Forsythia and Fosco Baggins were devastated when they saw Frodo again at the Free Fair that last summer he spent in the Shire--he was so plainly ill now. Again they followed him into the Council Hole, and then Forsythia hurried off to bring him a glass of wine and some rolls while he and Fosco discussed the work done on the great sideboard by Frodo’s father. He’d brought a chair from the banquet table to sit on as he examined his father’s work. He leaned back in the chair at times and would go quiet, his eyes closing for minutes at a time, then would straighten and go on. Both of the young Hobbits stood by him with their hands on his shoulders while he described some of those whom Drogo Baggins had pictured on the sideboard. Fosco examined and felt it for quite some time. At last Frodo went quiet again, and Fosco commented, “I still make my figures, but have never gone into anything like this. Your da was very gifted.”
“Yours was, too, with the furniture making he did. We all seem to share in the gift of artistry.”
“What about your mum?” asked Forsythia. “Was she gifted, too?”
Frodo nodded. “In embroidery and wool work. And both she and my dad loved to dance. I received that gift from both of them, apparently.” He looked at her. “I don’t know for certain what your gift is, although I think dancing is part of it.”
“She’s best in singing,” Fosco said. “You’ve not heard her yet, but she can sing beautifully.”
“Wonderful” Frodo said quietly. “You will love it, then, when you meet Aragorn, for he is a gifted singer.”
“It’s odd to think of someone you call simply Aragorn being the King returned,” Forsythia said.
“Sam still calls him Strider, which is another of his names. You will find that he is well worth the loving,” he said. He went quiet once more. “I’m sorry I won’t be able to see him again,” he sighed at last. “When you meet him at last, give him my love for me, will you?”
Fosco and Forsythia both hugged him. “We will,” each assured him.
The last time they saw him was the day he left Bag End. They were in Hobbiton with Daisy and Griffo, and had walked out toward the Hill, had seen Frodo come out of Bag End with his friend Samwise Gamgee. Sam had helped him onto a lovely pony that stood waiting for him, a beautiful, blooded animal who seemed happy to bear Frodo. Frodo had reached forward to pat the pony’s head, and the pony snuffled at his fingers. Sam had checked the girth and the fastenings of Frodo’s saddle bags, then went to his own pied pony and checked him over one last time.
Sam’s wife, whom they’d learned was named Rosie, came out carrying her daughter, a small cat following her out the doorway, came down the stairs and lifted the baby up so Frodo could lean down and kiss the child. He then laid his hand on the child’s head, and then on Rosie’s, looked down at her and smiled. Then Sam had turned to her, took and kissed the baby gently, set her on her feet where she stood unsteadily by her mother, holding onto her mother’s skirts. Then Sam embraced his wife, and they kissed, a kiss such as those watching had never seen before for passion. Sam at last pulled away reluctantly, gave sort of a sob, and looked at her, gave a tremulous smile, could clearly be heard saying, “I’ll be back as soon as I can, love,” and he turned pointedly away to mount his pony.
Together he and Frodo went down the lane and turned north. Rosie watched after, clearly weeping as she stood there, finally reaching down to pick up the bairn, holding her close by her. Forsythia quietly described this all to her brother.
A lad came out from where he’d been standing in the shadow of the hedge for the field that lay below the Hill, a lad of about fifteen. He was watching after Frodo and Sam, then turned toward the two newcomers, approached them. “Hullo,” he said. “I don’t recall seeing you before.”
“We’re Fosco and Forsythia,” Fosco said. “We are visiting with our sister in the village, and came out this way to see Frodo if we could.”
“He just left,” the other said. “I’m one of his cousins, Pando Proudfoot. We live here on the Row, my folks and my sister and me.” He looked off the way Frodo and Sam had gone. “I think he’s gone for good. I don’t think as he’ll come back, not Frodo. He’s gotten too sick.”
“Where’s he gone?” Forsythia asked.
“Dunno, but it might be Rivendell. Lord Elrond, who lives there, is the greatest healer in all Middle Earth--both Cousin Frodo and Sam say so. Maybe he can help him.”
“Why would he go there?” asked Fosco.
“Because that’s where Uncle Bilbo has been, most the whole time since he left the Shire, according to both Frodo and Sam. Uncle Bilbo will be a hundred thirty-one tomorrow, you know. He’ll be older than the Old Took.” He looked them both over carefully. “You have a fair amount of Took in you, from the looks of you.”
Fosco shrugged. “Our mum was born in the Great Smial, for all she was known as a Boffin.”
“What’s your last name?” Pando asked him.
They looked at him for a time before Forsythia answered, “Baggins. Our dad was Dudo Baggins. Iorhael is our first cousin.”
