West of the Moon
A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive
All That I Had
A sequel to The Field of Cormallen. Frodo and Sam return to the Shire. How is their relationship affected by Frodo's illness? Why does Sam marry Rosie? Why does Frodo leave the Shire, and to what lengths is he prepared to go to keep Sam safe?
Author's notes: The web site I used for Elvish has the
word "tule," but it also has "namárie" when it should be "namárië."
I have therefore made a guess that "tulë" is probably the
correct form. Possibly "hantale" should be "hantalë." If
anyone knows the answer, please let me know.
At this point, as we come to the final chapter, I would like to thank my beta readers for the amazing amount of time, effort and patience they have put into this story. It is the richer for their generous help. My beta readers have been split into content betas and grammar betas, but the distinction has often been blurred. A special "thank you" goes to Maeglian for seeing this through from beginning to end. She's a star! Thank you to Hewene for beta work on chapters 1-26, and for constantly telling me to "show, not tell." Thank you to Shadow for stepping in for the subsequent chapters; this chapter in particular is much improved for her input. Thank you to Ghyste, both for her help on matters Elvish, and for feedback on the Tol Eressëan chapters; and to Pearl and Chica Chubb for being a test audience for chapter 15. Thank you to Bridget Chubb for input on chapters 1-3, and Laurelindorinan for chapters 35-37.
Thank you, Peachy, for screening out my spelling errors, and last, but definitely not least, a huge thank you to Aliena. I have learnt a vast amount while writing this story, not least, how little grammar I knew. Aliena's has been some of the most intensive work on this story since chapter 13, while I constantly harassed her with self-imposed deadlines. She also spotted several bloopers, including the fact that I had misread across the lines at the Elvish site, and actually Frodo was saying "You are a mighty warrior" instead of "You are beautiful"...
I would also like to thank you, the readers, for your enthusiasm and feedback. You kept me going. I haven't pleased everyone all the time - that would be impossible - and I can only hope that you enjoy this last chapter.
Thank you to Mirabella, Willow-wode and Teasel for their excellent stories that inspired me to attempt this tale.
Chapter 37: "Nothing to what I have now."
When Sam climbed from the bed, he found his muscles moved a little more easily than he was used to after a rest. He reached for his clothes, feeling as though he were glowing with happiness, but Frodo stayed his hand.
'A wash, I think,' Frodo said. He wrapped a robe around Sam, standing behind him to fold his arms around him as he did so, and nuzzling in to kiss down the length of his neck. Sam leant back into the body pressed to his with a sigh of contentment. Frodo was making him feel as though he were a hobbit in his prime, instead of an old gaffer.
In the kitchen, there was no sign of Bilbo, but Ninquelótë was sitting cross-legged in the courtyard, eyes closed and hands folded together in his lap. Frodo placed his finger to his lips and led the way out through a side door. Sam found himself on a paved path running along the base of the cliff, the stone warm underfoot in the bright afternoon sunshine. Further along, the rocky face turned to green sloping hill, but before that there was a cave from which issued a small stream. Sam could see the cave wasn't natural: marks of tools were clear to see. This must have been what the smial looked like before it was panelled with wood. He looked at Frodo doubtfully; Frodo had said there was another spring, but Sam liked his creature comforts, and a plunge into cold water was not his idea of a pleasant wash.
Sure enough, there was a pool in the depths of the cave, with water bubbling up to break the surface. A slightly unpleasant smell on the air made Sam even more reluctant to wash there, but washing was clearly the intention; even without Frodo's words that was obvious. There were shelves with towels, and deep shells by the pool held soap.
Frodo looked at him with amusement, clearly discerning his thoughts. 'Just try it, Sam,' he said. 'I promise I'll go and get some water heating for you, if this isn't to your liking.' Sam gingerly dipped a toe in the pool, and gasped in amazement. The water was warm. He looked up, and couldn't help laughing with Frodo. He cocked an eyebrow at him.
Frodo tugged the belt of Sam's robe free. 'There are lots of hot springs nearer the mountain,' he said, in answer to Sam's wordless query. 'It seems there is a fault in the rock, and the water has followed it here. I was lucky I didn't hit it when delving the smial.' He pulled his own robe open, and pressed against Sam, his hands sliding around Sam's waist. Sam wrapped his arms around Frodo and met him as he bowed his head, leaning forehead to forehead. They stood in silence. At first, Sam was not sure if he was imagining the trembling beneath his hands, but the movement built until there was no doubting that Frodo was shaking. He raised Frodo's chin to find he was blinking back tears.
Frodo just shook his head, unable to speak it seemed, and Sam shifted his hand to cradle the back of his head and hold him close. He could feel the tears flowing freely now, wet against his cheek. He waited patiently until the shaking calmed, soothing with hand and voice and with light kisses, as he had so often in the past.
Frodo raised his head, and took a deep breath. 'I'm so happy, Sam,' he said.
'Oh? So, this is you being happy, is it?' asked Sam, smoothing his thumb over Frodo's face to wipe away the tears.
Frodo smiled at him. 'I'm so happy, I hardly know how to bear it.'
'I wish that didn't make me feel the weight of all the years you've waited for me.'
Frodo searched his eyes. 'Now you're being foolish,' he said. 'I'll not deny I've thought about you, needed you, but it has not seemed such a long time. I knew you might not come at all, and that - that was hard to face, but the wait has only added to my joy now. The time we have here is ours to choose, and nothing can part us; we can go from here together, if that is our wish.'
'Yes, truly. All the grief of our parting is in the past, Sam; we'll not have to say goodbye again.'
Now it was Sam's turn to blink back tears. He pressed Frodo close, and Frodo's breath was warm against his cheek.
'Melme cuilenyo, hilyuvanyel urdu pella.'
Sam felt a great sense of peace. He was beginning to realise that understanding Quenya was not just a matter of hearing the words; the language spoke to his heart, evoking a sense of the meaning. However, if he was to learn to speak it, more was needed.
'Tell me what that means,' he murmured back.
'I will follow you, Sam. I will follow you in death, to whatever is beyond.'
'I thought you said we'd go to together, no "following" about it,' said Sam.
Frodo raised his head and laughed. 'Yes, together, but it sounds good, don't you think? After all, it's time I followed you for a change, Sam.'
Sam looked at him gravely, keeping his own laughter in check, for all that it was suddenly bubbling up like the water in the pool. 'No, I don't think so,' he said. 'I think I should still follow you yet awhiles.'
'Because you've made me feel very much alive, me dear, and that pool looks deep, and I've no mind to be drowned-dead yet.'
They laughed together, and the water reflected Frodo's light, making it sparkle and dance across the low ceiling. Without words, they dropped their robes to the floor, and Frodo slid into the pool. He held out a hand to Sam. 'It's just bath depth here,' he said. 'But it gets deeper. The Elves didn't want to bath - and I quote - in a hobbit-sized puddle. It can get a little crowded in here sometimes.'
Sam lay back next to Frodo. 'That's a shame,' he said, and ran his hand over Frodo to make his meaning clear. He found the water gave the movement a silky smoothness.
Frodo smiled at him, his hair clinging damply to his neck and shoulders. 'I'm sure they'll learn not to disturb us,' he said. He took Sam's hand and kissed the palm.
'Aye, well, you were as vocal as ever,' said Sam. 'That should help, specially with the way sound echoes in here.' He linked his fingers into Frodo's, and closed his eyes with a sigh. 'This is nice,' he said. He could almost feel his aches and pains dissolve away.
'Mmmm,' said Frodo, and Sam smiled at the contented hum in his voice. Funny how he could remember so much, and yet have forgotten that.
