1. We Don't Say Goodbye
Yet Sam could not say that it was a sad moment. In fact, he had been expecting this. He had hoped and prayed that he would not die before it came.
“Your time may come.”
Sam recalled Frodo saying that, and now it had indeed. His heart had tightened when he'd told Elanor of his decision, and that he would not regret going. But since then he had been anxious, afraid something might come his way, hindering his passage.
But now Sam could shake his fear off. His face glowed even brighter as he looked out – because of the moon and its reflection on the water and also because of the incandescent beings standing tall, looking over him.
Crisp laughter came out of his aged lips. His old eyes sparkled once again; one could be sure they were watery, though. Sam grasped at the edge of his waistcoat in inexplicable joy.
“I remember you,” he spoke. He did not care or realize that his voice was trembling, one more reminder of his old age.
One of the creatures nodded and stepped forward, taking both of Sam’s hands. Cirdan the Shipwright had come for the last Ring-bearer. Sam sighed satisfyingly.
“Welcome to our ship, Master Gamgee. Let us take you to your last dwelling place.”
Sam stepped gingerly onto the deck, trying to ignore the flutter in his heart as the wood creaked beneath him. The combination of water and ship did not go well with him. He still could not swim, and it was not a mere channel they would cross. But looking up at the elf guiding him, Sam blushed slightly, quietly embarrassed for the doubts he had. Cirdan was a shipmaster. He would never fail anyone who trusted him with their life.
Sam stuttered a thank you once they got to his cabin. Relief washed over him. He realized then that no matter how frightened he was in this ship, he should not let himself be defeated by it--for every moment of this voyage brought him a step closer to his master. Sam closed his eyes, trying to compose himself. Patience was a virtue. He would see Frodo again soon. He should be patient.
“Master,” Cirdan’s gentle voice broke him from his reverie. “Would you not want to go outside, to see the sight one last time?” The fair creature was unaware of how Sam had blanched, hands clutching the rail of the ship, far below him waves crashing and hitting the ship’s body.
“Thank you, Cirdan, sir. I’m rather tired now.” Again, it was his age that stopped him, though for this, Sam was grateful.
Cirdan beheld him softly, eyes wandering for an instance to Sam’s snow-white hair, nodding considerately. He could understand that, and suggested Sam take a nap instead. The hobbit beamed.
“I certainly can make use of one. It’s quite hard for an old hobbit to be on a pony’s back for so long.” Sam turned to the invitingly soft mattress, feeling suddenly exhausted. He yawned and clamped his hand over his mouth.
“Oh, pardon me, Master Cirdan. I indeed feel sleepy!”
“Be concerned no more, little master,” Cirdan moved forward to fetch the bed cover. “Come. Let me help you get into bed.” But Sam caught his hand immediately.
“I’m neither a child nor a master that needs to be waited on,” he murmured. For a moment he forgot that he had been the mayor no less than seven times. And he was no longer a simple gardener, but to this elf, he was an esteemed Ringbearer and respect was due to this station. He smiled at Cirdan. "I am fine, sir, and I do thank you for your courtesy." With that he fell into the bed and pulled the covers over himself.
Nothing could prepare Sam for the new experience he was having now. Crossing the Brandywine River on a ferry felt like a child’s play, and boating along the Anduin was much more comforting. There at least Sam still could see the land and the water did not spread as vastly.
Sam ducked his face into the pillow when another big wave rocked the ship. He felt as though his head was swimming with every motion. When would this journey end?
An anxious face appeared at the slightly ajar door. It was another elf, not Cirdan.
“Master Gamgee, this ship doesn’t trouble you too much, does it?” But the inquiry went without notice, carried by the soft wind through the window.
Sam groaned and tried hard to turn around. He felt bad for himself and for his host since he was not able to enjoy the voyage. But what else could he do?
“I’m sorry, but…” His bluish lips trembled as he attempted to speak.
The elf hurried toward him.
“Oh, you’re sea-sick!” He felt Sam’s brow and pressed him back down by the shoulder. Sam did nothing but comply and squeezed his eyes shut. He was not aware how long he had held his position or if he had fallen asleep, but the next thing he realized was a cup of warm brew being pushed between his lips. Sam attempted to force his eyes open, to find out what was inside the cup but the world seemed to whirl around, so he decided to leave them closed and let the draught, bitter as it was, slip past his mouth and slide down his throat.
“I hope that will help, Master Hobbit,” soothed a voice Sam almost recognized as Cirdan’s amidst his slurry condition. He nodded weakly and vaguely sensed several pairs of hands replacing his drenched shirt with a dry one. Sam sighed and mumbled his gratitude before he sank completely back to slumber.
