Disclaimer: No copyright infringement is intended. I don't own these characters. This story is not meant to violate the rights held by New Line, Tolkien Enterprises, nor any other licensee, nor is any disrespect intended.
Part V, The Resolute Master Samwise
I love Sam dearly, but he had been completely out of control, and I’d had enough of feeling foolish for one day. I’d stormed away from camp, not going far, but just far enough to put some distance between Sam and me before he tested my temper further.
Finding a comfortable-looking log, I sat and frowned off into the gathering dusk. I couldn’t stay away long, of course, but I thought I only needed a few moments of solitude to calm down before going back to face Sam.
I did not like yelling at him like that, but Sam had simply lost all reason, and he had made far too much of nothing. It had started innocently enough, with him asking if I’d had a nice talk with Legolas in that quietly interested way of his. We were alone, as Merry had gone over to sit with Gimli, and I saw no harm in being honest with him. Sam was thoughtful and considerate of others, and I’d always felt comfortable telling him almost anything. The very soul of discretion was my Sam, so I knew that what I told him in confidence remained strictly between us. Without over embellishing, and carefully avoiding all references to soap, I briefly told him my fears about Aragorn’s behavior, what I had seen, and what I had concluded and what I’d discussed with Legolas.
Sam listened, silently at first, nodding his agreement a few times, but, as I’d talked, a certain watchful look began to enter his gaze, that look he gets when he feels I’m over-stepping myself and getting into matters best left alone. Sam had been giving me that look more and more of late and I’d grown increasingly uncomfortable with it. I guess I became a little irritated at that point. But so did Sam.
Merry returned and sat down, but he seemed to quickly sense something going on between Sam and me, because he crawled over and poked the fire a bit, and, when he crawled back, he sat down further away from us. I doubted he would be able to hear what we were saying, as long as I could get Sam to settle down. I couldn’t understand why he had become so out of sorts as I talked. He had even muttered that, “Strider’s goings on are best left to the ‘big folk.’”
I took exception to that. After all, I was the Ringbearer here. I thought Sam needed a little reminding of my position of authority, an illustration that, not only was I able to think up good solutions to problems, but that I knew enough to enlist the help of one such as Legolas. Leaving out the part Sam didn’t need to know about, specifically, the elf’s reaction, I began to talk explain what I felt might help Aragorn, including, unfortunately, my plan.
Sam’s eyes had gone wide with alarm. He shot to his feet, crying, “You what?”
I’d scrambled up and cast a quick look around. Of course, all eyes were now on the two of us. I placed my hands on his arms to calm him, pulling him away from our spot near the fire, trying to put some space between the others and us. He followed for a few steps, then he shook me off, still glowering at me with that menacing, dark look.
“What did you say you planned again?” he sputtered. “What?”
“Sam, settle down, please,” I said quietly. “I can hear you. There’s no need to shout.”
“No need to shout?” Sam shouted. “No need to shout?”
“Shhh! Sam, stop it!” I ordered, glancing around again. Gimli was studying his axe blade, Gandalf had retreated beneath his hat and Merry, looking painfully uneasy, was valiantly trying to appear disinterested. I locked my gaze with Sam’s and talked quietly to him for a moment, reminding him that all was well, that I’d only been concerned for Aragorn. He didn’t look the least bit impressed or distracted from his ill-temper.
I flashed a glimpse around once more and noted that Legolas had returned. Merry must have simply charged over to his side. He was now sitting snuggled up to Legolas, the elf’s arm around his shoulder, and they were talking quietly while watching Sam and I as if we were the evening’s entertainment. I suddenly felt exposed and rattled and exasperated with Sam for losing his composure this way and making public our disagreement. I frowned at him the way Bilbo used to on those rare occasions in Sam’s youth when he’d been too impertinent.
“Enough of this shouting,” I said. “Control yourself, Sam. Lower your voice at once. This behavior is unacceptable and I simply will not have it. You are drawing the attention of the others.”
He fixed me with a furious glare and said in a barely subdued tone, “I don’t care whose attention I draw, Mister Frodo! If I heard you right, you thought to run off alone so Strider would have to deal with you, and I’m telling you right now, I don’t care who hears me yelling about something that stupid!”
“I won’t be hushed! I’m sorry, Mister Frodo, but I won’t be!” Sam was now positively red-faced. “And don’t you go telling me that Legolas liked this idea, neither, because I know he wouldn’t!”
I simply stared at him, too stunned by his audacity to think.
“In fact, I’m surprised you can still sit!”
Every time Sam opened his mouth, he shocked me with his increasingly disrespectful manner. I’d had enough of him making a spectacle of us both. “That is really quite enough out of you, Samwise Gamgee. It’s none of your business what I do.”
“None of my--!” Sam sputtered so hard he couldn’t finish his sentence, which was fine with me because my good graces were about spent.
“You heard me!” I gave him a stern look far surpassing any Bilbo had ever managed. “You forget yourself, my lad. I said I’d been thinking of my plan; I did not say I was actually going to do it.”
