West of the Moon
A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive
Post-Quest. Frodo has one of his sick days. Sam takes care.
"Let go of me!" His Master shrieked, clawing at the stays of his nightshirt, that same old spot, the tortured hollow where a starry jewel tried unsuccessfully to keep back the darkness during the sick days. Sam cursed the long-destroyed Ring, for all of the good cursing it would do any of them now, and hummed a lullaby. Something old, familiar, the melody Bilbo's. It seemed to calm Frodo somewhat, his howls of pain subsiding into whimpers. Maybe now he'd be able to hold him...
Sam cautiously set one knee on the bed. "It's me, Mr. Frodo, it's your Sam." He murmured, though he knew Frodo most likely wouldn't hear him. The sick days were awful, the mornings stretching like torture--when his Master's pale skin would turn a waxen mask and he would lose control of the terrors that stalked his dreams. "It's your Sam..."
The whimpers were quieter now that Sam was able to slide into the bed, to reach out and cautiously stroke the ivory column that bore so many faded scars, to rest his palm at the hollow where the Ring laid and let the heat of his own skin ward away bad dreams. Frodo tossed his head, curls damp and sticking to his forehead. With his free hand, Sam brushed them back, weeping ever so slightly for not being able to stop this kind of pain. No one deserved it, Frodo least of all.
"Shh..." He whispered through tears. "It's going to be all right. I'm here. We're home. You're in your own bed back in Bag End. It was all a dream. All a horrible, horrible dream..."
Frodo's fingers, nails thankfully still bitten to the quick, clawed his hand. Under closed lids, his eyes rolled back and forth.
Sam steeled himself. The mornings were bad, but he would come through, he'd be sleeping through lunch and dinner--and then--
He dozed along with his Master for a short time, but the Gamgee internal clock was set rigidly these days. Sam got up, left the door ajar--for now--and set to work. He made a simple luncheon for himself, some broth, bread, and tea, swept the kitchen and hallways of the smial, stacked up some of the books that had fallen as Frodo had collapsed at his desk the night before. He tended the fires and looked with longing at the flower beds. He'd taken extra care the day before--that was the blessing of the sicknesses--the regularity--the flowers wouldn't need tending. But oh how simple they were to work with, how flowers took love and transformed themselves into beautiful, undamaged creatures that craved the sun.
The bath. Must draw a bath.
He filled the tub, not bothering to warm the water--it would be better cold. Sam poured in a little lavender oil, a substance he found mysterious, but one that his Master swore by. It made him smile to think of that, the way Frodo always carried a faint touch of the scent with him nowadays. He was freer with his spending money in the matter of little luxuries, and Sam was all in favor. He had so few pleasures these days.
It had thrilled Sam not two days ago to walk back to Bag End and see his Master not bent at his book, but reclining in the parlor sucking on caramel hard candies. Frodo had patted the seat of the couch and insisted they share. He'd offered as much as Sam wanted, but he'd only dared take two. The first he let slowly dissolve on his tongue as he watched Frodo roll candies around in his mouth. As his piece melted away into a thin, sugary disc, he watched his Master's eyes slip closed. After a time, Frodo had said very softly, "This is all I ask for."
The gardener scrubbed himself in the basin, half wondering whether or not a drop of that lavender oil would do him good. It made him breathless now to think of their knees touching as they sat on the couch, and to imagine what Frodo's mouth would taste like after all those candies--sweet and wet and hot--
"Just you stop it, Samwise Gamgee." He leaned forward, scowling at his too-plain reflection in the mirror. "There won't be none of that ever, and especially not today. There's no time for daydreams or foolishness." And there won't ever be, he thought, though he didn't say it out loud. Soap bubbles swirled in the bottom of the basin.
The second caramel candy was in a little carved box tucked away in his nightstand--a remembrance.
A small cry from the bedroom startled Sam out of his reverie.
"Sam..." His Master gasped weakly from under the coverlet, stretching out one pale hand. Sam didn't ask, only took it, clasping it between his own. Still icy cool. "Sam...?" He said again, but as if he didn't clearly recognize the hobbit in front of him.
"I'm here, sir."
"Sam?" Frodo's eyes were clouded, unsure.
"It's me, sir. Your Sam. ...Would you like some water?" He hazarded a guess.
"Water? Yes. Water."
He sat up on his own, before Sam could slide an arm around him, and grasped the offered cup. It was wooden and sturdy, not one of the delicate teacups that could so easily smash and hurt either of them. Sam held the pitcher, refilling the cup as it was lowered. Frodo drank this too, all at once, and Sam filled the cup once more. This time his Master swallowed half before he set the cup back down and collapsed into the pillows, exhausted.
"Just you rest there, sir." He smiled. "I'll make us some supper. Mayhap you'll be hungry."
He wouldn't be, but that knowledge didn't stop Sam from preparing a soup--noodles, celery, carrots, chicken--hearty but easy on the stomach. After it was simmering, Sam checked on Frodo, still unresponsive to the world. He dined alone, checked on his Master twice more, and brewed a strong pot of tea.
The sun set as the tea kettle whistled shrill.
"Evening." Sam mumbled to himself, took the pot off the fire and added another log to the flames. He poured a scalding cup and splashed tea on his shaking fingers, wincing and biting down a howl of frustration. What would it be tonight? A roaring, uncontrollable rage? Weeping? Violence, insults? Every sick day brought with it an order of events--the disoriented morning, the weak afternoon, and the fevered evening. Mornings and afternoons were bad enough, but at least then the creature in the bedroom at Bag End was his Master. At night, he seemed--
Oh, Lord. Sam's eyes fluttered shut. He forced himself to sound as normal, as natural as possible. "Evening, Mr. Frodo." He raised the tea cup to his lips before realizing it was hot and spat the liquid back into the cup, scalded.
"Poor Sam. Did you burn yourself?" His Master's nightshirt hung inches above his knees, showing off glimpses of pale thigh. Frodo leaned in the doorway, the shadows of dusk making his face seem otherworldly.
"It's naught worth considering, Mr. Frodo. Would you like some tea?"
"I'll watch while you have yours."
Sam nodded, suppressing a shiver as Frodo's voice melted through the room like butter on a hot skillet. He sank onto a bench, hands clenching around the cup. "You're sure you're not thirsty, Mr. Frodo?"
"Always after my welfare, aren't you, Sam?"
"It's my job, sir." He said quietly, then blew on the tea, interrupting long trails of steam.
"Do that again."
That voice, the ragged hush of the words, made Sam shiver. Don't look up, he thought, don't look up. It'll be a right bad thing if you look up. Keeping his eyes fixed deep in the steaming cup, he puckered his lips and gently blew. The vapor scattered for a moment, and suddenly Sam couldn't help but meet the stormy gaze across the table.
"Oh, sir." He looked away, glancing at the remains of twilight out the window, and frowned.
"Thank you for taking care of me." His Master shifted, one corner of the night shirt tumbling down to reveal his bare shoulder. Most of the scars had healed, or were at least faded to a light pink color.
"You're welcome, sir." Sam pulled on his own collar, straightening it, willing himself not to stare at the shoulder, to dwell on what lay beneath the delicate linen, now and forever out of reach. He cleared his throat. Don't look, don't look, it'll be worse if you look. "If you'll beg my pardon, Mr. Frodo, you should get back to bed. Don't want to tire yourself out, now."
"I don't feel in the least bit tired, Sam." His Master whined a little as Sam set to sipping the tea. "I've been sleeping all day."
"Aye, sir, but you've been sick, too. Best not to risk it."
Frodo smiled then, and now Sam didn't try to resist smiling right back, moth to flame. "How was your day?"
Sam didn't tell Frodo he'd stayed in the whole time worrying. He never did. Frodo never remembered the mornings. He might remember these moments, but he never remembered the beginning or the end. The eye of the storm, you might say, where it all becomes calm and clear enough for you to doubt that there'll be more to follow. Sam talked about the gardens, his Gaffer, local gossip, anything he could think of. His Master nodded more than once but stayed quiet himself.
Night crept in, stealing through the smial. Sam drained the last of the second cup and rinsed it along with the kettle. "You ought to be getting back to bed, sir."
"Think I'll go to the study for a little while." He finally said, and rose. His Master swayed on his feet slightly and put one hand down on the table for balance.
"All due respect, sir--I can bring you your work--if you'd only think about the bedroom instead."
"I'm no invalid, Sam." The tone was downright harsh. Sam blanched. Here we go, he thought.
"I know that, sir." He slipped one arm around Frodo's waist, frowning at how he never seemed to put on any weight, how he'd never quite recovered to his size before the quest. "Do you feel like washing up first?" Sam steered them down the hall.
