Fredegar Bolger looked down at the pale face lying on the pillow before him and noted not a hint of shock, surprise, or grief. Instead he saw compassion for himself and even a level of amusement. He felt alarmed--and at a certain level almost insulted. Then he realized.
“You already knew?”
“How could I miss the signs, Freddy? I only inhabit this body, after all.”
Frodo had been riding to the Great Smial with Merry and Pippin when he’d collapsed. They’d thought it was due to the intense heat the Shire had been suffering for the past week, for after all he was not in particularly robust health to begin with, although his health had appeared to be improving since Midsummer. When he begged them to take him to Freddy’s home instead of that of Paladin Took they realized that he really felt more comfortable with Budgie Smallfoot dealing with him than the healers at the Great Smial--or he didn’t want to deal with the questions bound to be aimed at him by Paladin and Eglantine Took when he was as sick as he was--or both. Once there he’d insisted they go on, for he didn’t wish them to hear what he knew was coming.
It wasn’t heat stroke, although the heat had definitely made things worse. Budgie had finally admitted to his friend and employer that Frodo Baggins was dying of heart failure. “I am sorry, Freddy, but there’s not a lot that can be done at this point. Plenty of fluids to flush his body, some herbs to perhaps ease the burden on the heart and help deal with the pain....”
Now, Freddy, who’d wished to break the news and comfort his cousin, was being comforted instead by that very cousin. “I’ve known for ever so long. I’ve been angry, upset, furious even. Now--” he turned his face away “--I almost wish the end would come and be done.”
Freddy was alarmed by that. “You wouldn’t----”
“Oh, believe me, Freddy, I’ve considered it--seriously. But I couldn’t let him find me that way, and know I’d done it deliberately. Not after--not after I realized how it would hit him. Not that the last time I was thinking all that clearly.”
“Then you did try?”
“What stopped you?”
A surprisingly amused laugh. “Real Elvish rope.” Freddy didn’t understand, but relished that Frodo was sufficiently recovered to laugh about it. Then the laugh faded. “I fear to die before the children, Freddy. I walk down to the bench at the turn of the lane three or four nights a week--when I’m strong enough. What if I fail before them? I can almost bear the thought of Sam finding me--but what if it’s Rosie, or Elanor? Or Cyclamen Proudfoot?” Together they were quiet for a time.
Frodo lay still, thinking. Finally he said, in a low tone, “Well, at least I know the longest it will be.”
“I won’t survive another anniversary of Weathertop.”
Freddy looked down at him, his face pale. The door cracked open, and Budgie peered in. Fredegar beckoned him in. “He already knows, Budgie.”
The healer looked down at Frodo Baggins and sighed. “Yes, I suppose you would know.”
Freddy continued, “He even has an excellent idea when it will come--October sixth.”
“What makes you know----? Oh, yes. Are you certain you will have another return of the memories on that date?”
Frodo nodded. “Yes.”
Freddy thought for some time. “Does Sam know?”
“They have to realize somehow that I am continuing to weaken more than strengthen, Freddy. I’m certain he knows, but I hope he doesn’t realize that I won’t make it past then.”
“Shall we talk to them?”
“No! No, I want to live as I can for what little time I have left to me without him thinking constantly that the end is coming.”
“Is there anything else that can be done, Frodo?”
“One thing only--one thing only, but I’m afraid the time for choosing is behind me. I’m so weak now...I don’t know that I’d survive the journey.”
Frodo shook his head impatiently. “They could perhaps keep me alive for a time--but that is all. My condition is beyond the powers of the great Elves even if the powers of their Rings had not been destroyed by--by what I did.
“No--not Rivendell; and not Aragorn. Not that I’d make it to Gondor, either. No, only--only if I accepted the ship to Tol Eressëa would I perhaps have a chance. But I’m not certain I wish to go. To live there through strange years as the only mortal, once Bilbo has gone on? But--as quickly as I become weak--would I even make it to the Havens? Much less survive the voyage?”
“Can you perhaps finish the book before you leave? I’d like to see how----” Freddy suddenly felt very foolish and flushed.
Frodo gave a croak of a laugh. “See how it ends? With me here before you?” He took a deep breath. “I will try--as far as I can take it.”
There was a silence, and at last Freddy said, “I want to be with you, Frodo. If you make it through to the sixth, that is. I--I want to hold your hand and let you know that the love is there. I could--perhaps soften things for Sam and Rosie.”
