The Oceans that Part Us

by Orangeblossom Took

Chapter 2
:  I Never Knew your Face

Valinor 1482

The steam rose off the cups of tea, which were adorned with a pattern of mallorn leaves, and brought a pink hue to the faces of the elderly hobbits. For a time, the only sound was the crashing of waves echoing up from the shoreline.

Sam had fallen into silence and Frodo knew with a fearful clarity that the news was bad. "Oh," he said, "I don't see how you could possibly have done anything blameworthy, dearest Sam. I would like to know what happened, whatever that may be."

Sam took a deep breath and told Frodo how Rosemary had secretly followed the farewell party to the Gray Havens and how he had discovered her upon her return, lost in grief and despair, and prevented her from doing unthinkable violence to herself.

Frodo, in a voice that was barely above a whisper, said, "That was a great service you did me, Sam, and you have done me many a valiant favor."

Sam blushed and said, "I really didn't do much. Anyone would have done as much."

Frodo put his had on his old friend's shoulder and said, "Anyone didn't do it, Sam. You did."

There was a time when Sam might have blushed and averted his eyes at a compliment but now he simply said, "I was the one there, that is all." The former mayor used all his powers of self-control to look Frodo in the eyes and continue his story. He said, "She had a child, a little girl."

Frodo brightened visibly and exclaimed, "So, she found someone else! That is great news, Sam. I am glad and hope she found happiness. Did you think I would be jealous and let that upset me? I haven't the right. Who was the lucky hobbit?"

Sam steeled himself. He would have been pleased to let Frodo go on in his happy misconception but he deserved to know the truth. Sam took a sip of tea to steady himself before continuing. He again met Frodo's blue eyes with his own brown ones and, in a voice that was stronger than he thought it would be, said, "I said she had a child, Iris, but I did not say she found some one else."

Frodo's cerulean eyes widened in shock and, in a stricken voice, asked, "No other? Sam, are you saying what I think you are saying? When was Iris born?"

Sam, with a great deal of effort, clearly answered the question, "She was born on mid-summer's day of 1422."

After quickly doing some simple calculations in his head Frodo swallowed the lump in his throat and, in a shaky voice, said, "So. She is mine, then?"

Sam nodded and said, "She is your, through and through. Not that I didn't trust Miss Rosemary but one look at that child could prove to the most cynical mind who her father was. She was delicate like you and had your coloring. The eyes were what really gave the game away, though."

Frodo was stricken and tears streamed down his cheeks. In a choked voice, he said, "I never knew her face, Sam."

Sam held Frodo for a little while then said, "I thought of that. I have something that may help. Sam went to his room and came back with several drawings. There was one that was clearly Rosemary with a dark-haired baby hobbit-lass in her lap. Another had Rosemary and Iris with spring flowers in their hair the year Iris was twelve. The final one showed a beautiful but fragile-looking hobbit-woman with dark hair and blue eyes.

In a hushed voice, Frodo said, "Thank you, Sam. Thank you."

Sam cleared his throat, "Rosemary always did fret over her so. Rosie and I told her that Iris wasn't as fragile as she looked. She was great friends with my Elanor and little Daisy Tolman."

Frodo had to ask a question that was uppermost in his mind, "How did Rosemary and Iris live? I know the dressmaking trade and the little money her father left must have helped but surely she had difficulties. I am very sorry for that."

Sam's chin jutted out and, in a firm voice, he said, "Of course I wouldn't let the daughter of my dearest friend go without. Along with Merry and Pippin, I made sure they were provided for."

Frodo smiled and said, "Of course you did, dear Sam. I should have realized. It sounds like you did very well by them and have nothing to be sorry for."

Sam bowed his head and said, "The trouble came much later, when Iris decided to get married..."