West of the Moon

A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive

 

 

Dead Secret
Just after Gandalf's departure, Frodo finds himself coping with more than just an imminent journey and the Ring on his hands...
Author: Adrienne
Rating: R

 

"Take care of him, Frodo," Gandalf said after a long moment of awkward silence punctuated only by Sam's breathless sobs. The wizard patted Frodo on the shoulder and made his way carefully over to the door. He picked up his hat and dusted it off before placing it firmly on his head. "It won't do to have him raise the whole Row to curiosity, what when we've just decided on how best to keep him quiet. As for myself, I have business in Bree," Gandalf said, fixing Frodo with a stern look. "I shall return before the week is out. Remember, Frodo: keep it safe. You mustn't attempt to use it."

Frodo glanced bleakly from Sam sobbing on the floor up to Gandalf bent halfway out his front door. "Until a moment ago, I hadn't much reason to," Frodo said dryly. "If this can't be solved, what better way than to disappear!"

"This is no laughing matter, Frodo. I am going now," Gandalf cautioned. "You'd be wise to keep on your guard, and to keep young Samwise on it as well. Till I return," Gandalf said with a tip of his hat, and closed the door behind him.

Frodo sighed heavily and padded over to make sure that the latch had closed completely, and he heard the pronounced efforts that Sam was putting into quieting himself, though they didn't seem to be working. Frodo let go of the doorknob and turned around, approaching Sam with remorse already gathering low in his throat. He hadn't meant what he'd said about having Gandalf turn Sam into a spotted toad and fill the yard with grass-snakes. At least not seriously. Frodo knelt in front of Sam and reached into his weskit, drawing out his handkerchief and offering it with a gentle touch to Sam's forearm.

"It'll prove more effective than your sleeve, I'm sure," Frodo said, forcing himself to smile. He felt like retreating to his study and indulging in tears himself: how had things come to this after so many years of quiet? How dared they?

"Th--Thank you, sir," Sam stammered, taking the plainly embroidered square of linen and pressing it to his face as politely as he could manage. Frodo looked away just long enough to permit Sam to blow his nose and cough--just once, but breathlessly and fast, almost gasping, as if he expected never to breathe again. Frodo looked up in the same heartbeat, unable to keep his half-formed apologies at bay.

"Sam, if I've...there was no reason for me to upset you so. I truly don't deserve your company in such a venture, should it come to pass, and a glimpse at elves is not worth risking--"

"You didn't upset me, Mr. Frodo," Sam said quietly, sniffling into the handkerchief once more. "Not like you think, with all that talk of spells and whatnot. Old Mr. Gandalf would never do it--makin' myself look like a fool and all, that's what had no business there, sir, and it was mine. But when you said that you were leavin'--"

"I didn't mean to make you choke. If I'd been thinking about the open window..."

"There weren't much for it," Sam said with a shaky grin, lowering Frodo's handkerchief at last. "I couldn't help but sit just as I was, what with the where and all I was overhearin'. I'm sorry, sir." Frodo's heart squeezed painfully at the sight of Sam's reddened eyes, his tear-blotched cheeks. Oh, he had done this, and he would make it right again. Somehow.

"There's no need to apologize, Sam," Frodo murmured, offering Sam a hand and pulling him to his feet. "If there's any blame, then it's mine. And perhaps Gandalf's, though if he were to hear me say that, I might turn up as a toad myself!"

"I'd never let 'im," Sam muttered behind the handkerchief, wiping his nose one last time. "No offense meant, sir."

"I'm sure you wouldn't," Frodo said softly, letting his gaze drift out the window, faintly troubled. Take care of him, Frodo. What could Frodo possibly do for Sam that Sam wouldn't rush to do for *him* without so much as being told? Gandalf had meant for Frodo to calm Sam down, certainly, but he'd already done that for himself. And one glance back at Sam was enough to prove that his eyes were already fixed on Frodo with a distinct air of concern.

"Can I get you something, sir--tea?" Sam asked, squeezing the handkerchief fretfully.

Frodo shook his head; ah, this was all wrong! "No, Sam," he said firmly, taking the handkerchief briskly away. Sam gasped, astonished.

"Mr. Frodo! Let me take that out to wash--"

"I shall take it out myself, and I shall make you tea, Samwise. Elsewise, I'd be--" Slighting Gandalf's orders? No. "I'd be doing you a disservice, and I've done you enough for one afternoon, and no, Sam, don't you dare say a word. That is an order. You will sit at the kitchen table, and I will make you tea." And collect my thoughts, or I'll surely go mad with wondering...

"Yes, sir," Sam said, looking a bit startled, and followed Frodo obediently into the kitchen.

"Please, Sam," Frodo said as evenly as he could manage, pulling out a chair for Sam. Sam stared at it for thirty seconds before settling down, hands folded awkwardly in his lap. Frodo turned to fetch the teapot before the glaze of fresh tears in Sam's eyes could push him to another ill-phrased apology.

