One Moment, Untainted
In one moment untouched by authors of this world, the Fellowship has an unseen visitor.
I walk the fine edge between morality and absolute power. One slight step is all it would take . . . and everything could be mine.
The light of the full moon spills over the quiet landscape. Sleep has washed over those under the heavens, even they whose task is still unfinished. The heavenly orb above me seems to purify the open landscape all around, lending a stillness and unearthly quiet to the moment.
On ghostly feet I draw near, and my breath catches in my throat. In the clearing are those I have sought, those who I've longed for, those who I protect. They are sheltered by a ring of trees and boulders, tufts of grass their only bedding. One by one I look for them, and my feelings overwhelm me.
The hobbits sleep back to back against each other, as much for warmth as for reassurance and comfort. They are so small, smaller than I imagined. Yet I know that they are not children, no matter how looks mislead me.
I see Merry's thoughtful face as he rests easily, wrapped in his blanket. I think of his legendary cleverness, and the role he is to have in what I know is coming. Oh, to give him some encouragement! To say to him always look to the sunrise, and never the fading of the sun. But I cannot.
My lips curve in half smile as I look at his cousin Pippin, who has become tangled in his blanket, but has a definite expression of hunger on his face. He is probably dreaming of mushrooms, I laugh to myself. And of second breakfast, no doubt. If I could, I would give him all the mushrooms in the world! Yet the most I can offer is a prayer for the young hobbit, that he will never lose that which makes him unique . . . his streak of Tookishness.
Sam stirs in his own set of dreams, and I step back, fearing that I have awakened him. He pulls his cloak tighter around him and settles back into slumber. Sam, who wanted nothing more than to garden like his dear old Gaffer. He deserves so much more recognition than he receives. Devotion such as his to Frodo is legendary to me, and I am one of the few who yet respects it. "Be well, Sam," I whisper.
And then my eyes fall upon the Ringbearer. He seems to be the smallest of them all, curled up as he is. He seems to shiver as I kneel beside him. Plagued by what dreams I do not know, hesitantly I touch the curls upon his head and pray that he gains strength. He needs it most of all, and I do not envy him. Frodo will not be the same, and I almost cry for him, because he is so innocent and knows not. I wish that I could prevent what must occur. Yet I will not take that step.
I rise, glancing to the next members of the Fellowship of the Ring. Gimli, son of Glóin has his head pillowed against a rock, hands wrapped around the shaft of his axe. He does not snore as I thought dwarves might, rather mumbles. He is dreaming as well, of their destination, Moria. Again I am forced to smile as I hear the words 'ale' and 'meat'. My mirth fades, however, when I think of what he shall find within the dark caverns. "Have faith, Gimli," is what I tell him.
Turning to move on, I narrowly catch myself as I trip over a longer pair of legs in the dark. Boromir merely grunts before rolling onto his back. Even though he is a bear of a man, in sleep I can still see childish innocence. Perhaps it is his tousled hair, or simply the look of peacefulness on his face. He is not haunted by desire tonight, but I know what will happen come morning. I grieve for him, and for his death. There is no nobler man than he, in action or in thought. Wordlessly I touch his gloved hand, willing him to keep the shadow within himself at bay. I want to weep as I stand again, gazing at his unsuspecting face, knowing he does not deserve his fate.
My only clue to Aragorn's whereabouts is the soft sound of his breathing. The Ranger blends in with night better than the shadows do. Yet amidst the darkness a single gleam of light shines from his throat. The Evenstar's necklace. He and Arwen were destined for each other, no matter how many of my world deny it. The future king of Gondor will rule wisely and justly, I am sure of it. His rugged features will grow more care-worn, but I know in his heart he will always long for the open road beneath his wandering feet. "Safe journey, Strider."
Lastly, I turn to see him. The fairest of all elves. Every detail is etched firmly into my memory as I watch Legolas of Mirkwood as he walks the paths of dreams. His hair seems to glow silver in the moonlight, and his arms are crossed upon his chest where he sits upright against the trunk of an obliging tree. His magnificent bow rests in his lap, and the elf's eyes are slightly lowered in sleep, yet I know if I were to make one sudden movement he would be awake in a mere instant. My breath catches in my throat as I watch him, and somehow I cannot move any closer. His pure, spellbinding aura shames me, and I feel dirty and unclean. What right have I to intrude upon such perfection? I pity Legolas; I pity the debauchery he endures at the hands of others. Such a creature as he is undeserving.
I find I am trembling, even as I open my mouth to say the words I have so long rehearsed. "Cormamin lindua ele lle, heruamin. Aa' menle nauva calen ar' ta hwesta e' ale'quenle."
It seems inadequate, but at the same time, more than enough. My untainted moment draws nearer its end, and I force myself away.
I allow myself one final glimpse of the quiet glen, the place of peaceful refuge from what morning brings. Then resolutely I drift away, leaving my greatest wish behind.
Movement on my right distracts me, and I stiffen until I recognize the slightly bent hat of the wizard, Gandalf. He is sitting placidly on a fallen log, stargazing. Apparently he has taken no note of me. I pause to pay silent tribute to the final member of the Fellowship. His quiet statement catches me off guard.
"So you have seen them."
Something compels me to stand before him, and I move to do so before replying. "Yes, and now I leave them."
His sharp blue eyes probe me. "Forever?"
Drawing a deep breath, I sigh and nod firmly. "Forever. I am their protector, and never shall I be more."
Gandalf nods once to me, before returning to his study of the sky. It is my dismissal, and I am ready.
For my untainted moment is over. The tides of fanfictions may rush back in over the poor beleaguered canon, but my time is done.
And yet, who knows? Frodo may awaken to find that he feels better than he has in weeks. Boromir may discover that the shadow upon his mind has lifted for a little while. Merry and Pippin may revive their usual jests and camaraderie.
But I . . . I have passed out of memory and thought, never to be noticed. And that is how it must be.
My heart sings to see thee, my lord. May thy paths be green and the breeze on thy back.
Original Fanfiction.net stats:
Complete - Lord of the Rings - Fiction Rated: K - English - Angst/General - Chapters: 1 - Words: 1280 - Reviews: 36 - Updated: 7-31-02 - Published: 7-31-02
Cover image credit: nitrok.deviantart.com