By San Antonio Rose
The Field of Cormallen
The feasting and conversation was finally over for the night, and Sam and Frodo, still weak from their ordeal, had been sent to their tent to rest. Sam’s mind was full of the tales his friends had told him that night, and it was difficult to fall asleep. So Sam lay still with his eyes closed, listening to his master’s breathing and trying to digest all the news he had received.
As Sam relaxed, his thoughts drifted back to those last terrible moments before he and Frodo had lost consciousness at the foot of Mount Doom. He remembered thinking, as the wind rolled back the gloom, Dear Erubar, if You weren’t just a dream back at Yuletide… if I am to die, please let Rosie know that I love her and my last thoughts are of her.
A grateful smile spread across Sam’s face. I’m still not sure if You were only a dream, Erubar, he thought, recalling his vision of the Child in the stable. But if You weren’t, I thank you for giving me the chance to live… and to see Rosie again.
And somehow, deep down, he knew his beloved was anxiously awaiting his return.
Citadel of Minas Tirith
I give her all my love,
That’s all I do,
And if you saw my love,
You’d love her, too.
I love her.
Aragorn, Arwen, and Elrond looked on in amusement as Sam and Faramir sat under the White Tree, staring westward with identical wistful expressions and clearly not watching the sunset, as they had claimed to want to do.
“I know what—or who—is on Faramir’s mind,” Aragorn said at last, “but what is occupying Sam’s?”
“Easy,” replied Frodo, whose cousins had finally dragged him outside for some fresh air after a long day of writing. “Rose Cotton.”
The newlyweds and the father of the bride looked down at him curiously.
Pippin nodded. “The fairest lass in Bywater, so he says. They’re third cousins, I think, but Sam’s just dotty about her. They’ve been walking out for… oh, how long is it now, Frodo?”
“Oh, my… I can’t remember now. Quite a few years, anyway. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he asks her to marry him as soon as we get home.”
“Ah, so that was what Bilbo meant when he said he thought Sam would be settling down soon,” Arwen said with a twinkle.
Elrond looked at Sam, arching one eyebrow as if considering a plan. “Tell me, Frodo, do hobbits have any particular betrothal rituals?”
Frodo shrugged and looked at Merry, who rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Well, I don’t quite know what you mean by ‘rituals’… the lad usually gives the lass a ring, but that’s about the only set practice we have.”
Elrond smiled. “I know Sam is reluctant to accept any gifts for himself, richly though he deserves them. Still, perhaps he will accept a small token to take back to his Rose.”
Frodo’s eyes lit up as he caught Elrond’s meaning. “Oh, Elrond, what a wonderful idea!”
“Should we go down to the shops together?” Pippin asked excitedly.
“I wouldn’t know what size of ring to get for her,” Frodo confessed.
“Daernaneth might help us with that,” Arwen mused. “Or perhaps Gandalf.”
“But does it not strike you that Sam is a remarkable hobbit?” Aragorn countered, looking at his father-in-law. “And any lass he loves must also be remarkable.”
“And a remarkable lass should have a remarkable ring,” Merry nodded, seeing Aragorn’s point.
Elrond also nodded. “Among those who dwell in Rivendell is one of the few surviving members of the Gwaith-i-Mírdain. Celeblos did not make any of the Great Rings; the only virtue any of his rings now possess is the ability to fit the wearer, regardless of how the wearer’s hand might swell or shrink. His designs, however, are always delightful.”
Merry looked up at Arwen. “What do Elven betrothal rings usually look like?”
“We do things differently, I believe,” she answered. “Betrothal rings are plain silver bands which are exchanged. At the wedding, as you doubtless saw, these rings are given back and exchanged for plain bands of gold.” She held her hand out to display her own wedding ring.
Merry pursed his lips. “Yes, I suppose mortal customs are a bit different. For one thing, a hobbit lass likes to have a jewel of some kind in her ring, even if it is otherwise plain and sturdy. Something pretty, but something that stands up well to everyday wear-and-tear, too.”
