West of the Moon
A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive
Ithilien, day of the Ringbearers' waking. After the festivities, rather. This picks up right when the others have left Frodo and Sam after the evening's reminiscing conversation.
"Are you tired?" Sam asks, his voice no more than a shimmer to match the restless stirring of leaves in the moonlight.
"Yes," Frodo murmurs, sounding half asleep, "and no. I would like to stay here a while longer. Sam, we've missed so much..."
"And done more," Sam says quietly, shifting in the silver-green grass so that they lay closer together, cast in pale garments and a paler shining. Weariness stirs fresh in their eyes, treading the short space between them. "There's not a thing said here tonight as ought to trouble you. We've been caught up, seemingly."
"I agree," Frodo sighs, rolling onto his back in a languid stretch, the delicate circlet falling loose in his hair. "I wish I could have seen them," he says, glancing over at Sam with a softness in his eyes, a faint stir of pride. "Can you imagine, Sam? My cousins, warriors."
"Fine ones they make," Sam agrees, catching hold of Frodo's left hand, which has wandered purposefully in his direction through the breeze-rippled grass. "With them ent-draughts and all, whatever those may be. For all Mr. Pippin's chatter, I'm no better off for knowin', if you understand me."
Frodo laughs, and the sound carries clearly, startling a few sleek night-birds in the trees overhead. He takes a full breath of the fragrance that drifts cool and fresh from the river, gilded with hints of waterlily and iris. "It's so beautiful here," he whispers, turning to Sam and tugging at his hand. "Except for the Shire as we left it, I think...I've never seen a place so beautiful." His eyes are wide and clear, fixed on Sam's in a moment of trapped stillness.
"I can't say as I have, neither." He responds to the touch, shifting over till his belly brushes against Frodo's side, his hand slipping comfortably across Frodo's chest, over the tireless heart. He leans over, catching whispers frozen between them. Certainly this is for no one to see.
Frodo reaches up with his injured hand, touching Sam's cheek, the skilful wrapping somehow rough against the worn translucency of his skin, against the strained smoothness of Sam's jaw. "I would much rather be here and taking my time," he says in a tone more hushed and close than ever he has used within earshot of the company, "than rushing home so soon and spoiling this fine day, Sam. For as much as I wish I'd seen, I'm weary of so much hurrying."
Sam smiles at him, clasping Frodo's and as tightly as care will permit. "That's more like it, if you ask me," Sam says, his loosening fingertips drifting light across the back of Frodo's hand, lingering over the bandage. "Mr. Bilbo would be right glad to know you're recoverin' so well."
"He'd be glad to know that you're alive, too, Sam," Frodo murmurs, tracing a path up Sam's temple and into his curls, winding four careful fingers there, learning this as if anew. "As would your Gaffer."
A shadow crosses Sam's face briefly, some flutter of wing or leaf against the moon's stark brightness. "We'll get back to them soon enough," he says quietly, leaning to brush his lips against Frodo's forehead, a gesture both tender and secret. "You said so yourself, Mr. Frodo."
"That I did, by implication," Frodo muses, a smile playing at his lips, "but not outright, and it seems to me that you've missed..."
Sam draws in his breath and kisses Frodo's hair, quick and indignant, almost startling. "How could I miss such a thing as that, what when it's as plain as the grass in front of me?"
"You're beautiful," Frodo whispers, candid and every breath as sudden.
"No, sir...but you..." Sam bites his lip, swallowing, as if the sight of his master lying there is indeed too much for any to behold, and in this, there is truth.
"Then I would say we are well and truly even," Frodo breathes, urging him with fingers so much stronger than they seem into a tremulous kiss.
In the deepening silence, the night-birds settle once more, crooning thinly through the swaying canopy of branches. Only the faintest sounds join in from below, quiet gasps and startled breaths as if from lovers newly learning, but for these, it is not so new. The lingering of Sam's mouth against his master's, thorough and imploring; the response of Frodo's so alike, open and measured. They have done this before in places not so unlike this very grove, closed and hallowed. They have held one another in places of rare solace, places that neither of them will see again, though places both familiar and strange await.
"They've all gone to bed, I reckon," Sam says in a low voice, and finds speech difficult this time. "There's naught to worry..."
"I'm not worried, Sam," Frodo responds with an edge of mirth in his tone, and unless he can keep from laughing, the birds will take flight again. "But if you think..."
"I think you ought to be comfortable," Sam says before kissing him a second time, deep and even.
Frodo whimpers, nodding, and now his fingers clutch at Sam's shoulders. "I think that the bed they've so kindly given us will...do nicely."
They walk quietly through the trees, passing through patches as grey as mist and white as dawn, their voices hushed in the firm settlement of night. When they emerge at the edge of the meadow, at the place where they awakened, they find it sheltered now, a canopy over what shall serve as a sickbed no longer. Sam approaches first, steps inside hesitantly, turning back to gaze at Frodo, the wind weaving night's hummed silence through his hair. Frodo comes to him with what must be reassurance; his circlet of silver hangs caught low in his dark curls, as if ready to drop at the slightest movement. Sam's fingers tangle with it as his arms encircle his master, freeing it tenderly. This is not a time for thinking.
They lay their garments across the chest with care; they leave the lamp perched upon it burning. No shame shines in these welcoming eyes, no fear as Frodo turns down freshly replaced linens and settles against the pillows, bare and waiting as Sam places both circlets carefully upon the discarded clothing. Sam stands alone for a moment, the lamplight catching brief golden fires in his hair. And his eyes must surely shine as he moves forward at last, some utterance or another lost to the effort of climbing onto the bed, to the patient sound of Frodo's laughter as he offers a hand. Their times such as this will be short and few.
For now, hope flows heavy in their veins with every quiet movement. They kiss fiercely, slowly, as if this union must last them till dawn, through the dreamless hours of exhausted slumber. They are yet weary in body, but in spirit--indeed, this is the reason that they have survived. These halflings are to each other as life and breath, and even more. Now they are lost in layered sheets, answering the night-birds' lullaby with one of their own devising.
I will turn from this and find my own rest amongst the trees, far from those whose road I have shared so willingly for so long in dusty robes now lost to my new fate. This song will follow me into Ithilien's wilderness, down to the sweeping progress of the Anduin where once I saw more than any mortal among men has right, let alone any being of eternity. It will join that refrain sung this eve by one of elf-kind bound to us in blood and fellowship until swiftly, surely, it finds its way to the sea.
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