A Letter for Frodo by Lbilover

Written for the 2013 Celebrating Elwood celebration at Tol Eressëa. Inspired by the scene in the first Hobbit movie where Frodo goes to fetch the mail.


"All right, Elijah, what I'd like you to do is go down to the mailbox, open it and take out the letters inside," instructs Peter. "Remember: this is Frodo before the ring. He's light-hearted and happy, excited about the Party."


Waiting in the doorway of Bag End, with the rustic beauty of a reconstructed Hobbiton spread before him like a magic carpet waiting to whisk him away, Elijah nods and hefts the slice of toast with strawberry jam that he's holding in his right hand. To his relief it is proving remarkably easy to slide into Frodo's skin again. The painstakingly acquired accent has quickly returned, the wig and clothes feel comfortable and familiar. Most of the crew, and especially the messy-haired, bespectacled man directing the action, are old and dear friends. He might have boarded a plane that traveled not only across the wide blue Pacific but an ocean of time, too.


But as he waits for Peter to call, "Action!", Elijah is well aware of the differences this time around, differences aside from the eleven years that have passed and the hobbit feet that take minutes rather than hours to put on. He is well aware of what is missing, and in particular whom.


Now is not the time, Elwood, he chastises himself. You're supposed to be light-hearted, happy and excited, remember? It's Frodo's birthday, so act like it.


"Here we go, aaand... action!"


Elijah lightly descends the steps to the gate, munching on the toast as he goes. One-handed he unlatches the gate, opens it, and pulls down the door to the weathered wooden mailbox that might have stood there time out of mind rather than a matter of months. He retrieves the bundle of 'party invitations' inside, closes the mailbox door, and studies them with feigned curiosity as he slowly mounts the steps and returns inside the smial, closing the round green door behind him.


"Cut!" Elijah hears Peter call. When he returns outside, Peter says, "That was nice, Elijah, but let's try it again, and this time put a little more bounce in your step."


"Okay." More bounce in his step, huh? Well, after all, Frodo is a young hobbit and he loves to party. A sudden memory comes to him from shooting the Party dance scene years ago. In his exuberance he'd bounced all right, straight across the floor to Sean and flung himself into his arms, giggling like a mad thing. Laughing, Sean had caught him and hugged him, and his hand had been firmly planted on Elijah's ass. Sarah and the extras had been laughing, too, but he's sometimes wondered if they'd also been a little scandalized, if they'd seen that hand and suspected what was between him and Sean. What had been between him and Sean.


Don't go there. You've been doing great. Just don't fucking go there.


Elijah positions himself at the top of the stairs again and waits patiently as the set is readied. Flora from make-up steps in and makes some minute adjustments to his wig. Nicole from the props department hands him another piece of toast and then takes the bundle of letters from him and puts them back inside the mailbox.


"Aaand... action!"


Peter has him do a half-dozen takes, and Elijah suspects that the director is experiencing the same reluctance to let this small trip down memory lane come to an end as he had when they shot the final scene of Return of the King pick-ups. Well, Elijah can understand that. Letting go of the ones you love is fucking hard, even when you know it's the only and right thing to do.


Peter finally calls, "Right, we've got it. Check the gate," and Nicole starts toward him. Before she can reach him, Peter says, "Nicole, can you come here for a minute?" and she hurries away, leaving Elijah holding the bundle of letters. While he waits for Peter to be done with her, he idly shuffles through them, admiring their verisimilitude, the hallmark of everything Peter Jackson touches. Each one is seemingly authentic; the parchment envelopes are of varying sizes and shapes, and the addresses written in completely different hands. He wonders if Daniel Reeve is responsible for them all or if he'd gotten others involved. Elijah smiles a little, recalling the laborious and occasionally crooked calligraphy he'd acquired under Daniel's expert tutelage, and then the smile freezes on his face.