'Bilbo said I should use my noddle,' said Sam, after a pause that was filled with the sensation of rubbing his thumb lazily over Frodo's hand. He opened his eyes again, and turned his head to Frodo. 'He meant I should look at him, didn't he? He still looks old, but he doesn't seem it. I couldn't believe how fast he chased Lobelia.'
'Guilty conscience,' said Frodo. 'It was his fault she got out.' He turned to meet Sam's gaze. 'But you're right. He could hardly walk when we arrived; now he's always tramping back and forth to Avallónë. He likes it here, but he enjoys the bustle of the city as well, and he gets invited to read his poetry. I try to join him then, of course.'
Sam stopped wondering whether Bilbo were restored in vigour in other ways; his eyes flew open, and he slipped as he struggled to sit up. Frodo let go of his hand and grabbed him under the arms to pull him up. Sam coughed and spluttered, and wiped the water from his eyes.
'You mean you lived here alone, sometimes!' he exclaimed when he could talk again.
'Sam! I lived alone at Bag End for years!'
'That's hardly the same,' said Sam, frowning. 'There were always others close by. I was always close by.'
I know, Sam, but I could always find company here if I needed it; there's a settlement of Shore Elves not far away, and there are others who visit. You'll see.'
Sam began to see as soon as they returned to the kitchen. Ninquelótë hadn't moved, but three Elves were being welcomed by Bilbo. Frodo hurried forward to greet them in turn. They filled the room with easy familiarity, and it was obvious that they were well known. Bilbo passed Sam on his way to fetch some refreshment for their guests, and patted him on the shoulder.
'You're looking happier, young Sam,' he said, and this time Sam didn't mind the appellation. Bilbo nodded towards the newcomers. 'I was wondering when the hunters would show up,' he added. 'It's about time we had some change from fish.'
Sam looked again, and saw the Elves were as well armed as Legolas had always been, with bows slung across their backs and long knives at their belts. On the table lay a brace of large birds. They looked heavy, but Frodo lifted them with ease, and hung them on a hook in the shady depths of the room. One of the hunters called softly to him, unfastening a bag that hung at his waist, and kneeling as he held it out. All three Elves laughed as Frodo whirled round. The sound gave Sam a tingle of delight, which was heightened by the sight of Frodo's face as he rushed to hug the elf. Frodo held the proffered bag open, inhaling deeply, his face slack. His eyes were bright but unfocused, and they rolled up as his head slowly tilted back, and his eyelids just as slowly closed. From his expression, Sam knew exactly what was contained within. It was not unlike the moment Frodo found release in his lovemaking, and Sam laughed with the Elves.
The sound seemed to snap Frodo from his trance, and he smiled at Sam, rubbing his nose rather self-consciously as he did so.
'Mushrooms,' he said.
'I know,' said Sam. He wanted to hug Frodo, but was unsure in front of these strangers. Frodo seemed to have no such qualms; he drew Sam forward, and his eyes told Sam what he intended. Sam tilted his head and parted his lips, and Frodo was there to meet him, one hand splaying against his back, the other finding its familiar home behind Sam's head to cradle him closer. Sam just hugged Frodo as he had wished, leaning in against him, his eyes closed to those around them. He felt his face flush, partly with the pleasure of this possession, partly still aware they had an audience. The message was clear, though: here there were no boundaries, no places where hand had to relinquish hand - fingertips brushing their regret - or where he could not claim Frodo as his own.
He sighed gently as Frodo released him, keeping his eyes closed to hold the moment, aware that Frodo was speaking in Quenya. Among the flow of the words, Sam picked out his name, coupled with melme cuilenyo; he was being introduced as the love of Frodo's life. He opened his eyes to see the hunters bow to him, and beyond them, Ninquelótë was beaming at him. He smiled back, and felt no tinge of jealousy as Frodo went to embrace the still-seated elf. The two of them spoke together softly, and Ninquelótë hugged Frodo, before turning his wide smile to Sam again. He asked Frodo a question, which Frodo answered in the common tongue.
'I am delighted to see you are rested, and your anxieties relieved,' he said.
Sam looked at Ninquelótë in surprise, he had not considered that the elf might have his own anxieties, but Ninquelótë nodded, still looking at Sam. 'I am delighted...' he began, and glanced to Frodo for guidance.
'...to see you are rested,' prompted Frodo, and Ninquelótë haltingly repeated the words.
Sam searched his mind. 'Hantanyel,' he said, hoping he was saying what he thought he was saying.
'Very good,' said Bilbo, clapping him on the shoulder and handing him a glass of dark golden liquid. Sam eyed it with suspicion - his head still suffered a lingering muzziness from the earlier wine - but it was a juice of some sort, with a little refreshing tartness behind it. The combined effects of wine, sleep, a warm bath, and the heat, had left him feeling rather soporific, but the drink cleared his head.
'So food just arrives, does it?' he asked, seating himself at the table.
Frodo handed drinks to the hunters, who murmured 'Hantale', and that obviously meant "thank you" as well. He looked over his shoulder to Sam. 'A lot of it, yes,' he answered, and came to sit beside Sam. 'They consider it a great honour to provide us with what we need, but we grow some food, and we have our own supply of milk and cheese, of course. Bilbo is a dab hand at cheese making. You haven't seen our vineyard and olive groves yet, have you? And we have fruit trees, as well. I'll show you, this afternoon.'
'I saw your kitchen garden,' said Sam. 'I'm thinking there's some salvage work needed there, before anything else.'
'Yes, you're right.' Frodo smiled. 'I just feel as though I want to show you everything at once, but there will be time enough later. You make me feel,' his smiled widened, 'like a tween.'
They worked together through the afternoon, and Ninquelótë joined them. Frodo introduced Sam to those vegetables and herbs he didn't know, and explained their seasons, their likes and their dislikes. He interpreted back and forth between Sam and Ninquelótë, and Sam watched the way Frodo and the elf worked together.
'You're used to working with each other,' said Sam, with a nod towards Ninquelótë. Bilbo appeared at that moment, and overheard the comment.
'Ninquelótë and Iorhael,' he said. 'The gardens they made together in Avallónë are famous.' At the sound of his name, Ninquelótë looked up, and Frodo spoke to him. The elf turned his beaming smile on Sam, and Frodo translated his words.
'He says that there are those who are hoping you will be bringing your gardening skills to join us, himself included.'
Sam blushed. 'I wouldn't think I could add much,' he said, pleased nonetheless at the compliment.
'No?' said Frodo. 'Then I think you underrate yourself. I have yet to see a garden as beautiful as Bag End's.'
'Hear, hear,' said Bilbo, picking up a basket full of Lobelia's least-damaged leavings to take back up to the kitchen. 'But don't think that means you have to garden, Sam. Here, you can do what pleases you most.'
Sam was glad he was already blushing; he looked at Frodo, then hastily looked away before he laughed. What would please him the most would be to see Frodo wild and unrestrained again; doing things to him seemed the likeliest way to achieve his wish. Somehow, he doubted this was what Bilbo had in mind.
He looked back to Frodo, and his chest tightened. He had never expected to feel this longing again, making it hard to breathe. Frodo was right; it was like being a tween in the first throes of love. There was no doubt, no doubt at all: he was in love. He hesitated in his thoughts, and then let the realisation grow; he had always loved Frodo, but now he had fallen in love with Iorhael, who was, quite simply, Frodo made more. He closed his eyes and sighed.
'Sam? Are you tired? Go back up to the smial and rest.' Frodo's voice was edged with concern, and his fingers trailed soil-leached roughness down Sam's cheek.
Sam opened his eyes and shook his head. 'No, I'm not tired,' he said. 'Maybe a little stiff, is all. Nothing walking about won't ease.'
