This is an idea that wouldn't go away once I'd thought of it. Although I really should be finishing the next chapter to Just One Drop (it's being done, I swear), I needed to get this out of my head. Not an original idea, but my take on it.
Sam stood before the threshold to Bag End's study. He had always known he would have to enter it sometime, even if the presence of his beloved friend still lingered in the room. The room still felt of Frodo so much that for some weeks now Sam had avoided it for fear of renewed heartache, until he didn't even notice he was doing so. But now need had a risen for legal documents kept inside the desk, and Sam was faced with finally entering the empty space.
In customary hobbit-fashion, the room had no door, and he spent a long few minutes peering into the gloom at the familiar sight. Sam had simply not glanced through the door every time he walked by for the past while, so to stand and really take the time to look was as if he was seeing it for the first time. A fine cover of dust was on many of the surfaces – Sam felt a twinge of shame, for not keeping his beloved friend's sanctuary clean in honour of him.
Gingerly he stepped over the threshold, as if waiting to be struck down by a lightning bolt or some other punishment. But nothing came, and Sam simply found himself standing in a room he had not entered in a long time. Memories of Frodo sitting at the desk, bent over the Red Book, came unbidden to his mind as he felt a twinge of grief. Frodo had sailed westwards nearly two months ago, and while Sam's pain of losing him was ever-present, it was no longer fresh enough to dampen his mood as easily as setting foot in the study once would have.
Instead Sam sighed deeply to himself, pushing his hands deep into his pockets as he stood in the room. This room felt like Frodo, Sam supposed, if rooms could 'feel' like a person. There was his favorite quill; there was the stain on the desk where Frodo had accidentally upset the inkpot; the slightly worn spot on the desk where Frodo had often rested his non-writing hand while he worked. Sam missed his dear friend something terrible, but understood Frodo's need to leave and seek healing on the white shores of the west. Understanding didn't make it any easier to bear, though, and didn't stop the occasional outpouring of grief that would overtake him when cherished memories were stirred.
Something out of place caught his eye. Upon the desk itself, occupying the space that had held the Red Book of Westmarch as Frodo recorded their experiences within it, was the small rectangular shape of a parchment envelope. Sam slowly reached out for it, hesitating before he picked it from the desk and lifted it into the light. Written on the front was a single word.
One little word that spoke volumes to him. The gentle curve of the letters, the telltale flick on the tail of the 'S'. There was only one person who could have written his name in such a way, one person who could have left this for him.
Frodo hadn't spoken of a letter he had left behind, but it was clearly from him. Sam almost put it back, unsure of whether to open it or not, but it was addressed to him, after all. Surely Frodo had meant for him to find it…yes, he told himself more firmly. It was addressed to him, from Frodo, there was no use wringing his hands and wondering what to do about it, the way forward was clear.
Legal documents forgotten for now, Sam left the study with the envelope held gently in one hand. He made his way through Bag End and out into the back garden, where his feet led him along the well-worn path that led up the gentle slope of the Hill. Atop the Hill in the afternoon sun, Sam ducked under the low-hanging fronds of the tree that hung above the front door of Bag End. It was a place he had loved as a lad, and when older he had often spent many bright afternoons in the light shade with Frodo for company. After they had returned to the Shire, Sam had often found Frodo sitting with his back against the tree, deep in thought as he looked out at the surrounding landscape.
Sam settled himself under the tree. The view was beautiful from here; he could see all the way down the Hill and almost across the Water. Hobbits worked in fields, and walked along the pathways as birdsong filled the warm air. It was a picture of peace, a peace they had fought long and hard to keep. Sam smiled sadly – it had been kept, but at what cost?
He glanced down at the letter in his hand. Slowly he broke the wax seal and opened it, sliding out a sheaf of folded parchment. Sam took a deep breath, not knowing what he would find, and began to read.
My dearest Sam,
I would like to think I know you well. That is why I will leave this letter for you to find when you are ready – to read these words on your return home from the Havens I fear will only increase your pain. By leaving it here, in the study, I know you will find it when you are ready to. I know how you think of the study as my 'space', especially after the Quest when I wrote the account of our adventures. For that reason, I guess that you will not enter here while the memory of my leaving is still raw – not until some time has passed. When you find this, I hope you can read these words with a clear mind and open heart, and not renew your pain.
I cannot begin to imagine what grief my leaving will cause you. I am sorry that I could not bring myself to tell you that I too was taking the ship over the seas. I could not bring myself to speak of it to you - I doubt it will feel a reality even to me until I stand in the Havens itself, and see the ship before me. Do not fear for me, or concern yourself with worry of my well-being – I go to seek healing, and although sometimes it must hurt to be healed, leaving to seek that is a decision I have finally come to. It pains me to leave, and I do not do so lightly. I will forever gaze eastwards across the sea towards you, the Shire, and those I leave behind.
