The doorbell was ringing. And ringing. And ringing.
'Sticklebacks!' Frodo exclaimed in annoyance. 'Can't whoever it is take a hint and go away?' He sat up, entirely forgetting where he was, and banged his head on the bottom of the kitchen table. 'Ouch!' He rubbed at his scalp, tousling his already tousled curls even more.
'You all right, love?' Sam asked anxiously. He sat up, too, but more cautiously.
The doorbell pealed again, the sort of insistent peal that meant whoever was pulling the rope was not going to give up and go away any time soon.
'I'm fine, Sam, or I would be if the confounded hobbit ringing the confounded doorbell would go away.' A thought hit him, and he giggled. 'How did we end up under the kitchen table, by the bye?'
'As I recall, you dropped a roll and bent over to fetch it and there was your sweet buttet right in front of my eyes and I tackled you,' Sam said.
‘Oh yes, I recall now.’ Frodo sighed happily then eased his hips to one side and pried the remains of the roll from his left buttock. 'Squashed flat,' he remarked. ‘Pity.’ The doorbell rang again. 'Oh curse it all! I guess we'd best go see who it is.'
They scrambled out from under the table and rearranged their clothing (not without several pauses to admire various bits that had been exposed) then went along to the front door (not without several pauses to express their admiration for each other fully clothed, in the interests of fairness).
When Frodo finally (and reluctantly) opened the door, he discovered an Elf standing on the porch, one perfectly manicured white hand holding the bell rope as if about to give it another tug. The Elf looked vaguely familiar, though Frodo couldn’t recall where or when he’d seen him.
‘I have a delivery,’ the Elf said smoothly, and his grey eyes went from Frodo to Sam and back again, and Frodo had a difficult time not blushing and patting at his disheveled hair. ‘For Mr. and Mr. Baggins-Gamgee.’
‘That would be us,’ Frodo said brightly, thinking that it was worth the inconvenience of being interrupted in the middle of some under-the-kitchen-table lovemaking in order to hear the words ‘Mr. and Mr. Baggins-Gamgee’. It never got old. In fact, a line of Elves stretching from the front door of Bag End to the Mathom-house in Michel Delving, might march past, each intoning in turn ‘Mr. and Mr. Baggins-Gamgee,’ and Frodo would wonder why the line was so abominably short.
The Elf placed his hand over his heart and bowed slightly. ‘I am Ysolla, of the house of Elrond.’
Of course! Frodo recalled now where he’d seen the Elf: in the casino at the Rivendell Enchantment Resort. He’d been one of the Food and Drink Elves carrying around trays filled with glasses of miruvor elixir to keep the gamblers fortified (and awake). He cast an uneasy look at Sam, for the casino was still a slightly sore subject on his husband’s part and any reminder of it tended to make him compress his luscious full lips and look disapproving.
But Sam clearly had no recollection of Ysolla, for his lips, far from being compressed, curved into a welcoming smile as he returned the Elf’s bow and said, ‘Mae govannen, Ysolla. I’m Samwise Baggins-Gamgee, and this is my husband, Frodo Baggins-Gamgee.’ His chest swelled out so far with pride that a button popped off his shirt (although the thread had undoubtedly been weakened by Frodo tearing at said button as they wrestled amorously under the kitchen table). Ysolla bent and picked it up and handed it to Sam.
‘Thank ‘ee,’ said Sam, with nary a blush. He’d come a long way. ‘Now, what’s this about a delivery? We’ve not ordered anything that I’m aware of, save more cut-glass phials to hold lavender oil and a jug of that special goat tonic old Noakes brews, but those would come from Bywater, not Rivendell.’ He peered around the much taller Elf and espied a horse and cart in the lane. In the back of the cart was something large, covered in a tarpaulin, and two Dwarves. He assumed it was the large something, not the Dwarves, that was being delivered.
For answer, Ysolla turned and gave a short, sharp whistle. The Dwarves hopped down and began to remove the large something from the cart, although wrestle might have been a more accurate description.
‘What is it?’ asked Frodo, his curiosity roused.
Ysolla pulled a letter from a pocket in his oyster silk robes and offered it to Frodo. ‘This will explain all, Mr. Baggins-Gamgee,’ the Elf said.
