Chapter 5: Decision

Left in the care of Merry and Pippin, Sam slept a dead sleep. He woke to Merry’s hand on his shoulder, and his voice, “Sam! It’s time… you’ll want to wake, Sam…” With a start, Sam sat bolt upright, glanced at his empty hands, and clutched Merry’s shoulder. He gasped, “Frodo! Where is he?”

The look Sam gave Merry was filled with his fears; Pippin patted his shoulder and reassured him. “Frodo is still sleeping, Sam, and you’ve only been here a short while…” Pippin hesitated; he thought mention of the cold mist could wait until Sam had been awake a bit longer, “…and they’re getting ready to try again, without waking him for it… if they don’t have to…”

Merry continued as Sam swung his feet over the side of the bed and rubbed his arm across tired eyes. “We found you asleep together…” Even through his fear for Frodo, Merry looked at Sam with gratitude, thinking, Samwise Gamgee, you comforted one as dear to me as any in this world, as no one else could have done. May your love help sustain him.

“Frodo was resting so peacefully… I covered him, Sam…” Merry gave Sam a very direct look. “And then Strider came in to carry you out.”

Sam blushed, recalling what they must have seen, concerned for Frodo’s privacy. In the next instant, he was almost overwhelmed by wrenching loss, and his arms ached for the feel of Frodo; he regretted that dear moments had slipped away unknown and unappreciated, and berated himself. Sam, you fool! Sleeping, when you might have looked on him the longer and held him, resting so sweetly…and you should have stood watch over him! But he needs you now. Sam took a deep breath; those treasured moments were his and Frodo’s alone, whatever might come of them, whatever might be thought, and he could only be so very glad of them.

“Thank you, Mr. Merry, and Mr. Pippin, for waking me and for telling me…” He returned Merry’s look without embarrassment, with a new boldness born of protectiveness for his Frodo's every need, and realised that what he saw in Merry’s eyes was not chastisement, but, instead, deep concern.

“Sam, how was he?”

“He woke easy, with less pain, and he was himself again… although he didn’t know he was betwixt and between, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him. He tired… quickly…” Sam choked, remembering the way Frodo had drowsed so trustingly. “Now, sir, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go back to him.”

Merry looked at Sam with astonishment; it had not occurred to him that Sam would insist on returning. “No, they said, Gandalf said, we were to wait, and would be in the way, and that it wouldn’t be wise…”

“Begging your pardon, Mr. Merry, but I don’t care what they said, I’m going to be with him come what may. Me being there won’t bring him any hurt, and there’s nothing that could happen to him in there that I could better bear out here. And if ever he’s needed someone as loves him, it’s now. I know it, and you do, too.”

Merry knew that he was right; his heart urged the same. “Yes, Sam. I think he does need you there. Go, for all of us.” He watched Sam pad purposefully to the door, saw him pass his hand over his brow and catch his breath. His shoulders squared as he seized the handle and pulled open the heavy door to return to Frodo’s side.

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