I also doubt, as I write this the night before we leave, that I will be able to say a proper goodbye. Even the thought of having to say all I need to, all I want to, to you, Merry and Pippin on the shore makes my eyes fill with tears. To speak to you three, I fear, would break down all the resolve I have to leave, and so instead of trying to say words I doubt I can phrase eloquently enough to express myself, I leave you this letter. At least in writing my words will be clear, and I will have to trust my last actions towards you to speak for themselves.
First though, I leave you one last task, my friend. Carry these words to Merry and Pippin. Tell them that although I regret the circumstances in which such transformation was necessary, I have never been prouder of the two of them than to see them take their places within the elite ranks of Rohan and Gondor respectively. I feared for them many times during our journey, and although they have not emerged unscathed, they have become exemplars of honour and bravery. I am humbled to share their bloodlines, and the fortunes of Tuckborough and Buckland could not be in better hands. Their good hearts will serve them well and I regret I will not see them take their place in the Shire's leadership. I love them dearly, and wish them all the best for their lives ahead – I will not meet with them again, until we are beyond this world.
For you alone, dear Sam, I leave you these words. Use well the days. Do not live in the past, but live in joy and happiness for me, for Rosie, and for all those you sire. Rosie I know thinks herself the luckiest hobbit-lass in the Shire, and I agree with her (give her my thanks for her gentleness and care in the recent past; she is a perfect match for you, my Sam). Time does pass, even if it feels like it never will. You must live as a whole and be happy for us both – I will want to know every detail of your rich life when I see you again. And I will see you again, but not until you are ready. Not until your life has been all that you could wish for, and more.
I set out to save the Shire, I took the Ring to protect my homeland and all those within it. But the Shire we saved (if indeed I had any hand in it) is not mine – I have changed to much, lost too much of myself. This new Shire, my Sam, is yours. It has been saved for you. Accept it with peace in your heart and a smile on your face, and live in the knowledge that we saved it for you, and for Rosie. You will be a grand husband, and a wonderful father. I have no doubt of that. There is much you still have to give – not just to your family, but to the Shire itself. You can do so much, all for the better – you are Master of the Hill now. Use your good heart and wisdom to the benefit of all.
I have already left you all my material possessions, in the knowledge that you deserve them above all others and will use them well – I can think of no better Master of the Hill. I also leave with you my soul, in the hopes that one day, when we meet again, I am deserving of it once more. I almost lost it in Mordor, I could feel it slipping away from me – and so until I am healed and returned to myself, I will leave it in the safest place I can think of: with you.
You have always gently stopped me when I have tried to speak to you about your part in the Quest, and so at last on paper you cannot interrupt – I can never being to thank you, or provide the proper recognition for all that you did for me on our journey, and all that you gave up by being at my side. I know you do not feel worthy of any title bestowed upon you, but you will always be my Samwise the Brave. You are a hero, my friend, and more so – you are my hero. Only by your guidance and faith did the Ring come to Mount Doom, only by your loyalty did my step continue onwards to that barren land, and by your strength did we stay alive. I love you beyond words for the friendship you gave to me; my friend, my brother.
I wish you, Merry and Pippin all the luck and love in the world, and hope that you have many long and happy years a head of you. Although I do not know what awaits me across the sea, a day will not pass in which I do not think of the three of you, and wish you good health and happiness. There are no words to say all that I feel towards the three you, no means to repay the support and loyalty you provided to me, or any way to express the honour it is to know you. I can only hope these words give even the barest indication of such.
Until next we meet, my brother.
Sam sat unmoving for a long time, staring out at the blue sky. The light was just beginning to fade, and he realized Rosie would be wondering where he was. Sighing deeply, Sam picked himself up off the ground and wiped his tear-filled eyes. The letter he carefully re-folded and placed back inside the envelope, before tucking the document away in his jacket. He would write to Merry and Pippin this evening and send the letters tomorrow as early as possible, to share Frodo's last message with them.
Use well the days. Frodo's words came back to him. Perhaps he could help the Shire; there was rumor old Will Whitfoot would need a successor to the Shire's mayoralty after his current term was up. Samwise Gamgee, Mayor of the Shire? Not quite as grand a title as Samwise the Brave, but it would do, he supposed. If he was mad enough to think about running for the position, that was.
Sam was about to take the path leading back down the Hill when he paused, and turned himself westwards for a moment. He wondered if at that moment, Frodo was looking back at him from the white shores he had ventured to. Sam smiled sadly. He could never know if he was, of course, but it did his heart good to know that there was the barest chance that they would be looking towards one another.
One day he would see him again. One day Samwise Gamgee would sail across the sea and see his beloved friend, healed and whole again, waiting to meet him on the white shores. The mental image of it bought tears to Sam's eyes again, and he smiled despite them.
"Peace be with you, Frodo," he murmured to the night sky, before setting off back down the Hill, to Rosie and Elanor.
I'm quite pleased with how it turned out, I think. The letter itself took a while to write, as it was hard to find the right words for some parts, but overall I like how it turned out. Reviews mean the world to me, if you would be so kind.