Finishing the Task/Home
They rested the night ahead of making their next move. The rest of the ruffians had given in after their leader fell, and had been taken prisoner in on of the huts. The travellers had gone back to stay with the Cottons, except for Merry, who was out all night scouting and making preparations, and Dawn, who insisted on helping him.
The pair arrived at Cotton’s Farm at about ten in the morning, with warnings of a large band of ruffians about four miles away, and closing fast. Luckily, though, Pippin arrived sooner than they did, bringing a hundred from his own homestead and Merry and Dawn had enough sturdy Hobbitry to plan their attack.
Again the ruffians charged into the fray without any sense of precaution, and again the Hobbits surrounded them. But this time the men were not so easily defeated. They tried to break out of the surrounding ring of Hobbits, and the ensuing skirmish resulted in seventy dead ruffians and twelve prisoners. But the worst blow to all those in the battle was that nineteen of their friends had been killed. They were later buried together on the hillside, with a great stone listing them all and a garden surrounding their resting place.
When there was some sense of order restored after the chaotic morning, the travellers and Cotton took two dozen Hobbits as escorts and set off on foot for Bag End, the source of the trouble ever since Lotho had taken Frodo’s place in the Hobbit-hole. At the sight of Bagshot Row, now nothing more than a sand and gravel quarry with the party tree cut down in the field just beyond, Sam burst into tears.
Dawn patted his shoulder sympathetically. “Guess the place isn’t how you left it, huh?”
A harsh peal of laughter drew their attention to the filthy miller, Ted Sandyman, leering at them from over a small wall. Drying his tears, Sam rounded on him, heaping abuse on the other Hobbit, but Sandyman was not impressed.
“You can’t touch me,” he spat. “I’m a friend of the Boss’.”
As Frodo advised Sam not to waste any more words on the fool, Dawn sauntered up to the wall. Very deliberately as he watched in confusion, she poked Sandyman in the arm and waited a few seconds for a reaction.
“Hmm,” Dawn mused when it became apparent that nobody was going to take issue with the welfare of the dirty little being before her. “Funny, I think I just did touch you, but where’s the cavalry, little stinky-man?”
She turned on her heel and walked with the others to the door of Bag End, Frodo’s old home. A crowd of Hobbits came out of the huts and holes littering Hobbiton and followed them to the gate.
They searched the wrecked house, but found no signs of life other than vermin. They stood in the small foyer, Dawn hunching her shoulders a little to keep from bumping her head into the candle chandelier, and looked at the damage.
“If I had known all the mischief he had caused, I would have stuffed my pouch down Saruman’s throat,” Merry muttered.
“No doubt, no doubt,” sneered a voice from the doorway. They all whirled to find Saruman standing there, his black eyes glittering with malice. “Welcome home.”
Sam’s face burned as red as his shaggy hair with rage and they all stared at him with grim expressions etched on their faces as Saruman taunted them for a while, gloating about his accomplishment in ruining their once beautiful land.
“Well if that is what you find pleasure in, I pity you,” Frodo told him. “Go at once and never return!”
The Hobbits crowding in the gate spoke up angrily at hearing this. “Don’t let him go! Kill him!”
But Saruman just laughed at them once more before calling to Wormtongue, who crawled out of one of the ugly huts spoiling the garden. He was crooked and bent, and moved almost like a dog, forced to grovel at Saruman’s feet.
“To the road again, Worm!” Saruman commanded. He turned to go, but as he passed close by Frodo, a hint of steel glittered in his hand as Saruman stabbed a knife into Frodo’s chest. The blade snapped on the hidden mithril coat and before anyone could blink, Dawn had clotheslined Saruman to the ground. Sam stood over him, sword in his hand.
“No, Sam! Dawn! Don’t kill him, I don’t want his to be slain in this mood. He was once great and noble, we should not dare raise our hands to him. He is fallen, his cure beyond us, but we can only let him go and hope he finds it elsewhere.”
As Saruman was allowed to rise, he stared at Frodo through eyes riddled with wonder, respect and hatred all at once. “Wise and cruel, you have robbed my victory of sweetness and now I must go in bitterness and in debt to your mercy. I hate it and you!”
He turned and walked down the lane and the Hobbits grudgingly made a path for him. After a moment’s hesitation, Wormtongue moved to follow.
