Featured Essay

As most of you know, I am on Archive of Our Own, and as some of you who are also on AO3 might know, the 15th was International Fanworks Day. They asked for essays explaining why fanworks (fanfic, fanart, etc.) are important to you. Six were featured. Mine was one of them. ^.^ If you’re curious, here it is below.

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For as long as I can remember, I have loved to write.

Poetry. Books. Short Stories. Songs. Shojo Manga. I write anything and everything that I can – any idea that I can latch onto with my brain and take over. To me, ideas are not created. Ideas appear and take off running, beckoning a writer to snatch them and spin them into threads of story. Since ideas come to me in different forms, I use different mediums to express them.

I have discovered over the past fifteen years of my life that writing is not for the faint of heart. To discover another world and then create it, knowing that what has become a part of you is not even real, is something all writers must grapple with. It is a struggle and a delight to watch the people you breathed into existence go throughout their lives – and to know that they are under your hand, even as they claim your heart. They rest in your power, and you rest in theirs.

On a more superficial level, writing is difficult because it is time-consuming. Creating metaphors requires thought. Plotting can require extensive planning. And sometimes, out of exhaustion or laziness, creating original fiction is something I cannot bring myself to do.

Not only is writing hard – living is hard. For the writer and for everyone else, life is difficult, also a struggle and a delight, the same as building a universe by pressing keys. This world is dark. Occasionally, this world is frightening. And when a person is put into a situation where they do not feel competent, comfortable, they seek to escape it.

That’s where fanfiction comes in for me. As a writer, a person who creates fiction, I constantly seek out fiction. Broadway tracks. Books. Comics. Television. I use them the way some people use stimulants: to escape the world. Unlike people who escape the world by drugging themselves out, however, I trade this world for another. I walk the paths of Middle Earth, fight at the barricade with Les Amis, and mow down the enemies of Hyrule – all without ever leaving my couch. When it is over and I am forced back to reality, I seek to enter that world again, but under my own circumstances, and through the eyes of the people I fell in love with while I journeyed there. I return to that world again and again, or I bring the people from it into my own.

I use fanfiction as a way to try another author’s style, and so it has made me a better writer, but I also use it as a way to explore deep emotions that the story has unlocked within me. Story-telling is power. Despite what some people think, fanfiction is story-telling. It has not only made me a better writer, it has made me a better person. And I will be forever grateful to the writers who came before me for the gift that they have given me.

Christmas at the Opera House: A Guest Fanfiction

Christmas may be over, but this fanfiction, submitted by Eruleese from Life of a Fangirl, was a lot of fun, so I decided to share it. Did you ever imagine what would happen if someone crossed Lord of the Rings and Phantom of the Opera? I didn’t think so. Well, on the off-chance you did, I imagine you never guessed they could cross as a Christmas fic! Essentially, this is a cute story by Eruleese where Christine from “Phantom” meets Eowyn lost in Paris, and invites her and Faramir to spend the holidays in the Opera House. Christmas shenanigans ensue. Eruleese has helped with Obscure Fandom Friday in the past, so if you just found my blog, I’d encourage you to read her blog and her posts, because she’s no stranger to this site. Without further ado, enjoy “Christmas at the Opera House”!

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A Christmas in the Opera House

Christmases spent in the Opera House were less than ideal, though made better by the presence of one Miss Christine Daae, Erik decided. Of course, the cheerful young woman was off gift shopping for the aforementioned Christmas holiday. Erik, on the other hand, hadn’t a clue what to get the beautiful Christine. In his opinion, nothing was good enough for her.

This little monologue was interrupted by Christine herself returning the cellars of the Opera Populaire laden with shopping bags. “Christine, love, can’t I help you with those?” Erik asked, scurrying over to her.

She threw her coat over the bags, blushing a bright crimson. “Erik, no! Some of these gifts are for you!” she yelped. “Speaking of gifts,” she began slyly, “What all have you gotten me?”

Erik froze. He wasn’t expecting this. “What do you want, mon cher?” he asked, trying not to reveal that he had nothing yet. To make things worse, the next day was the twentieth. Erik had six days to find perfect gifts for the love of his life.

“Hmm…,” Christine thought for a bit. “I’m not sure. Something I’d like. Now, I’m off to wrap gifts in the studio. Don’t think of coming in there!” She giggled and walked off, dark curls swaying enchantingly.

Erik watched her go and waited until he heard her angelic voice float from the little studio before he resumed thinking, his love’s voice providing a soundtrack to his mind. “Oh, what could I possibly get her?” he moaned. “There’s simply nothing worthy of Christine Daae!”

He heard the soft singing still echoing from the studio, gentle notes of “Think of me, think of me fondly, when we’ve said goodbye!” This made him consider upgrading the studio for her, but who would do business with Erik, the Phantom of the Opera? No one.

Nothing worked. He brainstormed for hours until Christine came back out of the studio, a bit of ribbon in her hair. “Did you get everything wrapped?” Erik asked, putting his arm around Christine. She nestled into him and nodded.

Then her eyes lit up and she tilted her head to look up at him. “Oh, I almost forgot!”

“Oh dear. What now, angel?”

“I invited a young couple to stay with us!”

Erik sighed. “Christine, why would you do such a thing? You know I-”

“I know, I know. You don’t like socializing. But they’re lost, Erik, and it’s Christmas! Please,” she begged, giving her lover the puppy-dog eyes.

“Oh, I guess,” Erik said grudgingly.

“Yay! They’re from a country called Middle-earth and their names are Eowyn and Faramir. I’ll go to them tomorrow,” Christine giggled. “I love you so much.”

“Well, Mademoiselle Daae, if you love me, then tell me what you want for Christmas,” Erik said, raising an eyebrow.

Christine’s eyes widened. “Nothing, Erik. I have enough already.”

“It’s Christmas, Christine. I must get you something.”

“I don’t want anything.” With that, Christine walked off. “I’m going to bed,” she announced.

Erik tried to chase after her, but knew not to mess with her when she was exasperated. He just flopped down at the organ and began work on a new piece. Perhaps this could be Christine’s gift. But it wasn’t good enough. Nothing was.

Morning came all too soon, and Erik found himself dreading the visits from Christine’s guests.

“Hey, Erik?” Christine said as she cooked eggs, toast, and pancakes.

“Yes, dear?”

“I had another idea.” She turned to look at him, eyes glittering.

“Oh dear.”

“While I go pick up Eowyn and Faramir, you can go gift shopping!” She clapped her hands cheerfully, knowing that her idea was genius.

Erik rolled his eyes. “I guess,” he groaned. “But I’ll need more time than what you’ll spend picking them up.”

Christine giggled. “Then I’ll take them for coffee or something! Now go get ready, lazybones!” She bounded off, abandoning breakfast in the process. “We’ll get food later!”

Erik sighed and walked off to get ready to go. He knew not to argue with Christine when her heart was set on something. He slipped on his white half-mask, something he hardly wore around the house anymore.

“Christine, I’m ready to go!” he called, walking into the bathroom where the young woman was brushing her dark curls, wearing a bathrobe.

She turned to look at him. “Well, I’m not, so go find something else to do,” she told him, standing up and kissing him. “Now go. I’ll be out soon.”

Erik sighed. “Can’t I stay here? I love watching you work at things, angel.”

She wrapped her arms around his neck. “I guess. But no telling me off for wearing makeup. I don’t need that right now.” She pursed her lips and looked up at him.

He held his hands up. “Okay, okay, I won’t! I promise.” He kissed her forehead. “Love you.”

“Mmhmm. Sure you do,” she teased. With that, she sat back down and resumed brushing her hair.

True to his word, Erik stayed quiet as the gorgeous soprano went about her business. Many times, he wanted to speak up, but he didn’t.

Finally, Christine ran a final brush over her face. She stood up, wiped her hands together, and turned to face Erik. “Done,” she stated.

With that, they set out to pick up Eowyn and Faramir.

Christine took a deep breath and looked up at the tall Parisian hotel. Without another thought, she strode inside.

“Can I help you?” the receptionist asked, sounding extremely bored.

“Yes. I’m here to see Eowyn and Faramir.”

The receptionist pointed over to the chic hotel’s lounge area. Christine thanked her and hurried over.

Immediately she spotted a handsome young man with his arm around a lovely blonde woman, who had her head resting on her husband’s shoulder.

“Eowyn! Faramir!” Christine cried. The couple looked up.

“Christine!” Eowyn said, running toward the other woman. “What did Erik say?”

“You guys are free to stay as long as you’d like!” She grinned.

“But milady, I don’t want to intrude,” Faramir replied. “It is Christmas, after all.”

Christine giggled. “You’re our guests!” she responded. “Now come on! We’ve got to get going!”

“Where to?” Eowyn asked.

“There’s this nice café down the street we’re going to while Erik goes Christmas shopping. We’re meeting back up at three.”

Everyone nodded and they set off toward Café Dimanche, which was but five doors down. They then entered the café and ordered their drinks: hot chocolate for Christine, black coffee for Faramir, and a latte for Eowyn.

The trio found a table to sit at while they drank their drinks. The barista had also given each of them a free tart, seeing as it was their first visit to Café Dimanche.

