To Open Every Door - Rosie's Gift
~ * ~
The morning of the twenty-fifth dawned cool and gray, but the swiftly moving clouds scurrying in from the south promised a change in the weather. Frodo awoke with a start and a shiver and pulled up the cover that he had pushed down sometime in the early morning. "Just a dream," he thought, casting aside a small uneasiness. Moments later Gandalf knocked at his door and poked his head in to ask if he was hungry. To his surprise he realized that he was indeed very hungry. He dressed hurriedly and came in to find everyone in the kitchen. Sam looked up from his last bite of bread with strawberry jam and greeted him with a big smile.
"I'm sorry that I couldn't wait for you," said Sam, "but these clouds are looking like rain. I need to go out to the Boffin's to have two of my gardening tools mended. I don't suppose I'll get back before the rain starts, but at least I might have a chance at getting there dry."
"As long as you have left me some of that jam and bread and some bacon, I think I can forgive you," said Frodo, returning the smile. He felt Gandalf and Rosie studying his face intently, but they seemed to relax at his cheerful remark.
Sam stood and brushed the crumbs from his lap. "I think I've left plenty for all the sleepy heads in the house. Those as want more need to get up sooner," he said with a grin. "I'll be back as fast as I can. It shouldn't take much more than a couple of hours. You all need to stay dry and cozy this morning, and don't let Rose clean the whole house. There's only a week now `til the little should come." He looked carefully at Rose for a moment before turning his eyes to Gandalf. "Send for me straight away if she needs me."
"We'll keep an eye on her," said Gandalf as Rose buttoned up Sam's jacket and helped him with his cloak.
"I'm thinking that there'll be some sun this afternoon if we are lucky," said Sam. He grinned broadly as he drew Rose into his arms. "Winter is behind us now; I can feel it in my bones." They said their good-byes and then Rose saw Sam to the door. In a moment she returned to Gandalf and Frodo who were bent eagerly over their plates.
"You look a mite better this morning," said Rosie as she seated herself across the table from Frodo. "Perhaps the worst is past you now."
"I was telling Gandalf that I do feel better today," said Frodo. "My arm seems nearly as good as new." He pulled his hand up and wiggled the fingers as if to offer proof.
After breakfast the rain began to fall in a steady patter. Gandalf helped Rose, who had insisted on cleaning at least the breakfast dishes, while Frodo went to take a proper bath. The better part of an hour later, Gandalf found him busy at his desk, writing. He insisted that he was well and that Gandalf could better spend his time by making sure that Sam's wishes for Rosie were met.
After another hour, Frodo felt a vague worry brush his mind. The house was very quiet--too quiet. There was no sound at all but the rain that now drove itself against the windows and doors. "I'll go find Gandalf and Rosie, for a little company. Besides, I've had enough of writing and need to stretch my legs. Nothing is wrong," he told himself. "But why then is my heart pounding so?"
With rising fear, Frodo stood and felt his world spin. As he reached out to steady himself with the bedpost, a piercing knife went straight to his heart. He gasped in pain. Fire and molten rock lay before him, fierce heat beat against his face, and yet still he gripped the smooth wood. And he knew--he knew without looking--that in his other hand he held the Ring.
"No!" he cried out. "I will not do this again!" Desire for the Ring rose up as a mighty wave and smote down upon him. He swayed and fell to his knees, jarred by the blow of wood, not stone. "I am in my room!" he cried in defiance, wrenching his mind free. Amid the roaring of the fire, he heard singing as if through a great distance. He struggled to make out the words, to bend all this thoughts to the singer. And then ...he saw her. Arwen was standing beside him, tall and shining. The silver light spilling from her spread up and out through her dark hair and flowing robes and broke up into myriads of tiny stars that were swept away by the powerful winds that beat upon them both. Her voice seemed to grow louder, but still he could not understand her song. "What did she want him to do? Keep the Ring ...or throw it away?" Frodo could see his fear and desire mirrored on Arwen's face. Her eyes pleaded with him. In his own mind he found the answer, "She wants you to throw it into the fires." And he knew then that if he claimed the Ring, she would fall with him. Frodo looked at his hand with its tightly closed fingers. He willed them to open, but they would not move. The weight of desire came crashing down again. "It is mine! ...No! ...Arwen!" he cried. "Help me!"
