Few authors write about Sam's feelings and worries after the Scouring of the Shire and also Post-Havens. Hope this can be even expanded into a larger work that I did start several years ago. This fic is separated in three parts. Thank you to Grey Wonderer for her encouragement and also for Shirebound for her beta!
Written for the March 2017 Spring Fever challenge with the element echinacea/coneflower.
“I am learning a lot about Sam Gamgee on this journey. First he was a conspirator, now he’s a jester. He’ll end up by becoming a wizard-- or a warrior!” --Frodo, Fellowship of the Ring
Taking care of the Shire after the ruffians were rounded up and dismissed to their homes South was a bigger job than the hobbits anticipated. Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin all had their parts in cleaning up the Shire. Frodo was in charge of making sure the Shirriffs were back in their rightful place, keeping them to the amount that they were before the Troubled Times, as the hobbits referred to the year in which Frodo and his friends were absent. Frodo was thus named Deputy Mayor for Mr. Whitfoot was in no shape to guide the hobbits at his malnourished state.
Merry and Pippin took care of the deceased and their families and helped with funeral arrangements, as well as taking care of those that had been freed from the Lockholes. They also chased down the rest of the ruffians and it was soon done. In addition, they had business within their own families to take care of. Their absences from their families were felt when they were gone for a year.
Sam took on the large task of ordering the Shire and the clean up. He organized groups of hobbits and made sure certain trees and flowers were replanted. “We can’t have the Shire not looking like our Shire,” he said mournfully and worked tirelessly on all the gardening projects that he set his sights on, overseeing six large groups of helpers in the four different parts of the Shire.
The Party Tree’s demise and the wreck that Bagshot Row had sustained was a pain to Sam’s heart more than anyone could imagine. Hobbits worked hard and industriously, but none as harder than Sam. The damage that the ruffians caused went far and wide, Sam wanted to restore every part of the Shire as it had been before the war, or even better. The first major projects were clearing of the Hill and Bag End, the restoration of Bagshot Row, and replanting the trees. Sam also had his mind to set Bag End right for his master before Spring. Number 3 had to be fixed up for his old Gaffer.
“This is our home, Mr. Frodo. We are going to set a’right again.”
“Yes we will, Sam; we will do it together.” Frodo felt as pained as Sam did and supported all Sam’s efforts. Sam also knew that someone had to lead the Shire’s other efforts to calm down the hobbits and let them know that things should go back to pre-Sharkey times as soon as possible.
He worked tirelessly the entire winter even when the weather went chill, he did not mind for he knew he had to work harder now in order to feel the fruits of his labor in Spring. His hard work did not go unnoticed, however, and Rosie and Frodo both started to get concerned especially since even in Yule, Sam did not stop to check up on all the efforts while many hobbits had already stopped for the holidays.
“Sam,” said Rosie one day after a long twelve hour day, “you have to take care of yourself or you’re going to come down with something.” Sam and Frodo had been staying with the Cottons until Bagshot Row and Bagend was restored.
“I’m feeling fine, Rosie, no need to worry,” Sam tried to flash his best smile. He had been feeling tired lately but assumed it was because of the work that he’d done. He along with his hobbits had planted seeds all throughout Hobbiton and he was going to travel tomorrow to see how the planting of other areas of the Shire was going. He missed every part of the gardening tasks for each season and wasn’t going to stop.
In addition to cleaning and revamping the Shire, renovating it, Sam scurried about doing the typical tasks and especially the labor of repair because the damage was so extensive.
“Sam, you don’t have to work seven days straight. Take a break tomorrow and just relax at home,” added Frodo.
But Sam did not listen. He felt responsible for what happened to the Shire in his absence. Hadn’t he seen into Galadriel’s mirror and knew that something may have happened? What if he didn’t continue on the Quest and did return to the Shire to warn his fellow kinsmen? The Party Tree would still be there. Not as many hobbit lives would’ve been taken in the Battle of Bywater.
