Author: Frodo Baggins of Bag End (FBoBE/"Febobe")
Rating: PG for angst
Warnings: Some angst.
Summary: Frodo walks with Arwen and Aragorn one evening, and receives a gift beyond price.
Notes: An adopted Shirebunny - M15. Once Aragorn and Arwen are reunited, Aragorn realizes that he no longer needs to keep her "betrothal" gift (the pendant), and asks her what she thinks about them giving it to Frodo. (I'm sorry, but Frodo just has to end up with that pendant.) Or is it Arwen who brings it up? How do they bestow it upon him, and what do they say about what it is - and why they wish him to have it? Is Frodo grateful to have something around his neck that isn't heavy, oppressive, and evil? Does it bring him comfort?
"What grace is given me, let it pass to him. . .let him be spared. Save him."
"Was that not a splendid banquet, Frodo?"
"Indeed. It - it seems an age since I saw so much food in one place." Frodo looked from Aragorn's face to Arwen's. "Rivendell, I think, was the last time. The feast we had there was grand."
Arwen smiled gently and took his hand. "It must seem ages ago. Walk with us, Frodo."
Curiously Frodo slipped his hand into hers, complying, though he could not imagine why they would make such a request. It was his custom to retire to bed in the evening when the other hobbits went, leaving the newly wedded pair to enjoy one another's company. But if Queen Arwen had asked, she must have good reason, so he trailed along, pleased that they schooled their steps to his small-legged pace.
It was some while before they reached a courtyard, and came out beneath the open sky. The air was lightly warm and pleasant; the fragrance of newly blooming roses filled their surroundings, and in the midst of the courtyard stood a fountain, only lately restored to its full beauty. There was a seat built all the way round it for convenience, and it was to that bench that Arwen and Aragorn led him, urging him gently to sit between them.
They sat looking up at the stars for some while before anyone spoke, and even then for some time there was little speech beyond Aragorn or Arwen pointing out constellations. But at last Arwen turned to Frodo, and her tone was strangely soft.
"Frodo, we have noticed that oft your fingers stray to your throat. There is no shame in being troubled. If you wish, you may speak of it to us."
Frodo squirmed uneasily. "I. . .it is only that I bore the Ring for so long, I suppose. Now I have grown accustomed to it, and. . .I feel. . .empty. . .without it. Ashamed of feeling empty, yes, but empty nonetheless."
"What if there were a balm for your pain? Small enough, but some comfort?"
Gazing up at her in disbelief, Frodo studied her features. She looked quite serious. "What do you mean? Even Aragorn and your father told me that I might never find healing."
Arwen's bright eyes were filled with sorrow. "Not in these lands, tithen min, not completely - in body or in spirit. You have been broken beyond all repair. But you have endured what no other hobbit has, and so you shall receive a gift that no other hobbit shall receive."
She paused, exchanging a glance with Aragorn.
"I have spoken with my grandmother and with Gandalf. As you may know, my father will leave Middle-earth very soon. . .within a handful of years at the most, likely less. When he departs, Bilbo, as a Ring-bearer, will accompany him."
Frodo felt his stomach fall to his feet. Bilbo, gone? He had always known that Bilbo would die, of course, but somehow the thought of him sailing away to the Undying Lands felt like more of a loss than ever.
"Listen to me, Frodo." Arwen drew his chin up, gently forcing him to look into her eyes. "Gandalf will go as well."
Gandalf too? Frodo swallowed back tears, feeling as if the whole world were collapsing beneath him.
"And if you wish, you may go with them."
"In the West you may yet find healing for body and spirit. It will not make you immortal. But you may find soundness of body and spirit restored to you until such time as you would naturally die. You would most likely live a long and very happy life there." Her eyes danced, though there was sorrow behind them. "My mother went in search of healing. She would love you so, and I will not sail. There will be room in my parents' house for another pair of feet."
Frodo opened his mouth and found that he could not speak.
Arwen closed his lips with a finger. "You need not decide tonight, nor even this month. But think on it. You know the fate that awaits you if you stay."
Swallowing, Frodo opened his mouth again, managing to find words this time. "But Sam - "
"Of course you could never leave Sam behind. Not after all the two of you have endured together." She stroked back his curls. "Sam may come in his own time. If he wishes to come with you, he may, but my heart foresees that he will want a family, if he knows naught of your plans. But never fear! He may come when the time is right, after his wife has passed on and his children grown."
Arwen reached up with both hands and began unfastening something from about her throat.
"But this shall be for you and you alone, Frodo - a token of our love for you and a symbol of the gift which I have given you, the gift of safe passage into the West and a place in my parents' home. The gift of knowing that you have a place to go for healing and wholeness, should this world overwhelm you. . .a place where you will be loved, honoured, and accepted for yourself."
Frodo blinked in astonishment as Arwen held out the Evenstar, presenting it before moving to fasten it about his throat. "But - did not Aragorn have this? Should it not be his, in promise of your love?"
"What promise need I of her love when I have her now?" asked Aragorn gently, laying a warm hand on Frodo's back. "I wore it throughout the Quest in promise of her love, but I need it no longer. It is you who have need of it now, and we have agreed that you should have it."
Frodo looked up at Arwen, wide-eyed. "And - my lady, do you not mind?"
"Mind?" She laughed softly. "'Twas my idea first. We may have agreed, but it was I who brought it up."
"Oh!" Nestled between them, Frodo felt so safe and warm that he could have wept for joy. Arwen cradled him close.
"In the meantime, you are welcome to return to your beloved Shire. . .or to my father's house, where Bilbo still lives in peace. . .and of course you may stay here with us, dear friend. We would give you safe escort to the Sea when the time came for your journey, as regal or as simple as you wished. Any of those places you would be most welcome."
"I. . ." Frodo swallowed. "I miss the Shire. But if you are willing, I will stay here for a time before I return, and then I will visit your father's house on my way home and see Bilbo. I do miss him terribly."
"Of course, tithen min. Of course." Arwen embraced him gently. "All that you ask shall be granted."
"Did you ever plan to tell him?" asked Aragorn quietly, long after Frodo had gone up to bed.
"Tell him what?" Arwen returned an innocent look, but there was knowledge behind the lightness in her eyes.
"That the place you gave him on that ship was yours, and the places for Bilbo and Sam belonged to Elladan and Elrohir."
She shrugged. "And would you further burden one who has carried such a great burden already? My brothers and I had already made our choices before Frodo was ever born. This allows our decision to have some meaning beyond its own sake."
"Still - "
"Still what? There is no ship now that would bear me hence, even if I wished it. Yet I wish it not. My choice is made." She leaned closer and kissed him softly on the lips. "And if ever one needed a chance for a new life, it was Frodo. My family and Gandalf will take very good care of him."
"So you wish him never to know."
"Then he shall never hear it from my lips." Smiling sadly, Aragorn pulled her close. "Ai, that I could keep all whom I love close!"
"I know, meleth. But this way, at least he may know peace."
Upstairs, Frodo snuggled into bed, clutching the jewel about his throat.
It did make him feel better.
And though he hated the thought of leaving the others. . .already he felt a longing for the Sea, and wished to see Lady Celebrian, who had also taken a poisoned wound and lived; to know ifreedom/i from the dreadful longing he still felt for the Ring. . . .
He would sail West when he had said his good-byes.