West of the Moon

A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive

 

 

A Yuletide Carol
One Yuletide Frodo is visited by some unusual ghosts. Loosely based on Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol".
Author: Cassiopeia
Rating: NC-17

 

This story was written for the hobbit_smut Livejournal Community "In the Wardrobe! Under the Bed!" Challenge.
 

Aunt Dora was dead. To begin with. Frodo Baggins knew that, all of Hobbiton knew that, and most of the residents of the four farthings knew that, too. That undoubtable fact must be understood clearly before the rest of this story is read. Frodo Baggins had indeed attended Dora's funeral, held on a dark and stormy day four winters back. The rainclouds had held their burden till the poor hobbit-woman was laid into the ground, after which the mourners hurried to the erected pavilion to feast on chicken and dumplings and apple tarts and hot cider.

So there was no doubt Aunt Dora was dead.

Frodo wasn't thinking about Aunt Dora or death or anything else so grisly, one cold Yuletide eve. He was at his desk, dutifully making a list of something or other, though his mind was not on this said list, either. His mind, in fact, was on his gardener, who was somewhere in Bag End coaxing a fire to burn, or shutting the windows, or doing what he usually did when the evening came. Yet Frodo's mind was not on his gardener doing such chores, though they would afford a lovely view, especially when Sam got down on his hands and knees and blew on the little licks of flames in the fireplace.

Frodo idly scratched the number 3 on his paper while thinking about what it would be like to alternately suck Sam's shaft and then thrust into that delightful bottom of his. Yes, it was quite a nice fantasy; though perhaps not particularly realistic, quite nice all the same. Frodo wondered what Sam would taste like, maybe sharp and musky, or maybe just a certain flavour that was all of Sam's own. Whatever Sam tasted like, Frodo was willing to bet every last book in Bag End that he tasted delicious.

The exact time when Frodo began to have these thoughts he couldn't pin down. It must have been a slow melding of the crush Frodo had beforehand (the handsome lad down the road called Ringo, who possessed the most luxurious of dark curls) with a crush on Samwise, whose golden hair Frodo would like to play with a great deal as well. But Frodo would not say a word, nor betray his feelings in the slightest. For Rosie Cotton had been swishing her skirts and tossing her hair at Sam for many months now, and though Sam had not reciprocated, Frodo thought it wouldn't be long before that hussy -- lass -- tripped Sam into places Frodo would rather not contemplate.

"Sir." Sam stood beside Frodo, flushed from exertion, and as usual looking particularly edible.

"Yes, Sam?" Frodo gave silent thanks to the desk for covering the hotness in his groin.

"I'm ready to go home, Mr. Frodo, if that's all right."

While Frodo silently begged for Sam to stay the night, he said, "Yes, thank you, you may go."

The corners of Sam's earth-brown eyes crinkled just the slightest bit, and he chewed at his lip, as if he had something on his mind. "Sir," he said, then hesitated. "Sir, Mum's cooking Yuletide lunch tomorrow, and you're welcome to come. There's enough--"

Frodo waved his hand. "I'm all right, Sam. I shall cook up something myself."

"But you'll be all alone!" protested Sam. "Nobody ought to be alone on Yuletide!"

"Please, Sam. I'll--" Frodo swallowed. "I'll be all right. Do thank your mother for inviting me."

Sam stared for a moment, then nodded, defeated. "Yes, sir. Good night."

"Goodnight, Sam."

After Sam left, Frodo laid his head in his arms, listening to the silence of the smial.

*

As the twilight approached, and the day grew colder, Frodo went to the hallway and took his coat. He shrugged it on and opened the front door, and the silvery garden bloomed before him, coated in the moon's light. Clouds were gathering in the sky above, eager to swallow the moon. Shutting the door, he went down the garden path, pushed open the gate and began to walk down the road, a silent figure in the evening.

The wind whistled downhill, and light smudged the smials' windows everywhere Frodo looked. Happy laughter seeped from the doors and windows of the smials, but Frodo put his chin to his breast and hurried on.

His footsteps crunched on the gravel, cold and hard beneath his furred feet. Shivering, Frodo looked ahead. Hobbiton lay sprawled below, and little dark figures bustled around like ants, intent on gathering last minute goods for Yuletide lunch. Frodo wandered among the crowded streets, nodding to plump hobbit-wives or small lads whenever they said "hullo!" But he did not stop to speak to anybody, and when he saw Lobelia carrying her mean-looking umbrella, he darted through the crowd quick as he could, and made it halfway up the Hill before the rain began to cry down.

At last, sopping and miserable, Frodo stumbled upon Bag End's door. He moved his hand to turn the knob, but he gasped and blinked instead. For a moment, it appeared as though Bilbo's brass knocker had turned into Aunt Dora's face. Which, it must be said, is quite absurd, given the knocker did not bear any resemblance to Dora whatsoever, except perhaps to her nose, which had been slightly hooked.

Frodo had not given Aunt Dora a thought for many weeks. She had died years ago, and though she had been kindly to him when he was a boy at Brandy Hall, he had quite forgotten about her. Whilst turning away from the monstrosity of seeing his Aunt's face on his Uncle's knocker, Frodo remembered being crushed by Dora's enormous bosom whenever she gave him a hug, and the way she smelled of wet cabbages, and the way he'd discreetly wipe his cheek when she covered him in kisses.

The moment did not last long, and when Frodo glanced back the knocker was ordinary once again, and Frodo laughed nervously, thinking perhaps he was getting a head cold.

