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The Acceptable Sacrifice
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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86
86: Frodo Enthroned

86: Frodo Enthroned


“He’s up on top o’ the Hill, Mr. Brendilac,” Sam explained. “Rosie and me have visitors today, and he’s certain as he’d be in the way, so he goes up there so as to be of no bother. Not, o’ course, as he’d be such.” He came out on the stoop and pointed down the path through the garden. “Follow the walk to the far side o’ the Hill, and you’ll see bluish steppin’ stones as will take you on up to the top.”

“Thanks, Master Samwise,” Brendi said, enjoying seeing the gardener’s flush of pleasure. So saying, the lawyer turned down the indicated path through the gardens of Bag End.

It was wonderful to see how much the gardens had come back since Sam and Rosie’s wedding. The lilacs weren’t anywhere as tall as they’d been for Bilbo’s last party, but were already once again higher than Brendi’s head. The new rose bushes were full of rich blossoms; the sunflowers lifted their heads to the sky; once again honeysuckle twined about the form that had been set outside the study window and irises bloomed in blue and gold glory, interspersed with the famous white Elven lilies that Bilbo had introduced when he returned from his adventure.

Outside Frodo’s window grew an assortment of plants that Brendi didn’t remember, one of which Brendi would have sworn had to be a variety of kingsfoil, but one with larger clusters of white flowers and broader leaves than he’d ever seen before. There were also more of the white Elven lilies as well as a number of other lilies he was unfamiliar with. And then, about the edges of the bed, were small low golden blossoms like stars, and another flower with a pursed bloom in a pale white with a soft greenish tinge, both of them beautiful beyond telling.

In the bed in which Sam had been accustomed to planting healing herbs there was one aloe plant, more of the kingsfoil, comfrey, ginger, chamomile, several varieties of mints, aniseed, sarsaparilla, and a number of others, most familiar and a few new ones which Sam must have brought back from foreign climes. Brendi was surprised to see the kingsfoil, which most folk considered a weed; but apparently Sam now found it useful.

Fat bumblebees blundered from blossom to blossom while the golden-brown honeybees moved more purposefully. Swallows darted here and there, capturing their meals from the insects that flew above the compost piles between the flower garden and the vegetable patches, and a movement to his left showed that sparrows had once again settled into the birdhouse Frodo hung out on the side of the tool shed. The ancient plum tree that had grown near the shed had been replaced with a younger tree; the three cherry trees clustered toward the back of the vegetable patch had also been replaced, and the cherries that remained on the new trees were still fat and sweet. He happily pulled a cluster off one of the trees as he passed and ate them with pleasure.

Finally he saw the blue stepping stones of which Sam had spoken, and turned to the right to head up the hill. He went by a hedge of blueberries and gooseberries to the right, while on the left were currants and huckleberries, with what looked to be a cluster of sloes further on around the curve of the hill. Still the blue stones marked the path, and now on either side the grass was filled with wild flowers. Poppies of many varieties, colors, and sizes seemed to bloom everywhere; there were lady’s lace, troll’s britches, fairy’s paintbrush, violets, creeping sorrel, larkspur and far more, many he couldn’t name, all rising toward the top of the hill.

Brendi could see the remains of the stump of the old oak which had been felled by Sharkey’s folk. It stood about three and a half feet tall, reminding him how much taller the Big Men had been than the Hobbits who inhabited the Shire. But just beyond it, apparently, he could see the back of what was undoubtedly Frodo’s head, considering how dark the curls were. He passed through an oval that was again comprised of blooming kingsfoil, a variety of lilies, the small golden star flowers and the pale, pursed blossoms that had bloomed outside Frodo’s bedroom, and finally was able to approach the stump, then stopped, looking on the picture presented before him with surprise and a little awe.

The stump had been carved to make a seat, and arms of sorts had been carved on each side. There Frodo sat enthroned, the new, young oak tree Sam had planted a few months ago lifting its crown above him. Frodo wore shades of blue today, and, Brendi thought, looked magnificent. A lapdesk rested between the arms of the carved seat, and on it were two stacks of paper, a bottle of ink, a variety of drawing sticks, a steel pen, a penwipe, and a ball of gum. In Frodo’s hand was a stick of graphite, but he’d paused in what he’d been doing to look across the land spread out before him, his pale face reflecting both reassurance and a sense of longing.

