The Oceans that Part Us

by Orangeblossom Took

Chapter 3: Love is Blindness

Valinor 1482

Frodo, in a tone of bitter self-accusation, said, "Tell me, Sam, how did
the daughter of one who was counted among the insane and born out of wedlock
find the marriage market in Hobbiton?"

Sam, in a cautious tone, replied, "About as you might expect. Iris didn't
seem to mind, though. She was completely your child and, for a very long time,
seemed to prefer reading and walking by herself to the usual games of courting.
Rosemary encouraged that. She was fiercely protective of Iris and valued keeping
her daughter safe, even when she was no longer a child, above having grandchildren."

Frodo looked at him with a multitude of questions in his eyes and said,
"And I take it you didn't agree with Rosemary?"

In a very sad and tired voice, Sam said, "The more fool I, I encouraged any
lad I thought might prove a decent match to consider her once she came of age.
Of course, I deemed very few to be worthy but even a worthy lad has to consider
the practicalities and the fact that I would provide Iris with a dowry got around. "

Frodo nodded, grinned crookedly, and said, "How typically subtle of you,
Sam! Who were your most favored candidates?"

Sam blushed and said, "My own boys, of course. My two oldest were younger
than her but not that much younger. I thought it would be wonderful if we could
share a grandchild."

Frodo, in a quiet voice, asked, "Well, did it work? What did Rosemary think
of that? More to the point, how did Iris feel about it?"

Sam sighed and replied, "It did work, to some extent. I hoped she might
take a fancy to my oldest boy, who I named after you, but Iris was not yet ready
to be married. She read, sewed, or walked for hours and let her friend Daisy
marry him. She and Rosemary made Daisy's wedding dress and embroidered it with
her name-flower."

Frodo frowned and asked, "And Rosemary? Why did she object to Iris marrying?"

Sam bowed his head and, in a hollow voice, said, "I thought it was just
that Iris was her only child and a reminder of you that made her so nervous
about the girl. I told you Iris was delicate? Well, she was more fragile than I
thought. I knew the healer visited with some frequency but I did not know she
had told Rosemary and Iris that she thought the girl was too frail to bear a
child. Even if I had been told, I would have scoffed and said that, like her
father, she was stronger than she looked."

Frodo struggled to maintain composure and asked, "So, who did she marry?"

Sam ran his hand through his hair and said, "My Pippin-lad. Iris was
thirty-nine when she decided that, if she was ever going to get married, she had
better do so. She said it just that way, too. For all her fragility and
quietness, Iris could be very stubborn. I was happy, if a bit puzzled that she
decided on a younger husband at a relatively late age. Mistress Rosemary,
however, was quite wroth and begged Iris to reconsider her decision."

Frodo asked, "Were they happy?"

Sam nodded and said, "Aye, they were. The only sadness was the break
between her and Rosemary. Oh, they still spoke to each other but there was a
definite distance or chill in their relationship and they had been so close. As
for her and Pippin-lad, they had known each other from childhood and always
seemed to share a great many similarities. During their courtship and marriage
they were like two halves of the same person and never left each other's side.
There was no question about my son being able to provide for her. He was a
thrifty, enterprising lad and had the education I never did. He got the
wealthiest families in the Shire to donate the funds to start a library and had
a small but excellent vineyard."

Frodo gave a slight smile and asked, "Did they have a lovely wedding, Sam?"

Sam nodded again and said, "That they did. Merry, Pippin, and I made sure
it was the most special wedding the Shire had seen for some time. Rosemary was
contained toward Iris and hardly spoke a word to Pippin-lad and myself but she
made Iris a most glorious wedding dress. They married on the first day of
autumn. The air was blue and crisp and the leaves were just beginning to
turn."

Frodo, in a voice that was barely above a whisper, asked, "How long was it before she became pregnant?"

Sam buried his head in his hands and, with a voice choked by sobs, said,
"Less than a year, Frodo. Less than a year."