Promises: 3. Offerings

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3. Offerings

The next day it was Frodo’s job to clean the remains of the party and to return tables and chairs to their storage holes. He dove into his work and even had all the party dishes washed up before Bilbo emerged from his rooms. They sat in the sunny kitchen and drank tea and ate a light second breakfast of apples and cheese along with slices of cake left over from the party. Frodo seemed restless and Bilbo, with a touch of his amusement from the day before, suggested Frodo go out for a brisk walk to ‘take the edge off’ his energetic mood. Bilbo had papers to examine and review and claimed that Frodo’s fidgetiness would be quite distracting to the study of serious matters. Frodo obliged, hoping also the exertion would help him to focus on something other than the events of the previous day. He started off from Bag End walking north along the trail that wound up towards Overhill. Pointedly, he was walking away from Bywater. About an hour out, Frodo paused to take a drink from his bottle and survey the land. He was still high up the far side of the hill and amid the field there were small copses of aspen and birch, their leaves just beginning to turn yellow. It was a warm and sunny day for autumn and Frodo removed his coat and vest and bundled them in his bag. It was warm enough for him to feel quite comfortable without them. He continued walking, now taking an easterly track across the middle of the slope. It was more wooded there and the bright leaves intercepted much of the slanting autumn sun so that it was not quite so hot in their shade. Frodo’s pace slackened as he walked, the urgency he had felt when he had set out was beginning to ease and he was feeling a bit better. Bilbo’s suggestion had been right. Frodo wondered if indeed the old hobbit, who had been a confirmed bachelor as long as anyone had known, didn’t have a far better understanding of what Frodo had been dealing with than might have been guessed. The thought made Frodo chuckle.

Just ahead and above him on the slope, in a patch of light created by an opening in the trees, Frodo caught sight of movement. It was the swirl of skirts and the bottoms of two hobbit feet as a figure knelt in the sun picking something that was growing there. It was Mae. Frodo felt his heart stop. How on earth he had managed to happen upon the one person in all the Shire that he didn’t feel the strength to meet this day? Frodo stood shock still, hoping she wouldn’t turn and he could make his way down the slope silently. No such luck. Mae stood at that moment and turned. She jumped slightly, also shocked to see him of all people standing below her.

“Oh!” She had her basket on her arm, a pile of dirty roots heaped within it. Her fingers were covered with soil, as was the small spade she had obviously been using to dig them out of the ground. “Oh, my, Mr. Baggins! I didn’t see you there!” She was overcoming her initial start and a blush was rising in her cheeks. “I was just digging out some…” She stopped, the words stumbling on her tongue. She drew a deep breath and swayed a bit unsteady on her feet. Without a moment’s thought, Frodo was up the slope and reaching out to steady her. “I am sorry…” She was quite breathless. “You must think me the silliest creature! I don’t know…”

“No, it’s alright…” Frodo assured her. “It certainly seems I am a constant source of complaint to you… I’ll be gone and trouble you no more.”

“No!” Mae gripped his shirtsleeve and before he could pull away, she had his hand in hers again. “You are no trouble.” She smiled, shakily. “Right now I would be in far more distress if you left than if you stay. I… enjoy your company.” She looked apologetically up at him. “Would you sit and talk with me? “

Frodo knew that was the last thing he should possibly do, but he could think of no way of disentangling himself gracefully. He sat on the grass beside her and battled with his inner demons. The truth of the matter was, he didn’t trust himself. The warm grass and the lovely hobbit maid was an intoxicating combination. She held his hand in her two, pondering what to say to him. Frodo noted the way the sunlit strands of curl drifted above her head on the gentle breeze, the warm, earthy scent of her, the touch of her skin and how his palm was becoming increasingly damp in her care.

“I don’t know quite how to explain this…” she began carefully.

“You don’t need to explain anything.” Frodo assured her. “It’s my fault! I was unforgivably forward towards you – I should have been ashamed of myself!”