*

Water bubbled on the hob. Frodo took the tea to his room, lit a candle, stirred the fire and sank into a chair. He had changed into his nightshirt and dressing gown, and left his pile of wet clothes to be laundered. His hair was curling dry, and he slowly warmed up by the fire as he sipped his tea.

The tea finished at last, Frodo now felt pleasantly warm, maybe even hot. Very hot, in some places. He smiled, and let his hand drift down to the cord of his dressing gown, where he parted the material with his fingers and started a few downward strokes. That not being quite enough to settle the fires, he drew up his nightshirt, loosened his gown and pulled himself out, all shiny and coral and most definitely hard.

"Ahh," he murmured as he sank his bottom into the comfy chair. He gripped himself, and had begun a nice and steady rhythm when the room suddenly chilled, and the fire flickered, died, then sprang back to life.

"Frodo Baggins!" said a snooty, prudish voice. "Put that away this instant."

Quick as a wink Frodo shoved his impatient shaft back behind his robe, startled half to death. He hadn't, thank goodness, been caught doing this particular activity before. And, certainly, he'd never been caught by a ghost, which must be who the voice belonged to.

For, who should be standing not three feet away, dressed in a long, silky gown, but Aunt Dora, her short arms folded across her worthy breasts. Now, as has been stated, Aunt Dora was most certainly dead, and Frodo could see his bed through her belly, and so Frodo drew the most logical conclusion: he was looking at a ghost.

Frodo trembled. "I'm sorry, Aunt," he said, leaping from the chair. "I was not expecting--"

"A ghost!" Dora proclaimed with relish. Her eyebrows narrowed. "No, I think you were not."

Frodo stared. Dora looked the same as she had done when Frodo was just a lad: brown curls piled upon her head, feet neatly combed, and plump lips that still gave Frodo the occasional shiver. Except, of course, that Frodo could see right through her, which assuredly he couldn't all those years ago.

"You cannot be real," said Frodo, a little more weakly than he would have liked to. "You must be that glass of wine I drank before dinner, or that biscuit I nibbled for tea, or...or that fish I had for lunch. Yes, yes, that must be it." Frodo nodded, pleased with himself.

Dora raised an eyebrow. "Is that so, Frodo?" She took a step forward and pinched Frodo on the arm, hard.

"Ouch!" Frodo yelped, jumping back with fright. She was terribly cold.

"Though I should probably be pinching other areas," muttered Dora, with a shake of her head.

"Well...well." Frodo was shaking at this revelation. "What is it you want, O Spirit of Aunt Dora?"

"I," said Dora dramatically, "am here to help you!"

"I don't need help," Frodo said sullenly.

"Bah!" A great gust of air -- real air, for Frodo felt it chill his brow -- came from the Spirit's mouth. "You do need help."

"With what?" Curiosity as to why he was being pestered by his long dead Aunt's ghost was overcoming Frodo's fear. A little.

"Now, now, telling you would spoil the fun. You, Frodo Baggins," Dora lifted a ghostly finger and pointed it at Frodo, "will be haunted by Three Spirits."

Frodo gasped. "O, but why, O Spirit of Aunt Dora?" he cried out.

The Spirit of Aunt Dora ignored him. "The first shall come tonight, when the clock tolls One. The second the following night at One, and the last the night after the next, at, of course, One."

Frodo fell to his knees. "O Spirit. Have I done something wrong?"

"No, it's more a matter of what you haven't been doing. Or done, my lad. Ta-ta, and have a merry Yuletide!"

Frodo gaped in astonishment as Aunt Dora slowly dissipated like pipe smoke, until naught was left but a slight coldness in the air, and the burning embarrassment of being caught wanking by an elderly aunt.

"Well," Frodo muttered, "that was rather strange." After staring at the spot where Dora had disappeared for a good ten minutes, Frodo ambled to his bed and fell atop the blankets, too tired to even cover himself. Whether it was the strain of his ghostly encounter, or his thoughts of Samwise, or his walk to Hobbiton, or the ache of his long-suffering groin, Frodo soon was asleep, and the clock ticked on.

*

Frodo awoke with a start. It was dark. All was quiet, as if the world was taking a deep breath. His head felt liked mashed potatoes. He wondered why for a moment, then remembered.

Ghost...Aunt Dora...Wanking...Spirit of Aunt Dora...Bother...

Frodo passed a hand before his eyes. "I must have imagined it," he whispered, shivering a little. Perhaps he had, well, come too hard, and, well, hit his head. Something like that. Though -- Frodo laid a hand over his shaft -- he was throbbing, still. Stifling a yawn, Frodo turned onto his belly, tucking his hand under his thighs. That matter could be fixed easily enough.

As Frodo pounded into the mattress and pretend-kissed the pillow, his mind faintly registered the hallway clock striking once. He mustn't have slept very much at all, though this thought didn't really form properly in his consciousness. His consciousness was being overwhelmed by Oh yes, Sam, harder, oh, oh, please!

"Frodo Baggins!"

For the second time that night, and, perhaps, Frodo thought later, one too many times to be a coincidence, a Spirit interrupted Frodo's nocturnal activities.

Frodo rolled over, pulled his nightshirt over himself, gasped, trembled and cried out, "O, Spirit, what is it you want!"

