This is not a typical "story", in that each short chapter will stand on its own -- linked only by a comforting experience of Light shared by Frodo and one other person.  Future chapters will bring in Aragorn, Gandalf, Gimli, and more.  I hope you enjoy!

For those who have been asking, I am also beginning research on a story that will take a closer look at the hobbits' experience in the Barrow-downs.  I plan to explore the 'motivations' of the Barrow-wights, and answer (in my own way) some mysterious events from that chapter of FOTR.

DISCLAIMER:  Of course. The characters don't belong to me, I just get to think about them day and night.



Chapter 1 -- Ithilien, April 8

Frodo… lay back in Sam's gentle arms, closing his eyes, like a child at rest when night-fears are driven away by some loved voice or hand.  The Return of the King, 'The Tower of Cirith Ungol'


Frodo sat up with a gasp and looked wildly about the darkened pavilion.  "Sam?" he whispered frantically.  "Sam!"

There was a rustle nearby as Sam threw back his blankets and rushed to Frodo's side.

"I'm here, sir," Sam said quietly.  He sat on Frodo's bed and took one of his master's hands in his.  "Did you have a bad dream?"

"Sam," Frodo whispered hoarsely, "where are we?"

"Ithilien," Sam replied.  "Don't you remember, sir?  We woke up just this mornin', and Gandalf was here to greet us."  Frodo was silent, listening.  "Then we saw Strider," Sam continued, "and Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin.  Remember all the singin' and feastin'?"

"Yes," Frodo said at last, loosening his fierce grip on Sam's hand.  "Yes."  Ithilien.  They were safe.  It was over.  As Sam continued to speak, the simple furnishings -- beds, table, a bench and a few rough chairs -- grew familiar, memories of the day flooding back.  Ithilien.  He started to relax.

A twig snapped just outside the pavilion as the soldier keeping watch nearby moved about, and Frodo froze, holding his breath.

"It's hard, isn't it," Sam said knowingly.  "So many months, being hunted and afraid, every sound set us on edge, didn't it?  It will take time; you don't remember how to rest easy, yet, but you will.  You will."

Frodo nodded.  "I know, but…"

"What is it?"

"Sam," Frodo found himself wondering, "what do we do now?"

"You mean, tomorrow?" Sam asked, trying to understand.  "And the day after that?"  He chuckled softly.  "I know what you mean, Mr. Frodo.  Every day we had somethin' we had to do, didn't we?  Get to Bree, get to Rivendell, get outta Moria, get to the Mountain… why, you probably haven't lived a single day or night without worry or plannin' for a year.  Maybe longer."  He was silent for a moment, trying to figure out how to help his master to feel more settled.  "Well sir," he continued, "tomorrow mornin' we'll have a nice breakfast.  Then we'll walk about a bit and see more of the camp.  It's a pretty place, isn't it?  Lots of trees and water everywhere." 

"Yes."  Frodo breathed in the sweet fragrance of the beech glade.  "It's beautiful."

"I hear there's folks hurt.  It might cheer 'em up to get a visit, and maybe hear a song or two from the Shire.  There's lots we can do here, Mr. Frodo; we just have to figure out what needs doin'."

"I'm being foolish," Frodo sighed.

"Of course you're not," Sam assured him.  "I recollect that after Mr. Bilbo had gone, you just wandered about Bag End not sure what to do with it."

Frodo smiled.  Bag End.  Another memory reclaimed.

"Why, it took you no time at all to get used to things.  It was different, that's all.  And this is just somethin' else different to get used to -- sleepin' easy, and wakin' up to laughter and sunshine and lots o' good meals and folks about."

Sam stood up and walked to a crate that sat in the grass nearby.  He knelt and lifted the lid, then gathered up an armload of something and carried it to the makeshift table between the two beds.  A small light flared as Sam kindled a flame, then he began lighting the thick candles that he had placed on the table.  Soon the open-air tent blazed with a soft, friendly light.

Light.  "Oh Sam," Frodo sighed, "that's exactly what I needed.  It was so dark, for so long, that---"

"No need to explain, sir."  Sam lit the last candle and returned to his master's side.  "Gandalf and Strider left these here in case we needed 'em."  He grinned.  "And tomorrow the sun'll be shinin' bright, and we'll talk more with everyone and get all the stories straight."

"All the stories," Frodo chuckled.  "My goodness but we've missed a lot, Sam."  He yawned and stretched.  "A nice breakfast, you said?"

"I'll see to it," Sam declared.  "Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin look right well, so they must be eatin' hearty enough here!"

Frodo smiled, his heart lighter than it had been in a very long time.  Sam.  "Thank you," he said quietly.  "I truly don't know what I would do without you, Sam."

"You won't never have to find out," Sam replied.  "We've got all the time in the world, now, Mr. Frodo," he continued, settling his master back down amongst the blankets.  "Come tomorrow, we'll just see what there is to see, and figure it out each day after that."  He went to his own bed and lay down.  He watched as his master's luminous eyes gazed raptly at the soft glow of the candles' light, then slowly closed.  After a short time, they both slid into gentle dreams, and peaceful sleep.


-- TBC --

Chapter Two:  The Pelennor Fields -- Frodo and Aragorn... and the remains of the Witch-king.