I don't know where these are coming from, I really don't. For some reason a third short-and-sweet, gentle reunion vignette needed to be told. Hope you enjoy it! (Hugs to Tathar, my unwitting muse!)

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

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"And though you have indeed slept long and blessedly, still it is now time to sleep again." ..... Then the others also departed, and Frodo and Sam went to their beds and slept.

The Return of the King

J.R.R. Tolkien



REUNION AT CORMALLEN

It may have been close to midnight when Sam and Frodo, led by respectful Men carrying torches, returned to the pavilion in the beech grove. As they passed through the curtains they saw that candles had been lit and placed on a table in the middle of the tent, along with a pitcher of water, cups, and a bowl of fruit. Nightclothes had been placed on each of their beds. Sam picked up one of the nightshirts and smiled.

"It's a fair fit," he said. "I wonder where these Big Folk got such small clothes as what they've given us?"

"Well Sam, if we've been asleep for weeks, as Gandalf said, I suppose there was plenty of time to find them, or make them." As if in a dream, Frodo sat down on the other bed.

"Sam," he said softly, "Is all this real, do you think?"

Sam looked up at Frodo's face, alight in the candle glow. He came and joined his friend on the bed. Frodo raised his hand to touch a faint, healing scar on Sam's forehead just as Sam reached out to touch Frodo's right hand. They both laughed.

"I suspect so," said Sam. "If we were dreaming still, or dead even, I suppose you'd have all your fingers now, wouldn't you?"

"I suppose I would," said Frodo quietly, flexing his right hand. "I daresay it will be a challenge, learning how to write all over again. It's been hard enough today holding a fork or a cup."

"Mr. Frodo, there isn't now any challenge you can't take on, is there?"

Sam took Frodo's right hand and held it gently. He desperately wanted to know so many things. Why did you do it? What was it like to put that Ring on your finger, did you feel anything when it got melted? How could that Gollum see you when I couldn't? How much do you remember? I'll never know, he realized. I'll never ask him.

"It will be odd," Frodo said, "To go to sleep without fear, without jumping at every sound, without wondering what's hunting us, how much food is there left, where will we find any more.... water..." His voice trailed off as his eyes rested on the pitcher of water, gleaming in the candlelight. Sam followed his gaze.

"Water," Sam murmured, shaking his head. "All we'd like, no doubt. And light. Remember when all we wanted in the world was just clean water and a bit of light. Just out from that Tower, we were."

"I remember." Frodo walked over to the pitcher. "You know, Sam," he said, looking up innocently, "There is rather a *lot* of water here." He picked up the pitcher with both hands and took a step forward, a mischievous glint in his eye.

"Now sir," Sam warned with a slow smile, "I thought you wanted to go to sleep without fear of anything hunting you!"

Frodo let out a delighted laugh and set the pitcher back down, then poured a drink for both of them. Holding a cup carefully in his right hand, he sat down again next to Sam and held it up.

"Sam," Frodo said softly. "I never could have-----"

"Hush," Sam interrupted. He held up his own cup and touched it to Frodo's, then drank it down. Frodo did the same, then looked around in wonder.

"We're safe," he said. "Safe." He looked at Sam and smiled. "Sweet dreams, Sam."

"And to you, sir," Sam whispered.