He stares in shocked disbelief at the envelope now at the top of the pile. It's addressed to Frodo Baggins, Esq., Bag End, Hobbiton, The Shire. But it's not the unexpected use of Frodo's name instead of Bilbo's that holds him transfixed. It's the handwriting. He knows that handwriting as well as his own. He would recognize it anywhere: it belongs to Sean. For an instant, Elijah wonders if he's hallucinating, if the memory and emotion so firmly suppressed is breaking through the mental walls he's constructed, like water seeping through cracks in a dike, causing him to see what he wants to see, not what truly is.


But his senses aren't deceiving him. The writing is definitely Sean's. Elijah takes the envelope between thumb and forefinger; it's thick enough to tell him that there is paper inside. But the other envelopes have dummy letters inside, so it's impossible to say if this one is real or another dummy. Perhaps, he thinks, noting almost absent-mindedly that his fingers are trembling slightly, perhaps it's a relic of the LOTR days, something Sean had been asked to do that ended up in a drawer or cupboard at Weta with so many other unused artifacts from the films.


Yes, that seems likely, Elijah decides, and he's getting himself worked up over nothing. Nevertheless, before Nicole returns, Elijah palms the letter and tucks it inside his shirt. He has to discover the truth about it and the only way he can do that is to open the envelope. If it's a dummy, well, the props department will lose a, to them, insignificant prop. If it's not, if it's an actual, honest to god letter from Sean... But Elijah can't allow himself to think too much about it yet, about what it might mean and what it might contain, because he still has work ahead of him.


After a break for lunch, it's time to shoot his last Bag End exterior scene, wherein Frodo asks Bilbo if Gandalf will show up at the Party and then runs off to the East Farthing Woods with a book to surprise the old wizard. Martin Freeman stands in for Ian Holm, who, like Bilbo after he gives up the ring, has discovered that old age has caught up with him at last, and can no longer manage the long, arduous trek to New Zealand.


Elijah does his best to put the letter out of his mind, but it's still there under his shirt, the itch of the scratchy paper against his bare skin acting as a constant reminder. He's a consummate professional, however, and it's not as if he hasn't had long practice at burying his feelings for Sean out of sight and getting on with the task at hand, whether it's shooting a movie scene or living his life.


"That's a wrap," Peter announces a few hours later, and Elijah's work on The Hobbit is done. Congratulations, high fives and hugs are exchanged, and then Martin heads to the makeup trailer to change out of his Bilbo costume.


"Are you coming?" he asks Elijah before he sets off.


"In a few minutes, Martin. Go ahead without me." All at once, Elijah has a strong sense of urgency. He needs to find someplace quiet where he can open the letter unobserved.


The best place, he decides, is inside Bag End. Not that there is much on the other side, simply wood framing and empty space used to store odds and ends. In the bustle he is able to slip inside unnoticed, leaving the door partially ajar to let in sunlight, and sits cross-legged on the bare plank floor amidst the crates and boxes of supplies and the spare equipment. Taking a deep breath, Elijah removes the letter from his shirt. He holds it tensely between both his hands while his heart pounds sickeningly in his chest. So much rides on what's inside that he's flat out terrified, but sooner rather than later Peter or Andrew or someone else will come looking for him. He has to read it, and read it now.


The envelope is sealed on the back with a small oval of red wax. Elijah carefully pries it loose, opens the flap, and removes the single sheet of quarter-fold parchment paper inside. Here goes nothing, he thinks as he unfolds it, and sees at once that it is not blank, but covered in Sean's distinctive hand.


"Oh shit," Elijah whispers, and then swallows an aching lump in his throat, because the first two words are Dear Elijah. Unaccustomed tears nearly blind him so that he has to wipe his watery eyes on his shirt sleeve before he can see well enough to go on.


Dear Elijah,


This letter will no doubt come as a shock to you. Whether it is a good shock only you can say, but I fervently hope and pray that it is, that you don't mind me reaching out to you across the years of silence.


You have never been far from my thoughts during that time, and never more so than now, when you've returned to the place that meant so much to us, both as individuals and, if I dare say it, as a couple. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed that Peter invited Mr. F. to return to Middle-earth but not his Samwise. But I was and am happy for you, Elijah. Genuinely happy. Opportunities to reconnect with the past so profoundly rarely come to any of us, and no one deserves this gift more than you.