He was afraid Frodo would say no, but saw that instead he was weeping with relief. “Thank you, Freddy. I really don’t wish for Sam to have to find me--fled with the echoes of that horror on my face.”
The heat broke within three days, and Frodo appeared much stronger. Freddy and Budgie accompanied him home in the Bolger carriage, Strider tied to follow behind, and told Sam that Frodo had simply found the heat too much for him. With new draughts to go along with Sam’s teas and the order to drink as much water as he could handle, they left him at Bag End with the news they would be visiting early in October, and expected to arrive late on the fourth or early on the fifth.
Frodo again worked hard at increasing his endurance, resumed his walks down to the turn in the lane to tell stories to the Proudfoot and Chubbs children, and those of their friends who frequented the Row. He wrote and shared his chapters by quick post with Freddy and copied edited chapters into the Red Book. Finally he announced he felt well enough to go to Buckland, that he needed to see Saradoc and Esmeralda. He took the pony cart from the Ivy Bush instead of riding Strider, and Sam watched after with concern.
Esmeralda looked on her younger cousin she’d fostered in his childhood and didn’t know what to think. He’d had to have new clothing made to fit him, for he’d lost so much weight; and instead of the golds, greens, and browns he’d always favored he was now wearing greys and silvers. She had to admit that somehow they became him, as subdued as he’d become; but she missed the liveliness she’d known in him before--before he left the Shire.
“Did you see Brendilac?”
“Yes, I spent the day with him, going over my partnerships.”
“Frodo--why did you--why did you pretend you had no money left?”
He shrugged. “There had to be a reason most people would believe that would allow them to accept why I was leaving Bag End.”
“Why did you sell it to Lotho and Lobelia?”
He sighed. “Once I had let Ponto know I was looking to sell the hole, hoping that he and Iris would buy it, he made the mistake of telling his sister, who, of course, immediately told Lobelia. Before Ponto and Iris could make an offer I had Lotho on the doorstep with cash in hand. I couldn’t keep up the pretense if I were to turn him down; and, as long as Otho, Lobelia, and he had desired Bag End I’d truly thought they would care for the place. I had--had no idea he was being influenced by Saruman, that he would start trampling the gardens and bringing in Saruman’s devices and people and agreeing to demean and diminish our folk as he did. Not that I had more than the vaguest idea who Saruman was, much less Gandalf’s growing concerns regarding him.”
“But why did you feel you had to sell it?”
“I didn’t think I’d be returning. Somehow, even before we left the Shire I seemed to realize I’d most likely die along the way--although I’d convinced myself that once I knew for certain where Bilbo was I’d remain with him.” He looked away, and sighed. “I almost wish I hadn’t come back, for in a way it feels as if I did die out there. But at least I know Sam and Rosie are doing well, and Merry and Pippin are recovering, even finding love.” Suddenly his sweet smile lit his face. “And there is Elanor, and Cyclamen Proudfoot and young Pando. They will all be wonderful Hobbits one day. The Shire is recovering well, and our people have learned from the experience--learned they are strong enough to stand up to such oppression in the future, and that they are part of the outer world as well. I am glad of that, that I had a part in it.”
Esmeralda nodded. She changed the subject. “Sara is in Bree right now, talking with the--the Steward Halladan regarding the edict that while the situation regarding Sharkey is under investigation no Men can enter the Shire--I understand that the King is seriously considering making that permanent.”
Frodo nodded. She continued, “When he gets back--Frodo, will you allow us to meet with you to discuss what it was exactly that you four went through? Merry still can’t talk about it, and he is becoming more reticent rather than better.”
He sighed. Finally he said, “I suppose I can make myself speak of it.” He looked sadly into her eyes. “It is hard for me as well.”
Esmeralda suggested about a week before his birthday, a period of time she knew she and Saradoc could easily get away; and he agreed.
For a time they said nothing after that. Finally she commented, “I hope this Lord Steward Halladan is being polite to Sara.”
He looked up at her surprised. “I am certain he is, Aunt. He’s a well-spoken Man, and was courteous to us.”
“You met him?”
“He came South to fight at Aragorn’s side--they are cousins. He remained for the wedding, accepted the Stewardship in place of his brother, who had died before Minas Tirith, then returned North with us--until we turned aside toward Rivendell to see Bilbo one last time.”
“The war there was--bad?”
