Never has there been such a Lithe festival as this, Frodo thinks. The very Sun in a cloudless sky of fathomless blue seems to smile a benison on the prosperous land and the celebrating hobbits.
Sam, a bashful Elanor at his hip, strolls through the crowds, beaming proudly as all and sundry admire his Elven-fair daughter with her sun-gilded curls and rosebud mouth. Merry is dancing the Springle-ring with Estella Bolger; their eyes cling betrayingly as they lightly dip and sway and leap over the grass to the music of pipes and flutes and drums. A short distance away Pippin, intent and serious, instructs a group of eager, enthralled tweens who are sparring with wasters.
Frodo smiles a little wistfully as he watches his dear companions. They are so happy, so filled with content. Their paths are set, the Road unfurling smoothly before them toward a joyful future. Frodo has ceased to be the Sun around which their lives revolve. They are, as is only right and proper, become the centers of their own small universes.
It is better this way, Frodo tells himself, ignoring the sudden sharp pain in his heart. No shadow of parting should cast a pall over their happy lives.
“I am leaving Middle-earth forever,” he murmurs aloud. But Sam is no longer the Chief Investigator of a conspiracy. Merry and Pippin no longer watch Frodo with anxiety, or worry that he will give them the slip.
This time there is no one to overhear him.