Out of Exile
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Introduction: I was 11 years old when I first imagined
Frodo and Elanor getting together. I thought they would be the perfect couple,
if she wasn't born so late. I also noticed that her husband and Frodo have
similar sounding names. Coincidence, I guess. I could see her, walking the beach and gazing out to sea, when I heard the Frankie Valli hit "My eyes adored you."
It was 1975.
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Tryin' to make his way home.
(I don't think Frodo is "God," but you get the meaning. auth.)
Out of Exile
Now, at around 3AM, he couldn't see the ceiling at all, but still felt a bit disoriented. Then he heard whispering voices outside. It is the Elves, he thought. They are night owls. Unlike me.
Next morning, he still had the feeling something was wrong. It was confirmed when he was walking down the hallway and ran into an Elf, on the way to his bedroom.
"I am sorry," he said, but your cousin Bilbo is dead."
"Oh, Frodo said. "Oh."
He wasn't all that surprised. He was just glad Bilbo had made it so long.
Five years ago, he and Bilbo had boarded a ship for this realm. Left behind was his closest friend Sam, who had had a wife, Rosie, and an infant daughter called Elanor (pronounced "Eleanor" I guess. auth.) Were it not for that, he would have come along, he was sure. They had been living here, in this cosy rooming house by the ocean. It had been the happiest years in Frodo's life. Now it's time to pay the ol' piper.
A week later, he attended Bilbo's funeral. He was not to be buried; no one ever was here. They didn't want the flesh of a dead body to touch that sacred land. The Elves always committed thier bodies to funeral pyres. But Bilbo's last request was to have his body placed in a rowboat and pushed out to sea on the outgoing tide, where it would be swept into the eastbound current. "Who knows", he would say with a wink, "I may even end up in the Shire!" That was highly unlikely, of course, but it was the symbolism which counted. Frodo too had asked them to do that with his body. What he didn't know, of course, was that he wouldn't die there.
So depressed Frodo became that some weeks later, he was told he would be taken to live in Valinor, the mainland. He brightened immediately. He had already gone over there with Bilbo a couple of times, and loved the place.
Six months had passed. The hobbit found himself in a large field surrounded by hills, which had a bowlike shape. He had spent the day exploring the central city of Valinor. It was a hallowed place, and normally he would be quite frightened. But he had been counting grey hairs that morning, and wondered how long he would be around.
He raised his eyes to what he already knew would be here; two dead trees around the size of the Empire state building, reduced to only whitened trunks and a few branches. He had read the story ("Translations from the Elvish, B.B.") of how once they provided light for the whole world, and the evil Morgoth and his pet spider destroyed them. Looking up, he found himself almost suicidally depressed. Just like them, I am the only thing that will die. I don't belong here. Maybe I shall kill myself. Sorry Sam, I can't wait...
He heard a noise behind him. Boom. Boom. Boom.
He had always thought the Big Folk sounded like elephants; this sounded like two of them. But the elves were light on thier feet. Who was it? He turned around, and saw the largest woman he had ever seen.
She could easily top eight feet. He imagined Beorn's wife looked like that. Her feet were bare, and she wore a long, loose white belted robe. Her hair was long, curly and dark. She had a kindly 20 year old face he would call handsome if it wasn't so big.
She bent over him and murmered something. Then she picked him up, as casually as you would pick up a cat. She held him tightly against her chest. Frodo's face grew red hot.
She said something in a unknown language. Somehow Frodo got the meaning. Little man, you think you are the only person with sadness here. But I am sad too. But do not worry. All will be well.
She put him down and ruffled his hair. She poked the tip of his nose and laughed. Then she turned, and was on her way.
Boom. Boom. Boom.
Who in Heaven's name was that? He was tingling all over, though not from sexual arousal (of course.) He ran off to tell his new friend.
Some months earlier, he had become close friends with the Lady Galadriel. Like him, she was lonely and needed someone to talk to. To everyone's surprise, when she sailed west her husband Celeborn had not gone with her. He wondered if they had had a severe tiff or even a divorce (so do I but I won't go there. auth.)
Her house was close by where Frodo lived. It was a pretty, low-slung white number with a patio garden. She only had two servents. Unpalatial digs for Valinor. He never asked why.
She answered the door herself. He was babbling so fast she said "please, repeat yourself."
"Oh, that was Yavanna!" she said when he was finished.
"One of the Valar?!"
"Yes, the one and only. You know the story? She was never the same after her trees were destroyed. Some folk think she is mad."
"She looks so young!"
"She is many thousands of years old. She picked you up? She touched you?
"She sure did."
"I am glad you are not the same hight!"
The next morning he woke up feeling wonderful. And to think I was thinking of doing myself in.He fairly ran to Galadriel's house.
When she answered the door, her jaw dropped in amazement. "What is wrong?"
She blurted out "look at you!"
She handed him a lady's mirror.
Looking back at him was a face which could pass for 30 at that (20 in hobbit terms.)It was handsomer, too. He ran his fingers through his hair; the grey was gone.
"Look at your hand!"
"The stump of my finger is growing back!"
"I am surprised," she said. I did not think the Valar were capable of restoring youth. But there is a lot I don't know about her. She created the sun and the moon, after all. It was not intentional, I'm sure"
"Come, she said, let's grab some lunch, and show everyone your new face!"
Frodo and Galadriel were sitting on a rocky outcrop projecting over a mountain lake. Her legs were tucked under her, exposing one bare leg. She was a long, long, way from "All shall love me and despair!"
anyway,they were angling for some fish. The surface of the lake was so still it reflected thier faces. Like everything else in Valinor, it was perfect. Dejected, Frodo thought, how can fish live in this? We may never catch anything.
Three months had passed since his transformation. Everyone had oohed and aahed over his new looks. But when they went walking together, Galadriel was often asked who the "cute little boy" with her was. Small children were almost unheard of in Valinor. It irked him.
"Why so depressed? I never told you this before, but I can show you the Shire!"
He jumped. "you can?"
"Remember the mirror of Galadriel? My powers have greatly increased here. I can take any container of water, blow into it, and see any place I wish. I can see how my friends in Middle-Earth are doing!" (He didn't dare ask, "how is Celeborn?"
"That is nice, but I don't just want to see the Shire. I want to be there!"
"I thought you were resigned to living in Valinor."
"Sure, that was before what happened. I have all these strange new feelings in me...I don't know what to do with them....
"Your'e thinking about girls, aren't you?"
Frodo turned red. "Why do you think that?"
Galadriel laughed and laughed.
"Well now that you mention it, I would like to get married. I let that pass that by me before, and it's a shame. I would like to meet a nice girl, fall in love, have children. But how is that possible here?"
"We could find an elven-maid who would consent to be shrunk. I think Gandalf could do it. They all think you are so adorable."
"They all see me as a small child!"
"I am sorry about that. But I thought you were not the marrying type anyway."
