Comforts of Home by Hobbitcuddles
Summary: Frodo remembers the Quest, and looks forward to the comforts of home; an introspective, first-person dialogue. Set in Tol Eressea.
Categories: FPS, FPS > Frodo/Sam, FPS > Sam/Frodo Characters: Frodo, Sam
Type: None
Warning: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes Word count: 3445 Read: 940 Published: February 01, 2009 Updated: February 01, 2009
Story Notes:
A home is not floors, fixtures, and walls; it's fresh-brewed tea, laughter, purring kitties, comfort, and someone with whom to share it all. This simple fact is the basis for this story.

1. Chapter 1 by Hobbitcuddles

Chapter 1 by Hobbitcuddles
When I was younger I wanted, desperately, to have a great adventure. It was Uncle Bilbo's fault. He'd tell me stories of his travels with the dwarves: the trolls that turned to stone; riddles in the dark with Gollum; defeating the dragon Smaug and being rewarded with great treasure. My head would swim with these wonderful tales and then I would be quite discontent with the unexciting, every-day goings-on of Bag End. I would watch Bilbo meander from room to room, sipping his tea, smoking his pipe, or poking up a hearth fire, and my heart would sag under the repetitiveness of it all. How could he be content with this after his adventures; how could he just sit at home now, knowing that the rest of the world was so exciting? What could possibly be found in his dusty old books that could compare to what he had experienced?

I would talk with you about it while he worked in the garden; funny how, even then, you never minded sharing my troubles. Just knowing that my words, however petty they may have been, fell on your patient ears lessened my burden. Every time I would complain to you about my lack-luster life you would grin, chuckle, and habitually wipe at your face with your handkerchief; you would say, with such ease, that hobbits were meant to be simple and predictable. That we didn't need grand adventures as long as we always knew where home was; where the heart settled, the body would follow.

Your serenity and settled heart marveled me, Sam. Your tasks were just as repetitive as Bilbo's, but you never meandered. You were born without choice as to your lot in life: you would inherit the position of Master Gardener from your Gaffer, and you accepted your lot with cheerful grace. You moved with purpose because of it.

At first I did not truly comprehend the dangers associated with Bilbo's old ring. Of course Gandalf had warned me all about its past; I knew it belonged to the dark Lord Sauron, but I did not really understand that the ring would stop at NOTHING to get back to its master's hand. I did not understand that sometimes even the grandest of tales can have bittersweet endings.

The first night you and I made camp I was actually excited; we had hiked beautiful countryside, even seen Elves. We were living the adventures in Bilbo's worn and tattered books, rather than just reading about them. We would return to Hobbitan with fanfare and fame; everyone would clamor to hear how we braved the wilds and outwitted our foes. How we survived such peril! We had only to deliver the ring to Bree, then we would be hailed as heroes. As we settled by the dying fire, I though only of the glory, of all the stories we would have to share when we returned.

I knew the ring had dangerous power, but somehow it did not connect to me. No adventure would be complete without danger, but we were stalwart and steady on our furry feet; surely no foe could hold against us. As heroes I knew we would, of course, suffer for our cause, but I never thought we could actually die because of it. My first sobering, staggering vision of true, mortal fear rode in upon a black horse. And still, even now, my breath catches to think on what might have happened had we not been so close to the ferry. How all of Middle-Earth could have turned to ash because of my foolhardiness. We were so grateful to reach Bree and the meager shelter of the Inn; but that night I tossed and turned on a bed far removed from my own, both in distance and comfort.

My first memory of Rivendell is actually you, Sam. To this day I can remember snatches of things you could have only said while I was still unconscious. You spoke of meeting the Elves, silver tea trays, interesting plants, and the waterfall -- leave it to you to take notice of the fantastic and the mundane and speak of both in the same breath. Constantly you begged me to awaken, and it is because of you that I did. Of all the voices that must have spoken to me while I wandered in the dark, yours alone, Sam, was familiar and comforting, like the beaconing flicker of a warm hearth fire; and I found strength in it. Upon seeing your face again, I found it nearly worn and pale as my own, tear-streaked, and so dear.

