#26

58th Day continued: Frodo lets Lily in, noting she is wearing the flowery dress that she had on when he first joined her, Iris and Torold for lunch.  She leaves her cloak on a chair and declines the offer of tea.  For a brief moment, Frodo looks at her dark wavy hair loose on her shoulders, the slight smile on her lips, her dark eyes full of caring and a certain mystery..... and that deeper Something that he now recognizes.  As he draws breath to speak, she surprises him.

"You're leaving."

He looks at her with wide eyes.  She almost feels like laughing, almost.

"Oh Frodo!  It's written all over you!  As soon as you asked me to meet you here I knew for sure."

"I'm not very good at hiding things, am I?"  he says with a sigh.

"No, you're not, and that's one of the things I like about you.  And your complete honesty, willingness to work, ability to think things through, the easy way you care about others--"

"Lily!"  Now he's starting to feel guilty.  He shakes his head.  "I was completely decided and reconciled with myself about it before you spoke."

"I'm sorry.  But I haven't made you seriously reconsider, have I?"

He looks back at her.  "No, I'm afraid not.  I've come to realise that if anywhere in the Shire is my home, it's Bag End.  All my memories of Bilbo are tied up there.  Most of the best times in my life were there.  I need that connection.  It's so hard, you've no idea, to feel like myself at all.  I need to be where I used to be.  It won't change anything but it will remind me of the good things.  I needed time alone when I came here and in many ways I still do.  I can't go forward, Lily.  I've tried, oh I've tried!  I still hoped I could somehow put it aside and get on with things, but the more I try the more I realise that I can't."

She puts her hand out and speaks quietly.  "Stop, Frodo.  I know.  In a way I understand.  It seemed like you might be able to fight it, but I knew at last it couldn't be done.  It's hard to let you go this way, I won't say otherwise, but I see that you need to go.  You are still compelled.  I don't know if you'll ever find true peace except at your home.  I know I can't be part of it."  She looks down then back up, blinking tears away.  She manages not to let any fall.  "It hurts me to let you go.  You would be much more miserable if you tried to stay, though, so I won't complain.  But I hope you will let me give you something."

Without waiting for a response she goes to the chair she had left her cloak on and picks up a small package she had set under the cloak.  It is wrapped neatly.

"If you decide you don't want any reminders of me, send it back.  No really, I'm serious.  I won't be offended.  My hope is that the memories will be sweet, but if you decide they only make things more difficult please, please, send this back.  The last thing I want is to cause you trouble."

Frodo reaches for her hands.  She clasps his for a moment.  No words are necessary.  Lily pulls back, smiling a little.

"I want you to remember me this way, happy.  Spending time with you again has been wonderful.  I hope with all my heart that someday, you'll be healed."

She whisks her cloak off the chair and leaves.  Frodo gazes at the door.  ‘Well, something else I've lost.  My expectations have had nothing to do with what really happens, it seems.'

He picks up the package she left.  It's light and hardly weighs anything.  For some reason, he decides to open it.  Inside is a bundle of grey cloth.  He lifts it out and finds that it's a shirt, very finely woven and decorated with a few of the little sparkly stones they had found at the edge of the Shirebourn.  ‘Lily probably wove this herself.... Grey, just like I feel.... ah, she knows me!  If only I could--'

There is no point in continuing the thought.  He brushes the cloth with his lips then puts it into his pack.

***

#27

65th Day: I'm rather surprised it took me a week to get home.  There was snow around Oakleaf but almost nothing north of there.  I've been in the Shire for more than two months now, and it still feels like hardly any time has passed.  It seems like I spent a day or two in Oakleaf.  I'm glad I came back, if I'm still staying at the Cotton's, but I do feel a bit strange about Lily.  She knows me well, better than I had any idea of, and she was hurt by my leaving which I was hoping wouldn't happen, but I think this is best for both of us.  She understands that.  I'm fortunate to have known someone who is so insightful.

Sam and Rosie both met me as I came up from looking at Bag End, holding hands.  I really am glad for Sam, he's more-- I can't quite put my finger on it, rounded out maybe.  He smiles so easily with her.  I haven't seen that for a long time.  Bag End is coming along but a snap of cold and windy weather postponed things.  I know he's anxious about that especially now that I'm back.  I'm not too concerned about it.  Sam will see that everything is done right and the Cottons have repeatedly told me I'm welcome for as long as I want.  They have a nice place here, cosy at times and still with enough room for everyone.  Mrs. Cotton personally looks after my meals.  She or Sam tell me everyday when tea is ready, and there are always wonderful treats to go with it.  I didn't realise it before but tea here is a little stronger than in the Southfarthing.  I enjoy the difference.

I'm giving more thought to starting this book, all the way up here I was imagining it and even starting to write in my head!  That is, I see now, my task.  It is no less important than anything else I've done.  What Bilbo started is mine to finish.  I hope that after I'm gone, the book will be what people think of if my name is ever mentioned.  To show people that Evil can be anywhere, will use any means for its own ends, that is of the greatest significance.  Perhaps I'm the only one who can do this, as I was the only one who could carry the Ring.  I'm well read and I think well educated.  I've had help along the way but I think, at this point, I'm the one who can put everything together suitably.  In my younger days, when I read everyday, I would sometimes think about writing a book.  I never did because I couldn't narrow down my interests to one topic at a time.  Here, then, is my chance!  These entries of my daily life mean nothing to anyone but me, but it does give me practice. It's sort of exciting, actually.

Sam tells me Merry and Pippin have not stopped by at all but he did send word to them of my coming back.  I've no doubt whatsoever I'll see them before too long.  Sam also says there's many trees down in Buckland that haven't been replaced yet so he'll be off soon to see to that, and maybe even the Northfarthing since he's been hearing about damage there also.  He is going to be one busy Hobbit for a few months, and I know he likes to be busy.  He asked if I wanted to come along to Buckland but I've had enough traveling.  I've my own work I should be starting.  I might take a short trip in Spring to see how Sam's labours are bearing fruit; I can think of several nearby spots I knew well that were damaged and replanted.  I'm very impressed by his commitment to this.  It doesn't surprise me that he wants to help for that is in his blood.  It is however somewhat unusual for him to take the lead and I think that reflects the deep meaning it has for him.   I'm also quite pleased at the help he seems to be getting. So many people are willing to go get new trees, haul them in, and dig holes, water and mulch under Sam's direction without complaining about his insistence on accuracy. Some are folks I rather expected would resent Sam for taking charge but that doesn't seem to be happening. I daresay Hobbits have learned a good lesson or two! This gives me hope for the continued recovery of the Shire.

And now I think I'll have lunch, which I can smell cooking and it smells wonderful indeed, then start arranging Bilbo's notes.  I think I'll have to make some notes of my own before I start actually writing passages.  Having read what Bilbo wrote in Rivendell I see it's not just a simple matter of setting pen to paper and continuing till I can't remember any more.  The things I read many years ago seemed to flow so easily I never guessed how much work might have gone into them.  I wonder if Elves have some of their number dedicated to just writing works, or do most of them contribute in various measures?  I wonder what Elves would write about the Shire.... I have to think even Elves, detached as they often are, would be at least a little impressed by what is being accomplished here.  

***