“I think Celeblos can come up with something suitable,” Aragorn smiled.
“Will he have enough time to design and make a ring if he starts when we arrive?” Pippin frowned.
“Oh, yes,” replied Elrond. “The whole process should not take him more than a week, and I presume you plan to stay longer than that.”
“I expect so,” Frodo shrugged. “Our plans aren’t definite, but a week scarcely seems long enough to have a proper visit with Bilbo.”
Elrond smiled. “Then it is settled. I will ask Celeblos to begin working as soon as we arrive.”
The three hobbits grinned at each other. Sam may have led the conspiracy that landed them all on this quest, but this time the conspiracy would be about him… and hopefully bring him twice the joy he had brought to Frodo.
Sam paused in his trek from Bilbo’s room to his own when a strange elf’s voice called to him. He turned to see a silver-haired elf wearing a smith’s apron coming toward him, smiling broadly.
“I am Celeblos,” the elf said by way of introduction. “I have a gift for you from Master Elrond; he asked me to hold it and present it to you now, since you are leaving tomorrow.”
Sam’s bewildered expression was the only reply he could manage. Hiding in a nearby room, his fellow travelers looked up at Elrond, and all four smothered their laughter.
Celeblos pulled a small black box out of his apron, opened it, and knelt to present it to Sam. Sam inadvertently gasped when he saw the ring—or set of rings, as it turned out to be once Sam gingerly lifted it out of the box. There were two thin gold bands lightly joined at one point, but the center, which was separate, was in the shape of two roses that intertwined at the base of the blossom. One flower was made of adamant, the other of ruby, both cut round with a starburst facet; and the leaves that showed on the top of the ring were tiny beryls.
“The extra bands are placed around the center to form the wedding ring,” Celeblos explained, “but the center is to be used for your betrothal.”
Sam blushed and tried to say something, but nothing came out. Celeblos merely grinned at him.
The hobbits could stand it no longer. “SURPRISE!” they shouted, bursting out of their hiding place and startling Sam.
“What in Arda…” Sam finally spluttered, as the others’ laughter rang through the hall.
“Oh, come on, Sam,” Pippin said with a grin. “Don’t think we didn’t notice you mooning about over Rosie ever since Cormallen.”
“And why shouldn’t you?” Merry continued. “Other than Aragorn, you’re the only one of us who had a girl back home to think about. And now that you’re headed back to her, we thought it only fitting to give you a little something to give her.”
“Beyond what Bilbo just gave you, that is,” Pippin added.
Sam looked from Took to Brandybuck to Baggins. “Another conspiracy, Mr. Frodo?” he finally managed to say.
“Revenge is sweet,” Frodo replied with a wink.
Sam’s blush deepened and he rubbed the back of his neck while the other hobbits laughed and clapped him on the back. Celeblos simply chuckled.
“So, do you like my surprise, Sam?” asked Elrond, finally stepping into the hall.
“It was his idea, after all,” Frodo added.
Sam’s eyes shone as he looked up at his host. “Oh, yes, indeed! Thank you, Master Elrond! And thank you, too, Mr. Celeblos,” he added, turning back to the jewel-smith.
“You are most welcome, Samwise,” Celeblos replied, holding out the box so that Sam could replace the ring, then closing it and giving it to Sam. “I hope your Rose likes it as well.”
“I hope so, too,” Sam sighed; but deep down, he thought, Of course she will, you ninny!
And he smiled at the thought.
The Green Dragon, Hobbiton
“It was a year ago today,” said Robin Smallburrow, setting down his mug.
“What was?” asked Sam, who had just returned to Hobbiton from one of his forestry rounds that evening and had stopped in at The Green Dragon for a mug of ale before going on to No. 3 New Row to spend the night with the Gaffer.
“I had to come up to Hobbiton with a prisoner for the Lockholes—don’t frown, Sam; you know I hated that work. Anyway, as I was leaving, I heard Ted Sandyman boasting to some of the Chief’s Men who ran the mill.”
