As The Stars Brightly Shine

". and on Frodo's right hand, upon the middle and little fingers he set fine rings of mithril, slender as threads of silk but bearing each a small gem shining like a star."

The History of The Lord of the Rings: The End of the Third Age

The faint song of a woodland thrush was upon the morning summer air as the sun began to rise above the distant horizon of the Far Downs. A soft scent of lavender was within the passing breeze as it came through the open windows of a smial just beneath a small hill covered in blossoming clover. As the hours drew by the laughter of children fell across the fields and meadows while tents were raised among the fragrant array of foliage that lined the far pasture of a rather large hobbit hole on the eastern edge of Greenholm. It was to be a day of merriment for a wedding was to be held that afternoon and it was quickly noted that every hobbit holding an invitation was sure to be in attendance. Nearby within a quaint garden a gentle hum could be heard, lifting with a tender voice breaking into words unfamiliar to the many ears that stood around in silence listening contently to the song that soon fell into a quiet whisper until the moment came when it could be heard no more. It was then when a rather stout young hobbit came from the small crowd that had gathered before his garden gate, with a smile full upon his lips. His long chestnut brown hair fell in deep curls around his brow and shoulders and his eyes were bright and merry. He made his way through the gate, latching it quietly behind him before making his way along the garden path. He soon came to rest at the edge of the stone walk, where he found a hobbit much older in years kneeling before a small row of tiny green sprouts with a large watering can in hand as he tipped it over, bringing down a gentle spray of water upon the plants.

"My, my." The younger hobbit replied with a hearty laugh. "If it isn't Samwise, out in my garden of all the places he could be on a day such as this. Even when you're far from home no garden is safe from your hands!"

"So it seems my dear Fastred." Sam said with a smile as he stood to his feet placing the watering can on a small wooden bench nearby covered in climbing ivy. "It seemed so inviting with the garden gate open and all. I could not help but put my hands to work since I have not tended to my own bit of earth in Hobbiton in the time I have been here."

"Aye, it must be hard being so far away from the things you love." Fastred replied giving Sam a firm pat on his back.

"That it is." Sam sighed. He then grew silent seemingly lost in a memory and then he turned to Fastred with a faint smile upon his face.

"You should not worry." Fastred said with a gentle smile. "You will see your Rose shortly, and besides she and Elanor are only staying with my sister Fiona, who is but a stone's throw away from my smial. Remember she is returning to your side today when at last everything is in order for the wedding."

"Ah yes." Sam replied softly looking out over the open pastures that seemed to go on for miles into the western sky. "But there seems to be something more."

"You are nervous perhaps, as are we all." Fastred said quietly placing his hand upon Sam's shoulder. "Come now, the hours are passing quickly, we should go inside and prepare for the celebration to come!"

*******

A gentle wind swept along the fields as Sam stood in silence before an open window in Fastred's dressing room while Fastred began to pull his hair taught at the nape of his neck. He tied it back neatly with a thin piece of shimmering white silk taking but a moment to peer at his reflection in the looking glass that rested upon a short wooden table. He pressed his hands firmly along his white silken vest coat smoothing out a few small wrinkles before dusting away the tiny bit of lint that had fallen onto his deep brown trousers. He then turned to Sam and with a bright smile he stood tall awaiting for the moment when his companion would come away from the window. A moment passed and then Sam looked to Fastred his face glowing with happiness as he brushed a tear away from his sun kissed cheek.

"You look quite handsome my lad." Sam replied coming away from the window as the sun shone brightly upon his visage. "You remind me of myself on my own wedding day." Sam said his words growing silent. "Yet there is a little something I have for you." Sam said softly as he made his way to the dressing table where a white cloth lay covering a treasure beneath its threads. As Sam came to the table he reached out drawing away the cloth, revealing a small black wooden chest adorned with silver finals.

"This is made of lebethron." Sam whispered drawing the chest up into his hands. "It is a fair wood that grows in Gondor beloved by the many craftsmen of that land." He then turned to Fastred holding his hands out before him. "Go on now." Sam said softly. "Open it." Slowly Fastred walked to Sam, his fingers trembling as he reached out to the silver catch that held the lid closed. He pulled the latch open and with sweaty palms he lifted the lid as his eyes widened with the sight of what lay inside. Gingerly he touched his hand to the shining metal fearing he would damage the finery he beheld.

"That is mithril is it not?" Fastred replied quietly pulling his hand away.

"Yes, it is." Sam said smiling as he placed the chest into Fastred's hands. He then reached inside taking out what rested within on a bed of blue velvet. Sam took in a deep breath holding onto the shimmering treasure for moment as he recalled the day it first came to him many years past.

