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Author: Larner
Title: Momentary Rest with Thoughts of Tomatoes
Rating: PG
Theme: Junebug
Elements: aphids
Author's Notes: For Tari for her birthday
Summary: The Ring has made a second try to subvert Sam Gamgee
Word Count: 1,260

Momentary Rest with Thoughts of Tomatoes

Frodo awoke when Sam, whose left arm lay across his Master’s chest, cried out and jerked upright into a sitting position, his eyes filled with mixed horror and fury as he threw his other hand out blindly, as if striking away weapons targeted at the two of them.

“Ye shan’t have ’em!” he said in a shrill, terrible tone. “Ye shan’t have ’em!” Again he waved his right hand threateningly, even as his left hand sought to close about----

Frodo felt his own lust for the Ring rise in his heart, even as he felt fear for what It was possibly doing to his friend. “No, Sam!” he cried. “Do not touch It!”

Something in his tone got through the confusion Sam was feeling, as the gardener turned a pasty grey in color and pulled back from Frodo, his expression turning from righteous fury to terror that was focused on the small, seemingly insignificant lump under the dark leather orc shirt Frodo wore. Whatever state he’d been in was gone: now he was definitely awake and aware. “Smoke and ash!” he muttered. “I would of used It! And against a dream!”

Frodo felt alarmed even as he quelled the Ring’s call to protect It from imaginary danger. Sam rarely remembered any dreams he might have, yet this time he had known one—and whilst his hand lay across Frodo’s chest, right over the Ring! Who could guess the kind of dream that the Ring would cause one such as Sam to know?

“We both appear to have slept once we escaped from the orc army and made our way here,” Frodo said.

“Have you heard aught of them? Any sound of them orcs followin’ after us?” Frodo noted that Sam’s face was now filled with worry.

Frodo shook his head. “No, not that I’ve been awake all that long. Indeed, it was you sitting up and calling out that woke me, Sam. But I doubt that the orc with the whip will dare take any time to chase after the likes of us with other overseers now beside him. After all, he had hoped to earn credit for himself by forcing the two of us ‘deserters’ into his own line. To admit before others that he first found us and then lost us again would be too awkward a thing to do, particularly as he could easily be slain for such an error in judgment.” He glanced sideways at the orc helmet he’d prized off his own head on their arrival here in this shallow pit and let fall before allowing his previous exhaustion to overwhelm him. Truth to tell, he did not feel particularly rested even now after however much sleep he and Sam had managed to know. His legs ached, and the skin burned where the orc’s whip had broken the skin and it now rubbed against the sharp ash that appeared to serve here instead of soil. “I know I was glad to get shut of that and the shield as well,” he added. “They were growing too heavy for me to have carried much further.”

Sam nodded his appreciation of that idea, looking sideways at where his own discarded helm and shield lay, obviously sharing Frodo’s own distaste for the orc gear. “I’ll say this—I ain’t lookin’ forward to carrying on with that, but until we’re certain as the armies is far behind us, I don’t think as we’ll be able to let them go.”

Frodo gave a tired nod of agreement, glad to see that Sam was already going through his pack to bring out a wafer of lembas for the two of them to share. Although, he realized, he’d more appreciate a cool drink of water. Well, there was little good thinking of that, considering there was little chance they’d find good water here in the wastes of Mordor, and particularly not in quantities that would likely leave them feeling satisfied. He licked his dry lips with an equally dry tongue, and sought to distract himself from the subject of drink.

“What were you dreaming of that made you shout out like that?” he asked.

Sam’s hands, as he pulled them out of his pack, held some of the fragments of lembas they’d gathered together in the orc tower. His face twisted in disgust. “’Tweren’t that much of a dream, I suppose.” He sat back upon his haunches as he brought it up before his mind’s eye. “I was in the vegetable garden there behind Bag End,” he said at last, “goin’ to weed the tomatoes. I could see the tomatoes, there on their vines, all big and ripe and oh, so red. Only as I got closer, first one and then another sort of popped, like a pig’s bladder such as you might buy at the Free Fair for the little’uns to play with, one what was stuck with a knife blade or somethin’ like. And I saw as the vines was covered with aphids, only them aphids looked like orcs, once you saw them all close up, all ugly with nasty, filthy scimitars such as the orcs seem t’like so much, and wearin’ gold rings about their middles. And as they sucked on the vines the tomatoes, they began to pop, or hollow out and fall in on themselves. It was awful—about the awfullest thing as I think I’ve ever imagined. And I knew I could stop it, maybe! And I felt It, there, almost ’neath my hand, tellin’ me as I could use Its power to stop it all. So I was goin’ t’do just that—stop them—only----”

Frodo could feel himself shuddering at the thought of it. “Only you called out in your sleep and woke me, and that in turn woke you, too.” He took a noisy half breath, wondering if he should go on alone from here to protect Sam from Its further influence.

But Sam apparently read that thought from his expression. “No, Master, you can’t leave me behind, not now. And I know Its plans now. It wants you alone so as It can take you easier, like. Or so It thinks. Only I’d guess as It still don’t have the proper measure of you yet. It don’t realize, even now, just how strong you are, there in your heart. It won’t be able t’do as It wants till there’s nothin’ else left. And only I can keep remindin’ you as there is more to life than just the Ring. I’ve worn the foul thing now, and can recognize when It’s tryin’ Its tricks on me now. Don’t you worry none about me. Know this—I don’t want nothin’ to do with what It promises, ’cause I have the measure of It. It’s naught but a liar and a cheat, and I wouldn’t have It again on a bet!” And he spat on the ground to emphasize that thought—or at least he tried to, not that he had much in the way of spit to spare.