No doubt it was a Spirit. Frodo could see right through him, through his worn breeches, through his too-tight weskit, and through his sixties (the 1360's, that is) haircut. The Spirit was a hobbit, from his ruddy, good-natured face to the hair curling on his transparent feet.

"I am the Ghost of Yuletide Past!" said the Spirit in a soft voice.

"Long past?" Frodo inquired mildly.

"No, your past."

"Oh."

The Spirit looked at Frodo, frowned, then said quietly, "Put your hand there."

"I beg your pardon," Frodo said incredulously.

"There," said the Spirit, laying his hand upon his heart.

"Oh."

Trembling quite a bit, Frodo reached forward and spread his fingers across the Spirit's heart, though, of course, he didn't have a heart, him being see-through. Coldness and wetness washed over Frodo's hand, and suddenly both hobbit and ghost passed through the walls of Bag End and were viewing a scene from high above.

The scene was of a family enjoying Yuletide luncheon. Not a large family, the wife was bringing a large, gleaming chicken to the table, while the husband poured dark wine from a decanter. Bowls of peas and carrots and squash adorned the table, as well as crocks of gravy and thickly-buttered bread and dumplings and other delicious things. A child, brown-haired and slim, sat at the table, his small hand curled around a fork as he waited for lunch to be served.

"That's me!" whispered Frodo, his fear of falling long gone. "When I was eleven. My last...my last Yuletide with -- with them." Frodo brushed at something in the corner of his eye. "Can they see me?"

"No, they cannot. They are unaware of our presence," said the Spirit.

"Prim, you're the best cook in the Eastfarthing!" said Drogo, his mouth full of roast potato.

"Don't talk with your mouth full," said Primula, though she was smiling. "Frodo-lad will copy you."

"I won't," said the child, his voice young but defiant. He used his fork to pick up a stick of carrot, put it in his mouth and chewed, fairly concentrating on keeping his mouth shut. He grinned when he had swallowed. "See?"

Primula and Drogo laughed, and set about clearing the table of food. Snow swirled about the windows, and the wind moaned outside. Little Frodo dug in hungrily, washing the food down with big gulps of creamy milk. He giggled when his Dad teased him about his milk moustache.

"I wish we could have gone to Brandy Hall," remarked Primula as she dished up custard and pudding for dessert. "It would have been nice to enjoy Yuletide with our family. It's too bad we couldn't travel."

"But we can have fun here, can't we?" piped up Frodo.

"Of course." Primula smiled at her son. "How about we read around the fire when we're finished here?"

Little Frodo nodded and dug into his pudding.

Frodo watched the family finish their meal and retire to the sitting room. Drogo tended to the fire, and Primula picked a book from a high shelf, and the family sat around the warm hearth. Primula and Drogo sat together on the sofa, and Drogo took his wife's hand and squeezed it tight. Drogo began to read, loud at first, then softer as the day wore on. Frodo sat at his mother's side, curled up, his cheek on her shoulder, till he fell asleep, and soon Primula fell asleep too, and last of all Drogo, the book open upon his lap. A happier family could not be found, it would seem.

Turning his head, Frodo said, "I remember that Yuletide. The weather prevented us from travelling to Buckland. But Mum and Dad decided to have a feast anyway. When we awoke we ate nuts and drank mulled cider and handed out presents. It was my favourite...favourite Yuletide."

The Spirit nodded. "Come, Frodo."

The scene changed again. Two hobbits were sitting on a sofa in what was a great library; shelves of tomes filled the walls, and heavy curtains hung at the windows. Only the fire and a few stray candles lit the room. Frodo and the Spirit stood a few feet from the hobbits, and the hobbits, of course, did not see them.

"It's Merry and I!" cried Frodo softly. "Oh, I think..."

"I'm so glad to get away from them," Merry was saying, rubbing his belly. "And I have a tummy ache. I think I ate too much."

"Me too," Frodo said. "Though I think my head hurts more than my stomach. Aunt Daffodil would not shut up about how pretty her daughter is." He dropped his face into his hands. "I really couldn't care less if her hair is like 'golden rain.'"

Merry laughed. "Dear Frodo." He leaned over and gave his cousin a quick hug. "You should have said you were perfectly happy with your other cousin."

"And who would that be, Merry?" Frodo chuckled.

Merry dropped his eyes and looked at his laced hands. "Me," he said quietly, "if you would like that."

Frodo's face became serious. "You know how...that I like...that I like..." he spluttered. "I thought I kept it a tight secret!"

"I saw you and Dodo ages ago," Merry blushed. "And I haven't stopped thinking about it since."

"Dearest Merry." Frodo moved closer to his cousin, wrapping his arms around Merry's shoulders. "I should like to very much."

"You're tipsy," suggested Merry.

"What!" Frodo laughed more in surprise. "So are you. Anyway, I'm sober enough to know I've thought about it."

"What?" breathed Merry.

"This." Frodo touched his lips to Merry's, and soon they were kissing quite ravenously, and Frodo's hands were wandering over Merry's small bottom.

"This is much better than Aunt Daffodil," giggled Merry, lying atop Frodo, and licking Frodo's neck. One hand was languidly working on the buttons of Frodo's shirt.  "You know, the chicken we had for lunch was very tasty, but I think...I think you would taste much better. Shall I?"

"Oh, yes, please."

Frodo glanced at the Spirit, blushing but smiling as the moans became louder and more pleading. His stomach knotted at the memory, and his shaft throbbed under his nightshirt. "That was a fine Yuletide," he said. "Though Aunt Daffodil did pursue me the whole time. I spent quite a bit of time in Merry's room."