"So long ago it seems when this circlet last set upon my head while I sat at the King's table on the field of Cormallen with Frodo at my side." Sam replied softly raising his hands towards Fastred's head.

"I can not accept this." Fastred said as he lifted his hand gently pushing the circlet away.

"Nay." Sam replied as he shook his head. "It is yours now. For you and Ellie. something to pass along your family line. A wedding present as you could say."

"Then I can not turn your gift away." Fastred softly whispered as he knelt to his knee allowing Sam to place the circlet of mithril silver upon his chestnut brown hair. Fastred then stood to his feet and he stood before Sam as the ring of metal slowly fell down over his brow.

"It suits you well." Sam said with a tender laugh as he pushed the circlet high onto Fastred's head. "Perhaps I shall ask my dear friends Merry and Pippin for an ent draught to help you grow into it." Sam replied firmly placing his hand on Fastred's shoulder. He smiled brightly and then looked down to his hands as Sam took away the wooden chest setting it on a table nearby. For a moment a still silence filled the room and then Fastred took in a deep breath rubbing his nervous hands together.

"This Frodo you spoke of." Fastred began. "He is Frodo Baggins is he not?"

"He is." Sam answered as he pulled his best vest up over his cream colored tunic. "Why do you ask?"

"Elanor speaks of him often." Fastred replied. "He meant a lot to both of you it seems."

"More so me than Ellie, but she has a place for him in her heart since he meant so much to me." Sam said softly as he slowly buttoned his vest. "He is the one who thought of her name the day she was born. She was named after the golden star flower that blooms in the grass of Lórien." Sam replied with a gentle sigh." I only wish he could be here to see her on her wedding day so he could see with his own eyes what a lovely flower she did grow up to be. she is everything and more, just as he foretold." Sam then turned to the open window, saying not a word as the afternoon breeze came through his hair. Many minutes seemed to pass before he took in a deep breath looking to Fastred with a tender smile upon his lips.

"Come now my lad." Sam said as he came away from the window. "No more dwelling on years long past. It is time to look to what lies ahead in the days to come."

*******

Sam sat quietly upon a small wooden bench before a tall white trellis covered in many hues of violet flowers, softly accented with dainty blossoms colored of soft yellow and white. There under the fragrant array of foliage stood Fastred with his hands clasped behind his back looking to the garden where a path of rose petals began winding through the large gathering of family and friends that looked on with tears of joy and smiles of happiness. A soft hymn then rose above the crowd as Sam's daughter Goldilocks came forward singing an elvish melody that her father had taught her; one that he had heard Frodo sing when they last stayed in Rivendell. It was a song that spoke of love and friendship, everlasting and unconditional, no matter what may come to be. He thought it very fitting for this occasion as did his dear Rose who grasped Sam's hand tightly as Goldie came to their side smiling as she extended her hand to them while she took her place at her mother's side. It was then that all eyes turned to the garden gate where a pale light seemed to glow as the sun shone brightly upon Elanor's face while she walked slowly down the petal strewn pathway. A band of silver rested upon her golden curls, shimmering with the light of many iridescent crystals that were embedded within the metal. A gown of silken white flowed around her adorned with lavender glass beads that seemed to shine like precious gems in the light of the slowly falling sun. A bouquet of yellow lilies rested between her trembling hands, as the ivy that intertwined between them began to fall to the ground as she finally came before Fastred with a nervous smile upon her moistened lips. Fastred reached his hand out to hers and she grasped his fingers tightly while still holding onto her fragrant flowers. Sam then took in a deep breath and he brought Rose's hand to his lips kissing it gently as he stood to his feet. He made his way forward standing before Elanor and Fastred as they turned to him bowing their heads gently.

"Many years have passed and through those years your love has grown." Sam replied as Fastred and Elanor raised their eyes to his. "And now the day has come when you have chosen to live your life together, two hearts beating from this time forward as one. It is my honor as your father and the Mayor of Hobbiton to join you, Elanor Gamgee and Fastred Fairbairn in marriage on this day, before a congregation of your family and friends." Sam said with a joyous smile. He then brought his hand to his vest coat and reached within quickly taking what lay inside out, placing it into Fastred's hand. Sam then took a few steps away as Fastred fell to his knee before Elanor as tears fell along her blushed cheeks.

