West of the Moon

A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive



Tea and Lavender
Sam's secret is revealed.
Author: Bill The Pony
Rating: NC-17


"Sam!" Pippin's high voice made Sam flinch; he nearly toppled the neat row of corked bottles he'd been fingering: they held sweet oil with sprigs of herbs floating inside. His hand closed around one bottle as though to hide it, and he regretted the gesture, but it was too late to let go without seeming guilty.

"Pippin." He turned, well and truly caught, hiding the bottle at his side in the folds of his tunic. Merry was with Pippin and the clatter and noise was so loud as they burst into the larder, Sam wondered if they had brought the guard of Gondor and half the hosts of Rohan along with them. However, it was only the two hobbits, clad in the liveries they'd earned in battle. He was not sorry they had interrupted his thoughts, for he was not his usual cheerful self, but he wished he hadn't reached out to the bottles at the same moment they burst in.

Merry made a dash straight for the shelves, rummaging noisily among bundles of herbs and cloth-wrapped loaves and salt-cured meat. There was little else, for they were still surviving on short commons after the siege upon Minas Tirith by the forces of Mordor. But Pippin was more intrigued than hungry and his bright eyes fixed on Sam, holding him trapped.

"What are you up to, Sam Gamgee?" Sam half-turned away from him, concealing the bottle, and Pippin tried to peer around him unsuccessfully. "No good, I'll warrant!" The jibe, once common enough between them in the Shire, now rang oddly in Sam's ears; he was sober and changed, but it seemed his friends were not.

"Getting Mr. Frodo's tea!" Sam yearned for a chance to set the bottle back in its place, but he wished in vain.

"Frodo drinks lavender oil in his tea?" Merry had flanked him neatly, coming from behind and snatching the bottle out of his fingers to hold it up for Pippin's inspection. Sam flushed crimson as Pippin chuckled; he made a grab for the bottle, but Merry held it over his head, and he was too tall for Sam now.

"Set it back on the shelf when you're finished mocking," Sam snapped at him. "I won't be needing it. I only wondered what sorts of herbs grow in the land of Gondor." He tried to salvage a few shreds of his dignity, snatching a cloth-wrapped loaf and thumping it down onto the tray he *had* been filling for Frodo.

"But then you wouldn't be hiding it," Pippin crowed. "Surrender, Sam. We both know what you're wishing. We've known about it for years."

"It doesn't mean ye've a right to mock me, just because ye've both been sneaking about behind the haystacks between yourselves since you were old enough to know there was more than one use for...." Sam flushed and bit his lip; tears stung his eyes with unexpected swiftness. "When all I've had was naught but a bit of hope, and precious little of that, recently!" He could hear his own shout echoing hollowly in his ears, the accent of his childhood thickening with his distress. He thumped a bottle of wine down onto the tray with more force than he should.

"Pippin." Merry's voice sharpened. He came around to Sam's side and set the little bottle on the table next to the tray. "I'm sorry, Sam." Pippin nodded agreement, looking ashamed, and laid his hand on Sam's shoulder.

Sam blinked back the tears; perhaps they had changed after all. Once Merry and Pippin would both have tormented him for this with good humor, but without tempering their teasing with mercy.

"Well, don't go bringing this up again." Sam took up the bottle and turned it over once; it seemed slender and delicate in his short fingers, though it was heavy. "You'd trouble him, and I'm not having that!" Sam moved to set the bottle back on its shelf among the others.

"None of us wants to upset him. He doesn't have to know if you think he shouldn't." Merry's voice was kind, and Sam's breathing eased, a long low sigh leaving him.

"Hsst!" Pippin's breath hissed through his teeth at the same moment, and Sam froze in place with his back to the door, the oil clutched to his chest. His eyes closed and his shoulders sank in despair.

"Who doesn't have to know what?" Frodo's voice was light, silvered with amusement. "You've been gone such a time, I thought you were lost, Sam." Though his voice was calm, Sam could see the faint lines of worry on his brow without even having to turn.

Pippin stepped toward Frodo, laughing. "He's been having a bite for himself, like as not, the rascal." Even as he made the move forward, Merry's hand sought the bottle helpfully; Sam fumbled clumsily for a moment and released it, his cheeks burning, then turned to face Frodo.

"I was testing the bacon to see that it wasn't too spicy, Mr. Frodo." And it was true enough, he'd sampled the rasher that lay on the tray, ready to be toasted. Sam was keenly aware of Merry moving behind him at the shelf, and he stepped forward, trying to draw Frodo's eye. Frodo wore a slight frown, as he'd expected; Sam knew he would not be diverted easily.

