West of the Moon
A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive
And Like the Horizon
In a garden bloom many things, but some flowers only come out at sunset.
Author: Briefly Del
I found myself staring again, drinking in the view from my window like I might go blind tomorrow. In the golden light of very late August, every color in the garden at Bag End seemed worthy of drowning in. A burst of red poppies swayed in the early evening breeze, while a nearby cluster of black-eyed Susans nodded in lazy agreement.
The flowers were a distraction: they disappeared completely as I focused on him.
Sam had taken a moment's pause from his work among the impatiens and was standing at his full height, his fingers hooked together behind his head. He was looking out over the hills, into the Westfarthing. I could see him inhaling the scent of the fields far below, almost toxic in their heady potency. His whole face shone with a gentle, happy smile. Illuminated by the sunlight, the hair on his arms and around his head flared into a reddish-blonde corona.
I couldn't breathe for the wonder of such a sight.
Too much and it overwhelms you. I closed my eyes momentarily. How like Sun you are, Sam, and you don't even know it. Everything you touch blooms and glows; yet I can never have you. It just isn't done.
That brought back a bitter memory of April: a spring rainstorm, a copse of trees, a flash of lightning --
Two boys, caught by surprise, huddled against each other from the wet.
Sam, I want you...
(oh the strength it had taken; what nerve I'd had to exhale and speak your name like that)
Want me to what, Mr. Frodo?
(trying to tell him through eyes alone; perhaps I was a little more naked than I should have been, because he saw too deep and was frightened away)
forcing myself to a weak finish, trying to wipe away that terrified look on his face: I...
I want you to fix a kettle when we're home. I think I may be catching something.
(if only you understood how long I've been wanting to chase you, but you do worse than run; you hide)
I could hear him pushing me away: It's just not done, Mr. Frodo. I'm your gardener. And a lad besides which. I couldn't.
It's just not done.
From below the Hill, a drone of crickets and cicadas began to rise and fall. I drew up my eyelids. Sam's arms were now resting crossed over his chest. His gaze remained fixed on the distant landscape.
With a sigh of resignation, I glanced back down at my work. The letters swam before my vision, refusing to make sense. With an effort, I stilled them and arranged them into a poem again.
The Sun kisses you --
Wind touches you --
The Moon bathes you --
Might not I?
(This is how I know I'm really in trouble, when my verses make their way onto a page, rather than, in this case, the elf IsilcantŽa's.)
Four months, Sam: four long months since last I tried to show you. Is it too much to hope that by now you might have seen? Or is it as I fear, and you're just... not like me?
A timid tapping at the window startled me, more than it should have. My elbows slipped, and a stack of papers scattered over the floor. I looked up, before I realized I didn't dare--
And there he was, a bashful but earnest expression on his face. I was still stunned enough that several seconds after his appearance, all I could choke past my teeth was -- "Sam!"
"Awful sorry, Mr. Frodo, didn't mean to frighten you as such." His eyes were completely honest in their apology. "But there's somethin' out here that you just can't sit inside and miss. Asides which, I'm a bit surprised you've been coopin' yourself up in the house all day, when we've had such glorious weather as we have."
The gentle chiding struck deep. That's right, Frodo Baggins, when did you become such a brooder? Are you not the same hobbit who ran wild with Merry Brandybuck for fifteen years? I found my lips turning upward, and a small laugh escaped my throat. "You're right, Sam, there's no cause for my staying inside like this." I met his eyes. "What is it you want to show me?" I asked, expecting him to lead me to a nest of birds, or a plot of garden he was particularly proud of.
A smile flitted across his mouth. "I don't 'ave quite the words to tell you, sir, if you want th'whole truth. That's your job, findin' the right way to call somethin'."
"I..." Oh Sam, you've robbed me of all my words just as sure as you think you have none!
I nodded, and stood up out of my chair. "I'll be right out." Sam beamed, and moved out of sight, to meet me at the back door. I moved quickly, so as not to have him absent in my eyes for long.
* * *
We walked side by side up the side of the Hill, silent and not really meeting each other's gaze. I wonder what would happen if I took your hand right now, Sam.