"Yes--and I don't need your help to do it." His Master pulled out of his grip, sailed into the wash room, and closed the door behind him.
Sudden fear gripped Sam as he heard the bolt slide into place. If Frodo locked himself in, if he fell, if something should happen...
The few minutes outside were agonizing. He kept one ear pressed to the door, listening for and thankfully hearing familiar sounds. Suddenly it grew quiet. Sam drew in a breath. He knocked softly. "Sir...?"
No answer. He knocked again, more firmly. "Sir?"
Panic rose in his throat as he pounded on the door. "Sir! Mr. Frodo!"
The door yanked open. His Master stood framed in the doorway, face and hands freshly scrubbed, night shirt unlaced, the material parting to reveal an expanse of scarred but pale and lovely chest. Two hard points under the thin linen could only be hardened nipples. Sam noticed he was holding his breath and let it go.
"Something the matter, Sam?"
"No, sir. Not at all." Don't look, Sam, you fool, don't look at him. "Just wanted to make sure you were well."
"So that's why you stare at me?" The reply was clipped.
A blush rose hot on Sam's cheeks. Don't look at him. "Sir, we should get you back to bed." Sam reached for one of the slender hands and took it in his own, trying not to think of what wonderful things he could do with those fingers. Gently he pulled, leading Frodo back to his room.
"Oh, you'd like that, wouldn't you, Sam. You'd like to keep me in bed all day, every day. And all night, too. Wouldn't you, Sam?"
The blush almost choked him. He'd been insulted, slapped, he'd struggled with his Master, he'd taken all sorts of abuse--but never this. Never had Frodo seized on the Secret before. But it would be all right. Tomorrow, Frodo would remember none of this. It'll be all right, Sam, make it to tomorrow. "Sir, you're going back to bed, sir, because you're sick."
"What if I don't want to?" The hand gripped his tightly, almost enough to hurt. Sam turned, trying hard not to gape at the fey creature in his charge. His Master was always beautiful, but somehow more so during the night. That pale skin seemed luminescent, inviting, begging for a touch.
"Then I suppose we can fight about it. I'll win, though, sir. I always do."
"Ah, but my dear Sam, you'd like it if we fought." Sam led his Master into the bedroom and closed the door behind them. He kept his hold on Frodo's hand but used the free one to straighten the bed clothes and turn over the pillows.
"I never like to fight you, sir."
"You're not a very good liar, Sam. Comes of being too honest." Sam pulled back the covers.
"Hop in, sir."
"I don't know, Sam--I think you should fight me." Those glorious fingers laced through his. Sam felt his resolve shudder under the strain. "You like it."
"I don't like it," he muttered, closing his eyes as Frodo's thumb stroked the soft flesh of his palm. Just don't look at him, you'll be fine.
"You like it, Sam. You don't think I noticed? The last time, the time you wrestled me into the bed, when you pinned me to the sheets underneath you..."
"No, sir--I don't like hurting you. Get in, please." He shivered, keeping his eyes tightly shut.
"Neither of us were hurting, Sam." The thumb continued its explorations over Sam's wrist. By all rights he knew he should pull away, should set Frodo in bed and hold him there, should be the stalwart soldier. Then he felt the brush of a smooth calve against his own. "You held me down with your whole body. I was completely at your mercy." Frodo leaned into him then, his face pressed against Sam's neck, that hot mouth against his skin. "You were so hard."
"Stop it." Sam shook his head.
"So was I," Frodo breathed, "you know I was."
"You were half out of your head."
"As if I could be any other way, with you lying on top of me."
"Stop it." Sam gasped, reeling. He felt as if he might collapse, and his mind was not helping matters by suggesting he collapse onto the bed. Or onto his knees. "You're sick and you've got no business carrying on so."
"Oh, I know, Sam, it isn't proper. Not for a gentlehobbit to want to tup his gardener. Even when that gardener is the best hobbit he knows. His best friend. His constant companion. Not to mention gorgeous." Frodo was pressing into him now, conforming to the line of his body. Sam opened his eyes for a moment and caught sight of a nearly bare thigh next to his own. He yelped very quietly and shut them again. "Don't be bashful. Here. I'll tell you a secret." Frodo's tone was that same low, shivery one that haunted Sam's thoughts. "I used to watch you in the garden." His Master maneuvered his hand until it lay on that lovely thigh. Warmth shot up through his fingertips like lightning. "I still do. ...Do you want to know what I do when I watch you...?"
"Oh, please..." Sam meant to say stop this. He meant to tell Frodo that he was sick, that he had a fever, that he didn't know what he was saying. But, oh, that night.... That last time, he'd pinned his wild-eyed Master to the bed and before he'd known it, their hips were flush. He hadn't meant to linger there, hadn't meant to let Frodo wriggle so deliciously underneath him.
Frodo bent his head to lick gently at Sam's earlobe. "Please what?"
"Sir--you can't. We can't--"
"Why not?" Came the petulant reply.
"Mr. Frodo!" Sam felt the warm swipe of a tongue on his neck and jerked out of his Master's grip, summoning all his willpower to wheel around and put an end to this. The singular expression Frodo wore as he advanced was one of pure lust, a look Sam had never before seen on his Master's face. Not since....
Not that it was so strange, Sam reasoned, the sickness seemed to effect emotional extremes--despair, madness, rage--why not lust? And since Sam was the only one around, of course his Master should become confused and pursue him. Of course. It all made perfect sense. Horrible, miserable, perfect sense. "Sir, beggin' your pardon, sir, it's one of your sick days. You haven't been feeling all that well and you're really not feeling well right now or you wouldn't say such things." He sat with a start as his legs hit the side of the wide feather bed.
Don't look, don't look, don't look, he chanted furiously in his head. He turned his face to one side and found himself staring at cool white pillows that seemed to cry out 'lie down!' "You're sick, sir. You need to lie down and rest. You needn't--you needn't..." Words failed him, as they often did whenever Frodo stood this close. Sam shut his eyes and couldn't keep back a flood of memories. Of standing near the garden gate, Frodo leaning close to him to look at the best rose of the season. Of leaning on each other, half-drunk and giddy after a long night at the Green Dragon. Of the Lithe night before they'd begun the journey, when Frodo was drowned in ale and had turned Sam's face close to his, leaned in, and sweetly kissed his lips. Of a thousand idle touches, of the moments before waking Frodo when Sam would allow himself to drink in the play of sunlight on his curls, of the seconds before collapse at the end of all things--when he looked into his Master's eyes and spoke the words 'I love you.' "Please, sir... please."
"Dear Sam." Hands stroked through his curls and Sam hung his head, submitting. "Dear, dear, Sam..." He felt fingertips dance over his temples, his forehead, then down across his cheeks and under his chin, tilting his face upward. Like a flower to the morning sun. Don't look, Samwise, don't you look, if you look now it's all over and done, you've got to be strong--
He let out a long, shaky breath. "Yes, sir...?"
"Open your eyes."
"Oh." There were no words. None that fit. All those that came to mind couldn't do justice to those beautiful shining eyes, the lean, hard line of his Master's body, the way the faded scars and ever-present weariness only served to make him seem like an ancient marble statue, still and beautiful and, yes, marked by time, but enduring.
But then he wasn't a statue, for a statue couldn't have pressed its hands against his shoulders and pushed him back into the downy mattress. A statue couldn't have crawled astride him, nor could it have reared back to shuck its night shirt and reveal a very forbidden sight, nor could it have settled against him and pressed its searing lips against Sam's.
"Frodo," he gasped, that lovely mouth leaving his for a brief second to gulp air, "Sir--" Sam got no farther than that, for his Master fastened them at the mouths, his kisses demanding, hands ripping at the coarse fabric of the work shirt.
"Off," Frodo panted into his mouth, unwilling to break the kiss for more than a second but having difficulty with the buttons. Slender fingers danced over his chest and it was all Sam could do to remain conscious with his heart hammering in his chest like it would burst.
Sam didn't know there were kisses like this. He'd kissed, of course, pecks and a few innocent exchanges with lasses at festivals--even that time at Lithe with Frodo--they were nothing like this. This wasn't kissing so much as devouring, kisses he'd heard tell of but never seen. Frodo's lips crushed against his almost as if he were trying to push Sam further into the mattress. And suddenly a gloriously silken tongue edged into his gasping mouth, scraping against his own. Sam moaned against his Master's mouth, stretching his own tongue out to flick over those claiming lips, to taste every sweet inch.
Oh, this is wrong, all of it--a little voice in his head nagged. Wrong to think of his Master this way, wrong to let the night slip so far out of his control, wrong to give over to the wanton spirit possessing Frodo, all of it wrong.
