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Chapter 1: At That Moment
in which Sam realizes something important
It was my first year as Gardener of Bag End. The Gaffer had retired after serving there a-many good years. He was getting old and couldn't bend well anymore. I was named the Gardener at twenty-seven - still just a tween too!
"Don't cause a stir there, Samwise. Just do your job and mind your business" was all my Gaffer said about the job. He didn't have much confidence in me, but Mr. Frodo seemed to. I had worked my hardest under the Gaffer, and was planning to work even harder now that it was just me.
That year was the first of big changes in my life. The second of big chances would come much later, and I'm not too inclined to talk about that journey right now.
Around May, it was planting season and I had always went to help at the Cotton Farm. I'd wake early so's I could get my gardening work done quick then I'd head down South Lane to the Cotton Farm. My sisters, Marigold, and I would spend half our time at the Farm especially after our mother died. There was always something to do there, and we were good friends with the Cotton children.
The eldest Cotton boy, Tom, and I shared the same age, so we got along the best. There was only one Cotton girl, her being Rosie. She was four years my junior, but already looking like a full-grown tween. When we stood in front each other we were eye to eye.
Rosie was pretty, probably the prettiest lass I'd ever known. Her locks were long and always in pigtail braids when she was working. She knew how to make the best preserves. She'd ride out into the fields with Marigold on the cart around luncheon to feed us. One day, she had made strawberry preserves and I had said how much I liked it. From then on, she always brought strawberry preserves for luncheon even if I was the only one to eat it.
That's around the time Rosie started to make my favorite foods like strawberry cobbler and bacon-stuffed mushrooms and cottage cheese. Every time I'd say how much I liked something she made, she'd make sure it was on my plate often. She'd send preserves home with us almost ever night.
Tom took me aside one day during luncheon. "When do you plan to start courting her, Sam?"
I looked at him oddly. "Who do you mean, Tom?"
"My sister! When will you start courting her?" He cocked his head at me like I had lost my mind.
"I was never planning to court Rosie" I told him honestly. It's not that I didn't want to be the lad for Rosie, it's just that I never thought I'd have a chance. Many lads would be coming to call for her hand in a few more years. She was already receiving some takers when she'd go into town. She'd never be interested in a lowly gardener like myself especially since I'd known her from a little lass.
"Sam Gamgee, are you blind?" Tom popped me on the shoulder. "Haven't you even realized Rosie has been courting YOU for the last month?"
That was a surprise to me, and I nearly let out a loud snort from disbelief. "You got your mind on backwards, Tom Cotton."
"Listen to me" Tom said looking rather determined. "Have you noticed how Rosie keeps making your favorite meals? She makes stuffed mushroom so much now that I'm ashamed to say I'm getting tired of 'em! I bet you have a whole stock load of preserves in your pantry especially strawberry."
I thought for a moment then blushed when it finally hit me. I had been enjoying the good food so much, I hadn't noticed the over attention Rosie was giving me. I just played it up as her enjoying cooking, or maybe wanting to help out my family.
"Sam!" I heard her call me at that moment. I turned, and for the first time saw how her face lit up like the sun on the horizon, with the pink of her cheeks the color of a winter's sky evening. Her brown eyes shone bright and her smile gave off a melting warmth. That's when I realized just -how- pretty she was. I had known her for so long, but with that one look at that moment, I fell in love with her.
in which Rosie reflects
He was always there from the time I could remember. My mother and Bell Gamgee were close friends all their life. They would often visit each other. That meant the Gamgee children were around the farm at least once a week. When the Gamgee lads were old enough, they began to help out at the farm. I became close friends with Marigold, the youngest daughter. We lived slightly off from anyone else, so the Gamgees really were the only children I grew up with beside my brothers.
I liked them all especially Marigold. But, then there was Samwise. Of course, we were never called him by his full name. It was just plain Sam. That's the only way I can ever describe him is he's just Sam…wonderful, amazing Sam. I guess I could put him into words, but I probably won't do a very good job. He was different from his brothers - quiet with a pleasant smile and always willing to help and take care of us youngsters.
Sam was four years older than me. He was very strong and hefty for his early tween years when I was still a little child. He'd swing me and my twin, Jolly, in the air and we'd feel as if we were flying. We'd squeal with joy, and he'd laugh along with us. We always had a wonderful time.
