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Now and For Always  by Antane

Chapter Three: Praise and Thanksgiving

From the room he shared with his cousins and his Sam, Frodo could hear far below the people of Minas Tirith signing the praises of the Pheriannath. It was a fair spring day and he stood on a stool at the open window with a soft smile, hearing them sing of Merry, Pippin and Sam. “Long live the Halfings! Praise them with grace praise! Eglerio!” He leaned out and joined in the singing himself, but when, however, the song turned to him, he frowned and closed the window and turned back inside. There was naught to praise him for.

Sam entered the room a moment later and went straightaway to the window and opened it. “Wouldn’t you like to have some fresh air, master?” he asked. “’Tis not proper to be all locked up on such a fair day.” The singing wafted back up.

He stopped when he saw Frodo’s pained look. “What is it, Mr. Frodo?”

The Ring-bearer looked at his beloved companion. He would have remained silent, but all the love and compassion he saw there strengthened him and he knew it was useless to try to keep anything from his Sam anyway. “I did have it open and I was even singing along when they were praising you and Merry and Pippin, but...” He looked away. “...I closed it again when they started singing about me.”

Sam closed the window again. “Well, I would have done the same, when they started singing about me. It was naught anything special I did. I don’t know why they keep acting like I did.”

Frodo sighed and then smiled again. “Oh, Sam, I thought you wanted to be in songs and stories.”

“I did, but not going on and on about it all the time. The Gaffer would think it would turn my head for sure.”

“No, it won’t, my dear Sam.” He kissed his dear guardian’s head. “You have as solid and practical a head as there ever was and I wouldn’t have gotten back to hear such glorious praises if it weren’t for that, or for that the most loving of hearts Middle-earth has ever known.”

Sam blushed. “Now, you’re as bad as them songs, master, or worse.”  Then he blushed even redder for what his Gaffer would have boxed his ears for. 

Frodo laughed and the younger hobbit’s heart forgot his shame and soared instead. His master was much too somber these days when he should be rejoicing. “Oh, my dearest Sam, you are a treasure that must be honored and I shall go on doing so for the rest of my days and encouraging everyone else I can talk to do the same.”

The gardener flushed again. He looked uncomfortably at his feet. “They’re doing that already.”

“I will concede that point, here, but not outside of here. Wait until I tell Bilbo!”

Sam squirmed and Frodo laughed again. He reached and squeezed his brother’s hand. “Oh, my Sam, there is nothing you deserve more, but I know you hate it. Still I will rejoice in my heart and shower you with my own praises and gratitude and celebrate each time anyone else does as well. You are right, I think, that I won’t need to do any more myself to encourage thus.”

Sam looked up and his master’s face was lit by a mischievous smile and the gardener reached up to touch it. Frodo kissed his fingers and smiled further. They looked at each other for a long while, then Sam filled a small bowl with water and placed it at a table at this master’s bedside. “Now have a sit down, Mr. Frodo, whiles I take a look at your hand.”

Frodo obediently sat at the edge of the bed while Sam gently unrolled the bandage from the Ring-bearer’s maimed hand. Frodo looked away from when his hand was exposed and focused on looking at Sam’s face as his guardian crushed the athelas leaves and dropped them into the water as he said the invocation.

“Did you realize you were a king, my Sam?” Frodo asked as Sam placed his hand in the water and gently washed around the missing finger.

Sam blushed again. “’Tis only the words to say, master. I’m no king.”

“Yet you are. To me at least. And to all those who sing about you as much as they do about Aragorn.”

Sam continued to bathe his master’s hand while that master continued to look at his Sam, focused only the goodness in the room and not the evil of that missing finger. The scent of the athelas continued to spread through him and the room, soothing him but not as much as simply looking at his beloved guardian. Sam dried Frodo’s hand, applied the salve that Aragorn had given him and then rebandaged the wounded area and kissed it as his mum had always kissed his own hurts away. He looked up to see his master smiling at him and he let himself once more get lost in that.

"Thank you, my Sam.  You are always so good to me."

“That's all I want to be, Mr. Frodo dear, just your Sam, and Rosie’s, and naught else.”

Frodo’s smiled widened as he took his beloved into his arms and they held each other for a long while.  “Then you shall be, my dearest own, now and for always.”


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