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Sacrament

by Ladyhawk Baggins and CRB

2 September 1421sr

Frodo awoke early; Lily nestled deep in his embrace. How he wished to kiss her awake! But the way he felt now, he was somewhat less than certain he would be able to stop himself. It was growing increasingly difficult to even hold her, without his thoughts running wild.

Carefully, he slipped out of their bed and dressed. He assured himself she was sleeping comfortably, then strolled out to the front garden to greet the day.

It was glorious. Crystal blue skies; Frodo remembered a year ago, they were on their way home from Rivendell. Despite his best efforts, another memory tugged at the corner of his mind. She was fully in his arms. How he missed those times. His smile broadened as each memory sweetly lingered and then led to another. How barren his life had been without her. What would he do if he ever lost her?

An unsettling sensation crept over him. He struggled to grasp at the peaceful warmth of moments before. It had been so long since he had felt this way, months wasn’t it? No, a week only. No! The dream... Frodo shuddered down to his toes. He should not worry. The pregnancy was going smoothly. Still, the unpleasantness of the dream niggled at him. It wouldn’t hurt to look in on her. She was probably still asleep...

Lily stirred when he entered their bedroom, then quieted once more. He picked up a book and settled comfortably in the chair near the fire. She could be easily seen, so he laid the unopened book in his lap and allowed himself the pleasure of simply watching her.

The fire softly hissed and sizzled. The mornings would be chilly without it. A warm smile spread across his face when he heard her sleepy, “Frodo?”

He left the book on the chair, and sat on the bed beside his wife, tenderly brushing her hair away from her face. “Yes, beloved, I am here.”

She gave him an answering smile that melted his heart.

With the memory of the dream lurking at the back of his mind, Frodo carefully hid the mounting concern he felt. “How are you, sweet?”

A deep sigh escaped Lily before she answered. “A little uncomfortable this morning, but well enough, thank you.” She stretched, and gingerly slipped out of bed.

“Would you like me to help you dress, sweet?” It was the opposite of what he wanted to do, but the best course of action at the time.

“I should, I suppose,” Lily sighed, and endeavored not to pout, without much success.

Frodo allowed the corner of his mouth to lift. Dressing had become a bit of a chore since her rounded belly meant she could no longer wear her old clothes, and the new clothes were more suited to someone rounder. Rosie had called it the neither here nor there stage; no longer a simply curvier figure but not fully increased.

“Come, sweet.” Frodo helped Lily slip on a robe over her nightdress. “We’ll worry about anything more formal later.”

Lily raised her brows, and stopped fighting the smile she could no longer hide.

Frodo grinned back. “Not much longer now.”

“So you say,” she replied archly.

Frodo laughed, and Lily finally giggled.

As they walked arm in arm down the hall to the kitchen, Lily asked, “What would you like for breakfast?”

Almost absently, Frodo fell into the familiar pattern of their mornings. His dream flashed through his mind, but he did not want to worry her. Mayhap it was nothing... “I thought I might make first breakfast -- scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, a rasher of ham, fried tomatoes, toast -- there’s still a bit of the cinnamoned apples you made yesternight. Would that please you?”

A question briefly crossed Lily’s face, but passed quickly as she realized she felt a little more uncomfortable. With a nod, she agreed. “Thank you, dearest, I think this morning, I’ll let you.” She gave her husband an appreciative smile.

All through their meal, Frodo struggled to keep the dream in the farthest reaches of his mind, but it kept pushing to the fore. She’s fine, he assured himself. Today was not at all like his dream. He was determined to not worry her with his less than pleasant contemplations.

By silent mutual consent, they lingered at the table after first breakfast.

Lily shifted on the bench beside Frodo, and realized she could no longer ignore the discomfort she felt. She could see in his eyes that her husband noted the increasing distress on her face.

“Beloved, what is wrong?” he asked casually, endeavoring to bury his worry.

“I’m a little out of sorts. I can’t seem to get comfortable, but it’s nothing to trouble about. I’m certain it will pass.” She murmured, “Eventually. A few months from now, no doubt.” A rueful smile twitched her lips.

The dream raced through Frodo’s mind again, only more vividly. Swallowing the fear bubbling in his throat, he glanced away and murmured nonchalantly, “Shall I call Mrs. Chubb?” He continued at her surprised glance, “A precaution only.”

“I’m certain it’s nothing...” she assured. It was too early for anything like labor. “Something I ate yesterday probably didn’t sit well with me.”

Glancing around the kitchen, Frodo let it pass for all of two minutes. “Please, Lily, may I fetch Mrs. Chubb? Please? I know I am worrying overmuch, but if anything were to happen to you...”

Lily understood his fear. Her heart softened. “Yes, you may fetch Mrs. Chubb. She mentioned wanting to come by when I saw her at market the other day. I suppose today is as good a day as any; if she isn’t too busy, that is,” Lily added quickly.

“I’ll be back before you know it.” Frodo blew out a silent breath of relief. He brushed his lips across Lily’s and headed out the front door.

