Title: Shire Tales in Rivendell
Series: N/A
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Author: Orangeblossom
Email: rice_al@yahoo.com
Rating: PG
Summary: Sam's long vigil at Frodo's bedside leads to a telling of older, happier days.
NonSlash, but somewhat ambiguous--much like the source material.
Archiving: Ask first, Please
Chapters: 1
Status: Complete
Year Completed: March 2002
Disclaimer: Frodo? Not mine. Rivendell? Not mine. Gandalf? Not mine. Samwise? I'm
*his* Money? I wish. Everybody ok now?

Notes, Dedications & Thanks: For Jimmy, Jack and Connor because of their constant
inspiration when it comes to writing very young (and very loved) lads. For Mike and
Brian because of their inspiration in writing young-at-heart lads. Thanks to Petra and Em
for betaing--can't do this stuff without you guys. More thanks to Van for the last-minute-
addition-beta. You are awesome; glad you like semicolons.

A Word on Ages: As there is some conflict in the Appendices about the relative ages of
the hobbits, I have drawn *solely* on _The Complete Guide to Middle Earth_ by Robert
Foster, 1971 Del Rey & Ballantine Books. The Birth Years (by the Shire Reckoning) for
the Gamgee family, Bilbo, Frodo, Merry and Pippin are listed below the story. In this
interpretation, Sam is *twelve* years younger than Frodo.


Shire Tales in Rivendell


~ The First Tale ~ 1382 Shire Reckoning ~

Reckon I couldn't have been much more than three. I was playing happily in the dirt,
diggin' and burrowin' setting out pretend gardens outside of our smial; it was there that
the Gaffer found me, singing to myself and grubby to the tips of my ears. Normally he'd
have had a right good laugh, maybe joined me on his knees to explain the wonders of rich
Shire earth, but that day Mum had dressed me to go visiting and I'd made rather a mess
of my dandy clothes.

Mind you, I hadn't *meant* to, I'd only intended to scuff my feet about for a few minutes
while I waited for Mum and the girls. But the dirt was so *nice*, so sweet-smelling and
inviting there in the sunshine that I'd dived right in.

You might say a storm was brewing on my Gaffer's face. His heavy brows drew
together, his smile faded and with a holler he had scooped me up and stood me on my
feet. "Samwise Gamgee, you naughty little grub, just look what you've done!" he
bellowed, shaking my jacket so as to drive his point home.

"I'm sorry, Papa," I said, biting my lip. I could taste gritty sweet soil on my skin and felt
comforted by it. "I hadn't meant to..."

He shook his head, stern-like, but his face had softened a bit. "Well, there will be no trip
to town for *you* today, Master Samwise," he said, scratching his chin thoughtfully. He
watched me twisting my hands nervously, waiting for the punishment he'd surely lay out.
Drawing a handkerchief from his pocket he wiped my face. "Since keeping you out of
the dirt is impossible, I think you best come along with me to Bag End and help with the
weeding."

I'm sure I lit up at those words. To see the fantastic gardens of Bag End, to actually walk
amongst the plants I'd heard described so often! I'd dreamed of it. And perhaps I'd see
Mr. Baggins; I loved when he'd come to visit us. Punishment! He couldn't have
rewarded me better. I looked at him to see if he was joking; behind his angry expression
the Gaffer's eyes were twinkling. He knew.

Not to say my Gaffer spoiled me, of course. He could be mighty strict by times, and he
didn't spare the strap when he thought us young 'uns'd be better for it. But I was always
his pet, likely because neither of my brothers was much interested in gardening. And
perhaps he wanted to indulge me a bit that day, as I had so recently been unseated as the
baby of the family. I loved wee Marigold, but it's rough on any tyke when a new babe
comes along.

Soon enough he had me properly dressed in old clothes and carryin' a basket filled with
his tools. It was a heavy burden for one so small but I didn't complain; I was far too
excited. Bag End's gardens looked like a jungle, the plants far taller than I. I was a bit
abashed but the Gaffer was soon kneeling beside me, my fat little fingers guided by his
rough hands as he showed me which of them green shoots were good and which should
ought to be pulled. I caught on quick and he left me there, headin' off to the vegetable
patch.

I was toiling away beneath one of the windows when I heard voices. One I recognized as
Mr. Baggins, the other was young and unfamiliar. My ears pricked up at once, for the
voices were discussing food. I suddenly felt quite hungry myself, particularly when the
smell of mushrooms drifted to my nose. I stood on my very toes, stretching myself as tall
as I could so I could see inside. The window box was filled with bursting, bloomy things
and when I parted them I could see quite clear.

He was laying down bread and cheese by a big dish of mushrooms, and he was blocking
my view of his guest. When he moved I saw a hobbit, about the same age as my brother
Hal. Dark hair and big blue eyes, and he was grinning from ear to ear. A nice looking
young hobbit, laughing with Mr. Baggins and sneaking mushrooms when he wasn't
looking.

