Frodo threw back the covers. It was no use, he wouldn’t go back to sleep, not with all that going on down the hall. Throwing his legs over the side of the bed, he sighed heavily. He couldn’t remember the last time he had gotten a full night’s rest. Yes, I do, he thought as he stepped into one of the discarded pairs of pants in the corner of the room, it was in Rivendell just before we returned to the Shire. Between the dreams and the almost nightly ruckus, the circles under his eyes were growing darker. As was his mood.
The chronicling of the War of the Ring was taking its toll on him. When he sat down to record his and Sam’s journey, the words before him would come to life and all the horror, pain and despair would jump from the page into his mind and he had to rush from the room, gasping for breath. Maybe Sam was right, all I need is time. Yet, somehow he believed that time was something he did not have in abundance. The need to write, to tell the story, was an itch, just under his skin, that could only be soothed by sitting in front of the Red Book and reliving it all.
Opening the door to his room as quietly as he could, Frodo padded out into the hall. He had no need of light. Not only was he intimately familiar with the hall he tip-toed down, but the full spring moon shone through the front windows, illuminating Bag End quite well. He tried not to listen to the sounds, but they were growing louder and he decided to wait this one out in the garden. Taking the time to grab a pipe and his bag from where they were resting by the hearth, Frodo slipped out into the March darkness. The night had its own sounds and he soon found comfort in its voice.
Even though he had walked silently out of the door, the noise that had driven Frodo from his bed stopped suddenly. He had been discovered. He counted the seconds as he lit his pipe. 8…9…10…It should be just about…
“I’m here, Sam,” Frodo called from the darkness.
Sam squinted again the night, and he found his friend just to the left, sitting on the stone bench he had added to the garden last fall. Closing the front door behind him, Sam crossed to Frodo. “Something’s the matter, Mr. Frodo?” His tone was heavy with worry, his breathing labored. He sat down beside him. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, Sam,” Frodo answered. He took a long pull on his pipe and tried to blow a smoke ring like Bilbo had shown him. What came out wasn’t so much a ring, more like an amorphous blob. “Just couldn’t sleep, that’s all.”
Sam looked more closely at Frodo. He could tell that, while the homecoming had mostly healed himself, as well as Merry and Pippin, Frodo had never come all the way back to health. There was something odd about Mr. Frodo these days. He spent more and more time alone, shutting himself up in his room, shutting himself off from the world. Time is all he needs, he would tell himself as he watched Frodo diminish little by little each day, a little more time to rest and heal. Then things would be set to rights again. Sam knew he was lying to himself, though. Despite his outwardly cheery demeanor, most times he harbored deep foreboding when it came to Frodo. “It was another one of those dreams, wasn’t it”?
“Not exactly,” Frodo answered cryptically.
“You should have called for me, Mr. Frodo. I would have come straight away.”
“I didn’t want to, uh, bother you.” Frodo turned his head, ostensively to follow an owl in his nightly quest for food, but he was really hiding a silly grin.
“I wouldn’t have been bothering me, Mr. Frodo,” Sam protested, “Its more of a bother searching through a dark house, wondering what’s happened to you.”
“OK,” Frodo said, his grin breaking into a full blown smile, “I didn’t want to bother Rose.”
Sam made a derisive sound. “Bother her? Why, when she’s sleeping, a slew of orcs could come through the room and she wouldn’t ever notice.”
“She was asleep? Just now?”
Sam hesitated before answering. “Uh, that’s right, sleeping.”
Looking his friend right in the eye, Frodo said, “Oh, really?” He pointd to Sam’s attire: pants hastily pulled on, shirt with only one button fastened, and that one wrong, his hair mussed and standing out at all angles. “It wasn’t a nightmare that woke me up, Sam. It was the noise coming from your room.”
“My room?”, Sam said confused. When the truth finally hit, he gasped and blushed the color of the beets he had picked that day from the garden. He quickly stood and began to fumble with his clothes, trying to dress himself, this time properly. He turned away while tucking in his shrit and mumbled, “I’m sorry, Mr. Frodo.”
“No need to apologize, Sam. It’s perfectly natural between two who are in love.” Those words rang hollow in Frodo’s ears. He was speaking like an expert on a subject he knew absolutely nothing about.
“It won’t happen again,” Sam continued to mumble.
“Don’t you think Rose will have something to say about that?”
If possible, Sam blushed even more, pushing his hands deep within his pockets. “I’ll have a talk with her,” he said, walking towards the front door, “Good night, Mr. Frodo. Call me if you need me.” Frodo felt horrible. “Sam, please don’t go. I didn’t mean to embarrass you. Or hurt you.”
Sam stopped, but did not turn back. “I’m not hurt, Mr. Frodo. A little embarrassed, for sure. But not hurt.”
Perking up the sound of his voice, Frodo said, “It doesn’t bother me. Really.” Seeing his Sam upset, in any way, caused his gut to twist. His friend had given everything to Frodo, for Frodo. He had made a promise of his own, a promise that Sam would know nothing but happiness until the end of his days. Rose was Sam’s happiness and here he had gone and poked fun at that. Some friend, some promise. “Sam, I’m sorry.”
“No need to say you’re sorry to me, Mr. Frodo. I’m the one who bothered you,” he said, still turned away, “Here I’ve gone and ruined one of the few good nights you’ve had in months.”
Frodo attempted to deflect Sam’s guilt. “I was awake anyway.”
“Still doesn’t make up for what I did. I should’ve known, otherwise. I should’ve taken better care.”
Frowning at his friend’s self depreciation, he said, “No one takes better care of me than you, Sam.”
