West of the Moon

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Heart's Ease III: A Painful Pleasure
Sam discovers the reason for Frodo's withdrawal. A bath scene with a twist.
Author: Annwyn
Rating: NC-17

 




Sam replaced the chimney on the lamp and frowned. He could have sworn he'd heard something - something that sounded very odd indeed. He dithered for a moment, then stole soft-footed down the now-lit hallway and laid his ear carefully against the bathroom door. The next instant, his eyes widened and he jerked back, as if the wood had burned him. The stream of profanity that issued from behind the door would have made a waterman blush, and Sam stood awed. Where had Frodo learned those words? What could have happened that would make him that swore so seldom say them now?

Worry elbowed diffidence aside and he knocked hesitantly. "Mr. Frodo?" he called. "Do you need me, sir?"

He put his ear to the door again, and after a long moment, he heard Frodo's voice. He frowned. Mayhap it was his fancy, but the voice had a suspicious tremor to it.

"Come in, Sam."

Sam shoved the door open and stared, uncomprehending.

Frodo half-crouched in the tub, hands braced on the rim, half-in and half-out of the rapidly cooling water. His head hung low between his shoulders and the firelight glinted silver on the runnels of water that ran off his sopping curls. He looked like one of those statues frozen in Mr. Bilbo's books, and Sam caught his breath at the graceful curve of his body, at the shadowed joining of his thighs.

He dragged his eyes upward with an effort and concentrated fiercely on the back of his master's head. "Mr. Frodo? What's wrong, sir?"

Frodo raised his head, and a blue eye peered at him from a tangle of wet silk. "Help me get out, Sam." Frodo's voice had a familiar choked quality to it, and Sam looked at him doubtfully. "You're laughing!" he accused, as he tried to determine where to safely put his hands. There wasn't no such thing as a safe place, anywhere on that beautiful body, and he gave up, caught his master under the armpits and heaved. Frodo popped out of the tub like a stopper from a bottle and landed unsteadily on the flags, falling back against Sam for a moment before pushing himself away.

"I'm getting you all wet," he muttered. His delicate eartips flamed fit to rival the firelight, and Sam could make out the fine light hairs that lay like spun sugar on the ruby whorls. Despite his resolve, he felt an interested stirring in his breeches and tried his best to ignore it.

"You were laughing," he repeated blankly. "Why?"

Frodo snorted. "I suppose I found it funny," he explained. "My stupidity, I mean. You were right, Sam, and I was wrong. And for my pains, I seem to have acquired a - um - splinter - in my - hm...somewhere."

Sam's eyes acquired a mind of their own, and they fell, sliding over the damp skin of Frodo's back, and over the soft swell of his rump. Then he saw - Frodo couldn't seem to straighten his leg, and held it up at an odd angle, away from his body. As he watched, his master tried to lower his foot, only to jerk it back up with a hiss of pain.

His master's reluctance to name the place told him where the splinter could be. He went cold with dawning horror, and the hot swelling in his groin wilted as his flesh cringed away from the awful thought.

"F - Frodo," he stammered shakily, forgetting his courtesy in his dread. "It didn't... you aren't..."

Frodo twisted to look over his shoulder inquiringly. He saw Sam's pale face and wide eyes and understood. "No, Sam! Do you think I'd be standing if it got me there? No - it caught me in my - er - backside, you might say." Gooseflesh rose on his creamy skin, and he shivered. "Could you hand me a sheet, Sam? And help me to my room, perhaps?" Sam started guiltily. Fool of a Gamgee. Your Gaffer named you well, he thought furiously. Nattering away while Mr. Frodo catches a chill!

His mind raced as he snatched up a bath sheet and wrapped it around Frodo's shivering body. Something had to be done, and that right quickly, before the thing could work its way deeper. The specter of Peg Noakes and his crutch rose up to haunt him, and his heart thumped so badly he was sure Frodo could hear it. Peg had caught a thorn in his foot two hayings ago and disregarded it, and had paid dearly for his carelessness. No - it wasn't going to happen to his Frodo. Not if he could help it.

Sam took his master by the shoulders and turned him to lean against the tub. "Hold on there a moment, Mr. Frodo. I be right back," and he whisked out of the room. He raced to the spare bedroom and hauled all the blankets and sheets off the bed; then he ran to the linen cupboard and denuded that too. Frodo's bedroom wouldn't do at all. The fire there weren't high enough to see by, being that he'd kindled it afore drawing the bath. The bathing room would have to do instead - at least it would be warm.

