Title: A Conspiracy is Formed
Summary: Merry's recruitment of Sam to keep an eye on Frodo pre-Quest. My element was "Does the end ever justify the means?"
Merry approached Sam as the gardener was carrying a bag back from the market. “Sam, I need you to do me a favor.”
Sam smiled brightly. “Of course, Mr. Merry.”
The younger hobbit looked around furtively, then leaned forward and spoke quite softly. “I need you to spy on Frodo for me.”
Merry immediately regretted being so bold in his request as Sam’s smile died and he looked at Merry aghast. “You want me to spy on me own master?!”
The younger hobbit looked around once more before speaking once more in the same hushed tones. “Not so loud, Sam, please! I’m sorry I said it that way. Forgive me. It was a poor choice of words. I don’t mean any harm to Frodo, of course. You know he’s more my brother than my cousin and I love him nearly as dearly as you do.”
Sam looked a bit mollified but still suspicious. “But what do you want me spying on him for? That’s naught right. I couldn’t do it.”
Merry was pleased at least that his friend was at least keeping his voice down this time. He looked around him and then took Sam by the arm and led him away from the hedge into more open space where other ears would less likely be able to hear.
“What’s wrong, Mr. Merry?” Sam asked, quite mystified by the other’s anxiety.
“I’m growing most fretful, Sam. And Frodo is too, which he doesn’t usually get until the autumn. I’m getting afraid that he’s going us the slip and go off like Bilbo did.”
Sam grew alarmed. “Mr. Frodo’s not going anywhere without me!”
Merry winced at how loudly that was said and grasped his friend’s arm even tighter. “Of course not and he’s not going to leave without me or Pippin either. We’ve already done some spying on our own, after you’ve said goodnight to him. He’s been off on more of his walks at night and sometimes he stays out all night and one night he didn’t come home until the next morning! Pip and I were nearly out of our wits. That’s why you need to keep an eye over him. Please, Sam. He’d never suspect you, and he would get suspicious if either Pip or I lingered too long.”
Sam looked uneasy once more. “That’s just it, Mr. Merry, begging your pardon. He’d never suspect and it’s naught right to do anything behind his back.”
“But Sam, it’s nothing different than what you’ve always done. Haven’t you looked after him all this time? And it’s not behind his back, not truly for you are always around and he’d be less careful to hid things around you, than Pip or me.”
Sam put his free hand into his pocket as though fidgeting with something within. “Looking after the master is not the same as spying on him, Mr. Merry, and that’s what you said it would be, begging your pardon. I can’t see the right of that at all. I just couldn’t do it.”
Merry smiled which rather perplexed the gardener. He glanced down at Sam’s hand. “You’re doing the same thing Frodo does when he’s nervous, Sam.” Sam returned the smile with this comparison but Merry’s faded. “Do you ever wonder why he does that?”
“No, Mr. Merry, can’t say I ever thought of it.”
Merry’s voice grew its softest and he pulled Sam closer. “It’s because he’s got Bilbo’s ring, and keeps it there, and let me tell you, Sam, there’s magic about that ring. It can make you disappear when you want to and who knows what else it can do.”
Now the gardener looked afraid. He immediately removed his hand as if some of that same magic was in his own pocket. “Disappear! You mean, he could go off on his own and we’d never know?”
“Exactly! But we can’t let him do that. You know how he’s always been more like Bilbo than any of us. The Shire’s sunk deep into him, but I tell you, Sam, he’s going to go off into the blue one day and we just can’t let him do that without us knowing.”
Sam’s expression grew quite fierce. “He won’t, Mr. Merry, I can tell you that right now, because I’m not going to let him!”
“Of course not, and neither are Pippin or I. That’s why we need you to keep an eye on him for anything you can report that could give us some clue when he’s going, anything he says, anything he does. Even if it doesn’t seem important, I’m sure it is. And I do mean when, Sam, not if. He is going to leave and he’s going to leave quietly.”
“I’ve heard tell that Elves can move quieter than hobbits and Mr. Frodo’s almost half-Elf already with that light of his. And what he goes all invisible on us? There ain’t nothing quieter than that. Do you think he’s going to try that, Mr. Merry?”
Merry thought for a moment, cautiously guarding his hope that he had gained a fellow conspirator and the most important one. “No, Sam, I think not. There’s been plenty of times that he could have, like when the S-B’s are coming up the path, but he doesn’t. I saw him once and he was mightily tempted, but I think there’s something holding him back from that.”
Concern filled the gardener’s face. “Is there a danger to it then?”
Merry bit his lip. “I don’t know, Sam, but there’s something very queer about it. Rings aren’t supposed to make you disappear, but I’ve seen it with my own eyes, and that’s why I am getting so anxious.” He looked directly into his friend’s eyes most beseechingly. “Oh, please, Sam, you’ve got to help me! You’ve got to help him!”
The gardener was a mite alarmed at the near panic he heard in Merry’s voice and how tightly he was gripped. “All right, Mr. Merry, I’ll do it for him, but it still don’t sit right with me, begging your pardon.”
The younger hobbit let out a breath he hadn’t known he was holding and let go of the gardener’s arm. “Thank you, Sam! I am sorry to put you up to this, but it can’t be helped if we are going to be make sure Frodo doesn’t leaves without us. Someone’s got to take care of him.”
“It’ll be all right, Mr. Merry,” Sam assured with a smile. “Mr. Frodo’s not going anywhere without us.”
Merry returned the smile. “That does make me feel much better, Sam. Thank you again.”
The gardener watched his friend walk away, now whistling, as though he had not a care in the world, but Sam knew better.
He walked back to Bag End, made supper for its beloved owner, then put away the other groceries he had bought. He heard humming coming toward him, some sort of Elvish song his master favored and that, Sam realized with newfound alarm, Frodo had been singing more of recently. The younger hobbit set the table for the master’s repast and kept an eye open for the moment Frodo would come in the door. He was still nervous about what Mr. Merry had asked him do and wondered if it would show when his master saw him, but there was nothing but bright smiles given and received and Frodo’s soft words of thanks. Struck anew by that one's beauty, Sam knew, nervous or not, Mr. Merry was right. Mr. Frodo wasn’t going to go anywhere without them.