80. The Final Gift
The Final Gift
Olórin found the small summerhouse on the edge of the gardens empty. He was not surprised, for its occupant was now often away for days at a time, as had been true in the past when he lived in Bag End in the Shire. He turned from the door, looking for signs on where he might look to find his quarry. Would he be on the headlands looking off to the east this time, looking toward Middle Earth, his friends, the home still of his heart; or perhaps would he be found as was so often true recently near the Fanes on the west side of Tol Eressëa, looking beyond Aman toward the Uttermost West? It was the way he knew he must go in the end, although he'd stayed true to his word and had not again sought out the Place and the Way to the Halls of Waiting since the day Bilbo had left. Wherever he was, Olórin knew that there would be Elven children about him, waiting for him to come to the awareness of them, waiting to share his stories.
The earth of Elvenhome delighted to receive his soft tread, and treasured the Light which filled him. It quietly pointed the way for the Maia to follow, and at last he found him; nearby, actually, his shining hand lying against the trunk of the White Tree. So, it was not the Shire that filled his thoughts, but Minas Tirith--Minas Tirith and Aragorn. The children looked up with pleasure and respect at the Maia, and several reverenced him while others simply approached for an embrace. This was the one of his kind, they knew, who willingly offered such signs of affection, just as did the one whose attention they awaited so patiently.
Hello, Gandalf. The small figure did not turn--did not need to do so. His eyes were still focused on a vision not granted for sharing with Olórin. The Maia examined his friend more closely--rarely was he called by that name any more, even by this one, this one who had been Frodo Baggins of Bag End.
"I rejoice to see you, Iorhael."
At that the face did turn, and eyes the color of the Lord Ulmo's raiment looked into his own. No, not Iorhael today. Today he was, as happened still from time to time, again Frodo. A Frodo much changed from the laughing Hobbit he'd once been, but still Frodo, very aware of his own mortality, very much reaching toward the ones who most mirrored his own Light there in the mortal world. His eyes were solemn.
"What bothers you, Frodo?"
That brought a slight smile, a sad one. I am feeling alone today, Gandalf. He looked to the children. It is not for want of company, understand-- He looked away again eastward. I can't truly keep track of time here--I've never been able to, as you know. But in spite of the changes, I can feel my time is coming. I must go soon enough, and I am ready. He looked smiling into the Maia's eyes. Oh, I promised I would wait for Sam, and I will. Once more eastward, and he was still with his own thoughts for a time. Finally the thought was shared. I am glad I came here, and give thanks this was granted to me, to know healing for my body and spirit. I give thanks for having been shown such kindness, for having been granted the ability to know such fullness of beauty, and I look forward to being able to share it with Sam for what little time we will have here together. I am glad I could know sheer joy once more--all of you were right that I needed to feel that at least once more ere I left Arda. But--I am mortal, Gandalf; mortal, in a land prepared for those who are not mortal as I am. Of all here, only you and Elrond begin to understand what I face now. I am lonely for someone who does understand because that is what they face as well. Not since Bilbo left have I known such.
Again he was still in his thoughts again. His awareness was focused eastward, toward Aragorn. Finally he again shared his thought. Aragorn is saddened. He loses someone today, someone he has come to care for deeply, someone he associates with me. He is calling for me, for my comfort in his grief. Who is this Ruvemir, and what does he have to do with me?
Olórin started to shake his head, and suddenly the answers filled him. He smiled. "He is a sculptor. He's done memorials of you, for Minas Anor, for Arnor, for the Elves, even for some within the Shire."
Frodo turned in surprise. The Maia wanted to laugh at the indignation he saw building in those oh, so blue eyes. Was he to see once again the Look that had so intimidated his own people for fifty years? But at the last moment the expression changed, and the small form shook now with laughter rather than with anger. Then, he did it after all, did he? I ought to have known he'd wait just long enough for me to be decently in no situation to object and he'd have his monument made anyway.
"Not only did he have his desired memorial to you and Sam and Merry and Pippin made, but I'm to let you know that those three agreed to it and even approved the model for it--for it and the others that followed after."
The shining head shook with amaze. Sam agreed to such? How can I believe such a thing?
"I'm to tell you that Sam said of you that you deserved an entire kingdom's worth of monuments."
"He never did!"
Olórin was himself amazed--both amazed and pleased, for it had been long and long again since Iorhael had spoken aloud--the changes wrought in his being had made speech difficult for him, as well as superfluous. But Frodo was laughing, and spoke two more words: "Oh, Sam!"
