A/N: This is another one of those "been sitting around half written" things. Ah well, I finally put an ending on it and here it is. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: Someday I'll probably have a daughter, or at least a cat named Elanor. As of now she's not mine. No one else in this story either, except for random un-important hobbit children.
Note: This takes place when Elanor is eight so… look at that! It's been eight years since Frodo crossed the sea.
Note 2: It's from Elanor's point of view, so I tried to make the narrative sound child-like without er… dumbing it down any. We'll see how that works out.
Note 3: You can interpret this in several ways, really. I didn't intend to imply that Frodo would ask this of Sam at this point; we all know he's a bit more understanding than that. But there's nothing to keep Sam from thinking it, and thus how I interpreted my story. Then again you might see it differently. Maybe it isn't a dream. But with a keen eye for details, ONE TRUTH PREV—yeah, I'll get on with it.
Special thanks to Logan's Saucy Wench.
Out of Dark Moments
It was a real nice night. Ma had let me go get apples from Miss Treehigh all by myself earlier in the day, and then she used them to make this great pie with a sweet gooey middle for after supper. I got to help too. I peeled most of the apples without her helping me, so I helped make the pie too. It was really good. One of Ma's best ever, Dad said. As the sun started to set it was firebug hunting with Frodo-lad and Lily and Lindollin Proudfoot. We caught twenty-six altogether, which is a new record. I caught nine of those really, but I gave one to Frodo because he was having a hard time.
After we set all the firebugs loose and watched them go glowing away, and Lily and Lindy got called home by their Aunt, and Frodo had to go to bed, Dad and I sat out on The Hill and looked at the stars. For as long as I can remember, every night he can my dad goes outside and just looks at the sky. I don't even understand it now, really. I know the sky is pretty at night. All the little glowing dots look like millions of firebugs ripe for the catching. But Dad doesn't see firebugs; I don't what he sees. I just know it's important to him, so every night I can I sit out there with him. Until Ma makes me go to bed too, that is. One time she let me stay out real late. So late that it was only a few hours after I went to bed that the sun was up already. That was the night when my dad was sadder than I'd ever seen him.
He wasn't sad this night, though. He told me lots of funny stories. He pointed up to the stars and said "Can you see the goose, Elly?" And I said to him, "I don't see any goose, Da." And then he held my hand and used my finger to trace it in the sky. I understood then. It was like the trace-the-dots game where you poke a bunch of holes in some solid dirt with a sharp rock and then you see what picture it makes. I could make out the goose's long neck and frantically flapping wings. It was pretty funny looking anyway. Then Dad told me a story about how when Uncle Pippin was my age he visited Brandy Hall once and found a goose's nest not far from one of the barns. He tried to take an egg and ended up getting chased by the goose-mother for the rest of the day. It wasn't too hard to picture Uncle Pippin like that.
It was real nice out. It was warm, but there was a soft breeze chilly enough to have my Dad wrap me up in his coat. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, and except for the rustling of healthy leaves in the wind it was completely silent when we weren't talking or laughing. It was beautiful; it was perfect.
It was such a wonderful day; this is why I got so confused when I woke up suddenly in the deep of night to a loud crash. I didn't know what it was at first, since I was still sleepy but then it happened again a few moments after the whole room was lighted with an eerie white light. Then I noticed it was pouring buckets and buckets of rain. It was storming all right. The worst storm I'd ever seen. The wind howled ferociously, and the thunder kept pounding and pounding. I was scared at first, and hid under my blanket, but after a while when the storm didn't let up, I thought I heard crying. I figured it was Merry, and since the crying didn't stop I also figured Ma and Dad were asleep. That meant it was up to me to go comfort the lad, or at least wake Ma up. I wasn't about to venture into a dark hall without protection though. I ripped the blanket off the bed and wrapped myself in it, fashioning a hood of it too just like Dad's traveling cloak. It muffled the horrible noise a little, so I felt better.
I stepped out of my room and it was immediately a lot quieter since the hall doesn't have any windows. I closed the door behind me and headed across the way towards the room Merry, Rosie-lass, and Frodo shared. Now that I was here the crying had stopped, or maybe I'd only imagined it in the first place. But either way I got distracted by a real odd sight.
It was my dad. But something wasn't right. He was standing still as a statue in the foyer, just in front of the big green front door. He didn't flinch when a particularly loud thunder shook the chandelier. I could only see his profile from where I was standing but carefully and noiselessly moved so I was standing more behind him and could see what he was seeing. He was just staring at the door, for I sure couldn't see anything interesting or out of the ordinary about it. The storm raged on relentlessly outside, and I just watched my dad stand there for several minutes. Finally, I figured I could either go up to him or go back to bed. Before I could decide there came a sharp rap on the door.
I froze, as still as Dad was. He didn't move at all when the knock came, except I noticed his shoulders go tenser. It was only then that I realized he was wearing the very cloak I'd been trying to imitate, his grey one with the pretty clasp I always loved to look at. The knock came a second time, this time three staccato hits. Now Dad moved, he took a few steps forward and seemed uncertain which I found really unusual. Then, just as he reached a hand out, perhaps to open the door for whoever was behind it, the door swung open all by itself and Dad had to take a sharp step back so it wouldn't hit him. I shrank back; scared of whatever it was that had my dad acting so strangely. Even when I finally got the courage to look, all I could see beyond the door was the silhouette of a normal looking hobbit. The hall was filled with freezing wind, and I pulled my blanket around me tighter. It became louder too, as if no matter how bad the storm had been before it hadn't really reached its peak until this moment.
