4. Grey Havens
Pippin's heart had broken at those words and by the way Merry had clutched his arm he could tell that his cousin had not taken the news any better. He had not been able to look at Merry, had not even managed to breathe but had only stared at Gandalf. The wizard's words had always seemed like wisdom to him and he had ever trusted his judgement but this time Gandalf must be mistaken. Of course they could help Frodo heal so that he would not have to go. Frodo loved the Shire and had ached to be back home, so why should he be so eager to leave it again without any chance of returning?
"He cannot go!"
Pippin had been grateful that Merry had mastered himself enough to voice the thoughts he had not been able to speak out aloud though his mind was screaming, begging Gandalf to laugh and say that he had only been teasing them.
"You have to talk him out of it, Gandalf. We have to talk him out of it!"
"My dear hobbits," Gandalf had replied as calmly as ever, shaking his head, his eyes shining with sympathy. "I have not come so that you might talk him out of going. This choice was for Frodo alone to make and he has chosen. I have merely told you because I know you would want to say your farewells and because Sam will need a friend at his side."
Gandalf had not said much more before heading off, but Pippin, usually not easily silenced, had found himself utterly speechless even after the wizard had gone. He had not spoken a single word that evening and Merry, too, had been close-lipped and broody. Gandalf's words sank slowly into him and the longer he thought about them the clearer they became and, though it did not please him, Pippin came to understand that the wizard had spoken the truth.
He had watched Frodo often since the day they had returned and he had been grieved to see that his cousin received hardly any honour for what he had done. No one seemed to see or even care about what Frodo had achieved, what he had sacrificed so they could live in peace. At first he had not noticed that Frodo withdrew, but soon even he, Merry and Sam together could no longer reach him. His cousin started to have secrets from them and ever so often, when he felt unwatched, his hand would wander to the white gem Queen Arwen had given him and his eyes would take on a longing, far-away look.
To his dismay Pippin found that his cousin had changed far more than he once had thought. Frodo would laugh and seem happy to everyone who did not look closer, but those who did would see that joy was gone from his very eyes. Pippin had often looked deeply at him, remembering what he once had seen in his cousin's eyes. He had been young then and frightened by such emotion and affection. He hadn't understood what he saw but now he ached to see it again. These days, a dark shadow seemed to shroud him. The deep pools that would reveal Frodo's very soul if he allowed it were curtained behind pain and sorrow. Pippin had come to know that Frodo tried to conceal his suffering from his friends and it had pained him to see his cousin pretend a cheerful mood while melancholy was written undeniably into his eyes.
Pippin also recalled that Frodo never had regained his former body strength . Though he had recovered splendidly, he had remained uncommonly thin according to hobbit standards. He had often been pale and he tired more easily, sometimes being totally spent from something as undemanding as a short visit at the market.
And thus it had been that, late on the evening Gandalf told them about Frodo's intentions, realisation struck Pippin like a hammer blow. He had seen that Frodo's heart had not been at peace anymore for a long while. He had known about his cousin's anguish from the first time he had seen the veil and the far-away look in his eyes. He had seen Frodo's restlessness and done nothing for it. Deep in his heart he had known that Frodo would never be happy in the Shire again and yet he had tried to convince himself the opposite was true. Pippin loved Frodo dearly and, having almost lost him, he clung to him even tighter than before in the hopes his cousin would never leave them again. But he had not seen that, by doing so, he had allowed the darkness in Frodo's mind to take hold.
That night Pippin suddenly knew that Frodo had sacrificed even more than he, Merry and Sam could see. Frodo had sacrificed himself, had given his heart and life so they would not lose theirs to darkness and despair. And he had done so secretly, without anyone realising that the longer Frodo stayed, the further he slipped away from them. Pippin comprehended with a certainty that surprised even him that Frodo could not stay with them any longer. If they loved him they would have to let him go or their love would be his death.
