Till the End of His Days
Category: Drama, Romance, AU
Spoilers: All six books.
Summary: The story of Frodo's life after the journey of the Ring.
DISCLAIMER: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JRR Tolkien, and Tolkien Enterprises. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author notes: This story is not edited. The final version may differ greatly from the one you are reading right now. I'm putting this up because people will never get to read it if I wait till it's finished, as I've got a lot of non-fandom projects going on that I'm putting most of my energies into. Anyway, back to the story... I very much thought that Lord of the Rings didn't need fan-fiction when I was reading it, until I read the ending. Then I saw the movies and it inspired me to write this little "Alternate-Universe" fic. I think that the ending that Tolkien did was absolutely perfect, and this is just my attempt at a different idea of what it could be like, mainly borne of my experience being amongst and being a person living with depression (I believe that poor Frodo had one of the most chronic cases of Post-Traumatic Stress that ever was). Constructive criticism is welcomed with open arms. As is anyone that would like to help me beta this bloody leviathan of a fic.
Chapter Eight - Life after the End
Frodo could not remember a happier time in his life. Even before he left for his Great Journey and the War of the Rings, he was not so content as he was at New Row with Perry, Sam and Rosie. The ache and the yearning for the Havens slowly faded, and the satisfaction and love for the Shire returned, renewed in his heart. Often Perry would help Rosie look after little Elanor, and sometimes would be walking down the path of New Row with the little one on her hip, singing softly. Mostly she tended to Bag End in her usual manner, spending her free time singing or writing in her little brown book.
Sam had been very busy of late, as he'd taken to helping Will Whitfoot run the town. He was a very efficient fellow, and Will and Sam had become fast friends. Sam was becoming a renowned gardener as Frodo had said, though, he had issue with Perry trying to do any sort of gardening around Bag End, as she wasn't very good at it at all. He allowed her a small vegetable patch out the back of the Hill, which she tended to lovingly every day. Often he'd gripe that old Ferdinand never seemed to want to spray on those plants, but his lovely roses seemed to be a regular target.
It was one weekend when Sam had taken Perry into town to go to the market and visit her mother at the farm that Frodo found himself helping Rosie with the baby whilst she did her laundry. He wasn't used to caring for children, and he wasn't aware how very good with them he was. Elanor took great glee in the rare moments she was treated to a cuddle from her Uncle Frodo, always touching his face with her chubby little hands, giggling at the faces he would pull at her to entertain her. He would animatedly tell her stories he'd seen Bilbo tell to children. Rosie smiled at Frodo from the tub she was washing Sam's clothes in, shaking her head.
"You know, for a bachelor you're awfully good with the children."
Frodo gave Rosie an even (but amused) look and shook his head. Looking to Elanor, he bobbed the child up and down on his knee, talking to her. "Well, little Elanor, it seems everyone in the Shire has ideas about Master Frodo's life, despite Master Frodo's very clear statements to the contrary!"
Rosie rolled her eyes and chuckled. Sam soon returned and said that Perry told him she'd get her own way home that afternoon, so Frodo went back home to write for a while. He had taken to writing again, documenting in detail all that had happened on the way home from Barad-Dur and the fixing of the Shire. He had a smoke of his pipe, resting from his writing, thinking on what he would do that evening once Perry came home. He was fixing himself a cup of tea when the front door opened and closed very quietly. He stuck his head around the archway of the kitchen, frowning in curiosity.
Perry stood by the door, coat in her hands, her large brown eyes staring at the floor blankly. He got up, gazing at her with a worried frown. He felt that something wasn't right, that this wasn't the way Perry was supposed to behave. She should have been singing, smiling, humming, not standing there looking so grieved. She shook herself, putting her cloak away, blinking quickly.
"Perry… whatever is wrong?"
She looked up. For the first time he noticed that her cheeks were blotched and blushed, her eyes rimmed with redness and puffed.
"N-nothing Mr. Frodo," she said meekly, and picking up her basket full of supplies she swept past him into the kitchen.
Frodo was very confused. Usually he heard all about her adventures when she went out for the day. And if anything troubled the girl, she would just tell him, be it her beans dying or Ferdinand's beating up on the cat down the road or some-such. He stood, following her into the kitchen, and she went about her normal daily work, acting as if nothing were the matter at all. The only problem was that she was completely ignoring him, and this wasn't normal in the slightest.
