of Frodo follows my every movement.
"Steady yourself," I hear my own voice in my head. "No matter how great our peril may be, he needs you more."
I take a deep breath and try to calm him. "Hush, dear. Everything will be alright."
My trembling voice is not only betraying me but him as well, for he is still looking around frantically.
The river is rushing, the rocks are moving closer and my strength lessens. A burning pain in my upper arm increases with every movement. I begin to pant, as I drive the paddle into the water yet another time. The current is pulling the boat along, straight to the cliffs.
"Go on!" I hear Drogo shout, but I can't continue.
Frodo's eyes are full of pity and fear as he watches me let my paddle sink. I wish I could do more, but there is no strength left in my arms. Suddenly Drogo grips my paddle. Looking at him in wonder and with eyes full of love I think I could even manage a smile. But I do not smile, for Frodo is sinking into my arms, his face wet with tears.
"The rocks are moving closer," he whispers.
I feel a stinging pain in my heart. How could we have been so careless and expose our son to a danger like this? I swallow my tears as I close my arms about him and hug him tightly. Trying to distract him from the rushing water I begin to murmur nonsense.
Drogo is crying out. I lift my head to see what happened and notice that he has lost one paddle. He looks at us repentantly, but there is no need to feel sorry. He has tried his best.
"I'm afraid," Frodo sobs.
Swallowing hard I pull him closer. Drogo wraps his arms around us.
"Me too," he answers, his voice barely audible.
Fumbling for my husband's hand, I squeeze it. He looks into my eyes and there is a silent understanding. We have not been as wary as we should have been and know that we have to face the consequences. I admire him. He has tried his best to get the boat out of the current again, but it has been too strong for him. If the boat capsizes it will be difficult to get out of the current again but I know whatever happens he will do everything to save our son, and so will I. I close my eyes, as I feel his soft lips touching my brow.
The water rushes.
Drogo pulls me more closely. My son is still sobbing.
A cracking noise; then the wood bursts. Drogo releases me. I hear him crying out Frodo's name. Frodo answers in a desperate choked scream. Somewhere in the distance I hear my own voice crying but it does not seem real to me.
The voices fade and finally die.
I can feel the suction of the current, almost as soon as my body hits the water. It is cold and I need all my strength to struggle to the surface. It is difficult and just as I think I can't fight upwards any longer, I feel the cool wind on my face again. Gasping for breath I look around frantically, as a wave of white foam hits me. I'm still struggling hard to avoid going under again. Despairingly I cry out, for I can see neither my husband nor my son. The current forces me to sink again, but I can manage to take a deep breath before the river water engulfs me once more.
All I can think about is Frodo and Drogo, the two most dear to me. I cannot lose them. I must not! Fighting desperately against the current, I suddenly see my son. He is struggling hard, but unable to reach the surface. Still holding my breath I swim towards him. I grab for his arm but miss it. Frantically I realise that he is not moving anymore when finally I catch hold of his collar. I'm running out of breath as I struggle to the surface.
Frodo coughs and splutters, lashing about in despair. Water is splashing into our faces. He is going under again. Pulling him up once more I order him to swim. He must swim on his own, for I can't do both: fight against the current and carry him, no matter how much I want to help him. Another wave hits me and water is engulfing me once more. I succeed in reaching the surface. Frodo is still coughing and struggling.
"Swim!" I command him once more, my voice choked with tears and water.
He is pulled down by the current. I reach out for him again but this time he is reaching the surface on his own.
"I can't!" he chokes between gasping breaths and coughs.
Tears are streaming down my face as yet another wave of white foam hits me.
Please, Frodo, swim! You must swim or we'll never reach the shore! my mind is crying, but I mustn't show him my despair.
"Of course you can! Just go on!" I assure him and push him ahead.
