Rosie quietly entered the Baggins’s smial busily planning in her mind how to spend the day. Before anything else, she realized she must decide what she would prepare for first breakfast, for Frodo and Lily and the Sam Gamgees.
Leaning around the corner of the hall, Rosie felt both relieved and nervous, at the same time, that the bedroom door was ajar. The easier to check on her charges. She had no desire to catch the Bagginses unawares.
She padded softly down the hall and peered into the room from the hall but couldn’t see anything but one of the chairs and tables beside the fire. The tray of empty dishes could easily be seen from the doorway, but it was across the room, on the table.
Clearing her throat, there was no acknowledgement from within, and none when she scratched at the aged wooden door. No discernable sound or movement, not a sigh or a whisper, nothing to even suggest the couple slept in the room at all. Stealthfully, she peeked in. Perhaps they’d seen fit to go for an earlier morning walk.
After listening carefully for several moments more, straining her keen hobbit hearing, Rosie felt certain she could hear the steady, even breathing of the couple, in bed. She stole quietly across the room, and retrieved the tray of dishes.
Unable to resist, she paused long enough to glance toward the bed. Rosie noted the peacefulness of Lily’s face. The mistress of Bag End hadn’t slept well, not for the entire two weeks the master was absent. But nor did Rosie miss the shadow of a smile on Frodo’s face, nestled on the pillow, against Lily’s neck, his nose in her hair.
With a satisfied grin, Rosie padded back down the hall, and stirred to life the kitchen hearth fire. How odd it was not to have Elanor at her feet. A warm smile crossed Rosie’s face. Dear Sam had begged to take their little lass with him, to inspect the last of the fall garden, promising to return for breakfast in plenty of time. Perhaps he would and perhaps not. It didn’t matter. Sooner or later he’d be in for something to fill his belly, if Elanor didn’t demand feeding sooner.
Her smile blossomed to a grin, as Rosie started the sausages cooking, then cracked open several eggs. There was something decidedly soothing about preparing a meal, especially when it was for those she loved.
Her thoughts drifted to yesternight.
She had hurried home, excitedly expecting to see Samwise waiting for her. Then she had almost burst into tears when he wasn’t there. Frodo was home; where was Sam?
Searching the road to Hobbiton, there was no sign of him anywhere. She chastised herself for her foolishness. Surely, her Samwise was caring for one thing or another, most likely the ponies, now that she thought of it. He would be home presently, and chafing would bring him no sooner.
She could not help the sigh that escaped. Despite Elanor’s protestations, Rosie laid the babe in her cradle, then set about preparing their supper. What a joy it was to know of a certainty that Sam would break bread at home this night.
The familiar tread on the path outside the kitchen window reached her ears, and her heart leapt. Finally, her Samwise pulled open the rounded door and stepped through. She wanted to rush into his arms, but his face caused her to hesitate.
Elanor continued to fuss about being confined in the cradle, so Rosie lifted her out and handed her to Sam whose first words were, “Well, I’m back.” He was unexpectedly grave.
Rosie wanted to ask a thousand questions, but held her tongue. Whatever worried him could be discussed later, after he had a bit of good food in him. She glanced at her daughter and realized any conversation would probably also need to wait until after Elanor was tucked into bed. No matter; Sam was home, and there was time aplenty to talk, whenever he was ready.
Through the whole of the evening, Rosie was pleased that Samwise stayed close to her, touching her often, as though he could not quite believe she was near. A feeling she shared, for him. When finally Elanor was bedded down for the night and they were alone, Rosie gently sought the answers to the questions her husband’s somber return had raised in her heart.
“Samwise, I’m pleased and happy as is possible to be that you’re home, and, of course, Elanor’s delighted as well.” Rosie hesitated, searching for the right words, and then continued softly, “Are you not happy to be home, love?”
Sam’s head snapped up. He immediately reached for his wife and held her in a crushing embrace. When he was able to control his voice he murmured against her hair, “I’m so sorry, Rosie dear. I’m a ninnyhammer, I am. The old gaffer was right about that.
“I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am. To be here. To be home.” He sighed, and nuzzled Rosie’s neck, then pulled only far enough away to look into her eyes.
“It’s only that... I’ve been thinking. A bit of woolgathering, I’m afraid. It’s a feeling, and I can’t seem to shake it. It’s part and parcel why I took so long, after delivering Frodo to his front door. To come home, I mean.”
