23. Crossing Over
The headstone was carved of a strange and wonderful kind of stone rarely used, of a translucent white with a soft light within, a veining of violet and gold. It was easy to carve but virtually impossible to chip or break, and none could use it for selfish or ignoble purposes. A niche was carved into it to hold the star-glass, and under it read: IN LOVING MEMORY OF PRINCE IORHAEL, ONCE KNOWN AS FRODO BAGGINS OF THE SHIRE. MAY HIS LIGHT SHINE IN OUR MIDST UNTIL THE END OF ALL THINGS.
It was carved by Annûnlanthir, and set near the place that bore the monument of Mister Frodo's sister. The glass was not placed in the niche, for Sam wished to keep it with him until it was his time to go. But he planted a garden all about, with help from Northlight and others, of all the flowers Mister Frodo liked best. And was careful to leave room for the time when he and Mistress Anemone would lie on either side.
Sam lived on for five years after the passing of his former master. Belladonna came to live with Anemone after the funeral, bringing little Peacock, and Northlight and Raven took Sam to live with them, caring for him tenderly all the rest of his days. He was set up in a cozy little alcove that opened out onto the back porch, along with an adjoining chamber that served him as a sitting-room, affording him a view of the falls, and also a patio of his own with a long chair, a smaller chair and a little table on it. There was a bathing-room and privy directly across the hall. Northlight rigged up a bell to ring, with a chain going through a little hole in the floor, if Sam should need something he could not get for himself in the night.
He proved a great comfort to Amaryllis, bringing her granddad back to life for her in all the stories he told of Mister Frodo's childhood and early youth and young adulthood, the things they did together, things they learned, trouble they got into, and it was wonderful that she loved the stories as he did, and it was a comfort to himself as well, and Amaryllis grew nearly as attached to him as she had been to Mister Frodo. This worried him, for the time would come when she must endure another loss, and he wondered how he would go about preparing her for that….
Imrathon, Lainadan's son, brought a kitten over one day, after their barn cat had a litter, so that Sam would have a constant companion for his chambers. He hadn't thought to have a cat, but she grew on him quick enough, affording plenty of amusement with her antics by day, then cuddling in his lap or beside him in his bed at night and purring into his ear and massaging him with her paws. He named her "Ginger" for the yellowy color of her fur, and he greatly enjoyed watching Amaryllis play with her and say things like "Aren't you just too cute for words?" Often Ginger would sit on her haunches and gaze at him with gold-green eyes full of soft unswerving fondness, until Sam, who was not used to cats, would be filled with wonder.
And even as Mister Frodo predicted, he was there when little Hathol was born, and having assisted in the delivery of a few of his own children and grandchildren, he knew just what to do when Raven went into labor unexpectedly, and kept the rest of the household calm. He would hold the child and rock it to sleep when its mother worked, and he comforted Amaryllis for her disappointment in not getting the little sister she wanted. And he heard little Hathol's first words and saw his first steps, and as far as he was able, bounced him on his knee and sang silly little songs to him. The little one looked just like his daddy, so that even Amaryllis took to him before long, to the point where she would often change his nappy without being asked, and take him for walks in his pram, and even speak proudly at times of "her baby brother." And Sam loved him as one of his own.
Sam it was who performed the wedding of Ionwë and Calathiel, two years after the passing of Mister Frodo, and gave them counsel in the matter of dealing with Ionwë's parents, who of course were less than ecstatic over their son's choice of a mate. Sam privately thought they should be glad he had found someone to love at all; it was not as if every maiden on the Island were falling all over herself to get at him! But he had learned long ago that it was not a good idea to say all you were thinking, and so he held his tongue, and did what he could, and by and by Calathiel gave birth to twins, boy and girl, who were given the names of Ionwë's father and mother, and thus the breech in the family was finally healed.
Sam it was who gave counsel to Raven's friend and former teacher, the artist Findëmaxa, when finally she acquired a suitor, and confided to him that she had serious misgivings, having pledged herself to embrace chastity all her days. At first he scarcely knew what to say to her. The concept of embracing chastity for all one's days was entirely foreign to him, and he saw no sense in it, hisself, but he reminded hisself that it wasn't always a good idea to say all you were thinking.
"Meanin' no disrespect, my lady," he said, "but I think you've embraced chastity long enough. I don't think human bein's was meant to embrace chastity. Not for all their days, at least. They was made to embrace each other. You don't see a doe-deer or a mare or a ewe embracin' chastity, now do you? It's unnat'ral. They was made to mate and bear young."
