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Concerning Sam  by Kara's Aunty

Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings is owned by J.R.R. Tolkien, his family, New Line cinema, etc . I have written this short story purely for my own enjoyment.

While I try to remain true to canon, this is the first time I have attempted a LotR story please bear with me.

Credit: www dot Tuckborough dot net which I found an invaluable source of info. Any canon errors in this piece are my own fault, not theirs. Any other errors are also my own fault as I have no Beta.

Note: This chapter amended on 07/02/2010.

Concerning Sam

Chapter 1

Gondor, Year 14 of the Fourth Age

Aragorn ascended the seemingly endless flight of steep steps towards the tower room where the Palantír was closeted. The magical orb was guarded at all times, kept safe from those who could not understand its power, or who would wield it with malicious intent if they ever learned of its existence. None but himself were ever allowed access to the fabled Seeing Stone.

As King of Gondor and Arnor, he had responsibility for the people and lands of not just one kingdom, but two. Unfortunately, not even Aragorn, King Elessar was able to reside in two places at once, therefore, while he resided in Minas Anor he would often look into the Stone to survey events in Annúminas, the Shire and elsewhere, thus ensuring that he was kept abreast of events both good and bad in all his lands.

But Aragorn also used the Palantír to ensure himself of the safety and well-being of loved ones; those who lived too far away for him to visit as often as he would like. He missed the hobbits greatly and, although they wrote to him often, it was never the same as actually seeing them. Whereas the Palantír could never physically take him where he wanted, he could still partake - to a certain extent - of his friends’ joys and sorrows, triumphs and struggles with its use as a visual aid. It made him feel closer to them.

Summer had arrived several weeks since, and the days had grown long and almost stiflingly hot. It was now over two months since Aragorn had last gazed into the Stone’s depths, and he was keen to see the smiling faces of his little friends once more. The last time he had seen them was that Spring, when Pippin had been officially installed as Thain of the Shire.

As much as the death of Pippin’s father saddened him, Aragorn was proud of the Fellowship’s youngest member. Pippin would be a good and fair leader, for he was loved by his people and would govern (as much as a hobbit ever would govern) with kindness and honesty - as well as with a splash of the inherent mischievousness of the Tooks (particularly this Took).

The King chuckled at the thought of the elegantly named Ernil I Pheriannath obsessing over the many different ways to cook mushrooms - and at the lengths Pippin was prepared to go to procure his favourite food. He wondered absently if Farmer Maggot would have to worry about protecting his fields from a marauding Thain …

With a smile still gracing his noble features, his thoughts turned to Merry, who had also been present at the ceremony. The Master of Buckland glowed with pride when Pippin was installed as Thain Peregrin I. Bedecked in his Rohan finery, and standing beside his wife Estella, Merry’s face remained suitably respectful as Pippin (looking uncharacteristically serious) accepted his new responsibilities, but the Knight of Rohan almost dissolved into laughter when given a cheeky wink by the Took during that most solemn of occasions. Diamond and four-year-old Faramir hugged and congratulated Pippin after the ceremony, which - like all good hobbit ceremonies - was followed by a grand party, with hobbits from all over the Shire converging in Tuckborough to toast the new Thain.

It was with a light heart that Aragorn reached the level of the Tower where the Palantír was kept, and he was greatly anticipating another such pleasant viewing of his Shire friends’ daily life. Two silent figures stood at each side of the door to the chamber, dressed in the black and silver livery of the Tower guards. They bowed low upon his reaching them. He nodded in greeting, addressing them by name, and enquiring after their families before entering the room.

The small, circular chamber itself was relatively bare, with white stone walls reflecting light from the only window in the room, found to the left of the door. A stone pedestal stood in the centre of the room, upon which rested the cloth-covered Palantír. There was a wooden desk and chair bearing signs of elvish craft beneath the window, but no other furniture. Aragorn preferred it that way. To make this place more comfortable would be inviting trouble, as none - not even he - should be encouraged to spend too much time with the Palantír. It would be unhealthy to forget to live his own life if he was so engrossed in those of others.

Stepping over to the pedestal, he withdrew the grey cloth covering the black sphere. Taking a deep, cleansing breath, he closed his eyes and emptied his mind so that he may become more receptive to the Stone, and more able to control what he wished to see. Once he was ready, he opened his eyes and placed his right hand on the dark orb.

“Show me the northern lands of my ancestors, where my Steward rules Annúminas and the fair lands of Eriador.”

The Palantír began to swirl inside, as if a storm was passing in its depths. Grey clouds whirled around the heart of it and then an image slowly appeared …

The round green door of Bag End came into view. The door opened and out spilled four of the Gamgee brood; Elanor, Merry, Pippin and Daisy. Both lads laughed and bounced with excitement. Fourteen-year-old Elanor carryied her toddler sister in her arms.

Now you two lads be good and mind what your sister tells you,” came a stern, but sweet, voice from an open window to the left of the Smial.