So wrapped in his own worries, he did not see his friend heading up the path, and almost ran into Sam.

“Frodo!” Sam steadied his friend. Seeing Frodo’s face clearly, Sam kept a hand on his arm, sensing something amiss. “Where’re you headed off to so early?”

Frodo suddenly felt a little foolish; it was after all only a dream, and almost did not answer, but then it came out in a rush. “I -- I’m going to fetch Mrs. Chubb. She mentioned to Lily she’d like to stop in for a visit, and I thought today might be as good a day as any, so if she has time, I suggested it to Lily, and she agreed it might be well for Mrs. Chubb to pop in.”

Sam blinked at this rapid explanation, then asked, “What’s wrong, Frodo?”

Frodo did not even attempt to hide his startled surprise, but endeavored to cover it with reassuring words. “It’s probably nothing at all. Only me being overly worried, what with this being our first...”

Sam moved his hand from Frodo’s arm to his shoulder, and gently squeezed. “You stay with Lily, and I’ll fetch Mrs. Chubb.”

“You needn’t--”

“You may be right, about it being nothing at all, but I’m thinkin’ you’ll both be a mite calmer if you stay here, with Lily. I’ll bring back Mrs. Chubb before you know it.” Sam glanced behind him, down the row. “Look, there’s Rosie, now. I’ll take little Miss Elanor with me and Rose’ll come along here, for a visit. She’s been wantin’ to visit Lily, in any case. Now, you go on back inside. I’ll not be overlong. I think I heard tell, from Rosie, that Mrs. Chubb was visitin’ one of the lasses in Hobbiton, this morning. If not, I know where to run her to ground. No sense you wanderin’ around, when you’d rather be Lily, and I’m sure Lily would prefer having you near, too.”

Frodo paused, studying his friend. “Thank you, Samwise.”

“‘Tis nothin’, Frodo.” Sam smiled broadly, noting Frodo’s relieved smile and brief nod. He turned and waved to Rosie, then headed down the lane to meet her.

Gratitude filled Frodo’s heart, to have been blessed with such dear friends. He hesitated only a moment, and then returned to the kitchen. Lily was still sitting at the table, and he slipped in beside her on the bench.

Her surprised smile did not hide the mischief in her eyes. “Decided you’d rather stay with me, did you?”

He knew she was teasing him, but his heart tightened all the same, and his voice came out huskier than he intended. “I desire always to be with you. Every moment of every day will never be enough.”

Lily’s teasing glint vanished, her whole being warming to her husband’s adoration.

He wrapped an arm around her shoulders and drew her close, kissing her cheek. He breathed in the scent of her. “I noticed the honeysuckle the first time I wore my cloak after you borrowed it,” he mused. “It took me a little longer to recognize the lilac.”

She could feel him smile against her hair and breathed in his unique and heady scent. “Could we have a lilac bush planted in the back garden, with the roses?” Her discomfort was increasing, but she ignored it. “That way when our window is open we’ll smell both the roses and the lilacs?”

She flinched.

Frodo felt it, and instantly became rigid. “Lily? Are you well? Is something wrong?”

Frightened eyes searched worried ones. She whispered, “It’s too soon. It’s much too soon.” A tear trickled down her cheek, and she held a hand to her side.

The nightmare was coming true after all. Frodo stifled the sob rising in his chest. He bowed his head and pleaded. “Please, Ilúvatar, kind Creator, bless Lily and the babe...”

He vaguely heard a knock at the door. Mrs. Chubb could not have arrived so quickly. His tear-filled eyes captured and were reflected in Lily’s own.

Hoarsely Frodo called out, “Come in!”

Rosie breezed in calling, “Good morning,” and made her way to the kitchen. Her smile vanished at the scene before her, and she dropped to her heels next to Lily, looking up into her face. “Tell me everything from the moment you woke.”

Lily’s mouth trembled, but she took in a deep breath and concentrated on Rosie’s face, grateful for Frodo’s arm still snug around her shoulders. “I woke a little uncomfortable this morning but thought it was only something I ate, but it has been growing increasingly worse.” Her voice broke, and she continued in a whisper. “It’s too early, Rosie.”

With a quick nod, Rose stood and turned to Frodo. “Can you carry her to the bedroom?”

“Easily.” Frodo hoped his accompanying smile was reassuring.

Lily opened her mouth to protest, and closed it again at the look of love and concern in Frodo’s eyes.

He carefully lifted her into his arms, and cradled her against his chest.

She wrapped her arms around his neck, as he offered her and Rosie a weak smile. “You’re as light as a feather, Lily sweet. Remind me to thank Sam for all the work he’s given me in the garden.”

Lily tightened her hold on Frodo’s neck, and buried her face against his throat.

Rose made sure their bedroom door was open, then pulled back the covers so Frodo could slide Lily into the bed. From previous experience with the midwife, Rosie’s first thought was to send Frodo out of the room to do some odd job, but she thought better of it.

