West of the Moon
A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive
Farewell to Middle-earth
Frodo's thoughts as the ship leaves the Havens. Dedicated to West of the Moon in gratitude for many happy hours of reading, and in appreciation to Shadow for making this a superb archive that will always be treasured.
I did not weep at the last.
Of the four of us lingering on the windswept quay, I alone did not weep, even as tears streamed unchecked down their cheeks, wetting my own face as I kissed them. Almost I had managed to convince myself, in my efforts to convince them, that my smiling serenity was heartfelt as I bade farewell forever to my beloved friends, my home, my world...all I have ever known or cared for.
But now, as I stand on the deck of the slow-moving ship, holding aloft the star glass and watching the shore slip away, my smile fades and I can dissemble no longer. I only hope that in the gathering dusk they can no longer discern my expression. Now, I struggle to recall what I have been telling myself these many months: that it is better this way...better for me, and better for them. That it is a relief to leave behind the stares and whispers, the awkwardness and unease I provoked in most Shire folk. "Queer Baggins" they called me, when they thought I couldn't hear.
I am not sure which was harder to bear: the indifference of those who knew or cared little about my struggles on the Quest, or the pity of those who knew all too well. My thoughts drift back through what seems an age of Arda to my youth in Buckland--to the time just after the death of my parents. Yes, it was the pity after all that was most intolerable.
Like a dream at waking, the quay draws ever further from my reach. Just as Lórien had seemed to drift backward as our boats hung suspended in the current of the Anduin, now it is the Havens, not the ship, that appear to slowly float away while I stand helpless and forsaken.
My arm trembles and my shoulder aches, but still I lift high the Lady's phial, and watch its shimmering trail on the water below. As long as I think they can see it, I will continue to hold it so. Thus did Goldberry raise her slender arm as we rode away over the downs...thus Galadriel and Aragorn bade us farewell on the journey home. There is some comfort to be taken from the sight, I recall.
O Sam! Surely you, too, can see that this is for the best?
The happiness of Sam and Rose has been my only solace, little Elanor my only joy...even as their presence deepened my own sense of loss, and regret for what now could never be. Still, I would have endured it all--the whispers, the loss, the despairing dreams--would have tried to appear happy, for their sake, had it not been for the grim certainty that little by little, day by day, I was dying. Not that the prospect of death dismayed me! How often had I longed for its release on the journey through Mordor, and on my darkest days since our return. But I could not let Sam witness my long, slow decline, could not inflict further pain on Merry and Pippin. They have suffered too much already for my sake.
Please forgive me, Sam...and you, my dearest cousins.
Not until the Havens have disappeared from view...now the merest hint of shadow on the water...and now, nothing...do I lower the glass and watch its gentle radiance dim. I thrust it deep into my breast pocket.
It is finished.
Around me all is quiet; the others have gone forward but still I linger in the stern, leaning on the deck rail, eyes straining toward what I can no longer see. The first stars wink gently overhead, their light too faint yet to kindle the dark waters.
Gildor said that when we reach the open sea the waves will grow rougher, but for now as we glide down the long firth, the surface is as calm and placid as the pool at Bywater. And with that thought at last I give way, bowing my head over the exquisitely carved rail.
I weep until it seems the ship is sailing to Valinor on a sea of tears...
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