Frodo watched him wordlessly as he fixed the firescreen in place and built a soft nest of blankets on the warm hearthstone. The room seemed filled with a brooding silence that feathered his skin and pressed down on the crown of his head. He bit his lip hard and kept his head down as he worked. It wouldn't do to meet those knowing deep eyes and come undone. Not now.

He helped Frodo down on the blankets carefully, ensuring that modesty was preserved. His master couldn't seem to lie fully prone, however, and struggled to cant a hip upward and bend his leg. Sam slapped his own head in annoyance at his forgetfulness, rolled a spare blanket up to slip under his hips, and Frodo relaxed onto it with a sigh of relief. Sam sat back on his heels and cleared his throat nervously.

"Mr. Frodo, sir - I'll need to have a look and see what needs doing. Er - begging your pardon, that is - if you'll let me, sir?"

Frodo crossed his arms and lowered his face down to rest on them. "Of course, Sam. That's why I'm down on the floor, isn't it? Do what you have to do. Please." His voice was muffled, but Sam could hear a testy bite to them.

He lifted a corner of the sheet, ran his eyes up a length of thigh to where the swell of Frodo's rump began, and his breath hitched in a gasp of sympathetic pain. Frodo must've hit it hard to drive the splinter in so deep, he thought, wincing. He could see the dark shadow of its length running under the pale skin, and the dark spot where it had broken off flush with the surface. As he watched, a tide of red began to creep in, and the shadow began to fade under it. It wouldn't be long before it would start to swell up, at this rate. It was in the crease too, where it met his thigh, and would be doubly hard to get at. He pushed a finger against the redness, and Frodo's body jumped beneath his touch.

"Does it hurt badly, sir? It's in really deep, y'know."

"It doesn't hurt as much as my dignity does, Sam. You can get it out, can't you?" Frodo's voice held none of the lilt of questioning; rather, the words were a statement of calm trust.

Sam looked at his thick fingers, with its calluses and worn-down nails, and groaned. He'd need something sharp to tease this out, 'cause he'd no fingernails to grip it with, and he cast about desperately for an answer. "Mr. Frodo, where's the needle that Master Bilbo used? The sharp, dwarf-made one, mind," he asked abruptly.

Frodo turned his head and grimaced, "I'm sorry, Sam. I broke it - trying to mend the binding of a book. But Marigold has one too, don't you remember? Bilbo gave it to her to do the mending with. Couldn't you borrow it back for this?"

Sam was at the door and through it before he remembered. Today was Highday, and Mari and her friends went a-quilting over in Bywater every Highday. She'd be sure to have her workbasket with her too. And Mistress Tansy the herbwife always spent this day with her daughter at Frogmorton, so there weren't no hope there either. Sam's shoulders slumped in defeat - he couldn't use the crude needles the common folk owned. They couldn't hold a point on them nohow. He turned back to the room and stared at the beloved form sprawled in the rosy glow of the hearthfire. As he looked on, Frodo moved on the blankets and he fancied he heard a moan of pain shiver on the air.

A fierce anger rose in his throat, hot and searing. A heat that had nothing to do with desire for the pale body gleaming before him in the firelight. It was his fault that Mr. Frodo was hurt, and nothing could be said to change that. If he hadn't spent so much time mooning over what might have been, he'd have attended to that blasted tub right quick, and noticed the shoddy crafting of it. His hands curled into fists as he fought the urge to scream.

It's only a splinter, his mind insisted. He won't die from it - not hardly. But it didn't matter. The urge to protect all that he loved was strong in him. And it hurt that he had failed.

He moved toward the hearth, his feet whispering on the polished floor. There was no help for it - they couldn't wait until Mari and the others returned. Frodo could have wound-fever by then, if the wood was unclean. Mr. Bilbo had taught Sam that much at least. He would have to cut the splinter out.

Frodo stirred as Sam sank to his knees beside him. It wasn't him as tied Sam up in knots at the thought of it. His master was a whole sight braver than anyone would have given him credit for. He wouldn't mind a little more pain, not at all. No - it was himself as couldn't bear to do it. To cut into that fair skin and let the sweet blood out. Sam whimpered, seeing it all in his mind's eye - all red, all unbearable, and the thought brought up a distant memory. A hot summer's day, tangled red roses and a split-rail fence - and his eyes sharpened. He leaned forward until his nose all but touched his master's skin, hearing nothing, seeing only the dark spot of the splinter's end.

"Sam?" Frodo pushed up off the blankets, trying to see what he was about. Sam put his hand on the small of his master's back and shoved him down roughly, his whole being concentrated on what he was about to do. A startled grunt recalled him as Frodo's breath was driven from his lungs and he frowned. "Don't move," he barked tersely. "Beggin' your pardon, sir," he added absently.

