West of the Moon
A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive
On the Eve of Sunreturn
Sam and his family at Yule
"And did he, Dad?"
"Yes, my boy, he did," Sam replied, smiling. "So when you're walking in the green fields of the Shire, remember Mr. Frodo, and everything he did for us."
The log crackled on the hearth, drops of sap snapping and sizzling, releasing their aroma of forests, and of nights spent under the stars. A knot popped like a cracker, and Frodo-lad jumped. His bright laughter followed, rillowing like snow-water down from the White Mountains. Then Elanor yawned, and her brother did likewise.
"Now look at you two, yawning like that," Rose chided as she got to her feet. "Come now, put on your cloaks. It's nearly Sunreturn." She took Elanor's hand and pulled her down off her father's lap. "Sam," Rose said. Her husband looked up. "It's time. Help me with the boughs."
Sam stood up, and nodded to Frodo. "Go on, help your mother now." As the boy ran after Rose, Sam turned to the hearth, and the little figure sitting there.
"Lily," Sam called softly. The child sat entranced, staring into the fire, its light sparkling in her hair like starlight on the dark night sea. He moved towards the hearth, and sat down next to her. "Lily."
She turned and looked at him, as if she'd only now noticed his presence. The soft pools of her eyes held a glimmer of sadness, at once new and so familiar that Sam's heart ached to see it.
"He was wounded, wasn't he?" she whispered.
"Yes, my dear, he was," he answered. "Wounded to the heart, but he was strong, as well. The strongest hobbit I ever knew."
After a long moment, she asked, "And he's gone, isn't he? Gone forever?"
There was no way to answer this, but with the truth. He nodded. "He's gone across the sea, to the Undying Lands. None have ever returned from there."
She turned back to the fire. Watching, Sam felt her loneliness, and the echo of the long terrible days in the wild came back to him, darkening the comfort of the parlor. He waited. After a minute, her voice murmured like a shadow.
"Has he been healed, Uncle? Is he well again?"
Sam drew in breath, and scolded himself. Don't you give in, he thought. If you weep, you'll only frighten the child. With a gentle hand, he stroked her hair.
"Yes, Lily, I believe he is well again. He took ship with the Elves, and old Mr. Gandalf. And if there's any healing in the world that could make him whole, he'd find it there, over the sea. Where the Valar still dwell, and there is no shadow, nor any enemy." He leaned over and kissed her forehead. She leaned against him for a moment, and they sat there, quiet in each other's company.
Finally Sam clapped a hand against his thigh and stood up. "Come now, your Aunt Rose is waiting. It's almost midnight."
She smiled a little smile at him. "Yes, Uncle. I'm coming."
Pulling on his cloak, Sam opened his mouth to speak, but said nothing. With a last glance at the child, he walked out.
The fire danced and leapt, reflecting in Lily's great blue eyes. Shapes writhed in the light - arrows and swords and spears of flame, forest branches leaved in light, glimmer of Elven eyes and waves of golden hair, a great beast of fire, a golden Ring. Her eyes danced with the play of light, but her heart remained still and listening, as it would all her life.
Listening for the sound of his voice.
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