"You can go back up and Sam will be along in a moment. We won't let him dawdle." Pippin smiled, disarming.

"I will wait." Frodo settled against the door as though a thousand orcs could not have moved him from his place, and Pippin traded glances with Merry. Moving quickly, they gathered up enough provender for five hobbits, tying it inside a clean cloth. As they slipped out, Merry gave Sam an apologetic look and a half-shrug.

"I heard you shouting, and I came to see why." Frodo stepped forward, and Sam blinked, realizing that Sting hung ready at Frodo's belt; he had not worn a weapon since the Field of Cormallen. "I didn't expect to find you with Merry and Pippin."

"They were having a bit of a game with me, Mr. Frodo." Sam shrugged and gave a weak smile. "It was nothing."

"It sounded like a game you had no wish to play."

"They said they were sorry." Sam turned to look for a lid to cover the tray; he could see that the oil was back in its place, and he breathed more easily.

Frodo accepted his words and stepped forward, looking at the half-bare shelves. "The siege was hard for Gondor," he mused. "These are among the best rations to be had in the city."

"And nobody's had time for cleaning, neither." Sam watched Frodo run his fingertip through the dust gathered on one empty stone shelf. He fidgeted. "We're ready to go, Mr. Frodo, begging your pardon."

"Merry and Pippin have grown, and in more than height," Frodo observed. He did not heed Sam's words. "They have grown in cunning, as well." He looked at Sam, his eyes wry. "I would have fallen for Pippin's feint if Merry hadn't startled you, Sam." His eyes moved over the shelves as though he were deep in thought.

Sam squeezed his own eyes shut tight, wretched. "Leave it be, Mr. Frodo. It's something as is no harm to anybody, least of all you nor me."

Frodo just looked at him, eyes warm and rueful. "Is 'no harm' why you look as though you've broken my star-glass and are afraid to tell me? Is it 'no harm' that 'he doesn't have to know?' Of all people, Sam, I would have thought you least likely to hide from me."

Sam slumped, defeated, watching as Frodo's hand lifted, hesitating in the air, and then settled-- atop the bottle of lavender oil. Sam's heart sank; of all the things that sat on the shelves in the larder, only the dust upon it was disturbed and mostly gone.

"Or perhaps not." Frodo picked up the bottle and studied it, turning it to the light to see the lavender that floated preserved inside. "I will take this." He slipped it into his pocket and turned to Sam; with his head bent forward, the torchlight almost directly over his head shaded his eyes, and Sam could not read them.

"Mr. Frodo, I...!" Sam stumbled to a halt, purely miserable. "I'll bring the tea straight away." It was a plea for a moment to himself, which he badly needed.

Frodo nodded, understanding him, and slipped through the half-open door. After he had gone, Sam sat down and put his head in his hands. He did not cry, though his shoulders shook; after a moment, he collected himself and gathered up the tray. They'd been through a thousand things worse than this, and he'd see to it Frodo didn't suffer now.

He carried the tray through the dim stone halls and up a flight of stairs into the set of rooms that had been given to him and to Frodo; they were comfortable by the standards of Men, and Minas Tirith had nothing more hobbitlike to offer. They answered well enough, to Sam's thinking, since Aragorn had been kind enough to think of providing them with a low table and plenty of footstools-- and after months spent roughing it in the wilds and worse, Sam wasn't particular as long as he had a roof over his head and a good warm bed to sleep in.

Sam laid the heavy-laden tray on the table, trying not to look at Frodo, who stood before the narrow window that looked out over the city and down onto the battle-savaged plains that lay before the gates. Repairs were proceeding rapidly, but Minas Tirith and its lands still bore the scars of fire and battle.

Sam quickly set the filled kettle he carried onto a hook and swung it over the fire to boil, then laid the rasher of bacon in a pan and nestled it in the coals. He bustled about to set the table, keeping himself busy with small things, laying out a place for Frodo and then one for himself. "The tea will be ready in a minute, Mr. Frodo." Perhaps it would be simple for Sam to smooth over what had happened.

Or perhaps not. After a time Frodo left the window for the washroom, from which he brought out a silver basin, setting it on the hearth. He took the kettle off the flames and poured a measure of steaming water into it, then pushed the hook back over the fire. Taking Sam's bottle of lavender oil from his pocket, he put it in the basin to warm.

Sam trembled at the longings that came over him; he averted his eyes. "You'll be wanting me to rub your feet for you, Mr. Frodo?"

"No, Sam." Frodo returned to the window, leaving Sam to stir the bacon.

