Sam had somehow managed to get through the journey without crying. Sometimes, while Frodo slept, Sam would think about life without Frodo. He simply could not imagine it, and try as he might, he could not cry over it. Not while Frodo was still with him.
It wasn't until the ship had left the shore that Sam felt the full impact of his loss. He lingered a little while longer, gazing out across the Sea, remembering what he had once said to Frodo. "The heart shines through."
No matter what, Sam would love him. No matter what, Sam would see him again.
He arrived home one evening with a heavy weight on his heart. Rosie greeted him warmly and little Elanor, bright as ever, seemed overjoyed at her father's return. But after supper, Sam grew weary and decided to go to bed early. He walked sullenly to his room, through the twists and turns of Bag End. He paused however, outside the door to Frodo's study. It was ajar, and Sam opened it with a degree of uncertainty.
It seemed as though his Frodo was still there. The room had the exact same atmosphere it always had, but the fire in the hearth had dies to ashes. Sam collapsed into the armchair by the fire – Frodo's favourite – and stared listlessly into the empty grate. His gaze was eventually drawn to the elaborately carved mantelpiece. There, resting on the worn oak ledge was a wooden box. An envelope was propped up against it with 'Sam' written across the front in what was unmistakably Frodo's bold, slanted handwriting. Sam's heart leapt when he saw it, and shaking slightly, he retrieved the box and letter and settled himself back down with both objects on his lap. He slowly slit the yellow envelope open, and withdrew a single piece of parchment. He lit a candle from the table next to him, and leaning forward in anticipation, he began to read.
I've tried so many times to put my thoughts into words that this letter hardly makes sense to me now. I have been through reams upon reams of parchment in an attempt to tell you what I feel.
On the night of the storm all my dreams and aspirations actually came true. I cannot begin to explain to you how ecstatic I was. But I only hope I need not, because you felt it too.
I love you so much. I think I always have, but did not realise it. Even before the Quest, you were there for me, keeping me company after Bilbo left. Every single thing you have ever done for me, you bravery and loyalty, remain with me in my heart, and they will forever.
But understand Sam, that I had to leave. All I have done for Middle Earth has come to nothing, for I remain in the clutched of the Ring. Sometimes when I al alone, I yearn for It so much that I can barely breathe, let alone force my thoughts away from it. And in The Shire, I am not really wanted. It seems I am doomed to follow in the footsteps of my uncle, and become a 'Mad Baggins'. My only choice left was to leave, and it was the hardest choice I have ever had to make.
You must understand that I did not leave because I did not love you. For I left simply because I love you, and I want to know that you can live your life to its very fullest. I know how fond you are of Rose, and of little Elanor. I wish more than anything in the world that you will be happy for the rest of your days, and I take comfort because I know that you will. I have left you a small gift, to remind you of myself and of us. It is Bilbo's pipe, and a fair supply of Old Toby that somehow managed to evade capture before our return to Bag End.
All that remains is to tell you once more how much I love you, and that I will always be thinking of you, no matter the distance between us.
Sam opened the box and lifted out a beautifully crafted pipe. It had been lovingly carved out of walnut wood, and gleamed magnificently in the candlelight. The smell of good pipe weed wafted up from the box. Sam carefully replaced the pipe and closed the lid.
The sudden sound of someone clearing their throat from the doorway prompted Sam to leap from his seat. There stood Rosie, silhouetted in soft warm light. She smiled at her husband. "I see you found it," she remarked.
"I noticed it there when I was cleaning. What is it?" Sam wordlessly handed her the box. "Oh Sam, it's beautiful!" she breathed as she examined the pipe. Her loving eyes studied her husband's face intently.
"What's wrong love?"
Sam shrugged, looking at the floor. "It's just...I don't think I really deserve it. He's done so much for us already, and I never really gave him anything."
"Yes you did," Rose said firmly. They stood in silence for a while, remembering. Then the moment passed, and Rosie retired, leaving Sam alone with his memories and his tears.
Frodo stood on the shore, allowing himself to take one last look towards the East. His tears streamed freely down his cheeks, as salty as the Sea itself.
They weren't the same as the tears he had cried before The Storm. Those were tears of angst and frustration. But these were tears of a bittersweet and melancholy pain, spilling because Frodo knew how he loved Sam, and was loved in return.
Frodo inhaled the crisp, bracing sea air that whipped his cloak around him. The waves crashed upon the rocks and lapped at the shore. Frodo had said goodbye. 'But perhaps not forever...'
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