Memories of Sam and Rosie’s wedding swept through Lily, and warmth filled her heart. What a joyous day it was! She and Frodo had been preparing to announce their own betrothal in those days, and the future lay bright before them. The Darkness still lingered then, but its end was clearly marked.
A smile spread across Lily’s face. That most beloved voice wrapped around her as a warm, comforting quilt, holding her close, even from the other end of the smial.
Frodo strode into the kitchen, grinning. “Are you ready?”
“Indeed, I am. And I imagine Sam and Rosie are impatient to be on their way. I do hope little Elanor does not sense their excitement and fret.”
“We’ll take good care of her, sweet, and you well know it.”
“I know, love, but Rosie and Sam shall worry if little Elanor is unhappy.”
“True enough, but I’m certain all will be well. And do you really believe the Gamgees wish to escape?”
Lily giggled. “Only for a few hours. I think they’ll both be missing Elanor even as they step outside the door; however, Rosie has been planning ever since I offered our services.”
Frodo stared at Lily, at once shocked and fascinated. “She has? So has Sam!”
Worry crossed Lily’s face, then she shook her head, and laughed. “I suppose they’ll have to compromise.”
“Or save whatever the other planned for another time,” Frodo chuckled. “Not a bad idea, that.”
“No, indeed. I’m pleased we’re able to help them carve a bit of time out for themselves. I suppose as Elanor grows older we’ll be able to play nursemaid for them more often.”
Frodo nodded. “I’m simply glad you’re feeling up to being out and about,” he smiled, and escorted Lily out the door.
Sam and Rosie had just finished putting Elanor down for a morning nap when the Bagginses knocked on their door.
Frodo’s eyes twinkled. “Are you ready, then?”
Sam and Rosie shared a glance. Sam chuckled, “Of a certainty.”
“Indeed,” Rosie agreed. “Though I must admit I’m glad it’s only for a couple of hours. I hate to leave little Elanor.”
“All will be well. The two of you need a bit of time together. And you best be off,” Lily smiled. “The hours will slip away before you know it, and you’ll need to be home in time for feeding.”
“Yes, of course!”
Rosie briefly embraced her friend, as Frodo patted Sam on the back, at the same time pushing him out the door.
“Not to worry,” Frodo assured. “We’ll see you after luncheon.”
Sam grasped Rosie’s hand and headed down the path, quickly turning north, toward the copse behind Bag End.
Frodo threw Lily a broad grin, and they murmured together, “The reading tree.” They shared a long, warm look, then went to check on Elanor.
The babe slept peacefully, not even stirring. Frodo and Lily enjoyed the opportunity to chat of their hopes and dreams for their own child.
Elanor woke before Sam and Rosie returned, only fussing a little when her nappy was changed. The laughter that greeted the Gamgees, when they strolled hand-in-hand into the smial, warmed the couple’s heart. Sam eyed Rosie significantly, and she nodded. It was good to hear so much joy in their home, especially when it included their dearest friends, the Bagginses.
After putting Elanor down for her afternoon nap, the two couples chatted until dinner, which Rose and Lily prepared together. Rose was relieved for her friend and glad to see her laughing and smiling. Her pregnancy was agreeing with her.
Little Elanor woke just as dinner was finished. Frodo dragged Sam into the kitchen to do the dishes while Lily helped Rosie get Elanor up from her nap.
With the dinner dishes clean and put away, Sam and Frodo offered to take Elanor for an evening walk, leaving their wives to chat.
Rosie could not refrain from commenting on the looks exchanged between Lily and Frodo. “Lily! You look as though you have been well and thoroughly kissed, and yet he did not touch you.”
Lily blushed, and stared down at the quilt in her hands. Her voice slipped out in a soft whisper, “I miss him.” She glanced uncertainly at her friend, then swiftly back at the fabric she was stitching together for her own babe.
A startled glance flashed from Rosie to Lily, then understanding dawned and regret touched Rosie’s voice when she spoke. “Ah, Lily, I’d forgotten -- the restrictions. Can’t you... I mean, you can still touch... can’t you?”
