1. The Coin's Other Face
Thanks to RiverOtter for the beta.
The Coin's Other Face
Frodo watched after Sam with envy—envy for his skill with his flowers, envy for the love he shared with his Rosie, envy for the freedom he knew to do what he pleased with his days once his work was done without the weight of responsibilities toward tenants and family and partnership agreements and farmshares and properties Frodo himself held as Bilbo's heir and the Baggins of Bag End and the Hill, envy of the fellowship he knew with his brothers and sisters and father as well as his friends. He envied Sam's sturdier build and greater endurance. He envied his ease with about anyone he must deal with daily—beyond Ted Sandyman and Lotho Sackville-Baggins, at least.
At last Frodo gave over the moments of self-indulgence he's allowed himself. Merry and Pippin were supposed to be coming soon from the Great Smial, and Freddy and Folco from Budge Hall where they'd been spending the past week. He had a smial to prepare for the arrival of his friends amongst his relatives.
Sam watched as Merry and Pippin arrived together at the Green Dragon and swung down from their ponies, intending to leave their mounts at the stable here before joining their older cousin up at Bag End for a few days' visit. How he envied Frodo's ease of friendship with such Hobbits of quality, and his welcome in the fine homes of his closest companions from amongst his many kin.
There were times when he envied his Master so—the ownership of Bag End; the fine clothes he looked so well in; the fascination shown him by almost every lass in Hobbiton, Bywater, and Overhill over the age of ten; the freedom he knew to read and study anything he might wish to investigate at any time of the day or night; the respect shown to him by everyone within the Shire (save, of course, for Ted Sandyman and the family of Lotho Sackville-Baggins); the welcome he might expect at Brandy Hall, the Great Smial, Budge Hall, and about every other great home within the Shire at any time he might take it into his head to turn up on the doorstep; the freedom to wander all over the Shire and poke his head into whatever happenings that might draw his attention; the ability to stay up all night and sleep all day if he might wish without having schedules to keep in order to earn his daily bread.
"Hey, Sam—there you are! We've been waiting for you to show up!"
Sam forgot his envy of his Master as he turned his attention to where Tom and Nick Cotton, the Twofoot lads, and Sancho Proudfoot awaited his arrival. "I have a half here for you," Tom smiled, "and Rosie's promised she and some of her lass friends should be by soon."
The idea that his Rosie was coming warmed Sam's heart and made his whole body tingle with the pleasure of anticipation.
Frodo and Sam had come into Hobbiton together to do some marketing, but paused near the greengrocer's stall at the sight of Lotho Sackville-Baggins carefully positioning that silver-headed walking stick of his grandfather's he'd affected to trip up the potter's lass. It was too late to stop the inevitable as the poor child stumbled over it and went sprawling, her load of mugs and bowls flying from her arms and crashing to the ground all about her.
Frodo felt his fury take him, and surged forward to throw a blow into the face of Lotho, striking away that expression of delight in torment his detestable older cousin had been entertaining as he avenged the lass, and looking forward to seeing to it Lotho paid for the goods lost due to his foul "prank."
Sam, on the other hand, had noted Ted Sandyman positioned to take advantage of the distraction his companion had contrived to raid the jeweler's stall and then that of the Hobbitess who roasted whole fowls, who'd just placed two recently finished fowl on a platter, ready to carve them for her expected patrons. The jeweler stood to lose two necklaces, three fine bracelets, and five rings if Ted had his way; while the cook stood to lose a half-days' earnings. No, Sam thought as he felt his own wrath rise up—he and Mr. Frodo between them would see to it that things were set right this day. He, too, surged forward.
At times it appeared that everywhere he looked Frodo Baggins saw naught but pretty, desirable lasses. Daisy Gamgee at least no longer did her best to throw herself in his path; now she'd finished her apprenticeship as a seamstress and embroiderer she was being courted by Moro Burrows, and a fine couple they made. May Gamgee had been more subtle in her attempts to draw his attentions over the last few years, but now she, too, had a beau and had forgotten him. The hurt he'd felt after Pearl threw him over had dissipated years ago; she was married to Isumbard now and they were expecting their second child already. He saw his Cousin Daisy walking hand-in-hand with her husband Griffo Boffin, still as happy as if they were yet newlyweds instead of having been married for over a decade; and with them were Cousin Angelica and her husband Rico Clayhanger. Angelica had always been quite the beauty of the family, he knew.
And just then Sam walked by, his arm about Rosie's waist, Tom Cotton on his sister's other side, entertaining the two of them with some story he was telling, Sam and Rosie with that easy intimacy to them as together they laughed; and Frodo felt suddenly that admiration he felt toward Rosie's beauty and lovely disposition turn into something quite different—something ugly. It was all he could do to rein in the unexpected, inexplicable urge he experienced to run forward, knock Sam to the ground and away from that so desirable and delectable young lass and sweep her into his arms, pressing his own attentions and kisses on her. All thought of his own companion and planned business for the day were forgotten in this sheer surge of lust he found himself battling.
Gandalf saw the expression of frustrated admiration Frodo couldn't quite hide as it appeared they were surrounded by a surfeit of very lovely young women from amongst Hobbit-kind. How Frodo had managed to keep from being swept anew into a relationship and the marriage and family he'd wanted since his parents died and his own childhood family had been destroyed the Wizard wasn't certain; in fact, he found this particular situation to be somehow ominous.
But then—suddenly he realized that Frodo's expression had changed, becoming predatory and ugly—until it was replaced just as unexpectedly by shock and dismay. Frodo was clenching his fists, and digging his fingernails into the heel of his hand. "No!" he was murmuring, "Never that!" And as Gandalf watched, fascinated, he saw Frodo's own Light flare momentarily, beating down that expression of unadulterated lust and slamming a metaphorical door upon it, locking it away. The fit was over and dealt with, and the look on Frodo's face now as he watched after Sam and Rosie was both regretful and—and relieved.