"Well--I know that," Findëmaxa said, blushing a little. "But we are not animals, and I've sometimes felt that I was destined for Higher Things, you know? To fully contemplate all the beauties and glories of Creation, and uphold them to a high standard of purity and light and glory. You know, that sort of thing?"
Sam didn't quite know what she was talking about, and it sounded like stuff and nonsense to him, but once more he bit his tongue and continued: "Couldn't you uphold 'em and be married at the same time?"
"Well, I don't know," she hedged. "Sometimes I've thought one could, but…I don't know. I've always heard that True Love is a beautiful and holy thing, but I've also felt that there was something, well, earthy about it. Something removed from the far reaches of the Divine. How can one's spirit hope to soar above the clods of the earth when one has given oneself over to Fleshly Appetites? That's what worries me. Yes, I know that Londimir adores me and conceives of me as his ideal of Divine Maidenhood, far removed from The Reaches of This World. And I'm afraid that I cannot live up to his ideal. Perhaps I should not be saying all this to you but…somehow it just came pouring out of me."
"My lady," Sam said, "I'm not sure I understand all you're sayin', but I will say this: there ain't nothin' diviner and holier than true love and marryin' and begettin' children and watchin' 'em grow and noticin' all the things about yourself and your mate in 'em. It IS a dangerous thing and no mistakin', and not a thing to take lightly. It's a risk, to be sure. It takes a lot of work, and listenin', and understandin', and endurin', and learnin' from your mistakes, and puttin' up with plenty, and wonderin' if you're doin' the right thing and tryin' not to blame yourself when things don't go the way you want 'em to. It's not for just anybody, and if you don't feel you're up to it, then I wouldn't advise you to try it, at least not for a good while yet. Now I don't care if a body don't wish to be married, it's their own business and I don't tell folks how to live their lives. But you did ask me what I thought about it, and this is it. Do you truly wish to wed...Londimir?"
He thought to hisself that this Londimir sounded like a silly young piece of foolishness and she could surely do much better, but once again….
"Well, on the one hand, I do," she said, "but even as you said, it's no light undertaking. I cherish my ideals and don't wish to let go of them, and cannot help but feel misgivings at the thought of breaking my resolutions to hold myself aloft and all."
"My lady, I don't think you're ready for marryin', if I may say so," Sam said. "I would say, give yourself more time. Get to know your feller better. Discuss your feelin's with him and don't hold nothin' back. Let him know you for what you really are, and know him for what he really is. Bein' a artist and all, maybe you have a little too much imagination, and you keep thinkin' about all the things that could go wrong even when you're tryin' not to. And as for the fleshly things, maybe you think too much about the things theirselves and not the lovin' that goes with 'em. It makes all the differ'nce in the world."
"Sometimes I think it's life itself I'm afraid of," she sighed. "You're probably right, I have too much imagination, and am afraid of getting hurt, and of not being able to measure up, and of…well, failure. But I don't know how to overcome it."
"Mister Frodo used to say the sea was like life itself," Sam recalled. "He heard the call of the Sea, and so did I. I'm assumin' you did too, since you come here and all. I think those who hear the call of the Sea are really hearin' the call of life itself. It takes a special person to hear that call and answer it, resistin' for the longest perhaps, but in the end givin' into it, for it's their truest destiny. I feared the Sea more than anything, but once I crossed over, then I lost all my fear and knew I'd done what I was meant to do and had no regrets. But it's not somethin' you take lightly. You hear the call, you make up your mind to it, and you go. Then when you get there…well, then you know you've arrived and you can do anything you must, and you'll know it was worth crossin' for."
After that Findëmaxa went back to seeing Londimir. Sam would not live to know if she accepted him or not, but he had a feeling she was making a start, and that she would end up taking his advice in the long run....
And he heard of the beheading of Beleg and Raegbund. He would never know who did the job, for the executioner's name was withheld from the public, and it gave him pause at times wondering who of the comers and goers he saw each day it could have been, and what he must think, knowing he had shed blood, even if it was evil blood, and how it was he slept in his bed of nights, what he thought and dreamt about, and if he had a wife and children, and Sam felt thankful that in all his years as mayor he'd never had to make the decision to deprive another of his life, however deserving of such a fate that other might be. He wondered what Mister Frodo would have said about it all. At the same time, he couldn't help but feel thankful that the two of them were no more, and their poison had been removed from the peace and virtue of the Island, never to endanger another ever again, and he devoutly hoped and prayed that none would ever decide to follow in their footsteps….
