‘It doesn’t hurt anymore,’ Frodo says, and he means only right now, but he doesn’t specify. Elrond’s gaze shifts from Frodo’s shoulder to his eyes. He looks almost guilty in the moment that their eyes meet, like he hadn’t meant to stare, or he hadn’t meant to be caught, but Frodo turns his head away to look at Bilbo: he is sleeping. The sea rocks the ship like it is the waves and not the wind that moves them so quickly forward.
Elrond is quiet. He’s always quiet now.
Elrond has cuts on the palm of his hands in curves like little moons where his nails have bitten him. He turns his hands palm down on his knees when he catches Frodo looking.
There should be something more to say. He should be happier. Bilbo’s hand is warm in Frodo’s broken hand.
Galadriel laughs with Gandalf at the bow of the ship. Her hair is wild in the sun. Frodo doesn’t know if he’s ever seen anyone so happy.
‘Her family is waiting,’ Elrond says.
Frodo nods once because he already knows.
Frodo’s family isn’t waiting. They’re either on this ship, going forward too fast to turn around, or they’re back on the shore, learning to move on. There is no one he knows waiting for him on that far shore. He almost says this, but he doesn’t. He doesn’t think about it again.
He thinksof Sam’s brown eyes, and how Samcried so hard that henearly changed his mind.
That isn’t true. He did change his mind, six times at least, but he changed it back because the pain was dragging through his body, and he knew he wasn’t going to live. He couldn’t. It was all too much, no matter how vague saying that is, it was true.
Frodo slumps a bit forward, shifting Bilbo’s head on his left shoulder.
‘It doesn’t hurt,’ he says again, even though it does. His eyes have flooded with tears so fast and so strong that the world is only unspecified shapes in bleeding colours. That is his last memory of Sam and Merry and Pippin—they bled into the world like they belonged there. That will always be his last memory of them. He doesn’t know if Elrond is looking at him, but his voice is choked enough that Elrond would know he was crying even if he didn’t look.
Elrond lays his hand on Frodo’s knee. It is gentle in the way that nothing but far off dream-stained memories are—gentle like a summer morning in the Shire when the world was green and filled with buttercups, and the sunlight shone in a wondrous stream that painted the tall grass golden were the fairy flies flew.
But that is only a memory, and it would always be only a memory whether he stayed or whether he went. Elves live in their memories, he’s heard. Maybe it’s true. Everything is so much simpler in memories.
Even the pain.
Sometimes he misses the pain, the violence, because it was something to fill him—something to concentrate on. It was burning, but it was something to fight. It gave him a reason. There were seconds even where it made him feel whole. It was there always. It was his only companion.
That is a lie.
‘Does Sam know I’m sorry?’ he says, sudden and wild, waking Bilbo. Sam was too young.
‘Yes,’ Elrond says.
Frodo wipes his eyes with the back of his unbroken hand. He smiles at Bilbo. Bilbo can never blame himself.
‘It’s getting cold,’ he says.
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Tolkien one second: Arwen looked SO MUCH like her father, it was uncanny, she was basically girl Elrond.
Tolkien literally the next second: Guys, Arwen was basically the sexiest person on middle earth, omg readers, you don’t even know, she is SO BEAUTIFUL like just completely stunning.
Me: By applying the transitive property, we can confirm that Elrond is the the prettiest dude in middle earth.
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