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Dream With Hope: Chapter 8

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Frodo Baggins was, tired but he made himself get up that morning anyway. After dressing himself methodically and feeding Para, he put on his over coat and prepared himself to visit his land lady.

Dream With Hope
by Talisha Hibdon

RATING: G (future NC-17)

PAIRING: Frodo/Sam

DISCLAIMER: The disclaimer telling you that I don't own Frodo or Sam or any of Tolkien's world was squashed into jelly by Trolls. >=D

SUMMARY: A drama in the works. Frodo decides to return to Middle-earth to try and find new meaning for his life without the hope of ever having Sam's love. But is there really no hope?

NOTES: This fic may take a LONG time to write. I've no clue how many chapters there will be, but this fic WILL be long. Have patience and you will be rewarded! ^_^ All feedback welcome, especially as this fic is still in the drafting stages.

SPOILERS: If you have not read the Return of the King, or at least know how LOTR is going to end, you probably shouldn't read this fic, that is unless you peeps like spoilers, like I do. ^.~

Chapter 8

Frodo Baggins was, tired but he made himself get up that morning anyway. After dressing himself methodically and feeding Para, he put on his over coat and prepared himself to visit his land lady. He was desperate to find something that would take his mind off of the night before, and visiting with Mrs. Burrows to find out what was the purpose of the run down building beside his smail seemed like an easy road to momentary forgetfulness. Though he knew he would not be able to forget the desperate plea on Samwise's face forever.

Taking no breakfast for himself, he stepped out into the morning sunshine and surveyed the outside of his home. The weeds seemed to have grown twice as tall overnight with the abundance of watering they had gotten from the storm. The path was almost completely blocked up with tares and grasses. Only a few feet away to the side of the small hill loomed the wooden building, grey and almost foreboding even in the full sunlight. He shook his head wearily and knew he would have a lot of work ahead of him this day.

He walked along the unpaved road listening to the sounds of the birds singing and to the voices of people as they passed him by. He had been right; no one had recognized him as the Frodo Baggins of Bag End and that was all the better for him. If he was lucky, it would be some time yet before Sam discovered where exactly he now lived and he would have time to better prepare himself for the meeting. Last night had been a terrible mistake, and he did not plan on making that same mistake a second time.

Soon enough he was within the gates of widow Burrows's property and upon knocking on the door and waiting for several long moments, he realized that no one was home inside. He would have turned around and head for home right then if he had not heard the lady hobbit's voice faint behind the small hill that she called her own. Not knowing what else to do, Frodo walked along the narrow path around the smail and the small plot of farmland that laid behind came into sight.

Emerald Burrows was stooped low and passing a scythe through grains of wheat that grew to one side of the bit of farmland. Sweat made her reddened face glisten in the growing sunlight as she worked, her sleeves rolled up and her auburn haired tied up in a bun. The lady sang a loose hymn with every heavy swipe of her scythe, her voice rising and falling like the skylark.

Frodo blinked as the meaning of the song grew clearer as he approached. The ladyhobbit sang of the hardships of dark times and longing for the days of innocence lost. He would never have thought to hear the like in the Shire before. He took several steps closer, careful not to disturb, and listened as she sang the simple hobbit rhyme, taking in the sight of her form bent low with her labor. It was only then that he first noticed her feet. They were scarred and had no hair growing from them.

She raised her gaze to him at last, not looking at all surprised that he had been standing there listening to her melody. She raised herself up and stretched her back, face flushed and green eyes bright. When she smiled, he was startled.

"Why good morning, Mr. Baggins!" the widow grinned, setting her tool into the ground to lean on it. "Now isn't this a pleasant surprise. I was not expecting to be seeing anybody today."

"I apologize if I'm interrupting your work," Frodo nodded to her in greeting, his eyes once again falling on her hairless feet.

"Oh, don't you be worrying about that now!" Emerald laughed and it was as light hearted as that of a child. "Come in and I'll make us some second breakfast! I dare say you must be hungry." She picked up the scythe and laid it on her shoulder before trudging through the small field towards the path, winking at Frodo as she passed him by.

