Fellowship of 3019: One Samwise Is Better Than Three by Lbilover

Inspired by the accompanying photo. Set in Frodosweetstuff's Fellowship of 3019 verse.


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Elanor Gamgee waved a cheery goodbye from the front door of Bag End as Frodo and Sam rode away east. She loved both hobbits dearly and no one could possibly be happier than she was (except the lucky duo themselves) that her father had found his treasure again and married him. But after closing the door, she sagged back against it with relief, and thought how good it would be to have Bag End to herself for a few weeks, while Frodo and Sam spent their first anniversary as married hobbits in the Honeymoon Suite at the Rivendell Enchantment Resort, site of the Fellowship of 3019 reunion that had brought them together again after twenty-four lonely years apart.


A year on, Frodo and Sam still acted like newlyweds, and Elanor had given up counting the number of times she’d stumbled on them billing and cooing (and worse) in the shrubbery or pantry or cellars. If she had a copper for every blush her father had blushed when he realised what his daughter had caught him and Frodo doing, she’d be rich. Even richer if she added all the times she pretended not to see a naked arse or hear a distinctive ‘in the throes’ moan or groan.


So rapidly were Frodo and Sam riding that their figures had already dwindled to two small clouds of grey-brown dust on the Road.


Elanor smiled at their ever-youthful eagerness, shook her head and went inside to have a quiet cup of tea in the kitchen - without having to glance under the table first.


~*~


‘Sam, look at that,’ exclaimed Frodo, reining in Strider III. He stared at the giant wooden sign posted at the entrance to Rivendell’s driveway. ‘Rivendell Enchantment Resort and Casino,’ he read aloud. ‘It seems changes have occurred since our last visit.’


‘Casino? What’s a casino?’ Sam scratched his curly head in puzzlement.


Boromir suddenly appeared, his head popping out of the ‘C’ in ‘Casino’. ‘Gambling, my friends,’ the dead man said, his eyes alight with excitement. ‘Casino gambling is the newest craze, imported from Umbar. The resort guests are mad for it. Slots, poker, Ainorn...’


‘I don’t hold with gambling,’ Sam said repressively, his frugal Gamgee nature coming to the fore.


‘But Sam,’ Frodo said, ‘what about that game of strip ‘Hunt the Mushroom’ we played?’


Sam blushed scarlet. ‘We were both drunk as Dwarves, Frodo, and besides, we weren’t betting with our hard-earned coin, we were betting with kisses.’


‘Tell me more,’ said Boromir with interest, waggling his eyebrows.


‘Never you mind, Boromir,’ Sam said primly, and then changed the subject. ‘But what are you doing here? I thought you’d be back in Minas Tirith.’


‘Oh, I’m the manager of the new casino,’ Boromir replied. He floated out of the sign and settled on the drive, his arrow-holes shining white in the sun. ‘They needed someone and there isn’t much scope for a dead soldier in Gondor these days. No Orcs to kill.’ He shrugged. ‘Organising the Fellowship reunion gave me a new direction in my life- er- death. Seems I have a talent for managing things. Though I suppose running a casino is not much different from running an army,’ he added thoughtfully. ‘Just a lot noisier.’


‘That’s wonderful, Boromir,’ said Frodo with genuine gladness. After all, it was thanks to him that Frodo had made it to the reunion at all. He would forever be grateful to the dead Gondorian and, of course, to Gwaihir, who had flown him from Tol Eressëa to Rivendell.


‘I hope you’ll stop by the casino after dinner,’ Boromir said, drifting along between Strider III and Bill II as Frodo and Sam rode up the gravel drive to the porticoed entrance. ‘The first drink is on the house and you’ll each get fifty silver pennies to bet with, as a token of appreciation from the management.’


‘That’s right kind of you,’ said Sam, ‘but it’s been a long, tiring ride and I reckon Frodo and me will want to take an, uh, little nap after dinner. We ain’t so young as we used to be. Maybe tomorrow.’


‘You seem pretty spry to me,’ said Boromir with a wink. ‘Well, I must get back to the casino. See you two tomorrow. Enjoy your, uh, little nap!’ He waved and disappeared.