“So, what brings you to Paris?” Christine asked, voice slightly amplified by the cocoa mug pressed against her lips. “And on Christmas nonetheless.”

“Well, Eowyn had always wanted to see Paris in the winter. She thought it’d be the most gorgeous thing ever. So, as her Christmas gift, I planned a little Parisian retreat, full of dinners, shopping, sightseeing, everything. Of course, I forgot to book a hotel or get directions, so we got lost. Without you, Miss Daae, we would’ve frozen.  Thank you,” Faramir said.

“Oh, that’s so romantic!” Christine sighed, burying her face in her mug again. “I wish Erik would do such a thing for me.” She said this last part so quietly it was barely audible.

“Oh, Christine,” Eowyn whispered.

“But let’s not think about that right now. How would you two like to come to tonight’s performance of Don Juan Triumphant?” Christine asked, her gaze softening. “I’m sure Erik would even allow you to sit in Box Five, seeing as he’s performing and you’re our personal guests.”

Eowyn’s eyes lit up. “Of course! Oh please, Faramir, can’t we go?” She looked up at him, perfectly executing the puppy-dog eyes Christine thought herself a master of.

He chuckled and smiled gently at her. “I guess. But only because I know you’ll be upset if we don’t go, and I hate to see you upset, love,” Faramir said, wrapping his arms around her.

“Yay!” Eowyn let out a girlish giggle, then covered her mouth. “Did that sound come out of my mouth?” she gasped, hiding her red cheeks behind her latte cup.

Everyone died laughing and she hid her face in Faramir’s shoulder, mortified. “Eowyn, don’t be embarrassed. Everyone needs to let their hair down every so often.”

“But I’m a shieldmaiden of Rohan! We do not giggle,” she spat contemptuously.

Everyone rolled her eyes at her, and Christine stifled a laugh. “Eowyn, you’ll be fine. No one minds if you girl out a little bit.”

They remained in Café Dimanche for a while longer before meeting up with Erik at three.

The rest of the day passed uneventfully until the opera at seven.

Eowyn slid into her Box Five seat next to Faramir with a huge smile on her face. She was wearing her favorite brown and white dress again and no makeup (of course).

“Wow,” Faramir gasped, “you look gorgeous, love!”

Eowyn blushed. “Thanks,” she murmured, hiding her face.

The opera began with a wonderful, if not odd, opening number. Don Juan himself, played by none other than the Phantom, also made an appearance.

“Don Juan triumphs once again!” the chorus sang as the Phantom began to sing.

The riveting number continued until the spotlight fell on Christine, who sang a few hauntingly beautiful notes. “No thoughts within her head but thoughts of joy. No dreams within her heart but dreams of love!”

After Miss Daae sang and the house exploded into cheers, Faramir stole a glance at his wife, who looked angelic in the dim light of the Opera Populaire. He sighed. How was he so lucky to have her? he wondered as Eowyn continued watching raptly as the Phantom began the next song.

Eowyn then turned toward him and smiled softly. “Love you,” she whispered.

“Love you too,” Faramir said as his arm wrapped around her.

“Now hush and watch the opera.” Eowyn turned away again and focused her attention on the stage.

“Past the point of no return, no turning back now!” Christine sang.

“Wow,” Eowyn breathed, almost inaudibly. “I wish I sang that well.”

Faramir went to reply, but his wife’s attention was once again focused on the story unfolding on the stage.

The opera continued until the end with no chandelier crashes, kidnappings, unexpected events, or anything of the sort.  Then the meet and greet began.

Eowyn rushed out to where Christine and the Phantom were standing and greeting the audience, smiling and answering questions. Or rather, Christine was. Phantom, on the other hand, looked absolutely miserable. He kept asking Christine when they’d be done, dodging questions, and not smiling.

“Erik, smile! People will find you unapproachable,” Christine scolded.

“Love, I don’t want to be approached.” He fiddled with his mask. Christine rolled her eyes. She then saw Eowyn and Faramir.

“Hi! Come over here!” Christine shouted. The young couple obliged. “How’d you like it?”

“You two were amazing! Especially in The Point of No Return. The chemistry was so real!” Eowyn yelped, ecstatic.

The Phantom couldn’t help but smile. “I wrote it specifically for my darling Christine. Aminta was created for her.”

Christine blushed and Faramir said, “I wish I could compose. Eowyn would have an opera for her as well.”

“Faramir, I don’t need an opera,” Eowyn scowled. “Besides, I don’t sing. At least, not very well anyway.”

They continued talking even as they returned to the cellars. There, the Phantom and Christine promptly retired, exhausted from performing.

Eowyn and Faramir, on the other hand, stayed in the parlor and talked.

“I’m sorry we’re stuck here, Eowyn. I should’ve prepared better,” Faramir sighed. “I failed you.”

“Oh, Faramir! You didn’t fail me. And you never could. Without this, we wouldn’t have such amazing friends in Phantom and Christine.”

“Aragorn wouldn’t have done this. He’d have been prepared.” Faramir looked down at his feet. “I’m never going to be as good as him.”

“When will you understand that I love you more than I ever ‘loved’ Aragorn? You’re a better match for me, you care for me, and most of all, you love me. You mean the world to me, Faramir.”

He kissed her forehead. “And you mean the world to me. I’m sorry for doubting you, love. I love you with every fiber in my body,” he said.

Eowyn snuggled against him. “I love you too,” she said, burying her face in his chest.

They fell asleep like that, curled on the parlor couch, snuggled against each other. Everything was perfect.

The first light of December twenty-first shone down into the opera house, stirring the residents awake.

Christine was the first one up and she immediately bounded to the kitchen to make breakfast as quietly as she could.

Eowyn was the next to awaken. She slipped into the kitchen and met Christine. “Whatcha makin’?” she asked, yawning.

“Scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast. Is that okay? I can make something else if you don’t like that.” Christine bit her lip anxiously.

“That’s perfect!” Eowyn grinned.

The Phantom then stumbled in. “Christine, have you made the coffee yet?” he asked, kissing the top of her head.

“Not yet, angel. I was waiting to see what our guests wanted, but you can go on and make your cup.” She stood on her tippy-toes and reached for a candy cane mug. “Here you go, Erik. Make yourself some coffee.”

Faramir then walked in and put his arm around Eowyn. “Good morning!” he chirped, kissing her cheek.

“Morning! Breakfast is almost ready,” Eowyn said, smiling.

“Ooh, yum,” Faramir laughed.

“So what’s on today’s agenda?” Eowyn asked, pouring Faramir some coffee. “You should know, you plan most of these things.”

“I vote that we go Christmas shopping. We need to buy Christine and Phantom some gifts!” Faramir said. “And thanks for the coffee, love.”

“Can we come as well? I need to buy more gifts,” Erik said.

“As do I,” Christine continued. “I have a few more things to buy Erik.”

This sent him into a frenzy. I can’t let her outshine me, Erik thought. “And I have a bit more to get Christine, not to mention things for Eowyn and Faramir.”

“Oh yes, that too,” Christine said.

“Well then, that works! We’ll head out after everyone’s ready,” Eowyn said, inner shieldsmaiden shining through.

“Breakfast is ready!” Christine cheered, handing out plates. “Just grab whatever you want!”

Everyone got their food and sat down in the parlor. “What do you all want to drink?” Christine said.

“I’m good with my coffee,” Erik said.

“As am I,” Faramir said.

“I’ll have some water, if that’s okay with you,” Eowyn said.

“Okay! I’ll be back with that!”

With that, Christine raced off to the kitchen.

“So, how’d you and Christine meet?” Eowyn asked.

Erik froze and set down his mug. “It’s a bit of an embarrassing story,” he mumbled. “I did a stupid thing.”

“What now? Erik, what stupid thing have you done now?” Christine demanded, sitting down next to Erik and taking a bite of her butter-slathered toast.

“Angel, that butter’s bad for you voice.” Christine rolled her eyes. “And they were asking how we met.”

“Oh, that’s not a stupid thing!” Christine said. “He watched me through my mirror and claimed to be the Angel of Music. Then he kidnapped me.” She ate a forkful of eggs.

“That’s…a little terrifying,” Faramir said. “But rather nice.”

“Agreed,” everyone else laughed.

Everyone finished eating and dashed off to get ready. Then they headed to Paris’s biggest department store.

The girls branched off together while the men went off together.

“Eowyn?” Christine asked. “What all does Faramir like?”

“Battle like stuff. What’s good for Phantom?”

“Please, call him Erik. And musical stuff. By that I mean things relating to music, not random Broadway musical merchandise.”

“Okay, got it. And don’t look in my cart, I’ve got stuff for you in there,” Eowyn said.

Christine laughed. “Same goes for you!”

They both lapsed into giggles, causing other patrons to stare at them.

“How about this for Faramir?” Christine asked.

“That’s good, he’ll like it. Is this good for Erik?” Eowyn replied.

“Oh yes, he’ll love that.”

Meanwhile, Erik and Faramir were looking for gifts for their loves.

“What all does Christine like?” Faramir asked.

“Music, hot chocolate, anything really. She’s easy to please.”

“Then why do you struggle with shopping for her, if she’s so easy to please?”

