1. The End of the Road - by Dwimordene
"He is in Master Elrond's hands, Samwise," Gandalf had said, as if that were reason not to fear. But the door had shut, and so Sam had found himself wandering the halls of the Last Homely House alone. Last time I let them pack me off to the baths, he thought, feeling betrayed. Well, that was a bit strong, perhaps, but though he could not rest, he was weary, and words were hard to come by.
At length, he came upon the porch, and after standing awhile, sank down upon the steps and sat there, chin in hands, watching the shadows wax before a red horizon. It was some time before he realized he was not alone.
"Oh, it's you," he said to the other's knees, which in truth were all he could see without craning his neck. But he knew the boots by now, and Strider descended a few steps before settling himself in a rather sprawling posture upon the stair just below. He slouched against the railing, eyes closed, and it occurred to Sam that their erstwhile guide was exhausted–as exhausted, perhaps, as Sam himself. An awkward, uncomfortable revelation, that, as all the mistrustful days made themselves felt suddenly, and with them inevitably all the times he might've been more helpful, might've made the journey less wearing.
Doubtless that was why his voice sounded a bit gruff when he ventured to ask, "Beggin' your pardon, but should you be out here?" And when the Ranger tipped his head back and looked a question at him, he explained quickly, "You look a bit run out."
"I am a bit run out," Strider admitted wryly. But his eyes were grave as he said more pointedly, "Nearly as much as yourself." A pause. "He is still with us, Sam."
"I know," Sam replied, then hesitated, before he said softly, "And so are you, after all's said and done." Strider said nothing, but something flickered in that keen face, as Sam rose suddenly and stuck out his hand. "I said I'd be first to say 'I'm sorry' and 'thank you'," he declared, with a sudden rush of confidence. "Well, I am sorry. And I do thank you."
A slow smile spread over Strider's face, as he replied, "A long road we've come already." Sam found his hand engulfed in a firm grip, then, as he finished, "May it lengthen between friends."
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.