Mae looked up at him, her lips parting ever so slightly and her wide, green eyes mirroring her surprise. She started to shake her head but never finished the motion. As quick as the thought had come to him, Frodo had leaned forward and kissed her on the lips. It was clumsy, and he regretted it immediately, but it was as if he had had no choice. Mae eyes widened even more and for the first time, Frodo wondered if perhaps he had misread the situation. She seemed genuinely surprised at his kiss – but was adjusting quickly to the idea. She leaned forward, hesitantly, and gently returned it. Frodo closed his eyes, hardly daring to breathe.

For Mae, the kiss had been a surprise. She had not even considered he would have looked upon her odd behavior this way – but how could he even imagine it’s true cause? Such a timid, clumsy kiss – the feel of it was still on her lips - it stirred an answering passion of her own that had nothing to do with premonition or protectiveness. She did not hesitate to return it. He was trembling a little bit, Mae touched his cheek and he sat back, his breath coming a little rapidly. “I’m sorry…” he said.

Mae shushed him and traced his lower lip with a finger. Frodo closed his eyes once more, debating with himself and then kissed the finger. Mae caught her breath at the sight – his face lit by dappled sunlight lying against her hand, his eyes closed and his brows frowning just a bit as if expecting this moment to evaporate. All thoughts of what Mae had been planning to say, to explain to Frodo, evaporated as she looked upon him. All she could feel was sudden, overwhelming desire that blocked out everything else. Whereas the premonitions had sapped her strength and heart, this flame gave her life. She felt him gently kiss her palm, timidly asking and she melted. A sigh of pleasure escaped her and, at that, Frodo opened his eyes again. It looked as if he had found new resolve, and, finding it, was acting quickly before it faded. He pulled at the strings that held her bodice and began striping the laces from it urgently. Mae moved closer and put her arms around his neck… she kissed his temple, a feather’s touch of a kiss,… and began to kiss his cheek, the hollow of his neck, his chin,… finally finding his mouth again as the bodice was freed. This time the kiss he gave her was less clumsy and much more insistent. Mae was engulfed by it and coherent thought became even more impossible. She slipped her hands under the light shirt he wore and felt the smooth warmth of his skin, his heart was beating fast and strong. She slowly spread her hands across his chest and the buttons came undone as she pushed. The feel of his body on her hands was intoxicating – so alive, so vibrant. No! She pushed back the sudden thought that threatened to invade this moment. She would not think of what she saw in store for him. She would live in this moment, and whatever she could give him of her life, of pleasure and delight, she would, willingly.

Frodo dropped the shirt, now unbuttoned, onto the grass as if it annoyed him. He fell upon Mae and kissed her again. Her own blouse, freed from the bodice, was full and loose and he slipped it up over her head to toss it beside his own garments. He laid his chest on hers and hungrily kissed her again. He knew what his body was commanding him to do, he could feel the urgent messages that threatened to explode within him, but he was not yet a hobbit grown full, and though he knew of the things that hobbit lads and lasses did in the hollows and dells on fine summer evenings, he had yet never done them himself. Mae moved beneath him, arching her back and undulating in a way that made Frodo almost gasp. He broke off the kiss and groaned as the pressure in his loins threatened to overwhelm him. Mae reached down to his waist and fumbled with the buttons of his breeches. Her mind was on fire now. She could think of nothing except that she wanted to give him pleasure, and take pleasure from him. Mae was still a youngster herself – not yet quite come of age. She was as inexperienced as Frodo was, though through her midwifery, she knew enough to guide him.