“I worry that if I don’t please her, then she’ll leave me for that Raoul de Chagny. They were childhood sweethearts. So I try as hard as I can to please her. But anyway, what’s good for Eowyn?” Erik asked.

“Phantom-”

“Call me Erik.”

“Well then, Erik, you don’t have to get us anything. We’re taking up your valuable space and time,” Faramir said.

“Oh no, I’m getting her something.”

“Just get her anything. She’ll be happy. Now, how is this for Christine?” Faramir asked, holding something up.

Erik nodded. “Looks good.”

Shopping continued until around five when they all hit the cash registers. Then every claimed an area to wrap gifts. The girls went into the studio, while the boys claimed Erik and Christine’s bedroom.

“So, Eowyn, do you like to sing?” Christine asked.

“I’m not any good, but I enjoy it, yes,” she replied.

“Sing something with me!”

“No, you go ahead. I’ll sing something after you.” Eowyn smiled, encouraging Christine.

“No more talk of darkness, forget these wide-eyed fears. I’m here, nothing can harm you. My words will warm and calm you,” she began, launching into a gorgeous rendition of All I Ask of You.

Eowyn was in awe. “You’re a much better singer than I could ever dream of being,” she said once the song was over.

“I still want to hear you sing!” Christine cheered.

Eowyn sighed and cleared her throat. “You’re not giving up on this?” Christine shook her head. “Okay then.

With that, she began. Her voice was rather deep for a woman’s but nice nonetheless. “Home is behind, the world ahead. And there are many paths to tread. Through shadow, to the edge of night. Until the stars are all alight. Mist and shadow, cloud and shade. All shall fade. All shall fade.”

Christine smiled. “You say you can’t sing,” she teased.

Faramir and Erik were listening from the other room. “We love very musical women,” Faramir noted.

“Well, they’re not the only ones who can sing,” Erik said. “Nighttime sharpens, heightens each sensation. Darkness stirs and wakes imagination. Silently the senses abandon their defenses!”

“If only I could sing,” Faramir sighed.

Eowyn and Christine laughed. “Is this a war?” Eowyn asked.

“Probably, knowing Erik. He’s, how can I put this, overly competitive. Especially when it comes to singing,” Christine sighed. With that, she began singing Devil Take the Hindmost as she cut a sheet of candy cane wrapping paper and set it atop the gift.

Eowyn chuckled. “We’ve surely won. That’s a gorgeous song.”

Erik laughed. “They think they’ve won.”

“But I can’t sing, so we’re at a disadvantage,” Faramir pointed out.

“I can sing well enough for both of us, thank you!” Erik said, ripping a piece of tape. Then he began singing Hannibal.

No one truly won the war that day. It ended with a beautiful duet of The Phantom of the Opera, just the way it was sung the first time Erik and Christine truly met. Everyone then emerged from their wrapping station.

“Well, that was fun,” Christine said as she kissed Erik and pulled a piece of tape from his cheek. He then stuck a bow on her head. She wrinkled her nose.

Eowyn then put a scrap of wrapping paper on Faramir’s head. He then pulled a curly ribbon from her hair. “How on earth did you get so messy?” Faramir laughed, pulling another ribbon from her blonde hair. She shrugged.

They then ate dinner and went off to bed, ready for the next day’s adventures.

Christine and Eowyn woke to a note on the parlor table. It read;

Dear Eowyn and Christine,

          We’ve gone to get a little Christmas surprise for you. Don’t worry about us. We’ll be back soon and we’re sure you’ll like our idea.

                                                                                                                  With love,

                                                                                                       Faramir and Erik

Christine smiled. “I’m slightly concerned, but I’m certain they mean well,” she said.

They soon came back in the little boat, which was full of bags.

“Okay, we’ve got decorations, ornaments, cookie mix, hot chocolate, and breakfast!” Faramir said.

“What did you pick up?’ Eowyn asked, pulling the bag open. “English muffins! Yay!” She pulled out something else. “Donuts!”

Christine grabbed the food and ran to the parlor. Everyone else followed suit.

“So, what are we going to do today?” Eowyn asked between mouthfuls of English muffin and cream-filled donut.

“Yeah, what’re we doing?” Christine inquired.

“Well, this was all Faramir’s idea, so I’ll let him explain,” Erik said. “Take it away!”

“Gee, thanks.”

“No problem.”

“That was sarcasm.”

“I know.”

“Well, I was thinking that we could get a Christmas tree! A live one, of course. Fake ones are boring, after all. So…what do you think?” Faramir asked.

“Sounds fun,” Christine said.

Eowyn leapt up and threw her arms around her husband, kissing him. “That’s the best idea I’ve ever heard!” she shouted. “I’ve always wanted a Christmas tree!” She smiled.

“That’s good. Now let’s go!” he said, grinning. He started toward the door.

Erik stood there, arm protectively over Christine. “Not so fast. Christine says she needs to get ready before we can leave. Now go on, love. We’ll wait for you.”

Christine kissed him. “Thank you, angel.” Then she went off to get ready.

Eowyn smiled. “Christine sure does love you, Erik,” she said. “And you love her equally.”

Erik nodded. “I’d never hurt my angel. And I know she’d never knowingly hurt me either.”

“I’d never hurt Eowyn either,” Faramir said.

Christine then walked out, wearing what looked like two coats, three scarves, and a beanie. “Love, you’re overdressed!” Erik laughed. “One coat would be enough.”

She rolled her eyes and went off to change. She returned in the outfit she wore to her father’s grave all those years ago. “Better?” she asked.

“Much better,” Erik answered.

They went out and walked to the Christmas tree farm. “Is this it?” Faramir asked, pointing at the farm.

“You mean to tell me you planned this and didn’t even bother to find the Christmas tree farm?” Eowyn spat, scowling. “You can’t plan for beans.”

“I know, I know. But Erik said he’d guide us. Don’t pin it on me!”

“It was your idea! Don’t rely on someone else!” Eowyn growled.

Christine’s eyes were wide as she watched the argument unfold. Erik pulled her close and comforted her. “It’ll be okay, angel. They’ll be okay. Arguments happen.”

“We never argue, Erik! Is this normal?” Her voice was quivering, on the edge of shattering.

“Of course it is.”

The conflict resolved itself and they headed into the Christmas tree farm.

Christine bounded off childishly, running through the rows of green-needled fir trees. She vanished from sight almost immediately.

Erik sighed. “She’ll be back soon, I can guarantee that,” he said. “Christine is very childish when it comes to Christmas.”

“I know someone like that,” Faramir teased, ruffling his wife’s blonde hair. She laughed.

“Come, we need to find Christine,” Eowyn said, striding off. Then they heard her mutter, “This would be easier with a horse.”

“Christine!” Erik shouted. The brunette turned to look at him. He ran toward her and hugged her. “Angel, I was so worried! Are you okay, dearest?” He held her shoulders, scanning her for injuries.

“Erik, I’m fine. Why are you so worried, anyway?” Christine said.

“Anything could’ve happened to you out there.”

“Never mind all that. I found a tree!” Christine pointed at an eight-foot-tall fir tree with full, green branches.

“That’s a lovely tree, Christine,” Faramir said, smiling.

“I agree. It’s gorgeous,” Eowyn said.

“Well, I think…it’s the perfect tree!” Erik said. His lover beamed.

“So we can get it?” Christine asked. Everyone nodded. “Yay!” Her face lit up.

Eowyn laughed. “Faramir, why don’t you and Erik find someone to get the tree for us? I’ll stay here with Christine and the tree.”

Erik and Faramir then walked off toward the front of the tree farm.

“Christine?” Eowyn asked.

“Hmm?”

“Can I ask you a question?”

“Of course!”

“What exactly is the relationship between you and Erik? Are you dating, engaged, what?”

Christine froze. This was inevitable, but it still took her by surprise. She took a deep breath. “We’re married,” she began, “but we keep it mostly secret. Only my best friend Meg, her mother Madame Giry, and a man named Raoul know. Erik says that it could ruin my reputation as a soprano if it escaped that I was married to the Phantom of the Opera who so many feared.”

“Oh.” Eowyn bit her lip.  “I see.”

Right as they finished, the boys came back with a worker following them. “We’d like this tree, sil vous plait,” Christine said, pointing at the Douglas Fir.

The man nodded and hefted the tree onto his shoulder, carrying it to the checkout area.

“Do you want us to deliver it?”

“Could you deliver it?” Christine asked.

“Address?” the man asked.

“The Opera Populaire. I’m sure you know where that is?” Erik said. “Only an uncultured swine would not.”

“Erik!” Christine scolded. “Sorry about him. He has no social skills.”

“It’s fine. I’ll drop it off around four,” he said. They paid for the tree and walked off.

“So uh…don’t mean to be rude, but when’s lunch?” Faramir asked. Everyone laughed. “But really, I’m hungry.”

“The park?” Christine suggested.

“Sounds fun!” Eowyn said, grinning.

“Christine, there’s so many people,” Erik complained. “My mask.”

“There are weirder things in Parisian parks,” Christine said. With that, she turned on her heel and strode off. Everyone else followed.

“Erik, she’s leaving!” Faramir warned.

“I know, I’m coming,” he replied, quickening his pace.

