West of the Moon
A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive
Gifts From the Heart
Frodo receives some unexpected gifts for Yule.
"I don't like it, Merry!"
"Neither do I, Pip," Merry returned absently, his eyes on the milling members of the council, as they dispersed into small groups around the tree-shaded space. The warm amber light of unchanging autumn burnished them with gold, though he knew that outside the confines of Rivendell, winter sank its cold claws into the land. It was hard to place the hours here, hard to remember that it was still early morning where they were, when...you couldn't see the sun.
"Uh-oh." His shoulders tightened as he watched an elf and a dwarf go face to belly in a narrow alley between the chattering groups. Prince Legolas twitched his mantle gracefully aside and sailed on through, the barest hint of a sneer on his handsome face, and dwarf Gimli stomped past him, scowling behind his beard. Merry's breath huffed in a sigh of relief.
"A lot of good they'll be in a pinch, if they dislike each other so much," he muttered sourly. Then he turned to Pippin with a frown, and drew him deeper into the shadow of the archway.
"I thought this was a grand adventure to you, Pip!" he whispered. "You aren't getting cold feet now, are you? No shame to you if you are, of course. I'm sure Lord Elrond - "
"Meriadoc Brandybuck! My feet are never cold. Well, not often, anyway." Pippin regarded his furry toes complacently. Then he looked up at his cousin and sniffed, "And that's not what I meant either!"
"Well, what did you mean, then?"
"Didn't you hear them, Merry?" Merry's eyes widened. Pippin was near to wringing his hands in distress, and that wasn't like the easy-going young hobbit at all.
"Steady now, Pip. What should I have heard?" He caught the clenched hands in his own, and kneaded them soothingly.
"We're leaving in two days! We'll be traveling on Yule, and there won't be a Yule log, nor gifting, or feasting - there won't be anything to celebrate the passing of the year! I asked, and the Elves don't mark it in that way." He paused, and added thoughtfully, "I expect that, 'cause they live so long, the years just flow into each other, and they all must seem much of a muchness. A pity, that."
"Oh, Pip," Merry sighed, dropping his cousin's hands in exasperation. "Stop thinking of your belly for once - " and grunted in surprise as a sharp Took elbow dug into his own comfortably padded middle.
"It's not about me! You don't see it, do you? Look at him! Those Black Wraiths weren't out for a highday stroll! He's going into danger - I'm worried about him, Merry, and don't you shush me, I know you fret about him too!"
Merry didn't need to ask whom Pippin meant. His eyes sought out his elder cousin, and they narrowed into thoughtful slits.
Frodo had quit his council chair and now stood in the midst of the swirling crowd. One of the dwarves spoke to him, and he responded with a smile. Merry knew Frodo almost as well as he knew himself, and that smile was a pale shadow of the glorious grin that he was capable of. There was a strain about it, a pinched tension; he looked so small and defenseless, and Merry's heart lurched painfully.
"He won't be alone, Pip. He'll have Gandalf, and us, and Strider and the others. And Sam too," he added. But his voice lacked conviction, and he trailed off uncertainly.
"Well, we didn't do him much good on Weathertop, did we?" Pippin's voice had a sharp edge to it, and it tore at Merry's willful blindness and shredded it without mercy. I have been too long trained to responsibility and duty, he thought ruefully, and I have forgotten to see with eyes of love. You shame me, Pip. He pulled Pippin close and stroked his back, offering such comfort as he could. At first the young Took resisted, then he leaned his head on Merry's shoulder and sighed.
"I may be heedless, cousin, but I'm not a fool. He carries that blasted ring, and I'll bet you my right to the Thainship that those foul creatures want it for their fouler Master. And it's a long way to Mordor..." He swallowed hard, and blinked down at the polished flagstones.
"I just - I want him to have some ease before we go, you know?" he muttered wistfully. "Something to make him smile and think of home. That wouldn't be so bad, would it?"
