Title: Sailing

Rating: PG-13

Summary: Companion piece to 'Waiting'. Frodo thinks of the lass he left behind as he sails for the Undying Lands. Just a random train of thought drabble. I never truly planned to write it but....Why not, right?

Disclaimer: Don't own them. Wouldn't really want to, to be honest - I don't think I'm ready for the responsibility. I'm looking for more of a mutual relationship as opposed to the ownership ordeal.

A Nazgul blade pierces my shoulder, and, suddenly, I remember the exact smell of her hair in the sunlight. I float in a dreamworld of intense pain and hazy consciousness with her taste on my tongue. It is during my struggle with Shelob that I recall, perfectly, the feel of her palm sliding through my hair. When Gollum takes my finger, its her lips, soft and warm and deliciously moist against mine, that I recollect. My mind turns to her each time I believe myself to be poised within death's greedy grasp, so I suppose it is only fitting that I think of her now.

Because I am dying.

This ship sails me to my death.

It is an end to my pain. It is an honour. It is a gift. It is also my death and I know this well. I welcome it, honestly, but it repulses me all the same.

I fought so hard...

I wonder if the regret will leave me once I reach my destination. I hope. Because it only draws tighter within me as we sail. The closer I come to the place where I will finally, finally have peace, the more I long for home. For her.

I was too ill once I returned to the Shire. Too ill and, I will admit, too proud. She'd known me in my prime - a healthy, strong and vital hobbit. I couldn't bear to have her see what I'd become. My bookish ways and bachelor's habits had never bothered her but with my body scarred and weak...What could she want with me? I was half a hobbit, if even that, and a sweet young lass like my Estella...

Not *my* Estella any longer. I'll have to remind myself often, I know. She was mine for nineteen months, two weeks, and a day before I followed my destiny and left with the One Ring. No official claims were made but -- she *was* mine. Sam knew. His Gaffer, too, I think. Merry suspected but never questioned. Gandalf knew.

'This mission will take all of your heart, Frodo, don't give it away foolishly. Give your thoughts over to the task at hand. This lass is but a passing fancy.'

But the wizard knew he spoke untruths. I gave my heart away as wisely as any hobbit could. The Bolgers are fine stock and Estella herself a lass of charm, beauty, and intelligence. I waited all my life to find love, I did not muddle about with the emotion. She was no passing fancy but the keeper of my heart.

She would have been the mother of my children. Little dark-haired babes with temperaments amiable, like their mother's. Little bits of joy I could have bounced on my knees as I had done Elanor Gamgee on some of my better days. Bag End would have been filled with the laughter of *my* children. Or the breathy, intimate moans of *my* wife.

We never even shared a bed. I planned that for our wedding night. There was passion between us - kisses and caresses. I even once went so far as to lay between her thighs as we fondled, rubbing my heat against hers through too many layers of clothing. But I always saved the actual consummation, wanting only the very best for her.

Silly patience. But, better, I suppose than to have ruint her and failed to marry her. Better this way, that she have that most wonderful of gifts to give to her husband once she weds.

Who will she wed?

Her elder sister - oh, what is her name? - is already engaged. Only two years separate the lass from Estella. Certainly, Stell would be expected to take a husband soon. And there would be no shortage of offers. The girl was prettier on my return that she had been before - maturity has finally settled into her, bringing her unmistakable adult grace. From what stories I've heard, she's also become resourceful - a hobbit not to be trifled with in matters of wits. Of course she's always been of the purest, most gracious of spirits. She will be courted by half the lads in Hobbiton.

Will she become a Proodfoot? A Bracegirdle? Both families had sons of the right age. And, then, there were always the younger Gamgee lads. Even Merry has realized Estella's virtues though he tried to hide the fact from me. Will she end up the Mistress of Buckland?

A sharp sting of jealousy runs through me. Estella a Brandybuck, the wife of impish Meriadoc. But almost as soon as it comes, it passes. Merry has grown so over the last year. He is a brave, fine lad. Let him have his happiness. And Estella, hers.

I can no longer bring her any.

That day - the day she came, at length having realized that I was not going to return to her, was the hardest of my life. I would have stayed, would have braved the pain, the suffering, if I'd thought I could love her as she deserved. But I could not. She would have been a widow within the first year and there was always the chance that some of the darkness within me might have seeped out into her.

So I sent her away. Does she know how I loved her then? I have never loved anything the way I loved her as she squared her shoulders, choked back a sob and thanked me for my time. My time. I would have given her my life but all I had left to give was my time. I cried then. I hadn't cried since I came home to the Shire but when I lost Estella forever, I cried like a babe - like I had when my parent's drown.

Dear Rose Gamgee, taking care of a sickly hobbit not even a relation. She'd understood. She waited for Sam, just as I asked Estella to wait for me. Behind her eyes I saw the anguish she knew she would feel if, like me, he had broken his promise to his love. She brushed my hair softly and let me ramble about the unfairness of being a hero without a reward.

Oh, Estella, will I miss you for all eternity? Am I sailing to forever only to hold you in my broken heart all the days of all the ages? Will I forget your face, the fullness of you in my arms? Please, please I don't want to forget you.

Please, my Estella - you can be mine in my own silent thoughts - please be happy. Live the life we might have known. Remember me. Love me.

Love me.

Your children will have my stories, will live through my sacrifice. Try, dearest, to love me through the time we will be so far apart I will seem but a dream you once had. See me under the tree where I stole our first kiss. Feel me in the air when the Winter melts into Spring, warming you with balmy breezes. Hear me in the wails of your children as they enter this world I saved. Taste me in strawberries and nectar and mint.

But don't think of me when you move beneath the sheets with your husband at night. Don't see me frail like I was on our last meeting. Don't cry for the love you lost in your youth. Never mourn for me. I would do it all again - even knowing what I know now - to give you one breath more, to prolong your life the barest of instants. I would do it twice over.

The mists are clearing, my sweet Stell, and I am thinking of you. I'm dying, Stell, and you are my last heartbeat. You are with me here. And I am there. I'm not afraid, my love. I'm not. It's so warm. So real. It feels like living inside our kisses, like breathing your breath.

Oh Stell -- lovely girl, is this what it feels like to be happiness?

I love you.

I love you.

***So, what do you think?***