"It was you, Sam," Frodo said. "I saw you, and a lot of others of our kin. You were all in... in... in shackles, being beaten by orcs. The Shire was burning, Sam. And then... and then..."
Sam waited a few moments, and said, "And then what, Mr. Frodo?"
Frodo turned to Sam. "He tried to take the Ring, Sam. The Great Eye. I saw him in the mirror." Frodo shuddered, the memory burning in his mind.
Sam inched himself and his blanket closer to Frodo. "It's all right, Mr. Frodo," he said softly, laying a hand on Frodo's arm. "He didn't take it."
Frodo gazed sadly at Sam. "It's just a matter of time, Sam," he said dejectedly. "How can we stand against such evil?"
Sam shook his head, refusing to be discouraged. "There's still hope, Frodo." He sat up against the tree, then guided Frodo's head onto his lap. "Just you rest. We still have Strider and the others, and they'll help us get where we need to go." He gently stroked Frodo's forehead, running his hand through the dark curls.
"Oh, Sam," Frodo smiled in spite of his fears, "What would I do without you, dear Sam?" He placed his hand over Sam's and squeezed. "I'm so glad you're here with me."
"Ain't you glad I was eavesdropping, as Mr. Gandalf says?" Sam smiled down at Frodo. "I am. I would have hated it if you had gone off and disappeared without me."
'....gone off and disappeared without me,' Sam thought again. Now that was exactly what had happened. No one knew where Frodo had gone, not even Merry and Pippin, and certainly not Sam. He had come in that morning as usual to fix Frodo's breakfast and discovered Frodo was gone.
At first Sam thought he had just gone out for a walk, as he sometimes did, but as time passed and Frodo did not appear, Sam began to worry. After looking around he noticed items missing -- Frodo's knapsack, cloak, some provisions, and the Red Book in which Frodo was always writing.
'Why would Frodo leave without me?' Sam wondered. He was confused and worried. Frodo had just recently recovered from an illness -- he had been plagued with poor health ever since they returned from the Quest --and Sam was concerned about how Frodo would do by himself out in the Wilds.
Not only that, but Sam was also hurt. They had shared so much -- Sam had thought the bond could never be broken. Frodo hadn't even left him a letter, Sam thought, his heart breaking.
He happened to notice a green book lying on the writing desk. It was Frodo's journal. A sudden thought occurred to Sam. Would it be all right -- would he dare -- could he be forgiven if he read Frodo's journal? There might be a clue to his disappearance.
No, Sam thought resolutely, a journal was a private matter. It would be wrong to look at it.
But what if Frodo was in some kind of trouble? Sam reasoned.
He wrestled with himself over what to do for several minutes, then finally decided to go ahead and read it.
....Rosie and Sam got married today. Rosie was a beautiful bride. I think this is the best thing Sam has ever done. He will be very happy.
I have to admit, though, that it did make me a little sad....
'Sad?' Sam thought. 'Why sad?'
....but I love Sam so much, I just want him to be happy, even if it isn't with me.
Sam began to have a small glimmering of what was bothering Frodo, but he wasn't ready to admit it to himself yet. He read on.
....Sam was as proud as could be today when he told me that he and Rosie are expecting their first child. I was honored to hear that if it is a boy, they plan to name him Frodo.
I shouldn't think of such things, but sometimes I can't help myself --sometimes I imagine them making love, and I feel very jealous. Rosie is sweet and generous, but it is Sam that I love. It is Sam I want to be close to, it is Sam I want to touch and hold and make love to.
But it would not be right for me to ask him for his love. He has a family now, and I need to respect that. He's already done so much for me....
Sam flipped the pages of the journal, not noticing the tear trickling down his cheek.
....I don't know how much longer I can take this. It is so difficult to see Sam and Rosie together, and to know I will never experience a love like that. I know Sam loves me in his own way, but what I want is so much more. If only he knew -- would he say yes? Or would he turn me away, deeming my feelings 'unnatural'?....
....Today I watched from the window as Sam was working in the garden. It was very warm and he had removed his shirt, so I could see the muscles of his strong arms and back. The sight triggered an ache in the pit of my stomach. I wanted to walk up behind him and touch him -- just barely touch him, very gently, just to feel his skin against mine. There are so many things I want to do with and for him. I want to give him pleasure. I want to make him happy....
....It is an increasing agony to be around Sam. I want him so badly, I think about him all the time. Whenever he's here I feel as if there's a lump in my throat. I can hardly speak to him. He probably thinks I'm angry with him, given the way I've been acting. But I can't seem to make the feelings go away. I've tried -- oh, how I've tried. But the need continues to grow....
....it's settled. I'm going away for a time, so that I can get some things straightened out in my mind and, hopefully, forget about my feelings for Sam. I've contacted Lord Elrond, and he invited me to come to Rivendell. I will leave in three days. I won't tell Sam where I'm going; he wouldn't understand. Perhaps if I had told him how I felt sooner. But now it's too late....
