Lily awoke in bed alone, again. It happened a lot now, and a small part of her wondered if Frodo still desired her. Then she berated herself for thinking such a thing. In her condition, it didn’t matter. In fact, it would be better if he didn’t. She had been confined to the bed for almost two months, with still a few weeks to go yet, though there were moments when she wondered if she might be pregnant for the rest of her life.
She chastised herself for her foolishness. Of course she would have the baby soon. And Frodo had been ever readily present to give her whatever she needed. On the brief occasions throughout the day when she did escape her bed, Frodo was always there to help her.
Where was he now?
She carefully eased out of their bed, surprised by how difficult it was to do so alone. She did not want to disturb Frodo if he were busy. And surely he was or he would be with her.
Where was he?
Lily heard nothing from the kitchen so saved herself the trip that far. When she peeked into the study, he wasn’t there either, but she paused at the sight of papers strewn about. She smiled. He spent a lot of his time here, where he could hear her easily.
There was an open book, carefully centered on the desk. It wasn’t the new storybook he’d started last winter, which he now read to her daily. Her curiosity piqued, she shuffled nearer.
Mayhap it was one of his books on the language of the Elves. He was teaching her, something else to pass the time.
How odd. The page that was opened looked like a list for the summer garden: Honeysuckle, Lavender, Lilacs...
Suddenly feeling she was intruding, she did not finish, but closed the book carefully. Curiosity niggled at her brain. Hefting the oversized tome, she gingerly made her way to the wing-backed chair. Idly, she opened the book once more and thumbed through several pages. Her quick glances at various words on each page told her nothing of the content; some of the words were familiar whereas others wholly were not.
She settled more comfortably in the chair and closed her eyes, assuring herself she would rest only a moment, before returning the book to its rightful place on his desk. Then she’d take herself back to bed. Once more, she found her gaze drawn to the page open before her. This time, she read each word carefully.
Who could resist such a persistent assault?
Even the stars that watch quietly, burning so far away in the darkness must know that I love you.
Even they know what I can not, will not say aloud.
I will let them speak for me: O, Eärendil, you who journeyed far to save those you loved, you know that of which I speak.
We are fellows, you and I - O, Eärendil, speak to her for me.
You who know the light of morning and the darkness which lies between, speak to her of me.
Speak to her.... she is like unto your beloved,
Elwing, she whose beauty lay reflected by star-light upon dancing waters, she who sought you, undaunted by time.
As star-light so this one is unto me: quiet and calm as the unwavering beauty I feel in the dark sky’s eye.
Speak to her, you who sail your jeweled boat through this glad night.
As the Silmaril fair Elwing bore, through her love to you, So, a be-jew’led light, she is sent to me.
This one thing I shall be granted.... one thing out of all the many I might have asked.
O, gentle star, what shall her answer be?
Lily’s eyes welled with tears. She dashed one from her cheek, not wanting them to stain the parchment. Slowly she turned the pages without reading them, the words too blurred to her sight. Some sheets seemed already to be stained with tears. They were certainly not her own; where they Frodo’s?
It was penned in Frodo’s flowing hand, but were these verses his or something he was translating? She was surprised to realize that she was afraid to read the title page. She randomly leafed through the pieces. Just for a moment she wanted to pretend these were for her. She knew Frodo’s writing; he read her the stories he wrote, and these simple, eloquent poems were nothing like those tales.
Who would write such beautiful words, and who would be so deserving of them? She must know. Still, she closed the book completely, afraid to know. Questions raced through her mind. Had Frodo loved another, long ago? What if he had found someone else? Someone who did not require so much care. A tear escaped unawares. It had been so long... What if he had grown weary of waiting for her? She struggled to tell herself it was nonsense to think such things, but doubt crept in.
Lily took in a steadying breath and assured herself it was simply some translation Frodo was doing from Elvish. Slowly she opened the book to the title page and was faintly disappointed when there was nothing there. So she turned to the next page.
