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A Moment's Peace
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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A Moment's Peace

Warning: Contains non-graphic (PG) slash and het relationships


~~~

Thwock

The ax fell with a satisfying solidness, splitting a chunk of the good, dry wood in two. Sam bent and tossed the severed halves onto the growing pile, then placed another piece on the block and lifted the ax again.

Thwock

Bend, throw, position, lift…

Thwock

Bend, throw, position, lift…

Thwock

The sturdy hobbit loved the steady rhythm of chopping wood. For all that it was tiring work, the cadence lent itself to deep thought and these days, Sam Gamgee had a lot to think about.

Sweat beaded his brow and trickled down his face to wet the curls that clung to his neck, even in the cool evening air. He swiped at the moisture with his shirtsleeve, breaking the cadence for an instant to lean on the ax handle and enjoy the cool touch of breeze on his face.

Dusk was falling across the Shire. Lights winked in the windows, calling husbands and children home from toil and play to hearth and bed. Behind him, the windows of Bag End glowed with the same invitation – coaxing him inside with their warmth. Supper had been earlier, before Mister Frodo had retired for the evening, but Sam knew a warm bowl of Rosie’s fruit cobbler would be waiting for him on the hearth and a pitcher of sweet cream to go with it.

Just to fill up the corners, love, she’d explained, stroking his cheek before he left the smial after dinner. I want my husband plump and delicious, like a good hobbit husband should be.

A good hobbit husband. Sam sighed, swinging the ax to stick in the block. He gathered an armload of wood, stacking the pieces carefully. A good hobbit husband. He frowned, tucking a final piece up under his chin, and turned toward the door. And what kind of husband shared two beds, two bodies, two hearts?

He’d never intended for it to be this way. They’d ambushed him, the two of them, plotting together against him almost from the beginning.

We had to, love, for your own good, Rosie had insisted, linking her arm with Frodo’s.

Because we love you, Frodo had explained. You shouldn’t be torn in two.

Sam shook his head, turning the door handle and slipping with practiced ease into the quiet smial.

Because they loved him…

When he’d chosen to marry – at his Master’s insistence – Sam had made it clear to Frodo where he stood. Were he to marry, to bring a wife and children into his life, their relationship would have to end. Though his love for the dark-haired hobbit defied description and it was clear that Frodo in turn loved him, he’d not harm Rosie that way. He would not betray her – even for his Mister Frodo.

“If it’s what you’d be wantin’ Frodo…” Sam had agreed, when the shock of his lover’s dismissal finally passed and only sadness remained. “If you’ll not be needin’ me no more…”

“I will always need you Sam,” Frodo soothed, with a sad smile. “But you deserve a good wife and lots of sweet babies to fill your house with joy. You deserve so much more in your life than a moody old hobbit bachelor and his aches and pains.”

When no amount of fights or pleading changed Frodo’s mind, Sam had finally agreed.

It had both surprised and confused Sam when Frodo offered to share Bag End with the new couple. “Consider it a wedding gift, for you both,” he explained. “And besides, I’d likely forget to eat a regular meal without someone here to take care of me.”

Seeing the truth in his statement, the two had readily agreed.

He’d helped to plan the nuptials, providing the celebration party as another gift to the couple. He’d toasted, cheered and congratulated the couple as loudly and eagerly as any other guest, wishing them a long life together filled with happiness. Then with the ceremony safely over, he’d gone to Buckland for a few weeks, allowing the young couple the luxury to get acquainted without him getting in the way.

It had been a wonderful time for Sam, in spite of his lingering sadness. The ever-practical gardener understood the sense in his marrying and faced it, just as he faced all things, with his outlook positive and full of hope.

When Frodo returned, he and Rosie managed to settle into a comfortable coexistence at Bag End, for which Sam was grateful. Out of necessity, they shared many long hours together while Sam was away and he’d often come home to find them huddled over tea and biscuits, giggling like naughty children planning mischief. It had pleased Sam to see them so content together.

