Gandalf stood with his hand on Frodo’s shoulder as the grey ship bore them westward, toward the mouth of the Firth of Lhûn where it would bear them out across the Sundering Sea until it reached the Straight Path. “You may lower the phial now, Frodo.”
“No,” Frodo responded, his face set with the fullness of Baggins stubbornness. “I will not lower it, not until there is no chance they might see it longer. They fear for me. I would not have that fear consume them with doubts. They want for me to heal, to be renewed. Maybe that will happen, and maybe it won’t.”
He took a deep breath, raised his gaze to meet Gandalf’s, and forced himself to speak again. “This light is from the Star of Hope, correct?” At the Wizard’s nod, he looked back eastward and continued, “Let them hope, then. Let them have faith I will be healed. Let Sam trust that when he follows, I will be waiting for him.” And then he whispered, “I love them so, Gandalf! I love them so! I didn’t want to leave them! But—but I have no hope left for myself right now. If I’d stayed—if I’d stayed, I could not have remained much longer. I know it. They saw it. I loved them so—loved the Shire, loved all of Middle Earth. Loved Aragorn, his Queen…. I have had to give it all up so they can have it, keep it safe. I tried! I tried so hard!”
The tears ran down his face, and Frodo’s arm trembled as he held the phial aloft for those left on the quays of Mithlond to see.
There was enough power left within Narya for Gandalf to invoke it to strengthen the light emitted by the phial Frodo bore to kindle hope in the hearts of the three Hobbits who watched after them. Frodo had given almost all there was within him out of the love he’d held for his people and homeland and that had come to encompass of all Middle Earth. Now that Frodo had been scoured of almost all he’d ever been or known, the Maia within the Wizard’s form knew that the Hobbit he embraced was sustained only by the hope that the others’ hopes for him strengthened them to go on in his absence.
Please, Atto, he prayed within his heart, help him heal indeed. Let this small one also be refilled by hope, sustained by love, know faith again as he did when young. Let him learn to trust not just others, but himself as well once more.
And he felt the touch of Ilúvatar’s hand upon him in benediction. His own faith enhanced, he held the Hobbit’s shoulder more gently, allowing that Love to strengthen the Hobbit’s arm to hold the phial steadily, and for the light it gave to shine out the more clearly Frodo’s love for those he’d left behind.