Author's Notes: This story was inspired by the epilogue Tolkien decided to omit from the Lord of the Rings. Parts of it can be read in The History of Middle-earth IX, Sauron Defeated.


One evening in the Fourth Age of the world, Master Samwise Gamgee was in the parlour at Bag End. The last remaining embers had died hours ago, and a cloak of shadow blanketed the sky outside the window.

Sam chewed on his clay pipe, watching his daughter as she sat cross-legged on the hearthrug. Elanor had grown to become a beautiful girl, her flaxen tresses pouring down her shoulder like a golden shower.

She closed the red leather book on her lap and blew a strand of gold from her lip. "Sam-dad, tell me about Mr. Frodo," she said.

Sam took the pipe from his mouth and rubbed it on his breeches. "There's a lot to tell, dear."

"And I want to hear it," Elanor replied stubbornly.

Sam motioned towards the book. "You'll find Mr. Frodo in that book, all he did for us."

"You know I've heard the story many times, Sam-dad; I've even read it once all by myself," she added proudly.

"Well, there you go!"

Elanor thought for a moment then shook her head. "But I want to know what Mr. Frodo was really like. How could he bear having no ma or pa? What made him happy, and what made him sad? Did he ever fall in love?" She sighed.

"Aye, dear, you ask some right private questions." Sam twisted the pipe in his fingers and shook his head. "Did you know that he used to tickle you till you squealed with joy? And Mr. Frodo would laugh as you grabbed at his nose." Sam was silent for a moment. "Only you, Elanor, of all my children, did he ever see."

"I remember," Elanor said quietly. "I remember him, least I think I do. He used to whisper things to me. But I can never remember what they were. Only that they seemed sad."

"Mr. Frodo was sad. He needed to be healed."

"Dad I--" She hesitated. "I know you miss him. But I reckon you'll see him again."

"Perhaps, Elanorellë, perhaps." Sam listened to the silence of the smial. Mother Rose had gone to bed, right after tucking in Frodo-lad and Rosie- lass, and Merry-lad and Pippin-lad, and Goldilocks and little Hamfast, and finally laying baby Daisy to sleep in her crib. Sam brushed something from his eye.

"Please, Sam-dad. Did Mr. Frodo ever love somebody so's his heart would burst whenever he looked at them?"

Sam chuckled silently. "That's fair poesy, dear. But I ain't wanting you thinking about falling in love just yet."

"Oh, I'm not. I like stories about elf maids and elf princes, they're my favourites," said Elanor, hastily touching her cheeks. "It's just that everybody's supposed to fall in love. Like you and ma did, Sam-dad. It seems queer that Mr. Frodo never fell in love. You talk about him like he was best hobbit in the Shire."

"He did once," said Sam quietly. "But it was long ago." He stared at his pipe. "I'd never seem him so happy. He'd whistle tunes like I did when I pushed the wheelbarrow 'round the garden, or when I tucked the seedlings into the earth. And he'd cook little butterfly cakes, little cakes with dollops of cream and sprinkled with sugar. We'd eat them in the parlour till the crumbs littered the floor and our bellies were filled like a pond after a thunderstorm."

Elanor smiled. "And was he flushed, and his eyes misty, just like in the stories?"

"Aye," replied Sam, ruffling Elanor's hair. "It was nice to see a healthy tinge to those pale cheeks of his. Brightened my heart like none other could."

"They loved each other dearly, didn't they, Sam-dad?"

"They did," said Sam firmly. "A greater love I couldn't imagine. Like jagged lightening and June sun showers it was."

"Were they in love for years and years?" asked Elanor, smoothing her pink nightgown over her knees and shivering slightly. The sound of pattering against the window told of a night of wind and rain.

"Many years, Elanorellë, but it took them many to realise how they felt. 'Tis not easy to speak of long held secrets."

"But they did tell each other one day, right?"

"Aye, one early spring morn as the buds began to open to drink the sun's light. Never had I seen Mr. Frodo so nervous, or so fair. They confessed their love out in the garden, just here. I remember how cold the dew was on my toes that morning, and how the wind froze my cheeks."

"So they were happy, Sam-dad?"

"For many years they were in a kind of bliss that seemed to ward away any winter's chill. They held hands as they watched the stars reel over ahead, and kissed in the warm summer dusk. Until--"

"Yes, Dad?"

Sam studied Elanor's eager face. "Until me and Mr. Frodo left the Shire with the Ring. When we returned, it was as if a little part of him had been consumed by the fiery mountain as well. His eyes became like pale glass beads, empty and lifeless."

Tears welled in Elanor's eyes. "And he left?"

"Aye. The pain was too much for him. Your ma and I tried to help, but nothing could be done. He was lost over the sea."

"And what of Mr. Frodo's love?"

"They married eventually, and had lots of beautiful children. But never a day goes by, I reckon, when they don't think of what Mr. Frodo's doing in that faraway land." He turned to the window, watching the cold drops travel down its smooth surface.

"That's not a very happy story," sniffed Elanor, rising to her feet. "Do you think Mr. Frodo will ever see his love again?"

"Maybe, dear, if everything sad becomes untrue. Now you run off to bed."

"Goodnight, Sam-dad," she said, planting a kiss on Sam's head.

"Night, dear. Sleep till the birds begin to sing."

A light seemed to have flickered out as she left the room. Sam fumbled for a match and lit the pipe. He inhaled the heady smoke, sending rings of haze into the air.

And he remembered how Mr. Frodo's lips trembled under his that spring morning, all those years ago.

~ end ~