“Only because Legolas wouldn’t hear of it! Beggin’ your pardon, Mister Frodo, but when a body thinks something like that up, it’s usually because he plans to do it.” Sam’s eyes glowed. He lowered his voice to a sharp growl, but now he started gesturing with his arms, I suppose to emphasize his fury. “Run off? In the night? Alone? In this country? What were you thinking? You don’t mean it! No.” He shook his head. “No. I don’t believe it. I can’t believe you’d even think of something so stu--”
“Don’t say that again!” I shot back, my own temper finally giving way. “I will not have you calling me stupid, Samwise Gamgee. In fact, you owe me an apology for that rudeness. And don’t you question me! You don’t ever question me!”
“Don’t question you? I’ll question you all right if you start in with such nonsense! Don’t question you? When you need questioning, Mister Frodo, make no mistake, I’ll do it!”
My indignation exploded. I was still master of Bag End and I would tolerate this no further! “How dare you speak to me in that insolent tone!”
It was as if I stood outside myself, astounded by what came out of my mouth. What was I saying? I had never diminished Sam in this way. He was a part of me, as I was of him and I loved him as I loved no other. Yet here I was, abusing my power, belittling him when he did not deserve it, losing control so quickly it stunned me. Sam looked freshly furious and now hurt as well. A sharp twinge of guilt tore at me, and yet I seemed unable to stop, still driven by some unknown and frightening force.
“I don’t like having to speak to you disrespectfully, Mister Frodo, but--”
“Then guard your tongue,” I snapped. “I will not stand here a moment longer and listen to you rail at me. I trusted you with a private matter, and although I had changed my mind and was not going to go through with it, your outrageous behavior makes me long to do it anyway.” I had only added the last part to lash out at him and, again, guilt thundered down upon me.
Sam went white with rage. “Mister Frodo--”
“Enough!” I cried, now as provoked with myself as much as I was with him. Nevertheless, I stepped closer to him, speaking directly into his fury-hardened face. “This conversation is over, Sam. Now sit down and get control of yourself. I’m going for a walk to cool off, and do not even think of following me.”
And now, here I sat, on this log in the gathering twilight, bewildered and regretful and still fuming and uncertain as to what to feel most and what to do next. Of course I would have to go back, and there I’d find my dearest companion, no doubt sulking, feeling angry and hurt, as well he should. And the others--
It suddenly occurred to me that Legolas could very well have heard everything Sam and I had said. I sucked an inward gasp. Legolas, listening to what I’d said to Sam, the demeaning things I’d snarled. Oh! A memory flashed before me of Legolas with his arms crossed, looking at me with dark disdain, his gaze full of dissatisfaction.
I closed my eyes and rubbed them with the heels of my hands as if trying to rub away the vision. Then I sighed and drew my knees up and hugged them to my chest. Finally I gave in and accepted in my heart what I’d feared in my mind: the Ring had been a large part of what had just gone on between Sam and myself.
I’d imposed my “master” status on him. Where had that come from? It certainly had poured out easily enough, all that venomous nonsense. Against Sam! My Sam. A rush of hot embarrassment flooded me. Surely he had known that I didn’t mean all that. He had to know it. Sam was many things to me, but he was not now, nor had he ever been, a mere servant. There was no class division between us save what he himself felt comfortable maintaining, and even that was a surface maintenance, Sam seeming to need the ‘Mister’ before my name, only slipping into the plain ‘Frodo’ when he was instantly panicked, like in Farmer Maggot’s cornfield when he’d lost sight of me.
Whatever made Sam comfortable was fine with me. There was something charming about his quaint little need for deference. I was indeed master of Bag End, and Sam enjoyed me in that role, so that suited me as well. The undercurrent of who we really were to each other sustained us, even it we didn’t talk much of it. So, Sam and I were never ‘master and servant’ in the sense that Bilbo and the Gaffer had been. Sam and I loved each other, and even though I was well within my rights to demand his obedience, and treat him like a menial, I couldn’t imagine doing such a base thing, and I never had. Until now.
I sighed and thought about heading back to my angry young gardener. I still hadn’t decided how to handle this, though. I adored Sam, but I couldn’t let him treat me as he had, any more than Aragorn could allow me to snarl at him and glare at him and insult him. That strange, mixed-up feeling began slithering through me again, like two distinct voices were battling for my attention. I narrowed my eyes and tried to give both of them a fair hearing, because the fact remained that Sam had certainly thrown me, glaring at me that way and behaving so threateningly. What was he thinking?
Calling me stupid. Sam had actually called me stupid! No . . . in all fairness, he had called my plan stupid. Hardly a difference worth noting, though. And he’d nearly called me that twice! I felt a decent anger of my own begin simmering away, and at that moment I heard the footfalls of someone coming down the trail. I knew that step well.
So. He had decided to ignore my order to sit down and cool off. I lowered my feet to the ground and crossed my arms over my chest and fired a frown at the curve in the path where he was about to appear. Very well, Samwise. Let us finish this discussion without an audience.
I paused when I came around the bend and saw him sitting there on that log, his arms crossed over his chest, his feet solidly planted, his dark curls fluttering and a scowl on his face as bold as could be. Guess he’d heard me coming.
It didn’t matter that his pretty mouth was set in that little frown of his. Frodo was still heartstopping. Always was. Just the sight of him there in the soft evening dimness, took the breath from me and the wind out of my sails for a minute. I stood gazing at him, and then, suddenly, my biggest fear hit me hard in my stomach, the biggest fear there could ever be, the fear that something would happen to him, that he’d be hurt or in trouble or frightened or alone and I couldn’t get to him, couldn’t protect him, couldn’t save him. That was the only nightmare that could wake me at night and the only pain I couldn’t stop inside me. That biggest fear haunted me worse than the most horrible specter stories my old Gaffer could ever weave.
