Sun and Stars by Lbilover

niphredil and elanor
niphredil and elanor
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Originally written for CMEM-07. Based on the following quote from Tolkien's letters: 

I have not seen anything that immediately recalls niphredil or elanor ... but that I think is because those imagined flowers are lit by a light that would not be seen ever in a growing plant and cannot be recaptured by paint. Lit by that light, niphredil would be simply a delicate kin of a snowdrop; and elanor a pimpernel (perhaps a little enlarged) growing sun-golden flowers and star-silver ones on the same plant, and sometimes the two combined.


The grandchildren are all tucked into bed, the washing up is done and Rosie and Fastred have gone outside to take a turn around the garden in the cool night air.


In the study, Sam and Elanor share an increasingly rare private time together. Sam sits in his usual armchair by the fire, the one that had once been Frodo’s, and Elanor curls up on the rug at his feet, resting her golden head against his knees the way she had as a child. 


“I’ve missed this, Sam-dad,” she whispers, staring into the flickering red flames. “I’ve missed you.”


“Aye. It’s been too long, my Ellie. Too long.” He strokes his hand gently over her silken curls, remembering the many hours of quiet contentment they’d shared this way before she married Fastred and moved away to the Towers. There’s no resentment in the thought, however. Fastred is as fine a son-in-law as a hobbit could wish for, and has made his Elanor very happy indeed.


A glimmer beneath the tips of his caressing fingers catches Sam’s attention. He peers closely and discovers in the mass of Elanor’s golden hair several strands of bright silver. His hand stills in mid-motion and a small sound of distress escapes him before he can choke it back.


“Father? What is it?” Elanor looks up at him, her still-fair face creased with concern.


“It’s naught,” Sam says gruffly, blinking against the moisture in his eyes. “Just your old dad being a fool.”


“Shall we have that argument again, Sam-dad?” Elanor says lightly. “My dad is neither old nor a fool.” She reaches up and takes his hand and cradles the back against her cheek. “Please, tell me what is wrong, dearest.” She pauses, and then adds quietly, her eyes searching his face. “Is it Frodo of the Ring?”


She knows him too well, Sam thinks, knows how memories of the past, of Frodo, can spring unexpectedly out of hiding and trap him at unawares with his guard down- as now...


***


“Sam, come and look at what I’ve found,” Frodo said in a strange voice.


They had been walking together beneath the trees in Caras Galadhon, speaking no words, but taking comfort in each other’s presence. Frodo had gone ahead while Sam lingered to admire the flowers scattered like glowing jewels among the rich green grass. But at Frodo’s words, he hurried forward to kneel by his side. 


“What is it, Mr. Frodo?” he asked.


“Do you see?” Frodo said, pointing. “That elanor flower there. It has not one but two blossoms, Sam. One is gold and the other silver. Is it not beautiful? As if the sun and stars were bound together in it.” 


Sam stared in wonder at the small flower whose twin blossoms lightly kissed along the edges. 


Frodo was smiling for the first time since the day- how many days ago, Sam couldn’t say for certain- that they’d stumbled out of Moria, that dreadful dark place, consumed with grief for Gandalf’s loss. 


“It reminds me of the two of us, Sam,” he said, touching the flower with his forefinger and setting it to quivering on its slender stem.


Sam blushed. “Begging your pardon, sir, but no one would ever compare me to a flower. Now you…” he hesitated, and then the words tumbled out: “Well, there ain’t no denying you’re as fair as the garden at midnight when the starlight turns it all to silver.” He blushed harder, embarrassed by his extravagant words, hoping Frodo wouldn’t laugh at them.


But Frodo didn’t laugh. “Why, Sam, staying here in Lórien has made your speech Elven-fair,” he said, his smile widening with pleased surprise. “But if I am the starlit garden, my dear, then you are the meadows of home, shining golden in the sunlight.” The smile faded as his expression grew serious. “There are times now when the sun seems distant from me, but your warmth I can feel inside me always.”


Sudden tears sprang to Sam’s eyes. “Oh, sir,” he said, “if I can be that to you, if I can help to keep you warm inside, there’s naught more I could wish for in this world.”


“Naught more? Are you certain?” Frodo reached out and with the fingers of his right hand traced a path down Sam’s temple and along the line of his jaw, coming to rest on the top button of his shirt. He took the wooden button lightly between thumb and forefinger. “We haven’t much time left here, Sam,” Frodo said, “and after that…” 


His voice trailed away, and he looked off into the distance, a furrow between his brows. Sam said nothing, unable to speak, for every fiber of his being was focussed on the slender fingers resting at his breast, their touch burning like a brand. 


Then Frodo gave a little shake and returned to the present. His vivid blue eyes held Sam captive. “Shall we not take this chance, Sam, to bind sun and stars together, too, as the elanor has?” He slipped the first button of Sam’s shirt free from its hole, moved to the next, and then hesitated, awaiting Sam’s response.


“I’d like that,” Sam whispered, covering Frodo’s hand with his own. Then, sun-brown and star-pale, they lay down together in the soft grass.


***


When Sam returns to himself, Elanor is still holding his hand and watching him with silent understanding. Once she might have hurried him to tell her where he had gone in his thoughts, but she is older and wiser now, with children of her own. Sam’s heart aches a little for the child she had been, and he recalls the vow she made then never to let them be parted, as Arwen had been parted from her father. 


When the day comes for her to choose, and it will, Sam already knows and accepts what her choice must be. 


But that time is far off, and in his Elanorellë the golden sun and silver stars are once more bound together, and he says to his daughter: “Did I ever tell you about the elanor flower that Frodo found in Caras Galadhon?” and knows that he can wait in patience for the day that sun and stars meet again on the western shore.


~end~