It was you, Mr. Frodo, but I'm sure you'd already guessed. "Bilbo," you said, "I do
believe your snapdragons have eyes."

I was excited. Dragons! Perhaps there would be a story...I strained forward a bit farther,
and was surprised to see Bilbo's face inches from my own. "What have we here?" he
said, smiling warmly. He reached down and caught hold of me, lifting me over the sill.
"Well, young master Gamgee! How came you to be sneaking about my kitchen?"

I felt terribly shy. "P...Please, Mr. Baggins, my Papa brought me so's...so's he could
teach me weeds. An'...an' I'm *awful* hungry..."

Bilbo laughed heartily. "Ah, dear boy, we can take care if *that* at least. Here," he said,
gesturing to you, "This is my nephew Frodo, come to visit me. He'll help you get ready
to eat while I go hunt up your Gaffer." He took my hand and put it in yours. "Frodo, this
is Gamgee's youngest boy, Sam."

"Hullo, Sam!" you said cheerfully. "Hurry, Bilbo, if this sprout is half as hungry as I am
he may faint!"

When Bilbo'd went out to the garden you pulled me to the washbasin, scooping me up
so's I could reach. The water was warm, and you washed my hands and face as if you
were used to bathing small, squirming children--I reckon you were, after all you watched
Merry so often when he was a tot. Bilbo's soap was different from any I'd ever seen; it
was bright blue and made floating bubbles in many colors. I was fascinated--you must
have thought it was funny; you amused me by blowing the biggest bubbles I'd ever seen.

"Well my lads, are you cleaned up?" Bilbo's voice rang through the kitchen. You
laughed and dried me off, setting me on the floor.

"Just showing Sam the magic soap," you said, ruffling my hair before you sat. The table
was far too high for me, so my Gaffer sat me on his lap. As we ate he got quite involved
in a discussion about taters with Bilbo and it seemed he quite forgot I was there; I ate far
more than was good for me under his very nose.

After a while Bilbo and the Gaffer were arguing good-naturedly over something in the
garden. I rubbed my eyes sleepily; I was so tired. When I yawned you laughed and
interrupted.

"Looks like the sprout could do with a nap. He can rest in my room if you like, I could
do with an after-tea sleep myself." You stood and held out your hand to me.

My Gaffer looked at me for a moment and nodded. "Thank you, young master. See he
doesn't sleep to long, now, or he'll be up all night and his mum will have my hide," He
laughed and kissed me. "Go with Mr. Frodo now, and be a good boy."

I stumbled over my feet as you led me down the hall; I was tired and my tummy was
feeling decidedly queer. Your legs were much longer than mine; I could have taken five
steps for each one of yours but you walked slow and patient, humming softly.

Your room was mighty bare for a hobbit-lad, no pictures or drawings or *anything* on
the walls, no games or toys on the shelves, no clothes bunched on the floor. You looked
around it proud-like anyway. "Someday, Sam," you said half to yourself, "someday
when I come to live here this will be my very own room. Fancy that, a room all to
myself."

It seemed a rare and great thing to me; my own lot was cast in with two hobbit lads over a
decade my senior who delighted in teasing their small brother. I wished that someday *I*
would have such a fine room to myself, but for the time being I just wondered where I
was to sleep. The bed was far wider than any I was used to; at home I still slept in a
basket. I yawned again, wishing my stomach wouldn't feel so odd. You smiled and
helped me undress to my shirt so I would be more comfortable and dropped me in the
middle of your great bed. Your brows furrowed; you looked concerned, "Are you all
right? You're quite pale there, little fellow."

What happened next was a source of shame for me for many years after. I opened my
mouth to say that I was all right and was suddenly very, very sick. You gave a shout of
dismay and said something sharp, but I don't rightly remember what as I was crying,
bawling really. I was afraid and wanted my Mum.

The tears washed your anger clean away. You gently lifted me from the ruined sheets,
catching up a towel to wipe my sticky cheeks and checking my shirt for damage--
somehow I'd managed not to stain it. I was still howling; you gathered me in your arms
and sat in a chair, rocking me just like Mum would. "Shh....Sam, sweet little Sam, you
mustn't cry so or you'll be sick again," you said softly, stroking my hair back from my
face. I snuffled a bit and swiped at my nose with my sleeve, gulping and hitching until
I'd calmed. "Now then, dear boy, do you still feel ill?"

"No sir," I said sadly, "my tummy felt better right away but the rest of me felt worse. I'm
sorry Mister Frodo..."

"Don't be sorry, sprout, it wasn't your fault. Now, let me pull off those covers--lucky
today's washday--and if you think you can manage it you can pull a clean blanket out of
that chest there. Then we'll bundle up nice and warm and I'll tell you a story to help you
sleep."