Neither Sam nor Rosie had noticed anything; and if Gandalf was any judge of the young gardener's expression, he was keeping his own, more wholesome lust well under control, banking it properly for the day that would come when he would take this lovely lass as his wife and know her properly and unreservedly, knowing she she would be indulging her own lawful lust for him with as much enjoyment as he expected to know when the time came.
Frodo lay still abed, enjoying the feel of clean sheets and the scent of pillows that yesterday had lain out on the sweet grass under the light of the Sun for much of the afternoon and blankets that had been aired on lines hung over the bed of pinks and Sweet William. He'd arrived home from a ramble throughout the Westfarthing he'd mixed with business in the early evening, and had found Sam had left a pot of stew simmering for him and the kettle ready to put on the fire when he wished.
Today he had no pressing commitments, and felt he could indulge himself in slothfulness if he desired. He could start that order for invitations given him by Cousin Rosamunda Bolger for her house party tomorrow and still have them done for delivery in four days.
With that in mind he turned over and snuggled deeper into his bedding, enjoying the sheer comfort that surrounded him.
Sam looked over the gardens of Bag End with a critical and satisfied eye. He'd come in early to see to it that all was in hand; and he'd spent all last evening finishing up the work at Number Three his father'd been unable to complete on his own. No, there was nothing else he had to do today, and the rest of it was his to use as he pleased. His Master, he knew, could easily and happily see to his own needs for the rest of the day, and he'd managed to meet his own remaining responsibilities to the satisfaction of all.
It was rare that Sam had the chance to enjoy having no responsibilities for a few hours. Rosie wasn't home, having gone off to Overhill to see some Goodchild relatives, so there wasn't even the need to think of activities for the two of them to share. As he closed the back gate of Bag End's gardens and descended the steps to the lane Sam heard Nick and Jolly's call—here they came, three fishing poles in hand.
"Now," Nick said with satisfaction, "we can hide a few hours of sheer sloth behind the guise of bringing home some fish. Up to it?"
Sam smiled. "That I am," he said as he placed the hat Rosie'd made for him on his head and accepted one of the poles. Together they headed for their favorite place to fish along the banks of the Water.
Frodo smiled as he looked over the stacks of new books brought in by Fred Overhill from his contacts in Bree and elsewhere outside the Shire. There were several new volumes there, all awaiting his attention, all promising to feed his vast hunger for new tales and more information about this marvelous world in which he lived. He felt the veriest glutton today, he thought.
Sam looked over the table set out for those who'd aided in the harvest at the Cotton's farm, amazed at the food spread before them all. There were hams and roasts of pork, beef, and lamb; there were salads of beans and others of greens and fruits. There were basins of taters prepared in three different fashions, as well as turnips both mashed or sliced and fried. There was a large tureen of peas and another of buttered beets and a third of baby carrots. A tray held stuffed celery, carrot sticks, and small clusters of broccoli and cauliflower. There were baskets and baskets of scones and bread rolls and slices of three varieties of bread. Oh, here came Lily and Rosie, each carrying a huge platter, one with a turkey that had already been carved, the other a great heap of chicken. And in the kitchen waited the cakes, pies, and piles of biscuits to be served for afters.
Sam felt his stomach rumble, and heard answering echoes from those of the other lads who's assisted old Tom and his sons to complete the hay harvest today. Those stomachs would be filled, he knew, and no one would consider any who took part a victim of gluttony.
Frodo watched Sam enjoying his coming-of-age party and felt an overwhelming sense of pride at what his friend had managed to accomplish. Sam had basically been overseeing the gardens of Bag End himself since he was a young tween, a responsibility most Hobbits of that age couldn't have handled. He had an understanding with the one lass in the Shire who was definitely a match for his own nature and who deserved his regard and shy love. He had friendships both with the lads throughout Hobbiton and Bywater of his station and amongst Frodo's own kinsmen who not only liked the gardener but respected his integrity and displayed level of responsibility and industriousness. And Frodo reveled in the beauty that Sam ever left in his wake.
Yes, Frodo felt he had reason to be proud of his friend.
Sam was so proud to be associated with his Mr. Frodo—to have one who was both Master and friend was so rare a situation for a young Hobbit of his station. He was proud of the fact he'd been allowed to study alongside Frodo and to share his interests, proud to know he held the respect of such a one. He doubted he himself was anywhere near as fine a person as Mr. Frodo seemed to think he was; but just to know this was true made his chest swell.
Now he had only the challenge to make certain the pride he knew Mr. Frodo took in him wasn't misplaced….
Frodo stretched as he walked out of Bag End's kitchen door into the side gardens and slipped his brace's strap into place. The morning was fine after a week's rain and mist. The air smelled remarkably fresh, and he was surrounded by the competing scents of all the marvelous flowers and herbs with which old Holman, the Gaffer, and now Sam had filled the grounds for the smial.
Standing there, looking down on the lands west of the Hill, he took in the beauty of the Shire greedily.
Sam laughed as his sisters and older brothers competed to see who could say the most outrageous thing. It was so rare for them too all be here at Number Three together, it seemed; that they were all gathered about the Gaffer as the family prepared for Daisy's marriage tomorrow was such a delight.
Greedily he stored up memories of this day to tide him over the coming times when they would again scatter to ropewalks, nurseries, gardens, tailoring shops, laundries, housework and the like. He wished they might always be together to know this wonder of family love.
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.