"Mr. Frodo!" called a tearful voice. "Mr. Frodo."
He turned his eyes to Arwen again. She was so close to him now that he could see into her heart, and it was his. She was not speaking, but trying to sing, though her voice seemed choked. "Who is calling?" he thought.
"Mr. Frodo" came the voice again, louder and more insistent.
He reached out, his hand brushing the bedpost again, and the thought sprang to his mind. "Rosie, it is Rosie! Something is wrong! I must find Rosie." Frodo began to crawl on his knuckles through what appeared as stony rubble and glowing embers, for he could not open the hand that held the Ring. When he reached what should have been the doorway and passed through, he heard the call again. Rosie was sobbing now. He pushed himself onward though he could not catch his breath for the searing pain in his breast. After moments that seemed an eternity he came to the kitchen where he could hear Rosie sniffing softly now. "I'm here," said Frodo. Another blow pounded him, and his mind reeled.
Rosie was seated on a chair with her hands on her stomach, tears squeezing their way from under her tightly closed eyes when Frodo entered the kitchen. At his words she had opened her eyes and gasped. He had been crawling toward her with ashen face and unseeing eyes, when he suddenly clutched at his heart and twisted in agony. "O, Mr. Frodo you're sick, I'm so sorry," she cried.
Frodo steadied his thoughts again. Something about Rosie ...something was wrong ...she had been crying. Then he remembered. "You are hurt?" he asked, his voice quavering with fear. He crawled up to the chair and reached out to touch her leg. "What is wrong?"
"I don't know," she answered. "I sat down in this chair, and now I can't seem to get up--my back hurts so."
"Where is Gandalf?" he asked.
"I sent him over to the Gaffers for some more cream for the pudding I was making. He hasn't been gone long," she said. Rosie caught her breath in sudden pain. "I think the baby is coming, but something must be wrong. I can't stand to sit like this a minute more."
Fear rose up to clutch Frodo's heart. "I can't lift you," he said, struggling to speak between ragged breaths. "But maybe I could pull you down from the chair ...if I could use both hands." The malevolent force slammed into his heart again and he moaned. Smoke and ash swimming before his eyes, he fought the dizziness and the desire that boiled in his blood--to have and to think of nothing but the Ring. "No!" he cried again, shaking his head to clear his sight. And it did clear, but only enough for him to see his hand before him, still tightly clutching the Ring.
"Let go of the Ring," came a still, small voice.
"I can't," he cried in answer.
"Open your hand for Rosie."
Frodo felt the spinning stop and held his breath. The noise and wind fell away, and the world became quiet though the fiery pit still yawned before his eyes. Arwen stood silently at his side now, wonder written upon her face. The only sound was Rosie's breathing and the wild beating of his own heart. He pulled up his hand and turned it face up. One by one he slowly uncurled his fingers--until the gleaming gold band lay shinning and beautiful in his palm. "No. ...It is mine."
"Let it go," came a whisper.
Frodo felt a cool breeze wash over him, and with it came the power of the one who spoke. Taking a deep breath, stillness flooded into his mind and heart. He slowly turned his hand over ...over ...until the Ring at last slid off and fell down ...down into the fires. Flames leaped up to claim the Ring, then they receded and dissolved to become the wooden floor. The mists before his eyes ebbed and he saw Rosie.
"I gave up the Ring," he said, in a moment of awe that was quickly swallowed up by Rosie's grimace of pain. His heart pounded anew with fear as he reached up and carefully slid her off of the chair and to his lap. Gently he rolled them both to the side and down to the floor where he lay panting as he held her.
Rosie's breathing slowed and she spoke first. "Thank you," she sobbed. "It doesn't hurt so much like this. I know Gandalf will be back any moment."