They fell silent, watching the slight figure in russet, dwarfed by the tall folk about him. As they watched, they saw Sam sidle through the crowd to hover protectively at his master's back. He laid a hesitant hand on the velvet-clad shoulder, and Frodo turned, his tired face lighting up in a more genuine smile. A smile echoed in the soft brown eyes of the Gamgee lad.
Pippin hummed thoughtfully, and Merry tensed. He knew the import of that musical trill only too well.
"What are you planning, Pip?" he whispered apprehensively.
"Hm?" Pippin had his eyes fixed on the Master of Bag End and his trusted servant. "Oh, I'm off to see the Wizard. I think it's time we had a little chat."
Where have they all got to? Frodo wondered, as he pushed open the heavily carved door. The room beyond was dappled in golden light, and the big bed was smooth and unrumpled, evidence of Sam's care. A basin and ewer stood on the low table, but to his disappointment, the room was empty. He sighed deeply.
"Did you require something, my lord?" The soft voice startled him, and he turned to see an elf framed in the open doorway.
"Oh no," he stammered. "That is - I was wondering where my - where my companions were," he added hastily.
The elf smiled, "I believe I saw your body-servant in the kitchens, my lord. Do you wish me to fetch him for you?"
"No!" Frodo felt heat suffuse his face and climb to the tips of his ears. He knew he was blushing fit to rival the sunset, and cursed anew the paleness of his skin. "No," he repeated more calmly, "I can shift for myself very well, thank you." The elf bowed and withdrew.
For a long moment, Frodo could have passed for one of the statues in the gardens of Rivendell. Then he drew a shuddering breath and squeezed his eyes shut.
Sweet Eru, he thought helplessly, I wish they wouldn't call him that. He twisted blindly and stumbled to the bed, throwing himself face down upon the silken coverlet. Body-servant. Oh, he wished Sam to serve his body, that he surely did. He wanted those capable hands on his skin; he wanted them familiar with every warm and secret crevice that he owned. He longed to feel Sam's work-roughened fingers stroking his aching flesh, yearned for the solace of strong arms wrapped around him. He dreamed of the taste of those firm lips, and in his dreams, they were strawberries and cream, and all the luscious fruit in the orchards of the Shire.
His need seemed overwhelming, of late. It was all he could do to remind himself of his duty to Sam. Samwise Gamgee, who would do anything for him. Would he do this thing, this little thing, to ease his master? Could Frodo ask it of him and then live with himself after? And if he asked, and Sam agreed, would he do it without love?
He pressed his body against the soft surface of the big featherbed, and his sensitive skin sang with the keen pleasure of it, pleasure he didn't deserve. His impulsive promise had put them all in danger. And not only Sam, but Merry and Pip, too. Try as he might to forget, his quick mind could not discount the possibility of his beloved friends coming to harm, and the dark images that populated his thoughts in the dim reaches of the night haunted his waking hours.
He reached into his shirt and drew the Ring out. It gleamed in the amber light, and he closed his hand tightly around it. It is so hard to be brave, he thought despairingly. And on that long, lazy autumn afternoon, the Ringbearer cried himself to sleep.
"You eat toads?" The elf regarded him with startled eyes, her winged brows like to fly into her golden hair.
"No, no -" Sam said hastily, and explained to Aredhel the makings of a ball of rubbery dough with sausage meat baked into the middle of it.
"Ah," the elf's face cleared. "So it is not a veritable toad."
"No," Sam agreed, although in his mind, he thought disloyally, a toad would perhaps have tasted better...
"Nor is there, straitly speaking, a hole."
Sam shook his head meekly and returned to his task of brushing the berry tarts with a glaze of honey and cinnamon. Upon reflection, he realised that it had been a mistake to mention toad-in-the-hole when she had asked for examples of hobbit food.
"And will you make it for your master, then?" Aredhel asked curiously.
Sam shook his head. "Oh no! Mr Frodo don't care for it much, you see." He hates it, you mean. Stodgy and heavy on the belly as an unwanted quickening. "'Tis thought to be lesser fare, anyroad - and not proper for gentlehobbits like him." The elf regarded his bent head speculatively.
