Bend In the Road, A
4. Lost In the Mist
"So soon? You really think so, Lily? I've always wanted to have a spring baby."
I nodded at her as I placed a hand on her blossoming belly. "Quite soon, yes, and I promise I'll be here to help with the birth. I wouldn't miss it if the queen herself knocked on my door for help!"
Frodo's excitement about the coming babe was evident as well, and sometimes he carried on as if he and not Sam was going to be a father. Other times, however, he still seemed lost in a dark mist from which he could not escape. I worried inordinately about him, but I tried to reassure myself that he was fine.
One day early in March, however, I knocked on his door and there was no answer. After three knocks, I became frightened and let myself in. "Mr. Frodo?" My only response was a muffled groan. Panicked, I hurried to Frodo's bedroom to find him lying very still on the bed, his eyes fixed on the ceiling.
"Are you all right?" I asked frantically. "Please say something, Frodo…"
Slowly, slowly, he turned his head towards me and gazed at me with unseeing eyes. "I'm fine, Lily," he sighed with great effort. "Just…please…go away."
"Go away?" Those words cut deeply, but I knew he was not in his right mind. "Just when you need my help most? I hardly think so."
He turned away from me, flinging a hand over his eyes to shield them from the morning light. "Lily, when are you going to realize that you cannot do anything to help me, that this is an illness you can't cure?"
I would have been furious if his tone had not been so weak and weary. "I'll never realize it," I said tearfully, with great determination. "I would never leave you alone in such a state. If you will not let me do anything else, I will sit next to you until the shadow has passed."
Frodo did not turn around, and I pulled a chair beside the bed and sat, simply watching him for hours. At first, I wept because of his harshness and the malady that made him another hobbit entirely. Then the tears subsided, and I sat silently, focused on nothing but his gentle breathing. At times, I couldn't be sure if he were awake or asleep.
Finally, he turned back towards me, and his eyes were sane and sad once more. "I am sorry, Lily," he said with difficulty, but in his own voice. "I did not mean to speak so sharply to you."
I shook my head, angrily wiping tears from my eyes. "Don't apologize. It was the sickness speaking. Besides, I suppose you're right about me—I am a busybody," I choked.
Frodo smiled at me, and I don't think I've ever seen a smile so sweet and yet so full of profound sadness. "Lily, Lily, don't call yourself such names! I wouldn't let you." He reached for my hand as trustingly as a child, and I instinctively placed my hand in his. "You have stood by me and tried to help me, and I have treated you shabbily. You are so dear to me," he sighed, "and yet I must leave you, as I must leave the rest of the Shire I once loved."
My alarm returned. "What do you mean, leave? Not another journey, Mr. Frodo?"
He looked at me, eyes full of some secret knowledge. "Yes, but of another sort, Lily. I don't know yet what I'm going to do…but I won't leave without saying goodbye."
I still did not know what to make of Frodo's talk of leaving the Shire, but I felt strangely reassured by those last few words.
The morning of the twenty-fifth of March dawned bright and clear, pink and orange clouds ribboning the sky as the sun rose over the hills. A panicked and breathless Sam brought not news of Frodo's sickness, but happier tidings. The two of us flew over the roads on Bill to Bag End, where Rose lay in childbirth.
I smiled as I opened the door to Rose and Sam's room and saw her lying in bed, surrounded by frantic neighbor women. "Clear out, you," I said cheerfully, "or go boil me some water. Lily Goldworthy is here and there is no need of other hands to tend this babe." I moved quickly to Rose's side and lay a hand on her damp forehead, smiling down at her. "How are you feeling, dear?"
Rose managed a feeble smile and clasped my hand. "Fine, although the pains grow worse—Ouch!" She bit her lip hastily, trying to conceal her distress.
I nodded. "That's perfectly normal, and you called me just in time. Oh, what a glorious day this will be!"
At any rate, I'll spare you the details of the birth that would only interest another midwife. I shall simply say that Rose and I fought the good fight and leave it at that. The sun was sinking in the west and the first stars were peeping through when Rose pushed for the last time and her baby popped into my waiting hands. The infant was sticky and red, and its face was contorted in a wail, but to me, she seemed to be the loveliest hobbit-babe I had ever seen in all my years. "A maidchild!" I cried joyfully. "And with golden hair like an Elf to boot! Sam Gamgee, come and take a look at your daughter!"