I knew the Elven haven was safe, and I was as comfortable as physically possible given my wound, but still I was discontent. I had read about the Elves' ways, had been enchanted by them in youth, but still they were unfamiliar, confusing, intimidating in a way. Though it was necessary for the Elves to treat my wounds with their curious magic, I found it intrusive. You insisted on seeing to my ordinary needs, like luncheon and fresh linens, and for that I am so grateful. You baked scones and even bought me a vase of lilies. "Just like we 'ave at home, Mr. Frodo!" I realized that while fear and fatigue robbed you of your ease, you still moved with purpose, and a grace to rival that of any Elf.

I did NOT want to go to Mordor! Well of course I didn't; no one in their right mind would. I guess, really, I had no right to complain; I had, after all, volunteered for the job. It seems I was destined for an adventure, though I no longer wanted one. After the council meeting I returned to my room and began to weep. I didn't have the slightest idea of where Mordor was, and yet I was expected to lead an entire company of people (most of whom I didn't even know) into its fiery, and probably fatal, depths. Elbereth only knew what kinds of hardships we would encounter on the way. The only thing I was certain of was that I was completely uncertain!

I was so distraught I didn't even hear you enter the room. I had no idea you was there, in fact, until you touched my shoulder and pressed your own favorite hankie, with which you had so many times wiped your brow, into my hands. "I thought you could may 'hap use this. I noticed you didn't pack your own..." You blushed slightly, and smiled apologetically. I wiped at my face with the cloth and wondered that you could even remember it at such a time; with all we had to do to prepare for this journey, why would it even occur to you to bring such a seemingly small and insignificant thing? "Sometimes a small, familiar thing can help a person to feel more comfortable," you said; "More at home, like." That tiny square of embroidered cloth, like the lilies and the scones, was a connection to home for you, and without question or qualm you offered it to me. After my tears had subsided I folded the handkerchief into my breast pocket. I have carried it there with me ever since.

One does not really understand how precious air is until one has it painfully, violently, and maliciously ripped out of every last corner of the lungs. The swirling Anduin clamped its murky jaws above your head, Sam, and my own oxygen supply was cut off as sure as yours! My heart actually stopped beating. How could I have done that to you? I thought it safer to leave everyone behind, even you, though the pain of it cut sharper than the Morgul blade. But you, determined as always, refused to let me; and I nearly let you die for your loyalty!

Curiously, at the instant you submerged, my memory flashed, like a lightening strike, back to when a torrential downpour flooded part of Hobbitan. Rain fell so heavily that one of Bag End's chimneys toppled and water ran, quick and heady as the Anduin itself, into my bedroom. I faltered, overwhelmed, and unsure of what to do. Your level head and quick grace held the tide at bay and saved Bag End from what would have been massive flood damage. As it was, it took us weeks of work before everything was repaired and as it should have been. My home would have been destroyed had it not been for you, Sam.

Shaking out of my terrified stupor, I frantically hauled you up out of the water and into the boat; sopping, gasping, but otherwise unharmed. Still, though, I could not draw breath; not until I had clasped you, crushed you to me to feel that your chest did indeed rise and fall with life-sustaining air. When, at last, I did breathe again, I wailed.

On an ordinary trip comfort can be hard to come by; on our journey it was impossible. There were no soft beds or curling, sweet pipe smoke. We had splintery, frigid ground and choking ash that stung the eye and throat. Never did I believe I could long so achingly just to hear a single note whistle from a tea kettle.

As we trudged on, even the memories of those small, far-distant comforts began to slip from my mind as that cursed Ring took a firmer and firmer hold. So stealthily its presence crept into my being, that I would often find my fingers wandering dangerously near the chain that gold band hung upon. Every time I caught myself at this I would instead reach for your handkerchief; its soft, warm cloth such a contrast to the hard, cold metal of the Ring. I remember often clutching at both at the same time, trying desperately to lose myself in the one while being hopelessly ensnared by the other.