"From this day forward I give all I have and all that I am to you, my fair Elanor." Fastred whispered softly. He then opened his hand revealing a shimmering ring of silver resting on his palm. "My love for you is never- ending just as this band of mithril from an age long gone. It once lay within the hoard of a dragon but it has now come to me, passed on from one hand to another as it at last comes to rest upon your own." Fastred then placed the ring upon the third finger of Elanor's left hand kissing her finger lightly as he stood to his feet. Elanor's face glowed brightly and she turned back to her father standing quietly at her side.

"And so it shall be." Sam replied coming forward once more. "From this day on you will be joined as one." A loud cheer then rose above the crowd as Elanor and Fastred sealed the union with a tender kiss before turning to their friends and family as Elanor and Fastred Fairbairn of Greenholm.

*******

As the sun began to fall below the distant horizon the joyous sound of laughter rose above the chirp of the crickets deep within the grasses of Greenholm. Light music still filled the air as the celebration of Elanor and Fastred's marriage drew into the late hours of evening. Many meals were had and many barrels of ale still rested full along the garden path waiting to be tapped. Far in the field near a small birch tree there laid a stone bench and there was Sam with Rose nestled in his arms as he held her close to his side. Bright smiles were held upon their faces as they watched their daughter Ellie dancing slowly with Fastred as the sky filled with soft shades of violets and hues of muted oranges and yellows as the moon finally drew up into the evening sky. As the hours passed lanterns were lit shadowing the remaining few that stayed to wish the newly wedded couple blessed years to come before leaving for the warmth their smials that were eagerly awaited with the coming of the cool night air. A deep silence then filled the night as all the guests departed leaving only Sam and Elanor together near the garden as Rose and Fastred stood under the moonlight far within the pasture where the party finally came to its end.

"Mother has grown quite fond of Fastred." Elanor replied looking out of the field as the sound of her mother's laughter filled her ears.

"That she has." Sam whispered softly. "His bright smile seems to remind her and I of someone we once knew so many years ago."

"Frodo, father?" Elanor said looking over to Sam as he leaned forward resting his folded arms on top of the closed garden gate.

"Aye my lass." Sam replied. "They seem so much alike in certain ways, yet they are so different too." Sam then grew silent as a deep sigh passed over his lips. Some time then seemed to pass before another word was spoken.

"I wish he could have been here to see this." Elanor said quietly looking high into the starlit night. "Do you suppose he is still out there somewhere father?"

"He is. somewhere across the vast sea." Sam whispered. "And yet again he may be closer than you think."

"Come again?" Elanor replied looking to her father as he stood up straight reaching into his vest pocket. Slowly he placed his fingers inside drawing out a small satin pouch tied up with a fine silken cord. For a moment Sam held the pouch as a tender smile fell over his lips as a memory for a day long past came to him once again. He then looked to Elanor as her eyes grew wide, eager to know what lay within her father's hand. Sam gently untied the silken bag, turning it over in his hand before closing his fingers tightly over what rested on his palm. Sam's eyes began to tear as he came to Elanor holding out his hand before her as he slowly opened his fingers.

"He wanted you to have this Ellie." Sam whispered as Elanor reached out to his outstretched hand. "It was bestowed upon him by the King of Gondor on the Field of Cormallen when it was placed upon his own hand by Gandalf so many years ago."

"A ring of mithril." Elanor said softly touching the shining band with her dainty fingers. "It is as thin as a spiders thread and the gem upon it shines like a star."

"That it does." Sam replied as Elanor took the ring up into her hand as it caught the shimmering light of the moon on its surface. Elanor's eyes filled with tears as she took her gaze to her father still smiling brightly within the starlit night.

"I do not know what to say father." Elanor whispered quietly.

"Say nothing." Sam replied softly. "Just keep it with you always." He said as he folded Elanor's fingers over the ring.

"And I shall." Elanor said opening her hand, placing the ring upon the third finger of her left hand over the band of silver given to her by her husband. "Here he will be with Fastred and I, watching over us from a distant land." At that moment the land seemed to come to a standstill as a deep silence fell over the hills and valleys before a soft wind swept along the dew kissed grasses gently caressing Elanor's blushed cheeks. She smiled brightly as she looked far into the western sky. There she stood in silence until a soft touch fell upon her shoulder. Elanor turned away and there stood Fastred and her mother Rose. Sam took his beloved into his arms and together they walked down the garden path standing under the light of the evening moon. Fastred smiled joyfully and brought Elanor close to his side leaving a tender kiss upon her brow as she rested her head upon his shoulders as his hair fell around her face. She then lifted her hand to her left shoulder resting her fingers upon Fastred's hand while they watched her mother and father standing before them as the ring on her dainty finger caught the light of the stars within its gleaming crystal as they shone brightly up above.