'Then come for a walk with me.' Frodo looked up at the sun, lowering in the West. 'There's something I'd like you to see, and now would be perfect.' He turned his head, to look back over his shoulder at Ninquelótë. There was no mistaking the question in his words to the elf, and Ninquelótë answered with a shooing motion of his hands that said "Go!" in any language.
They followed Bilbo back to the kitchen, passing the hunters, who were taking their ease around a pit covered with large leaves; from the centre, wisps of steam were rising. Frodo must have seen Sam's look of puzzlement, for all that they were walking side by side. 'The birds need to hang for a day or two,' he said, by way of explanation. 'They brought a wild boar for eating now. They're letting it cook in the pit.'
'In it?' said Sam, dubiously. He could have understood if they'd used a spit over the fire.
Frodo laughed. 'You wait,' he said. 'It will be delicious.'
Sam didn't answer. He was away in a reverie, remembering how precious a laugh drawn from Frodo had been, back in a time when his dearest love was wasting to nothing and tangled in melancholy. Now he was already beginning to take Frodo's quickness to merriment for granted. His eyes filled with tears at the thought of how much Frodo had lost, and how much he had gained.
'Eh? What did you say?' The echo of words caught at the edge of his mind, just enough to know he had been spoken to. Elanor would have kissed him, and told him he'd been wool-gathering.
Frodo slipped his arm through Sam's and kissed him. 'You were wool-gathering, Sam,' he said, and Sam made a small choking noise.
'What? What is it?' asked Frodo gently.
'I... You just brought Elanor very clear before me, when you did that, said that, me dear.' The tears overspilled, and there was nothing he could do to stop them. 'I miss her, I miss them all, and I shouldn't - being as I'm here with you. Oh, this is stupid.'
'Why, Sam? Of course you miss your family, miss your Rosie.'
'But not five minutes ago, I was thinking how happy I am to be here with you.'
'And?' It was an echo of Pippin. 'We've both been through enough loss in our lives to know the way of grief. It's a flood that overwhelms at first, but it gradually lets us go. It ebbs and flows and ebbs again, but we can't chart its course by the sun and moon as we can the sea-tide. The smallest action, the most mundane memory can open the way.' He wiped Sam's face with the back of his hand and wrapped his arms around him. They stood quietly together.
Sam stirred first, drawing back to look at Frodo, and tasting salt where his tears had tracked to the corner of his mouth. 'Rosie was such a comfort after you left,' he said, 'but it was Elanor who kept drawing me from the dark. I had a fever, and... and I came close to giving in and letting go. For two or three weeks I didn't hardly know what was happening around me, but I always knew when Elanor was there. You said you hoped she'd draw me from the dark, and she did.'
'What about you, Frodo? I was so worried about you.'
Frodo released Sam, and rummaged inside a pocket, to bring out the carving of the robin. Much of the detail of fine chisel marks was worn away, and the wood was darkened with much handling. 'I suspect you have no idea how important this little bird has been to me,' he said. 'It helped draw me from the dark, as well. I don't think I was very easy to live with, when I first arrived, but Bilbo and Gandalf were very patient, and I met with much kindness.' He tucked the robin away and took both of Sam's hands in his. 'And now you're here, Sam, with grief and happiness all mixed together, but I like to think we have a lot of happiness ahead.'
Sam nodded, and they smiled at each other. 'You'd best show me what you've a mind to,' he said. 'If we stand here jawing away, it'll be dark before we know it.'
'Come on, then,' said Frodo. 'It's not very far.'
They walked out through the side door in the kitchen, past the cave, and followed the path down and round the green slopes Sam had seen earlier. The sun was setting below clouds that were streaked across the sky, lighting them up as though they were in flames: golden reds and pinks spreading across the wide roof of the world. Below them lay a wide expanse of water, broken in places by shrubby growth, and reflecting back the light as though the earth and air were one. In the distant west were more low hills, but in the south, dunes gradually declined until they were no more than sandy beaches reaching towards each other. Stretching between them, half a league away Sam guessed, was a line of tumbling surf. It was the only boundary - if you could call it that - between the stillness of the inland water and the restless sea. Two birds flew low across the sky's reflection, and their haunting cries added something indefinable to the beauty of the scene.
Peat was stacked down near the water's edge, and a little way out, a small boat tugged at her mooring rope, her bow pointing towards the sea and her sail neatly furled. Even as they watched, the boat swung around, nudging and fussing around the rope that held her until she settled to face the other way, the rope taut once more. Here and there, seemingly scattered in random fashion, withy poles stood in the water.
'It's a marsh tide today,' said Frodo. 'It doesn't always come so high. Watch, and you'll see the real magic.'
The sun was low enough now to be casting a bright golden path across the water, but gradually that path was cut with emerging green as the whole scene changed. The sun went down and the twilight gathered, but Sam could see that the green was gradually holding sway, with the water confined in winding creeks and scattered pools. He looked at Frodo in puzzlement. 'So what's all that green?' he asked. 'Seaweed?'
Frodo shook his head. 'I've no idea how they survive the salt,' he said, 'but it's all grasses and flowers. It's a pity the sea-lavender isn't out; the whole marsh is a haze of purple then. The bees love it; you have to be careful not to tread on them.'
'And the flowers don't mind the seawater covering them?' Sam found this hard to believe.
'Seemingly not, but when the birds are nesting on the marsh, the tides are always lower. Bird-tides, the Elves call them; they say Ulmo holds back the waters to please Vána. Larks nest here, as well as the shore birds.' He smiled. 'Their song always reminds me of the Shire. It's a pity that it's growing dark; the wading birds will be busy over the mud flats, and the seals will haul out on the sandbanks, but you'll see them another day. We can go cockling, and samphire is good to eat.'
Sam listened to the sound of Frodo's voice; there was an enthusiasm there that charmed him, every word singing with love of this place. He had no idea what cockling was, nor whether samphire was a plant or animal, but no doubt he would find out in the fullness of time. 'Who does the boat belong to?' he asked.
'She's mine. At low tide you can walk across the marsh to the Shore Elves who live by the Western Surf, but at high tide it's a long detour inland. I only sail here, not out to sea - not on my own, anyway.'
Sam gazed out. He could still just make out the withy poles following a winding strip of water bordered by mud. 'The poles mark the deepest water,' he said, realising their purpose.
Frodo nodded, his light holding back the darkness that gathered around them. 'They help me keep to the channel when the water is high.' He slipped his arm around Sam's, sliding his hand down the inside of Sam's forearm until their fingers met and linked together. 'We should go back now. Food will be ready,' he said, but he made no move to do so. Instead, they turned as one, their actions mirroring each other as they embraced - arms enfolding, mouths seeking, bodies pressed close.
Sam gave a low hum of pleasure. He was here and he was in Frodo's arms; he loved and he was loved. He let himself go, into the remembered oneness. Whispered words, quite incomprehensible apart from the few he had come to recognise, echoed in his mind. The love he felt quickened his breath and called forth a moan, but he needed more. His lips and tongue, his hands, were all speaking to Frodo, but he needed more. 'Melinyel,' he thought, knowing it was inadequate, knowing Frodo didn't need telling anyway. The echo of words became a torrent, and then Frodo broke away from him in a glow of breathless laughter to gaze into Sam's eyes.
'As I love you, Sam.'
Sam blinked. Frodo had spoken, and yet... He reached up and touched the smiling lips that had not moved.
'Sam!' It was a whisper in his mind, igniting a heat deep within him, that flared across belly and chest in a fire of want, and left him breathless with longing. He slid his fingers away from the warm lips, knowing they would be seeking his again. It may have been Frodo's fingers tightening in his hair that told him so, or maybe the love that shone out brighter than any light from Frodo's eyes. Their eyes were closing even as they sought each other, mouths melding into rhythmical movement. Frodo's cry of need might have been hanging on the air, or was maybe only in his head, but Sam was in a haze of incoherence and didn't care which it was. The only thing he was sure of for a long time was the fierce joy of Frodo's body within his arms, as they moved with urgency, creating a familiar dance of mouths and tongues and roaming hands.