“You all fought there?”
“Merry did. Pippin was--inside the city. He fought later. Sam and I weren’t there--not then.”
“Where were you?”
He shook his head. “Let me answer then. Please.”
She looked very closely at him, brushed a lock of his hair with her hand. “There is a touch of silver now at your temples.” He nodded. “You are so very thin, Frodo.”
“It’s nothing, Aunt Esme.”
Suddenly she was angry. “Nothing, you say?”she exclaimed. “We can see it’s more than nothing! I swear, Frodo--you could be lying on your deathbed and would still swear there was not a single thing wrong with you!”
His paleness suddenly became alarming. He straightened, turned away. “I’m sorry, Aunt....” He rose, started for the door, suddenly stopped and held tightly to the back of the nearest chair, remained turned away from her.
“Oh, Frodo--please forgive me--I’m so worried for you.”
“I know; I understand.” His voice was a whisper. He didn’t turn to her again. “I’m sorry--you are likely--likely right. I’m so sorry, Aunt Esme. So sorry.”
She rose, approached a few steps. “Why do you keep apologizing, Frodo?”
“I don’t know....” He said nothing more for a few moments, and finally whispered again, “I’m sorry. But--but please know--know that I....” His head straightened. “I love you.... Please--have my cart brought.” He almost stumbled out of the room.
She could not understand why he was leaving so quickly. She followed after, but found she had no idea where he’d gone, finally saw Merimac and told him that Frodo had asked to have his cart prepared, then wished she hadn’t. She began searching for him--checked the room that was his in the smial, but he wasn’t there. She checked the privy. She couldn’t think where else to look. When at last she went out she learned he’d come out as his cart arrived, accepted aid in getting onto the box, had thanked the groom, and driven away. She found Merimac again, and asked him if he’d ride out after Frodo, check on him. He nodded, and went to saddle his pony.
Frodo turned off the main road into a side lane that skirted an orchard on one side and a small woody copse on the other. He was not certain how he’d made it this far, for his chest was aching, and the pain was shooting down his back and arm. Suddenly he felt horribly nauseous, halted the cart, managed to get down without quite falling, leaned against a tree, and began to vomit. Almost he fell, but was suddenly caught by large and strong hands, supported. A Light, he realized, shone behind him, one he’d seen shining in glory as it faced the Nazgul caught in the rising of the Bruinen.
“Gently now, small friend,” the Lord Glorfindel said in Sindarin. “Take a deep Breath and let it fill you.” The nausea eased, and then the pain eased as well as his hand moved to the Queen’s jewel. “Yes,” the Elf continued, “that is right. Let the Light ease you. Good. Now open to the Song.”
Frodo sighed, closed his eyes, listened, almost caught the rhythm, lost it, began to grow frustrated. “No, tithen nin, do not seek to capture it--you are not the singer, but the instrument. Open yourself to the Song, and it will be made manifest in you. The Light and the Breath will help reveal it.”
He focused on the Light, knew it filled him, settled, was aware of its pulsing, felt his breathing even out, felt the heartbeat slow and calm, the movement of his blood ease. Glorfindel was easing him onto the orchard grass, was feeling his pulse. He opened his eyes and could still see the Light within himself and the Light which filled the Elven lord who knelt by him--and realized they were not the same.
Glorfindel was aware of his surprise, smiled. “Of course they are not the same, Ringbearer. Yours is not tied to the reality of Arda as mine is.” He brushed the hair from Frodo’s brow. “Do not seek to speak as yet. Let the Song continue to fill you as it is now. Very good.”
Frodo still did not understand what Glorfindel was directing, but allowed himself to relax more deeply, sighed, closed his eyes again, focused on the Light, realized it was pulsing in counterpoint to his heartbeat, that his breathing was also settling into a complementary rhythm. Almost he fell asleep. Then his eyes were opening once more.
“Do you believe you can now sit unaided?”
“I think so.” Frodo straightened slowly, letting go the jewel. “The Light helps.”
The Elf laughed. “The Light helps, you say?” He touched the Queen’s jewel. “Do you indeed think it originates here? Ah, no, my friend. The gem serves instead as a means for perceiving and ordering Light, Breath, and Song, not as source.”
“Then what is the source?”
Glorfindel again laughed. “You know that well enough, Frodo Baggins.”
“But mine fled--or rather, was diminished. And it was never visible when I opened my eyes.”