"You oughtn't trouble yourself, sir. I'm all right," Sam said, and even though Frodo couldn't see his face, he knew that it wasn't at all convincing.

"That may be, but it still doesn't give me leave to wave you back out into the garden, not after something like...well, like that," Frodo sighed, placing the teapot on the iron hook and swinging it carefully into place over the flames. In all honesty, I'd rather discuss why...

"Such a shock as I've never had," Sam said in a tone so hushed and earnest that Frodo nearly dropped the pot holder. "To hear you say you're goin' away..."

Sam was in tears again before Frodo could do any better than dash over to the sink and snatch a clean towel from the hook beside the window. He pressed it into Sam's hands and hovered anxiously, feeling more helpless than ever. How was he to approach a discussion if the slightest mention resulted in tears? Frodo swallowed and decided to take a stab at the heart of the matter, in case it was--

"The elves, Sam. Is it worth such a risk, just to see the elves? I'd rather you stay," Frodo said, gravely honest. "I'd sooner put myself in danger than--"

" 'Just to see the elves', Mr. Frodo?" Sam said incredulously, choking into the towel before lowering it to bunch in his lap. "Begging your pardon, sir, but weren't you listenin'?"

Frodo felt Sam's words as keenly as a kick to the stomach. Yes, Sam. I heard you all too well, and I'm frightened. What Frodo said instead was, "Yes..."

"I don't care about seein' elves, not as much as I care about...about makin' sure you don't stumble into danger of any sort, sir," Sam said hesitantly, as if he now feared his own words were those in the wrong. "It wouldn't do to go lookin' high and low for the likes of the fair folk when I've got you at my side for worryin' about."

Frodo lowered his eyes. "You needn't worry about me, Sam. It's more of a burden than a duty, and I want you to know, you should think long and hard about this before--"

"How long have we got, Mr. Frodo?" Sam pleaded, his eyes filling afresh. "How long? I don't like the sound of Mr.Gandalf, tellin' you to be on your guard every minute like that! And me on your guard, too, if that weren't enough. Mr. Frodo--for all I'm not learned 'bout wizards, it seems to me Mr. Gandalf's got his reasons for bein' afraid, too."

"Yes, Sam," Frodo said softly. "He is, and I wish I knew those reasons in their entirety. I'm afraid that I couldn't begin to fathom--"

"Well, what with all my practice of foolish dreamin', I can," Sam said firmly, looking up at Frodo. "And I don't like it one bit, and I'm comin' along whether you like it or not."

Frodo opened his mouth, then closed it again, mildly shocked. "Sam, it's not a question of liking it or not, it's..." A matter of liking it too much, perhaps. Frodo cleared his throat and turned away, wringing his hands. "It's a matter of taking care of you, because that would be my duty under these circumstances. You'll be leaving Hobbiton's borders on account of me."

"On account of watchin' over you, so I suppose we're stuck, sir," Sam sighed, and Frodo heard the chair creak. He stood completely still, waiting until Sam was so close that Frodo could feel his warmth from behind, as clear and comforting as the fire in front of him.

"I suppose we are," Frodo murmured, reaching absently to tap the side of the teapot with his fingertip. Sam hissed in alarm and grabbed his arm before he'd moved it a fraction.

"You'll be burned," Sam chided, his voice shaking with fear, and Frodo knew it wasn't about the fire, not this time.

"I do it every morning," Frodo said tersely, aware that Sam hadn't let go of his arm, and that the gesture had drawn them closer together.

"Not on the ones I manage to stop you."

"No, I suppose not." Sam's fingers loosened a bit, but still, he didn't let go. Frodo drew in his breath and turned sharply, jarring Sam's hand free. "Sam, I hope you realize--"

"I realize exactly what Mr. Gandalf did," Sam said, and Frodo finally looked him in the eye, finding something mingled with the fear, something strangely tangible. On impulse, Frodo grasped Sam by the arm, just as Sam had done to him.

"Then tell me, what is that?" Frodo whispered, squeezing gently for emphasis. "For I've missed it, and I fear I'll miss much along the way unless I learn to see--"

"You've got my eyes, too, sir," Sam reminded him stubbornly.

"That's not what I asked, Sam." Frodo tightened his grip still more, lest Sam feel his fingers beginning to tremble.

"That was a bit of the answer, if not more than it's my place to say, Mr. Frodo," Sam murmured, glancing away.

"It's your place to say anything, Sam," Frodo said, his every nerve alight with the effort to maintain patience, to steady his hand.

Sam looked up again witha spark in his eyes such as Frodo had never seen, and it must have taken great daring. "Is that an order, too, sir?"