Sam could still see the faint shadow beneath the skin, and he marked the direction it took. Then he set his thumb where he thought the end of the splinter should be and pressed down hard and sideways on the soft swell. The flood of redness fled at his touch and the end of the thing emerged a tiny bit, standing out starkly from the bloodless flesh. He'd never been this close to his master's skin with his eyes open, and he spared a thought of wonder at the fineness of its pores, and then took a preparatory breath. Oh dear, he thought, gulping. His senses filled with the scent of roses, and a more private, musky smell that went straight to his head and speared to other parts of him. Brambles and burrs, he thought in dismay. Not now!

He shut his eyes and folded his mouth over the plump curve of his master's rump, probing the warm skin gently with his tongue. Underneath him, he felt Frodo quiver. There! The tip of his questing tongue touched sharp hardness, and he withdrew it slowly, slowly, replacing it with his teeth, bringing them together as delicately as he could. He knew at once when he had it - he could feel the solid nub safe between the edges of his teeth, and he tightened his jaws, keeping the pressure as even as he could. For a strange moment, all his senses seemed preternaturally alert. He could hear Frodo's harsh breathing as if from a long way off, and he could feel every twitch of the warm thigh against his cheek. He could feel the hardness of the wood through all the bones of his skull, and flashes of rosy light danced against the blackness of his eyelids.

Then he began to move, steadily sliding his cheek down the length of Frodo's leg, drawing the splinter out bit by bit. He heard his master gasp softly, and silently begged him to stay still. Finally, he felt it come clear and he opened his eyes and relaxed against the firm body with a groan of relief. He fancied he heard an answering groan and smiled triumphantly. The splinter he spat out into his hand was almost as long as the first joint of his finger, but thankfully smooth and un-barbed. He put it aside for the moment and turned back. A drop of blood trickled from the wound and he licked it clean, then he put his lips to the warm skin and sucked strongly, tasting a hint of copper on his tongue. Frodo heaved beneath him in surprise, and he swallowed hastily and sat up.

Now he could properly appreciate the delectable sight that lay before him. The sheet had ridden up Frodo's back, and his bare bottom rose oh so invitingly into the warm, moist air. The flickering firelight sparked glints of gold from the thin sheen of sweat on his skin and threw the hollow at the base of his spine into sharp relief. Sam drew a sharp breath and felt himself grow, hot and heavy in the close confines of his breeches. He couldn't stop it and somehow, he didn't want to. The silence grew oppressive, and he tried to speak, but all that emerged from his throat was a thin squeak. He swallowed hard and tried again.

"Well, that wasn't so hard, was it, Mr. Frodo?" he prided himself on the evenness of his voice. "All it needs is a good poultice, and you'll be as right as rain in no time, sir."

"You did - very well, Sam," Frodo's face remained buried in his crossed arms, his voice muffled. "Thank you. You may make the poultice now, if you like, and bring it to my room when you are done. Please?"

"Yessir." Sam got slowly to his feet, strangely reluctant to leave. As he turned to go, a whiff of something familiar teased at his nostrils, and he whirled back to stare down at his master, his eyes widening. Could it be? He hesitated. No. He had to know. He thumped back down on his knees, hardly registering the jolt of pain, wrapped his hand around the jut of a hip, and pushed.

Frodo was all unprepared, and his body flipped over before he could muster belated resistance. Sam gazed down at the wetness on his master's belly, and a painful merriment bubbled up inside him as the rich green scent of Frodo's seed billowed upward from the soaked blanket. As he watched, the rosy shaft shrank and tried to hide away, and a deep blush washed the creamy skin. All he could see of Frodo's face was the tight line of his mouth; he seemed determined to ignore what had happened, and the fragile shell around Sam's heart melted.

He reached out and gathered his master into his lap, burying his face in the damp curls. Frodo resisted for a moment and then turned into the comforting arms, his body shaking, hot tears soaking into the worn linen of Sam's shirt.

"Hush, me dear," Sam whispered huskily. "Everything's fine. Really it is."

"No it isn't," Frodo's voice was thick and hoarse. "I treated you abominably, and I wasn't brave enough to tell you why. How can you forgive me for hurting you so?"

"I love you," Sam replied simply, and dropped a gentle kiss on the furrowed brow.

"Do you? Truly?"

"Truly?" Sam repeated consideringly. He felt Frodo stiffen in his arms and smiled teasingly. "Well, I dunno about that, Mr. Frodo. But adore, now - that would be nearer the mark, I suppose. It's that hard to love someone as high above me as the stars are in the sky. Easier to worship you from afar, I should think, and count meself lucky just to serve."