“Think you it has not been able to strengthen again? It was shaken, but not extinguished or converted or consumed.”
“But I am weakened.”
“Your body is weakened. That is the lot of mortals, after all. And even we of the Firstborn can know that experience as well.”
Frodo looked away, feeling shamed. This Elf would know that, of all his people left in Middle Earth.
Glorfindel asked, softly, “And how is it I stand before you now? And how is it that the Lady Celebrían stands ready to be reunited with her Lord Husband?” As he thought of that, the Elf added, with a touch of humor, “And what is the significance of the Halls of Waiting being within the keeping of one of the Valar of Arda? Do not think to answer for my benefit, but for your own. Your careful answer to Sam when he read Estel’s letter was more true than you know.”
Frodo found himself rephrasing Sam’s own question asked in response to that statement. “But do the Halls of Waiting have anything to do with us Hobbits? We are not Elves, nor those capable of being great Lords of Men.”
“Were you not desirous of seeking out a corner within them in which to hide for a time, Iorhael?” Frodo flushed, not realizing any save Aragorn and himself--and Sam--could know of that.... Then the Elf Lord added, “And are you and Sam not counted among the great Lords of Middle Earth?”
“That’s but an honor....”
“True honor is earned, never simply bestowed on a whim. We of the Firstborn ratified the recognition of that honor, remember, and even the Ents have seen the right of it.” Frodo started to stand up, but was restrained by Glorfindel’s hand on his shoulder. “Your body is not sufficiently restored for that yet. Sit yet for a time.” Glorfindel rose and went to the carriage, found Sam’s waterskin, and brought it back. He uncorked it and assisted Frodo to drink from it.
Finally Frodo asked, “How do you know about so many things?”
“I was sent back to do what I could to assist in the continuing fight against the legacy of Morgoth. Yet, as you were told, I stand astride both worlds. What I need to know is revealed to me.”
“What do you here, in the Shire?”
Glorfindel laughed. “Estel’s edict affects only Men, not other races, Frodo. And the way to Mithlond and back runs to the West of this place.”
“Then you are leaving?”
The Elf straightened, stood tall and proud, looking down on the slender Hobbit sitting on the ground before him. “I did not go to see Círdan on my own behalf. I will linger for a time, see my own safely on their way ere I return there in body.” He looked toward the road from which Frodo had turned. “One of your own comes seeking you. Shall you reassure him, or shall I conceal you?”
“Esmeralda--she would have sent someone, wouldn’t she?”
“You allowed her words of honesty to nearly become manifest at the moment.”
“Yes.” Frodo drew a shaky breath and slowly rose. “Let him find me.”
Merimac looked down the lane that opened to the right, not thinking to see anything, but realized there was a cart there. He turned his own pony toward it, then saw, standing nearby it, the slender figure for which he’d been searching. “Oh, Frodo, there you are.”
Frodo nodded, gravely. He was pale, but that was not unusual any more. Suddenly Merimac was aware Frodo was not alone, realized that he was in the presence of an Elf. He stopped his pony, then bowed his head deeply in respect. “My Lord--I was unaware any of your people were in our land.”
“The way through the Shire has always been favored by my people, you of the Brandybucks. I saw the Elf Friend here along the road and chose to approach him.”
Frodo said carefully, “Aunt Esmeralda said something that--that rang a warning bell in my conscience. I--I felt overwhelmed, and I must confess I sought to run away from myself in the confusion of the moment. Please assure her that I am--that I am as well as I can be at the moment--and that I meant what I said before I fled her presence.”
“Let her know he is not alone, and that I will see him to his home.” The Elf’s voice was full of authority.
Merimac bowed his head again. “She will be reassured.” He felt a great deal of relief himself. “My Lord, my cousin. Go well, then.” At the Elf’s bow and Frodo’s nod he turned, headed back toward Brandy Hall. He was awed--he had never thought to have an Elf address him directly.
The Elf watched after for a time, then turned to Frodo. He brought out a familiar flask, removed the stopper, and proffered it. “A small sip only, Frodo.” Frodo accepted the sip of miruvor and thanked him as he returned the flask. He turned to check the pony, reassured it, gave it a feed from its nosebag. There was, he knew, a small stream the other side of the copse. He carefully released the traces, but Glorfindel took the pony from him. “I will give it to drink. Rest yet a moment more.”
