appreciation notes to Larrk’s beleaguered betas:
Helen; AKA, HRH Larrk’s Herald – who with sublime skill superbly executes her double duties of beta and Court Appointed Herald, and to my dear Kat, who IM’s with me her instant support, reads and re-reads as is needed, and provides me with her exquisitely encouraging ‘mirror reviews.’ Thanks, Team Larrk!
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement is intended. This story is not meant to violate the rights held by New Line, Tolkien Enterprises, nor any other licensee, nor is any disrespect intended. I don’t own Tolkien’s original characters, however, my OC’s, Gwinthorian, Garrick, and Devon and several other Rangers are exclusively my own.
If It’s Good Enough for Strider . . . .
How was it possible that the lake seemed so much wider now than when Aragorn paddled our elven boat down its length with so apparently little effort, bringing Sam and me to where we and the others came ashore at Parth Galen? I suppose it was because this time Sam and I were the ones paddling the elven boat.
Sam was worse off than I was, though. I felt him behind me, drenched and no doubt shivering, and a flurry of emotions ripped through me, from anger that he’d dared to disobey me and followed me anyway, nearly drowning himself, to relief that, in his typically bull-headed Gamgee manner, he’d done exactly as he pleased despite my orders. I could just imagine what he would say should I dare to scold him about what he’d done. I could hear him in my head, explaining himself with no hint of remorse:
“No, Mister Frodo, I’m not sorry I followed you, and I’m not sorry I ignored your orders, and I’m not sorry I did just as I pleased, even though I nearly drown-ded.”
And now, here he was, soaked and paddling away from safety, my dearest, most beloved gardener whom I’d desperately wished to spare more of this perilous journey and my deadly company. Could what had just happened to Boromir happen to my noble Sam? Of course it could, and it would, and I couldn’t risk it by staying. Nor could I risk anyone else’s safety by asking them to join me on my journey into the heart of darkness. It was going to get hard now, harder. It had already been harder than any of us could have foreseen and filled with staggering loss. I could scarce fathom going on alone, but I knew that was what I’d been meant to do. Hadn’t Galadriel all but told me so?
Still, the notion had so terrified me that I’d shoved away thoughts of it again and again. I hadn’t been able to muster up any additional courage since Galadriel had told me that, “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.” A heartening assurance, but why, oh, why had I volunteered to be that smallest person? There was no escaping it, nothing to do but go forward. My despair reached such depths at times that I could do nothing but stare off, numb with horror, frantic.
Yet none of that could matter. I said I would do this, so I had to push on. A low hum of anxiousness surrounded me now, my destiny closing in on me at every turn, nagging at me. Again and again I thought, ‘Is this where I should try to escape the Fellowship? Could I manage to get far enough away so that Aragorn couldn’t track me and Legolas couldn’t detect me with those elvish gifts of his?’
I would need to get cleanly away, far away, because if I were caught trying to escape the consequences would be most . . . unpleasant. I could just imagine the humiliating measures Aragorn might feel bound to make use of to keep me from running away again. Perhaps the warriors would take turns holding my hand, as though I were a hobbit child who might wander off if not constantly supervised. Or, even worse, perhaps my walking days would be over and I’d spend the remainder of the Quest riding on a big person’s hip, Aragorn not trusting me enough to even risk letting my feet touch the ground. A bizarre notion, but I wouldn’t put any extreme past a sincerely cross Aragorn.
Which led to thoughts of how that sincerely cross Aragorn would discipline me for this escape attempt. In the past my Ranger had spanked me with intense enthusiasm, but I sensed that nothing from my past would compare to the spanking he’d give me after a failed escape attempt. It was a grim thought. I’d likely never again sleep on my back.
Sam would never sleep again, period. I’d be wrapped tightly in his arms all night and he’d be on full alert, bleary eyed and croaky-voiced, fighting to stay awake, exhausting himself despite Aragorn’s insistence that he could sleep in peace because Legolas, who didn’t need to sleep, was on guard.
And, indeed, Legolas, ever watchful, ever aware, would be perched right beside Sam and me. I’d wake in the night to find him turning to look down at me, his peaceful, steady gaze saying, “Aye, little one. I am here. And I plan to stay here. I am watching. So go back to sleep.” No, once they realized what I had in mind I’d never be out of sight of my guardian warriors, Sam included.
Of course, if I were to be honest with myself, weren’t all these thoughts of leaving merely that – thoughts? Would I ever have the courage to actually escape the comforting protection of the Fellowship? I’d been able to delay the matter as no opening had presented itself. Until now.
And when the moment did come, all those imaginings I’d fostered about what would happen should I try to escape were proven false. Aragorn in his typically wise manner knew what I had to do, and he let me go. He let me go.
It had been dreadfully obliging of him, but I’d been relieved that Aragorn made it easier with his reluctant consent, for I’d truly had no choice. I’d already tarried too long and Boromir, good, noble Boromir, whom I’d come to love, had been taken in by the Ring, the first of the Fellowship to go.
That was horror enough, but the others would soon follow, and I couldn’t let it happen. No, I had to go, now, and Aragorn knew how I felt and his courage in letting me go helped me actually do it. I was comforted in knowing that he would take care of the others, especially my Sam. Sam would be frantic and heartbroken, but he’d also be safe, far away from the Ring and me.
Now, however --
“Almost there, Mister Frodo,” Sam huffed behind me. “Hang on just a bit further.”
“Hang on?” I shot back, ruffled. “I’m fine, Sam. Just fine.”
“Oh. Right. Right you are, Mister Frodo. Sorry.”
‘Hang on’ indeed. I was a strong, sturdy hobbit, for goodness sake! But, of course, Sam was right. My shoulders ached. Merciful Middle Earth but this lake was wide! And I’d thought I could paddle across it all alone? I glanced up again, seeing the wooded shore growing nearer, and the thought of what might be waiting there sent another wash of gratitude through me for my resolute Master Samwise. Whatever lay ahead I wouldn’t have to face it alone.
So I wouldn’t admonish him. Not even a gentle, ‘You shouldn’t have disobeyed me, Sam. You should have gone back.’ What purpose would it serve? I’d known that if Sam caught me, he’d follow me, or try to. He never would have let me leave the Fellowship and strike out on my own the way Aragorn had.
But Sam hated the water and he couldn’t swim, so this really was the only way I could’ve escaped him. When he did show up, full of upset and yelling and waving his arms, I felt certain I’d managed to do it. Sam wouldn’t follow me. He couldn’t. I was too far from shore. He would be safe from the Ring and me. Safe. I repeated that litany in my head to drown out his cries: He was safe now, safe . . . my Sam would be safe . . . .