They arrived at the park and were greeted by a mime. “What. Is. That?” Eowyn spat, disgusted. “It’s hideous!” The mime clutched his chest.

“He has ears, love,” Faramir whispered.

“Eowyn, it’s a mime! They’re all over Paris,” Christine laughed. “He won’t hurt you, I promise.”

“You sure?” Eowyn asked.

“Positive.”

With that, they walked off. The couple from Middle-earth was astounded by the sights: the Eiffel Tower, the gardens, the people, everything. They were in love with the City of Love.

The day passed quickly, full of sightseeing and adventures. Unfortunately, it was cut short by the night’s opera, a performance of Il Muto with Christine as the countess (finally).

No one struggled to sleep that night.

December twenty-third. Two days until Christmas. And a crazy day for the two couples at the Opera Populaire.

It started normally, with Christine preparing breakfast and everyone sitting in the parlor. But then the question was asked.

“So, what are we going to do today?” Eowyn asked.

Faramir’s eyes glinted with mischief. “Glad you asked,” he said. “Erik, get the box.”

“Sir yes sir!” Erik laughed. He then went to fetch the box Faramir had asked for.

He returned with a large cardboard box filled to the brim with any and every form of Christmas decoration known to mankind.

“Today,” Faramir announced, “we’ll be decorating! This is the least festive place on Earth and that needs fixing. So, let’s get started!”

“Okay!” Christine leapt up and ran to the box, followed by Eowyn. Erik sat down at the piano and began to play a soft tune resemblant to Music of the Night.

Christine took an ornament and set it on the tree, smiling. “Pretty!” she cheered.

Faramir smiled as he watched Eowyn running around and setting everything up. She was pouring her heart into decorating the opera house for Christmas. At the time, she was hanging a wreath above Erik’s piano. She then ran back to the box where Faramir was standing to grab another decoration.

Suddenly, Christine giggled. “What now?” Eowyn said, looking up to see the girl sitting in the rafters, holding a sprig of something. Something with white berries. “Oh brother,” Eowyn muttered.

“What is it?” Faramir asked, searching for the cause of his wife’s distress.

“Mistletoe,” Eowyn sighed. She then kissed Faramir quickly and went off.

Christine sprang from the rafters, the mistletoe hung where she had been sitting. “I tried to help you,” she said, shrugging. “But she’ll be back. That’s where the decorations are, after all. Stay there.” With that, she ran after Eowyn.

“What now, Christine?” Eowyn sighed, turning from where she was setting up a Nativity scene. “If this is about the mistletoe, I don’t want to hear it,” she spat.

But Christine wouldn’t give up. “Why? Why were you so afraid of it?”

“It’s weird, that’s why! Forcing two people to kiss. It’s sick!”

Faramir, who had overheard all this, sighed and walked away, resuming decorating half-heartedly.

Eowyn saw this and ran over to him. “Faramir! What’s wrong?”

“It’s nothing, love. Don’t worry about me.” He kissed her forehead. “I love you.”

“Faramir! I know that something’s wrong! If you’d just tell me, I could help,” she pleaded. Then suddenly, she kissed him. “Better?” she asked, smiling.

“Much,” he laughed.

Erik laughed. “See, angel? They can handle themselves,” he said, holding her.

“I know, I know,” Christine laughed. She then returned to decorating. “Erik, come on!”

“I’m good. I’ll stick to the piano,” he said.

Christine sighed and hung up a stocking, but said nothing.

Decorating continued for the rest of the day.

“Christmas Eve!” Christine called as she ran around the house. “It’s Christmas Eve!”

Erik walked out. “Yes, angel, it is,” he chuckled, kissing her. “But please, quiet down. You’ll wake our guests.”

“Fine,” she growled. “But I’m just so excited!” She buried her face in his chest to suppress a squeal.

“I know. Now go sit down while I make breakfast.” Christine nodded and went into the parlor. Then, soft notes began to rise from the grand piano.

“Christine!” Erik scolded. “That’s not quiet!”

“Sorry.”

Erik walked out with a platter of waffles, a bottle of syrup, a stick of butter, plates, and silverware. “Enjoy, angel.”

“What, you weren’t going to wait for us?” Faramir said, walking out with his arm around Eowyn.

“How rude,” Eowyn said.

“I was going to wait on you!” Christine said.

“I wasn’t,” Erik said. “Just being honest, unlike you, Miss Daae.”

“I was going to wait, Erik!” Christine spat.

“Sure you were.”

Eowyn rolled her eyes. “Can we eat now?”

“Yeah, really,” Faramir laughed.

“Sure,” Erik said. Christine reached for a waffle. Erik gently and playfully slapped her hand. “Ah, ah, love. Since you were going to eat without them, you may get your food last.”

“Erik!” Christine yelped, frowning. “You liar!”

“Oh, Christine,” Eowyn said, clear apology in her voice.

“Meh, I’ll be fine.” At that, her stomach gave an unholy growl. “But please hurry! I’m starving!”

Everyone laughed.

Soon enough, Christine got to eat. Faramir then pulled out a piece of paper, grinning. “Here are some activities for today. Choose what you want to do first,” he said. The list read:

Christmas cookies

Sleigh ride

Caroling

Snow activities (in event of snow)

Walking

Shopping

Sightseeing

Anything else we think of!

“Hmm…caroling!” Christine said.

“Oh, how’d I know you’d say that!” Eowyn laughed. “But that works.”

“Okay!” Christine grinned. She adored caroling. She and her father went caroling every year when he was alive.

The couples walked to the park and turned down a snow-covered path.

“Oh, I love snow,” Eowyn sighed, stretching her arms out. “Isn’t it gorgeous? It never snows in Rohan.”

“Yes, love, it’s beautiful. But you know what’s more beautiful than snow?” Faramir asked.

“Nothing?”

“You.”

“Aww!” Christine cooed. “You two are so cute!”

“Can we just get to singing?” Erik asked. “I want to start with O Holy Night.”

“I don’t know the words,” Eowyn said, eyes falling to her feet. Faramir tossed her a booklet.

“Page twenty,” he said. “You’re welcome.”

They flipped through the book to see notes and lyrics on the next page.

“Ready?” Erik asked. They nodded.

“Ready and-”

“O holy night, the stars are brightly shining. It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.” The tones of their voices perfectly blended, from Christine’s soprano to Faramir’s tenor.

They walked down the path, singing as they went. The song soon ended and they had to choose another one.

“So, uh…what now?” Eowyn asked. “Can I pick something?”

“Of course!” Faramir answered. “Go ahead.”

“Hmm…” She thumbed through the booklet’s pages. “What about Angels We Have Heard on High?” she suggested. “It’s on page thirty-five.” Everyone flipped through the pages of their booklet.

“That sounds good,” Erik said. “Christine, your thoughts?”

“It’s fine by me. Can we transition it into Hark the Herald Angels Sing at the end?” Christine answered. Everyone nodded. “Yay! That’s one of my favorites.”

Erik counted them off and they began a beautiful rendition of the two Christmas carols, making everyone they passed in the park smile. Some people even tried to give them money, but saw nowhere to put the coins and bills.

The quartet continued singing until they made their way all the way around the park. They ended up going through most of the songs in the book, including, but not limited to: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, O Come O Come Emmanuel, and The First Noel.

“Okay, so what now?” Christine asked, her face pink from the cold and the wind. “Eowyn, you choose what we’re going to do now, since I picked caroling.”

“Oh goodness,” Eowyn laughed. “Decisions.”

“You’ll be fine, love. It’s not too hard of a choice,” Faramir said.

“Speak for yourself.”

They stood there for five minutes or so, waiting for Eowyn to decide on what she wanted to do. Finally, she made her choice. “Sleigh ride!” she shouted, grinning. “I mean, we are in the park, which is certainly where the sleigh rides take place.”

“That seems fun,” Christine said. “Just hear those sleigh bells jingling, ring ting tingling too,” she sang. Everyone glared at her. “What did you expect?” she laughed. “If something is the name of a song, I will sing it.”

“I’m good with a sleigh ride,” Faramir said.

“As am I,” Erik continued. “So it’s settled then?” Everyone nodded. “Follow me.”

Erik guided them through the park to the station where the sleigh rides took place. There stood a pair of large Clydesdale stallions, tossing their heads and jingling the bells on their harnesses. “Wow,” Eowyn gasped. “They’re beautiful.”

“Aren’t they?” Faramir said.

Christine walked up to the driver. “Excuse me, sir, but we’d like to ride in the sleigh. How much would it cost for four people?” she asked.

“Ten francs,” he answered. Christine opened her wallet and took out a ten-franc coin. “Merci, mademoiselle.” He offered his hand and helped her into the sleigh. He then did the same for Eowyn.

They set off around the park, listening to the jingling of the horses’ harnesses and smiling the whole time. “It’s so beautiful…I want to live in Paris forever,” Eowyn said. “Can we move here, Faramir?”

“No, dear. We have duties back in Middle-earth,” he answered, laughing.

“Not fair!” she yelped.

The sleigh ride continued until lunch time, seeing as the Clydesdales were not the fastest of breeds. Then they arrived back at the little station. “Thank you!” Christine said, smiling.

“You’re welcome, mademoiselle!”