"That is not completely true. I have nothing against love and marriage. I had some close friends who were girls and even almost got married a couple of times. But I loved Bilbo far more than I would love any girl. If I got married I knew I couldn't follow him. I remember one lovely lass in particular. Daffodil Chubb, her name was. Folk called her Daffie. She was slender, with light brown hair.I was about 40 years old. We spent evenings beside the fire in Bag End. But once she found out how I felt about Bilbo, she was out of there. It lasted only six months."
"Sorry to hear that. But I could show you the Shire right now. Maybe you shall see her again."
The lake right here. I have conjured images in it countless times."
I can imagine. Frodo trembled.
"Sure, go ahead."
She gave an impish smile. "I have an idea, Frodo. Why not try it yourself? Yavanna may have passed onto you some of her magic. Just as an experiment. Let's face it, it's been a boring afternoon."
"What do I do?"
"Just look down at the lake and blow. Think "the Shire, the Shire, the Shire."
Frodo was dubious about his breath reaching the water, but maybe it was the symbolism. He did as she said. "Try harder!" she cried. Concentrate!"
"It's not working-oh! I see smoke coming up!"
Suddenly a vision filled the entire lake surface. "Oh, he cried, it's the Great Road!" It was indeed, seen from above. He leaned down for a closer look, hungry and yearning.
For the rest of his life he was never to understand what happened next- whether he jumped or had fallen. The water closed over his head, and momentarily he felt glad he'd learned to swim as a boy. Because of his parents. Then the water was replaced by darkness, and air. He heard a whooshing sound.
He emerged 10 feet above the Great Road, headed for the grassy area on the side. While his arms broke his fall, he struck his head on a stone, almost cracking it open. He blacked out instantly.
Galadriel saw the Frodo enter the water of the lake, with a great splash. The image broke up instantly.
She waited for his head to come up; when that didn't happen, nor bubbles either after a minute, she climbed down from the rock. At the lake's edge, she broke the longest branch off a tree she could find, and waved it over the water. She thought that he couldn't swim. Neither could she.
Something in the lake had sucked him down. Too late, she thought about summoning Gandalf. He was probably already dead. She stood stock-still for fifteen more minutes; then turned around and slowly headed home, wiping tears from her eyes.
Frodo turned over and opened his eyes. The blinding afternoon sky shone into them, out of a pale blue sky dotted with small fluffy clouds. He thought that he was still in Valinor.
He sat up, then pulled himself to his feet. He felt his throbbing forehead. He had what the elves would call a "concussion" but didn't know that. He just knew he was badly hurt. Then he realized where he was, and forgot his pain.
He was in Middle-earth. In the Shire! He felt like dancing for joy. He would have kissed the ground, but was too smart for that. Dirt could get into his wound.
Now, which way to Bag End? He stood at the side of the road, hoping to get a clue where he was.
A small horse and carriage turned the bend. As they passed him, he called for them to stop. He said to the middle-aged hobbit couple inside, "could you tell me the way to Hobbiton? Bag End? Where the mayor lives?"
"It's a five-mile walk, son." the man said. "Keep walking up that way, and turn left at the second crossing. Are you sure you could make it? We could take you to a doctor."
"Don't worry, Frodo said. I'm fine."
Now he had found himself on the main road in Hobbiton, which would lead to Bag End. The water on him had dried off, but still he looked a mess. He didn't care. He knew Sam wouldn't.
He noticed several faces staring at him; they didn't look familiar to him at all. That gave him an uneasy feeling.
In the Party field, he marveled at the size of the Mallorn tree; it was a sapling when he left. They grow so fast.
He rang the doorbell; it was answered by Sam.
For a second, they just stared at each other. Then Frodo cried, "am I happy to see you!"
"Who are you and what do you want? Oh," he added softly, you've been hurt. Don't just stand there lad, come right in!"
Frodo was pulled into the hallway; Sam shut the door. He held Frodo for a second, then propped him up against the wall. "Let me look at that, son. Seems like you got quite a blow to your head. How did this happen? I shall clean you up, and you can rest here. Then I will summon your family."
Suddenly Frodo was very scared.
"Don't you know who I am?"
"How would I know that?" said Sam in a surprised voice. I've never seen you before in my life!"
That's when Frodo passed out.
He awakened; feeling water on his face and hair. Then he woke up, and saw Sam. Murmering something about him being "delerious" he pulled Frodo to his feet and draped his arm around his shoulders. He led him down the hall and opened the door to a spare bedroom. Gently he laid Frodo down on the bed.
"I will be back in a moment to clean you up. You don't even know where you are, do you?"
"No," Frodo whispered.
Sam left, then returned with a washcloth. Very gently he washed the wound on Frodo's head.
"Could you tell me your name, sir?"
"Can't...can't really talk right now."
"Very well, there is no need to speak. Would you like me to bring you some supper?"
"Try to get some sleep. I shall be talking with the doctor tomorrow. Goodnight."
Then he left Frodo to watch the sun go down alone, bewildered and shaken to the core.
Why hadn't Sam recognized him? His features had changed, but not by much. Well he was 2 inches taller, and a great deal younger. His jewel of Arwen was gone, he had laid it aside in a box. And the hand. Oh yes, the hand. Now he was Frodo of the ten fingers.
Sam would never, ever believe him.
He could picture it; Frodo pleading, begging with Sam, and Sam becoming exasparated, finally very angry, possibly even striking Frodo (but with tears in his eyes) then turning him out of his home; the home that had once been his.
Not a pretty sight.
Frodo started to cry. He rolled onto his side and wept as he hadn't since he was a small child and he was told his parents were dead. After 3 hours he felt better, though something like a wrung-out dishrag. The last time I did that, he thought wryly, I had my thumb in my mouth.
After a heavy and dreamless sleep, he opened his eyes. He saw the room's round windows; wondered how he had got there. Then he remembered, and groaned.
Hello, Bag End. Goodbye, Bag End.
One thought occured to him about Sam. He looked at least 20 years older; yet in Valinor, only 5 years had passed. Did time pass differently there, or when he did the dive did he pass through time as well as space? He thought he would never know which.
Sam came bustling in an hour later. "Your eyes are puffy, lad" he said in surprise. "You been missing your home?"
"In a sense, yes."
"I spoke to Dr. Mugwort down the road. He says you will probably be fine, if you get enough rest. If you can remember, could you tell me your name, and where you are from?
Frodo had decided to make up a story. No harm done, he'll never know. When I recover I'm returning to Valinor, even if it means swimming there. Someday he'll arrive, and we'll have a proper reunion. By then I will have aged. Will I tell him of this? I think not.
"Did you understand me, son? What's your name?"
"F-fastred." That just came to him, out of one of Bilbo's books. Immediately, he could kick himself. Why didn't I call myself something like Bingo instead?
"Interesting name you got there, Fastred. What is your last name?"
"Does not matter. I was orphaned as a small child" (that was true enough)"and taken in by my grandparents. We did not get along; in fact they beat me. I ran away, hoping to find work here. My pony threw me, I am lucky to be alive."