So when I’d heard him talking about doing something so dangerous, I couldn’t help flying off the handle like that. And I didn’t care who heard, and I didn’t care if I was way too angry for politeness. Good manners were the last thing on my mind at that moment. All I’d seen was a cloud of red and my Frodo standing there, telling me it was all right for him to be talking that way, that I didn’t need to be all worried, that what he did wasn’t any of my business, and then getting angry with me because I was disrespectful!
I knew him well enough to understand that he didn’t mean half of what he was saying. More and more I’d started feeling like the Ring was taking hold of him. His temper got hotter quicker nowadays and he sometimes took on a sulkiness and silence that made me fret something fierce. That just wasn’t like him and it never had been for as long as I’d known him, which had been just about forever.
Aragorn, and now Boromir and Legolas, had all taken Frodo in hand, and that was good, even though it always made me feel sad for his poor bottom. But I’d been dealing with him in my own way, too. Frodo will do as I say if I’m stubborn enough to wait him out, and I’m always stubborn enough, so he’d been pretty much accepting me taking care of his needs.
But this, this wasn’t a matter of waiting him out. This was something different and dangerous and reckless and I couldn’t let it go. It wasn’t like I’d never been tempted to turn Frodo over my knee before. I’d held off time after time. But now there wasn’t anything else I could do. He hadn’t left me any choice. And still, he sat there, sulking at me like a haughty princeling wondering what in the world his servant could possibly want.
I headed his way, thinking I’d try to make this as easy on him as I could, but I wasn’t real sure how . . . but, then again, why should I? No, there’d be no making this easy on him. I didn’t want this to be easy on him. I wanted this to be something he remembered.
“Sam,” he said as I neared, “I distinctly recall telling you not to follow me. And I also recall telling you to sit down and control your temper.”
If I’d had one tiny hint of a doubt in my mind, his cheekiness just dashed it to bits. “Aye, you did tell me that, Mister Frodo,” I said, nearly upon him now. “And I’m sorry to have to disobey those orders of yours.”
He looked a little uneasy, but he still glared and said, “Well, since you’re so sorry, you can turn around and go right back to camp and do as you were told.”
I stopped, right beside him now, gazing down at his sweet face, his big eyes shiny with angry lights. “I’m sorry again, Mister Frodo, sorry as I can be, but I can’t do that.”
Quick as lightening, I sat down beside him and yanked Frodo over my knee. He screamed right off.
“Sam! Take your hands off me! Let me go!”
I’d expected a fight, of course, so I worked quick before he got his bearings. I closed him between my legs, dragging him over my left knee and clamping my right leg over his two jerking ones until he couldn’t move at all. Then I grabbed his flailing arms, gripped both his wrists together with one hand, brought them behind him, and clutched them in a tight grasp at his back, pressing down and holding him firmly in place.
Frodo is about as tall as me, almost, but he’s a lot more slight all over, whereas I’ve been working hard all my life. The Gaffer started me off early by letting me help in Mister Bilbo’s gardens, so even though I may not be much taller, I’m a good sight bigger. My arms and my hands are a lot more muscular than Frodo’s, and I have sturdy legs and a strong back, and I outweigh him. So he could fight all he wanted to, but Frodo wasn’t going nowhere until I decided to let him up.
He sure could scream, though. And he did, and I let him, half-listening as I got him positioned proper and unfastened his braces. I knew better than to pay attention to the things he was saying about ‘how dare I,’ and ‘what did I think I was doing,’ and ‘I had no right,’ and ‘I’d better stop now if I knew what was good for me,’ and some elvish stuff I guess he was mad enough to yell. It sure was a lot he had to say, but I had other things to think on.
I shoved his britches down, and when he felt the cool air on his bare skin he let loose a fresh bunch of howls and threats. I admired his sweet, soft bottom almost sadly, knowing what I was about to do to it, and yet I wasn’t all that sad. Frodo’s behavior, even in this minute, when I had him helpless and trapped and bare-bottomed was so out of control I was plain stupefied.
And I knew in that moment what it was I felt more’n anything. I felt sorry for him, so sorry. My poor, sweet-natured Mister Frodo, acting this way when he’d never in his kind-hearted life acted mean towards me nor anyone else. Of course he’d had his rambunctious years, his ‘tweens full of harmless naughtiness with his Brandybuck kin, but Frodo had always, always been good to people. He wasn’t harsh or teasing or cruel or snobby. He didn’t act better than others, even though he could have. He was the most gentle, thoughtful soul I’d ever known.
And now this evil thing had him and it was starting to work on him, taking him away from me and driving him to a place where he could say hurtful things and not seem to care. But I knew he did care, and I knew it hurt the Frodo inside, the Frodo who didn’t want to behave this way, the one I saw just behind his cross frown and just inside his glittering, angry gaze. That Frodo was in there, quiet and alone and probably wondering what made him do the things he’d been doing.
My poor Frodo.
I wasn’t about to leave him to that fate. The Ring didn’t have all of him yet, not even a big part of him, and it never would if I had anything to say about it. This wasn’t my Frodo hollering at me to ‘release him at once,’ and that wasn’t my Frodo who’d said such unkind things to me back at camp. It was, but it also wasn’t. I didn’t think he’d understand that right yet, as mad as he was, and when the Ring had his temper up. No, I was going to be busy here for a while.