“Okay, so now can we get food?” Erik asked. “I really need food.”

“Now you see how I felt this morning,” Christine scolded. “But since I’m a good person, we can go get food. There are a lot of little stalls out here in the park. What do you want?”

“Hmm…anything is good,” Erik answered. “Let’s let our guests decide. What do you two want?”

“Oh no…another decision…,” Eowyn sighed. “I’m not sure. Faramir?”

“I guess chicken? Is there a good chicken place anywhere near here?” Faramir asked.

“Ooh, yes, there is! Follow me!” Christine sprinted off, smiling all the time.

They soon arrived at the restaurant, which was near Café Dimanche. “Here we are!”

They got their food, ate it, and returned to the Opera Populaire. “What do you ladies want to do now? It needs to be something that won’t take too long, seeing as Christine and I have a performance tonight, the most important of the year,” Erik said.

“What about Christmas cookies?” Christine suggested. “We need more desserts in this place.”

“Ooh, I love cookies!” Faramir cheered. “Although Eowyn is not the best baker…” She rolled her eyes and scoffed.

“That was one time, Faramir!” Eowyn spat. “And that’s because I got bored.”

“You still almost burned the house down.”

“Ugh.”

“So we’re making Christmas cookies?” Erik interjected, trying to prevent another argument between the couple.

“Yep!” Eowyn said. “Christine and I can go get the ingredients and stuff out if you two will go get the batter. C’mon, Christine.” The two girls went off into the kitchen. Erik and Faramir then walked in with the two boxes of sugar cookie mix and the cans of frosting and sprinkles.

“Okay, so what do we have to do first?” Christine asked. “Erik, hand me the box.” He did as she asked. “Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Do that.”

Erik set the oven to preheat. Faramir followed him over there. “Seems like you’ve got that under control,” he said. Erik nodded.

“Faramir, we need two medium sized bowls over here!” Eowyn called. “And that crushed cereal you bought!”

He went and looked in the cabinet for the two bowls, handed one to Eowyn and one to Christine, then ran to go fetch the cereal, which was Cookie Crisps. “Thank you,” Eowyn said. “What’s next? And Faramir, could you be a dear and coat that cookie sheet over there with flour? It needs to be done before we can put the cookies in the oven.”

“Ma’am yes ma’am! Erik, you read out the instructions.”

“Stir the cookie mix, melted butter, and egg into the medium sized bowl until a soft dough forms. Once this happens, add in the crushed cereal,” Erik read. They did exactly as it said, with a huge puff of cookie mix appearing when they dumped all the mix out.

“Okay, what now?” Christine asked. “Gosh, I want to eat some of this cookie dough. Erik, can I lick the spoon when I’m done?” she pleaded.

He sighed. “No, Christine. You might get salmonella and die, and then where would I be?”

“Somewhere in a not happy place.”

“Exactly.”

“Now read the instructions.”

“Fine.” He cleared his throat overdramatically and began to read the rest of the box. “On a floured surface, roll out the dough one fourth of an inch apart.”

“Don’t mean to interrupt, but how much is an inch?” Eowyn asked.

“Just guess,” Faramir answered. “Darn these American recipes! At least our oven is American-made so it has Fahrenheit on here.”

Erik cleared his throat again. “Can I continue?” Everyone nodded. “Cut with three-inch cookie cutters. On ungreased cookie sheets, place the cutouts one inch apart.”

“Faramir, get two other cookie sheets out, will you?” Eowyn asked. He ducked down into the cabinet again and fetched two large metal cookie sheets. “Thanks, love.”

“Erik, could you get the cookie cutters? Only get the holiday ones, please. You know, like the reindeer, the snowman, the snowflake, and the Santa hat?” Christine asked.

“Yes, I get it.” He delved into the drawer of random cooking supplies and came out with a handful of cookie cutters in all sorts of holiday shapes.

“Yay! Cookie cutters! Faramir, come help me!” Eowyn shouted. “I can’t cut all this dough by myself.”

“Okay,” Faramir sighed. He walked over and picked up a snowman, stabbing it into the cookie dough.

“Erik!” Christine called. “I need you to help as well!”

He walked over. “Oh, Christine. You don’t want me to help,” he said.

“Yes, I do.”

“Oh, fine.” He took the snowflake and pressed it into the cookie dough. “Happy?”

“You have to make more than one!” she giggled. “Otherwise you only get to decorate one!” She handed him the bell-shaped one.

They ended up cutting fifteen cookies per pair and placing them on the cookie sheets.

“Erik, love, could you read the rest of the instructions?” Christine asked.

“Certainly. It says to bake them for seven to nine minutes OR until the edges of the cookies are golden brown. It then says to let them cool for one minute on the sheet and for fifteen minutes off the sheet. Then you can decorate them.”

Christine grabbed an oven mitt and put her batch of cookies in the oven. She then handed the mitt to Eowyn, who put her cookies in the oven.

“And now we wait,” Faramir said. “What now?”

“I’m going to clean up,” Christine said. “Erik, I don’t want you to help. Last time you tried to help, you broke three plates.”

“That’s fair,” Erik replied.

They cleaned up, took the cookies out of the oven, let them cool, and then got ready to decorate! “Erik, here are yours,” Christine said, shoving five cookies at him.

“Faramir, here’re your cookies,” Eowyn said, pushing the cookies to him. “Now take the frosting and all that stuff.” She then nudged cans of frosting and sprinkles at him.

“I’m not using sprinkles,” Erik said.

“Erik, why not?” Christine said. “Sprinkles are fun!”

“No.”

“Oh, fine. But you still should use them.”

“That’d ruin my reputation as the fearsome Phantom of the Opera.”

But Christine didn’t answer. She just took a knife and began spreading chocolate frosting over a reindeer-shaped cookie. Then she grabbed a bright red gumdrop and plopped it where the nose would be.

Meanwhile, Eowyn and Faramir were laughing over a failed cookie. “Faramir, that’s not at all how you decorate a snowman!” Eowyn laughed. Its face was completely lopsided, the buttons were not even close to a straight line, and anything that could look messed up was messed up.

“You try making a logical face out of sprinkles!” Faramir retorted, but it was clear he wasn’t angry. His face was red from laughter and he was struggling to breathe.

“Okay, I will!” Eowyn teased. Of course, she failed as well, and the laughter continued.

The day continued on like that until the opera at six-thirty, a production of Hannibal. After that, they all went to bed.

“Christmas! It’s Christmas!’ Eowyn shouted, running around the house and waking everyone up. “Come on, get up, get up! We have to open presents!”

Christine walked out. “Don’t you want breakfast first?” she asked, stifling a yawn.

“No. Presents are more important right now,” Eowyn said, crossing her arms.

“She has a point. Who eats before they open presents on Christmas morning?” Erik asked. “Faramir, get up! Your wife is anxious.”

Faramir walked out. “I’m coming, I’m coming. Who wants to pass out all the gifts?” he asked.

Christine was about to volunteer, but Erik beat her to the punch. “I’ll do it! Everyone go find a seat,” he said. Christine glared at him, but soon got an idea.

“Can I help? Pretty please?” she begged.

“I guess. I’ll get the presents out from under the tree and you give them to everyone,” Erik said. “Eowyn, Faramir, take a seat somewhere. The Middle-earthian couple flopped down on the couch.

“Erik, this one’s yours. Where do you want me to put it?” Christine asked.

“Set it at the piano, angel,” he answered.

They passed out all the gifts, each person having nine. Strange how that worked out, everything being equal. “Okay, who wants to open something first?” Faramir asked.

“Me! I do!” Eowyn shouted, practically leaping to her feet.

“Okay then,” Erik said. “Then Christine, then Faramir, then me. Is that good for everyone?” They all nodded.

“This one’s from Christine,” Eowyn said. She ripped open the box to find a miniature Eiffel Tower replica. “Oh my goodness! It’s so pretty!” She stood up to hug the other girl. “I love it! Thank you!”

“You’re welcome,” Christine said. “Erik, this one’s from you!” She grinned and carefully peeled the paper off a little box. She opened it to find a silver heart locket and a ring with a heart on it, glistening with gemstones. Engraved on the locket were the words “Beneath a Moonless Sky.” Inside it was a picture of the two of them on their wedding day She gasped. “Erik! This is too much, angel.”

“It’s not. Do you like it?” he asked.

“Of course I do! It’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever received,” she answered, hugging him.

“That’s good. Now, Faramir, why don’t you open something?” Erik said, trying to get the spotlight off of him.

“I guess so,” Faramir answered. He lifted up a gift. “This one’s from you, Eowyn.” He unwrapped it, paying no attention to trying to salvage the wrapping paper. He pulled out a replica sword, which he immediately brandished and waved around. “Okay, that’s really cool. Thanks, Eowyn!”

“You’re welcome. Now, Erik, you open something!” Eowyn said.

“You’re just ready to open something else,” Christine teased.

“That’s pretty true.”

Erik smiled at his wife and her best friend as he picked up a gift. “Christine, this is from you, is it not?” he asked. She nodded.

“I do hope you like it…I wasn’t sure if you would, but I decided to risk it,” she said, biting her lip.