The Ring's weight was constant: scraping, gnawing, eventually it became familiar, and -- may the Valar forgive me! -- even chillingly comforting. The Ring was not my home, filled with warm hearth-fires and fresh flowers, but none-the-less I found myself wandering through its deceptive mazes like I had once wandered through Bag End.

In Cirith Ungol it was the Ring's call, the Ring's voice, that roused me -- not yours, Sam. Thinking on that now still brings tears of guilt and shame to my eyes. You, in whom I had ever found sureness and stability, wisdom and warmth; You, in whom resided my only remaining connection to home, no longer held precedence in my heart. I was not a hero; I was not grand, or gallant. I was weak and pathetic, barely alive, but the Ring promised me fame and power, grace and ease. No longer did I see the flowers you had always so gently and lovingly tended, as gently and as lovingly as you had tended me; no longer did I grope for the warmth of your handkerchief. I had forsaken you, Sam, and it is still the sickest, blackest moment of my entire existence; a moment I have relived in my nightmares over and over again, seeing your hurt and stricken face.

I wanted to drop into Mt. Doom's fires; by rights I should have burned in the same Hell as Gollum and the Ring, for I was surely the most foul, loathsome abomination to have ever tainted all of Middle Earth! I should not have been allowed to even inhabit the same soil as you, Sam. You reached for my hand, to pull me back up on the ledge, and I was ill with the thought that you had contaminated yourself by touching me.

We returned to the Shire and Bag End, and to my complete heart-break, I still found myself lost in the darkness, wandering, searching, and in pain. Seeing me so broken, both in body and in spirit, nearly clove you in two. After everything that had happened, everything I had put you through, still you tried to light my way and carry me; but it cost you so dearly and we were both in agony.

You longed for a sense of normalcy; something akin to your life before the Quest. But I knew that could never be with me. How could I ever be home or healing to you when I was so useless and filthy? How could my broken presence ever hope to return your lost sense of ease? I encouraged you to marry and have babes; work, a wife, and children would at least look normal, and I hoped they would fill up so much of your time that you would come to see them as such.

Parting from you at the Grey Havens was the hardest thing I have ever had to do; harder even than the Ring Quest, but just as necessary. A clean break had to be made if there was to be any hope of healing, for either of us. I waved to you one last time from the ship, both of us weeping profuse, but ultimately cleansing tears.

Time does not pass in the Undying Lands as it does in Middle-Earth; in only one revelation of the sun you can feel both as young as a new-born babe, and as old as Eru himself. My days, weeks, and even years bled together to a constant, though slightly discordant, rhythm. Gradually, carefully, physical pain gave way to only stiffness; stiffness gave way to only a slight twinge. Finally -- would you believe it Sam! -- even the twinge faded to nothing. I can now move as freely as I did when I was a tween. My spirit, however, proved more difficult to heal. I would have nightmares about the ring and the great eye which left me panting in cold sweats upon waking.

I would dream of you too, Sam, and I would wake from those dreams not sweating, but sobbing, sometimes screaming. After one of those dreams I would inevitably be awake for the rest of the night, pacing, meandering through my new smial. At an agonizingly slow rate the dreams began to lessen and I learned to smile and laugh occasionally. I became adjusted, but never settled, pacified, but not content. An entire world away, I knew, somehow, that you were the same; that knowledge calmed me and allowed me to bide my sluggish and surreal time.

I am trembling like a virgin bride; I feel like one. Today is my -- our? -- homecoming. I have chosen not to meet your ship at the dock, and while this will probably confuse and even hurt you at first, Sam, rest assured that it is not because I don't want to see you. It is because I don't want anyone but you to see me. I will cry, and laugh, and cling, and crush you in my arms the very second you walk into the smial; that moment is to be for us alone.

