#28

69th Day: Writing something you know will be long is indeed difficult!  I'm glad I have Bilbo's work for reference or I should need weeks deciding where to start, the pace, who to mention and who to leave out, and I've only barely started!  Mrs. Cotton came in to tell me breakfast was ready and politely asked how long I'd be working on this project– I'm afraid I startled her by laughing.  Of course then I explained that it is a very complicated project and one completely new to me, so I have no idea really of how long it might take.  She wished me much good luck with it.  I'm thinking I will need it!

Pippin and Merry stopped by yesterday, with someone I haven't seen in what feels like many years, Fatty Bolger.  I was astonished to see him; I had no idea he was interested in what happened to me.  Along with him was his sister Estella.  She and her brother, Pippin, Merry, Sam and I sat for most of the afternoon and into the evening by the fire, telling new stories and re-telling old ones.  Sam tried to talk about my parts in everything despite my telling him not to bother.  He's proud of me, dear Sam, and wishes others were too.  Well I must admit I am not much interested in what others think of me.  I'm not particularly concerned that anybody know the extent of my travels.  I did none of it to please anybody, after all.  Sam is somewhat annoyed with that, but it truly is not important that anybody know precisely what I did.  It got done, is the point.  I did enjoy hearing what Fatty has been up to and I think his sister wanted to hear all about Merry's adventures at least three times.  It flatters him; I'm amused by his willingness to repeat everything.  I can see he and Pippin will be great sources of information as I progress on this book.  They either made their own notes, or have excellent memories for it.  I can't quite see them sitting down long enough to make notes however!

They brought some news of the Northfarthing and more details on the damage there; many gardens as well as trees were torn up.  Sam made up his mind on the spot to leave for there tomorrow, and in his eagerness and determination missed the slight frown that passed across Rosie's face.  But as the talk expanded into exactly what should be done and where and how, she said she was right proud to know the Hobbit who would replant the Shire.  He blushed– I always laugh when I see him blush, it's so like him to dismiss himself in favour of what needs to be done.  Sam couldn't hide anything of importance if his life depended on it.  That's part of what makes him so delightful.  I'm very pleased that Rosie seems to recognise that.  He really needs someone special in his life and Rosie is a wonderful girl.  They are a perfect pair.

Merry and Pippin said they would ride part of the way with Sam then break off to visit the Westfarthing.  I asked if they would wear their battle finery and they both pretended to be aghast at the suggestion that perhaps they would not.  Pippin confided that he and Merry have just a bit of concern that there might still be some ruffians about, waiting for a lull to strike, and they didn't want to be caught unawares should that be the case.  While I believe that, I also think they enjoy being seen in such raiment.  I don't begrudge them that.  They earned the right to wear it.  I've no desire for it myself.... I believe we're well protected here and I'm much more comfortable without mail or sword nearby.

Dinner should be ready soon.  I've been asked to tell about my adventures with the cows, now that Farmer Cotton's sons will all be round the table and they all want to hear.  They've been out taking care of one thing or another and today will be the first time in almost a fortnight that the family will be together.  I'm told Sam will be joining us as well so we should have quite a feast!  Mrs. Cotton cooks excellent meals whether small or large.  She's extremely versatile.... if we're short of something she makes do and comes up with a meal no-one would want to miss.  I've heard her and Sam discussing vegetables and mushrooms and soups; such simple things, but they make me glad.  These are just the sort of conversations I love to hear.  I'll enjoy talking about the cows.  I suppose I'll sound rather ignorant of the creatures but it was a pleasure helping take care of them.  I miss it a little.  It's good to know the animals are in the proper hands.

Spring may be on its way.  I find I'm looking forward to moving back to Bag End, especially in such a fine season.  Sam has told me about the kitchen garden he wants to plant and I can almost smell the herbs already.  I'll have more space there to spread out notes and paper and pens.  I may not write my thoughts down here as often if I spend many hours a day writing the book, but I still want to keep a record.  Once in a while, even now, I go back and read something that awakens happy memories.  Memories I know I'll never lose.  Some I wish I could but others I'll cherish and reading about those moments brings them closer.  I rather feel I can go back to them easier than going forward to new ones.  Well, there are still some things I'm looking forward to.  Bag End should be set back in order and I know I'll enjoy hearing about the fruits of Sam's planting efforts.  And there's the call to dinner– I look forward to that too!