"Such a terrible thing to happen, to such a nice young boy. You are not even out of your tweens, aren't you?"
"I think I am about 30. But I'm not sure."
I hate having to lie to you, Sam.
"What town are you from? It must be far from here. You don't look familiar to me at all!"
Frodo gritted his teeth and continued.
"A small town over by Bree." He tried to remember the names.
"Greenholm, over by Greenway? I've been there."
"Yes, that one."
"There is no need to talk very longer. I see that it is difficult for you. You can stay here awhile, and I will ask around. Hopefully I can find a family that could take you in, give you work."
For once, Frodo looked in his friend's eyes. "Thanks, Sam, you've been very kind."
Sam started. "Do you always call your elders by your first name?"
"I-I am sorry-"
Sam winked at him. "Just get some rest." With that he left.
Frodo slept most of the next two days, being too depressed to do anything else. He barely ate, or spoke to Sam. Then on the third day, he got another visitor. He was reading a book Sam had given him when he looked up, hearing the door open.
It was a girl, of the same age he appeared to be. She was slender and pale, with large, penetrating blue eyes and blonde hair. She gave him a shy smile, which widened into an enormous grin.
"Hell-o, beautiful. I know you aren't supposed to have visitors, but I had to see you, for curiousity's sake. My father has been speaking of aught else."
"Are you one of Sam's daughters?"
"The oldest one, yes. My name is Elanor."
He stared. Elanor! Little Elanor!
"Don't gape at me, so! Folk say I am the most beautiful girl in the Shire. Personally, I think that is just a great load of hooey."
He actually thought that she was right. She was attractive, yes, but hardly a ravishing beauty. But that was because of the girls he met in Valinor. Though they were giantesses, too.
"You come from near Bree, Fastred? What do you think of the Shire?"
He said in a very quiet voice, "I think it is beautiful"
She laughed, almost sarcastically. That startled him. "Well if you say it is, it is."
He didn't know what to say to that.
"Do you mind If I see you tomorrow, Fastred?" Please don't speak of this to my father."
He thought one good turn deserves another. The sight of her had definately cheered him up.
She came to see him on the next day, and the day after that. That evening- they were talking of this and that- she said, "I see that you like this place. Did you know who owned it before us?"
Oh, here it comes.
"His name was Frodo Baggins. He saved the entire world, you know. He sailed away to the west when I was a baby." She sighed. "I was so in love with him when I was a child."
Frodo's heart gave a huge thump. "Why so? I thought you said he left when you were a baby."
Oh, all the girls here were. It was because of our father reading to us from his diary. Made it seem like he was in the room. Sometimes I can feel his presence now."
"Elanor, I need to ask you something. What if he were to come back?"
"I'd be happy to see him, I guess. I don't know, I havn't thought of it."
"What if," Frodo said choosing his words carefully, "on top of that he looked the same age you do?"
She laughed out loud. "What a ridiculous idea! That is impossible!"
"My father told me he would age in Valinor. You nosy chap."
"Yes, but just for the sake of argument. What If."
"Then I would be frightened to death of him", she muttered. She looked at the floor. "So might my father, or yourself, lad. He'd be like ah... one of the Valar. Not just a hero, but immortal, too. But let's speak no more of him. He was far, far, before our time."
Deeply disturbed by that, Frodo turned away. "Oh, don't tell me you're jealous!"
"No. I mean, yes! Yes"
"Don't be. If the two of you were here, there would be no contest. I don't think I could live with a great hero such as that."
He had to get out, before the girl got hurt. She had obviously fallen hard for him. He was drawn to her too. But talk about the wrong place at the wrong time! Plus, there was what she said....
Next morning, he awoke from a dream; he had been taking a nap. It was right before his dinner time. He saw the girl come in, and sit on his bed, very close to him.
"I don't care if my father finds out. He should know about our meetings." She moved nearer. "You aren't afraid of me, are you?"
It's you who should be frightened, little girl. (he was afraid.)
She reached out and caressed his cheek. He found he couldn't move.
"I've wanted to do this since the day I set eyes on you." She leaned forward, so he could just see her eyes. They paralyzed him. Then her mouth was on his.
When she pulled back, she said quietly, I can tell by your face that you enjoyed it."
Of course, he had. It had been years since he'd been kissed by a pretty girl; were he anyone else, he'd have kissed her. But as she moved in again, he turned his head. She said, "whatever is wrong?" His face crumpled up.
When he got his breath back he said, "I'm lonely and I'm scared, and I don't know who I am anymore."
"There, there." He felt her cool hand on his neck. I've felt the same way too."
He dropped his hands in surprise. "You have?"
"Sure. You think that because my father rules the Shire, that I am content?"
"I'm not," she said quietly. "I don't completely fit in here. There are folk who think I'm a looney. I feel as though my true home isn't Hobbiton. It is the past, or...." her voice trailed off. "But it's different now, now that you're here."
She took both of his hands in hers.
"I feel" she whispered, "as though long ago, part of myself went away, and now it's come back"
She moved to kiss him then, and he met her halfway. Thinking, no harm in this, she's a lovely girl. Soon I will be in Valinor. She'll never know....hope she gets over me....
After a time, they sensed someone had come into the room. They broke apart and looked up at the intruder. It was Sam.
"Aw," Elanor giggled, "we weren't doin' nothin' wrong."
Sam stared right into Frodo's eyes. He said quietly, "What are your intentions towards my daughter?"
"I- I care very deeply for her sir," Frodo said in a voice as tiny as when Gandalf told him his ring was the Great Ring of Doom.
(He thought appalled, did I say that?)
Sam nodded. "Good to hear that. But I want you to swear to me, upon your life, that you'll never do anything to hurt my daughter."
"Of course I won't!"
"Do you swear?"
Sam beamed at them paternally. "Goodbye, children. Master Fastred, I left your dinner on the table. Though considering you're well enough to be so friendly with Miss Ellie, you shall be dining with us tomorrow." With that he left.
Frodo stared at the shut door. "Oh, said Elanor, "he's always like that."
"Pretty protective, isn't he?"
She shook her head and laughed. "Can't believe what you told my father. I'd no idea I mattered that much to you."
"Untill just a moment ago, neither did I!"
"Oh! Well, this calls for a celebration. I'll be getting us some wine."
"I could certainly use some." Make that the entire bottle.
Elanor passed her father in the hallway. "Are you angry, Daddy?"
"You did not tell me that Fastred was courting you. Or rather," he added wryly, "you were courting him."
"Don't you like him?"
"I don't dislike him. There is something about the lad. You know, he somewhat resembles...."
"It's just a coinc-"
She smiled hugely. "Since I was a girl I had sworn I'd marry someone just like him. Now I know I shall! Goodbye, Daddy." She fairly skipped off down the hall.
"But Elanor-" She was gone.