"Please Mr. Baggins," she said, eyes not leaving her work of pulling out pots, "Don't think on it."
He sighed fitfully. "I can't help it." He stepped forward, and around the table in his kitchen, till he stood next to her before his stove-top. "Why are you crying?"
She shook her head, turning away, striding off into the sitting room. Of course, he followed her, and his heart began to twist in real worry now. He turned her about, meeting her eyes with his own, gazing into her as if her eyes could tell him what distressed her so. He tilted his brows up, feeling utterly helpless in that moment.
"Perry… what's wrong?" he breathed.
She whimpered, pulling away. "Oh, don't do that to me," she moaned, "It isn't fair!"
She glanced at him, and it seemed every time she did so she would get more upset. Was it something he had done? His heart sank. If it was, he willed that he could take on every touch of pain that tormented her.
"I can't speak of it, Mr. Baggins," she said. "To do so would be unfair on you and a shameful thing indeed." She shook her head again, holding herself as she sat down at the sitting-room table. "But I suppose I must tell you, at least so you know that I'm leaving."
Frodo felt as though someone had punched him swiftly in the stomach as those words left Periwinkle's lips. He reached for something, anything, and ended up finding his table. He needed to sit down, but he couldn't… he wavered on the spot and frowned at Periwinkle.
"Wh- Why? I can't-" He shook his head, and he found himself on his knees beside her, clutching her hands. "Why?"
"I went… I went to the Stead," she said, referring to her home. Guilt swelled in her eyes. "Mother heard about you leavin' me those months back."
"This is my fault, isn't it?" he said, his voice a frightened murmur.
This seemed to make her all the more upset, tears spilling down her face as she looked to him. "Just - just let me finish. Mother never pressed me about bein' here before, Mr. Frodo, but when she heard about what happened she - she," Perry stopped and fought to contain a sob. "She agreed with Father, that I should get myself married. There's a young fellow from the South Barrows, and she says he's as fair as she'd allow, and with a good large farm and they've given him permission to ask me to marry him an'…" She wiped at her face fiercely, trying to swallow the agony welling up in her. "I don't know who we were trying to fool, Mr. Baggins, living in this situation, and it's probably for the best anyway, that this all happens because," She hiccuped then, tears betraying her. "Cause I'm just making you look bad, stayin' here like this, and my feelin's in this situation are inappropriate anyhow. It's why I didn't want to be bringing it up with you, because it makes things awful uncomfortable for you, seeing as I know how you feel about the issue." She nodded, trying to look strong, but he could see it far too clearly in her eyes that she was devastated.
Frodo was feeling something totally new to him, and he hated every moment of it. He was sick, frightened, angry and grief-stricken all at once. His mind would not stop spinning. He would lose her. He would lose her, and it wouldn't do to ask her to stay under the circumstances. She would have to leave him for a while, leave him and go back home to be courted, possibly married. No silly singing in the morning when the eggs were made, no swearing in the garden as she tried so hard to make things grow. No long lazy evenings of writing quietly by the fire together, swapping little snatches of poems and stories. None of it, all of it gone. And worse… what if she fell in love with this lad from the South Barrows? What if she decided she wanted to get married to him? What if she were to be no longer in love with him like he had always assumed she would be? It would be worse than being without her. She would choose to leave him, choose to walk away from him. Poor Frodo could not take hold of in his whirling emotions, and they made every inch of his chest ache without hope of failing. The very thought of Periwinkle being enamoured of any other hobbit than himself made him feel like he was dying from the inside out.
He stood, his mind reeling, his blood like poison, stinging in his veins. Never in his life had he felt so weak, so stricken. His heart pounded like fire, his chest feeling as chalk. He rubbed his eyes, they burned too, and he tried to calm himself, but to no avail. He barely noticed his hands shaking, or the tears welling in his eyes. He leant against his fireplace, as if to stop himself from falling over.
"I'm sorry Frodo…" she said, her arms still wrapped about herself. "I'm sorry if I've caused you trouble."
He glanced at her, disbelief falling through him. Had she no idea what she meant to him? Didn't she understand what this was doing to him? He ran his fingers through his curly hair, the action stopping them from shaking any more than they were.
