"Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep"

Author's Note: My first lotr fanfiction, and of course Frodo and Sam centered as they are my favorite characters. I hope you enjoy, and just another reminder- this is not a slash. I detest slashes, I refuse to write them. I've merely tried to stay true to how Tolkien wrote them in the books. Also, the words "moon" and "sun" will be capitalized since I've made them characters.

Disclaimer: I do not own Lord of the Rings. If I did, I would be a genius which I unfortunately am not.

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It was dark in the city of Gondor; the only light that could be seen was the stars and even they were partly veiled by the sky's thin cloak of wispy cloud. The Moon was invisible at that time of night, hiding her silver face from the world in search of the Sun. It was a ritual game of hide-and-seek between the moon and sun, two friends who were never meant to find each other- though not through lack of trying. As the before-mother, the Moon was quite smug in her grandeur and believed the worship and awe of petty mortals beneath her. She never noticed them, vain as She was in her robes of cloud.

If She had looked past her own cold heart and past her immense self-conceit, who unlike the Sun never took any joy in the beauty of the Earth, she would have seen just how many of those "petty mortals" loved her.

Perhaps She would have seen the keen, shrewd eyes of Samwise Gamgee gazing up at the sky, looking for her.

It had been a long day for Sam Gamgee, and he didn't know if he cared much for the attention he and Mr. Frodo had received from the peoples of Middle-earth. As a simple hobbit from the Shire, and a gardener at that, he had never really been one much to enjoy the spotlight. That honor, he believed, fell to Mr. Frodo. In Sam's mind, he was only ever Frodo Baggins' servant- he had only done a servant's duty of caring for his master.

Having found no sign of the Moon, Sam looked over his shoulder where his master lay sleeping in a Man's bed in the Houses of Healing. His small frame seemed so dwarfed by the immense bed and- in Sam's opinion- caused the thin waif of a frame look even smaller and thinner. Of course, Mr. Frodo had never gotten his proper hobbit strength or size back since he was first pursued by those Black Riders last year. What with his being stabbed by that filthy Morgul blade, then having to go on that Quest to destroy the Enemy's Ring, Sam was surprised Death itself had not walked directly in their path- although she had readily followed them. At the River Anduin, in the Dead Marshes, down the path of Cirith Ungol up to the Morgul Vale, facing that giant spider, and all the way into the heart of the mountain of Fire itself.

A slight, purring moan caught his quick hearing. One of the Big Folk perhaps would not have heard it but a hobbit's hearing is excellent, and all of Sam's senses were fixed upon his master, just as they had been throughout the Quest. He had not gone with Mr. Frodo to Mordor and back to abandon him now.

And Mr. Frodo would certainly still need Sam's help. He and Strider- Aragorn, that is- both had agreed that Frodo, though a strong-willed being, would not easily shake off the influence of the One Ring, and would need his friends. As Strider had remarked somberly, Mr. Frodo was fighting an internal battle, and would be plagued by Darkness and perhaps foul dreams for a while. It seemed to Sam that the afore-mentioned assumption was very much correct.

Quickly but completely silently, Sam got up from his stool and made his way to the bed. That odd, low keening had steadily getting louder, and Sam felt his stomach twist painfully.

Mr. Frodo was still asleep, but clearly in the throes of some Dark dream. His pale brow was drawn down, his body overly-tense. The numerous scratches and half-healed wounds still covering his body were still paining him, and Sam could see even through the light tunic his master was dressed the thick bandages covering him almost like a second skin.

In a habit of doing so by now due to their long months journeying together to Mordor, Sam gently climbed up on the bed and stopped beside his master; he was still asleep, but sweating and starting to shake. Sam felt his heart beat quicken and without conscious thought he reached to his master, hating to see his pain.

The moment his hands touched skin, he heard the quiet moan turn into a full-out cry of terror. Thin arms flailed against his hold but Sam was not shaken off. He supposed it was a good thing it was only him and Mr. Frodo in the room for the night. Although his kind heart broke to Mr. Frodo in such mindless terror and pain, Sam kept a firm hold on his master as Frodo's tortured screams grew in volume and strength. Having seen similar nightmares since the celebrations at the Field of Cormellan, Sam slowly drew his beloved master into his arms and stroked the silver-streaked chestnut curls. Frodo's tortured screams ceased almost at once but the soft, gently caresses of Sam's hand woke him, and with the horrible vestiges of Darkness still hanging over him from the nightmare, he broke down sobbing and shuddering in Sam's arms, shaken and disoriented by his sudden awakening.