So Sam worked through January and February, the chilliest months. His Gaffer finally returned to Number Three because of Sam’s hard work and Sam was glad about it. His old Gaffer was pleased at his son and Sam was happy his hard work was going somewhere.
“It’s an ill wind as blows nobody no good, as I always say. And All’s well as ends Better!” ***
Early March was still very chilly. There was even a late snow storm which kept the ground wet. Little gardening work could be done but Sam and some hobbits still kept busy, getting rid of sheds, cleaning up and restoring Bag End instead.
One morning in late March, Sam felt more tired than usual when he woke up. He hadn’t slept well, enduring dreams of shadow and ash, culminating in two shadowy figures seeming to fight to their deaths, and before he had a chance to scream, he woke, only to fall fitfully back asleep. His throat hurt and he had a bit of a runny nose, so he packed more handkerchiefs than usual in his bag that he would use for his gardening. He got up uncharacteristically late and Rosie and Frodo noticed.
“Sam, are you alright?” Rosie called out to him before he had a chance to dash outside.
“You don’t look too well and you didn’t have any breakfast yet,” Frodo added, his face full of worry.
“Yes, i’m a’right. I have some--”
Both of them sat Sam down to the nearest chair. His cheeks were flushed and his skin was warm to the touch.
“You have a fever, Sam. You are very warm,” said Frodo fervently. “You have to stay home today.”
“I do feel a bit… tired, is all,” replied Sam unconvincingly. “I am fine though. I don’t have time today.”
“No, Sam- i think you ought to--”
“You don’t understand,” he pleaded, “I can’t stay home. There are more projects by the Party Tree that needs clearing out before--”
“Sam, relax. You don’t have to do everything at one time! There are other hobbits that can help. Please stay home with us, just today,” insisted Rosie.
Sam was caught between a rock and a hard place. Both Rosie and Frodo were treating him as he never got sick before. He had, and it was no big deal. Why were they so insistent on treating him like a hobbit lad? It was just a cold. He was starting to get frustrated, but that made his tiredness turn into a headache. And it did seem warmer than before.
Before he could protest further, Frodo brought him a steaming mug of tea.
“What’s this?” asked Sam as he sniffed it. The tea didn’t look like regular tea-- it was darker in color and smelled odd.
“This is willow bark, just to be on safe side. If you do have a fever, it will help aid it,” said Frodo, handing it out to his friend.
“You’ve been warm since yesterday and we watched you even though you didn’t know,” added Rosie.
“If i drink this, you both have to let me get to work. I am already running late-- is that a deal?” Sam hated bargaining but he couldn’t say no to both master and the hobbit lass he loved.
Neither Rosie nor Frodo seemed like they were going to let Sam out the door. Their eyes were fixed on Sam drinking his medicine.
Sam obediently gulped down some of the tea-- it tasted awful. And it didn’t help that his sore throat made it hard to swallow.
“Does your throat hurt too?” guessed Rosie gently. “I couldn’t help but noticing your appetite waning since last night and am guessing you are having the start of a nasty flu and we ought to be careful. I’ll go make some tea and honey, and echinacea will help as well.” She stepped into the kitchen before Sam could protest.
“ Go rest, Sam,” said Frodo firmly. “No working today. I’ll let the other hobbits know.”
“No but’s, Sam! Now don’t act like a child or i’m going to have the Cottons guard the door if you’re going to be stubborn,” growled Frodo. Frodo did not want Sam to get sicker. Sam’s cheeks were flushed, his eyes looked bleary and Frodo noticed that his voice had changed, sounding congested.
“Now be a good lad, and go back to bed, please. Rosie and I will bring the medicine once it’s brewed.”
It was Mr. Frodo and his Rosie asking, so Sam reluctantly obliged and walked slowly back to his room. His head was pounding. He didn’t even bother to change his clothes before his head hit the pillow, and he fell asleep.