They were both breathing hard and trembling when they parted, and they clung to each other as they calmed, heads resting together, hands stilled. The night air had a welcome coolness to it, and a light breeze dried the sweat that had gathered to dampen hair and make their shirts cling to them.
Suddenly Frodo laughed, his breath catching. 'Welcome home, Sam.'
Sam swallowed and found his voice, if not his coherence. 'You... I... How...?' he stuttered, raising his head to look at Frodo in wonder.
'Ring-bearers,' said Frodo, lifting his head as well. 'We were both Ring-bearers.' He cupped Sam's face in his hands. 'It's the only way I can explain it. I can talk to the Three, no one else.'
'Bilbo?' asked Sam, sentences still eluding him.
'No, not Bilbo. Maybe we could; I'm not sure. I always had a feeling that you almost heard me - I think you did hear me at least once before - I've never felt that with Bilbo.'
Sam searched Frodo's eyes. 'When? When did I hear you before?'
'I collapsed and I couldn't speak, but I called you, and you came,' said Frodo simply. Sam could see no trace of fear or pain at the memory, but his own chest tightened, and then eased again as he was wrapped in a sense of calm. It was like being tucked up and cosseted in a warm blanket. 'Together, Sam. You won't lose me.'
They kissed again, just light pressure, and Sam sighed as his lower lip was caught and gently teased. There was no moon yet, and the stars were glittering above them, but Sam felt as though he held his very own star-glass in his arms, spreading radiance around them. His happiness was threatening to choke him, and he could understand Frodo's tears earlier. He was not far away from seeking that relief himself. 'We'd best get back,' he said.
Frodo released him, but they found they could no more avoid touching than they could breathing, and they clasped hands to walk back to the smial. Their progress was hampered by their need to stop every few yards and rediscover those small actions that brought forth low hums and moans of pleasure, and it wasn't until they were passing the cave that Sam realised he had not once noticed the drag and pain in his back.
As for Frodo, he couldn't have said whether the night was star-laden or moon-drenched. He was only aware of Sam, his Sam, touching him, laughing with him, giving him the gift of his love. It was tempting to give just the smallest tug on Sam's hand, and turn to their bed, but that would be to fail in his care for Sam. Not only that; there were others whom he loved, who would worry about their failure to appear for the evening meal.
They walked through the garden, breathing the night-time scents released as the air cooled, and gradually the aroma of cooking blended with the sweet fragrance of the flowers. The lanterns were lit, and his friends the hunters were looking replete and satisfied; two were laid back, hands behind their heads, gazing up at the stars, while the third was sitting, tending the edge of his blade with slow lazy strokes of a small steel. He was singing quietly to himself.
A plate lay beside Bilbo, the food it carried largely uneaten, and Ninquelótë was close by, cross-legged and alert. Frodo smiled at them; he was touched by the fact that they were obviously on tenterhooks, waiting to hear how his walk with Sam had gone. Ninquelótë smiled back, indicating with a gesture of his hand the food that had been left for them, while Bilbo relaxed and picked up his plate. Neither of them made comment on the length of his and Sam's absence, but the hunters had much to say, laughing softly and making ribald comment. Their tone was so obvious that Frodo was not surprised when Sam picked up on their meaning.
'They're being funny at our expense, aren't they?'
'Well, yes, but only as Merry or Pippin might, especially Pippin. They want to know if you were worth missing the mushrooms for.'
'Missing - '
'They're teasing me, Sam, but yes, you were.'
He gave the Elves an easy, bantering answer that had Bilbo choking on his wine, and steered Sam over to the food. The boar was as delicious as he had promised, and Sam murmured his pleasure as he tasted it. Frodo smiled at him, resting his chin in his palm as he feasted on the sight of his love; he felt as though the world had been made new just for him. The moon, a day or two past full, was just rising above the pine trees to add his magic to the scene, and Frodo sat gazing at Sam, oblivious to all else around him, until Ninquelótë touched him on the shoulder. He looked up, and Ninquelótë handed him wine. The elf knelt on one knee before Sam, and bowed as he held out wine for him as well.
'Hantanyel, herunya Panthael,' he said.
Sam looked up in surprise, first at Ninquelótë, then at Frodo. 'What is he thanking me for?'
'Being here with me, loving me, making me this happy.'
'Are we that obvious?'
Frodo set down his wine, and stroked gently down Sam's cheek, enjoying the way Sam leant into his touch. He shifted to slip his arm around Sam, and they rested their heads together. 'You are beautiful in the moonlight, Sam.'
'As opposed to ugly out of it?'
'Don't tease. I have the hunters to do that. I've been telling you how beautiful you are since you arrived.'
'Nál vanya,' said Frodo softly; Sam blushed, and then ducked his head as the Elves murmured agreement. Frodo drew him closer into his embrace, and sighed as Sam let his head fall onto his shoulder.
Bilbo coughed. 'Are you two going to eat any food?' he asked. They both looked up. It seemed that they had drawn the bluff of the hunters, at any rate: a plate of mushrooms was set before them with low bows. Frodo laughed and stirred. Sam needed food, even if he did not; the moonlight was highlighting the angles of the face that was so dear to him, and he could feel the bones that pressed through elven cloth. Sam was too thin. They fed each other food, interspersed with kisses, until Bilbo stood and dusted his hands together.
'I've decided to go back to Avallónë with Ninquelótë tomorrow,' he announced as they looked up. 'I don't think you need me here at the moment.'
Frodo stopped tracing a trail of mushroom juice with his tongue - which was a shame, because the trail led to Sam's mouth - but he was dismayed that he had made Bilbo feel uncomfortable.
Sam obviously felt the same way. 'Mr. Bilbo! No!' he cried, and it was the first time Frodo had heard the "mister."
'I'm sorry, Bilbo,' said Frodo, apologetically. 'We'll...' He stopped, seeing Bilbo's lips quirk in familiar amusement, and looked around for something to throw at him. Bilbo laughed out loud.
'You know, I've never seen you in seductive mode before, my lad. It's quite a sight - though if you start undressing him in front of me, I'm drawing the line.' He laughed as Sam blushed once more.
'So you're not really going?' asked Frodo.
'Yes, I'm really going. Just for a while. I like Avallónë, you know that.'
'Would it make any difference if we promised to behave?'
'No difference at all,' said Bilbo gravely. 'Your behaving would be a great shame, and make me more determined to leave.'
Frodo jumped to his feet, pushing the remnants of food aside, and hugged Bilbo. His cousin hugged him back, and then held him at arm's length to look at him in all seriousness. 'I didn't realise how much Sam was a part of you, Frodo,' he said. 'Not until he was here. I thought you were happy before, but the difference is quite extraordinary. You've waited a long while, and some time on your own won't go amiss. It doesn't matter one jot if you don't agree, because I have friends to visit in Avallónë. I do have some friends, you know.'
Frodo laughed. 'Thank you, Bilbo,' he said. 'Thank you for everything.'
'Frodo, I don't like to think that we're driving Bilbo out.'
Frodo rested his hands on Bilbo's shoulders. 'No, I don't either, but he won't change his mind.' His gaze had not shifted from Bilbo. 'Will you be gone long?' he asked.
'No, not long,' answered Bilbo. 'Not long, because there's nothing quite like being with hobbits, even if they do behave badly.' He winked at Sam. 'Now, I'm going to bed, and what you do is up to you; try not to shock the Elves. I'll see you in the morning.'
