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9
Dancing in the Dusk

Part IX: Dancing in the Dusk

“I know I’ve said it already, Mr.—erm, Frodo…but it just does my heart such a world of good to see you so happy. It’s so wonderful to know you got your reward, as I had mine.”

“And I am so glad to have you here with me, Samwise Gamgee. More than I could ever tell you. Although I so regret the tremendous loss that brought you.”

“It’s all right, M—Frodo. I had her as long as I did, and all the little ’uns, and the grandchildern and all. She weren’t sick for long and went out easy in her sleep, and I was with her. I’m just overjoyed to have the chance to see you once more before I follow her to where she is now. And my time won’t be long neither, I’m told.”

“I think neither will mine,” I said softly, then bent down and kissed the top of his head.

Then I led him to the cushioned chair on the terrace as Anemone cleared away the dishes. I made as if to help her but she gave me a “don’t you even think about it” look and grinned as she piled the remains of our dinner into a small tub and bore it into the house. She was plumper than when I had first met her, with a few silver streaks showing among the gold in her hair, which was bound into a long braid, and there were crinkles that showed around her eyes when she smiled…which was often, very often indeed. I had plenty of crinkles of my own, and my hair was all silver now.

So was Sam’s. He was quite stout and used a cane, for he had an arthritic leg. I carefully eased it up onto a pillowed stool, then brought him a brew Lord Elrond had concocted, which helped the pain immensely.

"My old Gaffer had the gout pretty bad up towards the end," he said thoughtfully as he sipped at the tea. "This stuff would have eased his passing plenty, I'm sure."

I sat myself down beside him, feeling grateful to the others. They were planning a huge celebration for us tomorrow, I knew. But they had kindly let us spend the first day of our reunion alone at our cove. Even Anemone's youngest son, Northlight, who lived on the other side of the cove from us, had gone home, along with his wife, an elleth we had adopted as our daughter shortly after our wedding.

Dusk was falling. Soon giggles could be heard from the bushes.

“What’s that?” Sam asked glancing about.

“Her other children--and grandchildren. They pop in from time to time.”

“Why don’t they come up here?”

“They will eventually. I imagine they wanted to give us our time alone for today.”

Sam smiled, then shook his grey head in wonder. I hoped he was not missing his own children too much. I still couldn't quite take it in that he had left them just to see me once more.

I did not deserve that, surely.

“Look,” I said as a glimmer caught my eye, “there’s another one climbing up over the waterfall. Watch!”

Sam squinted his eyes to where I pointed. Sure enough, one of the little creatures stood above the arch of the highest waterfall with her arms outstretched as if to take flight. Sam gasped.

“She’s goin’ to jump,” he said. “But it’s so high up!”

“Just watch,” I said smiling. "I don't know if that's Nightingale or Gloryfall. It's still hard to tell the twins apart, at least from a distance."

The little lady bent her legs, blew us a kiss with an exaggerated gesture, then dove with incredible grace off the arch, falling in a shining arc into the red-stained ripples below. She barely made a splash.

Sam just sat watching with open mouth. Not to be outdone, her twin climbed up to the arch and dove also. Soon shrieky giggles ensued from the water, with much splashing. Sam tightened his lips.

“If ever one of mine ’d tried such a trick, she’d catch it hot!” he declared, and I laughed heartily. “Come to think of it, I could almost see my Elanor doin’ somethin’ like it when she was a young ’un. Full of odd notions, she was. Sometimes if I didn’t know better I’d ’a thought she was more your daughter than mine. Not that I ever once supposed it,” he added hastily.

I smiled a little sadly. “I wish I could see her now. Does your leg feel better, Sam? Enough to make it down the path to the beach?”

“Yes, much better. But if it’s all the same to you, M—Frodo, I’m quite comfy here.”

“I know, but Anemone wants to show us something. Just this once?”

“All right then. I’ll do anything to please her. She’s a most wonderful lady, she is.”

The sunset looked silvery on the waves. Sam didn’t take his cane and walked without limping, but I held his arm linked in mine, clutching our pipes and pouches in my free hand, and Anemone carried three fat pillows and a bottle of wine. Two elderly hobbits and one ageless little lady, all together in the twilight.

There was a full moon coming up and already the white sand was luminous. She laid the cushions down and we sat on them, me in the middle. I wrapped my arms firmly around the two people I loved best in the world and waited as the soft notes of a harp, a flute, and a small drum began to play from an unseen source--one of which was Northlight.

Then four faery-like girls appeared, all in silver-white short filmy gowns and wreaths of small lilies on their heads, and began to dance at the edge of the sea-strand. They started out dancing with exactly the same movements, so that it looked as though it were just one girl reflected in three mirrors, rising to the very tips of their toes, arms reaching as if to touch the stars, tracing curves in exquisite slowness that left faint traces of silvery light in the air that gradually vanished like mist, whirling suddenly about with one accord, then moving more quickly as the music increased tempo, until they were flitting about with breathtaking speed and grace, leaping over each other in unbelievably high arcs, yet barely making an impression on the sand. Then they were dancing on the water, their feet skimming the surface, without making ripples, as if they were treading on glass. More joined them until it seemed as if the stars had all taken human form and come down to frolic on the glistening waves.

And as the stars came out one by one in the sky and the moon rose as a frosty bubble, the music grew gradually fainter, and the dancers receded into the distance until they disappeared into the sea below, and then the water itself seemed to dance as white dolphins leaped suddenly above the waves in a joyous and sparkling unison with the moonlight kissing their fins.

~*~Finis~*~

~~~

Two sequels coming up soon........


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