Merry had not been willing to listen to Pippin at first but he, too, admitted to seeing the changes in Frodo and, for fear of losing him again, had done nothing to help. They had gone through darkness and horror with Frodo and they did not want to let him go just like that. Merry, like he himself, had hoped their love for their cousin would be strong enough to fight the darkness that tried to settle on him only to see that they could do nothing but watch him suffer. Thus in the end Merry, too, came to realize that neither their love, nor any other force in Middle-earth would be strong enough to help their cousin.
So they had left Crickhollow the morning after Gandalf visited and rode further west than they had ever done before. In the end, when he feared they would not make it in time Pippin's heart quavered and the tears he had not shed the night he had finally understood Frodo's choice streamed down his face. He would not be able to bear it should he not be able to embrace his dear cousin one last time. He wanted to tell him that he was sorry for not helping him, and that he would wish for him to stay, but also that he understood his decision.
And as Pippin urged his steed around the last corner he could hear the gulls call and behold the sea unfolding before his very eyes. A white ship lay anchored in a harbour of stone. And there was Frodo, ebony curls shimmering in the sparkling sunlight and in his eyes there was joy. A great burden was taken from Pippin's heart and amidst his tears he began to laugh. "You tried to give us the slip once before and failed, Frodo. This time you have nearly succeeded, but you have failed again. It was not Sam, though, that gave you away this time, but Gandalf himself!"
"Yes," said Gandalf; "for it will be better to ride back three together than one alone. Well, here at last, dear friends, on the shores of the Sea comes the end of our fellowship in Middle-earth. Go in peace! I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil." *
Gandalf's words provoked even more tears and Pippin felt helpless against the emotions that welled up inside and threatened to overwhelm him. Despite his decision to let Frodo go, he now wanted desperately to hold him back. What would he do without his cousin? Of course he had Merry but, although Pippin loved them both, life without Frodo would never be the same. His heart ached as he turned to tell Frodo just that, but no sound would come from his trembling lips. Frodo was kissing Merry in farewell and he gasped in awe. It had been a long time since he had last felt light emerging from Frodo, but now it seemed to him that he could see it too. Frodo seemed to sparkle as he had never done before and Pippin closed his eyes drinking it in as one dying from thirst. Calm and peace embraced his heart and all his troubles suddenly seemed petty and of no importance.
Only when he felt gentle hands resting on his shoulders did Pippin open his eyes like one waking from a pleasant dream. He found Frodo gazing deeply into his eyes. The light had diminished but he could see it sparkling in his cousin's enquiring glance and he remembered that, in a far away past, he had felt exposed to that look, but he did not feel so now. Instead he opened his soul and returned the gaze with all his love and understanding and allowed Frodo to see what was in his heart. He wanted him to know everything of himself, to understand why he had done nothing to help him, and to know that he did accept this choice to leave them behind even if it pained him.
In return he was allowed one last look into the deep blue eyes that concealed more than Pippin had ever thought possible. The veil of shadow had been lifted and Frodo did not withdraw from him anymore. Frodo's heart and soul were at ease already and told of many things he had spoken of, and of even more his cousin had never even mentioned.
The tortures of Mordor were revealed to him; the fear and despair and the constant seduction of the Ring. Pippin could see the evil it had done to his cousin though he could only imagine the strength it had taken for Frodo not to give in. Frodo had been exposed to the very eye of malice and not a single place in his heart, not a single treasured memory had remained untouched by its gaze. Darkness had swallowed him with nothing to hold onto save Sam. Pippin understood that Frodo's servant and friend had done more than even Samwise himself had realised and felt more grateful for him than ever.
But by knowing what had happened to Frodo, Pippin came to understand him more. He had been frightened, never again wanting to be exposed like he had once been and thus he had shut himself up and allowed no one to see his heart. And even if he had, it would not have affected Frodo's decision to leave. Pippin felt Frodo's struggle to return to his former life and the pain it caused him to learn that he could not. There was no place in Middle-earth dearer to Frodo than his home, but the marks of evil had been carved too deeply and had taken peace from him, whenever he thought he had regained it.
There was sadness in Frodo's eyes also and Pippin gasped at the heartsickness his cousin had felt because he had never told them of his feelings. Frodo had seen how joyful they were and had not wanted to spoil their happiness by burdening them with his sorrows and had therefore made his plans regretfully in secret.