"No," Frodo said quietly. "It's how things are, and will have to be, if you're to accompany me in this endeavor. Nothing can stand between us, do you understand me? Nothing." Not class boundaries, not unwillingness to speak. You believe that lives are at stake, Sam. I-- "I trust you," Frodo whispered. "And Gandalf must trust you, too."

Sam's eyes brimmed again, almost as unexpectedly as at the first. "Then, sir--I've got to break somethin' that I told myself to keep secret, keep safe."

Frodo closed his eyes. "Do you trust me, Sam?"

"Oh, with my life."

Frodo opened his eyes, blinking in disbelief. "Sam, how can you--"

"We can't get along one without the other, sir, and just knowin' Mr. Gandalf's right about that makes me sure enough to shout it, secret or no!" And before Frodo could properly respond, Sam burst into tears a third time and hid his face in his hands.

Frodo staggered, still gripping Sam's arm, and he doubted that he could hold his own tears at bay long enough to offer proper consolation. All things considered, all that he could offer was the comfort of his embrace, and that he offered without a second thought as his own tears spilled over. Sam sobbed louder when Frodo slid his arms tight around his waist, and he shivered with something like remorse when Frodo buried his face against Sam's hair and choked out a sob of his own. Oh, he hadn't intended for this! Frodo gritted his teeth with an effort, smothering the cry that rose in his throat even as Sam loosened in his embrace, letting his own hands fall and clasp awkwardly at Frodo's waist. Take care of him--how am I to do that when I can hardly take care of myself, and he's too bent on seeing to me to be mindful on his own account? But then--

"Gandalf was--quite right," Frodo managed to gasp, letting one hand drift up to tangle thoughtlessly in Sam's hair, mussing and caressing tenderly, folding him closer. So few were the times when they'd embraced for fear or solace, but Frodo realized that his body remembered every one, held each touch dear to the point of pain. He shivered and closed his eyes as Sam's crying quieted somewhat, Sam's own arms winding around him all the tighter, as if he didn't mean to let go for anything, not even the worst of what might stand in their path, let alone for the recession of tears.

"Are you all right, sir?" Sam asked tremulously, stifling a sniffle against Frodo's shoulder and groaning a moment later, as if he'd only just realized what he'd done. "Oh, I promise I'll see to the washin' as soon as--"

"Don't!" Frodo whispered, clutching at him fiercely, daring to press his lips into the soft, gold-tinted curls that had broken the flood of his own bewilderment. "Don't, Sam...that's the farthest thing from my mind, the farthest..."

Sam nodded miserably, mumbling what might have been all right, sir, but I--

"Water's ready," Frodo murmured, soothing Sam out of his startled jerk at the sound of the whistle. "I believe we could both use some tea, now that..."

"Yes, sir," Sam mumbled, surprisingly clear for all that his words were muffled against Frodo's shirt, his breath warm and damp through the fabric against Frodo's skin. Frodo shuddered involuntarily, clasping Sam tightly.

"I ought to go pull it off, then," Frodo said weakly, "before it boils over--"

"I will," Sam said firmly, pulling away before Frodo could gasp wordless protest. He drifted over to the empty chair caddy corner to Sam's and sank into it slowly, trying to gather his wits. You fool, now you've frightened him beyond all hope of--of-- Of what? Frodo set his rested his chin in his hand, breathing out shakily as Sam transferred the teapot efficiently from the hearth to the table and turned over two fresh mugs. He left the room for a moment in order to fetch the tea--chamomile, Frodo hoped, at the rate their nerves were fraying--and Frodo took the opportunity to collapse utterly, flinging his arms out on the table and pressing his face into the softness of a stray linen napkin, wishing he knew how--

"Oh, sir! Don't take on so, your Sam's here," Sam called, dashing in rather hastily with the canister, setting it on the table as Frodo sat up unsteadily and tried his best to look unruffled. Not that Sam was convinced. "Perhaps we ought to take it into the parlor and tuck up in front of the fire--if--if you'd be more comfortable, Mr. Frodo," Sam said hesitantly, his tone dropping to almost nothing, as it usually did when he felt he'd forgotten himself.

Frodo fixed him with a grateful look and said, "I would be, Sam. Would you?"

"It doesn't mat--Frodo?" Sam asked softly, hesitantly opening the canister and sprinkling a bit of chamomile into the steaming teapot. He replaced the lid, and his hand crept hesitantly to Frodo's, stroking softly. It was enough to send another involuntary shiver down Frodo's spine.

"Yes, Sam?"

"I would," Sam whispered, and with his greatest daring yet, leaned close enough that Frodo could feel him trembling, and pressed an unsteady kiss to Frodo's forehead.