"You care for your master most dearly, do you not?"
Sam looked up at that, and the flames of the hearthfire glowed in the golden depths of his eyes.
"Aye," he breathed softly. "Happen I do."
"Wasn't it strange, Merry?" Pippin handed up an evergreen bough and steadied the ladder that the taller hobbit was perched on.
Merry grunted as he wrestled the branch into place and proceeded to tie it up. "I do wish you wouldn't talk in riddles, Pip," he groused. "What's curled your foot hair now?"
"Didn't you think it odd? How they sang to the trees to ask their leave before they cut the branches down? As if the trees could understand them at all!"
"I rather liked it, myself." Merry scampered down and cast his eyes around the hall approvingly. It certainly looked festive, he thought. "And how can you be sure that the trees couldn't hear them anyway?"
Pippin snorted. "That's one elvish custom that wouldn't go down well in the Shire, at any rate. Can you imagine asking old Tom Burdock to make peace with the firewood? We'd be frozen in our beds long before he got past 'Howdyedo'!"
Merry bethought himself of the Great Smial's laconic woodcutter and laughed. "There is that," he conceded, chuckling. He looked out through the colonnade at the deepening dusk, and whistled. "We finished just in time, Pip. Why don't we go fetch Sam and rouse our cousin from his well-deserved rest? That was hungry work and I swear - I could eat a pony!"
"You had better not say that in front of Sam," Pippin laughed.
They stood back and considered their handiwork. Glossy swags of pine and fir festooned the hall, dotted here and there with the bright red berries of the holly. As they watched, an elf hung the last of the kissing boughs and stepped off the seat of the armed chair below it. He looked to them and lifted his hand in farewell, and they waved back.
"I hope this works," Pippin whispered.
And Merry nodded silently.
The Yule log crackled merrily in the large fireplace, pouring a flood of golden light over the intricate tiles of the hall. Shadows shrouded the high rafters, and the heady scent of evergreen sap hung heavy on the air. The firelight defined the space, giving it a feeling of intimacy and coziness that it would not otherwise have had. It was easy to imagine being home in Bag End again, easy to turn time back to a Yule when Bilbo was beside him, with Merry and Pip visiting, and Sam in the kitchen, dishing up a feast. It was like returning to the womb, Frodo thought, where by all accounts you were warm, safe and well fed.
He had been surprised when bidden to a Yule feast, for he had known that the elves didn't mark the days as the hobbits or the men of Dale did. But one look at Pippin's triumphant grin and Merry's wide smile had told him where much of the blame lay.
"But it isn't Yuletide yet!" he had protested. "Then we'll call it a mid-winter feast," he was told firmly, and ensconced in a comfortable chair at the high table. And when good Shire food began rolling out of the kitchens accompanied by Sam's beaming face, he had to hold back sudden tears.
So he had eaten far more than he had wanted to. It was hard to refuse when Sam's anxious brown eyes stared at him over the rim of a proffered platter, or when delicious morsels appeared magically on his plate when he looked away for just a moment. Everything tasted of home, even though the pastries had an uncommon lightness to them, and you needed two or three when one used to do.
"Elven cooks are excellent," Bilbo had whispered discreetly. "But I sometimes feel as if I subsist on light and air. I had forgotten how much I miss hearty Shire fare, and your Sam's dab hand with a pudding, my boy."
Frodo had run his eye down his cousin's frame, which seemed to have misplaced at least a stone or two of weight, and tried to disregard the thrill that pricked across his skin. My Sam, he repeated to himself silently, and murmured back, "It seems to have done you a world of good, Bilbo." And he meant it, he did. Despite the rapid old age that had come upon him, the erstwhile Master of Bag End sported a twinkle in his eye and an aura of contentment that had not been evident before. Bilbo had obviously found what he had been looking for, and despite the hole his leaving had made in Frodo's life, his heir approved heartily.
