1. Over The Hills And Far Away
You're on the lawn at Bag End one late-summer evening, the sun just beginning to set over the hills.
It's been a beautiful day- warm, with just enough breeze to keep it from being hot, and you're relaxing with a pipe and a bottle of particularly fine beer.
Your young family are with you- beautiful Elanor, oh-so-serious Frodo, baby Rose, your darling, darling Rosie- and you can't think of anything finer.
Baby Rose coos in her mother's arms and you blow a smoke ring into the air- nothing fancy or fine, not for you, no sir, nothing like the wonders Mr Gandalf always conjured up, but enough- you were never a wizard, after all- and she gurgles happily.
Yes, you think to yourself, this is bliss.
And then a cry rings out through the air, spoiling the peace. Instantly you're alert, and you spring to your feet- what is it?
Is it something left over from Back Then, coming to wake you from your happy little dream and plunge you back into the nightmares you've tried so hard to forget?
Is it someone left over- maybe that dreadful creature Gollum survived after all, maybe he survived and crawled all the way from the firey heart of Mount Doom to wreak hideous, bloody vengeance on all those who slighted him, starting with you?
Your mind racing a mile a minute, you now see what's wrong- little Elanor leads her brother up the garden towards you, tears streaming down his face, one hand clutched in the other- and blood dripping from it.
In your mind's eye his finger is ragged and torn, a bloodied stump mangled by hideous black teeth.
In your mind's eye his eyes are filled with pleading, with accusation.
How could you, Daddy?
The vision is only there for a second, but it's still enough to set your heart knocking against your ribs, even as you hug him to you and his tears soak your vest.
What happened, you ask him, what happened, Frodo?
Fell, he cries, burying his face against you, fell, Daddy.
Elanor stares agog as tears run down your face, too. She stammers that she was looking after him, she was, that he tripped, that was all, he tripped, she tried to catch him, Daddy, she tried, but he's too little, too fast...
You peel his good hand from the other and peer at it, hoping against hope it's just a scratch, just a graze, that it's still there, that it's not severed and sundered and spoiled, like-
For a moment you're back there, and a different pair of eyes stares at you-
How could you, Sam? How could you?
-and then reality crashes back in on you like the waves on the rocks.
It's broken, just above the knuckle- his poor, poor finger...
Rosie's here now, and she swoops him up into her arms, and you're left kneeling on the grass with your memories.
It's some years thirteen years later, and you're watching the children play in the garden at Bag End.
Elanor's bigger now, and she watches over the little ones like a hawk. She'll make a good mother one day- but not just yet, you think to yourself, not just yet, let her be a child a little longer.
Rose is a baby no longer, and shows every sign of being as beautiful as her mother one day.
There's Merry now, and Pippin, and they show every sign of being big strong lads like their namesakes, and then there's boisterous little Goldilocks, and curious little Hamfast, and adventurous little Daisy, and sweet little Primrose, of course, there's no forgetting her with eyes like that, and dear little Bilbo, and baby Ruby...
Rosie's swelling again, and you're wondering whether or not it'll be another little boy or another little girl, and life is wonderful...
...And then there's little Frodo.
He's over there, apart from the other children as always, sitting under a tree with a far-away look in his eyes, a book in his lap, but looking at the hills-
over the hills and far away
He sees you looking, and he smiles and waves.
That finger never set properly, despite the doctor's best efforts. It's crooked, and every time you see it it breaks your heart.
The other children tease you, and say he's your favourite, and you tell them not to be silly, that you love them all the same, and it's true...
But sometimes when you see that smile, when you see that crooked finger...
...you can't help wondering yourself.
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.