1. This Rose Without A Thorn
I remember something my Gaffer used to say to me: "Even a rose has it's thorns, Samwise." Only know, I know it's not true.
Everyone is clapping along with Merry and Pippin as they dance and sing. atop the tables. Even Mr. Frodo is enjoying himself, dancing in a circle around them, a mug of ale in each hand. Most everyone cheers as the song draws to a close, and the two bow. But not me - crowded as the Green Dragon may be tonight, I can only see one person: Rosie Cotton.
As the patrons shout for an encore, Daddy Twofoot, our neighbour, starts telling us about some strange folk who've taken to passing through the Shire. I shudder for a moment; I don't want to think about the outside world. Like most, I'm fine and happy where I am. There's something wrong with hobbits who think otherwise. Like my Gaffer says, there ain't no place like home.
Mr. Frodo drops to the bench across from me. I puff on my pipe, barely hearing my old Gaffer's words as he chats to the others at our table. All I see is that lovely hobbit lass with unruly curls, polishing an empty tankard.
Then, she looks up, a twinkle in her eyes and a smile on her lips. Her smiles always make my knees go weak, and I thank the Shire that I'm sitting down. I turn away, not wanting her, nor anyone else, to see how red I am at having been caught staring at her.
I gulp for air, suddenly thankful when she turns to greet a customer, even if it is that confounded Ted Sandyman. Honestly! That charmer never misses a chance to sweet-talk any hobbit lass, and I hope he doesn't take a liking to Rosie.
She laughs at one of his jokes, a beautiful, sweet sound - like the song of a rose, if roses had voices. This one does, I think with a smile.
But what would she want with me? Whenever I think about her, something tells me that I'm not good enough for Rosie - and I know that it's true. Why would that lovely hobbit-lass care about a lowly gardener who can hardly muster up the courage to talk to her?
Sighing, I lay down my pipe, as my mind drifts back to old Mr. Bilbo's party. Now that was a memorable event, make no mistake about that. Everyone's been talking about it for months, claiming they know the Truth about why Mr. Bilbo disappeared. But me? I can't say I'm not interested, but I hardly remember much about his speech, or anything else about that party. The only clear memory I have was dancing with Rosie Cotton.
For that, I have to thank Mr. Frodo. True, I'd dreamt of asking her for a dance, taking her into my arms. But a dream was all I expected it to remain. I would've been content with a mug of ale and a pipeful of Old Toby; but Mr. Frodo had other ideas. Before I knew what was happening, Rosie Cotton, the lass I'd admired from afar for years, was in my arms and dancing happily to the music.
My sweaty palm gripped hers as I swallowed. Her skin was tender, so soft, like petals against the skin. I looked into her eyes, as green as the grass in summer - no, that doesn't do them justice. Anyway, we spun around to my music. Her movements were so graceful and relaxed, but mine were tense, nervous.
"Is something up, Sam?"
"Oh... no, nothin's up. I'm... I'm fine!" I stammered, surprised by the genuine distress in her voice - for me!
"You seem a little nervous," she whispered.
"No, I'm fine, Rosie," I assured her, wishing I could tell myself the same thing, and believe it.
Our dance seemed to last forever; yet, all too soon, it was over. She smiled, and I feared that my knees might buckle from beneath my legs, and I would collapse in the middle of the dance floor. The embarrassment alone of that act would kill me.
"Thank you for that dance, Sam," she said, curtseying slightly. "'Twas the best dance I've had all evening."
"My pleasure," I choked in reply. She nodded gratefully, before turning and being lost in the crowd of guests. I sank to the bench beside Mr. Frodo and reached for another mug of ale.
Turning my eyes back to the bar, I blink in shock.
Could it be my imagination, or is Rosie Cotton staring at me?
She laughs, softer and friendlier than before. Her eyes met mine, and she smiles warmly. It's then that I realise Mr. Frodo is talking to me.
"It's getting late, Sam," he says with a yawn. "I'm off home."
"Me too," I say, drowning the last mouthful of ale before standing. We push our way through the crowd, but not before Fatty Bolger halts our progress. We stop for a few moments to chat to him, exchange a few jokes, and ask how his sister is. Poor Estella's been in bed for a few days. "Think it's grippe she's got."
Finally, Mr. Frodo and I are able to shake him off, and reach the door. My jaw drops as I see Rosie standing there to see off all the patrons. She turns to me and Mr. Frodo. "Good night lads," she says. Is it just my imagination, or is she winking at me? No - she's probably got something in her eye.
I smile at her. "Good night, Rosie." As Frodo and I turn, I hear that damn Sandyman again. Craning my neck, I watch him drop to his knees. "Good night, sweet maiden of the golden ale!"
"Mind who you're sweet-talking," I growl. Mr Frodo places a hand on my arm, probably to restrain me from grabbing that slimy toad and throttling him.
"Don't worry, Sam. Rosie knows an idiot when she sees one."
"Does she?" I gulp. Being a lowly gardener, I'm no genius, but I know my plants. But what does Rosie Cotton care for some block-headed lad?
I cast one final glance back at her. Of all the roses in the Shire, she will never be mine. One day, roses of red and pink will grow in my garden, but this Rose without a thorn won't ever grace my home..
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A/N: Written in response to the Movie Challenge. I felt that the scene in the Green Dragon Inn (FOTR EE DVD) needed to be explored a bit more, so here's my attempt. Comments, and constructive criticism are most welcome. Thanks for reading,
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.