He blinked himself back into the present and looked around the hall, and the momentary resemblance to his home faded. For certainly, he would never have had such a guest list for Yule as was present here. Elven finery shimmered in the firelight, and men, dwarves and hobbits sat in honoured state or sprawled upon the silken cushions that littered the tiled floor. As he watched, an elf detached himself from a knot of his kindred and strode up to him, smiling. Frodo braced his hands on the arms of his chair and made to rise, but Lord Glorfindel forestalled him with a word.
"No, Frodo. After a feast such as that, we need not stand on courtesy," he admonished. "Lothlorien called me, and I returned just yestereve. I merely came to inquire as to your recovery. I trust you are well?"
"Thank you for your concern, my lord," Frodo smiled shyly back. "I am quite well now, yes. Lord Elrond's healing has worked wonders for me."
"Excellent. And I believe that this is a custom in your homeland? If you will allow me..." And with that, the Elflord tipped the startled hobbit's face up with a finger and kissed him gently on the lips.
"My - my lord! What - " Bewilderment shone in the large blue eyes and Frodo touched his fingers to his lips and blushed deeply. Glorfindel laughed and looked up at the shadows above them. Frodo followed his gaze to the waxy white berries of the kissing bough and his lips parted in a rosy 'o' of comprehension.
"Merry! Pippin!" He cast about for the culprits and found them, still gaping at the unexpected honour bestowed upon their beloved cousin. Within moments, he was buried in a tangle of limbs, any protest he would have made lost under kisses that rendered him flushed and breathless. They released him at last, but refused to allow him to quit the chair, Pippin planting himself on his lap until he promised to stay where he was.
Frodo disliked being on display, but to move away now would seem churlish as well. However, the evident affection that accompanied each sweet salutation and the goblets of miruvor pressed into his hand in rapid succession soon dulled any lingering uneasiness he felt. Except one. Where was Sam? He tried to search the company without being too obvious about it until at last he spied him, standing to one side, in close conversation with a tall elf. It seemed that he felt his Master's eyes on him, for he looked up to meet them, and smiled shyly. Frodo tilted his head in silent beckoning, and Sam bade his companion farewell and went quickly to his Master's side.
"I've not thanked you properly for all the work you did, Sam," Frodo began, cursing the formal cadence of his voice. Kiss me kiss me kiss me his brain clamored, near drowning his good sense. He coughed and added, "I know that you did most of it. Your fine hand was evident in every dish and made it taste of home. It was well thought of, and I am grateful."
"It was nothing, Mr Frodo." Sam's blush rivaled the firelight, and his wide smile was one of pleasure. "'Twas little enough for all you and yours have done for me."
And what have I done for you, Sam? I have brought you to danger, and perhaps a lonely death far away from home. Kiss me, Sam, oh, kiss me. Frodo shut his eyes, his face quietly impassive, and slumped back against his chair.
"Mr Frodo? What's wrong, sir? Is your shoulder paining you?" There was a thread of panic in Sam's voice, and Frodo opened his eyes with an effort.
"I'm fine, Sam. I just went dizzy for a moment. Too much of the miruvor, I expect."
"You should get yourself to bed right soon, then. We've got a busy day tomorrow, I'll warrant."
"I'll be along soon, yes. And you don't have to wait up for me, Sam, not if you want to seek your bed as well. I can manage fine on my own."
Sam began to speak, then evidently thought better of it, for he closed his mouth in a thin line and nodded. Frodo shut his eyes and turned his face away, and when he opened them again, his gardener was gone.
"Frodo?" Aragorn went down on his haunches beside his chair, and placed something in his lax hand. "This is for you. Happy Yule."
"Oh Strider, you didn't have to - " Frodo turned the object in his fingers and smiled. It was a carving of a fawn, done in a light, fine-grained wood, and very well made. The fawn lay in a covert, its large eyes peering out beneath delicately carved vines, the horn stubs on its head proclaiming it a stag-to-be. "It's beautiful," he whispered. "Did you make this?"