He felt Frodo smile against the soft skin of his neck, and a slim hand crept up to rest against his breast. "Silly Sam," his master said softly. "I don't deserve you, you know. What am I, that you should think of me so?"

"The sweetest gentlehobbit that ever lived," Sam replied, drawing his arms tighter. "And the fairest and gracefullest of them all, in my opinion."

"Hmmm - would such a paragon of hobbithood do this?" He felt a touch on his skin and looked down. His shirt buttons had somehow come undone, and Frodo's fingers were at play about a nipple, rubbing and tweaking until the little nubbin was hard as a pebble. Sam moaned at the shivery pleasure that washed through his body and shifted his legs further apart.

"Or this?" and Frodo's tongue darted into his ear, laving the sensitive whorls and warming them with his hot breath. Sam went positively light-headed. "I dunno what a p - paragon would do, Mr. Frodo," he gasped, "but I'm a fast learner, sir, if you'd care to have the teaching of me."

Frodo drew his head down in reply, and Sam floundered in the bottomless blue of his eyes before soft lips touched his mouth and claimed it. Frodo's lips were warm and wet and supple, and he reacquainted himself with them joyfully, parting them with an eager tongue, nibbling and suckling until they were swollen and well-loved. Frodo moaned, a tiny strangled sound, and his hands moved convulsively over Sam's skin, pushing his shirt off his shoulders and down his arms until it pooled around his wrists.

"Wait -" he gasped, his breathing ragged. He tore his mouth away, and Sam followed it blindly. "Sam! Lay me down, my Sam, and come lie with me. I need to explain..."

"You don't have to, Mr. Frodo. I think I can guess, at that."

"Yes I do, Samwise. There won't be any guessing between us - not any more. Everything shall be set out plain from now on, for I shan't survive another week like the last." Frodo reached up to stroke Sam's face lovingly. "No more secrets, Sam," he whispered. "Not ever."

He lay back on the blankets and held out his arms. Sam shook his shirt off and joined him, laying his head on the warm shoulder and wrapping his arm about the slim waist. Frodo laid his cheek on the wheaten curls and began to speak.

"It's easier if I say it the way I learned it," he said, and Sam's brows furrowed in confusion. The light voice took on a singsong cadence, as for something learned by rote, and Sam 's face cleared.

In the days of old, when hobbits first settled the Shire, they brought with them certain of the customs of men, habits that have long since fallen into disrepute. Chief among these was the 'Master's Right' - the belief that the master held total dominion over those that served him; even to the tenants of their fields and the servants to the manor born.

Sam made a sound of disgust, and Frodo nodded in agreement.

It was a black time in our history, he continued, and the nearest to slavery that hobbits have ever come. We are a peaceful and merry folk, and such customs did not survive for long. Few now remember those times, but the heirs of Buckland and the Thainship are made to study them, in the hope that they do not fall into similar ways.

"I learned about it from Bilbo," Frodo said in a more normal tone.

"That's an eye-opener, and no mistake!" Sam exclaimed. "But what's that got to do with..." he broke off and sat up to stare down at his master accusingly. "You didn't think... No! It wasn't like that! It wasn't!"

"Merry asked me if I was reviving 'Master's Right'," Frodo said softly.

Sam grunted and said darkly, "Oh he did, did he? I'll have something to say to Master Merry about that - see if I don't."

"Now, Sam," Frodo said quickly. "Merry didn't mean anything by it! If you must know, it was you he was troubled for. All the Shire knows how your gaffer feels about the gentry after all."

Sam sniffed, unconvinced. He had a shrewd suspicion that Mr. Merry was feeling a bit like the dog that craved the bran, and if he couldn't eat it, no one else could either.

"Well, what did you expect me to think?" Frodo complained. "You never started anything - you never sought my kisses; but if I crooked my finger and beckoned, you were there, ready to service me. You never called me anything but - master, Mr. Frodo, sir. Do you blame me for wondering?"

Sam paled, and felt tears rise in his throat.

"It was all so new to me," he whispered hoarsely. "It was like a beautiful dream that I could wake up from and see it drift through my fingers like a wisp of smoke. I wasn't gentry, not by a long shot, and it wasn't my place to take what I wanted, you see. And I couldn't imagine why you wanted me - Sam Gamgee, common as the dirt under your feet, as I was."