'Too late. Too late.' Sam suddenly realized he was sobbing, and his dripping tears were causing the ink to run down the pages of Frodo's journal. 'Oh, Mr. Frodo!' he thought to himself. 'How could you do this? How could you think that I would ever turn you away?' Now that he knew Frodo's true feelings for him, Sam was willing to admit to himself that he shared those feelings. How many times had he experienced fleeting images of Frodo while making love to Rosie? How many times had he almost lost himself in the depths of Frodo's wide blue eyes? How many times had he felt his heart leap for joy at the very sight of Frodo?
He laid down the book, then picked it up again. He had to share this with Rosie. It was the only fair thing to do.
Rosie was rinsing out laundry when Sam returned home. He kissed her and patted her burgeoning belly.
"What's that book?" she asked curiously.
"It's Mr. Frodo's journal," Sam replied.
"He let you take it?" Rosie asked, surprised.
"He's gone," Sam said bluntly. "He's left Bag End. I read his journal to find out why, and I want to read it to you."
"Are you sure it's all right?"
"No," Sam admitted. "But I have to do it anyway."
Rosie left the rest of the laundry to soak and sat down with Sam near the fireplace. Then she listened, her eyes growing bigger as Sam read the excerpts from Frodo's journal.
When he finished, she was silent for a time. Then she said softly, "You must go after him, Samwise."
In that moment, Sam knew that Rosie understood. But he had to make sure. "You know -- you do understand, don't you, what it is that Mr. Frodo wants?"
Rosie smiled and laid a hand on her husband's knee. "Not only that, but I know what you want, Sam. I've known all along that I didn't have your whole heart. I know you love Frodo, and it's all right. I would never keep you from expressing that love, because I know you love me, too, and I'm content with that.
She stood up to return to the laundry, then stopped short. "Let me help you pack, Sam," she said. "The sooner you leave, the sooner you'll find him."
An hour later Sam set out down the road, riding his pony that he had named Bill, after the pony that had accompanied them on part of their Quest. He felt sure that Frodo was on foot; this would give him a definite advantage. Besides, Frodo's poor health made it unlikely that he was moving very quickly.
Sam did suspect, however, that Frodo was not on the road. That would make it too easy for Sam to find him.
'Too late. Too late.' The words kept pounding in his head. Was it really too late? Perhaps Frodo had meant for Sam to find his journal. In that case, maybe he wanted Sam to look for him. The thought was encouraging.
Sam rode until nightfall along the road, then began to look around for signs of a campfire. About two hours later he finally saw what he was looking for. Was it Frodo?
Sam approached slowly, not wanting to frighten Frodo, who was still a bit skittish after all he had been through. "Frodo!" Sam called softly. "Mr. Frodo?"
He turned a corner around a particularly large tree and came face to face with a sleeping Frodo beside the fire. "Mr. Frodo?" Sam said again.
Frodo rolled over, then slowly opened his eyes. "Sam?" he murmured. "What are you doing here?"
Sam squatted down beside Frodo. "You didn't honestly think you could run away without your Sam, did you?"
Frodo looked down. "Go home, Sam," he said wearily. "I want to be alone."
"Oh, no you don't, Mr. Frodo. Beggin' your pardon, sir, but I read your journal. I know why you're leavin'."
Frodo's eyes flew open and he shot up like a bolt of lightning. "Sam, how could you?" he cried.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Frodo," Sam replied, having the good grace to look ashamed. "I know it was wrong of me, but I was that worried about you. I had to find out where you went, and why you ran away." Sam stood up and placed a hand on Frodo's shoulder. "It's all right, Mr. Frodo. It's really all right."
Frodo stared into Sam's hazel eyes, wondering what to do next. He felt deeply embarrassed, but at the same time he was glad Sam knew. Now he didn't have to pretend anymore.
Suddenly he realized there were tears streaming down his cheeks, and he put his face in his hands.
"There, there, Mr. Frodo," Sam soothed, putting his arms around Frodo. "It's all right. I love you, too."
Frodo raised his head at that. "You do, Sam?" he asked, hardly believing his ears.
Sam nodded. "That I do. And before you ask, Rosie knows, and she encouraged me to ride out after you. She's willing for me to be in your bed, Mr. Frodo, if you'll have me."
Frodo's heart began to beat rapidly, and a smile found its way to his lips. "Is this -- is this really true, Sam?" he asked incredulously.
"Yes. I read your journal to Rosie, and she understands. She knows that we love each other."
Frodo could not believe his good fortune. It was more than he had ever hoped or dreamed! On impulse he leaned over and kissed Sam, just a little peck -- or at least that's what Frodo intended. But Sam had other plans. He embraced Frodo tightly, kissing him so passionately that Frodo's eyes grew big with surprise. Now he knew with certainty that Sam was telling him the truth. Sam loved him! Sam wanted to be with him!
Holding onto Sam with one hand, Frodo gradually lowered himself to his pallet on the ground. "Sam," he whispered shyly, "Will you join me?"
Sam didn't answer -- not in words, at least. Instead, he lay down beside Frodo and took him in his arms.
The fire gradually died out, but they paid it no mind.
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