They rode beneath the trees, and starlight glimmered above. Frodo thought how the first days of the world must have been like this, but fresh and cool like a remembered morning in Spring, not weighed down with travail and care. Of course, they had not even left the Shire yet, the stars were as they always were, the night no darker, and yet he felt cold. But then he always felt cold now.
The company of elves were as silent as ghosts in the gloom, walking ahead and behind like a cortege. Frodo shivered. It was not an image that gave him comfort, so instead he looked to one side where Sam rode on his beloved Bill. There was the huff of the pony’s breath, and the slight jingle of harness, to link him to the real world. And Sam. Sam was frowning again. It gave Frodo a guilty pang to realise how little he saw Sam frown now they were back in the Shire, and how much Sam’s frown reminded him of days he tried not to dwell upon. It hardened his already firm resolve, that he was doing the right thing. He watched Sam bite his lower lip and lower his brows, as though he was thinking hard upon something of great importance. Frodo thought it would not be arrogant of him to presume to know what Sam thought about so hard, after all, he had made it very clear earlier in the day.
“…And that will keep you as busy and as happy as anyone can be, as long as your part of the Story goes on. Come now, ride with me!”
Then he had spurred poor little Strider out into a canter, away from Sam and the pleading look in his eyes, wanting to run and run, to escape far away. And, of course, Sam had followed him. They had ridden together then and Frodo had smiled and smiled and been cheerful for Sam’s sake. It was hard, he felt the frost in his heart freezing the smile to his face. But for Sam’s sake he would do it, to show he was happy with this decision, that it was his free choice. And then at last Sam had spoken.
“Mr Frodo, what are you going to do over the sea?”
“Do? Well, I should think I will be able to delve into all manner of lore that the elves have recorded, far more than was even at Rivendell, I have no doubt.”
“Will you set about translating it then?”
“I expect so, with all the help for my poor Sindarin than even I could wish for!”
“And will you write songs and poetry, Mr Frodo?”
“Oh yes! And I will sing them on fine evenings, drunk on air clearer than the finest wine, I expect. It will be beautiful, Sam.”
“Yes, sir, I’m sure it will.”
He’d been silent then, but Frodo knew his Sam. There was something he needed to get off his chest, he may as well have shouted it from the tree-tops.
“What is it, Sam?”
The face that turned then toward Frodo was desolate.
“Who will you be translating all that lore for, sir? Who will read it? Who will you sing your songs to?” He’d reached out his hand then, his strong hand, brown and freckled, and gripped Frodo’s fingers tight, where they lay on the reins. “Elves are all very well, fine lordly folk, but they don’t seem like they will give a body a hug when he is lonely, or make him valerian tea when he can’t sleep, or know that porridge has to be made just so, and with a spoonful of apple jam. Beauty isn’t everything.”
Frodo had been speechless before Sam’s intensity, and his fingers were hurting from the strength of Sam’s grip.
But he had turned away then, and stared into the setting sun, eyes suspiciously bright, but wide and clear.
“I know you need healing, Mr Frodo, and the beauty will do that, I’m sure. But there’s beauty in the Shire too, sir, if you could but see it. Not lordly beauty, no, but leaf and tree and baby’s smile. It’s all there if you look.” He turned back to face Frodo, need and longing burning in his eyes. “Couldn’t it be enough for you, Mr Frodo? Couldn’t you find enough beauty here for just one lifetime? After all, over the sea, in the West, that’s a beauty meant for always, forever, it’s too much for a hobbit, sir, it is. Couldn’t you come home with us and be happy? Couldn’t you just stay?”
But Frodo had not answered and Sam had sighed and let go his reins then, and they had ridden on, and spoken no more. Frodo didn’t know what he could say to ease Sam’s heart, he had nothing to ease his own. How could he say that all he saw were shadows, even on the clearest day? That all he felt was frost in the heat of the sun? That he looked at little Elanor and saw the gaping drooling mouth of a goblin imp? That Winter was all about him, and he crawled upon the ice, and it was called the Shire? His hand crept unbidden to the white jewel about his neck, and he spoke to Sam in his mind, the words he would never say.
No, Sam, I am sorry. I love you all so very much, too much to risk your beauty with my poison. I want to stay very much, my dear Sam, but I really don’t think that I can.
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.