West of the Moon

A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive

 

 

Bearing Company
Saying goodbye is never easy, but can Frodo bear to do otherwise?
Author: Blackbird Song
Rating: PG

 

The Council had met, the Fellowship was decided, and the plans set in motion. Supplies had been prepared and bestowed, routes had been planned, clothes mended, farewells said and leave taken. Frodo had rested long and well, or so it appeared. He was ready to undertake his quest. There were but two last farewells to say, and they were the most difficult he could imagine.

When he entered Bilbo's study, his heart nearly melted at the sight of his older cousin slumped over his desk, snoring. He didn't like to disturb him, knowing that Bilbo needed his rest, and that he would suffer for it if his younger cousin woke him. On the other hand, Bilbo had said quite specifically that Frodo was not to leave without saying goodbye, no matter what the provocation. He padded over to the old hobbit and bent to kiss his weathered cheek.

"Oh!" said Bilbo, starting out of his sleep. "Hello, Frodo, my lad! What are you doing here?"

Frodo rubbed Bilbo's shoulder, fondly. "I've come to say farewell, Bilbo. The others are assembling, and Gandalf says that we must be on our way."

"Oh, yes, of course. Well then, come along," said Bilbo, rising creakily from his chair. "Mustn't keep old Gandalf waiting!"

"No. I suppose not," said Frodo.

Bilbo stopped to look at Frodo. "What is it, lad?"

Frodo composed himself and gazed at his cousin. "Nothing, Bilbo. It's just been so good to see you again." He blinked and schooled a smile onto his face.

Bilbo appraised Frodo, as he had in the Shire many years before when all was not as it seemed. Finally, he sighed. "I'm sorry I had to leave, Frodo-lad," he said. "I know it must have been difficult for you. I'd come with you now, but Gandalf and Elrond forbid it." He sighed, and his stance changed, drooped a bit. "And they're right to, you know. I'm just an old fool, and I'd be a confounded nuisance more often than not, and slow you down when you had to run." He lifted his eyes to meet Frodo's. "But I'll walk as far with you as I can, my boy." He tugged Frodo to his side and put an arm around his shoulders, guiding them out of the study.

"Samwise has grown into a very fine hobbit," remarked Bilbo. "He's a credit to old Hamfast, and you're very lucky to have him along on your journey."

Frodo stopped. "I don't want him to come with me, Bilbo."

"Why on earth not?" asked Bilbo, quite taken aback.

Frodo was stonily silent.

"Did he do something improper? Do you think he would endanger your fellowship?"

"No!" blurted Frodo, before he could think. "No," he repeated, collecting himself.

"Oh," said Bilbo, turning to face Frodo. "I see." He fixed Frodo's eyes with a shrewd gaze. "He did see you through your troubles at Weathertop, and he stayed by your side every minute once you arrived here, as well. Surely that must be worth a bit of annoyance from him."

Frodo's eyes flashed. "Annoyance! He's -" Frodo cut himself off, colouring up to his ears. "Oh, Bilbo, I do apologise. I must be more apprehensive than I thought."

Bilbo snorted. "Yes, of course, dear boy," he said. He put his arm around Frodo's shoulders again, resuming their walk to meet the others. "You know, lad, he's a good servant, and good servants are rare. Even rarer are the servants of any sort who'd follow you on such a journey. If I were you, I shouldn't cast him aside." He glanced sidelong at Frodo.

"I don't want to," said Frodo, "but I must."

"I rather think that our Master Samwise might overstep his bounds and refuse to be cast off," said Bilbo with practiced ease.

"He will do as I say," said Frodo, hollowly. "He must."

Frodo heard more than a hint of exasperation in Bilbo's sigh. "Frodo-lad, it's been clear since the year you moved to Bag End that Sam's been besotted with you, despite all his efforts to behave with the utmost decorum."

Frodo bristled at Bilbo's words, opening his mouth to respond.

"Now, now, Frodo, don't take on!" tutted Bilbo. "It's quite common for young servants to become attached to their masters, you know, and no harm's done. You're a good lad, and no doubt a fine master, as I hope I raised you to be. You're lucky to have a fine fellow like Samwise so devoted to you. He'll never take advantage, and he'll never leave you, no matter how hard you try to leave him behind."

Frodo sighed, recognizing the truth of his cousin's words. "I don't know how I would have managed after Weathertop, were it not for him, but it's only going to be harder from this point, and I have other companions to help me." He closed his eyes. "How can I let him undertake such a journey?" he said in a choked whisper.

Bilbo turned to face Frodo, looking him in the eye. "You know that you have neither the power to choose Sam's path for him, nor to deny him that which Elrond has granted," he said. He reached out and squeezed Frodo's shoulder. "Do not be blinded by your affection for him, Frodo."

Frodo opened his mouth to speak again.

"Think how it will be for him if you send him away," continued Bilbo. "Think of how his Gaffer will take it. Why, it will look for all the world as if he's been dismissed in disgrace."

