Too Many Tooks by Kathryn Ramage

After their investigation of Lotho's disappearance, Frodo couldn't help noticing that Sam had stopped visiting the Green Dragon, where Rosie Cotton worked.

Sam hadn't told him about the quarrel he'd had with the Cotton brothers at the Dragon, but news of it reached Frodo eventually through the circuitous routes of country gossip; the story had traveled around the town, passing from the pub through the Bywater market, until it came to Merry's and Pippin's ears. They told Frodo what had happened--how Sam had nearly come to blows with his childhood friends while defending Frodo's honor. Frodo wondered if Sam had broken off with Rosie at the same time. Sam never mentioned Rosie's name, and he vehemently denied that anything was wrong when asked, but Frodo could see that he was miserable.

This situation had gone on through the summer months, until one morning at the beginning of September, when Rosie had shown up at Bag End. Frodo, who was home alone and answered the door, told her, "I'm sorry, Rose. Sam's out at the market."

"No, Mr. Baggins, it was you I wanted to talk to," Rosie answered. "I waited to come particular when I knew Sam wouldn't be about. I don't want him hearing what I have to say."

Frodo was immensely intrigued at this announcement. "Yes, of course. Please, come in." He showed her into the front sitting-room, next to the kitchen, and offered her a cup of tea.

"No, thank you," Rosie refused. "I won't be long, Mr. Frodo. It's Sam I've come to speak to you about, and once I've done, I'll be on my way." She seemed shy about confronting him, but determined to say what was on her mind. Bracing herself and boldly meeting his eyes, she told him, "I know how it is between you and Sam, Mr. Frodo. 'Tisn't gossip--Sam told me the truth of it himself."

Frodo felt his knees grow weak. "Sam told you..."

"That's right. Now, I won't go about carrying tales," Rosie assured him. "You've no need to fear for that. I wouldn't see Sam harmed for the world--that's how I love him, in spite of it all. But if you love Sam as he says you do, then you mustn't want to hurt him either."

"No," Frodo had agreed, "I don't wish for Sam to be hurt."

"Then you'll do what's best for him?" Rose asked eagerly. "You'll let him go?"

Her hopeful frankness was touching; Frodo respected her bravery in coming to him to ask such a thing and her desire to fight for the boy she loved, but he answered, "No. I'm sorry. I can't."

"Why not?" Rosie protested. "'Tis selfishness, pure and simple! You want to keep him for yourself."

"Maybe it is selfish of me," Frodo admitted, "but I have my reasons." And he had explained his illness to her, telling her what Sam was not ready to hear. He felt horribly cruel as Rosie's mouth dropped open, and tears welled in her eyes, but if she was to understand his position, she had to know the truth.

"It may be years before anything happens," Frodo had finished, "but I won't ever be well again. One day, the pain will become too much to bear." Rosie sobbed at this. "I don't know how much time I have, but I mean to spend every minute of it with Sam. It's my one chance at happiness, and I won't give it up. You see why, don't you?"

The girl, who sat with her hands twisting her apron and tears trickling down her cheeks, nodded. Frodo offered her his handkerchief.

"But, Rose," he said, "I don't mind sharing. Sam is free to marry, if that's what he wishes to do. If you understand how it is between him and me, then I won't stand in his way with you. I've told him so before."

"Sam said as much," Rosie told him.

"But you wouldn't agree to it? You'd rather be selfish about him yourself."

Rosie paused in the midst of blotting her dampened face and stared at him.

"What if I give you this choice?" he asked. "You can wait until I've gone and marry Sam then--or you can begin your life with him a little earlier. Which would you prefer?"

But before Rosie could give him her answer, Sam came home. He looked bewildered at the sight of them together: Frodo crouched before Rosie's chair, and the girl in tears. "Here, what's wrong?" he demanded. "What's happened?"

Frodo climbed to his feet. "I think that Rose has something to tell you."

The pair had gone out into the garden to speak privately. Frodo didn't know exactly what they'd said to each other, but when Sam had come back indoors after Rosie had gone, he'd asked, "You don't mind, Frodo? You truly don't mind?" And Frodo had assured him that he didn't.

In the two weeks since then, Sam and Rosie had begun to keep company. Sam was visiting the Dragon regularly again, and even went to dinner at the Cotton farm one evening at Rosie's invitation. Once Sam and Rosie were seen to be courting, the gossip about Frodo's own relationship with Sam began to die down.

Frodo had wanted to get away from Hobbiton for awhile, to give Sam and Rosie an opportunity to settle matters between themselves without him around. Although he'd made plans to attend Melilot's wedding months ago, its timing gave him the perfect chance to make a graceful departure.
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