I knew they had started talking, just like that with the door open and the stranger still out in the rain and everything. But the thunder was too loud and too frequent for me to hear what they were saying. And I dared not get any closer. I was as still and quiet as I could be as I watched them. They talked for a real long time, and the hall filled up with more and more rain and it got colder and colder. The wind blew all around inside now, knocking things over though neither of the two noticed. Now I was scared, and I would have run if I could have. I was frozen to the spot, my eyes stuck to the picture of the two cloaked and now quite wet hobbits before me.
I'm not sure how it happened, I just know that at some point they both started arguing. I'd never seen my dad argue with anyone before. He always had this subtle way of settling things with anyone who went against him or anybody else. He could make both sides win without either of them realizing it. But now he was really angry, so angry he was shouting.
"No!" He cried fiercer than I'd ever heard him speak. "I can't! I can't go now! Not yet!" I know the stranger was yelling too now, or crying. But his voice was too caught in the wind for me to hear him properly. I could only hear my father and his yelling "No! Please, not yet! I can't go now!" "My family," he said, "I can't leave them!"
The wind blew harder and harder, the storm got fiercer still. The entire front and living room was in complete disarray. But as everything else got louder, so did my father's voice. His yelling, his pleading. I was getting really angry at that stranger for making my dad so upset. I wanted to run to him and hug him and tell him it was all right, that he didn't have to go anywhere. But I was still stuck there, as if I was nailed down to the floor. I could only watch and wait.
Finally, for the first time, I heard the voice of the stranger. Oddly enough, his voice was barely above a whisper from the way he said it. I could hear it perfectly, even though the storm hadn't gotten any calmer or any less noisy. "Please," he said. One word. After all of that that one word made my father fall to his knees as if somebody'd hit him. I wanted to cry out, but my throat couldn't make any noise. Then, just as quietly as the stranger but still perfectly audible to me he said, "No."
Without another word or gesture the other hobbit turned and fled away into the rain. My father knelt for a moment before standing up shakily and making his way to his chair by the fireplace. He collapsed into it heavily, his breath unsteady, his sopping hair dripping water down his face. He was crying too, I could see the tears shining in his eyes in the lightning lit room. I think this is what made my feet unstick themselves. I ran as fast as I could towards him, but just as I crossed the ruined foyer the great, round door of Bag End blew off its hinges…
I woke up suddenly in my bed, not to any loud noise this time. I sat up quickly. I couldn't hear anything of the storm any more. Not the wind, not the thunder. Just my own heart beat pounding in my ears. I was breathing heavily as I'd just seen Dad doing, and I was crying too. And sweating. I looked outside to reassure myself. The stars were still there. The sky was still cloudless. My open window let in the cool, soft breeze. It had all just been a dream. There was no storm, and that meant there was no stranger. The rest of my family was asleep safely in their beds.
Despite all this logic, I couldn't keep myself from checking. So, much in the same way I thought I just had, I made my blanket into a cloak and stepped carefully out of my room. I thought about going straight to my parent's room, but something told me, dream or no, I'd find my dad in his chair by the fireplace. There he was too. I could see him, staring into the empty fireplace. As I crossed the foyer, I looked around me to make sure. Everything was in its place, and the floor wasn't even wet.
I went right up to Dad and climbed into his lap without telling him I would do so. He seemed to snap out of some day dream or other when he felt me hugging him. "What is it, Elly?" he asked me, and stroked my hair. I just put my arms around him as best I can. Then I got scared because I felt that the fabric was that of his grey cloak. When I sat back, I saw he had that pretty clasp fastened too. I reached up instantly to play with it as I always did, running my fingers over the winding designs that made up the leaf.
He watched me for a while before saying, "It's late. Why don't you go on back to bed?" and I said "I'm not tired." And I wasn't, not really. I wouldn't want to go back to sleep anyway. I didn't want the stranger to come back. I wanted to sit there with my dad and know that everything was all right. He sighed and said, "Come now, lass. I need to think." So I said, "I'll be quiet, I promise." Because I could tell he really wanted me to stay anyway. He went back to staring into the fireplace, and I went back to playing with the clasp. I don't know how long we sat that way, but finally my fingers got bored so I dropped my hands and shifted around so I could look into the fireplace too. Dad put his arms around my waist and pulled me closer to him, resting his chin on my head just like we sat outside. The warmth was making me sleepy after all, but I did my best to hide it so he wouldn't try to make me go to bed again.
Even though I had promised to be quiet, I couldn't help but ask one question before I fell asleep. I felt that I had come very close to losing Dad forever that night. He had told the stranger "no" in my dream, but only barely. I could tell he wanted more than anything to say "Yes! Yes!" and dash off into the stormy night.
"Da?" I asked quietly.
"You… you're not going to leave us, are you Da?"
I felt his arms stiffen around me and I grew more awake as cold fear took hold of me. He was hesitating. My dad hardly ever hesitated with anything. Something was wrong.
"No," he said at last. It was a very firm no. He relaxed again as he said it, and I felt strangely relieved. I snuggled back, and he held me closer. I tried to imagine never feeling his arms around me again, but it was hard since I was so comfortable and happy. Once again I felt the pull of sleep. This time I would let it take me, knowing my father was there to protect me.
Just before shutting my eyes for good, he murmured to himself, "Leastways not anytime soon…" His eyes shifted slowly to the door, which I was glad to see was still set firmly in its hinges. I closed my eyes and dreamt of the sea.