Poor Sam had tried to stay by Rose's side, but he had fainted and had to be borne out by the neighbor women. Now he opened the door and peeped in timidly. When he glimpsed me washing his little daughter, however, he rushed right in. "Oh, and she's a lovely thing!" he exclaimed as I wrapped her in soft white blankets and placed her in his arms. "Looks just like her mother, praise be."
"Bring her over here, you selfish brute!" cried Rose weakly but playfully. "I've had all the work in birthing her, and I shan't have you dropping her, you clumsy gardener!"
Sam laid his daughter gently in her mother's arms, then gave Rose a resounding smack on the lips. "You crazy woman! Think you that I'd drop my own daughter, and her not even an hour old?"
"I would believe it," Rose murmured laughingly, and the two of them kissed warmly once more. I slipped out of the room quietly, not wanting to intrude on the first precious moments of the new family.
To my surprise, Frodo met me just outside the door, his face as excited as a boy's at an especially lavish birthday party. "Man-child or maidchild?" he whispered, and beckoned me toward the sitting room.
"Maidchild," I sighed as I flopped ungracefully into a comfortable chair. "And a fairer one I've never seen. Hair like spun gold, could be a little elfling."
"You don't lie?" Frodo's eyes betrayed his joy. "A maidchild! Imagine! A pretty little girl's the very thing to brighten up this old hobbit-hole. And I shall be an uncle of sorts," he said smilingly, "and spoil the little beauty to death."
I giggled in spite of my exhaustion. "I'm sure you will, seeing as how you've carried on about her for months before she was even born!" I teased Frodo.
Frodo laughed heartily right along with me, not resenting my gentle jibe on this day of days. "Ah, Lily, we owe you much for helping this little lass into the world." A faintly jingling leather pouch was in his hand, and he was undoing the thongs that held it shut. "Name your fee, and don't even think of giving us a discount!"
I shook my head vehemently. "Nay, Frodo, if friends cannot help one another, this world is all for naught. I will not take a single copper penny from you or from Sam, and you may tell him that too."
Frodo frowned slightly at me. "My, but you're a stubborn one! You've worked all the day, and you won't take a coin of the smallest magnitude. Certainly there must be something in my house you hold dear, something you desire."
I suppressed a sudden stirring thought and shook my head again. "No, Frodo, I won't take a penny of payment or anything that belongs to you. There is only one thing in your house that is of any significance to me, and that is the friendship I share with you."
"You really mean that?" Frodo leaned close to me, and I noticed as if for the first time that his eyes were a startling shade of blue. They seemed to hold all the colors of faraway seas within them. I nodded slowly and silently, suddenly overcome with emotion.
Our eyes locked for a long moment until Frodo sighed heavily and moved to the window, gazing out at the falling dark. "I wish there was some way of telling you in words how deeply you have touched me," he began, then fell silent.
"There's no need," I whispered, and my words seemed to fill the room. Oh, if only I could tell him too, tell him about the secret things I held in my heart! Somehow, though, speech was unnecessary. In the silence between us, we held quiet communion, my soul feeling all the pain of his tortured one.
Unwillingly, I broke the silence and rose from my chair. "It's getting late. I'd better be going home, Frodo." Somehow, I couldn't move to the door until he spoke. Being there in the darkened room with him was like being in a strange place between sleeping and waking. I suddenly knew what it felt like to walk in that gray mist alongside Frodo.
He turned to face me, and his eyes caught the moonlight in a most startling way. "I suppose so, Lily." For a moment, he stood there as if fixed to the spot, as if caught in the split second between thought and action. Then, wordlessly, he crossed the room and wrapped me in a fervent embrace.
I gasped, shocked at first by the pressure of his arms, then I relaxed, resting my head on his shoulder. Both of us seemed to be held there by some force we couldn't quite name. All I knew was that there was comfort in this place, and I never wanted to leave.
Just as the warmth of him was lulling me into an odd dream state, I was startled to feel Frodo pressing his lips to mine, gently at first, then urgently and almost desperately. Without even thinking about it, I returned the kiss, matching his urgency with mine as my pent-up emotions came rushing out. I could feel my world begin to blur. I no longer knew where I ended and he began. We were one being, in complete harmony with each other.
A note of discord entered the harmony as I heard the voice of Sam in the distance, and Frodo and I broke off the kiss almost simultaneously. He looked at me wordlessly, love, grief, and pain oddly mingled in his expression. Unwillingly, we moved toward the door, and as Frodo opened it for me, I fled into the crisp, star-filled night.
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.