But there was another little voice, a slightly louder one, that whispered above it. Isn't this better than a fight? Isn't this good for the both of you? Let him have his fun--he won't remember a thing in the morning and you'll have the memory of one night, one perfect smoldering glimpse of all that could be. And anyhow, you're not taking advantage if he's the one taking advantage.
Those slender digits pulled at the collar of his shirt, sending the first button flying. It bounced against the night table and skittered away onto the floor. The gardener gasped into Frodo's mouth and opened his eyes. A twinkling blue gaze steadily met his own as the next button popped free. Sam swallowed a whimper as Frodo took his lower lip between his teeth and pulled gently, nipping wickedly before he let it go. His chest heaved with excited, shaky breaths, his Master rising and falling with it. The third and fourth buttons went together in a last great tug, and Sam wondered at the sudden loss of Frodo's mouth before it settled over the hard peak of his left nipple, suckling.
"Aahh--F--Frodo--" Sam tossed his head back against the bed, his own golden curls damp with sweat. He watched through heavy lids as Frodo's dark head bent over his chest, his tongue darting out to thoroughly lave the first nipple. Barely had that warmth left the first than it fastened to the next, teasing that tiny nub in ways that brought wicked, wicked thoughts into Sam's mind. Thoughts he saved for the long nights alone in his bedroom, when he imagined seeing those dark curls bobbing up and down, that hot mouth enveloping him. The need to bury his hands in those curls, to urge those lips down his stomach, and then--
With a small cry he pulled Frodo back to his mouth, shocked at the strength of his own desire. To demand such an--intimate act--no. There were differences between proper--and improper--and kicked-out-of-the-Shire. And *asking* for that? The thought of it had him hard and wanting. He plied his hands from the small of his Master's back, frowning at the loss of contact. It was a small victory of willpower when he laid them at his sides instead of stroking the smooth planes of Frodo's back, sides, belly, lower--
Sam's fingers dug into the bedclothes, all the muscles in his body tense and aching. The glorious weight of his Master straddled his hips. His rather naked Master, whose length shifted hot and hard against the bulge in his own trousers. One shuddering indrawn breath was all he managed before his body had other ideas--he arched into Frodo, drawing out a keening wail from the straining hobbit above him.
Frodo reared up, his fingertips skimming over Sam's broad chest as he rocked his hips back and forth, each brush of contact pleasurable but not enough to accomplish more than teasing. Those crystal blue eyes stared out from under tousled curls, lips twitched in a lusty snarl. "Beg me, Sam," he hissed, the unmarred hand finding the stays of Sam's breeches and stilling. "Beg me."
Want thrummed tightly within Sam, an insistent pulse of need throbbing every place those lovely hands touched. "Please, sir," he managed. The ragged sound of his voice betrayed him more than the entreaty. His gaze flashed to the grip on his waistband, then further. Sam's chin quite literally struck his chest as he gaped at his Master's swollen arousal. "Oh... please..."
Frodo bit his lower lip the way he did when he was at work on a particularly fascinating translation. The stays evaporated, seemingly, and Sam was dimly aware of helping to drag off his breeches and smallclothes, even shrugging out of his shirt sleeves. Then they were blessedly skin to skin, Frodo ducking for another delicious wet kiss that nearly set Sam to tearing the bed sheets, so twisted were they in his grip.
"Touch me," came a throaty whisper above.
Oh, this is wrong, Sam thought, and loosed his grip on the sheets. He slid his hands onto the tops of those trembling thighs, petting the soft skin there, then let his fingernails raise glowing white lines on the quivering flesh. It truly was hard to breathe now. Pure draughts of pleasure broke over Sam as his palms met the firm, round flesh of his Master's backside and pulled, urging those lovely hips to thrust against him.
"Yess--" was the cry, and he couldn't tell whether it had come from his Master's lips or his own. Frodo drove them together but let Sam guide them into a delicious grind, arousals sliding together, slick, hard, and hot.
"Ungh--Sam--" His Master growled and fell to covering his neck with wet kisses. "So... good... ahh..."
He was burning with every caress, gasps and moans issuing forth as if he were transformed--the pads of his fingers dug in at Frodo's hips, setting a pace that somehow--wasn't-- "More..." Sam cried, his desire blinding in its intensity. He wanted to be in Frodo, or to have Frodo in him, to sink into his skin, to become a part of the gorgeous creature in his arms.
"Yes," he gasped, and howled as his Master increased the pace, thrusting harder, faster.
He nodded, that familiar tightness building in his loins. Frodo slipped one hand between them, squeezing their erections together in a firm stroke. It set his eyelids fluttering, his heels digging into the covers, and suddenly Sam couldn't bear not joining in, settling his own grip around Frodo's hand, together forming a tight sheath.
"That's--it--ahh--that's--the way--ahh--Sam--I'm--I'm--Sam...!" Frodo's thrusts met his own and suddenly Sam was watching him come, that graceful body arching, those swollen lips mouthing his name--Sam's breath hitched back in his throat as pleasure overwhelmed his Master. Seed spilled onto his fingers, over his belly, and with a small, broken cry, Sam followed Frodo, just as he always did, always would.
Warmth pooled between them and Sam felt as if he'd gone slack, his muscles turned to mush. Frodo held himself on his arms for just a moment, then collapsed against him. The weight of his body felt solid, reassuring, right, and there was nothing for it but for Sam to wrap his arms around that slight weight and hold him there.
He didn't move for long moments, bathing in afterglow. Stars shone their light through the bedroom windows. The fire in the hearth sank slowly to embers. What a night, to turn from grief and fear into something so wondrous the memory burned behind Sam's eyes. His breathing calmed. He felt a heartbeat that wasn't his own.
Oh, Frodo. This is all I ask for.
"I love you," Sam whispered, pressing a slow kiss into Frodo's curls, "ever so much."
His only answer was a murmur of contentment, and Sam grinned to hear it, his stomach somersaulting. With one hand he dragged the edge of the bedspread over Frodo, so as to ward against chill, and before he realized he was tired, sleep took a very satisfied Samwise Gamgee.
Sam awoke with a start--the kind of start that jerked him upright when he'd dream of the black land, or of falling. It was dark. Very dark.
"Sir...?" He ventured softly. Frodo lay in his arms, head resting on Sam's shoulder. His Master's lashes fluttered against the swell of his flushed cheek, and it appeared to Sam that he mouthed strange words.
Suddenly it seemed as though the heat of his Master's embrace wasn't wholly due to passion.
"Oh, sir, no--" He tucked his Master up in his arms and fled out of the bedroom, down the hall, and into the bathroom, thanking the foresight that had him fill the bath earlier. "Hold on, there, Mr. Frodo--we're going to get you nice and cool, now." He nearly slipped lowering Frodo into the bath, splashing water over the rim of the tub. Frodo was flushed all over, the fire centering on his wraith scar. Tears pricked in Sam's eyes. "Fallen down on the job again, Samwise," he muttered, letting the feverish hobbit sink almost all the way into the cool water, one hand firmly in those curls to keep his head above water, the other behind his shoulders, "lettin' yourself go and behave like some animal when all you had to do was watch out for him..." A sob clutched his chest, but he forced it down.
"Mr. Frodo...? Sir?" His breathing wasn't shallow, but labored. Sam couldn't decide which one would've been better. After a few minutes, the water seemed to be helping. The gardener settled Frodo back along the curve of the tub. In truth, he would've liked nothing more than to crawl in alongside. But body heat wasn't the thing to cool down a fever. "Sir?" Frodo's face didn't look so tight with pain anymore. That was a blessing, at least. "I'm right here, sir, if you need me."
Sam reached over, holding his palm above the pulsing heat of the scar. Slowly he cupped his palm, dipping it into the bathwater, and began bathing the wound. The water was near to cold from sitting, the window opened to the night air making the bathroom uncomfortably chill. Still, it didn't occur to Sam to leave--not even for a moment--not when Frodo needed him.
Long minutes passed. The night deepened its shadows. The fever diminished under his watchful care, though every now and then a sob would shatter the quiet. He couldn't bear thinking that he'd almost slept by as his Master struggled for life, couldn't bear thinking that more damage had been done to the one who'd taken the most. What if that's what tonight had been--some trick of the evil to make Sam look away long enough for it to capture Frodo forever?
He hastily wiped his eyes. Frodo was awake, if seeming a bit glassy-eyed and muddled. "Sir."
"Sam..." Frodo repeated, blinking as if his vision wasn't quite clear.
"Yes, sir, Mr. Frodo? Do you need something? Some water? Tea?" He took his Master's hand in his own. An echo of sitting with Frodo in Rivendell hit him. He remembered there being always someone or other in and out of the room, someone always making it impossible to do more than thread cool, unresponsive fingers with his own. Now he was loathe to do that much. He'd breached etiquette, this evening, and more than that, trust. He let go, allowing Frodo's hand to rest atop his own, not holding, not taking any more than the barest of touches.