Both Sam and Robin glanced over to the corner where Ted sat alone, sulkily drinking his fifth beer of the evening. At Frodo’s insistence, the Sandyman mill had been restored to Ted, albeit stripped of the needless machinery imported from Isengard by Lotho; but he now had small welcome in Hobbiton, and though he still frequented The Green Dragon, he had given up trying to get the same level of attention he was used to before the inns closed. Rumor had it that he was trying to sell the mill and move to Archet.
“Seems one of the Men was giving Ted a bad time because none of the Hobbiton lasses would speak to him,” Robin continued. “Ted said as he knew of one he could try for, anyway, and that he was going to speak to her on the morrow. The Men jeered at him and didn’t believe him. So Ted said, ‘I’ll be back tomorrow with Rose Cotton on my arm; you see if I don’t.’”
The color drained from Sam’s face as he looked at Robin in shock. “What?”
Robin looked puzzled. “She didn’t tell you?”
“No; she said he’d annoyed her some, but….”
Robin laid a hand on Sam’s arm. “He never touched her, Sam. He never got near enough to try. That I know. They were still laughing at him three weeks later when I came back with some paperwork. She wouldn’t have him, and she said she knew you were coming back as sure as eggs is eggs. Slammed the door in his face, so they say; and he never went back, so she probably didn’t think it worth mentioning. She earned her share of sniggers, too, seeing as how everyone—saving the Cottons and your Gaffer—thought you were dead. But that was the first hint anybody had that things would be set to rights.”
“Thank Eru for that,” Sam murmured, glaring at Ted. His blood boiled to think that as he was helping Frodo up the final distance to the Cracks of Doom, this arrogant lazybones had been trying to steal his beloved Rosie.
“Sam…” Robin said, lowering his voice.
“No fear, Cock-robin,” Sam returned. “I won’t do more than speak to him. I’ve shown mercy to worse wretches than Master Sandyman.”
With that, Sam set down his mug and stood. A hush fell over the assembled hobbits as Sam strode purposefully toward the corner where Ted sat glowering and muttering, “She should have been mine… why’d he come back… I wanted her….”
Ted’s rambling was cut off when Sam’s hand came down on his shoulder and held it in a grip strengthened by months of wielding swords and skillets. Ted cowered when he saw the rage in Sam’s narrowed eyes.
“Look here, Ted Sandyman,” Sam said in a voice so low and even, it made even Robin shiver. “Don’t you ever come near my Rosie again. Is that clear?”
Ted merely whimpered. Between fear and ale, he was incapable of forming a coherent response.
Sam held him a moment longer before releasing him and stepping aside. Ted bolted, reeling and staggering as he fled. Sam took a deep breath and let it out again, and as the anger left his face, the tension left the room.
“Nicely handled, Sam,” Robin smiled as Sam sat down, shaking his head in a mixture of pity and disgust.
Sam sighed as the door slammed shut; then a slow smile spread across his face as he looked back at Robin.
“Slammed the door in his face, eh?” Sam chuckled.
“She’s a prize, that lass of yours,” Robin replied, raising his mug.
“She is indeed,” Sam beamed, returning the implied salute. As they drained their mugs together, he thought, And thank You, Erubar, for keeping her safe for me.
“When are you going to move in and join me, Sam?” asked Frodo, setting the last plate in place in the kitchen of Bag End.
“Ah… well…” Sam stammered, setting down a box.
“There is no need to come yet, if you don’t want to. But you know the Gaffer is close at hand, and he will be very well looked after by Widow Rumble.”
“It’s not that, Mr. Frodo,” Sam replied, blushing.
“Well, what is it?”
“It’s Rosie, Rose Cotton. It seems she didn’t like my going abroad at all, poor lass; but as I hadn’t spoken, she couldn’t say so. And I didn’t speak, because I had a job to do first.”
“Wait,” Frodo interrupted. “You mean you still haven’t spoken to her?”
