Originally written in 2006 for the fourth of July.
On a hilltop they gather: a company of Rangers, grim and weather-beaten veterans of the never-ceasing war against the Shadow in the East.
They settle down in the soft grass cross-legged or hugging their knees. They have set aside their weapons; none are needed here.
Dusk is deepening into night. Far below, twinkling lights from a distant village are emerging.
For some minutes, all is peaceful and quiet, until an explosion of noise like a thunderclap breaks the stillness. Brilliant streamers of blue, green, red and white shoot high into the sky, and burst into blossoms of colour. They linger, shimmering, before vanishing in a flash.
There are gasps of wonder from the watching men, and far away the sound of cheering from those in the village below.
Aragorn glances at his dour Rangers, and a smile lightens his stern features. In the varicoloured light of the fireworks, he sees the childlike awe and delight on their faces. Such rare moments as these give all of them the heart to go on fighting, go on protecting these simple folk they have never met.
They will not stay long inside the Shire’s borders, but this memory will stay with them always.