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Now and For Always  by Antane

Chapter Six:  A Rose for Sam 

In the West...

It wasn’t often that Frodo had a chance to make breakfast for his Sam, for his beloved gardener and guardian normally made it a point to get up early to make sure Frodo was well provided for.

“It’s been sixty-one years since I’ve been able to make you a proper hobbit breakfast,” Sam had said the first time his master had tried to make one for him, “and it’s more than high time that I do it for you again.”

Frodo had opened his mouth to protest, but the younger hobbit had held up his finger and gotten that stubborn look that he had learned from his master and Frodo quieted a moment.

“Now sit you down,” Sam had said, in his best ‘master’ voice as Frodo liked to call it, “and I shall make you a mushroom omelette and jam and toast and tea like I always used to.”

The erstwhile Ring-bearer knew very well that such an order had to be obeyed. He had fancied at times even hearing it before Sam had come and had always complied with it. But he had to get another volley in as Sam went to work and filled the kitchen with the most delicious smells, just as he had talked aloud to his brother even when the Sea was between them.

“But Sam, it’s been more than sixty-one years since I was able to make you breakfast, and I have been so looking forward to spoiling you....”

“Not as much as I have been looking forward to looking after you again, me dear, not that Mr. Bilbo or Mr. Gandalf or the Elves haven’t, mind you, but you are mine, and no one else’s, excepting, of course, Mr. Bilbo’s, and he’s gone on.”

Frodo had smiled then, even as remembered that he hadn’t won any of the arguments, even the ones he had held when he was the only one speaking, leastways verbally. He had continued with his protests, even after Sam served him a steaming plate and he had launched into it with the gusto that the younger hobbit had only seen before the Quest had been taken up. Sam’s only reply had been “Don’t talk with your mouth full, dear,” and Frodo had given up, for the moment. The omelette was most delicious, the jam was spread just with the exact right thickness (some of which found itself on Sam’s cheek when Frodo kissed him in thanks), the tea was just hot enough and sweetened enough with the honey that Frodo had always used that Sam had brought from home. It was a marvelous wonder to taste that again.

“Oh, my Sam, you remember everything!” Frodo had sighed contentedly.

“Of course, my dearest dear,” Sam had said with a smile.

Many times since then Frodo had tried to beat his Sam to breakfast, even to the point of holding him extra tight while they slept, but always when Frodo woke, sometimes even before dawn, he found his guardian’s side of the bed already empty, though sometimes still warm. Their friendly competition continued to this day, but Frodo had very rarely won.

This day was one of those days and it was only because the younger hobbit was abed with a bad cold that had him quite worn out. Frodo was determined to take full advantage of that by spoiling his Sam as he loved to in those rare occasions he was so allowed. He happily puttered around the kitchen, softly murmuring a hymn to Elbereth in Quenya, as the morning light poured in. He made an omelette with an extra large helping of mushrooms, raspberry tea to ease his dear’s sore throat with a generous amount of honey to help his nose. He checked on his brother and saw that he was still sleeping, then slipped out to the garden for a moment and chose the most beautiful rose he would find (and there were many in that garden that Frodo had planted himself and Sam had added more). The elder hobbit put the flower in a small vase that he placed on the tray with the food and drink and carefully brought it to Sam’s bedside. He opened the window for the day was mild and promising to be warm and the air would do Sam good with the smells that came from the garden.

When all was ready, Frodo looked down at his still slumbering brother and smiled as his heart swelled. “Oh, my beautiful Sam, I love you so.” he murmured. “It’s quite a marvel that my heart hasn’t burst with it all.” He brushed his guardian’s brow with a kiss to wake him.

Sam roused and sat up slowly to see Frodo beaming down at him. The Ring-bearer quickly moved to make sure his guardian’s pillows were properly fluffed and supporting his back. “Good morning, my Sam!” he said brightly, moving the large stack of handkerchiefs closer to his brother’s side for ease of reach.

“Hullo, my Frodo,” Sam replied, using one of the handkerchiefs straightaway. “You oughted not done all this, but thank you.”

“You are most welcome, dearest, and sorry to be so cheerful that you are sick, but when else can I spoil you?”

Frodo extended the legs on the tray so it sat high enough on the bed, over Sam’s lap, so that the younger hobbit would be able to reach everything easily. The gardener held the rose to his nose and wondered to be able to smell it through all his congestion. “Oh, my sweet Rose,” he murmured and kissed the flower and held it against his lips for a long moment as he closed his eyes in memory.

“And my sweet morning-glory,” he said when he opened them again and gazed upon his shining master. “And my afternoon-glory and my evening,” he continued with a kiss to Frodo’s hand. “Just as she was. How did a simple gardener get so lucky?”

“Now, my Sam, we’ve had this discussion before. We are the lucky ones, remember?”

They looked at each other for a long while, lost in each other’s light and the love that streamed from their entire being to embrace the other and enhance the light that was already there.

“Eat up, dearest, before it gets all cold. And get yourself better!”

Frodo then smiled mischievously and Sam looked at him suspiciously, though he could truly only rejoice all the more that his master was whole and happy again. He didn’t think he would ever going to stop celebrating that, but he wondered what his brother meant by that smile. He didn’t have to wait long to find out.

“Or maybe I shouldn’t hope that you do too soon,” Frodo continued, “for how else am I going to ever get to spoil you like this, except when you’re sick!”

Even though he ached all over, Sam could not resist teasing his master back. “I’ll get better sooner than later, dearlove, because of your spoiling. If you didn’t do so much of it, I would stay the sicker. Your choice, I suppose.”

Frodo giggled and Sam nearly shouted with the joy that surged through his tired body to hear it as the Ring-bearer pretended to consider his brother’s words. “Well, that does make it a little harder to decide. But I think I would want you to get well sooner and then the competition can continue once more in earnest. And one day, my Sam, I will win fair and square, and not by default because you are too sick to rise before me. Mark my words!”

“Whatever you say, me dear,” the younger hobbit said, sipping his tea and carving away at his omelette.

Both knew it was hopeless that Frodo would ever win any other way, but that wasn’t going to stop the elder hobbit from trying.

“Oh, my Sam, I am glad you are here with me, now and for always.”

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