Frodo impatiently undid the buttons of his trousers. He knew he dared not wait, that his body was possessed by an unquenchable desire and he would soon have no control over it. Mae relinquished the buttons and slid her hands down Frodo’s bare back and over his smooth buttocks. Frodo kicked his trousers off the rest of the way and lay naked on top of Mae. Then, as if suddenly aware of what he needed to do, Frodo sat back and pulled on Mae’s skirt. Down it slid and Mae eagerly kicked it off as well. Now they both were naked in the dappled sun, their pale skins touched brilliant gold in the bright patches. Frodo gazed at her for a moment in wonder, unable to believe he was really doing what he was doing, but he could not wait, his body was responding to her naked loveliness and he needed to act quickly. Mae, her eyes half closed, her lips red and her face flushed, reached for him and he could hold out no longer. Mae grasped him close and felt hot tightness in her own loins as he searched her. It was quick…Frodo pushed up inside her in an instant that made Mae cry out. She could not tell if it was pain or an overwhelming of sensation she felt, but she bit her lip and held him as he strained and pushed into her. With each trembling push of his hips, Mae felt the pain lessen and the beginnings of a rush of her own pleasure grow. Her hands spread over his damp back down to the strong, young muscles that were driving into her. Such a tender fire there was in him! She could feel it in her fingertips as it coursed through the rhythmic tensing of his muscles. There was so much life in him and he was giving that life to her. As she felt it spread within her, it triggered her body’s own overwhelming answering rush. Any remaining coherent thought remaining in her fled as she surrendered to it.

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And so it was that, naked on the grass of a fine autumn morning, Frodo Baggins and Mae Burrows found delight in one another. Afterwards, Mae held him to her breast as he eased and drifted off, his fair face at peace and contented. She brushed her lips across the stray wisps of curl that drifted above his head. Now her mind was thinking again. It seemed so apparent to her who the hobbit in her dream images had been – she wondered that she hadn’t recognized him before. The problem, she now realized, was that throughout the summer, as the dreams had played out her mind, she had come to love tormented image she saw. She had not been aware of the feeling growing in her mind, but now,…now that that image had a real face, and was real flesh and blood, she knew her feelings for what they truly were. She ran a trembling hand across Frodo’s bare, sleeping back. She loved him, and she knew some of what was in store for him. It was as a knife twisting in her heart. She stroked back the black curls and looked down at his sleeping face. Silently, her tears fell as she studied every line of it. Unguarded like this, he looked almost unearthly – as an elven child or an image of dream. Mae tried to force back the other images in her mind, but the contrast of this peaceful face with the pained, drawn one she could also see was too startling to be denied. If only she could see more of it, to see if there was something in these images she could use to help him. They lay together till the wind grew and the chill could not be denied, but Mae still had learned nothing more than dismay from her dream. Frodo stirred and Mae quickly wiped her eyes. Instead of getting up immediately, he smiled and kissed her lightly between her breasts.

“I will never forget this…” He sighed, laying back on her. “You are the most wonderful creature I have ever seen – so beautiful….”

“I was thinking the same things of you.” Mae sighed, hoping her tone did not betray the fact she had been crying. If it did, Frodo did not notice. “I could lie for days and days with you like this… but I must get back. I’m expected…” Frodo sat up quickly, looking very apologetic. Mae almost laughed to see his expression. She sat up too, took his face in her hands and kissed it. “But I would not have given up this time with you for anything in the world. You have made me very happy.”

“But,” Frodo began. He did notice she had been crying – again. He wondered at this odd behavior in her – if it were indeed something peculiar about her or if all hobbit lasses behaved so at such times. He was too inexperienced to know, but it moved him nonetheless. He touched her face in return. “If you are happy, why the tears?”

Mae wiped her eyes again, even though they were dry and then laughed. “Because I am unforgivably silly, that is why, my dear, sweet hobbit. It is no great matter.” She lied, but Frodo accepted it. He stood and pulled his trousers back on. Mae gathered her clothes and did the same, but from the corner of her eye, watched his every move. It was as if his youth and vitality screamed from every fiber of him – she could not drink in enough of it. She wanted to engrave his sweet innocence her memory,… ‘before it is taken from him forever’ her thought finished. She shuddered and turned away to finish dressing, so that he could not see the torment that clouded her face.