I feel my own strength lessen, as I fight against the current and the waves that are splashing into my face force me to swallow water. Still I'm pushing my son ahead, pulling him up whenever he is sinking. I wonder about Drogo and hope he is alright but I do not have the time to worry about him, for Frodo is sinking yet again and once more I'm pulling him up. My arms hurt and still I'm crying.
"Swim!" I beg once more.
Swim, child! You must swim, please. Fight, for I do not have the strength to fight for both of us. At least you should reach the shore safely but I can't bring you there without your help.
Foam is hitting me. I do not have the strength to fight it and the river swiftly closes about my head. My eyes close.
"Frodo!" The thought hit me like a slap in the face.
Once more I struggle to the surface, only to find my son is not there. Tears are streaming down my cheeks as I look around frantically, always bubbling and spluttering as I swallow water. I call his name, but he does not answer. Taking a deep breath I dive down again. There I see him and reach out for him instantly.
He coughs and gasps for breath as we reach the surfaces again. Desperately he clutches my arm. He has no strength left. The river is too strong for him. I need to carry him or none of us will ever reach the riverbank. The wind is howling angrily and the ominous rushing of the river urges me to lose all hope. My arm feels weak, but still I'm holding my gasping child tightly. We have to reach the shore.
I'm clutching the riverbank as Frodo is struggling out of the water. Black spots are dancing before my vision but I try to ignore them. Frodo is coughing and trembling violently. The world seems dark, but I hardly notice it. I have only eyes for my son and his well-being.
"Are you alright?" I ask, fighting back my tears.
He looks at me, eyes filled with tears of fear and still gasping for breath. Slowly he nods and then he flings his arms around my neck. My arms are trembling with weakness but I hug him tightly. My heart is beating fast. Tears now stream freely down my cheeks. He is alright and safe at last. Nothing will happen to him. The river did not conquer, not yet. I feel his hot tears against my cold skin and try to soothe him, but my own tears betray me.
As I close my arms around my son my mind drifts back to Drogo. I still can hear his desperate cry in my ears.
"Where's dad?" Frodo whispers, as if he has read my mind.
My eyes are filled with tears, for I will have to leave him again. I need to find Drogo. "I will go back and find him," I answer.
And when I've found him, I will come back and never leave you again.
I can see he is in deep agony.
I'm sorry, dear, but I can't leave him out there. I can't risk staying here with you and leave him alone while he is probably waiting for me to help him.
I pull him close again and feel he's choking with tears. Seconds pass in which we just savour in being close to each other. Then he looks at me again, eyes full of fear and silent imploring.
"Promise me that you will come back. Promise me that everything will be alright."
His plea stings my heart and I feel like crying once again. If only I could promise him this. If only I knew that everything will be alright. But I do not know. He is fighting back his tears but they overwhelm him. I hug him tightly, rubbing his back to calm him.
You must understand. I can't promise you something I do not know. It would grieve you even more, if I can't keep my promise.
"Promise me!" he begs again.
Do not tempt me to lie to you. I have never done so and I never will.
I must send him away now, for time is precious. The longer I wait, the lower are my chances of finding Drogo. But I do not wish to leave him. All I want is to hold him and never let go of him again. But that is not granted to me. Placing my hands on his shoulders I look into his sad eyes. "You go back to Brandy Hall and get your uncle Rory. Tell him we had an accident and are down by the hills. He'll know what to do."
"You can't send me away!"
I bite my lip.
Do not make it harder, than it already is.
"Go Frodo, please!"
Time passes and finally he nods and hugs me again. All I want is to hold him and never let go of him again. But haste is needed.
"Go now! Hurry!"
"I will come back!" he whispers and then he runs off.
As soon as I'm sure he won't hear me I break down crying. I'm shivering with fear, cold and weakness. The ominous rushing of the river returns to my ears and so is the hissing of the wind. The world is spinning.
