Frodo grasped the rail to the ship, so beautifully crafted – carved lightweight wood - that no sea storm could fell. Salty mist filled his nostrils. He had watched the dwindling shore in a half dream as the shadows of evening fell, perceiving for a time that he saw his friends, three forlorn figures, waiting, as reluctant as he to tear the last thread. Now naught but darkening gray waves surrounded him.
"It is peculiar," he said, though Bilbo had fallen asleep long ago.
"What is peculiar?"
Frodo turned in surprise to find Elrond at his side. Frodo smiled. "I should grieve for all I am leaving behind in Middle earth, yet I feel only peace…and for the first time hope."
Elrond smiled and his hand fell on Frodo's shoulder. "Already you feel the healing of Valinor."
"Right now I feel that…" Frodo's fingers dug into the wooden rail again. "Every event has fallen into place in just the right way to lead to this one destination. Is it wrong that I do not feel sad for Sam…or for Merry and Pippin?"
"That I cannot say," Elrond said. Full darkness had descended, and black waves lapped against the rocking ship. The sound was not mournful, rather it was cheerful, like children's laughter, as if to say that this night would bring them closer to their destination.
"Perhaps there is no need to feel sad for them," Elrond continued. "They are of Middle earth."
Frodo smiled. "Yes. Sam represents all that is good about Middle earth."
"And you, the fading light."
"Fading…" Frodo looked out at pale splash of light over the silver-black sea. He thought back to the past few months, mostly shadows in his mind. He had not been ill, but the world had simply ceased to hold meaning. He would walk through a meadow and fail to feel the grass between his toes or hear the sparrow chirp or smell distant meals cooking from Hobbiton. He was drawn to the fireflies, how they twinkled brightly like Elf magic, causing a wistful ache inside his heart. One late summer evening, a firefly had landed on his arm, injured or dying. The insect continued to twinkle, but his light was dim, growing ever fainter with each flicker.
Frodo had known then. Fondling the gem around his neck, he had struggled to find a way to tell Sam. The only regret he had was that he wished he had displayed more sadness at their parting.
The moonlight cast an ethereal glow over Elrond's face, and it evoked for Frodo the foul day the Ringwraiths had nearly taken him…the day the river had risen outside Rivendell…the day he had seen Glorfindal in his true light. So this was Elrond in his true light, his glory, a clear glass for all to see who might.
"You, too, feel more strength as we approach," Frodo said in surprise. Elrond nodded, but did not say anything.
A light mist fell from the sky, sprinkling Frodo's cheeks and eyelashes, tickling. Frodo touched his cheek in wonder, brought nearly to tears by the wonder of being able to feel again.