The Spirit nodded knowingly.

"Oh, MERRY!"

Frodo jumped at that exclamation. "I didn't realise I was so loud," he muttered.

"Nobody heard," the Spirit said, and Frodo glanced at him, surprised to hear humour in his voice.

"Why are you showing me this?" Frodo asked. "These are lovely memories, and I treasure them, but it saddens me that I cannot be happy at Yuletide anymore. Since...since Bilbo left, I have been very much alone."

"Not alone," said the Ghost of Yuletide Past.

Frodo hesitated.

"What is it?" asked the Spirit.

"Nothing." Frodo shook his head. "I should have liked...but no." He looked at the two hobbits, wrapped in a pile of bare arms and legs, breathing heavily. "Take me from here! Stop haunting me! Begone, O Spirit of Yuletide Past!"

Light blazed before Frodo's eyes, and before he could say Samwise Gamgee he found himself in his own bed, tucked in snugly, the room dark around him. He was alone.

"Was it a dream?" Frodo asked his room. "But, no, it was real. I remember the ghost's touch. How can it be?" The room offered no answer. Sighing, Frodo closed his eyes, but the memories were as if burned into his mind, and his heart ached.

Drowsiness overcame Frodo, pulling him irresistibly into a long sleep.

*

Frodo woke in the middle of a snore. He wasn't sure if he had slept for a minute, or all through the next day. For all was still black around him. He lay still and thought. The vision of himself and Merry had brought back strong feelings. It was only during that Yuletide he and Merry had lain together, till Merry realised that he had fallen in love with his other cousin, Pippin. Since then, Frodo's love life had been non-existent. Unless he counted that quick kiss with Apple Bolger at a party last year. That lass had appalling breath that simply did not live up to her pretty name.

Oh, and then there was Sam.

Sam.

Frodo sighed luxuriously and gazed at the ceiling. The things he wanted to do to Sam! Kiss him till Sam was dizzy and breathless. Watch the sun colour Sam's cheeks as he lay sheltered in Frodo's arm. Pound into him as Sam moaned over and over. Make Sam come harder than he'd ever done before.

Frodo began to rise. He frowned. At that moment, the clock in the hallway began to toll one.

"Down, lad," he whispered.

Frodo had no desire to be caught again by a ghost. He began to tremble uncontrollably. After a few minutes of shivers and breath holding, no ghost had appeared. Perhaps it had been a very vivid dream. Perhaps.

Something caught Frodo's eye. The space between the carpet and the bottom of the door was glowing a bright orange. Fervently hoping the whole smial was not on fire, Frodo flung on his dressing gown and cautiously approached the door. No heat seemed to emanate from the other side of the door, so Frodo put his hand on the knob and turned it sharply.

An inferno of light assaulted Frodo.  "Wha--" he began, flinging his arm across his eyes.

When he found the courage, he lowered his arm and squinted. The brightness had dwindled to a warm glow. Bathed in the light was an old gammar, leaning heavily on a knobbed walking stick. Her grey hair was piled atop her head, and her lips curved up to a great grin. And, of course, Frodo could see the small table behind her. She was a ghost.

"Hullo, Frodo Baggins," husked the Spirit. She limped towards him and lifted her shaking hand to Frodo's cheek. Frodo bit back a cry, but allowed the ghost to touch him. It was as if somebody was dragging a block of ice down Frodo's face.

"O Spirit," cried Frodo. "Why are you here? You shouldn't arrive until tomorrow night!"

"It is and is not tomorrow," said the ghost, giving Frodo a toothed-filled smile.

Frodo tried to puzzle this out, thinking hard, then gave up. Instead, he said, "Who are you?"

"I am the Ghost of Yuletide Present," answered the Spirit. "Touch my skirt, Frodo!"

A little reluctantly, Frodo did. Immediately he was whisked away, colours smudging and fading on the periphery of his vision till a scene before his eyes resolved itself. A large family was sitting at a table. Three were sisters seemingly, for they all had long, wheat-coloured curls, and a lone brother had hair similarly coloured. Their parents sat at the table, smiling, despite one girl's shrill complaint.

"That's only a very small chicken!" she said. "Not enough for us all." The girl was nicely plump and rosy-cheeked.

"You can share some of mine," offered the brother, looking down at his own meagre portion.

"Nay, Sam, I was just saying, is all."

"It's Sam's family!" hissed Frodo. The Spirit nodded.

"Now, now," said Bell, giving May -- the buxom lass -- a quick look. "We couldn't afford anything larger this year, May, as your Dad got sick with influenza. Let's enjoy being together on Yuletide, aye?"

May blushed and started digging in to the vegetables on her plate. Marigold cleared her throat. "Did you invite Mr. Frodo again, Sam?"

Sam chewed on a bit of roast potato before answering. "I did, and he said nay." He paused, prodding a lump of gravy with his fork. "He'll be all alone in his smial." As if Sam could somehow catch a glimpse of Frodo, he looked out the window towards Bag End, though his view was blocked by the rise of the Hill.

"Well, you invited him, at least!" interjected the Gaffer. "There ain't more you can do. He don't want to come visit us."

Very quietly, Sam said, "Yes, sir, I 'spect that's true."

Tears filled Frodo's eyes. "No, Sam," he whispered. "That's not true at all."

"How is Sam to know otherwise?" said the ghost.