The usually quiet haven was alive that morning. Many elf-hands were busy preparing the wharf and several lengths of rope. Others were handling the horses and carts for the coming passengers and the ship's cargo. A few seagulls were flying low and their shrieks added to the excitement happening on the shore.
Frodo stood up from his sitting position, fingers obliviously running through his hair. He could not help feeling nervous. It had been more than fifty – no, seventy – years, and eventually the time had come. His gardener turned friend turned best friend – a Ring-bearer akin to himself – was coming today. Frodo had heard it from Gandalf how Rose had passed away and how Sam – Samwise – had finally decided to sail to the west.
Frodo kicked the drifting sand between his toes, shoving both hands into his breeches’ pockets. He looked up to the sky, smiling. He did not dare to wish for Sam to look the way Frodo remembered him. He must have aged and probably looked more like Bilbo, just a little younger. The warm-hearted hobbit must have also changed in his manner. Gandalf had told him that Sam had become the mayor of Hobbiton seven times. That would affect the way he behaved, even if only slightly.
Yet somehow, as Frodo walked along, he prayed that the changes were not so much. Deep inside his heart, Frodo missed the old Sam, the dear Samwise he had parted from seventy–one years ago at the shores of the Grey Havens, the brave Samwise who had shared the journey's rough course. The quest. It was the very thing responsible for the parting Frodo had experienced with everything he knew and loved.
He turned around to find Gandalf’s soft eyes and warm smile.
He had to admit that he had gotten to know the wizard better and had met several great people. He had stepped his feet on many foreign lands and had had an adventure of his own, not merely stories from Bilbo.
“The ship has come.”
In his ears, Frodo heard it as ‘Sam has come,’ and his heart started to sing.
Sam had indeed changed. He was much thinner and his shoulders were slumped. His face showed some wrinkles in several places--and the hair--it was not golden brown anymore but more like white silky cotton, lightly moving, blown by the crisp air of the ocean. Sam advanced slowly as if in drowsiness and Frodo’s heart clenched as he saw his friend being led by an elf. But he reminded himself of the condition Sam was in now, and he felt relieved immediately. Laughing lightly, Frodo closed their distance as fast as his feet would carry him.
Frodo did not need to step onto the wooden levee for Sam reached the shore before him. Frodo hesitated for a while, eyes staring at Sam, whose head was cast downward. But as his heart whispered, “It’s Sam. It’s really Sam,” Frodo doubted no more. Time seemed to pass slowly and it felt as if the distance between them had somehow doubled as Frodo reached out both hands. Yet finally he surrounded the Gamgee with his embrace. And Frodo knew he had returned home.
Sam stirred awake and opened his eyes. This had been the first time he had slept without being disturbed by the giddying sensation from the slow motion of the ship. Sam wanted to go back to sleep but the other side of his mind was telling him to rouse and Sam had to admit it was not a bad ideal. The lack of the swaying feeling meant he could enjoy his days again – and the meals Sam was sure he had neglected. The hobbit also felt refreshed physically while yet another thing cheered him up--the memory of his last dream.
Sam gripped at his blanket and smiled to the ceiling. In his dream he had already gone out of the ship – and there he was. There stood his beloved Mr. Frodo, welcoming him. Frodo had grasped both his hands and then hugged him, sniffling silently. But there was something miraculous about him. Frodo was neither wrinkled nor frail nor gray-haired. His former master had appeared like his old self – fresh as morning dews, chirpy as a young dove! What a lovely dream Sam had had!
Sam’s eyes swept around the dim room and he realized then that he was no longer in his ship's cabin. Through the window, though dark, he could see the movement of the leaves in the trees. Sam slid out from the sheet and strode to a table wedged in the corner. A bunch of white roses sat in its center, gathered in a vase, almost violet due to the purplish light coming from the chandelier. Sam held his breath a little. Rose would be happy should she be here. She had always loved white roses, and the tender beauty this room breathed out would delight her too.
He wiped the corner of his eye with a finger as a tear prickled down. It was such a precious time – the time he had had with Rose. He had been so happy, never thought he could get any happier.
But he was wrong. Sam had come to this blessed isle and he was about to meet Frodo again. And though Frodo would not be as brisk as the start of the day – he couldn’t be, could he? – Sam cared not at all.
The former Hobbiton mayor decided to have a walk in the midst of the sleeping night--though there seemed to be no single soul out there. Stepping out of his room, Sam soon found that he had been housed in a deeply protected residence. Small woods were surrounding the stony abode which looked like part of a bigger compound. Sam went down a short stairway and hesitated for a while before continuing his walk. But soon his doubts won over, and shaking his head and muttering softly, Sam went back to the porch of his house. It would not do him good to get lost in his first hour here. It was too dark though--what a pity! Sam swore he could hear splashes of tides coming up the shores.
