Timeline: After the rebuilding of the Shire in 1420 (Shire Reckoning.).
Story is told in Frodo Baggins’ Point Of View.
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Chapter I

Time would heal everything. And I trusted in that. In those words where laughter resonated, where was tied the thread of hope that fastened together my past and future. In the dawn of early morning, I welcomed the day, and embraced the light, inspired by the determination that resided still within my core. And when nighttime came once again, I beheld the stars unveiled in all their beauty, and so I knew the ripples had ceased into calm glass.

And so it was that after my travels I lived in peace for a time. My wounds were only scars, only memories, which slowly faded with each day that came and went. My soul was whole again; full of the brilliant light once distinguished- then rekindled. My body, my mind, my heart, my soul and my spirit were rescued from the fire, and all the ashes swept away. When I opened my eyes in the light of early morning, there was no clouded sky but the rounded ceiling that sheltered the memories I once left. But I had returned. And here the memories began again with the same familiar monotone I once thought could withstand that of the Sea: happy summers, lazy autumns, merry winters, and then, the celebrations of spring. Ever so addicting; I lived for the dawn of day, and in secret hope of its return.

For still within me, buried but alive, vaguely lived the fear of the darkness that held me captive each night. I saw the beauty of the starlight, I silently walked in the moonlight, I held within my own hands the light of Eternity, and caressed the gem given to me… but I remembered the nights I lied awake with a golden trinket laid bare upon my palm. I began to remember its weight, the heat, the callings of insanity. And as I now innocently touch the gem, memories of past attempts to put the Thing on assault me. The sun strikes me like the Eye that once sought me, every hill I hike is like the mountain I climbed, as I hold a friend’s hand I suddenly feel bony fingers try and steal one of my own…

And so I live now. The life I once had is no longer the life I now live, and there is no going back. When I smile, the smile is one of knowledge, for when I feel happiness I also know sadness: I know laughter as I know tears, I know health as I know pain. The wounds I have never healed, the burden I bore never left me, the memories never faded… Time has come and gone and still everything aches.

Soon it shall be October of the year 1420 (S.R.). All the leaves shall fall upon the forest floor and the Shire will be clad in autumn array, displaying, at last, its wealth in gold. The Fall Festivals will be celebrated still, even after the recent passing of the Shadow, for most cannot think of a better way to celebrate a new beginning. Merry and Pippin, I believe, volunteered to help with the decorations, though they will most likely be engrossed in the telling of tales. And in this time of year, Sam will rake the leaves using the same strokes used years ago, still unhindered by wound, burden, or haunting memory. To him, the sun brings warmth, a hill cherished memories, and with the touch of a friend the loving concern instinctively given. His nature is eternal and has been saved.

With Sam, everyone in the Shire shall be rejoicing for this wonderful season. In cozy hobbit holes, families sit by the fire and recite tales old and worn. Sam and Rosie and Elanor will become part of this pattern, this picture, this way of life. I am the rock on the side of the road, the fallen leaf, the faded name in a tale too dark to remember.

I shall be ill again on the sixth, so deep is the wound etched in my left shoulder, in my heart, and in my spirit. I relive that night on Weathertop over and over again, and in my sleep and in my waking I hear the shriek of the Nazgul, which pierces my heart and perforates the veil of life and death. For I have only recovered a little since we returned home; already I have felt the return of pain. Yet still Sam is with me, like he was at Weathertop when the wound was fresh.

-The 6th of October-

Behind my closed eyelids I perceive the glow of a lantern. Yet it seems to me like the Eye of evil, like I had beheld once before. I imagine black wings are smothering me, tall dark shapes are standing over me, and I hear the screech of death: the drawing of a long blade from its sheath…

I sit up suddenly in the night. I behold my bedroom clothed in candlelight, for I had fallen asleep at my desk while writing. The comforting familiarities of the room sooth my heartbeat to a calm and even rhythm, but for the darkness of night I grasp the white gem that hangs around my neck. I close my eyes.

There is the sound of crashing waves dealt upon my soul. And then I hear voices singing in the night, gay and yet sorrowful, rejoicing in a celebration of some kind. A voice rises now, and sings like a seagull, and then it gradually becomes a mere lull of the waves, a mere chanting that goes on into sleep.

Piercing blue eyes stare back at me, encircled by dark rings clearly evident against my pale face. As I start to button my shirt, I glance at my left shoulder where lies embedded the imprint of evil: a thin cold mark, barely visible. Today is the morning of October the 7th.

I proceed fastening the buttons with a hand marred by two craven souls. As I look at this hand, everything in the room falls under utter blackness and the dying embers of the hearth are fed by it, given strength at last by a force no hobbit could ever render. The low roof is scorched by the wild flames, hungry for gold engraved by evil. Here I am again.

But the memory is not strong enough. I return to where I am, without fear even, for the memory is just a memory, and here I am safe.

Yet still I know the memories shall come again, and the burning flames will engulf my soul; the wounds I bear are too deep to accept health and night must forever follow the twilight.

And though Sam believes the Shadow must pass, I begin to wonder now if time will ever allow me to witness its full passing, as my journey has come full circle, and if lasting wounds are not, indeed, lasting shades of the Shadow itself.

To Be Continued…

A N: Thank you all so much for reading this chapter! Please review or Private Message me your thoughts, and, of course, please keep reading!

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