I hadn't thought much of other lads until I was around them. I mostly came across other children at birthday parties, but my family didn't indulge in those very often. I turned twenty and was allowed to go to non-birthday parties with my brothers. That's when I noticed other lads were noticing me.
"May I have this dance?" "Can I walk you home?" "Would you get me another piece of cake while you're up?" So, some questions weren't as flattering as others, but they were still noticing me, and it made me a little nervous.
My brothers were protective of me, but when it came to lads taking interesting in me, they gave no heed of it! They let as many lads as could spare come up to me and bother me, when I didn't want the attention. I admit, I adored the attention at first but it got worn after a while.
On my fifth party experience - I had turned twenty-one a few months before - this lad named Brandles Proudfoot kept bothering me. He brought me food then when I wouldn't eat it fast enough, he'd eat it for me. We danced for some time, but when we sat down to rest on a bench, he threw his arm around my shoulders and pulled me into him! I tried to pull away but he would not let go. I felt so helpless!
That's when, I guess, someone finally noticed my distress. A voice came rumbling towards us, "I don't think the lass wants to be held anymore, Brandles Proudfoot. Let her go please."
I looked up to find a towering figure before us. To my eyes, a shining white rescuer stood there - a ring of flowers encircling his head. He was beautiful sight.
Before I knew it, the wonderful vision passed and Sam was shooing Brandles Proudfoot away from me. He asked me if I was all right. I was, of course, but I was in a bit of shock. I had never seen Sam in such a light before, and it threw me for a twirl. He was on my mind for the rest of the evening.
The next morning, I thought my sudden mania for him would fade - just a little crush. It wasn't. Sam came around and came around. I sighed and smiled and felt the same way I did that night.
Marigold and myself would bring our brothers luncheon in the fields during picking season. Sam told me my strawberry preserves were the most delicious he'd ever eaten. I was so flustered! I thanked him with a horrible little squeak of a reply. I was so embarrassed with myself. But, it was then that I knew I felt very strongly for him. I really did love him, always had but was afraid to admit it.
I needed to take action. I had to do something. My Mum had said, "The fastest way to a man-folk's heart is food". I thought I'd try her theory. Hobbits DO adore food especially the men-folk. I began making strawberry preserves, and giving a whole jar to Sam to take home every week. I did my best learning what his favorite foods were, and made those meals often.
I thought for sure he would show interest toward me. I waited and waited, thinking he'd start treating me differently. He didn't! Though he was still polite and thanked me for the food and talked to me as he always had. I tried my best not to get frustrated. Courting was terribly difficult when a lass is the one doing it!
Then one beautiful day in the field - it was always beautiful when Sam was around - I called him over for strawberries and cream. When he turned to me, there was a different light in his eyes toward me and I could finally admit to myself I loved him. That light was there from then on.
in which Sam gets his answer
Preparing at home and maintaining Bag End left me no time for the Cotton Farm. Marigold would take a visit that way every other week, but around mid-August, we were so busy it had been three weeks since we'd been to the Farm.
Rosie was on my mind, plenty, while I did my duties. I missed seeing my Rosie-lass. I had stuck it out all summer observing her and seeing if Tom's theory was true. It was hard treating Rosie the same as I always did now that I saw her differently, but I succeeded for the most part. I had a hard time keeping my cheeks from blushing every time she looked me straight in the face and brought that sunny smile to her lips. My cheeks have a mind of their own trying to give me away like they do!
The big test came during those three weeks from the Farm - I would get my proof. I was far round the side of Bag End tugging those awful sticky seed-weeds when I heard footfalls coming around the Hill. I thought it being Mr. Frodo, I just stayed on my knees tugging. I nearly jumped from my skin when a lighthearted voice rang out.
"Hullo Rosie!" I said turning to her. "You nearly gave me a fright all the way to Scary!"
"Oh dear, I'm awfully sorry!" She was so sincere; I broke into a smile and stood myself up. It gladdened my heart to see her. "Are you busy right now? I hope I'm not intruding on your work."