"Why did I want you?" Frodo echoed, and smiled slowly. "I saw a lad whose eyes were like spring, and summer and autumn all into one, whose hair was as golden as the wheat in the richest fields of the Shire. A lad whose body was as sturdy as an oak, and sunshine was caught and captive in his skin." He paused, and his voice roughened. "Why do I love you? I see someone whose mind drinks knowledge in like the finest wine, whose hands are gentle on every living thing. I see a lad who loves beauty as I do, but who can create it, as I cannot."

Sam stared at him wordlessly, his heart in his eyes and Frodo's hands went to the buttons of Sam's breeches and scrabbled at them. "Take these off," he rasped. "Now, Sam."

He blinked dazedly, and complied. Frodo pushed him down on the blankets and covered him, pushing his face against Sam's neck, nipping and suckling at the soft skin there. He began to move, slowly at first, then more urgently, and the slide of hot flesh and tight curls against his aching shaft was almost more than Sam could stand. He wrapped his hands around the firm mounds of his master's rump, mindful still of his hurt, and strained upward with the rhythm Frodo set, and his blood pounded in his ears with the pleasure of it.

Suddenly Frodo rolled off him and stumbled to his feet, and Sam moaned at the emptiness he left behind. He returned with the flagon of oil, and bent down for a kiss, whispering, "I want you, Sam. I want you inside me, mastering me."

Sam took the oil from his hand and shook his head. "There won't be no master in our bed, me dear. Just the loving. Just that."

He tried to take his time, preparing Frodo as best he knew how, although his body thrummed like a plucked harp-string with his impatience. Sam looked down at the beautiful face beneath him, and said softly, "You know it'll hurt, don't you? I've never done this before, but I know that much."

"It doesn't matter, Sam dear," Frodo replied, smiling. "I want it, and I'll deal with the pain if it comes, all right?"

Sam nodded, and took a deep breath. Then he started to push forward, guiding himself to the rosy-brown opening with a hand on his shaft. He entered slowly, oh so slowly, and froze, as Frodo's whole body tensed and his face tightened in pain. "Do you want me to stop, love?" he whispered, although every nerve in his body screamed: go on! go on! more! more! Frodo shook his head. His eyes were sheened with tears and he caught his lower lip hard between his teeth. "No. I'm fine. Just - go slowly, mind." Sam hesitated, and then lowered his head to suckle at the hard bud of Frodo's nipple, drawing it deep into his mouth. Above him, he heard a sigh, and felt a loosening of tight muscle. A few inches more, and he stopped again, quivering. Frodo arched upward with a gasp, his legs tightening around Sam's waist - driving him in deep, so deep, and his body sang with the pure pleasure of it. They began to move together, rocking slowly, and Frodo reached down between their bodies, panting, to pull and stroke himself to hardness. It was glorious, and completely beautiful.

"Does it hurt still, me dear?"

"No..." Frodo smiled, and Sam felt a warm glow twist itself into his heart. He set himself and thrust harder, and the blue eyes beneath him widened and rolled upward under translucent eyelids. Frodo cried out and convulsed around him, and the sight of his pleasure fed the fiery glow within Sam's belly until it spilled out, hot and searing, into the body he so loved.

The fire was dying down when they finally stirred. It would be lovely to just lie here all night, spooned before the fire, but there was dinner to cook, and a poultice to make. Sam kissed his master and sat up to pull his breeches on. A thought struck him, and he searched the hearthstone for the splinter that had started all this. He found it, and held it in his palm thoughtfully.

"Just throw it into the fire, Sam," Frodo said sleepily. He lay curled up on the rumpled sheets, sleek as a cat that had got into the cream.

Something in Sam recoiled at the thought. This piece of wood was stained with his love's blood, and destroying it in any way seemed ill omened to him. As he stared at it, the room seemed to darken, the air turned chill, and there seemed a lowering, a sense of waiting that raised the hackles on the back of his neck. He shivered.

"What's wrong, Sam?" Frodo asked worriedly. "You look very strange."

Sam's mind worked furiously. He couldn't share this strange feeling with Frodo. A memory came to mind and he grasped it eagerly. The fire-lit study, two young hobbits sprawled on the rug, an ornate book, and Mr. Bilbo's rich voice. He grinned and struck a pose, lifting the splinter high over his head. "I shall not destroy it," he declared grandly. "It shall be an heirloom of my house from - for - well, for a very long time... anyway," he finished sheepishly.

Frodo laughed delightedly, "Oh Sam, you are such a joy to me."

He stared at the dark curls tumbling about the fair face, at the pale skin that seemed to draw all the light in the room to it, at the beautiful eyes that held his life in their sparkling depths.

He smiled lovingly, "Likewise, Mr. Frodo. Likewise."


~~~~~
Continued in Heart's Ease IV: The Love of Master Samwise

 

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