Sam sighed. Elanor was an adult; she could do whatever she wanted. But somehow, he had the feeling that someday she'd come to grief. He didn't know why.
Elanor kissed Frodo's cheek, and handed him the wineglass. "How do you feel?," she said."
"So do I. I hope we're not making a big mistake."
He didn't know what to say.
The hobbits sat silently sipping thier wine. When it was finished he turned to her and said, "I may have to go away very soon."
Elanor looked as though he had broked off the top of her glass, and ground it into her face.
"Very well" her amended, "I will stay a little while."
She gave him the same unnerving stare. Frodo looked down, defeated. If he went back, he'd spend the rest of his life yearning for her.
"Forever," he said.
The next day, as promised Sam took Frodo into the Common room to have his meal. He introduced them to his 12 children which were indeed handsome and well formed, and the girls pretty. Two stuck out in his head; his namesake, Sam's oldest son, who gave him a strange look (maybe he was protecting his sister), and Goldilocks, "Goldie" for short, who looked like a less beautiful version of Elanor. Sitting there amid all those people, he found it hard to get his food down. The only person who even noticed was Elanor.
The next day, she took him on the Grand Tour through Hobbiton. Her arm tightly linked through his, she pointed out a small house set back from the road. He shivered. He knew whose it was.
"That was Daffodil Chubb's house. She was a heiress. Frodo Baggins courted her many years ago."
He said in a casual a voice as possible, "Is she still with us?"
"Nope, she died 5 years ago. Father told me she looked a lot like myself when young. Though her hair was darker." She ran her hand through her curls. "I wish he did marry her, then he wouldn't have sailed west. It would have been nice to grow up knowing him."
Sam often sent Frodo out on errends, not knowing what else to do with him. So he had a chance to explore Hobbiton himself. As he visited the butcher, the greengrocier and the baker, he discovered folk had been talking about him. He was seen not as a savior but as a shy, awkward, moody lad with a busted head. (Read, "wierd.) When someone first called to him, "hey Freddy," he almost jumped out of his clothes. But it was short for Fastred, of course. I am glad I didn't name myself Bingo. What would they call me, Bing?
Three months had gone by. Frodo and Elanor sat on a blanket in the Party Field, a jug of wine between them. It was 9 PM.
He had gotten to know her pretty well. He loved both her and Sam, but couldn't think of any two people more different. His feelings for her had nothing to do with her being his daughter. In fact, it would have been easier for him if she wasn't.
Not to mention other complications.
"I hate to break this to you, Fastred. But I may be moving soon. My father has bought me a house in a small settlement west of here. I have always had my heart set on living there."
He said alarmed, "where's that?"
"It is within 5 miles of the sea."
Oh, of all the places."I don't care for the sea very much."
"Well, I do. I would very much like it if you went with me. Otherwise, I shall remain in Hobbiton."
"Sure." It was certainly difficult living in Bag End. With Sam.
"Then it's settled. She threw back her head and whooped. "O, what a night! Look at how beautiful the stars are. (That was true- there weren't nights much more beautiful in Valinor.) You know what would make this evening perfect? Fireworks, like they have at parties."
Frodo felt giddy and high and wierd. "If you want to see fireworks, then now you shall." He pushed her down, and made out with her the way he had with Daffie Chubb, all those years ago.
Unbeknownst to them, Sam was coming up the pathway, whistling. He had been out to visit some friends. What he saw made him widen his eyes in surprise. Then he laughed.
"Kids," he said.
Soon word got aout around town that they were to be married. Frodo had little to do with this. He felt as though he had fallen into a great, swift river, carried to an unknown destination. Sam had made him swear not to hurt his daughter, and he took oaths seriously. Maybe it was that, or his feelings for her, or just the fact he had had a brain injury. But he felt that he would simply have to marry her.
That scared him. She still didn't know who he was. He hoped that in time, he would ne able to tell her.
One month later, a cavalade of hobbits left for what would be Elanor's new home. Sam was present, as he would officiate the wedding. (As there are no priests in Middle-earth, that is my uneducated guess. auth.) On the day before, Frodo walked into the Common room to grab a snack. Two children of Sam's were playing; he had forgotten thier names. The first child, a girl put her hand on her chest as though she were having a heart attack. She was bent over almost double. "Oh! I've got to get there!"
Frodo wondered what that was about. Then he saw the smaller boy in front of her crawling on his knees. "My precious! My precious!" he exclaimed.
cried the girl, "you won't have my ring!"
They collapsed into hysterical laughter.
Frodo left before they could see him.
One fine, unseasonably warm autumn day, the party set out from Hobbiton. Frodo and Elanor rode side by side on thier ponies. She said, "would you like to hear a song?"
She began a song about a hobbit woman named "Lalia", sho had been married to Fortinbras the Took. In the beginning she was a lovely young girl; then she became grotesquely fat. Her husband died of smothering in bed; rumor was that he had been crushed to death. Her son also was under the thumb of her widowed mother, untill one day, Pearl, her servant, accidently (or did she?) tipped her down the stairs. Her son "punished" her with a pearl necklace!
"I love that song!" said Frodo. "Sing it again!"
Frodo's high clear voice joined with Elanor's, floating above the crowd. Sam felt a strange tingle on the back of his neck. He said to Rose, "just felt a goose walk on my grave."
They arrived in town in the late afternoon; Frodo spent the night in a local inn. The next afternoon, he found himself being led by Sam-Elanor was on his Sam's other side- up a pathway to a small hill, flanked by lines of cheering people.
To Frodo, the scene was eerily familiar. Long live the ringbearers, praise them with great praise...
At the top of the hill, Sam turned them around to face them. He called for silence.
"If there is anything that deeply moves me, it is the love of a lad and a lass. Especially a love such as this. So were Rosie and I, long ago. I once had reservations about Fastred; But now I am taking him into my family, forever,"
He took Elanor's hand, and placed it in Frodo's, as per the hobbit custom.
"I pronounce them husband and wife." He whispered to Frodo, "will you kiss the bride?"
That was the last thing he was in the mood to do. He managed a small peck.
There were whoops, and laughter (and jeers, and catcalls. Per usual.)
Frodo, led down by Sam, saw black spots before his eyes. I will not faint, I will not faint.
They were taken to a huge banquet table. He scarcely ate. As the evening fell, Sam handed him the key to his and Elanor's new house.
Once inside Elanor lit her lamp; then headed immediately for the bedroom. Well, I am tired, too.She took off her cloak, then took from one of its inner pockets a small, scented candle. She set this in a bowl on the bedside table, and lit it from the lamp. Then the lamp was extinguished.
"Why did you do that?"
"We're going to make a baby together," she said cheerily. "Don't you know that's what it's all about?"
Frodo started. So unhinged was he by all this he'd forgotten what the "wedding night" was for.
He sat on the side of the bed, and watched her undress. She smiled and began to undo the laces of her bodice. She seemed completely unfazed. He himself was terrified. The last garment came away.
