Title: Don't Go
Date Posted: 23 March 2002
Author: Van Donovan
Rating: PG
Characters: Sam, Elanor, Gandalf
Pairing: implied Frodo/Sam, Sam/Rosie
Word count: 3,469
Warnings: Spoilers through Return of the King
Summary: Frodo goes where Sam can't follow.
Notes: Written for fun. I own nothing.


Elanor stood on the shore beside him with tears in her eyes, but she was smiling. He was smiling too and he felt he should burst with all of the joy in his heart. She was alone; her sons and husband were still back by the towers. Only she had ridden out with him to the shore to see him off one last time. It seemed it should be a time for sorrow for Elanor; to loose her father so soon after her mother, but there was no sorrow in Elanor's tear-blurred eyes: only vast joy that she knew at long last her father could give into his heart's yearning to cross the sea.
He had prepared for a month so as to depart on the twenty-second of September. It was to be Frodo Baggins' birthday and both she and her father thought it most proper for him to leave that day. On an early day in September Sam had held the Elven blade Sting high to the early fall sky and had chanted a murmur of Elven words as he had so long ago when he had wielded the Phial of Galadriel in the Lair of Shelob. He had known that the chant alone would reach the Undying Lands and there would be a ship waiting to take him there when he arrived at the shores of the Grey Havens.
Now it stood proud in the harbour, it's white sails billowing majestically in the wind and the white wooden boards of the ship looking like sculpted marble. Elanor was shaking her head as she looked from the ship to her father. Inside the ship tall figures of Elves could be seen and she was overcome by their fairness and beauty. The sight of them brought an aching joy to her heart. "I envy you, father," she whispered softly and took him into her arms. He was dressed in his comfortable gardening clothes, looking plain and old and simple and loving but around his shoulders was an impossibly old cloak without a wrinkle or tear in it, and fastened to his throat was a silver-green leaf brooch.
Sam held her, petting her silver-grey hair with nimble fingers and kissing the corners of her eyes. "You must stay and remember for me, Elanor," he answered and although his face betrayed his age, his voice was strong and warm as ever and his eyes when he looked to her, were wise and soft and full of love and hope and joy.
"I love you, father," she said and touched his cheek. He held her hand there several moments then nodded his head and stepped back from her.
On the shore came the Elves; two of them, both impossibly tall and beautiful. They nodded to him for they knew him as the last of the Ring-bearer’s and they had come at his call. He nodded back to the Elves then turned back to Elanor, tears at last touching his eyes, for at last he was going. "I love you as well, my dear Elanor. Keep the memory alive, for when the ship sails, an age will have ended." Then he had turned so as to not see the joy and pain on his eldest child's face as he felt the warm soft arms of the Elves helping him into the ship.
He climbed the stairs and planks and came to the deck and the sea wind tousled his hair. He smiled into it as it dried his eyes and then took a deep breath of the salty air and walked to the bow and looked down at the white-dressed figure that was Elanor. She waved with one hand while the other clutched at her chest in joy. Sam waved in return, setting his pack on the deck beside him. The boat murmured beneath him and soon he felt the unfamiliar roll of water as the anchor was brought up and the ship was turned astern. Elanor's waving hand swung out of view as the boat nosed forward and Sam found himself soon facing the open sea and the mists that concealed the distant horizon. He tossed his head and felt both younger and older than he had in many ages as the water churned beneath him and the sails took wind and moved forward.
He never looked back.

After one week to sea, Sam had grown tired of the ceaseless water and the vast empty sky. He felt alone and lost, adrift on a sea of dreams. The Elves treated him wonderfully, almost royally, but he could not talk to them. They were aloof and unfamiliar and although they were kind he felt they saw him as a child; an old man. To them, he was their charge and nothing more; not a person or a feeling; just a former Ring-bearer. So he sat alone at night on the ship, leaning on the stern as he watched as the wake faded into the moonlight.
He thought of Elanor and his son Frodo and his little Rose and both young and old Merry and Pippin. He thought of the gardens he had left behind to his grandson Holfast and the great grand children he would never meet now. More than that, he thought about Frodo Baggins. He wondered if his former master knew he was coming and if he anxiously waited at a window that overlooked the sea to watch for the coming ship. Sam had felt so much joy in boarding the ship he felt ill to feel such loneliness now out here on the sea, but there was no doubt he was.
After two weeks of endless waves and restless nights he thought he should go mad. Hobbits were not made for water travel and the rocking of the boat did not lull him to sleep but kept him awake, making his legs shiver with lack of adjustment. The Elves gave him a draught that quelled his nerves but still his heart yearned for land. He took to standing on the bow, his body wedged up close between the meeting point of the front of the ship, often with one hand raised to his eyes to try and make clouds out into islands. The Elves would reassure him the island was not far, but to an Elf a week must seem a minute and to Sam he felt it was an eternity.