‘A casino!’ muttered Sam, dismounting from Bill II. ‘Whatever is this world coming to, I ask you?’


‘Oh, I don’t know, Sam,’ replied Frodo. ‘It might be rather fun.’


Sam would remember those words later.


~*~


Sam cleared his throat. ‘Mr. and Mr. Baggins-Gamgee,’ he announced grandly as they halted in front of the reception desk in the Resort lobby. At his side, Frodo was beaming; hearing those names said aloud was an undoubted thrill. ‘We’ve reserved the Honeymoon Suite for the next two weeks.’


The clerk, who had long blond hair intricately braided, seemed vaguely familiar. But it wasn’t until he looked up from the sheaves of parchment he was shuffling that Frodo realised who he was.


‘Haldir?!’ he exclaimed in surprise. ‘But I thought you were...’ How did one put it delicately?


‘Dead? So I am,’ Haldir replied matter-of-factly. He angled the large leather-bound registration book toward them and indicated the quill and ink stand. ‘If you wouldn’t mind signing the register, please.’


Sam took up the quill, dipped it in the inkwell, and fairly bursting with pride carefully inscribed their names on the page.


‘How long have you been employed at the Resort?’ Frodo asked curiously.


‘About six months.’ Haldir turned and removed a brass skeleton key from a hook on the wall behind him. Frodo hastily repressed a shudder as he noticed the deep gash in the back of the Elf’s skull, the sort of gash an axe-blade might leave. Like Boromir’s arrow wounds, however, it wasn’t bloody but rather shone with white light. ‘Boromir put me onto the Resort when he was a speaker at the last Dead Elf Support Group meeting,’ he added.


‘Dead Elf Support Group?’ And here Frodo thought he’d heard of everything when he learned about the Tol Eressëa Quilting Bee.


‘It’s not easy being a dead Elf, believe me,’ said Haldir with feeling. ‘Since Elves are immortal, there aren’t that many of us, and we need the collegial support. I only wish they weren’t such a moribund lot. It gets wearisome listening to Fëanor and Gil-galad nattering on about the old days when ghosts were ghosts, and how easy the newly dead have it by comparison. As if it’s my fault I only died twenty-six years ago.’


‘No indeed,’ said Frodo, not sure what else to say. This sort of conversation hadn’t been covered in Aunt Dora’s etiquette book.


‘So when Boromir told me about the Enchantment Resort, I thought I’d come and check it out. There was an opening for a Desk Elf, and I jumped at the chance. In fact,’ Haldir lowered his voice and added, ‘I’ve been talking to some of the other Elves about opening a sister resort in Lothlórien. We’d cater more to the adventuresome types, though, maybe offer bun-gee jumping from a flet, white water rafting on the Anduin, barrel-riding over Rauros falls, that sort of thing.’


Frodo and Sam turned pale and held hands tightly, as if they were about to be shoved off a flet or over a waterfall.


‘Well, that’s enough about me. I’m sure you’re anxious to get settled in and take an, uh, little nap.’ Haldir smirked and then he clapped his hands sharply, making Frodo and Sam jump. ‘Bell Elves, show Mr. and Mr. Baggins-Gamgee to the Love Mist Suite.’


‘But we reserved the Honeymoon Suite,’ protested Sam as two Elves hurried up to take their saddlebags.


‘Oh, didn’t you know? It was renamed the Love Mist Suite in your honour. Figwit’s suggestion, and inspired as usual.’ Haldir handed the key to one of the Bell Elves.


‘Where is Figwit, by the way?’ Frodo wanted to know. He was quite fond of the Deputy Hospitality Elf who had been so kind to them and kept the Honeymoon Suite well supplied with lavender oil and marzipan mushrooms.


‘Been promoted. He’s now Assistant Supervising Idea Elf. It’s a plum job.’ Haldir sounded envious. ‘But he still likes to keep a hand in, so I expect you’ll be seeing him around.’


They did indeed see him, and sooner than they thought. When they entered the newly renamed Love Mist Suite, the former Deputy Hospitality Elf was inside, busy fluffing up the hobbit-sized pillows encased in ice-blue satin. He stopped the instant he saw them, and a smile as wide as an Eagle’s wingspan appeared on his face.