It was to my real Frodo that I spoke now, that inside Frodo who was waiting while this outside one sputtered and tried to writhe around without success. Maybe he couldn’t hear me yet, but he would. I wouldn’t be letting him up until he did.
“I’m sorry, Mister Frodo.” I couldn’t resist rubbing his round little bottom as I talked, and still he tried to buck, and he still couldn’t. “But nothing you say is going to stop me. You planned something dangerous and scary, and then you acted like I was wrong for questioning you about it.”
“You were wrong for--”
“I won’t have you planning wild stunts and running off anywhere without me, ever. Where you go, I go, Mister Frodo, and I’m going to make sure you understand that right now. And you shouldn’t be yelling that way because you’re just getting yourself all upset and frantic.”
“Getting myself frantic?” he yelled in a voice I barely recognized. “You dare do this to me, then say I’m getting mySELF frantic?”
“The more you scream the more likely it is that someone back at camp will hear you,” I said. “Now, you don’t want an audience gathering around for this, do you?”
“YES!” he bellowed. “Then they’ll stop you!”
“Oh, my, my, my,” I said with a ‘tsk’ in my voice. “I don’t think anybody would be stopping me. In fact, the ones who saw the way you just acted back there, well, I’m afraid they’d be lining up to take turns after I’d finished with you.” I lifted my hand over the snowy cheeks of his behind.
“Sam!” he screamed. “Don’t you dare! I forbid it!”
I sighed loudly. “Do you now?” I brought my hand down on his backside with a satisfying smack! My palm tingled from the blow and Frodo jerked and let fly quite a yell, far more than what was called for after just one smack. I felt a nice, warm feeling rise up inside me. I almost smiled. This felt good. Right. Like it was just what we both needed. Except, well, maybe Frodo didn’t quite see it that way.
“You can forbid me all you like.” I swatted again. “And you can be mad at me all you like.” Another swat. “I reckon you will be, leastways until I start getting through to you.” And another. “But I can’t obey you when you’re not yourself, Mister Frodo.” And yet another. “So just settle down now, because this might take some time.” I lifted my hand again and started in tanning his behind in a way that would’ve made a certain Ranger proud.
“What do you mean not mysel—AHHHHH! SAAAM!”
I was warming his bottom like there was no tomorrow, and, from the way Frodo started carrying on right away, I knew I was doing a proper job of it. But I also knew I wasn’t being too rough. I’d seen enough paddlings to know what I was doing, and I’d felt enough of them, too. So even though Frodo’s screaming was loud, it wasn’t just because I was making his pretty bottom glow all rosy. Aye, a lot of it was because of that, because I sure wasn’t holding back, but a lot of it was also his fury letting go. And he had a lot of fury to let go.
He kept up yelling for awhile, then, as his bottom got hotter, his screams were joined by crying and wailing, all of it mixing into a mess of commotion that just wasn’t good for him. This wasn’t ‘I’m sorry’ crying neither, this was angry crying and angry bellowing, Frodo full of fury that I’d dare do this to him. He kept demanding that I stop, let him go. He kept forbidding me to go on. Forbidding me? I wondered if he really thought I would suddenly start obeying him and let him go and apologize to him.
But all this acting up let me know that he wasn’t ready to do anything but fight me. And that was all right. These things just took time. I kept up a nice, hard, even pattern of swats on his round cheeks, a little surprised, I guess, that it seemed such an easy thing to do, even though my palm was starting to sting. His bottom was getting colorful, and when I’d swat down on his sitting place he’d cry out with extra force. I knew all too well what that sitting place felt like when smacked. I started talking to him now, too, hoping that something would sink in between his hollers.
“You need to stop this fussing now, Mister Frodo. I know you’re mad, and I’m sorry about that, but you don’t have any say in this. And all this fussiness won’t do you any good.”
“Sam! S-Stop! Stop! I order you t-to--”
“Sorry, Mister Frodo.” I swung my palm down hard, making him cry out. “I told you, there’s no place for your orders here. Not right now. I know you don’t like that, but that’s just the way it is. So settle down. Enough of this ruckus.”
I’m sure it was the words I chose that made him howl again and try to buck, but I had Frodo so tightly held that he couldn’t move anything more than his shoulders and head. Meanwhile his bottom was getting redder and redder and still he fought me.
“I-I will nev-never forgive you f-for this!” he now wept, his sobs making his words stagger.
Oh, how that thing around his neck controlled him! “I think you will,” I said softly. “I forgive you for all the things you’ve been saying to me, Mister Frodo, so I reckon you’ll forgive me for loving you enough to do this.”
I wasn’t mad about the things he’d said, since I understood that he didn’t mean them. But they did make me sad, because I knew that as soon as he started coming to his senses he’d feel awful about those mean things. He’d need me then, need to know that I didn’t hold anything against him, that I loved him, that I knew who he was inside, and that I knew it wasn’t my Frodo saying such things.
And so it went on, and I paddled him steadily, not the least bit tired, although Frodo seemed to start losing strength. He hadn’t said anything for a few minutes, the only sound being his crying and my steady swats on his very hot bottom. I got a little fretful about that, about how long this had been going on and how much he’d taken, but I knew he’d have to settle down eventually.
