Chapter Rating: PG (very angsty)
Chapter Title: Many Partings

October 6th S.R. 1421

"No. I'll not have it. The three of you can't go in together. This is Mister Frodo's house and my house as well, and I'll not have you getting 'im upset or doin' anythin' unnatural like to 'im. I'll allow only one at a time, and either the doc or myself must be there with you."

Sam bristled with barely suppressed anger. He stood outside the doorway to Frodo's modest bedroom at Bag End. Before him stooped three of the most important, dignified, and dangerous personages in all Middle Earth: Lord Elrond Half-Elven, Elf-lord and Master of Rivendale; Galadriel - the Elvish Lady of the Golden Wood of Lothlorien; and Gandalf the White, Wizard and chief architect of the destruction of the One Ring.

All three were fellow Ringbearers, each openly wearing their appointed Ring of Power out of respect and love for the dying Frodo. Each was well over a thousand years old, full of wisdom and knowledge and power. Yet all were undone by the force of one lone hobbit's love and concern for the well-being of his friend. Sam would not let them into Frodo's bedroom.

He was backed up by Rose, his wife, and Iris Proudfoot, the Hobbiton physician. The two normally-shy hobbitesses were quite willing to join Sam and take on the Elves and even the Wizard in order to protect Frodo.

"Samwise Gamgee," Gandalf softly spoke, "my dear fellow, I do apologize. We will do exactly as you say. But we do wish to speak with Frodo while there is still time. May we see him individually?"

"I would feel better if you waited in the living room," Sam said. "I'll see if Mister Frodo wants to see you or no. Dependin' on what he says, that's the way it's goin' to be. Even if he does want to see you, it won't be for no hours or nothin'. He's right fragile as it is, and I don't want you tryin' no magic or such on 'im. Understand?"

"Understood, Master Gamgee," Lord Elrond replied in his deepest voice. "Come, Lady. Let us retire to the living room." Rose escorted the three tall guests back into the smial. Sam and Iris went into Frodo's room.

Frodo was lying on his back in his bed, swaddled in the comforters, staring blindly into space. He knew he was dying. In fact, he knew this was probably his final day. He had stopped eating a couple of days previously. The pain in his torso was too hard to manage, and he didn't want Iris to try anything which would prolong his torture. He was now blind and paralyzed on his left side. But the pain was receding as his strength failed, and that was comforting. He didn't mind dying. Soon the pain would end. Soon he would find lasting peace. But there was still so much which needed saying to so many people.

He heard the door open and someone enter the room. "Who is there?"

"It's just me and Iris, Mister Frodo." Ah, Sam's voice. "You've got visitors outside. It's Gandalf and Lord Elrond and the Lady Galadriel. They want to see you. I told 'em you would have to say whether or no. Do you want to see them? If you do, I'm only goin' to let 'em in one at a time."

"Oh, it is wonderful that they have come," Frodo whispered. Iris took a hand cloth, dipped it in a bowl of water, and pressed it to his mouth. This was the only way for him to drink. He sucked a bit of moisture from the cloth and continued. "Please have Lord Elrond come in. And I would rather it just be Elrond and myself."

"Sir," Sam interrupted, "I know you trust 'im and all, but I'm afraid he may try something unnatural like on you. Might try to cure you or do something painful. If it's all right with you, couldn't Iris stay? That way we have a good hobbit doc in the room too."

"All right, Sam," Frodo replied. "Please send him in. But Iris, do not interfere with him. I will handle this."

Sam left and shortly thereafter Lord Elrond entered the room. He had been warned by Gandalf about Frodo's pitiful condition, but the shock of seeing the dying hobbit caused the Elf to momentarily hesitate. Elrond closed his eyes for an instant, then opened them to view in a different manner. Instead of seeing Frodo's physical body, Elrond concentrated on perceiving his spiritual life-force. Frodo was still there. He now appeared to the Elf as a vessel, full of light. Elrond came over to the bed.

"Frodo, I know you are ready to depart. Yet I have one last gift to bestow upon you, if you will suffer it."

"Perhaps," Frodo whispered, "but I am so tired now. This is not like the time when I was stabbed. I desire no healing if it would unduly prolong my life."

Elrond caressed Frodo's grey curls. "I can restore your sight for a short while so that you may look upon the faces of those you love. This will cause you no further pain, nor will it prolong your stay here. It will not last very long, but it is something I wish to do for you, if you will allow it."

Frodo blinked. He had not expected to ever see again. "Yes. Let us do it now, for I am near ready to depart."

Elrond placed his hands over Frodo's eyes and began a low chant. Iris witnessed a light seeming to emanate through the Elf's hands and into Frodo's thin face, but otherwise Frodo did not seem to be in any distress. After about five minutes, Elrond whispered a blessing on Frodo and departed.

Frodo slowly opened his eyes. The cloudy film which had covered them for the last couple of months had been removed. His eyes were his own normal wide-set deep blue eyes. He blinked slowly, turned his head to face her, and smiled.

"Iris? Do you remember the time I showed you the Vial of Galadriel?" Frodo asked.

"Yes," she replied.

