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Might Have Beens  by Larner

Written for the LOTR Community's "Fix the Movies" challenge.  For the movies, Sam, Merry, and Pippin accompany Gandalf, Frodo, and Bilbo to the Grey Havens, believing they are merely seeing Bilbo leaving with the Elves.  They are surprised to learn Gandalf and Frodo are going as well.  The movies end with Sam returning to Rosie, Elanor, and Frodo-lad in Number 3, Bagshot Row.

So, how do we reconcile this with book-verse, and how does Sam come to realize he is now Frodo's heir, and that he inherits Bag End as well as everything else?  How does he know what Frodo wishes for him?

Beta by RiverOtter.

Last Will and Testament

            Sam watched the grey ship disappear into the sunset, clutching the volume his Master had given him to his chest.  At last as full dark took them and he could see no more he turned back to join Merry and Pippin, who waited for him near the archway that marked the borders of the Elven haven.

            Merry held Bill’s reins for him, while Pippin held those of Frodo’s Strider.  “Are you all right, Sam?” Merry asked as he surrendered the reins to the gardener.

            “I suppose as I am,” Sam replied, handing the book to Merry so he could bring out a handkerchief and wipe his eyes.  “I certainly wasn’t prepared for--for that; not for him to leave us that way.”

            “None of us were,” Pippin responded with a glance over his shoulder.  “I thought we were only coming to see Cousin Bilbo leave.  And now they’ve all gone--Bilbo, Elrond, Gandalf, the Lady, and--and Frodo!”  He scrubbed at his eyes with his sleeve.  In the growing starlight and the glimmer of torches from the quayside Sam could see the younger Hobbit’s chin tremble.

            Merry nodded stiffly.

            Once Sam was swung up into Bill’s saddle Merry handed up the leather-bound book, and having no better way to carry it, Sam tucked it under his arm as he led the way eastward once more, back toward the borders of the Shire and home.  They didn’t ride particularly far that evening, stopping to camp about an hour after they’d left Mithlond.

            “We should’ve stayed there by the Havens, perhaps,” Sam suggested as he dismounted stiffly.

            Merry cast a look back over his shoulder, the pain of loss easy to see in his eyes.  “I couldn’t have done so,” he said after a moment as he slid off his pony.  “Not with the sound of the Sea in my ears.”  He watched Pippin alight.  “Shall you find some wood or should I?” he asked his friend and cousin.

            “I will, if you and Sam will see to the ponies.”

            “That we can do,” Sam said as he laid the book on a fallen tree, and in moments the three of them were each busy preparing for the night.

            Pippin returned with a goodly load of wood and with a spike of larkspur behind his ear.  “There’s a lovely meadow over that way,” he said, indicating the way he’d come with a nod of his head.  “Lots of flowers.  Frodo would love it.  We could perhaps stake out the ponies so they could graze.”

            “If’n we keep them well away from the larkspur,” Sam grunted.

            At last they had all arranged for the night, and with tin mugs filled with freshly brewed tea warming their hands, they gathered about their campfire.  “I can’t believe he’s gone,” Pippin murmured into his cup.

            Merry grunted wordlessly, obviously still heart-sore.

            Sam took a sip as he automatically glanced about their camp as if making certain all was in order, then paused as his attention was caught by the red book Frodo had entrusted to him.  He set the mug on the tree and took the book in both hands, rubbing his thumbs over the cover, exploring the texture of the leather.  “He showed me this, there just afore we left Bag End,” he said.

            “That’s the book he promised to write for Bilbo of our adventures?” Merry asked.  At Sam’s nod he held out his hand.  “May I see it?”

            After a moment’s pause Sam complied.  As Merry shifted it so as to better open it, however, a thick envelope slid out from just inside its cover and fell to the ground.  Immediately the Brandybuck closed the volume and bent down to retrieve the fallen envelope.  “What’s this?”

            Pippin straightened, curiosity winning out over his grief.  “There was a letter inside the book?  Who is it addressed to?”

            Merry angled it so he could read the inscription by the light of the campfire.  “It’s more than just a letter, and it’s intended for Sam,” he said.  “Well, that makes sense as he gave the book to you, Sam.”  He handed it to the gardener.  “It’s for you to open it, then.”

            Sam fetched his cup as he sank down on the ground by the fire.  He took another swallow before setting it on one of the stones set to mark out their firepit, and turned the envelope in his hand.  “To Samwise Gamgee,” he read before turning it to slip his thumbnail under the wax seal.  The others were sinking down to flank him, intent on seeing what it was that Frodo might have left to his faithful companion.

            There was a letter and a thicker bundle of papers that Sam shook out of the envelope.  He took the single page first, running his eyes over the familiar, graceful script.  “To my dear Sam,” he began, then paused.  When he resumed reading aloud his voice was filled with mixed grief and wonder. 

            I have been most unfair to you, not telling you I am leaving, also.  But some wounds have gone too deep, have taken hold.  I can no longer find rest within the Shire or Bag End.  It is time to go on.  Yes, the Shire has been saved, but not for me and certainly not by me.

            I would have you know that the offer made me is also being made to you.  Those who told me that the ship on which I will sail is the “Last Ship” were, apparently, exaggerating the situation.  Gandalf has assured me that Lord Círdan intends to remain within Middle Earth, making certain that all Elves who wish to return to Aman will find ships appropriate to the journey awaiting them when the time comes for each to sail; and you may sail on any of these.  You too were a Ringbearer.  I pray, however, that you remain in Middle Earth and know the fulfillment you are intended to know.

            Do not be sad, Sam.  You were meant to be well and whole, for many years.  There is so much for you enjoy, and to be, and to do.

            I’d hoped to save the Shire, and it was saved--but as I said, not for me.  It must often be so, that some must give up what they love that others might keep it.  But I have made you my heir, and all that I had or might have had, all that I was or might have been, all that I knew or might have known, I leave to you.  And also you have Rose and Elanor; and Frodo-lad will come, and Rosie-lass, and Merry, and Goldilocks, and Pippin; and perhaps more that I cannot see.  And your hands and your wits....

            As Sam read, the others found themselves weeping once more, and as much in relief as in grief for Frodo’s going.

            It was Pippin who finally picked up the bundle of papers and began examining them, at last smiling through his tears.  “What he said about making you his heir, Sam--it’s true!  He did!  This is his will.  And this--” he separated out a second bundle carefully fastened together, “--this is the deed to Bag End.”  He looked up to meet Sam’s swimming eyes.  “He’s made it out to you and to Rosie.  You and Rosie are now Master and Mistress of Bag End and the Hill.”

            His hand shaking, Sam gave over the letter to Merry as he reached to take and wonder at the deed.


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