Frodo bit his lip. Why did he always refuse the invitation? And other invitations too, the ones from Brandy Hall and the Great Smials, begging him to visit for Yuletide. Once, Merry and Pippin came to implore him to dine with them on Yuletide, but Frodo refused. Before Bilbo had left, he and Frodo had had great feasts together, with huge roast chickens and glazed ham and rich puddings. Sometimes they invited the poorer hobbits to share their food, and once they had gone to the Gamgees' smial and eaten with them, bringing along all sorts of delicious food. Blinking, Frodo wondered if Bilbo's disappearance a few years ago was still a hidden ache in his heart, along with another new ache, one that tore him every day he couldn't touch sun-browned skin, or look deep into earth-coloured eyes.

The family were now eating slices of pudding, the lack of chicken and other extravagances far from their minds, for they were laughing and smiling, and May was teasing Sam about the spot of custard on his lip, and Frodo very much wanted to lick that spot up, thank you very much. Afterwards, the Gaffer leaned back and lit his pipe, watching fondly as his girls and wife cleared away the dishes, while Sam went to fetch some water from the well.

"They look happy," Frodo observed.

"They are," said the ghost. "But look at Sam."

Sam had come back with the water, and was now enjoying a smoke with his Dad, while his Mum and sisters washed the dishes. Sam was studying the table carefully, his eyes flicking out the window. He let out a huge sigh.

"Sam, you knew it was hopeless," said the Gaffer, blowing out a ring of smoke.

"Aye." Sam nodded sadly. "My heart hurts, Dad."

"Don't pine so," the Gaffer said. "It's a hard enough life without wanting something 'ee can't have, seemingly."

"Oh, Dad." Sam's voice was shaky. "I don't want nobody else."

"Aye, but Sam," said Hamfast wisely, "sometimes you got to settle on something else. You know there's somebody else as is wanting you."

Sam looked up. He sucked on his pipe, frowning. "You're right," Sam muttered. At that moment, Sam's sisters and mother tumbled into the room, giggling.

"Come, let's go sing and tell tales!" squealed Daisy, taking Sam's arm.

Sam chuckled and let himself be led away. The Gaffer followed slowly, helped by Bell, and the kitchen emptied.

"We should go," said the Ghost of Yuletide Present. Frodo nodded sadly and pinched the ghost's skirt between his thumb and forefinger. Immediately they were back in Frodo's bedroom. Frodo said nothing, just stared numbly into the corner of the dark room.

"Is there something on your mind?" the Spirit asked gently.

"No. Well, yes. I should like to have told Sam something," Frodo admitted.

"Ah," said the ghost, "you are beginning to see."

"See wha--" Frodo began, but the old woman had gone.

The fire still danced happily in the hearth; idly Frodo poked at it with a fire iron. Frodo's heart went out to Sam; he could not stop thinking about Sam's unhappy expression. My heart hurts, Dad. Yes, Frodo knew a thing or two about broken -- or near breaking -- hearts. But whose heart did Sam's belong to? Some lucky voluptuous lass no doubt, Frodo thought, stabbing at a log. But the lass didn't seem to want Sam. Frodo smiled darkly. A fool she is, not wanting Sam's sun-sweet kisses every morning, not wanting to hold his hand as they walk through a white-misted wood, not wanting his tongue--

Frodo started, well aware he was running to places he very much must try to avoid. He set the fire iron by the hearth with a clank and peeled off his dressing gown. He had just enough time to take four steps and collapse onto his bed before sleep cloaked him like veil.

*

Frodo awoke. As usual, it was still pitch-black. Shifting on his back, Frodo wondered if he'd ever wake up to warm sunshine again. And to Sam striding in to open the curtains, his sleeves falling down to reveal muscled arms... Sticklebacks! His earlier resolve had disappeared; how could he not think of Sam that way?

The tingly feeling down there was not helping much either. Frodo chewed his lip, torn. His hand itched to reach down there, but he wasn't sure if he might be disturbed. Yet again. Suddenly the clock in the hall sounded softly. Frodo counted under his breath. Nine...ten...eleven...twelve... It's twelve o'clock! Frodo had precisely one hour to finish his...business. Eagerly, he reached down and gently caressed himself through his nightshirt. Oh, it felt so good, this slow steady teasing! Closing his eyes, Frodo allowed himself to think of Sam, Sam's hand down there...doing that. He let out a hum of pleasure. He sighed. He gasped.

No, he did not gasp.

Frodo's eyes sprang open, and he cried in alarm.

Standing at the end of Frodo's bed was a lass, a hobbit lass, perhaps just short of coming of age. Her soft brown curls fell about her shoulders, and her breasts were plump and round beneath her pink dress. In fact, Frodo noticed her chest was heaving.

"Don't stop," she said in a breathless voice. "I can wait."

"You -- you are the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come?" Frodo said, pulling his hand away from where it had been occupied.

"Yes," answered the ghost, giggling as if she had just heard a delightful joke.

Frodo frowned. "But you are not supposed to be here for another hour, Miss."

The girl shrugged and patted her curls. "I heard what you were doing, and..." She trailed off and blushed prettily.

"I don't appreciate being caught, if it's all the same to you," said Frodo.

"Oh!" The lass waved her hand. "Stop worrying. I know you don't worry about who your bedmates are anymore." The ghost winked.

Frodo decided that it was probably best not to dwell on that implication. He sneaked a look at the girl, who was now fluttering a hand near her face, and promised himself that he would never, ever be caught by a ghost again. Wearily, Frodo climbed out of bed and put on his dressing gown. "Where are we to go?"