They chorused their goodnights, and Frodo turned back to Sam. 'Will you come to bed?'
Sam didn't answer in words or thoughts. He held out a hand to Frodo, and Frodo pulled him to his feet and into his arms. They stood quietly together, eyes closed, listening to the soft voices of the Elves and the stridency of night-time insects. A hand laid on Frodo's shoulder made him open his eyes and look up, and Sam followed his action. Ninquelótë was smiling down at them, his hair silver in the moonlight. Frodo translated for Sam.
'He says, "Allow me to tend your goats, that you are not kept from your heart's desire."' He couldn't help smiling at the warmth of the smile Sam gave Ninquelótë.
'What is the difference between "hantale" and "hantanyel"?'
'"Hantale" is less formal.'
'Hantale, Ninquelótë,' said Sam, and the elf looked quickly between them, and then suddenly laughed. He crouched down to put his arms around the both of them, and spoke to Frodo.
'And I thought you were being very quiet - although quick to know what the other wanted. This is new, yes? You were not able to do this before?'
'What's he saying?'
'You see very clearly, my master.' 'He has guessed that we can do this.'
Ninquelótë kissed them each on the brow. 'My heart sings for you,' he said. 'Love well and sleep well, and I will see you in the morning. Maybe you will meditate with me, Iorhael, before I go. Maybe Panthael will join us. Take care of him, my friend; his grief is not all in the past.'
Back in the smial, Frodo hunted out some more oil steeped in aromatic herbs, while Sam went on ahead to their room. It was rare for Bilbo to have any aches and pains, but in the past he had been glad of Frodo's skill. Now Frodo blessed Elrond's patient tutelage and the experience he had gained from helping Bilbo. To ease pain with the aid of his hands was a gift, and now he could offer that gift to Sam.
He stopped in the doorway of their room and smiled, caught by the sight that greeted him. Sam had shed his clothes and was sitting up against the head of the bed once more, waiting for him. There was no trace of reserve left at his being naked, and Frodo just stood gazing at him, seeing not an old hobbit, lined and weakened with age, but his Sam whom he loved.
'Do you know how foolish you look, standing there, me dear?' asked Sam. 'I was hoping you'd come and undress for me, so's I can watch you.' He leant over and snuffed out the candle burning at the bedside, and held out his hands to Frodo. 'Come here, my love.'
Frodo had to bring his other hand to help support the oil, reasoning that two trembling hands were probably better than one. He swallowed at the husky warmth in Sam's voice, and felt as though he were in a haze of love. It was silly to expect too much, but he would give a good deal to need the oil for more than a massage. He hooked his foot around the door, to push it closed with a snick that told him the latch had caught, and then set the oil down by the bed. There was no doubt that Sam was not up to fulfilling Frodo's fantasy at the moment, but just the thought of Sam's covering him and entering him set his whole body thrumming with desire.
He needed no guidance as to what Sam would like in his undressing. He slipped his shirt undone, but left it hanging to brush his erect shaft as he stepped from his trousers, and was rewarded by a catch in Sam's breathing that fanned his own burning need. He cupped his shaft in one hand while he climbed onto the bed to kneel before Sam, and let his shirt fall from his shoulders. He watched Sam, as Sam studied him, and the light in the room grew as his heartbeat quickened. He was patient under the scrutiny until he could bear the lack of physical contact no longer, and then he moved to turn and settle into Sam's arms, into the well-remembered comfort, hoping Sam would reach around to stroke him.
Instead, Sam made a small noise of distress. Frodo tilted his head up to look at him, all desire instantly quenched by concern. 'Sam? My love? What is it?' There were tears in Sam's eyes, and Frodo moved to turn again and fold Sam in his arms, but Sam stopped him.
'Stay where you are - please stay where you are.'
Frodo settled back, his head against Sam's shoulder, and reached up with his hand to stroke Sam's face. 'Tell me, Sam.'
Sam wrapped his arms around Frodo's chest and took a deep breath. 'I held Rosie like this... I lost her like this. It's... it's a good memory, really - being there for her - but it still hurts.'
Frodo tilted his head back further to kiss and nuzzle his way down the line of Sam's jaw, while his hands moved to rest over Sam's encircling arms. Sam loosened his hold, maybe fearing he was being too constraining, but Frodo interlinked their fingers and hugged Sam tight around himself again. He understood Sam's wanting him to remain where he was, allowing the painful memory to fade into a good one, and he offered the comfort of his presence with no words needed. Relaxing back into the well-remembered embrace, he let his head fall against Sam's shoulder; he closed his eyes and turned his head to better breathe in the scent of Sam's skin.
It took Sam longer to relax, but eventually Frodo felt the lift of his chest in a deeply drawn breath, followed by a long sigh releasing the tension from his body. Sam freed a hand to cup Frodo's chin, and Frodo quivered at the touch. He knew, without opening his eyes, that Sam was bending his head to him, and he stretched his neck back to meet him in a kiss, guided by the pressure of Sam's palm beneath his jaw. Sam captured his mouth, and Frodo hummed with pleasure as Sam stroked down his taut neck. The kiss was slow and gentle, meeting Frodo's perception of Sam's mood, and when they parted, they rested together, quietly breathing in harmony.
They drifted together for a while on the edge of sleep, until Frodo eased from Sam's arms. This time, Sam made no protest, and Frodo helped him to lie face down, before reaching for the oil. Sam grunted softly as Frodo pressed deeply with all his weight behind the movement, working at the tense muscles, knotted around the pain in his love's back.
'I never thanked you, Frodo.'
'For what, dear one?'
'For all that you gave me.' Sam had rested his head on his arms, and his words were muffled. 'For letting me take Rosie as my wife, for letting me raise a family. My old Gaffer said I was wanting to have my cake and eat it, but... well, you never made me feel like that.'
'I always saw you with children, Sam. I don't think I could ever have forgiven myself if I'd denied that need in you.' He shifted his thumbs and waited for Sam to breathe out before he pressed deep once more.
Sam grunted again. 'That feels very good,' he mumbled.
Frodo took his time, giving Sam his care. When he had finished, he guided Sam to lie on his back, and worked the oil over chest, belly and legs. He didn't hesitate over intimate caresses aimed to arouse, and in his mind, Sam told him where his touch was most appreciated. Running his hands lightly up the inner surface of Sam's thighs, he lay down just where he was, his head cradled on Sam's hip, his chest pressed against his thigh. His fingers gently carded through curling hair before settling around Sam's shaft, guiding the tip to meet the touch of his lips.
Sam's fingers stroked over his head, tracing the shape of his ear, and urging more with downward pressure at his nape. Frodo needed no further invitation; he engulfed the softness of Sam's shaft with mouth and tongue. There was the smallest answering flutter of movement within the warmth of his mouth, and the echo of a sigh from Sam.
Frodo suckled gently. 'Is that good?'
The next moment, he nearly lost his hold as he was shaken by Sam's laughter; he let go with his mouth anyway, so that he could raise his head and see what was so funny.
Sam's hand still rested on his nape, and urged him back to his sweet task. 'Don't stop! It's just you talking at the same time as... Oh!' Frodo was suckling once more, his tongue busy.
'Oh, yes! Do that again. No, just there. Ohhh!'
Frodo wrapped himself around Sam's lower leg to bring some welcome pressure against his own hardness.'What do you feel when I do that?' he asked idly as his tongue probed again, and Sam answered by opening his mind, and sharing what Frodo was doing to him. The wave of intense sensation was too sudden to control, and Frodo had no chance to blot it out. He was instantly and irrevocably at the point of climax. With a sharp cry, his head rolled back, and his body arched away from Sam's as he spasmed in release.