Though he missed the intimacy he and Frodo once shared, his life was so full with duties to the Shire and the replanting he’d been doing, that there hadn’t been much time to dwell on the loss. And with Rosie’s love to ‘fill up the corners’ he’d found himself happy beyond measure.

Then they’d sprung their ambush on him and life had changed forever for Samwise Gamgee.

Sighing, Sam slipped into the kitchen, depositing the wood in the bin. The cobbler was there, where he knew it would be, and he took the warm bowl and sat at the table. Pouring cream over the sticky dessert, he dipped in the spoon and savored the first taste with a smile.

Oh, he remembered that day…as if it were only yesterday.

He’d supped with them both, chatting about his day like any other night. The supper had been special – a mushroom stuffed roast with thick dark gravy, new potatoes in butter, generous slices of crusty bread, fresh beans and sweet peas, berry pie with sweetened whipped cream – all Sam’s favorites. They’d tempted him with good ale, a special brew from the Northfarthing, and admittedly he’d drunk more than he should.

After stories read in the parlor, curled up by the fire, and a sweet pipe on the front bench – Sam had thought at that moment that nothing could mar the wonderful contented feeling of the night.

He couldn’t have been more wrong.

When Frodo excused himself early to retire to his room to read, Rosie had guided him to the bathing room. Rich beeswax candles had filled his senses with the sweet smell of honey. She’d undressed him, settling him in the hot water to soak away the cares of his long day. She’d been overly playful, insisting on bathing him, cleansing his hair, and scrubbing his back and feet. Laughingly she’d slapped away his too eager hands with a gentle reprimand.

“Patience my love,” she whispered. “Good things come to those who wait.”

Coaxing him from the tub, she dried him – wrapping him in the warmth of one of Mister Frodo’s large bath towels. When she pulled a silky scarf from her bodice he’d been wary, looking to his young wife with questions in his eyes.

“A game, my love. Don’t you want to play?” She’d teased him with a tongue to his ear and he’d found himself all too willing as she bound his eyes with the fabric. Rewarding him with a deep kiss that tickled his senses with passion, she led him from the bath.

In the hall, she twirled him gently, passing him around several times before stopping. The heady ale combined with the heat of the bath did their job too well and his head swam with a brief moment of dizziness. She laughed, taking his hands, and guided him down the hallway and through a door.

“What are you up to…”

“Shhhh…”

Pulling the towel from his body, she pushed him back on the softness of an unfamiliar bed…one of the guest beds, Sam suspected and giggled as she trailed her hands down his muscled thighs before slipping away.

“Now stay there love. I’ve a surprise for you.”

Sam smiled, anticipating his wife’s soft curves and the warm feel of her skin against his. The heat of passion flared in him and he could feel the stirring of it as he lay there against the cool coverlet.

“Do you trust me love?” she whispered, somewhere from his side, and he nodded readily. “Then know that I love you more than anything. I want us always to be happy.”

“But we are happy lass,” he’d answered, feeling to his side but touching only blankets. Temptation to pull off the scarf weighed heavily in his mind, but instead he gripped the fabric at his sides with anxious hands. A sudden knot of apprehension twisted in his stomach and he was no longer sure he liked this game. “Rosie?”

“Yes?” She sounded further away now, by the door perhaps, and Sam frowned.

“What’re you up to lass?”

“We’ve a special present for you,” she laughed reassuringly. “Relax love. Enjoy yourself.”

A long moment of silence followed as he digested her words. At his side, he could feel the weight of a body easing down to sit on the bed. He breathed in a scent of spicy sweetness as an all too familiar mouth touched his lightly.

“We?” Sam choked with realization dawning slowly in his ale befuddled brain. “W…what do you mean we?”

“Oh I think you know.”

Sam jumped at the soft sound of his master’s voice coming from where he leaned next to him. The startled gardener reached up and pulled the sash abruptly from his eyes, angry embarrassment coloring his cheeks crimson.

“No…” The word was both a denial and a rebuff. Sam rolled to the side of the bed away from Frodo and slipped his legs over the edge.

“But Sam…” Rosie assured from the open doorway, “it’s all right…I know…I understand. I want you to be with him…”

