"I knew things would come right when you got back!"
Everyone else was round the kitchen table, finishing a late supper and talking over the events of the day. The ruffians were routed, many dead and the rest of them on the run, and Sharkey was dead too, struck down in the end by his own servant. Sam shuddered as he described the scene to me.
He was lying on the old leather settee in the front room, his head in my lap.
"It was an ugly thing to see, Rosie. Not but what he deserved it! Even right at the end he tried to stab Mr. Frodo – it's a mercy he had that mithril shirt on! I near run my sword through him then and there, but Frodo, he let him go. I've a long ways to go before I'm as merciful as Mr. Frodo."
He closed his eyes, and I trailed my fingertips softly over his eyelids. The only light in the room was the glow from the fireplace, and the voices from the kitchen were a pleasant hum in the background.
"'It wasn't you he was trying to kill, Sam. Maybe Mr. Frodo wouldn't've been so merciful, if it was you Sharkey tried to stab. Easier to forgive what's done to me, than what's done to someone I love."
He nodded without opening his eyes. "You're right, lass. I look at the Gaffer and Marigold, so thin as they are, and I don't know what I'd do to Lotho, if Sharkey hadn't done it already. It's a hard homecoming, finding the Shire in such a state."
"It's been a hard year, Sam. They all thought you were dead."
He looked up into my eyes. "And you didn't?"
"I told you – I've been expecting you ever since the spring. I knew you were coming -- I just didn't think it would take you so long."
"I might've never come back, Rosie. It looked like that for awhile – I was surprised myself to wake up and find I wasn't dead!"
I couldn't answer him. The tears welled up in my eyes and I turned my head away so he wouldn't see. He did, though. He sat up sudden and the next thing I knew, I was on his lap and half-crushed in his hug.
"Rosie, oh Rosie….. It'll take a bit of clearing up, the Shire and all, before we can be wed, lass. Will you wait for me a little longer?"
"Just a little, Sam. You've wasted a year already, you know," I teased him.
He pulled away and stared at me, shocked, and I laughed through my tears. "Oh, Rosie,” he said again, shaking his head. “Come on, let's go walk outside a bit, look at the stars."
We passed through the kitchen to get our cloaks, and I saw Mr. Frodo watching us from the corner of his eye. I thought he looked pleased.
Sam's cloak was a beautiful thing, the softest weave I ever saw, and to this day I couldn't tell you what color it is – seems like it's always changing, like water rippling in the sunshine. But he was looking at my cloak, too, rubbing it between his fingers and examining the flowers embroidered on it.
"It's my old one that I left at home, isn't it?"
"Yes – Mari gave it to me, to remember you by."
He wrapped it around me and pulled the hood up over my hair, then touched one of the flowers with his finger.
"Forget-me-nots," he said softly.
It was chilly outside, and the stars were so bright and close, seemed like you could reach up and pick one, like an apple off the tree, and carry it for a lantern. We walked up the lane to the road and sat side by side on the pasture fence. He put his arm round me and I leaned against him.
"You do understand, Rosie? Why I had to go with him? I couldn't let him go alone!"
"I know that, Sam. But it's over now, isn't it? You can stay with me?"
"It's over. The Quest is over. We can stay home now, all of us, home where we belong. I'll never leave you again, Rosie."
It took longer than I'd hoped, repairing the damage done by the ruffians. Sam stayed at the farm till the new holes were finished in Bagshot Row – New Row, they call it now. Even then he was away quite a bit, planting trees in other parts of the Shire. When he was home, he was up in Hobbiton most days.
Bag End was in a terrible state, and it took months to put it right. I caught on pretty soon that I'd see more of Sam if I was up there, and we started walking to Hobbiton together each morning. I scrubbed and polished and sewed new covers for the furniture, while he and the other fellows repaired what was broken and repainted all the rooms. As soon as the weather warmed, he started replanting the garden.
New Row was finished first, and Sam and his family moved back into No. 3, but Mr. Frodo was still at the farm. He was an easy guest, spending most of his time writing at a table my brothers had carried into the front room for him. Mr. Merry drove over from Crickhollow with a load of his books, and when he wasn't writing he mostly sat before the fire, a fur robe over his knees, reading.
An easy guest, quiet and kind, and yet it wasn't entirely comfortable having him around. He didn't talk much even at mealtimes, though he always praised the food politely and had a good appetite. I tried to be friendly, knowing how Sam loved him, but I couldn’t find much to say to him.
I had always been shy of Frodo Baggins, even before they went away. He was so truly a gentlehobbit, not like Fatty Bolger, who seemed much the same sort as my father or brothers, for all we called him Mr. Fredegar to his face. Mr. Frodo was different, even in the old days.
Since they came back, he was more than different. Courteous, soft-voiced, a little sad – yet even Sharkey couldn't stand up to him, and as it turned out, Sharkey had been a powerful wizard. But for all of that, when Mr. Frodo told him to go, he went – he didn't stay around to argue with Frodo! Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin, too – tall and lordly they were, with their mail shirts and helmets – folk were already calling Mr. Merry “the Magnificent”. But it seemed like even they looked for Mr. Frodo to tell them what was what. And there he was, so thin and sort of tired-looking, telling them.
In my heart of hearts, he right out scared me. I was relieved when Bag End was finished and he finally went home.
And then, a week before the wedding, Sam told me we'd be coming to live with Frodo at Bag End. We were in the kitchen doing the washing up, and I was that startled, I squeezed too hard on a wine glass and it broke in my hand. I cried out, my hand bleeding like sixty in the warm water, and Sam grabbed my arm.