And then he’d blatantly disobeyed me, marching into the water, ignoring my orders to stop and to go back. Typical obstinate Gamgee! Oh, he’d follow my orders all right, providing what I ordered didn’t interfere with what he wanted. Yes, indeed, I was well within my rights to be angry with him!
But, although I anguished over Sam’s presence, I’d forgive his defiance, because, in truth, I was so grateful to him I could’ve kissed him, over and over again. I could’ve smothered Sam in kisses. And I could’ve done other things to him as well. I shivered, picturing those other ways in which I longed to show my gratitude to him . . . .
Well, surely I was going mad. We were paddling away from our protectors and into the terrifying unknown and I was having lustful thoughts about showing Sam my gratitude? Squirmy thoughts about what I wanted to do to him and have him do to me? Frodo Baggins, what has this Quest done to you?
I looked back and saw Legolas, Strider and Gimli standing on the shore, watching Frodo and me leave them behind. Well, Strider was standing. Legolas paced, back and forth, back and forth, staring after us in his, “Just-wait-‘till-I-get-my-hands-on-you” way. I couldn’t blame him none. And Gimli hopped and bounced and scooped one arm through the air in a big sweeping ‘get-back-here-at-once!’ type of whoosh. I couldn’t blame him none, neither.
But Strider just stood there, still as a statue, his eyes reaching across the water and slamming right into me. I turned ‘round and paddled some more, then I looked back again, sure that I’d see them coming after us in the other boat. They hadn’t moved. They were letting us go!
I couldn’t hardly believe it, and I couldn’t stop to think about the awfulness of being all alone now, with no big folks. Part of me wished I could’ve told Strider I was sorry, that this wasn’t my idea, and that if I could’ve turned our boat around I’d have done it in a heartbeat. But if I know anything, I know my Frodo, and there wasn’t going to be no turning this boat around.
I couldn’t stop to think about the awfulness of Frodo almost getting away from me, neither. But I had to think about that, because if Frodo had tried this now, how could I trust him not to try it again? He sure would try it again. And again, and again, and again. Then one night, after nights and nights of staying awake to guard him, I wouldn’t have nothing left, and I’d just plain fall asleep, and then Frodo would run away and leave me, and he’d be out there, alone.
I sat behind him, watching the sunshine on his dark curls, and I could just imagine the bleak horribleness of what it would be like some morning to wake up alone and find him gone. I wouldn’t know how long he’d been gone or where to start looking for him. And I’d just stand there, shaking, then I’d run and run and run all over, yelling Frodo’s name until my voice gave out and I just fell down and cried.
My Frodo would be gone. He’d have escaped from me the way he’d almost escaped just now. He’d be out there all alone, without me to help him. How the blazes could Frodo think he could do this all by himself? And when that awful thought hit me I turned and looked back over my shoulder one more time, and I looked right at Strider. He still stood there, just watching. And it was like I heard him in my head, saying in his calm voice, “Aye, Sam, you are right to be fretful. Frodo will do what he feels is best for you. He will indeed try again to leave you. What would I do about that, Sam? What should you do?”
But I already knew what to do. Because if ever my Frodo needed me, he needed me now, after he’d done this naughty thing. ‘Course, it could be the Ring was behind it again, whispering to him, making him do things he’d never have done on his own, like those other times when Frodo hadn’t been himself. But running away from us like this and leaving the Fellowship behind so’s we’d be safe, that sounded like some confounded brave thing Frodo decided to do all on his own, without the Ring telling him to do it.
But, whether it was the Ring’s power or just Frodo being Frodo that made him do this, fact was, he’d done it, and there was one thing I was sure about – I’d be jiggered if I was going to wake up some morning and find him gone. I wasn’t about to lose my Frodo to that hunk of poison dangling ‘round his sweet neck.
I dunno if Strider saw me give a nod. But Legolas had stopped pacing and he was watching me, too, and after I nodded he turned to Strider and it looked like he said something, and even from this distance I was sure I saw Strider nod back to me.
“Ready, Sam?” Frodo said over his shoulder.
I turned and saw that we were almost to the shore. Was I ready? More than.
My lustful thoughts had quieted by the time we landed. I was surprised to see Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli watching us on the far shore. They weren’t trying to follow us, of course. I knew they wouldn’t be.
Halfway across the lake I’d noticed that right in front of me half-hidden by a tarp on the floor of the boat was Sam’s pack. It had never been unloaded at Parth Galen. What luck! In my hurry to leave I’d just pushed the boat from shore, jumped in and set off with nary a thought for provisions. Appalling lack of preparedness.
“It was right smart of you to bring my haversack, Mister Frodo,” Sam now said lifting it over the side.
“Oh . . . uh . . . well,” I said with a shrug. What Sam didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him.
“It’s alright, a’course. I’m glad you took it.” He hoisted it onto his back, pots clanging. “You not havin’ a pack of your own, you sure would’ve needed mine.”
“You’re right,” I said. “I-I sure would have.”
Having gathered up whatever we could salvage from the boat, we stood there for a moment, a sticky awkwardness dangling between us. Sam shifted from foot to foot, and it suddenly occurred to me that he was waiting to be reprimanded for disobeying my orders. Of course! Sam no doubt thought I was angry with him. I couldn’t let him fret about that, so I blurted out, “I’m not angry, Sam.”
He shot me a wide-eyed look. “Oh.”
“I should be upset with you, I know. But don’t worry. I’m not.”
Sam just watched me in silence, clearly startled. Ah, I’d been right. He’d expected a scolding. My poor Sam.
“It’s all right. I forgive you, Sam.”
His brows shot up. “You do? You . . . forgive me?”
“Yes. I do. I forgive you for disobeying my orders.”
“Oh. Uhh . . . .”
“I forgive you for not turning back when I told you to, and for nearly drowning.”
“You forgive me for near drownd-ing myself?”
“Yes. It’s all right now, Sam. We’ll forget all about it.”
“Um . . . well --”
“In fact, I’ll be honest, Sam – I’m glad you’re with me.”
He blinked, then looked away yet again, back across the water, as though he felt too moved to speak. So I reached out and took one of his hands and kissed his cheek and said, “I’ll likely say that over and over again, because, truly, I’m glad you’re with me, Sam.”
He remained silent, still staring off, and I followed his gaze and saw that Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli had now turned away from us and were heading back up into the woods. It was an eerie, lonely moment. I felt severed from our protective Ranger for the first time since the night in Bree when we met him and he saved our lives. No doubt that was the reason for Sam’s sudden pensiveness. It certainly was reason enough to make my stomach clench. Watching our warriors vanish into the forest and knowing how alone we truly were hit us both.