***

#29

74th Day: We received a note from Sam today, explaining that there's more damage in the Northfarthing than he expected, so he plans to stay there at least a fortnight.  He apologized to me– silly Sam, apologizing to me when it's Rosie who really wants him back!  He asked her to look after me in his place and she's taken that as quite the compliment, knowing he would only ask someone trustworthy.  She's been bringing me tea and treats and making sure I have enough pens and ink and paper.  Sam will be pleased.  I suspect she feels good doing something so important to him.  Now I have her and her mother tending me and I am certainly beginning to feel over-indulged.  I can still remember, a little, Mother's face smiling as she put me to bed.  For a very long time that was a troubling memory, bringing her close but not bringing her back.  I can think of her now with a sense of calm and maybe, even, peace.  It was thinking about her that made me realise what I saw in Lily's and Arwen's eyes.... mortality.  That impression of ending.  At very first it made me sad then I realised it's like that with everyone, everyone but Elves will pass away.  Leaves pass away in the Autumn, falling round us like our family and friends.  New leaves sprout in Spring and new children are born.

Fatty came by again today and convinced me to go riding with him.  We rode up and down Hobbiton and Bywater.  The wind was bracing and I was glad of the Elven cloak.  Fatty, bless him, asked nothing about what I'd done or where I'd been, he only asked how Bag End was getting along and what did I think of the replanting work in the Shire.  We had some good conversation.  I found I was rather tired after the ride, I suppose I'm getting un-used to it already.  I've been home more than seventy days and it still doesn't feel that long.  I don't know if it ever will and yet it bothers me less than it used to.  There are things to attend to and the Seasons will come and go as they ought.

I was thinking today out on my ride about the times with Fatty and the others, riding and walking about the Shire.  They're my memories but it doesn't seem like I was there.  I can remember details even Fatty had forgotten but it's– hard to describe, somehow I don't feel I really did those things.  I have keepsakes many years old and handling them doesn't give me that sense of absolutely having been there, it's more like borrowing– as if my memories and these items were borrowed from someone else.  I'm hoping moving back to Bag End will help me make some sense of it all.  Memories of Bilbo don't feel so far away.  I don't understand it but there's time–   Oh–  I just realised, writing that phrase ‘there's time', that the feeling prowling way inside my mind, is just that there may not be time.

[Frodo stares at the last few sentences, finally letting his breath out.  ‘That's really it, that's the thing that's been bothering me, there may not be time..... I haven't made any plans beyond this book and that's why.  It is the last task for me.  It is the only thing that matters.  I need to write this all down because I am as connected to doing that as I was to the Ring.  And Lily had some sense of that.'

He rises and walks round the room slowly.  ‘It is so clear now.  This is all I really need to concern myself with, except taking care of passing Bag End on.  And that's what Elrond knew, that's why he told me to look for him and Bilbo in the woods of the Shire, he knew I would be joining them to go to the Grey Havens, as Arwen revealed when she gave me this gem.  She told me I could pass into the West in her stead and I'm sure she knew that would happen.  I only needed to see that for myself.'

He looks out the window at the slope of grey-brown hill just outside and the sleeping fields beyond. ‘This place, this village, is still home for now.  It's true that I belong here if I am anywhere in the Shire.  To be with dear Bilbo again, and Elrond who saved me and knows me well, and perhaps the Lady Galadriel....'  Frodo feels a final burden lifting and he smiles.  ‘I have no idea what it is like beyond the Great Sea but my heart will rest there, that I know.  And Sam has Rosie to help him be whole.  Merry and Pippin, thankfully, are not troubled with such hardships and will have many glad years.  At last, I think my heart will have the leisure it used to have, when I had not heard of the Dark.  And truly, I can be free.']