Pando looked at them with surprise. “First cousin? I see.” He looked back up the Hill where Rosie still looked off the way Sam and Frodo had gone. “He’s made Sam his heir. I heard him say so when he came back from Michel Delving.”
Fosco and Forsythia both shrugged. Fosco said, “We have a smial our folks left to us, and we’re most likely to be Griffo and Daisy’s heirs as well, and our foster parents’ heirs also. We’re not cheated--he knows that.”
A small lass came out of the field. “He’s gone then, Pando?”
“Yes, Cyclamen, he’s gone now.”
She nodded solemnly. “He’ll be better if he goes with the Elves.” Pando nodded with equal solemnity.
“I wonder what ship he’ll take?” Fosco said.
“What about a ship?” asked Pando.
“The Elves who sang last year said he would leave by ship or grave. He must have decided to go by the ship.”
Cyclamen considered. “He must be going to the place the Elves go to, then, to Elvenhome.”
Pando snorted. “Mortals don’t go to Elvenhome--only Elves can go there.”
His sister shrugged. “An Elf came here to bring things to Sam a week back, to help Cousin Frodo. I saw him.”
“You don’t see Elves less’n they want to be seen--you’ve heard him say that.”
“Then he wanted me to see him, then. When Sam went back up the hill with the bundle, the Elf came out and watched after him, then smiled sadly at me. Came up to me and told me they would help Frodo become better if they could do it, if he’d go with them.”
“If he goes to Elvenhome, though, he can’t ever come back,” Pando said.
“I know,” Cyclamen answered. After a pause she said, “I’ll miss him so.”
Elrond looked down on the sleeping form of Samwise Gamgee, relieved that at last the gardener had managed to rest. He was considering moving away when he realized one of his other mortal companions had awakened where he lay under the linden tree. The Elf rose and looked down on the faintly glowing shape of Frodo Baggins, his eyes reflecting the glory of the autumn stars.
“What can I do for you, Iorhael?”
“I have--” his voice failed him. His breathing, the Elf noted with concern, was labored. He nodded to Gildor to stay by the Hobbit and looked at the small fire that had been kindled and the water heating there, rose and went to check on it. Quickly he brewed a different draught than that which he’d given Frodo so far, and when it was cooled somewhat brought it to the Hobbit, assisted him to sit up some and gave it to him, finally helped him lie back against cushions as his breathing eased. He could not lie flat, Elrond noted, and let this be communicated to the others as they gathered to the aid of the Ringbearer.
Finally comfortable once more, Frodo nodded his thanks. But he was plainly desirous of staying awake for a time. This time he didn’t bother speaking aloud. Carefully he framed the thoughts for sharing with those around him.
There is one last bit of business I need to do before I leave the Shire completely, he indicated. It has to do with my young cousins Forsythia and Fosco. I just realized that I’ve left the letters to them and the final codicil to my will regarding them unfinished. He moved restlessly, sought to stretch his shoulder, rubbed at the scar from the Morgul knife. I find that--that being in the physical process of dying is rather distracting.
Elrond did not seek to correct him, for he knew that Frodo’s estimation of his physical condition at the moment was all too close to accurate. “Once we are able to go aboard the ship and it sets sail, you will find that things will begin to grow better for you, and your body will begin to know easing. Lord Ulmo has ever been the closest to the mortal lands, and he will be able to allow the aid of the rest of the Valar to soothe your body’s distress.”
Frodo shrugged slightly. If I can come that far, his thought replied. Can paper and ink be produced? he asked. Galadriel came forward with the requested items, and Elrond noted the smile the Perian gave her. Yes, he realized, it would be she who would think to bring parchment and ink--both black and red, he noted.
Frodo’s thought dictated the words he wished to say, and at last the letters were done; then after a moment’s thought he dictated one more. Then he put his mind to the codicil, choosing to bypass the legal-sounding language preferred by the folk of the Shire for a more straightforward and much shorter set of instructions. When at last all was as he desired, he leaned forward with assistance, and accepting a quill he dipped it into the red ink and signed it, then signed the others. He carefully returned the quill, and smiled with relief up into the Lady’s face. Thank you so very much, he indicated. As we are still inside the borders of the Shire, there should be no difficulty if I have this witnessed by those of you here. If seven can be found who will be willing to serve as witnesses to the codicil?
All laughed softly, and Galadriel herself signed it first, followed by Elrond, Gildor Inglorien, then others of the company. “Would you have Samwise sign it when he awakens?” Elrond asked.
“I will sign it,” Bilbo said, revealing he had also awakened briefly. The bottle and quill were presented to him, and after a moment he added his shaky signature to the document, gave them back, and laid himself back to rest again.
Relieved to have this finished, Frodo looked at his older cousin with love, then back to Elrond. Can you find a way to get these forwarded to the Council Hole in Michel Delving? I’d prefer not to burden Sam with them right now.