Frodo sat on the step of the cart when Elf and pony returned, and the pony patiently permitted itself to be returned to its harness. Glorfindel assisted the Hobbit onto the box, and walking alongside accompanied him on the ride home.
They stopped at an inn and Frodo went in to purchase food for the both of them. They went on till they found a glade where they paused to eat, and then the Elf suggested Frodo sleep for a time. Whenever he awoke, wrapped in his bedroll, Frodo could see the form of the Elf lord seated gracefully nearby, singing to the glory of the stars, stars that filled Frodo.
The seventh night of September Sam slipped quietly out of his bed to get a drink. He was startled when he entered the kitchen to hear Frodo from the settle in the corner. “Please, Sam--I wanted to go up onto the Hill tonight to sleep under the stars, but find I’m not strong enough to make it. Will you help me?”
“Yes, Master, I will, and gladly. Wait you there and I’ll fetch my cloak. Don’t you have the blankets and rug?”
“It’s a warm enough night.”
It was indeed especially warm for early September.
Sam just gave him his look and automatically placed a mug of his tea into Frodo’s hands before he went toward the bed chambers. He heard Frodo’s soft chuckle and was reassured. He soon was wrapped in a cloak and had the blanket roll in his hands, and returning to the kitchen lent his friend his shoulder to lean on, his arm to support him. He realized Frodo wore only drawers and no night shirt beneath his Lorien cloak, and looked at him with some surprise.
“I told you, Sam, the night is more than warm enough. Why, after all, did you come seeking a cup of water?”
“True enough, I suppose.”
“Even with the window wide open, I’ve been so hot, Sam.”
At the top of the Hill Frodo was able to stand unaided while Sam unwrapped the roll. “I don’t need or want the rug, Sam. The grass is soft as soft enough tonight.”
“Well, if you say so, Master.”
“We’ve slept on far harder, you and I.”
“Oh, agreed.” After he saw Frodo comfortably seated on the ground with his blankets, he asked, “Would you like me to stay by you tonight, Frodo?”
Frodo’s eyes gave him a searching look, then he shook his head with a sigh. “No--I’d like that, but you have Rosie waiting for you, and your children to beget. Go with my blessing, Sam.”
Sam felt oddly hurt at the same time he felt oddly relieved, bent low over the seated form and kissed the dark hair, silvered in the moonlight, then went back in. Rosie had awakened, had sat back up, the starlight from the window lighting her shape--and he forgot about Frodo temporarily as he delighted in looking on her, moved to her side, sat by her, took her in his arms.
When he went to lie down, Frodo felt a hard shape wrapped in a fold of the blanket, found the Lady’s gift there. He could not think how it had come to be in such a place, then remembered he’d carried it to Buckland with him, and had tucked it inside the blanket roll before he carried it back into Bag End and placed it back in the wardrobe. It began to glow softly under his hand, and he smiled. “I suppose I didn’t need to come out to find the starlight after all,” he murmured, then lay back, looked up, and smiled. The Phial flared briefly as if laughing merrily.
For a long time he simply lay back, filling his heart with stars; but finally his eyes closed on their own, and he slept. The light of the Phial led him forward, until he came to a glade in Lothlorien where he saw the Lady standing, also looking up in delight at the stars. She turned, the stars mirrored in her eyes as she greeted him.
“My Lady Galadriel.” He reached up to take her hand and they sat upon the grass, then lay back companionably to look up together. She was caressing his hand much as Cyclamen Proudfoot did, the movement of her thumb oddly comforting as it gently rubbed the skin pulled over the maimed knuckle. Finally he said quietly, “I am dying, it seems.”
“So it seems indeed. Do you truly wish to accept the Gift of Iluvatar now?”
“Do I have a choice?”
“I believe one yet stands before you.”
“I am unworthy.”
“One day perhaps you will find a way to describe to me how this is true, for I’ve not seen it yet, Ringbearer.”
He was still for quite some time. Finally he said quietly, “I am still so emptied.”
It was her turn to remain quiet now. When at last she spoke in his mind, the thought seemed to reflect nothing of the conversation they’d had so far.
The gift you gave my granddaughter and Elessar ere you left them was magnificent.
It was one of the most wonderful works I’ve ever seen. That such beauty could come out of the torment even of Orodruin....
Always the Creator places the potential for beauty into all He makes. No matter how they twisted and sought to corrupt, not even Morgoth nor Sauron could destroy that potential.