***

#30

A perfume in the air caught Frodo's attention.... this was not like the perfume of rain-washed air but something even more pure and refreshing.  He walked slowly toward the prow of the great ship, feeling the rain on his face lighten to a gentle drizzle.  It was dark and he could see nothing yet beyond the silvery curtain of water still falling.  The ship lifted and dipped down as the waves carried it along.  The rhythm had become very comforting to Frodo as time slipped by.  Time was a thing he was only vaguely aware of now, having no need for it.  He guessed it was a few weeks since the ship had left the Grey Havens, but no one had mentioned, and Frodo decided that it didn't matter.  As he walked he had no need to steady himself, for he was quite accustomed to the ship's movements.  The sails made soft sounds, like birds' wings, within the sound of the wind and the waves.  The scent grew a little stronger and Frodo felt anticipation grow.

As he reached the prow the drizzle faded even more and then was gone.  Before him the dark grey sky began to open, letting a soft light reveal a pale shore.  Frodo caught his breath.  Gradually he could make out, beyond the shore, low hills.  The sunrise behind him was caught in mist at the shore and made the spectacle seem dream-like.  Now, over the fluttering of the sails and the splashing of the waves, he could just hear voices, far away.  He strained to see something else on the shore but could not, only the long expanse of white sand blending into the green hills.

The voices were singing.  It seemed to be Elvish but he didn't recognize it.  Whatever the words were, they lifted his heart to the very sky.  ‘I'm here!  I've finally reached the Undying Lands.... O what a wonder to behold, and to hear!  And the green of the hills, I've never seen a green like that.  This now will be Home.  Here my heart will rest.'

The perfume became stronger.  Frodo closed his eyes and inhaled deeply.  ‘I thought I would be sad to leave the Sea but if this scent is on the land, I go gladly.'

"This is the scent of the flowers of the Blessed Realm," said the tranquil voice of Galadriel beside him.  "You will smell it everywhere."

"Ah, then surely I will be healed!  Their scent alone is enough to do that."

"And yet there is more...."  She touched his shoulder.  "See, we will be greeted when we arrive."

Opening his eyes, Frodo saw many horses and riders slowly coming along the water's edge, to where he could just see the dock now.  The horses were all grey or white and moved with a light step, as if they were dancing.  The riders wore silver and white, some with gems glinting in the fast rising sun.  The horses' bridles glittered as well.

"Lady, what are they singing?  I thought the voices of Elves in Rivendell were the sweetest I would ever hear, but these are more so."

"It is a welcoming song, from many generations ago.  My heart is glad to see my kinsmen arriving, for I have long thought of them.  At last, I have come home."  Frodo looked up at her to see such a serene expression on her lovely face, he smiled.  "Through much pain we have both come, my friend, and now the pain is at its end.  You and I will be received into the open arms of my beloved kinsmen."

Frodo looked ahead at the line of riders.  Their song was clearer now.  Among the voices he could sometimes hear tinkling bells.  "Lady, what will life be like here?"

"Ah, such sweetness as you have not dreamed.  The City is wide and full of life.  There is a Library with the knowledge of a thousand Elven lifetimes.... there are Woods to walk in and Rivers to drink from.... the Wisest of the Elves will engage you in such conversation, Frodo, you will not even think about sleeping.  In the Blessed Realm the need for sleep is small.  There is no want that shall go unmet."

The riders were now starting to gather at the dock.  Their voices did not waver.  "Lady, do you miss Arwen Evenstar?"

Galadriel sighed, so softly Frodo almost missed it.  She did not take her eyes from the riders.  "She has made her choice and may she be happy in it.  I would be glad to see her face at this moment, were she beside me, but she is in her own Home now."

Frodo held the white gem Arwen had given him.  It gleamed like the moon behind clouds.  ‘I am here in her stead....' he thought with intense gratitude.  ‘She has given me so much more than just this stone.'

Galadriel leaned down and kissed the top of his head.  "Yes she has, dear one.  She knew that you merited this journey perhaps more than she.  And now smile, be joyful, for a new life is awaiting you.  Here you will live in Honour and Peace."

As Frodo gazed ahead, Galadriel saw him smile a little and saw that all the lines on his face were gone.

***

I wish to thank, firstly, all my dear dear friends of the LOTR Fan Club Message Boards, especially those who have continued to encourage my writing.  I also wish to thank the folks who maintain the Encyclopedia of Arda; the Encyclopedia has been very useful for clarifying dates and names of people and places.

This is not the end of Frodo!