Fanfiction · Uncategorized

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.


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.


Ship Gallery

Recently, I dragged an old frame out of the back of my closet and decided to make it into a ship gallery to hang somewhere in my room. Finally I have printed out the pics, and so my ship gallery is now complete! The frame has eight slots, so I picked eight of my favorite fandoms and my OTP for each fandom. It was pretty hard to pick just eight, but I did it. I’ll probably rotate out the pics at some point. So here it is!

Seven romances and one epic bromance!

My OTP, Link and Saria, are in the place of honor on the left, and my OT3/BroT3 (still don’t know what I would call it) are in the place of honor to the right. Then depending on how much I like the ship, they are larger or smaller – though I love all of them a lot!

From left to right and top to bottom: Link and Saria from “The Legend of Zelda”, Faramir and Eowyn from “Lord of the Rings”, Rey and Finn from “Star Wars”, Sherlock and Molly from “Sherlock”, Jonathan and Nancy from “Stranger Things”, Merlin and Morgana from “Merlin”, Kashima and Hori from “Gekkan Shojo Nozaki-kun”, and Hamilton, Laurens, and Lafayette from “Hamilton”.

Laria, Farawyn, and Reyfinn


Mergana and Kashima/Hori at the top (from Gekkan Shojo Nozaki Kun). 
My epic founding father bros, because I couldn’t not put at least one platonic ship in here.
Ah, Sherlolly. How sad it was to watch you sink in the disaster that was Season 4.

Anyway, that’s my ship wall. 😉 Can’t wait to hang it!

Fanfiction · Poll · Uncategorized

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.



Lord of the Rings Fanfiction · Uncategorized

First and Last Chapter Ten

Sam: Waaaah….

Frodo: There, there.

Sam: It’s just so sad…

Frodo: Well, cheer up, H.G. has come to a decision.

Sam: *sniffle* what?

Frodo: She’s going to write a pre-quest fic.

Sam: Really? Good. I’ve decided any more torture would be too much.

H.G.: It will be very cute.

Frodo: Little baby us.

Sam: Well, little baby me, as you’re twelve years older.

H.G.: So cute!


Chapter Ten


I look around the kitchen. The dishes are put away, the bread I baked is resting under a cheesecloth for tomorrow. I’m thinking maybe I should get some apple preserves from the cellar to go with it, but maybe I’ll end up being the only one eating them and it will be a waste of time.

The front door creaks on it’s hinge, and I hear my mother say, “why Odfrin, what a lovely surprise.”

I go to the cellar door. Looks like I’ll be getting those preserves after all.

“Rosie?” mother calls. “Mr. Proudfoot’s here to see you.”

“I’ll be up in a minute!” I call. Let him leave while I get the jar.

I come back up with the jar after a minute of dawdling, hoping he can’t stay long and will scram. However, when I come up the ladder again with the jar in hand, I can hear his voice still talking to mother.

“…so rude, sometimes,” he says.

“I agree. Lately she’s been very overbearing,” Mother murmurs.

I set the jar on the counter and begin to unscrew the lid very, very slowly. If I’m going to talk to Odfrin, first I need food to keep me sane. Just a little lick…

“You know, I am a bit worried, though,” Odfrin says. “Especially now that…”

“Now that they’re back,” Mother finishes. “Yes.”

I stop with one finger halfway in the jar. Someone’s back? Are the orcs are back in this part of the Shire, even after the Tooks drove them to Northfarthing? Quietly, I go to the doorway of the kitchen, press my back to the wall, and strain my ears.

“But the Silver Scale, of all places,” Odfrin says, and I’m very confused. “Doesn’t seem lordly enough for the likes of Frodo Baggins, does it?”

I’d forgotten I was still holding the jar, but I remember just in time to catch it before it crashes to the ground. I clutch it to my chest with trembling hands. Frodo Baggins is back. And when he left, he took my Sam with him.

So could that mean…?

“Ah, well,”says Mother. “At least that’s far enough from here that he shan’t get the urge to drop in for a visit.”

“Dear Mrs. Cotton. Judging from today, Frodo won’t let his pet out of his sight. Not that Sam would want to leave it.”

The jar crashes into a thousand pieces on the floor, but I am too far ahead for it to be any danger to my feet. I fly into the living room, and before the sound of the crash has faded, I have Odfrin up against the wall by the sides of his coat.

“How dare you not tell me!” I scream into his face.

“Rosie Cotton!” Mother exclaims. “That is not ladylike-”

“SHUT UP, MOTHER!” I roar. I turn back to Odfrin. “HE CAME BACK! I TOLD YOU! AND YOU DIDN’T TELL ME!”

“Release me,” Odfrin hisses calmly.

I let go and run to the door. Sam, Sam is here, in the Shire, so close to me, and nothing Odfrin does will stop me from going to him, from reaching him…

“You don’t want to do that,” Odfrin says.