I squeezed Sam’s hand and said, “Come. Let’s move on for a while before we find someplace safe to rest for the night.”
He gave me a firm-lipped glance and we headed into the forest, Sam falling in behind me. It was good, hearing him back there, the familiar sound of his pots clanking. I thought of how Gimli used to turn to him in Moria and grumble, “Can y’make a wee bit more racket, Master Gamgee? I fancy a few foul beasties canna hear ye’.” Oh, how I would miss Gimli! How I’d miss them all!
We hadn’t been walking five minutes before I heard Sam call, “Mister Frodo.”
I turned. He was standing and looking off to one side into a small thicket of pines and fallen logs and heavy, bushy foliage. “I saw it, too,” I said, strolling back to join him, and we stood peering into the sheltered-looking area. “It would be a good place to stay overnight, but it’s too early to stop. We should push on. There’s still a few hours of dayli – Sam?”
He was wandering back into the cocooned space, looking around, paying no attention to me.
“Aye. This’ll do right fine,” he said, swinging his pack down. It dropped with a clank of finality.
“Sam?” I said, following him into the thicket. “Didn’t you hear me?”
“I heard you.”
“Then come. We’re moving on.”
“No, Mister Frodo. We’re staying here.”
Just like that. Without so much as a ‘by your leave, sir,’ or the courtesy of a ‘what say we put this to a vote?’ Hmmmm.
The master-servant boundaries had blurred for us long ago, but Sam and I still found familiar comfort in our old long-standing roles. So, here and now, as far as I was concerned, I was the master and Sam was obliged to obey my orders. I had let one incident go, but enough was enough. Sam had pushed his way into my company, so he could just very well follow my lead.
“Sam,” I said, “I’m sure we’ll find another place just as good as this one after we’ve put some distance between us and the lake. But right now we need to move further inland before it gets dark. Surely you see the sense in that. So, come.”
He slowly shook his head. “Noooo, Mister Frodo,” he said in an overly patient tone, as though indulging me in a debate he felt certain he’d already won. I ground my teeth and watched him glance around, then stroll towards a pile of fallen logs. “Noooo,” he repeated, “like I said, this place is fine for the night. We don’t need to move on right now.”
“Yes, we do!” I clenched my fists and scrambled for a credible incentive. “Aragorn could still decide to come after us, you know. He and Legolas might very well be halfway across the lake as we speak. The farther off we get the better.”
Sam stopped brushing the leaves from a large log, sighed and turned to me with a mildly amused, reproachful look. “Strider won’t follow us, Mister Frodo.”
I bristled. “How do you know? You saw them watching us. Yes, they were turning to go, but they might change their minds and--”
“Strider won’t follow us,” he repeated. “You know that as well as I do.”
“Oh? I do?” I huffed. “I know that, do I?”
“Mister Frodo.” Another long-suffering sigh and look. “If they wanted to follow us they’d have jumped in that other boat right off. And with both Strider and Legolas paddling as fast as they could?” He snorted and turned to finish brushing off the log. “They’d have caught us a’fore we even reached this side of the lake. Then they’d have dragged us into their boat and took us back and, well, you know what would’ve happened next.”
A hot blush shot through me.
“Nope,” he said, removing his cloak and his sword. “Strider isn’t going to follow us, and this is as good a place as we’re likely to find, so we’re staying here tonight, Mister Frodo. And, that’s enough of that.”
I should say it was! I stared at Sam, stunned to silence, not that he noticed. He was too busy shaking out his cloak and draping it over the log to pay me any mind. I watched him, distracted, trying to fathom why he was being so stubborn about this. What harm was there in moving on?
Of course, I could simply ask him that question, but something in Sam’s manner made me uneasy and warned me off doing so. His behavior was just so odd --
Then I understood. Little wonder Sam wasn’t quite himself. He’d almost died today! And I’d been entirely unsympathetic to what he must be going through. All I could think about was pushing onward without giving him so much as a moment to catch his breath after such a shock. My poor Sam. That explained his odd behavior. Humble though he was, Sam had his pride and he simply couldn’t admit how terrified he’d been in that water and how much he needed a little time to collect himself. It was very like Sam to try to shelter me from his discomfort.
“I’m sorry, Sam. I’m being selfish,” I said, moving closer to him. “Of course we can stay here. Your clothes are probably wet and cold and uncomfortable and I’m sure you’d like to rest.”
“Oh, no!” he quickly said. “Nooooooooo, I’m all right, Mister Frodo. I am. Really. You know how fast these dry out,” he said, sitting down and patting the elven cloak. “And what with that stiff wind and the sun out on the lake, my clothes are near dry, too. So don’t you worry none about me, Mister Frodo. I’m fine. Honest.”
If I know anything, I know my Sam, and he was being truthful. So much for my misplaced sympathies. Clearly Sam wasn’t as shaken by near-death as I had been. That vague uneasiness flew back and I felt flustered again, as though something had shifted around me that I couldn’t quite see but could surely feel.
“Very well then,” said I. “I won’t worry about you. However, we’re back to our problem.” I stood before him and crossed my arms over my chest. “I like this little thicket, too, Sam but we’ll find another place just as good farther on. We really should keep going, even if it’s only for another hour. Not because I fear Aragorn will come after us, but because of what he taught us. Remember? As long as we’re able, we should keep moving. Now, doesn’t that make sense?”
And, all at once I realized something – I did fear Aragorn, but not in the way Sam was imagining. I feared the closeness of him. While Aragorn was just across the lake or atop Amon Hen, the panicky, weak part of me longed to run back to the safety of his protection. I needed to put some distance between that tempting safety and myself. If we traveled on for several hours, that temptation wouldn’t be there because Aragorn wouldn’t be there. He and the others would have moved on, too.
I swallowed hard. Aragorn wouldn’t be there. He wouldn’t come thundering up, sword drawn and jump between danger and me. What was I doing? Valar help me, what had I done? How could I make it all stop?
I flinched and looked at Sam, really looked at him and suddenly I knew why his manner made me uneasy. When his authoritarian side surged forth Sam assumed an air reminiscent of the very Ranger whose protection I was missing. Aragorn had proven inspirational to my gentle gardener in many ways, and one time when I had pointed that fact out to him, Sam replied, “Thank our lucky stars for that, Mister Frodo, because since you’ve been carrying that Ring around you’ve sometimes turned into a right nasty bratling. And I don’t aim to let that thing hurt you like that.”
Sam is the most sweet natured of hobbits, but when that Rangerly breeze blows through him he becomes a whole nother Sam. And at the moment I sensed that the winds had shifted.
