Epilogue - The Ringbearers
In the year 3021 on October 6th in a ship that was crossing the Great Sea of Belegaer lay a Hobbit sick in bed. The Hobbit’s name was Frodo Baggins and he was sick from an injury he had sustained 3 years earlier.
Around his bed Elrond, Galadriel, Gandalf and Bilbo sat talking.
“Frodo will never completely recover from his what happened to him on his quest” said Elrond gravely “even after we reach the Undying Lands and his body is healed, his mind will still be filled with the terror of the war of the ring,”
“Yes” agreed Gandalf “but it will be the same with anyone who was involved, especially us as we are the ring bearers,”
“Gandalf is right,” Galadriel announced “everyone here was greatly tempted by the ring of power but we all prevailed in the end…” she hesitated “well except Frodo,”
“But that can be understood,” piped up Bilbo who had not really understood the conversation but knew it was Frodo who had faced the most hardships of all of them. The room went silent and Gandalf looked down at Frodo’s tired face as he tossed and turned. Gandalf rested his hand on Frodo’s forehead and suddenly Frodo stopped moving around and lay still and Gandalf’s mind strayed deep into memory. He thought about what had happened just after the ring was destroyed, about how Frodo woke in Ithilien to see Gandalf the friend he thought he had lost forever sitting beside his bed, then his memory went back further to when he had fallen from the bridge of Khazad-Dum into darkness and he had seen Frodo’s face as he fell. He also remembered the years before the quest when they used to meet in the Shire and they were quite good friends. Then Gandalf remembered where he was and what was happening. He rested his hand on Frodo’s head and began to read his mind. He saw quick flashes of things that had happened on Frodo’s journey, the most prominent vision being the ringwraith thrusting the morgul blade at Frodo’s shoulder. He also saw flashes of all the friends they had left behind in Middle-earth, but none of those flashes were from the war of the ring, they were all either before or after it in the peaceful times of the world.
Gandalf was once again brought back to reality, this time by the voice of Galadriel saying, “We have no need to worry about Frodo he becomes ill every year one the anniversary of the ringwraith stabbing him but he will be fine again tomorrow as he always is,”
“Your right of course,” Bilbo muttered as he to looked at his heirs pain stricken face. He grasped Frodo’s hand and squeezed it as he lifted it from Frodo’s side. This made Frodo stop tossing again and Bilbo could feel Frodo softly squeezing his hand in response and Bilbo smiled to himself.
A few hours later Bilbo sat at Frodo’s bedside alone still holding his hand and murmuring old stories to him about the eldar days of Middle-earth. As he came to the end of the story he was telling he leaned back into his chair to relax and saw Gandalf standing in the doorway watching and listening so they began talking.
“You still haven’t left his side,”
“If I’m not with him he’s all alone,”
“Well I’m sure he’s enjoying your company,”
“Gandalf, I have to ask you, were you reading Frodo’s mind before?”
“Tell me Gandalf, what was it you saw,”
“Very well, his mind is filled with memories of his journey but he was also seeing many of the good things of Middle-Earth. I saw memories of very peaceful people and places,”
“What people and places?”
“He seems to remember quite a bit of the Shire, even more than I expected, and all his friends are also very fresh in his mind particularly Sam Gamgee and the little family he was starting to develop when we left,”
“That sounds good, it looks like his memories aren’t all full of terror and sadness, thank you Gandalf,”
“Your welcome old friend,” Gandalf replied but before he had finished speaking Bilbo had fallen asleep in his chair with his hand in Frodo’s. Gandalf rose from his chair and while leaning on his staff walked to the doorway and with one backward glance left the room, shutting the door behind him.
Bilbo’s eyes slowly opened to see Gandalf on the other side of the bed eating something from a plate that sat on his lap. Gandalf looked up and saw that Bilbo had woken up and said “Eat up Bilbo, I brought you some food, I thought you would be hungry considering you’re a Hobbit and you haven’t eaten all day,”
“Thank you Gandalf,” said Bilbo as he picked his plate up from the floor and started to eat the food that had been prepared for him.
“Your worrying to much” Gandalf told him “Frodo will be fine by tomorrow,”
“Yes, but it’s not just that. I know now the hardships that Frodo had to go through when it should have been me. I’m the one that found the ring in Gollum’s cave and I should have taken it to Mordor.”
“But you would have failed just as anyone else would have. Frodo was destined to be the ringbearer as we were also destined to play our parts in the tale of the ring,”
“Your right as always, but Frodo did do a great job,”
“Yes, he did,”
At that moment Frodo began to stir and wake from the sleep that had consumed him all day,
“Frodo, your awake” said Bilbo “How do you feel?”
Frodo looked around in the light as if he had not even heard what Bilbo had said to him. Then seeing Bilbo and Gandalf both standing at his bedside he began to realize where he was and what had happened. Then he murmured in a soft voice “I just wanted to see them again, one last time,”
“I know,” replied Gandalf.