Lily’s blush deepened. “It’s too difficult to not...” A deep sigh escaped her. “It was difficult enough when we weren’t yet married, but now that we’ve known how -- wonderful it can be...”
Rosie nodded. “I wish I could offer some word of advice...”
“No, it’s all right,” Lily huffed, then smiled. “In truth, Frodo has promised we’ll make it up to each other. Whenever we find it... difficult, we go for a walk.” A giggle escaped her. “We’ve even walked in the middle of the night. Fortunately, the weather’s been perfectly lovely.”
Rosie laughed. “Leave it to the two of you to choose walking.”
Lily shrugged and giggled again; she did not tell her friend that Frodo promised that for every walk...
Her thoughts trailed off, and a soft smile lit her face.
1 June 1421sr
One year, Frodo marveled. What wondrous things could happen in a single year. He thought of the year spent on the Quest and could not help but compare it to the past year with Lily as his bride. How had he been so blessed?
Lily smiled at the faraway look in her husband’s eyes. How glorious the past year had been. She checked the table once more to be certain first breakfast was ready before she called Frodo from the greatroom. She had opened a fresh jar of blackberry jam and would prepare all of Frodo’s favourite dishes to celebrate their anniversary throughout the day. A picnic and a walk would be the highlight of their day, and they would visit with the Gamgees that evening.
“Frodo-love...” Lily stepped up behind him and slid her arms around his waist, rubbing her cheek against his back. “Firsties is ready.”
Frodo turned within his wife’s embrace, and wrapped his arms around her, holding her gently. “Lily-sweet, thank you for accepting my proposal to be my wife, for blessing my life for ever.”
“Beloved Frodo, every day is gift, simply because you share it with me.”
The kiss they shared was too brief and too light, and yet almost more than they could bear. They leaned their foreheads together, and dreamt of many more Junes to come, by Ilúvatar’s grace.
14 July 1421sr
Frodo drew Lily’s arm through his, anchoring her hand to his side, with his hand warmly covering hers. He glanced around appreciatively. They had walked to Overhill for a couple of days and were now on their way home. The Weeping Willow was not much of an inn, with only one guestroom. However, the food, though simple, was delicious, and they boasted a light mead which by itself was worth the trip.
They arrived home as dusk descended.
“It’s a perfect night, Lily. Let’s stay out and enjoy it.”
“As you wish, Frodo-love. I should like that very much.”
They lay back, settling shoulder to shoulder, in the grass on the Hill. With soft sighs they relaxed and gazed up at the stars.
“Lily? Are you all right?” Frodo turned his head to look at his wife.
Her voice was soft, uncertain, then he saw a smile spread across her face. She drew his hand to her belly.
“I’m not certain if you can feel it or not. I’ve been feeling the babe inside for a little while now. At first, I didn’t know what it was. But I think...”
Lily pressed Frodo’s hand tightly to herself.
Then Frodo gasped, and stared in wonder at his hand.
Tears filled Lily’s eyes. “You feel it? Don’t you? You feel our little one move.”
Frodo nodded without taking his eyes from his hand on her belly.
Lily pointed to the brightest star she could see. “Isn’t that Eärendil?”
With effort, Frodo dragged his eyes away from his wife to the bowl of the sky overhead. “Yes.”
Lily could not hide the wonder in her voice. “Elrond’s father...”
Frodo smiled. “Yes.”
“Such miracles, dear Frodo...”
“Sweet, the most important miracles to me are here beside me.”
Lily laced her fingers through her husband’s. “Frodo-love, tell me the story of Eärendil.”
25 August 1421sr
Little Elanor is six months old now, Frodo thought, as he breathed in the cool morning air of an early fall day. There was a slight mist about, but no fog. It was lightening just a little now. The sun had not yet appeared, but had kissed the sky in its morning greeting.
Frodo stood very still on the front porch at Bag End, enjoying the view. Was it his imagination, or was the new Party Tree bigger than ever? It had grown at an astounding rate. And it was a mallorn, never before seen in the Shire! These were certainly strange times. Strange, but wonderful. He thought about Bilbo, so far away in Rivendell. Bilbo would be pleased about the mallorn.