She was beautiful. He had thought the girls of Valinor to be more lovely then she. But that was before he had seen her like this.
He held out his arms. "Let's get this thing over with."
I respectfully draw the curtain here; I will just say it was tense, and quickly over, They were both virgins.
She playfully nipped his shoulder in the darkness. Jokingly she said, "Is that all? Mama Rose told me it would be more fun!"
He said amazed, "Did she really say that?"
Sure. Did not your father tell you of the facts of life?
"If he were alive, I would imagine..."
"But she also said that it gets better with time. Much better."
"Good to hear that. Oh, Elanor. You'll never know just how happy I am to be here."
"I know." (she didn't."
"I love you."
"Love you too."
Frodo and Elanor's house was on the outskirts of this small town of 200 souls. Thier back yard faced into a large wooded area. There were said to be bears in those woods, and wolves. And worse.
On the other edge of town was a tall stone tower. From the top you could see the ocean, just a 5 mile walk away. Frodo never went up there; he had had his fill (far more than his fill) of Valinor. But his wife often did. She would cup her hands in her chin and gaze out to sea, sometimes for hours at a time.
Once Frodo came upon her as she was coming out of the tower. He took her arm gently. "I know you are thinking of the undying lands, dear," he said. "It is beautiful, but there is nothing for you there."
She started. "Why, have you been there?"
"Uh....no. Except in my dreams."
She softened. "My father is setting sail for there someday. Were it not for you, I would go with him."
"Oh, he said. "Oh.
Almost every day, he worked in the big communal field, as well as thier small plot. So did Elanor, when not doing household chores. At first, he hated it. He was unused to field work anyway; and he had the feeling people were staring and snickering. He tried not to show that it bothered him, but it did. And to think I was thinking of kissing the ground! He knew that if it were'nt for his wife, he would be back in Valinor.
He looked forward to evenings with her. She would draw a fire; sometimes they would share a bottle of wine, or ale. They would talk long and quietly, often of thier respective pasts. As always, Frodo related real tales out of his youth and young adulthood, just changing the names and dates. I hate having to do this. But in a way, she knows me.
One adventure Elanor often spoke of was her trip to Gondor. At 16, she and her family met the King and Arwen at the North Gate. They were much taken with the tiny, intense girl and invited her and her father to come visit them. A few years later, they did. She was made special handmaid to the Lady Arwen. (There was much affectionate chortling over this in the court, as she could almost pass for a 5 year old.) Often she would sit on thier laps, like a real child. She said the King confided in her, "how I wish that I was immortal. Then my Arwen would have her cake and eat it too. We would rule for 1000 years, and then when we got tired, depart for Valinor."
"You know the story, said Elanor, "Of how Queen Arwen didn't want to spend eternity in Valinor, thinking of the one she loved."
Frodo said dryly, "Oh, I know how that feels."
Frodo missed the old King, almost like a friend. He doubted he would ever see him again. Nor Merry and Pippin, either.
In the following year, she announced that she was pregnant. He worried that the birthing would harm or even kill her, since she was so slender. But the infant boy slipped out with scarcely a cry from her. He was beautiful (for a newborn) and perfectly formed. Frodo wondered if he would grow up to be a dead ringer for himself. He was right about that. Two years later she gave birth to a girl, Firiel, who they called Firi. When she was two Elanor bore twins, a boy and a girl, they named Beren and Mithril. The midwife told them because the birthing was so difficult, she would never concieve again. Frodo was let down; he had wanted to have a family to rival Sam's. But maybe it was for the best.
When little Elf was one, Elanor took Frodo by the arm. She told him her father was at the door. His equilibrium shattered, he cried, "why didn't he warn us?"
She looked at him strangely. "Don't you like him?"
They greeted Sam at the doorstep. He threw one arm around Elanor, the other around Frodo, as they walked to the fireplace. Frodo began to shake uncontrollably. "What's the matter?"
"My Fastred is shy," said Elanor. It is because you are such a great hero."
Sam rolled his eyes.
"Well see here, sir, I have got for you some vintage wine, 1420, and the best leaf from Longbottom. That should warm you up."
They sat at the fireside couch. Sam took out his pipe, and Frodo got his. In his first life he had never cared for smoking, but now was getting the hang of it. To appear "normal" and all that.
After some small talk, Elanor asked her father "what brings you here?"
"To see you, and your goofy husband." (he winked at Frodo.) "But it is also to fill out some paperwork. This settlement will become officially part of the Shire." I thought that it was already. (He kept his mouth shut.) "Soon it will be a town to rival Hobbiton."
"That's great news, Dad. I have made a special dish for you. Mushrooms!
Frodo blurted, "That's my favorite dish!"
"Oh, really," murmered Sam.
It was indeed the dish we saw them eat in a "Short cut to Mushrooms." Elanor had learnt the recipe from her father. Ordinarily, Frodo would have loved it, but as he sat at the table he tried to choke it down. Finally it became too much for him. He clapped his hand over his mouth, and made it to the garden just in time. Shocked, Sam and Elanor listened to the sound of his retching.
"Was it my cooking?" said Elanor.
No, said Sam, "I think it was the wine. I don't think it was aged properly. You know, I feel a bit nauseous myself."
That night, Frodo had an interesting dream. It was in a parallel universe, where Bilbo had not adopted him. He'd married an early girlfriend; maybe Taffy, whose real name was Sapphire. He felt little for her, and her him; yet she knew all, for he had nothing to hide. Ironic. They had 10, 15 children. In the dream he was grossly fat, and went out to the porch every morning to enjoy his morning pipe. One day he noticed that the horizon had grown dark. The darkness rushed forward across the countryside, untill it was black as midnight all around him. He heard people screaming, and above the screams he heard someone say, "he got the ring!"
Just before he woke up, he thought, "what does that mean"?
Yeah, I did my job. No regrets.
A year after Firi's birth, Elanor drew him aside. She said she had a "surprise" for him.
"I have been writing back and forth with my father about you. I know you are not happy in the fields. You told me so yourself. So with your permission, you can become the mayor of this town, and the surrounding area. The Warden of Westmarch."
"I am not. He will speak with the Thain about it."
Frodo said wryly, "I am surprised he would think me up to it."
"So would I. He once said that he feared you are a simpleton."
Frodo gasped. Had he been stabbed, it would not have hurt more.
"Oh, don't look at me like that! My father is a good man, but does not know you the way I do. When I first laid eyes on you, I thought, there is someone special. Perhaps he will be a hero someday!"
"Only if they find another ring."
"Very funny," she said.
To his surprise, Frodo enjoyed his job. For one thing, it made him feel closer to Sam. Maybe they would never be friends again; but at least they were doing the same thing. His office was in a small room at the foot of the Tower. (He still didn't care to go to the top.) He had lots of paper at his disposal, and free time. So he decided to try his hand at writing again. First he copied down a poem he had heard in Valinor. It was the story of a couple in the Second Age, who were childless. The husband went to an elf-lady with magical powers for help. She fixed the problem, but demanded that the man take her as lover for payment. When he refused, she killed him, and the wife died of grief. The two twin children grew up to play in the house courtyard as orphans.
