Gift of the Valar - Chapter 4: A Burden Shared
Sam and Frodo spent many hours wandering the woods and fields around Hobbiton. At first Frodo was disappointed that Bilbo had stopped their lessons, but soon took to wearing his coat with the "big pockets" and always seemed to have a book at hand. Sam marveled at Frodo's knowledge of Elvish lore and learned as much from the hours spent listening to him as he had from Mr. Bilbo, and enjoyed it a sight more as well!
Although Sam spent most of his time with Frodo, or so it seemed....and they spoke of many topics, what had happened that morning in the Study never came up. Sam waited patiently, just knowing that when his friend needed to speak of it, he'd be there to listen.
The day came, as Sam knew it would. A chill was in the air, but the late afternoon sun beat down upon them as they lay in the grass by the old willow tree that hung over one of the many deep and quietly flowing rivers that gave the Shire it's quiet magnificance. This quiet spot had become their favorite reading place.
Frodo would often climb up into the tree and recline amid the branches as he regaled Sam with stories of ages past. Sam never ceased to marvel at how quick and agile Frodo was, nor at how comfortable he seemed to be, even when clambering to great heights. While Sam wouldn't admit it, Mr. Frodo's climbing did make him nervous.
As they lay together upon the grass this glorious day Sam breathed a sigh of relief, Frodo showed no sign of the restlessness that frequently was the precursor to his climbing stints. Frodo had been reading from the tales of Tuor when his voice trailed off and he shut the book. Sam looked over to see Frodo tapping his foot upon the grass. 'Uh oh' he thought ' he's gonna climb'.
Sure enough, Frodo sprang to his feet and started climbing. Up, up, up he went, Sam shut his eyes, he couldn't bear to look. Finally he could bear it no longer "Mr. Frodo, why must you climb up so high...and on branches over the water too?" Frodo kept on going, Sam winced and continued "don't you fear for your safety sir?"
"Safety Sam? Whatever do you mean?" Frodo said teasingly as he swung with great ease from one branch to another "this is perfectly safe...why the Elves of Lorien live in the trees Sam...in houses they call 'Flets'...and they are most assuredly safe"
"Well then I guess I'll do yer worrying for ye" Sam said a triffle grumpily " As for the Elves living in trees....I'll believe that when I sees it with mine own eyes." Sam added.
Frodo swung again to another branch and sat down, then dropping backwards dangled high above the water from his knees " Then see it we shall Sam" Frodo laughed.
"Do ya think sir....that we may someday see some Elves?" Sam asked "I'd dearly like to see some" he said dreamily and then added as an afterthought "but I'll not climb up to see 'em....do you think they might not come down to see me?" He asked seriously.
Frodo laughed, "for you Sam Gamgee I'm certain they would". He reached for the branch just below him, releasing his legs he swung far out over the water as his fingertips just caught the limb below. Sam's quickly indrawn breath and muttered exclaimation " yer looking to stop me heart from beating aren't ya Mr. Frodo" told Frodo all he needed to know of his friends displeasure.
Frodo started to make his way, hand over hand along the branch, hanging about 20 feet above the edge of the river when he was struck with a blinding headache and letting go of the branch with a moan he plummeted to the water below with a splash that echoed in the still air.
With a loud cry Sam charged into the shallow water and drew forth the sputtering hobbit. Frodo was dazed from the impact of his fall and had somehow managed to hit his head upon a branch and twist his ankle as he landed. Sam dragged him to the grass and first checking to see that his friend was mostly alright he lit into him ""Now Mr. Frodo, this is what I mean by safety sir, yer just not using yer head. Forgive me Mr. Frodo, but for one so smart and all sometimes you just don't think sensible" he said. Then handing him a handkerchief to hold to his cut he sat down on the grass besides him with a loud and disapproving "Humpf".
Frodo lay back in the grass, holding his temples as he squeezed his eyes shut and willed his headache to be gone. Sam, noticing the pained expression on Frodo's face took another handkerchief and wet it with the cold water from the river and wringing it out placed it carefully on the hobbit's forehead. "ye've got another one o' them headaches don't you?" Sam asked quietly.
Frodo nodded slightly, not wanting to worsen his pain. Sam silently took his off his own coat and draped it over Frodo. "Can't have ya getting sick again Mr. Frodo, yer Uncle'd have me head"
"Thanks Sam" Frodo whispered. It was silent for some time and Sam was just starting to worry that Frodo was sick again or to think that perhaps he'd fallen asleep when suddenly he spoke. "I see things Sam, I see things that will happen." His voice sounded tired and scared.
"What things Mr. Frodo? What d'ya mean?" Sam asked.
Frodo remained prone on the grass beside Sam. "I can see when bad things, dangerous things are close at hand....perhaps that's why you think of me as reckless. It's true I'm not as careful as most, but I see in my mind when it's time to be worried." he explained cautiously.