I shook my head. "Not at all!" A basket hung from Rosie's arm, and I wondered what in the Shire she was bring me now. Not that I didn't mind her bringing me things! I was finding her to be a very persistent lass. "What are you doing out this way?"
"Tom and I volunteered to go into town to pick up supplies, and to check on your family. Bless me, we haven't seen hide or hair of you and Marigold in nearly a month!"
"We've been busy with stocking up for winter. You know how our Gaffer is." Rosie nodded in understanding. "Where's Tom?"
She paused for a moment like she'd gotten caught up in her thoughts then answered, "Oh! When we stopped by your home, Marigold answered the door and told us you were up here. We had guessed that further anyway. Mari insisted she go to town with Tom in the cart." I laughed inward, knowing all too well that my little sister harbored a crush on Tom Cotton. "They dropped me off and here I am. Would you like a little company?"
"Of course! I'd love your company." I clipped my tongue, sounding too eager. She smiled, and I looked down to hide my on-coming blush.
I started tugging weeds again. Rosie knelt beside me, tucking her skirts under her knees. She started pulling the weeds with me. I hadn't asked her to, but that's just how Rosie is. "You don't have to help."
"But I want to help you."
We covered the entire Hill of Bag End. Just as I was finishing up, Rosie got caught on one big weed that refused to budge. I tried, but it wouldn't come up for me, neither. Rosie suggested we both pull. I stood her in front of me, just in case we took a tumble. I didn't want to fall on top of the poor lass and crush her.
"One, two, three" I counted. On three, we pulled as hard as we could. The weed decided it wanted to break then, and we went tumbling like I suspected we might. I fell first on my bottom. Rosie collided into me.
"Dratted weed" I muttered. I didn't hear a peep from Rosie, and I was about to get worried that she hurt herself. A giggle squeaked out of her just as I put a hand on her shoulder. "You all right, Rose?"
She turned her head, giggling. "What a fighter it was!"
"Yes, it was" I chuckled.
We were so caught up in our folly we hadn't heard the footfalls coming up behind us. I nearly jump out of my skin for the second time that day hearing Mr. Frodo's voice.
"I can't see what's so humorous over a weed" he quirked, and I bowed my head, embarrassed.
"I'm sorry, sir. Rosie's laugh is contagious." I sneaked a glance at Rosie as I helped her up. She seemed amused.
Mr. Frodo was a wonderful master, even way back when. Ever since dear Mr. Bilbo had left, all my spare time I had was spent with him at Bag End. I didn't want him to be lonely, and it was a joy to me to be with Mr. Frodo.
I looked at him thinking he'd find my silliness unkempt, but he was on the verge of joining in our folly. "Mr. Frodo, you remember Rose Cotton."
He nodded, taking Rosie's hand and bowing slightly. "Of course, I do, Sam. How are you Miss Rose?"
"Doing well, Mr. Frodo. Thank you" Rosie said, politely.
"I see you two have worked hard getting rid of those pesky weeds. It's almost passed eleveneses. Come in with me. I already set out cheese and bread and boiled the tea."
"You didn't have to do that, Mr. Frodo."
I had stopped a long time ago from arguing with him. He insisted every time that I should take meals with him, putting the guilt on me about him needing company. I was glad he insisted, because I would never come right out and say I'd like to take a meal with him.
It was such a beautiful day; we took our meal outside at the back garden table. I had forgotten about Rosie's basket, and she surprised us by pulling out several apple crisps.
By the end of our meal, Tom and my sister were back from the market. Rosie threw her arms around my neck, which I hadn't expected. It took me several moments to return the embrace. She left the uneaten apple crisps with Mr. Frodo for our dinner. I tried to put on a smile as we bid the Cottons farewell, but I could feel a frown on my face.
I was frowning for the rest of the day, and was glad to be alone during that time. But, Mr. Frodo noticed that night at supper. I was sitting across from him dunking my bread in my stew when he said, "Sam, you were so upbeat during luncheon, but now you're a bit gloomy."
I looked up a bit startled, and my mind fumbled for what to say. "I'm sorry, Mr. Frodo."
He smiled warmly. "You don't need to be sorry. I am just wondering why the big change?"
