The Oceans that Part Us

by Orangeblossom Took

Chapter 4: Such a Brief Space of Time

Valinor 1482

The tea grew cold in the pot and the light coming in through the window changed from a light,
silvery color to the gentle, dusky blue of a Valinor evening. In
the silence of Frodo's smial, Frodo
got up to put a fresh kettle on the stove.
When he came back, Sam's expression was downcast
and he was wringing his hands
in an unconscious gesture.

"So, Frodo said gently, "Iris married your Pippin-lad and quickly became pregnant,
a dangerous prospect for so fragile a maid. I think I know what
you are going to tell me, Sam,
and, although I dread hearing it, I think I need
to know what happened."

Sam nodded, sipped his tea, and continued in a steadier voice, "It was a good time.
Pippin-lad's vineyard was thriving and the dresses and other clothing
Rosemary and Iris made
were more popular than ever."

Frodo smiled slightly and said, "They continued to work together. Good. Was the rift between them healed?"

Sam's tone lightened and he replied, "Yes, it was. I think Rosemary realized that Iris was
an adult and her decisions, mistakes or no, were her own
to make. I could tell Rosemary was worried, though."

In a hollow voice, Frodo responded, "And then she got pregnant."

Sam nodded and, in a voice full of sorrow, said, "Yes, and she had difficulties from the beginning.
She never got over the stomach upset of the
first months or bloomed as I had seen other lasses do
She continued to work and
continue as normally as possible but, despite the swelling of her stomach, her
face was pale and her cheeks were hollow. Pippin-lad and Rosemary worried and lost sleep over it,
but they knew there was nothing they could do. Daisy helped
Iris with the household chores."

Frodo whispered, "When did it happen?"

Sam's voice quavered and he said, "It was a bright day at the end of summer and the goldenrod
was beginning to bloom. Iris walked out to the garden to pick
some herbs, but collapsed in the
doorstep. Daisy and Rosemary were with her.
Rosemary stayed with Iris and Daisy went to get first
the healer, then
Pippin-lad, then me. I think the healer was wrong, Frodo. Iris was strong in
spirit if not in flesh. She fought as bravely as any solider in battle to bring the baby into this world
and, after countless terrifying hours, she succeeded.
But there was blood, Frodo. So very much blood
that I didn't see how Iris'
little body could possibly have held it all. She must have been in terrible
pain, but she hardly screamed at all."

In an anguished voice, Frodo asked, "Did she see the baby, Sam?"

Sam's voice almost deserted him but he replied, "She did. She held on long enough to say goodbye, too.
She told me to tell you that, although she never met
you, she loved you dearly. I did not hear what she
whispered to Rosemary,
Pippin-lad, and Daisy."

Frodo felt hot tears coursing down his cheeks. He had had a daughter and she was alive for less time
than he had spent in Valinor. "Such a brief space of
time, Sam," he said. He had to catch his breath
and steady his voice before
he could continue, "How could she be born and die in such a brief space of time?"

The old hobbits held each other and cried for a long time. They were oblivious to the fireflies dancing
outside the window and the cries of the night birds.

Sam was the first to break the silence. He said, "Iris and Pippin-lad's child was a little girl named Jasmine.
There is one final picture I didn't show
you. Sam went back to his room and returned with a drawing of a dark-haired
hobbit-lass with blue eyes. They were Frodo and Iris' eyes. They were also the eyes of Frodo's mother Primula
and this grandchild he would never see in person.
This child was not delicate, though. She had a square jaw like
Sam and a trim
but sturdy and athletic build.

"Oh, Sam," said Frodo, "I am glad something good came of all this. I can't imagine anything better than this lass."

Sam smiled sadly and said, "I don't know what Pippin-lad would have done if this child hadn't survived and needed him."

A sudden, frightening thought came into Frodo's mind, "What did Rosemary do after Iris died, Sam."

Sam replied, "She moved in with Pippin-lad and helped raise Jasmine. Rosemary is still living as Jasmine is a bright
a lass as could be hoped for.
She is twenty now."

Frodo wiped the tears from his cheeks and said, "Sam, let's take a walk on the beach."

They walked out into the blue twilight of Valinor toward the glowing white sand of the beach.