….just the memory of their voices, hushed with night and
song, just the smallest thread of recollection, was enough to stir a sort of pained longing within him. From the edge of his vision, held fast by the soft radiance of the moon, something shimmered.
Soft as the light caught in the grey-brown-green of the tree, Lily's laughter brought him back to himself, to the still'd clearing, to.....
the music of her delighted laugh…….her hands, reaching with child-like abandon, to entrap what lingered.....there......among the green rushes.......there.....within the reaching arms of a tree.....
As if she had never seen him before, and yet, as if she knew him more than she knew herself, her hand touched warmth along the planes of his face. He found he could not move. It was as if the world entire was contained within the gentle scope of her hands. He could think of naught else, save the very touch of her…… Oh, the night, and this place, and the fire-flies lighting like Faerie-fire....
One of them rested upon the open palm of his right hand.
The light of it had almost the gleam of gold.
If he should close his hand.........
if he should close his hand, he could keep it.
He looked up, far away, to where Eärendil lay, caught in the grey-blue of forever.
Lily stood quiet, his left hand in hers. How long had he stood there, he wondered. In this place, in another life, he had spoken words of greeting to the Elves, as they passed away, like the mists of night, into the West.
Into the West, from which there was no return.
He looked down at the small life that glimmered gold and faded
......glimmered gold.....and .....faded....
Steadfastly, he held his hand open to the soft breeze of the night. Almost, he could hear it whisper, as it took the star-bug from him.
'Namarie', he murmured, and saw his breath turn to mist upon the chilling air.
Lily was there, still, and took his hand in both of hers and looked down upon the empty palm and the half-space where his finger should be.
With quiet intent, she touched the nerve-less scar of the stump with her lips.
"Never........never could they shine as you do. Never."
How fierce her small voice was.
He did not know what that meant. He, shine ?
The ponies had wandered off. He could hear them, whuffing and moving about as the chill rose up off the forest-floor. Even the fire-flies had stopped their restless dance and gone off to wherever fire-flies found fit to rest.
It was time, and more than time, for those who wander to return…...
As they passed under the darkness of the last tree and stepped onto the road leading home, he turned about once more.
Like a star nested upon the face of the water, a lone fire-fly winked its solitary lantern. And then the night closed about them, and the path behind was lost to the darkness. And Frodo did not look about him again, but rode silently, his eyes following the ribbon of the road.
And when they at last reached Home, he closed the door firmly against the night without. The faded armchair in the study, they found, was large enough to hold the two of them, and the reading of tales spun of fine Elven-weave was more than one Hobbit could ever ask for. And as they fell towards sleep, still held in the warmth of the chair, Frodo imagined he saw dragons in the dying embers of the grate.
first fire-flies......now, dragons.......
and he drifted until he saw the Sea, rolling green and blue and gold upon a shore that he did not know.
And there were lilies there, growing wild, and the air was fresh with the scent of them, and quickening with Spring.
and he woke, and there were no fire-flies, no dragons....no blue-green-gold Sea. Only Lily, quiet and safe in his arms. And he, in hers.