‘Mr. Baggins-Gamgee! And Mr. Baggins-Gamgee! How good it is to see you again!’ he exclaimed happily.


‘You, too, Figwit,’ the Baggins-Gamgees replied in unison, beaming.


‘I’ve got everything prepared for your stay.’ Figwit pulled open the top drawer of the nightstand. ‘The lavender oil is in here. Just let me know if you need more phials.’ He shut the drawer and opened the one below it. ‘And the marzipan mushrooms are in here, along with several flasks of our special rejuvenating miruvor elixir, should you require it. Although,’ he added, ‘you Halflings do seem to have the most amazing powers of recuperation, not to mention extremely healthy lungs.’’


Frodo and Sam blushed a rosy pink, for the Bell Elves were listening with rapt fascination and elbowing each other.


Figwit gave the Elves a repressive look. ‘You can go now,’ he said grandly, waving a hand. Reluctantly, they did.


‘Congratulations on your promotion,’ Sam said, quickly changing the topic. ‘Haldir told us about it.’


‘Thank you, Mr. Baggins-Gamgee. It’s an honour, although I must confess I rather miss being a Hospitality Elf. It can get boring strolling around the gardens or sitting on a rock trying to think of new ideas, and as for the brainstorming sessions...’ He sighed. ‘They go on for hours. Still,’ Figwit added, brightening, ‘I did get a nice pay raise and this lovely badge.’ He pointed to the shiny brass badge pinned to his misty green and gold robes. Figwit, it said, and then below, Asst. Supervising Idea Elf.


He shut the nightstand drawer and smiled. ‘Well, I’ll leave you two alone now. I’m sure you’re ready for a nice, uh, little nap. But if there is anything I can do for you during your stay, anything at all, don’t hesitate to ask.’


Frodo and Sam thanked him profusely. He left, shutting the door behind him, and Frodo sprang for the nightstand. ‘Marzipan mushrooms,’ he moaned, yanking open the drawer Figwit had just closed.


‘And lavender oil,’ Sam pointed out. ‘Ready for that, uh, little nap, Frodo-love?’


~*~


The two Bell Elves were loitering outside the door to the Love Mist Suite. Figwit gave them a stern look.


‘Eavesdropping on the guests is strictly forbidden. Go on about your work.’


After they’d disappeared, Figwit went to a nearby table and began rearranging the flowers in a large vase, tut-tutting under his breath as he did. Soon enough, the Love Mist Suite lived up to its name, and more so, as a veritable fog of heart-felt groans and moans, lust-filled grunts, trembling whimpers, and triumphant shouts and wails reached his ears. He heaved a happy sigh. The Baggins-Gamgees were back.


~*~


It was, in fact, four days before Frodo and Sam emerged from the Love Mist Suite, the hallway outside of which had become a popular gathering spot for guests and staff. Never had a vase full of flowers been so obsessively rearranged so many times, and the Room Service Elves, who came and went regularly pushing carts that held one or the other of the six hearty meals a day the Baggins-Gamgees required, were generally envied.


But eventually the hobbits decided that their little nap had gone on long enough and it was time to honour Boromir’s invitation and check out the new casino about which he was so enthused, so they reluctantly tore themselves from each other’s embrace and got dressed. Sam, of course, put on the white shirt, green weskit with white flowers and brown tweed suit that Frodo so adored, and Frodo put on the simple green shirt and blue-green trousers, worn to shininess at the buttet, that made Sam’s gorgeous green-brown eyes glow with happiness.


When they opened the door, they were a trifle surprised by the crowd of Elves, Men and Dwarves gathered round the table opposite their room, but the group scattered so quickly that they had no opportunity to ask them what was going on.


‘A flower arranging class, I reckon,’ said Sam, giving an errant lily a little tweak. ‘Never thought Dwarves would go in much for that sort of thing, to be honest. Still waters run deep, as my old dad used to say.’