Finally Brendi broke the silence. “The monarch of the Shire sits on his throne, surveying his domain,” he said solemnly. Frodo was startled, obviously having remained unaware of his approach, and turned abruptly to look at him, his face going paler while small spots of bright pink bloomed on his cheeks. Brendi smiled. “I don’t think that your Lord Aragorn Elessar could look much more definitely royal than you do right now, Frodo Baggins,” he said as he came forward and dropped to sit crosslegged at Frodo’s feet. “Who carved the stump into a great chair?”

“Nibs and Jolly Cotton,” Frodo answered. “And I must say it is remarkably comfortable, although Sam has promised to cut it off close to the ground in the fall.” He looked down at Brendi thoughtfully. “Now that you’ve compared it to a throne, I realize just what it has reminded me of since they finished it a couple weeks ago--it does remind me of Aragorn’s throne, now that I think of it. Although situated as it is on top of the Hill it is far higher even than that of Gondor. Not, of course, that Aragorn is particularly happy with the dais for his throne being so high. He’s commented privately that he’s surprised he doesn’t experience nosebleeds.”

Brendi laughed. “He sounds a practical sort,” he commented. “How tall is this dais?”

“Fifteen steps,” Frodo said, “under a canopy carved to resemble the Winged Crown of Gondor. He sits up there looking down at those who are brought into the Hall of Kings, his sword lying across his knees or the arms of the throne, which is carved of white marble. At the bottom of the steps, on the first one which is quite deep, to the right as you look up at him, sits the black seat of the Steward of Gondor, and he’s commissioned a second one which wasn’t yet finished when we left, of grey granite, for Lord Halladan as Steward of Arnor to sit on when he comes to attend on his cousin. Aragorn has already ordered Halladan to make the dais in Annúminas no more than three steps high under threat of royal displeasure. But he can’t as yet talk the worthies of Minas Tirith into allowing the dais there to be replaced with something a bit more practical.”

Brendi laughed louder, then looked out across the lands below him. “This is beautiful,” he said. “I can see why you love it up here.”

Frodo nodded. “In the daytime you can see for miles--leagues, even; and there’s no better spot in the Shire for watching the moon and stars at night.”

“Why do you want the stump cut off?”

Frodo shrugged. “Eventually the new oak will be the tree that will define the Hill,” he said, “and this seat, although nice, is a bit pretentious and may crowd the newer oak as it grows.”

Brendi, looking down at the young trees along the edge of the Water which were already taller than even Pippin and Merry, found himself shaking his head in wonder. “It’s so hard to believe all these trees are growing so swiftly,” he commented. “I’ve never seen any such thing in my life.”

Frodo smiled. “You should have seen the growth of the new White Tree in Minas Tirith. The remains of the old one had stood there, bare and lifeless, I believe for a thousand years, since Eärnur disappeared into the entrance to the Morgul Vale,” unconsciously Frodo shivered, “yet it was still lovely even in death. Then Gandalf led Aragorn up Mount Mindolluin to the King’s Hallow where he found the new Tree growing, less than three feet high. He carefully uprooted it and carried it down the mountain, and had the old Tree carefully pulled down and the new one planted before most in the Citadel realized what was happening. It was still some weeks before the arrival of the Lady Arwen; yet by the time she arrived it was already taller than he, and he’s well over six feet in height.” He sighed. “It seems to be due to Elvish influence,” he continued. “Here the new trees have been blessed by grains of dust from the Lady Galadriel’s own garden; there I’m certain the Tree responded to the Elven blood and Elven-trained awareness Aragorn bears.”

“What are you working on?” Brendi asked after several minutes of comfortable contemplation of the view.

“I was working on the story I promised Bilbo of our journey,” Frodo answered. “I was writing a bit out of order today, describing Aragorn’s arrival at the gates of Minas Tirith and his coronation. I’d actually finished with the description of the Hall of Kings and the throne, in fact, which added to my startlement when you spoke as you did.”

“You’re writing with the graphite?” his cousin asked.

Again the spots of color could be seen in Frodo’s cheeks. “No, I’d stopped writing for a time and was doing some drawings.”

“May I see?” Brendi asked. Frodo again shrugged, and rifled through the stack of paper on the right and finally handed down a couple sheets. One drawing was of a tall figure, a Man with a short beard, clad in armor with a white mantle over all, a shining brooch fastening it about his broad shoulders, a remarkable crown atop his head, his head held high, fairly exuding royalty. Brendi examined the picture with a feeling of respect growing in him. He looked up at Frodo. “This is our King Aragorn, then?”