There in Frodo’s flowing hand was a single paragraph:
Though these writings are for my beloved Lily, I am not certain I shall ever have the courage to show them to her. I’m a much better storyteller than poet. Yet, I cannot seem to stay my hand from parchment and ink, and this is the result when I think on her. I know she would not laugh at me, but mayhap my writing may seem foolish when I meant it in earnest. Someday, when it matters not so much to me, perhaps I shall share these little pieces with her. Not matter? That shall never be. She shall ever and always be the world to me.
Lily’s breath caught in her throat and the tears flowed freely, though she was still careful to not let them fall on the pages. She gently closed the book and held it close, as close as her swollen belly would allow her.
Frodo noted the time and hoped that Lily had not missed him. He smiled ruefully to himself and yet could not regret the time he had spent with Sam in the garden and knew Lily would not begrudge him it. Sam was helping him through this time immeasurably, assigning him plenty of hard labor.
Frodo washed off the soil and sweat, so Lily would not know he had been working in the garden. Then he silently slipped to the bedroom, hoping his wife still slept.
He stepped in the door and knew instantly something was amiss. Lily was not in their bed, nor anywhere in the room. Panic flooded through him.
Where was she? Was she all right? He should not have dawdled. He hurried down the hallway calling for her, frantic.
“Frodo,” came the soft reply.
Frodo spun around trying to locate her voice. She sounded distressed.
“Dearest, where are you?” He endeavored to swallow his fear, unsuccessfully.
“In the study.”
Frodo could hear the tears in her voice. He sprinted down the hall to the study and grabbed the door jam to help him stop his headlong flight, halting in the doorway.
Lily sat in her favorite chair, clutching a book, tears streaming down her face.
Moisture filled Frodo’s eyes, fear and concern pushing and pulling at his heart. He knelt at her feet in front of her and tenderly tried to wipe away the tears that kept flowing. His own tears could not be denied. He choked. “What is it, my sweet? What is wrong?”
Lily gave him a tremulous smile as she tried to soothe his concerns. “Nothing, nothing, my dearest love.” She released the grip of one hand on the book, and reached to gently brush his tears away. She then slipped her fingers into his curls.
Frodo closed his eyes and reveled in the gentle caresses. He was startled by his sudden uneven breathing.
His feelings were a jumble. He decided to focus on one thing at a time. As much as he wanted to continue to feel her fingers touching him, it was far too distracting. He sat back on his heels and focused on her.
“Lily, dearest, are you all right?”
“Yes, beloved, I am fine, perfectly fine.”
“Why are you here? You should be abed. I beg your pardon for being late. I was with Sam and lost track of the time...” Frodo stopped as Lily broke into a radiant smile.
“Of course, I should have known you were with Sam.”
He carefully hid the confusion he felt. “Yes. I apologize. I should have returned sooner.”
“No, Frodo, dear heart, it’s all right. Everything is all right.”
“But why are you here?”
“I could not bear to be in that bed -- a moment longer.” She carefully omitted the word alone. She did not want him feeling he had somehow abandoned her when she knew he had not.
“I’m sorry, sweet. I should have been here to help you...”
Lily gently covered her husband’s lips with her fingers.
Frodo could not resist; he softly kissed them.
Lily’s eyes closed. She left her fingers on his lips, so he kissed them again.
He noted with surprise that her breathing quickened, as his had done at her gentle caress. She opened her eyes; they were green.
Frodo caught his breath. She wanted him, as he wanted her. His delay in returning had been because he’d been wondering if she might ever want him again. Sam had assured him, but he had not truly believed his friend, until now.
Lily almost lost her hold on the book. She needed to withdraw her fingers from his lips so she could settle the book on her lap. It was getting too heavy to hold with only one hand.
Frodo was still gazing into her eyes.
Lily felt the old familiar feeling of falling into his eyes and smiled. She turned her gaze to the book in her hands drawing his gaze with her.
Frodo did not comprehend at once, still thinking about her eyes. Then his mind focused on the leather-bound volume in her hands. He recognized it but could not at first place it in his memory. He raised his eyes to Lily’s with a question plainly revealed there.
