Title: In the Garden Author: Lydia B. Slade E-Mail: SnapeIsGod@hotmail.com Pairing: Frodo/Sam, mentions of Frodo/Merry Completed: Yes. Rating: PG-13 Slash: Yes. Genre: romance, angst Disclaimer: Everything belongs to Tolkien's estate and possibly to New Line Cinema. I'm not making money off any of it, so please don't sue me. Feedback: This is sort of an experimental style for me, so I would appreciate it deeply if you'd tell me what you think. Thanks: to my sister, for the beta. Summary: Frodo and Sam. Four seasons. Story Notes: This is book canon but the physical descriptions are from the movie. Oh, and just for purposes of clarity: Sam is nine in the first segment, twenty-two in the second, thirty-seven in the third, and forty-two in the last.

March, 1389 S.R.

It's springtime, chill in the morning but warmer by noon. There's still unmelted snow in the shadows cast by the stones. But the ice on the ponds is melting, and the streams are deep and loud with water from the mountains; the new leaves are a peculiar translucent green against the wet black bark of the trees. The fading cold feels to Sam like the end of a fever.

Frodo is there, a scared quiet boy who misses his mother, who cries in the garden under the sun. Sam watches him, wide-eyed through the hedge; Frodo's expression hurts in Sam's chest. Frodo sits with his knees drawn up and his face in his hands: with bits of leaves in his hair he looks like a particularly forlorn sort of elf. Once he looked up and saw Sam there; Sam, too shy to offer any comfort, promptly blushed, ducked his head, and fled.

The morning-glories bloom in the garden; the roses are beginning to bud. The sun rises higher and burns Frodo's skin. Sam and Tom Cotton have discovered the woods north of Bag End. The trees there are enormous and old; they play hide-and-seek in the green dimness under the boughs; Sam is perpetually windblown and dirt-smeared. His clothes tear on brambles. Leaves stick in his hair. Sometimes Frodo smiles when he sees him, and Sam always smiles back, shyly, red-faced with pleasure and embarrassment.

In the evening Frodo and Bilbo sit in the garden, reading, or talking; sometimes Sam stops to listen. Once shortly after sunset Bilbo sees him hesitating by the hedge and calls to him--"Sam lad, come here!" Sam comes, slowly; he's been climbing trees with Tom; his shirt is smeared with moss; his hair is matted by the wind. He feels saturated by the smell of the clean earth.

Bilbo and Frodo are sitting under the oak tree. Bilbo is holding a worn brown book. Frodo is curled on the grass at his side; Sam looks at him anxiously. Bilbo opens the book and begins to read.

In the sun in the garden the violets are blooming.


August, 1402 S.R.

It's summer. Sam is growing up. Bilbo is gone but his stories still ring in Sam's ears. Sam walks in the forest and thinks about Mirkwood; he walks on the moors and watches for Elves. In the Ivy Bush he laughs with the Cotton brothers and thinks wistfully about woodland kings with crowns of golden leaves.

Overhead the sky is a clear hot blue; the daisies bloom in the fields. Sam sweats in the garden under the sun. In the meadows the grass is coarse and tall, but there are flowers all along the banks of the rivers. The air is still and humid but sometimes in the evening a hot wind blows.

Frodo is growing up, has grown up; he's beautiful, no longer the gawky sad- faced boy who came to live with Bilbo after his parents died. Fair-skinned, blue-eyed, self-assured; Sam's not the only one who's noticed him. Merry is there too, sly and grinning--a year younger than Sam, but more bold. Once Sam walked in on them kissing. He remembers the incident with a peculiar sort of hollow, intense pain that he's only recently begun to understand.

At night Sam lies awake and thinks ruefully about the stories he's always most loved--the stories of the Gil-galad and the glory of the Last Alliance, all the old tales about Elf-lords in their shining armor, beautiful, and fearless, and high-minded, and doomed. He remembers how he cried when Bilbo told them about Turin and Beleg, how Beleg's love for Turin had moved him and shaken him and brought him to tears, and he knows that this runs deep in him; he knows now why the Turin he imagined always had blue eyes.

Outside it's beginning to rain. The water pours down from the sky in enormous cold droplets; the streams overflow; the gullies and ditches are filled with clear water. The earth is soaked and full with it. The plants that wilted in the heat of the day are revived.

Sweet rain-scented air blows past the curtain into Sam's room; Sam sighs in his sleep. He's dreaming of Frodo, of Frodo's white body, and as he pushes down into the damp tangled sheets it's as if all the heat of the long summer had gathered inside him, and washed through him.


November, 1417 S.R.

It's autumn. The air is cool again, growing colder; sometimes there's a skim of ice on the ponds in the morning. The geese have long since flown south, but the woods still glow red and gold.

Sam is thirty-seven, still in love with Frodo. He's almost used to it. It's a sort of ache, a permanent soreness that fades a little whenever Sam is busy or distracted or not in Frodo's immediate vicinity; when he's working in the fields, when he flirts with Rosie Cotton, then it's hardly there at all. But no matter how he struggles to suppress it it returns as soon as Frodo looks his way. A mad hopefulness seizes Sam whenever Frodo smiles at him--a wild excitement that also fades in its turn and leaves Sam feeling bruised and tender, rubbed raw.

Lately Sam has been particularly tormented: he's been with Frodo almost constantly since Frodo began taking Sam with him on his long marches around the Shire. They've explored the North Moors and been all the through the woods of the Southfarthing. Sam remembers these expeditions mostly for the rushing of the wind: the cold fresh wind that chills his skin and shakes the trees, that tangles Frodo's hair and pinks his cheeks.

They don't talk much on these expeditions. When they do it's mostly Frodo, who is moved, sometimes, to long breathless rambling monologues about the wild lands, about Elves and Men and distant countries that he speaks of with such longing in his voice that Sam is troubled, and disturbed. Because when Sam walks the moors with Frodo, when he looks up into the enormous white arc of the sky and hears the long sibilant rushing of the wind in the dry grass--then he feels it too, that longing, like the music of a piper piping far away, luring him away from his home and from his duty.

And when he sees Frodo looking so wistfully through the enormous emptiness of Middle-earth towards some half-imagined mountainous horizon, it frightens him, leaves him shaken and swollen with the fear that Frodo will leave, will slip away through the borders of old stories, and leave Sam to grow old, without him, in a dreary world.


January, 1422 S.R.

It's winter. Frodo is gone.

Sam stands in the barren garden, leaning on the hedge. It's a cold grey January day; the trees are black and bare against the dull overcast sky, but sometimes when the wind is in the west it seems to Sam that it smells of the Sea.

The wind is freezing, and Sam shivers.