Frodo nodded, a gentle smile on his face. “Yes, as he appeared just after he was crowned, when he stood before those who’d witnessed his coronation.”

The second was of the same Man, a woman with the pointed ears of an Elf by him, her hair dark, a coronet of shining metal encircling her brow. Aragorn’s head was bare this time; but there could be no question this was the King, his face proud and shining with power and joy as he looked on the woman who must be the Lady Arwen. Never had Brendi seen one of such beauty. Truly she was the proper mate for the Man who stood by her, he thought.

As the afternoon approached its end a breeze was rising and riffling their hair and the pictures Brendi held as well as the papers lying on Frodo’s lapdesk. Suddenly a stronger gust caught at the two stacks of paper, lifting a few sheets and one that lay between the stacks and blowing them away. Frodo gave an inarticulate cry of dismay, reaching out vainly to try to catch them. Brendi stood swiftly, and after handing the pictures he held to Frodo he moved to capture the scattering sheets before the wind could carry them beyond the hedge of berry bushes and shrubs.

There were seven sheets, four covered with Frodo’s elegant writing, and three of them pictures. Brendi managed to capture all of them and carefully straightened them in his hand before he moved back up the Hill to return them to Frodo, examining them as he walked toward the circle of flowers. He read a sentence on the top sheet: Tall as the sea-kings of old, he stood above all that were near; ancient of days he seemed and yet in the flower of manhood; and wisdom sat upon his brow, and strength and healing were in his hands, and a light was about him.

Brendi looked at the topmost of the pictures--one of Sam, but dressed in mail, his head held high, a circlet crowning his curling hair and brow, a surcoat over his mail embroidered with a flowering tree, a sword at his left hip. This Samwise Gamgee certainly was more than a simple gardener, Brendi thought--he looked like a prince! Brendi placed the picture on the bottom of the stack as he smiled his appreciation at his cousin, then noted how extraordinarily pale Frodo’s face had gone, the spots of color which tended to mark his discomfort a distinct red. He paused, shifted the next two pages of writing to the bottom and found himself looking at the next picture--and realized the cause of Frodo’s discomfort. It had a series of studies of a single subject--Narcissa Boffin.

The largest of these was toward the top of the page, and was of Narcissa as she’d appeared at Sam and Rosie’s wedding, the gown she’d worn faithfully rendered, showing the breeze blowing it against her figure, her hair caught behind her, a couple of her curls blowing across her brow and her hand raised to brush them back from her eyes. A second showed her sitting across a table, a simple meal and a mug of ale before her, her eyes raised toward the one viewing her as if awaiting the answer to a question.

The third, the one at the lower right, was the cause of Frodo’s discomfiture, though, for it was one done from imagination of Narcissa as she must look as she prepared for her bath. Brendi looked at it with startlement. It was not done for purposes of titillation, he realized; it was simply one of loveliness caught in a moment of innocence. Brendi raised his eyes from the picture to his cousin’s face, saw the embarrassment that he didn’t even bother to try to hide, the feeling of shame at having been caught out with such an image in his mind.

He carefully held that sheet in his right hand and looked at the next picture, one of Rosie Cotton nursing an infant, her expression gently tender, Sam looking over her left shoulder down at the child, the look of love and wondering pride in his eyes palpable, the fingers of his right hand lying on her right shoulder, his left hand on her left elbow. Brendi felt the awe for his cousin’s talent fill him. Again he looked at Frodo, shaking his head. Frodo’s cheeks were flaming.

“Frodo Baggins, you have to be the most talented artist the Shire has ever produced,” Brendi said softly. “But how do you know Rosie and Sam will look like that when they have a child?”

Frodo looked away. “I’ve--I’ve dreamed it, Brendi. Several times I’ve dreamed it lately. I think--I’m certain Rosie has conceived already. The child will be born in the early spring.”

The Brandybuck considered. There had been several times when Frodo was young he’d spoken of knowing things would happen before they did. Certainly there had been a couple times that he’d been eerily accurate about happenings so unlikely as to defy belief they would occur. So, it was still happening, was it? “Will it be a lad or a lass?” he asked.

Frodo shrugged. “Not mine to tell--not yet.”

