2. Together Again
Sam Gamgee stood on deck, the salt spray in his face, squinting to see into the light of the setting sun. The ship was tacking into harbor, and tall Elves crowded round him, their voices blending in a kind of music as they called out greetings to friends waiting on shore.
A narrow beach ringed the harbor, its wet sand gleaming golden in the evening light, and grassy dunes rose behind the beach, mounting rank by rank to high, rounded hills. Behind the hills a dark mountain loomed against a sky of rose and violet. The sun’s path lay crimson across the water. Suddenly a flight of seagulls swept out toward the ship as if blown by the wind, and a few of the birds bobbed up and down on the swell, white against the dark water. The waves murmured against the sides of the ship, and peace lay on land and sea.
But Samwise, leaning on the ship's rail with his hand shading his eyes, was oblivious to mere scenery. He was watching a small figure that charged headlong down the hill toward the water, arms waving, exuberance in every movement. For just a moment he stood silent, caught by a happiness that left him breathless and immobile. "Frodo," he whispered. "Frodo!" He turned and began to push his way through the Elves to the gangway. "Begging your pardon, sir. Begging your pardon," he repeated automatically as he made his way through the crowd.
He was scarce waist-high to the Elves, and his face was wrinkled with the years. But that aged face was lighted by such blazing joy that the Elves smiled to see him, and they stood aside, glancing at the shore where the runner stood now, stock-still, yet somehow radiating excitement and glad welcome.
Sam surged across the gangplank almost in one motion, but staggered and nearly fell as he stepped on the quay. After days at sea, the solid ground under his feet threw him off balance. A hand caught his elbow and held him upright, and a laughing voice at his ear said, "All right, old lad, don't fall on your face, first thing off the ship! Sam, you've gone gray!"
Sam got his feet fairly under him and snorted indignantly. "Well, what did you expect, Mr. Frodo? I'm a hundred and two years old!" Then his eyes softened as he looked into Frodo's face and reached out to embrace him.
"No need to ask how you are, Mr. Frodo," he said, his voice breaking. "I can see for myself, you're all well. I had to see, I had to know ..... you're healed, Mr. Frodo."
# # #
Hours later, they sat by Frodo's fireplace with mugs of hot spiced tea. The evening was cool, and it was pleasant to wrap their hands around the warm mugs and stretch out their bare feet to the fire. The flickering light gleamed and danced on chairs of polished wood, some copper pots hanging from the mantel, and a dozen silver wine goblets in a corner cupboard. The room was cozy and homely but not very big, and Samwise could see only two doors, both closed, that might lead to other rooms.
"Well, it's a proper hobbit-hole and no mistake," he said cheerfully, but privately he was remembering Bag End, and he wondered much to find Frodo in so small a place.
Frodo seemed to catch his thought, and laughed up at him as he piled wood on the fire. "Now, Sam, you won't cozen me with polite half-truths, so don't try. You think this a sad comedown from Bag End. Probably you thought I'd have a half-dozen rooms in Elrond's house, all full of Elven carvings and a fountain or two. Truth, now! Isn't that what you expected?" He got up, dusting off his hands, and turned to pour more hot water from the kettle into the earthenware teapot.
"Well," Sam muttered, "it's no more than you deserve, Mr. Frodo. Or a big house of your own, more like." There was a hint of worry in his eyes. "To own the truth, I did think you would be in Elrond's house. Is Mr. Bilbo there?"
Frodo's smile faltered. "No. No, he's not. Sam, there's something I have to tell you. Explain to you." He sat down and poked absent-mindedly at the fire. The room was very still.
"They call these the Undying Lands, you know. Tol Eressea and all these Western lands. Because the Elves live here, and in the Blessed Realm the Valar, and they're immortal, of course. But Sam, old friend," he glanced at Samwise, then stared into the fire again. "We're not immortal, Sam. Not in Middle Earth, and not here either. Do you understand me?"
Samwise got heavily to his feet and came to stand by him, resting his hand on Frodo’s shoulder. His face looked tired and old. "Yes, I understand you, Mr. Frodo. You're telling me Mr. Bilbo's gone, he's dead. And you've been here all alone, in this little hole no bigger than the one I grew up in, in Bagshot Row. And I've been living in your beautiful Bag End where you rightfully should have been all along."
He stumped back to his chair and sat down, elbows on his knees, his head leaning into his hands. "I should have come long ago, I should have come as soon as the children were all married and settled down. But there, how could I have left Rosie? She was a good wife to me, the best, and she needed me. And I loved her, Mr. Frodo." He sighed deeply and shook his head.
"Sam, don't!" Frodo cried out in dismay. "No, you don't understand at all!" He leaned forward and pulled Sam's hands away from his head and held them, forcing Samwise to look into his face.
"Sam, I don't want to say I didn't miss you, of course I did, how could I not? But I've been happy here. Bilbo and I were happy. We lived in this little hole because we wanted to, it was like home, it was a little piece of the Shire here in Elvenhome. It's small because we didn't need anything big. We were outside so much, walking over the island, visiting with the Elves ..... sometimes we even slept out under the stars. And when," he swallowed hard, "when Bilbo died, this was still my home. I didn't want to live anywhere else. There's a bedroom here for you, if you want to stay with me. Or I know Elrond would give you rooms in his house. If that's what you want."
"Elrond?" Sam repeated, sounding bemused. "Why would I want to live with Elrond? Meaning no disrespect to him, you understand, and if his house here is like Rivendell, it must be a wonder. But I've been missing you for sixty years, Mr. Frodo. Every day for sixty years. If I don't see another soul on this island, I wouldn't care. Just so you're here, Mr. Frodo."
He ran his sleeve across his eyes, then picked up his mug and took a long drink. Frodo stood up and clapped him on the back.
"Well, that's settled then. We'll be very comfortable here, old lad, you'll see! But as for seeing other people -- well, you've got other friends in Eressea besides me, you know! Galadriel will want to hear how the gardens are growing back in the Shire, and the trees, especially the mallorn. And Elrond will be glad indeed to hear any news you can bring him of Queen Arwen and Elessar. Anyway, there'll be a feast tonight, a real Elven revel. A welcome for those who came on the ship today."
Sam gave a rather shaky laugh and hoisted himself up. "Ah yes, I'd forgotten that Elves don't sit down to dine until the moon is up and sensible hobbits are off to bed! Well, just you show me where my room is, Mr. Frodo, and I'll put on a clean shirt and be ready to go."
Frodo chuckled as he opened one of the closed doors and waved Sam inside. "It's all those years of being the Mayor, Sam. You're ready for a banquet and a speech anytime now, at a moment's notice. How many terms did you serve as Mayor, anyway?"
"Seven, Mr. Frodo. Seven. And I can give as good a speech asleep as awake, by now -- though maybe neither one is worth listening to!"
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.