1. A White Rose
The silence of the room was no way in comparison to the muffled noises of bustling bodies outside the door and the soft murmurings coming from the hollow hallways. The wizard’s gaze was set firmly on the bottom of the door, where small trims of light were broken repeatedly as beings walked by, curious beyond means as to what was happening in the healing chambers.
Gandalf sighed, and turned his gaze to his right. ‘Happening’ was not the word he would use to describe this deep room of anxious air.
Outside the window, where the sun was glimmering its last beams over the tops of the highest hilltops’ trees, the sound of shouting and rejoicing lifted up to the heavens. The war was won and over, and the new King was honored day by day, as were Ithilien’s guests who had fought with their last bit of hope to prolong the lives of Middle Earth. Everyone had been to the many coronations, fed with overabundant amounts of food, and were presented gifts from many of the highest advisors of the King. All accept one.
And, it was this small, yet eminent and potent soul that received the most honor. Scholars, telling tale of the Ringbearer, were already writing songs; gifts were laid about his room: jewels and foodstuffs, books, and belongings once during a worn journey. Despite having never left bed rest, or set foot upon the grounds of the city, Frodo was honored with such an extent by the peoples of the city – all of which the small hobbit had never met – that Gandalf found himself affected by it in a greater way than he imagined.
The wizard looked sadly to the center of the bed, inching his hand slowly towards the arm settled underneath the silken sheets, and carefully pulled back the covers to reveal a nearly wholly bandaged arm as he checked for the weak pulse beating beneath the almost translucent skin. The beat was slow; his ribcage under folded bedspreads seeming to barely manage the weight to breathe.
As he placed the arm back under the coverlet, and pressed two fingers to the hobbit’s neck, he breathed out in a confined gasp as the Ringbearer’s eyes fluttered. The smaller chest suddenly heaved, and the hobbit’s pale eyelids audibly cracked away the crust at his eyelashes. His mouth open only slightly, he seemed to be struggling to speak, breathing rapidly as he huffed out, “Where…”
“My dear Frodo…” Gandalf passed his hand lightly over the hobbits brow, waiting with the utmost patience and kindness.
The Ringbearer’s breath hitched, and he choked, but quickly gained his bearings, panting at the exertion with the mere extent of taking deep breaths. Before Frodo had the strength to discern one thing from another, Gandalf pulled the hobbit into his strong embrace, a hand rubbing his back in continuous circles, and another, covered in a soft cotton cloth wiped at his cold, sweating face. Gandalf smiled gently and bent his forward to gaze into Frodo’s face. Tired, careworn eyes gazed near to oblivion at him.
“Gandalf…” The Ringbearer's brow twitched with as much confusion as his body allowed to how, and he panted again, his lips curling in pain.
“Yes, dear Frodo. It is I. Shush now…” He leaned to his right and dipped the cloth into cool water, then bathed Frodo’s face.
Frodo closed his yes and sighed, but even then he choked, his throat letting out a sick sounding gag. Gandalf swiftly lifted the hobbit higher; sitting him up so Frodo could lean against his chest, as he ever so gently rubbed his shoulders. When at last the spell passed, Frodo’s breathing came unevenly.
They stay still there for minutes. Frodo’s injuries during his journey had been grave, but Sam’s were worse, and yet just yesterday the wizard had seem him skipping to his master’s bedroom. Gandalf had been watching Sam and the other hobbits carefully, but most of all, he watched Sam. His enthusiasm and love for Frodo never left out any doubt towards his master’s recovery. In the early mornings Gandalf would stay in the room with Sam as the King -- Aragorn -- fed Frodo, checking his vitals, and everyday leaving the healing chamber with the same answer; “He should awaken at anytime… and that time shall be up to Frodo.”
Gandalf broke from his thoughts as the hobbit in his arms lurched forward and gasped, his eyes wide and frightened as he struggled for air. Gandalf looked on sadly, trying his best to sooth Frodo’s pain with the only thing he had to give: kind reassurance and his simple, comforting presence to a wounded heart. He could do nothing for Frodo’s struggle. The Ringbearer’s soul was slowly fading. The decision of existence lay solely upon the hobbit.
When his breathing slowed again, Gandalf waited as the pale and frighteningly calm blue eyes focused on his. “It… is over?” he wheezed, his chest heaving with each word.
A small tear slipped down his cheek. Gandalf saw the hobbit seemed to have no surprise at seeing him, though Frodo had thought the wizard dead months ago.