"Rangers have much time on their hands, and wood is never in short supply." Aragorn replied. He paused, and added, "It reminded me of you."
Frodo laughed, but without bitterness. "Small and defenseless? That would be all too true, unfortunately."
"No." Aragorn wrapped his fingers around hand and fawn and said gently, "Small, perhaps, but not defenseless. The fawn blends in so well with its surroundings, that predators are hard put to espy it. And when it grows - ah, this one will be a proud stag, with a rack of at least eighteen points, if I miss my guess. It will be formidable."
He rose to his feet, and leaned down, and Frodo looked up at him. "I will try," he said quietly.
"I know you will." And the Ranger smiled and kissed him.
"Stop by and see me on the morrow, my boy." Bilbo blinked up at him sleepily. "I believe I have a mathom or two that you may have a use for."
"I will, Bilbo, thank you." Frodo hugged the old hobbit affectionately and snuffed the candle - then he let himself out into the hallway and stopped to get his bearings in the dim light. He heard Merry and Pip laughing, somewhere behind the walls, and he smiled to himself and went on towards his room.
His door stood ajar, and golden lamplight spilled through the gap in a welcoming flood. He frowned. Surely Sam hadn't waited up for him after all? He had been later than he had intended to be. They had persuaded Bilbo to reprise the Lay of Eärendil, and an elven harper had provided a musical counterpoint to the beautiful words. The music had soothed the ache in his heart and for a short while, he had been at peace - a peace that now seemed to be slipping rapidly from his grasp.
He pushed the door open noiselessly. Sam stood with his back to him, occupied with turning down the bed. He had changed into a nightshirt and had had a wash, for his hair curled damply against the strong column of his neck. As Frodo watched, he bent over to smooth the covers, and a fold of his shirt slipped between the cheeks of his firm rump and caught there.
Frodo slid around the doorpost and plastered himself to the hallway wall. His heart thundered in his ears and his knees felt as weak as though he had just run the races at the midsummer fair. He looked down at the swelling that strained his breeches to ripping point and groaned softly. What was he to do? Steal off and find a bed among the cushions of the Great Hall? Sam would surely find him there. There really was no way around it. It wouldn't always be convenient to run away.
Better get used to doing your thinking with your cock, he told himself ruefully. It seems to be stronger than your head, at any rate.
He wrapped his coat securely around his body and pushed himself away from the wall - and not a moment too soon, for Sam's head appeared around the door.
"I was wondering where you had got to, sir!" he exclaimed in relief. He stood aside to let his Master pass and put out a hand, "Here - let me take your coat, Mr Frodo."
Frodo edged past him and shook his head, clutching his lapels so tightly, his knuckles whitened. He could smell Sam, so close, so fresh and fragrant with promise, and he breathed the scent of him in and fed it to the growing lump under his heart.
"No, Sam. I'm feeling a bit cold, actually. And please - I can undress myself, if you don't mind."
The last came out a bit sharply, and Frodo regretted the words as soon as they left his lips. It wasn't Sam's fault that his master had no more control over his urges than a callow tweenager. But it was hard - so hard. Sam merely shrugged and glanced toward the fire burning in the grate.
"Well then, sit you down and I'll be washing the dust off your feet. The room'll warm up soon enough, though why them elves don't go in for proper windows beats all sense, it does."
Frodo sank into the proffered chair with an inward wince at the way his breeches bound him. "There's no weather to shut out in Rivendell, Sam."
"What about being - private, then?" Sam knelt before him, the movement causing the neckline of his shirt to fall away from his body. Frodo looked down at him and was lost, drowning in the sight of lightly furred golden skin and deep, soft shadow. Oh Eru... "I suppose the elves don't go for that either," he said hoarsely. "Sam..."
"Yes, Mr Frodo?" Sam looked up and Frodo jerked his eyes away, searching frantically for something, anything, to fix his attention on. The small table swept into his sight and his eyes widened.
