Rosie didn't like Sam going away.
Not even a little bit. Not at all.
She didn't know where he was, for one thing. Rosie always knew where Sam was, though she tried to make sure no-one else noticed. And now he had simply disappeared, out of the blue, and without even a – goodbye – or anything.
All Rosie knew was that he was gone, utterly and completely, and no-one – not even the Gaffer – knew where he was. Not that the Gaffer was saying much about it all.
Rosie didn't like it at all.
She'd thought Samwise Gamgee was wonderful ever since she'd been a very small hobbit and got herself terribly caught in a blackberry patch. She'd been scratched and stained and frighteningly tangled up in the sharp prickly thorns, and Sam, who was a few years older than she was, had come along just as she was starting to cry softly in fright.
'Now, Rosie, what's wrong?' he'd said, in that kind, quiet, steadying way of his. 'Are you caught? Hold still a moment, and I'll cut you out.'
And he had used his pocket-knife to cut away the brambles, carefully and neatly, and gently lifted her out, and pulled the prickles out of her tangled hair. He'd pricked his own hands red, but he didn't seem to mind. Then he had put his arm around her and taken her home, and from that day on Rosie had adored him with all her small heart.
She had thought, sometimes, that perhaps Sam was a little interested in her, too, because he would sometimes smile at her in his nice gentle way, and once, when another silly young hobbit had tried to flirt with her, Rosie had thought that Sam seemed angry. But she must have been imagining it, after all, because hadn't he now just disappeared without even a goodbye?
She couldn't help thinking of all the beautiful maidens that he might be meeting, out there in the big world beyond the Shire. Elves and such, beautiful creatures with smooth silken hair and high cheekbones and creamy skin.
Still, Rosie tried to comfort herself, there was no denying that they were great overgrown things, much taller than natural. But, somehow, the thought didn't seem very comforting.
She defiantly tried to flirt with Fredegar Bolger, to prove that she didn't care in the slightest about what became of Samwise Gamgee. But Fredegar was slow and fat and mostly only cared about food, and it was altogether unsatisfactory. Besides, what was the point, when Sam wasn't even around to be made jealous?
Rosie put on a brave happy face during the day, but she couldn't help sobbing into her pillow, a little, in the night when there was no-one to hear her.
It was a year – a whole year – later, and Rosie still scanned the faces in the tavern every day, just in case. But she was starting to give up hope.
And then, one day, he was back again, a little thinner and older looking, sitting at a table with Frodo Baggins and Merry Brandybuck and Pippin Took, and the sun seemed to shine again, for Rosie. She looked over, and caught Sam's eye, and smiled.
Then there was a scraping sound of a chair, and Sam was standing up – why was he standing up? – and he was walking – was he coming to her? The mug that Rosie was holding slipped through her fingers, but she didn't even hear it smash.
Sam was coming closer, and he was right by her now, and looking into her eyes with a softness in his gaze that made something melt and spread warmly inside her.
'Rosie,' he said firmly, and reached out to take her hands in his own. 'Rosie, darling, I love you. Will you marry me?'
'Oh,' she whispered, because it was as though most of the air in her lungs had been sucked away. 'Oh, Sam, I… yes, of course I will, you – you dear silly hobbit.'
Sam grinned. And the eyes of every hobbit in the room were on them, but he pulled her gently towards him and cupped her cheek in a warm calloused hand.
'I've loved you ever since the blackberry patch, Rosie,' he said softly. And he bent his head and kissed her, full and sweet and tender, on the lips.
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