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Prologue - Might Have Beens

Might Have Beens


Prologue


The children were gathered in the parlor where their father had been reading to them from the Red Book. As Samwise Gamgee-Gardner finished reading the chapter regarding the visit of the Fellowship to Lorien, there was a general sigh. “I’d like to visit there, Da,” Frodo-lad commented. “It sounds so beautiful. A whole forest of mallorn trees--just imagine!”

Sam’s expression grew pensive. “I’m sorry, my best lad,” he said softly. “Oh, you can go there, o’ course, but it’s not precisely like that no more--not now. When the Lady left Middle Earth, the Golden Wood began to fade. Her ring lost its power when Sauron’s went into the fire, after all.

Mellyrn aren’t from here, you understand--their right place is in Aman. Now as the Elven rings have failed and most of the Elves of Lorien have left, the mellyrn there are startin’ to go mortal, or so Lord Elrohir told me last time as I saw him, there a few years back. How long it’ll take afore all the trees in the land’s the same as in the lands around it I can’t guess. I hope, though, as it’ll be long after we’re gone from here.”

“Wouldn’t you want to go there again, Sam-dad?” Elanor asked.

Sam thought a moment before answering, “No--wouldn’t be the same, not at all, not without the special light as filled it when the Lady lived there. And it wouldn’t be the same without my Master, neither. I fear for me ’twould be a disappointment. Now, for you lot, I think as you’d find it wonderful, and I hope as one day one or more’ll go and see afore it fades completely. I found myself wonderin’, there when we was goin’ through Hollin, as what it was like when the Elves lived there, when Celebrimbor was Lord, and the Lady and Lord Celeborn were second to him, there in Eregion. Legolas got right poetic, listenin’ to the lament of the stones.”

Deep they delved us, high they builded us,” recited Rosie-lass. “That is lovely, so lovely, Dad.”

He smiled.

Young Merry-lad sighed. “It would be more wonderful to’ve seen it as you did, Da, you and Uncle Merry and Uncle Pippin--and Uncle Frodo. So bright and wonderful it must of been.”

Sam gave a sad shrug. “Perhaps, best beloved. Perhaps indeed. But you must remember that along with the brightness went the darkness as well--murderous orcs, Black Riders, that Mouth of Sauron, them horrid winged things as’d fly over us, that Gollum.” He shivered. “The highest and the lowest are leavin’ us together, you see. You’re lucky, for ye’ll most likely have Lord Strider as King almost all your lives, and so you’ll always know as there’s still a few Elves about, in Eryn Lasgalen and Rivendell and Mithlond and Ithilien, and a few lingerin’ in the wilderlands, like. But even as each generation of orcs’ll be less than the last from now on, there’ll be fewer and fewer Elves left in Middle Earth as well. At least you’ve all been blest by knowin’ some.”

Elanor reached out to take the thick book from her father’s hands, cradling it lovingly to her chest. “Lord Strider and Lady Arwen are blessings indeed to know. But at times I wish Uncle Frodo were here with us, so he could see the younger ones and the stable and how lovely the mallorn is and Uncle Lord Strider’s children and....”

Sam laughed. “Oh, lass, how indeed I wish he was here, too. He’d love you all, he would--would sit you all down and tell you stories and tell you in Elvish just how proud he was of all o’ you, how delightful you all are, how beautifully you’ve kept the hole, and then he’d be givin’ you all horehound drops--all save you, Goldie, for he’d have mints for you, he would, knowin’ as they was your special favorite; and he’d begin tellin’ you the old tales and the new ones, and showin’ you how water worms turn to shinin’ little flies....”

“But you’ve showed us that,” objected Pippin-lad.

“Only ’cause he showed me first, you know,” his father assured him. “And you’d each take him to your favorite part o’ the gardens and he’d tell you it was his favorite part, too, only he wouldn’t be lyin’ to any o’ you, for he loved it all, each part for its own beauty. And we’d all lie out on top o’ the Hill together and watch the stars and he’d show you the special beauty of each one, teach you to listen to the Song as weaves through’em all, he would.”

“Would he like the wee Hobbit house?” asked Goldilocks.

“Oh, he’d look down on it and just laugh at the wonder of it, and he’d listen to the stories we’ve all spun about it and those as live in it, and then he’d get down and peer in through the windows and show you as how it’s all true, speak of the wonders of just how livin’ is a joy in itself.”

“I wish he hadn’t agone to Elvenhome,” little Hamfast murmured.

“He couldn’t help it,” objected Frodo-lad. “He was a Ring-bearer, too, same as Lady Galadriel and Lord Elrond. When the One Ring was gone, he stayed long enough to be certain the rest of the Shire would be all right and would be able to rejoice in the new part of the Song, and then he went to join It.”

“Went to join what?” asked Merry-lad, his attention fixed on his oldest brother. “Join the Ring?”

“No,” scoffed Rosie-lass. “The Ring went into the fiery lava. He didn’t go to that.”

“He almost did,” Elanor said softly, “him and our dad both.”

“Only the Eagles came, and with Gandalf they saved them both,” Pippin-lad continued.

“That they did,” Sam agreed, tousling the child’s hair.

Frodo-lad sat on the settle and drew Hamfast-lad onto his lap, holding him tenderly. “It was the Song Uncle Frodo went to join, Merry,” he said over their little brother’s head, “not the Ring. He gets to sing in the Song, there in Elvenhome, along with the Valar and the Maiar and the great Elves. And he’ll keep singing in it, he will, until our dad finally goes to join him and be with him again, and then Da will help sing the Song, too, for what time there they know together. Then they’ll go on out of the Bounds of Arda, and become part of the Song Itself, I think.”

“I still wish he hadn’t agone,” Hamfast repeated. “Then he could kiss my cut finger and make it better, like Daddy and Mummy do. I bet it would get better much faster if he kissed it, too.”

Sam stifled a laugh at the same time he felt a pang in his heart. “I bet it would at that, lad,” he murmured as he scooped the small child out of Frodo-lad’s arms and into his own. “He would always find ways to make things better for folks, your Uncle Frodo would.”

“I wonder what it would have been like, if Uncle Frodo hadn’t left?” Goldilocks said.

“I wonder what lots of things would be like, if things hadn’t worked the way they did,” Rosie added. “I wonder what might have happened if Lord Strider didn’t ride through the Paths of the Dead, or if they’d made it over Caradhras instead of having to go through the Mines.”

Pippin-lad looked up into his father’s eyes as they heard the door open, announcing their mother had returned from Auntie May’s place. “Do you ever wonder what might have been, Da?” he asked.

“I do indeed,” Sam said as he turned to greet his wife as she peeked into the parlor. “Oh, indeed I do, lovey. And welcome back, my lovely Rose.” So saying, he leaned over the child he held in his arms to kiss her ready lips.

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