Frodo discovered that Mrs. Emerald Burrows was not the best cook in the world that morning. After two different attempts at trying to make a breakfast omelet for the both of them and failing each time, Frodo insisted that they went to the local inn to eat instead. So the lady cleaned herself up proper and cleared away the mess in the kitchen before at last setting out for the Fox Sprite Inn, a quaint little pub where the many out of towners that came to Overhill to trade stayed. There were no Men there as the King Ellesar had prohibited Men from entering the Shire, but there were some hobbits from Bree and even a few dwarves from Ered-Luin who were traveling with a caravan camped not far on the outskirts of town.

Emerald became quiet shy in the presence of so many people and she tried to avoid looking at people whenever possible. So for a good measure of time they ate in silence, which suited Frodo just fine. He wondered at the song he had heard her sing and pondered the many reasons for why her feet had been injured as they were. He dared not to pry and ask about it, but after enough downward glances from the Baggins, Mrs. Burrows was able to guess his thoughts anyhow.

"They were burned," she spoke suddenly and out of the blue, causing Frodo, who had been caught staring, to snap his head up and his cheeks to flush with some embarrassment.

The gentlehobbit gulped. "Household accident?" he rasped.

"A gift from the ruffians," she corrected and Frodo winced visibly. "Back in the day during the Occupancy, this was the sort of punishment folk received for questioning Sharkey's orders."

"I-I'm sorry," Frodo bowed his head and his ears felt hot. "I didn't mean to stare."

"Ai, don't be," Burrows chuckled and waved her hand at him. "It's only natural to be curious over such an oddity. I know I myself have been right curious over that missing finger of yours."

Frodo gripped his four fingered hand into a fist and glanced up sharp to gaze questioningly at the widow. She sighed and shook her head, "I won't be asking how you lost it, Mr. Baggins, but I'm guessing that it must have been from the War from the way you are looking at me." Frodo looked away and Emerald smiled. "It's nothing to be ashamed about. It was hard times, and no body would think the worse of you for losing that finger as a price for rebelling. And there are worse things that could have been lost..."

A pained look crossed the widow's face and she returned to finishing her meal in silence. Frodo sat amazed that he had not realized before how deep the hurt from the War went into the minds and hearts of the Shire folk, but it had been evident in Emerald's song, in her scars, in her eyes.

Some wounds will never fully healed, he thought and reached up to rub his shoulder absent-mindedly, bringing up the recollection of the cold blade had been buried deep within his flesh and memory for all time.


"I was so sure that it was in this part of the neighbourhood..."


"No, no, wait! Maybe it was... this way..."

"Son, please-"

"Dad, hush up! How am I supposed to remember where it is if you keep interrupting my train of thought."

Samwise Gardner didn't think he could take it anymore. He and his son Frodo-lad had been at it all morning, searching for the smail that would belong to Mr. Frodo, and though they had looked all along the hills next to the Wood for a sign of him, and had asked all it's people for word of him, they were still no better off than when they started.

"Don't you remember at all what it looked like?" Sam asked, rubbing his temples as if he was feeling a headache coming on.

"I told ye, it was dark!" Frodo-lad pouted, throwing up his hands in exasperation. "I don't got the eyes of a cat nor an owl neither. All that I remember is from guess work."

"Well, what can you guess of the outside of his home?" Sam questioned, glancing about him as if he thought his keen eyes would instantly recognize his master's home among the dozens that lay within plain sight.

"Well, I could feel a lot of grass brush against us as he carried me in and as we walked out," Frodo-lad murmured, rubbing his chin in thought.

"Weeds," Sam nodded with a knowing expression. "His front yard needs home garden work done." Oh how his fingers suddenly twitched with the need to work in a Baggins's garden again!

"And everything was wooden inside. Only one rug and two chairs and a low table in the parlour. Oh!" Frodo-lad bopped his fist into his open palm. "I just remembered. I saw a large dark shape attached to the side of the hill where his smail was."

"Large shape?" Sam raised an eyebrow.

"Yes! Like a sort of building," the boy nodded vigorously, golden curls falling over his eyes.

Sam felt his spirits rise once again. Now that was a clue that might help them greatly! He prayed that it would be all they needed to go on in order to find his master's home at long last.

"Ye want to know about that building?"