The family went to Temple once a week, along with Anemone and Belladonna, and after Temple they would usually go visiting, sometimes out to Fairwind's, or the twins, or Guilin, or to the park. They went once a week into the City to attend the theater and dine out, and Sam greatly enjoyed it. He liked attending the discussions they sometimes partook in, although he didn't always understand what they were talking about and was apt to doze off, but he often felt as though Mister Frodo was somehow in their midst, and would imagine the things he would have said and thought, and every so often he would catch himself saying something he had no idea where it came from, and wondered if Mister Frodo had put it into his head, and could almost hear his former master laughing at the astonished looks he got from the others. They treated him with enormous respect and affection, and their children would ask him questions or pump him for stories, or show him their possessions, or give him little gifts…and so the Island got into his blood and his very bones, and he wondered just how he would ever go about taking his leave when his time came, and hoped that he wouldn't have to make the decision hisself, that it would come for him instead, just stop outside his door, peep in and call his name, and assist him into the carriage after he'd said his goodbyes….
And he was there when Galendur and Tilwen had their third child, a little lass, to Silivren's great delight and Little Iorhael's disgruntlement, and Amaryllis was tickled pink, for it was the next best thing to getting a little sister of her own, to have her best friend get one. The parents even asked Sam to name her, sensing that his time was growing ever shorter, and he might like to bestow one last gift before he quit the earth forever. And Sam named her Meril, both for the lady who lost her life in the fire and after his own Rose, and Amaryllis said she had thought of that name also, and wasn't it something how Sam had thought of it too? It was as if they were kindred souls…and so they were.
But the time for Sam was growing shorter, and at last when he began to find he could not use his legs so well anymore but had to take to a wheelchair, he decided his day had come. He had made up his mind to be a burden to no one; when the time came that he would have to be pushed and lugged about like a little 'un, well, that's when he would go. And so one night after Amaryllis and little Hathol were in bed, he called Northlight and Raven into his sitting-room, and told them he could hear Mister Frodo calling him a slowpoke. They sat about with him and held his hands, and they talked softly of how it would be for a few minutes, and Ginger climbed into his lap and rubbed her face against his cheek. He asked the others to take especial care of her, then said could they please take him to the privy one last time so he wouldn't wet hisself when he went, and after that they took him to his bed without undressing him and tucked him in, and Raven put Rosie-doll beside him, set the star-glass on his bed-table and kissed his forehead, then Northlight did the same, both smiling down at him despite the tears glittering on their faces like dew-drops on beautiful flowers. After they had gone out, Sam looked at the light in the glass, and saw a blindingly white tunnel, and yes, a stairway, lit by stars going all up it, and faces along the way, and at the very top a light brighter than the sun itself, yet it hurt his eyes not at all.
And the next morning they found him lying there and smiling, Ginger curled up asleep on his stomach, the light gone out…but his own light lingered about him still, like the last glow of the setting sun.
When at last Belladonna found a worthy mate among the Elves, Anemone moved out of the cottage after the wedding, despite the protests of Belladonna and her bridegroom that she was more than welcome to stay, and she went to live in the rooms that Sam had once occupied. She no longer designed clothes, having no more heart for it, and she very rarely wrote poems, but still she had plenty to keep her busy, and took comfort and joy in her grandchildren and great-grandchildren for all the remaining years of her life. And once more Amaryllis had the comfort of one who was willing to talk of her granddad with her, and the girl told her all the stories that Sam had told her of him. Hathol proved a very intelligent little lad, and kept her jumping with the things he said and did. And Peacock was by contrast a wild little mischief who kept his cousin stirred up, and things did not get dull, and so her remaining years were full of activity and contentment and love and hope, surrounded by devoted friends and family and the beauty and virtue of the Island itself.
And twenty years after the death of her husband, she disappeared one night, and when her son and daughter did not find her in her room the following morning, they followed her footprints out to the beach, and there by the little cave where she and her bridegroom first consummated their love, she was found lying on her side with a little smile on her face, her silvered hair spread out behind her like a silken sheet on the white and accommodating sand, her wedding-pearls about her neck and one hand softly holding to them. She was buried on the left side of her husband, and the star-glass was placed in the niche, where it lit itself each night, and gave a daylight glow to the three graves and the flowers and trees all around.
The Evenstar pendant passed to Raven. Northlight went back to his teaching job and was heartily welcomed, and Belladonna and her husband and Peacock attended to the three graves. And the Beacon continued to glow in the night, sending its beams far out over the sea and into the colors of the aurora and the heart of the evening star, which seemed to take on new brilliance in the indigo bath of the night sky, until it really did seem as though it would be returning to its true home at last.
Sunset and evening star
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar
When I put out to sea.
But such a tide as moving seems asleep
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.
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.