Gandalf nodded slowly, and pulled the coverlets tighter about Frodo. The wizard’s soft, aged eyes gazed sorrowfully into Frodo’s, and he gently wiped away the tear that slowly trailed down the deadly pallor of the hobbit’s slim and hollowed cheeks.
Frodo closed his eyes at the touch, leaning in and seemingly trying to gain strength and comfort from the touch. He found none. He sighed, “Peace... will I…” his eyes opened halfway, “… find peace …today?”
“That is your decision, Frodo,” the wizard replied with deep regret.
Frodo nodded slowly, “And… and…a- Sam… where?”
Gandalf felt his throat constrict, “He… isn’t within the city boundaries today, Frodo.” His heart ached for the hobbit. So alone was he. The hobbits had gone with the Aragorn to the fields of Cormallen, there to help gather together the last of the supplies that had lain the that valley since the fall of the Dark Lord. For days they were left unattended, the King being too occupied with the Ringbearer and his recovery to have time to issue any orders.
Frodo hissed, scrunching his eyes a moment before looking back up with the pleading eyes of a desperate child, “Please… Sam…”
“If I could grant you one thing, Frodo, it would be to have Sam by your side from this moment until the last,” Gandalf murmured, once again washing Frodo’s cold, sweaty face. He could feel the hobbit’s pulse becoming more sluggish as he brushed the cool cloth on the tender neck. After wiping down his face, he could detect no sign of sweat beginning to glisten on Frodo’s face. The Ringbearer’s body was failing.
“Please… let them know… I …I love them…” another tear tricked down his cheek, “Tell… Bilbo… please…” Frodo sobbed softly, thinking of his dear Uncle, “Bilbo… don’t tell him… of what I’ve b-become.”
Gandalf put his forefinger softly to Frodo’s lips, “You have become nothing less than one who is worthy of all the love on this earth." He shuffled his sleeves up to keep them from the hobbit’s eyes as he stroked the curls back, “They already know, Frodo, my boy. Though I will tell them.”
Frodo closed his eyes, “My boy…” he smiled, reveling in this last memory of comfort.
“Are you coming, Frodo, my boy?” Bilbo said, turning around, with a walking stick in hand, his face bright and cheery. His joyful gaze was settled on his face as he waved his arm for Frodo to follow.
“Come on, Frodo, silly! We don’t have all day! I’ve a surprise for you at home... Why? Because I love you, lad! Nothing less…”
Frodo breathed in sharply, chest heaving with the endeavor of getting air into his lungs. His hand instinctively reached from under his blankets, seeking for one last hope, giving up his last strength to hold tightly onto Gandalf’s palm.
Gandalf took the small hand, and with the other brushed the dark curls as he watched, helplessly, as the Ringbearer fought for breath, and with each attempt his chest raising less higher than before. Their eyes met once more, and Gandalf could see the simmering of liberation building in Frodo’s eyes, and with one last pant, whispered, “The Sea! Mintya hanta… Namaarie...” And he was still.
Gandalf looked into the still face for long moments, his prayers going to the heavens as he gazed upon Middle Earth’s redeemer, and a friend that he would make sure would be remembered forever. His wishes and tenderness went out to Sam, and the others, a few miles away in Cormallen, oblivious to what tribulations took place that day.
Bending down, he touched his lips to the brow that was as pale as a singular white rose, and set his forehead to the Ringbearer’s before putting him gently -- as if he were still there to feel the slightest jolt -- onto the bed, folding the covers atop before exiting the house with hunched shoulders.
A congregation stood at the Sea of the Havens, heads raised to the sun as it rose over mountains looming far in the distance.
“And let it be, that forever, as long as this life carries on, that this soul’s remembrance will never go astray…”
Sam walked slowly in line with the others, a pearl white rose in both hands as he mounted onto the stone dock. Placing his feet at the edge, he looked into the dark water, eyes mimicking the flowing of the sea as tears trickled down his cheeks, thinking of some of the last words he would ever hear his Master speak.
“I am glad you are with me, Sam. Here at the end of all things.”
But he wasn’t there. Wasn’t there at the end. Wasn’t there to hold his hand or kiss his brow. Wasn’t there to hear him speak his last. Wasn’t there to fulfill what his Master had wanted if he would ever have to leave this earth... wasn’t *there* to be there beside him.
He cast the rose into the water.
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.