“There hasn’t been time,” Sam replied, turning an even brighter red. “And… well, I haven’t figured out how yet. Besides, I’m feeling torn in two about it all.”
“I see. You want to get married, and yet you want to live with me in Bag End too? But my dear Sam, how easy! Get married as soon as you can, and then move in with Rosie. There’s room enough in Bag End for as big a family as you could wish for. And quite honestly, I feel the place wants living in—not just by a quiet bachelor like me, but by a family. These halls haven’t heard a child’s laughter in a long time.”
“I know what you mean, Mr. Frodo. And I thank you; that does solve that dilemma for me!”
“Now to actually ask Rosie, right?”
“Right.” Sam sighed. “It’s just so hard to know how to do it right. I had thought of asking her to dinner, but The Green Dragon is scarcely the place for a nice quiet meal, and I’m afraid the Gaffer would spoil the surprise. I love him dearly, but there it is.”
“Well, I’m hardly an expert on such matters, as well you know; but I don’t think it would hurt to invite her to dinner here tomorrow night. We can even say that it’s a housewarming dinner, if you want to completely surprise her. And then after dinner, I can take care of the washing up while you talk to Rosie. You can use the parlor if you’d like; but it might be a fine night for a walk, with the full moon and your mallorn blooming.”
Sam grinned at him. “You know, Mr. Frodo, I think you’re as much a hopeless romantic as Mr. Bilbo.”
Frodo laughed. “That’s the way we confirmed bachelors are, you know!”
“It’s a grand idea, and I thank you for it. I’m sure she’ll love it.”
Sam and Frodo prepared all afternoon, and while the meal was not as extravagant as some of Frodo’s past feasts, it was still the sort of meal that any hobbit could appreciate as especially fine. As they worked, the two friends reminisced about the grand feast that had been prepared for them a year before.
“It all seems right somehow,” Sam said just before he left to fetch Rosie. “Last year I was wishing for a chance to see Rosie again and tell her how much I love her; now, Eru willing, I can finally take that chance.”
Frodo grinned. “And I’m glad He’s allowed me to help you find it!”
The dinner conversation, too, centered around past adventures; Rosie was keenest on hearing stories about the Elves, but she also insisted on hearing all about the banquet in Ithilien, although she backed off every time a question probed painful memories that neither Sam nor Frodo was willing to share yet.
“‘Praise them with great praise,’ indeed,” she echoed wistfully after Sam finished telling about the minstrel’s lay. “It’s funny… the day you say the War was won, I saw you—a vision, I guess you’d call it—and you were sitting on two thrones and everyone was shouting for joy. It sounded just like you described.”
Frodo and Sam looked at each other.
“I wonder why,” she mused.
“Eru knows,” Sam shrugged, doing his level best not to betray the very literal meaning of that statement or his grateful surprise at discovering that his prayer, which he had once thought to be his last, had been answered.
After dinner, Sam and Rosie went into the parlor and sat down beside the fire. As Rosie watched the fire for a moment, Sam struggled to find the words he wanted to say. None came.
Finally, Rosie turned from the hearth, leaned forward, and placed a hand gently on Sam’s arm. “Sam? Are you all right?”
The light touch pulled Sam out of his reverie. Looking deep into the eyes of his beloved Rose, Sam suddenly felt as if his heart would burst for love of the simple hobbit lass before him. He had known her all her life, but after returning from a quest full of deadly peril and intense beauty, he had finally begun to realize what a treasure she was.
He took her hand. “Let’s go down to the Party Field. There’s something I want to ask you, but I’m not sure I can do it here.”
Rosie smiled. “All right.”
Hand in hand, they left Bag End and walked silently down the Hill toward the field where Bilbo’s famous party had occurred nearly twenty years before. The magnificent Party Tree was gone, but in its place stood the mallorn that had grown from the nut Galadriel had given Sam in Lothlórien. With Isil shining down brightly, the mallorn seemed to glow of its own accord, echoing for Sam the light of Lothlórien and of Valinor as he imagined it. A wistful sigh escaped him.