Lily turned her eyes to the desk.
Frodo’s eyes followed and wondered what was different about his desk.
The book! His eyes darted to the book in her lap, back to the desk and then to her eyes.
For the first time, Lily worried that perhaps she had intruded where she ought not. Was he angry with her for disturbing his desk? That was surely an absurd thought. He would not grow angry over such a thing. She offered a tentative smile.
Then she recognized the uncertainty in his eyes.
“Dearest Frodo, will you read these to me and tell me when you wrote them?”
Frodo lowered his eyes. “They’re not particularly good... my stories are much better.”
Lily slipped a finger under his chin and lifted it so she could look into his eyes again. She suddenly wondered how long it had been since they had had such an exchange as this. She missed them. Then she remembered why, for both of them their breathing grew a little uneven. She let her hand return to holding the book while continuing to hold his gaze.
“They’re beautiful, Frodo. They are not like your stories at all, but your stories are different. They tell a tale. These -- these sing a song to my heart.”
Another tear slid down Lily’s cheek.
Though he tried, Frodo could not stop his hand from shaking as he reached to wipe away the tear. He would not have lingered but Lily held his hand to her cheek. She then turned her head slightly and kissed his palm.
Frodo did not attempt to hide his sharp intake of breath. This was agony. His own eyes filled with tears. He held rigidly still.
Lily returned her gaze to Frodo’s, and saw the pain etched across his face. Worry creased her brow.
“Frodo, dearest, what is wrong?”
Frodo lifted his chin; his jaw worked, trying to maintain some semblance of composure. He gave a slight shake of his head endeavoring to reassure her he was all right but Lily would not leave it alone.
“Please, tell me.”
How can I? Frodo thought. It doesn’t matter. There’s nothing to be done for it now. I will be all right. But he could not voice any of these thoughts.
Lily reached out a hand and gently grasped his shoulder. Tenderly she pulled him towards her. She was vaguely surprised by how difficult it was; it was almost as though he were resisting... When he was close enough she caressed his lips with her own.
Frodo groaned and jerked away from her, the tears cascading down his face. “No more,” he whispered. His eyes implored her to understand.
But she didn’t understand at all. Her face reflected clearly the hurt she felt. She choked out a whispered, “You don’t want me.”
Frodo’s eyes widened, appalled that he had been misunderstood that way. “No! Lily, dearest! I -- I miss you so much...” He choked, struggling to hold back the racking sobs crawling up his throat. He sat heavily on the floor next to her with his back to the chair. Leaning against her knees, he slowly laid his head in her lap as his carefully reined-in desire broke free in a flood of tears.
Lily reached out a hand and lightly touched Frodo’s dark curls. What did he mean he missed her? Realization dawned in her heart. She had become so accustomed to avoiding certain paths of thought, she had somehow diverted her awareness of Frodo’s as well.
She slipped her fingers fully into his hair hoping it brought comfort instead of pain. She did not know what else to do. Her heart was near to breaking for him. And yet, she felt a warmth spread through her that was quite unexpected. He loved her, desperately. She stroked his curls until the tears were finally spent. She smiled to herself as he relaxed against her and hiccupped like a child, well and truly spent.
Lily spoke softly, “Frodo...”
“Yes?” came the muffled reply.
“Frodo, I love you.”
Frodo stilled. “And I love you.”
Lily continued to stroke his hair gently. She felt him take a shuddering breath.
“Yes?” She slipped her fingers into his curls more fully.
“I’m sorry.” Frodo’s voice was still muffled but his breathing was steadier.
“For wanting me?”
It sounded odd to both of them, coming out that way.
Frodo continued more thoughtfully. “For not having better control.”
“Shhh... dearest. It is mayhap wrong of me for being glad you struggle so, but I feared you may not want me any more. To know you want me so much warms me to my toes.” Lily giggled.
Frodo chuckled softly, “So you enjoy seeing me suffer.”
Lily grew serious again. “No, dear heart, not at all. I enjoy knowing you want me in spite of...”