There was a motion in the corner of his eye and Sam turned around quickly. The sight took his breath away.
“Gandalf!” His voice was loud and clear despite the stark surprise and the lump in his throat. His eyes widened and for a split moment there was the young Sam shining out of his old self. The wizard could not help but grin. He could almost hear,
“Please Mr. Gandalf, sir, don’t turn me into something … unnatural.”
“Yes, it is I, dear Samwise. And there you are, too.”
“Indeed I am, Gandalf,” Sam grinned. “How are you doing, sir?”
Gandalf laughed cheerfully.
“I’m very well, thank you. But come, my boy. I know who you can’t wait to meet. The first meeting must have been lost on you as I could see you were only half awake.”
Sam’s mouth gaped slightly. The first meeting? He had met Frodo but he did not realize it? That was terrible!
He looked up as Gandalf took his hand.
“Let me take you to his room. He is fast asleep, I’m sure, but I know you’re not going to disturb him.” Sam was grateful for Gandalf’s understanding of his unspoken plea. He knew he could never wait until morning to see his master.
Dipping his hand into Gandalf’s and letting the wizard lead the way, out of the house and into another, Sam felt like hopping and jumping around. His heart beat faster as it sang happy tunes. He wanted to smile all the time and dance and laugh. Sam’s face blushed from unvented emotions. He smiled inwardly. Elanor and Frodo-lad would tease him no end if they saw their father now.
They finally got to the front of a carved door and when Gandalf finally pushed it open, Sam almost cried out. His chest was so tight. He had missed Frodo so much.
Giggles almost burst out of Sam’s lips as he was pushed gently on the shoulder. He felt like a child sneaking into his parents’ room in the middle of the night and his barely being able to see what was on the high bed strengthened these feelings. Sam could only see a blanket crumpled near the foot and locks of dark hair peeping out of the sheet near the headboard. He lifted himself on the tips of his toes…
Half a moment! Something did not fit here. Dark hair. Dark…
Sam hurried toward the bed before Gandalf had a chance to stop him. “Samwise,” hissed the wizard.
But Sam did not pay him any heed. He halted near Frodo’s head and leant over as far as his legs allowed him. Sam trembled as his fingers clutched the bed sheet close to Frodo’s pillow. He dared not move further, let alone flip the blanket off his master’s body. What he was seeing unnerved him enough. It was not a dream. It must not have been a dream. He had really witnessed Frodo’s youthful appearance. And it shook Sam so terribly that he wished only to weep.
“Let us go now.” A tender voice pulled him back to reality. Sam tensed at the tap on his back and whirled around, eyes glassy with unshed tears. “Let us talk outside. Frodo needs none of us to wake him up. He needs his rest. Tonight he did not want to move away from you.”
Gandalf realized that the hobbit could hold his tears no longer, and when a flinch appeared on Frodo’s slumbering features, Gandalf dragged Sam out of the room.
Salvation. Salvation was what Sam needed right now – from breaking apart from the shock, the joy, the memories that seemed to be pouring back, drowning him.
Sam had let himself be taken out of the house to the same clusters of trees he had been afraid to enter before. But he did not even realize it this time. He was too busy sobbing and muttering disbelieving words.
“He’s so young. Young, as if he’s returned to his tweens. His skin’s flawless. There are no lines around his eyes and mouth. He dozes off as if he’s a baby in the cradle. I'd bet all the coins I’ve left that his eyes are still as blue as a cloudless sky.” Sam panted hard. “Oh dear, Gandalf! He’s supposed to look like me! He’s older than me, for Brandywine’s sake. What happened to him, Gandalf? What happened?”
The wizard sat him upon a bed of dry leaves, fixing his eyes on the hobbit.
“Isn’t that what you desire, Samwise?” replied Gandalf quietly. “Your master unblemished, untainted by the pain from the quest.”
“Yes, but not unchanged!” cried Sam. “I want everything to happen naturally. I loathe the Ring for wracking apart his life, with him never able to return. If only there was no such a thing, he would --“
“The course of Frodo’s life is not ours to judge!” thundered Gandalf, sending Sam back to lie on his elbows. Gandalf captured the fear in the hobbit’s eyes and stooped to help him sit straight. “Pardon me,” the wizard said in his usual voice. “We can never predict what is to come in a person’s life. Frodo had grieved even before the Ring, over his parents’ passing. He has carried a wound in his heart ever since.”
“Will he – will he be healed of that wound, too?” Sam stammered, recovering slightly from Gandalf’s tongue-lashing.