By the third week he was utterly restless. He was resigned to the fact that the ocean was vast and wide. He knew it had taken a year to travel to Gondor and back and that the Undying Lands must be ever further away than that, but he had never thought of it. His dreams of his reunion with Frodo had never entailed a long sea journey wherein each morning he lost his lunch and each dinner he felt too ill to eat. His visions of the travel had been glazed over. They had been glorified: he had had dreams of standing on the bow and smiling into the sun and the sea and letting the wind blow through his hair as he closed his eyes and when he would opened them the island would loom up out of the mists to him and then he would be on the sands and Frodo would be there, smiling crookedly and looking not a day over fifty. Sam knew he had been dreaming these things but he still had not prepared for such a long empty journey by boat.
After two months Sam knew they had either nearly reached their destination or they were going to their deaths, for the food supply was low and the water barrels were nearly as empty as he felt. He had slept a lot, feeling the moisture of the air always seeping into his bones. He ached when he walked and his steps were unsure as the hull pitched and rocked beneath him. He was not sick but he was pale and gaunt and his face drew thin from lack of proper food. He had to keep the memory of Frodo greeting him on the shores in his heart to keep himself from bursting out of his confinements in tension. The Elves sensed his restlessness and tried to sooth him but he was not to be smoothed over.
They came ashore while Sam slept and it wasn't the calls of the Elves that awoke him but the sudden cease-motion of the ships rocking. The waves still roared in his head but the ship was still. He awoke and found it was dark and they had arrived. He stood quickly and put on his clothes, throwing stuff into his pack and putting Sting at his side. He reached the deck and was met with the sound of singing admits the light rain. The air smelled sweet and alive and he could see through the mist the tall silver trees that stood in the distance beyond the white shore. There were Elves on his right and left but the shores, as far as he could see, were empty.
He clutched his pack to his chest and as he stood there staring down, hardly able to believe he had arrived at last. The night seemed to fade as the sun broke the horizon and like a dreamy haze the mists lifted and the raining ceased and the island was revealed to him in all it's finery. The white shores glittered and the green lands beyond seemed to brighten and grow as he looked. There was singing too that seemed to raise and crescendo until he was swept along by it all.
His feet were in the sand and his legs were trembling to be standing again on ground that did not heave. He walked with purpose towards the green forests beyond but without knowledge of where he was heading. To his chest he still clutched his pack and his knuckles were white from the grip of it. Where was his welcoming party? Where was Old Bilbo and Gandalf with his smiling eyes? Why had Lord Elrond not been at the shores waiting to greet him as he stepped off the ship?
Where was his dear Frodo?
His steps quickened until he reached the place that the white sand gave way unto the grass and earth that made up the forest. To a gardener and one so in love with the beauty of nature the place he now stood seemed beyond words of beauty to describe. He felt himself nevertheless trying to put it into words but his heart could not write until it was settled and to settle it he had to see Frodo. The morning was early and those he had come to see had not known when he would arrive. Although his dream of rushing to Frodo's arms upon disembarking had been crushed he had the joy to think of how happy Frodo would be to awaken to his soft touch and awake think he was still dreaming that Sam had come.
He turned to one of the Elves who had traveled on the ship with him, one he had dealt with the most, although nothing like a friendship had formed. "Take me to where Frodo Baggins dwells," he said softly. The Elf looked at him long, as if perhaps a little surprised at his first request upon arriving on the shores of the Undying Lands, but he nodded.
Sam was lead through a maze of trees, each taller and more silver and green than the last, but never did they take to the spiraling stairwells that spanned up into the lofty trees. They walked forever onwards below until the sun could not reach the ground for the foliage and lanterns had to be lit to guide their path. Sam felt something settle at the pit of his stomach, wondering if perhaps the Elf had heard him wrong. In the distance he could see a patch of light; some vast glade where no trees grew. He would have wept to see a hobbit hole built into the earth but there was only soft green grass there and sunlight, making it seem unnaturally bright.
He stood on the edge of the forest one step away from the light. The glade was empty. Sam kept looking, searching for the bit of movement that would tell him Frodo was gardening or digging mushrooms in the distance, but he saw nothing. Butterflies fluttered here and birds of various colours and plumage, but there were no hobbits nor even Elves. "There's nothing here," Sam said at long last, speaking both to himself and to the Elf beside him. The Elf simply stepped into the sun and his silver hue turned golden as he lightly treaded over the grass. Sam found himself loathe to follow. The 'something' that had settled in his stomach was churning now and he was afraid of what it would turn into.
His feet moved against his will and soon he was standing beside the tall Elf. He looked up at the sky as he felt his heart skipping in his chest, mentally knowing why they were here in this grass plain and why they had stopped where they had. He watched the clouds in the sky and it was as if so long as he didn't look down and confirm what he knew in his heart nothing would change and he could still hold on to his dreams. He shuddered at long last and bowed his head and let out a sob as his heart shattered at the sight. There was grass. There was stone. Carved into the flat slab of marble in the words of Quenya, which Sam knew only a few, read "Cormacolindo -- Frodo"; Ring-bearer. His pack was forgotten on the grass as he dropped to his knees and his fingers moved to touch the white stone, to trace the runic letters that spelled out Frodo's name. He had to feel them because he could not see them his tears were so blinding. "Frodo, Frodo," he repeated over and over.