“In spite of what?” Frodo thought about sitting up to face her but decided not to relinquish this delicious feeling of her fingers playing in his hair. He briefly remembered a far away meadow and a certain maple tree. He quickly dragged his thoughts back to the present as Lily continued.
“In spite of the fact I’m the size of one of Farmer Maggot’s prize pumpkins. You cannot put your arms around me. I can do nothing for myself. You must do everything...” Her voice broke, “And I can do nothing for you.”
Frodo’s eyes grew wide as he realized the conversation had taken an unexpected turn. He rolled onto his knees again to face his dear wife whose eyes were once again filled with tears.
He stopped as Lily sharply took in a breath and her eyes widened in pain.
“What? What’s wrong?” Memories of September second briefly flooded back and Frodo immediately grew concerned, until Lily’s face broke into a smile.
“He’s kicking me.” She laughed softly.
Frodo relaxed at her smile, but then his eyes widened in anticipation. He knew full well her answer before he asked, but this had become a little game between them. “The babe? You must mean, ‘she’ kicked you.”
“Our little one is kicking me. Here.” Lily took Frodo’s hand and placed it on her belly and moved it until he too could feel the kicks; the clear print of a foot pushed against his hand.
Frodo also breathed in sharply. He looked at Lily in wonder. He could not hide the amazement he felt every time she helped him feel the tiny life move. Frodo laughed, and Lily giggled.
A mischievous look crept into his eyes, and he teased his wife, as he always did. “She’s kicking you because you keep saying she’s a he.”
Lily usually playfully cuffed him but instead found herself tenderly touching his cheek and smiling at him with all her love in her eyes.
Frodo caught the look and gently took her hand in his, kissing the palm of her hand and placing it over the hand he still held to her belly. Something about that little body kicking his hand kept him grounded. He leaned close to Lily and gently kissed her.
“I love you, Mistress Baggins.”
“I love you, Mister Baggins.”
Frodo tenderly kissed her again, and realized he needed to be practical.
“She’s complaining because she hasn’t been fed. Her father has been remiss. I’d better rectify it soon, or she may never forgive me.” Frodo smiled warmly at Lily as he rose to his feet. “Do you wish to return to your bed or, now that you’re here, would you prefer to linger a bit?”
Lily thought a moment. “I think I’d like to stay here, a little longer, if I may.”
“You may.” Frodo smiled at her once more, then headed to the kitchen to prepare his wife and coming child something to eat.
Lily retrieved the book and carefully opened it again to the first paragraph Frodo had written. She thought about opening it to the next page but decided she wanted to hear Frodo read them to her first. She carefully closed the book again and held it to her, waiting for Frodo to return.
She let the memory of their most recent exchange wash over her. Some things drew a tear, others a smile, all warmed her heart. She rubbed her belly over the spot where she could still feel the tiny movement. Not much longer, my dear husband, not much longer now.
Frodo returned with dinner for both of them. He shifted a little table over to where Lily was sitting so she did not have to move and drew up a chair for himself.
Over their meal, Lily had to ask. “Frodo, can you tell me about what you and Sam were talking about?”
Frodo smiled excitedly, “Gardening!”
“But, Frodo, it’s November, there is no garden.”
“I know, but there is still so much work to do and spring to plan for.” Frodo then laid out the plans for the spring garden. When he finished he blushed. “It was supposed to be a surprise.”
Lily laughed gently. “I promise to act surprised.”
Frodo smiled broadly in relief and then noted the weary look in his wife’s eyes.
“Dearest Lily, are you ready to go back to that bed you so wanted to escape earlier today?”
Lily smiled, “Yes, my love. I’m ready. I’m feeling a little tired now.”
Frodo helped his wife out of her chair, but before she stepped away from it, she picked up the book and handed it to him.
He nodded his head, and with the book in one hand, he wrapped his other arm around Lily and helped her back to their bedroom. He laid the book in the chair, where he frequently sat and watched his wife or read to her. He then helped her into their bed and covered her with a quilt. He kissed her forehead and brushed her curls away from her face and back onto the pillow. He whispered, only because he could not speak, “I love you.”