I swallowed hard again and my heart started racing, and yet, instead of having the good sense to begin verbally wrestling Sam for the upper hand, I found myself drifting into a strange, blank void. Sam’s calm, easygoing voice surrounded me and I just stood there in a fog, serene, watching his pretty eyes glitter . . . .
“‘Doesn’t that make sense,’ you ask me, Mister Frodo?” Sam reached for me, uncrossed my arms, took my hands and drew me before him to stand between his spread knees, saying, “Welllll, it’s like this . . . .” And I just gazed at him, spellbound by Sam’s soothing tone, relaxing at the touch of his steady, sure hands moving over me . . . undoing my cloak, unbuckling Sting and putting it aside . . . . In a world turned upside down and filled with uncertainty, Sam was so everlastingly constant and stable . . . .
“Aye, you’re right,” he was saying, “sometimes it makes sense to push on, and I know that’s what Strider taught us. But he taught us lots of other things, too, like it sometimes being best to stop early because extra goings on needed tended to.”
“Extra goings on?” I murmured, watching him bunch up my cloak and set it beside him.
“Sure. You remember those times, Frodo. Strider didn’t mind calling an early halt or taking extra time if he needed to. He knew how important some things were. Like that time I got sick, and the times when Pippin needed some special help and the times when the Fellowship needed extra rest.
“And that’s why we’re going to stay right here. Because you and me have something more important to do right now than moving on. Tomorrow will be there for moving on, tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. But what you and me have to do can’t wait. It needs done right here and right now, Mister Frodo, and no mistake.”
And before I could so much as squeak Sam yanked me around to his side and turned me over his knee. My face buried in my cloak, I let fly a panicked wail, little good it did me. I wriggled my head up, gasping, feeling Sam readying me with a speed that would’ve made a certain Ranger proud. He tugged my wrists around to hold them at the small of my back and shifted my bottom up to where he wanted it then closed my legs between his thighs as though expecting a fight. I’d have given him one if I could’ve. But in a matter of seconds I couldn’t move.
“SAM! What do you think you’re – OW!” I yelled, his first swat landing hard on the seat of my britches. I didn’t dare hope they would protect my backside much longer.
“Try to keep it down as best you can, Mister Frodo,” he said, appallingly affable.
“KEEP IT DOWN?! OW! OW!”
“Hush now and listen. See? There’s lots of birds singing on this side of the lake. Remember what Legolas told us about that?”
“He said that the birds go all quiet when orcs or trolls or dangerous, foul things are about. And Sting’s still plain old grey. It hasn’t been blue since we set foot on shore. So, with that and all these singing birds around, I reckon it’s safe to take care of you right now. And that’s good, ‘cause I sure didn't want to wait to make things clear to you. But, maybe you’d best try to keep it down anyway, ‘cause you never know.”
“Take care of m – what the – OWW!”
“Oh, and ‘what do I think I’m doing,' you ask? Well, Mister Frodo, I think you know what I think I’m doing. But, I’m surprised you don’t seem to know the ‘why.’ So we have us some discussing to do. In a little while, that is. When you’re more ready to listen.”
I gulped, thinking fast, and said, “Sam! No! Please! Can’t we – p-please, Sam, we-we can discuss whatever you like, but-but-but not like this! L-Let me go, and we can discuss whatever --”
“Now you know I can’t do that,” he said, tucking my shirt up under my imprisoned hands. “I need all your attention, Mister Frodo. I have some important things to explain to you, things I guess you don’t remember from the other times I’ve had you like this. That’s all right. Don’t worry. I don’t mind explaining the way things are. And you always listen better when your pretty bottom is nice and hot.” And he pulled my britches down with one big yank.
Cool air swept over my bare backside. “AHHHH! Sam, NOOO! Don’t!” Dreadful sensation! Ohhh! Shocking, awful feeling! I tried to kick and tried to buck and could do neither. “Stop it Sam! I order you to --”
“Nope. Sorry,” he said, tucking my body closer to his. “Like I told you the first time I turned you over my knee, I’m sorry, Mister Frodo, but your orders don’t have a place here.”
“Don’t have a --!” I snarled and gasped. “By what right --”
“What right? What right, did you say?” Sam growled deep in his throat. He actually growled, an ominous sound coming from my peaceful Sam. I swallowed hard and squirmed, my stomach clenching with dread. Oh, merciful Valar! Sam was unhappy with me – very, very unhappy with me. And he’d hidden it with startling skill, probably even from himself. But I knew I was about to feel the full force of his upset, explained to me in detail all over my very vulnerable behind.
Struggling to steady my shaking voice, I tried one more time. “Sam, alright . . . I-I can see that y-you’re upset with me --”
“Oh, no, Mister Frodo,” he said, sounding like his composed self again. “No, I’m not upset with you. But I’m right unhappy about what you did.”
“Right. Right. I-I see. And I’m sorry. I-I’m sorry, Sam. You’re right, of c-course. But, well, can we, please, can we discuss this? Please, Sam? Can we talk?”
“Oh, we’ll talk alright,” he said. “I have lots to say, and you have some things to learn, and we’ll work everything out right here and now. Aye, we’ll talk, little sir.” And he patted my bottom.
Oh, no. ‘Little sir.’ Oh, noooooo. There were times when Sam called me ‘little sir’ and it melted me, those special times when he turned my limbs to jelly and I lay with him, drifting in pleasure, and then there were times like now, when hearing ‘little sir’ spoken in Sam’s resolute tone made my heart race and my limbs quiver for a very different reason.
That was it. I was about to be sincerely spanked. I couldn’t talk my way out of it or escape the hand that was ready to crash down on my defenseless backside. But at this desperate moment, when all is lost and I’m seconds away from a spanking, it always feels good to give way to my temper and roar:
“SAM! Don’t you dare! I forbid it!”
I never see the arm when it ascends in an upward arch over my waiting backside, but I swear I can feel it happening. Then:
At first I usually just hold him down and paddle away and let Frodo yell and carry on and be as mad at me as he needs to be. Most of the time he’s right furious at the beginning, telling me of how I’m not supposed to be doing this to him and ‘how dare I?’ and other kinds of nonsense like that.
And that’s all right. I just let him keep on yelling and I keep swatting away and after awhile he begins to see that all his ‘forbidding’ isn’t getting him anywheres, so he gives up on that and settles down enough for me to start talking things over with him. Going by the fuss he was making right now it’d be a while before Frodo was ready to do much listening. But no matter. I just kept swatting and Frodo kept yelling and that was how it usually happened ‘tween us.
