1. Chapter One
Yesterday, he'd scattered the last of the Lady's gift at the Three-Farthing Stone and planted the glistening silver seed in the Party Field. Now he could finally buckle down and get to work at Bag End; but first, he needed to take stock of what was dead, and what he might be able to coax back to life with a little tenderness.
Sharkey's Men had swarmed Bag End, trampling the garden and building their nasty ramshackle "storage" sheds all over it. Some Hobbiton lads had come by and knocked those down for Mr. Frodo, but the earth where they'd stood was still sour and hard. Sam added Ask Farmer Cotton for manure to his always-growing mental list of chores.
The roses would survive, for certain; those went back to Missus Belladonna, who'd planted them when Bag End was built. They'd been cut back harshly, but they weren't about to let any upstart wizard beat them. In fact, one of the bushes was still blooming, its last few cream-coloured flowers pouring their spicy scent out over the garden.
He'd cut those later for Mrs. Cotton and her daughter, Sam decided, and grinned. There were maids aplenty in the Shire by the name of Rose, but to his mind, none that it suited better.
The lilac bush had been chopped down, but the stump hadn't been dug out, so it was already sending out new canes from the roots. The daylilies looked something awful, all yellowed and limp like dirty straw, but they'd come back. Precious little could kill those buggers.
As for Mr. Bilbo's favourite flowers, the snapdragons and nasturtians and such, it was too soon to tell whether they'd managed to set seed before they were all uprooted or burned. He'd just have to wait and see if they came up again in the spring, but so far, things didn't look near as bad as he'd feared.
Then he saw the laburnum at the back of the garden. It was whole, but withered; the few leaves still clinging to the branches were naught but limp brown rags. Sam scratched his head, wondering what had happened; maybe Sharkey'd tested some foul mess on it. He couldn't see any swollen buds, nor any other sign of growth, but just to be sure he pulled out his pocket clasp-knife and scored a few of the boughs near the base. They were dry and brittle, with no flush of green at the center to show life.
He remembered it last spring – a dense fountain, twice his height, of golden flowers hanging to the ground. Why, it'd been as bright as one of Gandalf's fireworks!
Sighing, Sam trudged back towards the front of Bag End and the Bywater road. All of his and the Gaffer's tools were gone, o' course. He'd have to ask Farmer Cotton for the loan of an axe and saw and spade, and see if Nibs could spare time to help him dig out the stump; better to root it out now than wait and find that whatever'd killed it was spreading.
On the way, he stopped to look over the beds facing west, under the windows of Bag End. They were the worst sight yet.
Most of those filthy sheds had been built on this side, right up against the wall of the smial, crushing the lady's-mantle and cutting off the asters from the sunlight. Hot tears prickled in Sam's eyes. He'd planted those cheerful flowers, and loved the way they bloomed late into the autumn, lighting the garden with their yellow and red lamps long after the first frost.
When he saw the proudly upright spikes of tiny blue flowers springing out of the darkest corner, though, he laughed so loudly that Frodo stuck his head out of the kitchen window. "What's so amusing, Sam?"
"Sharkey's ruffians killed off near all the plants in this bed, Mr. Frodo, but they couldn't get rid of the lobelia," Sam told him, pointing at the arrogant little clump of flowers.
Frodo chuckled. "Plant or hobbit, neither of them is easily cowed. Will you leave it there, Sam?"
"I never much cared for the things, but Bilbo's mum loved them, or so the Gaffer's always said. And I'm not about to uproot anything that survived Sharkey. They can stay there, and be welcome."
For some reason, while writing it I had thought this story would fall under one of the Quickie Challenges. It doesn't, so I've posted it in General instead.
Thanks to Azalais for catching me out in a North Americanism.
If you want to see a picture of Sam's roses (he's very proud):
If you just want to know what lobelia (the flower) looks like:
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.