The pain had returned. Resonating through his shoulder and down his arm, Frodo felt the frigid agony of the witch king’s blade, pulsing into him from the half-remembered darkness. They are gone, he told himself, they cannot plague you any longer. But it did not matter, for the pain had returned despite his feeble protests, and he could not sleep.
He rubbed the old wound absently, wandering aimlessly through the silent halls of Bag-End, no longer the abode of only a slightly lonely bachelor, but a family as well. With no purpose, he meandered into the baby’s room, right next to her ever-protective parents’, sleeping with their door open to hear any sound in the night. Moving softly to the side of her crib, Frodo was startled to find Elanor already peering up at him solemnly, quietly gumming a carved wooden Oliphant, clutched in her tiny fist. But so it was, often, when the darkness came on him. Elanor seemed more tuned to his secret shadows than even ever-watchful Sam, and she waited for him to come to her, as he nearly always did.
Lifting her from the confines of her little bed, Frodo wrapped her in a blanket and cradled her in his arms. He smoothed the fine wisps of golden hair that graced her head, and she reached slowly up, grasping his hand. She examined it for a moment, holding it firmly with delicate fingers before pulling it to her lips and mouthing thoughtfully the stump of his maimed finger. He laughed quietly, a sound heard less often of late than it had been when he was younger, more innocent. Before the Ring. He sighed, and took Elanor down the hall and out a rear door into the garden, with a clear view of the stars, only marginally obstructed by swiftly gathering clouds.
Frodo walked through the garden paths, pausing when Elanor reached out to a green tendril or unopened blossom. He gazed at her, adoring the purity he found in her, even as it reminded him of what he had lost. A strange thought came to him as he stood there; I could have had this. My own little flower. Unexpected tears came to his eyes, and he nuzzled gently the babe he held so dear.
“Why?” he asked her softly. “Why was this taken from me?” Elanor looked into Frodo’s eyes with the simple and complete love of all young children, and recommenced gumming his finger. Even as he brushed away the salt droplets from his eyes, he smiled. The gentle pressure from teeth not yet visible was the only reply he needed.
“It does not matter, my little flower. I did it for you. What I lost I gave to you, and I was blind so you could see.” A single rain drop fell from the heavens, as though the sky was in sorrow so to bless the dry earth. Another fell, and landed on Elanor’s nose, causing her to squawk indignantly. Frodo kissed it away and turned to the indoors, singing softly.
Hush, my love, now don’t you cry,
In my arms, your fears shall fly.
Close your eyes and trust in me,
I set my hopes in thee.
As the stars begin to shine,
Hope and love have intertwined.
Grow not too fast, linger here,
‘Tis you I hold most dear.
Hush, my love, and go to sleep,
In your heart the blossoms keep.
Close your eyes and drift in dream,
Under starlight’s gleam.
As he laid her gently down into the soft blankets, he realized with a smile that his voice had not lifted in song since Rivendell, perhaps even since the house of Tom Bombadil, before the journey. In a different life. He walked softly back to his room through a hall that seemed no longer silent, but peaceful. He did miss, perhaps, the days of that younger life, what might have been. But that did not matter now. The pain was gone, and he could rest.