After that, he decided to compose a poem himself. It was a black one, indeed.
He was able to show it to Sam the following year. After Elanor read the poem, she wrote one herself. They told him about it as soon as he was in the door.
At the table, Frodo watched Elanor scarf her dinner down. He wondered how a girl so skinny could pack away so much food. He himself was only picking at it. Because of Sam. Per usual.
Sam leaned back and patted his expansive belly. Look at you Sam, how happy and self-satisfied you are. In a way I envy you. In a way, I'm mad. But I shouldn't be. All this isn't your fault.
Elanor cleared away the dishes, and put the little ones to bed. Then she returned. Frodo and Sam took out thier pipes.
"I have to hand it to you Fastred," said Sam. "You have the most beautiful children. Even more so than mine, and that's saying a lot." (Elanor blushed.) "I think they ought to be called the Fairbairns, as you've no proper last name. Eh, Fastred?"
"Sure," Frodo said.
"What's this about poetry?"
"Well, the first one is a poem I heard once, that I copied down. The second is called "The Sea Bell." It is about this person, I don't know if it is a hobbit or one of the Big People, who sets sail to Valinor. But he does not belong there, and people snub him. Finally he returns home, but it is too late. No one recoginizes him. He dies alone and unloved."
Sam said in shock, "you wrote that?
"Yes, and I subtitled it "Frodo's Dreme," as it is a poem he could have written himself."
"What of your poem, Elanor?"
"I called it "The Last Ship." It is about a girl I heard of in Gondor, who was so lovely people mistook her for an Elf. One day, a ship on the way to the Blessed Realm went down the Anduin, and they saw her. They called out to her to join them, but her foot sank into the mud. They saw that she wasn't an Elf after all, and went on without her. She never got over it."
"Very interesting," said Sam. I will copy those poems down into the Red Book." he looked at Frodo strangely.
The next day, Frodo filled out the paperwork to name his children the Fairbairns. He had grown very close to them, as in his first life fatherhood had passed him by. Often they pleaded with him to sing a song to them, or tell a story. He never spoke of his adventures. Instead he told them nonsense tales, such as one about a stuffed dog Elf had lost when walking along the seashore. Frodo said it was swept to Valinor, where it became a real dog. (For all he knew, it had.) The dog's name was Roverandom, another name out of Bilbo's books. He also told of a hobbit who wore a very tall hat, whose purchase of a new carriage led to some wacky adventures. The tot's laughter made him feel very good, indeed. (You may find those two stories- "Roverandom" and "Mr Bliss"- at your local library. auth.)
When Elf was 5 and Firi was 3, Elanor gave birth to the twins. She was much taken up with them, as they were quite a handful. One evening, she poured soup for Frodo and the children, then left to nurse the babies. Feeling a bit down, Frodo gazed down into his soupbowl. He wondered how things were going in Valinor. Did Galadriel miss him?
"Valinor," he whispered. He gently blew into his soup bowl to cool it.
Smoke started to rise up. Firi pointed and laughed. "Hush!" he said.
He brushed the smoke away and saw a pine tree, a lake. A vision of Valinor. Carefully he stirred it before anyone could see. Why didn't I think of this before?
That night he waited untill Elanor was asleep; then he filled a soup bowl with water, and left the house. He went into the woods, and some distance away set the bowl down. He sqatted down and blew into it, saying "Galadriel." Soon enough, he saw her in her home, sitting before a table.
He cried "Galadriel," though he didn't expect her to hear. But she turned in his direction, in surprise. Then got up, picked up a bowl, and poured into it a dipper of water. Suddenly the image was replaced by one of her face.
"Frodo!" she said. "I thought you were dead!"
"You really did?"
"I saw you fall into the lake. I assume you had drowned, as did everyone else. I did not tell them exactly what we were doing- embarrassed, I guess. Gandalf and Elrond were very upset. They sent divers down, but with the lake being so deep there was little hope of finding your body. Where are you?"
"In the Shire."
"Yes, and I am not sure how I got here."
"I think it is because your Valar friend passed onto you some of her power. That is how you made the crossing, and who knows what else you can do. You may be more powerful than I am."
"Could you tell me exactly what happened?"
"I fell onto the side of the Great Road, and hit my head. It almost killed me. I then walked to Bag End, where my friend Sam lives, and he did not recognize me. I was extremely disraught over that and planned to return. I don't know how. But then well...something happened...
"Don't tell me someone gave you a ring!"
"Of course not." He scarcely even thought of the Great Ring.
"Well, then what?"
"I met a girl. It was Elanor, Sam's daughter, who was a baby when I left. We are now married, and have 4 children."
"Oh, I am so happy for you!" Galadriel gasped. "It seems as though things have been working out all right. I feared you were in trouble."
"Not so fast. I am in trouble. She doesn't know who I am. I am called Fastred now. Neither does her father, or anyone else."
She gasped, "why didn't you tell them?"
"I wanted to, of course. But I thought there was no way of convincing them. Sam could become very angry."
"Oh, but there is a way. Just take a container of water, and conjure up an image of Valinor. They would have to believe you then!"
He gasped, "I didn't realize...."
"I hope you decide to go to them, and tell them straightaway!"
He moaned, "I am concerned as to how they would react."
"What do you mean by that? Won't they just be overjoyed?"
"It is more complicated then that. I know them both too well. I fear the shock will strike Sam dead. If he survives, he would become mad at himself for not recognizing me for so long. He underestimated me, you know. He'd fall apart, I fear. Perhaps go mad."
"Oh! and the girl?"
"She would love me even more, I guess. But she would also be terrified of me. She told me so herself. She would see me as too far above her, and would cease to be natural with me. Our marriage would be dead."
"A marriage based on what?"
"I don't know...in a way she still knows me. I have the feeling that when I passed through, I became a different person."
"You hit your head, what do you expect?"
"Yes, that was it."
"I don't follow all that you said, Frodo. It is hard for me to see you as a figure of awe. Perhaps it is different for them."
"It sure is. But I hope that someday, I can tell them."
"I hope so, too. I must ask; when your wife was a baby, were you at all close to her?"
"Nope, I scarcely glanced at her. It is because I never had children of my own."
"I just have the feeling that deep inside her heart, she recognized you."
"Oh, I assume so. Well, she had intelligent, piercing eyes, same as now. Once I cought her staring at me, I think. But I am not sure. She wasn't that important to me at the time, though I named her."
"I don't have any advice to give you. If it becomes to much, will you return to Valinor?"
"How? Should I go to the seaside and stick out my thumb, like I am hailing a carriage?"
"You silly hobbit. I mean the same way you entered the Shire. I assume it works both ways. Though if you returned, you would have lots of explaining to do."
