Title: The Beginning
Characters: Sam Frodo Bilbo Hamfast and others
Feedback: Please??? Pretty please??? You'll be my hero!!
Disclaimer: They're not mine! Honest! I'm not making any money from them, either! Please don't sue!!
A/n: Okay, this is the beginning to what I'm assuming will be a rather longish story of Sam and Frodo's childhood. I'm hoping to be pretty consistent with my updates, but as I have no idea at this point exactly how long this story will be, I can't say when it might be completed. Anyway, read and review if you feel so compelled, and any thoughts, comments or ideas would be greatly appreciated!
[Notes on ages: In the beginning of this story, Sam is 6, Frodo is 21. These are the notes taken from the appendices, though there are plenty of contradictions in the text. However, I have used these for simplicity's sake. :)
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Sunlight sparkled in the crisp spring air, mingling with the early-morning dew and making it seem as though the grass were encrusted with tiny, sparkling gems. Apart from the sweet chirping of the birds, no sound could be heard--save the slight crunch of gravel under the feet of two hobbits as they made their way towards the large hole at the end of Bagshot Row. One was middle-aged, somber and sturdy looking, with wizened features and knuckles gnarled with years of work in various gardens. The other scampering along at his side was much smaller and still very young, not even in his teens, but already bearing a striking resemblance to his father both in appearance and in nature. The appreciation and love for all things alive and growing radiated from them both, mingling with the early morning sunshine.
The younger hobbit took a deep breath, enjoying the scent of spring filling his nostrils as the sun began to peek over the tops of the trees. The heady scent of pollen made him sneeze suddenly, drawing a small amused smile from his father. The lad didn't seem to mind; he rubbed his offended nose on his sleeve and grinned. Nothing could diminish his bright mood today, which seemed to almost rival the sun in its radiance.
"You really think I'm all ready to start workin' in Mr. Bilbo's garden, Da?" the lad asked for the third time that morning, bouncing excitedly. His father smiled at the boy's eagerness and ruffled his hair.
"Aye, that I do, Sam-lad, if you follow my directions carefully and be sure to mind your manners," he said gruffly, though his face remained gentle. "Though that won't matter for a bit, as Master Bilbo's off in Buckland collecting that lad he's to be adopting." His tone was carefully steady during the latter, and if he felt anything derisive towards Buckland or the particularly wild brand of Hobbits it had a reputation for turning out, he hid it well.
Sam nodded emphatically, eyes wide. "Yes sir!" he squeaked excitedly, still bouncing. A moment of thoughtful silence, then, "Da? Do you think the Bucklander might want to be friends with me?"
An indulgent smile. "Well, now, lad, he's a good bit older than you, I've heard," he said, then chided gently, "and he *is* to be your master too, along with Mr. Bilbo, so you'd best be sure you don't be getting too common with him."
Sam's face fell briefly, but it didn't last; he was soon bouncing along excitedly once again.
His father, Hamfast Gamgee, laughed. "Now, don't you go a-wasting all your energy this early, lad!" he said. "The work'll do that quick enough, for it's hard, and make no mistake! But," his eyes grew dreamy for a moment, "there ain't nothin' in the world finer than Bag End's gardens when they come to full bloom."
Sam's grin, if possible, got even wider. He'd been up to old Mr. Bilbo's gardens a few times before, though never in Spring, when everything was really blooming. Not that they weren't beautiful in the summer, as well, but springtime was when everything was colorful and alive and…*fresh*-feeling.
As they rounded the bend and Bag End came in to full view, Hamfast paused, frowning.
Sam clutched his hand and gazed wide-eyed up at him. "What is it, Da?"
Hamfast shook himself slightly. "It looks like Mr. Bilbo's returned a bit sooner than we thought he would," he said, noticing the windows of Bag End that stood open, their curtains fluttering in the early-morning breeze. "They must've gotten in late yester-evening, I suppose."
Sam's eyes widened, and his grip on his father's hand tightened. "Do you think we'll see him, Da? The Buckland lad, I mean?"
"Don't pinch, lad. And yes, perhaps we shall, at that." He gazed sternly down at his son. "You remember to mind your manners," he warned again.