Frodo called out, inviting Wormtongue to stay since he knew of no harm that had been done in the Shire by his hand and Wormtongue was half prepared to stay, when Saruman loudly interrupted that his servant had been the killer of Lotho and gave him a swift kick in the face.
As if that kick was the last straw, Wormtongue’s eyes glazed over with wild hatred and he rose to his feet. He pounced on Saruman, jerking his head back and slitting his throat before running off down the lane with a yell. Before Frodo could recover from his shock to remind everyone no to kill, three Hobbit-bows twanged and Wormtongue was no more.
A grey mist gathered around Saruman and rose up into the air. A cold wind from the West soon blew it into nothingness, and all that was left was a withered old corpse which Frodo covered over with some of Saruman’s robes.
“To think that the last stroke of the War should fall on the steps of Bag End,” sighed Frodo. Dawn sensed the disquiet in his voice that had been growing for some time and studied his face intently.
* * * * *
With the scouring of the Shire completed, the community turned to cleaning up the mess. The day after Saruman and Wormtongue’s death, all the Hobbits the ruffians had been keeping prisoner were freed, and the ownership of Bag End was restored to Frodo.
Frodo agreed to act as deputy Mayor for the time being and helped organise the cleansing of Hobbiton. Every brick laid by the ruffians was torn down and use to rebuild and repair homes that had been damaged. Sam, with the help of a box of Lothlorien soil Galadriel had given him, led the way in restoring the lush greenery the Shire once boasted. He replaced the party tree with the silver nut in the centre of the box, and was rewarded the next Spring when a silver-barked Mallorn tree, the only one known outside Lothlorien, sprung up out of the earth.
Stores full of food, pipeweed and beer were found all over the place and shared amongst the communities. Merry and Pippin took on the task of driving the last of the stray ruffians to the borders and when Dawn was not out in the forests helping them, she was in Hobbiton carefully monitoring the progress of the growing relationship between Sam and Rosie Cotton.
“Aren’t they *cute* together,” she giggled to Frodo as they sat in the garden together, watching a newlywed Rosie and Sam wandering hand in hand through the field below.
Frodo smiled at her. It had been a couple of months since Dawn had come and helped the Hobbits rid the Shire of the evil presences, and the land was healing nicely thanks in large part to the untiring efforts of the community. Dawn and Frodo had been living in Bag End together, and each found that their initial affinity for each other had only strengthened with the time they spent together. As soon as they were married, Sam and Rosie had come to join them, living in Bag End. They kept Frodo company on the occasions where Dawn was away, keeping her promises to Merry and Pippin by visiting each of their homes.
“You miss him, don’t you?” Frodo asked, knowing Dawn instinctively understand him.
“Yeah, I do,” she admitted softly. She had been dying to see Legolas again since about five minutes after they’d parted ways, but she didn’t want to talk about it. So she changed the subject.
“It’s not going to be long now, is it? Before we go, I mean.”
Frodo nodded. Somehow, without him even telling her, Dawn had known Frodo was going to travel to the Grey Havens, and that would be when she would meet up with her husband again.
The months passed, quickly and happily. Occasionally Dawn received a letter from Legolas, telling her how much he missed her and loved her, and describing his travels with Gimli in such a vivid way that Dawn almost felt as if she’d been there.
As soon as the roads were opened and the King’s messengers had started carrying news back and forth, Dawn had sent a letter to Aragorn letting him know what had come to pass in the Shire. Aragorn had responded with commendations to all involved in the scouring of the Shire, and sent his, Arwen’s, and all their friends from neighbouring lands’ love.
Sam had been elected Mayor of Hobbiton, and Rosie had fallen pregnant and given birth to a beautiful golden-haired baby girl whom they named Elanor. For the first six months of her life, little Elanor enjoyed not only the tireless love of her parents, but she was completely doted on by her Aunt Dawn and Uncle Frodo.
It seemed as though the entire Shire had settled back into its blissful sleep, but Frodo had grown restless. He received a letter from Elrond of Rivendell and passed it on to Dawn. A day later, they asked Sam to accompany them on a short trip, only a fortnight or so, to escort Dawn out of the Shire.