Frodo and Emerald walked out of the Fox Sprite with full stomachs and new energy, given to them by the wonderful southern drink the dwarves had sold them that was ten times stronger than any tea. Frodo nodded in answer to the widow's question and she blushed in embarrassment. "Oh sir, I do apologize! I had forgotten all about it. I guess I assumed that everyone would know this history of the old schoolhouse."

"Schoolhouse?" Frodo asked with interest.

"Aye," she nodded gravely, "but it's not seen hide nor hair of a youngon for ages now, not since Old Mother Goose died."

"Old Mother..." Frodo trailed off in a confused tone.

"The widow Goosmary Tunnelly, one of them Bree folk," Emerald spoke conspiratorially. "She was the old teacher at that school. They say she used to teach the strangest, most outlandish things to the children who attended her classes, things about the Elves and giant talking birds and other such fanciful nonsense. Oh," she shivered, "people round these parts didn't like her at all for it, and that's a fact. She was always talked down about, even when she was within ear shot, and no body trusted her, no way, no how."

"What happened to her?" the Baggins asked, getting more intrigued by the story with every word.

"Died not 70 years ago, and mysteriously she did die at that," the lady hobbit continued, in true gossip form now. "Some as says she was practicing Fey magic and passed away when she tried something that was too strong for her. Others say she was killed when she invited a wondering spirit into her home. No body knows. All we know is that she was found one morning by one of her favorite students in the middle of her classroom, clutching some hand knit scarves she had made for the children as a farewell gift on the last day of school."

"How sad," Frodo murmured and the female hobbit nodded.

"Aye, it is at that. I'm almost certain the poor old soul didn't want to see her fine schoolhouse go unused and rot away with the passing years. She did so love the children, from what I hear." She sighed and shook her head. "Anyway, came time when no body wanted the bit of land because everyone thought that the place was haunted. Then my husband went and bought the deed for the property and had the smail refurnished and repainted and put up for rent. He thought it might bring in some extra money when we had need of it. But alas, no one wanted to live next to the old building where Mother Goose passed away."

"Why didn't your husband tear it down then?" Frodo asked.

"Oh, we did try!" Emerald turned her wide green eyes to him. "Tried dozens of times, but every time we sent some folk to try and knock that schoolhouse down, something would happen. One of the workers would get into a bad accident, and that would be enough to spook all the other workers into never coming back to work the next day nor any day afterward."

Before Frodo knew it they were both standing in front of his own smail again. After hearing the story his land lady had told him, the place had seemed to change miraculously to his wary eye. The hobbit hole looked lonely, empty of warmth, and the old schoolhouse that stood next to it looked almost menacing, glaring at him as if daring him to try and take her down.

"Do you have the key to the schoolhouse?" he asked suddenly.

Mrs. Burrows blinked rapidly and placed her hand over her dress pocket. "I do."

"I'd like to have it if you please," he insisted, holding out his four fingered hand to receive it. Burrows was hesitant, but after a moment she reached into her pocket and picked out a small brass key from it. It had the design of a skylark on it's handle and it stared up at Frodo as he held it in his hand. The door was seemingly calling out to him now, silently pleading with him to unlock it, to open the door and step through the threshold into mystery.

"Let us go inside the old schoolhouse, Miss Emerald," Frodo suggested, stepping inside his smail. The lady hobbit gasped and followed, eyes widening in growing apprehension.

"But why, Mr. Baggins?" she squeaked. "You can just as soon ignore it, can't you? You've been settled here in the smail all right so far, haven't you? Why must we stir up bad memories in the old place and make her remember that she hates strangers?"

"I don't believe this place is what it seems at all," Frodo murmured almost to himself as they strode down the hall and stopped before the door. The doorknob was tarnished and the keyhole scratched up, but still functional as he placed the key inside and turned slowly. The door swung open easily and the smell of dust and old air drifted through the threshold into the hall. It was stuffy and it made one want to cough for want of fresh air, bit Frodo was not intimidated by such things and stepped inside without a second thought.

The widow followed the former Ringbearer in, shuddering at the wonderings of her imagination and she unconsciously reached out and grasped Frodo's sleeve for reassurance. They walked down a small corridor until it opened up into a large room filled with desks skewn about the middle of the room and with shelves all along the walls. A larger desk sat at the head of the smaller desks with a large board hanging on the wall behind it. Everything was grey with the evidence of decades and the light of day leaked into the room through long spaces between the weather worn wooden boards that made up the walls.