He said nothing more, and Sam swallowed hard. He managed to add the tea leaves to the pot without burning himself and even poured the tea without spilling-- by sheer force of will and by reminding himself that it would not do to spatter himself with scalding water. "It's ready, Mr. Frodo." Feeling as though he had run a race, he served up the bacon and sat in his place, watching Frodo break the long narrow loaf into halves.

Sam took his share and they ate in silence; his eyes strayed often to the basin sitting on the hob and he could not keep them from returning to it. For his part, Frodo ate quietly and with small appetite, sipping his tea and watching Sam.

At length Frodo pushed his plate away, and Sam hastily got up to clear away the dishes. He brushed the crumbs into his hand, tidying the table nervously, and piled the empty teacups on the top of the stack, preparing to take them down to wash. Frodo's quiet voice stopped him with his hand on the knob. "Come back when you've finished, Sam."

"Yes, Mr. Frodo." Sam cast a final nervous glance at the hearth and fled to the scullery.

Merry was waiting there for him, looking repentant. "Pippin has gone to stand guard in the citadel. I thought you might need me if Frodo was... difficult. He isn't one to let a mystery go past."

Sam shook his head, scrubbing hard at the bacon pan, his cheeks red. "He wants me back straight away. I've not got time for tomfoolery."

Merry had the grace to look guilty. "I'd better help you wash up, then."

Sam sighed. Merry meant well, but with his help the dishes went twice as fast, and there were few enough of them to begin. They were quickly wiped and stacked and set away to wait for the evening.

"I'll go up and help you stall him, if you like." Merry sounded concerned.

"No," Sam sighed. "The Gaffer would tell me that 'it's time to hoe the garden that you let go to weed, Sam Gamgee,' and what's more, he'd be right." But the truth of it was that Sam thought of the bottle warming in front of the fire, and hope kindled in his breast, a low flame that he guarded with quiet caution.

"Frodo may surprise you," Merry said thoughtfully, and Sam blushed, slipping away.

Frodo was waiting, sitting in a chair that was too tall for him, when Sam pushed through the door. The firelight played in his curls. Sam hesitated, and Frodo smiled at him with fondness. Sam glanced around the room; it was almost unchanged. The basin still stood upon the hearth, but there was one difference: the bed lay open, coverlets pulled back.

"I've been thinking. It's about time someone took care of you, Sam." Frodo swung his legs down and dropped lightly to the floor. "You've been taking care of me since your Gaffer first let you come with him to tend the gardens at Bag End when I was just a lad in the Shire, and it's time you had your turn."

Sam's eyes swam with tears, and his heart filled with tenderness. "But Mr. Frodo, the Gaffer knew even then: it was what I wanted to do. Taking care of you, I mean." Sam swallowed around the hard lump that climbed into his throat. "Why don't you go lie down and let your Sam rub the stiffness out of your back with that oil you've warmed?"

Frodo considered Sam, his head tilted. "And was that what you planned all along?" He held Sam with his eyes, his face suddenly stern.

Sam sighed and gave in. "No. I didn't plan nothing. I only got caught dreaming a fool's dreams, as you heard, seemingly." His face burned, and he fixed his eyes on a vein of darker colour in the white stone floor, winding its way underneath the woven rug like a river vanishing into dense woods.

"They shouldn't have tormented you for that." Frodo sounded sad. "Not after all that you have done for me, and all that you have felt and kept silent for so long." His voice was filled with pity.

Sam couldn't look up at Frodo, and he couldn't swallow around the knot in his throat any longer; it swelled too large. This was the end of his hopes, then, the end of his road and quest as surely as Frodo's had ended at Mount Doom. Everything would be pale and empty after this moment in which Frodo spoke aloud, acknowledging Sam's secret heart and rejecting it all at once. Sam swayed, the room seeming to dim around him.

"Sam!" Frodo caught him, his voice ringing with alarm. "Don't take on so!" Frodo guided him to a seat and settled him down; Sam curled in on himself, oblivious, his eyes dry of tears, staring without seeing.

"Look at me." Frodo's thumbs slid under his jaw, forcing his head up, and Sam obeyed, numb. "Do you think so little of yourself?" Frodo's voice shook, and his eyes were dark with dismay. "Do you think so little of me?" He leaned in and kissed Sam's lips softly.

That brought Sam up sharp; with a hitching sob he shook his head and burrowed into Frodo's arms as they opened for him. He felt Frodo's sigh swell against his chest, and Frodo's voice was low and gentle in his ear. "I also was silent for many years, Sam, and for many reasons-- and when I realized how little those reasons mattered, there were other reasons, better ones. And after... how could I ask you for more than you have already given?"

