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For Cookiefleck for her birthday, with love. With thanks so to RiverOtter for the beta.
“Mornin’, Sam-love!” Rosie greeted him as he entered the kitchen of Bag End. A gurgling from the settle in the corner indicated that his daughter was sharing his wife’s greetings.
Sam smiled as he settled his braces strap over his right shoulder. “Mornin’, lasses,” he returned. He peered out the kitchen window as if to assure himself he was right about the time, and his smile went rather wry. “Can’t believe as I slept so late,” he noted.
Rosie wrinkled her nose as she flipped a griddlecake. “It’s only to be expected,” she said, “seein’ as you got home so late last night. Don’t know as why you felt you had t’make it all the way home—should of stopped at an inn, I’m thinkin’, comin’ as you was all the way from Tighfield.” She inclined her cheek to accept a kiss. “Not,” she added, “as I was unhappy t’see you last night, mind.”
“Well, Halfred and I got some business done. He’s goin’ to see the orchards near Waymeet where Sharkey’s folks cut down so many pear trees replanted, bless him. We didn’t have nowhere as many pear tree saplings as we needed when we started last spring. He’s been doin’ a fair amount of graftin’, and he ought to have enough t’finish the job come October.” He nodded at the griddlecake she was slipping onto a plate. “Those look good, lass. And how’s my Master been?”
Rosie’s face grew more solemn as she set the plate to keep warm and lifted the pitcher to pour out another cake upon the griddle. “Him’s been mighty quiet since he got back from Buckland. Last few nights he’s had the curtains closed in his bedroom—am guessin’ as him’s been havin’ headaches again.”
She sighed as she set the pitcher down upon the worktable, turning to look in the general direction of the study. “Him was up early, too. Let me give him some tea and some toast, but that was all as he wanted.”
Sam nodded his understanding as he turned his attention to Elanor, scooping her up from the settle and settling her tightly wrapped form against his shoulder.
Rosie continued, “Him’s been goin’ through things again while you was gone. I think as he’s plannin’ on followin’ old Mr. Bilbo.”
Again Sam nodded, feeling his throat tighten. “I know,” he said stiffly. “Don’t think as he’s plannin’ to stay here past his birthday. Him’s gettin’ restless, and no mistake. Been seein’ way too much of that Brandybuck lawyer of his, not to mention his bankers of discretion.”
She turned the griddlecake and then peered at him, her eyes filled with compassion and concern. “And you’re just goin’ t’let him go away with the Elves, just like that?”
He could feel the tears gathering behind his eyes, and he blinked to hold them in. “And what am I to do, Rosie? Forbid him? He’s a Hobbit grown, and nobody knows his own mind quite so well as a stubborn Baggins, after all. And----” He shook his head, turned his face away and leaned his cheek against that of his daughter. At last he continued, “And just maybe he needs to be with the Elves right about now. He can’t go on the way he’s been doin’, you know.”
She thought on that as she removed the cake from the griddle and poured out another, then checked the eggs she was coddling. “Do you think as he’ll come back to the Shire, once Mr. Bilbo’s gone, I mean?” she asked quietly.
“I doubt it,” Sam said just as softly, and their eyes met.
He turned his attention to setting the table one-handed, refusing to return Elanor to the settle or to place her in her cradle. Rosie set the small pitcher of brambleberry syrup on the table beside the butter crock, commenting, “I suppose as you should go call him. Not what he’ll want that much to eat, I’ll wager.”
Again he nodded, going down the passageway. He knocked softly, but there was no answer. He opened the door with concern, then smiled at what he saw. He hurried back to the kitchen to call his wife. “Come and see,” he said in little better than a whisper.
She followed him back to the study door, and he invited her to look in. Apparently Master Frodo’s headache had continued, for he’d closed the shutters, leaving the room darkened, and he’d settled on the small sofa with that overlarge shawl of his pulled over him. Right now, however, his brow wasn’t furrowed as he slept—no, it was smooth, and there was such a peaceful look to him as he lay there on his side, and there was no question he was glowing somewhat as he dozed.
She and Sam peered at him for a few more moments before he drew her back and closed the door soundlessly to allow Frodo Baggins to continue to sleep. “I suppose as that’s why I have to let him go to the Elves,” he said quietly as they returned to the kitchen once more. “I’ve seen that glow in him more’n once, and I suspect as the Elves is the only ones as can help it grow stronger, strong enough to stay with him. He’s holdin’ on to the Queen’s jewel right now. Maybe there in Rivendell he won’t need it so much—find himself knowin’ peace more and more.”
“And you think as with the Elves him will be able to be healed?”
“I can only hope so, Rosie. I can only hope so.”
She nodded, and wiped away her tears with the corner of her apron. “I’ve saved some batter,” she said. “When he’s awake again, I’ll fix him a good second breakfast.” So saying she took Elanor from him and set her in her cradle with an arrowroot biscuit to gnaw on, then drew him down beside her. “Now, Samwise Gamgee, it’s time for you t’eat. Won’t do him no good if’n you sicken from goin’ without on his account.”
He knuckled away his own tears, and reached for the stack of griddlecakes, somehow reassured by that glimpse of his Master’s Light.
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