Ever since I was but a wee thing, there's been but one name for 'em both: Sam-and-Frodo, with nary a breath between 'em. Sam has haunted Bag End since he learned to toddle on that soft garden grass, him lovin' Mr. Bilbo's tales and songs more than the rest of us put together. But the day Mr. Frodo sat foot in Hobbiton, it weren't Mr. Bilbo as Sam was chasin' after any more. Mr. Frodo found himself a new shadow, and pretty soon, a new name.
Sam-and-Frodo, never one without the other.
Mr. Frodo never pushed Sam away, for all that he was really too old to put up with all Sam's foolishness. 'Twas Mr. Frodo who first thought of Sam learnin' his letters, and the two of them was often working at the same desk, side by side. He let Sam drag him the length and breadth of Hobbiton, nattering on about the best climbin' boughs and the best fishin' holes and all the trees and flowers and roots in between. Mr. Frodo would even play with us faunts now and again, if Sam asked him, and Sam would fair burst with joy. Oh, Sam's Gaffer pitched a right fit, and more than once, too. He was of the mind Sam weren't minding his place, and wasn't a Gamgee living that did that. But bless him, Sam took those scoldings and cried after, and kept right on doing as he'd always done. To my mind, Sam knew his place well enough, and that place was one step behind Mr. Frodo.
If Gaffer Gamgee thought setting Sam to work at Bag End would teach him to mind his place, he was sore mistaken. Oh, Sam was polite enough, and he would've rather died than given Mr. Bilbo no sauce, but that garden just made him and Mr. Frodo better friends than they were before. Sam's always loved things what come from the soil, and they love him back, seemingly, and there weren't ever no patch of ground that felt more loving than that at Bag End. Poor Gaffer thought Sam was a natural hand at it, as he was for sure, but anybody who took time to look close saw different. Sam poured his heart and soul into that soil, and if Mr. Frodo smiled and rested 'mongst the flowers with one of his books, that was Sam's reward. Folk called it Mr. Bilbo's garden, but all knew well enough who it truly belonged to.
When Mr. Bilbo disappeared, shocking half of Hobbiton into a fine state, Mr. Frodo took on as Master of Bag End, and went and made Sam his Gardener, proper. Without his Gaffer peerin' over his shoulder, Sam did a sight more than tend the garden. Soon enough, it was Sam as laid Bag End's fires, and cooked Bag End's meals, and polished Bag End's mathoms. Mr. Frodo had ever been the quiet sort, but when Mr. Bilbo left, he nearly fell in on himself. I reckon it was Sam that brought him through, tendin' him more carefully than any rosebush. Once, I passed by the garden, and there Sam was, chattering like a magpie. I stopped and peeked through the hedgerow, for idle talk isn't Sam's way, and I saw them together. Mr. Frodo was stretched out like a lazy cat on a bench, and Sam was working through a flowerbed, mouth going twice as fast as his fingers. By and by, Mr. Frodo laughed, a slow, rich laugh that warmed you through, and Sam stopped nattering to take a breath.
"There, now," he said, sitting back on his heels. "That's more like it."
I knew he didn't mean the flowerbed.
It didn't come as no surprise, when Sam followed Mr. Frodo clear out to Crickhollow. There was enough gossip about the sale of Bag End, but nobody even blinked when it came out Sam was to follow. 'Course, nobody knew then what was truly happening, nor what dark days would come after. It was just Sam-and-Frodo, together as was meant to be.
What happened on their Journey during those days is not for me to say. There's a tale and a half there, to be sure, and most of it terrible and frightening. But there's one part of the tale I didn't have to be told. Through all those dark days, they weren't parted; it wasn't Frodo who journeyed into the Dark Lands, nor Sam neither. It was Sam-and-Frodo, holding tight to each other as they ever had in the Shire, and maybe tighter still. I can't say as to what happened on that mountain, for certain, but I reckon it was for Mr. Frodo that Sam kept walking, step after step, and it was Sam's hope as fed Mr. Frodo when there was nothing left to be had. But they made it through, and made it home besides, though we all should have known they would.
They would make it through together, or neither of them would come home; Sam-and-Frodo, or nothing at all.
Things weren't as they were, though, after they came back. Something deep inside Mr. Frodo was broken past fixing, as burned and ragged as the Shire itself. Sam took it on himself to grow it back, Mr. Frodo and the Shire together. All that love came out, and he spread it thick over the torn ground, and his beloved plants came back thicker than ever. He tried to give it all to Mr. Frodo, every green thing he could grow, just like he gave him the garden at Bag End so long ago. But somehow, all that love wasn't enough. Sam couldn't grow enough flowers or cook enough meals or polish enough mathoms to heal Mr. Frodo's hurts. Why, he even took our Elanor and laid her in Mr. Frodo's arms, like she was a special present. Mr. Frodo was taken with her, to be sure, so he didn't see Sam crying in the corner as he watched his master hold his daughter. I could almost feel him thinking, please, please, please... Elanor, marvel that she is, she wasn't enough either. Seems Mr. Frodo's healing lies across the Sea, and it's of a kind that isn't Sam's to give.
Now, suddenly, it's only Sam that's left, and there's no Sam-and-Frodo any more.
And if my heart's broken, Sam's got no heart left.
He's kneeling in the garden now, near that narrow bench where he made Mr. Frodo laugh, his hands clutching the soil. He hasn't cried not once since he came back from the Sea; but this frozen, empty silence is worse than all the weeping in the world. His shoulders flinch just once when he hears me coming over the grass, and he lets me pull him into my arms, cradle him like a faunt.
"Oh, Sam, Sam, Sam," I whisper into his hair, but I know it's no comfort. He's been Sam-and-Frodo nearly all his life, and there's half of him that's never coming back. He twines his arms around my waist, and I can feel the cool dirt on his hands through my frock.
"He said I wouldn't be torn in two," he mumbles against my neck. "He said..."
Torn in two? Oh, Mr. Frodo, but you've gone and torn him into a thousand pieces, and that's a fact. Sam loves me gentle and pure, but it was you as was his heart and soul, and you've ripped that straight from him and sailed it across the Sea. I clench my fists into Sam's shirt and hold him as tight as I can.
"I love you," is all I can think to say, and I feel his shoulders hitch.
"Rosie," he says, lifting his eyes to mine, and it's like all the sunshine has gone and he don't know what to do in the dark. I pull him close again, almost in his lap, and hold on with all my strength.
"It's all right," I say, though I don't know how it can be. "It's all right."
His breath catches in a little whimper, and we weep together, kneeling in the gift Mr. Frodo left behind.