Summary: Frodo receives a sign of hope in Ithilien. Parts of the story are inspired by the movie version of the lighting of the beacon of Amon Dîn.
Rating: PG
Author: Nivina

Disclaimer: These settings and characters belong to Professor Tolkien. I merely borrowed them.

A cold, but sunny morning dawned in the land of Ithilien. The hobbits had left Faramir and his rangers only two days earlier, picking up the thread of their perilous journey once more. Gollum was quiet, and he nearly had a reflective air around him. Sam was wary and suspicious, driven by the wish never to let Gollum out of his sight. Something was warning him about Gollum's too smooth behaviour, though Sam Gamgee was not sure what exactly made him feel that Gollum might lead them to death on purpose. He was horribly afraid Gollum could harm Mr Frodo, if he didn't keep an eye on the creature.

Frodo used to wake exhaustedly, looking sad, sometimes having difficulties starting the next part of their wandering to the Black Lands. He barely spoke, and his hand would wander from time to time to his chest; now and then he was clutching the Ring fiercely through the cloth, and at other times there was but the slightest movement, as if Frodo wanted to make sure the Ring was still there. Sam could only faintly imagine the feelings of horror, fear, and even lust Frodo must go through because of the malicious thing around his neck.

But this morning, something was different. Frodo opened his eyes almost dreamily when Sam carefully touched him at his shoulder to wake him gently. There was a light in his eyes -- no sign of the dull mists of tiredness and resignation his master had carried with him more and more with every day.

"I had a dream once more, Sam. About... fire." Frodo yawned, and gratefully took the bottle of water Sam handed to him.

Sam sat down next to his friend. Almost every time Frodo had dreamt, be they horrifying or hopeful dreams, Frodo had described them to Sam. The further they went, the darker Frodo's dreams seemed to get. And they seemed to repeat themselves. Ashes, fire, dust...

Frodo didn't speak yet, as if not to disturb Sam's thoughts. When Sam looked up, this light in Frodo's eyes was still there. And he smiled at Sam.

This was surely different! Sam smiled back, and waited.

Finally, Frodo spoke.

"I was flying, following sparks of fire that seemed to appear high up above, on the mountain tops. I was watching this from below the clouds, but still looking down to the little fires that built in the darkness. I felt hope. Hope, Sam! I thought I had lost hope and joy, but they were back with me in my dream. I felt so light, freed of all burdens. I don't know why I saw this, but perhaps the Lady wanted to tell me with this that I must not fear the darkness?"

"Dreams are but an illusion, they tricks us, they are nassty..." came a hissing whisper from behind.

Sam rolled his eyes, and turned to give a sharp answer to Gollum, but Frodo touched his shoulder in a soothing gesture.

"Don't," Frodo whispered. "He needs patience, no harsh words. He has seen too much."

Sam sighed, but obeyed. Mr Frodo might have good reasons to say such, even if Sam didn't quite understand them.

"A sign from the Lady... well, why not, Mr Frodo?" He said finally, forcing himself to turn his thoughts back to Frodo and his dream, and resisting the urge to put Gollum into his place.

"I've never had such a dream before," Frodo continued. "It was so real: I could feel the wind, and the air was getting thin. I was so high above, but I could breathe easily. The fire was blazing, and I saw the sparks flying into all directions. I got closer and closer to the fires, but never too close. They warmed me, made all shivers and all the cold disappear. They looked like... like beacons. And they were spreading over far distances, carrying beauty and new hope.

"And shortly - the dream was fading already - I saw Gandalf. He looked different from how we knew him; a translucent creature of light. His white robes almost blinded my eyes... and he smiled, reaching out his hand to me... then, the dream faded."

Frodo looked up to the trees, but his gaze went further than that. His lips were curved into a tiny smile.

Sam was glad to witness to see his master filled with new hope. Finally, he said: "Wherever Mr Gandalf may be now, I'm sure he is watching over you. And beacons... what a nice dream to have..."

Frodo took Sam's hands in his and smiled again. "Come on," he simply said, and got up.

Gollum already was far ahead on the path, and the hobbits hurried to follow him -- both filled with new strength to face the unknown way ahead.