"I would not treat him so. Surely the Gaffer would understand-" Caught up short by Bilbo's sharp look, Frodo lowered his gaze. "You are right, of course, Bilbo," he sighed. "I only wish..."

"There now, lad," said Bilbo. "It is not easy to see those you love in danger. But it is also a gift to have their company, for as long as it is given to you." A wistful, far-away look crossed his face. "I did not learn that lesson when I should have," he murmured, his gaze turning melancholy and his eyes dim.

Frodo leaned into Bilbo a little.

"Saying goodbye is hard, isn't it, dear boy?"

Frodo nodded, forcing back tears.

Bilbo took him in his arms, letting him rest his head on his shoulder. "I'm sorry that we must part again, Frodo-lad." He drew Frodo closer. "It wasn't easy for me to leave you, and I wish that I could have given you more comfort over it. All in all, though, it was for the best."

"I know, uncle," said Frodo, thickly.

They resumed their walk and reached the courtyard where the Fellowship were gathered. They went unnoticed as preparations continued, the Elves of Rivendell making sure of provisions, helping to balance loads and packs, and tying the necessary items onto Bill. Frodo caught sight of Sam and his breath hitched.

"Frodo," said Bilbo. He fixed Frodo with his eyes. Frodo wavered. "Come, lad. It is time we bade each other farewell."

Frodo threw his arms around Bilbo and wept, the sound muffled by his own determination and Bilbo's shoulder.

"Farewell, my dear boy," said Bilbo, softly. "May a star shine upon the hour of our next meeting." He drew back a little and kissed Frodo's forehead, bracing his protegé as he recovered himself, and then drew away and stepped back a little.

Frodo held Bilbo's gaze for several moments, conveying all that he could not say aloud. "Goodbye, Bilbo," he murmured, and then he turned away and walked toward the others.

"Mr. Frodo..." came a voice from his right. Frodo stopped. With effort, he turned his head toward the voice.

"I - I was just coming to look for you, sir." Sam stepped forward. He lifted his eyes to Frodo's and gazed at him with everything offered in his eyes.

Frodo melted inside and moved toward him. "Sam," he murmured, reaching for him before stopping himself and dropping his hands, scarcely breathing for the emotion.

"Master," whispered Sam, moving to Frodo and taking his hand. He turned the palm upward and kissed it, holding it to his face, briefly.

"Oh, please stay here!" The words left Frodo before he could pull them back, and he was at once mortified and glad of their escape. Surely, Sam would see that his master needed him to stay behind. Even so, the thought of it made his heart sink.

Sam's head snapped up and he glared straight into Frodo's eyes, then softened at what he found in Frodo's face. He stepped closer. "Mr. Frodo," he said, with quiet determination, "I can't obey you in this, nohow. You might as well send Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin on their way, and you'll have just as much luck trying with them as you have with me. You're going to need your Sam, and I'm coming with you, whether or no."

Frodo blinked against the tears, but it was no use. They slipped out of his eyes and down his cheeks, hot against the bracing cold of the morning. "Thank you, Sam," he whispered, brushing his hand on Sam's arm.

"I ain't going along for thanks," said Sam, his eyes blazing, "nor for that Ring, neither! Nor for the likes of Strider or Mr. Gandalf or Lord Elrond or even your cousins, begging your pardons, all."

Sam's outspoken vehemence took Frodo quite by surprise.

"I ain't even going for the Shire or me old Gaffer," continued Sam, "though it pains me to say so, and no mistake." He paused a moment, closing his eyes. Looking up at last, he stepped closer still, his face just inches from Frodo's. "I love you, I do," he said, caressing Frodo's cheek in his trembling hand, wiping at tears with his thumb. "I can't stay behind," he whispered, tears lighting his own eyes.

"Sam," choked Frodo. He embraced Sam and kissed him. "I am gladder of your company than I could ever say."

Sam kissed Frodo, in turn, daring to comb his fingers through his master's hair. "Wherever you go, I'll follow," he murmured, returning Frodo's embrace and burying his face in the crook of Frodo's neck. "Master, me dear," he whispered into Frodo's fur-lined cloak.

Frodo drew his arms closer about Sam, wishing he could comfort him with the stalwart faith in his quest that Sam had shown in him. "There now," he whispered into his ear, rocking him, holding him, feeling his lips warm on his skin. "There now, Sam, dear," repeated Frodo, voice thick with emotion. "Don't take on so." He stroked Sam's hair and kissed his cheek, tasting the tears that fell there. He sighed, hiding the shudder that came from his very depths. "I'm taking you with me, whether or no, though I doubt that you'll thank me for it, in the end."

They held each other close for a long moment, eyes closed, before drawing apart.

Sam looked up at Frodo, his eyes shining.

Frodo kissed his forehead, softly, a slight smile finding its way to his face for the first time in what seemed like an age. "Come along, Sam," he said. He dropped his arm about Sam's shoulders and they walked back to where the others were waiting.

 

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