"Trouble? Goodness, Perry, I…" He closed his eyes, clambering for a hold of himself, to be able to say anything that made sense. "I don't want you to go. I don't want you to leave me." He opened his eyes again, unwitting to the imploring look on his pained features. "Ever since you came here, things have been different." He huffed, throwing his hands up and clutching them to his forehead, trying to think. "You… you made me smile again, and for some reason I feel I have hope for something…" He laughed as if it were madness. "The day I came back from my Quest and I was home, and I didn't feel any better, I thought I would never feel it again!" He nearly jumped as the warm splash of tears tumbled down his cheeks. "If you leave, then hope will leave me too, because I will truly have nothing."
Perry looked to Frodo through teary eyes, clutching a handkerchief in her hand. "Frodo!" she moaned, trembling anew. "Please don't do this to me. Don't say these things when I have to leave!" She shook a little more. "It's not right, and it's not fair. You know my heart, you know what your words do to me, and you know how you feel! It is torment! Do you want me to leave after hearing these words from your lips?"
He moaned himself, rushing to her, kneeling in front of her and taking her hands in his, pulling the knuckles to his lips. A sudden realisation hit him as he gloried in the sensation of her skin against his lips… he didn't know how he felt, he never had, as he'd been afraid to feel anything since he had returned. And now… now! He could not stop himself from feeling, feeling such a tumultuous range of things that he had never expected to feel in his life. The only thing he was sure of was that she could not leave him. He would not have it.
Frodo's whole world span as he realised what he wanted, what he wanted more than anything. It was madness, for he had long decided he would never do this, that it was not ever for him, but he had never envisaged feeling such a way in his heart, like he did in that moment. He had fought for so long to get a hold on what Perry brought alive in him, what made him feel as though he were just born into the world anew, and he was quietly awed and overwhelmed all at the same time that it could have been the one thing he thought himself incapable of giving her. For the first time in months he thought about Periwinkle being in love with him, with him and only him, and instead of the fearsome flutter in his chest that he had felt so long ago he felt a burst of bliss, of pure happiness that he could not control. It sprang fresh tears to his eyes, his hands shaking wilder at the thought. He had been so afraid, so afraid for her, so afraid of what he would do to her should she be with him too long, should she see the darkness he suffered. He feared not now, because he saw her tears for the life he had nearly left her to, and it broke his soul to see her cry. It touched him beyond words to know that he was all she needed to be happy, that there would never be any darkness for Periwinkle as long as he was with her, and in his heart there was no one else he would have rather been with, no one else he would have delighted in more as his love. He wanted to love her so badly, to be the husband she needed, and he had worried that he was too broken inside. It simply hadn't occurred to him that she didn't need the ideal he had always envisaged for her, that he thought she would be better with. All she wanted was him, and all he wanted was her. It was simple, beautiful, and Frodo would have felt immensely silly for worrying so much about what was expected and proper in a relationship had he not been so inflamed with his adoration of the lass in front of him. He abandoned his restraint. There was no logic in his actions, no wise thought. His heart lead him in that moment, and all he yearned to do was take her in his arms and keep her all to himself. His blood was thick and thrumming in his ears and throat. He took her hands, pressing them against his heart and meeting her eyes in a pinning stare.
"No, Perry, I want you to marry me."
Perry stared at him like he had lost his mind. She was silent, just staring at him.
Frodo fidgeted awkwardly. "Perry?"
She shook her head, standing and weaving about him, striding to the fire. "No, no, no, Mr. Baggins, it won't do, it just won't do!" Her voice was shaking with tears.
He felt the tears in his eyes grow hot again. He wished desperately that she'd for once call him by his first name. "Why not?"
"Oh! Why do you do this to me?! I won't marry for anythin' but love, Mr. Baggins," she whimpered, fiddling her fingers. "I just don't work like that, you see, I can't-"
Frodo laughed. He actually laughed, and then strode over to her, embracing her in his arms and hugging her tightly. "Oh, my dear Periwinkle," he said, caressing her hair with his fingers, burying his face in her shoulder and moaning softly. "Oh dear, dear, Miss Proudfoot." He leant back from the embrace then, the tip of his nose brushing hers, their lips a breath apart. "Can you not hear the love in my voice as I speak to you? Or see it in my eyes?" She opened her mouth to speak, but Frodo went on. "I can't even begin to find the words to tell you- " He gasped, closing his eyes. "I was broken, deep in my heart. You never thought to do anything but heal me." He opened his eyes again. "I couldn't look into your eyes and leave you at the Havens, and I cannot let you leave me now, for my life is empty without you." He gave a helpless smile, tracing her jaw with the tips of his fingers.