"Oh, please don't tell them what happened! I fear they will demand I return to Valinor. Gandalf would come after me!"
She laughed. "He has bigger fish to fry. But don't worry, I will not tell anyone without your permission."
"Thanks a lot. I had better be heading back now. If Elanor is awake, she will think I am using the outhouse."
"I would appreciate hearing from you again, as soon as possible. If you tell, you could turn the Shire upside down. Maybe the world itself."
"Don't worry about that."
"Could I see you again a week from today, at midnight?"
"Untill then, let your concience be your guide, Frodo." She raised her hand. "Namarie."
The bowl went black.
Frodo laughed nervously. What a crazy life I'd led. First the Ring, and now this. I've been talking into a soup bowl!
On the way home, it was pitch black, but it didn't faze him. He could see as well as an owl, or a bat. He had never noticed that before. Another gift from Yavanna.
He thought of the irony of something he'd heard. Galadriel had told him that he was more powerful then she was. He recalled when he was at the Cracks of Doom, about to toss the ring in; he'd had a sudden vision of himself as the wise and just ruler of all Middle-earth. Only an accident had saved him. Now once again, he had power unimaginable; he did not care for it at all. He'd love to get rid of it.
Over the years, he went into the woods on a regular basis, to "visit" with Galadriel. He thought it so ironic that she knew who he was and his wife didn't (though in a way, he still felt close to her.) But he loved Elanor madly, and simply liked the Lady. She was a good friend, and perhaps, a mother figure.
He thought Elanor knew nothing of the visits. He was wrong. One night she woke up and found him missing; a friend confirmed he had gone into the woods. Not that that alone bothered her. Sam had told her Frodo (who of course was her idol) had taken long walks alone at night; so had she herself, as a young girl. And early on in thier marriage, they had done it together. But it still miffed her that he didn't ask her to come along, or tell her where he was going.
She had long suspected that Fastred had a horrible secret in his past, something he would not even share with her. She also had a gut feeling that the walks, somehow, were connected with that. Yet when they had met he had been mad for her, and in a way still was. A Match Made in Heaven, and all that. Yet, if that were so, why didn't he tell her everything?
She wanted to bring it up, but somehow never could bring herself to. But somewhere deep inside, a small piece of her heart turned hard.
The year 1481 dawned. Frodo and Elanor were around 60 (actually Frodo didn't know what age he was.) In hobbit terms, that would be the late 40s. Elanor looked good for her age, but no one would ever mistake her for a girl. She often confided that she wished she were immortal. Frodo did not; if he was, it wouldn't be long before he would be forced to confess all. Though maybe that would be a good thing.
Elf had married and moved away; Firi and the twins lived at home. Firi resembled her mother, but had darker hair; by a twist of fate, she looked a lot like Daffie. She was yet to pick a marriage partner, as no one could live up to her daydreams. As her mother had been.
Once Frodo was in the hallway, listening to them wash the dishes. He heard Elanor say, "Firi, find yourself a good man. A normal man. Don't go looking for someone who is like a hero in some book."
"I am not like that, Momma."
She sighed. "Yes, you are. I was so, at your age."
I wish I didn't hear that.
In spring of that year, Elanor recieved a note in the mail, that told her Mama Rose had died. Frodo consoled her, but wasn't that fazed by it. Not untill some months later, when another letter arrived containing shattering news. Sam had passed on all his possessions to his oldest son, and soon would be on his way to see them. He would be on his way to Valinor.
That night, Frodo dreamed. In the dream he was lying in bed in the early morning; he somehow sensed he was a lot older, and Elanor, snoring by his side, was old too. A translucent figure of a human passed through the ceiling. It was Sam, looking many years younger.
Now that I am dead, I know all. Frodo. Why didn't you tell me?
"I don't know. I was so frightened...."
I was hurt beyond belief.
"I know. I feel terrible about it. But are you happy Sam, wherever you are? Are you at peace?"
(After a long pause)Yes, I am at peace. And I am not so upset anymore. Maybe there was a good reason for all this. And it was halfway my fault. I was so blind. I will await you, my dear friend. Namarie.
"Namarie" Frodo whispered.
Sam spread his arms like a bird, and shot up through the ceiling. Frodo woke up in a sweat.
All through the next few days, he could not get the dream out of his mind. It had ended happily enough, but the words "I was hurt beyond belief" really shook him. Before he went to the Havens, he would have to tell Sam. He wished he had years ago, never mind the possibility of him (and his daughter) flipping out.
Before Sam's arrival, Elanor sent the kids to a neighbor's. Sam would see them on the way in. She didn't want them to see her upset.
Sam bustled in the door; he gave his daughter a bear hug, and winked at Frodo. He set a large red book down on the table; Elanor gazed at it the way a dog would gaze at a steak.
"Yes, that is Bilbo and Frodo's diary. It also contains all your poetry, and your cute stories for children, Master Fastred. I can only stay an hour. My carriage is waiting."
At the table, Frodo opened his mouth to speak. Oh, by the way, I am Frodo Baggins. Hate to spring it on you like this....
He tried to force out some words; what emerged was a whistling noise. He attempted again, to no avail. It was as though his vocal cords were paralyzed. He took a long drink of water. The other two did not even glance over at him.
In the middle of desert, he was finally able to speak. In a tiny voice he said, "Mr. Gamgee. Mr. Gamgee, what if what you are looking for in Valinor is right under your nose?
"You mean, is the Shire better than over there?"
Frodo could not reply. "I assume it is. But I am an old man now. I led a full life here."
Frodo bent over his plate. Tears fell from his eyes onto it.
Sam reached over and ruffled his hair. "Don't be so glum, Chum. You aren't losing much. It is not as if I'm your real father. You're only concern should be comforting Mistress Elanor."
"You are right," she said. This isn't the greatest day of my life."
"Mr. Gamgee. What if when you arrive in Valinor, Frodo isn't there?"
"I believe my husband was impertinent to ask;" said Elanor, "But I think so too. Frodo must be pretty old by now. He is very likely dead."
There was a pause, as Sam refilled his pipe.
"yes, I know that is very likely so. But that is not the only reason I am sailing to Valinor. I have seen it so often, in my dreams. The last ship sails tonight, and it will be awhile before they build another one. And I shall never return. They only go one way."
"Wonderfull" Elanor said.
Frodo bowed his head, and went into a sort of trance. He wasn't even aware when Sam said, "I'm off," shook out his pipe, kissed his daughter, and put on his hat. On the way to the carriage, he was already singing.
"Well," said Elanor harshly, "that is that."
"He is really gone?"
"Of course, didn't you see him? Would you mind helping me clear the table?"
Sam was right that he would have to comfort Elanor. She cried in bed that night, and Frodo rubbed her shoulders. It calmed her down quite a bit.
The next morning, though, she was quiet and bitter. Frodo made himself scarce; wandering aimlessly through the town and then through the woods. The words "what have I done" ran through his head like a tape on a loop.