Sam's heart stuttered and then leaped; darkness lifted from his eyes and heart, and he breathed again. "Ask me, sir."

Frodo's eyes shone, and his lips curved upward. "I will do better." He stroked over Sam's lips with his thumb. "Everything I have left, I will give to you."

He pressed Sam to lie down, and Sam blinked to discover where he was sitting, but he let himself be eased into the downy softness of Frodo's bed, and watched in wonder as Frodo went to the hearth and brought the basin with the flask back with him.

"Let me touch you, Sam." Frodo set the basin on the floor and reached out; Sam looked down, trembling as Frodo reached for the collar of his shirt, tenderly opening the buttons, absorbed in baring Sam's chest, his fingers sweeping along Sam's skin to part the cloth. Sam shivered, and a soft cry broke in his throat.

Frodo touched his cheek and beckoned him to sit up. He did, letting Frodo slip the shirt over his shoulders. It fell to the bed with a whisper, and Sam closed his eyes shyly, aware of how coarse his sturdy hobbit-body was next to Frodo's delicate one.

"Sam..." Frodo's hand wandered down Sam's chest and belly, resting for just a moment in a place that made his breath catch and his cheeks flush even darker. "Do you remember how I used to stand at the gate while your grandmother bathed you in a washtub in the yard, when you were just a lad? Bilbo would catch me at it and haul me away by the ear and tell me I had to wait till you grew up. I hardly knew what he meant."

Sam chuckled in spite of himself. "I remember you standing at the gate and telling me stories, Mr. Frodo, and I was so angry with my Gammer for shaming me in front of you, scrubbing her washclout behind my ears and all. You were only a lad too, then." He felt near like himself again, laughing with Frodo over old times in the Shire.

"Enough older than you that Bilbo was right to warn me." Frodo touched Sam's hair, threading his fingers into the tousled curls. "But now I think we are both of age, Sam."

Frodo stood, his eyes vague and hazed as though he were in a dream, and slowly unfastened his own clothing, letting it fall. Sam whimpered low in his throat, heat building in him as Frodo stood revealed. "Master... Frodo..."

"Yours too, Sam," Frodo murmured, and Sam fumbled with his breeches and scrambled out of them, flinging them on the floor. Frodo sat next to Sam with one leg curled under him, resting his hand on Sam's arm. "Turn over, Sam." His voice was soft and clear. Sam obeyed, trembling, and Frodo reached for the bottle of oil.

The thunder of Sam's heart overwhelmed the soft pop of the cork, and his skin kindled to the gentle brush of Frodo's lips on his shoulder. Sam shivered with pleasure, wondering whether he could withstand this, the fulfillment of his fondest dreams. The delicate scent of lavender filled the air.

Frodo's hand fell on him, slick with the sweet oil, and moved over his back, and Sam buried his face in the pillow, gasping. Frodo kneaded his shoulders, his wounded hand tentative, but the other hand strong and sure. Sam cried out softly and half-lifted himself as Frodo's lips brushed his neck; he wanted to roll over and clasp Frodo to him, but he was aroused now, and part of him still doubted his good fortune.

"Lie still," Frodo pressed his shoulders down, and he shifted to kneel over Sam's legs.

Sam whimpered, his hands clutching in the sheets; Frodo's skin was warm and smooth, and it was touching him.

"This is what you wanted, isn't it, Sam?" Frodo's hands stroked down to the small of his back and upward again. Sam nodded, speechless, able to hear the smile in his master's voice.

Frodo poured more oil and worked it into Sam's back with loving hands. He leaned forward and Sam moaned as Frodo's body touched his; he shifted, trying to ease the pressure on his nether parts. Frodo's hands swept back down, venturing lower, and Sam bucked upward in spite of himself, earning a low chuckle in return. "And perhaps this." Frodo's voice warmed to a husky whisper.

"Oh!" Sam cried out, squeezing his eyes shut tight as Frodo traced the soft, dark-furred cleft at the base of his spine, pressing inward. "Please, Mr. Frodo!" He had dreamed of it.

Frodo's lips brushed his neck again, but his hand remained where it was, and Sam surrendered himself, sobbing and gasping into the pillow as Frodo stroked him, maddening him with relief and pleasure. He could not stop writhing, pressing back against Frodo's touch, begging with silent desperation.

"Sam, my Sam." Frodo murmured at length, breathless, and moved, setting one knee between Sam's legs. "I will wait no longer." Sam moaned, raising himself at Frodo's gentle urging until he knelt, Frodo's possessive hands steadying him.

"Take what's yours, then," Sam moaned, hoarse. "As it always has been, waiting until you were ready!"