Aragorn smiled in satisfaction, guessing that the voice drifting from what appeared to be Bag End’s kitchen to be that of the children’s mother, Rose Gamgee.

Straight to the market for the butter and back again. We‘ll be having our dinner as soon as you get home.”

Yes, Rose-mum!” Pip-lad shouted.

But we’re always good,” said Merry-lad, obviously peeved by his mother‘s assumption that he would be naughty as soon as she was out of sight.

Don’t worry Rose-mum, I’ll take care of them.” Elanor tossed her golden locks over her shoulder as she regarded her youngest sister. “Now then Daisy-lass, do you want to try some little steps? See if we can’t beat the lads to market, eh?”

She can’t beat us! She’s only two!” scoffed Merry.

Daisy-lass can hardly walk Elanor. We can beat her hundreds of times and back again.”

Well, Pip-lad, you can hardly talk, but it doesn’t stop you trying, now does it?” Elanor crouched to place the hobbit lass on the ground outside their garden gate, and Daisy proceeded to place one chubby leg in front of the other. Suddenly, the toddler decided against forward motion, and opted instead to spring up and down on the spot, her brown curls flying, her big eyes sparkling.

Jumpy, jumpy, jumpy!” squealed Daisy in delight as she happily partook of her favourite pastime.

The Palantír grew cloudy, and it was with some regret that Aragorn bade the children a silent goodbye as they made their way to the town market. The four hobbit children finally faded from sight and a new image presented itself in the Palantír …

A clearly pregnant Rose Gamgee was making her way towards Frodo’s old study, which Sam (reluctantly) used to keep all his notes in, and to correspond with Shirriffs from all over the Shire as part of his Mayoral duties. She held a large tray in hands and had to use her hip to swing open the study door.

Sam, love, here’s some tea and seed cake to keep you going until the children get back.”

Rose placed it on the desk where her husband sat. Aragorn could only see the back of the Sam’s head because the master of Bag End was too occupied with staring out of the window to turn and face his pretty wife. A half-finished letter lay in front of Sam, the ink on the last word long since dried. He seemed not yet to have noticed the room’s new occupant.

Sam, my love; your tea,” repeated Rose. She placed her hand on the side of her husband’s face and stroked it gently. Sam finally stirred at the unexpected physical contact, and Aragorn finally caught sight of his friend’s face when he cocked it in his wife‘s direction.

Aragorn frowned in concern. He watched a similar expression flit across Rose’s face as she regarded her husband. The hobbit lady lifted a hand to stroke Sam’s hair and, for a moment, the former ranger felt like an intruder in their private moment. But he could not turn away; not now that he had seen Sam's taut, strained features, or the eyes with their almost vacant expression. The gardener’s skin was waxy and pale, as if he had not seen the sun for several days.

Sorry, Rosie me dear,” Sam mumbled. “I was just trying to answer some of these letters before dinner. I could take a cup of tea, though, now that I think on it. Something to perk me up before I write back to Robin Smallburrow. Seems he’s having some problems with the Shirriff-post in Frog Morton - I may have to go over there tomorrow, and perhaps stay over for a night at the inn”

The hobbit’s eyes dropped to Rosie’s swollen abdomen and he sighed. “I just don’t like leaving you when you’re so far gone with the little ‘un; and then there’s the others to mind as well.”

It’s all right love. Don’t you worry about me. I can get our Marigold over to help me with the children, and Elanor’s old enough to help with the baking and such.” Rosie kissed his forehead softly. “It might do you good to get away for a day or so; get some fresh air and have an evening with a friend at The Floating Log. You‘ve not been sleeping well Sam Gamgee and don‘t be denying it!”

She hushed her husband as he started to bluster his way through said denial.

I know you‘ve been waking up at night and then sneaking out to try and calm yourself with athelas water, I smell it in the kitchen each morning! Sam, I’m your wife. I know you better than you think, and it pains me to see you like this. It’s like Frodo all over again! If you won‘t talk to me love, at least talk to Merry or Pippin. I can’t bear to see you like this.”

Sam nodded his head in submission. “All right, me dear. Pippin has visitors, but I’ll send a letter to Merry and see if he’d like to meet up for a day or so in Frogmorton. Try not to worry, Rosie love. I’m fine - really I am. There’s nothing that a night or two’s poor sleep can really do to hurt your old Sam! I‘m made of sterner stuff than that!” He pulled his wife down to him and placed a soft kiss on her brow. “And you‘re always there when I awake, the first flower of my day to brighten me up.”

The depths of the Stone swirled again and, before Aragorn could protest, the scene shifted entirely from the Shire to further north, where the city of Annúminas came into view …

City buildings gleamed and towers and spires sparkled in the afternoon sun. People were trading in the broad market square, children were playing in the streets, dodging foot traffic as they chased each other and guards kept silent sentry on the palace battlements and city outskirts, always alert for trouble even in these times of peace. Fathers were teaching their sons to ride in one of the larger stretches of land to the south of the city; groups of women were returning by foot, horse and cart from Lake Evendim where they had obviously spent the day bathing with their daughters and younger sons, perhaps teaching some of them to swim.