Sam searched for the words to explain. “I’ve had the oddest feeling about him, Frodo that is. All the way home. That’s why I dropped him off at Bag End, first, and then took the ponies into Hobbiton myself. I had to, Rosie love. I needed him to be with Lily, again. I can’t explain it. I only knew I had to give him into Lily’s hands as quick as I could.”
Rose searched the hazel-brown eyes she loved, trying to understand the meaning of what he was saying.
Before she could utter a word, Sam continued. “I -- I’m probably being even more of a ninnyhammer than usual. I mean...”
He shrugged helplessly. “Well, I simply couldn’t shake the feeling that if it weren’t for Lily...”
Sam swallowed hard. “What I mean to say is that I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe Frodo wouldn’t have been coming home with me at all, if not for Lily.”
Rosie hid her shock at his words and nodded, encouraging him to continue.
Sam released her, and turned away to stare out the kitchen window, into the blackness of the night. “I haven’t had the chance to tell you about the journey, yet, so I’m a bit ahead of myself, and I’m sorry. But I need to tell you this. Frodo, he boarded the ship, with Mr. Bilbo.”
Unable to hide her surprise, Rosie softly gasped, and her eyes grew wide.
“He didn’t stay, on the boat, of course, seeing as how he’s home now and all.”
Sam shuddered, and Rose stepped close beside him, laying her hand on his shoulder. He glanced back at her, and laid his hand atop hers, then stared out the window once more, not seeing the darkened garden before him.
“He hesitated, Rosie, before boardin’ the ship, mumblin’ somethin’ about seein’ to it his Uncle Bilbo was settled and all. I understood what he wanted to do, mind you, but I’d the oddest feelin’. It chilled me, down to my bones, it did. For a moment there, I wondered if he mightn’t’ve done it -- left the ship, that is.”
Sam’s shoulders slumped, and he bowed his head. “I’m not making a bit of sense, am I?”
Rose stepped in front of her husband. Sliding her arms about his waist, she waited until he lifted his head, then gazed steadily into his eyes.
Sam wrapped his arms about his wife, drawing strength from her. Then he gently leaned his forehead against hers.
He took a steadying breath. “What I’m saying is that he could’ve gone if he wanted to, on the ship that is. There was a place for him. A gift from the Lady Arwen, Gandalf said. Frodo could’ve stayed on the ship, with Mr. Bilbo, Gandalf, and the Elves and all. He could’ve sailed with ‘em. And I’d not’ve seen him, not ever again.”
Rose took a deep breath, and rubbed her nose against Sam’s, drawing a sad smile from him. She brushed a stray lock of his hair off his forehead.
“No, dearest Sam, I don’t think you’re a ninnyhammer at all. For truth be told, I’ve had the very same feeling myself, these weeks with you gone. I can’t explain it, either, but I worried the whole of the time you were away. Wondered whether or not things would be as they ought when you returned. I can’t explain how relieved I was to see Frodo walk through the door. It was as if a terrible weight had been lifted from my heart.”
Unexpectedly, tears sprang to her eyes. “Oh, Sam. What a loss to us -- to Lily -- it would’ve been, if he’d left us behind. Thanks be to Ilúvatar; Frodo came home.”
Sam nodded and gave her a watery smile, then enveloped her fully in his love.
A smile touched Rosie’s lips at other sweet memories of his homecoming. Then she started out of her reverie as the sausage snapped and popped in the pan.
She giggled. “No more dreamin’, Rose Gamgee,” -- she still found pleasure in the sound of her married name -- “or you’ll burn breakfast, and no one’ll get fed this morning but Elanor.”
Rosie almost laughed out loud, for pure pleasure, but managed to silence herself, so as not to wake anyone in the smial. She poured the beaten eggs into another pan, and gave them a gentle stir.
A laughing Elanor entered the kitchen by way of the front door in her da’s arms. Sam dropped a kiss on Rosie’s cheek and quickly surveyed the preparations.
“You’ve made enough for several hobbits, Rosie, love.”
“And so I should hope.” She paused to count on her fingers. “There’s Frodo and Lily, and you and me. And so you know, little Elanor here has rather taken to eggs of late.”
Sam gave his wife a worried glance. “Umm, Rosie darlin’, don’t you think they’d like to be, you know, alone, what with bein’ apart for so long and all?”
Rosie nodded matter-of-factly. “Indeed I do agree with you, Samwise, but I promised Lily, to make it a bit easier on them both. Mrs. Chubb stopped in two days past, and when she learned Frodo’d be returning soon she harped on Lily’s delicate condition. I could hardly believe my ears, when the midwife went so far as to threaten to quit if her orders were defied. So, we’re spending the day here, today.” Before her husband could interrupt, she continued, “That way, Frodo won’t need to do any cooking or cleaning or anything but being with his Lily. The two of them can be together, the whole of the day, but not too together, if you take my meaning.” Rosie smiled serenely.