Hand-in-hand they wended their way through the hallways, following signs posted at every intersection that said ‘Casino’ in the Common Tongue, Sindarin and Khuzdul. They were overtaken at intervals by guests heading in the direction of the casino and moving with a single-minded intensity that would have done credit to a hobbit who had just spied a prime patch of rare lavender morels.


‘The casino certainly does seem popular, Sam,’ Frodo observed, quickening his pace a little.


Sam only grunted. He was still very much on the fence about all this casino nonsense.


A little further on, they started to hear odd noises. Something that sounded very much like a slide-whistle alternated with the clanging of bells and a rapid-fire ka-ching ka-ching ka-ching.


Frodo added, ‘And it sounds very lively.’


Sam grunted again.


‘Now, don’t be a party-pooper, Sam! It might be fun.’ Frodo quickened his pace more, dragging Sam along after him.


‘I can think of something else that would be a lot more fun,’ muttered Sam, his eyes fixed on Frodo’s pert buttet.


Frodo flashed him a smile over his shoulder. ‘We won’t stay long, I promise.’


Sam would remember that, too, later.


~*~


‘Be a dear and get me some more coins, will you, Sam?’ Frodo asked without taking his eyes from the three spinning reels at which he’d been staring more or less non-stop now for hours. ‘C’mon, c’mon, c’mon,’ he urged under his breath as the reels began to slow and finally, one at a time from left to right, came to a stop.


‘Oh sticklebacks!’ Frodo said with disappointment. ‘No Sams at all, only two Pippins and a Gimli.’ He pouted. ‘When am I going to get three Sams? I want three Sams.’ He grabbed one of the few remaining silver pennies on the tray at his elbow, inserted it into the slot, and pulled the lever to start the reels spinning again.


Immediately lights started to flash like Gandalf’s staff during the warg attack, and a chorus of Oo-wee, Oo-wee, Oo-wee alternating withWhoop, Whoop, Whoop filled the air, joining the cacophony generated by the slot machines on either side of Frodo and the many others that filled one entire half of the giant room that housed the casino.


Frodo gave him a quick glance. ‘‘What, are you still here, Sam?’ he exclaimed, sounding surprised. ‘I’m almost out of coins again,’ he reminded him.


Sam sighed and trudged toward the cashier’s table for the third time, shaking his head as he got on line behind a couple of Dwarves and a Wose. Frodo had gone through almost two hundred silver pennies already, and it didn’t look like he would be stopping any time soon.


It wasn’t the money, though it pained Sam to see good coin wasted in a trivial pursuit, for in addition to Sam’s stipend as Mayor, they now had a tidy income from Frodo’s cheese-making business. He’d had his cherished goats - Banazîr, Panthael, Perhail, Stout-heart, Harthad Uluithiad and Sweetheart - shipped home from Tol Eressëa, and with the addition of Maura, Daur, Iorhael, Mr. Underhill and Treasure to the herd, turned out a tolerable quantity of excellent cheese, including a delicious mallorn-flavoured variety that they offered in the market each High-day to sellout crowds.


No, it wasn’t the money, but this was not how Sam had envisioned spending their wedding anniversary vacation, with Frodo lusting after three miniature Sams and ignoring the full-size one to whom he was married!


It was all Boromir’s fault, Sam thought resentfully as he reached the head of the line and requested another fifty coins to be charged to their room. He just had to go setting them each up at a ‘nice slot machine’ with a complimentary glass of wine and free money to gamble with. To lure them in, more like, and it had certainly worked with Frodo, to Sam’s dismay.


For one thing, the machines were painted all over with scenes from the Quest, and said at the top: ‘The Lord of the Rings’. Tacky and in very poor taste, was Sam’s private opinion, and the less said about that dratted Ring the better, if you asked him, but according to Boromir, they were the most popular slot machines in the casino, beating out even the ‘Hot n’ Handsome Elves’, ‘Down n’ Dirty Dwarves’ and ‘Nubile Numenoreans’ machines.


The dead Gondorian had given them a brief demonstration on how to use them, pointing out where to feed in the coins and how to depress the lever (what he called the ‘one-armed Balrog’) to set the reels spinning. The reels were cunningly painted with tiny representations of each member of the Fellowship, and winning was dependent on which of the pictures was visible when the reels came to a halt.