And against all logic Frodo found himself smiling. He might even have laughed, had he more energy. But he knew that Sam was right, and that the Ring once again had overplayed Its hand, driving Sam that much further from Its proper influence.

They each had a measure of the Elvish waybread and two swallows of water, picked up their helms and shields, and set off on the next leg of their trip to the Mountain, which now lay dead ahead of them.

Dead ahead.


( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 7th, 2016 07:30 pm (UTC)
I’ve worn the foul thing now, and can recognize when It’s tryin’ Its tricks on me now. Don’t you worry none about me. Know this—I don’t want nothin’ to do with what It promises, ’cause I have the measure of It.

I love that.
Jul. 9th, 2016 07:34 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you do. But the Ring simply could not quite get hold of the proper way to penetrate Sam's defenses! Thanks so!
Jul. 7th, 2016 07:47 pm (UTC)
I love the aphids appearing like orcs with gold rings around their middle. How perfect for our gardener.

- Erulisse (one L)
Jul. 9th, 2016 07:37 am (UTC)
I suspect that in this case Sam's own imagery for what the Ring was trying to draw him in by ended up working against the Ring's designs. I'm glad this picture of the aphids in Sam's dream works for you! Thanks, Erulisse!
Jul. 7th, 2016 09:27 pm (UTC)
Poor Sam! What a nightmare! But, as he says, he has its measure now and won't be deceived.
Jul. 9th, 2016 07:39 am (UTC)
Yes, he appreciates how It's trying to seduce him. But who knows what might have happened had he grasped the Ring while still half asleep and caught in that dream! Thanks so, Dreamflower!

(BTW, your birthday gift in in my LJ and on SoA. Hope you enjoy it!)
Jul. 8th, 2016 08:29 am (UTC)
I love your Sam voice. Perfect.

And his reasoning about the Ring getting Frodo alone was very interesting and works for me.

The description of the tomato vines had me squirming. Yuk!
Jul. 9th, 2016 07:42 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you feel the voice is indeed Sam's. By this time I suspect that Sam was able to realize how the Ring was trying Its best to isolate Frodo, hoping to better defeat him.

And that description of the tomatoes imploding disturbs me, as well, which was why I suspected it would work to upset poor Sam!

Thanks so!
Jul. 9th, 2016 02:31 am (UTC)
Indeed, I could imagine Sam feeling very protective of his tomatoes! Though it's not only the tomatoes, I suppose, but everything that Sam loves and wants to keep safe. It's a good thing that he's too steadfast and sensible to listen.
Jul. 9th, 2016 07:43 am (UTC)
Oh, but you do have it, and have seen even further than I had in writing this. Thanks so!

Yes, Sam is far more sensible than the Ring can appreciate!
Jul. 10th, 2016 01:01 am (UTC)
...the Ring once again had overplayed Its hand, driving Sam that much further from Its proper influence.

I love Sam here so much for recognizing the Ring's wiles, and Frodo for realizing that Sam can be trusted near the Ring, because he won't easily be tricked again.
Jul. 10th, 2016 03:32 pm (UTC)
There had to be a strong reason why it took three people to destroy the Ring--Frodo to carry It, Sam to aid Frodo on the journey, and Gollum to take It into the fire. Frodo must have had an innate ability to help shield his companions at least some during the journey, but at times we know It could reach others as well, or at least at certain points. For Sam's arm to be lying right over It must have seemed an opportunity to strike almost directly!

Thanks so!
Jul. 10th, 2016 08:06 am (UTC)
This is one of your finest fics effort. Positively exquisite. Thank you so much for this beautiful story. How real it feels. How true. <3
Jul. 10th, 2016 03:33 pm (UTC)
Oh, thanks so, Kimbra! I am honored!
Jul. 11th, 2016 03:32 am (UTC)
That Ring just keeps defeating Its own purpose, doesn't it? =)
Jul. 13th, 2016 05:05 pm (UTC)
Well, It's been asleep for SO long, and It doesn't truly appreciate how Hobbits think or react in spite of having spent so long in their company!
Jul. 13th, 2016 05:12 pm (UTC)
Yeah, no kidding!
Jul. 11th, 2016 10:04 pm (UTC)
This made me smile. Only Sam would dream about losing his tomatoes.

I like how you write their interaction.
Jul. 13th, 2016 05:04 pm (UTC)
And I thank you for your compliments! We know that the Ring used the thought of making Mordor into a garden before to try to tempt Sam to claim It, once It realized it didn't have a warrior's instincts to work on; I figured It might try a more familiar garden the next time. Heh!

Jul. 18th, 2016 02:24 am (UTC)
What a scene and a clever way to use the prompt. I really enjoyed the idea of the aphids role in the dream and tying it to the lure of the Ring is very original and interesting.
I do wonder if post-Quest Sam suffers from thinking about the Ring and the vision he got when he stepped into Mordor and had that vision about being the grand gardener but then decided against using it in MOrdor.
Very great fic as usual!!!!
Aug. 11th, 2016 04:14 am (UTC)
Thank you so! The moment I learned my bug was an aphid I found myself picturing one with a gold ring about its middle, and the story sort of wrote itself from there.

At least the Ring did try to psych him out enough to realize he was a gardener, and tried to use an appropriate temptation for him.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )


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