Frodo thought about little Elanor again. Sam was so good with her. She would giggle and smile for Rosie, and cried if Rosie went away to the market in Hobbiton, of course. But for Sam, she positively glowed. He could make her laugh so easily! -- just by pulling silly faces and playing peek-a-boo. When he came home at the end of a day of gardening, she lit up like a star in the sky. Sam and Rosie adored her.
This is what life is supposed to be like, Frodo thought. And now he and Lily would be just as blessed.
The sun was beginning to rise in earnest now. It must be near seven o’clock. He would let Lily sleep some more.
The midwife they had secured to check on Lily during her confinement was a good one, very experienced. She had felt it best that Lily get bed rest at this time. Mrs. Chubb, a second cousin to Merry. Am I remembering that right? Frodo mused. On the Bolger side? Rosie had thoroughly approved of her. They could afford another, from any of the villages; but if Rosie approved, then she must be very good, and that was all the recommendation needed...
Frodo was comforted by this, since once again he was out of his element. He had learned first-hand a few things about morning sickness -- about when it was best to try to help Lily with things, and when best to leave her alone. She was past that stage now, he thought with some relief. He had been alarmed by it at first, until he was told that nearly all mortals had to endure it for a while, when carrying a child.
That meant the Elves didn’t have to endure it, Frodo thought, and he smiled to himself. Well, he was just as happy that he and Lily were mortal. He could not imagine being happier than he was now.
Lily was in her sixth month of pregnancy. She had never been more beautiful, Frodo thought. There was more colour in her cheeks. Her long curly auburn hair was silkier yet than it had ever been. Her eyes were brighter than before, and her skin was softer! Frodo had thought her skin was like rose petals from the start. Now, she felt softer, even, than that. He had nothing with which to compare it. And he was suffused with joy that a child was coming. He was counting the days until her birth.
He smiled at himself at having already decided that it would be a girl. Lily was convinced it was a boy. They had been having discussions about names. Frodo fancied Amaryllis -- it had been Lily’s mother’s name, and so beautiful. What would they call her for short? Sam had talked about nicknames when Frodo helped him think up “Elanor” -- something about long names having to be shortened anyway, so start out with a short one!
Amaryllis -- perhaps ‘Lis’, for short, he thought. Perhaps ‘Amaryl.’
“Amaryl,” he said aloud to the morning air. He smiled. He liked the sound of it.
Frodo thought back to February. Yes, the child was conceived then.
They had been married already for nine months by then -- how the time had flown! he thought. They had been impatient for a child, but then again they had hardly been miserable trying to conceive.
He grinned at the thought, then remembered those first few months early this year, just after Yule, when Lily had been sad that after so many months of marriage she had not yet conceived. That had been a hard time for her, and in turn a difficult time for him. That was all in the past. He sighed gratefully.
Frodo cast back in his mind, but could think of nothing then that stood out in his mind. He thought it very odd that something so miraculous -- the conception of a child -- could take place on one particular day, indeed at a tiny moment in time, without anyone being aware of its coming into the world at all. Had it been a night -- or even a day -- of particular tenderness, special caresses? No, he thought, almost laughing to himself. If tenderness were the only requirement for conception, this child would have come much, much sooner...
His overactive mind now had something to mull over. What if there really was something in particular about a moment of love that could cause a child to be conceived? Intense passion? No, they had surely had nine months of that, from their wedding day last June until early April! A cold night? A warm room -- being near the greatroom fireplace, a crackling fire in the grate?
Now he was grinning broadly to himself. This was nonsense. He was simply imagining having her in his arms again, for he missed those days and nights very much. Lily had been told by the midwife that it was not wise to continue any of that while she was expecting. He had been quick to comply, of course -- anything to keep her safe and comfortable -- that is until six or seven days had passed without sharing her love. Then abstinence suddenly seemed a bit more akin to misery...
He almost laughed aloud. Here he was torturing himself now, by thinking on it!
