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Antane's Anthology  by Antane

Broken Wings

Upon finishing listening to the wonderful, heartbreaking BBC Radio adaptation of War of the Ring for the first time, I was inspired by the lovely song at the very end as Frodo is sailing. I found it very soothing and I hope he did too. I know it’s part of Bilbo’s song but in the adaptation, it was not him singing that part so I chose it to be an Elf.

On the deck of the ship that was taking him further and further from his home and nearly all he had ever loved and known, one question kept running through Frodo’s mind, a hated litany that had sounded ever since his memory and the pain returned to him of what had happened all the long months he had carried his burden, the one he still carried in his heart and soul.

Where shall I find rest?

He was held in Gandalf’s arms so he could see above the railing. He had stared long at the shore and those three beloved brothers of his heart. Long after they had disappeared from sight, he had still held aloft the phial of Galadriel’s so they could see that at least as long as they could as each moment took him farther and farther apart from them. He held it now tightly against his chest. A gentle wind rustled his curls and dried the tears that fell unheeded down his cheeks.

Where shall I find rest?

Bilbo had gone down below almost right away, but Frodo had stayed above, not bearing to be separated from his brothers any moment sooner than had to be, safe in his dear friend’s loving arms, glad to have those around him, to help replace those he may never feel again.

Oh, Sam, you tried so hard. You have always taken care of me, almost died because you would not leave me. Can you ever forgive me for leaving you now? And Merry and Pippin, so dear, you, too, would not let me go alone and almost died as well. How can you ever forgive me for leaving you behind now?

He felt like a bird with broken wings, unable to soar as he had so often in his childhood. He had been grounded by the tragedy of his parents’ deaths and it had been a long time before he learned to fly again. But learn he did - Merry and Bilbo had been excellent teachers - and how high and far he had flown then, and laughed out his joy at such freedom. But the Quest had broken his wings once more and he had floundered again on the ground and no amount of care seemed able to mend him this time.

Where shall I find rest?

The sunset came then and he squirmed out of Gandalf’s arms. “I want to go below now,” he said. “Thank you for letting me see the last of my home.”

The Maia’s heart broke to hear such pain and stiff formality. He had hoped the beauty of the sunset would ease his dear friend’s pain, but it seemed to only increase it. It looked too much like the fire in which Frodo had lost so much.

“Oh, there you are, my boy,” Bilbo called cheerfully as his nephew came in and laid his head on his shoulder.

Frodo still clutched the phial that continued to glow. He stared at it, needing that light to counter all the darkness that was drowning him.

“I made him my heir,” Bilbo said to himself. “I gave him everything, including that blasted, confounded Ring. Oh, sticklebacks, why did I ever pick it up and worse, why did I ever give it up?”

He didn’t realize he had spoken aloud until he heard a weary voice beside him. “It was meant to happen, Uncle. Gandalf told me all about it.”

The ancient hobbit wrapped both his arms around the too frail shoulders of the child of his heart. “He told me that too, but were you also meant to be hurt so?”

Neither of them had an answer to that. Frodo wrapped his arms around his uncle and held on tightly and so they sat quietly for a long while, then they were called to dinner. Frodo walked beside his uncle down the brightly lit corridors of the ship in a daze and only picked at his food.

Where shall I find rest?

He clutched his fork with his maimed hand so tightly it cramped. His jaw ached for how tightly he kept it clenched to keep from screaming out his despair. He stood abruptly and with a murmured apology, went back on the deck again. Bilbo stood to follow but Gandalf shook his head and the ancient hobbit sat back down, his expression stricken as he watched Frodo leave.

The stars were arrayed in all their glory and Frodo mouthed his thanksgiving to Elbereth for such a beautiful, soothing sight. The breeze was pleasantly cool and tugged at his curls. A tendril of peace entered softly into his soul.

An Elf came on deck shortly afterwards and began to sing.

“Guided by the Lonely Star,

beyond the utmost harbour-bar,

I’ll find the havens fair and free,

and the beaches of the Starlit Sea.

Ship, my ship!

I seek the West,

and fields and mountains ever blest.

Farewell to Middle-earth at last,

I see the Star above your mast!”

The peace deepened as that lovely voice reached down deep into the Ring-bearer and soothed his hurts. One of his broken wings fluttered tentatively against his body.

He went down below after a while and the song followed him. He slept that night in Bilbo’s arms. “I’m glad to be with you, Uncle,” he said softly as he closed his eyes and placed his head against his beloved uncle’s heart and held him tightly. Two wings fluttered and spread a little further from his body.

The last thing he was felt was Bilbo’s soft kiss to his head and the last he heard was that ancient hobbit murmuring “I love you” and his own soft reply mingling with the song.

Where shall I find rest?

At last, the answer came. I shall find it here.

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