Written for the Baggins Birthday, 2016.
Bilbo guides Frodo and Sam to a sunny, sheltered spot in the garden, where a comfortable hobbit-sized bench and a scatter of soft cushions greet them, and they can escape the autumnal nip in the air.
It doesn't escape Frodo's notice that the bench is placed so that it faces due west.
Frodo takes a seat beside Bilbo, whilst Sam, ever the gardener, can't resist tidying the flower beds, pulling an errant weed here and there that the Elves somehow missed; or gathering up handfuls of brown leaves or withered blossoms that he places in a tidy pile to be retrieved later.
Soon the fragrant scent of weed wafts on the gentle breeze as Frodo fills and lights his pipe and puffs on it contentedly. Conversation is desultory; they are full from lunch and that, combined with the warmth of the sun, has a soporific effect. Bilbo nods off in mid-sentence: 'I was thinking, my dear lad...' Whatever he was thinking is lost, or perhaps he will finish his sentence when he awakes, as if there had been no interruption.
Rivendell, Frodo has already learned, is like that.
He settles deeper into the cushions and closes his eyes. He can hear Bilbo's soft snores, Sam's contented hum, and the drone of a few late-lingering bumblebees roused to life. If it weren't for the muted rush-roar of a distant waterfall, Frodo might imagine himself back at Bag End, and rings and barrows and Black Riders no more than rumours and less threatening than a child's nightmare. Oh, to be home again...
'Mr. Frodo?' Sam's voice penetrates his imaginings. 'Sorry to disturb you, sir. But I didn't want you to go a-setting yourself on fire.'
Frodo opens his eyes to discover the bowl of his pipe perilously close to spilling its glowing contents onto his velvet pants leg. 'Thank you, Sam,' he says then adds, 'Come, sit down and relax awhile. The Elves <i>can</i> do their jobs, you know.'
Sam grins and sits cross-legged at Frodo's feet. 'I know, Mr. Frodo, but it feels good to keep my hand in, like, if you take my meaning.'
'I do. Now we'd best hush, the both of us. I don't want us to wake Bilbo.'
Sam nods agreement then leans back, shoulders resting against the bench-seat, body warm and secure along the length of Frodo's calf. <i>My faithful Sam,</i> Frodo thinks, a slight catch in his throat at the thought of the garden and everything else that Sam has willingly left behind for him. He lays his free hand gently, palm down, on Sam's brown curls and leaves it there.
So they remain, whilst Bilbo naps and the sun moves across the sky and home seems hopelessly distant, elusive as the treasure reputed to be found at the end of a rainbow. And yet... And yet... Knowledge opens inside Frodo, a simple but profound truth: the true treasures are right here beside him, and home is perhaps not so very far away after all.