He looked at the page Brendi held in his right hand, and his cheeks went pink again as once again he looked away, embarrassment again filling him. Brendi handed the rest of the papers back to Frodo, who weighted them down with the sealed ink bottle, but he kept the one of Narcissa and examined it again before he finally turned it to Frodo. “You do care for her, don’t you, Frodo?”

“I don’t know, Brendi. I know now that--that I could care for her.”

“Why don’t you try courting her then?”

“What can I offer her, or any other lass?”

Brendilac sighed. “You, my beloved cousin, are the best the Shire has ever produced. You are quite the most intelligent and caring individual I’ve ever met; you are the most artistic, and the most graceful Hobbit now living. And you deserve to know happiness.”

“I keep being told I deserve happiness,” Frodo suddenly snapped, startling his cousin. “I don’t deserve anything at all! I failed, Brendi! The world almost ended because I couldn’t best It at the end. And I cursed another with death--and he died! He died, and I lived. But I’m the one who ought to have died, not anyone else.”

Brendi was shocked not so much by Frodo’s assertions as his vehemence. He could hear the self-loathing in Frodo’s voice, and knew it wasn’t deserved. Finally he said, “That’s not true, Frodo Baggins, and you know it. If you were as bad as you say, Samwise Gamgee wouldn’t be as devoted to you as he is. There’s not an ounce of guile in the Hobbit--he’s always loved and respected you, and that’s only grown in the time you were gone. So you aren’t perfect? You find anyone who is, Hobbit, Man, Elf, Dwarf, or any other race you know of, and I’ll show you a prodigy incapable of compassion because he can’t appreciate what life is about and how we rise to overcome our mistakes. I bet even your friend the King has made mistakes and has regretted them a time or two.” Frodo’s eyes again shifted away. “Isn’t that true, Frodo?”

Finally, reluctantly, Frodo nodded. His voice was very soft when he answered, “Yes, he has.”

“Have you discussed--discussed what you think you did wrong with anyone else?

“Yes.”

“Do they blame you?”

“No.”

“What do they say?”

For a time Frodo didn’t answer. Finally he said, “That those who’ve been in the same situation didn’t get off any easier than I did, and that no one could have done so. And that--and that it was better he died than me, for if it was him it would be only one who’d die, but if it had been me, all three would have died.”

“All what three?”

Again there was a long pause before the response. “Gollum, Sam, and me.”

“So you cursed Gollum with death?”

Frodo eventually nodded.

“Did you want him to die?”

“Does it matter?”

“Yes, of course it matters. Did you want him to die?”

“No! I wanted him to live and--and come back. I thought--thought that if Gollum could come back then--then maybe I could, too.”

“So, you wanted him to recover--however you thought he might recover, the same as you did for Sharkey?”

Frodo nodded. “Yes.”

“And you didn’t want him to die, even though you cursed him with death?”

“Yes.”

“How did you curse him?”

Again the pause. “I said if he touched me again he’d fall into the fire himself.”

Again Brendi considered. “So,” he said slowly, “so, he touched you again?”

“Yes.”

“And he fell into the fire?”

A nod.

“One of the--the two of you--one of the two of you had to die so the world would be saved?”

Frodo started to shake his head, paused, then finally finished the gesture. “We didn’t have to die--only It had to be destroyed, and neither--neither of us could--could have let It go willingly.”

“It? You mean Sauron’s Ring?”

Frodo nodded and closed his eyes.

The conversation was becoming too bizarre, Brendi thought. He decided to change tacks. “Frodo, you said you discussed this with others, and they agreed you weren’t to blame and that no one else could have done any better.”

A nod.

“And the others who tried this didn’t do any better?”

“Right.”

“It’s been tried before?”

“Yes.”

“And they failed, too?”

Another nod. Frodo was at least looking at him again.

“Who told you this?”

“Everybody--Gandalf, Legolas, Aragorn, Lord Elrond....”

“Why, if those who tried this before failed and they admit anyone who tried it again would fail, too, did they want to try it again anyway?”

“It was--it was the only hope we had for the destruction of Sauron’s power.”

“Who tried it before?”

“Isildur and Elrond.”

Brendi felt staggered. “Isildur? But he died--how long ago?”

“Three thousand years--more or less.”

Brendi tried to think this through. “Did you---- What did you promise to do, precisely?”

“To carry It to Mordor to Its destruction. To carry It to Mount Doom and the Sammath Naur.”

“Did you promise to destroy It yourself?”

Frodo just looked at him.