“Angel, I know I will. I love everything you get me,” Erik answered as he began to tear the paper off the box. He opened it to see a music composition book with “That’s a sharp, not a hashtag!” written on it, some piano sheet music, and a little handmade sculpture of a quarter note with angel wings with “Angel of Music” written on it in Christine’s handwriting.

“Do you like it?” she asked, brushing her feet against the floor.

He set everything on top of the piano where he could easily reach it while playing. “Of course I do, Christine. I know you put a lot of effort into finding things for me. I love it, angel. Don’t be worried.”

They continued opening gifts until there were none left for anyone. Everyone was happy, but there was still one last surprise to be revealed.

“Hey, Erik?” Christine asked, laying her head on his shoulder.

“Yes, angel?” he replied.

“I’ve got something to tell you, well, all of you. But I’m worried it’ll make you upset,” Christine said. “Not so much Eowyn and Faramir as you, Erik.”

“Tell us!” Eowyn and Faramir chorused.

“I promise I won’t be mad, angel. You know it’s hard for me to be mad at you,” Erik said.

Christine fiddled with her necklace. “Oh, I guess. I had to tell you sometime, didn’t I?”

“Quit stalling and just tell us!” Eowyn shouted. “We’re here for you, Christine. We promise we won’t be upset, no matter how outrageous it is.”

“Well…I’m expecting. You’re going to be a father, Erik,” Christine said. She looked at her husband, trying to see if he was upset or not.

Erik’s mouth fell open. How could he have done this? It’s not that he wasn’t excited, Christine would be a great mother, but what if the child had his face deformity? Or what if he lost his temper with it? What would happen then? Would the child hate him? Would Christine not be able to take it and leave, taking their baby with her?

He was snapped by this internal monologue by Eowyn saying, “Oh, Christine, that’s amazing! You and Erik will make amazing parents!”

“Congrats,” Faramir said. “I agree with Eowyn. You two will be amazing parents to this child.”

But Christine didn’t appear to be listening. “Erik? What do you think?”

He smiled. “I have my concerns, but I know that we can work through things together.” He then kissed her. “I love you, Christine.”

“I love you too.”

And so another Christmas came and went, but for both of them, it was the best Christmas ever celebrated. Not because of the gifts they received, or the things they did, but the memories that were made and the friends they met.

Middle Hyrule: Now Accepting Submissions

I love running this blog, but I’m a busy girl. Also, there are a lot of fandoms I’m not in, which means I’m missing out on lots of readers. To remedy this issue, I’ve decided to permanently open Middle Hyrule for guest post submissions.

Ever wanted to write a guest post? Have a fanfic that needs more love? Want to be featured in a place where people will see your content? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’re a candidate for a guest post on Middle Hyrule, the single greatest obscure fandom site on the Internet, run by the most gorgeous and fabulous girl  you’ll ever meet. *winks*

All kidding aside, I would love to see anything you want to send to me. You may have noticed the new page at the top – head over there to submit and figure out how to do so. Come on, you know you want to. And tell any friends who may be interested, too!

Can’t wait to see what you’ll all send.

http___signatures.mylivesignature.com_54494_39_F3ABAD929D5B55477A54E45998D2DF8D

http___signatures.mylivesignature.com_54494_39_59F6C311922B9DABED55DA9D4EF3707B

First and Last Chapter Twelve

Sam: I am excited for this.

H.G.: Well, I’m not. I have NO plot for this chapter, so I’m basically winging it off of a couple ideas I’ve bounced around my head. Here goes.

~~~

Chapter Twelve

Sam

Rosie

Her dress somewhat rumpled, a little muddy, damp from the rain. Her hair is sprinkled with mist and droplets of water. She is turned away from me, but as I close the door behind me, she turns her head and my breath catches. She is as lovely as the last time I saw her.

“Hello, Sam,” she says softly.

“Hello, Rosie,” I whisper in reply.

She smiles a little and turns all the way, to face me. “It’s been… so long,” she says hesitantly.

“Yes.” I gulp. My mouth’s dry as sandpaper and there’s nought I can think of to say. “Over a year,” I get out.

“You’ve changed.” Her eyes scan me quickly. “You’re thin as a reed. And tanner.”

That’s what starving in hell does to you, I think, but I only say, “you… look the same as ever.”

“Really?”

“Well, no. You look older.” Sadder.

She smiles a little. “Well. I suppose we’re both older.”

The awkward conversation dies and we both stand there in silence. Then Rosie says, “Frodo told me Odfrin came.”

“Yes.”

“He’s awful, isn’t he?”

I nod, thinking of the disastrous talk with that horrible person. “He is. Terrible. But Frodo said you -”

“Hate him?” she finishes. “Yes. I never loved him, but my parents sure did.”

“So you …” I gulp again. “Didn’t… ever…”

“Stop loving you?” She takes a step closer. “No, Sam, I didn’t.”

Suddenly I’m up against the wall with one of her hands in my hair and the other on my shoulder, and her lips pressed firmly against mine. I wrap my arms around her and close my eyes. I can feel her tears on my cheeks, and her hand tightens until she might be pulling my hair out, but I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care…

Rosie tips her head back and we both stare at each other, gasping. My face fills with warmth and I know I’m blushing and crying all at once. “Sam,” she whispers.  Slowly, she leans against my shoulder and begins to cry softly. I slip one of my hands into hers and hold her to my side, gently, not desperately,  like how I kissed her. She looks up at me. A tear clings to her eyelashes. “They thought you were never coming back.”

“That’s what I thought, too.”

“But you came back.”

I laugh through my tears. “Yes.”

We’re silent for a moment, and then Rose lifts her head and steps away from me. “So what happens now?” she asks.

I lean back against the wall. “What do you mean?”

“Orcs in the Shire, me engaged to Odfrin Proudfoot. What are we going to do?”

I think for a moment. “I don’t know what to do about the orcs, but Odfrin… I could talk to your parents. Try to work things out.”

“I can’t see the good it will do.” Rosie ponders for a minute, and then her whole face brightens. “Sam!” She grabs my hands. “Let’s run away!” she says, breathless. “Let’s run away and elope! No one’s stopping us. We could go to Bree, we could -”

“I can’t,” I say instantly.

“Why not?” Rosie looks surprised.

“I can’t leave Frodo.”

“But you could leave me.”

“Rosie…” I trail off, run a hand through my hair. I try to think of something, anything, to say that can make her understand. I didn’t know this would happen, any of it, and suddenly I have a strong urge to crumple to my knees and cry, I feel so weighted. Somehow this feeling gives me the words I need, and they come spilling out. “When I left,” I say, “you were here, well looked after in what I knew was and thought always would be the safest place in the world. Frodo went into danger. And so I went with him. I never imagined the Shire would end up this way. I assumed I would leave you somewhere comfortable and happy, and come back soon.

“If I left with you now, I would leave him here, destroyed, broken, in a destroyed and broken world. And we wouldn’t be safe either, even in Bree. But it would kill Frodo to be left behind. And I love him far to much to do that to him.”

Rosie looks up at me. “You won’t leave with me.”

“No.” I stop, trail off, and then add, “But if we can figure something out, something more permanent, in a few moths, a way to stay here and protect him…”

“Yes?”

I smile. “Then I’ll go along with the second part of your plan.”

First and Last chapter Eight

H.G.: Hello hello!

Sam: H.G. will be going away to work at a summer camp pretty soon.

Frodo: So, she thought she would give you a chapter before that happens.

Sam: …which means we get to be tortured and she gets to go swim around in a pool surrounded by little seven year olds.

Frodo: Unfair.

H.G.: Chapter time! Come on, Frodo!

Frodo: *groan*

Sam: She can’t kill us yet, it’s too early.

Frodo: Hopefully.

~~~

“The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.” -Audrey Hepburn.

Chapter Eight

Frodo

Today we will reach the Shire.

It has been thirteen months since I’ve seen my home, and I’m ready to be back. I know I have a lot of healing left, but I am starting to believe that if I can settle down again, Sam will help me to get better, and maybe I won’t have to use Arwen’s gift.

I still haven’t told him about the gift. We never have secrets from each other, but for some reason, I don’t think I should let him know about this just yet.

“Frodo?” asks Pippin, pulling his pony up alongside mine. “What’s the first thing you’re going to do when we get back?”

“Read.”

“Of course,” Pippin sighs. “Merry, what about you?”

“Drink a barrel of beer.”

“I’m going to eat all the mushrooms in the Shire. What about you, Sam?”

Sam shrugs.

“We all know what Sam is going to do,” I say slyly, teasing my guardian.

“Oh, I bet I know, too.” says Pippin. “I bet he’s going to kiiiiiiiss someone.”

“I wonder who?” asks Merry, getting in on the joke.

Sam tries to ride away; I spur my pony and catch up to him. “Does it start with an ‘R’?” I ask.

“Does it end with an ‘e’?” asks Merry, coming up behind.

“Haven’t you used this joke before?” Sam groans.

“Roooossssiiiiiie?” We all ask.

“I hate you all.”

“Not nice.”

Sam says nothing.

“Oh, come on,” I say, laughing. “Sam, as your best friends, we have permission to tease you. It’s our Valar-given right.”

“But if I tease you, I’m called mean?”

“I can tease you, you can’t tease me.”

“Why?”