"I am going to go get him when I catch my breath," said Frodo.
"You can't go out in this rain," she cried in alarm. "You'll catch your death of cold."
"I have to go; he may be waiting for the rain to let up. Something could happen to you ...or to the baby." Frodo pulled his arm from beneath her head and slowly sat up. The room was spinning again, but his sight was clear now. He took the cushion from the chair and placed it under Rosie's head.
"O, Mr. Frodo, don't go," she said. "It's all my fault; I shouldn't have sent Gandalf away." Rosie pulled at his arm. "You're too sick to go out in this weather."
Frodo turned back to face her. "I will be all right," he said. "I'll be back in just a few moments, and then I can rest. He staggered to his feet and headed towards the front door. He could hear her crying again as he turned the knob and pushed himself out into the rain.
When at last he reached the Gaffers door, he gritted his chattering teeth and steeled himself to talk. "It won't do to go fainting now and make things worse," he thought. To his relief it was Gandalf who answered the door. He had just been putting on his cloak to return to Bag End. With a look of surprise, then sudden worry, Gandalf reached out to steady Frodo's shoulders.
"It's Rosie," said Frodo. "The baby is coming, but something is wrong."
Gandalf turned back into the house and barked out instructions for the Gaffer to send for Sam and the midwife. Then he caught up Frodo into his arms and trudged back up the sodden road as quickly as possible. He came into the house and laid Frodo on the sofa, covering him with the cloak that he hurriedly pulled off. "I'll return as soon as possible." he said, striding from the room.
"Just see to Rosie," Frodo pleaded after him. As he shivered from the cold and damp, his thoughts went out to Sam. "O, Sam, where are you? Please come home."
In but a few moments the front door opened, and he saw Widow Rumble come into the hall and head back to Sam and Rosie's room. A short time later the midwife also entered. Both had passed by without noticing Frodo lying covered in the parlour. At last Frodo heard Gandalf's footsteps in the hall.
"Rose is fine, the baby will be fine," Gandalf said as he came into the room." He crossed to the sofa to look into Frodo's pale and worried face. "It's time I looked after you."
Frodo breathed a sigh of relief, but doubts arose once more. "Are you sure?" he asked.
"Yes ...yes. It seems Mistress Gamgee is hardier than we thought," said Gandalf, carrying the ailing hobbit to his room. "I'm sure she has been laboring most of the morning to bring this new life to the light and yet not making a single complaint. But now the time draws near, and this little hobbit is going to greet the world looking to the stars and sky rather than the earth."
"And that's no cause for alarm?" asked Frodo, his teeth chattering again.
"I will not say it shall be easy, but there should be no problem for her now that she is being looked after and made more comfortable," replied Gandalf as he set Frodo down on the bed.
"Will Sam get here in time?" asked Frodo.
"I suspect he might if he is quick about it," answered Gandalf, "but that is not for you to worry about. You need to get these wet things off, or you will ruin this birthday yet." He helped Frodo off with his shirt and breeches and eased him into a night shirt and then pulled the comforter up to his neck. "Rose has told me that you were very sick when you came to help her. She is quite rightly worried about you. You ran me off too soon today."
"I thought my illness was past, but it came again suddenly," said Frodo, "...faster than ever before. It was different this time in other ways too," he said as he sank deeper into the pillows and closed his eyes. "I could see Arwen. ...I knew she was helping me," he said slowly. "Then I heard Rosie crying. ...Still I could not do it." There was a long pause as Frodo drifted towards slumber, and when he spoke again, his words trailed off. "But then he came--one who..." And sleep finally overtook him.
Gandalf felt Frodo's brow again and satisfied himself that there was no fever. He stood for a moment watching the beautiful light that spread from Frodo to fill the bed. "You are indeed as clear as glass," he said. He turned to go, but looked back as Frodo stirred and muttered again.
"O, Sam ...your daughter is beautiful."
Gandalf smiled. "So you see a girl, do you?" he whispered as he closed the door.
"Wake up, Frodo," said Gandalf, gently shaking the hobbit who was drowned in deep and restful sleep. "Sam will be here any minute to share his good news."