He could see in her eyes, so very clearly, that love she had fought to lock away inside her heart. She always seemed to fail, in the entire time he had known her, as it filled him with every moment around her. He knew it, he saw it, and every day it gave him life and he had no clue. Her eyes fell a little lidded, gazing at him with such fear, such vulnerability, her lips quivering so beautifully in thinly veiled desire. He sighed, drawing his knuckles up the side of her face, reason taking its leave of him as he tilted his head, swept down and kissed her. His blood boiled at the contact, living the idle touch that he'd never let himself think on. A wonderful tremble ran though him, deep and tingling.
Perry gasped, a moan in her throat, her little hands clutching his shoulders suddenly. He pulled away quickly, blushing deeply.
She was shocked to silence, and her voice was a huff of emotion. "Mis- mister- oh…" She covered her mouth, shaking as Frodo knelt before her.
"Please, please marry me, Perry. You begged me not to leave you, to let you look after me for always, and I merely ask the same of you."
She tilted her head, sniffling, cheeks stained with tears. "But I'm just your maid-servant, Sir. It's not right."
"I have never cared of these things," he said with a faint smile. "My gardener is my best friend, who I faced the very spectre of death with! Why should I care of your roots? I love all the Shire, all that it is. By every blade of grass in its bounds, I love you."
Perry broke into fresh sobs then, wiping her face with quivering hands. "Oh dear, I quite don't know what to say."
Frodo smiled wider now. "Say yes!"
With something that was half a sob and half a chuckle, Perry took his hands, nodding wildly.
"Of course, yes, of course!" she said, "Oh I never dreamed of such a thing, Mr. Baggins, I never dared!"
Frodo leapt up, pulling her into his arms and hugging her once more, pure relief falling throughout his body. He delighted in the feel of her little arms around him, holding onto him with her all, her little sobs of happiness making his heart soar. She wriggled back, looking to his eyes, and he could feel her shaking nervously.
"Oh, my sweet Perry," he sighed.
Perry blushed, looking down bashfully. "Mr-"
"Under the circumstances, I think it's quite all right for you to call me Frodo now." He smiled. "Not that it wasn't perfectly all right before."
"I'm sorry," she giggled. "I've just gotten so used to callin' you by a proper name."
"Come on," he said, pulling her arm suddenly and leading her to the door, "Let us go tell Sam and Rosie!"
Perry laughed, not used to seeing Frodo act in such a way. She let him lead her along, and getting to the door he turned the knob. The door stayed firmly shut. He fiddled with it again, looking a little perplexed.
"It was sticking this morning, S- er - Frodo."
Frodo frowned, giving it a good pull. The door swung open and he tumbled back, just missing landing on Perry. She knelt next to him, covering her mouth as she fought to contain her laughter.
"Oh, you poor thing."
Frodo merely smiled doggedly, sitting up on the floor, rubbing is elbows. "Come on then, let's be on our way!"
Frodo had not felt so giddy in years and years, and he felt as a child again. He knocked on the door of Sam's hole, struggling not to knock too hard and alarm him. He saw Perry hiding behind him, and he pulled her forward. "Come now, Perry."
"I'm suddenly all embarrassed…"
She laughed and shrugged. "I don't know! It's jus' me, gettin' married!"
When Sam answered the door he was treated to the sight of Frodo trying to get Perry to stand in front of him, the young lass ducking behind him, blushing and giggling. He blinked, shaking his head and scratching it, pipe almost dangling from his mouth.
"Mr. Frodo… is everything quite all right?"
Frodo glanced up from his playful tormenting of his bride-to-be and smiled brightly, hardly able to contain himself. "I should say so, Sam. Is it all right if we come in?"
"Of course, of course," Sam said, stepping back and taking his pipe from his mouth.
It was obvious to both Sam and Rosie that something was up with Frodo and Perry, and Sam was very confused by it all. Rosie looked up from the dinner she had begun to make, smiling warmly as always.
"Well, hullo!" she called. "This is unexpected! What brings you here this evening?"
Frodo looked to Perry with a look similar to that of Ferdinand's when he had a mouth full of mouse, and he puffed his chest proudly. "I asked Perry to marry me."
