The Shadow Has Passed

Sam stepped outside, into the beautifully tended gardens of Bag End. He buried

his hands deep in his pockets and immersed himself in silent thought. The soft spring

breeze ruffled his hair, and he closed his eyes, taking a deep draught of the sweet fragrant

air. Sometimes, he needed an escape from everyday life, some time alone to himself, and

this was just the place he would go to. And every time he did, it seemed one thing invariably

ran through his mind: Frodo.

Maybe it was the way that Bag End, in particular, reminded him so much of his

beloved master. Why, it seemed only yesterday when Sam was that plain old gardener,

Samwise son of Hamfast. And back then, he thought it to be enough; indeed, more than

he could ever wish for. But now, things were different. And sometimes, he couldn't help

but wonder what might have happened, had the Ring never come to Frodo. Would he still

be that faithful servant, the Sam that drew back his master's curtains each morning,

rousing his master cheerfully? The same Sam always busily tending to the gardens to

perfection, or bustling around with some chore or another? But it was no use wondering

or hoping or regretting. It wouldn't change anything.

Not that Sam wanted it to. He led a life as happy and as full as a hobbit could

wish for. But there was always something missing..

Sam slowly paced back into the house and smiled to himself upon hearing the

sweet, happy voices of his children playing. A fire was crackling merrily in the hearth,

and the tantalizing smell of Rose's cooking came to greet him. But he resisted the urge to

go to them, and instead made his way to the study. Something else was pressing his mind

at the moment.

Time after time, Sam had relived those same heart-rending moments at the Grey Havens,

sometimes it seemed more than he could physically withstand. It was a pain that ran deeper than any other

that he had ever experienced; save perhaps for the terror of Shelob. It seemed to Sam on that fateful day

when his master forever vanished from his life, the foundation of his very being was shaken, yet somehow

remained intact. And with time, he grew stronger, and his spirits rose, and his love was founded anew in

his loving family. It still didn't take the sting away from the old wound. The bond forged between Sam

and Frodo was a thing too powerful to be broken, no matter what distance separated them. It was a thing

of such staggering magnitude and beauty, that even on the brink of death and destruction, it sustained

them both and pulled them through the darkest moments of their lives. It was something Sam knew he

would carry with him for as long as he lived. He could never ever let himself forget.

On a few occasions, Sam had tried writing a letter to Frodo, even though he knew

his master would never see it, so much as read it. But still, he wrote it all the same, though never could

find the right words to complete it. Sam slowly opened the desk draw and gently took out the piece of

paper. It was slightly crumpled, there were several cross-outs and it was stained with tears. Sam did not

try to resist it, and he slowly sat down in the chair, pouring over it, running over each sentence, even

though he knew it all by heart. And still, it never seemed to say just what he had wanted. How could he

express into words all the feelings burning deep inside of him, all that he wished he could have said to his

master before he was taken away from him forever?

Sam closed his eyes as the threat of tears overwhelmed him, as he knew they

would, and always did, without fail. Memories of Frodo flooded back, playing so vividly in his mind,

flashbacks intertwining into an array of mirth and sadness, hopefulness and desperation, contentedness

and longing. Not a single detail was forgotten. He remembered the way the sun's golden rays shone down

on his face in Ithilien, and how peaceful he looked when he slept soundly in his arms. He remembered his

clear, jovial laugh, and the sparkle in his eyes when he spoke of all things dear to him. He remembered

his sheer delight upon finding him, against all odds, in the accursed Tower of Cirith Ungol, and the

weight of him on his back, as he clung to him in their final hours of Mordor. And never did he forget his

master's last words to him before he boarded the ship to the Undying Lands, nor the final touch of his lips

against his forehead. Sometimes, it seemed to him that he could almost… feel his master's presence

somehow as if it could take tangible form in the very air he breathed. All of these things, these recurring

thoughts and dreams seemed so real, that sometimes, he awoke thinking that he still was that same old

gardener in Bag End, and Frodo would be there, awaiting Sam's cheerful call to welcome him to the new

day. Sam slumped over in his chair, and buried his face in his hands. How he longed so very much to hear

the sound of his master's voice, and yearned for his soft touch, to hold him close and feel the soft patter of

his heartbeat against him. To see him in real, waking life. Memories were nothing but a pale imitation, a

mere shadow of that which is gone. Yet they were all he had left, and he needed them, they brought him

at least a fleeting comfort to him when his thoughts seemed darkest and most full of despair. Sam wiped

his sleeve across his eyes, though it did not help to subdue his tears and he looked over the letter one more

time, reading it silently in his head.