I whip my head around. “No, I do, actually.”

“Run all those miles in the dark, when it’s all for nothing?”

“I’ll take a pony,” I say haughtily, grabbing my scarf. “And who says it’s for nothing?”

“I do. You see, I told him our little arrangement.”

I stop. “What?”

“Yes, you see, I met with him this morning and, shall we say, spilled the beans.”

I turn away and lean against the wall. “Knowing you, you said it horribly.”

“Well, wouldn’t you hate it if I disappointed you?” Odfrin asks cheerfully.

“You should have let me explain…”

“Why? It’s true. It’s true whether he hears it from me or from you.”

I close my eyes, a tear sliding out. Yes, it’s true, but if I had gone and let him explain, we could fix things. I should go, anyway. I should run to him and tell him everything, even if… even if he already hates me.

“It’s no good, even if you do go,” says Odfrin, as if reading my mind. “He was very upset. Blubbering like a little bairn, can you believe it?”

I whirl around. “He has every right to be upset!”

“And another thing,” Odfrin continues, ignoring me, “I don’t think he’s interested in you anymore. He’s staying at the inn with Frodo Baggins.”

“They’re friends!”

“Yes, but they’re odd. They’re always holding hands and kissing, it’s just so strange.”

“There are plenty of people who are affectionate with their friends,” I say coldly. “I hold hands with my friends, sometimes.”

He shrugs. “Do as you will. I find that relationships as intimate as theirs are strange and unnatural. But I shan’t complain.”

“I find that faces as ugly as yours are strange and unnatural, but do you see me complaining?”

Odfrin stares at me.

“Good evening,” I say, and with that I snatch my scarf and run to the stables while he’s still recovering.




Lord of the Rings Fanfiction · Uncategorized

Chapter Nine of First and Last

Warning: this chapter contains references death and suicide – nothing is attempted, just mentioned (not seriously) in a conversation. No one is actually considering doing it, but if you don’t like hearing about it in passing, you have been forewarned.


Chapter Nine


We’ve just gotten into bed when there’s a knock on the door.

“Mr. Gamgee,” I hear the innkeeper call. “May I have a word?”

Frodo lets go of me reluctantly. “Be quick,” he whispers.

I get up and go to the door and open it enough to look out. “Yes?”

“I hope I’m not bothering you,” he says. “You see, the company’s only just dispersed, so I couldn’t get away, but I was asked to bring a message to you.”

I start. “By who?” I was hoping no one would notice we’re here.

“He’s a gentleman by the name of Odfrin Proudfoot, maybe you know him?”

I shake my head.

“All the same, Mr. Proudfoot called me over after you left and said he couldn’t help but overhear Mr. Frodo’s conversation with me, and he told me to let you know that if you’ll meet with him tomorrow, he’d be happy to take the cost of another room, as he understand’s money is tight for everyone these days.”

“I’d be happy to meet with him, but we don’t need another room,” I say.

“He said you’d say that, but he really doesn’t mind -”

“It’s kind of him, but really,” I say firmly. “We don’t need another. When does he want me to meet with him?”

“Tomorrow around first breakfast in the common room,” says the innkeeper, “but I think it was to discuss renting and your paying him back.”

“Well, I can just tell him it’s not needed,” I say. “Thank you.”

I close the door and go back to Frodo, who looks up at me. “What was that about?” he mumbles drowsily, settling against me.

“Someone named Odfrin Proudfoot offering to get another room for us.”


“It’s strange, though,” I say. “We don’t know him, not at all, do we? It just seems odd that he’d offer it out of the blue because he overheard us. I’m supposed to meet with him tomorrow.”

No reply comes. Frodo is fast asleep.


I smooth the blanket over him and press a quick kiss onto his temple. “Try and go back to sleep.”

Frodo snorts, keeping his eyes closed. I brush back a lock of hair hanging over them.

“Just try,” I say softly. “I’ll be back soon. Love you.”

“You too,” he mumbles, pulling a pillow over his face. I smile and go out the door, closing it softly behind me.

“Mr. Proudfoot’s in the corner, sir,” says the innkeeper as I enter the common room. Someone calls to him – Boffin I hear them call him – and he goes away. I walk to the table he indicated and stand beside it. Mr. Proudfoot looks up at me and rises to greet me.

He has dark green eyes and brown hair, a square jaw with a long nose – a strange combination. Not that I’m particularly good-looking either, and yet I love the two most beautiful people in the world. He appears to be a little older than Frodo, and therefore much older than me.

“Samwise Gamgee,” he says. His voice is silky and soft. He extends a hand to me. “Odfrin Proudfoot. Such a shame we haven’t met sooner.”

I shake his hand. “Shame, indeed.”

