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The sky is beautiful—a bright, vivid blue on the horizon, reaching endlessly through soft spots of fluffy-looking clouds, dipping down and disappearing in the rolling green hills all around them. The first bride picked the perfect spot: a gentle valley not far from the market, so most of those invited—half of Hobbiton—had an easy time commuting. A few are still trickling in from further Farthings, too late for the ceremony but in time for the reception. The ceremony was delightful, made all the better by the flowers planted down the isle and woven into both brides’ hair—the second hired Sam a week before to take care of all the greenery. Sam’s more than proud of how it all came out. Petals are still drifting idly about the grass in the quiet wind, and long-stemmed tulips and daffodils around the banquet table add a splash of colour. Of course, as wondrous as they are, the flowers aren’t the most beautiful part of the wedding.

That honour goes to Frodo—not in the wedding party, not part of the staff, merely a guest in slightly more formal clothes than usual—a crisp turquoise shirt that buttons up his slender chest and brown overalls with rich gold buttons. His dark hair is wild and spotted here and there with pink rose petals from the bouquet being tossed. It would be a good excuse for Sam to shuffle up and run his fingers through those thick curls, but he likes the look of Frodo flecked in flowers too much to disrupt it. Sam finds him up by the banquet table, holding a finely painted plate with a cupcake and a side of salad. Sam doesn’t get a plate for himself, because he doesn’t know if he can eat—weddings always make him happy, but attending a wedding with Frodo makes him giddy; there are simply too many butterflies in his stomach. Perhaps it was only natural for them to walk over together, living so close as they do, but it still feels like an achievement to Sam.

Frodo looks just as happy as Sam is, perhaps because he’s such a good person who can genuinely enjoy another’s enjoyment. He seems to be waiting for a chance at the pecan pie, but in the meantime, he glances back and smiles.

He smiled throughout most of the ceremony. He clapped as loud as the rest and cheered. But this smile is directed right at Sam, so it’s more powerful—it’s the one that makes his knees weak. The petals in Frodo’s hair add a sweet perfume, as though he’s not intoxicating enough. He says to Sam, “It’s a lovely wedding, isn’t it?”

“I couldn’t agree more, Mr. Frodo.” In fact, he can’t imagine one more lovely, aside from the obvious exchange of the two brides for a certain two grooms.

With a wistful sigh, Frodo glances back over his shoulder, along the lawn to where the brides are shaking hands with the long lines of their families. A few of Frodo’s friends are there—Meriadoc Brandybuck and Fredegar Bolger seem to have been sucked in, though they keep casting longing looks back towards the food. There should be plenty left when they’re done, although the Sackville-Bagginses, who Sam doesn’t remember seeing on the guest list, appear to be doing all they can to eat right through the local baker’s contribution.

“I rather love weddings,” Frodo murmurs. “I do hope I get one someday.”

That seems a moot point to Sam. “Well, of course you will!” He can’t help a note of astonishment, and Frodo glances back to him with a cheerful chuckle. “I mean it, Mr. Frodo! You’re a wonderful hobbit, perfectly respectable, and I don’t just mean well-to-do, but clever and kind and all the things one could want in another. Why, your singing voice is better than even the elves must have, and your stories could give even old Bilbo’s a run for his money, and yours ain’t even real from what I know, but that just goes to show your imagination and talent for a good tale. It’s no wonder you have so many friends, and so many of them liking you more than I reckon they like their own selves, because you inspire that sort of... that liking in people, you know? I could even swear the flowers I plant around your doorsteps do twice as well as my old gaffer’s, and he knows everything there is to know about every flower there is! But you’ve just got Yavanna’s blessing, if you get my meaning. And you’re plenty handsome, too boot! And then there’s your tea—”

“Why, Sam!” Frodo exclaims, laughing delightedly. “You’re much too kind!” And secretly, Sam’s glad to be shut up, because once he’s done ranting, he realizes just how far he really went and can feel his cheeks turning redder than the strawberry jam. “But you’d best be careful with all those nice words of yours, or you’ll have me trying to marry you this instant.” Shaking his head with palpable mirth, Frodo leans in to peck Sam’s cheek. Then Ted Sandyman stops hogging the pie, finally leaving the banquet table, and Frodo is able to finish filling his plate.

Sam just keeps standing there, frozen to the spot like at tree taking route. His cheek tingles where Frodo kissed him. He tells himself not to take the joke for a promise, but his hopes are already soaring.

Having taken a delicate slice, Frodo looks back to ask, “Would you like any?”

Sam opens his mouth and tries to say both ‘no, thank you’ and ‘will you marry me’ at once. So it just comes out a complicated burble that has Frodo tilting his head curiously. Sam clears his throat and enunciates a better, “No, thank you.”

He thinks it would probably be rude to propose at someone else’s wedding. He’ll at least wait until the walk home, which gives him some time to come up with more praise that just mind garner an even more beautiful wedding.