How long he knelt there and watered the ground with his misery he did not know. He came to only when he felt a broad hand touch his shoulder. He started and looked up, his eyes red with the marks of his pain. Seeing Gandalf there did not make him feel any joy. In fact, there was only resentment that the wizard should live while his master lay beneath him. "I thought they were the Undying Lands," he choked at last and his hand gestured to the marble plaque futilely.
Gandalf knelt beside him, his white robes dimmed as clouds passed over the sun. The glade was darkened as Gandalf took a breath. "For the Elves they offer immortality, Samwise," he said, trying to sound as comforting and gentle as possible, "for the mortal, like you and Frodo," he added, "they offer an extension of life; a lease of time to heal. Frodo had so many pains, Sam, he could not bear them all, not even here."
Sam felt as though someone had not only hit him so hard his inside had been knocked loose but that they had then tied them in tight knots and stomped on them. He could not breath; only gasp. One hand clutched Gandalf's arm but the other refused to release contact with the plaque. "How? How long?" he asked, his voice a trembling sob.
Gandalf's eyes closed although if it was out of pain for the question or the need to remember Sam knew not. "It's been ten years, Samwise," he said after a moment and opened his eyes at the cry Sam made to his answer.
"Ten years," the hobbit repeated, his eyes on the marble but not seeing. "Ten years I looked at the stars and wondered if you were doing all right, looking back across the sea at me through them. Ten years I whispered a promise to myself to return to you, only to have that promise fall on deaf . . . ears," he choked and Gandalf pulled him close and let the hobbit cry against him. Sam's hand left the marble and both of his hands grabbed fistfuls of white robe and clutched. Gandalf put one hand on Sam's back and sighed with his eyes on the cold letters on the headstone.
"He was older than you are now, Sam," he said, trying to reassure the hobbit. "He had suffered so much pain. He was finally able to put everything behind him: the Quest, the Ring, his wounds from the Nazgűl, his pain of leaving you. In the end he found the peace he had been seeking for so long. He was happy, at last, Samwise."
"He didn't wait for me," Sam said, his voice a muffled cry against Gandalf's chest.
"He could not wait any longer. You still had plenty of life in you for another ten years, and many more beyond no doubt, and he could not wait. He did not want to see you die before him. He did not think you were to return at all." He could tell Sam was not taking kindly to his words so he tried another approach. "He is at peace at last, Samwise. Be happy for him and do not let your own heart suffer for his loss."
"Peace in death," Sam mumbled as if somehow he had understood and pulled away from Gandalf, rubbing at his eyes as he looked back to the stone that bore Frodo's name. He could not imagine that Frodo one night had simply died and he had not instantly known. That he had gone on living for ten years without Frodo being alive, somewhere. He felt guilt wash over him. Guilt and hurt that Frodo had not felt he needed to wait for Sam to join him so they could die together at last. After sixty some years of hoping and dreaming of telling himself that someday, in the end of all things, they would be reunited, he had to come to this. After two months on a ship with only stoic Elves for company he had to find no welcoming embrace. Only the cold hard marble was all that remained.
He heard and felt Gandalf stand but he did not respond. He knelt before the plaque again and closed his eyes as the tears still fell. He said soft words then bent until his lips touched the cold marble and he kissed the name Frodo and straightened. His fingers touched the polished stone and instead of getting to his feet he took Sting from it's scabbard. "I returned your sword to you, Mr. Frodo," he said and laid it to the right of the headstone, "and you mithril mail. I left the Red Book with Elanor-lass." He took a shuddering breath and then unfastened the Lórien cloak from around his neck. He pulled off his coat and his vest until he was in his shirt and breeches and the rest of the clothes lay beside his pack in the distance.
"I put my ghosts to rest to come back and find you. It were you what said that I was a Ring-bearer too and someday my time might come that I might cross the sea. I did all you asked of me. I lived my life to the fullest. Elanor-lass is a grandmother now, Mr. Frodo, and there were twelve others just like her before Rosie passed, each more beautiful than the last." He closed his eyes as he bowed before the stone. "I wanted to tell you about them: Frodo-lad and Rosie-lass and Merry and Pippin and dear Bilbo and sweet Daisy and Goldilocks, how she married Faramir -- oh that's Mr. Pippin's baby and to think my grandson will become Thain. Oh Mr. Frodo, I have so much to tell you but I can't. I came, didn't I? Came to where I couldn't follow only to find you'd gone off again."
He shifted and soon he was lying on the grass with the marble headstone as his pillow and the cloak of Lórien pulled over him like a blanket. "I dreamed," he whispered, "for sixty years of the day I should come to these lands," he breathed, "longer than I knew you for almost twice over. But now that I'm here I should never want to see more than this glade without you." He rested his head rested over the 'ring-bearer' inscription and one hand came to trace over the letters that spelt Frodo.
"I'm coming Mr. Frodo. Don't go where I can't follow."
And he closed his eyes and did not open them again.

.the end.

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