Frodo's vision swam, but he managed to catch Sam's face in both hands with reasonable accuracy. "Sam, when I said that I didn't want anything to stand between--oh, I didn't mean that--" How am I supposed to say this? "--you have to--"

Instead of pulling away, Sam set his lips back against Frodo's forehead, more certain this time, and murmured, "It's not a matter of havin' to, Mr. Frodo."

Frodo closed his eyes and shivered in surrender. "Then...Then what..." You know, oh, you know--

Sam eased Frodo's hands from his cheeks and clasped them in his own, dropping slowly to his knees. He looked Frodo in the eye, his own so red and weary by then that it was a wonder he could keep them open. "Ah, me dear," Sam whispered, and for the first time, the familiar endearment stirred warmth in places that Frodo had never dared to let it, had only dreamed--Sam pressed his lips to Frodo's fingers, his gaze steady now, yearning. "How long I've wanted..."

"No less have I," Frodo whispered with a mouth gone dry and disbelieving.

Sam glanced up uncertainly, stroking Frodo's hands. "Wanted what, Mr. Frodo? I've got to be sure, you see."

"Whatever it is that you desire, and more, if my eyes do not deceive me, Sam," Frodo said carefully, his heart quivering on the line between hoping and breaking. "Do they?"

Unblinking, Sam pressed his lips to Frodo's fingers, and left sweet warmth pulsing under the gentlest brush of his tongue.

"Samwise," Frodo whispered, too stunned to move, and his voice sounded far too harsh in his own ears. Surely Sam would misunderstand--

"Is that a yes, Mr. Frodo, or shall I get back to clippin' the grass?" Sam asked unsteadily, his grasp on Frodo's hands withering with the hope bright in his eyes.

"No!" Frodo cried. "I mean--no, you're not to return to your clipping. No. And as for...as for yes..." Frodo trembled, and with a shred of daring on his own account, drew Sam's hands up to his own lips and returned the kiss, closing his eyes on the salt-taste of skin and the sun-grown taste of his morning's work. "The tea," he said softly. "It must be nearly stewed, and getting cold."

Sam jumped as he had for the whistle, and Frodo had to tighten his grip on Sam's hands to keep him from leaving. "But, sir! If we're to have tea--"

Frodo rose and leaned to kiss Sam's forehead, trembling with this new boldness between them. "We're to have it, yes, and I'll be the one to finish it off, as planned. Go and have a seat; I shan't be long."

Sam was too busy gaping over what Frodo had just done to give any response. Frodo took him by the shoulders and steered him in the direction of the parlor with a gentle shove, and with an abashed glance over his shoulder, Sam obeyed. Frodo watched until Sam had disappeared, then raked his fingers through his curls in frustration. Frodo bit down on his tongue and chided himself severely: he mustn't rush things, least of all Sam. He took his time about pouring the tea and adding honey, a bit more for himself than for Sam. He knew that Sam hadn't as much a taste for it in excess. But, supposing...

"Supposing nothing," Frodo said aloud and rather sharply. You'll suppose nothing till you're certain that he's supposed the same--

"Is everything all right, Mr. Frodo?" Sam called anxiously. "D'you need any help carryin'--"

"No, Sam!" Frodo replied, gathering mugs and kettle and honeypot quickly onto the tray at the end of the table. "It's quite all right. I can manage."

By the time Frodo had rattled his way through the parlor entrance to find Sam perched anxiously on the edge of his sofa cushion, he realized that he had forgotten spoons. He groaned and said so, averting his eyes to the hearth.

"Have you added honey at all, sir?" Sam asked helpfully.

"Er, yes..."

"Then we've no need of 'em," Sam reassured him. "Come and sit yourself down, Mr. Frodo. You've done enough."

Frodo chuckled nervously and crossed to the chair adjacent to the sofa, settling the tray upon it carefully. "More than enough for one day, all things considered."

"Don't you start," Sam said firmly, patting the cushion next to him. "You've enough worries now, what with the Ring and leavin' and all--and you've got me for help, so just you take a minute to rest easy."

"I'm fortunate to have you, Sam," Frodo said with a sigh, picking up both mugs and walking over to Sam. "I can't imagine that I could manage it entirely without a second pair of hands; there are too many preparations that will need seeing to. Oh, and the least of those shan't be selling Bag End, just you wait!"

Sam took his mug and blinked in surprise as Frodo sank down beside him. "Sellin' Bag End, sir?"

"I can't see any good reason to keep it," Frodo murmured ruefully, taking a sip of his tea. "The journey to Rivendell will take...oh, I don't exactly know how long, I'd have to refer to Bilbo's travel logs and make a reasonable guess! And there's no telling what we might..." Frodo stretched his legs wearily and looked up at Sam, feeling the weight of terror slowly close in. "We're in such danger, Sam. I can't even begin to tell you--but wait, you know--"

"Then don't try, as you don't yet have to," Sam said comfortingly, taking another few sips and bending to set his tea on the floor. "As for what I know, I'm sure I'll be learnin' yet more in time that I'd rather not know, but that I'd better. In the meantime, I'd rather not think on that. I'd rather..." Sam sat up again, chewing his lip shyly.