Sam’s confusion turned to a deep blush, and Rose gently kissed his reddened cheek.
“Now,” Rosie glanced around the kitchen at the pans filled with food, “I think everything is ready but for plating and serving. Oh, Sam, would you be a dear and fetch a pitcher of cider, from the cellar? And then we should be all ready.”
Rosie carried the laden tray, while Sam carried Elanor. The little family padded down the hall to the master bedroom.
When they arrived at the door, Rosie stepped in front of Sam to keep him from entering, and then whispered. “Knock on the door to give them a bit of warning.”
Frodo had heard little Elanor’s laughter when she entered the smial and had a feeling the Gamgees would be spending the day. At first he wanted to send them away, and then Lily stirred next to him. He gently tightened his embrace and suddenly felt grateful their friends would be here, or the day would be unbearable, impossible. He could smell breakfast, and knew they would be bringing it soon, so he decided to savor the few moments left alone with his Lily.
He breathed in deeply, honeysuckle, lilacs, and lavender... Uncle Bilbo never put sprigs of lavender under the mattress, but Lily did. Some memory stirred in the back of his mind, long ago; his mum had done the same thing. He tightened his hold on Lily and gently covered her mouth with his, kissing her awake.
Lily tightened her arms around her husband and allowed herself the luxury of burying one hand in his curls, sharing the deepening kiss. The smell of sausages tugged at her mind. Frodo was in her arms. If he was not cooking breakfast, then who... Rosie! For a moment, she regretted asking her friend to spend the day, then reminded herself it was for the best, but she would enjoy what little time was left alone with Frodo.
They could hear Elanor’s voice, drawing closer in the long hall, and knew her parents were with her. Several more loving caresses were shared before the firm knock on the door announced the end of their time alone. Frodo searched his wife’s eyes a moment longer, allowing her to see the hunger in his own.
And it was not for breakfast, Lily knew. She let her own hunger show. They kissed once more, then sighed together and sat up in the bed before finally calling out, “Come.”
The three Gamgees popped their heads through the doorway and smiled at the two in the bed, and chorused, “Good morning!”
They walked into the room together, Elanor in her father’s arms. Rosie set the tray on a table, and then kissed the bottom of one of the babe’s chubby feet, winking at Lily and Frodo as the infant chortled with glee.
“In case you didn’t catch it,” Rosie grinned, “Elanor says ‘good morning’ as well.”
They laughed together as Sam pulled up chairs for Rosie and himself. Rosie handed Lily and Frodo their plates, and then handed one to Sam, after he settled Elanor on his lap, and finally taking the last for herself.
Lily laughed. “Careful, Sam. Elanor there’ll steal the eggs right off your plate if you’re not mindful.”
Sam feigned shock. “Will she, now? Tell me, little Miss Elanor, has your Uncle Frodo been teaching you the thieving Baggins habits?”
“Sam!” Frodo cried in mock offense. “How could I teach her anything? As you well know, I’ve not been here for the last two weeks.”
He turned his full attention to Elanor and continued in a loud conspiratorial whisper. “Don’t you worry, Elanor, I’ll teach you proper the first chance that presents itself. I mustn’t be found derelict in my duties as your uncle, isn’t that so?”
Laughter echoed through Bag End, Elanor’s being the loudest. The conversation revolved comfortably around the child until the end of the meal.
As Rosie took the plates from Frodo and Lily, Frodo’s voice became solemn. “Thank you, Rose, for everything. You’ve taken wonderful care of Lily. I’m truly grateful.”
Frodo lowered his eyes, and his cheeks reddened. “I hope you’ll forgive me for ignoring you, yesternight...”
Rosie laughed gently. “Now Frodo, if you’d paid me any mind yesternight, I’d have boxed your ears but good for not giving all your attention to Lily.” Rose then matched Frodo’s somber tone. “She missed you terribly.”
With a brisk nod and a smile for the couple, Rosie signaled Sam to join her; they stopped briefly at the door. She grinned. “We’ll be back in a bit.”
Frodo picked up a pillow to throw at her, laughing for a moment. Then he smiled, his heart full of gratitude. The morning sun streamed through the window, but to Frodo it seemed the light in the room dimmed just a little as his friends left.
He sighed. “Lily, we are blessed to have such friends.”
Lily sighed as well. “Yes, Frodo. Very blessed indeed.”