Vigil: Chapter 6 - Hope Unbidden
Chapter 6 Hope Unbidden
Two days later Elanor was born. She was the most beautiful child Sam had ever seen. His joy as he beheld her was boundless, but he soon found that even this was surpassed by the exultation he felt when he watched Frodo hold her. Still recovering from his illness, his master would sit for hours and cradle her while he worked in the garden and Rosie about the house. Frodo seemed to shine in her presence, and the shadows of the past months all but dissolved in her tiny grasp.
These weeks following his little Elanor's birth had been wonderful for all of them. As he strode up the main hall one May afternoon, he heard a sound he'd not heard since his time in Lorien--Frodo's voice raised in song. Low and rich, the soft tones of an elvish lullaby echoed faintly from the study and nearly stopped his heart with joy.
He crept slowly to the open doorway to witness Frodo seated in the old wooden rocking chair by the fire, Elanor nestled into the crook of his arm, her soft, downy head just visible over Frodo's other shoulder. He glided back and forth, lulling her with the gentle rhythm of motion and melody, his whole frame seeming to curl about her. Sam could not see his face, but Frodo's head was bent and his face angled sideways, gazing down at the infant with rapt attention and overwhelming tenderness.
Sam could have stood there for hours, watching the sunlight from the window fall on Frodo's downswept face, immersed in the incredible sight of his master at peace--something he had rarely witnessed in all the months since their return. It had become almost a familiar observance now, since his golden elf child had been born.
And he wanted it to last. Things had changed drastically since Elanor's coming. Although still haunted by the nightmares, Frodo seemed more serene, as if some of the struggle within him had been laid to rest. He wondered if perhaps he had been wrong about how serious things were for Frodo, and that maybe Frodo himself had been wrong. If this small child could illicit such a change in him, wasn't it possible that the darkness might not prevail? A tiny seed of hope again began to grow in his heart that his master might yet be healed.
At that moment Frodo became aware of his presence in the doorway, casting a look back over his shoulder to meet Sam's gaze with a contented smile. As he approached, Elanor whimpered slightly as if displeased with the sudden quiet and stillness, but Frodo pacified her again with a soft caress of her cheek and resumed his gentle rocking.
Sam stood over them now, and Frodo glanced up at him, whispering quietly, "She's been very fussy this morning, I've just gotten her to sleep a little."
"That's alright, mister Frodo, she sleeps plenty." I wish I could say the same for you...
But he swept that troubling thought out of his mind. This was a happy time, and the circles under Frodo's eyes did not look as dark today...
"Do you want to take her for awhile?" Frodo inquired, already shifting a little in the chair to offer his small bundle to Sam.
"No, you keep her, mister Frodo. I need to go get cleaned up for lunch anyways. Unless you're tired a' holdin' her..."
"No, Sam, I think I could hold her forever..." Frodo breathed, staring down again at the tranquil presence drowned in sleep in his arms.
You hold her, mister Frodo, until it doesn't hurt anymore...
Sam laid a tender hand to his daughter's cheek and left the study, a smile on his face.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
As Sam quietly exited the room, Frodo settled back in his chair and gazed at the babe in his lap. Elanor. Small, perfect, and pure. Her warm smile and gentle fingers in his hair chased away the darkness farther than he had thought would ever be possible again. He worshipped her...loved her as if she were his own and cuddled her as close as he dared. At times, he was almost afraid to touch her, not wanting to expose her in any way to the evil that he carried within himself. But the sun seemed to shine from those sparkling blue eyes, and when she reached for him he could do nothing but gather her up into his arms and drink in the innocence and beauty of her untainted spirit. Her coming had aided him in ways that he could not begin to fathom--in the glow of her radiance he could again be free.
He wished that it could last, but she could not protect him forever. The weeks following her birth had been sweet and light, but the demons had still come to own him in the night, and he could feel the beasts of shadow drawing together in the twilight of Elanor's ambience.
But the freedom she offered him had given him time to think about what had happened to him and why. A small part of him still wept for how unfair this was for HIM. How had it come to pass that he had risked everything, saved Middle Earth, and yet had gotten not so much as his own life to live in return for his sacrifices? Was it because he had failed? Because in the end he could not cast away the Ring? He had thought this for a long time, and had accepted his suffering as punishment for his failure.
But Merry was right, what he had done had been enough. Whether he had cast the Ring into the fire himself or not, things would still have been the same as they were now because of the hold the Ring had had on him. His failure and his suffering were not a cause and effect. It did not matter that he could not cast the Ring into the fire, the Ring had been destroyed, and he had done everything he could to complete his quest. Could anyone have succeeded at what he undertook? He would never know, and could only believe that things had been meant to happen as they did, as Gandalf had told him.
He had offered his life to protect the Shire, and although it had not been taken from him on Mount Doom, he was forced to surrender it now--to relinquish all that he held dear, and to face the unknown path before him, for the sake of all those that he sought to protect. Now was the true sacrifice...to endure the effects of the Ring's evils until he could withstand them no more, and then to let go, and unburden Middle Earth forever of the Ring of power.
He would do it, he would leave with the elves for the Undying Lands. He had already given up his life in the Shire for the sake of this tiny child and all of Middle Earth, he had only to finish his task. It seemed that she had brought him the peace and presence to make the decision he had been unable to contemplate. That was her gift to him.
He did not know when he would leave. His heart had been so much lighter since Elanor's birth that he thought it might not be in the fall with Bilbo and Elrond. Maybe he would wait another year or two to watch Elanor grow and spend more time with Sam...if it could be time like this... If it could be time where he was not suffering, and did not have to struggle to hide the memories that were slowly consuming him.
He looked down again at the infant cradled in his arms, and hoped that he would have strength and peace enough to watch her grow for a little while more...