Sam looked out over his garden, the pansies and marigolds glowing in the moonlight. He was proud of his work here at Bag End, both inside and out. He was determined to see everything flourish and grow. But, some things were more stubborn then others. Mr. Frodo, for instance. He needed to rest and have peace to grow strong again, and here he had gone and denied his friend both tonight. However, he couldn’t push aside his responsibilities to Rose easily. She had put her trust in him to protect and care for her, to love her. He could not let her down. “It’s just that…”
Sam paused and Frodo waited for him to continue. When he did not, Frodo prompted him. “Yes, Sam, what is it?”
“It’s just that…well, I think…,” stumbling over his words, Sam strove to bring his thoughts to life, “Its just, what I mean to say is, I could have lost it all, so I don’t want to miss anything.”
Sam finally turned to face his friend. “Everytime I see her, I think that moment might never have been. Holding her hand, listening to her laughter, could have been lost to me forever. If things had turned out differently, I mean.”
Frodo involuntarily slipped his left hand inside his pocket, ashamed of what that missing finger meant.
Sitting down on the bench, Sam poured forth his thoughts. “Whenever I lie next to Rose, her warmth close to me, I never want to let her go. She was almost not there. Whenever I do,” he glanced sideways at Frodo and smiled coyly, “Do that, I know, in that moment, at that time, I’ve got to make up for all those things I could have missed.”
“You love her, Sam,” Frodo said softly.
Sam began to play with the braces that hung around his knees. “That’s not it, Mr. Frodo. Not all, anyways. Sometimes I feel like life is running a race with me and each day I’m falling farther and farther behind. Like I’ve got to pack a whole lifetime of memories in one moment, or they’ll all just disappear. Don’t know why, or how, but time is slipping away.”
How could Frodo tell his friend that time was indeed winning and it was much later than anyone realized.
The lilting voice of Rosie singing softly to the baby as she walked to the kitchen escaped Bag End, accompanied by the rustling of the trees around them. Neither hobbit spoke, unwilling to interrupt such a peaceful moment. Her shadow passed by the front window and her lullaby faded away. “That’s be Elanor,” Sam said as he stretched and yawned, “Right on time.”
“Go back to bed, Sam,” Frodo said, glad to see him return to nis normal easy manner. Rose was indeed magic. “At least one of us should enjoy the comforts of sleep tonight.”
Sam could not deny the idea was tempting. But he wouldn’t leave Mr. Frodo out here alone. “Not sleepy anymore. It’s a fine night for star gazing.” He looked up at the sky and tried to stifle another yawn.
Crossing his arms in front of him, Sam settled down on the bench to wait until his friend was ready to go back inside. “Nope.”
Frodo just shook his head. A truly stubborn hobbit Sam had turned out to be. They sat there in companionable silence, the night passing as well as the moon, until Rose spoke from the front doorway.
“Samwise Gamgee,” she said with the slightest hint of teasing in her voice, “The wee one has gone back to sleep. Will you be coming back to bed now?”
Before Sam could tell her no, Frodo spoke up.”Yes, Rose, Sam’s coming inside right now.”
“Are you sure?,” Sam asked as he searched Frodo’s face for the truth.
“I’m fine, Sam. I told you.”
Reluctantly, Sam stood up from the bench and left Frodo behind. Rose wrapped her husband in a hug as he greeted her at the door, and Frodo knew that they wouldn’t be falling to sleep any time soon.
“Good night, Mr. Frodo,” Sam called, following his wife back to bed, “You come in soon. Remember the time.”
Frodo chuckled mirthlessly. Remember the time? That’s all he seemed to be aware of lately. Aware that it was passing, aware that he would never be able to reclaim that which was gone, aware that soon time would stop for him.
The night wind had picked up and it sent a chill racing through him. I’ve got to go, for, if I catch a cold, Sam will never forgive me.
Once inside his home, he replaced his pipe and bag by the hearth and stood in the darken room, watching the shadows dance on the walls. Ominously standing alone, Bilbo’s desk loomed largest. On the top, its empty pages gleaming, was the Red Book. Walking over to the desk, almost against his will, Frodo ran his maimed hand across the pristine pages. They were beautiful in their simplicity and he felt a sudden revulsion at the thought of filling them with such darkness and hatred. He flipped back to what he had last written and found the story of the breaking of the Fellowship. Their long endurance of the Emyn Muil was next. And Smeagol.
He knew he should go back to bed and not incur the wrath of Sam in the morning. Instead he picked up the pen and began to write. It went beyond his notice that his hand massaged the old wound in his shoulder. It didn’t matter what time of the morning it was. The Red Book was ready to hear his story.
Sam woke with an inexplicable dread. Bounding out of bed, he quickly drew on his nightshirt and ran out of his bedroom door, leaving his sleeping wife behind. It couldn’t have been more then 6 o’clock in the morning for the sun’s light had not yet reached the front hallway. Without knocking, Sam thrust open Mr. Frodo’s door. His heart knew what he would find there: an empty bed. Fear guided him down the hall towards the front door. Please, no!, he thought as he ran, Not all night outside. His hand grasped the handle, but he was distracted by a small sound in the study before he could pull open the door. Abandoning the front hallway, Sam hurried towards the sound. A racking sob heaved from his chest as he looked into the study. Frodo was slumped over Mr. Bilbo’s desk, fingers black with ink. Mumbling incoherently, he was soaked to the skin with sweat. Without a word, Sam tenderly picked up the hobbit, lighter now, as if, bit by bit, he was fading away. The fever consumed Frodo, his wound burned a bright crimson. Sam kicked himself for not realizing the day as he bore his ailing friend to bed. It was March 13, and the anniversary of Shelob’s Lair. The Red book was nearly finished.