"I am so sorry, Mr. Baggins!" Miss Emerald gasped, gripping his sleeve tighter. "I should have told ye up front about this place when you came to ask me about buying it. You won't be wanting to stay here at all now that you know it's haunted, I'm sure. No one ever has."

"No now, don't apologize. It's my own fault for not asking," Frodo remarked, not looking at her but at the room itself. "I wasn't interested in the history of the place when I came to you that day. I was only looking for a place to stay." He ran his hand along the top of the large desk at the head of the room, his fingertips coming up grey with dust.

"Well, now you'll be wanting to find another place to stay and move out now, I'm sure," Miss Emerald went on to say, dropping her gaze to the ground with a dejected sigh.

"I never said that," Frodo replied, looking back at the lady hobbit with a smile playing on his lips.

Emerald was startled. "You're not planning on going?" she asked incredulously. "Not even now that you know this place is being spooked by the ghost of some old woman who died here decades ago?"

"I have no fear of ghosts," he said as he glanced about the room with curious eyes. "This place may still have some life in her yet. May still be of some use."

The lady hobbit shook her head in bewilderment. "Well, ye know your own business best, but I for one would not choose to stay here, knowing that ghosts and the like are up and about. I have enough ghosts from the past of my own to trouble with." That same pained expression from breakfast flashed across her face, but Frodo didn't see it this time.

"As do we all..." he murmured, and the beginnings of a plan began to weave together in his mind.

The building sighed as the wind blew through the many cracks in the walls.



"But Daaad! I'm hungry, and so are you."

"I have to find Mr. Frodo."

"Can't we find him after afternoon tea?"

"I have to see him now."

Frodo-lad Gardner didn't think he could take it anymore. It had been the same all day long. They would wonder up and down Overhill, they would ask every breathing being they saw, but not a soul had ever heard or seen hide nor hair of Mr. Frodo Baggins. The boy would have given up and gone home for lunch already if his father had not been so insistent on finding the other hobbit. Even his own obsession with mushrooms could hardly compare with his father's obsession with Mr. Frodo.

Funny, Dad didn't seem this obsessed in the Red Book, Frodo-lad thought with a giggle. Or maybe I just haven't paid enough attention to the subtext.

"Ai, there's a hobbit we haven't asked yet," Sam took his son's shoulder and pointed to a female who was just locking the red door to a smail with large weeds nearly blocking all of her lower body from view. Samwise jogged up to meet the lady hobbit at the gate, followed by his eldest son, who was rolling his eyes in a "here we go again" gesture.

"Excuse me, madam," Sam greeted, nodding his head.

The woman lifted her green eyes to him and gasped in surprise. "Oh! Mayor Gardner! Good day to you, sir!" She spotted the lad standing only just behind his father and smiled warmly. "Good day to you too, lad."

"Hullo, Miss," Frodo-lad waved lamely. All he wanted to do was to eat!

"I'm sorry to disturb you," Sam started, "but I've been looking for someone, and I was hoping you may be able to help me."

"I may," the lady nodded, her smile never faltering. "What can I do for you?"

Sam took a deep breath. Here goes nothing. "I'm searching for a certain gentlehobbit I know. He's slightly taller than me, but thinner." He motioned sizes with his hands. "He's fair skinned, has dark hair, and has big blue doe-eyes." The lady blinked rapidly, and for a moment Sam thought she didn't understand. "He has only nine fingers, one missing from his left hand." He held up his own hand and hid the finger that was missing on his master's hand.

"Oh, of course! I've seen him," she exclaimed with a grin.

Sam faltered, not sure that he heard her right. Frodo-lad jumped out of his sulk and his mouth dropped open. "Y-You do?"

"Of course, Mr. Mayor sir."

"H-his name is Frodo? Frodo Baggins?"

The lady nodded. "That's him, and a fine gentlehobbit he is at that, sir."

If Samwise Gardner has been made of lesser stuff, he might have swooned at this news. As it was, he was just able keep a handle on his emotions. "Miss-"

"Mrs. Emerald Burrows, sir, at your service."

Sam swallowed and nodded. "Mrs. Burrows, I.. would be so greatly obliged to you.. if you could just tell me where Mr. Baggins is now living."