“I love you. Will you read me one of your poems?”
“You’re sure you want to hear them, sweet?” Doubt clouded Frodo’s eyes.
“Yes, and the story behind it.” Lily smiled encouragingly.
Frodo picked up the book and sat down in the chair next to the bed to read.
Firelight paints you on the wall of my mem'ry.
Your hair softly falls around us, a curtain to contain my kiss.
I see you, still. I see you... forever.
The Darkness cannot veil the beauty of your love.
“Oh, Frodo, it’s beautiful. When did you write it?”
“I’ve only been writing these the last few months...”
Frodo smiled fondly at her, and Lily blushed.
“But it was written for when we were in Bree on our way home from Rivendell. Remember?”
Lily sighed and smiled, “I remember.” She closed her eyes.
Frodo softly whispered, “Lily-sweet, I need to take care of the dishes and see to a bit of supper for both of us. It shan’t take too very long.”
Lily opened her eyes and smiled, then nodded and closed her eyes again.
Frodo let one finger lightly move a curl away from her face. He looked at the book, running his hand over the cover. He placed it in the chair, then went to take care of dishes and a light supper.
He finally returned with a bit of bread and cheese. Lily stirred, and he gently laid a hand on her shoulder. She opened her eyes and smiled into his.
Frodo smiled, “Yes, darling.” He helped Lily sit up against the pillows and gave her the plate of bread and cheese he had made for her. He turned to sit in his chair. They ate quietly, as they often did, enjoying the sound of the fire in the grate with no need to fill every moment with chatter. Frodo finished first and got up to prepare the fire for the night. With the job done, he paused and stared into the flames for a time, unaware that Lily was watching him.
Lily took in a deep breath. “Frodo?”
He started out of his reverie and turned to her. “Yes?”
Lily looked down at the coverlet and picked at nothing on it.
Frodo crossed the room and sat on the bed next to her. He cocked his head, endeavoring to get a better look at her face; her head was lowered. “What is it, sweet?”
Lily shook her head. “Nothing. It’s nothing.”
Frodo did not know how he knew; he only knew that it was not nothing. He took her hand in his. “Lily, please, whatever you ask, I shall do it.”
A tear rolled down her cheek. She could not look at him. “Would you lie next to me until I go to sleep? You don’t have to hold me. I -- I’d simply like you near. I -- I’ve missed you, too.”
Frodo tightened his hold on her hand, then released it. He moved to his side of the bed, and lay down next to her.
Lily closed her eyes and sighed.
Frodo took a deep, quiet breath, and slowly released it. He then helped Lily lie down more comfortably on her side with her back to him. Gingerly, he nestled close to her and slipped his arm over her waist, resting his hand on her swollen belly. Slowly and tenderly he began to rub where the little one had been kicking earlier. He expected to find it a different way of torturing himself but found it surprisingly pleasing.
Lily had planned to keep a safe distance, but this -- this... She relaxed completely against Frodo and could only murmur her appreciation until she finally fell asleep, with Frodo following soon after.
Frodo awoke with his nose in Lily’s hair. He breathed in deeply and sighed. His arm was still draped over her, his hand still resting where their child grew. He felt Lily gently place her hand on his. Tentatively, she began to guide his hand in a small circular motion, much as he had done the night before. Frodo was pleased Lily had been made more comfortable by this and wanted more of it. He allowed her to guide his hand as she wished.
She finally left him to it, sighing contentedly. After a while, her curiosity got the better of her.
“Frodo, how did you know about... this?” She briefly laid her hand on his.
“You showed me.”
“But I only did that this morning, what about last night?”
“My sweet, I have been watching you and what you do. I mentioned to Sam a few days ago that...well, that I wished...I wished...” Frodo buried his face in her hair and breathed deeply of her.
“You wished what?”
“I watched the way you seem to caress her and...”
Lily thought back to the previous day’s conversation. “And you wished it were you?” she tried to hide the disbelief in her voice.
Frodo’s voice was muffled in her hair, “Yes.”
