Chapter 1: Return to the Sea

The sea churned vast and wide and seemingly endless before Sam's eyes. His mind drifted to the last time he saw that endless sea. It took his life away; his life, his heart. All that he ever knew and loved sailed away to the sea. And he felt wounded, a wound that he thought would never really heal. A wound, like other wounds, that could only be healed by the sea. So he could not hate it. A music drifted on the waves, a song he heard from a loved one's lips so long ago. It was calling him now, it had been calling him for a long time. And now he must answer, he could not ignore it any longer.

A face came to Sam's memory. It held a great pain in those blue eyes, blue like the sea. Such pain and love and anguish in having to leave him, but both knew it was what must be. And both knew they would meet again some day, for Sam must return to the sea too.

"Dad?"

Sam sighed lightly, "Yes Elanor?"

"Are you sure, Dad? All respects intended but you're not young any more."

"I'm sure," Sam laughed, "But thank you for your concern."

"Frodo is concerned too, Dad. He doesn't want you to go. None of us do. Can't you stay?"

"No, Daughter. That's the thing. I'm not young any more. Almost one-hundred and one, not quite the age for adventures is it?"

"No, Dad."

"But with every journey there is a test. I believe that I've finally found one without a test."

"Dad?"

"Yes?"

"I don't understand."

"Neither do I." Sam pulled his eldest daughter into his arms and they held eachother for a long time. He felt her tears fall on his shoulder and his own slide down his cheeks. "I'm sorry, Elanor, but I cannot stay. Your mother died a long time ago. There is nothing left here for me. You and your brothers and sisters are grown now, you don't need an old hobbit to look after."

Elanor was at a loss for words. She wanted to protest, she wanted to tell him how much she loved him and wanted him to stay. But words could not come to her lips. But somehow Sam knew, and patted her shoulder, "It will be alright. You cannot always be torn in two."

Memories flooded back to Sam. The last time he heard those words, from another's lips. And how much he wanted to beg him to stay, not to leave him, but he couldn't, like Elanor couldn't. And he understood. Sam remembered that night, how it was comforting to have Pippin and Merry with him. But after they fell asleep, he crawled under a tree and cried until his tears dried up and his throat ached. He hoped Elanor would not cry like that, that she would not be so wounded when he left. Something told him she would heal. Unlike him, she was not a Ring-bearer. She did not understand the power that it still held over him. The pain that he still felt, and the growing pain for not seeing his most beloved friend again.

"Dad?"

Sam turned and saw his son standing behind him. "Yes, Frodo-lad?"

"I gave your things to Cirdan. The ship awaits."

Sam could see how his son held back his tears, he tried to be brave, for his sister. Sam threw his arms around his son.

"I love you, Dad," he cried and fell into endless sobs.

Sam was silent. He let his son cry into his shoulder as his daughter did. And he laughed to himself, I'll never wash this jacket again. I'll keep their tears forever. And I'll never never forget them. With that he kissed each of them and bade them farewell. Then Sam stepped back to get a good look as his grown children. A proud smile curved onto his lips, Frodo returned it with his own brave smile that did not reach his eyes. Elanor held tight to his hand and as her father turned to leave them forever she burried her face into her brother's strong chest. He held her and kept his eyes on his father.

Cirdan approached, "The ship is ready, Master Gamgee."

"It's Gardner now."

"When you come to the Undying Lands, you will be as you were, a Ringbearer, Samwise Gamgee, Elf-friend."

Sam laughed, "So I will. But not so young."

"Youth will be returned to you, Samwise. It is best to live out eternity in youth."

"I suppose you're right, sir."

Then Sam turned to say a last goodbye to his children. He snapped his fingers, "Oh, how could I have forgotten. Guess an old hobbit ain't what he used to be. Can't hold things to mind much any more."

He started to rumage through his things. "Ah here we are." He pulled out an old red book. It was tattered and very old. The binding was somewhat worn and the pages were yellow from years. But it was taken care of very well. As if it were a priceless piece of mithril. Sam patted it lovingily, "I want you to have this."

Elanor took it gingerly in her hands and Frodo opened to the first page. His eyes widened in disbelief. It couldn't be, could it? "Is this Master Bilbo's red book?" Frodo cried with disbelief.

"Indeed it is." Sam nodded proudly, "All finished now. A tale comes to an end."

"This is The Red Book?" Elanor stroked it gingerly, "We weren't aloud to even touch it when we were little. But I remember the stories." Tears came to her eyes. "But what do you want us to do with it?"