"If ya see danger afore it happens, why'd ye fall from the tree just now?" Sam asked.
Frodo opened his eyes and Sam could see them swimming in unshed tears. "I've been pushing my visions away....that's why I'm getting the headaches...ever since that morning in Bilbo's study..." Frodo's voice trailed off. "I'm scared Sam" he whispered "I...I heard voices...I didn't see a vision Sam, I had a voice inside my head."
"What voice? What did they speak to you sir?" Sam asked gently.
"I heard at first one voice, sweet and clear as a bell...then it 'twas joined by others till it sounded as if there were a crowd inside my head....all of them saying' Lle naa i'er'...'you are the one'...Sam, the Valar spoke to me." Frodo's voice broke a bit as he continued "I have had their gift of foretelling since the day after my parents died...now they've spoken to me..." Frodo became quiet and all Sam could hear was the gentle lapping of the water at the edge of the river.
Sam wasn't sure what Frodo remembered of the morning in Bilbo's study , but he felt sure that he'd best share what he knew. He cleared his throat to speak "Mr. Frodo, that morning after ye fell to the floor, do you remember what happened?" Frodo looked to Sam.
"No Sam, the next thing I remember was waking up to Old Prody poking at me...do you suppose that's why he's called 'Prody'? " Frodo asked with a trace of a smile on his face.
Sam let that one pass, but shook his head. "Ye remember nothing then?" he continued. Frodo struggled to sit up and Sam leant him his hand to aid him in his efforts.
"What is it you're not saying Sam?" Frodo asked accusingly.
"After ye fell to the floor, I yelled and Da and Mr. Bilbo came a running....Da left to go get Prody and we wrapped you in blankets....then Mr. Bilbo rolled ya over and you were a staring at us...only" Sam paused "only it wasn't like it was you staring back at us. You looked like you was seeing through us...then in a voice that sounded like it was real far away you said 'Amin i'er '....'I am the one'...you shut yer eyes and whispered 'help me Uncle'. That was the last ya spoke for nigh on 3 days."
Sam looked at Frodo, he was pale and his lips were set in a determined fashion "So now they speak through me as well" he said in a strained voice. He turned to stare intently into Sams eyes. "Sam, do you think me...strange?" he asked sadly.
"Strange sir? NO" he replied vigorously. "I think you're a caution, no mistake...you have a way about you...a different way of seeing and believing in things....so that others can see and believe along with ye...but no sir, I don't think you're strange." He paused a moment and then whispered
" I think you're wonderful."
Frodo reached over and squeezed Sams hand briefly..."and I think you're a tresure Samwise Gamgee, wise beyond your years, loyal and true of heart...any hobbit would be lucky to count you among their friends...may I be counted among yours?" he asked sincerely.
Sam felt a mixture of great sadness and overwhelming happiness mingle inside of him...he felt at once proud and fearful, he knew that his bond with this san, lonely and magical hobbit would bring him joys and pains uncounted. He knew, right then and there that they were meant to be in each others' lives as surely as the sun rose and set each day. "I'll be where ye need me Mr. Frodo, for as long as ye can manage with me slow ways and foolish questions. I'll look after ye sir...but...could ye please pay attention to these foretellings? Me heart won't last many more stunts like ye showed me today!'
"It's settled then" Frodo said " I'll give you what magic I can find and share all that I believe...you watch out that I don't manage to kill myself before we're off to see the wonders of the world." Frodo laughed, feeling suddenly happier than he could remember feeling in a very long time.
Sam looked about him suddenly and noticing the lengthening shadows of the day, stood up and brushing the grass off his backside reached his hand down to help Frodo to his feet. "Mr. Bilbo'll be getting worried Mr. Frodo, we'd best get home."
Frodo shivered suddenly in his wet things. Sam picked up his coat, which had fallen to the ground and drapped it once more about Frodo's shoulders.
"Thanks Sam" Frodo said softly "Can I ask one small favor?" he continued.
Sam looked alittle awkward "Well sir, considering what happened the last time ye asked me that....I'm guessing I'd like to know the favor before I be saying yeah or neah. Sam said sheepishly.
"Of course Sam" Frodo said smiling "Do you know what I want more than anything?" Sam did not think that this was a questions anyone but Frodo could answer so he remained silent. " I want a place to belong Sam...somewhere to call home."
"You got that sir...why Bag End's as fine a hobbit hole as any in the whole of the Shire!" Sam exclaimed loudly.
"Yes it is Sam, but it is not my home for sure until the adoption is final...not till the year is up." Frodo was silent a moment " I really want this to work out Sam and I am afraid the events of the past few weeks have been terribly hard on poor dear Uncle Bilbo." He turned to look Sam in the eye, "I don't want Bilbo to think me 'strange' Sam...please don't tell him of what I've said today" he pleaded.
