Rating: Slash, PG-13
Pairing: Frodo/May I surprise you, gentle Reader?
Warnings: None. Short and fluffy

Letters
by Laura Mason

I miss you.

It seems strange that I can feel lonely. I'm surrounded by loving friends, and there's nothing silent about Bag End now that little Elanor is learning to walk and speak, and Rosie is fussing over cleaning out some of the bachelor muss left untouched since Bilbo's days here. She was too shy to do such a Spring cleaning when they first moved in, but now Rosie is truly taking charge of her home. Hers and Sam's -- and I foresee it will be full of babies and much love for many years. But it's not silent, nor am I alone.

I still feel alone without you.

Sam is here whenever he's not needed elsewhere, singing in the garden, giving me his good company and blessed friendship. Sam understands me, as perhaps even you cannot. Sam remembers the hobbit from before Bilbo's legacy changed us all, and he knows the broken toy of evil I became at the Sammath Naur. Yet he loves and accepts all of me, such a prec an incredible gift that I know I must sound very ungrateful.

How can I complain of being alone when Sam is here, and shares all the joy of his life with me so generously? He still trusts me to be with his beloved wife and child, despite all my shortcomings, and puts up with my moods and illnesses.

But I do miss you, and I often wonder if you ever think of me in the watches of the night. No, I'm sure you don't. How can you be awake in the wee hours, like me, when you work so hard all day long? No, I'm certain you're more like our Rosie, who can immediately sleep when it's finally bed time. She and Sam both are too tired to wake when Elanor is restless, and so they brag of how she sleeps through the night. Her soft cries are our secret, and many nights I bring her a cup of water, or rock her back to sleep after a bad dream.

Little girl, elven-fair. What wonders she'll see long after I've left Middle Earth.

For I must leave.

When you hear the news of my sailing, will you finally understand why I left you behind to face your new Age of Men? I expect to hear any day now of your marriage. Sometimes I think that's all I wait for, the final release from all I've loved in Middle Earth.

The Shire, my Shire, so damaged by the evil we tried to fight, cannot return my love. And its beloved people are alien to me. I watch Rosie, so lovely as she dusts and polishes -- while I am akin to the dust, part of the refuse to be thrown away. But Sam and Rose won't toss me out, as they should. I am the mathom they cannot give away, because of their love and gratitude. So it falls to me to free them of the burden of me.

I will, just as soon as the last hope dies in my heart, beloved. It won't be long now. Once the news arrives, our time together will finally become what it should have been these three years now -- no more than a cherished memory to warm my heart.

When I've sailed, and hopefully healed, perhaps that memory will again stir my flesh, though it would seem that in the Uttermost West my body should be too changed. But the memory of your arms, your mouth, the strength that broke against me in such intense pleasure -- that will never leave me, no matter how changed.

And I will still love you, as I love you now and always have. I regret never admitting it, not even when I knew I'd never see you again. Oh, love, I should have told you, many times, rather than sit here, sleepless in the false dawn, pouring my heart into letters I can never send.

I am a fool. But I am still

Your Frodo

***

"Sam, some of my papers... I was writing the night before last, and now I can't find the pages. Have you seen them?"

His friend sat at the kitchen table, feeding applesauce to Elanor, and the occasional clang from the cellar showed where Rose was working this afternoon. "Oh, your letter? Rosie asked me to tidy the study yestermorn, while you had that terrible headache."

Frodo peeked into the teapot on the table, which still was steaming. "Then you did see it," he murmured, pouring himself a cup and adding some milk before he sat down across from Sam. "So where did you move it, then?" he asked, taking a sip.

"Oh, I sent it off."

Hot tea cascaded to the floor and sprayed across the table. There was a lot of cursing and mopping, and applications of cold cloths to burnt toes, before Frodo managed to recover and sputter, "You *sent* it? Sam!"

Now his friend had that stubborn look Frodo knew far too well. "Wasn't it all finished and proper signed, just lying there waiting to be folded into an envelope?"

"We must get it back from the post office, Sam."

"I had Neddie Barleytoes ride to Crickhollow with it on his pony. It's already gone, for neither Mr. Merry nor Mr. Pippin would delay in sending it from there."

"No," Frodo iprotested, but he knew Sam didn't lie.

"Your letter is halfway to the Greyflood by now, Mr. Frodo." Sam was definitely angry when he reverted to titles with Frodo. He turned back to Ellie, who'd been watching their fuss with big eyes, and picked her up.

"Sam, I..." Frodo flopped back in his chair. "You read it all, didn't you?"

"I did, not meaning to pry, you understand, just trying to figure out where your papers should be rightly set. But then Rosie's name caught my eye..."

A shame-faced Sam set Elanor down on her feet and proudly watched her toddle to the doorway and smile back at them. Then in three steps he lifted her again and set her in her the enclosure they'd devised, among her toys and blanket. She gurgled happily, said something that might have been a word, and began walking.

"Oh, Sam, I don't wish to have any secrets from you. You know the worst of me. It's just... I was talking to myself. I never intended that ... you ... or anyone ... would see it."

Sam's full attention was now on Frodo. First he poured a new cup of tea for him, adding the proper amount of milk. Then he sat beside him and spoke. "Frodo, you're my dearest friend. I don't claim to be near as wise as you. But if I'd pulled such foolishness with my Rosie, you'd have told me what was what."

