West of the Moon

A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive

 

 

Fairer Than Most: III-Into His Own
Cleaning up and clearing out after Bilbo's party heralds a long night for Samwise Gamgee even if Merry and Pippin *have* finally gone home.
Author: Adrienne
Rating: R

 

Sam lingered on the bridge for quite some time, his listless eyes drifting on the current stirred up by a soft breeze. Leaning heavily on his strong forearms, he ran his thumbs slowly across the rough stone and blinked back tears. Sam had searched the vicinity for over an hour. There was no sign of Bilbo Baggins.

The sprawling town green had long since been cleared of the remaining revelers, who dragged themselves reluctantly off to their homes, carts, relatives' residences, or rooms at the Green Dragon. That task alone had taken Frodo, himself, and his father twice as long as he had been looking for Mr. Bilbo. When they had nearly finished, Frodo had clasped his hand nervously, fixing him with strained eyes.

"We should look for him, just in case. Sam, don't you think that's what we ought to do?"

"Of course, Mr. Frodo," Sam said, pulling him briefly behind a tent, out of sight of the Gaffer as he shooed off a persistent knot of Proudfoot and Boffin tweenagers. He held Frodo tightly for reassurance, pressing a kiss to those quivering lips. Frodo let Sam's tongue slip between his teeth with reluctance, his entire body tense, yet alarmingly unsteady. Sam drew back and looked deeply into the other hobbit's eyes, not liking what he saw. Those overlarge pupils meant three ales at least. Sam wondered when Frodo had found the chance to sneak another behind his back.

"Good, then...then I'll look...no. I'll go back to the hole. Someone should be there. He might come back. But then again, I know all the places he'd go--"

"Shhh," Sam whispered, pulling him closer as he began to tremble. "You go on back to Bagshot Row. You wait for him. Your Sam'll look in every nook and cranny you ever showed him, and that's sayin' somethin'. I'll come back as soon as--"

"Can you stay tonight?" Frodo asked with a furtive glance over his shoulder at the Gaffer.

Sam touched Frodo's smooth cheeks with reverence. "Dad might start suspectin', but I won't leave you alone. I'd be a fool to."

Frodo's brows knit angrily, and Sam braced himself for an evening of mood swings quicker than the spin of Ted Sandyman's rumor mill. "Sam, you're going to have to tell him sometime!"

"Hush," Sam murmured, more sharply than he had intended to. His heart clenched with remorse as Frodo's fragile gaze shattered in tears. "He...might hear you..."

"I'm sorry," Frodo whispered, pulling away. "I'll be waiting."

Sam stared numbly after him as he sprinted off at a somewhat lurching pace. He stood for a few minutes in shock, which was just long enough for his father to scare him off his feet.

"Samwise Gamgee, come along and help an old man rid this place of Old Proudfoot's loitering--"

"Aaah! Dad, don't do--"

"There, there, my lad, 'twas no harm done. You've still got your skin. Wherever has Mr. Frodo gotten off to?"

"Home, he's gone home," Sam said quietly, turning to his father, eyes nervously scanning the grass. "There's a few things he asked me to take care of, sir, so I'd best be--"

"What needs done at an hour like this? Lad, your mother's missed--"

"I can't stay, Dad," Sam replied firmly, despite the warning flutter in his chest. "I've got to go. Mr. Frodo needs me tonight. He's taken a right awful shock, and you of all hobbits ought to know it. Good night, sir...tell Mum I love her, and she's not to worry herself, not one bit..."

Sam had sprinted off himself before his father could protest, his pulse hammering. He had never mouthed off to the Gaffer in his life.

"What a fine fix you're in now, Samwise Gamgee," he whispered to himself, staring out across the starlit water. "You've found nothin' at all. You knew you'd find nothin' at all, but still, you went off like a fool instead of talking sense into him, all because..."

"All because of what, son?" the Gaffer asked quietly, placing a weathered hand on Sam's shoulder. He felt the young hobbit's muscles spasm with the equivalent of a ten foot leap.