I sniffed again but smiled shyly; you were so nice to me. I pulled a blanket from the
chest you showed me; it was heavy and smelled of lavender, and by the time I'd wrestled
it to the bed you'd tied the soiled covers into a neat bundle. You took the blanket from
me and spread it out, then shed your own weskit and braces. Carefully you set me in the
bed and covered me snugly before you lay next to me, stroking my hair. "Now then,
what kind of story would you like?"

I was so sleepy I could barely keep my eyes open, but I loved Mr. Baggins's stories and
wondered if yours would be as good. "Do you know stories about Elves?" I asked,
hopeful. Even at three Elf-stories were my favorite, though I'd only heard a few.

You grinned. "Ah, I see you've already heard some of my Uncle's tales, eh? Well, let see
now...would you like to hear about the magic Elf-boat that sails to the West? Or has
Bilbo already spun that tale?"

He had, and I told you. "Will you tell it again anyway?" I asked, as polite as I knew how
to be. You nodded and settled in to the tale. Your voice was interesting like Bilbo's, but
different, kind of sweeter somehow. I fought to stay awake, to listen to your voice, but
sleep is stronger than baby hobbits and I lost the battle almost before it began.

I don't know how long I slept.

When I awoke you were dozing next to me, snoring softly. I lay quiet, watching you. I
wanted you to be awake and tell me more stories but I was far too shy to wake you, so I
just watched the steady rise and fall of your chest until I heard the Gaffer's voice calling.
You woke up then and I was the first thing you saw; you grinned at me and tweaked my
nose.

Oh Mr. Frodo, I wish you'd wake like that again now. I'd even do with the nose-
tweaking.

Where was I? Oh yes. The Gaffer collected me, saying it was time I was home and
leaving you and Mr. Bilbo alone. I was sad to leave, I wanted to stay and play. But the
Gaffer was firm and you didn't move to stop him; I imagine a pudgy three-year-old was
an unsatisfactory playmate for a lad of fifteen; certainly Halfred would agree--he hated
me tagging at his heels when he was up to mischief. But you didn't look like the sort of
fellow who'd bark at a lad like me just for following along.

"Can we come see Mr. Frodo and Mr. Baggins again Papa?" I asked as we left.

He chuckled. "Oh, I have no doubt you'll be up at Bag End plenty, Sam-lad. I'm going to
make a right fine gardener of you, my boy, and someday you'll work in that garden every
day. Doubtless you'll see your Mr. Frodo then." He scratched his head. "Mr. Baggins
has got a mind to learn you letters and such one of these days; I reckon you're too young
for that yet. But perhaps once that scamp of a nephew moves up from Buckland you
might take your lessons with him." I didn't really understand, but I was excited by the
prospect of more time at Bag End, and of seeing you again. I guess you could say I knew
even then that you and I might have some times together ahead.

**** **** ****

Well now. Lets see, what other tales bear tellin'? I s'pose it don't much matter, I doubt
you can hear me. But what if you can? What if in that darkness you hear your Sam's
voice talking, calling to you, maybe then you'll follow me back to the light?

Mr. Frodo? Oh, won't you come back? You can't leave me here like this. I can't find
my way home without you. There *is* no home without you, Mr. Frodo.

I've been holding your hand for two days now, and you've done aught but twitch and
murmur. Master Elrond comes in often and I am shooed away; I don't like being pulled
from your side but I reckon he needs the space to work. He frowns over you and pulls
back them yellowy bandages to touch that awful spot, pale and gray and yet still angry-
looking on your skin. Gandalf comes in often too, sometimes he sits here. He tells
stories, which makes me think I might be on the right track after all. He brings in some
food for me as well, reckon he knows I won't leave for bite and sup. Nor to sleep--I
*can't* sleep. Closest I can come is to kneel by the bed and rest my head on your hand--
*so*--so if you needs me I'll feel it. But even then I can't relax.

But there, I'm likely worrying you, if you can hear me. No, best to keep telling stories.
Happy stories that would make you smile if you were awake. Might make you smile to
know all the others have been by at least once. Aragorn comes sometimes, and Merry
and Pippin come by when they think of it--they're off explorin' the wonders of Rivendell.
Irresponsible rips, ain't they? But then they feel it sharp as I do, it's just how they are to
make merry and hide it. Bilbo came in for a while, but he couldn't bear to see you hurtin'
so, he cried a bit and said some not-very-nice things about himself, and rings, and that
awful Gollum-creature.

Oh, Mr. Frodo, its right down hard to see you lyin' there. You mutter parts of our journey
as if you're reliving them. Ain't much pleasure there, that's a fact, once was more'n
enough. But you're alive. You're alive and you're breathing and so long as you're here I
feel sure you will be all right in time. You're skin is warm now. And it seems to me you
don't fret quite so much when I'm talking.

Ah, but I run on so! Best find another tale. Wish I had a knack for them like you and
Bilbo do, but I reckon you need to have some adventures before you can have good tales.
My adventures have been small, so all my stories follow. Silly little things, but things
that are good and solid and homey, maybe they'll help. Make you feel at home.