‘If you get three Boromirs or Frodos or Sams or whomever in a row, you’re a winner,’ Boromir informed them. ‘If not, well, you just have to try again.’


‘Oooh,’ said Frodo, wriggling on his pile of seat cushions and clearly intrigued. ‘I want to get three Sams.’


It was perhaps unfortunate that on Frodo’s very first try he had gotten one Sam, because the artist, curse the fellow, had painted Sam wearing the very outfit he now had on. Frodo had taken one look at the miniature Sam in his flowered weskit, white shirt and brown tweed trousers, and nearly swooned.


‘Oh, I simply must have three Sams,’ he’d declared, putting another coin in the slot and yanking the lever.


Sam himself had grown bored after a few tries. It wasn’t that the picture of Frodo in brown velvet wasn’t well-done, for it was (the eyes glowing blue, the dark curls attractively tumbled, the mouth a kissable pout), but what need did he have for a reel Frodo, or even three reel Frodos, when the real Frodo was sitting beside him? He’d given the remainder of his coins to Frodo, who appeared to be enjoying himself, and assumed that once they were all used up, they’d take their leave and return to the Love Mist Suite and the freshly replenished supply of lavender oil and marzipan mushrooms (they’d left a note for Figwit) that would await them.


It hadn’t worked out that way, however, because thus far Frodo had only won once, when he got three Merrys, and with a loud ka-ching ka-ching ka-ching ka-ching a small pile of silver coins poured out an opening at the bottom of the machine and onto his lap.


‘But I don’t want three Merrys,’ Frodo said unhappily when Legolas and Arwen, seated on either side of him, congratulated him on his winnings.


‘True, he is rather ugly,’ conceded Arwen.


The presence at the casino of several other members of the Fellowship as well as a spouse ought to have at least ensured that Sam had company while Frodo gambled, but unfortunately gaming fever seemed to have consumed them all.


Legolas hadn’t bothered to remove his arrow quiver when he pounced on Sam’s empty place at the slot machine, but started shoving coins into it like an Elf possessed.


‘Hallo, Legolas,’ Sam had said, but the Elf didn’t seem to hear him, and didn’t blink when Sam waved a hand in front of his face. Sam knew that Elves could sleep with their eyes open, but even for Legolas this was a bit much. Maybe instead of Captain Obvious, he should be called Captain Oblivious, Sam thought in disgust. And did he have to keep chanting 'scruffy Ranger' under his breath? Not that the rest of the Fellowship hadn't known Legolas had the hots for Aragorn, but some things simply didn't bear remembering, like the smell of Aragorn's leather tunic.


On Frodo’s other side sat Arwen, a vision in blue velvet and with her midnight dark tresses rippling down her back in a silken stream. Not a patch on Frodo, of course, but then who was? And she seemed to know it, too, because Sam distinctly heard her sigh, when she got two Aragorns and a Gimli, 'I was hoping for a Frodo.'


After handing the leather pouch of coins to Frodo, who took it with an absent-minded ‘thank you’ and popped another silver piece into the slot, Sam hit up the buffet for the umpteenth time. He loaded a plate with comfort food, and then wandered disconsolately around in search of someone, anyone, to talk to. He spied Boromir floating near one of the 'Rohan Hold ‘Em' tables and decided to give the casino's manager a large piece of his mind.


‘Here, Boromir,’ he said, waving a chicken leg in his direction. ‘I’ve got a bone to pick with you.'


‘No time, my friend. Much too busy. Places to go, people to see,’ Boromir replied airily, and quickly vanished through the ceiling.


‘Too busy my sister Daisy’s seedcakes,’ said Sam, glaring at the ceiling. He knew an evasive maneuvre when he saw one. ‘You come back here right this second and face the music like a Man, uh, a ghost.’


But Boromir, perhaps wisely, remained vanished.


'Coward,' Sam muttered.


He next spied Aragorn, who was seated at an Ainorn table, where a supremely elegant Elf was stationed behind the wooden wheel, and went over to say hello.


He tapped the King, who was rather hard of hearing, on the shoulder. ‘How are things going?’ he asked loudly.