"Dad, what did I tell--"

"You didn't tell me enough," the Gaffer said, following the line of the horizon with his steady eyes.

Sam slumped forward in defeat.

"Samwise," the Gaffer urged softly, stroking his son's back, something he hadn't done since the Sam was only in his teens. "All because of what? Confessions hurt no worse'n a splinter, you know. In a minute, they're out clean. Even if it takes a bit o' prodding with a needle, an' I reckon that's what it might take--"

"No, Dad," Sam whispered, the tears finally beginning to fall. "I take your meaning. I was awful back there, sir, an' I owe it to you. It's just that...you might not like it, sir, but I'm not about to go back on--"

"Steady, lad. I haven't asked you to bottle the Brandywine."

"You might as well've," Sam murmured, breaking a bit of moss from a crevice in the stone and tossing it into the creek below. "It's..."

Hamfast gave his son a moment, for if the lad was destroying growing things without so much as a conscious thought, then it must be serious indeed.

"Frodo."

"What about him, now?"

Sam blushed to the roots of his sandy hair. "Because of Frodo. Dad, do I have t'explain what I mean by--"

The Gaffer laughed so loudly and heartily that Sam felt as if all of Middle-earth were watching.

"Think I'm joking, do you," Sam muttered. The Gaffer fell silent, as if humbled by the conviction in his son's voice.

"No, my lad. In fact, I reckon I'd been expecting it, an' that little duck behind the tent added it all up well enough--"

"Dad!" Sam groaned, burying his face in his hands.

"It's best now that you don't come trotting home tonight, anyway. I had a little talk with my Bell, an' it seems she's taken near as big a shock as Mr. Frodo."

Sam groaned again. "You mean to tell me you just went and...and...told her that you guessed I was...well..." Sam gestured in embarrassment and frustration. "More'n just gardening?"

"She had to know sometime, an' better from me than you, if you follow. Give her a night to sleep on it, 'twill all settle in time. She loves you, too, Samwise. She said so."

"Oh... Oh, Dad, what a fine wreck I've made this time, just you see if I haven't!..."

Hamfast held his son until his tears were spent. He ran arthritic fingers through the mop of sun-tinted curls.

"Come along, now, let's get you back to your Mr. Frodo. No sense in chasin' what you know full well you won't find. Even if those pretty cornflower eyes o' his put you up to it--"

"Dad!"

Father and son reached Bag End's front gate in relative silence, Sam shuffling along with his hands in his pockets and the Gaffer whistling sporadic snatches from a dance tune, scanning the constellations overhead.

"Take care of him, my lad," the Gaffer murmured, brushing at his son's curls lightly. "I've no doubt it's what Mr. Bilbo would wish, if only he was here."

"It is," Sam said quietly, stepping up to the gate. "He knows. Before he left, we...he found out."

"Glory and trumpets, but you'd think those wild Brandybucks raised you, too, Samwise Gamgee!" Hamfast chuckled, turning on his heel with a cheerful whistle. "Good night, lad. Don't you keep him up clear till the sun's a creepin' through those fine windows, d'you hear?"

Sam opened the gate with a groan and slammed it. "Dad. Good night."

In all honesty, Sam expected--in fact, wished--for nothing more than to soothe Frodo's wounded heart with a quietly given birthday present, a warm bath, some hot tea, and soft kisses as they curled together in the snug warmth of his bed. But, perhaps waking would be another matter entirely, seeing as Merry and Pippin had departed with their families...

Sam guiltily forced his thoughts away from the harrowing pleasures that he and Frodo had managed to discover in less than a week's time. He knocked softly, announcing his presence on behalf of Frodo's delicate nerves. Several moments passed before a raw, muffled voice called from within.

"It's open..."

"I'm back, Mr. Frodo," Sam said, nearly tripping across the threshold in his haste. He staggered and looked about the firelit room. Frodo was nowhere in sight.

"Frodo? Frodo, I've come--"

"I know," came the quiet sob, and there was no mistaking its location.