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Mae took leave of Frodo and promised to meet him again when she could. Frodo seemed delighted, but Mae could tell it was more with boyish enthusiasm than with the depth of feeling that she felt. As she came back to her room in Dore Browning’s home, she felt a great weariness settle on her. She did not know if what she had done this day was wise or foolish, but she knew the premonitions she had had were tormenting her even more. There was the vision of a room with dark and richly carved beams, and a huge bed in its center. Upon the bed lay Frodo, very pale and drawn. Mae knew that Mr. Bilbo stood by the bed’s side with another hobbit she did not recognize. She knew somehow that both had been by his bed for many days as Frodo had gotten weaker and weaker. That sight had mocked her as she had gazed upon the rosy, sleeping countenance she had held to her breast. How was she to bear it? What could she possibly do? Tell him? Tell him what? Even she was not absolutely certain what her premonitions were really were. If she tried to warn him, would he think her mad, dismiss her utterly? He would doubtless never touch her again and Mae realized she could not bear that thought, but neither could she bear the thought of him endangered and tormented as her visions showed. She had no answers.

Dore noted Mae’s disquiet from the moment she had walked through the door, but the day’s work gave her no chance to speak. It was after supper before she found a chance to get the girl alone – as they sat by the fire mending clothes. Mae bent to the work with more industry than she usually showed for the mending of clothes but Dore bided her time with patience.

“You’ve been up to see that Frodo lad, haven’t you?” Dore said frankly. Mae sputtered on her tea, hardly expecting such a direct and open question. Hobbits, by custom, did not speak of such personal matters even between husband and wife, but Dore was not a customary hobbit and was quite known for her lack of tact. Mae blushed furiously and set her drink down. “I don’t much care what you get up to in your own time,” Dore continued. “But I can see that boy has an effect on you.” The old hobbit looked at her apprentice intently. “He’s a sweet boy, but a gentlehobbit to be as he is, is certainly not going to see more in an apprentice midwife than good company. Surely you see that?” Mae continued to look down and said nothing. “Well, that is your own affair, I suppose. You know enough to care for yourself proper. I just don’t wish to see my dear girl break her heart for someone who will never settle for her. Those Bagginses are notorious adventurers, you know. I could never see old Mr. Baggins settling down, even before his adventures – and that boy looks to be much like him, poor thing!” Dore picked up her sewing again, as if the matter were settled, but Mae still sat, unmoving and looking at the floor. Dore, watching her for a long moment, frowned as a thought occurred to her. “That’s not entirely it, is it?” she asked.

Mae looked up and gave the slightest shake of her head. “No….” she whispered in an almost inaudible voice. She ached to tell someone of her troubles. Dore was not the most imaginative, but she was often shrewd and had lived enough years to develop a hobbity sort of wisdom. Mae was unsure whether she wanted her to guess at the troubles or to remain ignorant of them – the girl was at a loss to predict how her mistress would react so she said nothing more. Dore frowned, but continued sewing. She seemed to be mulling something over in her mind. Mae waited – but could not bring herself to pick up her work again.

“You’ve been acting most peculiar since your illness.” Dore said at length, not looking up. “I know you’ve tried to hide it, but I see things.” Dore shifted uncomfortably as if the next admission were uncomfortable for her. “Yes, I see things… and so do you, don’t you?” Now she squinted at Mae, with a somewhat fearful, somewhat disapproving look. “You knew about that child at the Bracegirdle farm, and when old Tom Polewhite fell – you knew about him too? And the bridge…” Dore shook her head slowly. “It’s not natural, and I dare say, no good will come of it, but you’ve not let it slip nor made it widely known. That is good – you’ve been using your head about that at least.”

Mae looked up, opened her mouth to speak but couldn’t find words. Her expression was one of fear, embarrassment and just a hint of gratitude. Dore scoffed at her.