Rosie's jaw dropped, the spoon in her hand clattering to the table beneath her. She covered her mouth with her hands, gasping and letting out a joyful cry. "Oh Mr. Frodo! It's about time!"
Sam was too busy hugging his best friend and Master tightly with a thoroughly ecstatic grin to say anything, and Perry was soon in the arms of Rosie, being squeezed tightly in a close hug. Rose pulled Perry away, talking of whys and whither-to-fors and other such things, and Sam was left alone with Frodo in the sitting room, little Elanor on his lap.
"Isn't life a wonder, Mr. Frodo?"
Frodo smiled, leaning his head in his hands, shaking his head. "It is indeed, Sam."
"What I don't understand," said Sam, "Is why now. Why not before, Sir, if you'll beg my pardon?"
"I thought I had her for always," said Frodo, leaning back in his chair and gazing at Elanor quietly. "I didn't realise that she wasn't really mine, and when I did, I couldn't live on, knowing that." He shook his head slowly again. "I was always… Well I suppose I was afraid, Sam. I'd lost so many things that meant the world to me when I went on our journey. I suppose some piece of my heart thought that if I let her become a part of my life, that I would lose her, or something awful would happen to her. Then I was going to lose her to some fellow, and I couldn't let it happen. I just couldn't. It was then it struck me that I'd been in love with her for some time."
"Aye," nodded Sam, blushing and smiling, his old romantic streak as strong as ever. "Yes, I had heard her folks was askin' her to consider marriage."
"They were," said Frodo, "And she shall get married before they expected. Just, well, not to whom they expected."
Sam smirked, looking to his daughter. "I wonder if they'll like whom Perry has chosen, eh bub?"
Frodo couldn't help but wonder the same thing. After a fine meal shared with the Gamgee's, Perry and Frodo walked down New Row in the waning moonlight, hand in hand, the swift breeze of the early spring night cool about their heels. Frodo felt strange, strange in a way he had never thought he would delight in. Suddenly a part of himself that he had always hidden was on fire once more, living and breathing and burning within him. Perry giggled and spoke of all that her parents had planned for her, and how delighted she was to be able to ruin their plans. Frodo stopped, turning her about.
He frowned, looking a little worried. "Do you really think this is what your parents had in mind?"
Perry laughed, putting her hands about his elbows and nudging him. "What does it matter? They said I could stay with you till I got married, and I am gettin' married. They never said I couldn't get married to you."
"I know," said Frodo. "Still… I wouldn't want to-"
"Don't worry yourself, Frodo," she said softly, tenderly, in a way she had never really been allowed to before, but, now that she could, warmed Frodo's heart more than he ever thought anything could. "They're my parents, and my problem to deal with. They won't be rude to you, no way, no how. They might ask ye…" She blushed, "Well - you know. Why do you want to marry me daughter, this and that and…" She sighed. "It doesn't matter. I said yes to you, and I never wanted to be by any other hobbit's side. I am yours, Frodo Baggins."
"And I am yours, Periwinkle Proudfoot," he said with a small smile, stroking her cheek, his sky blue eyes locked with her own mahogany brown orbs. Perry smiled, but the smile sobered.
Of a sudden, Frodo felt himself drawn towards her, his heart thumping full and strong in his chest. Perry lifted herself as he leant forward, tilting his head, cradling her jaw gently as he would hold something of great antiquity and value. Her skin was warm and soft as a sun-kissed peach in the summer time. His mind span wildly as he brought his lips down upon hers, the warm touch melting his heart slowly and surely. That feeling of falling he had felt before engulfed him again, and a strange tingling took him as he sank his fingers into her hair. He thought perhaps he was dreaming these perfect feelings within him, and Perry stroked his neck gently before letting the kiss go. Even in the dim light Frodo knew she was blushing, for he knew her well.
"We should get in," she breathed, suddenly bashful and shy. "We… we have much to do tomorrow."
Frodo gave a smile and stroked her hair one more time. "Yes, indeed we do."
They retired to their separate beds with a giddy anticipation of the day to follow. Perry and Frodo would go visit Perry's family to tell them the news, and Frodo was quite anxious as to how the Proudfeet would feel, him marrying their loveliest daughter. It didn't trouble Frodo too much however. When he lay down in bed, making himself comfortable, the sensation of her silky soft lips ran through his mind, and it calmed his heart. For the first time in what felt like ages, the dark didn't trouble him that night.