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38
Properly Managed

For Antane for her birthday.


~~~

Properly Managed


Frodo looked exhausted as he entered Bag End on his first return to Hobbiton from Michel Delving since Sam and Rosie’s wedding. Sam and Rosie looked at him with surprise, for he’d not appeared this tired for quite some time.

“Master—what’s wrong?” Sam demanded, taking Frodo’s Elven cloak and hanging it on one of the pegs in the entranceway while Rosie took Frodo’s water bottles back to the kitchen.

“Oh,” Frodo sighed, “it’s only that while I was away visiting Brandy Hall after the wedding Aunt Eglantine’s young cousin Snowdrop Banks decided to make herself—useful—to those working in the Mayor’s office.” He allowed Sam to lead him to the parlor and help him settle into his chair there before the fireplace that held a small but cheerful blaze in spite of it being a warm day in late spring. “Useful, did I say?” he asked with a distinctly ironic tone to his voice. “Nay, not so much useful as indispensable! She’s tried to take over everything, insisting on immediately straightening away anything she considers out of place, always there dusting things or tutting at those who’ve been assisting me to put things right for not wiping their feet when they come in or for setting their mugs right on the table and leaving rings on the wood or for settling their cloaks or jackets over the backs of their chairs rather than hanging them on the rack. She’s so busy seeking to manage us that she’s not really helping with things at all, I swear!”

Sam was taking the rug from off the chest by Frodo’s chair and settling it over the Baggins’s knees. “Is that so, Mr. Frodo?”

Frodo gave a nod before allowing his head to drop back against the cushions. “Oh, yes! Isumbard and Hillie are constantly looking for whichever document they were going over last, and Tolly is ready to strangle the little chit for constantly taking away his cup of tea once it finally cools off enough that he can drink it—has a sensitive mouth, Tolly does, and won’t drink anything until it’s nearly as cool as the air. The first time she tried that on me I’m afraid I rather frightened her the moment I caught her reaching for my mug. She gives my desk a wide berth at the moment, but is twice as vigilant now with Tolly’s cups.”

Sam nodded sympathetically, but couldn’t quite hide his desire to grin from his bride as she came from the kitchen with a laden tea tray complete with a steaming mug to present to the Master. Rosie gave her husband a curious glance, to which he responded with a sideways look that promised to tell all when they were alone. To Frodo he said, “I see. Now, here’s your footstool—let’s get your feet up and warmly covered, shall we?”

In moments Frodo had his favorite oversized shawl wrapped about his shoulders and a buttered seed cake in his hands; his feet were comfortably situated upon a footstool and covered by the rug Sam had tucked about the older Hobbit’s knees; and the room was filled with the fragrant scent of the tea, rich with comfrey and athelas, that Rosie had brought him. “I fired up the boiler in the bathing room some time ago, Mr. Frodo,” Sam told him. “Would you prefer your bath before or after you’ve had your supper?”

“After, I think. And thank you so, Sam. You cannot know how wonderful it is to be home, and away from being managed by young Snowdrop Banks!”

“I can imagine,” Sam assured him. “No, no one likes to think as someone’s tryin’ to manage him, does one? You just rest and be comfortable. My Rose and me—we’ll have our supper ready on the table in the kitchen soon enough. Does a roast of beef suit you tonight? Rosie’s a dab hand at makin’ a succulent gravy!”

Frodo settled more deeply into his chair, not minding at all having his comfort managed for him by his beloved friend and brother-of-the-heart. “Will there be roast potatoes and herb butter?” he asked.

“And a fresh crusty loaf,” Rosie assured him. “It’s a-bakin’ right now.”

Frodo smiled deeply. Such was his current bliss!

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