“Círdan will see them properly dealt with,” Elrond assured him.
“Thank you,” Frodo whispered, and he leaned his head back against the cushions and closed his eyes. Elrond placed his hand over the Hobbit’s brow, aided him to slip once more into sleep. Then all joined together in a song of healing, and they saw the breathing further eased, the sleep deepened, the heartbeat smoothed--some, at least.
Círdan stood by the three Periannath who remained there in the Havens, straining their eyes to follow the light of the Phial of Galadriel as it disappeared into the West, and at one point he placed his hand on the shoulder of Meriadoc Brandybuck and drew him apart from his companions.
“I was entrusted with this,” he said quietly, offering a packet to Merry. “It is addressed to one I believe is of your family, a Brendilac Brandybuck.”
Merry nodded. “Yes, he is one of my cousins, and has been Frodo’s lawyer for the last few years.” He took the packet and asked, “Do you wish me to give it to him?”
“If you will. Apparently the Ringbearer had some last business he needed to see done that he was unable to complete earlier.”
Merry carefully put the packet into the inner pocket of his jacket, and rejoined the others.
He had no time, however, to get it to Brendilac until they were in Bag End for the reading of Frodo’s will. He carefully placed the packet in Brendilac’s hand, and the lawyer sighed as he examined the inscription. “I’ll deal with it later. I doubt anything he might have sent at this time will have a great deal of impact on what he’s already done, and suspect I know what this contains, for there is one set of relatives he hadn’t dealt with in the will so far. Did he have these written here within the Shire, do you know?”
“I don’t know, for I wasn’t with him at the time, but I suspect they were written in the first two days of their journey, both of which would have found them still within the Shire, from what Sam has said.”
The lawyer nodded.
Will and Brendilac opened the packet after they’d returned together to Michel Delving. The three letters it contained were addressed to young Fosco and his sister and to Narcissa Boffin; the codicil indeed dealt with those three as well. Will considered the request Frodo was making, and smiled. “Yes,” he said. “Very fitting, I’ll be glad to see to this, and to follow the request here. Whether Narcissa will cooperate, however, is another question, for she’s been absolutely heartbroken over his condition since the Free Fair.” He signed the paper and indicated he’d see it filed and the request Frodo had made processed first thing in the morning.
Narcissa had received notice that Frodo’s will would be read on October eighth, but she’d refused to go to Bag End to hear it. The news that Frodo had left the Shire completely and would never come back had broken her as nothing else had been able to do. Ivy held her daughter and tried to comfort her, but realized that this time the hurt had been to the heart itself. She prayed Narcissa wouldn’t fade.
Daisy and Griffo Boffin had attended the reading of the will, as had Folco and a number of others of varying degrees of relationship by blood or friendship to Frodo. Afterwards Folco had brought the books and some of Frodo’s mother’s things that Frodo had left for her to Narcissa’s, and she thanked him quietly, looked at them where he’d placed them on the kitchen table, and turned and went back to her room. Finally, after they’d remained on the table for six days, Ivy took the books and placed them on the shelves with the rest of their library which Folco had brought back from their hiding place at the farm, put the linens into the cupboard, and quietly slipped into Narcissa’s room to put the small box of jewelry on the dresser, set the china figurine on the mantle, put the small silver flute in the drawer by the bed, and the fine cloak and shawl into Narcissa’s wardrobe. The painted china bowl from Bree sat on the sideboard, and the silver spoons went into the drawer.
Narcissa finally went through the box of jewelry, and after a few weeks took to wearing a ring she found there, one set with a garnet and two opals, on her right hand. At Yule she wore one of the necklaces that had been Primula’s, and after the New Year she often wore one of the bracelets.
Her aunt Wisteria was gone now, and Folco lived alone in the house which had replaced the smial in which he’d been born. Narcissa finally began walking into Hobbiton again once the spring was come again, and noted the two young Hobbits who were visiting at Griffo and Daisy Boffin’s place. They were the two she’d seen following Frodo at the Free Fair. The stance of the lad reminded her strongly of Frodo, as did his dark hair and cleft chin. Somehow, however, now he reminded her more of the Tooks, and she wondered why. The lass also reminded her of Frodo, but at the same time reminded her of both Daisy and her own mother Ivy, and she found herself watching them for quite some time. Griffo and Daisy came out and took the hands of the young ones as they headed off toward Bywater and the Green Dragon, and the four of them were laughing as they went. But Narcissa noted that the studs in the lad’s cuffs were familiar ones--Frodo used to wear them; and the lass wore a stickpin that Frodo used to wear on his jacket. Then they are more relatives of Frodo’s? she wondered. Well, she couldn’t be expected to have met all of them.