"Sam... Is this a dream...?"
"You're havin' one of your sick days, sir."
Frodo nodded a little, the base of his head supported by the edge of the tub. Damp, dark curls clung to his neck, every now and then emitting a droplet of bath water that snaked down over his collarbone, across his chest, and vanished into the surface of the water just a hair's breadth away from one perfect, rose-colored nipple. A pang of loss twisted Sam's insides. One chance, one chance--and he hadn't had the sense to take one of those stiff peaks between his lips--
Oh, don't you look, you've no right to look--
"Gave me a nasty scare you did, there, sir," Sam turned away, memorizing the lay of the bathroom tiles. He became suddenly conscious of the cold--and also of how very naked he was. And then of how very naked a certain other hobbit was. And then of how very naked and within easy reach this particular hobbit was. With a barely suppressed shriek, he replaced Frodo's hand in the cool water. No more touching; touching bad. He willed his resolve to iron. No more touching.
A shudder sliced through said iron resolve. Wet fingertips trailed gently over his bare chest. Sam risked a glance, trembling as his Master leaned against the near edge of the tub, arm extended, two fingers tracing lines on his skin. Frodo wore a very lazy smile, his eyes following the path of his fingertips with the kind of focus he normally reserved for translating. "Sam," Frodo murmured, his eyes heavy-lidded. "You're not wearing any clothes."
"Neither are you," Sam whispered, his breath hitching as he realized that some of their release had dried on him.
"But I'm in the bath." Frodo whispered back. His eyes were like saucers then, peering over the edge of the tub. "...Did you n--" the roving fingertips slid lower.
"Sir!" He started up, covering the distance across the room in a few strides. He pulled a bath sheet from the cupboard, using it to camouflage the traitorous lower half of his body. Then he removed another, took a very deep breath, and asked. "If you're feeling better, sir, maybe you'll want out of that bath?"
"'S nice..." Frodo sighed, leaning back into the water. "Has Bilbo gone out yet...?
"Bilbo--said he was going down by the Widow Rumble's... something about... what was it about...?"
Sam smiled ruefully. Here, but not here. "Perhaps he'll go out later, sir. Let's get you to bed." From the tub, Frodo raised a hand for help up. He seemed so innocent, so trusting.
Sam took another deep breath, taking that hand and helping Frodo rise. He tried not to listen as the water spilled off his Master. He shivered. No more of this.
After that, all was professional. Sam didn't look once as he wrapped the bath sheet around Frodo, didn't look once as he lifted Frodo in his arms, didn't look once while he carried him back to the bedroom, blotted the water from his hair, and tucked him between the still good, if slightly rumpled, linens. Frodo sank into the pillows, yawning. Sleep reached him easily, and only when Frodo began to snore did the back of Sam's hand rest briefly against his forehead and then morgul blade scar. Both were much cooler.
Out the window the night hovered black as ink. "Another day gone," Sam sighed. He paused for a moment over Frodo's nightshirt. It had landed in a crumpled heap near the dresser. He folded it neatly and placed it on a chair. Next he gathered his own clothes and the used bath sheet, clutching the rumpled pile to his chest. When all the laundry had been gathered, he stood in the doorway for a long moment. Part of him screamed to go back, to just lie down beside. Frodo wouldn't be angry. Perhaps if he was puzzled, Sam could tell him he'd had a nightmare, or... His Master's cheek lay against the cool white pillow.
Don't you look, Sam.
He stepped out into the hall and shut the door.
Morning arrived relentlessly and ungratefully, without so much as a pause to allow Samwise Gamgee an extra minute to think. His own bed had never seemed so small, so uncomfortable. Exhaustion chased his heels and yet his thoughts outran it, carrying him to all points in his memory. Of the first day he'd been introduced to Mr. Bilbo's new heir and had hidden behind his Gaffer, too shy to do more than mumble a greeting. Of looking up from the garden one day at the kitchen window, meeting Frodo's smile with a wave. Of a mountain of fire. Of a very soft bed.
When the sun hit his curtains, he didn't rise. Sam stared at the ceiling, half wishing for the supports to give way and let the whole Hill come crashing down on him. Death would be most welcome at the moment. Honestly speaking, he still expected to die any day now. He couldn't seem to shake, not in so many months, the feeling that they'd cheated in surviving, somehow; that Death was riding to catch up and would be arriving any day now. It made him relish the little moments. That is, usually.
But not today. Just the thought of rising, chipper and bright, of washing up and dressing and making the tea--and of saying 'Good Morning, Sir!' like not a thing had happened--he felt ill.
The sun was partway into the sky by the time Sam shoved himself out of bed, his chest tight from wanting to sob a little. It was all wrong. Wrong to have so much and yet want more. Wrong to be able to care for him, to live with him, to love him, and still want so desperately to be loved by him. Not that there wasn't a love there, there was. Frodo loved him, he was sure. But not in the way Sam wished. Completely, totally. In ways that encompassed undressing each other and those brilliant kisses.
He pulled on a fresh change of clothes, then washed his face and hands. He didn't feel chipper. Or bright. Slightly sullen and dim would have to make due for the day. Before he opened the door he ran a hand through his curls, wondering how he was ever going to manage this without going to pieces.
"Steady on, then, Sam," he whispered, and left the bedroom.
The smells of breakfast wafted down the hallway. His brow furrowed at just the same time his stomach growled. Fresh griddle cakes, it promised. Eggs, maybe, a nice strong cup of tea? He padded down the hallway quick and quiet, peeking in at the invading cook.
Frodo's back was to Sam as he grated a wedge of cheese into curling yellow tendrils. Omelets, then. On the table sat a veritable mound of griddle cakes, the ones on top golden brown and still steaming. The most appetizing morsel in the room wore a light blue linen shirt and a slightly snug pair of breeches that Sam had until now never fully appreciated. Just last night, he'd touched... Oh, it was too much.
"There's tea in the kettle." Sam gave a guilty start, but his Master didn't stop grating. "Morning, Sam." His tone was even. Breezy, almost. La-de-dah.
He swallowed. "Morning, Mr. Frodo, Sir."
"I'm just making breakfast; have a seat and help yourself."
"I can finish that for you, sir, if you want, I'll be happy to--" Frodo shook his head firmly. "I'll get some tea, then," he hazarded, and had to pass quite near to reach the kettle. A little shiver crept up through his belly and Sam retreated to the table, cradling the cup. The kitchen was silent save the rasp of the grater and the crackle of the fire. He wondered for a moment whether he was breathing too loudly, whether the hammering of his heart was audible. Staring at his Master, all sorts of dangerous words and images came to mind. Whatever would that calm gentlehobbit do should his gardener spin him around, hold him against the counter, and kiss him senseless? What would Frodo do if Sam repeated his version of what Frodo had done the night before? If Sam were to slink up and curl into his Master, to kiss his neck, whispering desires--
"Sleep well...?" Frodo asked, setting aside the grater and pulling forward the basket of eggs and a mixing bowl.
"Just fine, sir." Small talk, Sam, small talk, he thought, but somehow his mind began to play out the imagined scenario--perhaps he'd lift his dear Master onto the counter and--
"I hope I wasn't too much trouble." The tone was light but strained.
"Of course not, sir. You're never trouble," he added, sipping at the tea.
"Even when I'm trouble." A throaty chuckle rose from Frodo as if forced.
"Sir? Are you not feeling well?" Now Sam noticed a sag in those shoulders, a tension in his Master's neck that only seemed to show up during public outings or during the writing of a difficult passage in the book.
"I feel fine. You're not eating."
He eyed the platter. "I'll wait for you."
"Sam!" The mixing bowl thunked down, punctuating. Frodo still had his back turned, that odd, sharp current of tension seeping into his voice. "You don't have to do everything for me."
"Sir--I didn't mean to--"
"No, I'm sorry, Sam," he said, sighing, "I'm--I wish..." Frodo half-turned, his eyes that much more blue against the shirt. He smiled then, but it didn't touch the look in his eyes. It spoke of grief--and something lost. "Must've woken up too early. I'm sorry."
Sam stared into his tea cup. It was almost as good a place as the bottom of an ale glass. The sun shining, fresh griddle cakes, his best friend--and a large part of him would rather be back lying on the side of a mountain, just so long as he was allowed to hold Frodo again. His eyelids fluttered closed, replaying the moments when he pulled his Master into the bedroom, of trying to fight it, of the wonderful, luscious things Frodo'd said--
If his Master never remembered anything that happened during the sickness, how could he...? But if he didn't remember, how could he have said such things? How could he have known about Sam's state of excitement during the previous bout?
