AN: Thank you so much, Silenthunder, Daeril Ullothwen, FairyTaleLover6, and dreamflower02. Your reviews are very much appreciated. I'm glad you liked the first part.
This is the second part of this two-shot (yeah, I know, it's quite obvious). Frodo's brooding.
DISCLAIMER: I still don't own anything. I just like to mess with a certain hobbit's mind every now and then.
Into the West
Night has fallen and I am sitting at the bow of the ship, leaning against the railing, watching the stars as they shine down upon this vessel as they shine upon the path, which leads those I love further away from me. Few sounds disturb the quiet, since the ones I travel with have long retired for the night, in hopes that the soft movement of the waves will lull them to a peaceful slumber.
Even though I am tired, sleep's comforting embrace is not yet within my reach, as I try to find meaning in the confusion that has taken hold of me. Saying good bye is never easy. But how do you say good bye to what you thought was your life?
I close my eyes and images from happier times appear. The soft green hills of the Shire I remember all too clearly still as I remember its mild summers. Many a day I spent wandering over the soft grass or resting and reading in one of the ancient tree's shade, and it seems as though I can still feel the warm drops of water on my skin as a summer's rain wakes me from a blissful nap. Often I dreamt of what my life would be like once the years of adolescence were behind me. My love for Bilbo has always been as endless as the sky but I never thought I was cut out for a life quite like his.
So often he told me about his adventures and I listened with great joy as he so vividly lead me into worlds far beyond my own. His tales of Dwarves and Elves, Trolls, and Dragons fascinated the fledgling I was, and in my dreams I often joined my cousin on one of his many adventures. Childish simplicity spared me the knowledge of the dangers they held and even though I never thought of myself as a fool, I am still astounded by some of the decisions I made without any foresight of their consequences.
The price I paid was high and I willingly gave more than what most would probably be willing to give, for I paid for what I did with my life. A shell of who I used to be is all there's left of me and although I am not yet wandering in death's eternal shade, my soul died when the end of all things came. What I had set out to do I had accomplished, albeit in a fashion that leaves me unworthy of the honors that have been bestowed upon me.
No, I have not destroyed the Ring. I did not cast it into the depths of Orodruin's fiery heart. What little strength of mind I had preserved left me when I needed it the most and thus I claimed the Ring, willingly believing all the false promises it filled my heart with. Apart from an unbearable pain that sprang from my heart and not my hand, there is not much I remember of the hours that followed my greatest foe's demise.
Sam was with me, there at the end of all things, as was the certainty of my own death. What else was to come if not an untimely end for a simple Hobbit that had chosen to meddle in affairs that were not his own? My unworthiness I proved by failing them and their hopes and dreams of a brighter tomorrow after the curse of a long dark night, which Sauron had cast all over Middle Earth, would finally be broken. For Gollum accomplished what I could not.
No longer able to sit and linger in painful memories I stand up slowly and on weary feet I wander towards the ship's stern, wondering why there is no one else but me on deck. In the east the sun begins to rise from its watery grave for the night and high above me, Seagulls accompany our vessel on its voyage to a land from where I will never return.
Yes. My soul died when I succumbed to the Ring's calling and there is nothing I can do to renew or even just remember the joy I once felt in my life. I lost myself on my journey into Mordor and the rest of my days I shall spend trying to replenish my heart with memories of love and beauty and light. For it is my greatest hope that the Shadows will not linger in it and that my soul is not yet quite dead but lies merely dormant.
"My dear boy," Bilbo's voice is still husky from sleep and as I turn around, startled by his sudden presence, I come face to face with the one who looked out for me for the better part of my life. A smile protrudes from his wrinkled features and I find myself still surprised at how quickly age has caught up with my beloved cousin.
"It is still early," I smile at him and take his hand in mine. "You should go back to bed."
"Oh, but I wouldn't want to miss the first light of day for a thing in the world, Frodo," Bilbo chuckles and a familiar twinkle appears in his old eyes. "Rarely does such beauty present itself and we should not deny ourselves the joy of seeing it."
Never before have I seen a sunrise quite like this one. The water is bathed in a thousand shades of red and orange and yellow and by the sun's golden rays shadowed birds wing swiftly through the brightening sky.
This is beauty if I've ever seen it. Beauty born from light.
"Get some rest," I hear Bilbo whisper as I hug my elderly cousin tightly to myself. "Your journey, Frodo, has only just begun."