I shake my head to think clearly again. I must find Drogo. There is still a chance that he is alive. I gather my last bit of strength and dive into the water again. It's much easier to get towards the current than to swim away from it. Still I have problems with staying above water. Ever and anon the river closes about me and I swallow liquid.
Desperately I look for my husband, but I do not find him. My legs hit some of the sharp rocks and I feel the scratches burning like fire. There is also a burning pain in my arms, which feel so weak now I'm barely able to use them. After what seems like hours to me, I finally stop crying my husband's name.
The current pulls me down one last time. My body is freezing. I give up struggling, for there is only weakness left in me. My mind wanders to Drogo, whom I was not able to find again; then I can see Frodo running towards Brandy Hall.
I'm sorry my dear child. But I see now that I did right in not promising you that everything will be alright. For it seems the world is going on only for one of us. I wish I could hold you in my arms once again and kiss you good night and tell you that you need not worry.
I'm closing my eyes and in this very instant my hand catches hold of something. With a last effort I'm pulling myself up. Gasping for breath, I reach the surface and find myself clinging to a piece of wood. It may be a piece of our boat that got stuck between the cliffs. As I come to my breath again, I notice that small raindrops are falling form the sky, but that does not matter to me.
My head is dropping on the wood and new hope is growing inside me when suddenly my eyes get caught on someone in the water.
"Drogo," I whisper and struggle towards his lifeless form.
A sudden fear befalls me. He must not be dead. He has to live. What shall I do without him? What shall Frodo do without him?
"Drogo, please you must wake up," I beg, tears streaming down my cheeks, as I shake his lifeless body. "You can not leave me! Drogo, please "
The chillness of my body seems to grow even worse as I desperately clutch his hand with trembling fingers.
I look up. He's alive. The hint of a smile appears on my face, as I bring his hand to my lips and kiss it. "I'm here," I whisper through trembling lips.
Only now I notice the bleeding wound on his temple. He is in bad need of a doctor. I hope Frodo has reached Brandy Hall in time and Rory is already on the way to us.
"Frodo?" His voice is low. I can scarcely hear him.
"He is safe," I assure him while desperately trying not to cry.
His eyes open for a single moment, then they close again, but still his face is content.
"Drogo?" I whisper once again, but he does not answer.
I am trembling with cold as the cool wind touches my wet face. Squeezing his hand I am suddenly aware that he has drifted back to unconsciousness. Tears are burning in my eyes as I kiss his hand once more, hoping I could reach the shore with him in my arms. But I know I'm not able to do so, not anymore. My strength is spent. All I can do now is to cling to this piece of wood and hope that Rory will come soon.
Time passes. Still the river is rushing and wind blowing. My head rests on his breast, eyes closed. My body is shivering violently, when suddenly there is a cracking. Before I realise what happens, the wood breaks and drifts along the river again. I have lost my grip of it and instead I'm holding Drogo now, whose face has gone desperately pale.
Fear grabs me like a claw. With the last bit of strength I can summon I cry out, although I know that nobody can hear me. I am weeping again, as the current pulls me down. His arm slips from my fingers, when I try to struggle to the surface again. Without taking a deep breath I dive down, but cannot reach my husband.. I do not want to leave him, but I'm in desperate need of air. I look at his face, pale now but still beautiful; the face of the man whom I love so dearly.
"Frodo," my mind yells.
And sending my last farewell to my husband I struggle back to the surface. But being so long in the water finally takes its toll. No matter how hard I try, my tired limbs won't obey. I can see the pale light of the evening, but I cannot reach it. My head is swimming as I reach out my hand, as if that would help me to get some air. A shadow falls before my eyes and I close them.
I do not know that in less than an hour my brother will be standing at the riverbank, looking for me and my husband. I do not know that a sudden dread is befalling my son at this very moment. With a last effort I try to reach the surface, but no strength is left in me. I take a deep breath but instead of air, water is filling my lungs. Slowly all spirit leaves my bones. He will never know that my last thought is with him Frodo.
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.