“Because that’s how it works.”

Sam sighs. “Frodo…”

I smile innocently. “Love you, Sam.”

We keep riding, Merry and Pippin chattering away about food and beer and more food. I have to agree with them. Food is something I’m in desperate need of. Sam and I lost a lot of weight in Mordor, far more than was healthy for us. And he probably lost even more than me, because he almost never ate.

People thought I was strange before. I was always small for a hobbit, what will they say now if they see me like this? Frail. The word comes to my mind. Unfortunately it is completely true.

“Look!” says Pippin.

I look up. “What?”

“It’s the Brandywine Bridge! But there’s a gate there now.”

Sure enough, on the other side of the Brandywine is a large wooden gate with a hobbit wearing a short sword standing outside.

“Hullo!” calls Merry cheerfully, as we all dismount. “What’s all this for?”

The hobbit looks up. “Why, Meriadoc!” he exclaims. “We thought you were dead!” He scans our faces. “And Peregrine Took, and Samwise Gamgee, and Mr. Baggins? They gave up the search for you months ago.”

“Well, we’re very much alive,” says Pippin, “and we should like to come in, if that’s alright with you.”

He bows. “Of course, sir, but I’m afraid the Shire’s not the same as when you left it.”

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“Well Mr. Baggins, just that there’s been an invasion and we’re not free no more. The ruffians’ve taken over.”

“Ruffians?” asks Sam, at the same time that Merry asks, “invasion?”

“Some big men came from who knows where and some hobbits with them. They’re under orders from some boss named Sharkey, and they’ve taken charge of things here. What’s more, they have some monsters with them, and they use those to keep us all in line. If you don’t listen to ’em you’re locked up.”

“What monsters?” Sam demands.

“Goblins some call ’em, but goblins they sure ain’t if you understand my meaning. They’s bigger than nary a goblin I’ve ever heard of, and they’re meaner. Ugly faces they have, the sort that makes the children cry, and big arms too. Some are bowlegged and all are bad as Sharkey himself.”

“Orcs,” I whisper.

“Orcs,” the hobbit repeats. “Maybe that’s the name. Anyways, Mr. Frodo, and you, Mr. Gamgee, you’ll not be able to go up to Hobbiton.”

“Why not?” I ask.

“Because they’ve dug up Bagshot Row, sir, and they’re using Bag End as Sharkey’s base.”

I look over at Sam, who seems to be having trouble breathing. We’re homeless now. Both of us. Since I sold Bag End to Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, the plan was for me to stay with him until we could arrange to get to Crickhollow. Could we go there now?

“What of Crickhollow?” I ask.

“Leveled to the ground and used as a lumberyard,” he replies sadly. “But maybe you cold find lodging at The Silver Scale. It’s an inn not but a few minutes from here on foot.”

Sam pulls me aside. “What are we going to do?” he asks. “We can’t go somewhere where there’s to be talk of our return, like an inn we don’t know.”

“But we can’t go to the West Farthing and try for the Green Dragon or the Ivy Bush. It’s too far and even less safe.”

Sam runs his hand through his hair, and I see just how unhealthy he looks. Thin, tired, dirty from the travel. Surely he looked worse in Mordor, but I was so blinded by pain that I didn’t even notice. I stand on my toes and kiss his cheek.

“Let’s just try it,” I say. “The Silver Scale. For one night.”

“Alright.”

Merry and Pippin join us. “Have you made a decision?” asks Merry.

“We’re going to try the Silver Scale for a night and see what we think.”

“Well, we’re going to Brandy Hall,” says Pippin.

“Leaving? Now?”

“It’s the safest place for us,” says Merry. “It’s my home.” He grabs my arm. “Come with us.”

Maybe Brandy Hall is Merry’s home, but although I lived there for several years, it has never been home to me. I was there after my parents’ deaths, with no friends except baby Merry, until Bilbo took  me in and I came to know Sam. And if there is a single group of hobbits that can be counted on for gossip, it’s the Brandybucks.

“I don’t think so,” I say. “At least, not yet.”

“Sam, what about you?” asks Pippin. “What are you doing?”

“My place is right here,” says Sam. “With Frodo.”

Pippin nods. “Okay. Take care of him for us.”

“And what is that supposed to mean?” I ask as we ride through the gate. “That I can’t take care of myself?”

Pippin smiles. “Well… this is where we leave you.”

I nod. “Be careful, you two. And if there’s nothing there, or it’s not safe, come straight to the inn.”

“We will,” Merry promises. “You… stay safe.” They turn and ride away. I watch until they are lost from view.

“I’m worried for them, Sam,” I say softly. Sam says nothing.

 

We reach the inn as sunset begins to spread over the sky. I dismount and tie my pony up in the stable, then wait for Sam to do the same before going in. The Silver Scale is somewhat crowded by guests having a meal. My stomach rumbles as I realize I haven’t eaten since the luncheon we stopped for on the road. I go up to the counter. “Excuse me?”

The innkeeper turns and smiles. And then the smile falls off of his face. “Mr. Baggins!” he exclaims with a cry. “We thought you were dead! And Samwise Gamgee too! I must inform the company.”

“Oh no, please!” I cry quickly. “I’d… rather not, yet. We’re looking for lodgings.”

The innkeeper smiles knowingly. “I see, sir. Well, the prices are much lower than before the invasion, so I think I can accommodate you. Shall we say, four copper pennies?”

“For one room?” I say, amazed. That’s cheaper than anything I’ve ever seen in the Shire.

“For two rooms.”

I must look ridiculous – my mouth is probably hanging open. I was worried we wouldn’t have enough money to survive on – all we have is what we were given in Gondor, and I’ve already spent some of it. Even sharing our money as we have silently agreed to, I was nervous. Two pennies a room. We could both eat nine meals a day for a week and still have money left over at that price.

“We’ll take one room,” I say. “And maybe a meal?”

“One room?”

“Yes.”

“For both of you?”

“Yes.”

“Each room only has one bed and one dresser.”

“I know.”

The innkeeper frowns, probably because he was hoping to make more money if we both got a room. “Very well. I’ll show you to your room.”

He leads us down a hallway to a small room with a red, round door. Inside is a medium-sized bed with a brown quilt and a small bathroom to the side. Simple, but functional. We’ll be happy here. Or we would be if it weren’t for the fact that there are orcs in the Shire.

“Thank you,” I say, handing over the money. “We’ll come to the common room for dinner soon.”

He leaves and closes the door. I look over at Sam. “Well, it’s nice enough,” he says, trying to seem cheerful.

“There are orcs. Here,” I say, and then I’m finding it hard to breathe because this is all surreal and nightmarish, and I don’t want to cry. Sam opens up his arms to me, and I go right into them, burying my face in his shirt and closing my eyes. I don’t want to think of anything and for once I don’t have to. I’m safe now. I breathe in deeply of Sam’s light scent of earth and trees and rain. So soothing. So warm. My Sam.

“It’s going to be alright, isn’t it?” I ask, not wanting an answer.

Sam kisses my forehead gently. We are silent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sailor Moon Hunger Games

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 1.59.50 PMHello all! I really love this Hunger Games simulator. You just put in characters, their pictures, and click start and boom, you have a whole Hunger Games. Today, I put in twenty four tributes from Sailor Moon – the sailor scouts, Beryl and her crew, Luna, Art, and a few others as well. Today I present to you the first ever Hunger Games of Crystal Tokyo!

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Here is the cast before the opening bloodbath. We’ll update at the end of every day. I paired each Senshei with her Shitennou. The rest have no relevance, except Luna and Art obviously. Please note that all of the Starlights are male for the sake of this simulation. Here we go!

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Well, Hotaru is out. That didn’t take very long. Oh, and you may not know this if you haven’t read the Sailor Venus manga, but Ace is Venus’s ex-lover in her past life who doomed her to remain without love forever. It’s a great story. You should read it.

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Go Ami! That’s my girl! I hate Prince Diamond.

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Michiru and Sestina paired up with Makoto? Huh.

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Haruka scares everyone within a ten-mile radius off, if you ask me.

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For some reason, it’s referring to Luna as male. Weird.

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Six dead on day one. Let’s look at the update.

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On to night one.

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What!? Haruka’s tougher than that! Surprising that she went out so easily. Oh well. Can’t say I care too much.

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Don’t we all question Chibiusa’s sanity?

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So long, Haruka. Districts 5 and 7 are out of the running.

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People, it’s only day three!

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Noooo! Usagi-chan! Killed by Ami no less!

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No! Not my favorite outer Sailor!!! Gosh, this is horrible! Usagi and Setsuna in the same day? This is too much. I can’t deal.

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*sniffle*

So that means…

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Currently my girl Ami has the most kills. Go Ami-chan! Win this thing!

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Yay! Ace x Mina, my ship!

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What?! I thought you were going to truce!!! How is that a truce???

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So the status is:

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Mamo and Rei? What? What? What?

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No! Stop! This isn’t at all what I want! Not Luna now!

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And now the water girls are fighting?!? Stop it!

Although I guess it’s good that Nephrite x Makoto is working. I love the Senshei/Shitennou fandom.

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Wow, Michiru, that was stupid.

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NO! NO! AMI!!!! STOP! NO!!! NOOOOO!!!!!