Sam crossed to the hearth and dropped to his knees in front of Bilbo's chair, reaching for the shaking bundle of wind-ruffled curls and slender, tangled limbs. Frodo was crying audibly, and his sobs increased in volume as Sam pulled him forward on the cushion, wrapping his arms around fine linen and brocade made supple by the flesh beneath. Sam pressed his lips to Frodo's wet cheek, on the verge of tears himself.

"I tried to find him... I looked everywhere, honest, I did! I... oh, Frodo! I tried..."

Frodo choked. "I know, Sam!"

Sam rocked him helplessly, unable to contain his own grief. Frodo made a tiny, miserable sound in the back of his throat, his fingers finally springing to life, creeping into Sam's own tousled hair.

"I shouldn't have brought this upon you. I knew he wasn't coming back. I'm a wretched fool. I made you--"

"I'd have done it whether you asked me or no!" Sam sobbed. "Because... Because I'll miss him as sore as you do, Mr. Frodo."

"Oh... Oh, Sam...!"

For a while longer, neither of them moved. They clung to each other, weeping, at times half-laughing at memories summoned without speech. At length, Frodo's chest ceased its heaving, and his mouth sought Sam's awkwardly.

"Gandalf was here," he breathed in resignation, lips brushing and molding against Sam's as he spoke. "You missed him. I must admit, I...when the door opened...oh, such a vain hope, Sam. He's left me everything. Bag End, his books, his maps...his ring...and Gandalf made such a fuss over the latter; it troubles me..."

"Wizards'll make a fuss of nothin' at all, Mr. Frodo. That's their business."

"I was sad to see him go. I couldn't bear--I wish you had--returned before..."

Sam's heart ached. He loosened his hold on Frodo and sat back on his heels, tilting Frodo's chin up gently. Bless him, but the Gaffer was right; how could he ever refuse those startling blues?

"I'm here now, Mr. Frodo. And I'm not leavin' you, not ever."

Frodo's head fell on his shoulder, a sweet, welcome weight. "I know, Sam."

Sam's knees and ankles had begun to ache. He gathered Frodo up easily, taking a seat in the chair, watching the flames lap softly Frodo's white cheek. He settled the slimmer hobbit close in his lap and was rewarded with a wet little tongue and teeth at his neck. Sam sighed, cupping Frodo's backside with loving hands.

"You recover right quick, Mr. Frodo," Sam breathed, taking a moment to unbutton Frodo's sleeve and draw it back, pressing the bandage tentatively. "Feel all right? Not sore, is it?"

Frodo lifted his head and shook it slowly, brushing at a few last errant tears with the back of his hand. Sam tapped it away lightly, taking over with a sure, efficient thumb.

"It just won't do," Sam chided. "The birthday hobbit oughtn't be carrying on so, especially when he's not gotten all his presents..."

Frodo's eyes brightened, welling up briefly with tears of another sort. "Nor when all of his have not been given."

Sam blushed furiously. "Now, Mr. Frodo, I told you there's no need to go givin' your Sam any--"

"You, my dearest, are a disgrace to hobbithood," Frodo informed him, stumbling out of his lap, suddenly quite energetic, even a bit tipsy. It was all Sam could do to keep up with the nimbly sprinting figure always one turn ahead of him through Bag End's warren of candlelit halls. By the time Sam had caught up with him, he had barreled through a set of finely-carved double doors that Sam had never had reason to open. Sam froze.

"Mr. Frodo, I don't think we should--"

Frodo paused at the foot of Bilbo's large, sumptuous bed, which had been made up neatly with fringed pillows and a gorgeous lined velvet comforter. His lip quivered momentarily, but his eyes were full of resolve.

"It's mine now. We shall do as we please."

"Of course," Sam said softly, stepping up to Frodo, taking his hands and worrying at his lately-nibbled fingernails. "Seems to me you've already thought of a thing or two, besides."