The oil was still warm on Frodo's fingers as Frodo opened him; Sam let his head droop forward and shook silently, surrendered. His lips moved but no words came, only mewling sounds of bliss. Then Frodo was inside, sheathed in one gentle thrust, and Sam sobbed once; the sweetness of the moment was too much for him to bear.

"Sam!" Frodo sounded shattered, almost lost; his hands closed tightly on Sam's waist.

Strength and tenderness burst in Sam's heart; he bore Frodo's weight sturdily as his master faltered, leaning heavily on him. "I've got you, Mr. Frodo, and you've got me, if you take my meaning." Joy welled in his heart and echoed in his voice.

Frodo's body bent to cover Sam's; his arm slipped around Sam's neck and across his chest and he held on tightly, as though Sam were a ship in a stormy sea rather than a solid anchor. His trembling cheek pressed Sam's, and Sam murmured low words of comfort to him until the tempest calmed, leaving only the gentle rocking of their bodies coming together.

Frodo recovered quickly, and his tongue slid along the curve of Sam's ear to let his teeth close softly over its point. After a time, he loosed his hold on Sam and lifted himself to his knees again. His hand crept around to Sam's belly and sought there until it closed around him. Sam gasped; his master felt good inside his body, but Frodo's hand clasped upon him made him feel as though he were a bolt of lightning gathering to strike, heat and pressure building inside his body like summer storm clouds gathering on the horizon, a herald of sweet rain.

It was over too quickly; the storm broke, and Sam cried out Frodo's name as he came. His knees buckled and he fell with his master atop him. Frodo rode him gracefully, still thrusting; after a moment his teeth sank at Sam's shoulder and he shuddered hard, his body taut against Sam's back for long moments before he fell still, spent.

Sam lay panting, groping for one of Frodo's hands. He found the wounded one and brought it to his lips. It was wet, and Sam tasted bitter salt when he kissed it and then licked his lips, and he felt himself flush with shy knowledge of what they had done.

Frodo kissed his shoulder, where the sting of the bite was already fading, and slid off his back into the tangled sheets of the bed. Sam's limbs felt like water, but he managed to turn and gather his master into his arms. Frodo came willingly, heedless of the mess, and Sam kissed his brow, glad that he was now free to do so as he pleased.

"We've spilled the oil," Frodo murmured ruefully, taking up the empty bottle, which they had forgotten. Half the bed lay in ruins, oil-sodden.

"It'll be a job of work to clear up this mess, but Merry and Pippin will know what to do about it, I'll warrant." Sam's good spirits could not be quelled; he shifted them away from the spill and his hands stroked over Frodo's back and lower, worshipping his master's slender body. Frodo gave a contented sigh and nestled against him.

Sam took a deep breath and mustered his courage, then bent his head for a kiss-- a lovers' kiss at last, his tongue venturing inside Frodo's mouth tenderly. Frodo's hand steadied his face, and he returned the slow kiss with as much deep, abiding affection as passion, their sated bodies letting their hearts speak words both pure and true.

At last Sam pulled back for breath, but not too far, setting his forehead against Frodo's.

"Sam..." Frodo sighed, and his thumb brushed over Sam's lower lip. "For a moment, I almost feared that I had lost myself in you."

"If you did, I'd find you and bring you back again, Mr. Frodo." Sam spoke, fierce and earnest.

"You did, Sam." Frodo nestled against him with a long, whispering sigh, and his lashes closed. "As you always do."

"Bless you, you're tired out," Sam exclaimed with sudden dismay. "I shouldn't ought to have let you do all the work."

Frodo opened his sleepy eyes and smiled a promise at Sam. "You'll have your chance to coddle me soon enough."

"That I will," Sam vowed joyfully, and could not withstand the temptation to steal a kiss. "You sleep here in my arms for a bit, Mr. Frodo."

Frodo was already nodding, his breath growing even and slow, and Sam tucked him close, shifting to pillow Frodo on his body and shield him from the mess they had made of the bed.

Before he found sleep, a tap on the door made him flinch; he had no time to give warning before it opened and Merry's head poked in. Merry glanced about, looking puzzled and concerned, and opened his mouth to call out for them, then his eyes fell on the bed. They went round, and Sam felt hot color rise to his cheeks. He flipped the tail of a blanket over his master's naked body swiftly, glaring at Merry over Frodo's shoulder.

Merry's face broke into a broad smile, and he set a silencing finger to his lips; then he backed out in haste and closed the door quietly. Sam sighed, content in spite of himself, settling the blanket evenly over Frodo.

"Sam?" Frodo stirred, disturbed.

"It's all right," Sam soothed him. "Everything's all right, at last."


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