The lawyer took a deep breath, then slowly let it out. Again he tried changing tacks. He thought long about the ones Frodo had named. “Let me understand. Elrond is the same Lord Elrond you and Bilbo have told me is one of the wisest Elves ever to have lived in Middle Earth?”

“Yes.”

“Was he one of those who sang for us at the Free Fair?”

“No--they were Lord Elrond’s sons.”

“And Isildur was considered a wise Man, a wise king, and a powerful, decisive individual?”

“Yes, so Elrond and Glorfindel have both told me.”

“Both of them were individuals who could be decidedly single-minded when necessary?”

“Yes.”

“Then what in Middle Earth convinced you that you could do better than the two of them?”

“I--I wasn’t a lord to begin with, and Hobbits aren’t known for being ambitious or for wanting power over others----”

“Except for Lotho Sackville-Baggins and Timono Bracegirdle and every bully we’ve bred over the years the Shire has existed,” the Brandybuck muttered. “What does this have to do with succeeding at this task everyone says was impossible?”

Frodo sighed. “The more powerful the individual and the more strength he felt he needed to see his hopes succeed, the more quickly and easily It could take and corrupt him. In this case it was easier to hold out against It if one was relatively weak and lacking in ambition.”

“So, you, as one who didn’t care about becoming anything in particular, had a better chance at succeeding than someone who was powerful?” Brendi was beginning to think he was at last starting to understand the logic. At Frodo’s nod he continued. “So your Aragorn Elessar----”

“He wouldn’t touch It. Lord Elrond would barely look at It. Gandalf ordered me not to tempt him with It. The Lady Galadriel--I offered It to her, just to be done with It--and she found herself oh, so tempted to take It--and she refused It, knowing what It would do to her in the end. Saruman--Sharkey--he didn’t even see It; but just the thought of It possibly being present here had him sending his Big Men here to pretend to be at Lotho’s orders so they could convince him into let them doing their ‘gathering and sharing.’ There is one type of item we have been totally incapable of finding and returning to their owners--not a single ring they took has been recovered as yet.”

“He was looking specifically for the Ring?”

Frodo nodded.

“If he’d found It--what would he have done with It?”

Frodo shrugged. “We aren’t certain. At first he probably had himself convinced he would give It to Sauron and so win his favor. But by the time he sent his army against Rohan we’re reasonably certain he was intending instead to claim It himself, in which case he would have challenged Sauron himself, and set himself to become Sauron’s replacement. You saw what he did here--he’d have done no differently had he claimed It, save he’d have devastated all of Middle Earth, not just the Shire.”

Again Brendi considered. Finally he asked, “What--just what specifically happened there in the Mountain?”

“The Ring took me at last, and I claimed It.”

“How?”

Frodo shook his head, his face rather grey, definitely sad. “I can’t fully remember, for I--I certainly wasn’t thinking clearly at that point. It had been filling my head with images--images of everything Sauron was doing to hurt others, images of what Saruman was doing to hurt others. It showed me balls of stuff flying over walls and bursting into flames and rolling into houses and the houses catching fire; or of the balls touching people and them being terribly burnt and most of them dying in agony. Of fallen soldiers looking up in terror as they were approached by Sauron’s army, of them being shown the swords and spears with which they would be killed--as slowly and painfully as possible. Of hunters and farmers being found by them and being threatened and tortured to death. Of animals being found and--and beginning to being eaten while they were still alive. I could stop it! All I had to do was claim It, and I could stop the deaths. I could stop the torture. I could stop those who’d invaded the Shire from destroying the land. I could force all to recognize Aragorn as King, a king who would bow to me as his beneficent friend. I could widen our lands and make them flourish. I could force folks to look at Sam and make them see him as he is--one of the best of all peoples born anywhere of any race, the equal in his way of Aragorn himself in wisdom and desire to see all become the best they could be.” He stopped.

After a pause, Frodo again spoke. “But at the end It just took me, forced me to claim It, made me lift up my hand and put It on my finger. And then....” He shook his head. “I can’t begin to explain what It did to me then, Brendi, how I looked at where Sam stood watching me in shock and disbelief, unable to move to stop me any more than Elrond could have moved to stop Isildur, and saw no longer my Sam, my friend who’d sacrificed all he might ever have been or done to see me there, and seeing him as an enemy--my enemy whom I hated and intended to destroy, had I had the time to move toward him. Fortunately--fortunately we weren’t alone then, though, and--and Gollum stopped me. He knew where I’d been, had seen me put It on, and he jumped on me and--and took It from me by force.”