Frodo took a deep drink of his tea and tried to ignore the knot in his stomach. "What would you rather, Sam?"

"I'd rather forget it for today, sir, and see to it that you're calmed down a bit," Sam said slowly, taking a deep breath. "Why don't you rest your head on my shoulder a bit? The chamomile's like to make you a bit tired, and I'd hate for you to fall asleep over that hard desk of yours, sir."

Frodo blinked through the faint steam still rising from his tea while every nerve in him purred, ah yes, we'll do that! Frodo turned to set his mug aside on the arm of the sofa and murmured, "Thank you, Sam, but I oughtn't trouble you with it. I can just go to bed if I'm keeping--"

"Not but that I don't want to be kept," Sam said quietly, and slid his arm about Frodo's shoulders with gentle reassurance.

Frodo turned his head and breathed out, slow and hard. Oh, he if he let Sam hold him, he wouldn't be accountable for...

"Frodo, me dear," Sam murmured, sounding as if his voice might break again. And it occurred to Frodo that Sam needed physical comfort, too, more than Frodo had offered in the kitchen.

More than just a kiss on the forehead and hands, Frodo Baggins. Hold him! I do not think that you're so adverse to the notion as you would have yourself think. What do you fear?

Frodo shook the wizard's voice from his head, startled. Gandalf may not have spoken those words, but he might as well have. Frodo took another deep breath and willed the apprehension to spill from him, smiling tentatively at Sam. "If you're sure," Frodo admitted, "then--then I most certainly should be grateful."

Grateful? You ninnyhammer of a Brandybuck, where's your Baggins upbringing gone?

Frodo cleared his throat and scooted closer, warmed by Sam's unexpected smile. "More than that," Frodo said softly, "I should like it. More than you know."

When Gandalf didn't respond, Frodo was grateful, and when Sam did, he was even more so. "Then just you curl up here," Sam said, sliding his arm down From Frodo's shoulders and about his waist, tugging him into the curve of his body, "and rest your head a while." Sam's other hand drifted up to smoothe Frodo's curls back as he settled his head against Sam's shoulder.

Frodo closed his eyes and sighed contently, relaxing against Sam as completely as he dared. Ah, but he was comfortable: strong and warm and inviting, and his fingers hadn't ceased their combing through Frodo's hair, and heavens, that felt good. Frodo murmured in spite of himself, wordless pleasure, nuzzling into the crook of Sam's neck. They had exchanged kisses, hadn't they, unless Frodo was mistaken and this entire day turned out to be some sort of strange dream--

No, Frodo. This is quite real. You'd be wise to take it, the good with the bad, for such comforts are hard to find by the roadside--and love, harder still.

"Oh," Frodo whispered, parting his lips against the warm skin just beneath Sam's earlobe as Sam's hand found its way down to the nape of his own neck, caressing tenderly.

"Is that all right, sir?" Sam asked, increasing the pressure of his kneading fingers.

Frodo could feel Sam's breath against his forehead, and that combined with Sam's skillful massaging was too much. "Yes," Frodo gasped, pursing his lips in order to stifle a moan. He wound his fingers in Sam's weskit, leaning closer and breathing hard. Almost without thinking, Frodo pressed a soft kiss against Sam's neck.

Sam's fingers faltered for a moment, but hardly longer. He hummed low in his throat, and Frodo enjoyed the feel of it under his lips, sure and comforting. As Sam gathered him closer, Frodo drew his legs up to make it a bit easier, curling tigher into the crook of Sam's arm, against the firm warmth of his body. He kissed Sam's neck again, lingering this time, parting his lips just as Sam had done to his hand. Frodo dabbed his tongue against the smoothness of Sam's neck cautiously, lingering a bit longer than he had over Sam's hand in turn. Sam tasted of sunlight there, too, but much differently from the traces of grass. Sweat and a hint of something that Frodo had no name for--of himself, Frodo decided, and sealed his lips around the spot, suckling lightly, searching for more.

Sam tensed and shifted, his hand at Frodo's nape clenching utterly tense and still. Fascinated, Frodo swept his tongue over the spot again, and when he suckled this time, Sam's breath scattered in a startled cry. Frodo lifted his head and looked at Sam in concern. "Sam--if I've--"

"Oh, but that felt better than about anything!" Sam said unexpextedly, glancing down as his cheeks turned bright red.

Frodo slid his hand up to Sam's cheek, stroking gently. He leaned and grazed his mouth over the spot again, murmuring, "Shall I..."

"Please," Sam whispered, turning his head enough to press a kiss against Frodo's palm, slow and lingering.