“It’s something those elves of Mr. Baggins’ acquaintance would ponder over, surely, but as long as you do nothing foolish….” Dore paused, and wondered. “Are you seeing something in that brain of yours for Mr. Frodo? Oh, child! What could possibly happen to him? He’s been made heir to a fortune! A luckier and more promising lad there hasn’t been seen around here in ages!” Dore drew a quick breath and stopped. “Or… You think he’s going to go off adventuring like his uncle?” The old hobbit shook her head. “Well, then it serves him right if he comes to a bad end, I dare say…” she sighed. “Child, if that is what you think is going to happen, then perhaps you should avoid the boy… No use getting your heart broken over someone who’s foolish enough to walk right into a troll’s cave.”

“But should I tell him?” Mae asked at last, breathless, with her voice tight from unshed tears. “Should I say what I have seen? Warn him of the perils in his path?” Mae looked about in a sudden frustration, “How can I bear not to – if I suspect these things are to be, how can I keep it from him?” Then she sighed hopelessly. “But whatever could I say that would make him believe it?” She added almost to herself.

Dore still had her own doubts about her charge’s claim of foresight, but she put aside her sewing for the last time to give the matter her full attention. She hmmmm’ed a bit and sipped at her tea. Mae, who had been grateful to at last share her troubles with someone, began to have some second thoughts about her admission. “I see there IS more to this than just a pretty maid’s fancy.” The old hobbit said at length. Her tone was thoughtful and kindly as if she had put much thought into her response. “But I also see there is something of fate in it too. I believe in fate, child. There are things we are born to do. You, I saw right off, were born to be a healer, just as I was. Perhaps young Mr. Baggins was born to adventure? I know, it seems a silly thing for a hobbit to be born to – but old Bilbo came back from his adventures and not a soul would have believed that possible. Perhaps there is something to that old Tookish blood in them both that fates them to such paths? If it be young Mr. Baggins’ fate to go off and fight dragons, then what right have you to try and change that? Danger? Well, that’s part of life and even more a part of adventure, or so I am told, and if you take the one, you must take the other.” Dore leaned forward and patted Mae’s hand kindly. “I don’t know what you see in that little head of yours, but even if what you see were true, do we go about knowing what lies around every corner? No, and that’s as it should be. If we did, we should never go out of the house and nothing would get done.” Dore frowned thoughtfully. “Besides, if we were to know our fates before hand, would we still act the way we should to meet that fate? Who knows how that could mess up the normal order of things?”

Mae looked up at this, surprised. One of the strongest themes of her dream had been the importance of Frodo’s task – that had been paramount, although she still had no clear idea what the task actually was. The idea that something she could choose to do could disrupt that frightened her. It was not something she had considered before.

“I don’t think I would like this ‘gift’ of yours.“ Dore continued. “Although it might be nice to know the gender of a child before it is born.” She laughed. “I dare say, it hasn’t made your heart any easier. Perhaps it is better for us to live as most befits us.” Dore stood and Mae knew the conversation was over. It had been far more than Mae had expected, and she was grateful to her mistress for that.

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For the next week, Mae kept herself busy and tried to forget that autumn day in the sun. She knew what she felt was far more than what young Frodo did – and though she could rationalize the reasons why she felt the way she did, her heart was rapidly betraying her. The visions had only intensified since she had met him on the hill, she could hardly pass an hour of the day when she didn’t think about him, or see his face or feel the soft warmth of his hair on her skin. It was torment, but such sweet torment that she would not have forgone it. In idle moments, she would fancy what it would have been like to have him as her own, but reason would quickly squelch such thoughts. It was so completely impossible – the difference in their stations was too great - and yet, she could not help but daydream about it. He was such a gentlehobbit, and so kind – he might even see it as his duty to offer himself, despite her lowly birth. If he did offer, which Mae doubted he would, she would have to deny him,… and yet, if such a denial meant she could not see him again, Mae wondered how she could ever bring herself to do it.

The weather had been cool and rainy; the sweet spell of October warmth was rapidly fading from memory as the true fall weather began in earnest. Mae stayed within Dore’s home, restless and fidgety, as she was unable to go out to even walk for her ease. One afternoon, Toby had come back from working in the fields and had said he had stopped by the Ivy for an ale. He told Mae that there had been a young hobbit lad of about 9 years there who had a note for her. Bewildered, Mae took the note and retired to her room to read it. The note was written in a strong, elegant handwriting that she somehow knew belonged to Frodo even before she read the signature. The note read.

