Summary: Sam isn't a hero.
"No, no, I don't think so." Sam flushed as he avoided the gaze of the adoring hobbits surrounding him. "I'm not a hero, I'm just a simple hobbit." He was beginning to wish he hadn't told the tale now. He'd only started because the others had asked and, if he was honest, also to impress Rose Cotton. Now he'd reached the end of the story he looked over to see she was looking into the distance, not even listening. He wouldn't have minded so much if she'd been one of the ones who was so impressed. "Frodo's the hero. He's the one who carried the ring all that time and destroyed it. I merely helped him along a bit."
There were murmurs of agreement at Frodo's heroics, but it didn't seem to change their opinions about Sam's. He hadn't wanted this hero-worship and hadn't been expecting it. While his listeners had turned the discussion to how they wouldn't mind seeing other parts of Middle-earth, except they didn't really want to leave the Shire, Sam slipped away.
He kept walking until he was out of sight, then sat beneath a tree and sighed. In future he'd let Merry and Pippin tell the tale. They liked it and told it well. However, when he heard footsteps he tensed, worried who might have followed him. He relaxed when he saw it was Rose and stood to meet her.
"I think you were very brave to do all those things," she said, and he reddened again. She must have been listening after all.
He shook his head. "No, I'm not brave at all. I just followed Mister Frodo, that's all." And in one aspect he wasn't brave. He'd almost rather go to Mordor again than risk telling Rosie how he felt about her.
Despite that, she smiled at him. "Where was the best place you went?"
That, he didn't have to think about at all. "Here. Right here in the Shire is the best place in the whole of Middle-earth."
"Really?" She didn't sound as if believed him. "Why's that?"
"It's my home; it's where my family is and where my friends are. It's where you are," he added softly.
She said nothing to that, just kept smiling.
Although he smiled back, he worried over what she was waiting for. While he worried, she slipped her hand into his and stepped a little closer.
"The heroes in the stories, they always rescue the princess and live happily ever after, don't they?"
He frowned. "Yes, they do." But the tale of the ring didn't involve princesses.
"I can be your princess, Sam, if you'll let me."
Then he realised. He had been stupid and cowardly and not at all hero-like. He could have asked her a long time ago and she'd have said yes. He was never in any danger of having his heart broken, only of breaking hers by staying silent. He couldn't break her heart now, so he leaned forwards and kissed her.
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