Even though I’d warned him against getting too loud, I wasn’t all that concerned. I reckoned he wouldn’t be able to stop himself. But Frodo usually has a lot of big, powerful feelings to get rid of, and sometimes it seems he’d like some extra reason to just be mad. So I’ll give him one. Telling him to pipe down when he knew he didn’t have to seemed to work pretty good. He was already fussing Pippin-size.
I was trying to remember how long it had been since Frodo’s last bottom-warming. It was when we were in Lothlorien. All of us Fellowshippers had a hard time getting used to Mister Gandalf being gone, but some felt extra badly about their part in what happened. There were lots of guilty feelings going around about Moria. Pippin had a terrible hard time with it and his bottom got warmed more’n once, and so did Frodo’s.
“He feels he made the choice to go through the mines in the first place, Sam,” Strider had said when he took me aside one morning to tell me that Frodo needed some of his special over-the-knee help. I got upset.
“I know you’re trying to help him, Strider, and I appreciate it,” I told him. “But Frodo didn’t do nothing wrong! He had to decide something right then and there on that cold mountain, and we were all freezing and nobody was helping him make up his mind.”
“That is true, Sam.”
“He didn’t know what would happen! It wasn’t his fault!”
“Then I don’t understand. It doesn’t make no sense, Frodo feeling guilty about Mister Gandalf when it wasn’t his fault!”
“Once again, I agree. But it matters not if the issue makes sense to you and me, Sam. It makes sense to Frodo. It is a question of confused thinking, and a spanking is very effective for clearing up confused thinking.” And Frodo’s thinking sure had needed some clearing up.
But it had been a while since I’d had Frodo over my knee. I’d forgotten how nice this felt, how he was always so small and light and cuddly on my lap, and how pretty he looked, bottom up. I held him right snug so’s he couldn’t do much but squirm, and I watched his round little bottom getting pinker and warmer under my hand and that special fire went bursting through me. And, oh, it was so good.
When I first started doing this to Frodo it didn’t seem right to feel so good. He was upset and crying and hurting, all because of what I was doing to him, and that started to bother me. But I couldn’t never have talked about such a thing with anyone.
Strider has a mysterious way of seeing inside of folks, though, and one time when he’d taken me with him to gather athelas and we were alone, he said, “Are you troubled by the way you feel when you spank Frodo, Sam? It is an enjoyable feeling, is it not?”
My face exploded with heat, and I stammered for a couple of minutes and couldn’t get any kind of answer out. But Strider just smiled in that quiet way of his and said, “No need for concern. It is natural to feel a pleasant sensation when you are spanking Frodo, even though you are causing him physical discomfort. You are too much of a gentleman to ask anyone about this, or to even admit to such feelings, but let me assure you, Sam, all those who have spanked another in love have experienced those good feelings. Love is the guiding force behind a spanking, at least the kind of spanking we engage in. It flows back and forth between the two parties. And what is done in love cannot feel anything but enjoyable and right and natural.”
That was what made Strider as grand as he was. He could see into a person’s heart and calm his troubles just like that. I’d thought about what he’d said, then I said, “But, Strider, in Bree, you had just met us, and you didn’t know us, but you, well, you know, you paddled us all right off.”
“‘Paddled?’” He’d grinned at me. “‘Paddled,’ Sam? Come now, sir; you know that I have never used anything but my hand during a spanking.” And when I blushed again he winked at me and said, “You still cannot bring yourself to say the word ‘spank,’ eh?” I squirmed, making him chuckle.
“Aye, ‘tis true. I spanked all of you in Bree, even though I scarce knew you. However, I knew of you, through Gandalf, and after watching the four of you all evening in the common room I formed a quick fondness for you that surprised even me. I felt protective of you ere we even spoke and I was determined to keep you safe.
“But you were, if you recall, undisciplined, to say the least. I had to make certain you obeyed my orders and that you began to trust me. By spanking each of you I made certain you knew what would happen if you chose to disobey me and by comforting you afterwards I showed that I could be trusted to treat you with compassion and fairness, even if you needed to be disciplined. Afterwards you knew that I was watching out for you and that I would let you come to no harm, nor would I allow you to harm yourselves or anyone else with carelessness or disobedience.
“I would not have bothered to spank you and comfort you that night unless I felt something for you. And I did feel fondness for you, all of you. So, when you spank Frodo you are not enjoying making him suffer, Sam. A spanking is not about suffering.”
Since that talk with Strider I’d stopped fretting about feeling good when I was paddling Frodo. And now I just held him down and swatted away and let those feelings come. He was pretty upset with me, and that wasn’t surprising. He always is when I do this to him. Frodo really does hate to be paddled. But, he must’ve known what I’d do to him after he’d tried to leave me behind. Wouldn’t he think I’d be a little put out by what he’d done? Wouldn’t he have figured he had a good walloping coming?
Well, no. I didn’t hear a single ‘sorry, Sam,’ when we landed, and there wasn’t no, ‘Sam, I can explain.’ He wasn’t bashful and squirmy like he is when he feels guilty, not at all. And I saw that it was because Frodo really didn’t think he’d done anything wrong. You could’ve knocked me over with a feather.
Not only did he think he hadn’t done anything wrong, Frodo reckoned I’d been wrong to follow him after he told me to go back. He started right off, ‘forgiving me,’ and all I could do was repeat after him, like I wasn’t sure I’d heard him right. I wasn’t. I’d been plain flummoxed.
Did Frodo really think I’d just stand there and let him go to Mordor alone? And where’d he get the idea that I felt badly about following him even though he told me to go back? And he thought I needed him to forgive me so’s I’d feel better? None of it made sense. I’d just stood there, listening to all that forgiveness coming at me, and when he was done I’d been so dumbfounded I couldn’t make a sound. I had to look away and try to think.
My Frodo knows a lot about how people feel deep inside. It wasn’t like him to be so thickheaded. Maybe the Ring had some little part of this after all, filling Frodo’s head with nothing except his own wants and some folly about me feeling guilty for disobeying him. But he really thought I wouldn’t be upset about what he’d done?
Still right baffled I’d looked out across the water one more time. Strider and Legolas and Gimli were leaving now, heading off into the woods, and then I remembered again what Strider told me in Lorien: “It matters not if the issue makes sense to you and me. It makes sense to Frodo. A spanking is very effective for clearing up confused thinking.”
Bless me, but if ever there was a bigger case of confused thinking! I reckoned Frodo’s forgiving me made sense to him. I’d gone and ruined the plans he’d made for me, his plans to keep me safe. The scary thing was, he’d near done it. My insides froze thinking of how close Frodo came.