Sam nodded. "Yes sir," he said, suddenly looking shy and fearful as he gazed towards the hole.
Hamfast laughed again. "Now, then, there's no need to go all timid!" he said, smiling. "If this lad is half of what Mr. Bilbo is, I'm sure he won't bite, Bucklander or no!"
Sam nodded and smiled hesitantly, his gaze still fixed on the empty windows and the dark spaces behind them where a strange new hobbit was now living.
They entered the gates, Hamfast closing it quietly behind him so as not to wake his Master and his new charge, should they still be asleep. Then, taking his son's hand again, he led him around to the tool-shed.
"Now, lad," he said, picking up a small spade and hoe. "I'm going to have you start in Mr. Bilbo's vegetable patch, just over on the side of the hole there. You do just as I showed you at home, remember?"
"Yes, sir," Sam said, taking the tools and trying to hide his disappointment. Vegetables he saw every day; what he *really* wanted to do was work in Mr. Bilbo's flower gardens, and see the strange and beautiful plants his Gaffer was always talking about. Some of them were downright rare, he heard him say to his mother one day. Sam didn't know exactly what 'rare' meant, but from the way Hamfast had said it, wonder and amazement clear in his voice, he knew it must mean the flowers were very special indeed.
Hamfast saw the lad's hesitation. "Don't you fret, now," he said sternly. "We've got to get you started somewhere, and best where you're comfortable, eh?" He ruffled his son's hair fondly and led him to the small patch of taters he'd be working. "Now, these here aren't quite ready to be pulled yet, see? Take care that you break up the soil all around them, so as they can get all the nutrients they need from it. Also make certain you pull any weeds you see. Can't have the weeds takin' up the tater's soil, can we?"
He smiled as his son began to work very carefully with the spade, breaking the soil gently and biting his lip in concentration. "There's a good lad," he said, and stood. "I'm going around front, and see to Mr. Bilbo's hedges. When you've finished here, you come and find me again, and I'll show you where else you can work. And for heaven's sake, try not and wake Mr. Bilbo and his nephew! They've had a long journey, and I'm sure they're tired out."
Sam nodded dutifully. Hamfast nodded once and turned away, quickly disappearing around the side of the hole. Soon after Sam could hear the sound of his clippers. Humming a bit to himself, he focused on the work in front of him and tired to squelch his ever-growing curiosity about the Bucklander.
The sun rose quickly, and with it the morning dew evaporated. Sam felt his brow grow damp with perspiration and his shirt beginning to stick to his back as the rays beat down upon him with growing intensity. Still he labored on, carefully pulling the weeds and treating the taters as though they were every bit as valuable as Mr. Bilbo's 'rare' flowers. When the sun was nigh on nine o'clock in the morning, he stood, stretching, and surveyed his work. Though his eye was far from critical, it seemed to him as though the job was completed satisfactorily, so he turned to find his gaffer.
He'd not gone two steps, however, when a sudden sound from the window he'd been working under made him freeze in his tracks. He turned towards the open windowpane, listening intently—there! A soft sound, like someone moaning in his sleep. Sam was reminded of the noise his sister Marigold would make when she was having a bad dream, usually during the worst part right before she woke up. Tilting his head and feeling a strange mixture of curiosity, concern, and apprehension, Sam crept forward, moving quietly and cautiously until he stood just below the sill. Rising up on the balls of his feet, he managed to pull himself up just far enough to see into the room half-lit by the shaft of sunlight streaming through the window. He peered into the shadowed portion of the room, blinking and waiting for his eyes to adjust, then gasped.
It was a bedroom, he could see that plainly enough: oak chest standing against the far wall, bureau standing next to a large feather-bed…and sprawled on the bed, a strange-looking figure Sam had never before seen the likes of.
He *looked* like a hobbit…leastways he had the same largish, fur-covered feet, the same gracefully curved and pointed ears, the same curly hair…but this was like no hobbit Sam had ever seen. Instead of the typical hobbit belly, this hobbit was slender, almost…sleek-looking. Thoughts of Bilbo's elves ran disjointedly through Sam's astounded mind as he continued to study the sleeping figure. Pale skin, not the usual sun-tanned hobbit brown…long, slender hands and fingers that looked as though they'd never so much as touched a spade…and then the hobbit moaned and turned his head, and Sam could see clearly the high cheekbones and long lashes that brushed over them delicately, the feathery dark brows knit in concern, lips slightly pursed as another frightened moan escaped them.
