West of the Moon
A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive
Thunder Without Rain
Frodo and Sam wake together on the edge of a thunderstorm.
vast, suspended blanket, the storm cloud hung heavy and
close, in places almost hugging the landscape as it dipped
and curved away into far off places known only too well by
the eyes of the weary adventurer who cast his gaze there
now. Dawn streaked orange with grey on the horizon. The sun
was late this morning, the spreading of it's warm tendrils
stifled by the smudge of thick cloud beneath which the Shire
still slept, silent and expectant.
Sam had watched the storm roll in during the night, blotting out the stars and bringing to mind the darkness that had spewed from Mordor, concealing even the sun in the sky, choking the slightest stirring of hope.
Drawing his eyes away from the window, the exhausted hobbit looked down at the quiet, mysterious creature sleeping -finally sleeping beside him. Frodo had woken in fits of foul dreams and memories again last night, his anguished whimpering and cries heartbreaking for Sam, but only a small token of the torment he knew was raging in his master's mind.
Frodo's delirious moans of despair were more and more frequent in this bed nowadays, much more common than the kind of cries Sam grew accustomed to hearing in these sheets in his youth. The kind that spoke a desperation of a different kind and puffed hot against his ear, leaving him wanting, needing...
That kind was all but extinct now.
A heavy sigh escaped Sam's lips as he passed a hand over his face. Looking at his beloved master's peaceful features now, it was hard for him to believe the memory of renting screams keeping him awake -that he had held him as tight as he could bear, if only to stop the tormented writhing of his body.
Outside, the storm clouds swelled, knitting closer together, seeming to want to hold off the dawn. Sam agreed with them on that: there wasn't much he wouldn't give for a few more hours sleep. But he could not sleep -would not sleep, for he knew what came after a night of his master's foul dreams, and he had to be there when Frodo awoke.
Rain would not be long now, or so he hoped.
Gently, Sam shifted to lie on his side, propped up on his elbow and head resting against his palm, facing the sleeping figure beside him. A bittersweet smile teased at his lips as he cast his eyes lovingly over his master's pale bare chest. It was long since either of them had worn nightshirts to bed, a habit preserved from when they first began to lay together -it had been tiresome to don the shirts, only to have them flung into a crumpled heap on the floor some moments later. The chance of that nowadays was steadily becoming more and more scarce, but some habits hurt to break.
He's still as beautiful as ever he was, Sam mused, letting his eyes rove over those sharp, fair features, as peaceful as if he would never wake. Though now he looked his age, if not even a little older, and his body was marred with scars that would never fade, Frodo seemed to Sam the same glorious vision he had fallen in love with all those years ago. Even if he had changed beyond repair.
Not a hobbit, not anymore -Sam thought- not quite, at least. Certainly not an elf, for all that he shared their fairness and at times held the same shining light that came from a place somewhere deeper inside of him than even Sam knew. No, he was something else entirely, something that had never been seen on this earth before, and would never be seen again.
Sam's gaze fell upon Frodo's shoulder and lingered there -lingered on that scar. That scar with the faint crescent imprints surrounding it where blunt fingertips had clutched in pain. His breath catching, Sam fumbled for his master's hand, bringing it to his lips where his kiss mingled with salty tears trickling hot between his knuckles.
Another low rumble of thunder rolled slowly over the Hill as Frodo opened his eyes. Sam cooed gently at his master's disorientated murmuring, brushing dark locks back off his forehead with a warm and soothing palm.
Just like every morning when he woke from his nightmares, Frodo's breathing was shallow and harsh. He whimpered softly, clutching blindly at Sam like a babe seeking the warmth and comfort of a beloved parent. The sturdy gardener drew him into his strong embrace, sheltering him, knowing the torment now going on in his mind and weeping at the cruelty of it all.
If only he didn't remember. It was anguish enough that the memories and nightmarish visions came to Frodo in his sleep, where he would cry out in pain and delirium. But to have him recall his every dream upon waking, to have the memories come back to him again until he murmured coherent words of hurt and regret into his lover's chest was almost too much for Sam Gamgee to bear.
The very air shook. Sam could feel the tension coiling tighter, could almost see the rain clouds, heavy and lethargic, slowly gathering ferocity and charge. The thunder heralded the coming release; the sky could not hold the force of that power much longer.
In his arms, Frodo was gradually gathering his wits, steeling his nerves so that he could put on that face he now so often wore: the one that said 'look, the storm has passed'. But Sam knew it was not so. Just like he could feel the heavy weight of the storm barely propped in the sky outside, he could feel the pain down deep within his master like a cut in his own heart.
Frodo never cried a tear. Instead, he pushed his torment further and further inside, where it built up like gathering clouds. Perhaps he was trying to hide it from Sam, or himself, Sam did not know -all he knew was that it couldn't be hidden, and though Frodo's body rolled with the telling signs of his pain -with thunder- he would not let it go. He would not cry.
Sam clutched at the thin, shaking form in his arms, sobbing into curls of sable that smelled of sleep and sweat and Frodo. He cried because he wouldn't hold on to his own pain, he cried because the cruelty of it all tore him apart. He cried because his master could not.
Why can't you just let it go? Sam sobbed without words, if the memory of evil and hurt pains you so much -release it. I am here to catch you. Let me catch your fall. Cry. Let it out.
Thunder rolled again, closer now, and Sam could not tell if it came from outside the cosy smial, or from within this very bed. Frodo's hand soothed him, gentling his sobs and, as always, the one in need of comfort became the comforter, refusing to address his own pain at the release of his lover's. Sam knew it was wrong and unfair and not at all what Frodo needed, but he buried himself into the other hobbit's care no matter how unjust it was and howled his misery.
A light pattering at the window quieted him, but he continued to weep as he listened to the rain falling steadily outside. And not for the first time, Sam wondered how long they could go on like this. How long would his lover hold onto his pain? Would he ever let go, allow space for recovery?
Until he did, Sam would have to continue the anguish of bearing witness to his suffering. Until then, he was listening to thunder that came without rain.
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