Lily reluctantly released her hold from round Frodo’s neck, and immediately reached for his hand, grasping it tightly.

Rosie noticed he was careful not to flinch though his fingers were turning white.

“Lily,” Rosie spoke softly in an easy cadence, “you need to relax.” She was grateful Lily turned her full attention to her, though she did not release Frodo’s hand. Immediately, Lily started to breathe more evenly and slowly. Rose saw, out of the corner of her eye, the colour returning to Frodo’s fingers. “Good, Lily, very good.” After a several moments, she asked, “Are you feeling any better?”

After releasing another deep breath, Lily nodded. “A little.”

---------

Frodo released a shuddering sigh; it was now after three o’clock in the afternoon. Lily and the babe were spared, unlike in his dream.

Mrs. Chubbs drew Frodo into the hall, outside the bedroom door. “Mr. Baggins,” whispered the midwife, “we could have lost her today, her and the child. She must stay abed now until the child’s delivered. You must make certain she doesn’t rise but for the most basic of needs. Will you do that?”

Frodo nodded his head eagerly. “Yes, yes. I shall take care of everything... She’ll be all right then?” He swallowed hard, gulping down tears too near the surface, ready to spill over.

“Yes, but only if she does nothing to endanger the child or herself. You’ll have to arrange for someone to come in and do the cooking and cleaning and looking after her, seeing that she does nothing unduly. She’s not to lift a finger, do you understand? Or she will lose the child and very likely her own life as well.”

Frodo felt contrite, although he was not sure of his offense. He bent his head, then looked up at Mrs. Chubb. “I understand. I’ll take care of her, I promise.” He looked though the doorway at his wife, so small in their bed, relief and fear still striving within him.

“See that you do.” Mrs. Chubb gentled her tone. “There’re still no guarantees in a situation like this. The worse may still happen, just so’s you’re prepared.”

Frodo breathed in sharply, and inclined his head to the midwife. Perhaps the dream had been a warning. He would heed it.

Mrs. Chubb swept down the hall, speaking over her shoulder, “I’ll be back to check on her in a day or two, to see how she’s getting on. Mind you send for me if anything untoward happens.”

“Yes, Mrs. Chubb.” He wondered how she could be so matter-of-fact in the face of all this. His wife was in mortal danger, and his child...

Sam saw the older woman out of the smial, as Frodo stood staring at nothing in particular, trying to take in everything she had said. He turned sharply at the sound from the bed, a soft beloved whisper.

“Frodo?”

He was instantly by her side, sitting on the edge of the bed. He allowed himself to gently stroke her forehead. “Yes, Lily-sweet. I am here.”

“Frodo. Is everything... is everything truly well?” She struggled to keep her eyes open.

“Yes, sweet, everything will be right as rain. Sleep now; you need rest.”

Lily shivered under the quilts. Her eyes searched his. “Frodo?”

“Yes, beloved?”

Her eyes dropped to examine the coverlet.

Frodo tenderly cupped her cheek. He smiled lovingly when she looked up into his eyes again.

Her face crumpling, she whispered, “Frodo, I’m afraid.” A tear slid down her cheek and onto his hand.

A matching tear slid down Frodo’s cheek. “You’re doing well, dearest, truly. The child is healthy, and growing as it ought. Mrs. Chubb is quite pleased, all in all. She says you’ll need to stay abed, for you and the babe. Only a couple of months now. That’ll not be too bad, will it? You have me to take care of everything. I’ve been wanting to do more, and now I’ve the opportunity.” He grinned to cover his distress. “If you wanted me to help out more, you might have asked. No need to go to such lengths, truly.”

Lily knew her husband was trying to lighten the distressing mood, but her eyes remained locked on his. She could not deny her still-lingering fear.

“Lily, darling, sleep,” he entreated softly. “Sleep for a while. You need rest.”

“Frodo? What if... what if I do not wake up?” She was trembling now.

Frodo’s breath stuck in his throat. “Oh, Lily, beloved. You need not be afraid.”

Tears began streaming down her face. “I could not bear to be without you.”

Frodo gave her a warm, encouraging smile, endeavoring to hide from her any trace of his own fear. “You shall not be without me. You’ll see so much of me you shall wish I would go away, and find something else to do for a while.”

Softly, she whispered, “Never.” Her eyes were heavy, but she would not let them close but for a blink now and again.

“Lily-sweet, shall I hold you while you sleep?”

“And be here when I wake, Frodo-love?” Her voice was still tinged with fear.

“Yes, I’ll be here when you wake, Lily-sweet. I promise.”

Lily nodded her head but could not seem even to reach for him.

Frodo slipped under the covers next to his wife, and eased her gently into his arms. He whispered against her hair, “I love you, Lily Baggins.”

A deep shiver rippled through her body, and Lily nestled her head against Frodo’s breast, curling into his warmth. “Dearest Frodo, I love you.”

Slowly, she relaxed, and her breathing grew deep and even.

Frodo did not fight the tears silently slipping down his face.