All belongs, of course, to Professor Tolkien. I'm just borrowing.

A Fond Farewell

1421 S.R.

All was quiet in Bag End. The silver light of moon and stars shone through the windows, and Frodo Baggins sighed, rubbing his aching shoulder. He stood from his desk and closed the Red Book for the last time, resting his hand on the cover, its edge worn from years of being opened and closed. His portion, at last, was finished. A small smile turned his mouth as he considered the blank pages left still. Those were for Sam to fill up. "Dear Sam," he sighed aloud. Sam slept with Rosie in a room just down the hall, with Elanor in her nursery just beyond them, all resting peacefully, as Frodo could no longer do – at least, not within the Shire.

He was fading, and he knew it. Each year the pain and illnesses he knew at each anniversary of a major wounding grew worse, and the wound from the Morgul blade never ceased to pain him, save in sleep. And that was often troubled by memories of the Quest. Frodo turned from the Red Book and slipped out of his bedroom, making his way silently to the kitchen, where he poured himself a small glass of milk and picked up one of the cookies Rosie had made earlier that day. Then he went to the front door, opening it to look out at the stars.

After watching them for a time, Frodo turned back inside, and made his way through each of the rooms off of Bag End's main hallway. He went around each, touching this piece of furniture or that, sometimes picking up a knickknack or an old mathom, smiling softly at memories evoked before putting it back. This smial had been his home for so long; Frodo almost did not want to leave.

But neither could he stay. He had left the Shire to save it, and it had been saved – but not for him. It had been saved for Sam and Rosie, and their children, and for Merry and Pippin, and the families they would one day have. Like Bilbo had once described to Gandalf, Frodo felt stretched, and incredibly worn. The Ring had scoured him to the very core, and he had come to realize that full healing for his spirit would not he found here in the Shire, or anywhere in Middle-earth. Lady Arwen had gifted him her place on the grey ship to sail West carrying the bearers of the Three. Frodo had not thought at first that this would truly be possible, but then he had received word from Gandalf that, indeed, the Valar were granting not only him this grace, but Bilbo and Sam as well. Sam was unaware of this yet, and Frodo did not plan to tell him until it was too late for him to make the choice of sailing with the other Ringbearers. He was meant to stay with Rosie, and Frodo did not wish his heart to be always torn in two.

It took a long time, but finally, Frodo had been to every room in Bag End, save Sam and Rosie's, and had said his farewells. In a few days' time he would depart again, this time certain there would be no coming back.

Before returning to his bedroom, Frodo stopped and silently entered Elanor's nursery, where she slumbered in her crib, hugging a little doll close to her chest. He smiled to see her sleep so peacefully, and lightly brushed his hand over her golden curls before leaving the room. In his darkest moments, when his shoulder pained him the most, he had wondered if it had all been worth it, leaving the Shire and traveling all the way to Mordor. Seeing his dearest friend's beautiful daughter asleep with the starlight caressing her face answered that question most definitely: it had been worth it indeed.

A few days later, Frodo embraced Rosie and Elanor, bidding them both farewell, and, with one last look around the entrance hall to the home of his heart, Frodo Baggins left Bag End for the last time, smiling at Sam as they set off. Seeing the Shire so healed from the Time of Troubles, even if for so short a time, confirmed again that his sacrifices had been worth it.

Just before they turned to leave Bagshot Row, Frodo glanced back over his shoulder for one last glimpse of The Hill. "Namárië," he murmured.