"It is in its pouch in the top drawer of my writing desk. Would you please bring it to me?" he continued. "And have Sam send in the Lady of the Woods."

Iris retrieved the pouch with the precious light of the Silmaril and placed it beside Frodo's right hand. She then sent for the Elf-Queen.

Galadriel floated into the room and immediately over to Frodo's side, followed by Sam. Iris had trouble looking at the Lady directly - her eyes seemed to penetrate into your soul and ask questions you couldn't even hear or begin to understand. Iris was nervous and backed away to the corner of the room. But Sam stood resolute at the foot of the bed, his hands on the bottom posters. He had met the Lady before and had passed her test. He was not afraid.

Frodo looked at Galadriel and smiled. He no longer perceived her as a figure of power and majesty. He saw a lovely, slender Elf-maiden robed in golden light, weary of Middle Earth and longing for home.

"Galadriel, retake the Vial of Elendil," he commanded. She complied without a word.

"I return it to its keeper. It is not of this age and belongs in the Blessed Realm, as do you and all your kin," Frodo continued. Sam noted that his voice had changed. It was a voice of authority and might, despite coming from a frail and wasted body. It seemed to come from far away. "You may freely return. They await you with love."

Galadriel spoke, "Who, Ringbearer? Who awaits me?"

"The Noldor and the Valar. You have passed the test. The ban is lifted and your arrival is anticipated with joy. Go in peace."

"How do you know this?" Galadriel asked with wonder.

"I have become a vessel of their light, burning for a short while, then to be seen no more on Middle Earth." Frodo continued his blessing. "Be at peace, Lady of the Golden Wood. Become Galadriel again. Sail on with my blessing."

She gravely bowed, placed her hand on his right hand, and brought it up to her lips for a kiss. She departed as Sam noticed a tear rolling down her cheek.

Frodo sighed and closed his eyes. Iris came out of her trance and brought him the dampened cloth again.

"Mister Frodo, sir, Merry and Pippin have arrived. But do you need to stop?" Sam quietly asked.

"No Sam," he replied, "please send in Gandalf. And Iris, I do appologize, but it should only be Sam and Gandalf and I in the room now."

Iris caressed his cheek. "Call for me when you need me. I'll be right outside."

Gandalf had been prepared by Elrond, so he knew that Frodo could see again. The old Wizard came over to Frodo's right side and clasped his hand. Frodo smiled at him.

"Frodo Baggins, my dearest hobbit. You go where I cannot. It is not given even to the Wise, to know where mortals go when they depart. But perhaps the song is complete in that place known only to Eru."

"Gandalf, what will become of you when you reach the Blessed Shores? Will you become a star like Elendil?" Frodo asked. "Will I see you in the night sky?"

"Frodo, my dear, I do not know. But whatever becomes of me, whatever becomes of you, I will be with you always and your thoughts in mine until the Seas and Mountains are no more. Until Arda itself ceeses."

"Goodbye, Gandalf," Frodo said. "May you rest in the arms of the Valar."

Iris came back inside the bedroom as a weeping Sam escorted Gandalf back into the living room. Rose had taken Merry and Pippin into the kitchen. Elrond and Galadriel stood up at Gandalf's entrance.

"We are finished here. Let us continue on our way to the Grey Havens," Gandalf said as he led the Elves to the front door of Bag End. "Frodo will not be making the journey with us. But he will find peace sooner than any here assembled."

Sam accompanied them outside into the night. "Goodbye Mister Gandalf, sir," he sniffled. "I hope you won't think too hard on me. I was just doin' what I thought right by Mister Frodo, that's all."

"Samwise Gamgee," Gandalf stopped and laid his gnarled hand on Sam's shoulders, "your father named you truly. You are more Wise than you know. Follow your heart and you will never go wrong. Stay with him to the end, then rejoice in his memory. Love your life here on Middle Earth, and treasure the gift he gave you. When the time comes, you too may be forced to decide between the release of death and the healing of the Blessed Realm. But follow your heart to the end as he has done."

The three immortals vanished into the night as Sam went back inside the smial. Merry and Pippin hugged him as he came into the kitchen where they had been waiting.

"Pip," Sam said, "he wants to see you next."

"By myself?" Pippin choked. "What...what if I say something wrong? Can't I go in with Merry or with you?" Pippin was plainly afraid.

"No," Sam admonished, "just yourself. Don't be afraid of him. He's still our beloved Frodo. He's just got things to say only to you. The doc will be in the room with you, but you can say anythin' in front o' her. Best be getting in. Don't tire him out though."

Pippin crept into the room. To his surprise Frodo had his head propped up on a couple of pillows and was actually looking at him. His eyes! His blue eyes were unclouded. "Maybe it was a false alarm. Maybe he will be all right," Pippin thought as he came over to the bedside. "Hello, Frodo. You're looking better."

Frodo smiled at his naive friend. "Thank you, Pippin. But I do not have much time and there is so much to say. Please come and take my hand. I am going to ask you to swear an oath."

Pippin nervously took Frodo's hand in his. "What do you want me to do, Frodo? I would do anything for you."