Mr. and Mr. Baggins-Gamgee was inscribed on the envelope in blue ink, in such an elegant hand that it simply dripped ‘Elf’. Frodo heaved a happy sigh, slid his finger under the flap on the back and carefully loosened the red sealing wax that was imprinted with the Elvish rune for ‘F’. The envelope would join the others addressed to the Baggins-Gamgees, in the special keepsake box that Frodo had made for them. It was getting quite full.
He drew out a sheet of cream-coloured writing paper; as he unfolded it, it gave off a tantalising whiff of perfume that called to mind true lovers kissing in a rose-bedecked arbour while fountains plashed and nightingales sang. Frodo heaved another happy sigh. No one did correspondence like an Elf.
‘It’s from Figwit!’ exclaimed Frodo, glancing at the signature. The former Deputy Hospitality Elf, now Assistant Supervising Idea Elf, was an old and dear friend.
‘What does he say?’ asked Sam, peering over Frodo’s shoulder this time.
Frodo read the letter aloud.
‘Dear Mr. and Mr. Baggins-Gamgee,
I sincerely hope that this Letter finds you Both in the Best of Spirits and aglow with Good Health. Yours truly could not be Better. I’ve been Promoted again, to Supervising Idea Elf, and I’ve been put in Charge of the Long overdue Renovation of the Resort Guest Chambers. All the Rooms are being Redecorated with an entirely new Colour Scheme, as chosen by your Humble Servant, and new Furniture, also chosen by your Humble Servant.
Which brings me to the Purpose of this Letter. I have taken the Liberty of sending along to you a Certain Armchair that used to reside in the Love Mist Suite. As I recall it was your Favourite, and put to such Good Use during your Stays at the Resort that it has, I believe, Sentimental Associations for you. I could not think of a More Suitable Home for it than yours, and I trust that you will derive Many Hours of Pleasure from it.
Yours most Truly and Sincerely,
Figwit Supervising Idea Elf Rivendell Enchantment Resort and Casino.
‘Well now,’ said Sam, ‘I call that as handsome a gesture as I’ve ever encountered, and that’s a fact!’
While Frodo was reading, the Dwarves had carried the chair up to the front door and set it down. Introductions were made; to Frodo and Sam's delight, the Dwarves, named Loli and Goli, turned out to be nephews of Gimli.
It was a tight squeeze to get the chair into the smial as it was a large armchair even for one of the Big Folk. But under Sam’s close direction, which mainly consisted of saying, ‘Have a care; this door’s iconic, you know,’ and fixing Loli and Goli with his sternest expression, the chair was safely maneuvered into the front hall without so much as a speck of green paint being sacrificed.
As soon as the Dwarves set the chair down, Frodo fell to removing the canvas that covered it. ‘Oh Sam, it is indeed the very same chair,’ he chortled happily, pulling back the tarpaulin to reveal a large squashy armchair covered in flowered chintz. ‘Dear, dear Figwit!’
‘If you tell us which room you’d like it to go in,’ Ysolla said, ‘we’ll move it there.’
Frodo and Sam exchanged a startled look. With that perfect intuition that they shared, both knew that there was only one location in the smial for the chair and that was in their bedroom, in place of the armchair that currently resided there, catty-corner to the fireplace. It was their favourite snuggling spot, but it could become something more with the new chair to replace it.
But both also knew that there was just one small problem with this scheme.
‘The parlour,’ blurted out Frodo before Sam could speak. ‘It might do well in the parlour. Sam, will you...?’ He made a vague gesture in the general direction of the parlour.
'Then I’ll just, um, be off...’ Frodo edged toward the hallway. And he was off, fairly flying down the hall to their bedroom. He hurried inside and gave a low moan. It was even worse than he thought.
Blushing rosily, Frodo moved quickly around the room. First, he removed from the wall the framed prints of two nude male Elves pleasuring each other that came from one of their collections of Elvish erotica and stuck them in a drawer, upside-down under a pile of pocket handkerchiefs. The similarly themed porcelain figurines on the mantelpiece were hidden in the adjacent drawer, carefully wrapped in silk nightshirts. Next, Frodo undid the red velvet ties dangling from two of the bedposts, wadded them up and stuck them under the bed-pillows. The several phials of lavender oil on the bedside table were secreted in its top drawer, along with the life-sized replica of an erect hobbit-penis carved from wood.