Frodo came into his arms eagerly, leaning as Sam took in their surroundings over his shoulder. There was a half-finished mug of ale on the floor beside the nightstand. On the nightstand itself was a bottle of Shirebourn Rose and two unusual glasses, flutelike and made of blue tinted glass. Sam blinked at the taper candle behind them, realizing that it bore the same luminous tint and that several more of them were placed around the room at intervals.

"I had to keep my mind off...when Gandalf left...somehow...so, I thought..."

"Hush," Sam murmured, covering Frodo's mouth firmly with his own. The rest of his words were lost to a mumble, which was quickly lost to a whimper. Frodo drew away with great hesitation.

"I have something to give you," Frodo whispered, tugging Sam over to the bed. "Sit."

Sam did as he was bidden, unable to take his eyes off Frodo as he carelessly shrugged out of his best waistcoat and let it fall on his way over to a chest of drawers. He bent and began rummaging through them, starting low and working his way up. Sam fought the impulse to sprint over, bundle him up like a sack of potatoes, and slip them both under the covers before Frodo would even have the chance to yelp. Instead, he rose and retrieved Frodo's waistcoat, draping it carefully over a low stool beside Bilbo's wardrobe. Frodo heard him stir and whirled around.

"Ah, yes, that's where it must be. Move aside, Sam! Didn't I tell you to--oh, for pity's sake. If you touch one more mess of mine tonight, so help me..."

Chuckling, Sam retreated to his spot on the bed. He watched as Frodo dug through a few shelves, not particularly caring if he left sleeves dangling or sets of trousers winkled. At length, he gave a soft, triumphant cry. Sam's first impulse was to stand, but Frodo had anticipated it.

"Sit down, Sam. Close your eyes."

Sam did the latter, having scarcely had the chance to rise. He heard Frodo's approach and felt him sit something light on the bedspread. His throat tightened as familiar fingers undid his own waistcoat, urging him out of it. His shirt followed, and in its place, Frodo's fingers slid down to his stomach. He lifted one hand for a moment, and when it returned, it pressed something ethereally soft against Sam's bare skin, urging his hands to grasp it.

"I'm leaving for a moment," Frodo said in his ear, sending shivers down his spine. "Put this on."

Sam waited until Frodo's footsteps cleared the room. He opened his eyes, and the first thing he noticed was that the half-empty mug was gone. The second spilled from his hands and across his lap like a woven prayer.

Sam held the garment up, blinking in astonishment. He had never touched anything so fine, except for Frodo's skin. Not even the velvet beneath him could rival the robe of forest green now in his hands. The knit was so tight and fluid that, in the low light, it seemed to shimmer as he turned it over and over. Abruptly, he remembered what Frodo expected upon his return. He undressed in haste, shrugging into the feathery garment, amazed at its warmth as he draped it about himself and tied the sash as neatly as he could. The sensation of comfort and luxury was nearly as overwhelming as sleeping on a down mattress with another body cradled against his own. Sam sat back with an involuntary groan at the thought of Frodo back in his arms, his skin heated and lithe form restless, tempting through the heavenly fabric...

The doors parted suddenly, breaking Sam's reverie. He sat upright in slight embarrassment, unable to speak. The moment was unbearably sweet for the fact that Frodo's expression, he realized, was one and the same. Neither moved for a moment, each studying the other.

Frodo's fingers wavered on the doorknob, clutching it. His cheeks were ruddy and his eyes unusually bright, which confirmed where the remainder of the ale had gone off to. Sam felt his entire body flush as Frodo's eyes gleamed all the more fiercely in a single sweep over him. Likewise, Sam's vision was filled with nothing but Frodo, with nothing but that precious slender figure incompletely concealed by a dark blue nightshirt. The long sleeves gathered at his wrists, and it barely reached his knees. Sam felt the overwhelming need to slip his hands up the slitted sides and taste the moonstone flesh revealed by its loose, open collar.

"Come here," he whispered, his fingers kneading the velvet.

Frodo's gasp was barely intelligible: "Gladly."

