First Yule: A Lord of the Rings Fan-Fiction Story
Sam rose late from his afternoon nap to find the smial entirely dark, except as he walked closer to the parlor he saw two candles burning with another set a bit apart. Then as he watched, more were lit, until there were fifteen others, all in a row at the window, small and round, each in their own container, all facing eastward, except for the one apart which faced westward. This was the first year there were not seventeen candles together and one apart. Sam looked up into his beloved master’s features, illuminated by the candles he had just lit and his own light shining from within. He looked then at the candles themselves, in memory of Merry and Pippin and Sam’s fourteen children, each of which had their names spelled out in Frodo’s elegant script in Shire fashion and in Quenya.
“Happy Yule, my Sam,” came Frodo’s soft voice.
“And to you, me Frodo dear.” He looked down at the names all spelled out. “How did you know any of their names, especially Blossom’s?” he wondered, as the ink was quite old.
Frodo smiled a bit mysteriously, and Sam knew he would never tire of seeing such a lovely sight. “I have my ways of finding out. I am quite the proud uncle, you know. Even of the one who blossomed far too soon.” His smile faded, and he squeezed Sam’s hand. “I’m so sorry, dear brother. I wish I had been there for you.”
The younger hobbit squeezed back, heartened by that touch. “I think, somehow, you were. It was terrible after Rose began to bleed so heavily. I sent Elanor and Frodo-lad to the healers, being too afraid to leave her. There was little Mrs. Grooch could do when our little flower came, so small and bloody, but to make sure Rose didn’t die herself. I counted all our babe’s fingers and toes and touched the ears that would never hear and the eyes that would never open, then I cleaned her. I could hold her whole body just in my hand, and then I gave her to Rose to hold, and we cried that hard. I don’t think anything ever hurt so much. Rose kissed her head and told her we loved her, then we looked at each other for the longest time and could find no way to comfort each other. It was like I had felt at times, looking at you, wanting so much to help and soothe, but feeling that helpless. I wrapped her up in a blanket, took her outside and held her a bit more and told her again we loved her, and then I buried her in the garden. I cried and cried and cried, and then it began to rain, and I thought I heard you and felt your tears.”
Sam rubbed his finger along the candle that had Blossom’s name written underneath, then passed along to all the others. “For a long time, the children planted their favorite flowers around her grave, so she would be surrounded by beauty.”
Frodo nodded. “Just like you planted flowers so I would be. Oh, my Sam, it was not for nothing that you have a gardener’s heart, but that is the only one you could have, nurturer of plants…and hobbits.”
Sam looked up at his beloved master’s smiling face and then Frodo handed over the long, thin stick he had used to light the other candles. “There is one more to light. For Rose.”
The younger hobbit lit the last one and stood beside the one set apart. He pressed his finger to his lips and placed a kiss there to put on the candle.
Frodo waited patiently until his dearest guardian finished, and then he led his Sam to the kitchen where he had prepared the Yule dinner. They ate heartily of all their favorites which Frodo had labored over much of the day, shooing Sam out of the kitchen, begging that just this one time his brother would not make the meals, but that he would spoil him instead.
The loveliest and most poignant moment came when Frodo made the Yule toast, “In memory of friends, absent from our eyes, but never our hearts.” And then he drank deep of his mug of Yule nog. When he lowered the mug, the creamy drink had left a residue around his lips, much like it had on all of Sam’s children. Frodo shone as he always had but even brighter, and with the ring of nog around his mouth, he looked as innocent and joyful as a child himself. Sam’s breath caught at the pleasing sight, but there were tears also at the memory of his children.
Frodo’s smile vanished when he saw his brother’s tears. Hurriedly, he scrubbed his mouth clean, then took Sam into his arms, placed his head against his chest and gently rocked him. “Oh, my Sam, I’m so sorry. How hard this must be you, your first Yule away from everyone. I’m so glad you are here with me, even if you…”
Sam squeezed his Frodo around the waist and listened to that beloved heartbeat, for which he had walked beside his master for months and untold miles, for which he had traveled so far across the Sea. “Don’t say it, don’t even think it,” he begged, not letting the elder finish. “You are with me, and I am with you. Do you know how long I’ve wished for this? Do you know how many times I’ve stood out in the meadow by your favorite tree and held my arms open for you? Do you know how many times I’ve spoken to the stars and wished you could hear me?”
Frodo stroked his Sam’s curls. “Yes, I know exactly, because it’s just as many times as I’ve done it and wished for it myself, wanting to reach you and Merry and Pippin. And don’t think I didn’t hear each word you said.”
The two held each other for a time. “Oh, my Sam,” the elder hobbit said. “My dearest hobbit, my most beloved brother, my guide, my guardian, my hope, my light, my haven.” He breathed in deeply. “Thank you for being here, for making so many sacrifices for me.”
“You made bigger ones than I did, brother.”
Frodo began to softly sing an Elven melody. After a while, he raised Sam’s head and wiped at the last of his tears, and they smiled at each other, then with a final squeeze let go. The rest of the evening was spent in the parlor with Frodo reading out loud in Quenya a portion of the history of the Elves that he had written out. Sam sat in the chair opposite him and listened to that dear voice and looked at the kindly face that he had seen for too long only in memories and dreams. He didn’t understand much of what was said, but it didn’t matter, since just to hear those lyrical words from Frodo was almost more happiness than his heart would bear. It was not too long though, before the voice ceased and the spell broke around Sam and he found his dearest friend asleep. Frodo hadn’t taken his usual afternoon nap for he was too excited and busy to do so and now dozed in his chair. He smiled in his sleep, and for a few minutes, Sam just looked at him.
At last Sam rescued the book from Frodo’s lax hands, scooped him up and carried him to bed, noticing that he weighed even less now then he had at the Mountain, when he had felt to be no heavier than a lad. It seemed to Sam that his brother was filled with little more than light now, and it was no burden at all to carry that. He changed Frodo into his nightshirt without disturbing the other’s slumber and slipped him under the covers, then he changed and also crawled in. For a long while he lay gazing at the treasure beside him, at Frodo’s dark curls, at the smile that lingered on the hobbit’s lips. In his sleep, Frodo curled an arm around Sam’s neck and settled comfortably. Samwise kissed the dear head that he had cherished for so many, many years, and after a time he closed his own eyes. It was a grand First Yule in his new home. He wouldn’t have changed anything.
Across the Sea, Elanor, Frodo-lad and the other Gamgee children smiled. They raised their mugs of nog to their parents and their Uncle Frodo and wished them a Happy Yule.
By Anne Marie Gazzolo