‘You’ve taken up rowing?’ Aragorn shouted back. ‘But I thought you were afraid of boats.’


‘Not rowing, going,’ Sam said, enunciating carefully.


‘You’re showing? I had no idea you were pregnant, Sam, you sly dog.’ Aragorn chuckled. 'Hobbits are full of surprises, like Gandalf always says.'


Sam turned scarlet. ‘No, I’m not pregnant,’ he began, but just then the Elf intoned portentously, 'N’uma thesaes shaer', and the King hastily pushed a stack of red chips onto the number twenty-two. The Elf gave the wheel a brisk spin and then cast a small white ball into it.


‘Twenty-two, give it to me, baby! Twenty-two!’ Aragorn shouted, gesticulating wildly as the ball rattled around and around inside the wheel, and Sam sighed and walked away.


‘Samwise, long time no see,’ said a familiar voice, and Gimli’s rock-hard fist pounded genially on Sam’s shoulder.


‘Gimli, oh, how good it is to see you,’ Sam exclaimed, straightening his buckled knees. He was overjoyed to meet one person who wasn’t glassy-eyed and unresponsive.


The Dwarf gave Sam a curious look. ‘What’s the matter, young hobbit? You seem a bit on the down side. From what I heard outside your suite while I was, uh, rearranging the flowers in that vase, you should be happy as a dragon resting on a mountain of jewels.’


‘It’s this darned casino,’ Sam said hotly, his frustration boiling over now that he finally had a sympathetic ear. ‘It’s cast a spell over everyone, even my Frodo. He sits there at that awful contraption, feeding it coins and-’ But Gimli interrupted him.


‘That’s a pity, and really, I wish I had more time to listen, but ah, you’ll have to excuse me, I see a seat just opened up at the ‘Lovely Ladies of Lórien’ machine.’ His eyes glazed over. ‘Galadriel, I’m coming, my fair lady of the golden tresses...’ He hurried away.


Wishing he had on a pair of very large Dwarf boots to intensify the effect, Sam deposited his plate on a table and stomped toward the casino exit. He badly needed a quiet smoke and a breath of fresh air. If Frodo wanted more coins, he decided grumpily, he’d just have to get them himself. As he pulled his pipe from his jacket pocket, he wondered what the time was. It was nigh impossible to keep track of the passing minutes and hours, for the casino had not a single window, much less one of the graceful arched openings that made the rest of the resort so attractive (if a trifle on the chilly side). But he reckoned it must be late - past midnight at least.


Which is why, when he stepped outside the stuffy, noisy casino and saw sunlight streaming into the hallways, Sam couldn’t believe his eyes. Late? Why, it was morning! Nigh on eleven, too, to judge by the angle of the sun. Frodo had spent, no wasted, an entire night sitting at the slot machine when he could have been making love with his sweetheart! Outrage filled Sam. It was simply too much to be borne.


He stuffed his pipe, fortunately not yet lit, into his pocket and with a truculent light in his eyes, stormed back into the casino. Straight up to the ‘Lord of the Rings’ slot machines he marched and elbowed Gandalf, hanging over the back of Frodo’s chair, out of the way - not gently. He didn't even pause to wonder where the Wizard had come from. If Tom Bombadil, Treebeard, every Eagle in creation and an entire herd of Oliphaunts had been present, he wouldn't have noticed, or cared if he did.


‘Good gracious me,’ uttered Gandalf in surprise.


‘Frodo Baggins-Gamgee,’ Sam said firmly, ‘enough is enough. You come away from that confounded contraption this very second.’


‘Oh, hallo Sam,’ Frodo said vaguely, without even glancing at him. ‘Do be a dear and get me some more coins. I’m running low again.’


Sam let out a roar so loud that it drowned out the Oo-wee, Oo-wee, Oo-wee and Whoop, Whoop, Whoop.


Every eye turned to the frustrated Halfing. Dead silence descended over the casino; even the machines had gone quiet. Boromir, who had just floated cautiously down from the ceiling, took one look at Sam and disappeared again.


Frodo stared in slack-jawed shock. ‘Why Sam, what’s wrong?’