The lady hobbit laughed merrily, stunning the gardener further. "Why sir, he lives right here! This is the very smail he's fixing to buy in a month's time, once he's settled in and has decided he wants to stay. I'm his land lady, in fact."

Samwise felt his heart leap into his mouth. He took a shaky step back and took his first real good like at the smail. It was wild, unmaintained, grass and weeds growing everywhere, and the path to the front door was unpaved and everything needed repainting. But the windows were cleaned and opened wide for fresh air and he even imagined he could smell the remains of a recently cooked lunch drifting through those round windows. A grey tabby cat stared out one such window with a stone still gaze.

"Oh yes.." Frodo-lad mused, taking his first steps forward through the gate which Sam had yet to cross. "I thought this place seemed familiar. Aye, these are the same weeds I was talking about earl-"

But Sam didn't bother to catch the rest as he abruptly strode through the gate, past his son and Miss Emerald, and leapt onto the front porch. "Frodo!" he cried out without caring what he looked like, banging on the door in desperation. "Mr. Frodo, sir! It's your Sam! Please open up, Mr. Frodo!"

"Mr. Mayor! Please, calm yourself sir!" Mrs. Burrows insisted, touching his shoulder and turning him away. "There's no one inside to answer you, begging your pardon. You just missed him, you see. He's gone out on some errands. He asked me if I could lock up for him before he left after lunch."

Sam's face fell and Frodo-lad groaned in frustration, turning to stomp out the gate in a grand display of annoyance. Emerald glanced between the two hobbits. "Please don't fret so. I'm certain he'll be back soon after he's finished with all his errands. Come back after afternoon tea and he may be in to answer the door this time."

Frodo-lad perked up at the mention of food. "Great idea!" he shouted, running back in to tug on his father's sleeve. "Please, Dad. The lady is right. We can just come straight back here after we eat, especially now that we know where the place is. Don't you think that makes the most sense to do?"

Sam was still suffering from the bitter disappointment of not being able to see his Frodo at that very instant, but he knew his son and the lady were right. And besides, his stomach had begun to growl at an embarrassing volume. So he nodded in reluctant agreement and the two other hobbits smiled.

"Don't worry, Mr. Mayor sir," Emerald comforted, patting him lightly on the back. "I'm sure Mr. Baggins will be back before long." And with a brief curtsy she left them alone, making her way up the lanes towards her own home.

"Dad.." the boy urged when his father had begun to stare without seeing at the red front door to Mr. Frodo's new home. Sam shook his head and sighed, defeated at last, and walked out of the gate, his son holding his hand in an effort to reassure him. Sam didn't feel entirely assured but it couldn't be helped now. There was nothing for it but to wait and see what happened.

"And so I said, 'Shave it all off!'" Robin exclaimed, throwing up his hands. Rose was currently laughing uncontrollably and he grinned at. He was always pleased when he could make Rosie smile. He was about to continue on with the story when he heard the front door open.

"MUM!! I brought Dad back and we're hungry!"

Frodo-lad dashed down the hall, eager to get something into his empty tummy, followed by the slow plodding steps of Master Samwise, his eyes cast to the ground in dejection. Frodo-lad ran into the kitchen and skidded to a stop, nearly colliding with the kitchen counter. His blue eyes fell on the sight of his mother talking to another hobbit he didn't immediately recognize. Dirty dishes lay in the sink for washing, evidence that his brothers and sisters had already had their tea time course, and his gaze locked on the unfinished meal sitting on Robin's plate.

"Hello, Frodo-lad!" Robin chirped, waving at the boy as he slowly approached the table. He didn't even lift his eyes to greet the sheriff, but his stare stayed fixed on the table in front of them. There wasn't a crumb left in sight, aside from what was right in front of the guest.

"So where's the foodie?" Frodo-lad asked with big eyes as he turned to his mother.

"Frodo! That's very rude of you to ignore someone when they're greeting you," Rose scolded.

"Hullo, Mr. Cock-robin, verynicetoseeyeagain - Mum, the food! I need nourishment!" the boy exclaimed hastily.

"Sam!" Robin rose to his feet when he saw the Mayor enter the kitchen with deliberate footsteps.