They collided somewhere halfway. They staggered against each other, breaths mingling in dizzied gulps. Sam's hands found their mark instantly, and he shivered, first caressing soft linen and then the sides of Frodo's thighs, one arm rising to clasp shoulders while the other snugged about his hips. Frodo was taut yet supple against him, his breath coming in heady little gasps, his words bubbling like water from a spring.

"You look wonderful. I can't believe how wonderful, Sam. I knew there was some reason for why you love Elvish things so. I wish I could have given you something sooner, but I never had the heart to ask Bilbo to part with any of his treasures; you know, I really think there are some other things you might like, and, oh, those candles, those're from--"

Sam slid one hand from beneath Frodo's nightshirt, bringing it to rest reverently on his cheek. "No, Mr. Frodo. That reason would be you."

Frodo's ale-blush deepened. "Do you...do you like it?" he murmured almost meekly, his breath warming Sam's earlobe.

"I like you more."

Frodo made a soft sound in his throat, cuddling closer. Sam's concealed hand wandered Frodo's lower back wantonly, but with tender intent. Oh, surely his Gaffer could forgive...

"I was going to give you your gift, Mr. Frodo, but seeing as we're all the way back here now, and I had no idea what you had in mind, I...well, we're not exactly dressed for goin' out into the garden, are we?"

Frodo raised his head, eyebrows arched. "Garden? Sam, what have you got up your sleeve now?" With a laugh, Frodo's hands went creeping from his wrists up to his forearms beneath the loose green fabric. Sam shivered and murmured against Frodo's forehead.

"Well, it's out along the side...you know, just down from that hedge row, on the corner where that morning glory's creepin' up that little rose bush. I brought it up from home yesterday evening when you an' Mr. Bilbo were out--"

"Sam..."

"It's forget-me-nots, Mr. Frodo. This pretty little bush from Dad's patch, he let me take it. Put me in mind of your eyes, but nothin's lovelier than those... I thought, I ought to plant somethin', to mark this year, you know, since we..."

The brief, bitter tears in Frodo's eyes melted into something infinitely luminous.

"Have every reason to be celebrating," Frodo finished in an elated whisper, taking Sam by the hand, tugging him back to the bed. Rather than take a seat beside him, he danced over to the nightstand, taking in hand the bottle of wine and a corkscrew that Sam had not noticed. Frodo worked the cork free a bit recklessly, jumping when it finally shot across the room. A bit of wine sprayed Sam's foot, and he laughed.

"I propose a toast," Frodo announced, holding the bottle at arm's length, clearing his throat. "To--oh, no, no, no! I've forgotten the candles."

"I'll get them," Sam volunteered, and for once, Frodo did not protest. He listened to the fresh sound of Frodo filling the glasses as he moved from candle to candle with the one he'd lit off the hearth. He also paused to extinguish the few bright oil lamps that Frodo must have ignited earlier. When he returned, Frodo was sitting with his feet tucked up, the two glasses in hand, smiling almost impatiently.

"It's fortunate that I didn't wager this, otherwise we would have been out of my finest stock indeed," Frodo said, holding one glass out to Sam. He sat close to Frodo, shifting carefully so that he could slip one arm about him. Sam accepted the glass with a smile, but he felt a pang as the word my passed Frodo's lips. It rang with emptiness, a vague insult.

"Now, Mr. Frodo, you know my winnings are as much yours as they ever were. I reckon we'll polish off Old Winyards' draught nigh as quick," Sam said fondly, leaning to kiss Frodo's cheek, finding it so warm that his lips tingled. Fleetingly, he wondered if he ought to let Frodo indulge in any wine at all. But as he drew away and their eyes locked, Sam found that he didn't have the heart.

Frodo raised his glass until the rim hovered mere inches from Sam's. He leaned over them until their lips almost touched. Frodo's tongue flicked out briefly; Sam could almost taste the ale on his breath, and it was too much to bear. He spoke thickly, taking what prerogative he supposed was Frodo's, but hardly caring.

"I'll never forget how it was, Frodo. The stars'll fall one by one, come the day I can't recollect...kissin' you there in the moonlight, you pulling me like that, your...fingers..."