Well, there wasn’t going to be no more of that kind of confused thinking.
“Go ahead and fuss, little sir,” I told him, not that he’d been waiting for me to say that. He’d been yelling up a storm. “Tell you what, I’ll let you kick, but none of that flailing around too hard like you sometimes do, Frodo, or I’ll tuck your little legs right back ’tween mine again.”
Frodo just sputtered and wailed. He’d started crying early in his paddling this time, and that meant there was a whole lot stirring up inside that needed to get out. This was his, ‘I’m-soooo-mad-at-you-Sam’ kind of crying, but it was just Frodo’s upset talking.
“Never you mind, Mister Frodo,” I said. “I know you’re too mad to take any favors from me right now.” I stopped swatting him and pulled his legs up over my lap, then I snuggled him close again, and said, “There now. That should feel better. Just behave yourself and don’t go getting too rambunctious.” And I started up again with nice steady smacks.
He gave a little roar and started kicking right off. “Saaaaaaam! AHHHHH! Please, S-Sam! Stop! Stop! Enough! Stop!! OWWWWWWWW!”
“Stop? Now? Oh, no, no, noooo; we have us quite a ways to go yet. We haven’t even started talking things over, and I have lots to say and you have lots to listen to. And, well, I’m sorry iffen you don’t like that.” He growled and gave a way-too-strong kick.
“One more like that, little sir, and you won’t be allowed to kick no more.”
Oh, but Frodo was cross with me! He let fly a whole string of elvish that sounded downright nasty. “My goodness! I reckon that there was some pretty dirty elvish,” I said all praiseful-like. “That sure didn’t sound like something you’d say to Strider or Legolas.” He spat out even more awful sounding words. So I ‘tsked’ and gave him some extra-hard swats, making him squawk. “Funny how such a pretty tongue like elvish can sound so ugly when it wants to. Too bad it’s wasted on me, but saying such things just feels oh-so-very naughty, doesn’t it, little sir?”
Squirmy nipper-talk like that gets under a person’s skin and makes a paddling seem even bigger. Frodo once told me, “Hearing that kind of language at such a time is just . . . well, Sam, it can be very . . . disagreeable talk.” And I just burst out with a quick laugh, because my dear Frodo is so lovably polite.
Sure enough, my ‘disagreeable talk’ made Frodo kick and push his face into the cloak and howl.
I grinned and said, “Oh, and a’fore you share more of those special words I don’t understand, I’d best remind you who it was carried the soap in his pack when we were on the march, and who still has it.”
Frodo flinched and froze; then he lifted his head and yelled, “SAM! YOU-YOU WOULD-WOULDN’T DAR—OWWWW!”
“I wouldn’t?” I cut in. “Just what makes you think that? Maybe I haven’t never done it yet, but that doesn’t mean I won’t. I sure will, and no mistake. So, mind your sass, little sir. You’re really too much of a good-mannered gentlemanly hobbit to say such naughty things.”
“N-No I-I’m nawwwwwwwwt!”
I couldn’t hold back my chuckling.
“Oh!” I choked back my next chuckle. “I don’t mean to laugh. I’m sorry.”
“No-No, you’re n-n-not! You’re n-not s-sorry!”
“Well, I reckon maybe I’m not,” I said.
“Ohhhhhh, S-Sam! OWWW!”
“It’s your own fault I end up chuckling, Mister Frodo. You’re like a little nipper who says funny things and ends up being so cute folks laugh.” I vow I felt his whole body burst into one big hot blush.
“Oh, S-Sam s-stop s-saying – a ni-nip-per! No, I’m not, n-not, nawwwwwwt!”
I left him thinking that over and just went on swatting Frodo’s curvy little backside. At first it didn’t seem all that nice or fair or mannerly of me to chuckle when Frodo was over my knee and at my good mercies. But Strider helped me with that, too:
“Sam, you cannot help enjoying Frodo when he is being adorable,” he said. “You are not taking advantage of your position or betraying a trust. Were you to share your concerns with him afterwards, what do you think Frodo would say?”
I’d thought about it, then grinned. “He’d laugh and tell me that it was alright."
“Aye, he would, Sam. And so it is.”
Well, if it was good enough for Strider it was good enough for me.
“SAAAAAM!” Frodo spat out between his sobbing. “Pleeeease! N-Nooooooo morrre! E-Enough!”
“You know, Frodo, every time you yell that you’ve had enough it just proves that you haven’t.”
But Frodo’s bottom was getting that very pretty reddish glow to it, so I felt like he probably was ready to behave enough for me to let go of his hands. I’d been holding them behind his back all this time because sometimes Frodo just needs to be held down like that, and this had been one of those times.
“Do you reckon you’re ready to listen, little sir?” I asked him.
“Oh, y-yessss! Yes, S-Sam! Ready . . . r-reckon . . . to lis-listen!”
“And you’re all done using naughty elvish words?”
“Uh-huhhhhhh! D-Done using – was naugh-naughty el-elvish!”
I grinned and said, “Alright then.”
I let go of Frodo’s hands, and he slid them up to either side of his head and he started squeezing and twisting the cloak. I just watched him, so pretty, my Frodo. Those knots that had been all tied up inside me were loose now and I was lots more quiet inside. I had my Frodo just where I wanted him. He was all mine when he was laid out over my lap, safe. He couldn’t get away from me. He couldn’t do nothing but behave himself and listen to me, and it felt so good that I just grinned and grinned.
I started slowing down my swats, saying, “I suppose you were right unhappy when you turned around in the boat and saw me coming after you, Mister Frodo.”
“Oh, S-Saaaam! Uh-huhhhhh! Wanted y-you safe!”
“I know. And I can see how you felt, because I always feel the same about you. I want to keep you safe. ‘Cept the safest place I know of for you is right where you are, over my knee like this, and I suppose you don’t much like that notion, little sir.”
“But I know what you were thinking. You have this big scary thing to do and you have to go to a terrible place to do it, and that felt like the biggest, scariest thing there could ever be. That was awful enough. But you sure didn’t want me having to go there with you.”
“Noooooo! D-Didn’t! I wanted y-you --”
“You wanted me to be safe, I know. And I wouldn’t be safe if I stayed with you. You know how scary this is and how much more scary it’s going to be, how awful, and you reckoned that I’d feel the same way you did; I’d be just as scared. Right?”
“Y-YESSS! Oh Saaaaaam!”
“But, listen to me, Frodo,” I said. “I don’t feel the same way about things as you do. Whatever’s out there is scary, to be sure, but that’s not what scares me most. What scares me most is what I saw when I ran out of that forest and there you were, leaving me behind. For me, there isn’t no bigger scared than that. No orcish things or Dark Lords are as terrible scary to me as seeing you leave me.”