Afar to the east there was a sigh as breath stilled in a body, as a lifesong finished, as the final stroke was given the figure of Ruvemir son of Mardil, once of Lebennin. Aragorn bowed his head in farewell, and a soul released looked with eagerness Westward, desiring greatly to at last see the one he'd come so to love and honor. Briefly he looked at those who stood by the empty husk they thought of as himself. Oh, if they only knew!
No, wait--the King did see, recognized him, sent him on his way with a message and his blessing. Smiling with delight, he turned, then sped as swiftly as he could West.
He saw the Tree, glowing with Life fulfilled, and the figure which stood by it, even brighter than the Tree itself, its shining hand affirming that Life. He who had been Ruvemir found his flight paused, his long-held desire finally met as he looked at last into blue eyes not before seen but still as familiar as his own visage had been.
He felt a weight on his shoulders, looked down to see the great mantle he wore, one he realized he'd been weaving for years, wrought of the threads of Love so freely given in memory of the one who stood before him, woven into a tapestry as beautiful as any ever created by his mother Elainen, who after all had been a Master Weaver of tapestries. He removed it with a grace he'd not known during his life, and bowed as he held it out to the Lord Frodo, the Lord Iorhael. They all have sent it, my Lord, each and all, in thanksgiving for your having been among them. Wear it in gladness. Sam looks forward to being reunited with you soon, and is filling the treasure chest of his loves and joys to bring to your delight ere the two of you follow me. And the Brother to your Light sends his greetings, his hope to come before the Presence at your side. And I delight to greet you at the last.
Frodo reached out automatically to accept the offered gift, found his hands filled with a mantle woven, it seemed, of threads of Light, threads which yet were substantial, held weight and substance he could feel. He looked amazed into the eyes that looked so joyfully into his own, then bowed before this stranger. I thank you, he managed. May you complete your journey in joy. And as he watched after, only slightly envious, the other presence pulled away, leaving its gift behind.
The Elven children crowded around him, their beauty filling his heart, as he carefully unfurled the mantle just gifted to him. "What is it?" asked a small maiden, her eyes reflecting the splendor of Iorhael, Olórin, and the gift all three.
"A mantle for our guest," said the Maia, "to surround him with the awareness of Love." He took the shining thing from the hands of what was no longer a simple Hobbit, shook it out, gently draped it around the shimmering shoulders, nodded his head. "They are all represented here," he said, kneeling down to trace single threads with shining fingers of his own. "The greens of forests, waters crossed, renewal, and the Elessar stone from Aragorn; the golden green of new leaves from Legolas; gold, silver, and mithril threads from Gimli--and I'll swear this represents one of the hairs gifted to him by Galadriel. The blue of the Baranduin from Merry, the bright orange of laughter from Pippin, the gentle pinks and blushes from Rosie Cotton."
Frodo sat down, leaning his back against the bole of the Tree, and began following a variegated thread that first ran purple and silver, then turned a terracotta shade, and found himself sharing with the children who surrounded him the story of a small Hobbit lad who loved to play at Túrin and the Dragon with his beloved older cousin. Then he found a fine lavender fiber that brought to mind a clash of wills over a silk, purple waistcoat; another which sparked memories of a worn hoe; a shining white thread that told of a conversation over the Gift of Iluvatar--Frodo's face lit with pleased surprise and relief; several which told of laughter shared with the Grey Wizard; one which told of a lonely childhood, that of the one mortal child living amidst Elves--a child who grew to be a tall Man and a great King; many which spoke of time spent in a garden....
Olórin smiled as he slipped backward to the edge of the group, watching with satisfaction as Frodo's laughter and pleasure filled the small gathering, thanking the One that this gift had been made manifest. A special gift brought by another unique individual with an even more unique talent--the gift of healing of the heart. Odd how one who was known as a shaper of stone should in the end create this special fabric, following his mother's craft. How many individuals had known fuller lives because they had known Frodo Baggins, had been openly or secretly helped by him and Bilbo? And it appeared that this Ruvemir had managed to learn the stories of most of them, had woven them into his memorials and into this shining web of comfort. And strongly represented in it was the love of Samwise Gamgee, like an embrace of the spirit needed by the lonely soul who sat against the White Tree, his Light enhanced by the gift of memories, memories of Love which would endure past the ending of Arda.
As he shared the stories held in the mantle, Frodo was smiling, stroking a large patch of color reminiscent of a garden, the most beautiful garden in the entire Shire, in the whole of Eriador, in all of Arnor, in, perhaps, all of Middle Earth.
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.