But still he held on to those memories of her, for it had indeed been a very long four months, plus a fortnight, since early April, when they learned she was increasing.
Frodo leaned his hands on the wooden fence-rail at the road’s edge and closed his eyes.
Early April! There was that wonderful day, the anniversary of their betrothal, when they had visited his reading-tree glade. The air was unusually warm, more like a May day. They packed a light lunch and had decided to spend the afternoon there. That was the spot where they had promised themselves to each other, the year before.
It had been a glorious day. Lily had grown a bit overexcited -- perhaps it was the heat, he thought -- so much so that she actually lost a great deal of her natural reserve. No one was in sight, she had said, or even within sound. Their kisses had grown deep, with the haze of tender passion beginning to weave its spell. It was clear in his memory now... she had actually asked for him there and then, in the wide outdoors! It was one thing to be completely alone in the wild, as they had been on their trip to Rivendell last year, and another thing entirely to be in Hobbiton, woods or no woods!
He had been a little surprised -- pleased as well -- but a bit shocked. But what had worried him most, then, was how badly he had wanted to give in to her. He had managed to stop kissing her and to take some very deep breaths, to clear his head. Neither of them would want to be found, he had told her, laughing, and neither of them would ever hear the end of it if they were found -- ever!
He had reminded her that hobbits did love their gossip. Folk still spoke of Pansy Grubb walking the woods near Brandy Hall and discovering Saradoc Brandybuck and his wife, Esmeralda -- and that had been over thirty years past! Merry would always laugh when someone brought up the famous story about his parents, usually told over a half-pint at the pub, but he turned a bit red, all the same.
Frodo remembered that he had helped Lily up from the warm grass -- she was just a little sad -- and promised her that the moment they got inside the front door, he would make it up to her, in extra measure.
He had stared her down, and then they both laughed, and got back to Bag End rather more quickly than they would have otherwise. And he did make it up to her... yes.
Frodo let his eyes close once more. He could remember what it felt like to have all of her, all of her weight pressed against him, her silken skin against his -- the sweetest feeling he knew. He thought again how happy it was that they had not met until after the Quest. He would never have left Lily -- he would not have been able to leave her -- had he known her then. He tried to imagine someone else other than the Fellowship getting the Ring into Mordor, but he could not. That was surely a riddle with no answer...
Thoughts of riddling made him think of Gollum, and Mordor, and the Ring, and he did not wish to think on these things.
His eyes opened wide at another memory. Lily had fainted dead away in his arms that same night -- the only time it had ever happened when sharing their love. He had been frightened, insisting it was time for a healer to look into it, no matter how much Lily protested. The healer had called in the midwife, and they had announced that Lily was increasing, and was already about two months along! And to think how much they had -- Frodo blinked at the memory -- it had been rather an active night, surely! Knowing what he did now about how tired the carrying of their babe made her, it was no wonder she had fainted that night. That was the last time...
He shook himself out of his beautiful, bemused reverie. Now he really was making himself miserable... He looked around at the bright sunlight, stretched a good morning stretch in this September air, and a yawn came on as well. He would surely persevere through November -- wouldn’t he? Actually, now, he surmised, there would probably be another few months after that, when Lily would need to give her body rest, after the delivery. And of course the babe would be there with them, as well...
He was thinking far too much, as usual. It was good that he had gone away with her in August for a few weeks, to help Hal bring in the wheat crop. She had been able to visit with Daisy to her heart’s content. Pearl had grown so! And it had given him something to do other than to read and study and think all day... and to think about something other than wanting his beautiful Lily...
Another thing the healer had told them in April was that Lily did not have a particularly good constitution. For the most part she was very healthy -- if she rested during her confinement they did not expect any complications for her or the babe. Nevertheless, they explained, Lily’s blood did not flow as vigorously as it ought. It was the reason she became lightheaded and fainted so easily. And there, for nearly a year he had thought -- for Lily was sure of it! -- that his kisses were the cause!
Now Frodo did laugh aloud. He walked back through the still-open front door to make a pot of tea and to see how Lily was faring.
To be continued....