"In your hair...yours in mine--Sam--"

No words accompanied the clinking of glasses, the collision of mouths. They wrenched apart just long enough to drain the glasses in hurried, choking swigs, fortunate that neither one smashed upon hitting the floor with a warning clink.

"Frodo!"

Another kiss rendered Sam's exclamation barely intelligible. He crawled forward without thinking, one arm locked about Frodo's waist, pinning him back against the pillows. Frodo wriggled against him with a pleased but startled whimper. The taste of Frodo's tongue mingled with wine and a trace of ale sent a wave of weakness crashing from Sam's head to his toes. He went limp for a moment, shuddering as Frodo writhed until he was settled between his thighs. Sam slid his arm from beneath him, both hands sliding to where the hem of his nightshirt brushed his thighs. He drew back an inch, breathing into the spot where Frodo's jaw met his earlobe. Sam felt Frodo's own breath bathe his cheek with warm, moist puffs as he spoke.

"In a minute or two, I think," Frodo panted softly, "this position will become quite uncomfortable."

Sam stiffened a bit, startled. "I didn't mean to crush--"

"No," Frodo murmured, pressing a hand roughly to Sam's cheek, forcing him to look at him straight on. "What I mean is," he continued, his voice dissipating to a whisper, words slurring faintly, "that I think your hiding behind that robe is awfully wicked..."

Sam's vision blurred as Frodo clasped his hips, grinding up into him with an open-mouthed moan. And suddenly, the elven robe was most uncomfortable indeed.

"You tease," Sam grunted, rocking against him, determined not to give in immediately, as near as he had come to yanking their garments up about their waists and crushing Frodo deliberately. Instead, with a mischievous grin, he took hold of Frodo's hem and pulled it lower still as he continued moving against him. Frodo's jaw dropped a fraction more, his eyes widening in rhythm with the winces escaping him.

"That's--not--fair--unnnh!--"

"Your Sam can...play too, Mr. Frodo, just you...wait and see..."

Sam watched Frodo's eyes turn from glassy to glazed as he slowed his pace, allowing him to feel in no uncertain terms how aroused he was. It was difficult to keep a straight face when he could feel Frodo burning back against him; knowing how little lay between absolutely maddened him. Frodo gripped him so hard that Sam was certain his knuckles would crack. He glided to a dizzy halt when one of them unclenched and made for his sash.

"So can I," Frodo hissed through gritted teeth, nimbly loosening the knot. He tugged the sash free, and Sam felt the robe give way around him. Frodo's breath was in his ear, low and provocative. "How easy it would be for me to slip in with you, now. Surely there's enough room..."

Sam's jaw clenched at the challenge, and he stifled a groan valiantly. Not to be outdone, his hands slid boldly up Frodo's shirt, resting in the soft creases of his thighs, index fingers teasing at everything but the obvious--his belly, his sides, his hips. Frodo gave a helpless little gasp, his eyes widening even more. Sam shifted his weight carefully so that they brushed each other repeatedly through layers that grew looser and less determined by the minute. Frodo shattered in a flurry of clawing fingers and jerking limbs. "Sam...Sam...please....please!..."

Sam's own heated skin flushed with pity and crippling want. Frodo's sudden tears streamed like threadbare silver ribbons in the candlelight, and Sam's next cry emerged as one of sharp sympathy. He lapped the salty rivulets away hastily, shivering at the flutter of Frodo's eyelids against his cheekbone.

"Make me forget, Sam!"

"W--What?" he stammered, his head jerking back.

Frodo's eyes bored into him with frightening desperation.

"Make--me--forget."

"But...Frodo, surely you don't want to--"

"Do it, Samwise!"

By then, Frodo was gasping with more than need. The storm had broken over his high-colored cheeks in a hot deluge. Sam fought against the sobs threatening to burst his slight chest, his hands fumbling to part his robe and at the same time hike Frodo's shirt up far enough without catching. He covered Frodo's mouth with his own helplessly, drinking in the sobs.

"I'm here...I'm here..."