The blinding light in the room dimmed, and Frodo lay as though poleaxed, aware of Sam moving next to him, aware of his love's thoughts - apologies, concerns, questions, all in a jumbled heap - but he was unable to move or create any coherent response. It was the suddenness of it that had taken his breath away. One moment he had been moderately aroused, the next he had been catapulted into one of the most intense orgasms he had ever experienced.
He lifted his head as Sam knelt over him and stroked his face. 'Gngh,' he said, for want of anything more sensible to say, and his head flopped back against the bed again. He was dimly aware that Sam was trying to pull him up towards the pillows, and he had just enough presence of mind to push with his feet to help him. He held out his arms wordlessly to hug Sam against his sweat-drenched body.
Sam laid his head on the pillow beside Frodo and traced his fingers over Frodo's face. 'Should I be apologising or looking smug, me dear?'
'Oh, smug, Sam, definitely smug. I'm just thankful I'd already found release today; I don't think I would have survived otherwise.'
Frodo took a deep breath, trying to slow the rapid rise and fall of his chest, and Sam laughed. 'To be used with caution, then?'
'Ye...es, yes, I think so.' He really didn't have the breath to talk. 'You took me by surprise, it was the suddenness of the sharing, I think. I'm glad you were enjoying it; I'm sorry things were, erm, unexpectedly curtailed.'
'No matter. It was a very... stimulating surprise.'
'It was very good.'
'That's because you're very good, me dear.'
Frodo smiled at Sam, too sleepy to make any sort of protestation. He gave a sigh that turned into a hum of contentment, and turned on his side to settle Sam more comfortably in his arms. The last thing he remembered before sleep took him was the slow sweep of Sam's hand over his back.
When he awoke, Sam had rolled away and was quietly snoring. Instinct told him that he should be getting up, but there was no need to disturb Sam yet. He slipped from the bed, kissed Sam lightly on the brow, and went to milk the goats, singing with happiness. The goats seemed to appreciate the music of his voice, and even Lobelia behaved with docility and decorum. He let them out into the meadow, and then took the milk up to the kitchen, where he was joined by the Elves for an early breakfast.
When he looked, Sam was still asleep, and Frodo collected fresh clothes without disturbing him. He would save a bath to share with Sam later; for now, he was going to freshen up in the sea. His instinct was well-atuned to the movement of the water, and the tide was well up the beach and still rising: the best time to swim. At low tide, sandbanks formed a series of lows - shallow pools running along the shore - and deep water was a long wade away. The mood of the sea was constantly changing, and today the waves rolling in were moderately large. It would not do to swim out once the tide turned - there was a strong rip, out around the tip of the island - but for now it was safe.
The wind that had piled up the waves in the night was still blowing on shore, and Frodo ran naked down the beach, arms spread like wings, hair whipping out behind him. He didn't slow as he ploughed into the water, spray flying up from his feet, and as the sand dropped away beneath him, he threw himself forward. The sea was at its warmest when it was calm and shallow, but now, while not cold, the shock of the water made him gasp. A few quick strokes were all that was needed for it to feel pleasant enough.
The first wave came toppling over him, and he knew better than to try and breast it; he dived through it, to emerge unscathed in the trough behind, laughing with the exhilaration of it. He swam to meet the next wave and was just about to dive again, when there was a shout of panic. No voice would have carried over the noise of the surf, but this was in his head.
He turned to see Sam running down the beach, and was only just in time to gather himself together and dive; another moment, and he would have been swept up the shore in a grazed tangle of arms and legs, to emerge spitting sand from his mouth. Not dangerous, but painful, as he knew from past experience.
'I'm safe, Sam. There's nothing to worry about.'
Sam's agitation was plain to feel, despite this reassurance, and Frodo had no wish to cause him further alarm. He let the next wave go, and then swam for the shore, and by the time the next one was washing past him, he was close enough in that its force was spent. Sam was waiting at the water's edge for him, looking white and unhappy. He was trembling as he hugged Frodo to him.
'Don't frighten me like that,' he whispered. 'I can't bear to lose you, just when I've found you again.'
'Oh, Sam.' Frodo hugged him back, distressed that he had caused Sam this pain. 'There was no danger. Truly there wasn't.' He was wet and dripping in Sam's arms, and he shivered as the wind cooled his skin. 'Come into the dunes,' he said. 'It's more sheltered.' He guided Sam to where his clothes were piled, and immediately the wind was cut off as though it didn't exist, and the warmth of the sun reflected back from the sand. This was a favourite spot, a natural hollow in the dunes, free from the marram grass that was so unfriendly to bare skin. Without a word, he stripped Sam of his wet clothes, and spread them to dry. He lay back on the warm slope, wriggling his body until the sand had shifted to conform to his shape, and held out his hands to Sam. Instead of stretching out in his arms, Sam knelt over his hips and planted his hands in the sand either side of his shoulders. He stared down at Frodo.
'Have you any idea how many times I've thought I've lost you?' he asked quietly. 'Have you any idea?'
'I know you had nightmares, back in the Shire,' said Frodo. He reached up and cupped Sam's face with his hands. 'I'm sorry, Sam. I really - '
'I thought I'd lost you that time Gandalf came speaking his piece about Rings and fiery mountains,' said Sam, as though Frodo hadn't spoken. 'I thought you'd leave me behind, and maybe you'd not have the luck of Bilbo, and never make it home again. You were nearly drowned by old man Willow, and we lost you on the Barrow Downs. There was Weathertop and all that followed, with Gandalf and Elrond so grave and doubtful that you'd ever wake again outside the shadow world; then the watcher, and that orc as skewered you.' Frodo stayed quiet, gazing up at Sam, letting him have his say.
'And then you tried to leave your Sam behind and go off to Mordor alone, which would have been the death of you. You fell on the cliff, and I'll tell you this: broken bones were the least of what I was worriting over! Then... then there was Shelob and the tower, and losing you to the Ring!' Sam swallowed, but he was dry-eyed, and his voice sank to a hoarse whisper. 'And when I thought you were safe in the Shire, you nearly died in my arms.'
'And then I left.'
'And then you left.' Sam closed his eyes and hung his head - only for a moment, before he met Frodo's gaze again. 'Then you left, and I'm glad seeing you now, but it was another loss and not the last. I thought I'd lost you all over again when I arrived - I mourned for you all over again.'
'Are you angry with me, Sam?'
Frodo ran his hands into Sam's hair, tucking it back and stroking down over his ears. He watched him quietly. There was a tightness around his eyes and mouth that belied his words. 'No?'
'Well, yes, a little.'
'I'm sorry I frightened you. All those times in the past, I was afraid - but I understand the sea, Sam. I wasn't in danger, truly I wasn't.'
'So you'll do it again,' said Sam dully, and he bowed his head.
'No!' Frodo's answer was emphatic, and Sam raised his head again to search his eyes. Frodo held out his arms, and this time Sam lowered himself down to cover Frodo's body with his own. Frodo wrapped his arms around him, feeling some of the tension ease from Sam, and Sam shifted to lay his head against Frodo's shoulder. They both closed their eyes. Frodo was remembering how Rosie had told him of this, told him how Sam woke screaming in the night - different dreams but always the same: he was dead, and Sam hadn't managed to save him. This was a wound that would take some healing, a fear that would have to be given time to be left in the past. In the meantime, he would do nothing that would cause Sam such pain.
'I'm sorry, Frodo.'
'Don't be. You don't mind my swimming do you? When the sea's calm, or in the salt creeks?'
'No. It was just... the waves looked as though they would drown you and sweep you away.'
'I promise, I won't do that again unless you're happy I'm safe.'
'How can I be?'
Frodo laughed softly and opened his eyes to watch the reaction his words would draw forth. 'Learn to swim, my love. Come swimming with me.'