Brendi looked at Frodo, finally appreciating the pain Frodo felt, reliving that moment. “So--so he’s the one who took your finger--however it was done.”

Very slowly Frodo nodded. “He took It and my finger and fell in with It. We were right there on the edge by the fire. It was an accident--just an accident--he fell with It.”

Brendi sighed. He reached out to gently take Frodo’s right hand. Frodo again tried to pull it away, then just gave up the struggle. The lawyer handed the sheet with the studies of Narcissa Boffin to Frodo, who took it and held it convulsively against his breast with his left hand. As he’d done when he first saw the damage done, Brendi held Frodo’s hand between his own, and found he was crying, weeping over it. “Oh, Frodo, I wish I could have been there with you, helped stop It from taking you.”

“If Sam and Gollum couldn’t stop that, you wouldn’t have been able to do it either, Brendi.” Frodo’s voice was quiet. “They told me--told me the three of us were necessary to do it, to get rid of It. They told me only I could have carried It there, only Sam could have seen us all the way there with It, and only--only Gollum could have taken It into the fire.”

Suddenly Brendi found himself laughing through his tears, even as he continued holding his cousin’s maimed hand to him, cherishing it. Frodo looked at him. “What are you laughing at, Brendilac Brandybuck?” he demanded.

“At you, Frodo Baggins, at you and your absurd vanity. Oh, my beloved cousin--you are the best--and the most conceited--Hobbit the Creator ever saw born into the Shire. You don’t want to have had to have shared the glory of destroying Sauron’s Ring--you want to have done it all yourself, even though you know, and probably knew from the moment you offered to carry It further than Rivendell--you couldn’t do it alone. Oh, Frodo, I love you past bearing--you know that, don’t you?”

And very slowly the stricken look on Frodo’s face began to fall away, and gently he began to join in the laughter, laughing, laughing more loudly, more fully, until he was rocking with it. The page he held fell into his lap as he sat back, and he laid his head back and closed his eyes, still laughing softly. “You are right, Brendi. I’m about as absurd a Hobbit as was ever born.”

Finally Brendi let Frodo’s hand go and reached down and retrieved the studies of Narcissa. “Have you been dreaming of Narcissa preparing to get into her bath?” he asked.

He saw the signs of Frodo flushing again. “No, I haven’t. I was just--just imagining what--what she must look like.”

“Court her, Frodo.”

The humor slowly drained away, and Frodo lowered his eyes and straightened. “I couldn’t do that to her or any other lass, Brendi. There’s not enough of me left to offer a lover or wife.”

“Even as hurt as you’ve been, there’s still more of you to offer someone who loves you than there is in the average Hobbit.” As he watched Frodo solemnly shake his head Brendi again sighed. “Oh, Frodo--don’t you remember when it was Merilinde and me? They’d told us that she had no time left, that she’d be dead in three months. She lived three times that, able to do so because at last she was happy, and when she died she died easily. Just knowing--knowing I loved her enough to marry her anyway helped her hang on long enough to know fulfillment before she went on. I don’t regret a single moment of it all, you know--not even the grief of losing her.

“The only reason I had the courage to do so was because of you, Frodo Baggins. You helped all of us--me, her, her parents, cousin Sara--helped us see that she deserved that happiness before she left, and I deserved to share it with her--that I wanted to share it with her.

“Well, you deserve the same. You deserve to know simple love between a lad and a lass. You know Narcissa has loved you since you were--how old? Twenty? You know you could love her in return, and were beginning to realize it before you got that awful Ring. You did your best to protect her from what It would have made you do to her, but now It’s not here any more to cause that. Let yourself know that, Frodo--let yourself know that love.”

But even as he urged his cousin to follow his heart, Brendi knew Frodo wouldn’t--that his Baggins pride and stubbornness would continue to lead him to seek to protect Narcissa to the point both would be denied the love they might have shared.

You could know that love, Frodo Baggins.

I don’t want to have her suffer my loss. I won’t remain that long no matter what I do.

She’s already suffered that loss repeatedly in the over thirty years she’s loved you. At least if you let her love you as she desires and as you are coming to desire also you both would be able to rejoice and give thanks for having known that fulfillment.


Frodo refused to answer the thought. He noted, however, that this time the voice hadn’t called him Iorhael.

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