...No. It couldn't be.
He risked a glance up from the tea, just quick enough to catch the jerk of those dark curls--as if Frodo was trying to avoid being caught sneaking a glance. Those pale, slender fingers cupped an egg and rapped it on the bowl. Unfortunately the rap became rather a smash, and the egg burst open. His Master gave an exasperated sigh. Sam started to rise before he was shooed back down. "I've got it, Sam," he sang, a little too brightly, a crack creeping into his voice.
It was as if the floor suddenly dropped away. Sam gripped the table, the kitchen tilting sharply. He remembered. Frodo remembered. His Master's hands shook as they picked eggshell carefully off the counter and out of the bowl. He remembered. "You remember," he blurted without thinking, then snapped his mouth shut.
Frodo stilled. Seconds crept by like an eternity. Sam had the desperate urge to run from the room, to go back to the bedroom and barricade the door. His throat felt dry and scratchy. The tea didn't help.
"Sir, I'm sorry I said--" he began, fumbling for a way out.
"I thought, when I woke, that it was a dream." Now the makings of breakfast were slow and deliberate. Frodo selected another egg and cracked it open expertly, halving the shell and pouring the golden yolk into the bowl.
"Sir--I don't--perhaps it was a dream?" Sam offered, though his heart hurt to do it.
"Sam..." Frodo trailed off, wiping his hands, gaze fixed out the window. With a shaking breath, he untucked the blue linen shirt and gathered one side in his fist, drawing the material up. The ivory skin at his hip was marred by four small bruises running in an almost vertical line. Sam swallowed, flexing his fingers unconsciously. He didn't have to hazard a guess as to whether or not there was a corresponding fifth mark along the front side, sure as he was that his thumb had bitten into his Master's delicate skin at least as roughly as the rest of his fingers.
"Oh," was all he could think of to say.
Frodo let the material fall back over the marks, sweeping them from view. He picked up another egg and cracked it surely against the bowl. "I know you would let it be a dream for my sake, Sam, you're so... such a... a good friend and--and so dear to me, Sam, you know you're dear to me, don't you?"
"Sir--" It was as if he'd frozen solid. If he moved he felt he might bolt, burst into tears, or be very sick.
"I've taken the liberty of writing out a letter of recommendation, though I doubt you need it, your reputation being so excellent."
"What?" Sam cried, sloshing tea out of the cup.
But it was as if Frodo hadn't heard him. "You'll surely find another agreeable post anywhere you'd like. I should think at the moment they'd crown you King of the Shire, if you wanted."
"I don't want to be a King." I want to stay here with you.
"It was a bad attempt at humor, Sam. You'll be better off somewhere else."
Sam put his head in his hands, pushing the heels of his palms over his eyes. Oh, he wished he hadn't gotten out of bed. It was a thousand times worse than pretending it hadn't happened, a thousand times worse than a dressing-down. He'd let himself cross the line and now he was being sent away like a loose end to be tied. Tears prickled and Sam cursed inwardly. The last thing he wanted was for Frodo to see him cry, to glimpse a cold, dispassionate expression on his Master's face in answer to his tears. His throat and chest felt tight, like being squeezed.
But the first wracking sob didn't come from Sam.
Frodo barely stood, bracing himself against the counter, knuckles white as they gripped the edge. His head hung down, sobs shaking his slight frame. "Oh, I'm so sorry..." His Master's wounded hand crept suddenly at his side then, pressing into the linen above the bruises.
Sam rose from the table. Not comforting Frodo was an alien concept. But how to go about it? Yesterday he would've embraced him, easily as family. "Do they hurt...? The bruises?"
A painful laugh bubbled to the surface. "No, Sam, they don't. ...Actually, they feel good."
"...Good...?" He filled with hope and confusion.
Frodo sniffed a little, then fixed his gaze out the window once more. "I'm sorry, Sam, so sorry, and I know that however many times I say those words, it won't make up for what I've done."
"What you've done?" Sam blinked. "What have you done?"
"What've--what've I--Samwise Gamgee." He shook his head, dark curls tossing back and forth. "Only you would have the audacity to tell me I've done nothing wrong after I--assaulted you."
"Sir," Sam sputtered, groping vainly for a simple and kind way to tell Frodo that he'd gotten everything precisely and completely wrong, "Beggin' your pardon, Mr. Frodo, but I don't feel--assaulted. There's naught for you to be sorry about." He crossed his arms, suddenly wondering whether or not he had his own marks. Did he bear clawing scratches, skin torn as Frodo cried out against him? Was there a purpling bruise on his neck left from those sucking kisses?
"Please don't forgive me for this, Sam."
"But sir--how could I--"
"And don't say I wasn't myself."
"You weren't yourself."
"And don't say I was ill." The smile on Frodo's lips didn't hold any joy.
"You were ill." The kitchen still seemed as if it was spinning. What was Frodo talking about? Was he fired? Frodo was talking like he himself had done something wrong, but--"Sir, I don't understand."
"There's nothing to understand." He smashed a whole egg into the bowl, shell and all, and finally turned. His face was fierce with pain. "Ill or not, I know what I've done. I finally took what I wanted, no matter the consequences, no matter the feelings of--no matter your feelings. I've always tried--always, Sam--I've tried never to be the kind of hobbit who'd take such--advantage of his position--I'm so sorry, and I hope you'll find someplace where you're better off--some place where you aren't subject to such--unnatural--lusts."
"Oh." Sam said very softly. His pulse pounded in his ears. "...So... You're sayi... you mean..."
Frodo began picking chunks of eggshell out of the bowl. "I'm afraid--that somewhere between there and back again--my feelings for you, Sam--seem to have become a bit confused."
"Confused how?" He had to know, had to hear it spelled out.
But Frodo was silent, fishing in the bowl for the last fragment of shell.
"Sir..." He drew closer, summoning up courage from a reservoir that wasn't often used. "Please... Do you..." Sam's tongue felt thick. "...Do you... care for me..." He searched for the words, trying desperately to find the ones that would suit. "...In ways that--that--that... ain't proper, sir?" Sam winced, suddenly wanting to take back every word, every single inch of that question, for if somehow he'd misunderstood then there'd be no reason to go on breathing ever again. Seconds ticked by. He felt that his heart had stopped beating altogether.
A silent sob wracked his Master, but Frodo rallied admirably, shaking it off long enough to form the words, "...I do believe that would be one way of putting it."
"You want me--that way." Sam couldn't seem to breathe, no matter that he opened his mouth and willed his chest to rise and fall. No air seemed to want to come in. What Frodo wanted... what his untouchable, reserved Master wanted... was Sam. It was impossible. Unthinkable. Unimaginable.
"Sam... if you'd believe it--" and for this his Master faced him, his beauty blinding even in such agony as this, and whimpered, "I love you that way." And, Lady bless him, he cried even harder. Sam did the only thing he could think of to do, which was open his arms and pull his Master into a tight embrace. "No, Sam--you don't understand--please--" Frodo twisted against him, stirring echoes of the night before.
"Just you hush there for a minute, sir," he commanded, and Frodo stopped struggling. His mouth hovered near the tip of his Master's ear, mostly because he didn't think he could speak with those eyes on him. Words, find the right words--"First off, as far as 'assaulting' goes, I'd think that a hobbit who could lift you easier than a sack of potatoes might be more than equipped to--fight off any--unwanted--advances. If you take my meaning, sir." He didn't look, couldn't look, but Frodo was very still in his arms. "And as far as you writin' any letter on my behalf... well, sir, if it ain't stepping out of my place too much--you'd best toss it into the fire. Much as I like your handwriting. You'd have to do a good deal more than that to drive me away. ...And as for lovin' me, sir, well... I wish I knew some poetry or the like to say back, to tell you how much I--I love you--but I don't know of any that seems fit, not hardly, so if you could find it in your heart to forgive a poor, silly gardener for keeping his fool mouth shut so long--he'd appreciate it."
"Oh, Sam, don't say this to please me."
"By the Lady, sir, I'm not, I'm saying it because it's the truth." Sam felt tears slipping down his own cheeks and chuckled a little. What would any of the neighbors say should they come to call and find the two bold adventurers holding each other and bawling their eyes out? "And beggin' your pardon, Mister Frodo, but it's me as should be apologizing for last night. It's..." he paused. "Sir, exactly how much do you remember--why didn't you tell me you remembered? You said, all the times before, you said you'd no idea about the sick days."
The reply was slightly muffled on the collar of Sam's shirt. "Some of them, I didn't. At least, I didn't remember much. It all feels fuzzy. Hazy, like it is when you've had enough brandy to be ill over."