Sam tensed again and raised his head to look back at Frodo. 'You're a mad Baggins, do you know that?'
'I have a stubborn Gamgee to tell me so,' answered Frodo. If Sam was calling him a mad Baggins, it meant he was forgiven. 'You don't know you don't like it until you've tried it, and it's much easier in the sea, somehow - not like swimming in a river.' He didn't push the point; it would happen or not, and probably his best ally was a hot day and a calm sea. Sam didn't say any more on the subject either, maybe hoping least said, soonest forgotten.
They moulded together, warmth of skin and nearness of heartbeat giving a feeling of peace and contentment. It was a shame to move, but Sam would burn in the sun, and they needed to say farewell to Bilbo and Ninquelótë. They brushed the loose sand from their bodies as they dressed, and Frodo watched Sam reaching to retrieve his shirt; not all the warmth he felt was attributable to the sun. 'That was a very impressive turn of speed earlier,' he said.
'I'll thank you not to make me do it too often,' said Sam, but he smiled as he said it.
Much as Frodo enjoyed the wildness of the sea when the surf was running, it was no hardship to deny it for Sam's sake. In any case, the wind died away through that day, and the sea gradually calmed. It was not long before he was able to swim with the sea-hounds once more, and Sam came to watch, paddling in the shallows to cool his feet.
Every day that went by, Frodo could see an improvement in Sam. He moved more easily, stood straighter, and laughed more. In their shared bed, they expressed their love with their bodies and with their thoughts, and gradually Sam began to respond more to Frodo's loving touch. Frodo longed to bring him to fulfilment, but they had both learned patience in their long lives, and they made a gift of it to each other now.
Alone together, their days still had some pattern to them, since the demands of livestock and garden could not be ignored, but beyond that, they did as they pleased. Each day, Sam walked further, and muddy tramps across the marshes and sandbanks - to visit the sea-hounds at low tide - gave way to longer journeys inland. Time slipped away unmeasured, as Frodo was used to it's doing.
'It's like Lothlorien, isn't it,' said Sam one day, as they returned from a longer walk than usual. They had roamed as far as the foothills of the Land of Elms - Alaminórë - where twilight gathered under the trees' canopy, even in the bright light of noon, and at first Frodo thought that was what Sam meant. They were hot and tired, walking hand-in-hand along the shore line, cooling their feet in the sea and catching the onshore breeze that set in after noon on hot, still days.
'Very like it,' he answered, enjoying the swirl of the water about his ankles. 'That's why Galadriel chooses to live there.'
'I didn't mean that,' said Sam. 'I meant, it's like how time didn't seem to pass there. There was a full moon again last night.'
'Oh, yes,' said Frodo. 'It used to bother me at first, but I just let time pass as it will now. The season's come round, but it's hard to keep track.'
'So I've been here a month?'
'No, much longer, I would guess. Does it matter?'
Sam looked thoughtful. 'Not really, no. I suppose I'm wanting to know what month it is in the Shire, so's I can imagine what they're doing - and I don't want to feel time's rushing away here, neither. I want all the time in the world with you.'
They turned to hold each other close, and shifted into a loving kiss. 'Dear Sam. We have all the time in the world.'
Sam sighed as they parted, and they smiled happily at each other. The white expanse of sand shimmered in the heat, too hot to walk on comfortably, and they splashed up the water around themselves, not caring that their trousers clung wetly to their legs. Out to sea, a tern was fishing, hovering over the water in streamlined elegance, black-capped head contrasting sharply with white body. They watched as the small bird hung poised upon the air and then folded its wings to plunge into the sea. Only the smallest splash and spreading ripples showed it had ever been. It emerged just as suddenly, shooting upwards with a glitter of silver in its beak.
'That's what we need,' said Sam.
Sam laughed. 'No. To be in the water. To cool off.'
Frodo squinted up at the sun, well down towards the ridge of trees, although the heat had not abated. He nodded in agreement, and they supported each other as they stood on one foot then the other, peeling off their wet trousers. They braved the hot sand to spread them out to dry, and dropped their light shirts in a heap with Frodo's pendant on top.
The tide was out, and Frodo left Sam in the shallows while he walked out in search of deeper water. Round heads bobbed up, waiting for him, and he laughed as he dived to meet them.
'Frodo?' The question wasn't anxious, more thoughtful than anything else.
'Yes, my love.'
'Do you think I could learn to swim?'
Frodo kicked hard and shot upwards to break the surface with a rush. 'Of course! Of course you could!'
Sam was sitting in a low, leaning back on his elbows, letting his feet float up. 'How do I learn the trick?' he asked as Frodo sat down beside him. 'Falling into deep water don't seem to be the answer. If you hadn't grabbed me by the hair, that time, I would have been drowned-dead. I was never so glad to have my hair nearly pulled out by the roots in all my born days.'
'No need for such drastic measures,' said Frodo. 'You needn't even go out of your depth, and I'll hold you. We need deeper than this, though.' He jumped up, not wanting to give Sam the chance to change his mind, and held out a hand. 'You need to learn to float first. It's a lovely feeling.'
Sam grumbled at being asked to lie back in water that came up well above his waist, but Frodo held him securely, with an arm under his shoulders and a hand resting in the small of his back. At first the body in his arms was all rigid tenseness, but gradually Sam relaxed and sighed. His eyes closed and he smiled. 'You're right, this is nice,' he murmured.
Frodo didn't even attempt to remove his support, he just wanted Sam to feel safe. He looked down at Sam's face, at the hair floating out around the beloved features, and let his love be felt. 'Melinyel,' he whispered, rather unnecessarily, and Sam opened his eyes to gaze up at him, his eyes shining.
They were laughing as they returned to the shore, for no better reason than they were together and in love. Frodo pulled Sam down into the shallows and rolled onto him, while the waves lapped around them. His mouth sought Sam's, tasting the sea's salt, and the rhythm of their movement was like an echo of their heartbeats, starting slowly and building with their desire. Frodo's breath caught as he rocked against Sam and felt hard need meet his own. He shifted so they came together snugly, and eased his weight to allow his seeking hand to work between them. The feel of Sam's heated hardness beneath his palm set his body trembling; they had longed for this. Sam moaned and bucked into his grip, and he ground down, moving against his rigid need as the water washed over and around them. Panting with the effort to stem the tide of his own release, Frodo gave way a little as the wave swirled away, drawing him backwards.
Sam clung to Frodo, his fingers digging in, his body pleading to find release, his mouth hungry and demanding. Frodo rode with him, answering his love's needs. He spoke to Sam, even while his lips and tongue shaped no words - being busy with other concerns - murmuring poetry in Quenya that contained within the music of the sea: the ebb and flow of tides, the rise of flood and storm, the swell and crash of mighty waves, until Sam arched beneath him, crying his name. He raised himself, the better to see his love come to climax, and felt the first flutter beneath his encircling fingers, heralding the culmination of Sam's release. 'Melinyel,' he murmured. 'Nál vanya. A tulë. A tulë.' He rocked over Sam as the next wave washed over them, and with a cry Sam came, his seed spilling between them, to be swept away by the sea.
Sam fell back spent, and Frodo rolled to one side to sit. He gathered Sam to him, bending his head to kiss away the tears that tracked down his dear love's face, and gently cradling Sam's head against his shoulder. How had he lived without his Sam, all these years?
Sam laid a hand over Frodo's heart. 'Oh, I love you,' he gasped. 'Give me a moment, you still need...'
Frodo covered Sam's hand with his own. 'No, dear one. Later,' he said.
'Later? But Frodo, I can easily...'