Frodo shivered with delight and shifted enough to tuck his feet up beneath himself, leaning forward to better contemplate the spot on Sam's throat. His ministrations had drifted downward a bit, unconsciously following the line of Sam's collar. Frodo fingered it briefly, at last drawing it back in order to expose skin yet untasted. Perhaps if he tried--here?--

"Frodo!"

Frodo gasped at Sam's reaction and suckled a bit harder, slipping one arm around Sam's neck to hold him still. Sam was having quite a hard time of doing so for himself, it seemed, and Frodo would never get around to tasting all of Sam's neck if he couldn't very well sit still for it. Frodo drew back and tried a bit higher, nearly back to where he had started. Sam hummed again, cradling the back of Frodo's head.

"Bless you, but that's...oh, that's sweeter than..." Sam gave up on words when Frodo tightened his hold and kissed the spot more fiercely. He trembled at the thought of Sam taking pleasure from this simple thing, this joyful, curious tasting. Frodo hummed a pleased response of his own and trailed back over the more sensitive spots that he'd found, marveling at the range of gasps and cries that kissing such a small stretch of skin could produce.

Chuckling, Frodo held onto Sam's shoulders for balance and lingered over the small of his throat, delving there with unhurried strokes of his tongue. "Sweeter--than--what?"

"Than--thanyourtea!" Sam gasped, caught somewhere between a groan and a laugh.

Frodo sat back and grinned in spite of himself. "Was it too much for you?"

"Begging your pardon, but I think you gave me the cup you'd meant for yourself." Sam reached up and skimmed his fingers affectionately along Frodo's jawline. "You're like that when you've taken a bit of a fuss, but--oh, I'm a fool, what when I meant for you to be restin'!"

Frodo caught Sam's hand and held it against his cheek, barely breathing. "Sam...I really don't think that I'd like to be resting so much as...well." Frodo pressed his lips to the corner of Sam's mouth for emphasis, his stomach feeling taut and nervous again.

"Same here," Sam whispered, his lips moving tantalizingly against Frodo's as he spoke. "If you don't mind my sayin'..."

"I've no reason to mind, Sam," Frodo said with deliberate slowness, taking a breath to bolster his courage, "so long as it's mutual."

"Seems so," Sam murmured, parting his lips against Frodo's, his breathing high and fast.

"I'm very glad," Frodo whispered, and decided to see what Sam's mouth tasted like, too.

Their mouths didn't fit together so easily at first--Frodo had no way of being certain of the angle, but he was suddenly, terribly eager, and Sam was caught between endeavors at tilting Frodo's head to the side and enjoying the timid brush of Frodo's tongue against his own. Realizing this, Frodo mumbled an apology and followed the firm press of Sam's hand at the back of his head until their noses didn't bump anymore, and Frodo found with a gasp of surprise that he could part his lips and cover Sam's mouth completely now, and Sam could do the same to his. All at once.

Frodo whimpered between deep, seeking strokes of Sam's tongue, managing to slip in a few awkward ones of his own. It was the messiest thing that Frodo had done in quite some time, but oh, if Sam wasn't right--it did feel better than about anything, and even better than that when Sam whimpered, too. Frodo shivered with it, his hold on Sam's shoulders beginning to falter even as he became more sure of himself, pressing Sam firmly into the back of the sofa. Sam felt the tremor in Frodo's arms and steadied him about the waist, gentling his kisses with a soft hum that might have been easy, now if he had spoken it, but it was too late. Frodo's arms gave out, and he collapsed against Sam, one leg thrown accross Sam's lap, the other still half folded under him. Frodo caught Sam's forearms to steady himself, pulling away to gasp for breath, but it didn't matter much. Sam still had him firmly by the waist, and they were scarcely a breath apart, breathing hard and staring wide-eyed.

"Are you all right?" Sam asked with an effort.

Frodo blinked and raised his fingers to Sam's lips, which looked much more red than usual. "Are you? Does that hurt?"

"Does what hurt?"

Frodo pressed a light, fretful kiss against Sam's swollen lips. "Your mouth. It looks like it might..."

"Yours does, too," Sam pointed out, blushing again as he ran his own fingers along Frodo's lips. "Sore, sir?"

"No," Frodo said absently, still brushing at the corner of Sam's mouth.

"Mine neither," Sam reassured him, and pressed a kiss to Frodo's cheek.

"My legs are," Frodo said with a breathless laugh. And elsewhere, besides, but if I think of that...

"What if you--" Sam cut himself off and trailed a kiss down to Frodo's jaw, tugging Frodo in so that he sat evenly astride Sam's lap.

Frodo shifted and settled at Sam's bidding, his cheeks heating with--well, how close they were now. But Sam was right again; it was much easier on his legs. As for comfort, it made things both better and worse. Frodo swallowed a murmur of relief as he pressed into Sam, leaning to allow better access to his neck. Sam wished to return the favor, it seemed.

