Part 5: Of Dreams and Hornblowers

After Sam had disentangled himself from Frodo's body, and the poor hobbits had recovered from the shock, the court was dismissed for lunch. Merry had thoughtfully packed a picnic basket, so the four hobbits found a hidden, shady tree to eat under. Frodo nibbled on a ham sandwich, his eyes on Sam. Sam was eating a cold chicken pie, blushing, and not from the sun, Frodo thought. Sam had never shown much affection for Frodo when they were out together -- at the market perhaps, or dining at The Ivy Bush. It would complicate matters, but now matters were so complicated it would be rather difficult to unknot them, anyhow. Humming softly under his breath, Frodo tore another piece of brown bread from his sandwich. He liked this new development; the thought of holding Sam's hand as they walked down the road, or dancing with him slow and soft at parties, was very appealing.

Merry ingested a cupful of cold thin tea. "You really put on a show in there, Sam! Made those old maids blush as bright as a tomato!"

Sam mumbled something, concentrating very much on the flavour of the chicken pie.

When they had devoured the lunch, all four full, satiated hobbits lay back and watched the sun make a part of its daily journey across the sky. Pippin kept complaining that he was hungry, while dabbling his finger across the plain of Merry's stomach.

Promptly at two o'clock the court began its session. It was Mr. Grubb's turn to ruminate. "Master Took's evidence," he began, "though interesting, has nothing to do with hobbits. These are sheep, and the last time I checked there were no hobbits that looked or acted like sheep." This drew laughter from the audience. "Mr. Baggins mentioned that you could not help who you fell in love with. Perhaps not. But when one lives in a society, one must learn to control oneself. What would happen if every time somebody wanted to hurt somebody else, they did it? There would be chaos. But, most of the time, we hold back our urges and let it be. The law is there for a reason: break the law, and society as we know it would crumble like dry biscuit."

Mr. Grubb sat down, looking satisfied. Frodo took a long drink from his glass and wandered slowly to the front of the court. "How," he began, "can the fact that Sam and I live together bring chaos to the Shire? We are not hurting anybody -- except perhaps Mrs. Sackville-Baggins' fragile sensibilities. We are conducting ourselves like any hobbit and his wife would act. And, like a husband and wife, all we want is peace and happiness, and to live our lives together. Is that too much to ask?" The look on Lobelia's face plainly said it was too much to ask. Frodo sighed. "I was reading up on the Shire records, and do you know what I found? The law was enacted a hundred and fifty-two years ago because the mayor didn't want his son to be with another lad. He wanted his son to marry and sire him grandchildren. So he changed the law, regardless of how his son felt. It was not a law to benefit hobbits of the Westfarthing, and neither was it thought out properly during a council meeting. The mayor had it hastily written out and added to Westfarthing law, without consultation and consideration. And in the end his son married a lass, because he didn't want to leave the land he loved. Unfortunately, the son never spoke to his father again. It broke their family apart, and it was well known the lass and lad weren't happy in their marriage." The crowd made noises of dismay at this; Frodo paused to gather a breath.

Grubb stood up. "It does not matter how the law came into being," he said. "It is the law, and we should obey it."

"This law is ridiculous," Frodo broke in. Grubb flushed and opened his mouth to protest, but in the end sat down on his plump behind. "It does not benefit anybody," continued Frodo. "It was not made for the sake of hobbits' wellbeing, but rather a mayor who wanted his family's name continued. And clearly the law is not stopping hobbits from lying with hobbits of the same sex -- look at Aunt Gladia and Aunt Violet living in that small smial in Bywater. You can't tell me all they've been doing is baking pumpkin scones. Or those two Hornblower cousins who've been brewing beer in their house near the Water for fifty years without the benefit of wives. Really, I could go on."

Pippin nudged Sam. "Apt name, Hornblower, isn't it?" he whispered mischievously. "They've probably been blowing each other's--"

"--Furthermore," Frodo continued, effectively shutting Pippin's mouth and stopping him from speaking a very old, common and, quite frankly, bad joke, "I really didn't want to bring this up, unless I very much had to, but it seems I have to." He looked directly at Lobelia. "It concerns your son," he told her. Lobelia looked suspicious, but beside her Lotho turned several shades paler than a glass of milk. "If Sam and I are sent from the Westfarthing, Mrs. Sackville-Baggins and her son will move into Bag End. However, there have been some rumours about what Lotho does behind the woodshed--"

"I never!" A chair scraped and Lotho stood up, cheeks flushed an angry red. Eyes flashing, he said, "Frodo, how--"

"Mr. Baggins, you have evidence of this?" interrupted the mayor.

"No, I haven't, I'm afraid, Your Honour. Just rumours that have been floating around Hobbiton for the past few years. I have yet to venture to the woodshed myself to see what is going on. Perhaps Lotho is only entertaining the lads with puffs of Old Toby from his pipe. But if it were true, then maybe Bag End wouldn't be free of certain 'scenes' if Sam and I were sent away." Frodo finished with a sun-bright smile.