We found life even within Mordor itself--twisted, but tenacious.
With Sauron gone, it finally flowers as it was intended to do.
He nodded. He returned to the previous subject.
Why have I been allowed to be emptied so, Lady?
He felt a deep sigh build in her, but could not tell if its focus was his question or the answer she contemplated making him. Finally her thought touched him again. Imagine that bowl, a bowl fit for the King’s own table. It is filled with the freshest of fruit intended to feed the household of the King, to strengthen and delight them. Do you have the image?
Now, imagine that the Enemy has seen that bowl, has sought to steal it away, it and all it contains. He cannot touch the fruit himself, for no longer can he abide it, much less consume it, for he left good things long ago.
Again he nodded.
He has had the bowl carried to the waste places he favors. Dry winds blow over it, bleak snows, heavy rains, hailstones hard as adamant. The fruit freezes, thaws, loses its moisture in the dryness of the desert, lies in the rain of the unseasonable storm, is blown abroad by the whirlwind. Then, the Enemy is conquered and the bowl is found abandoned on the side of Orodruin itself. Describe the fruit it contains.
It would be fruit no more, my Lady. There would be--the remains of mold, dry rinds, rings of juice gone hard in the dryness that would not easily come clean.
Is it the fault of the bowl that what it contains is no longer capable of fulfilling its function?
Is the bowl itself damaged by the fact the fruit is no longer palatable?
Can it still fulfill its original function?
How can it come to this?
It must first be cleansed.
Water, soap, very fine sand, much careful scrubbing. Maybe it might need to be cleansed by fire.
She spoke aloud. “I see, Ringbearer. And, once it is finally cleansed, then what?”
“Then it must be filled again.”
“And when it has been filled again?”
“Then it is ready for the King’s table once more.”
“Must it be filled with fruit the second time?”
“I suppose not. Perhaps mashed potatoes, or nuts--or mushrooms.”
She laughed aloud. “Ah, you still think as a Hobbit, Frodo.”
“I am a Hobbit.” But her laughter filled his heart, and he joined in it.
Finally her thought, now warm, continued the questioning. When cleansing the bowl, will the cleansing be quick?
Probably not. I’ve had to wash too many such myself.
Might it not need to be cleansed several times?
Does all the cleansing need to take place in dark places?
No. It’s better elsewhere, in fact.
Will it come just as clean in a woods stream as in a byre?
Yes, perhaps cleaner.
Which would be the more pleasant place to be while being cleansed?
The woods stream. And the filth still clinging to it could be easily seen there for the scrubbing.
Would it be better cleansed by the pot boy with the heavy hands and the iron scrubber, or by the house wife with the fine sand?
Oh, the latter. The pot boy would scratch it.
I see. Then after--which would be the better place for filling it anew--the byre or the forest hall?
The forest hall.
She let him lie with that thought in his mind for some time, then sat up and turned to look down on him. “Now, have you answered your own question, Ringbearer?” After a moment she added, “That bowl would be pleasing enough empty, even; but bowls are created to function practically as much as for their own beauty and the beauty they add to what they hold.” Again she let him think, then whispered, “You are offered the forest hall.” Her smile lit the night with glory as she rose and left him, her pace solemn yet still a graceful dance. Amazed, he looked after her.
His eyes opened, and he lay upon the Hill, the scent of the greenery and the flowers about him filling his nostrils as tears fell from his eyes--tears of relief at a decision long considered finally made. “I choose!” he whispered.
Sam and Rosie rejoiced in one another several times that night, then bathed together, drew on fine nightshirt and gown, wrapped their robes about them, and crept to the top of the Hill together to check on the Master. Frodo lay, his chest bare, deeply asleep, tears still sparkling in his lashes, the gem he wore lying on his left shoulder, negating the scar there; he look relieved and beautiful, and he was definitely glowing lightly in the starlight, as if his own Light sought to answer the glory of the heavens.
Rosie could feel the slight trembling in Sam, heard him murmur gently, “Oh, the shining of him! And it must go from us all too soon!” She grasped his hand gently, letting her love flow into him, to keep him grounded, to sustain him. Finally they turned away, went as softly back down the Hill. By the back door, he laid his hand over her womb. “I think, however, we’ll have his memory here for a time.” He was weeping, but there was no question that he was there, this night at least, with her and for her. She drew him into the smial.