You would probably squirm, and wrench it away, and I'd have to deal with that unbearable terror in your eyes again.
I studied the color of the Shire, off to my right. All the trees had deepened to their darkest green, while the fields and meadows shone in so many shades of tan and ochre. The wheat rippled beneath a wind, and a moment later a breeze brushed its fingers across our faces. I followed the line of furrows and roads and hedges as far as they extended, stretching all the way to the edges of the sky.
"I've always liked the feeling of the horizon," I said suddenly, more to myself than to Sam. "It looks like earth and air come together and where they touch they make an element that doesn't exist anywhere else, this blurry, hazy blue line that has a life all its own. And it only happens in one place, but it's enough." I nodded. "It's enough." I felt him looking at me, and swiftly I turned. His face was a mixture of bewilderment and... and what? I gulped and averted my eyes. "Sorry. I didn't mean to ramble."
Instantly his expression changed. "Oh no, not at all, Mr. Frodo! I mean... I reckon I don't rightly follow you, but... it sure sounds pretty."
It sounds pretty. But nothing else. It doesn't say anything. At least, not what I should like to...
Sam cast his glance around. "Ah," he said, in a satisfied tone of voice. "Here we are."
We had reached the crest of the Hill, the highest peak in Hobbiton, and indeed for miles around. I gasped.
He had brought me to see the sunset. And all I can say of it was it was the most splendid I have ever seen.
We sat together, on the peak, drinking in the sight. Sam grinned shyly at me. "Aren't you glad I dragged you out of your study for this?"
More than I could ever tell you. "Yes." I was still wide-eyed, trying to see it all at once, unable to get enough of it.
We were silent.
Here we are, together, watching a sunset. Oh, if only, if only it could be like--
The sun came down in the west, behind the hills. I turned to him. "That was wonderful, Sam. Thank you for showing me; it was well worth bringing me out of my hermitage." I attempted a small smile. He looked at me briefly, sideways through his eyes, and tried to return the smile. But he was obviously uncomfortable: something had shifted in him while we were watching the day fade.
"I... I didn't just mean to bring you out here for that, Frodo sir," he blustered, his neck bent and his hands wringing.
I furrowed my brow. "You didn't?" What could possibly--
Slowly, Sam raised his head and met my eyes. My breath halted in my throat. It's that look again, it's that face from beneath the trees in April. Have I done something amiss? Why was I not watching myself?!
"I..." He couldn't continue, and got to his feet, where he swayed, and then walked off a little ways, down the hill. I watched, slack-jawed (and hurting -- what is going on?). He turned to me. He looked miserable. "There's something important as I've got to say, Mr. Frodo, and I don't rightly know how you're going to take it or if I'll lose my job or my Gaffer will and... and... Well I..."
He walked over to my right side and crouched beside me. Up close, his fear was even more tangible. I shrank back, wanting desperately for him not to be like this. "We're... we're so different, Mr. Frodo. Not in the least because you're my master and I'm your gardener. But... I... well look at me!" He thrust his palms out: they were trembling. "I'm all earth and dirt and roots and coarseness, and you? You're starlight, you're moonrise, you're the way the mist looks beneath the trees at dusk."
He was inching closer: I hardly comprehended what was happening. Was it all some sort of fantastic hallucination? "I reckon there is something Elvish about you," he whispered. "I've known it, always, since I first met you I did. I've known it since the moment you came to Bag End."
Sam, you're crying.
My jaw wobbled as I tried to speak, but in the face of that look, I was rendered mute. His hand was still moving toward me; he seemed to have no power over it. "Sam," I forced myself to say. "What--"
Unexpectedly, his fingers brushed my jawline. I froze. He drew them back and pressed them to his mouth; they then drifted downward to rest on his chin. Tears spilled freely from his eyes. "I hope--"
Tell me what is going on! I peered into his face, my heart deafening me within my own ears. My voice was no more than an echo. "You hope what, Sam?"
He was inches away from me, close enough now that I could read something else in his eyes. I want --
Like the horizon, we touched.
And you kissed me, Sam.
You kissed me.
~ * ~
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