Rosie consented and so Sam set out with the two friends, the vague feeling in his heart that neither of them would see the Shire again.
* * * * *
It was only a matter of days before the trio was met with a company of Rivendell and Lothlorien Elves travelling on the same path of them. When they recognised Bilbo and Gandalf amongst the Elves, Sam was left with no doubts of what was coming.
The group rode together all the way to the Grey Havens. When they reached the docks, a lone figure stood silhouetted against the soft grey mist.
“Wow, they really are grey,” Dawn commented as she dismounted Lightfoot. She grinned and broke into a run onto the docks, and almost crashed straight into the figure who emerged from the mist.
Luckily, Legolas was well prepared. He swept his wife up in his arms and braced himself against her weight as she threw herself into him, kissing him madly. They were so engrossed in each other that they missed the hoofbeats of two ponies trotting briskly up to the assembly.
“Oh, not again,” Merry moaned loudly. “Would you two please give it a rest?”
Everyone chuckled and Dawn and Legolas forced themselves to separate. Dawn rolled her eyes at Merry. “Like we all don’t know you’ve been up to the same thing with Estella Bolger,” she retorted, grinning at the way the Hobbit’s cheeks flushed red at the mention of the pretty Hobbit lass he had been courting.
Pippin had been crying a little, but he laughed through his tears. “You are always failing to give us the slip, Frodo, but his time it was Gandalf himself who gave you away.”
“The ride home would be better with three than one alone,” Gandalf nodded in Sam’s direction. “Well, here at last, dear friends, on the shores of the Sea comes the end of our Fellowship in Middle Earth.”
Gandalf boarded the waiting ship with the Elves, leaving Frodo on the docks to say his last goodbye. Legolas and he smiled and wished each other joy and peace before Frodo turned to Dawn, still seemingly glued to her husband’s side.
Before he could speak a word, Dawn wrapped him in a tight hug. “I know,” she whispered in answer to everything he was just about to say in regards to the understanding between them. She kissed the top of his curly brown head and stepped back.
Frodo then kissed Merry and Pippin, and lastly Sam before he turned and left his world behind. The others watched in silence as the ship sailed away until it was a tiny blur that disappeared over the horizon in the dusk.
As night came on, they all turned their thoughts towards heading home. Dawn was becoming anxious to finally see Mirkwood, now the time was so close, and Legolas had had word from his father not long ago, who wrote to hurry their homecoming.
As they were readying their horses and ponies to leave, a sudden thought occurred to Merry. “Hey, Dawn, you’ve been in the Shire for a year and you never answered our question; Buckland or Tookland?”
Pippin pricked his ears up, obviously interested in the answer.
Dawn grinned. “I love them both,” she replied honestly.
“But there has to be some part of the Shire that was your favourite,” Pippin reasoned, unsatisfied with her first answer.
“And for that, none can blame you,” Sam piped up, speaking for the first time since wishing Frodo farewell. When their chuckles subsided, the Hobbits finally said their goodbyes to Dawn and Legolas and turned their ponies homewards.
In the privacy of the misty dock, Dawn and Legolas shared a long, sweet kiss. At length they broke apart and looked at the world around them, bathed in ghostly moonlight. “I guess it’s time to go home,” Dawn murmured, spurring them into action.
They travelled easily over the distance, allowing Arod and Lightfoot to set a relaxed pace as they enjoyed the simple beauty of each others’ company. It was several weeks before they entered the forests of Mirkwood.
Dawn tried not to stare too obviously as the palace came into view. It settled in amongst the trees as easily as the buildings in Rivendell, the size beauty of her new home was beyond her comprehension. Only one word came to her to describe the place: majestic.
Legolas watched the reactions flitting across Dawn’s face at the first sight of her new home, and was pleased to know that she would love Mirkwood, and she could be happy here with him. He led her through the large double-doors of solid oak that served as the entryway and into his father’s Throne Room.
Thranduil knew of their approach, and stood at the ready to greet his son and his daughter-in-law and give them the welcome they deserved. Dawn bit back a giggle as the entire room of people bowed to her. Thranduil kissed her cheek.
Legolas caught her hands in his and blue and green fused together as their eyes locked. “Welcome home, Princess.”
Dawn smiled and kissed him gently. The word rolled around deliciously in her mind. Home.