'Mmmm, very easily, but I want the next time to be together.' He kept the rest of his thoughts to himself; Sam might not feel ready to take him, but he trembled at the prospect, wound up as he was with tight need. 'Come back home,' he whispered in Sam's ear. 'Come to bed with me.'
Sam sighed with pleasure. 'That was good, but I'm thinking of something better,' he said, and Frodo swallowed at the husky note in his voice.
It was not as simple as that, however, and Frodo went to milk the goats before they started bleating their distress. Lobelia picked up on his hurried mood and played up every way she could, until he laughed and took a deep breath, and let go of the images that filled his mind. He relaxed into the rhythm as he squeezed and stripped, and rested his head against her flank, letting the future hold what it would. By the time he joined Sam, damp patches around the containers in the courtyard, and food set out ready, showed that Sam had not been idle. Frodo poured some of the milk into a jug, and set the rest in a cool place. They ate out under the stars, and talked softly of what they had seen that day.
They took their time over their meal, letting anticipation build, until Frodo's mind was singing with thoughts of Sam's hands upon him.
They went to the bathing cave first, where they left their salt-encrusted clothes in a disregarded heap. In the pool, they gently soaped each other, teasing with hands that cupped and stroked. Frodo had gone back to tying his hair loosely at his nape again, and now Sam tugged it free to wash out the salt and sand. Frodo turned into Sam's arms, to allow Sam to comb through the locks that curled damply over his back and shoulders. It had become a night-time ritual. Later, he knew that Sam's fingers would be sliding up his nape and through his hair, and a little wincing over the untangling now was well worth it.
They laughed breathlessly together as they dried each other, no hiding the want that filled them. Frodo touched Sam's shaft with reverence, light strokes that set his love trembling. He was tempted to slide to his knees, and take the rigid heat into his mouth, knowing how Sam would buck and cry beneath his swirling tongue, but he wanted this to be perfect, and perfection included falling exhausted and sated into each other's arms to sleep where they lay.
'Bed,' whispered Sam, and the huskiness of his voice echoed round the cave. Frodo nodded, not trusting himself to speak. Somehow they made it back to their room, but he could not later remember how. His first clear memory was of being sprawled across the bed with Sam kneeling over him, pushing him back into the soft mattress, hands smoothing down over his chest. The hands stilled before they reached his erect shaft which lay across his belly, begging to be stroked.
The noise of protest Frodo made came out distressingly like a squeak, and Sam... Sam laughed. Oh, Elbereth! Sam laughed in that way which always meant Frodo had better be prepared to die, because Sam was going to take this very slowly, teasing and easing until Frodo was arching beneath him, sobbing and crying out for release. He moved to reach out and draw Sam down into his arms, to feel the contact between them, but Sam was quicker, and his wrists were caught and held. A little part of his brain told him he was the stronger, but this fire burning through him had too great a hold to make it worth his while to listen. Another time. Another time he would grapple Sam into submission, but not now. Now, his whole body was singing with need as his wrists were pinned above his head. The sensation of Sam's sac trailing a feather light caress up his belly, as Sam's weight came forward onto his hands, made Frodo twitch and moan.
Sam's face was flushed and beaded with sweat, his lips full and parted, but it was his eyes that held Frodo's. His pupils were widely dilated into the thinnest brown rim, around black that was deep enough for Frodo to lose himself in.
'Nál vanya,' they both whispered together, and then Sam's mouth was working urgently against his, tongue plundering deeply. Frodo pushed up against Sam, making whimpering noises, his hands still pinned above him. 'Deeper, Sam. Please, Sam. Take me, Sam. Oh, Sam! Please, Sam. Be in me, Sam.'
Sam freed his mouth and rocked back, panting. They were both trembling. 'Soon, love, soon. But first I want to... touch you... I want to... feel what you feel. Will you lay there for me? Will you stay there for me?' He suddenly smiled. 'Will you be good?'
Frodo's breath caught at the old joke. 'None better,' he whispered, and Sam closed his eyes and sighed.
'Aye, none, better.' Sam's thoughts were like a caress in their own right.
Sam opened his eyes. 'Yes, love?'
'All that I had, all that I might have had, are nothing to what I have now; you do know that, don't you?'
'Hush, love. Yes, I know. You talk too much.'
Frodo sighed; he closed his eyes and opened his mind. He felt Sam reach for the oil, and then sure hands were exploring his body, not massaging as such, but smoothing over his skin, thumbs tracing around muscles, palms setting his body tingling, fingertips trailing fire. Never had he been so aware of this interface between them, skin against skin, while Sam knew, knew where lingering would be welcome, and he in turn was party to the exquisite tenderness of Sam's possession. He felt cocooned in love and he relaxed into it, his song gentle and low like a lullaby. All that he had - heart, body, mind and soul - was open to Sam, given to Sam, to do with as he would, and faintly at first he heard within the stirrings of his knowledge of Sam, of Sam's song.
Then Sam's mouth followed his hands, loving Frodo's body until Frodo could no longer lay passive beneath the onslaught of lips and tongue and teeth. His hands reached for Sam, stroking over his head, winding into his curls, pressing downwards until Sam was nibbling and nuzzling over his belly, and then... oh, then! Frodo cried out and thrust up into the slickness and warmth of Sam's mouth sliding down around him.
'Let me, Sam...' he gasped, and Sam pulled back to smile at him, before turning and bending over him again. This was a way of fitting together they had always loved, and Frodo took Sam deep into his mouth, then drew back to pleasure the swollen tip, one hand trapping his willing prisoner as Sam moaned and rocked above him. There was oil to spare over his body, whether by accident or design, and Frodo rubbed his free hand over his belly and then let it roam back between Sam's legs, rolling and massaging the tight sac, and caressing the turgid root of his shaft. The sharing was almost unbearable in its intensity as Sam's oil-slick hand ran between his legs to cup and massage. He lifted his hips, begging Sam make him ready, and the probing pressure increased and slid within.
'More, Sam! Oh, I can't...' His hands fell from Sam, unable to do more than clutch into the bedclothes, as he writhed up against the fingers that swept from side to side, stretching him, opening him after so long. His mouth lost its captive, leaving the taste of leaking fluid upon his tongue, and his head fell back as he lay panting.
He knew he must lose that intimate touch, but he still cried out as Sam withdrew. He moved to meet Sam, turning onto all fours as he did so, offering himself. More oil, despite his pleadings that he was ready for their union, and then Sam was wrapping one arm around him, and with the other hand, guiding himself home. Frodo rocked back onto him with a sharp cry, and Sam folded over him, biting his neck where his hair, falling forward, had laid it bare.
'Oh, Frodo, Frodo.'
Frodo's whole body was singing with joy, a triumphal theme that rose spiralling up towards the moment of release, and meeting it in harmony, twining round it, came the deep melody of Sam's song. Sam came thrusting into him again, adding the music of his voice to the music within, and his fingers folded around Frodo's shaft.
Frodo moved against Sam, giving himself to him, taking him within, tightening around him. He wanted this moment to last forever, and yet he longed for the fierce need within to be quenched by an outpouring of love. His cries formed counterpoint to Sam's, a crescendo of sound that gave vocal outlet to the urgency of their movements and the soaring music within. Together, they reached a peak where it could no longer be borne. Their bodies stilled, and the music converged into two notes which hung humming on the air, before bursting forth in a great unison of love.
Frodo collapsed, Sam's hand still beneath him, and Sam's body followed him into a boneless heap. They lay where they fell, limp and spent, not ready yet to move or even speak, although soon they would seek the haven of each other's arms. Happiness surged through Frodo, and he listened in the silence of the room. There, within him, sleepy and contented, and possessing full knowledge of him, was Sam's song. He took a great shuddering breath, let out on a long sigh.
They were complete.
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