"Well." I wasn't sure what to say. No one knew about my feelings for Rosie, and only Tom knew about how she felt for me. If there was anyone I could trust, it was Mr. Frodo. "Y'see, I found something I didn't know exist, and I had to wait a while to see it if it were true blue or not. Turns out, it is, but now I'm not sure how to confront it." I was hoping that made sense.
"Why, Sam, are you indirectly talking about Miss Rose?" I stared at him. My mouth must have been hanging open in surprise. Mr. Frodo laughed and his eyes shined. I'm glad he had guessed.
"How did you know?" I asked eagerly, and blushed because of it.
"I'm not an expert at it, but I saw the way you two looked at each other while we ate luncheon. There was something different about you when she was around."
"I was hoping it wouldn't be obvious. I guess I'm not good for keeping secrets." I stared down at my bowl of stew, half-eaten.
"But, that's all right with this. I think Miss Rose is a pleasant lass and very pretty. You seem to get along with her well."
"Aye, I've known her almost all my life. I love her dearly." It was the first time I had said that out loud, and it felt so right.
"Court her, then."
"I know I should, but I don't know how. According to Young Tom Cotton, Rosie has already started courting me and I didn't realize it."
Mr. Frodo laughed, good-natured-like. The situation had humor, if you thought about it. I was more worried about how to confront Rosie. "You're best at growing flowers, why not give her some?"
I shrugged, displeased. "I wanted to do something more special then that."
"Mosco Burrows birthday party is next week. Everyone in Hobbiton and Bywater is always invited, why not ask Miss Rose to go."
It seemed like a good idea. I knew how Rosie liked parties; her favorite part of all was to dance. I wasn't much for dancing, but I'd try it for her. She was always swarmed over by lads, maybe if I were with her, they'd leave her alone.
"Yes, I think I will ask her."
In which Sam doesn't get his way
My mind was racing just as fast as my heart was the day of Mosco Burrows' party. I had put it off all week to ask Rosie to the party. Now it was an hour before, and I still hadn't gotten the courage to ask her! Wiping sweaty palms on my pants, I took a deep breath and starting up the path to the Cotton Farm.
I HAD to do this. I knew Rosie felt the same way I did. She had to!
I was rounding the path that went straight to the Cotton's porch when I stopped dead in my tracks. I could of sank into the ground if I had the means to. Dowd Grubbs was at the Cotton's door talking to Rosie in the doorway. She was smiling and nodding her head then slipped back inside only to emerge with a shawl around her shoulders.
I watched the whole thing until they started heading up the path toward me. I ran quickly back to the road, not wanting to be seen. She left with another lad. I couldn't believe it. Maybe I was too late in asking. Oh, but I wasn't sure. All I knew was I was upset and the party was the least place I wanted to be right now. I started for Bag Shot Row.
I was almost to my Gaffer's hole when someone called me. I really didn't want to be around anyone, but couldn't ignore who was calling me.
"Sam, why aren't you at the party with Rosie already?"
I frowned at Mr. Frodo. "I was too late, Mr. Frodo. I saw her going with Dowd Grubbs."
"Did she want to go with him?"
"I don't know. She was smiling when she was talking to him."
Mr. Frodo 'hmmed' then rubbed his chin with his fingers. He seemed to be thinking deep, and I was waiting anxiously to see what he had to say. "Just because she let him escort her to the party doesn't mean her feelings for you aren't the same. Maybe she was just being pleasant toward Dowd Grubbs."
"Maybe you're right."
"Let's say we go to the party together. You can ask Rosie to dance and she'll see you're interested."
I didn't want to go, but Mr. Frodo convinced me and we left together to the party field down the Hill. We were there about ten minutes when I saw Rosie walk up on Dowd Grubbs' arm then started dancing with him. I lowered my head and sulked in my ale.
Chapter 5: To Look Upon a Starry Sky
In which hearts are revealed
There had been a knock at the door. A knock that made my heart flutter! Not very many folk came to our door, and I could only guess who it was. I checked myself over in my bedroom mirror before running to yank open the door. It had to be him! It had to be him…
I had held company with Dowd Grubbs twice before at a party. He was a friendly lad, but he wasn’t Sam. Dowd asked if he could escort me to one of the Burrows lad’s birthday party that night. It wasn’t long before it would start. I looked over his shoulder. The one I was looking for wasn’t there. I politely smiled at Dowd and accepted his offer - wishing deep in my heart that it were Sam standing there offering.