My dearest Mr. Frodo,

It's me, your Sam writing. I just needed to talk to you, I miss you so terribly.

Nothing's been the same ever since you left.

You certainly spoke true when you told me I'd be needing my hands and wits.

Would you believe Rose and I have four children now, and another on the way? But

whenever I have a moment to spare, I think about you, Mr. Frodo. I suppose you must

think it rather foolish, but I can't help it. You're a part of me, Mr. Frodo, you always will

be, and there's no helping that.

But I can't help but wonder what's in store for you and I, sir. You know that I love

you, and I would follow you to the ends of the earth, if I could. I always thought my place

was right by you, and always would be. But so much has changed now. So much.

I've done just about all you asked of me before you left. I've been elected Mayor

of Hobbiton, can you believe it, sir? And never do I cease to tell the stories of the Red

Book, and you can count on me to see that they are not forgotten as long as I shall live.

But there was always that one thing you told me to do, the one hardest thing you've ever

asked of me: To be one and whole.

It's like I said, you are a part of me, and without you, I can never truly be whole.

I understood what you meant and all, and it was so terribly hard on me at first, and I

thought I'd never be able to let go. And I was afraid that if I did let go, it may be

considered being unfaithful to you, if you understand, sir. But now I know that it's not so,

because you're always with me in my heart, and so my love and loyalty to you will surely

never falter as long as it remains there.

And there have been times, many times, when I wish I could tell you how much

you mean to me. But I'm not so good with finding the proper words, if you follow me,

especially for these sorts of feelings. The words have always been in my heart, beautiful

words, that bring a feeling more splendid than even the Golden Wood. And I've tried to

write them down time and time again, but never do they seem just right.

But the thing that has always been hardest for me to endure is to consider the fact

that I may never see you again. To try and face the harsh fact that we may never meet

again, just one more time - it kills me, sir. And sometimes, it makes me feel very scared

and alone. So much so, it drives me to tears every time.

And then I wonder, if you -- well, do you....

Fresh tears welled up in Sam's eyes. Never had he had the heart to finish that one

last question. He slumped over the desk once again and cried into the crook of his elbow,

his body shaking with grief as tears innumerable spilled down his face. But even as he

was softly sobbing, he felt a reassuring hand on his shoulder, and he slowly lifted up his

head, his vision blurred from his tears. It was Rose. She wrapped her arms comfortingly

around his shoulders and drew him closer to her. Sam eagerly returned the gesture, and

rising from his chair, held her close to him, his warm teardrops settling on her shoulder.

She stroked his hair gently, then pulled back slightly to wipe away the tears streaming

down his face. Then, she took him by the hand, and led him out of the study. But she

lingered for a moment at the doorframe, and quietly re-entered. She gently folded the

crumpled, tear-stained paper, and placed it back into the desk draw.

Later that night, after tucking in the children, Sam quietly slipped back into the

study. Instinctively, he made for the desk and opened the topmost drawer. His hands

trembled as he reached for it, and slowly he picked it up and unfolded it. But as he was

scanning the words, a sudden breeze wafted in through the open window, and an

unexpected yet unmistakable aroma was borne upon it: the smell of salty air. And it

seemed more fragrant to Sam than any flower he had ever smelt. But he was hit with a

sudden inspiration, and he quickly took a seat at his desk and picked up a quill. Words

flowed forth so easily, and so surely, that he could not see why he hadn't thought of them

before. Sam crossed out his last, unfinished sentence, and replaced it with his newly-

found thoughts.

But then I remember everything we have been through, and all that we have seen

together, both good and bad. And most of all, I remember the look in your eyes before

you departed for the Havens, and the light of the star-glass shining all about you, and my tears are no

longer full of sorrow. Nay, instead I am comforted, for I know now that which has often troubled me, and

brought a horrible doubt in my heart was merely a silly notion. I understand now that our feelings were

mutual; that you loved me just as I loved you. That no matter how many miles that we

may be apart, no obstacle could come between the bond we share. Because love is

mightier still than any mountain or sea on earth, and so our love for one another will last

as long as we live. It has to. We've been through too much to simply forget. No, I will

never forget you, dear master, I swear it to it. And I am sure that you shall not forget me.

My soul is at peace again. I am ready to move on; to be one and whole for many

years to come. I finally see the light. I will be saddened no more by memories and

dreams, but instead embrace them with open arms. And someday - someday my one last

wish will be answered. I will come to you once more. One day, when the time is right, we

shall find one another again. But I must remain strong, and live each day to the fullest.

And then, my day shall come, I promise you.

Forever yours,

Samwise Gamgee