Frodo’s breathing hitched and he gasped real soft, “Oh, Sam!”
“Remember the first time I took you over my knee, Mister Frodo? I told you then that I wouldn’t have you planning wild stunts and running off anywhere without me, ever. I said that where you go, I go, and I set about to make sure you understood that. Remember?”
Frodo hiccupped and said, “Uh-huhhhhh!”
“Well, I reckon it’s time to teach that lesson again, and that’s alright. I don’t mind. Because nothing’s changed, little sir. I still won’t have you running away from me, not never. And now you’ve gone and almost done it. You almost did, Frodo!”
Something hot went off inside me and I shuddered and tipped up his bottom and started paddling that tender little place that made him squeal and wiggle and wail.
“AHHHHHHHHHHH! SAAMMMMM! AHHH! NOOO! PLEASE,PLEASE,PLEEEAHHHHH!”
“Like I said, nothing scares me more than you leaving me behind. And, seeing you doing it, well, it made my blood go cold, little sir. And in case you were wondering, that’s why you’re over my knee.”
“AHHHHHHHH, Sam! Pleeeeease!”
I gave him one more big swat, then moved back up to his bottom. “But you already know why you’re over my knee, don’t you, Frodo?” I said. “That’s why you haven’t asked me. Deep down inside, you knew all along I wouldn’t want you running off without me, that this was the worst naughty thing you could do, far’s I’m concerned.”
“Oh, S-Sam, I-I-I --”
“Shhh, Frodo. Shhh. No need to fuss. I really do understand what you were trying to do, and I reckon that, at least in part, the Ring was making you do it. But it was your own choice, too, wasn’t it?”
“Fact is, I’m thinking it was mostly your doing. The Ring didn’t make you run away.”
“N-Nooooooooo! N-Not the R-Ring!”
I nodded. “The first thing you said when we landed was that you forgave me, and all that nonsense. That weren’t the Ring talking. That was you, Frodo.”
“Shhhhh. I know you thought leaving me was for the best. But it wasn’t for MY best, and if I can’t trust you to know that, then this could happen again. You could decide you know what’s best for me again and leave me when I’m sleeping and there I’d be, waking up alone, without my Frodo. And there you’d be, going into that darkness alone, without me.”
“Don’t worry. That’s not gonna happen, little sir. You’re going to promise me, here and now, that you won’t never again try to leave me behind on this journey we’re on together. And if you won’t give me that promise I’ll bundle you up in my elven rope and take you right back across the lake to Strider and he can deal with you. You know I can do it, and don’t think I won’t do it, neither, because this is way too important. I need that promise, Frodo, and we’re not taking one step forward until I have it. It’s just you and me now. We have a long ways to go and a big thing to do, and so help me, we’re going to do it together. I can’t be worrying about you trying to sneak away from me every time I close my eyes. I have to be able to trust you again.”
“A-g-gain?” Frodo wailed. “Tr-Trust me a-again? Ohhhhhhh, S-Saam!”
“That’s right,” I said. “I’m sorry as I can be to have to say this, Mister Frodo, but when I saw you paddling away from me, well, it felt like a trust was broken between us. A silent trust, maybe, because, well, maybe we never put it in exact words, but that was because we never had to. We both knew it was there, holding us together like one joined person. And when you tried to leave me behind you tore that joined person apart and our trust was broke.”
Frodo busted out into a fresh bunch of tears. “Noooooooooooo!”
I hated hearing him sob in that broken-hearted way, but Frodo needed to understand what he’d done, so I kept swatting and talking in a gentle voice. What I was saying was hard enough; it needed to be said gentle-like. I paddled him more lightly now, too, but I didn’t let up because this was far from over and Frodo needed a steady stream of swats right now to stay with me.
“Like I said, I know you thought you were leaving me behind for my own good, to protect me,” I went on. “But you don’t get to decide what’s best for me, little sir. Only I get to choose the chances I want to take, like when I jumped from the bushes at the Council and told Mister Elrond that I was going with you on the Quest. I got to choose that for me.
“And what you did today, well, it reminds me of the time that, real sneaky-like, I gave you my share of that athelas tea Strider made us drink so’s we wouldn’t get sick, and then I got sick, remember?”
“I did what I wanted to do, and even though I thought it was the best thing for you, it wasn’t. So, after Strider made me better, he had to, well, you know . . . .” I cringed, remembering the awful tanning Strider gave me and what a big lesson that had been. My backside had been sore for two days.
“H-He spank-spanked you, S-Sam!”
My face went hot as Frodo’s red little bottom. “Aye, well --”
“Arag-gorn spanked and sp-spanked you!” Frodo cried out. And I suddenly got the feeling he was having just the best time telling me that.
“Aye! He did. Thank you. Now hush,” I said, and I gave him an extra hard swat that made Frodo squeak and hush. “Strider had to remind me what he taught the four of us in Bree – that we were supposed to follow his orders no matter what, even if we didn’t want to and even if we didn’t understand his orders – especially in those times, in fact. It wasn’t for me to decide what was best for you, like how much tea you drank. And the same goes for you, Frodo. It’s not for you to decide what’s best for me, neither. I won’t have it. Understand?”
Frodo went real still and quiet, crying in a shuddery way, and I could feel him hearing me, and I knew that he understood in his deepest place of understanding. “Yessssss! Oh, Saaaam! Y-Yes! Unnersta-stand youuu! I dooo!”
“Good. I think you do. I hope you do. Because now you have a promise to make to me, little sir, and when you make it I want you to remember this: no matter what that lump of poison around your neck might whisper to you, you’re still a hobbit, and no hobbit ever goes so low as to break a promise. Not ever. Do they, Mister Frodo?”
“Then I want you to say it in your own words. Right now. Promise me you won’t never again try to run away from me on our journey.”
“I w-won’t!” I wailed. “I-I prom-mise Sam! I-I won’t!”
“Won’t what? Keep going.” SWAT!
“OWW! I-I p-promise I w-won’t ever a-again try to run aw-way from you – won’t t-try to leave you be-behind on-on-on our j-journey. I-I promise, Sam!”
“Good,” he said. “That’s all I needed to hear.”
And Sam stopped spanking me. Hot quivers ripped through me, my body bracing for more, my legs aching from all the kicking, and I lay there, shaking and crying and trembling, my breath catching and my bottom throbbing with heat. My Sam was the gentlest of hobbits, but he could deliver a spanking equal to any Ranger or elf twice his size.