"And some of them...?"
"Some of them are quite clear."
"Some of it was very clear."
"Oh." He shivered. "But then, why didn't you tell me...?"
"Admit that I remember making a fool of myself, treating you cruelly--throwing a saucer at you? I threw a saucer at you! You! Of all the..." Frodo pulled free then, returning to bracing himself on the counter. "I was embarrassed and ashamed of my actions. I thought it best to pretend it never happened."
"Are you ashamed about last night?"
"Sam, I..." He gazed out the window again, as if easier answers could be found on the horizon. "When I woke this morning, I felt I'd had the most wonderful dream. I thought I'd dreamed you and I making l... you and I being together. It was lovely and vivid in my mind. The kind of dream you'd like to memorize. I was thinking about it as I dressed, thinking it was the best of all the dreams I've had about you. Then... I stepped on one of your buttons." Frodo reached into his pocket and produced four of the matching buttons, cupping them in his palm. "I thought at first you must've lost one, but... well. Here they are." He handed them to Sam. In passing, their fingertips brushed. "And I looked at myself in the mirror... and I remembered it. Almost like it wasn't me. But it was. Oh, Sam, I attacked you--and the things I said...! Did I really say those things...?"
Sam pocketed the buttons. "Aye. If you mean about--oh, about watching me in the garden--"
A scarlet blush crept onto his Master's cheeks. "I talked about that?"
"You mentioned it, sir. ...Perhaps you'd tell me about it someday." Sam smiled a little, though his propriety alarm sounded like mad. What, Samwise Gamgee, flirt with the Master of Bag End? Never.
"Oh, Sam," Frodo couldn't help chuckle, still blushing like a rose. They caught each other's eyes, weighing their words carefully, oh so carefully, for it was a fragile path they walked, one easily washed away. "I truly didn't mean to take advantage. Did you... I didn't hurt you, did I...?"
"No, sir." A small quiet fell on the kitchen.
"...Did you like it?" Another dangerous question.
It was Sam's turn to blush. He stabbed at the kitchen floor with his left toe. "Aye, sir. I did."
"You know, Sam, you don't have to call me sir."
He dug the toe into the floor a little further, then looked up to meet a gaze that cut straight through to his heart. "I like calling you sir."
"Oh." Those blue eyes widened in understanding. "Oh." Frodo seemed to notice the bowl of egg again, drawing it close. He swallowed before he spoke, his voice thick. "Suppose I should think about finishing what I start."
"Be a waste otherwise. ...Would you like some help with that?" Sam stepped forward, fully intending to help whisk or grease the pan. Instead he found himself mere inches away from the object of his desire, unable to dwell on anything but the feel of skin against skin, the ferocity of those kisses--"Sir."
"That I would, Sam."
He reached for the bowl and met Frodo's hand there, his Master's slender digits folding into his rough palm like they belonged. A jolt skipped through Sam. He bent without thinking, instinct guiding him down to the place where eyelashes fluttered against his cheek. He nuzzled the warm flesh there, sliding the tip of his nose against Frodo's so they felt each other's excited, shaky breaths escape.
"Sir...?" He whispered, seeking permission. As he spoke, the edge of Sam's lips grazed skin.
If there came an answer, the words were swallowed between them. The distance vanished as their mouths met, soft and warm, lips closed but achingly tender. It was the lightest of touches and it shook Sam to the core. He broke off, gasping, but Frodo didn't let him escape so easily. He tightened his grip in Sam's and leaned in, lips parted slightly. This time, the kiss couldn't be mistaken for chaste. Sam's free hand rose to bury itself in that shock of dark curls, earning him a small moan of approval. They stayed that way for several minutes, exploring every curve and swell of lip.
They broke apart, breathing heavily. Gently Sam unlaced his fingers from the curls, smoothing them back before dropping his hand, blushing anew as Frodo studied his face. "Sam?" He whispered, an uncertainty baring itself. "You--you understand I'd never--demand anything of you--that you--didn't want to... I won't hold you to any promises you haven't made." Frodo pressed a swift kiss to the side of his jaw. "And I'm sorry for the letter. Know, Sam, I would never let you go... unless you wanted to leave."
"I don't want to leave." He squeezed Frodo's hand and received a gentle squeeze in return. "Ever."
"That's an awfully long time." His Master smiled, but the smile again didn't quite touch his eyes. They were hopeful, but it reminded Sam of all those times during the journey when he would speak of home and Frodo would try to echo the sentiments--but it was plain as bread and butter that Frodo didn't believe them, not really. Perhaps he still thought Sam was trying to please him? Perhaps he thought Sam really would bed him out of friendship and loyalty--no desire involved. Well, that just wouldn't do.
"Sir--" Sam almost lost his nerve at uttering the word. "I should say I'm sorry, too."
"For last night." Sam hurried on. "I mean, sir, I would never have allowed that to happen... just I never thought I'd get another chance." This time the blush was furious. If he didn't stop with the embarrassment soon, he thought he might go permanently red. "I didn't think you could.... and I should've... waited, like. Asked. Done things properly." His voice lowered until it was almost a mumble. "Not that I'm saying that you'd--not that I--" he borrowed a leaf from Frodo, "I wouldn't hold you to anything, sir. I mean--not unless you wanted to be--held to--oh, dear--I'm not very practiced at this sort of thing."
"Neither am I." The smile spread through those stormy eyes, chasing away the clouds. A grin like that was rare enough these days in Bag End. It made Sam's pulse race to think he'd been the cause. He couldn't help but laugh aloud--because how silly was it to be standing in front of the kitchen window of the greatest, most proper house in Hobbiton, crying and kissing and making clear that you'd like to seduce your employer? Then Frodo laughed along, and Sam for one sincerely hoped he understood the joke, but didn't bother to find out.
The chuckle subsided, leaving them soaked in quiet. Sam found himself studying their twined fingers. They laced firmly together, ivory against bronze, and it seemed to Sam that if you could sketch out a moment, if you could press it between the pages of a book like a flower, if you could save it, note-perfect--he would save this one. And that's exactly how he would've put it to Frodo--only the look on his face--like he knew. It didn't need saying.
"Did you get any sleep last night?" Frodo suddenly asked.
"A little." Which was the truth, though Sam neglected to mention the part about Frodo lying on top of him at the time. "Enough to get through the day all right."
"You've got circles." He brushed a fingertip under Sam's right eye.
"It's no bother." Really, it isn't, keep touching me.
Frodo raised a skeptical brow. "You're taking a nap after we eat. No arguments." That dizzying smile came back.
"'Course not, sir."
"Go on--help yourself--I'll get these eggs sorted and join you." Frodo went back to his bowl and left Sam to pour himself another cup of tea.
Sam set the table. He didn't touch the stack of griddle cakes yet, only put out the syrup, butter, and jam. He slid into the seat towards the window, facing Frodo at the counter. Sam took a sip of tea, laid the cup down and put his chin in his hands, resting his elbows on the table.
And he looked.
Sam hit the pillow in his own bedroom about an hour later, perfectly satisfied in nearly all ways. Even though he wasn't terribly hungry, he'd eaten more than a good helping of griddle cakes. There was something about the way Frodo watched him lift forkfuls into his mouth that made him want to continue eating. There was a certain attraction, Sam mused, remembering the way Frodo's soft pink tongue lapped at the syrup left on his fork. And then there was the incidental little fact that--
Frodo loved him!
Frodo loved him, loved him, loved him--and he'd said he loved him back! He felt like dancing, he felt a little drunk, and if he wasn't truly exhausted he might go back into the kitchen and try something even braver than the confessions.
"He loves me," Sam whispered quietly to the ceiling. It did not come crashing down. Happiness. He curled on one side, unfastening the buttons at his cuffs and the one at his collar. Buttons. Sam reached into his pocket and pulled out the four that had been, ahem, lost. These buttons, he decided, wouldn't again see a shirt. Sam opened the drawer on his night table and reached back for a small, carved box. The buttons went inside. He tucked the box away in the drawer and let himself relax, not bothering with covers. Sam felt warm and cozy, no blankets necessary.
He woke with the hairs on the back of his neck prickling. There hadn't been a noise, but Sam felt eyes--someone watched him.
Light through the window suggested late afternoon. Another near whole day gone. His Gaffer would give him a talking to he'd not soon forget if he happened to stroll by the gardens and see them untended. Granted, the Gaffer wasn't quite so mobile these days, but he had a nasty sixth sense about shirkers.
"...Sam?" The whisper spread over him like a drizzle of honey. He rolled towards the door, blinking back the clinging remains of sleep. "Sam?" Frodo reclined against the doorjamb, one ankle crossed over the other as if he'd been standing there for quite some time. "I hate to wake you. ...You seemed so--peaceful."