Frodo pulled them tightly together, his arms straining at Sam's shoulders, one leg wrapped tightly about his hips. Sam began an achingly gentle rhythm, gasping at the sweet shock of half-clothed contact, stroking Frodo's other thigh as their tongues clashed through an onslaught of fractured words.

"Please-----Sam-----harder!-----"

"-----But-----Frodo-----ooohhh!"

Sam knew nothing but skin and slickness and hammering fury. Frodo's demands reached a fever pitch, and with the inextricable need to please, his body raced to match them. He did not realize that the thrusts that sent them both reeling would raise bruises by morning. He did not intend to leave a scratch so deep in the curve of Frodo's lower back that it bled any more than Frodo intended to bite his neck so hard that it stung for hours...

"Sam," was all Frodo sobbed as his back finally arched, his locked ankles jarred free by uncontrollable spasms.

And it was all that Sam could do to breathe, let alone make a sound as he lost himself in the heated tide of his lover's grief.

Blood rushed and pounded as they lay tangled, limbs taut and eyes sealed more tautly still. Sam thought that he felt elation in Frodo's slowing breaths, but as his eyes drifted open, the impression changed. He raised his head and watched Frodo's expression change in slow motion: the sated peace that had begun to settle over his features was twisting, his eyelids fluttering at half mast as he bit his lip, one hand creeping to cover his mouth. Sam knew that look, and it jolted his own stomach like a swig of too much blackberry cordial.

"Sam--I think--I'm--move!"

Frodo flailed weakly, squirming out from under Sam and sliding off the opposite side of the bed. He fell with a soft thud and a choked whimper. Sam stumbled after him, scarcely breathing.

"Mr. Frodo, ought I get you a--"

"No--won't get--back in time--"

Sam scooped Frodo up before he could protest, dashing into the hall despite the added stress on his stomach. Frodo was right; Sam had barely deposited him on the bathroom floor when the combination of alcohol and jostling abruptly took its toll.

"Steady...oh, there now, steady..."

Sam's voice broke as he supported Frodo from behind, one arm gentle about his middle, the other hand rubbing his back as he heaved once, twice, then once again. Frodo fell back against him with a groan, tears and worse marring his cheeks, his chin. Sam clutched him, trying to soothe as his eyes darted around the room in search of a towel. He spotted a washcloth on the rim of the tub and reached for it, not even having to let go.

Frodo lay limp and shaking against him as Sam cleaned him tenderly, first the lovely face and then his belly. He tugged the nightshirt off of him carefully, letting his own robe slip to the floor. Once their skin was no longer damp from much needed ablutions, Sam tugged them both to their feet. Frodo moaned, swaying against him. Sam swung him up again gently and pressed quivering lips to his ear.

"This is all my fault. I should've stopped, should've known..."

Frodo's eyes fluttered, the ghost of an exhalation passing his lips. "No...it's..."

"Hush, you. It's back to bed, but not to sleep, not before I've put some peppermint in that belly of yours."

"I don't know if I can hold it."

"Only half a cup, but it'll be strong, mind you. And the heat'll help as well."

"Only you could...talk me into tea at a time like this."

Frodo protested no further, allowing himself to be tucked in with a quickly, efficiently steeped cup of peppermint tea. Sam sat close beside him, refusing to do so much as blink until he had drained it. Frodo finally handed the cup back, looking slightly green.

"Sam, are you sure about this?"

"Dad's works every time, so why shouldn't mine?"

"Well met...oh, but I feel wretched..."

Frodo rolled over on his side with a soft cry, curling miserably around a pillow. Sam set the cup aside, crawling under the covers and curling around him. Frodo sighed heavily, closing his eyes.

"I've been more than enough trouble tonight, Sam. I apologize."

Sam rubbed Frodo's stomach gently, and he relaxed a bit. "You needn't do that, Mr. Frodo."

"You're patient with me. I can't imagine why."

Sam kissed his neck. "You know the answer to that."

Frodo smiled, entwining their fingers. "I suppose I do."

 

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