"Hush," Sam whispered softly, almost as a murmur, still stroking the dark locks steadily. "Hush now, Mr. Frodo, it's all right. Your Sam's here, right here… nothin's gonna hurt you now, not with your Sam here…"

It took a long while for Frodo to calm fully down. For the first time since staring at Minas Morgal and blank despair had fallen on him, he wept until he had exhausted himself and his throat ached. Sam, being strong, faithful Sam stayed right there throughout it all, holding him close like a parent would a babe. After all, it was a servant's duty to be there for a master, and Sam also knew this was a good thing for Frodo. Although a strong, wise personality, and someone who could take a lot of pain, Frodo had never really processed all that had happened. He needed this cry to get everything out of his system. Sam knew from experience that sometimes a good cry was the best medicine there was to offer.

Sam's patience was awarded when he finally felt Frodo's hand squeeze his own.

"Thank you, Sam," he whispered hoarsely. He simply lay back limply in Sam's arms much like he had in the tower of Coruth Ingol after Sam had found him.

"No need to thank me, Mr. Frodo," Sam answered just as softly. "You know I'm always here."

Frodo looked up at him tiredly, intense azure meeting with equally intense brown. He didn't seem completely present, however- and Sam could understand why. Darkness lay heavily on a tired heart, and he knew the Shadow would haunt his master for a long time.

"The Dark, Sam," he heard Mr. Frodo begin tentatively. "It was calling to me. I couldn't escape It, and Sauron's Eye was fixed upon me… I can't stop thinking about It…"

Sam nodded slowly. "You won't if you dwell on It, Mr. Frodo. Here now, lay back down and fall asleep again. Your Sam's here, and just remember that you knows the journey's done- we're in Gondor, Mr. Frodo, don't forget, and Sauron's defeated, and Strider's the king of Gondor, and Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin are here, too. We're all here."

"Yes," Mr. Frodo agreed softly. "Yes, we're all here." He took a deep breath, looking exhausted, and reached up his bandaged right hand to dry his brow. "What is the time, Sam?"

"Nears eleven. The Moon is hiding behind those mountains out theres aways. You've only been sleepin' a few hours."

Now Mr. Frodo looked up at him in concern. "But haven't you had any sleep tonight yet, Sam?"

"No, not yet, Mr. Frodo. I just don't feel much like sleepin' ifn you take my meaning."

"I suppose I do, Sam. But come now! You must get some sleep yourself after all we've been through! Lie down here beside me and we can sleep." And as Sam began to protest, Frodo suddenly regained the quiet strength and stubbornness that he had lost following the dream. "We're both tired, Sam, even after two weeks of sleep. You did such a job of keeping me moving during the Dark days of the Quest. Now you must rest your eyes- if not for yourself, then do it for me. I won't be budged from this now, Sam-lad, don't protest so!"

Sam chuckled. "I'm guessin' I got no choice. What a time to be stubborn, Mr. Frodo! I suppose a few hours' sleep'll do us both good, and with the Shadow gone now…"

Frodo grinned. Although the respectable hobbit age of fifty, and twelve years Sam's senior, Sam still treated him as a child. "Careful, Sam- you may actually convince yourself to follow my order willingly."

"Glory be, so I may! All right, Mr. Frodo, you win this now. I'll get some shut-eye same as you." His mind decided, he lay down on the bed as well. He didn't know if he'd really get any sleep, but as long as he was at least near, he could still help Mr. Frodo. And maybe, with Sam there, the dreams would stay away.

He stayed awake until he heard Mr. Frodo's breathing deepen and even out, clearly sleeping again.

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Having found no sign of the Sun, the Moon came out from behind the mountains, her placid face as majestic as ever. Riding her trail of sky, her silvery beams fell upon Middle-earth, and in Gondor night watchmen rejoiced to have her light. Her beams drifted through the windows and open doors of the buildings, and slowly caressed the peaceful faces of two extraordinary beings, the two hobbits who had achieved so much. The Moon paid no attention to this however, and continued on her way.

The star Earendil, however, looked down at them and smiled, her light having helped the two sleeping forms on their quest, it was she who had given Sam hope in the Shadow Land on the way to mount Doom. Her light, too, shown in Frodo Baggins and Aragorn King of Gondor. They were her children, and she loved them.

Idly, she continued on her way, always keeping a careful eye on the beings she had watched for so long. She had seen the Ringbearer's light shine brightly even through everything, just as she had seen Aragorn's; she had followed him when the Moon was hidden across the plains of Mordor, along Emyn Muil, and even down the Ugnoliant's lair, where Galadrial's phial that held Earendil's light shone in the Ringbearer's hands.

Silently to herself, the ancient star wondered when all of her children would join her. She supposed only time would tell- her time was forever, so she would have to wait and see.