In "Avalanche", I explored the idea that Frodo had been gifted with unique foresight and senses that went beyond the physical -- also, that the clear and vibrant rhythm of his spirit were sensed and valued by Legolas. What, then, would Arwen, Círdan, and Elrond perceive in Frodo after he had been tempered by everything he went through in the War of the Ring? And by then, what would Frodo have been able to perceive?
I've been thinking about writing on this theme for quite awhile -- I hope you enjoy it.
DISCLAIMER: Of course. The characters don't belong to me, I just get to think about them day and night.
Notes for Chapter 1: There are quotes in this chapter taken directly from "The Return of the King" by J.R.R. Tolkien. Many thanks to Baylor for helping me with the timeline for the Changing of the World (when the seas became bent, the world became round, and the Undying Lands were removed from the reach of mortals).
"In the mountains the Eagles shall house, and hear the voices of those who call upon us." Manwë, The Silmarillion
SING ME HOME
Chapter 1 -- Evenstar
"But in my stead you shall go, Ring-bearer, when the time comes, and if you then desire it. If your hurts grieve you still and the memory of your burden is heavy, then you may pass into the West, until all your wounds and weariness are healed."
It was a kind thing to say, and Frodo, standing before the King and Queen in the Courtyard of the White Tree of Minas Tirith, wished with all his heart that such an impossibility was truly an option for him.
"Lady," he said sadly, "mortals may not sail there."
"That is so," said Arwen quietly, "and yet I do not make this offer in jest. Immortality in the Blessed Realm is not a gift any may convey on one of the Secondborn; yet rest and healing for a gentle spirit, harmed in service selfless and true, is granted to you, Frodo -- if you wish it, and find not these things upon returning to your home. It is a long voyage, I hear, but..." Arwen smiled. "...you are no stranger to great journeys."
"How would such a thing be possible?"
"Come, sit with us." Frodo seated himself on the ornate bench between Aragorn and his queen.
"He who is closest to Ilúvatar, in thought and purpose, is Manwë," said Arwen. "Do you know of him?"
"Yes," answered Frodo. "Bilbo taught me about the Valar and the Ainur, and I heard many songs in your father's house."
Arwen nodded. "And do you know how it is that Manwë knows what is occurring in Middle-earth?"
Frodo shook his head, puzzled. "These matters are beyond my knowledge."
"The great eagles are his messengers, Frodo," continued Arwen. "Mithrandir sensed, even before you awoke, that you may have taken a hurt that even your sweet Shire could not heal. As you and Samwise lay in sleep, he charged the noble Gwaihir to convey a request to Manwë. Such a thing is unprecedented, and we who came to know of it did not hope greatly, even to receive an answer at all."
"A… a request?"
"Frodo," said Aragorn, "Gandalf sent a message, asking that the way to the Blessed Realm be opened to you, should you need such healing and peace as it can bestow."
"Gandalf…" Frodo could scarcely believe what he was hearing. "…did that… for me?"
Arwen nodded. "The lord of eagles returned, and spoke long with Mithrandir. You may sail, Frodo, if you wish it. There has been no such allowance granted to mortals since the Changing of the World."
Frodo stared up at the queen, wide eyed. Leave Middle-earth?
"I am truly honored Lady," he stammered, "but even should I someday wish it…"
"What troubles you, Frodo?"
"In the Blessed Realm…" Frodo bowed his head, hot tears prickling his eyes. "I would be alone," he whispered.
Arwen gently raised Frodo's head and gazed steadily into his eyes. "Dear friend, I cannot put into words what I see when I look upon you -- beauty, courage, strength of will... I do not know why, but the Light of Aman shines forth clearly from within you, Frodo, as from no mortal I have known. In the Blessed Realm you would be honored, and find peace, and companionship unlooked-for, as those who dwell there cannot help but see you as I do. Trust me when I say that you would not lack for friends."
"If it is the company of mortals of which you speak," added Aragorn, "Gandalf has said that Bilbo may also sail -- and there may be others, at a later time."
"Others?" Frodo asked in wonder.
"You and Bilbo would be the first," said Arwen, "but not the last. The world is changing indeed."
Frodo shook his head, overwhelmed. "For now," he said quietly, "I just wish to see the Shire again."
"And so you shall," said Aragorn. "In seven days a great company will ride north to Rohan, and you and your companions will begin your journey home."
"Take this." Arwen took a fine chain from about her neck and slipped it over Frodo's head. He looked down in wonder at a shimmering, star-shaped gem.
"This was my mother's, and has great virtue," Arwen continued. "I have found it to bestow comfort and strength in dark moments. Should you see her…" The beautiful Elf held Frodo's gaze. "…tell her that I am well, and happy, and do not regret my choice."
"Your mother's? Lady, I cannot take this," Frodo gasped. It was all too much, and the tears were beginning to stream down his face.
"For me, the darkness is at an end," Arwen said, exchanging a loving glance with Aragorn. "I have chosen, and will find joy and purpose at the side of my beloved. For you…" She took his small hand and closed it over the gem. "…there may be darkness yet. Wear this now in memory of Elfstone and Evenstar with whom your life has been woven."
Frodo's eyes grew wide as he felt… something… emanating from the gem -- a song he didn't recognize… he tried to hear the words…
Arwen smiled at the hobbit's expression. "It has its own rhythm, Frodo, as you do. It may take time for a true blending of energies."
Aragorn folded his arms around Frodo in a warm embrace. "At every turn in life we have a choice," he said softly. "If the time comes, you will choose as seems best to you."
"Can this truly be? I am… just a hobbit."
Arwen cupped Frodo's face in her hands, even as Aragorn continued to hold him. "You are more than you know, dear one. You are Elf friend and Ring-bearer, and cherished by all who know you. This much, at least, we can offer you."
"Thank you," Frodo whispered, overcome by her words. He could not stop the tears from flowing.
Arwen rose to leave, and caught Aragorn's eye. "Stay with him," she murmured. She rested her hand for a moment on Frodo's head, then left.
"Aragorn, I… I don't…"
"Shhh," the king said softly. "There is no need to speak, dear friend. A decision such as this may be years away, and indeed, may never need to be made at all."
Frodo sighed and closed his eyes, still clutching the gem. "I feel such peace flowing from this," he murmured, "such peace…" He could understand a few words of the song, now, or were they images? Cool, green grass beneath his feet, and laughing, tumbling waterfalls reflecting starlight… the fragrance of unfamiliar yet sweet flowers… Such peace…
As the healing song wove through Frodo's mind and heart, Aragorn felt the hobbit slowly relax. Frodo's small hand fell from the gem and he slid into a gentle sleep.
Just rest for now, little one, Aragorn thought. And later, if the darkness threatens… He could still see, in his mind's eye, the Havens that he had visited long ago.
"This much, at least, we can offer you," he murmured. "It is little enough for all that you have done."
** TBC **