‘I should very much like to invite you, Miss Mae Burrows, to tea on Friday next. Would you please come?’

Mae touched her hand to the fine ink lines and drew a deep sigh. Two lines on a parchment and all her carefully contrived plans for detachment seemed to fall away. She knew what she should do…but she had no will left to do it. Her heart ached only to see him again and she could not resist.

Friday came, and teatime could not come soon enough for Mae. She had carefully concocted a story for Dore about attending to a friend who was feeling poorly, and told her mistress that she didn’t know how long she would be. Dore, having seemingly forgotten all about the Frodo matter, nodded absently without so much as raising an eyebrow. Mae took her leave in the afternoon and, pulling her hood up over her curls, walked towards Bag End.

At the door, she knocked timidly and was surprised to see the door swing inwards almost immediately. Frodo stood there. Looking breathless and excited. The smile on his face was broad and positively infectious.

“Hello!” He cried. “Come in!” He stepped back eagerly almost hopping in his apparent delight. “I’ve tea already poured. Please, let me have that cloak.” Mae turned her back to him and unclasped the garment. He reached over her shoulders to take it and Mae closed her eyes and shuddered as she felt his hands at her neck. She violently forced herself to cool – she could not believe how rapid and complete her reaction to him was. It was as if she a starving woman being presented with a sumptuous feast. When she had control of herself, she faced him again. Frodo stood, with her damp cloak over his arm, looking at her with an odd mixture of hope, enthusiasm and trepidation. He seemed nervous too – although he was controlling it well. Mae found the expression disarmingly charming and could not deny her answering smile. How could anyone not love him when he looked like that?

“Where’s your uncle?” she asked politely.

“Well, he’s… “ Now Frodo looked a bit embarrassed. His fair face was growing red as he spoke. “Actually, he’s gone to Buckland. Left this morning on business. I must say he was a bit surprised when I didn’t want to go with him. But,…” Frodo’s voice trailed off. “I wanted to speak to you alone. I was hoping you wouldn’t mind…” Frodo began, now looking almost a little scared too. “Mae, I wondered how you would feel about marrying me.” Frodo began. “It…it is what I wanted to talk to you about. Of course, it might be difficult, with the families and all. And we will need to wait till I come of age, but…”

Mae felt her heart stop. She opened her mouth to speak, but could find no words to fit the wonder she felt. For a moment the most incredible feeling of joy welled up within her. She felt as if she must shout it to the sky and leap into his arms. She realized why he had asked this. He was an honorable hobbit and though she would never have expected such consideration, the fact that he had offered it spoke volumes. He was truly a jewel beyond price – and she trembled as the full realization of what he offered struck her; she who, alone among her people, had some inkling of his worth. How could she help but love him? But,… she knew what she should say. She should have reminded him of their stations, of his duty to the Shire and his family, of the impossibility of what he was proposing. And of the fact that she knew he did not really love her. That what he felt was the flush of a childish infatuation, nothing more. It would have been the right, responsible thing for her to do, but somehow she found she could not bring herself to speak. She wanted him. It was purely selfish, she knew, but at that moment her desire buried every honorable intention she ever had. She reached up and caressed his face.

“I am glad you invited me.” Mae whispered at length. Her voice was soft, husky and quavered quite obviously. “So very glad.” She ran her hand up into Frodo’s hair and he leaned over and kissed her very softly on the mouth. Mae felt her head spinning. She drank in the warm, musky smell of his skin and the feel of his trembling lips on hers. He was nervous, eager, unsure but hopeful, and Mae responded to his kiss with such fierce passion that it could leave no doubt in his mind that she was willing. She pulled him close to her and surrendered to him completely.