“But did you stop to think, lass, what it is I might be wanting? Did either of you?” He pierced each of them in turn with a look that spoke of his anger, and his hurt.

“Sam…” Frodo began, reaching out a soothing hand which Sam shrugged away.

“And you, most of all…” the gardener spat, gaining his feet and turning to face his master. “We’ve discussed how I feel.”

“I know, but we never discussed how it could be…if Rosie were agreeable.”

“And so you figured you’d go behind my back and ask what you’d no business asking? What makes you think you’ve the right to share what you got no business sharing?”

He was crying now, anger filling his brown eyes with bitter tears.

“No, it’s not like that,” Rose assured, stepping toward him. “We rather stumbled across the idea by accident, and once it were out, we both agreed there was only one solution. We want you to be happy…”

“And am I such a miserable wretch that you figured you need to take my own free choice from me?”

“No, that’s not what Rose means,” Frodo attempted, feeling the situation spiraling out of control. “We wanted to surprise you.”

“Oh, you did that make no mistake…” Sam grumbled, grabbing the towel from where it lay on a nearby chair and clutching it protectively to his naked body.

“We thought you’d be glad,” Frodo continued.

“Well, you were wrong.”

Trembling in anger, Sam stalked from the room, brushing past his wife without looking at her. Had he looked back, he’d have seen both hobbits staring in disbelief at his retreating form, cringing as he slammed the bedroom door.

Sam found he could smile at the memory now, months removed from the moment, but he’d been so angry and hurt at the time. He’d felt betrayed by both the hobbits he loved.

His master had come to him later that same night, knocking timidly at the door and calling with a gentle voice. “Sam?”

“Aye?”

“May I come in?”

“‘Tis your house,” Sam had muttered, his voice still dark and bitter. “You can do as you like.”

The door eased open and a worried face peered in. “But I want it to be our house Sam, yours, Rosie’s and mine.”

He hadn’t answered, not trusting himself to be civil, and Frodo slipped in and shut the door behind him.

“We’re sorry, Sam…I’m sorry. I should never have presumed so much. I thought the idea would please you and I knew you’d never dream it yourself. When it chanced to come up…and believe me, the fact that it did surprised me too…I couldn’t bear to let it pass.”

The dark-haired hobbit sat beside Sam on the bed and reached out to stroke fingers through his sandy curls. He eased a tendril of hair from Sam’s face and smiled sadly. “I love you. I’ve missed being with you. There are days beyond count since Thrimidge when I’ve regretted pushing you towards marriage. I’d hoped beyond all hoping that you still wanted me.”

“I do,” Sam admitted with a resigned sigh, “more’n about anything else I can think of. But I made a promise to Rose. I’d be wrong to go back on that.”

“And you won’t be,” Frodo assured, taking hold of his hand. “Rose is a kind-hearted lass. And smart…well beyond her years and experience. She knew before we ever spoke what you and I mean to one another. I tried to deny it when she confronted me about it, but you know what she said?”

Sam shook his head.

“She laughed, and told me that she envied me my blue eyes…” Frodo chuckled, gently. “‘If I had blue eyes like yours,’ she admitted, ‘perhaps Sam would look at me, the way he always looks at you.’”

Sam glanced sidelong at his master with dismay showing on his expressive face and Frodo sobered. “She knows what she’s doing, She knows what she’s agreeing to. It can work Sam. It can.”

“But how?”

“Let us share you, even as we do now in every way except this one.” Frodo touched his cheek cautiously. “Leave it to her and me to work out the ‘how’.”

“I don’t know, Frodo,” Sam agonized, torn by the possibility. “I need to think it over.”

“Of course…take all the time you want. We’re not going anywhere.”

Sam paused in thought, sucking the bowl of the spoon absently before dipping it into the cobbler again. In the end, of course, they’d succeeded in convincing him. Through their patient love of him and each other, they’d worn down his resolve like the steady flow of water against a riverbank.

It was Rosie who managed to press him into Frodo’s bed – not long after that dreadful night. It had been one of his master’s bad days, filled with hurting and dark daydreams. Rose had begged him at least to try. “Just this once, my heart, to soothe his loneliness…and your own.”