"Sam is here?" asked a hazy Frodo, stretching his arms. Then with sudden memory, "is the baby here? How is Rosie? How..."
"Yes the baby is here, and you will have all your questions answered soon enough," interrupted Gandalf, "but you need to get up and get presentable if you don't want Sam worrying about you." He went to the closet to find a change of clothes as Frodo was throwing back the covers. "I told him you had got a little chilled in the rain when you fetched me to the house and had lain down for a bit. That kept him satisfied since he had Rose and the baby on his mind, but he is bursting with news now and will be at the door any minute."
Frodo was still straightening his unruly curls when the knock came. "Mr. Frodo, Mr. Frodo ...are you up?" called Sam.
"Come in, Sam," said Frodo, laying down the comb and turning to the door.
"O, Mr. Frodo, it's such a marvel," exclaimed Sam. Then his eyes and mouth grew very wide. "Stars and glory, I'm a gaffer now."
"So you are," said Frodo, with a heartfelt laugh. "And how is your dear Rose?"
"She's tired, but most wondrous fair," answered Sam. "She's asking for you now. She wants to thank you for fetching Gandalf when you did."
Frodo took Sam's arm and turned him toward the door. "Then let us go and see her... and the new little Gamgee of yours as well," he said.
Sam looked up at Frodo as they passed into the hall.
"Well, Mr. Frodo," he said. "I'm in a bit of a fix. Rose and me had settled to call him Frodo, with your leave; but it's not him, it's her..."
"I'll bring the baby in right quick," Sam said leaving Frodo at their door. "You go on and see Rose." Sam continued on to the kitchen to get Elanor, who was being given her first bath by the Widow Rumble. Frodo knocked softly and poked his head shyly around the corner.
"O, Mr. Frodo, I'm so glad you're well," cried Rosie in relief. She was flushed and had a look about her that Frodo had never before seen. At his slight hesitation, she smiled and waved him to the bedside. "I was so worried about you," she went on.
"As was I about you," replied Frodo, coming to her side. "But it seems that all our fears were unfounded."
"Just wait `til you see her," said Rosie. "She's so beautiful. I've never felt anything like this." Tears shimmered in her eyes as she spoke. "Everything is because of you. Thank you for saving our lives."
"I did nothing," said Frodo, shaking his head. "You and the baby would have been quite fine; Gandalf was on his way when I met him at the door." He looked deep into her brown eyes. "You are the one who saved me today. You called me from the terrible mountain," he said, his voice trembling with emotion. "Because of you, I let go of the Ring this time. I can never repay you for what you have done for me."
Rosie's eyes were soft with newfound gentleness. "I'm so glad you gave up the Ring today, and I'm glad you came to help me too, but that's not what I meant," she said. "You saved my baby and me two years ago. You saved my Sam for me. You saved the Shire and everyone else whether they care to know about it or not. Without you ...none of this would be." She reached out her hand to draw him closer and took his broken hand in both of hers. Frodo did not pull it away this time. "There is something else," she added solemnly as tears began to trickle down her cheeks. "I was wrong--wrong thinking only of what Sam and I want. You don't have to go away ...you don't have to sail with the elves if you don't want to. I know I speak for Sam too. He just wants you to be happy. If you want to spend whatever time you have left with us, then that's what we want. ...You can die here ...with those of us who love you." Then Rosie drew his hand to her lips and kissed the stump of his missing finger.
Frodo's eyes filled with tears. For a moment, sun and moon and stars pushed shadows from every corner of his mind. He heard the beckoning song of the elves and saw, with his eyes wide open, the silver-white shores and a land more green than he had yet imagined. What had before been but a call and a promise was now a sweet longing that pierced his heart. He shook his head slowly as the tears fell freely to wet the sheets. "No," he said. "No... I cannot die now. ...Not now. ...I want to live. ...I want to be whole." Then he smiled at her and saw the joy in his own heart reflected on her face. They spoke no further, but he continued to stand unmoving at her side as she held his hand, the bright spring sun pouring through the window.