"Frodo," Sam said softly, nuzzling just beneath Frodo's jaw, breathing warmly. Frodo whimpered and trembled, clinging tighter to Sam's arms. Had he done that unknowingly? Frodo couldn't hold the thought for long, not with Sam's mouth latched onto the very spot he'd breathed against, suckling tentatively, almost inquiring. Frodo gave up and buried his face in the softness of Sam's curls, combing his fingers through them over and over again, and he couldn't keep from crying out anymore. Sam's tongue was at the base of his throat now, delicate cat-licks that rendered Frodo's spine thoroughly ineffectual at holding him up any longer. Frodo wound his arms around Sam's shoulders, sagging into him with a groan.

"F--Frodo?" Sam whispered, stroking Frodo's back, both shaken and concerned.

"Oh, don't stop," Frodo breathed raggedly, curling his fingers into Sam's weskit with frustration. There would be no hiding from this, not now. Sam's arousal pressed against his thigh, the warmest thing about him, even through the layers of fabric between them. Frodo drew in his breath and kissed Sam's ear softly. Oh, he didn't want to hide from this anymore. Frodo breathed out and worried Sam's earlobe with his tongue, pushing his hips forward.

Sam didn't move at first, his breath against Frodo's neck even faster still. Frodo could feel the fine tremors running through him, as if Sam wanted this more than anything, but hadn't the courage to take it. Frodo murmured against Sam's ear and pushed again, his breath a gentle offering.

"Sam..."

Frodo Baggins, were you not listening?

"Sam-love," Frodo whispered, tilting Sam's chin up sufficient to find his mouth, hoping that his kiss spoke comfort. It's all right. You're all that I've wanted. And if you've needed me, too, then you have me!

Frodo drew back with a great effort, finding that the wetness against his cheeks was not only Sam's tears, but his own. Sam reached up to caress them away, lingering over Frodo's lips as he murmured, "If you mean that, then I'm done for and decided. Nothin' in the world could keep me from you, not even them grass-snakes!"

Frodo laughed unexpectedly, half crying. "Sam, I wouldn't really dream of asking Gandalf to--"

"Me dear," Sam said fiercely, his kiss brief and full of fervor, "hush."

But Frodo couldn't hush, not when Sam kissed him again, and pushed up against him slow and hard. Sam swallowed Frodo's cry with one of his own, and Frodo marveled at this reaction, so different from the first. Frodo moved against Sam once more, then again, and the tightness in his belly melted into a flush of pleasure that coursed all through him as Sam met him thrust for thrust. They kissed frantically now, and Frodo couldn't keep his hands from wandering, from stroking down Sam's sides and up his chest, circling an index finger over Sam's left nipple when he realized that running his palm over it had caused Sam to gasp just as much as their restless shifting. Frodo moaned under the onslaught of Sam's mouth at the other side of his neck; the fever in his skin was ready to break at any moment and--ah!-- what good would it do if--

"Sam," Frodo gasped, running his fingers over Sam's buttons, pleading silently. "Perhaps...well, we should..." His fingers shook so badly that he likely wouldn't get them undone, even if granted permission to try!

Sam's breath caught, and he pressed another fierce kiss over the spot he'd most recently been tending to. "Only if you'd like--"

"Like isn't the word for it anymore," Frodo said softly, leaning to kiss the tip of Sam's nose as he unfastened Sam's weskit and slid his hands over Sam's chest through the thin cotton of his shirt. Sam shivered again, but he didn't stop exploring Frodo's neck with lips and tongue until Frodo cleared the last button, smoothing Sam's shirt away with careful fingers. Frodo tilted Sam's head up again, and this time, it took no more than a look to draw him into a kiss. "You," Frodo breathed when he could, "are so warm." Sam whimpered into Frodo's mouth as Frodo skimmed his fingertips from collarbone to bellybutton, dancing featherlight circles and broad strokes of his palms by turns all the way. Sam caught Frodo's hands at his waistband and sat back, eyes hazy with pleasure.

"No more till I've got you, too," Sam murmured, his voice strained as he fingered the button at Frodo's collar. "Elsewise, I'd..."

"I understand..." Frodo closed his eyes and leaned his forehead against Sam's, taking the sensation of those deft fingers blindly as they caught his own buttons one by one, then finally pushed back the fabric, touching him reverently. Frodo groaned helplessly when Sam's fingers skimmed over his belly. It didn't quite tickle, for certain, but it was something like that, and thoroughly wonderful. "Oh," Frodo breathed, catching Sam's hands at his shoulders, "please keep...lower..." Frodo's cheeks heated fiercely, and he closed his eyes even tighter. He hadn't meant to be--

"Anything t'hear you say that again," Sam whispered right against Frodo's ear, and slid his hands back down Frodo's chest, settling lower than before. "And--sir?"