Sam thought his heart would break seeing how genuinely worried Frodo was. "Mr. Bilbo will think you're right as rain Mr. Frodo, excepting you're all wet...again...and bloody about the head, limping, shivering and..." Frodo sneezed " did I mention sneezing?" The two hobbits laughed loudly as they walked slowly back to Bag End.
Bilbo was meanwhile, entertaining a very special visitor back at Bag End. Gandalf the wizard had stopped by to see how Bilbo was faring with his new addition...
"To tell you the truth Gandalf" Bilbo was saying " I've been quite concerned about the lad...he's had his share of sickness since he's been here, I'll not deny that...but it's more." Bilbo paused to drink his tea "It's his way of isolating himself...he doesn't seem to have much, if anything, in common with the other lads of Hobbiton...except the youngest Gamgee boy." Gandalf puffed on his pipe and waited for his friend to continue.
"Honestly, Frodo and Sam have become as thick as thieves, they are scarcely apart from one another....and while I am happy that Frodo has found a friend, I was hoping he'd broaden his horizens and try to spend time with others a little closer to his way of life."
Gandalf carefully took in all that his friend told him and then looked beyond his words to his real meaning. "Closer?" Gandalf laughed "My dear Bilbo, there could be no one 'closer' to Frodo's way of thinking than Sam....unless perhaps you count yourself. Why young Master Gamgee is full of many of the same dreams and ideas as Frodo is."
"Well, yes" Bilbo squirmed a bit under the wizard's scrutiny "dreams of adventures are a common bond, but I was thinking more a long the lines of...social propriety..."
"Bilbo Baggins, you rascal" boomed the wizard " are you daring to suggest that it is not Sam's 'place' to be friends with Frodo!"
Bilbo was truly becoming uncomfortable "No!" he said loudly "or well not exactly.....what I am saying is that it's not proper for Frodo to spend so much time seeking out Sam....it's only natural that Sam would want to better himself through his friendship with Frodo. My point is...is...in what way does this friendship further Frodo's future or desires?"
Gandalf stared at his friend in amazement. "Have your adventures outside the Shire taught you nothing? Has it been so long since you interacted with others purely for the pleasure of company that brings warmth and comfort? Bilbo Baggins I've half a mind to deposit another company of Dwarves upon your doorstep." Gandalf exclaimed loudly.
"Now, now Gandalf...that is precisely my point. Ever since my travels with Thorin and company the name 'Baggins' has brought images of 'strange, odd and queer' to the minds of all in Hobbiton. Don't you see, I don't want the boy to have the same effect on the gossips of the Shire as I have had...especially since they are all ready to point the finger of blame about his rather odd ways in my direction." Bilbo paused and took a deep breath and continued quietly "Folks here, where we...or at least he...shall live out his days expect a certain kind of life."
Gandalf stared at his friend "Frodo expects a certain kind of life as well Bilbo....why shouldn't he live his life in a way that suits him?"
Bilbo sighed heavily "Don't you see Gandalf, Frodo loves the Shire. I want him to have a comfortable place to live in a part of the world that he loves...." Bilbo walked to the window and gazed out thoughtfully "I shan't always be here to protect him you know. He's had such a sad time of it since Drogo and Primula passed on." He sighed "I'm really quite fond of him you know, always have been...since he was a wee babe. He's always had such spunk and spirit...and bright...why Gandalf I can't tell you another Hobbit besides myself who speaks and reads Elvish, most hobbits don't believe that Elves even exist outside of children's tales." Bilbo looked at Gandalf, who was smiling slightly as his friend spoke...he too began to smile. "Alright, I see you smiling at me under that big hat of yours....I know that most hobbits are rather small minded and I do have to remind myself not to fall into that trap myself Gandalf....but I really do have Frodo's best interests at heart."
"Of course your do my frind, of course you do. Now where is this nephew of yours, I'd like to have a word or two with him before I have to be off and it is getting to be dark out is it not?" Gandalf said.
"Yes, yes it is...but there was something else I was going to mention to you about the boy and confound it... with all your smiling and smirking at me you've gone and made me forget" Bilbo said rather crossly." He walked to the window again, noticing how dark it was getting and just wondering if he should start to be worried when out of the corner of his eye he he spied the boys coming down the lane. Sam was helping a wet, limping and bleeding Frodo as they sang a song of friendship and travel....their two voices different, yet together they blended to form a strong and unstoppable sound that carried a great distance. "Drat it all Gandalf....he's gone and done it again" Bilbo exclaimed in exasperation as he reached for his cloak and ran up the lane to meet them.
Gandalf came to the door of Bag End and smiled to see Bilbo so full of concern at the welfare of the hobbit boy. ' I was right' he thought to himself ' this is the best thing for both of them'...' I only hope it will always be so'.