1. One Stray Curl
“Daddy! We’re hungry!” wailed little Rosie from her place at the kitchen table. “Aren’t you going to cook us second breakfast?”
“In a few minutes, poppet, I have to find some of my special herbs first.” But Sam’s hunt bore no fruit, and he turned to Elanor, perched primly at the table’s head. “Do you know where your mother is?”
“Out in the garden with Pippin, shelling peas for lunch.”
“Then be a good girl and cut some bread for your brothers and sister—there’s lots of honey and jam to top it with. I’ll be back to cook the eggs in a moment.”
“Yes, Sam-dad.” Elanor began slicing the loaf as Sam walked out the front door in search of Rose. As he rounded the corner, he saw Rose sitting with her back in him, humming softly as she rocked the baby’s cradle with her foot at the same time she filled the bowl in her lap. Pippin gurgled, and she looked down at him; as she did so, the late summer sunlight shone on the thick curl at the nape of her neck, gilding it to shining gold. Sam caught his breath, overwhelmed by memories of the day he realized Rose was the only one he could love. The present faded into the past, the past when they both had been young and innocent . . .
It had been on another summer’s day some eight years after Bilbo’s party, he remembered, with the air full of butterflies and the flowers all in bloom. His mother was struggling to prepare a meal, for she still moved slowly after her long illness over the winter and spring. “Where is my large skillet?” Bell muttered.
“Mistress Cotton borrowed it when the handle fell off hers. I’ll go fetch it back, Mum, so don’t worry yourself,” said Sam protectively.
He hurried away, not thinking of much beyond his mother’s health, but recalling it had been too long since he had visited anyone; he had stayed close to home to help Bell. He arrived at the Cottons’ and rapped sharply upon the door. No one answered at first, then a faint voice called, “I’m in the back.” Sam wandered into the yard, and beheld Rose for the first time in nearly six months.
She was hanging up laundry to dry, stretching on her toes to reach the line. As she turned towards him, Sam gazed at her in wonder, for the tomboyish lass he remembered playing with had been magically transformed into the loveliest hobbit he’d ever seen. Her brown curls were threaded with golden streaks by the sun, and her rosy cheeks glowed. Why, she’s even prettier than Mistress Pearl Took, he thought dazedly. He imagined that the elf maidens that old Mister Bilbo used to speak of so fondly looked like Rose.
“What is it, Sam?” asked Rose. “You’re staring at me as if you’ve never seen me before! Do I have two horns growing on my forehead?”
Sam shook his head, jolted into the ordinary world again. “No, no, nothing like that, you’re just taller than when I saw you last . . . I’m sorry, I need to reclaim our skillet, the one your mother borrowed . . .”
“Let me get it for you . . .” She went into the house and came back out with the pan; he stammered his thanks and went home in a haze of hazel eyes and pink lips. She’s so beautiful—she’s the one for me, for certain—but I bet everybody will be after her, what chance could I possibly have?
After that day, Sam began making sure he saw Rose as often as he could, partnering her at dances and picnics, and taking her for walks whenever he had any free time. He was content to let matters move slowly, saving money and nurturing their mutual attraction with the same care he lavished on his vegetables. The years rippled by, and it was generally understood that Rose was Sam’s girl. Frodo quietly gave Sam several raises, and finally Sam had enough that he felt able to propose.
But trouble came before he uttered the words, and when he recognized just how bad a fix Frodo was stuck in, he resolved to go and help his master regardless of the cost to himself. It hurt him to the depths of his soul to leave Rose, especially since he could not tell her the whole story. He left her a short note when he departed for Buckland, hoping it would be sufficient to keep her waiting for him. And maybe it’s as well I’ve not spoken, he told himself, because this way she’ll find somebody else if I don’t come back.
But as the seemingly endless miles and days passed, and Sam ventured farther down a path that grew darker than his worst imaginings, he clung more and more fiercely to the memory of Rose, thinking of her constantly. Even as he looked upon the far-distant stars at night, he pictured their light touching Rose’s curls; and he never fell asleep without praying that she was still safe, still his.
When he finally returned to the Shire, it seemed a miracle that Rose was waiting, and more than happy to marry him. He wasn’t sure he deserved such a gift, but Frodo told him not to be a fool. Sam wondered now if Frodo hadn’t already foreseen his own departure, and wanted to make sure Sam wasn’t alone when it happened.
The baby squalled again, summoning Sam back to the here and now. Sam lifted himself out of the swirl of past times, embracing his current happiness. He stepped up quietly to Rose and wrapped his arms around her, his hands caressing her swelling stomach as the unborn child stirred restlessly. She jumped a little, clinging to the bowl of peas, and then she laughed and kissed his cheek. “This is a nice surprise! Are you thanking me for something in particular, Sam dear?”
Sam buried his mouth against her neck as her silky curl grazed his lips. “For everything, Rosie, for everything,” he murmured as his throat constricted with a love beyond words.
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.