"You shall see," said the ghost mysteriously. "Touch my hand, Frodo."

Reluctantly, Frodo touched the lass's hand, ice biting his finger as he touched her smoky form. At once, Frodo was standing next to the Spirit on a wintry day in Hobbiton, by a couple of old hobbits who sipped at hot tea as they gossiped.

"Aye, he never comes down now. Sends his servant down instead," one gaffer was saying.

"I've heard tell he ain't left that smial in twenty years. Imagine that!" responded the other.

"Mad as his uncle," the gaffer muttered with a shake of his head.

"I've heard tell he ain't even speak to old Sam now, but for a curse order. Reckon Sam ought to let his son take over Bag End, let 'im have some peace with his Rosie."

Frodo bit his lip to stifle a gasp. "Oh, Sam," he whispered. He turned to the ghost, who was watching him with a sad expression. "So this is what shall be," he said. He should have known. All his hopes and dreams had been in vain. Sam would marry Rosie. So be it.

"Take me from here, O Spirit. I now know," Frodo said, working hard to keep his voice steady.

But the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Be shook her head, her curls bouncing about her shoulders. The scene changed. An old hobbit, his hair white as salt, sat at a table, munching on the corner of a sandwich. A glass filled with wine sat by his elbow, the bottle half empty beside the glass.

An equally old, slow-moving figure ambled into the scene. "Mr. Frodo--"

"It's Sam! And me!" exclaimed Frodo, not hearing what Sam said.

"Indeed," said the Spirit gloomily. "Hush and listen!"

"--My Rosie's cooking Yuletide luncheon tomorrow, sir, if you'd like to come." Sam looked uncomfortable, shifting his weight from foot to foot. "I don't mean to disturb you, sir, but Rosie insisted I ask you."

Frodo looked at the ghost. "Does Sam not want me to?" he said. The girl did not answer.

The old Frodo Baggins put his sandwich down with deliberate slowness. "Master Gamgee--" The young Frodo gasped as this. "--Every year you ask me and I decline, and this year shall not be different. You may go home now to be with your wife and children."

Sam bowed his head, not before Frodo saw hurt in his old grey-brown eyes. The gardener muttered a good night and hurried out of the smial, the door echoing loudly as it slammed shut. As calm as a breeze, the elderly Frodo brought the glass of wine to his lips and drank steadily till it was gone. Then he put his head in his hands as his shoulders were racked with shudders.

"All right, this has gone on long enough," Frodo snapped to the ghost. "Take me home. I cannot bear this any longer. I was stupid to think that I could..." He stopped. It had been utter foolishness.

The Spirit smiled. "No, Frodo. I have something else to show you. I think you should like it. I do."

Puzzled, Frodo felt a cold sting as the ghost touched his hand. He was in a bedroom; dawn was just breaking, for golden light slipped past the curtains in long lines. A large bed lay in the middle of the room, dressed in a cream-coloured coverlet, with what appeared to be embroidered flowers scattered over it. There was somebody lying in the bed, asleep, though Frodo could not see who. Light snores came from the pillows.

Frodo glanced at the ghost, but she remained silent, her eyes glowing. Impatiently, Frodo waited as the sun rose. As light softened the room, slowly Frodo came to realise that there was not one but two people in the bed. He felt his cheeks heat, feeling he was some Peeping Tom. He had seen other scenes, yes, but he should not be watching this.

"Miss," he began, but at that moment one of the figures in the bed rolled over.

"Me dear," came a gentle voice. "Are you awake?"

"Of course," answered the other. "I wanted to watch the sun bathe your face on the fortieth anniversary of our time together. Happy Yuletide, my love."

There was some rustling and hushed moans. Frodo blushed. "Spirit, I really must insist we depart--"

"Look!" hissed the girl, her expression rapturous.

Frodo looked. The sheets were rolling and rippling quite a bit now. "Oh, Sam" emerged from the undulating cloth, as well as wisps of curling grey hair.

"It's me...and Sam!" Frodo said in amazement, blinking. Yes, they were still there.

"Yes," the girl murmured, not taking her eyes from the bed. "I have shown you two futures, Frodo."

"Then--" Frodo paused as a long Saaaam sounded "--Then how shall this one come to pass?"

The Spirit said nothing. Suddenly there was a rather large wave-like motion atop the bed, and the coverlet flew off, revealing limbs and mouths tangled together. Their bodies were old now, old but beautiful. Frodo could see Sam properly. He was still muscled and brown-skinned, his tummy perhaps a little rounder, his skin perhaps a little less soft, but nevertheless, he was still Frodo's Sam. Elderly Frodo looked the same, thought Frodo, though he seemed to age well, too. Frodo smiled to wonder why.

Looking down as Sam began to kiss down Frodo's breast and belly, no doubt heading to a fruitful destination, Frodo spared a quick look at the Spirit. Her breast was heaving, her lips wet, her eyes half-closed. Frodo bit the insides of his cheeks in an attempt not to grin. Lasses were so silly sometimes!

When Frodo looked back towards the bed, Sam was indeed on his knees, Frodo's flesh firmly settled in Sam's mouth. Sam's lips and hand worked tirelessly, and Frodo seemed to enjoy it very much. No wonder!

"Oh, Frodo," murmured Sam, coming up to drop butter-soft kisses into a mound of greyish curls, before resuming his previous activity.

