Stamp of Approval, by Lbilover

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Written in honor of a friend's beloved cat who passed away.


Nearly everything about Bag End West, as Frodo and Bilbo called it, was achingly familiar to Sam, from the green front door to the hooks in the front hall to the wainscoted walls. When he'd imagined where the two hobbits might live on Tol Eressëa, he'd pictured something like Lórien only grander. He couldn't have been more wrong. He might have said he immediately felt at home there, save that the instant he stepped off the Elven ship into Frodo's welcoming embrace, he was home.

That night, after the celebration was over and Bilbo gone off to bed, Sam sat with Frodo in the comfortable sitting room, with his toes extended to a cheerful fire and a glass of golden wine in his hands. There were a million things Sam wanted to tell Frodo, about Rosie and his children and grandchildren and even great-grandchildren, not to mention Merry and Pippin and Strider and the rest of the Fellowship remaining in Middle-earth. 

But there was time for that, all the time in the world, and he was content to sit in silence, drinking Frodo in, still slender and fair and a headier draught than any the Elves could concoct. Ever and anon their eyes met, and in the tranquil blue of Frodo's gaze Sam discovered the answer to the question that had haunted him for over sixty years: had Frodo found the healing he sought when he sailed over Sea? Indubitably the answer was yes, and joy filled Sam and he could have danced a happy jig upon the floor as he had done in Rivendell many and many a year ago.

Instead, he nearly jumped out of his skin as an unexpected sound broke the silence. 'Frodo, what was that?' he exclaimed, shaking spilled wine droplets from his fingers.

Frodo laughed. 'That, my dear Sam, was Saki. I've been wondering when she would make her presence known. I suppose she wanted to wait for things to quiet down.'

Before Sam could ask the obvious question, a figure emerged from beneath Frodo's chair. It was a cat, but such a cat as Sam had never before seen in his life. She was sleek and long-legged, elegant as an Elf, with cream-coloured fur, seal-brown points, a wedge-shaped head, and eyes of deep sapphire blue. Those eyes were now fixed unblinkingly on Sam, with a near-human intensity. 

'What a beauty!' Sam exclaimed in wonder. 'Why, I've never seen her like before.' 

'That's because cats like Saki don't exist in Middle-earth, or so Elrond told me,' explained Frodo. 'They are only found here in the West.'

'How do you come to own her?' 

'I don't,' replied Frodo, with another laugh. 'You can't own a cat like Saki, Sam; she owns you. I didn't really have any say in the matter. The cats here have wills and minds of their own and they come and go as they please. It pleases her to make her home with me and Bilbo, and for that I am grateful. I was very ill when we first arrived here, you see, and one day she appeared in my room in Elrond's home, where Bilbo and I then lived, and she jumped up on my bed and lay down beside me and I believe that that was the moment when I truly began to heal. She has been my constant companion and friend ever since.'

'But...that was over sixty years ago,' Sam said, startled.

'They are a long-lived race, the cats of Valinor, akin to the Mearas in that way.' Frodo looked at Saki, sitting upright with her dark tail curled about her paws, and said gravely, 'Saki, this is my dearest Samwise Gamgee, about whom I have told you so much. He has come to me at last, and I hope you will make him welcome in our home.'

Sam set aside his wine glass and leaned forward, elbows on knees. 'I'm pleased to meet you, Mistress Saki,' he said. 'And if it'll set your mind at ease, know that I love him, and there's naught more important to me in all the world than his happiness. So, we have something in common, you and I, and if you'll not object to me living here now and caring for him, too, I'll be that grateful.'

Saki regarded him in return just as gravely, considering his words. Then she stood and came forward, not hesitantly but confidently, as one who knows her mind. She jumped unhesitatingly onto Sam's lap, where she lay sprawled across his knees and accepted his admiring caress as her due.

'I believe, my dear Sam, that Saki has given you her stamp of approval,' Frodo said, delighted.

Sam was delighted, too, and honoured, although he couldn't help secretly wondering if she would give her stamp of approval to him sharing Frodo's bed as well as his home. But as if she'd read his mind, Saki looked up at him from slitted sapphire eyes and began to purr.


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