Frodo's fingers tightened on Sam's shoulders as Sam's hand passed over him briefly, then glided to caress his hip. "Sam, you needn't say--"

"Open your eyes," Sam whispered, reaching up to stroke Frodo's cheek with one trembling hand. "Oh, me dear. Please!"

Frodo let his eyes drift open. Sam's own were already fixed on them, so full of want and love that Frodo couldn't find his breath. With a hitching gasp, he parted his lips, but Sam pressed gentle fingers over them, his other hand slipping from Frodo's hip to his trouser buttons. Frodo bit back a cry, but he couldn't keep from pushing into Sam's hand, not when Sam was touching him, looking at him so--

"Don't you be ashamed," Sam murmured, gathering Frodo close, touching his top button. "If you need..."

"What about you?" Frodo whispered, working his own hand in between them, setting it tremulously over Sam. "Don't you think I'd let you forget about--"

"I can't see as how I'd forget." Sam chuckled as Frodo leaned in for a kiss, tugging on the button playfully. "So it only seems fair if we both..."

"Yes. I think so," Frodo replied, and undid the first few of Sam's buttons before either of them could falter again.

Sam bit his lip and worked Frodo's free, but by the time he had gotten to the second and third, Frodo had managed to tug Sam's breeches thoroughly awry and slip his fingers along the curve of Sam's belly, drawing a sigh from both of them. Frodo realized that he'd forgotten himself, and he contritely tugged his hand away and sat back enough to let Sam finish the job on his own, until both of them were quite flushed, but not yet touching. Sam slid his hand beneath the loose flap of Frodo's trousers, his eyes steady on Frodo's, asking patiently.

"Yes," Frodo breathed, and kissed Sam nervously while he smoothed Frodo's only remaining cover away. "But I don't think I'll--"

By the time Frodo said it, it was nearly too late. He didn't last long, not under the warm, gentle touch of Sam's hand, not while Sam whispered shy love-words in his ear and stroked Frodo until he cried out in release. Frodo sobbed quietly against Sam's neck, holding on till the glorious shudders passed. Sam rocked him, still murmuring things that Frodo couldn't properly decipher. Ah, this was so wonderful that it nearly hurt. It was a few minutes before Frodo could think clearly enough to lift his head, and Sam was watching him with a patient, tender look in his eyes. He touched Frodo's cheek and kissed him before he could speak.

"Sam," Frodo said weakly, cupping Sam's cheek in his turn, "please let me..."

"You're hardly breathin'," Sam murmured, brushing his lips against Frodo's. "Just wait a bit."

"I'd never make you," Frodo whispered, and took Sam in hand before he had the chance to protest. "Not ever again."

Sam whimpered and pressed into Frodo's hand, which left little else to be said. Frodo kissed his way from Sam's mouth to his ear, whispering whatever came to mind, which was more than enough--how wonderful Sam's touch had felt, how wonderful Sam felt under his own touch, how he'd keep at that caressing and teasing until--until Sam couldn't take it, and before long, he couldn't. Sam moaned Frodo's name and tugged his hand away, pulling him close. Frodo asked breathlessly what it was that Sam wanted, anything, could he just--hold him, holdhim, and Frodo moved in time with Sam's desperate thrusts until Sam collapsed, utterly spent and gasping. Frodo soothed him with kisses until he quieted, trembling with the intensity of it, with the sound of his name still on Sam's lips as if it were the first and last in the world.

Frodo held Sam while he caught his breath and kissed Sam's forehead soundly. Sam blinked at Frodo for a few moments, almost disbelieving, as if he expected Frodo might vanish. He stretched and wrapped his arms around Frodo tightly, and Frodo settled in with a sigh, content and more than a little awestruck himself. Frodo nuzzled at Sam's neck and closed his eyes, lulled by the steady rise and fall of Sam's chest. That they needed no words, at least not yet--to Frodo, that spoke loudest of all. Frodo drifted off to the sound of his own yawn and the feel of Sam's hands lazily stroking his back.
 

* * *

"Mr. Frodo," Sam whispered.

Frodo woke with a start, shivering with the feel of Sam's breath against his ear. "Mm. Sam?" Frodo blinked at Sam's half-bared shoulder. "Have I slept long? I'm sorry if--mm.

"You stop that," Sam murmured, once they'd finished kissing. "But you do realize somethin'..."

Frodo yawned and stretched, smiling against Sam's cheek. "Which might be?"

"This means I am comin' with you."

Frodo snorted. "Sam, of course you are. Gandalf says so." And if it were my choice, if I could keep you safe...!

Sam nodded and kissed Frodo again, chuckling softly. "And so do I, but you'd best not tell him."

Frodo stretched and held onto him tighter than ever. "I promise, Sam. Dead secret."

 

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