"Ah! So the prodigal husband returns!" Rose smiled sweetly, but only Sam could feel the snap in it.

"So where's the foodie?" Sam echoed his son's earlier question with an equal measure of spite, though it was hardly apparent in his voice to Robin and Frodo-lad.

"I'm afraid the children and Mr. Robin have already finished off what I've prepared for tea time," Rose sighed, casting her eyes away with a look of mock sympathy on her face. "You are too late, it seems."

"Here, Sam!" Robin grinned, slapping his friend on the back. "Whether you are late for tea or late for lunch, we can't have you going hungry. Would you like a-" he turned to motioned to his plate when he saw that it now stood empty, "-cookie.."

Frodo-lad sat with folded hands on the table next to Robin's seat and a crumb on the corner of his mouth. "No thank you, I'm fine," the boy answered, smiling.

"Frodo Gardner!" Rose gasped, appalled at her son's behavior.

"I was hungry," Frodo blinked at his mother.

"No, no, it's all right Rosie," Robin smiled good-naturedly. "I had over eaten anyhow."

Rose was at a loss for words, and after a moment spent opening and closing her mouth in an attempt to say something, she gave up and sighed. "Lad, go into the pantry and bring me something to prepare for your father and yourself."

Frodo-lad leapt to his feet, obviously with plenty of room still left in his stomach, and ran off to the pantry. Sam sunk into his chair with a sigh. Even if his body was currently demanding food, he wished he could have put it off until he had seen Mr. Frodo again. In his current state, he wasn't even sure if he would be able to get everything down. His stomach was ever tying itself in knots, and he found he could hardly sit still as he waited for what seemed like forever for Rose to finish making sandwiches and warming up tea and seed cake for them.

"So, how have you been, Cock-robin?" Sam asked idly, addressing his friend for the first time. Well, this was enough to open the flood gates apparently as Robin launched into a stream of one-sided conversation which Sam half-heartedly tried to participate in. Every now and then Rose would comment on something that Robin said and he would laugh as if it were the funniest thing he had ever heard, earning a few giggles from the lady herself. Sam would simply smile and nod, but he knew in his heart that he wasn't really into what they were talking about (whatever that was).

Why has he come back? he thought, sliding his fingers back and forth along the sides of his tea cup. He never would have imagined in all his life that he would ever see his own Mr. Frodo in the Shire again. I thought he had been too hurt by the Ring to be able to stand living in Middle-earth any longer, and that it was the only reason why he left. Has his time in Valinor actually cured him?

I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved ... but not for me.

Samwise's heart ached as he remembered Frodo's words to him before he left. If that were true, why come back? If his love for the Shire had all but disappeared in the pressing darkness of his heart, why return at all? Was there something that he had left behind that he now craved for? He could think of no other reason for his master wanting to leave the heavenly isle of the Valar, but then neither could he think of anything thing his master might desire in Middle-earth.

It couldn't be true that Mr. Frodo wants-

Robin's voice cut through his train of thought at that moment. "So Sam! How goes things with Frodo?"

Sam looked up sharp, eyes slightly widened, but he could say nothing. In spite of having just sipped his tea a moment before, his mouth had run dry and he couldn't find any answer to speak.

Frodo-lad looked at the sheriff, then at his father the Mayor. "Um, I'm right here," he replied to Robin.

"No, no, lad," Robin chuckled. "I meant Frodo Baggins."

Sam drank his tea down fast, ignoring the fact that the liquid was still very hot and that it was burning his tongue. "I don't know," he answered Robin at last, deciding to feign ignorance. He really was not up to talking about Mr. Frodo with Rose present. He could feel her eyes boring into him, though he did not look up to meet her gaze.

"Oh him!" Frodo-lad exclaimed, his face breaking into a silly smile. "Well we've just-"

"Ahem," Samwise cleared his throat to silence his son. The boy blinked and looked down at the table top, biting his lip.

"But we didn't-" the hobbit lad began again.

"No," Sam whispered hastily and shot Frodo-lad a look. Silence reigned once more.

Frodo-lad opened his mouth a third time, "Well he lives right-"

"Three cookies," Samwise offered.

"Six," his son retorted quickly.