We arrived at the party, and I immediately asked Dowd if we could dance. There was always a lively band at parties. I loved to dance, but this time, I wanted to balk around to see if I could find Sam in the crowd. We spun around the dance area a few times before I finally found Sam sitting at a table with Mr. Frodo. His back was turned to me, but I had caught a glimpse of his face. His shoulders were rather slump.
I frowned. Seeing Sam down made me feel the same. My dancing slowed until I felt the need to just sit and eat a piece of iced cake. Dowd hurried off to fetch a slice for me. I was glad he had left, even if for just a minute.
I slowly ate my cake, savoring its delicious taste. It was really the only thing I was enjoying at the moment. Dowd had left my side again to talk with some friends of his. I placed my empty plate on the table and looked around. Now was my chance! I had to talk with Sam.
Though I had a new dilemma when I started searching for him. I couldn’t find him! He had left the table he sat at and was nowhere to be found. I had almost lost hope when I spotted Mr. Frodo getting another ale. I rushed to him, touching his shoulder. He turned, somewhat surprised and amused to see me.
“Good evening, Miss Rose” he greeted in his always polite tone.
“Good evening, Mr. Frodo. Pardon me for sounding urgent, but where has Sam gotten off to? I truly need to talk with him.”
I blushed at my boldness. I had never sounded so commanding in my life! But Mr. Frodo wasn’t daunted or took no offence. He just smiled knowingly and pointed toward Bywater. “I believe he said he was going to sit by the pond for a while.”
I breathed in relief now that I had a goal of where Sam was. “Thank you very much, Mr. Frodo.” And I rushed off.
So many thoughts, mostly horrible ones, were flying through my head. Did I wait too long? Was I too yielding with Dowd Grubbs? Could I ever show Sam just how much I loved him? It was so overwhelming that I stopped dead in my tracks and repeated over and over for those questions to hush up! I must have stopped at the right spot though, because in the distance I could see a figure silhouetting the water ahead.
I could tell it was my Sam. He was seated on the grass, staring up at the sky it seemed. I walked to him ever so quietly as us hobbits do. He didn’t realize I was beside him until I spoke.
“Beautiful night” I said, sweeping a hand to the starry sky. The stars twinkled above our heads and the full moon reflected on the water. You could not of asked for a better night than this!
Sam turned, surprise spread all over his face. He nodded. “Aye, it is.”
“May I seat?”
“You never have to ask” he said, patting the grass next to him.
I smiled, and took my seat besides Sam. We were there for a very long time, just staring at the stars in pleasant silence. But, Sam began to fidget. He turned to me. “Why aren’t you with the Grubbs lad? I saw you arrived with him at the party and danced an awful lot with him.”
I don’t know why he hadn’t asked that early, but I’m glad he had waited. “Only out of politeness I did.” I hadn’t planned on it, but this felt as the right time to admit…and admit I did. “I really wanted to dance with you.”
“Now, Rosie, you know I’m not much of a dancer.” Sam answered casually.
I shrugged. “That doesn’t matter. You’re the only one I truly want to dance with.” The meaning was more than just a simple dance. I was hoping Sam knew that.
Tears escaped my eyes. I was looking at Sam, but his face was still turned to the water. I reached to touch his shoulder, and he finally looked at me with his own teary eyes.
“You’re the only one I truly want to dance with too” he admitted to me.
I laughed for joy, and through my arms around him. The feeling had been bottled up for so long, I was thankful it was released and in it’s rightful place.
We stayed there far into the evening - our backs on the cool, soft grass and the stars gleaming down upon us. Sam held my hand firmly in his, absently rubbing mine with his thumb. After a while, he brought my hand to his lips and kissed it. “I love you, Rose Cotton.”
“I love you, Samwise Gamgee.”
For that wonderful moment, nothing could touch us. No sadness, no evil, nothing. It felt as if it’d always be that way.
But, it wasn’t always that way. If we had known at the time what we did now, things might have been different; things might have turned for the worst instead. No absence, no horror, no fear could take away that memory and I held onto it at the most terrible time of our lives.
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