He’d gone, tentatively…reluctantly, his mind filled with a dread that his consent would somehow destroy the relationship that he and Rose had so carefully built since their wedding night. Nervous fear had made his and Frodo’s once sure intimacy into an awkward coupling, until it was almost the fumbling of untried lovers.

Ultimately Rose had been right. The time with Frodo in his arms had rekindled a spark in Sam’s heart he couldn’t deny. And when he’d returned with fear to her bed the following night, he’d found her with open arms and tenderness to ease his worry.

Once the first time had come and gone, and no ill feelings had developed between Rose and his master, Sam hadn’t found the will in his loving heart to stop. He did love them both, there could be no doubting that. He wanted to make them both happy.

So now, three nights of the week he spent in the master’s room – sharing Frodo’s bed and body like he had for so many years before. The other four, he passed in the circle of his wife’s soft arms cradled to her breast, nurtured and loved as in the early months of their newly wedded bliss. For Frodo and Rose, the change in living arrangements brought only contentment. Yet their husband and lover could not say the same for himself.

Sam snorted, scraping the last of the cobbler from the bowl and setting the dish into the dry sink. He licked the spoon, then set it aside and pulled the kettle from the fire. Filling the basin, he cooled it with water from the pump and splashed his face.

Oh, it had been nice at first, with night after night of passionate loving in the arms of the two hobbits Sam adored most in all of Middle Earth. But as weeks turned to months the tireless duo had steadily worn him down with their incessant need of him.

When Rosie announced she was expecting, amidst the joyful thoughts of fatherhood, Sam had secretly relished the idea that perhaps her ardor would wane.

“What a mistake that was,” he mumbled.

If anything, she’d been more ravenous, waking him in the night with insistent caresses. If he feigned sleep or indifference, she’d torment his body with teeth and tongue until she’d drive him nearly mad with need of her. She would not be denied, and many were the days he’d awaken with the dawn to find himself wearier than when he’d gone to bed.

And Frodo…

Sam shuddered, taking the waiting cloth and soap that Rose had left on the hearth bench.

Frodo, whose lustful appetite for Sam’s body had always been strong, was obviously making up for the months he’d lost while Sam and Rose had kept to themselves. With only three nights to share, he strove during each one to drive his lover to heights of ecstasy hitherto unknown. Perhaps, in his own way, Frodo was attempting to ensure that Sam would always come back to his bed. Perhaps he was trying to fill the void the loss of the ring had left in him. But whatever the reason, Sam found his overworked body taking the brunt of it.

Laughing without mirth, the sandy-haired hobbit washed up quickly, listening to the quiet sounds of the house with some trepidation.

They’d be waiting, both of them, listening for his steps down the hall. He’d been illusive earlier, making no indication of where he’d be settling for the night. He did that sometimes, teasing them with his stubborn silence. It was the only power he really had over the two of them. In all other things, they could play him…driving his will away with their smiles, their embraces and the love they lavished on him both night and day. But in this one thing he was master of the house. Ultimately, the final choice of the day lay with him

Sometimes he savored that decision and the small power that it brought him, but tonight it weighed on him like the aching of his work worn shoulders.

“I shouldn’t’ve chopped the wood.” Sighing he tipped the wash water into the slops bucket and upended the basin on the hearth to dry.

If the truth were told, Sam didn’t relish the thought of sharing either bed tonight or the clinging stickiness of arms and legs that accompanied them. The day had been long, the work in the sorely neglected gardens at Bag End tiring, and the thought of a night’s grappling with either the wife he adored or his beloved master was far from his rest starved mind.

“A nice peaceful sleep in cool sheets, now that’s what I’d be after,” Sam grumbled, putting out the lamp in the kitchen and moving to do the same in the study. “Never hear ‘em offering that.”

He stepped back into the hallway, facing the moment of decision at last. Which to chose, left or right? Lover’s lair or marriage bed. Master or wife?