When I heard that you'd been asked to play Frodo again, it set off not a chain reaction of memory but a massive rock slide. Every defense I put in place after we parted was obliterated in an instant. In the intervening months, I've spent hours lost in memories of our time in New Zealand. I realize anew what it meant, what you meant, to me. What you still mean to me.


I well remember the nineteenth birthday celebration we had for you on the Hobbiton set, and it staggers me to think that you are now thirty, that eleven years have passed since that day.


Elijah, I can't allow eleven more years to pass in silence.


Is there any hope for me? For us? Things have changed in my life since we made the painful decision to go our separate ways. I won't go into the details in this letter, but I promise you that they have changed. I did more than simply remember you during these months. I took concrete steps to free myself to pick up the threads of the past - if you still want to, if it's not too late.


I see you in my mind's eye as you were back then - eager, young, filled with joy and optimism and with endless generosity and kindness. You humbled me, Elijah. You awed me. You made me a better actor, a better father, a better human being. I've followed the success you've made of your life and your career since Rings, seen how you've grown as an actor and a man. I am so proud of that man, and more than anything I want to get to know him. Will you introduce him to me? Will you meet me tonight at midnight by the Party Tree? I'll be waiting and hoping that it's not too late for us.


Whatever your feelings now, whether you choose to reconnect with this particular part of your past or not, know this: I have loved you since the day we met. I will always love you, as Sam loved Frodo, unconditionally and with all my heart, forever.


Love,


Sean


The unaccustomed tears are sliding hotly down Elijah's cheeks as he finishes reading. One drips onto the bottom of the page, and Elijah quickly wipes the rest away lest they mar Sean's beautiful words that have transported him with greater joy than he'd ever believed he could feel, transforming his world - and his future. He can only guess what it cost Sean to write them, to board a plane and fly to New Zealand, gambling everything on the tenuous hope that Elijah still cared. Had Sam Gamgee ever done anything braver? It seems doubtful.


Will you meet me tonight at midnight by the Party Tree? "Oh Sean," Elijah says aloud, as if Sean is there with him, "only you could possibly come up with such a crazy, over-the-top-romantic idea. But you can bet your sweet ass I'll be there, with bells on."


He oh-so-carefully folds the letter, puts it back in the envelope and tucks it away inside his shirt again. Then he scrambles to his feet and with a whoop of joy goes flying out the front door of Bag End and down the steps. Frodo has to get ready for his date with Sam.


~*~


During the quiet walk through a moonlit Hobbiton, along narrow lanes lined by cozy hobbit-holes and masses of flowers, Elijah rehearses what he will say to Sean, coming up with at least a dozen lame variations on, 'It's not too late, I still love you, too, and I'm the happiest fucking hobbit on the entire fucking planet.' But happiest fucking hobbit or no, he's also battling nerves. Sean said he wants to meet the man Elijah is now. Will he be disappointed?


He comes around a bend and sees the Party Tree. Its branches are now adorned with colored lanterns, exactly as the faux tree on the set at Stone Street studios had been all those years ago. Music reaches his ears, and with a thrill Elijah realizes that it's the same music that had played the day the Party scene was filmed. As he draws nearer, he sees beneath the tree's overspreading branches a table set for two, decorated with candles and a vase of wildflowers. And then he has eyes only for the man standing beside the table, one hand resting lightly on it, the other clenched at his side.


Elijah halts a few yards away. He tries to speak, to say something worthy of this moment and of Sean, who has risked so much to make it happen, but he can't. His heart is too full for words.


"Hello, Mr. F.," Sean says quietly. He smiles, a tense, tentative smile, and adds, "I guess you got my letter then." His voice rises at the end, making it as much question as statement.


"I did, and I... Oh Sean, I...." Next moment Elijah is moving. What need for words, he thinks, when he's reconnecting with the other half of his soul?


He bounces jubilantly across the space between them and flings himself into Sean's waiting arms. The years fall away as Sean catches him and, laughing, whirls him round and into a joyous dance.


~end~