“I know how hard this is for you, Mister Frodo” I said, my voice calm as my hand rose and fell over and over, but a little slower now. “It’s harder, isn’t it, being where you are right now, over my knee? So much harder than if it was Strider or Boromir or Legolas.”
I wasn’t really asking a question or expecting an answer, but he was just steadily sobbing, low and lonely-like, and I could tell he was listening. I felt a charge of hope.
“It’s alright. I know how hard it is. With a big warrior, or an elf, or a Ranger who’s a King, it feels different, so much different. Somehow it’s easier to give in to one of them than it is to give in to me, your Sam.”
Frodo paused in his crying and took a slow deep breath and when he started weeping again it had a less savage edge to it. He whimpered in a weak voice, “My S-S-Sam, my-my S-Sam . . . .”
I felt tears sting my eyes. There he was. My Frodo. I rested my hand on his fiery bottom, watching him shudder.
“Aye, your Sam, Mister Frodo. Always yours. Always right here. I won’t lose you to that thing around your neck. I won’t let you slip away from me. I’ll always be watching, and I’ll do this as many times as I need to. And I promise you this, Mister Frodo, if I see you behaving badly again, or if you ever dare to do something, or even think of doing something so dangerous again, or if you talk to me, or anyone else the way you did tonight, you’ll be right back here, over my knee. That’s a promise, Mister Frodo. You understand me?”
Frodo trembled for one silent moment and then he burst out sobbing. He fell limply over my knee, just crying and crying, big, raw frantic-sounding wails coming from the deepest part of him.
“yyyyesssss-ss y-y-eeessss unner sta-sta S-Sammm, ye-y-yesssss!”
I barely remember Sam turning me over and gathering my shaking body to him. I recall a lightheaded disorientation, and then . . . then there was just Sam, his warm, sturdy body supporting my quivering limbs, his broad and welcoming shoulders to wrap my arms around and collapse upon, the scent of his curls and his skin, and his solid embrace enfolding me, holding me together when everything inside me was shattering. I heard him, his voice warm and gentle and full of forgiveness.
“Shhh, there, there, now, Mister Frodo. I’ve got you. Shhh. It’s over now, all over. Hold on to me. That’s it, breathe steady now. Good. Just breathe for me.”
He rocked slightly back and forth, murmuring his softly lyrical poetry of comfort, a language even more soothing and beautiful than the High-elven Quenya. But I could only continue my small and repeated sobs, muttering the same thing over and over, whimpered, endless apologies, shuddered ‘sorries,’ even though he kept trying to quiet me with a compassion I didn’t feel I deserved.
“Shhh, that’s enough, now. Hush. No more sorries, Mister Frodo. No more. Settle down now.”
“D-Didn’t me-mean to b-be so-so aw-awful, S-Sam! Did-Didn’t mean t-to! B-Bad things, I-I said bad, hu-hurtf-ful things to y-you! Oh, Sam! Hu-Hurt you . . .h-hurt my Sam!”
“You didn’t do nary such a thing. No more such talk now. I won’t have you thinking or talking like that. I know you didn’t want to be acting that way. I knew all along that wasn’t my Frodo talking. And it’s all right now.”
“Oh, S-Sam! Sorry, sorry, s-so, so sorryyyy!”
“I know.” He rubbed his hands over my back, still rocking, still ‘shh-ing.’ “Come, sweet Frodo, that’s enough now. Any more of this and you’ll start feeling sick. Just breathe deep for me. I’ve got you, and everything’s all better now.”
He reached up and ran his palm through my hair, tangling my curls through his fingers, one of Sam’s favorite things to do. I drew a deep, hitching breath, then moaned softly at the familiar, slight tugging feeling.
Sam turned his head to kiss my cheek and whispered, “That’s better. Quiet down now. Mister Frodo, you should know by now that there’s nothing you could ever say to make me turn away from you. Not anything, ever. I see inside you, even when you can’t. And when you can’t, when that nasty Ring starts speaking for you, I’ll take you in hand again and remind you who you are inside, the Frodo I love.”
I buried my face against his neck and wept softly, quiet tears now, relief flowing through me. Turning my head, I rubbed my cheek against his simple, homespun shirt, so common a weave for such an extraordinary being. The effects of his spanking radiated from my bottom, the heat warding off any chill in the air. I quivered suddenly. Sam’s arms tightened.
“Are you cold? I should be getting you back to camp, get you all bundled up.”
“No!” I drew back fast to look at him. “I mean, not yet, please S-Sam. N-Not yet. Just a few more minutes here, just us, just you and me, alone. P-Please?”
He hesitated, giving me a dubious look. “You’re sure you’re not cold?”
“No. It’s just . . .” I felt a blush creep up my neck, and suddenly I couldn’t look at him. I hadn’t looked into his eyes since he’d yanked me over his knee, and now . . . now I felt embarrassed to meet his gaze. It was bewildering, this awkward bashfulness, and I looked down and muttered, “My-my bottom is just so sore. I, well, I guess I shuddered because it’s so sore. That’s all. It’s just . . . just sore.”
Sam was silent for a moment, then I felt his finger under my chin, lifting my face so that I’d look at him. His eyes were shining and crinkling at the corners with that gentle smile of his. He kissed me, then he said, “I guess I know how that feels. All right. We can stay a few more minutes. But then we’ll have to get back before they send someone looking for us.” He reached down and rubbed the part of my throbbing behind he could reach. “Wouldn’t want anyone coming up and seeing you looking like this, would you?”