Rosie, who had been studying his face, finally broke the silence. “You’ve changed, Sam.”
Sam blinked, once again brought back to the present. “Have I?”
Rosie nodded. “You’ve grown. You’re… deeper, somehow. It’s as if the fires you went through burned off the things about you that some of the gentlefolk would have called ‘low,’ and the real you—the best part that I always knew was there—is what’s left. Only it’s stronger, more solid, more real. You’re not like poor Mr. Frodo, who seems a little… hollow now.” After a pause, she added, “And I love you better for it.”
Sam didn’t quite know what to say to that, so he squeezed her hand and gave her a grateful smile.
By this time, they had reached the mallorn. Looking up at it, Sam took a deep breath and said, “I know I haven’t been able to tell you much about what happened to us, Rosie. Maybe someday I will. But it wasn’t all hardship. I’ve seen many fair things and many fair people… sights that would take your breath away for the beauty of them.” Turning to face Rosie, he continued, “But so many of them were too high and lofty for a hobbit to live with. ‘We can’t live long on the heights,’ Pippin once said, and he was right. And so was Merry when he said, ‘It is best to love first what you are fitted to love, I suppose: you must start somewhere and have some roots, and the soil of the Shire is deep.’ There are many fine things in this world, but my heart belongs in the Shire… and with you.
“Rosie, many’s the time I would think of you when we were on our way to Mordor and wonder if I’d ever see you again. But thanks be to the One and the Powers, I did come home, and though so much else was spoiled, you were still here, the fairest Rose of any garden I have ever seen. And now that the Shire is on the mend, I can finally say what I’ve wanted to say since the day I woke up in Ithilien and knew that we were coming home.”
Dropping to one knee, Sam concluded, “Rose Cotton, love of my life, will you marry me?”
Rosie was unable to speak for a moment, but the light of star and tree and moon glistened in her unshed tears and caught in her hair until she seemed almost as radiant as Galadriel herself. Sam’s heart pounded nervously while Rosie’s lips quavered, trying to form a reply.
After what seemed like an eternity, Rosie choked out, “Oh, Sam… oh, Sam, I thought you’d never ask! Yes, yes, I’ll marry you!”
Beaming, Sam stood, drew the betrothal ring from his pocket, and slipped the ring on her finger. Rosie gasped as she studied it.
“One of the Elves made that for me in Rivendell. It was Master Elrond’s idea.”
Tears trickled down Rosie’s cheeks as she gazed at the ring, then at Sam. Finally, overcome, she hugged him tightly and whispered, “Thank you.”
Sam again felt as if his heart would burst as he returned the embrace, and his own tears of joy began to fall. Looking up, he saw Eärendil twinkle, as if the Mariner were flashing a greeting with the Silmaril.
Thank you, Erubar, Sam thought, closing his eyes in bliss. Thank you for everything.
Bright are the stars that shine,
Dark is the sky.
I know this love of mine
Will never die,
And I love her.
A/N: The title song, of course, is “And I Love Her” by the Beatles (written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney). The opening scene was inspired in part by a line from the Hogan’s Heroes episode “Request Permission to Escape.” The parlor scene was inspired by the second verse of “Sometime in the Morning” by the Monkees. I used Hiswelókë’s Dragon Fire Sindarin dictionary to figure out an appropriate name for my smith. I also took a few lines of dialog from “The Houses of Healing” and “The Grey Havens” in ROTK.
My description of Ted Sandyman is based on the post-WWII fates of many Nazi collaborators (and inspired primarily by Corrie ten Boom’s descriptions of such people in the Netherlands in The Hiding Place). I’m sure even Book!Frodo would have wanted mercy shown to Ted and the other hobbits who willfully aided Lotho and Saruman, but I think they would probably still have been shunned. I was also thinking about the kind of brooding alcoholic portrayed in such songs as “Straight Tequila Night” by John Anderson.
Daernaneth = Grandmother (in this case, referring to Galadriel)