The door pushed open and they turned to see Sam entering with the baby in his arms. "I just can't believe how beautiful she is ...how happy I am," he said, "...how happy we all are."
Frodo came and put his arm around Sam, and looked down with him at the tiny face that quivered in unknown dreams. "Yes ...she is beautiful," he said, "and we are all very happy today. ...Your beautiful dream starts today, Sam."
Frodo stood for a moment surveying the scene before his eyes. Golden-green chains of flowers now draped heavily from the still leafless arms of the sapling oak that Sam had added to the north of the garden plot. Under it sat Gandalf and Rosie with the tiny Elanor in her lap. They were watching the progress of the work in the garden, where Sam was on his hands and knees dropping seeds into the dark furrows and gently covering them with his hand. On either side of him knelt Merry and Pippin, shorn of their finery, studiously trying their hand at the unfamiliar task. For if Sam could not be dissuaded from the appointed day of planting, neither could they be dissuaded from their plans for celebration. They had readily joined Sam at his work that the merriment might begin all the sooner. Frodo squinted into the bright sunlight, but it was not that which caused his eyes to sting; rather, it was the easy camaraderie of his friends that, even now, he no longer completely shared. But it was a sweet pain, and one he would not wish away, for he saw, with other than his eyes, that the ones he loved would continue to care for each other long years after he was gone.
Rosie looked up from the baby and smiled at his approach. "Here is your Uncle Frodo come to see you," she said as he sat down beside her.
"May I hold her?" Frodo asked.
"Of course you can," she answered. She laid the bundled baby in his open arms. As Rosie's eyes swept up to the side of Frodo's face, she caught her breath, for there were tiny new lines that had not been there on that frigid night of a week ago.
Frodo did not note her sudden catch, for he was already entranced by Elanor's small face. "O, I have something for you in my pocket here, if you could get it," he said, as one suddenly remembering a mission. Rosie reached into his pocket and drew out a folded piece of paper. "Yes, that's it," he said. "It is for you ...and for Sam too, after I'm gone." She unfolded the paper and read.
It is not death I face when love has opened every door.
You gave yourself, gave all to me; I cannot ask for more.
No bitterness at parting sweet, though tears like rain will fall,
For hope arises in my heart; I heed a distant call.
I know now that we'll meet again, I simply go before;
The life and loves I leave behind, I'll find on distant shore.
She looked up at Frodo with tears in her eyes and then with a questioning look turned toward Gandalf.
"Yes, Gandalf can read it too," said Frodo, nodding in answer to her unspoken question.
"That is not necessary," said Gandalf, waving his hand. "I no longer think you need an old wizard meddling in your affairs."
"No, you really must read it," said Frodo, smiling. "Those who meddle in the heart of this hobbit must sometimes take a little good with the bad."
Gandalf took the letter and read, his eyes crinkling with delight. "And the shadows?" he asked.
"They are still here ...still with me," answered Frodo. "...But I begin see them as they are--they are but shadows. I know they will pass, and I will be whole again ...someday." Frodo looked down at the baby in his arms, and then he drew her close and kissed her pink cheek. "For the time that remains, I must try to learn to sing again. I have to sing ...for Arwen's sake ...and for Sam's."
"And I will sing with you," said Rosie laying her hand on his shoulder. "Whenever you need me, we will sing together."
~ * ~
"Desire cannot live without hope. Yet we can only hope for what we desire....To sustain the life of the heart, the life of deep desire, we desperately need to possess a clearer picture of the life that lies before us." -The Journey of Desire
Thanks to all who've read and commented. Of course, this can't really be the end, so in a couple of weeks a short vignette called "Frodo's Song" will be posted. That story tells of the passing of the jewel to Sam at the Havens.
Links to the first four chapters:
To Open Every Door - Gandalf, the Unexpected Visitor
To Open Every Door - Rosie Breaks Her Silence
To Open Every Door - Sam's Beautiful Dream
To Open Every Door - Frodo Faces the Night