"Oh...oh!" cried Frodo as he came, gushing into Sam's clever mouth. Old age had not slowed him down, Frodo thought with a silent chuckle as he watched on.

Next was Sam's turn -- or it should be said it was both of their turns. Frodo rolled onto his tummy, and Sam straddled him, working his fingers into the knots of Frodo's muscles. Frodo sighed and shifted appreciatively. Then Sam was dusting kisses down Frodo's back, down, down towards the pale globes of Frodo's bottom. And he was still mouthing further down, till his nose was between Frodo's cheeks, and, oh my! he surely must be....

Frodo blushed and giggled, hearing the lass beside him "hmmm" with contentment. Though Frodo was embarrassed, he no longer felt naughty watching this. After all, it was himself. And, Lady, the things Sam was now doing to Frodo! Oil had been produced from somewhere, and Sam was sliding over Frodo's backside, raising mumbles and sighs from Frodo's mouth, now pillowed in his arms in an attempt to be quiet.

Young Frodo watched on, feeling himself tighten there and there and there. It was a bother he hadn't been able to relieve himself, and now he had to watch this. As if somebody had put on a play that somebody had written only for Frodo's benefit. A very, very wicked play, Frodo thought, as Sam's thrusts became more frenzied. What kind of person would write such a thing, Frodo was wondering, when both hobbits tensed and--

"Frodo!"

"Saaaam!"

Frodo's erection jerked in his trousers. Oh, if only this were true. The lass next to him made some kind of noise, and Frodo saw her face twist and then relax. She jumped a little as she noticed Frodo looking at her.

"Oh," said the Spirit, a little hoarsely, perhaps, "that was...good. Don't you think?"

Frodo nodded, puzzled. He turned back to the content hobbits, now cuddled together, Frodo's belly against Sam's back. Said Frodo, "We should get up soon, Sam. Marigold said we ought to be there early, or there won't be much food left." Sam and Frodo laughed.

"Aye. But it's so nice in bed." Sam wriggled.

Chuckling as he untangled Sam's hair with his hand, Frodo said, "You youngsters are hard to satisfy, aren't you?"

Sam bent his head and sipped a kiss from Frodo's awaiting mouth. "Yes, and you don't mind."

"No," Frodo agreed. "But Halfred will there, too. Isn't it wonderful he married Rosie Cotton all those years ago? It's been a while since they came here from Needlehole. Why, I believe it was last Yuletide."

"Rosie's been busy with her daughters' little 'uns," said Sam. "But one more kiss, Frodo?"

Frodo grinned and complied with that request.

Something cold touched younger Frodo's arm. "We must go," said the Spirit, and Frodo was whisked away. He was back in his bedroom. The fire still danced steadily, as if no time had passed by. Still feeling a little heated, Frodo sank heavily into his softly cushioned chair. Near him stood the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, a dreamy expression cast over her ghostly features.

"You showed me two possibilities, Miss," began Frodo, rubbing the bridge of his nose. He was more curious than frightened by the ghosts now. "I do not understand. How could both of these happen?"

"Both of these futures have been woven into Vairë the Weaver's webs," said the girl, frowning as if needing to concentrate very hard.

"She is a Valar?" asked Frodo.

"Yes, spouse of Mandos, who takes care of the dead. I know Mandos well. Handsome, too." The Spirit winked at Frodo. "Many a night I've dreamt of his--"

"Miss!" Frodo cried.

She blushed. "Sorry. I tend to get carried away." The lass waved her hand. "There are an infinite number of possibilities out there, Frodo. Each decision, each hesitation, buds a new world. Some are very different, some are very similar. All are different in some way."

"So you're saying in one world I will be with Sam, and in another I won't be?"

"In many you will be with Sam. In many you won't be. In many you won't ever meet Sam." The girl placed a hand across her heart. "I like the worlds where you're with Sam, if you don't mind me saying."

"I should like to be with Sam in this world, thank you very much," said Frodo, looking down at his twined fingers. "How should I do that?"

The ghost regarded Frodo with a sad expression. "I cannot tell you. Manwë would have me haunt lads in love with lasses." She made a face. "Ugh!"

Frodo bit his lip. There had to be a point to this haunting business. There had to be a reason why these ghosts were showing him these things. He said, "I shall think on it long and hard, Miss. Thank you."

The Spirit curtsied. "The pleasure is all mine, Frodo. Best of luck!" And with that she was gone. Probably off to flirt with Mandos, Frodo speculated.

Shedding his dressing gown, Frodo climbed into bed. He was weary beyond imagining. But his mind was whirling. Lifting the blankets over himself, Frodo rolled over onto his side and watched the flames glow on the wall. In time he came to a decision, one that could not -- should not -- be avoided for much longer. It was terrifying, but oh, the riches!

Frodo buried himself in the blankets. His friend down there was still unsatisfied. "Maybe later," he whispered, and fell asleep.

*

Frodo woke with sun shining on his face. Memories of the previous evenings flooded through his mind. He gasped and jumped out of bed. Flinging on a pair of breeches and a shirt, he rushed out of the front door and down the gravelled path. A lad was racing past, a small wooden toy clutched in his hands.

In hope, Frodo called, "Tim, come here for a moment, if you will!"

The lad came to a skidding halt and ran up to Frodo. "Yes, Mr. Frodo, sir?" The toy was a little horse, perfectly carved. No doubt Old Hob's work, who had a fine business down in Michel Delving.