Trembling in weary indecision, he retreated into the study, dropping heavily on the settee his face in his hands. Perhaps he’d have a pipe before retiring – to clear his mind and help him think. Yes, that would be best. A good whiff of Old Toby would help him to relax.

But lethargy overtook him, sitting there in the darkness, before he could draw out either pipe or pouch. The couch, was overstuffed and comfy…the quilt on it’s back soft and freshly laundered and flower scented night air blew through the open window in a cool and refreshing stream.

“I’ll just rest here for awhile,” he justified, settling down and drawing the quilt over him. “A little nap is all I need. That’ll make things right.”

In the span of a few heartbeats, Sam had drifted into dreamless sleep.

*****

“Frodo?” Rose tottered into the kitchen, wrapping a shawl across her shoulders over her dressing gown to ward against the morning chill.

Frodo was hunched over the fire, breathing life into the lingering embers while adding a small pile of tow.

“Morning Rosie,” he smiled, bending down once more to blow on the smoking tinder. When flames showed, he stacked on small pieces of kindling and brushed the ashes from his hands.

“Didn’t Sam make a fire this morning?” Rosie sat on the hearth next to Frodo and warmed her hands against the new blaze as Frodo added some larger pieces of wood. “That’s passing strange.”

“I thought so too,” Frodo agreed with a soft laugh. “Though I must admit I suspected you’d kept him up all night and he’d forgotten.” Frodo winked at her warmly. “Or that perhaps he was still in bed.”

Wrinkling her brow, Rose fixed the dark-haired hobbit with a troubled stare. “He weren’t with you then?”

“No,” Frodo admitted. “Didn’t he come in by you?”

“No, I’ve not seen him since he went out after supper.” Worry caught in Rosie’s throat and she picked at her shawl nervously. “I figured he was abed with you still, when he didn’t come in this morning and kiss me awake like he usually does. Then when I saw you fixing the fire, I thought maybe he’d gone early on some business.”

“I had a pipe with him just before retiring, but haven’t spoken with him since.”

The two hobbits looked at each other then rose in unison from the hearth. Worry lined both faces. This simply wasn’t like their responsible Sam and both of them were suddenly fearful that something had happened.

“I’ll check the garden,” Frodo suggested, squeezing Rose’s hand comfortingly. “You check in here. Check the study, see if he’s left a note.”

“D’ya think something’s happened?” Rose whispered, hardly daring to think of the possibility.

“No, I’m sure he’s all right.”

They reached the hall and parted. Frodo turned for the front while Rose crossed to the study. Hand on the green door’s handle, Frodo was stopped by the other’s quiet call.

“Frodo, he’s here.” Rose motioned him over and pointed to where her husband lay, curled up comfortably on the sofa.

They watched Sam for a moment as he snored on blissfully unaware of their scrutiny, before curiosity got the better of them. Rose entered the room and Frodo followed.

“Wake up slug-a-bed,” Rose called to him, her voice low. She gave his shoulder a gentle shake.

The sleeping hobbit only grunted and shifted on the couch but he did not wake. Frodo and Rose frowned at each other.

“Sam?” This time Rose spoke a little louder and shook him again.

Mumbling, the gardener pulled the quilt over his head with a decisive grunt.

“Samwise Gamgee!” Rose admonished, taking the quilt and pulling it down. “Don’t you be ignoring me.”

“Oh, for pity’s sake,” he grumbled at last, tugging the quilt out of her grasp and yanking it back over his head, “can’t a hobbit get a moment’s peace? I’m worn out. Go cuddle with Frodo for awhile and leave me be.”

Rose stared dumbfounded at the lump that was her husband as he wriggled in his cocoon and turned to face the back of the couch.

Behind her, Frodo couldn’t contain his laughter and the music of it echoed against the book-laden walls. The familiar sound snapped Sam fully awake – and he sat upright with a groan.

“Frodo?”

“My dear Sam,” Frodo chuckled warmly. He slipped up behind Rose and looping his arms around her swollen belly, he rested his chin on her shoulder. Teasingly he squeezed her middle. “I had no idea. Rose really you must let him sleep on occasion.”

“Now don’t you go getting all smug neither Frodo,” Sam warned his voice surly from interrupted sleep. “I reckon you ain’t blameless either.”

This time it was Rose’s turn to laugh.

“Oh Sam,” Frodo murmured, releasing Rose and moving to sit on the edge of the couch. “Are we really that bad? I thought you liked the attention we give you.”

“I do,” he admitted, rubbing his still sleepy eyes. “But not every night.”