"You -- you nasty Brandybuck!" It was Lobelia's turn to spout her anger at Frodo. "How dare you accuse Lotho of -- of such things? I should--"

"Lobelia," Frodo interjected smoothly, "if you hadn't brought Sam and me here in the first place, I would have never said anything. But you gave me no choice."

"Objection!" Grubb finally spluttered. "Objection! Mr. Baggins can't give evidence that is only based on hearsay. I request that Mr. Baggins' remarks regarding Lotho and the aunts and the Hornblower cousins be struck off the records."

Frodo bowed slightly. "I withdraw my remarks. I'm terribly sorry."

"Do you anything more to add?" asked the mayor.

"Yes, I do," Frodo said. He looked around the crowd. "The law is wrong. We hobbits care deeply for each other for most of the time. It would be wrong to force hobbits apart because they are in love with somebody of the same sex. Don't you see? It's too special to turn away from. Perhaps you don't agree with same sex couples, but can you find it in your hearts to accept us, for we are happy and that is all we want. Removing this law will make many, many hobbits happier. Hobbits do not like conflict, but peace and contentment. I find that with Sam, and no doubt all hobbits feel that when they are in a loving relationship." Frodo turned and sat next to Sam.

"Grubb?" the mayor said.

Grubb shook his head. "I've said my part. We must follow the law."

The court was filled with hushed whispers and pointed fingers, while the mayor spoke hurriedly with one of his assistants for a few minutes. Sam took Frodo's hand and stroked it lovingly. Frodo's tender smile was enough to warm Sam's heart (and send a few lightning bolts to other places if truth be told).

Finally the assistant sat down and Whitfoot rumbled, "Ladies and gentlehobbits. If both parties agree, this will be the end of the debate. Tomorrow my assistants and I will consider the arguments and come to a decision. The day after tomorrow, the court will open and I will speak my judgment. Mr. Baggins, what say ye?"

"I agree," said Frodo, firm and proud.

"Mr. Grubb?"

"I agree," said the lawyer, polishing his glasses primly.

"Court dismissed!" declared the mayor.

The hobbits made their way out of the courtroom. Sam fetched the pony and cart, while Frodo, Merry and Pippin polished off a few teacakes Merry had smuggled into his pack. The wind blew hot in their faces, and wavering mirages danced upon the road ahead.

Popping the last crumb of biscuit into his mouth, Merry said, "Is it true what you said about Lotho, Frodo?"

"I'm afraid it is, though I can't prove it, and nor do I want to. As terrible as she is, I'm sure the shock of it will give Lobelia a heart attack," said Frodo. "Of course, if it means the difference between being with Sam in Bag End and not being with him, I shall try to prove it. I hope it doesn't come to that."

"What about Aunt Gladia and Aunt Violet?" snickered Pippin. "It sounds rather exciting. Perhaps I should peep into their smial one night."

"Pippin!" laughed Frodo, swatting his mischievous cousin, who looked at Frodo with eyes as innocent as a doe's. "You're as bad as Lobelia!"

Presently Sam came 'round with Sass and the cart, and the four hobbits jumped aboard, with Sam at the reins, and rode slowly back to Bag End.

That night, as Sam writhed under Frodo's wet body, Lotho was sharing kisses with two other lads behind the woodshed. Lobelia had believed him when he told her he was going to chat with the fellows down at The Dragon. And, in fact, they did share a pipe of Old Toby afterwards, in postcoital bliss.

At the same time Frodo sank deep into Sam, and Lotho was kneeling down before a gasping Odo Bolger-Baggins, the Mayor was having a rather strange dream. He was a tween again, lying on the grass beside a soft-flowing river, watching another lad paddle in the water. The lad was naked as the day he were born; sunlight shimmered off the drops running down his skin.

"Hoy!" The lad walked over, stretching out beside Will. "The water's cold!" the lad -- Tim, Will remembered, said.

"It is," Will agreed. "Which is why I'm not in it." He yawned sleepily. The sun twinkled through the leaves above.

"Maybe we can play a game," Tim said thoughtfully, snapping a stick in his hands.

Will closed his eyes. It was too warm to play games; all he wanted to do was doze and dream, perhaps about those pretty lasses he'd seen in the Delving this morning. There was a rustle beside him. Good, he thought. Maybe now I'll have some peace.

Something moist and tender suddenly touched Will's mouth. He gasped, his whole body ashiver. He kissed back, fondling the sweet warm tongue with his own. His groin felt like it was on fire. And when an equally hard groin met his, he did not object, but thrust against it, till he could not contain himself any longer, and spilled into the lad's hand in hot gushes…

The Mayor sat bolt upright in bed. His heart galloped in his chest. Beside him his wife slept on, undisturbed, soft snores coming from her open mouth. Moonlight gave the room a ghostly appearance. The wonderful scent of fried bacon lingered in the room. His nightclothes were sticky with sweat. A lone dog barked far away. Somewhere down the road a door slammed.

Enough, the Mayor thought angrily. It had not been just another silly dream. Will remembered now. It had happened in his past.