West of the Moon

A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive

 

 

The Making of Samwise
A history of Samwise Gamgee's life as he grows into his destiny.
Author: Bill The Pony
Rating: NC-17

 

"Quiet, lad." Bilbo nudged Frodo as they neared Bagshot Row. "That's Pansy Burrowes's cart at Number Three. It'll be Bell, I expect." He looked sober, and Frodo caught his mood, slowing his steps. Pansy's pony still stood in its harness, looking about half-tended, and Frodo was old enough to know that didn't bode well.

A forlorn, despairing wail from the house made him flinch, and made Bilbo's jaw set. "That's not her, that isn't." He laid his hand on Frodo's shoulder. Another sobbing cry followed it, and another, then it was joined by a second.

"Then who--"

"The little lasses. Frodo." Bilbo shook his head slowly. "It sounds like Marigold... and Daisy." His voice trailed away and Frodo swallowed hard.

Sam's mother. He knew how that felt, and none better.

"Let's go up the Hill, lad. There's nothing we can do for now."

Frodo watched dust puff between his toes as they trudged on without speaking; once they were inside the hole Bilbo led him to the kitchen and set about making them something warm to drink-- with a good dollop of honey, and another of apple brandy, to settle their nerves.

Frodo took off his coat and curled up with a book he'd been reading, sipping at the strong drink; it would have made him drowsy but for the ache in his heart. He couldn't concentrate on the words; his mind kept bringing up images of Bell Gamgee, her loving smile for Sam and her more respectful one for Frodo-- the soft crumbly sweet cakes she had often made that Frodo had tasted when Sam offered to share, and the pies and bread she used to bake for Bilbo.

The tap at the door was unexpected and quiet in an urgent way. Bilbo looked up, but Frodo was quicker. He didn't mind getting up from his reading to wander to the door, not quite knowing what to expect and dreading the unknown possibilities.

Gaffer Gamgee stood outside. His eyes were red and his weskit rumpled; he looked at Frodo imploringly. "Begging your pardon, Mr. Baggins, but you ain't seen my Sam, have you?"

Frodo bit his lip and shook his head; the Gaffer's eyes gleamed too bright and his hands shook. "I seen him earlier outside the smial, but then I went in, hearing a cry, and I ain't seen hide nor hair of him since. My Bell, she's passed, and the babe--" one tear escaped, and he didn't go on, wringing his hands and staring at the step.

Bilbo hastened up to the door. "We'll raise the town and find him. You go back home; your girls need you. Don't spare another worry for Sam." Bilbo headed right out the door without pausing to settle his coat, one hand falling on the Gaffer's shoulder. "Frodo, you go straight to the Shirriff-House. And tell them where the lad likes to hide away; you're with him enough to know it."

Frodo chafed at the order-- he could find Sam himself, he reckoned, most likely in his favorite spot near the reading tree. But when he departed from the path, the woods were silent and empty, so he went ahead to the Shirriff-House as Bilbo bid him.

There were two there, and they set out, barely listening to Frodo's suggestions, so he went to check them himself-- the mossy nook next to the boulder where the mill-race started just up the water from Sandyman's mill, the bottom of the gardens where rosebush and blackberry arched over and made a tunnel just fit for a hobbit lad to hide in, the roots of the old tree over Bag End, inside the cold, chilly spring-house, beside the well, and on the top of the crow-shy rock, where boys stood with stones to run the birds off the fields after planting.

He wasn't anywhere to be found, and that was that-- Frodo wondered if he'd gotten on the road and just started walking. He even went to the Gamgees' gate and tried to sort out the tracks he found there, but they were muddled with prints, the Gaffer's and his own and Bilbo's, and the hoofprints of the pony, which had finally drawn Pansy away.

He heard another cry as he lingered-- Marigold, inconsolable.

Bilbo peered out the window and saw Frodo lingering at the gate; in a few moments emerged from the hole. "They're laying her out now, and we'll be burying her at the foot of the garden." It was the Baggins's own burying-ground, and no finer honor could he give; Frodo nodded quietly, approving.

"Did you find the boy?"

"Not yet. Half of Hobbiton's out calling, and the other half's cooking for the family." Frodo trudged up the Hill at Bilbo's side-- it was the fourth or fifth time in the evening. His voice was hoarse from calling Sam and he was out of places to look.

"If Sam doesn't want to be found, he won't be. He's a stubborn lad, and if someone doesn't stumble on him, he'll just have to come out when he's ready," Frodo murmured. He hadn't been that much older than Sam was, and he'd run when his mam and his da died; he'd run half the way to Tuckborough and hidden between the roots of a tree, half-in and half-out of an abandoned badger brock's hole. A Took cousin had found him there, wet through and shivering, with no tears left to cry and half an acre of tear- and rain-streaked mud on his face.

"Frodo-lad." Bilbo's soft voice meant he'd seen Frodo's memories in his eyes. "Don't fret yourself. They'll turn him up."

Frodo nodded soberly. He reached and picked up his cold mug of brandy and honey in water. "He's getting old enough to climb the trees in the wood; I didn't think to check them. I'll go get my winter cloak and a lantern."

Bilbo just nodded, watching him with brooding eyes as he put his mug with the stack of dirty dishes to wait for washing and took a candle, then padded back into his room. He'd need a thick weskit and old breeches for climbing, and his wool--

Frodo stopped short, the flame of his candle fluttering wildly; he'd nearly tripped over the small bundle that lay curled up on his hearth rug like a puppy.

"Bilbo!" He backpedaled and called softly down the hall. "He's here."

Bilbo's chair creaked and he pattered down the hall to look over Frodo's shoulder. "So he is. And probably cold right through; you haven't had a fire lit in here all day. Wrap him up on the bed, Frodo lad, then we'll go tell his Gaffer."

Frodo put down the candle and went on one knee, trying to figure the best way to lift Sam; he finally slid his arms around the lad's shoulders and tugged, working one under his legs. Sam was nearly too big to lift anymore, but he clung to Frodo like a babe. His eyes were swollen and his nose red from weeping.

Bilbo pulled back the covers and bustled to light the fire while Frodo attempted to unwrap himself from Sam and put him down on the pillow, but Sam's hands were knotted in Frodo's weskit and all he succeeded in doing was transferring one to his hair.

"Uncle, I'm trapped," he admitted after a moment. "He won't let go."

"Don't wake him-- grief in the morning is still going to come sooner than it's wanted. I'll go tell Hamfast he's all right, and have word sent for the searchers to go home."

Frodo nodded and pried Sam's hand out of his hair; Sam's arm wrapped around his neck instead and Frodo let it, lowering himself next to the lad and pulling up the blanket awkwardly with one hand.

He settled, letting his arm wrap around Samwise, who finally stirred.

"My mam," Sam's voice was thick with sleep and tears. "She's dead, ain't she."

"I'm sorry, Sam," Frodo held him tight.

"And the babe too, I reckon. Mam said--" Sam sobbed once, burying his face against Frodo's shoulder, his whole body shaking.

"Hush," Frodo breathed. "Hush," and he sang Sam to sleep.

 

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