Sam's Tale

Author: Nilramiel@aol.com, aka RosieCotton

Acknowledgements/Disclaimers: See chapter 1

Genre: General/Romance

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Chapter 33: Home

Setting: The Shire, December 3, 1420

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"How much longer, d'you think?" Sam asked, shifting on the bright green seat of the cart and glancing sideways at his wife. They were returning from a ten-day stay at the Cottons. Sam had helped the farmer and his sons repair the west fence in return for help building the little cart, and Sam was tired but very pleased. Even Bill seemed happy with the colorful contraption, and he trotted happily in front of them, drawing them over the road as smoothly and proudly as a great horse might draw a chariot.

"Ta home? Not more'n 10 minutes, I should say," Rosie replied with a puzzled tone, drawing in her cloak more tightly against the cold evening air. "Sam Gamgee, you know as well as I do how far we are from Bag End."

Sam laughed. "Nay, Rosie, not how long ta home. How long 'til the little 'un comes? Do you know? What did Missus Lily say?"

Rosie smiled at the misunderstanding. She had happened to run into Lily Chubb when she was at Market on Tuesday, and Lily had insisted that Rosie come back to her smial for a cup of tea and a lookover. Lily was unusual in her attentiveness to Hobbit mothers before the birth of their babes. She insisted that paying close attention in the months before a birth could prevent problems with the birth itself.

"You are as healthy a hobbit as I have ever seen, Rosie," Lily had proclaimed after examining her, "and this little one seems healthy as well. Has the sickness in the mornings quite passed?"

"Yes," Rosie had assured her, stroking her palm over the silky warmth of her swollen abdomen, "actually, I feel wonderful."

"Good," said Lily, "and you say the babe is moving about, every day?"

"Oh yes, more all the time," Rosie grinned, "I canna wait until I have him in my arms instead of in my belly."

"Well, guessing by the size now and by how you are feeling, I should think you will have your wish sometime in March."

"March?" Sam repeated, snapping the reins involuntarily, as if by speeding the little pony he could speed the date of his child's arrival, "He's coming right soon." He grinned at Rosie.

"Aye, and we should be thinkin' of a name for him." Rosie said. She had recently given way to her husband's surety that this child was a lad, despite her instincts otherwise. She supposed most new parents wanted a child of their own gender to come first, and perhaps this was why she pictured her unborn babe as a little lass, while Sam insisted on the opposite.

"A name, yes," Sam said thoughtfully, "Rose, love, I've been thinkin' about that."

"Oh?"

"Aye. I've been thinkin', well, it might be nice to name him, that is, if it is alright with you, Rosie." he trailed off, looking rather sheepishly at his wife.

"What, Sam?" Rosie smiled at him softly and placed her hand on his forearm. "I am sure any name you want would be suitable."

Sam smiled at the warm contact. Oh, how he loved her, and the child they shared! "Well, Rose, I was thinking perhaps we could call him Frodo, after Mr. Frodo, you know, after all he has done for me, for us, it seems fitting. And also." he paused again.

"Also what?" Rosie prompted, running her soft hand up and down his forearm reassuringly.

Sam turned the cart up the lane to the New Row. The sun had set on the way, and now the stars were winking on. He drew a deep breath of cold air. Winter was finally coming. "Also," he continued, "it is awfully important that folk remember - remember what Frodo did, what he did for the Shire, for all of us. He should be honored, much more'n he is. Seems to me naming a child for him is one way of doing that."

Rosie looked up the lane towards the beautiful hill that was now Home. The smial where she and Sam had become a family, and where, very soon, she would give birth to their first child. "First of many, I hope," she said to herself. And she thought about the hobbit who lived there with them, and what he had been through - what little she understood of it - and suddenly she felt tears press against the corners of her eyes.

"Rose?"

"Frodo is a perfectly lovely name, Sam," Rosie said softly, scooting over on the cart seat to press against her husband, and kissing his cheek gently.

Sam grinned and snapped the reins again, urging Bill to take the last few yards briskly. It was getting late, and he was eager to get home. He had known, of course, that Rosie would defer to him in the matter of a name, but for some reason it was important to him that she not just defer, but agree. Of course there was no way of knowing for sure that the babe would be male, but if he was, Sam wanted his firstborn son to bear the name of the bravest and wisest hobbit of all, the name of his best friend. As if she could hear his thoughts, Rosie squeezed his arm again and nestled her head against his shoulder.

They circled around the Row to the back gate of Bag End, and Sam hopped out of the cart to unlatch it, first handing Bill's reins to Rosie. They had built a little stable for Bill and Strider in the rear yard months ago, and Sam intended to park the little cart next to the stable when it was not in use. He led Bill into the yard, and helped Rosie down from the cart.

"I'll just go on in and put on some tea, Sam," she said, gathering her baskets from the cart bed. "And I'll check on Mr. Frodo, too."

"Alright, Rose, I'll be along as soon as I care for Bill."

Rosie made her way to the back door of the Smial. She could see a little smoke curling from the chimney - perhaps from Frodo's room - but the rest of the hole seemed dark and cold. She hoped fervently that Frodo was alright. In October he had been gravely ill, so ill that she had wondered if these terrible wounds of the past could actually kill the gentle hobbit who meant so much to her Sam.

"Mr. Frodo?" Rosie called softly as she entered the kitchen. There was no answer. Shivering a little, she placed her burdens on the table and crossed to the hearth, stirred up the coals, and piled on a good portion of wood. Next, she lit some candles, and put water on to boil for tea. She noted that there were no unwashed dishes in the kitchen, which could be a good sign or a bad one. Frodo was a neat Hobbit who cleaned up after himself when he was well. Then again, if he was very, very ill, he might not have eaten at all.

Taking up a candle, Rosie went to Frodo's bedroom, and was encouraged to see firelight spilling from underneath the door. She knocked softly.

"Mr. Frodo?"

"Come in, Rosie," came his voice from within. Rosie released a held breath and opened the door.

Frodo was sitting in the heavy chair next to the fire, which was crackling merrily, reading from the volume Aragorn had sent to him last spring and fingering the jewel that hung about his neck. He looked up and smiled at her. "Welcome home. How was your visit?"

"It was lovely, thankee, Mr. Frodo, but lovelier to be back. Just wait until you see the cart. 'Tis a fine little cart, and as green as the front door. Sam is so proud." She paused, taking in his drawn paleness and the empty mug on the floor beside the chair. "I'm making some fresh tea. Would you like some?"

"I would, thank you, Rosie. I have been wishing for a fresh cup since long before sundown, but I lost track of the time, seemingly." He looked at the darkened window as if he was just realizing how late it was. "I do that often, actually."

This last remark was almost to himself, and Rosie was unsure if she should respond. After a moment she shifted her weight from one weary hip to the other, and his eyes refocused at the soft sound of rustling fabric.

"Sam is tending to Bill, I suppose?" he asked politely.

"Aye," said Rosie, "Shall I send him to you when he comes in?"

"Please do, along with that tea, if he doesn't mind, and a bite for both of us, if he is not too weary to talk for a short while." He smiled at her again, and Rosie nodded before closing the door.

"Well enough, but melancholy, I should say," Rosie muttered to herself on her way back to the kitchen. "It's not right for a hobbit to be melancholy, nor so thin!" Brow creased, she prepared a tray laden with good things to eat, and was pouring the tea when Sam came in from caring for the ponies.

~tbc~