Title: Mantles And Titles And Such
Fandom: Lord Of The Rings
Category: Pre-Series, Fluff, Friendship, General
Characters/Pairing: Frodo, Samwise, Gaffer & Bilbo
Summary: The Gaffer isn’t getting any younger, but Sam certainly is getting better at his job. Frodo has an idea for that.
Word Count: 1,099 words.
Date Written: 03/28/2017
Disclaimer: None of this belongs to me, except this story right here.
Author's Notes: This story came to me fully formed in the three minutes it took me to clear my breakfast dishes. Just thinking on birthdays and passing of the mantles to the next generation.
Dedication: For shirebound. A very Happy Birthday to a very wonderful lady!
Spring had arrived at last and Frodo could see out the window that Sam and the Gaffer were in the garden. There was no sign of spring quite like seeing your gardener had returned. Frodo suspected the Gaffer was even more eager than he for the weather to change from snow to flowers, from quiet whispers to the sound of birds in the trees.
Frodo headed out to say good-day, a bounce in his step that made Uncle Bilbo chuckle as he passed by him in the kitchen.
In the garden, the Gaffer was sitting on the ground, back pressed against the garden fence, watching Samwise poke about in the flower beds.
“Get right down in there, lad!” the Gaffer was saying.
Sam nodded his head and continued his work.
“Oh, good morning, Mr. Frodo,” the Gaffer said, as Frodo opened the garden gate and stepped inside.
“Good morning, Gaffer. Good morning, Sam,” he replied.
“Good morning. Mr. Frodo,” Sam said and scurried to his feet, wiping his hands on his trousers.
“Just teaching the boy a thing or two,” the Gaffer said, motioning to where Sam had been hard at work. “The best way to learn is by doin’, after all.”
“Of course,” Frodo said. “Uncle Bilbo always tells me there is nothing quite like jumping in with both feet.”
The Gaffer laughed, but it was cut off by a slight groan as he straightened his knees out to push himself up from the ground.
“The winter hasn’t quite left my knees just yet,” the Gaffer offered.
“Well, it will soon enough, if this warmth keeps up,” Frodo told him. And then, “Sam, when you are done for the day, could I get a bit of assistance in the house with something? No hurry though.”
“Of course, Mr. Frodo,” Sam said.
Frodo nodded, smiled, and said, “I think I’ll go for a bit of a stroll, soak up this sun before the spring rains come our way.”
He bid then both goodbye and headed out.
Much later, once Frodo was home again and - according to Bilbo - doing nothing but getting in the way in the kitchen, there was a knock on the front door.
“Come in,” Bilbo hollered out and Frodo heard the front door creak open.
“I don’t quite think I should come in,” he heard Sam say from the foyer. “I am a bit covered in dirt.”
Frodo went out to greet his friend and saw that indeed, Sam’s feet and trousers were covered in his day’s work.
He laughed. “I dare say you are, Sam.”
“You had something for me to do inside, Mr. Frodo? I can go home and wash up, right quick, if you like.”
“No, no, Sam,” Frodo said. “Let’s just take a quick walk, shall we?”
“Yes, goodness,” he heard Bilbo say from the kitchen. “Get out from under my feet, lad.”
Frodo chuckled and lead Sam back out the front door. They headed down the path, Frodo’s hands stuffed in his pockets, letting the smell of spring wash over him.
Sam walked beside him, alternating between looking at the road and glancing over at Frodo.
“You had something…” Sam began.
“Oh, yes!” Frodo said. “Dear me, I’m getting as forgetful as Bilbo.” Frodo grinned over at the other hobbit then. “Sam, I was thinking, now that the Gaffer is getting older and his knees aren’t what they used to be, perhaps you’d like a bit of a lift in position.”
“Begging your pardon, Mr. Frodo, but what does that mean?” Sam asked him.
“How would you like to be our ‘head gardener’?”
Sam stopped walking and when Frodo turned to look, the lad’s mouth was hanging wide open.
“Surely not, Mr. Frodo,” he said, his voice shaking, “That’s for my gaffer to do.”
“You do most of the work, Sam. I noticed that last year as well.”
“I couldn’t,” Sam said and Frodo could see him swallow around the words.
“It’s no disrespect to the Gaffer, Sam,” Frodo told him and placed gentle hand on Sam’s shoulder. “He’s taught you well. Well enough, in fact, that you are now the right person for the job.”
“Head gardener?” Sam asked and his face suddenly looked so young, so full of wonder, that Frodo felt a warmth wash over him.
“Indeed, Sam,” Frodo told him and squeezed the lad’s shoulder.
“I could never do to my gaffer though,” Sam said, shaking his head. “He’s so much pride in what he does.”
“As he should,” Frodo told him. “He does a wondrous job, has for us for years. It is the ‘years’ part I was thinking of though.”
“I could never tell him such,” Sam said, looking at Frodo earnestly.
“Well, perhaps it could be a secret title then,” Frodo suggested. “Maybe something kept between you, me and old Uncle Bilbo? Just so you know you have the position.”
“Well,” Sam said, tentatively, “I suppose if it was kept quiet, so as not to hurt any feelings. And all it was for was just my own knowing.”
“That’s right,” Frodo told him. “Just your knowing that Bilbo and I see the work you are doing and appreciate it.”
“And perhaps as the Gaffer gets older, he might let go the title himself someday?” Sam said, more question than not.
“Bilbo says someday all of Bag-End will be mine. I suppose that the gardens will all someday be in your care then as well, Sam.”
“I don’t enjoy thinking about that though. The gardens, surely, but not the reason for it.”
“Well, for me, you don’t have to wait to get the appreciation you so sorely deserve, Sam. As far as it goes, you are my ‘head gardener’ from this day on.”
“Mr. Frodo…” Sam said and then stuttered out, wringing his hands in front of him.
Frodo leaned in, ducked his head to meet Sam’s eyes.
“You’re most welcome, Sam.”
Sam nodded his head, but continued to look at the ground.
“Now come,” Frodo told him. “Let’s go grab a mug, shall we? In celebration.”
Sam nodded and looked up at Frodo. “Musn’t tell anyone what we’re celebratin’ though.”
“Humph,” Frodo said and laughed. “As far as the busy-bodies are concerned, we are just two young lads out looking for trouble.”
“I ain’t never looking for any trouble, Mr. Frodo,” Sam said, but didn’t pull back when Frodo slung his arm around Sam’s shoulders and led him down the path.
“Well then, no trouble, Mr. Head Gardener. Just a bit of cheer.”
And a bit of cheer it was, indeed.