I've been up since before sunrise, running from room to room like mad, but I am not meandering, for now my movements have purpose. Everything must be prefect for your arrival; I will not have it any other way. All of the bedrooms, including my own, have fresh linens and have been dusted and tidied; soft towels and bath oils have been laid out; flowers adorn nearly every room; and the most carefully prepared dinner sits, nearly done, in the oven.

You will laugh when you see it all Sam; I know you will. You will chide me for having gone to so much fuss. That makes me smile deeply, for I plan to fuss over you till the end of days.

A knock sounds, and at first I am unsure if it is actually the door or my own heart up against my throat.

"Frodo?" You call tentatively; "Mr. Frodo?"

Whatever I had been holding in my hands crashes inconsequently to the floor and I am running like never before in my life. You are here. You have finally come to me, Sam.

"SAM!" My shout keens through the air and I round the corner, barely keeping my feet, and at last behold you. The tears are already streaming from my eyes, and as I roughly yank you from the door and into my arms I can only choke out your name over and over again. You cling to me and sob as well. The control in our legs falter as all power is focused exclusively, almost violently, on our arms; we tumble clumsily to the floor.

Long and unfathomably deep moments pass as the world shrinks to encompass only you and I and this spot on which we have fallen. I scatter frantic kisses through your hair, across your forehead, and down your cheek; you try to pull back from me, muttering something about looking into my face, but I refuse to let you. Look later -- feel now! I pull your head to rest against my racing chest. Feel this, Sam; feel how my heart beats for you! A shiver runs through your entire body and your tears soak through my shirt. Oh Sam.

"Oh Frodo!" Your voice, so full of anguish, and relief, and wonder rushes through me like my own blood; and in that instant I am sure that we are both home at last.

"Frodo?" You ask, almost abashed, looking around the kitchen. I cannot help but smile, knowing what's coming. I squeeze you hand in mine; for even after our half-hour on the entrée-way floor, I refuse to relinquish my hold on you.

"So what so you think?"

"You did all this?" Your eyes swivel to take everything in before coming to rest on me again. "I don't remember you ever being this... meticulous." You are trying not to laugh, so I do it for you.

"Well I had to learn how to do it all sooner or later, didn't I! I didn't want to starve to death or be run down by my own clutter!" Now you laugh gently as well, and the sound fills me with so much joy I fear my heart may explode. "Do you really like it Sam?" I have to know; jokes about my previous lack of household skills aside, this is all for you. As it has always been. "I... I wanted so much for you to like it. I tried to do things the way I remember you doing them."

The look you give me is soft, and I wonder for a moment if you are going to cry again. My entire chest seizes. "Oh, Mr. Frodo, you didn't have to do all this! You didn't need to go to so much trouble just for me."

"But I did need to Sam!" My words burst forth; after sixty years of waiting in silence I am powerless to stop them. "I did need to; you gave me a reason to do all of this." Tears prick at my eyes again and I quickly blot at them with my -- your -- handkerchief.

"Frodo..." You gently tug the ridiculously old and worn cloth from my hands and stare at you own, now barely legible, embroidered initials. Understanding lights through your eyes. "You kept this. You've kept this with you all this time." It is a statement, not a question.

"Sometimes a small, familiar thing can help a person to feel more comfortable; more at home, like."

Your own words, at last you know just how much they've always meant to me; how much you have always meant to me. "You have always been my familiar, Sam." I reach up and just barely brush my fingers through your hair. "You were my purpose, and comfort. I hoped to give those things to you as well, but when we returned to the Shire I was no longer fit to." You are crying again, and clutching my hand to your dear face. The truth of our history is painful, but so worth it now; so worth it all to finally come to this moment right now. "You needed to have your life in the Shire, but I knew that someday you would come here, and now... now..." We are both trembling. I take your face in both of my hands; my thumbs caressing your wet but smiling cheeks. "Now I can finally give you the home that you've always given to me!" Your sweet lips are but a breath away from mine; I'll correct that in just a moment. There's just one more thing I have to say.

"Welcome home, Sam!"

"Welcome home, Mr. Frodo!"
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