“Nothing is left tarnished and hurt in Eressea,” spoke Gandalf, sitting cross-legged before Sam. “Physically and mentally. You witness it yourself, Sam.”
Sam was quiet. So his Mr. Frodo had healed now? The pain would not torment him anymore?
Gandalf touched his hand gently. “He has passed that stage.”
Sam was startled to find that Gandalf could see his mind so clearly.
“Frodo is no longer suffering bodily. All the wounds from the past memories have vanished, my dear hobbit. And now his body is rejuvenated.”
Learning that, Sam fidgeted. “Honestly, sir, he looks rather different. It’s queer.” Sam’s face went beet-red. “I almost couldn’t recognize him. He is – so young! I remember when he first came to Hobbiton, to Bag End, to live with Mr. Baggins – Bilbo Baggins, when he was a mere tween. He looks like that lad!”
Gandalf had never thought of Samwise being so observant. But he should have. Sam had been the closest to Frodo during the entire journey.
“Gandalf?” Sam tilted his head up. “How young can Mr. Frodo get? Will he be back to being a baby? And after that, what would become of him?”
The sight that his eyes held was truly of Sam, but all of a sudden Gandalf felt lightheaded. For mortals, healing here meant healing – the process would discontinue if there was nothing else to heal. And rejuvenation – this would only take place if it helped to the process. If the healing was done, there was no need to rectify the body anymore. In other words…
Gandalf shuddered, not knowing how to extend the words about Frodo’s well being to Sam.
“I made a promise, Mr. Frodo. A promise. ‘Don’t you leave him, Samwise Gamgee.’ And I don’t mean to. I don’t mean to.”
“I don’t mean to,” repeated Sam softly, almost to himself. His hand lightly brushed Frodo’s hair. Frodo winced a little, the upper part of his nose wrinkled, lips curled, as Sam’s touch was delivered into his dream. Sam pulled back at once, hushing Frodo as he would do a small child. But frankly, he felt as if Frodo were a child, like for instance, Elanor or Frodo-lad, and as Sam stroked his hair, it felt like he had found the period he had missed for so long. The time when he could still cradle his children to sleep.
Sam beheld the captivating creature before him, and his mind went back to the first time he saw Frodo--when the lad had stepped on his foot going through the door of Bag End. His eyes had drifted inside the smial, and once he glimpsed over his shoulder to catch Sam and his parents watching him closely, all smiling to encourage him. Frodo had smiled back gingerly, before bracing his heart to follow Bilbo inside. Frodo had been so timid and full of prudence. But there was also an air of spirit about him, the thing that Sam could still breathe in.
So, according to Gandalf, after his body was healed (Sam’s eyes wandered to the re-grown finger Frodo had lost), Frodo had experienced a kind of cleansing through his soul. The obliteration of his hurtful memories was like cutting them off from his mind, and that meant erasing years off Frodo’s life. Sam had been slow in comprehending this when Gandalf had eventually told him. Gandalf had also stated that Frodo would not become a baby, (for which Sam was relieved). Instead he would (this, Sam had not accepted easily) die once the healing was done and Frodo was utterly free from all pain--even the one he had deeply buried down at the depth of his heart.
The anguish over the death of his parents.
Sam swallowed hard, fixing the sight of the peacefully sleeping figure to his eyes – which had started to moisten. The time would come when Frodo was finally over the sorrow. The time would come when he would look twelve again, the age when he had lost his parents, then he would not get any younger, but simply fade away.
Sam drew his breath, rattling a bit due to his restrained sobs. He had to be brave himself. He would not know when those times would eventually come. It might be years from now, might be months, or even weeks. But that could also mean tomorrow, unpredictable as the healing process was to restore a marred soul. One thing remained, though. Sam still had some time left to be with his Mr. Frodo.
The former gardener decided to climb up on Frodo’s bed and place himself against the headboard, leaning back. He carefully put Frodo’s head upon his lap and Frodo remained asleep. Sam smoothed his master’s hair and hummed some lullabies, whispering, despite the tightness at his throat.
“You may go, Mr. Frodo, whenever you’re ready. I won’t mind, even if that means you’ll leave me again. But I’ll be happy, happy enough that I’m given this chance to see you. And I’m not saying goodbye, Frodo, when your time comes. I’m not, for you’re not going away.” Sam wiped his eyes. “I’m not letting you go. I’ll keep you here.” Sam clutched his hurting heart, no matter how hard he refused to accept it. His hands cupped at Frodo’s jaw, lifting the head back so that it tilted toward his direction, and placed a gentle kiss, full of love and longing, on the Ring-bearer’s fair-skinned brow.
~ fin ~
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.