"Bring it to the King of Gondor. Have him make copies. It is a piece of your history. And read it to your children. So that they may know the danger their land was in, and how much some sacraficed to save it, so that they may love it all the more."

Sam smiled remembering the words. Perhaps not put the same, he was never very good with words.

Elanor closed the book and held it tight to her chest. "I will, Dad."

He nodded and smiled, "I'm very proud of you. All of you."

"I know, Dad." Frodo answered.

And with that he turned. Sam started to walk up the ramp and turned back to see his son holding his weeping daughter. He smiled, We raised them well, Rose. He looked up to the sky as he thought this. Then his eyes returned to his children and he felt he could not abandon them so quickly. He felt a hand on his shoulder.

"Best to go now, Samwise," said Cirdan.

"Of course, you're right." He whispered, turning to leave his beloved land forever. But the shire was lost to him now. "It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them." The voices of the past rang clear in his mind. And he turned his head to the west, here lies his new life, though he made a silent promise to himself, he would not forget his children, his wife, the shire. He wouldn't forget Merry and Pippin, Legolas and Gimli, Strider and the Quest.

Sam saw the shore slowly dissappear in the gathering mist. He wiped tears from his eyes, "Oh bother, Samwise, go on and blubber like a baby. You're not a child any more." The sea surrounded him, the air was fresh and new. The water churned and sang beneath the boat. He remembered those words, that song, and he sang quietly to himself.

still round the corner there may wait a new road or a secret gate; and though i oft have passed them by a day will come at last when i shall take the hidden paths that run west of the moon, east of the sun A! Elbereth Githoniel! silvren penna miriel o menel aglar elenath Githoniel, A! Elbereth! we still remember, we who dwell in this far land beneath the trees the starlight on the western seas

The stars were truly beautiful and Sam would spend most of the night just standing on deck and watching them dance above. And he thought of Rose. His most beloved wife and her last words to him. "Go to him, Sam."

"Go to who, dear Rose?"

"Go to the sea, Sam, it is time for your healing now."

"No, Rose, I won't leave you. I love you."

"And I love you too, Sam, but I'm- I'm dying, Sam."

"No..."

"Yes, Sam, and I let you go too. Be free and go to him. You need eachother, and he is- he is lost."

"Lost? What do you mean? Rose? Rose! No Rose!"

He felt her fair hand go limp and cold in his. And he cried, like he cried when he left him. Left on the sea, and now his dear heart, his love, Rose, has left him too. He was able to survive only by the comfort of his loving children. But he could not live on their love long. He would die if he did not seek healing.

Sam brushed tears from his eyes again, "Now Sam, you better stop this. Crying is for young people, not an old Gaffer like yourself."

"But you are young, Master Gamgee."

Sam spun around to see Cirdan. Cirdan smiled at him, "Did you not look in your mirror?"

"Well, no sir, I can't say I have. I've spent most of the time on deck, watching the stars and the moon. Sunset and sunrise till that glorious day when the sun sets on the land where I may see him again."

Cirdan's expression abruptly changed. "Sam?"

But Sam did not listen, he was smiling again, thinking of his old friend. Cirdan had not the heart to speak longer of this.

~~~

"Cirdan?"

"Yes Master Gamgee?"

"I saw it! I saw myself! I'm young, Cirdan, I'm young again! I got no wrinkles and not a grey hair at that! I look, well. I look thirty-three not one-hundred and one. How, Cirdan?"

Cirdan laughed, "I told you young master. It is the sea. You are becomimg like an elf, Master Gamgee."

Sam trembled with excitement, "Is- is Frodo like this too?"

Cirdan frowned again. "Yes, Samwise, he is. And Master Bilbo too. It is the work of the sea."

Sam hung over the rail and took a deep breath of the sea air. Letting it fill his lungs and tingle his senses, giving him new life with each breath. He leaned dangerously close to the edge but didn't seem to mind.

Cirdan laughed again, "For a hobbit scared of rivers and streams you certainly brave the sea well enough."

"I must say," Sam answered, "I had quite a few complaints of the river Anduin. But the sea- the sea is! Different. I can't hate it." The wind whipped back his golden curls. Ocean spray wetted his face.

"I see what you mean little one," laughed Cirdan. "You halflings could always make me laugh. I do enjoy your company."

Sam bowed, "I am honoured, Cirdan." Then he paused and looked to the west, "How long will it be?"

Cirdan laughed and shook his head.