Frodo was much more at ease this time. He was gentle and considerate although still charmingly eager. It seemed to Mae that accepting the prospect of marriage to her, as he had seemed to, calmed him and took away some of his guilty quickness. Afterwards, they lay nestled together in his feather bed listening to the sound of rain on the windows of Bag End. The fire was lit and the room was warm, fueled as much by their passions as the fire. Frodo held her close to him and she listened to his breathing in her hair as it grew even and peaceful and she knew he was asleep. Carefully, she slid from his arms and gazed lovingly upon him. Frodo lay on his side, naked as she was. Firelight touched his skin and lit him at the edges like an aura of flame. It was as if he glowed from within with a warm, comforting light. That sight of him etched itself in Mae’s mind. Then another image, so like and unlike this one came forth unbidden. In it, he lay in the same position, but not in comfort, - in despair! His skin, filthy and bruised, a bleeding cut laced across his side, his bed, a pile of filthy rags. Mae almost cried out in terror at what she saw. She clapped a hand over her mouth and tears sprang to her eyes. NO! She had been blissfully free of visions since arriving and had hoped they would not trouble her as they had at their first meeting, but this one, which she had never seen before, was the worst yet by far! Mae put forth a hesitant hand to touch him, reassure herself he was really there and whole. His skin was warm and clear and he stirred slightly as she caressed his arm. Mae bit her lip to keep the sobs from escaping. As clearly as if someone had spoken in her ear, Mae now understood something about Frodo’s fate. He would never marry anyone. Not her, which in her heart she had known already, or anyone at all. He would never be given the chance. Mae felt as if a knife had been thrust into her body. She shook with silent sobs and had to slide carefully from the bed so her torment would not wake him. Love and pity surged within her as tears fell in a wash down her cheeks. At that moment, she would have willingly given her life to keep him safe, protect him. Her visions were so incomplete, so haphazard – only the emotions were clear and strong – that all they did was torment her. She could find nothing in them of useful information. What to avoid, what not to do… And there was also the thought that Dore had placed in her mind. What right did she have to keep him from his fate? There really was nothing she could do to save him. Hopelessly, she sank to her knees by the hearth, and pressed the heels of her hands into her eyes. If these visions were nothing but torture, then why did she have them? She wished suddenly that she had never had her ‘dreams’, never touched the hand of Frodo Baggins and felt his fire…but,…no… The memory of his lithe body striving into her, his delicate, scholar’s fingers clenched into white sheets as spasms of ecstasy took hold of him, the warmth of his soft curls against her cheek… How could she wish to have never known these things?

She had decided to stay this evening, to let him assume she had agreed to his proposal of marriage, in answer to the heat of her own desire, but, as she knelt, naked in the firelight of Frodo’s room the beginning of an idea began to form in her mind. It was a wild, foolish, foolhardy idea that would have made no sense in the rational light of day, but Mae was struck by how incredibly right it felt to her. She could save something of him. She looked to the bed where Frodo still slept peacefully and along with a surge of overwhelming love, she felt a new resolve grow within her. She knew in her heart he did not love her with more than a young hobbit’s fancy. He had asked for her hand from a sense of duty but he would feel as much relief as regret if she turned down his offer. That much she could tell even without foresight. But, if she acted on this idea, she would have to one day leave him. That thought gave her an ache of regret, but she knew when that time came, it would hurt her far more than it would hurt him. Her honor and respectability would be destroyed, but somehow that did not seem an important consideration. Yes, this was more important. It was all she had to give, and she knew that one day he would deserve far more than anything she could offer. It would take some time until her plan bore fruit and until then, she could hold him, love him and fill his days with as much joy as she could. Now Mae knew in her heart she would do it. She was resolved. She would save something of him. She wiped her face, for the tears she shed were growing cold on her cheek. She knew what she would do and the knowledge gave her a measure of peace. She came back to Frodo’s bed and lifted the quilt over him. Then she slid under it herself and took him into her arms.

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.

Story Information

Author: Ariel

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: Multi-Age

Genre: Romance

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 12/16/02

Original Post: 11/20/02

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