He gathered up the discarded clothes that had been dropped higgeldy-piggeldy on the floor as he and Sam undressed each other with frenetic haste the previous night, and stuffed them in the laundry hamper. He almost missed the green silk under drawers with the strategically placed opening that he’d given Sam on his birthday, but thankfully noticed them peeking out from under the armchair and added them to the hamper. He carried the hamper to the laundry room, then returned to the bedroom and straightened the bedclothes (really, he and Sam were falling into the most appalling habits).
That should be it, he thought, smoothing the comforter, until he recalled the book they’d been reading together each evening for the past week, I Was a Haradrim Sex-Slave, with its lurid illustrated cover. Where the deuce had it got to? They’d been indulging in a little harmless role-playing as a consequence of the latest chapter, wherein the hero was introduced to certain erotic pleasures while his hands were bound to the bedposts (hence the red velvet ties and the wooden hobbit-penis). Frodo found the book, cover side up, on the floor on the far side of the bed. He grabbed it and shoved it under the mattress.
There, he was done. Frodo pelted out of the bedroom and back down the hall like a mad-hobbit. He paused at the parlour door, drew a deep calming breath and straightened his shirt cuffs.
‘Maybe if you move it a few inches to the left now,’ Sam was saying.
‘But we just did that,’ said Loli, sounding exasperated. ‘And you said it was too far.’
‘That’s right, you did,’ Goli added in aggrieved tones.
‘Well then, try to the right.’
‘We’ve done that, too!’ objected Loli. ‘At least four times already.’
‘Mr. Baggins-Gamgee, I fear that you’re going to have to make up your mind,’ said Ysolla.
Frodo bit his lip against a nervous giggle. It was difficult to say who sounded most frazzled: Loli and Goli, Ysolla, or Sam. The furniture moving was not going at all well, it appeared.
‘I’m back,’ Frodo announced cheerily, bouncing into the room. Four not at all cheery faces turned to him. ‘Do you know, Sam, it just occurred to me that a better place for the new chair might be our bedroom. What do you think?’
Sam gave him such a relieved look that Frodo was hard-pressed not to swoop in and kiss him. ‘I reckon you’re right, Frodo dear. I fear the parlour’s not working out at all. We've tried everyplace and nowhere seems right.’
Goli groaned and let his end of the chair fall with a thump.
‘Steady on,’ said Sam severely. ‘You could damage the floors. Now come along. It's the job that's never started as takes longest to finish, as my old Gaffer used to say.’
Goli ground his teeth audibly and picked the chair up again.
But to the relief of Ysolla and the Dwarves, Sam was perfectly satisfied with the very first spot they set the chair down in the bedroom. The old chair was removed and put in one of the spare bedrooms, after which they all retired to the kitchen for some badly needed refreshments. Loli and Goli practically ate and drank them out of house and home, perhaps on purpose, perhaps not; they were effusive in their praise for Sam’s baking, in particular his rolls (ones that hadn't gotten squashed under Frodo's behind). Frodo was delighted. It was quite like old times again, when the Dwarves would visit Bilbo out of the blue. Under the influence of Old Winyards, Ysolla loosened up nicely. He got them caught up on all the latest gossip from the Resort, and Loli and Goli filled them in on Gimli's work at the Glittering Caves.
When the meal was finally over, several hours' later, Frodo and Sam accompanied Loli, Goli and Ysolla to the door and they said their farewells.
‘We’d be delighted if you’d come and visit us again,’ said Frodo. ‘Erm, but do drop us a line first, if you don’t mind.’
‘As long as we don’t have to move any furniture while we're here,’ said Loli, with a laugh. The excellence of the Baggins-Gamgee table had completely erased any latent crankiness.
Sam and Frodo waved from the porch as the now-empty cart pulled away, and then they turned and went inside, closing the door behind them. Before the cart had even reached the end of the Hill Lane, the hobbits were testing out their new chair and finding it just as satisfactory as they remembered, not to mention much, much more comfortable than the kitchen floor.