"But there's no need to be!" Pippin almost shouted, but, suddenly remembering his own selfish deeds, his lips remained sealed and instead he let his emotion show in his eyes. He had not helped Frodo, although he had seen his agony, because he feared he might lose him. Guilt welled up inside him and Pippin lowered his head, but even before he could fully break eye contact with Frodo, his cousin had placed his maimed hand under his chin and forced him to look at him a moment longer.
"Don't be sorry," his eyes seemed to say. "You have done more for me than I probably deserve and I am grateful for everything. I understand your fears, Peregrin, and I am sorry to leave you; know though, cousin, that you will never lose me. I am looking into a hopeful future and I want you to be equally hopeful about your own. There will be healing for me that I would never have found in the Shire, even with friends like you and Sam and Merry, so don't feel sorry for anything you have done."
And Pippin understood, though still taken by the way Frodo could talk to him without a single word exchanged. He nodded slightly so only his cousin would see it and blinked away a tear that had gathered in the corner of his eye. He wanted to embrace Frodo for it seemed to him they had stood there for a lifetime though only a couple of moments had passed, but when he opened his eyes again he found that Frodo's gaze had changed, and he had furrowed his brow in bewilderment. Both love and sadness were in Frodo's eyes and a silent plea seemed to form in the deep hollow that was Frodo's soul and for a moment Pippin thought he could hear his cousin's voice in his mind. "Love my home as I have done, cousin, and live a life worthy the sacrifices that were made to preserve it. Don't ever forget the tale we have been in so that folk would never forget the darkness they had only just escaped. But most of all take good care of the Shire and its inhabitants, especially Sam. They all have been very dear to me. I only ask this much from you because I know you already love what once has been my home and family."
With that Frodo flung his arms around Pippin and held him tight before the young hobbit could even recover from everything that had just been shown to him. He was aware that Frodo would not need an answer to his plea but already knew he would gladly fulfil his humble wish. Pippin would treasure it more than any gift he had ever received and would remember it every single day of his life. So instead of answering he flung his arms around Frodo's neck and inhaled deeply the musk of pipe-weed, old parchment, leather and ale, a scent that would ever remind him of his cousin. Though he did not yet understand everything Frodo had revealed to him, his heart was lighter and he was, at last, willing to let him go. "I will miss you," he whispered as he clutched his cousin's cloak tightly.
"So will I," Frodo answered in a voice so low only he could hear it, "but I will be at peace and so will you. Do not trouble your heart, cousin. Keep your spirit and do not worry about me. I will be just fine."
Pippin wished that moment would never pass and he kept it in his heart and treasured the memory of it. At length, so it seemed, Frodo cupped his face with his hands to place a gentle kiss on Pippin's forehead, and when the young hobbit lifted his head he found Frodo smiling at him so heart-warmingly he could not help smiling back.
Silently Pippin watched as Frodo turned to say his farewell to Sam and while he did so he heard the cries of the gulls and the murmur of the waves, and smelled the salty smell of the sea. A great calm took hold of his heart and seemed to lighten it more than it had been in days. Even as he watched Frodo going aboard, his sorrow did not return, but the smile Frodo gave them filled Pippin's heart with joy. He knew without any doubt that Frodo would heal and find the rest he longed for. Not once did he take his eyes from the white ship that bore his cousin hence, even when the sails were drawn up and the wind blew and it slipped away with only the light of the glass of Galadriel in Frodo's hands glimmering brightly as the evening deepened to night. He and Merry stood protectively on either side of Sam and though neither of them spoke, they took comfort in each other's company. They waited until far into the night until neither ship nor star-glass could be seen and though the knowledge that he would not see Frodo again grieved him, Pippin's heart was at ease and he did not weep. Frodo had chosen to sail into the west where his heart would find rest and comfort. Pippin too would find comfort in Merry and together they would care for Sam. The one who had once brought them together might not be with them anymore, but they still had each other; and the bond between them would not be broken even in the lands beyond the western sea.
* The Return of the King - The Grey Havens
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.