The goodbyes had been said, and Sam, Merry, and Pippin had at last reluctantly gone off to their rooms for their final night in Rivendell. Sam had been struck nearly as speechless by Bilbo's gift of a bag of coins of the purest gold as he had been by the eagles. He tried to return it to the old hobbit but had been firmly refused. Sam had finally relented, his eyes filled with tears. Frodo had nearly wept himself, not only for Bilbo's generosity, but in joy that it was Sam to whom he had chosen to bestow it. Frodo had long wished he could have gifted Sam as richly for all he had done for him, for everyone, but he had nothing to give him. Even if what remained of his inheritance had somehow survived the ransacking of the house at Crickhollow, which he doubted, it would be enough to live on, but no more.
Frodo stood with his arm around Bilbo, both hobbits standing in front of the hearth, gazing into the gentle flames.
"Bilbo, I cannot thank you enough for what you've given Sam. The King tried to give him every reward you can imagine as thanks for what he did for me, for everyone, but he wouldn't take anything."
The old hobbit stirred beside him. "And you, my lad, what did the King give you?"
Frodo looked down, reluctant to speak. At last he sighed. "I wouldn't take anything either. It just didn't seem right, somehow. I fulfilled a vow, that is all. Merry, Pippin.. dear Sam.... the feats they performed you can't imagine, Bilbo. Even after all we've told you, I still don't think you truly know."
"I know more than you think, my dear boy." Bilbo winked. "I am not asleep every second, although it may seem otherwise." He turned away and knelt down stiffly, opening the same chest from which he had taken the small bag of gold. He rummaged around and pulled out another bag, of similar size and weight.
"Do you remember what I said to Sam, that what I gave him was almost the last drop of the Smaug vintage?" Frodo nodded. "Well, this is the *very* last. For you, dear Frodo, or for your children." Bilbo grasped one of Frodo's hands and lay the bag into it, looking at him shrewdly. "Or perhaps you, too, will choose an heir."
"Bilbo! I can't take this!"
"Of course you can. Whatever will I do with dragon treasure at my age?" Bilbo caught the still-astonished Frodo in a warm embrace. "You are my treasure, Frodo lad, you always have been. I'm so very proud of you." When he pulled back, he smiled and gently brushed away the tears running down Frodo's face. "There now, none of that. It's getting very late and an old hobbit needs his rest."
With a convulsive sob, Frodo threw his arms around Bilbo and pulled him close. "I love you, Bilbo," he murmured.
"And I love you. Don't be sad, my boy. We'll see each other again, I suspect. We Bagginses have to stick together, don't you think?"
"Yes," said Frodo.
Bilbo turned away and sat on the bed. "Now off with you. And don't fill that book of mine with too much nonsense, hear? Young folks have to be watched every second, it seems. Just stick to the facts."
"I will." Frodo stood still for a few moments longer, drinking in Bilbo's dear, beloved face in the soft glow from the hearth. The old hobbit was humming an old tune, contented and peaceful. Frodo had needed to return to Rivendell, to see for himself that Bilbo had come to no hurt, no lasting harm from either owning or losing the Ring. He took a deep breath and smiled. Everything was all right.
"Good night, Bilbo."
"Good night, dear lad. Good night."
Frodo left Bilbo's room and walked down the corridor, lost in thought. He nearly bumped into Arnen, who had been on his way to the Hall of Fire.
"You are leaving tomorrow?"
"Yes," said Frodo. "Oh Arnen, how can I thank you for everything you've done? I owe you so much."
Arnen led Frodo to a nearby bench and they both sat down.
"Frodo," said Arnen with a smile, "There is no debt between us. I am happy beyond measure to have made your stay here more enjoyable." He grew more serious. "There is a last thing I would tell you, Frodo." He hesitated, then went on. "I understand.... I mean, there is rumor that our Evenstar gifted you with a choice to sail West if you so desire it."
Frodo swallowed hard. "Yes."
Arnen put his hand on Frodo's shoulder and looked into his eyes. "Many of us will leave within a short time, and many still will remain in Middle- earth for many years. My companions and I have chosen to depart with Lord Elrond. Should you ever choose to sail, I wanted you to know that you will not lack for friends." He smiled. "We will be waiting for you, and will welcome you with great joy." He rose to his feet, bowed deeply, and walked away.
Frodo looked down at the gift Bilbo had given him, and thought about the gift of great friendship; each a priceless treasure. He didn't have to decide anything for a long, long time, but his heart was eased by the knowledge that whatever choice he made, he would be all right. After awhile he went to his room and walked over to the window, taking in the glittering stars. He smiled as he heard far-off singing, and he breathed deeply, trying to fix in his memory the sweet fragrance from the flowers that scented the night air of Rivendell.
He was going home.
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.