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… in short, all the people I wanted to win. Great.

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Districts 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, and 12 are gone. Tragic.

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Wow. That was really anticlimactic. Everyone in the Capitol is probably bored.

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Well, that’s not so bad, I guess.

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So my girl Ami did pretty well. And Mina won, which isn’t bad.

Would you want to see another one of these? And if so, what?

 

First and Last Chapter Six

I haven’t updated in a MONTH? Seriously? What is my issue?? Well, it’s Sam’s turn now, so onwards we go.

~~~

Chapter Six

Sam

It’s a long way to the Shire, but somehow, this journey seems faster than the last one. Only, that time we were walking away from the Shire and into danger, and this time we’re riding towards it, in peace.

Lady Galadriel and Lord Elrond are journeying with us until we reach Lorien and Rivendell. They have white elvish horses and a grey tent, which makes Frodo, Merry, Pippin, and I look rather silly, considering that we ride ponies and sleep in the back of the wagon. But we like it that way, so it’s alright.

The only thing not alright about all this is Frodo. He smiles, and acts the same as ever, but I can just tell there’s something he’s keeping from me. This is odd, because we never have any secrets – but I don’t ask. If he wants to tell me, I know he will.

 

I glare down at Merry, Pippin, and Frodo, sitting in the back of the wagon smiling innocently at me. “Alright, confess. Which one of you stole my blanket?”

“I didn’t!” Merry says.

“Me neither!” Pippin insists.

I look at Frodo, who giggles. I hold out a hand. “Give it back.”

“I didn’t take it, honest.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“I really didn’t take it.”

“Give it back or you lose breakfast privileges for a week.”

Frodo looks shocked. “But, the last time I had to cook -”

“You got food poisoning,” I finish. “I know.”

“Why can’t we all just share?” Pippin asks. “I mean, we share the blankets every other night, why not tonight?”

“Because I think you’ve done something bad to it.” I glare at Frodo. “Where is it, and what did you do to it?”

“I didn’t take it, honestly.”

“Tell me or…” I think. “No hugs until we get back to the Shire. For any of you. And no kisses, either. AND no breakfast.”

Merry and Pippin gasp.

“But, Sam! You can’t do that!”

“Watch me.”

Frodo gets up slowly. “Sam… you have to understand… It was an accident.”

“You accidentally stole a blanket? What did you do, use it to wash the dishes?”

“N-no… I was getting the wagon set up for bed and I walked past my pony and… and…” He buries his face in his hands. “The pony ate the blanket,” he whispers. “He just grabbed it with his teeth -”

“You fed my blanket to a horse?!?”

“I’m really sorry!”

“That’s it. No hugs and kisses for you.” I go and snatch an extra blanket from the wagon. “I will be sleeping on the ground tonight.” I turn away to hide my smile. I don’t care about the blanket, but teasing Frodo is so fun – especially because he thinks I’m serious.

“But – don’t you want to sleep in the wagon with us?” Merry pleads.

“You’ll be cold on the hard ground!” Pippin says.

I glance over my shoulder. “I would rather be cold than next to people who were so cruel. That was my last blanket from the Shire.”

“I’ll buy you a new one!” Frodo begs, grabbing my arm. “A better one!”

“No dear, I’m afraid you don’t understand,” I say, nudging his hand off my arm. “I had to save up for days to buy that blanket. It was the profit of hard labor.”

“I’m sorry!!! Please don’t punish me!”

“For this there can be no forgiveness.”

Frodo actually looks like he might cry. He goes and sits down in the wagon with Merry and Pippin, and they hug him tight.

“Sam, look, you made him cry,” says Merry. “Is that any way to treat your best friend?”

“My best friend betrayed me.”

Frodo sobs and buries his face in Merry’s shoulder. Merry hugs him for a while, glaring at me, while Pippin pats Frodo’s back.

“There, there,” he says. “It’s okay. We love you even if Sam doesn’t.”

“I never said I didn’t love him!”

“Go to sleep, Frodo,” Merry soothes, lying Frodo down in the wagon and tucking him in. They curl up in their own blankets. “Maybe Sam will play nice in the morning.”

I sigh, go to the wagon, and sit down next to Frodo. He looks up at me.

“Silly, I don’t care about the blanket,” I say.

He punches me, laughing. “You are so mean!” He snuggles close to me, and I wrap my arms around him. “Mmm, you’re warm.” He sighs, then glances up. “I hate you, you know that?”

“I know,” I say. “Go to sleep.”

“Why did you do that?” asks Pippin, glaring at me.

“Because it was funny.”

“Not really,” says Merry drily. He looks up at the sky. “We’ll be back in the Shire in two months, did you know that?”

“I can’t wait,” Frodo mumbles sleepily. “Night, everyone. Love you.”

“Love you, too.” I kiss the top of his head.

Two months, and we’ll be home.

Chapter Four of First and Last

Sam: WHERE IN THE WORLD HAVE YOU BEEN, H.G.?

Frodo: Leaving us weeping in each other’s arms, abandoned by you, forsaken…

H.G.: I didn’t *quite* do that…

Sam: *smoulder*

H.G.: I’m a published author now! I have things I need to be doing, you know.

Frodo: *glares*

Rosie: Eh he he… so, shall I start?

Sam: Go ahead. We’re really annoyed at H.G.

H.G.: *sniffle*

Rosie: *hugs H.G.* There, there… cheer up, we get to meet a new character today, right?

~~~

Chapter Four

Rosie

“It’s dangerous to go alone at night.”

I don’t turn around. He has followed me so many times. I’d like to go and punch him hard and then leave  him lying in the gutter. I may look sweet, but most boys around here know not to get on the bad side of Rosie Cotton. I was raised on a farm, so I’m strong. I can carry bags of flour twice my body weight. I can certainly throw a punch at a nagging suitor. “Don’t mess with her,” Sam would say if he were here. “She may be the prettiest thing under the sun, but my Rose has her thorns.”

“I said it’s dangerous.”

“Heard you.”

I hear soft laughter.

“That wasn’t meant as a joke,” I say, annoyed. I keep walking, quickening my pace. “I can outrun you, you know.”

“Rosie, it’s midnight, and you’re by yourself for the fiftieth night in a row.”

“Forty-seventh.”

A long pause. Then, “So you’ve been keeping track?”

I nod. “Yes, I have.” I stalk up the silent streets to Bag End, to Sam’s garden,  the garden I decided to work on forty-seven days ago, when They arrived. The garden I started working on so that the beauty wouldn’t die. So I could hold onto something, anything, anything to do with him, and home. This is not my home anymore.

“Well, let me protect you.”

I stop, tilt my head back, and throw out a loud laugh. “I don’t need your protection, Odfrin Proudfoot.”

“Don’t do that so that loudly!”

I look over my shoulder. “Why? What are you protecting me from?”

He shrugs. “Hungry orc?”

“They aren’t supposed to come to these parts.”

“No. They aren’t supposed to.

I stop. We’ve reached Bag End. I kneel down and dig the trowel I’m holding into the hard earth. If I don’t get this weed out tonight, I’ll have to resort to fire. Mr. Weed and I have been fighting for a week. “Cure you,” I think as I glare at the weed. “Couldn’t you have taken root anywhere but the cereus bed?”

Sam loves cereus flowers. He loves every flower, but those are on his favorites list (of which I am at the top.) I asked him why, and he just shrugged and said, “They make me think of Frodo.”

“He isn’t coming back,” says Odfrin, as though he can hear my thoughts. Scary.

“Sam is coming back soon, very soon. I would feel it if he was dead.” I pull on the weed. I’ve almost got it. If I can just move a rock, maybe I can dig it up.

“What? You think he’ll be back tomorrow? Or, back in time to see those cereus bloom? Give up. He’s not coming back.”

“He is not dead.”

Odfrin goes very quiet. I’m grateful, but surprised. I start working away at the rock, trying to shift it out from under the weed and up from the soil. Finally he speaks again. “I wasn’t implying that he was dead.”

This actually stops me in my tracks. I get up, shake off the dirt, tun around, and plant my hands on my hips, still clutching the trowel. “Oh?”

He nods.

“What were you saying?”

“Well, maybe he’s run off.”

“With?”

“Someone else.”

I get right up in his face. “Such as who exactly, Odfrin Proudfoot? Who could make my Sam leave me?”

“Dunno,” says Odfrin, and then adds under his breath, still loud enough for me to hear, “but he did leave to go off somewhere with Frodo Bag-”

I smack him hard across the face with my trowel. He cries out, and covers the wound with his hand. I grab him by the scruff of his neck, yank him close, and growl into his face, “you – are – sick.” I turn him around and send him alway down the road with a kick between the shoulder blades. “Get out of my sight.” I slam the gate shut and turn back to the weed.

It makes my skin crawl. The very suggestion that Sam and Frodo… I know they aren’t like that! But the suggestion gives me another reason to hate Odfrin Proudfoot, so I leave it be.

I turn back to the cereus that Sam loves so much. “They make me think of Frodo.” 

“Why?” I asked

“Because they bloom when no one is watching except me. And they’re so beautiful they almost glow in the dark.”

Wherever he is, I hope Frodo is with him.