"I know you would, Pippin, dear," Frodo said, searching Pippin's open face. "I want you to swear you will remember your duty to the King. You are to safeguard the Shire and to restore the friendship between hobbits and Men, between the Shire and Gondor. Remember your duty, and when the time comes for you to leave the Shire, you will find friends in Gondor. Swear this to me."

Pippin became very serious. "I swear by my oath as a solder in the King's Guard, by my honor in wearing the silver and the black, and by my love for you, I shall remember my duty to the King of Gondor. I shall safeguard the Shire. I shall restore friendship between our people and Men." He broke down and started crying. "And I shall love you always."

"Thank you Peregrin Took, loyal member of the Fellowship of the Ring, beloved friend, and future Thain," Frodo whispered. "Send in Merry, please."

Pippin kissed Frodo on the cheek and strode out of the room, trying to control his weeping. Merry was waiting outside the door in anticipation. Pippin nodded at him as Sam took the crying young hobbit back into the kitchen.

Merry came over to the side of the bed and kissed Frodo's hand. He waited patiently as Frodo was given some water. Iris moved to the far corner of the room.

"Merry, you are the Shire's guardian," Frodo said. "Keep the watch on the Eastern and Southern borders. The Elves are leaving Middle Earth and Men will soon take over what was Rivendale, the Old Forest and even Mirkwood. They will come up out of the South and from the East. Secure the borders, make allies with the folk from Bree, and keep our people safe. But remember your friendship with the Riders of Rohan. Not every Man is an enemy, nor is every hobbit a true friend. Temper your judgment with compassion. Remember that compassion is not weakness."

"I will use your life as my example," Merry declared with a passion that surprised himself. "We will never forget you, Frodo. Farewell, my cousin and my friend." Merry kissed Frodo and the cheek and left the room.

The little room was quiet except for Frodo's faint breathing. Iris wiped the tears from her face and tried to banish her emotions into one corner of her mind. But it was useless. The tears continued to come unbidden. Frodo called her over to his side.

"Iris," he whispered, "I believe you were sent to me as a gift. To heal my mind and prepare me for this day. You saved my life. I would have killed myself a long time ago if not for you and Sam."

Frodo gasped as a sudden wave of pain overtook his desire to communicate. He closed his eyes and held his breath as Iris held his head and hand.

She felt so helpless, so ineffectual. Through her tears she asked, "Frodo, please? May I give you something to help with the pain? Please let me try."

"No. No more," he said. "It is passing. My time has come. There is no more pain now. But quickly now... Lord Elrond's gift of sight is fading. Where is Sam?"

Iris called Sam into the room and left them alone.

"Sam, my dearest friend," Frodo struggled to see. "Sam, finish the book. Talk to Iris when your memories cause you pain. But finish the book as only you can. Send a copy to Minas Tirith - to the King. Sam, I wear a gem around my neck. Please take it."

Sam cried as he did Frodo's bidding. Around Frodo's neck was a slender silver chain and a brilliant white gem. The act of removing it from around his master's neck almost brought Sam to the point of madness. It reminded him so much of the terrible time in Cirith Ungol when he thought Frodo was dead from Shelob's sting. Sam chose to remove the One Ring from around Frodo's neck at that blackest of hours in order to complete the Quest in the only way he knew how. Later Sam found out that Frodo was only paralyzed from the monster's sting, and he would recover. This time it was for real. Frodo was truly dying. There would be no miracle.

"Sam?" Frodo continued. "This is from Arwen. I bequeath it to you in honor of your place by my side as a fellow Ringbearer. Wear it always. It is a talisman for your passage to the Blessed Realm, should you desire to go across the Western Seas. If you choose to not travel across the Seas, have the gem returned to the King."

Frodo paused to catch his breath. He was so tired...so tired. There was still one thing more to do.

"Sam, look in the top drawer of my writing table. You will find a document in there."

Sam located a scroll tied with a blue ribbon and sealed in red wax. It was a legal document.

"Is this what you want, Mister Frodo?"

"Yes. Sam, that is my will. You are named my heir. It is witnessed by Mayor Will Whitfoot himself."

Sam could take it no longer. "Don't leave me, sir! Don't leave your Sam. You promised to not go where your Sam couldn't follow. I made a promise to Mister Gandalf that I wouldn't leave you, and I haven't. I kept my promise. But now you're leavin' me. It ain't fair! Don't go!" He broke down and cried into the bed sheets.

Frodo looked at Sam with the deepest love and understanding shining in his eyes. "You will follow me, Sam. But not for a long time. I am tired. Let me rest now.

Sam, write the ending to the book any way you desire. Write it for Elanor and Frodo-lad and your other children. Finish it so that the Ringbearers all travel over the Western Sea and are united in the Undying Lands. Do not have my illness in the story. Write that you and me and Bilbo are healed and whole. Make up a happy, hopeful ending, for that is the way I depart this world."

As Sam stood by, holding Frodo's hand and crying, Frodo closed his eyes one last time. His breathing became gentle and steady, and after a few minutes, stopped altogether.

The Ringbearer had died.