With a twinkle in his eye, Frodo turned to Rose in mock seriousness. “Goodness, Rose, we’re loving him to death.”

He waggled his eyebrows and the hobbit lass couldn’t help but break out into uncontrolled giggles. The more she tried to stop, the more Frodo’s infectious grin made her laugh anew. Breathless, she plopped heavily into one of the study’s reading chairs. Sam frowned, less than amused at being the brunt of his master’s joking, particularly when he was serious.

“How can I expect you to understand,” he grumped, slipping his legs out from behind Frodo and placing them on the floor.

“Don’t be angry,” Frodo soothed, wiping mirth fed tears from the corners of his eyes. “I do understand. It’s just…”

Both master and wife started to giggle again and in spite of his generally amiable nature Sam found his ire increasing.

“No, I don’t think you do,” he grumbled, struggling to his feet, “neither of you. So you both just have your laugh and if you’d be wanting me, I’ll be outside.”

“Sam…wait.”

Ignoring his wife’s call, Sam stalked from the room and down the hall. She stared at Frodo as they heard the solid click of the front door shutting behind him.

“Opps,” Frodo whispered, smiling wanly at Rose. “He really is mad.”

“Poor Sam,” Rose agreed. “Oh, Frodo, I never knew he felt that way.”

“Neither did I, but I suppose, when you think of it, he never gets a moment to himself. He spends each day caring for us, for Bag End and the Shire. And at night, well…” Here Frodo flushed shyly. “…I know I make demands on him when he spends his nights with me.”

“Aye,” the lass admitted with a loving sigh, imagining her husband’s strong shoulders and fine body. “I know. When I see him, home for the night all kissed by the sun and earth, how can I not want him when he comes to me.”

“Aye.”

The two hobbits smiled knowingly at each other, then Rose frowned. “We have to make it up to him.”

Smiling slyly, Frodo’s eyes brightened with a sudden thought.

“I have an idea. C’mon.” Taking Rose’s hand, Frodo pulled her from the study, explaining his plan as they walked.

“Oh Frodo, that’s perfect!” she agreed, when the plot was unveiled. “Just what he needs to make this right.”

***

It was late, and Sam knew he’d have to go inside eventually. He’d finished working some time ago, and had paused to smoke on the garden bench, avoiding the inevitable.

The gardener hobbit felt bad, knew he’d ill treated the two hobbits he loved most in the Shire and had to make it right. They were well meaning and loved him and he regretted the sharp words he’d spoken to them that morning.

“Taint like you Sam Gamgee,” he admonished, stowing his pipe. “Speaking so hurtful.”

Sighing, he gained his feet, scuffling his way to the green front door. Lights glowed warmly through the round windows, welcoming him home and that thought only made him feel worse. Screwing up his courage, he gripped the brass handle, opened the portal and slipped inside.

The delicious scent of dinner assailed him immediately and his stomach growled in anticipation, reminding him that his last meal – luncheon with the Gaffer at midday – had been a long time ago. He moved down the hall, following the rich smell and quiet murmur of familiar voices to the kitchen.

The table was set, and filled to overflowing, and Sam felt shame fill him.

“Welcome home love,” Rose greeted with a warm smile and a kiss to his cheek.

Frodo touched his face tenderly. “Yes, Sam, welcome home.”

“I’m sorry…” Sam started but Rose silenced him with a finger to his lips and shook her head.

“No my dear Samwise,” Frodo interrupted, “we’re the ones who should be sorry. Really, we had no idea how difficult this has been for you.”

“You should have told us sooner,” Rose agreed.

“Oh, ummm…well…” Sam grinned sheepishly. “I reckon really got no reason to complain…should just take the bad with the good. And it is good…most of the time.”

“Oh Sam,” Frodo whispered. “Rose and I have to be the luckiest hobbits in all the Shire to have you in our lives.”

“Now Mister Frodo…” Sam objected his cheeks coloring and Rose again shushed him with a finger.

“Hush, now love…don’t you be arguin’ with your Master.”

“But…”

“Sam!” Both Rose and Frodo exclaimed together.

“All right Rosie-love, Frodo,” Sam agreed with a laugh, “all right.”

“Good, now sit down and enjoy your supper,” Frodo ordered, pushing the hesitant gardener to the table and encouraging him to sit. “Then when you’re done, we have a surprise for you.”

Sam groaned, while the other two laughed. “Ai…not another one.”

“Oh, my dear Samwise, I think you’ll like this one,” Frodo assured.