There hardly seemed a response to that thoughtful expression. For all that he was fully clothed, Frodo had a way of staring that made Sam feel bare. "S'all right, sir. Shouldn't be sleeping the day away. How would I ever get to bed tonight?" A wave of heat rose in him under that stare. The bedroom felt close and intimate. Had Frodo been watching him sleep? For how long?
"I went for a walk." Frodo suddenly blurted. "Went past the Row. Marigold said she'd be up for the washing. I know you like to visit with her, so I thought I'd--wake you. So--I have. Ah--I should--yes. Well." He nodded, businesslike, and turned to go.
"Thank you, sir," Sam called, and it earned him the flicker of a mysterious smile as Frodo drifted off down the hall. Sam watched him go, wandering just what to do now. What was expected? What should he--should he go about work as usual? Naturally, he'd do his job, of course, but what was he allowed--could he have a kiss whenever he wished? Could he have more? Was it a product of too much loneliness, a one-time event? Maybe Frodo was regretting the morning. Maybe he hadn't burned that letter after all, maybe he was waiting until he'd gotten up the nerve to--
"Stop it, stop it, stop it," he hissed to his reflection in the glass. A disgruntled, pillow-creased face scowled back at him.
If he loves you so much, why didn't he wake you with a kiss? Even a touch on the arm?
"Stop it." He closed his eyes and thought of the morning, thought of kissing in front of the kitchen window, thought of holding--"He loves me. He said so and it isn't like Mr. Frodo to say things he don't mean." This helped quell his doubts, but his stomach still felt uneasy. Wanting something and knowing you'll never have it--that was a bitter, familiar potion. This new brew of possibility--it went down heady and sweet, but also frighteningly strange.
Conversation with Marigold was pleasant as always. She was Sam's favorite sister, and lately the only hobbit that saw him as he'd been before the long journey. Marigold would ruffle his hair no matter how many important hobbits tipped him nods in the marketplace. She usually took supper with Sam--sometimes with Frodo, sometimes without. This evening his Master barely stopped in long enough to politely excuse himself from the table before shutting himself up in the study. In some ways it was a relief. Sam didn't think he'd be able to hold his end of the conversation with Frodo in the same room. In other ways--maybe Frodo was avoiding him.
By twilight she'd taken the laundry and was off down the lane. Sam rinsed the dishes and loaded up a plate with some scones. He placed it on a tray with a cup of tea and padded down the corridor. The study door was shut. Even before this morning, being in the study made him feel shivery. It wasn't that it was off limits, goodness knows he went in every now and again to trade books or to clean, but even when Frodo was elsewhere, his imprint stayed behind--even more so in the study than in the master bedroom. The study was Frodo's sanctuary, his stronghold--his lair. Sam rapped his knuckles lightly on the wood. He was answered by a small crash.
Sam opened the door to his Master, sprawled on his back on the floor, a large stack of books scattered around him. "Sir--are you all ri--"
"Fine, I'm fine..." He rolled to his feet like a cat. "Oh! You brought tea," he exclaimed, taking the tray out of Sam's hands.
"The chapter's hardly coming along. I thought I'd take a break; rearrange the study a bit."
"So that the books are on the floor, sir?"
Frodo perched on the edge of the desk. "It does make them easier to reach."
"Aye, if you can pick your way through the piles." Another chore for tomorrow. "Will you be wanting some supper?"
"No--I'll fend for myself if the mood strikes me." Frodo bit into a scone. "I think these'll do. They're very good."
He mumbled a thank you, stepping back for the door. Frodo didn't want company--of course he wouldn't. He naturally would've seen the error in this morning's events and decided the most dignified course was to completely ignore they'd happened. It wasn't that he didn't care--of course he cared, but not in that particular way--really, it was a testament to the fact that Frodo cared that he was willing to let the matter go in such a polite way, allowing Sam the opportunity to grieve in private where he wouldn't feel so ashamed--
"Sam? Are you all right?"
"'Course I am. Sorry--holler if you need anything, sir." He got as far as the corridor.
"Are you sure you won't join me...?" Frodo tilted his head to one side. "If you're not too busy?"
A thrill shot through him from head to foot. Sam sucked in a breath, steadying his voice before he replied. "I'll fetch another cup." He stole into a corridor already well dark as daylight faded.
The teapot and a cup were ready at hand. He felt a little giddy, and more than a little ashamed at his willingness to believe it had all been a misunderstanding. Oh, but it had to be, didn't it, because how could any of this possibly have happened and then turned out for the good? How could it be that Samwise Gamgee had given over to temptation--and been rewarded? Perhaps his Master reclined in his study chair at this very moment, nibbling a scone and planning...
Slow down, Sam. "'S not like he said a word. He asked you to drink a cup of tea with him. That's all. He certainly ain't..." Sam muttered to himself. "...Lyin' in wait." Oh, but what if he was?
Approaching footfalls heralded Frodo's entry into the kitchen. Sometime during the day he'd changed out of the pale blue shirt into one spun of soft white linen, uncharacteristically untucked on one side. His thumbs hooked into his braces.
"D'you need something, sir?"
"Thought I might drag out a bottle of wine."
"I can get that for you."
"I'm not crippled, Sam, despite the rumors," he grinned, lighting a candle for the trip down into the cellar. Sam couldn't resist holding open the door and keeping watch as Frodo descended. A cool draft wafted up from the dark. Frodo's cupped hand kept the flame alive.
"Do you need me to carry for you, sir?" Sam mentally kicked himself for that one. He can certainly fetch a bottle of wine on his own, can't he? It wasn't even so much the fetching part--it was that Frodo was heading down into a dark place. Even though the place in question was one Sam personally cleaned and kept free of dangers, his guard went up.
Frodo glanced backward, considering. "I might put your good taste to use. Come on, then."
He followed down the steps.
The cellar was regaining its strength, much like they themselves had, by degrees. The collection of wines wasn't near to the splendor it had been in Bilbo's time, but was highly respectable in the wake of all that had happened. The racks, though no longer full, stretched above the reach of even the tallest hobbit's arms. Bilbo'd had ordered them specially made for Bag End, as the story went, but hadn't taken into account that the makers, craftsmen from the north lands, weren't quite clear on the actual size of a hobbit. Instead of sending the racks on a long journey back to their makers, Bilbo had done a very sensible thing and invested in a sturdy stepladder. The racks themselves were lovely things to behold--it was almost a shame that they should be destined to live in the dark. Iron twisted into loops that would cradle bottles of many sizes and shapes. Those loops sprung around rows of shelves like vines, the metalwork so artful that even elven smiths would appreciate them.
Frodo held the candle up to shine on a row of the handwritten labels. "What do you think, Sam?" The candlelight flickered over his Master's features. He stretched up, balancing on tip-toe to reach high on the rack. "We've got some of Tuckborough's finest stashed up here somewhere... ah-ha!" From above, a dark, muddy colored bottle appeared. It bore no label, not even hand-written.
"Are you sure that's--" he began.
"I kept the label off so as to discourage any invaders. Not real invaders," Frodo corrected, "but rather the lost partygoing kind. Here. Let's make sure, shall we?" He lifted the bottle to his lips.
"Sir, you don't need to--I can get a cork... screw... for..." The sentence lost momentum the moment Frodo's lips closed about the tip of the cork. His Master's rather undignified talent for opening wine bottles wasn't usually so fascinating. Then again, Frodo usually didn't look as though he were giving the bottle a bit of a suck, his hand wrapped firmly about the stem. As Sam watched, his Master's lips slid back over the tip of the bottle. He held the cork between his teeth, twisting and working the bottle to ease it out. Finally, Frodo pulled it free with a dull 'pop'.
Sam groaned softly, now thankful for the dark. His mind had whirled with doubts, but his body had been sure of what it wanted since he woke. He pressed one hand against the opposite wine rack to keep his knees from buckling.
His Master placed the candle down on an empty shelf, set the cork down next to it, and took a drink from the bottle. The muscles in his throat worked, swallowing once, twice. Frodo lowered the bottle and Sam glimpsed an edge of silken tongue as it rescued a stray drop.
"...Good?" Sam managed to gasp out.
Frodo wordlessly passed him the bottle. Sam took it in a shaky grip and lifted it. The wine was rich and fragrant. Not quite a rival to the Old Winyards, but one that would easily fit in at a king's table. He swallowed quickly and lowered it, offering it back to Frodo.
"Good...?" Frodo asked, taking the bottle.
"Very good," Sam answered, at a loss for what to say next. "We... the study...?" He heard himself offer, and wondered how in the world he was going to make it up the stairs in this state.
