Title: The Light Was Lost
Date Posted: 9 May 2002
Author: Van Donovan
Characters: Frodo, Galadriel, Gandalf
Pairing: implied Frodo/Sam
Word count: 610
Warnings: Spoilers through Return of the King
Summary: The light Elendil went out.
Notes: Written for fun. I own nothing. Inspired by a discussion by Cara Loupe on the old Bit of Earth mailing list.
[…and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore glimmered and was lost.] - JRR Tolkien, Return of the King (pg. 339)
In his hand the brilliant phial cooled and faded, changing from its vibrant star-like light to a dimmer throbbing that grew gradually fainter and fainter as the Gray Havens faded into the mists. Something tightened in his chest as he watched the phial darken and he turned imploring eyes up to the figure nearby beside him. When he spoke he was unable to keep the worry from tainting his voice. What happened if the light went out? “Why does it fade Gandalf?”
Gandalf’s eyes did not lift from where he had fixed them on the distant shore that they could no longer see. He seemed to weigh his words before he replied. “The light of Eärendil shines brightly in the Undying Lands.”
“That is not what I asked. Gandalf, why is it fading? And why does that bring despair into my heart? Don’t leave me Gandalf!” But the Istari had bowed his head and turned away from him as though in mourning. “Gandalf!?” His eyes were on the broad back of the wizard so he did not see the last glimpse of Middle-earth as the mists consumed it on the sea but in his heart he felt the longing grow into an ache. His right hand felt icy cold and he looked down to it where the dark phial brought him far more pain than his broken hand that held it.
“Not all who choose immortality are destined for such.”
His breath caught in his throat as his heart cinched tighter. He turned to face the Lady of the Wood and could not help but see the pain in his eyes reflected in hers. “What won’t Gandalf tell me?”
Galadriel’s face remained unreadable as her eyes shifted from him to the sea wake beyond the ship. “The light of the phial has been lost, Ringbearer.”
There was a long silence as he absorbed this information and when he next spoke it was in a whisper as though he might already know the answer. “Why?”
“The phial only shines in dark places.” She stated and her eyes shifted to look at him but neither her body nor head followed. She was judging his reaction.
“Is this place not dark?” Night had fallen and overhead the velvet sky was showing stars.
“It brings courage and strength.”
“I feel I have neither.”
At last she turned to face him full and he held the glass aloft between them.
“Its light is increased by the hope and the bravery of its bearer.”
Like a thunderclap he seemed to understand and he lowered the hand that held the phial because it was now trembling too much to keep up any longer. “You must have hope and bravery to make the light shine,” he murmured softly.
“I gave the phial to you, Ringbearer, but it was never your bravado or faith that made the star shine.”
“It was Sam,” he softly said, his eyes fixed on the glass in his hand. “Sam was my hope, my strength and my bravery. And I have left him.” His head jerked up as if a sudden occurrence had struck him. “ ‘Not all who choose immortality are destined for such’ you said. Do you mean to tell me . . .”
“That you should have stayed?” A mirthless smile graced her lips but her cool cerulean eyes returned to looking over the stern of the ship at the sheet of black sea stretching out behind them.
“I should have stayed,” he repeated in a raspy breath. As the words came he felt his heart rate skip and quicken. “I shouldn’t have left the one thing I found hope in.”
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