Elessar saw that the people - his people - were content, happy and at peace; his heart filled with joy to witness it.

But it was tinged with worry from the disturbing vision of Sam.

What was wrong with his friend? Why did he appear so careworn? True, the anniversary of the end of the War of the Ring had passed a few months since, and Sam, having played a central role, may have been dwelling on his experiences from that time. Was that what the vision in the Palantír had shown him?

Frustration filled the former ranger, for he had no viable way of knowing how long ago the things he saw in the Seeing Stone had come to pass, if indeed they had passed at all. The visions could be either past, present or future, for all he knew. If only he had the ability to snatch Sam from the Palantir’s depths and question him on the matter!

It was a foolish thought. Such a thing was impossible, this he knew well. And even if it were not, Sam would not wish to talk of events that were now over, and brought nothing but pain upon remembrance. His beloved Mr Frodo, his dearest friend, was gone and Sam could not bring him back.

As if sensing his train of thought, a new vision came forth in the Seeing Stone. As the dark mist inside it parted, Aragorn saw …

A cosy room lit faintly by starlight peeping through the window. A fireplace was smouldering with the remainder of what had been a good blaze and a sturdy wooden table and chairs sat not far in front of it with a half-filled flagon of ale and a platter dish bearing the remnants of an earlier repast.

The far side of the small chamber, opposite the window, had a large (by hobbit standards) four-post bed, and on the bed, sheets twisted around him, was the form of Samwise Gamgee. The gardener seemed to be caught in a dream: he struck out at something only he could see, crying out, “Mr Frodo! Frodo. No…!”

Aragorn’s heart ached as he watched Sam fight his dream demons. The room itself was foreign to his eyes and Rose was noticeable in her absence, and he speculated that Sam had made the journey to Frogmorton in this vision. It disturbed him to see the sturdy gardener in such distress, to be alone with no one to aid him or stroke his brow in comfort. No one to draw him from the terrors of the dreaming world.

It was pointless to imagine which one of the many days that Sam and Frodo had endured in Mordor was causing this particular nightmare, but he could not bear to witness his friend's distress.

The Palantír cared not for such trivial matters as the emotions of those who wielded it; it continued to show the hobbit struggling against his demons, swiping at the air as if fending someone - or something - off, and weeping inconsolably. Finally, Sam fell into an uneasy rest and slept, muttering only now and again in his sleep, and plucking occasionally at his sweat-soaked nightshirt.

The Seeing Stone swirled a final time, and the last vision was again of Annúminas, sitting by the south-eastern shore of Lake Evendim, looking peaceful and tranquil in soft early morning light. Aragorn could not suppress his pleasure at witnessing the city’s prosperity, but he was unable to dwell on it as long as he normally would.

With a deep sigh, the King withdrew his hand from the Stone and Annúminas disappeared, leaving only a black orb sitting innocently on a stone pedestal. The Shire visions had affected him deeply.

Sam was in pain.

Aragorn ran a hand over his jaw as he contemplated the hobbit gardener‘s possible dilemma. Past, present, or future? One thing was certain: Sam had, was, or would be experiencing, a very difficult time. Aragorn had no way of knowing if this really was due to the recent anniversary. If it was his wife and children would usually be present to distract him from it and assist him through it with their love.

But what if there was something deeper at work?

He frowned again, unsure of why such an idea had presented itself in the first place. There had been no sign of any outside influences adversely affecting his little friend. Sam’s illness - if indeed he suffered one - may be naught more than the result of an everyday fever, or minor hobbit malady.

Regardless of the cause of Sam’s distress, one thing was certain: ascertaining it would be difficult. Samwise Gamgee was not the most forthcoming of people, and would not speak of his troubles openly - especially if he believed it would distress those he loved. His letters to the King never made any mention of ailments or worries pertaining to himself, leaving Aragorn with the impression that all was well within the Shire, Hobbiton and Bag End in particular.

Stubborn Gamgee!! he thought, striding from the room. He barely acknowledged the guards on his exit and made his way briskly down the Tower steps. Were he to snap his leg in two parts, he would only complain of a slight pain in his toe! He is worse than a Dwarf!

Eating up the distance to the Royal chambers with the long strides that had given him one of his many aliases, Aragorn determined to consult his Queen and beloved wife regarding the disturbing visions. It was difficult to know what he could do for Sam at present, so great was the distance between them, but he would not sit back and let his friend - and a Saviour of Middle Earth - suffer for much longer without at least assisting him in any way he could!


Author's Note:Please allow some leeway for the dialogue Aragorn heard through the Palantír and any other slight discrepancies regarding the Stone. I realise it could only display visions (and possibly only places which also housed a Stone) but I’ve used some 'artistic' licence for the purpose of the story.


Kara’s Aunty :)


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