I answered his little grin with a half-grin of my own, then I quickly hugged him again, hiding my furiously blushing face against his shoulder. A wealth of feelings came crashing in . . . Sam had spanked me. Quite thoroughly, and without remorse. He had offered some sincere apologies, but he was apologizing for being forced to do this, not for doing it. He was sorry I’d forced him to spank me. I squirmed inwardly. How appalled I’d been! How enraged, and how utterly powerless to stop him.
It was staggering what Sam had done, and with such unflinching confidence, as if he had every right to haul me over his knee, as if . . . as if he were Aragorn. But Sam had been right, this was wholly different from what I’d felt after Aragorn or Boromir or Legolas had spanked me. Oh, none of them had anything on Master Gamgee when it came to technique. My backside burned as savagely as it did when one of the others had finished applying their special attention. But Sam had done this, my Sam, the very same Sam who had always found security and comfort in a slight show of deference. That Sam had just paddled the daylights out of me.
And yet, I hadn’t once felt frightened. At first I’d been too mad to do anything but scream empty threats. He’d locked me down so tightly I could barely move, but I could yell, and I did, especially each time he so smoothly thwarted my efforts to break free.
But nothing had worked. Nothing I said made him stop. Nothing so much as broke his rhythm or slowed his wretchedly effective swing. I couldn’t get through to him. He’d just kept spanking and spanking until my bottom was ablaze and all I could think about was that raging fire he’d ignited. It washed over me, shifting my thoughts and beginning to overtake that rebellious inner voice, and, finally, I’d lashed back with a final threat to never forgive him for what he was doing.
But Sam, too wise to believe me, replied in a way that stunned me to near-silence: “I reckon you’ll forgive me for loving you enough to do this.”
I’d felt something splinter inside. Each fresh swat drove me closer to him, echoing throughout my body and reaching into my soul. His gentle admonishments replayed in my mind, Sam lovingly reprimanding me in his plain, meaningful terms, and then he was lending yet more of himself, explaining with quiet understanding how this was harder for me to take because it was my Sam spanking me.
And then, suddenly, I was alone, no more angry inner voice, just Frodo, sobbing over Sam’s knee, feeling each of his lovingly administered spanks, a deafening roar of feeling thundering within me.
And now Sam rocked and held me and petted my curls while my thoughts raced chaotically. I didn’t know how to think about anything, and whatever this strange feeling was, it was huge. I couldn’t sort it out properly, but it . . . it felt like the most profound humiliation mixed with shaky confusion.
It all came back to this matter of who we were to each other. Would a servant have dared do what Sam had done? Would a true master have tolerated it, allowing himself to surrender to his servant, and then be comforted by him? I shuddered to think what Bilbo would’ve said, but then, I shuddered more to think of how appalled and furious he’d have been, knowing how I’d mistreated Sam. My uncle had always taught me to never abuse my power and trust when dealing with social ‘inferiors,’ but to treat them with the same courtesy and respect I expected to receive. I should have done as much, and even more so with Sam, since I’d never thought of him as an ‘inferior.’ Oh, how Bilbo would’ve glared at me if he’d heard me today!
But this confusion and discomfiting sense of shame. . . Sam had been so right; it was easier to submit to the others than it was to him. To be so humbled by Sam . . . why could I not figure out this squeamishness? What did that mean? And where did it leave us now?
“Best we just talk about it, don’t you think, Mister Frodo? Instead of you fretting yourself into a state?”
I flinched and stared off, then pulled back to gaze at him. As usual, I found his soft smile and compassionate lights in his eyes. “Sam, I . . . I don’t know how to begin.”
“Well, let’s see. Maybe you feel uneasy because it was me taking you in hand, and because that’s not how things usually are between us, is it, Mister Frodo?”
Such simple wisdom, put so perfectly. “No, it isn’t.”
“And maybe you’re wondering how things will be now, things between us, I mean. Maybe you’re even thinking that I won’t respect you as I always have now that, well—“ He patted my hot backside.
“I . . . I . . . .” Nothing came to mind. I had no words at that moment, just a rush of sticky feelings.
“Shh, don’t stew now, Mister Frodo. You just listen for a minute, and see if maybe I can help you. Is that all right?”
I nodded and Sam flashed another tender smile.
“The way I see it, someone has to love and honor someone else a lot to do what I just did to you. They have to really care about that person. That’s why Pip was so upset earlier. We both heard him crying like his heart was broke because of what Strider did, walking away from him when he’d earned that paddling he wanted. What an awful, sad thing for poor Pip, to be ignored like that.”
I nodded sorrowfully.
“Well, I don’t know what got into Strider, but I do know that I could never allow you to feel that awful way poor Pip felt, Mister Frodo. I couldn’t leave you to that. First of all, I wasn’t going to let you get away with all that dangerous plan-making, and then I wasn’t going to let you talk to me the way you did. I know you, and that wasn’t you talking, and I couldn’t let you feel as bad as I knew you would when you calmed down.”
I felt my eyes sting and tear up again. “Oh, Sam.”