“P-Promise! I-I-I promise, Sam!” I kept muttering, stuck on the words, my mind sluggish and drifting in that post-spanking fog.
“That’s good enough for me, Mister Frodo,” he said, patting my fiery backside. I hissed and arched and squeaked. “Shhhhhhhhhh,” Sam purred. “Hush now, my sweet Frodo. You gave me your promise, and I trust you enough to take you at your word.”
“Ohhhhhhhhhh! Oh, Sam!” I curled my arms under my head and buried my face in the crook of my elbow, bursting into fresh sobbing, “Y-You do? Y-You trust m-me again? Y-You doooo?”
“‘Course I do,” he said. “That promise was for you as much as for me. And that leaves just one more thing you need to say to me --”
“Sorrrrrrryyyyy!” I wailed, lifting my head. “Oh, S-Sam! I-I’m sorry, sorry, s-soorrrrrrr--”
And before I’d finished my ‘sorries’ Sam swept me into his arms, scooping up my limp body with the ease of one who’d worked hard for many years. He gathered me close and I collapsed in his embrace, draping my arms around his shoulders, nestling my face against his neck and breathing in his comforting scent, Sam’s delightful scent of fresh air and woodsmoke and clean, genuine hobbit.
“M-My Saaaaaam, my S-Saaaaaaaaam,” I murmured, my lips against his skin.
“Aye, Mister Frodo. Shhh. That’s right. Your Sam,” he murmured. “Always. Your Sam.” His warm, sweet breath tickled my ear and he held me closely, nuzzling my curls and kissing the side of my face, ohhh, such delicious touches . . . mmmm.
“Sorry, sorry, s-sorry, S-Sam!”
“I know,” he said. “And it’s all right now. Shhhhhhh, hush now. Enough sorries, little sir. Settle down. All over, sweet Frodo. All done. I trust you to keep your promise.”
“Oh, Sam,” I whispered. “Th-Thank you.”
For a while I just drifted in his arms, wishing I could stay there forever and ever, safe. I tried to keep from thinking. I felt too wonderful to think. I couldn’t think, especially about the future. That was too terrible to think about. I wished Sam and I could just walk away from any future.
But no. My Sam was also the noblest of hobbits, and he was right about hobbits and promises. I’d volunteered for this, so there would be no walking away from the future and from what I’d said I’d do, and now there would be no walking away from my Sam. He’d seen to that, no question. But, oh how I wished that I could’ve made this decision for him, and that he was back with Aragorn and the others, safe. I’d chosen to do this horrible thing. I hadn’t wanted it for Sam.
And yet, on a purely selfish note, I was so glad Sam was with me that I was weeping from relief and joy as much as from the sore bottom he’d given me. Just before climbing into that boat I’d stood there on the shore, terrified to move, terrified to think about going on alone, Gandalf’s words about making the most of the time that was given to me finally urging me forwards. My doom was mine alone to bear. I wouldn’t let Sam ruin himself for a vow I’d taken. I no longer had the power to decide my own destiny, but I could, and I would decide Sam’s destiny for him.
Or so I thought.
Sam had made his point well. And he’d been right. That’s why he’d been so silent during all my forgiving. I’d thought he’d been too moved to speak when in truth he’d been too stunned to form words. Had it been Pippin in Sam’s place he’d have butted in with a shocked, “What are ya’ blatherin’ on about, Frodo? ME feel guilty? Are you daft?”
But Sam wasn’t one to argue about things. He figured his actions would speak better than he could and, oh, Merciful Middle Earth he’d been right!
“There are few better places from which to see things in a clearer light than where you are right now, little one,” Aragorn had once said when I was over his knee and he was seconds away from spanking me. So true.
Sam had started rocking, knowing that I loved it. “You’re quieting down real nice, Mister Frodo,” he said. And I realized that I’d stopped crying. “Iffen you turn towards me just a little and rest up on your hip then I can . . . .” I was shifting upwards before he finished telling me what I knew he intended to do. I’d already started purring.
Sam cuddled me to him with one arm and reached down with his free hand to rub my burning bottom. I flinched and squeaked at his first touch, then I quivered and melted against him, shudders washing over me.
“Mmmmmmm . . . ohhhhh, Saaam . . . .”
A sudden thought yanked me from that oblivion. My eyes popped open and I blinked and stared off. Sam paused.
“Alright.” He lowered me down from his shoulder and cradled me across his lap, braced by his arm. I looked up at him, and he said, “Alllllright. What happened, little sir?”
I mindlessly drew a fingernail up to my teeth and Sam grabbed my hand and kissed the almost-bitten fingernail just the way Aragorn used to do.
“Out with it, Frodo. You were all mushy and quiet and calm and then your whole little self went stiff, like you saw something that spooked you bad. But the birds are still singing and Sting hasn't turned blue and there's nothing here that's scary. So, what happened? Tell me. And you know better’n to say, ‘nothing.’ Come on now. What nasty lie is that thing ‘round your neck trying to tell you?”
He was uncanny, my Sam. “Well, I-I was wondering . . . when we landed, well, why didn’t I even think to say that I was sorry for trying to leave you? Why didn't it occur to me to apologize for that, Sam? I never once considered the fact that you might be upset about what I’d done. All I thought about was forgiving you. Actually, I should have been asking for your forgiveness. I know you wondered about it.”
“So, maybe . . . well, maybe it was the Ring talking to me, Sam, telling me to keep going and to leave you behind.”
“Nay, Frodo. I think you were doing just what you said you were. You wanted to protect me, that’s all. And, wrong as it was, just like me and that athelas tea, your reasons were good and noble and made sense to you, and like Strider once told me, iffen it makes sense to you, it don’t matter if it makes sense to me.”
“He said that?” I asked.
“Yep.” Sam kissed my fingers again and went on, “He said that such things happen because of simple confused thinking. But don’t you worry none about that, Mister Frodo, because I know just how to handle confused thinking.” And Sam flashed me his quick little smile and a wink. “Don’t I?”
He’s sleeping now. I should be sleeping, too, but even though I’m lying half-draped over Sam and my aching bottom isn’t touching anything, Sam had done a certain Ranger proud. I’m sure that Aragorn’s heart was comforted when he saw that my loyal Sam had joined me. Aragorn now knows that I’ll be all right. And I will be.
Listening to Sam’s calm, even breathing and the steady thrumming of his heart beneath my ear I’m as comforted as Aragorn. For, whatever comes, Sam is with me, watching out for me, caring about me enough to almost drownd-ed himself for my sake and loving me enough to leave me lying awake with a very sore bottom.
He sleeps. My Sam can sleep. And all because of my promise.