‘What’s wrong? What’s wrong?’ Sam gesticulated wildly, like Aragorn at the Ainorn table. ‘You’re what’s wrong, Frodo.’


‘M-me?’ faltered Frodo.


‘Yes, you. Look at you! Your eyes are bloodshot, you haven’t eaten a single bite of the food I've brought you, and your bum is probably stuck to that chair, it’s been parked there for so long.’


‘But Sam, I only want to get three Sams. Is that too much to ask?’


‘You don’t need three Sams. You’ve got one Sam, the one standing right here in front of you, and he should be more than enough to satisfy you.’


‘But-’ Frodo essayed.


‘But me no buts, Frodo!’ Sam stepped around the chair, yanked Frodo out of it, scattering the cushions, and slung him over his shoulder like a sack of his Gaffer's taters. There was a smattering of applause.


'Sam!' gasped Frodo. 'Whatever are you doing?'


'I'm taking you back to our suite where you belong, and I ain't letting you out again until it's time for us to go home,' replied Sam, carrying him towards the exit.


'But-'


Sam gave Frodo a little spank on his pert buttet. 'That's the only 'butt' I'm interested in right now.'


'Ooooooh, Sam.' Frodo heaved a happy sigh. 'I do so love it when you go all hobbit-ful.'


Elves, Men, Dwarves, Wizard and Woses, one and all, let out a loud 'Huzzah' and started hooting and clapping. Sam's ear tips turned bright red but his footsteps never faltered as he strode swiftly out of the casino, swept along by the thunderous applause and Frodo's fervent, 'Hurry up, my love.'


'Sam's pregnant, you know,' Aragorn confided to Gandalf. 'Told me so himself.'


'Ah,' Gandalf replied sagely. 'That explains it. Hormones.' Then he took Frodo's place at the slot machine with a contented sigh. Quilting bees simply weren't his thing.


~*~


When Sam and Frodo emerged from the Love Mist Suite on the day of their departure, they discovered the hallway crammed full of people. Apparently the entire population of Rivendell had gone mad for flower arranging, though why the seminars were held in that precise location was a mystery.


The crowd didn't scatter this time, but simply stepped respectfully back to allow the Baggins-Gamgees to pass. Knowing smiles and approving nods and discreet thumbs up and envious looks were sent Sam's way as the assembled guests took in Frodo's mincing walk, his kiss-reddened lips and the glassy-eyed expression that far exceeded any effect a slot machine could have.


Samwise blushed at the silent tributes, but secretly he felt rather chuffed. After all, he hadn't had to resort to Figwit's miruvor elixir even once, although the former Deputy Hospitality Elf had been kept hopping with requests for more lavender oil and marzipan mushrooms.


After bidding a fond farewell to Figwit, Haldir and Boromir, who quite restored himself to Sam's good graces by declaring all Frodo's gambling expenditures to be 'on the house', the hobbits mounted Bill II and Strider III, and set out for Bag End.


They rode home to Elanor and their goats in the highest of spirits and greatest of content (although Frodo did have to sit on a fluffy pillow to cushion his sore behind), and decided that in future they would spend every anniversary at the Resort. Frodo promised to stay out of the casino, no difficult promise that, for as he said with feeling and a fervent kiss, 'You were right, Sam. One of you is more than enough to satisfy me.'


But they never did figure out how a pair of woollen baby booties had gotten into Sam's saddlebags.


~*~


The tale of Samwise Baggins-Gamgee's prowess soon became legend in Rivendell. Reservations for the Love Mist Suite with its aphrodisiacal atmosphere were more highly sought after than consultations with Legolas, the resort's new hair care specialist, especially given the tenacious (if unsubstantiated) rumour that Samwise had conceived a child while staying there.


And in years to come, it was guaranteed that at least once each evening, the Minstrels in the Hall of Fire would strike up their instruments at the request of the guests and launch into a heartfelt rendition of that epic song, 'One Samwise Is Better Than Three'.



~end~


Elvish translations:

Ainorn = 'little wheel' (i.e., Roulette)

N’uma thesaes shaer = 'no further bets' (i.e., rien ne va plus)