West of the Moon
A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive
A Time To Heal
The Ringbearer comes at last to Tol Eressëa and finds healing with the help of an unlikely friend.
It is the cry that first alerts him - it skirls down from the sky, fierce, harsh and wild; a sound to freeze his blood and sear his mind with memories of fire. And pain... Oh Eru, the pain...
He drops to his knees in the wind-swept grass and clutches his maimed hand against his chest and above him a vast shadow looms, and there is thunder in its voice. They stare at each other - a weary Halfling of the Shire and a creature out of myth and legend, and the cruel beak gapes in a raptor's grin.
Well met, Frodo Baggins. Come. Fly with me.
The soft down under the great feathers is warm and scented with spice, and his fear is soon lost in the pure joy of flight and the beauty of the land that scrolls beneath them. They soar over misty valleys and cloud-shouldered peaks, they brush the hoary beards of ancient forests and trouble the mirrored waters of uncounted lakes. They fly the length and breadth of Aman, and finally they come to rest on a towering crag, and they begin to speak of many things; of Men and rings and sacrifice, of Hobbit-kind and kings.
Thorondor, third of that name, cocks a golden eye at the tiny being on its back. "It was your courage that allowed my kind to lend their aid, did you not know?" he rumbles. "Manwë was constrained, but even He could not let your suffering come to naught."
"But... I failed..."
"You did not fail." The Eagle looks out over the peaceful land and East, to where suddenly, a pale star shines.
"Behold what you have wrought, Ringbearer. Take comfort from it, and find your healing."
So it comes to pass that Frodo Baggins accepts from an Eagle with the fëa of Illuvatar bright in its eyes, what he could not take from an old wizard who had bent the truth a few too many times.
And that night, in a snug smial by the shores of the Western Sea, he dreams of warm brown eyes and warmer lips, and if an eagle's scream intrudes upon his rest, it is no longer the stuff of nightmares, but the welcome voice of a guest.
It is the cry that first alerts him - it echoes around the crescent of the secluded bay and dances its delight over the sea wrack drifting in on the rising tide. It is a sound he has not heard before and he wonders at the strange warmth he feels, at his sudden desire to forget his dignity and turn cartwheels in the sky.
He knows little of the younger children of Illuvatar, but he has a shrewd suspicion that the rosy-cheeked figure skipping toward him through the shallows is a healthy specimen of its kind. So different from the pallid, broken creature he had encountered so many years before, he muses, and a deep rumble of approval escapes his feathered chest.
The figure rakes damp curls back with sandy fingers and looks up at him with a pearly, gap-toothed smile.
"Thorondor! See what I have found! Isn't it beautiful?"
The Eagle peers at the shell cradled in the small hands. It is a graceful spiral the colour of new milk, its lip touched with a rosy blush. The fragile spines that adorn it are tipped with a hint of gold, and it is perfect - without chip or blemish.
"The children of Lord Ulmo are fair," he agrees. "What do you want of it, Frodo?"
The hobbit fishes a kerchief from the pouch at his waist and dries his prize carefully. "I've been looking for a whole shell for ever so long," he says happily. "With a nice polish and a bit of lacquer, it will be perfect for the shelf in Sam's room."
"Ah. Your servant. He will be well pleased with it."
There is the sound of an indrawn breath, and a shadow darkens the sunny face below. Blazing blue eyes stare up at him, and there is something implacable in their fiery depths. "Sam Gamgee may have been my servant once, but he will not be that when he comes back to me. We will make a new beginning, he and I." They hold each other's gaze, then Frodo looks away, out over the calm waters of the bay, and the light dies from his eyes.
"When he comes back to me..." he whispers softly, and there is a wealth of yearning in his voice.
Thorondor watches him for a long moment. "Sit in the sun and dry yourself," he rumbles, as gently as he is able. "Fledglings cannot fly with waterlogged feathers, and neither should hobbits."
Frodo obeys mutely, settling onto the warm sand beside the outcrop of rock the Eagle perches on. Thorondor cocks a golden eye at him. "Tell me about this Sam," he commands. The hobbit looks at him with something like surprise. Then a soft tide of pink stains his cheeks and he drops his gaze to his furry feet.
"I don't know... It would be good to talk about him with someone," he murmurs. "It's hard to - with Bilbo, and with Lord Elrond, it's almost impossible."
The Eagle regards him with grave amusement. "I know nothing of the mating habits of your kind, but the song of Samwise the Brave is still sung in the halls of Valinor." He sings a trill of satisfaction at the look of pride on Frodo's blushing face. "It is my wish that I should see him through your eyes," he adds shrewdly.
"You would be hard-pressed to stop me!" Frodo beams and then sobers suddenly. "I am glad to call you friend, Thorondor." And there are tears in the quiet voice.
The Eagle feels that elusive warmth steal over him again, and at last he knows it as affection, and perhaps as much love as he can feel for one of mortal kind.
"I am honoured to call you friend as well."
Through the lazy hours of the warm afternoon, they speak of a stalwart figure with hair the hue of ripened corn and eyes that had reflected the changing colours of the seasons. They speak of a gentle nature, of skillful hands and of a towering courage and a love that had bloomed in the midst of a blasted plain. Frodo recalls, at first shyly, then longingly, the comfort he had found in the embrace of strong brown arms and the pain of the choices he had had to make - of the legacy that he had left to the one he loved.
And at last they come full circle, to the hope expressed in the plans for a garden yet unmade and an empty room waiting, in a smial close by a sundering sea.
"You plan for the future," Thorondor observes. "Your healing proceeds apace."
"It does," Frodo agrees, and in his eyes there is a hard-won peace. "But will I ever truly heal, when half my heart is lost to me?"
And the Lord of Eagles cannot answer.
In the years that follow, the fisherfolk of Alqualondë often marvel at the sight of an Eagle riding the winds high above the sea. And one day, dawn breaks on a beautiful spring morning and a silver hull glides through the rain-curtain, trailing banners of mist. A raptor's scream is heard above the sigh of silken sails and on the deck a small stooped figure stands amid the spoondrift, staring up in wonder at the sky. Great wings bank toward the western shore and the elven ship carrying the last of the Ringbearers leaps over the waves.
Home at last.
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