Lily smiled. “Truly?” She glanced back at him over her shoulder and noticed the pink in his cheeks and his lowered eyes. A giggle slipped out. She was surprised to catch the serious look in his eye before he looked to the ceiling. Her voice softened, “And you still wish it were so?”
Frodo at first wanted to pull away, but Lily held his hand firmly against herself. Frodo noted how hard the spot was and propped himself up on his other elbow to give himself a little leverage. He began gently kneading and rubbing that spot. Lily released another sigh and seemed to breathe a little easier. He picked up the conversation where they had left off.
“Yes, until Sam said, ‘Oh! No you don’t!’” Frodo had tried to make his voice sound like Sam’s.
Lily’s eyebrows raised, “Oh? You asked Sam?” She knew it was a foolish question even as it came out.
Frodo blushed again and murmured, “I’m sor--”
Lily interrupted him, “It’s all right; of course you asked Sam. What did he tell you?” She smiled at him over her shoulder.
“Oh, yes, well, what with all his sisters and his mum, but mostly his mum, I thought he might understand. He remembered feeling as I did... do, when he was very young, when his Mum was expecting his sister Marigold, the youngest. He admits he sulked to the point where his mum could no longer ignore him. She asked him what bothered him so, and he admitted he wanted the touching the babe got, that no longer was his. His mum told him it helped ease the discomfort she felt.”
Lily pictured in her mind the young Samwise unable to understand the seemingly sudden lack of attention from his mother, and tears filled her eyes. She grasped Frodo’s hand and laced her fingers with his then drew it to her lips and kissed it.
Frodo’s breathing quickened, and he kissed the delicate tip of her ear. He carefully returned his hand to where he could once again feel their child. He spread his fingers apart amazed by how little area his hand actually covered. He took a steadying breath and restarted the gentle circular motions, continuing their conversation, wanting her to know.
“I’ve been watching you ever since. I noticed that many times, though not always, you do indeed seem uncomfortable, but I did not know what to do. I finally decided yesterday that the least I could do was to give you a rest from the task, from time to time.
Lily sighed. “So now you must do one more thing for me.” Her voice grew smaller as she continued. “And still, I can do nothing for you...”
Frodo gently tightened his hold on her, nestled closer to her, and continued the gentle touching of their child. “Truth be told, sweet, I find it rather pleasing. I have been so uncertain about when and how to hold you, and now, I find this brings us both some measure of comfort. I would never have guessed it.”
Lily’s eyes brimmed with tears. “I am married to the most wonderful hobbit in all of Middle-earth.”
Frodo kissed her hair and whispered into her ear. “No, you’re not.” Lily glanced back at him. He smiled. “I am.”
Lily’s tears spilled over.
Frodo’s heart ached for love of her. He wanted...
He really should get her some breakfast, but could not bring himself to leave her. He raised himself up a bit and leaned over to tenderly plant several kisses on their child. Lily closed her eyes and breathed deeply. She easily slipped her fingers into his curls again, and was surprised by him suddenly drawing back.
He looked at her, not with the pain she expected to see but with wonder and surprise. In utter amazement, he stared back at her rounded belly and then again at her. “She moved, Lily. I felt her, when I kissed you. She moved.” He lowered his head and kissed the same spot. He pulled back again, though not as quickly, and laughed. “Do you think she knows?”
Lily laid her hand on his arm and smiled into his eyes. “Of course, he knows.”
Frodo’s eyes suddenly filled with concern. “Does it hurt?”
Lily thought a moment, trying to fully sense what she was feeling. “No, not really. This is more like he’s getting more comfortable, just a little shifting and stirring.”
Frodo slowly lay down. He nestled close to her again, and began again the rhythmic movements though this time it was centered over where he felt their child last.
He started a little as he suddenly remembered there was more to the care of his wife and child, though he did not stop his hand’s gentle kneading. “Would you like some breakfast now?”
“In a little bit.” Lily was beginning to feel hungry, but wasn’t ready for this to end just yet.
Special thanks to jan-u-wine for providing Frodo's poetry.