“I still respect you, Mister Frodo. I care enough about you and honor you enough to yank down your britches and blister your deserving backside when you need it, and I’ll do it again. The way I see it, I’d be flat out disrespectful if I didn’t care. So you see, nothing’s changed between us. You’re still who you are, and I’m still who I am, and we’re still who we are together. But there’s something new been added now, and it’s here to stay, and you’re going to have to bear that in mind from here on out, because I will be. I promised, remember?
I released a grateful, whimpered chuckle. “How could I forget?”
He wiped away the few big tears that had tumbled down my cheeks then pulled me close and kissed me again. “Good. All settled then.”
I wrapped my arms around him again and hugged him, loving him so intensely I could barely breathe. Yes, this was what mattered, not the empty worries about so-called divisions in classes, just this love. Sam had refused to allow me to live with the darkness my ill-temper would have brought, and he’d now promised he never would, and suddenly the fears I had about what the Ring might do to me in the future became a bit lighter.
Honest realization flooded me, bringing fresh heat to my face. I had asked for what Sam had done. I’d wanted this spanking. I’d been angry about what had happened with Legolas, and even angrier to think that Sam might also think less of me for what I now had to admit was indeed a foolhardy plan, so I’d acted up, begging for Sam to, finally, put his immovable foot down. And he certainly had.
It was like seeing truth after being lost in turmoil, and I suddenly recalled something I’d told Sam only a few days earlier. I smiled and turned my head and murmured in his ear, “Sam, I feel it in the pit of my stomach, that warm glow of love you paddled into me, and my bottom is sorer, but my heart, Sam, my heart is lighter.”
He trembled slightly and I drew back to look at him. Tears glistened in Sam’s eyes. I kissed him tenderly and said, “I once told you that you are a gift to me, such a rare gift. That was never more true than in this moment. I love you, Samwise Gamgee. Thank you for reminding me that there is no greater gift than the love and attention of another.”
Sam’s tears spilled over and ran down his cheeks, and I smiled to see him so open and honest and unreserved. He could barely whisper what he clearly so wanted to say, “I love you too, Mister Frodo.”
We kissed again, both of us coming together for a soft, long and lingering moment, and when we parted, Sam sucked a deep breath, dashed away his tears and cleared his throat, obviously deciding to once more assume command.
“Right,” he said. “In a minute it’ll be full dark, so, we need to get back now.”
I winced and nodded.
He eased me from his lap and helped pull up my britches then turned me around to re-fasten the braces. I felt slightly indulged, rather like a hobbit child getting dressed by an adult, but it seemed Sam was enjoying himself, so I simply smiled and allowed it.
“I happen to know where there’s some salve, Mister Frodo,” he said, turning me back around. “I reckon it’d feel pretty good about now.” I just grinned and he stood and took my hand, his eyes crinkling at the corners again, and said, “Come on. We’ll just go get it and find a little private place and I’ll drop your britches and take you over my lap again.”
“Well, it’s not like everyone won’t know what happened. You yelled louder than Pippin.”
“I did not!”
He laughed and patted my bottom again. “Did too.”
Aragorn had come charging back into camp at Frodo’s first screams. I had just told Boromir what had gone on between the hobbits when I heard Aragorn coming, so I jumped up and stopped him, explaining the situation to him as well, but leaving out the details as to why Frodo and Sam had been fighting. Aragorn nodded, then shot a quick look towards the shrieks coming down the trail, as indeed we all did. Frodo’s bellows were most Pippin-like.
I glanced at the remaining hobbits. Merry had turned so that his back was to us, and Pippin was stretched out over his lap, his britches shoved down just below his bottom so that Merry could apply Aragorn’s salve. Merry’s body blocked his cousin’s bare backside, and, of course, none of us deigned to watch, but it was clear what was going on, and it made one smile. Right now both hobbits were frozen and staring towards the screams as well. Then they looked at each other and went back to their business.
Aragorn stood listening for a moment, as if trying to decide whether or not he should investigate. He gave me a quick look.
“I scouted around briefly. There is no danger about, no evil to disturb them, and no one to hear Frodo’s screams, save us. All is quiet.”
Frodo yelled again, disproving my words so instantly that Aragorn and I exchanged a quick smirk. Then he seemed to remember himself, and he sobered so quickly it made me blink.
“I go to stand watch, then,” he said. He cast one more look down the trail and added, “They should not stay out much longer.”
“I will see they are back before darkness falls,” I assured him, and then he was gone, striding out to the site we had found earlier.
I glanced back down at Boromir who sat brooding and silent. He looked up at me and said, “I gather he has done this before? Withdrawn into himself like this?”
I sat down beside my little brother and nodded. “Yes.”
“Not often. Sometimes.”
“I do understand,” he said in a thoughtful tone. “So much rests upon his shoulders. And he is well suited to it. And yet, he, too, has times of darkness.”
I gave him a soft smile. “He is, in many ways, still Thorongil to you, is he not?”
Boromir flashed me a startled look, then lowered his gaze and grinned. “I suppose he is.”
“No supposing, little brother. And it is all right. I, too, ache to see him suffer.”
He dug at the ground with a twig and said, “As Pippin was sleeping I kept thinking of Aragorn and I kept wondering . . . .”
He paused, and Frodo’s bellows, now more like crying wails, broke his silence. He grinned quickly and said, “I think Master Samwise is killing our Ringbearer.”
I grinned and nodded. “Master Samwise has held off far too long for either of them, I fear.”
