Disclaimer: All the characters and settings belong to J.R.R. Tolkien. This story is my way of working out or interpreting ideas and concepts already present in The Lord of the Rings. This is done for enjoyment, and for sharing, but not for profit.

Author's note: When I first listened to the soundtrack back at the end of November, I had lit candles and I sipped wine. When the last notes of Into the West had faded, I crawled into bed and cried. And as I finally became sleepy, I began to dream -- a dream that was half between waking and sleeping. Not quite a day dream, but not quite a "night" dream either. It was an interpretation of the Grey Havens from the music. Not from the books, nor indeed from the movie that I had yet to see. No,...

...this is what the music told me.

~ * ~ * ~

To the Sea

They arrive there early and the ship will not sail until evening. And Frodo is tired, weary, and Sam bids him to lie down with his head in Sam's lap.

And Frodo wishes to make these last hours normal, but he cannot -- no more than could the steady pounding waves cease their motion.

For Frodo is already being called by the Sea and he cannot turn back even in his mind. Part of him is no longer in Middle Earth but is yearning for the home he has yet to see. He is drawn thither as strongly as any bird is driven to fly towards its destination: a goal indelibly imprinted in its mind.

And Sam thinks he can feel it: his master is slipping away. And even as he grieves and touches Frodo's face fondly, he too knows that Frodo no longer is of the Shire. He has left it behind. There is no more looking back.

And as Frodo lies there in his arms, a memory comes to Sam: Frodo in his arms on Mount Doom. Only sleeping? No, not sleeping, for exhaustion and fear and the siren call of the Ring had not allowed the blessed forgetfulness of true sleep. But now?

Frodo opens his eyes and smiles gently, wistfully, sadly. "Oh Sam," he says, "you know that I must go. Yet I hate to cause you such grief. I can see it in your eyes." He holds his hand up and brushes Sam's warm cheek. "And what do you see in my eyes, Sam?" he asks. His hand comes down again to rest on his stomach.

"I see the horizon," Sam answers. "But I don't know what is there. What is there, Mr. Frodo, on the horizon?"

But Frodo turns his face away, turns it away to gaze upon the Sea. He is silent.

Loneliness smites Sam and he swallows hard. But he understands, for the bond that tied Mr. Frodo to the land has broken and he cannot translate for Sam, who is still of the Shire, any longer. He cannot tell him what he sees -- there are no words.

And so tears fall down upon the side of Frodo's face and Sam cannot stop them. One falls upon Frodo's lips and, unthinking, the Ring-bearer licks his lips dry.

"It is salty," he says reflectively and Sam laughs -- a brittle laugh.

"They usually are," he answers. But a slight chill shivers through him when Frodo murmurs, "Salty like the Sea."

And Sam fully comes to understand what he had only dimly recognized earlier: Frodo is fading. The sooner he can sail, sail away over the Sea, the sooner he might be given the grace to continue, to live. But here, lying in Sam's arms, he is slowly becoming more distant. And if Sam closes his eyes and does not speak, he can almost feel a tension come through into his arms, an undercurrent that speaks of Frodo's yearning. As surely as Sam can tell from whence comes the heat of the sun, so can Frodo feel the tenuous thread that pulls from the West. His body trembles with it.

"You will go where I can't follow," Sam says and he closes his eyes tight in anguish. For even if he could stop Frodo from going and somehow keep him close, look after him, yet he would not do it. A sense of inevitability settles over him.

The waves pound upon the shore.

But when the time came at last and Gandalf tenderly lifted Frodo up to carry him away, Frodo, with a great effort, gazed directly at Sam. Just for a moment he looked his old self again.

"One day, perhaps," he said, "you shall follow." And he smiled. But then he turned his head away to rest against the wizard.

The gulls cried and wheeled overhead.

And the waves pounded against the ship which carried Frodo away.