Frodo looked into his eyes, but couldn't summon a laugh or a smile in response to Sam's earnest glare.

"Don't fret. It's done and out of your hands." Sam rose. "Now I've got work to do, if you don't mind watching Ellie." He left the room, whistling softly.

"Nothing will come of it, Sam," Frodo called after him. "He doesn't love me."

But still, for the next weeks every knock on the door or noise on the road made Frodo's heart pound.

But the weeks passed, April ending along with the heavy spring rains. Sam's garden was in full blossom, and he made one of his trips through the Shire in mid-May, leaving Frodo in Rosie's capable hands, and sent letters back posted from Crickhollow, with long post scripts from Merry and Pippin that made them laugh.

The faint hope faded slowly, and by June it finally died. Then Frodo once again spent sleepless nights writing letters until his eyes burned with tears and exhaustion. The only difference was that now he carefully burned the papers before retreating to a darkened room with horrible headaches that lasted a day or more.

July became one of the hottest months in anyone's memory, so dry that Frodo and Rosie both helped Sam pull buckets of water from the well every day to keep their vegetable garden green, sighing as the flowers wilted under the hot sun. Frodo also helped carry buckets down to the gardens of Bagshot Row, knowing how those families would suffer if their crops all failed.

Finally, after anxious weeks the weather broke, a heavy storm quickly turning into days of gentle drizzle that everyone welcomed. The Shire seemed to come to life again, after days of hobbits only walking as far as the pond to cool off after their work in the blazing sun. Suddenly visits were regularly made again, and further visits planned, so that Frodo found himself alone at Bag End, Sam taking Rose and the baby to visit her family at the farm before heading to Pincup to survey the damage to his trees.

Frodo had forgotten how silent the smial could be, though there was still plenty of evidence of the Gamgee family in every corner. At his tea, Frodo smiled at the pile of toys in Ellie's enclosure, and remembered how happy she was to be close to her mother as she worked. He'd been much the same. At least, so Bilbo told him. He didn't remember very much about his childhood, though he didn't know why it should be so. Certainly Sam still remembered things from when he was very young, and both Merry and Pip seemed the same.

He didn't really want tea. He felt restless. And then he thought of what he really wanted after all the hot days spent carrying water. Frodo wanted a bath, a nice cool one on this warm afternoon, with scented oil and a good book to read while he soaked. A *private* bath, not a swim at the pond or a scrub up from the washbasin, but a proper bath with lots of bubbles and his good scrub brush.

It took a long time to fill the tub properly, more water than he'd ever let Sam carry for him. Frodo liked the water to almost spill over the rim. Between the rainwater now stored in the pipes and the extra bucketfuls Frodo happily carried in, he soon had the tub filled just the way he liked it.

As he began stripping off his waistcoat, Frodo remembered that Daddy Twofoot might be stopping by with a cake from the Widow Rumble, their thank-you for the help with their garden. He made sure the door was unlatched, then, after a moment's thought, went to the study and wrote a note, printing in large letters "come right in." He stuck it on the door with a piece of soft plaster, then returned to his tub.

It wasn't until he was undressed and slipping into the water that Frodo thought to question whether Daddy Twofoot could actually read. Most hobbits of his age and class didn't.

Well, no matter; he'd try the door and leave the cake or not. The late sun streamed in the window and warmed Frodo as the water cooled and soothed him. He didn't even pick up his book, just settled back with his head on the towel-covered rim to enjoy his bath.

When he woke with a start, uncertain of the reason, the room was darker and Frodo knew several hours had passed.

A noise from the doorway, a throat clearing, made him blush and turn -- and almost drown himself, surprise making him slip under the water. When he came up, the vision was still there in the doorway, smiling.

"Faramir?"

"Good evening, Frodo Baggins," he replied with a bow, his voice very gentle. Then his smile changed into something feral, and his voice deepened. "I seem to have caught you at a disadvantage yet again, halfling."

Frodo was blushing, he knew that, and yet he was thrilled to have Faramir speak to him so, just as they had in Minas Tirith so long ago. And to be reminding him of that day in Ithilien--

Two steps and the prince was beside the tub, looking down. "A defenseless halfling, here in my power."

Frodo smiled up at him, daring to be honest. "A chance for Faramir, Captain of Gondor, to show his quality."

"Indeed. There is only one thing to do in this situation." Faramir began pulling off his own clothes and dropping them to the floor. Frodo watched, breathless, wanting to laugh or cry -- or just tell him how much he loved him. But he was silent until the man climbed in the tub with him, water cascading over the edges as he did.

"Hmm. My clothing all seems to be wet now, Frodo. I may have to be here many days, until it is cleaned and dried out."

The man pulled the hobbit into his arms, Frodo's back to his chest, and buried his face in Frodo's neck, emotion making his arms shake. Frodo kissed the hands before him, then twisted to kiss those beloved, oft-missed lips.

***

I miss you, and Rose, and little Elanor. But I am happy here in Ithilien, so very happy. We owe you everything, Sam, more than I could ever repay. You are the hero of the Quest, as everyone will see once I send the Red Book back, for it's a tale of our part in the War and should stay in the Shire.

But what no one will know is that you, dear Sam, gave me back my life and my hope for the future.

May the Valar bless you all your days.

Love, Frodo

 

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