"Can you tell me what day it is today?"

The lad's face screwed up. "Why, it's Yuletide, sir! How could you forget?"

Frodo laughed. "I didn't forget. I was just confused. Listen, Lad. Could you go down to Hobbiton and buy the biggest chicken you can find?" He dug into his pocket and handed the lad some shiny gold coins. "Keep the change."

The boy grinned. "Yessir!" he shouted, stuffing the money into a pocket and charging down the Hill.

Sometime later, Frodo arrived at Number Three Bagshot Row dressed in his best clothes and with a huge chicken in his arms. A bit nervous, he knocked on the door. It flew open.

"Mr. Frodo!" gasped Sam. "What're you doing here?"

"I was invited, wasn't I?" Frodo smiled. "And I bring this chicken as a gift for you and your family."

Sam's eyes lit up. "Thank you, sir! We could only afford a small chicken this year."

"I know," Frodo said quietly.

"Who's there, Samwise?" came a gruff voice.

Sam stepped aside to let the Gaffer past. "Mr. Frodo!" exclaimed the old hobbit. "What a pleasure! Has my Sam been prattling on without inviting you in?" Sam blushed and looked away, though the Gaffer was being amiable.

Inside the Gaffer's small but homely smial, Frodo had one of the best Yuletides he'd ever known. While the chicken was cooking, its skin bright with glaze, Sam and the Gaffer and Sam's sisters and Sam's Mum played Yuletide games and sipped mulled ale and nibbled on nuts and dried fruit. Frodo helped Bell dish up the chicken and vegetables and jugs of hot gravy. May's eyes became round as she eyed the chicken, and Sam nudged her and laughed, throaty and rich. When lunch was eaten, a big pudding was brought to the table, filled with fruit and served with lashings of brandy custard sauce and fresh-whipped cream. Frodo's buttons were popping by the time he was finished, and he leaned back, sighing with contentment.

"Mrs. Gamgee, that was delicious," Frodo said.

"Aye," said Sam, giving Frodo a heart-warming smile.

Everybody else agreed, rubbing their tummies and loosening their breeches or adjusting their skirts. When the dishes were cleared, the Gamgee family and Frodo retired to their sitting-room, where they told stories and sang till the purple cloak of evening came.

Sam saw Frodo to the door, after Frodo had thanked everybody many times for their hospitality.

"Thank you, sir, for the chicken." Sam hesitated. "And for coming."

"Thank you, Sam, for making me realise."

"For what, sir?" asked Sam, sounding puzzled.

"Perhaps I shall tell you sometime." Frodo gave Sam a wide smile. His heart beat almost painfully. Oh, Sam was so beautiful Frodo had to fight not to grab him and kiss him senseless.

"All right, Mr. Frodo."

"Goodnight, Sam."

"Goodnight, sir."

Frodo hummed a silly Yuletide tune as he walked up the Hill.

*

The next day Frodo awoke to glorious sunshine flooding through his window. Yesterday had been a most wonderful Yuletide. Sam's sisters had been utterly charming, the Gaffer had been gracious and much less grumpy than usual, and Sam had been his lovely, smiling, shy self. Even if Frodo could never have Sam the way he wanted to, how could he feel sad about being in the lad's company?

"'Morning, sir," said a cheerful voice.

"Good morning, Sam," Frodo said shyly, dropping his eyes as Sam crossed the room and flung open the curtains. A cool, tingly breeze whispered in through the opened window.

Frodo sat up and smoothed down the coverlet. "Sam, would you come here for a moment?"

Sam stopped prodding the fire and strode over to the bed. He stood awkwardly. "Yes, Mr. Frodo?"

"Sit down, please."

Sam looked surprised but said nothing as he rested his bottom on Frodo's bed.

"I wish...Please thank your family for the delightful lunch yesterday. I had forgotten how nice it is to share Yuletide with people...people you love."

"Aye, it is."

"I've learnt..." Frodo squeezed his eyes shut, then opened them. "I've learnt in the last few days, or day perhaps, that you shouldn't take things for granted. Hobbits...love..."

Sam shifted on the bed. His eyes twinkled. "Are you trying to say you love me, Frodo?"

"What?" Frodo sat up straight. "I...erm...Sam...um...bother!"  More calmly he said, "How did you guess, my dear Sam?"

"Last night a ghost came to me and said the hobbit I've loved for as long as I remember would tell me they loved me." Sam blushed. "I hoped...I mean, it had to be you."

Frodo slowly digested this news. Sam...Ghost...Love...Me...Heavens....

"Er," he said. He didn't know what to do. Sam was going red and fingering the collar of his shirt. Suddenly Frodo knew exactly what to do.

"You know," said Sam a while later, after they had kissed till Sam toppled rather pleasantly atop Frodo. He wriggled enticingly and grinned. "My ghost looked a little like your Aunt Dora. Remember how she'd come to Bag End--"

"Sam, my love, please don't talk about her." Frodo gave Sam's bottom a healthy squeeze. "Wouldn't you rather--"

"Aye."

Sometime later, Frodo gave silent thanks to his bothersome aunt. As it turned out, Sam did taste nice. Very nice indeed. "Mmmm," he murmured, bending his head down for more.

Frodo had no further intercourse with the spirits (though with Samwise Gamgee is another story), and though there was some nasty business to do with a ring and a dark lord a little later on (which is also another long story), they lived happily together in Bag End till the end of their days.

~end~

 

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