“Aye, he is making up for lost time.”
“Aragorn will need to make more salve.”
“And keep a supply ready.”
We both laughed softly, then after a moment I said, “What were you wondering?”
He sobered and thought, then replied, “I wondered, where does he find his solace?” He looked at me with a worried rapt expression. “Where does Aragorn gain his peace? Who does he turn to?”
I longed to tell him that all would be well, that, indeed, I could, and would be helping Aragorn this very night. But I sensed that such was not something Boromir would be able to hear. Neither was it something I was willing to tell him, even to ease his troubled mind. Aside from the fact that to tell such a thing felt like a betrayal of a trust I held with Aragorn, I doubted that such enlightenment would ease Boromir’s distress over him. In fact, I sensed that it might trouble my little brother more to hear of it, although in a different way.
What I felt most solidly, deep inside, was that Boromir needed Aragorn to be who he had ever been to him, strong and decisive and steady, the man Denethor should have been, the man Boromir always tried to be for Faramir. In my little brother’s lonely world, so often riddled with examples of cruelty and dishonorable behavior, Aragorn needed to remain who he was. He needed to remain Thorongil.
Aragorn had been amazed that Boromir had remembered him from such an early age. “He was no more than four when I rode away from Minas Tirith, Legolas. And yet he remembered me from that far back.”
Indeed, how could he have forgotten? Thorongil had been Boromir’s earliest memory of an indefinable and extraordinary male presence. And I sensed that, regardless of how much compassion Boromir now displayed for Aragorn, it would trouble him to know what I intended to do to his Thorongil very soon.
I reached over and pushed back some wayward locks that were falling in his eyes, making him look little-boyish.
“I will speak with him tonight. Fear not. He often is much better after voicing his troubles.”
“And he will voice them to you?”
“You are certain?”
“Yes. As I told Frodo, Aragorn and I go back a long way. Trust that he will be feeling better after we talk.”
Boromir studied me closely, then looked down and watched himself poking at the ground. When he spoke his voice carried a rich undertone of sadness, “I wish . . . I would liked to have helped him.”
How like Frodo he sounded in that moment. “I know. But you did help him. You helped him by dealing with Pippin, as he needed to be dealt with. You took one responsibility from his shoulders, little brother. You spanked a naughty hobbit who was begging to be spanked.”
His gaze shot up as I had thought it would. “’Naughty’ hobbit?”
I laughed at his expression of pure disgust. And I could not stop laughing the more disgusted he got.
“Wretched word!” he grumbled.
Merry and Pippin, now settled comfortably before the fire with Pip on his stomach, glanced our way with hobbity grins.
I started and looked up. Gandalf stood looking down at me. I calmed instantly and rose at once.
“A word,” he said.
I nodded and he turned, sauntering off. I glanced back at Boromir’s surprised face and winked before following after the wizard. He did not go far. Just a short distance beyond the hearing of any other. He stopped, and turned, and simply looked at me, his bushy eyebrows raised in an unspoken question.
“Tonight,” I said.
“Yes. It can go on no longer.”
“I know.” We stood silently for a moment in mutual understanding. I listened for Frodo. His crying was different now, penitent, and Sam was comforting him, and I knew they would be returning soon. It was nearly nightfall.
“Stay out there with him,” Gandalf now said. “Watch over him, and guard through the night.”
“I had planned to. All is quiet in this region. But I will be on alert.”
“I know you will. I shall make certain the others all sleep. You will not be disturbed.”
“Thank you, Gandalf.”
He glanced at me, that twinkle dancing in his eyes. “I hope Aragorn made plenty of that salve.”
I grinned and nodded, and, again, we stood quietly for a while, then we headed back. Just as we passed the dwarf, who had been silently puffing away on his pipe and observing all, two little hobbits came traipsing back into the glowing circle of the camp.
“Ah,” Gandalf murmured. “He seems to have survived the attentions of Master Gamgee.”
I scoffed lightly. “Barely.” Frodo’s eyes were swollen and he carefully avoided anyone’s gaze.
As we watched, Sam crossed to Merry, and Master Brandybuck, without a word being spoken to him, lifted the pouch of salve to Sam, then turned a cheeky grin up at him. Sam grinned back and snatched it from Merry, causing Pippin to twist his head up and giggle.
“We left you a little bit, Frodo,” he quipped. “We weren’t sure you’d be coming back alive, though, so we didn’t leave much.”
Frodo looked like he would very much like to melt into the ground, but Sam seemed decidedly pleased with himself.
Merry did a poor job of hiding his laugh. “That’ll be enough out of you, Pip,” he said, giving his cousin a small swat that made Pippin squeak.
Gandalf shook his head and said with mock disdain, “Hobbits.”
“Aye,” Gimli muttered on a puff of smoke. “They’re as rambunctious as a passel of foolish young beardlings, but they do make for an entertaining evening.”
I glanced at Gandalf, and he nodded, and I headed off towards the watch point, stopping first to go down on one knee and speak a few words to Boromir:
“Sleep well, little brother, and fret no longer. I shall be here when you wake in the morning, and Aragorn will likely be himself again. He simply needs an ear to listen and an old companion to hear his troubles. I have done so before and will do so now. Rest.”
He nodded and a look of genuine relief graced his strong features. Leaning over, I kissed his brow and rose, and headed off into the night.
To be continued . . .