West of the Moon
A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive
In Minas Tirith after the destruction of the Ring: Sam POV.
They sang different songs here where the paved streets and tall buildings spread under unfamiliar feet and rose about us when we ventured out into the city; these were not the simple tunes of home and they were not the strained strange songs that we'd listened to an age ago in Rivendell where the leaves were falling or in a warm quiet of unbearable time in Lorien.
He didn't look lost most of the time. He looked distant and composed but I knew different and I never said anything: not to Mister Gandalf even though I thought he might understand; not to Mister Strider because he was waiting for something and he watched the world with new, hopeful eyes and, after all, he wasn't the same anymore in this cold white city where he was a king and not for the likes of me to bother with my worryings. And I didn't talk to Mister Merry who'd grown so grand and glorious while we'd been away and thinking them all dead. All of them dwelling in their own awakenings and me dwelling in mine for a time: that's the way it was.
The minstrel shrugged back his long parti-coloured sleeves and struck a pose and I looked away then. I didn't say a thing when it seemed as though all the happy endings might come to pass and we feasted and rejoiced and my own Mister Frodo walked down tapestried halls and sat with a gold cup at his elbow and couldn't meet my eyes when I tried to talk to him. There was a hard edge to the music and some kind of shameless triumph in it that set my teeth aching in my head.
There was a night when I couldn't sleep; the echoes of rich food and the solemn somewhere songs and the great folks staring were between me and comfort and the rooms they'd given us were too big with their sweeping ceilings and their wide, high beds with the heavy velvets draping them seemed too much and not enough. So I sat on a stool by the fireplace and wondered when we'd be going home to how we'd been before.
* * *
"Sam?" Mister Frodo was standing in the doorway and his nightshirt was damp and sticking to him and I guessed he must have been dreaming in that dark place again and I couldn't speak because I knew that I should have been there holding him but he'd shut me out. Maybe I was the one lost here in the new world. But his hands were shaking and moving to his chest and his eyes were clouded with pain.
"I'm sorry, Sam" But he didn't look at me and after he'd gone the fire burned low in the grate while I thought about those last days on the mountain. And I thought I heard the falling sound of carved horns pressed against distorted lips in the slow morning before I fell into rest.
When I woke the light was harsh and much too bright. And the room was all wrapped up in silence until I heard his voice sobbing and pleading on the other side of the iron-strapped door, until I walked away again and went to find some kind of forgetting in the crowds of the market place and the bright faces that were nothing like sunlight.
* * *
Bright days and the hurry of living and the songs swelling just behind us and him walking with a slight, slow smile curling his lips and dark about him.
In the evening when the others were gone and he was gone with a tired droop of dark lashes and his clothes still hanging about him like the tatters of his life: then I'd sit beside the warm crackle and sweet scent of burning and wait and set the kettle on the trivet there in the fireplace and think of teatime at Bag End when everything made sense and the songs were step up and fall down and a laugh at the end of them.
Until he'd stand at the door that was too tall for us and I'd wait for him to look anywhere but where I was and I'd wait for the hectic flush of nightmare to fade and leave his face pale and shadowed and hear again; "Sam? . . . I'm sorry, Sam."
* * *
It was Mister Pippin who told me how it wouldn't do. He put his hand on my shoulder and I couldn't help but look up into those merry green eyes and sigh at our changes.
"Don't give up, Sam. You were there. You know how it was."
And he could have said more but he'd grown more than I'd thought and so he just looked at me and smiled a bit with a memory of the heedless child he'd been touching the corner of his mouth and the tall cold walls and the solemn procession of dignitaries passing us by with curious looks and whispering.
Then I folded rich stiff brocades and rose-petal silks under my hands and cried for the things I'd found and for the thing I'd lost.
* * *
I'd set the kettle in the hearth where it simmered on the trivet on the cut stone. I was humming under my breath until I found myself singing aloud and I never knew it was that song from the dark tower when the smell of desperation and death was everywhere until I heard his voice again answering me like it had before.
He was standing closer this time and looking at me and looking into my eyes and I thought my heart was breaking again: "'I will not say the Day is done, nor bid the stars farewell.' But the stars went out a long time ago, Sam; or perhaps I just can't see them anymore."
Then he poured hot water into the beaten copper basin that sat beside the fireplace, pulled it forward to where my feet rested on the woven rugs over cold old stones and cooled it carefully from the tall flagon on the table. Then he knelt at my feet and his nightshirt was stuck to his body where it was still too frail and thin and his head was bent when his hand reached forward to touch me.
* * *
It felt wrong like the stone city felt wrong and the smiling faces looked dangerous and the music of the place jarred and set me humming other songs. And then his hand on my ankle and lifting and the warm water against old scars where a ragged eternity of bare rock had fought our steps.
What I wanted to say . . .
And his fingers stroking my feet and the gap there that reminded me of everything . . .
Warm hands and me looking down on his dark bent head and the words tangling in my throat again until I leaned forward and lifted him into my lap and held him there until he looked at me again.
"Forgive me, my Sam."
"There ain't nothin' to forgive, Mister Frodo."
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