In bed that night, he waited untill Elanor was asleep. Then he crept out of the house, his goal being a duck pond in an abandoned farm 3 miles away.
He was planning on returning to Valinor, the same way he left it. He would meet Sam as his ship came in, and explain everything. He hoped that Sam would survive the shock, and be able to forgive him. Then he would return, as his place was with his family, not there. He would take Sam with him, if that was what he wished. He didn't know what would happen after that.
At the ponds edge, he crouched down and blew. "Valinor," he whispered.
Some smoke came up; a few scattered ducks flew up noisily. He saw at his feet a field with a path running through it, seen from above. It was bright green, spangled with white flowers.
Frodo took a running, flying jump. He hit the water with a great splash, and felt it close over his head. He sank down into the darkness, weeds tangling around his legs. Even before his feet touched the muddy bottom, he knew he wasn't in Valinor.
Angrily he kicked against it, and shot up. He swam to shore, and stood on the water's edge trembling. He dared not make another attempt. He could get stuck between the worlds, a horrible fate.
Sorry, Sam, I tried.
Finally, finally, he had had enough of all this.
He was going to tell his wife who he was.
The walk home was the longest of his life.
Elanor. The soft way she snored in bed....her grumpiness in the morning....thier long talks before the fire....thier leasurely, often playful, lovemaking sessions....the way she would sometimes, half-jokingly, boss him around...her jokes, her rich laughter...all would came under threat if she knew.
But maybe thier love would be great enough to surmount that.
He saw a light on in the house. As he opened the door, he saw her in the kitchen, washing something. Her piercing eyes settled on his face.
"Back so soon?"
"I have something to tell you, Elanor. But first, I need to clean up."
He went into the bedroom, and changed his clothing. Back in the kitchen, he took out a bowl and filled it with a dipper of water. He set it on the table, and blew into it. "Valinor," he whispered. Up came the smoke.
"Are you in training to be a wizard?Is that what this is about?
No. Can you please sit down?"
I would prefer to stand, thank you."
"I may very well have to catch you."
"Oh, nothing you can say can surprise me."
There in the bowl was a vision of the Undying Lands. A pine forest, with a tall mountain rising behind it.
She said shocked, "What is that?"
"That is Valinor. That used to be my home. I am Frodo."
She said quietly, "What did you say?"
Her face turned dead white. "Oh, oh."
"You don't look all that happy. Well you said it yourself, you'd be frightened to death of me."
She braced her hands on the table, breathing heavily. (you see, he was right!) After a long moment she said: "If that is so, why didn't my father recognize you? Why didn't you tell us?"
"I don't know why. I had changed too much I guess. As for telling, I wanted to, but I thought there would be nothing I could say to convince you two. Sam would grow enraged over my claiming to be Frodo. After all else I had been through, could I handle that? Eventually I found out a way, as you see here, but it was too late. It never seemed to be the right time....
He then related what happened in Valinor, how he got there.
"My father," she said slowly, forcing the words out, "sailed all the way to Valinor to see you. And you are here." She looked even more horrified then before.
"I tried to tell him, last night. Before, I was afraid he'd have a heart attack, or something. I opened my mouth to talk, and no words came out. Strange. But when I could speak, I still tried to talk him out of going. You heard me. But he never paid that much attention to me. Not as Fastred."
She said almost inaudibly, "When he finds out..."
"I don't think he shall, no while alive. Everyone will tell him I fell into the lake and drowned. He half expects to find me dead anyway. My feeling is he'll get over it, and go to his grave not knowing."
"How nice," she whispered.
"It's sad, though."
She drew a circle on the tabletop with her finger. "You know, somewhere in the very back of my head, I always knew who you were."
"I always knew that you knew."
She could no longer withstand looking at him. She turned her back, crossing her arms tightly.
"I cannot live with you anymore," she said sadly. "You are too high above me. Why did you stay? Your place is in Valinor!"
He said angrily, "I tried to go back to Valinor! The same way I left, at the duck pond. But I couldn't get through, it didn't let me in. I think it is because I no longer belong there. My place is with you."
When she didn't reply, he went to stand in front of her. She shrank back. He grabbed her shoulders; she swung her hand across his face. And shrieked.
He gasped, "I hope no one heard that!" He felt his cheek, which hardly hurt at all. "I will try my best to console you; but please, Elanor, don't tell anyone. Not even the children!"
In a whimpering voice she said: "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hit you. It wasn't me! But please. Please. I need to lie down."
She walked around Frodo and entered the bedroom. After a moment he followed her.
He found her lying in bed on her side. Her eyes looked glassy. He got into bed and curled around her, not knowing what else to do.
"You could be right Elanor," he said into her hair. "I should have gone back. I hurt you, your father, and myself. But I stayed because of you."
He could scarcely feel her breathe.
"Listen to me, Elanor. I never dreamed I would ever love anyone more than I loved your father. But I love you more than him, Bilbo, my parents, and Daffodil Chubb. I will never, ever, leave you."
Elanor said nothing; her eyes stayed fixed on the wall. He wondered if she would ever speak again. The bare arm he stroked was trembling and cold.
Suddunly he realized what he had to do.
"I want you to swear to me, upon your life, that you would never do anything to hurt my daughter."
This is for you, poor Sam. Wherever you are.
Tenderly he reached around and placed his hands over her eyes, closing them. He whispered something into her ear.....
With an extrememly steady hand, Elanor poured the morning tea. The window was open; a little breeze blew in. Soon the children would be returning. Everything was back to normal.
"Well, Fastred, how was your night?"
"It was fine. How about yours?"
What Frodo had done was send Elanor to sleep, erasing all memory of what had occured. He now knew he would never tell, before she was on her deathbed. But somehow, it didn't matter too much anymore.
He'd the thought that sometime after thier deaths, the three of them would be together. Truly together. There would be no holding back. He evisioned tears, and joy. He could wait for it.
She groaned. "Oh, what a night I'd had. I woke up at midnight and found you gone. You had gone out walking, as you often do. Don't think I don't know about it, Fastred! I was upset, so I went into the kitchen and had the rest of the wine. Then I washed up and went to bed. Had some strange dreams I scarcely remember. I don't know."
"I promise I shall never do that again."
Thank you, but something's been eating you lately. What is it?"
He said quietly, "I am worried about Sam."
She made a face. "Oh, not that again! I am worried too, but what is done is done! He's gone!"
"I know. I feel he will be lonely there. Valinor is no place for a hobbit."
"Oh, shut up, Fastred!"
Frodo stared at her, aghast.
She said softly, "I apologize. I have been such a shrew as of late. It's because of my father."
"I havn't been myself lately either."
"Then let's make a pact to put this behind us." She covered his hand with hers. "Life is so very short."
"I know it is." He squeezed her hand, stroked it.
"Please, pass the butter."
"Here. Could you hand me the tobacco jar?"
Someplace very far away, Galadriel viewed this scene in her Bowl. And smiled.