"Deal," Sam agreed, rubbing his temples, sure that he was developing a migraine. Frodo-lad looked satisfied and said nothing more. Robin looked thoroughly confused and Rose looked sceptical. His wife silently agreed with her husband that this was not the time or place to discuss Frodo Baggins, but she didn't quite approve of her husband's manner of persuasion. Sam on the other hand didn't care right at that moment. He was just not in the mood to deal with trying to act more fatherly and reprimand his son, so he chose to resort to bribery. As long as the end result was the same and the boy did not speak of what he knew about his master, Sam didn't pay any mind to what means were used.

Frodo-lad had already scampered over to the cookie jar and had fetched himself six palm sized cookies. "Mmm, I do so love your cookies, Mum!" he smiled dreamily as he began munching on his prize before he even sat back down at the table.

Sam looked at the clock that sat on a shelf above the sink and gasped. More than an hour had passed already. Where on earth did the time go to? The gardener stood up quickly, causing everyone else aside from the lad to stand as well.

"Where are you going?" Rose asked, worried for a split second that something was wrong. Sam snapped his gaze to her and all worry vanished from her mind. She knew exactly where he was going. "Sam-"

"Sorry, Rose, Robin, but you'll have to excuse me," Sam fumbled, bowing his head rapidly before pushing back his chair and striding out of the kitchen.

"Robin, just a moment," Rose said to her friend before rushing off to catch her husband before he was gone out the door.

Robin was once again bewildered by his friend's actions and he glanced at the little blonde haired child that was thoroughly enjoying his snack. "Say Frodo-lad," he spoke, "do you're parents always act like that when their together?"

"Nay," the boy shook his head, mouth full. "Sometimes they can be much queerer." The boy finished his cookies in record time and rubbed his tummy, being at last satisfied with his meal. "Mother used brown sugar ... it must be Tuesday!"

"Samwise Gamgee, you stop this instant!" Rose hissed, catching her husband by the back of his jacket.

"Rose-" Sam started, turning to face her.

"No, Sam," Rose frowned, keeping her hold on him. "This is madness. Not only did you walk out on your family last night as if we didn't exist, now you're alienating one of your oldest, dearest friends who's come all the way from Michel Delving to visit us. It's inexcusable behaviour, no matter what happened or who showed up at our front gate last night."

Sam winced. Even though his whole being still screamed at him to run out the door and see his Mr. Frodo that very moment, the accusation in Rose's eyes was sending a piercing guilt through the haze of desperation that clouded had clouded his mind and heart. It was like a shaft of light through blue waters, and in that light he could see how irresponsible he had been acting. All his manners, his accountability, his reasonability, everything had fallen away from him in that single moment he stood face to face with the Hobbit he had secretly loved for as long as he could remember. No matter how much he had missed and ached to see him again, the way he was acting was wrong.

"Now Sam," Rose's voice softened and she let go of his coat to place both hands on his cheeks and make him look her in the eye. "I know it's been ages since you've last seen your master. I know how you must have missed him. But you can't ignore the needs of your family just to shorten the delay of meeting him again. And you also cannot ignore your duties as a host to your friend, our guest. So will you please listen to me just this once, and try to have patience? You've waited fifteen years already. You can wait one more day, can't you?"

It almost struck him as a completely unreasonable request. One more day was like sentencing him to wait for an eternity. But his sensible mind knew that this wasn't true, and that no matter how much his secret heart didn't like it, his wife was right. If he couldn't handle waiting a short while longer to meet with his master in order to attend his responsibilities as a husband, father, and Master of Bag End, what sort person would he be to be presenting to Mr. Frodo? Not the sort of person Sam wanted his master to see, that was certain.

Not now, Sam... Not yet...

Frodo wasn't ready yet, but he would be. Sam would have to have patience as Rose had said. He would allow his beloved master the time to prepare himself for their long awaited meeting, while at the same time doing what needed to be done for his family. It was the only right choice to make.

Samwise closed his eyes and nodded in agreement. Rose's face suddenly broke out into a beaming smile and she embraced her husband. The Hobbit wrapped his arms around her and sighed into her hair.

In the morning, he thought. I'll wait until the morning before I go to see him again. Any longer, and the waiting will kill me, I reckon.

Please be ready by then, Mr. Frodo. Please.. I need to see you...

Para is feeling:
sore sore
* * *