The End of the Road

By Thalia Weaver

Chapter Two: Afterwards

A/N: I did NOT expect to write another chapter to this; but when the Muse strikes, what can I do about it?

Disclaimer: Mais non! The work of Tolkien is DEFINITELY not mine. And if you think that, well…*shrug* I heard the Gap has a sale on white jackets.

When my father left it was neither surprising nor sudden, but still there is an ache in my heart, and there always will be, I think. I miss him. So many times have I opened the door of his study and expected there to be a hobbit sitting in his chair, laughing over some old volume of lore; but never is he there. I know that he is at peace now, but it is cold comfort; there are times when I wake at night from some sad dream and wonder where he his now, if he is cold, or sick- and whether there is someone who reminds him in the Undying Lands not to stay up too late reading, and who brings him tea when he is ill.

It is only now that I realize how very much I loved him. My father was a hobbit the likes of which the Shire has not seen since the Old Took, in my opinion, and Hobbiton is much the poorer now that he is gone. I dreamt once, three months after he left, that he smiled at me and stroked my hair.

"Goldilocks," he said, "I am home."

I could not say a word back to him; there was nothing to say. I awoke with tears in my eyes, that father had found a home without me. There is an emptiness where once he filled; but now I realize that there was an emptiness in his heart as well. I would be selfish not to wish that he could find peace in some better place. But I would that the War had never come to disturb the peaceful life of Samwise Gamgee; then perhaps there still would be a Baggins at Bag End, and a Gamgee to serve him.

But that too is a selfish thought. I wonder if I am too much like my father, dwelling in the past. I have come to find some measure of happiness without him. Faramir proposed to me, soon after my father departed. And I am Goldilocks Took now; to my little Samwise, Mum. But I think there will always be a part of me that is Goldilocks Gamgee, looking up at her father and hoping that he will tell her a bed-time story of the old days.

I have one of his old cloaks. I think he meant to bring it with him. But he forgot, and left it instead in my keeping. Every now and again I lift it, and bring it to my face- I have shed more tears with my face nestled within its folds than I care to remember. It smells of pipe-weed, and some scent I cannot name. Perhaps he could tell me, were he still here. But he is not, and yet I still am. I think that now I can understand why he wished for so long to leave; I have duty and love here in the Shire, but the first part of my heart lies far away, beyond the Sea.

I can hear the tides echoing in my dreams. More times than I can count I have dreamed of lying on a beach, staring at the stars while the waters crash around me. There is peace on the shore, but a measureless longing as well. I wonder if the stars shine as brightly in the Undying Lands. I wonder if my father looks up at them and misses me as I miss him. But it is not my fate to know.

I wait here, for my father. But he will never return.