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it's just safer to keep you in this heart of mine

Chapter Text

    Well it's been days now
And you change your mind again
All the cracks in the walls reminds you of things we said
And I could tell you that I won't hurt you this time
But it's just safer to keep you in this heart of mine


       Bilbo stared out over the glistening turquoise sea with a slight smile on his face. The sunlight, slippery and bright at this odd in-between state of the world they were sailing through, reflected off the water in brilliant arcs of gold.
     “Quite a sight, eh, old friend?” Gandalf murmured happily from behind Bilbo, exhaling a stream of pipesmoke.
     “Mm?” Bilbo turned to look at the wizard. “Quite a sight indeed, Gandalf.”
     His eyes seemed to be glazed over with some old memories, Gandalf noticed, but still they were sharper than they had been when the hobbit had stepped onto the boat. The wizard had long wondered how the Grey Havens would effect those already so aged, those who were so near to the veil of death and the beckoning of what lies after.
     Bilbo seemed to be doing just fine, however, and Gandalf was quite pleased to see it.
     The old hobbit turned back to look at the ocean, eyelids fluttering as the ocean spray misted around their faces in cool kisses.
     “Gandalf?” Bilbo said quietly after some time, not taking his eyes off the sea.
     “Do you ever think of Thorin?” Bilbo whispered, very quietly, something stealing over his face that was neither grief nor nostalgia.
     “Mm?” Gandalf coughed slightly, surprised. “Why, yes. I think of him quite often, actually.”
     “I used to think on him constantly,” Bilbo murmured, “before Frodo-lad came along. I was sure nothing would ever surpass my grief for him. The longing I had for his impossible return.”
     Gandalf glanced down at his old friend, pity stirring in his heart. “Mourning does not end quickly, Bilbo.”
     “So I thought,” a shadow crossed over Bilbo’s face, “but, Gandalf…the Ring began to take me. It siphoned my desire and love away from Thorin until it consumed me. It, not him.”
     “Since leaving Bag-End,” the hobbit kept speaking as if he hadn’t heard the wizard speak, “slowly I have felt the Ring leaving me. It still resides in my heart…but it’s as if as I move farther away from Middle-Earth Thorin is coming back to me, after all this time.”
     Gandalf looked away from Bilbo and up at the endless sea, parted by the prow of their ship and the dancing sunlight. He, too, could clearly see what he was sure  Bilbo was picturing. The King Under The Mountain, one lost to them so long ago. Immortal as the dwarf who had fallen in battle, while Gandalf and Bilbo had aged and changed irrevocably.
     “I wish I could promise you a proper reunion.” Gandalf sighed. “But it is not the afterlife we sail to, after all. Not for us.”
     Bilbo chuckled suddenly. “Well I should hope not. Thorin would never desire to spend an eternity in the sanctuary of elves.”
     Gandalf grunted, grinning around his pipe. “Quite right about that, old friend.”
     Bilbo smiled, again, staring out over the ocean with only a touch of darkness in his eyes. “I think I’ll retire now, Gandalf. I’m getting much too old for all this excitement.”
     “Rest well, Bilbo.” Gandalf sighed, exhaling a mouthful of smoke. “Pleasant dreams.”
     “And the same to you, old friend.” Bilbo nodded before tottering slowly from the head of the ship back down to the small, cozy quarters that had been set aside for him and Frodo during the duration of their journey.
      Gandalf blew smoke rings at the dwindling twilight and wondered, not for the first time, about far green shores.