~~~

By the time the dinner dishes were done and the after dinner pipes smoked, Frodo and Rose were nearly bursting with excitement over their surprise. Sam was nervous, eyeing each hobbit with suspicion as they led him from the kitchen to the hall.

“Close you eyes love,” Rose encouraged, then she smiled teasingly, “or do I need to get my scarf.”

“Oh, no lass,” Sam muttered, shaking his head. “No scarves.”

“Then you must promise to keep them closed,” Frodo asked.

“Aye, I promise.”

The two guided him down the hallway, giggling like children all along the way. Sam felt a bit of anxiety, remembering another trip down that same hall a few months ago and the less than satisfactory surprise that awaited him.

They went deep into Bag End, or so it seemed, until Sam felt that they certainly had to be back amongst the cool cellar storerooms. Even when they bid him stop, he found it impossible to use his senses to judge where they’d taken him. He sighed, nervously and Rose giggled at his side.

“It’s all right, love, you’ll see.”

He felt Frodo brush past him with the lamp. He could smell the warm odor of wax as the candle passed by him and could see the glow of light through his closed eyelids. There was a soft sound of shuffling and the click as the lamp was settled on a wooden surface, then the brush of Frodo’s body as it moved past him again.

“Okay,” Rose whispered leaning into his body and placing her lips next to his ear. Her breath was a pleasant warmth on his neck and he shivered in spite of himself. “You can open your eyes, love.”

Taking a deep breath, Sam complied with some small hesitation.

Opening his eyes, Sam stared on in astonishment at the wonderfully cozy little bedroom he now faced. He could recognize familiar furnishings from around the smial tucked into every nook and corner. A glass-shaded lamp from the sitting room decorated a small bedside table that had, until that morning, resided in the main guest room. In the corner, a desk and chair Sam hadn’t seen since Frodo was a tween sat supplied with a small writing set and leather bound journal. A shelf of books rested at its side. The bed was from storage and Sam recognized the carved headboard of an old bedroom set that Bilbo had retired years ago. Comfy pillows, blankets and one of Rosie’s quilted coverlets added to the homey feel of the room and a vase of hastily picked flowers completed the look.

Both Frodo and Rose moved together, just outside the door, and looked on expectantly as Sam took in the room with wide-eyed excitement.

“What’s all this about?” he finally asked, turning to face the two.

“We made if for you my heart,” Rose explained with a sweet smile.

“For me?”

Frodo nodded. “It’s a space all your own. Somewhere you can retreat to when you want a moment’s peace.”

“Or a night all to yourself…” Rose laughed, taking Frodo’s hand in hers and giving it an excited squeeze.

“No more cramped couch in the study,” Frodo teased, then continued more soberly. “We never realized that while Rose and I each had the time and indeed a place where we could have a moment to ourselves, you did not. That was terribly unfair of us and we’re sorry.”

Sam opened his mouth to protest but Rose spoke before he could reply.

“Now mind you, we sure don’t want to force you to sleep away from us,” his wife assured, coming forward to slip her arms around his waist and give him a hug. “But we never want you to feel like coming to bed is a chore.”

He just shook his head, as Frodo slipped to his side and joined Rose in her embrace.

“You two,” he sighed, kissing first one then the other. “I don’t know what ever I did to deserve the two of you.” He winked at them with a sassy smile, patting Rose’s behind and squeezing Frodo’s waist.
“Something terrible bad, I’m sure.”

“Oh, you…” Rose swatted him in return. “I’ll show you bad.”

“Oh no, lass, this here would be my room and I make the rules,” he ordered with a twinkle in his eye. “Now, off you go…both of you. I think I’ll be checking out this here bed for a moment. Shoo.”

Laughing, Frodo took Rose’s hand and pulled her from the doorway before she could reply. “No arguing, Mistress Rose. We’ve promised.”

“Aye,” she warned, with a backward glance at her grinning husband. “But he has to come out of there sometime.”

“That I do, lass,” Sam replied, blowing her a kiss before taking the door in hand. “That I do, so I’d best get to resting.” He moved to shut the door, then hesitated, his face suddenly serious. Softly, he called to the two retreating figures. “Thank you.”

Shutting the door, Sam wiped at the happy tears in his eyes and flopped onto the bed.

Thank you both.

~Fini

[Index]

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