"Here, Rosie, sit down and let me make sure there's no bits of glass still in your hand! Hold still now, lass -- hush, hush, I know it hurts. Just let me get the glass out, that's my girl, and we'll bandage you up, good as new."
After my first cry I hadn't made a sound, and I was sitting quiet as a mouse, but he kept hushing me and crooning over me while he picked splinters of glass out of my hand, till I laughed in spite of the pain.
"Sam, you goose, you'll make a fine father, that's plain as plain. Any time one of our children scrapes a knee, I'll send them to you to be patched up. Have you been tending the wounded on your travels, on top of everything else?"
He blushed and grinned. "I'd sound a rare fool on a battlefield, wouldn't I? No, I didn't have the care of no one but Mr. Frodo, and there was little enough I could do for his wounds, more's the pity. I just can't bear to see you hurt, Rosie. Hold tight, now, I think there’s some rolls of bandage in the cupboard."
He washed and I dried after that, and I was clumsy enough with the enormous bandage he'd tied on my hand.
"I thought we were going to live with your Gaffer, Sam -- just come up here to work, is all. You never used to live at Bag End before you went away."
"No, I didn't, and that's a fact." He let the water out of the sink. "Let the rest of those drip dry, it won't hurt 'em."
He sat down and pulled me onto his lap, and I nestled against him.
"Mr. Frodo asked particular for us to come and live here, lass. I'm thinking he don't want to live alone now. He had a cruel time, Rosie, a terrible cruel time. It was more than just the wounds, and the hunger, and hiding all the time, thinking any day we’d be caught and killed – he had the Ring, you see. Those last few weeks, he was near out of his mind. I don't think he's got over it even yet."
"Poor Mr. Frodo," I said, but I'm afraid I was really thinking, poor Rosie. Taking care of Bag End and doing the cooking, I could handle that. I'd known that would be part of being married to Sam. But to live here all the time, and not have no home of our own at all – that was something else again.
"Rosie? You won't mind living at Bag End, will you? I want you to be happy, lass."
Sam sounded worried, and I wrapped my arms around him. "I'll be happy wherever we can be together, Sam. That's all that really matters."
And it was. After the long year of dread and misery, of making myself believe in spite of everything that he was alive, he would come home -- and all the while ruffians overran the Shire and fear grew on every side – what matter where we lived? Just being with Sam was good enough for me. I could get used to Mr. Frodo.
A week later we were wed. We had an outdoor wedding -- nothing would satisfy Sam but to married in the Party Field, in front of the new little sapling he had planted in place of the lost Party Tree. It was up to his chin that April, covered with golden blossoms. A mallorn, he called it, and promised me that one day it would be larger and finer than the old Tree had ever been. He'd seen mallorns in the Elvish country, he said.
Mr. Frodo heard our vows – I’d forgotten that of course he would – he was Acting Mayor until Will Whitfoot recovered from his time in the Lockholes. I didn’t have much attention to spare for him, not on my wedding day! But he sat at the wedding table with us and gave a toast, and I remember thinking he looked near as happy as Sam.
We moved into Bag End the next day, and I got my first surprise when I went to call Mr. Frodo to dinner. He was in his study, writing in a big red book.
"Have you called Sam yet, Rose?" he asked.
"Not yet, Mr. Frodo. I wanted to get you served first, sir. Sam and I will have our dinner afterward."
"That sounds like a lonely dinner for poor old Frodo!" he said. He smiled up at me from where he sat, and I think his smile would have melted the heart of an orc. "Set two more places, won't you, Rose? I'll call Sam -- I think he's digging up the vegetable patch."
The next thing I knew I was sitting down to dinner in the big dining room, with Frodo at the head of the table and Sam across from me. Sam raised his eyebrows at me in silent question, and I shrugged, but Mr. Frodo reached across the table and took our hands.
"Sam, we've eaten too many thin meals together hiding under a bush, to stand on ceremony now. Would you really leave me sitting all by myself in the dining room, while you and Rose have dinner cozy and warm by the kitchen fire?"
Sam's ears burned red and he began to stutter. "Well, Mr. Frodo – it's only right, sir – you being Master of Bag End -- you ought to be served proper in the dining room and all."
"I can't come and eat in the kitchen with you and Rose, then?"
"Well, sir, it wouldn't hardly be proper. You're the Master, Mr. Frodo."
"Ah, well, I suppose you're right, Sam." He sighed and shook his head. "As Master of Bag End, then, I'll be requiring you and Rose to keep me company in the dining room. This is far too big a table for one lonesome old hobbit."
He turned to me, and he was as polite as ever a girl could wish, but there was a twinkle in his eye.
"Will you do me the honor to have dinner with me, Mistress Rose? I believe your good husband will be joining us, so it's quite proper."
I had to laugh, he looked at me so comical, and that broke the ice between us. After that first night, Mr. Frodo took all his meals with us, unless he was working hard on his book and asked me to bring his lunch into the study.
At breakfast he came into the kitchen and claimed the seat closest to the fire, for he always seemed to feel the cold. He was very quiet in the mornings, warming his hands on his mug of tea, his eyes shadowed as if he didn't sleep well. But at dinner he and Sam talked long about their travels, comparing their memories of different things, for Mr. Frodo was writing it all down in his red book. I listened to them in wonder, and sometimes horror – as bad as we had thought things were in the Shire, the year they were gone, still we had seen nothing like the terrors they described.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.