West of the Moon
A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive
The Rose in the Courtyard
I wondered if movie!verse Gondorian Rangers would have felt any guilt from their rough treatment of the hobbits in Ithilien after everything was over and they found out what Frodo and Sam had done to save Middle-earth.
Frodo fingered the velvet petal of a pink rose, the only one that had bloomed, the one survivor of the siege of Gondor. If any were to be found, it would be in this courtyard of healing.
"You're special, of course, and must be tended as such."
He heard the crunch of boots behind him, one of the Big Folk of course, and he turned, surprised to find a tall young man that he did not recognize. He had dark hair and gray, wounded eyes, one of the many hurt soldiers of Gondor. His arm was bandaged and he seemed to find walking painful.
"Good evening, Ringbearer." He paused, as if he had more to say but could not gather the courage to do so.
"Just...just Frodo please," Frodo said. "What do you think about this?" He sniffed the rose. "It still smells sweet."
"I deem it a marvel."
Frodo turned his attention fully to the man. "Is there something I can help you with?" The man swayed a little as if weary, and Frodo rushed to him with sudden concern, supporting his arm the best he could. "Come, you are not strong enough yet to be walking around. Does the Warden know you're up and about?"
"He does," the man said weakly, breathing hard, and clearly glad for Frodo's help. Frodo helped him to sit on a nearby bench. "But I think we both misjudged my strength." He laughed grimly. "I will never use this arm again."
Frodo nodded, fingering his own bandage on his hand. He sat beside the man on the bench, although his legs dangled. "Did you fight in Gondor?"
"Mostly in Osgiliath, and then at the Black Gate at the end. I followed the King in his desperate plan to divert the Enemy from you."
Frodo smiled fondly, thinking of Aragorn's wise and desperate move. "It was all desperate in the end."
"I came here because I wanted to beg your pardon," the man said.
Frodo looked at him, puzzled. "Whatever do you have to beg my pardon about? I should be thanking you for fighting at the Black Gate and so allowing Sam and I to..." He could not finish because of course he had not completed his quest, it had been completed for him.
"Nay." The man touched Frodo's arm with his good hand. "Before I fought in Osgiliath I protected Ithilien under Captain Faramir's command. My name is Damrod, and I'm afraid that when we came upon you and your servant in the wild, we were less than gentle."
"You were one of the Rangers..." Frodo said in wonder. He had borne bruises on his back and chest and arms for days after being flung about.
"Indeed." Damrod smiled grimly. "I came upon you first and you fought me. I knew only that I had to subdue you. Faramir had commanded we not slay you yet, and I'm afraid I thought of you as some form of orc spy, and I did not want to be gentle."
"Gracious, are you begging my pardon for that?" Frodo asked. "The woods were full of Enemies and you had no way of knowing that I was not an orc spy."
"You are the Ringbearer, the savior of Middle-earth. But for you, we would be slain or made the Enemy's slaves. And when I heard, I lay in my bed, still too wounded to walk at the time, and I recalled again and again flinging you to the ground and itching to use my sword on you but only restraining myself because Captain Faramir had been clear in his commands. But I look upon you now and see only light and kindness, and I see that you are like that rare and precious bloom, one that should be cared for and honored for all time. And I shall bear the wound with me until the rest of my days that I did not see that when first I came upon you in the woods of Ithilien."
Frodo was silent for awhile, and he marveled at this grave young man, so forthright in his thoughts. Then he turned to Damrod with a smile and said, "This rose blooms under a new sun because it has hope. Let us turn our thoughts from what was and what...what could have been, and turn our faces to the sun just as the rose does. I forgive you in full, Damrod, because I know that we can only do what our strength and heart allows at any given moment."
And the sun, which had been hidden behind haze, came out in full at that moment, and the colors around them seemed brighter, especially the pink of the rose, and the air cleaner and more fragrant. Frodo and Damrod smiled at one another and their hearts swelled with joy at the feeling that came from warm sun upon their cheeks.
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