“Do sit down.” He leans back. “I confess that, although you no doubt didn’t know me, I’ve seen you several times. You see, my father runs a shop in the market.”

“Which one?”

“He runs a cloth shop for the… upper class, so I’ve only seen you a few times when you were with your friend. Where is he, out of curiosity?”

“Sleeping, hopefully.”

“I see.” He smiles. “Do you perhaps recall what you were doing every time you visited the market together?”

“Um, shopping?” I ask, confused.

“Holding hands.” He smiles again, but it’s more like a leer. “And you’re quite sure you’re not going to take me up on my offer?”

“Quite sure.” I feel very uncomfortable all of the sudden, and hoping to wrap the meeting up soon, I say, “Well, is that it?”

“I’m afraid not.” Mr. Proudfoot smiles yet again – each smile seems more and more false. “I understand you’re close to Rosie Cotton.”


“You would consider yourself her friend?”

We were more than friends. “You could say that.”

“Certainly you have her best interests at heart.”

“I think so.”

“You will be happy, then, to hear that she is engaged.”

…and I forget how to breathe.

Odfrin Proudfoot is still looking at me, but I can’t see him any more. I cannot move or breathe any more; my heart stops and my mouth dries up, and at first I’m not even sure why, because the words don’t sink in at first. And then…

Feelings return so strong I want to throw the table over and scream like a child. Engaged? To who?

Not to me.

She told me she’d wait for me…


There’s a cool hand on my shoulder. Somehow I manage to turn around and see Frodo standing behind me, looking concerned.

“Mr. Baggins,” says Odfrin Proudfoot from a hundred miles away. “I thought you were resting.”

“I was,” says Frodo from behind me, “but then I decided to stop resting.” He cups my chin in his hand and turns my face towards him. “Sam? Is something wrong?”

I just look at him.

“Sam, what is it?” he asks softly.


Please,” says Mr. Proudfoot coldly.

Frodo turns to him. “Excuse me?”

He gives another simpering smile. “Oh, nothing, only that some of us may dislike watching unusual public displays of affection.”

Frodo looks from him to me, then back to him. “I beg your pardon?”

“I believe you understood me.”

Frodo draws himself up. “Listen, Odfrin Proudfoot. I have no idea who you are or what you’ve done to Sam, but something is wrong, and I don’t let people hurt my friends physically or emotionally. Do you understand me? And I’m afraid that any threats you may have given will not work, as my social standing is far superior to yours, whatever it may be. Are you done here?”

“Yes,” says Mr. Proudfoot coldly. “We are, unless your friend has anything else to say.”

I lift my head. “Who is it?” I manage to ask.

He grins, this time not trying to keep it friendly. “Why, me, of course.”

Frodo takes my hand and pulls. I allow him to lead me away from Odfrin, down the hall, and into our room. He throws me in, slams the door, and pulls me into a furious embrace.

“You’re crushing me,” I mumble.

“Sorry.” He loosens his grip on me and looks into my eyes. “Sam, what’s wrong? Won’t you tell me?”

I struggle not to cry.

“What did he tell you?” Frodo asks gently.

I gulp. “He-he asked all these questions about you… and then he said Rosie’s engaged – to him…”

Suddenly I’m in his arms again, and this time I don’t try not to cry. “Oh, Sam,” Frodo whispers, and it sounds as though he is crying to. “Oh Sam, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I love you…”

“I love you too,” I manage to say.

Frodo squeezes me tight again, holding on to me, not letting me go. I bury my face in his neck and close my eyes, trying to shut all this out. There are orcs in the Shire, Frodo has still not recovered from carrying the ring, and Rosie is marrying someone else. Everything is so horrible I can’t even believe this is really my life.

“I want to die,” I whisper.

NO,” says Frodo firmly.

“But I can’t -”

He pulls back slightly and covers my lips with his hand. “Shush. If you died, I would kill myself.”

“No you wouldn’t,” I say dismissively.

Yes I would,” says Frodo firmly. He kisses my forehead. “Yes, I would, Sam. I couldn’t bear to go on without you. But you are not going to die. You don’t even want to die. Do you?”

I shake my head slowly.

“Then why did you say it?”

“Because… it all felt like too much.”

“We’ll get through it, though. I promise. Okay?”

I manage to nod.

“Rosie’s gone,” says Frodo. “But I’m not. I’m here for you, and I always will be. I’ll stay with you all your life. I promise I will never leave you all alone. I love you, and I don’t want you to be in pain. Right now it hurts horribly, and right now you need to cry and suffer, but someday that will pass. Everything will be alright. It hurts now, but it will be alright. Isn’t that what you always tell me?”


Frodo embraces me agin, gently. “Go ahead and cry.”





Fanfiction · Lord of the Rings Fanfiction · Uncategorized

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


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?”


“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.”


“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.”


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?”


“For both of you?”


“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.