Sam knew it was impolite to stare, especially at someone who didn't even know they was being stared at, but he couldn't seem to tear his gaze from the strange sight before him.
Then, without warning, the hobbit's eyelids fluttered and opened, and Sam found himself staring straight into the bluest eyes he'd ever seen in his life. He gasped, startled, and lost his balance, falling backwards and landing with a thud on his backside. He could hear movements from within the room, and without quite knowing why, he panicked, grabbing his spade and practically sprinting around the house.
Hamfast looked up, startled, as his son appeared. "Why, lad, what is it?" he cried. "You look as though you've seen a ghost!"
Sam gazed back over his shoulder thoughtfully, and shook his head. "No," he said, "Not a ghost…" *…though he almost looked like one…*
Hamfast followed his son's gaze, but saw nothing odd and was unable to discern his son's strange trance. Finally he smiled and ruffled his son's hair, bringing them both out of their reverie. "Aye, lad, I think you've been working in the sun too long," he said. "Why don't you come on and help me finish up with the hedge? It's shady over on the other side, and I can show you how to mark it with twine so as to get the shape right…"
Sam followed his father obediently, but he couldn't help but glance over his shoulder occasionally, gazing back towards the smial and thinking of what he'd seen. Hamfast noticed his son's absentmindedness and frowned slightly.
"Come, now lad, I know you've not heard a word of what I've been sayin' to you, so you'd best be explaining as to why your old dad ain't worth listenin' to anymore," he said sternly.
Sam turned abashedly back from his gaze towards the quiet windows of Bag End. "Sorry, Da," he said meekly. "It's just…I think I saw 'im! The Bucklander!"
Hamfast's frown deepened, and he turned his gaze back towards the smial. "Oh?"
Sam nodded, eyes wide. He knew he'd be punished for spying on the new master, but he knew it was better that than let his father think he was simply ignoring him. "Yes sir! I was just finishin' the taters and I heard him from the window!" He frowned suddenly. "I think he was having a bad dream," he said.
To Sam's surprise, instead of growing angry, Hamfast merely nodded. "Aye," he said, sounding a trifle sad, "I heard he lost his parents when he was a lad. Drowned, they did. Terrible."
Sam stared at his father. "Drowned?" he whispered.
Hamfast nodded. "If all I've heard 'tis truth," he replied. He stood for a moment, lost in thought, then said, "The water's no place for a sensible hobbit to be, I've always said. We're not meant to swim about like the fish, and that's the truth! Sink like stones, we do, if we're foolish enough to get to near." His eyes flashed decisively as he spoke, but after a moment his expression grew distant again. "Aye, but those Bucklanders always were on the wild side. Good thing for the poor lad he's come to live among those of us with sense." He sighed once, then shook his head and picked up his clippers. "But there, now, this hedge isn't going to trim itself, so we'd best get back to it. Come on, lad…"
Sam mulled over the new information as Hamfast began to show him how to trim the hedges again. So the hobbit's parents had drowned! No wonder he was having bad dreams. Sam suddenly wished he'd not fled the window as quickly as he had. His curiosity was bubbling over almost unbearably. After a moment he managed to contain himself and returned his focus to his work, though still glancing occasionally at the big green door of Bag End.
Hamfast noticed his son's eagerness and chuckled. "Now, lad, calm down," he said. "I'm sure when it gets to be a bit later Bilbo'll introduce us to him. Best we see to the garden for now, though!"
Sam nodded, grinning sheepishly. "Yes, sir." He stooped and picked up the ball of twine, unwinding it as he'd been shown, and tried to forget the Bucklander. His father was right: he would have to focus on his chores for now. But later…
He pushed the thought from his head. Later is later, not now, he told himself emphatically, and now there's work enough to be done without letting yourself get distracted.
He turned his full attention to his father once again, and was soon so absorbed that he didn't even notice the silent figure that stood watching him from the window, blue eyes brimming with curiosity.