"No. I mean--" Frodo shook his head, his curls tossing about. He looked a bit flushed now, even in the candlelight. "Oh, Sam... would you..." He suddenly changed his mind, put the bottle to his lips, and swallowed another draught. It came away quickly, leaving Frodo's parted lips gently stained with red. "If you'd like to... Sam? If you'd like to--would you... might I have a kiss?" He finished, a guarded expression rising, as if Sam might swat him down.
"Aye," he whispered and covered the distance between them in one step, taking Frodo's face in his hands. "Aye," Sam repeated, the request singing through his blood. Their lips met much as they had that morning in the kitchen, the kiss gentle and loving. And that was all Sam intended to do, all he'd been asked for. A simple kiss, but it was like kindling a fire in a hayloft.
Frodo's lips were warm and welcoming, slightly damp from the wine, clinging to him as if separation meant the very earth would shatter. Sam stroked his Master's cheeks, marveling. Heat pooled in him, settling tight in his chest and sinking its way lower.
Sam pressed his advantage, opening his lips the way Frodo had that morning, letting the kiss fill with rushes of air and tiny gasps. One of his hands slipped into Frodo's hair--how soft it was, how he wanted to comb his fingers through it forever--the other arm slid around his Master's waist, dragging him closer. He wanted--
"Sam--" Frodo leaned away, breaking off. "I need to... put this... down." The opened bottle found its way clumsily onto a shelf next to the candle, jarring it off and onto the floor where the flame sputtered and died. The only light was a very faint glow from the kitchen.
Neither of them moved for a fraction of a second, and then Frodo leapt--his arms twined about Sam's shoulders. Their mouths met hungrily, each in turn tasting the wine on the other's lips before opening even further and edging the tips of their tongues together.
Sam held him tighter, sure he was melting, melting away, dissolving on Frodo's tongue like a piece of candy. He released his hold on his Master's curls, trailing his knuckles over the smooth skin at the back of his neck, caressing down the length of his spine. He felt Frodo's shudder as Sam stopped at his lower back, rubbing away a knot of tension.
His Master seemed to lose control, his jaw slack, eyes closed. His forehead rested against Sam's, their curls mingling. Sam might have asked what the matter was, but the moan that tore from Frodo's throat silenced him. It echoed in the cellar, low and primal, and before he realized he'd been urging it, Frodo bucked against him, driving their hips together. Through two layers of breeches, the evidence of his Master's desire pressed against his thigh just long enough steal a moment of friction and withdraw.
Frodo gulped air. "Sam."
"Yessir?" He managed to choke out, far too absorbed by the gentle rocking motion he'd coaxed from Frodo's hips.
"We--ungh--have to move this..."
"What?" A wash of reality flowed back. He'd been slowly edging forward--Frodo was nearly crushed to the wine racks. Falling bottles would not be good. "Ah--right you are, sir." On some level it occurred to him that the most decorous way to proceed would be to lead his Master up the stairs to his bedroom.
Sam hands slipped lower, caressing the taut flesh of his Master's backside before cupping it and drawing that gloriously quivering hobbit against him, lifting ever so slightly. Frodo took the hint, winding the arms about his shoulders tighter and kicking his legs up easily to wrap around Sam's middle. Oh, that felt good, better than anything, and Sam barely made it beyond the racks to find a bare expanse of wall before pinning his Master to it with the weight of his body. Frodo grunted softly, shifting and locking his ankles behind Sam. "Did I hurt--"
"Never," Frodo hissed in pleasure, his head tilted back, baring his throat. He wriggled out of his braces easily while Sam found that if he put all his weight forward, his knees almost touching the wall, he could put his hands to work at a better cause--removing clothes. He worried at the buttons on Frodo's shirt, cursing at how disagreeable some of their clothes were--Frodo's in particular. Did anyone really need eight pearl-sized buttons? He'd managed three when Frodo crossed one arm over the other, grabbed both ends of the shirt and pulled it over his head, flinging it into the darkness. His Master grinned then, as if surprised at himself. "Taking too long," he offered, and bent for another kiss, this time nipping Sam's lower lip before he invaded, eagerly thrusting his tongue in time with the grind of their arousals. Sam shifted to loosen the top button on his own shirt and possibly try out this new maneuver when impatient fingers tugged at the stays on his breeches.
Sam absently unbuttoned his shirt, a little lightheaded from the brush of fingertips no more than two thin layers of cloth from a place where they'd be most welcome. Frodo slid aside the flaps and Sam couldn't breathe because he was almost, almost--
A warm palm circled his girth, lifting him free of his small clothes. "Let me down for a moment," he heard, and Sam obeyed, leaning back enough to let Frodo drop to his feet. He shrugged out of his shirt and risked a glance down between their bodies. Sam's eyes had adjusted to the dark enough to discern the line of pale, almost glowing skin--skin that shone like moonlight. Frodo eased himself out of his breeches one-handed, the other firmly holding Sam's length. As the breeches puddled around his Master's feet, there wasn't much else to be done but for Sam to shimmy carefully out of his remaining garments.
Now there was nothing between them. Sam pressed his palms against the wall on either side of Frodo's head, afraid he would lose balance as he was slowly stroked. The touch was light, experimental, a caress that began at the base and dragged to the tip. Sam's cock wept fluid, begging for release whether his mouth could find the words or not. Frodo's thumb pressed into the leaking drops, rubbing them about the smooth head in small circles.
"You're so hard," Frodo whispered, awe creeping into his voice.
Want boiled under Sam's skin. The teasing stroke wasn't what he needed. With a firm kiss he bent down, dug his fingers in under Frodo's bottom and lifted, setting him back against the wall. His Master found their previous position easily, the smooth heat of his thighs enfolding Sam like warm velvet. It seemed remarkable to Sam that they fit so well together, but he wasn't allowed to dwell on their joining for long.
"Ahh--yes--" Frodo thrust eagerly against Sam, his back pushed into the wall for leverage. The sturdier hobbit was hard pressed to control that wild, fey creature in his arms for a moment before he planted his feet and drove on, grinding himself against Frodo's flushed need. Sam gave up trying to keep quiet, murmuring disjointed endearments and guttural noises of approval. His Master clawed at his back, trying to pull Sam closer. For a split second Sam wished Frodo had longer nails, the kind that would leave angry red scratches across the width of his shoulders.
"That's it, Sam, that's the--way--ah," Frodo moaned into his mouth, leaning in to grab a deep kiss before he surrendered to the forceful thrusts, his pebbled nipples dragging over Sam's chest.
Oh, but he just had to--had to touch them. Had to lick them--Sam risked shifting a bit, losing some of the glorious friction that was drawing him tighter than a bowstring, and took one of those hard, rosy nubs between his lips, suckling until Frodo yelled his name. "Sam...!" The need in those piercing blue eyes cut right to Sam, who settled Frodo back into a rhythm pounding with one intent--to bring them home. His eyes shut, the cellar alive with echoes of flesh against flesh.
Violet light drifted behind Sam's eyelids. "Please--" he cried suddenly, his body thrumming with an amazing tension. He felt as if he might literally burst into flame when a softly warm cheek nuzzled his own.
"Come for me, Sam."
With one last thrust he hurtled over the edge, sobbing Frodo's name as he shot his release between their bodies. Frodo cried out against him, arching and slipping his hand down over his stomach, rescuing a pearly drop and bringing it to his lips. He tasted Sam and bucked hard, his ankles unlocking and stretching out. He squeezed Sam's hips between his thighs and came over his belly, his keening wail sounding in the rafters of Bag End.
For a time they did nothing but breathe.
"Have to sit..." Sam said weakly, sinking to his knees. Frodo came with him, captive, as Sam hadn't relaxed his hold. He felt opened and raw to the world, like a creature newborn, and wondered that he was weeping gently.
Frodo dropped his head to rest in the crook of Sam's neck, tongue flicking out to catch a tear as it rolled over his chin. His mouth followed the trail upward, lapping every tear away. He placed a soft kiss on Sam's brow. "Sam, love...?" Frodo asked.
"I don't know." He was afraid he might sob outright. "It's... oh, it was you that time, it was really you, and I..." Frodo caught his mouth, hushing him, and Sam was glad to be quiet, to drink in the little pleased sigh that crept from his Master.
Frodo finally broke off, smiling. "You're salty, Master Gamgee." Which brought up a lazy blush. "I do love you." He added after a long moment. "You know that, but... I do. Love you, that is. Very much. You do know that, Sam?"
A laugh bubbled in his throat. "Love you too, sir." Frodo grinned again and ducked in to explore the arch of Sam's neck.
He threw back his head, murmuring encouragement. Sam found himself not for the first time that day staring up towards the ceiling.
It did not come crashing down.
Back to Slash Story Listing