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Welcome Back, Sam!
Frodo let out a whoop from the gate at Bag End, then rushed back into the smial. “Bilbo! Bilbo!” the tween shouted excitedly. “Sam’s back! I just saw him going into No. 3. He’s back!”
The older hobbit came out from the study just as his nephew skidded to a stop in front of it. His face was shining with all the light within him. Bilbo spent a moment reflecting on the unusually fair child he had named as his heir and thanked for the millionth time whatever Powers there were that he was lucky enough to be graced with such a one. “Well, well, this is good news!” he said. “We’ll have to prepare a proper welcome back, won’t we? What do you think we should make?”
Frodo didn’t hesitate. He and Sam had only known each other a short while, but they already knew one another inside and out. “Mushroom pie and blueberry tarts - Sam loves those! Can I make them?”
Bilbo laughed gently at the tween’s excitement. “Of course, my lad. I’m sure Sam will be delighted.”
Frodo practically flew into the kitchen. He brought a chair over to stand in to reach the ingredients he needed from the cabinet that he was still too small to reach on his own, then he held them tight against himself as he carefully climbed back down.
Bilbo came in more sedately and whistled a Elvish tune as he gathered the ingredients he would need for the mushroom pie. As he began to prepare the dough, he looked over at his nephew who was busy mixing everything very properly, forcing himself to take his time because he wanted these tarts to be most delicious Sam had ever tasted. Still he hopped from foot to hairy foot in his excitement and while he prepared everything, he softly sang one of the songs Bilbo had taught him. He prepared six tarts for baking and then slipped them carefully into the oven.
While he waited for them to cook, he gave his uncle a surreptitious look, then ran his fingers through the left over batter and licked them. Bilbo kept his laugh to himself, but couldn’t keep the smile off his face. Frodo looked up at him, aware then he had been caught, but the old hobbit didn’t make comment other than trailing a finger of his own through it and looking at his heir with a twinkle in his eye. Thus encouraged, the tween smiled and then repeated what he did until the batter was gone and Bilbo had more than once dipped his finger in as well.
What a beautiful lad, the elder hobbit thought for the millionth time, what a beautiful, beautiful lad. Why didn’t I bring him here years ago to light up this place and my old heart?
Oh, he had had reservations about adopting and raising a child at his age. Certainly his myriad relatives had raised a hoot and holler about it. Become a father at 99? Whoever heard of such a thing? And of a brat from Buckland who already had been in more than his fair share of trouble, was, in fact, the instigator of that trouble? It would never work. But Bilbo had blithely ignored them all. Frodo had been skittish as a colt trying to stand for the first time when he had first come, shy among so many strangers. But he had blossomed beautifully and Bilbo knew most of the credit went to that ray of bottled sunshine that was little Samwise.
By the time his musing had ended, he saw Frodo had industriously washed all the pans and utensils he had used and set them out to dry. He checked the tarts once, impatient for them to cook, then rushed to the front door and down the path to make sure that Sam wasn’t going to come too soon. Nothing. He ran back in and continued his hopping until he checked the tarts once more and saw that they were ready. Very carefully, he brought them out and put on a table to cool.
“They look lovely, Frodo, my lad,” Bilbo said with a look of love and approval that had the tween beaming. “Just a few more minutes and they’ll be ready to be devoured. You will leave one or two of them for Sam, won’t you?”
Frodo giggled. He put them carefully on a plate, blowing on his fingers a bit when he discovered the tarts were still a little too hot to touch, then when they had cooled off some more, wrapped the plate in a linen towel and put them in a basket for delivery down to No. 3. “Be careful, now, my lad. You’ll probably meet Sam barreling up here as you rush down and then what will become of the tarts?”
The tween smiled. “I’ll be careful, Uncle.”
He was barely beyond the gate, walking as quickly but carefully as he could, when his dear friend did come rushing up the Hill as fast as his little legs could carry him. “Mr. Frodo! Mr. Frodo! I’m back!”
Frodo stopped, set the basket down on the ground and knelt to sweep his friend into a tight hug. “I’m so glad to see you again, Sam! I’ve missed you so much!”
The child hugged him as tight as he could. “I missed you, too, Mr. Frodo.” He seemed quite reluctant to let go, even when he smelled what was in the basket.
“Yes, blueberry tarts, my Sam, fresh out of the oven. I made them just for you.”
The lad’s eyes widened. “You made them? For me?”
“Well, I had to celebrate your return somehow, didn’t I? Come, let’s go into the garden and have a snack, shall we?”
Sam vigorously nodded his head. He took up the basket himself and Frodo took his other hand and the two of them went to the bench in the garden. With the basket between them they settled down to eat all the tarts between them. Their legs dangled and swept to and fro as they talked excitedly between and through bites.
Frodo looked at his friend. “I do believe you’ve grown a couple inches since I saw you last, Sam. You’ll be up to my chest soon!”
Sam beamed up at his friend. “I can’t wait to be as tall as you, Mr. Frodo.”
Frodo smiled. “So tell me, Sam, what else have you done all this summer besides growing?”
The child lit up like the sun. “Oh, Mr. Frodo, wait until I show you everything Uncle Andy taught me about rope-making! I think it will help me Gaffer in the garden too because sometimes he has to tie stakes around the flowers and plants so they grow up right and his fingers can’t always do it right anymore with all the aches he has. Now I help in that! And I know all sorts of other knots and ties that I can show you...”
Bilbo looked out the kitchen window and listened to the chatter and smiled. The lights in the two lads were shining brighter than ever in their joyous reunion as they merged together. The old hobbit watched as Frodo set the empty basket aside and the two young ones sat on opposite ends of the long bench and stretched out toward each other and compared the sizes of their feet.
“See, Sam, I was right - you are growing. Your feet are going to be as big as mine one day and Bilbo says I haven’t stopped growing myself yet.”
The old hobbit’s smile widened. It was an unlikely friendship these two had formed, Frodo being so much older than Sam and from a different class all together, but that didn’t matter to them at all. They simply recognized a like soul in each other, something unique and very special that they treasured above nearly all else. Bilbo knew with more certainty than he had ever felt anything, that even though Frodo and Sam had only known each other for less than a year, that this friendship and love would last forever and only get deeper.
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