"Sam? On the table - what is it?" His gardener released his foot and sat back on his heels, and Frodo got up and went to inspect the blaze of color laid out on the polished wood. It was a tray of pastries, the like of which Frodo had never seen before. They glistened in the lamplight, tiny, bite-sized sweetmeats in jeweled colors of amber, ruby, emerald and sapphire, cunningly fashioned to mimic flowers that he thought he recognised. He prodded one gingerly and it quivered, sparkling in its lacy cup.
"They're Yule gifts from the Lady Arwen, sir. Seems she made them with her own two hands. Good for the digestion, she said."
"They're lovely!" Frodo marveled. "Am I supposed to eat them, or wear them? And what's in these?" Two gently steaming pewter goblets stood beside the tray, and he lifted one and sniffed at it. The aroma of oranges and spice teased at his nose, and he could discern an undertone of bitter-sweetness. He put it down and looked again. Two goblets. And morsels so beautiful that they seemed designed to be fed, one by one, to a hungry lover. His head swam, and he clutched at the table for support.
"Sir?" Sam's voice came faintly through the roaring in his ears and he turned unsteadily. Sam still knelt on the floor, his eyes on a level with his master's groin, and there was a look in them that made Frodo clutch for the table behind him again.
"You seem to be a mite uncomfortable in them breeks, Mr Frodo." Sam smiled and rose to his feet. "Wouldn't they be better off you, as it were?"
"I haven't got nothing to gift you for Yule, sir, so I thought, being as we're in the Shire no more -"
"- that mayhap I could give you me. If you want me, that is." He shot a meaningful glance at the bulge that strained the placket of Frodo's breeches and grinned.
"Samwise Gamgee! If your gaffer could hear you now..."
"He'd have a load of his hard words for me, that's certain. And he'd say that I've lost the little sense I was born with. But there's sense, and sense, and we don't rightly know what's before us now, do we. What's the sense then, in holding back?"
Frodo's eyes widened, and at the back of his mind, the ever-present voice of duty choked and fumbled to a halt. He glanced at the table and back at his recalcitrant gardener, and his eyes narrowed. "They haven't put you up to this, have they? For if they did..."
"Can't deny that Mr Pippin and Mr Merry had a bone to pick with me." Sam blushed, and fiddled with the buttons of his shirt. "But - oh Frodo," he looked up, his eyes soft and unfocused, "I've loved you since before I got to be a tweener, and wanted you dreadfully for half that time since. And I don't hide it very well, I expect."
"From the looks of things, I don't guard myself all that well either." Frodo laughed wryly. "Since it seems that everyone knows me better than I know myself. Oh Sam," He took a step forward and found himself wrapped in strong arms that promised all the solace that he craved. "I don't have a Yule gift for you either. Will you have me, Sam? I'll try not to be too much of a bother, truly I will."
"Thank you, love. And now that we've got the declaring out of the way, there's summat that needs attending to, isn't there." His hands found the curve of Frodo's rump and pressed, grinding their arousals together through thicknesses of cloth.
"Ahhh," Frodo moaned. "Any more of that, and I shall burst like an over-ripe peach. Bed, Samwise. Now."
Being the excellent body-servant that he was, Sam obeyed with alacrity, disrobing his master with efficient hands. He paused for a moment as the Ring swung into view, and Frodo smiled and lifted the chain over his head. At last they lay naked in the big bed, and Sam gazed down at the feast spread out for his delectation.
"Mr Frodo, me dear, you're a sight to gladden the eyes of the Valar, you are."
"I'd much rather gladden your eyes, Sam, as the sight of you gladdens mine."
He locked his arms around Sam's neck and kissed him deeply, and the taste of him was all that he had dreamed it would be - sunlight and summer, berries and cream - a flavour that would always remind him of home. Then Sam shifted, his mouth wandering southwards, and Frodo's protest died in his throat as it found his needy flesh and sampled it greedily. He raised his head with an effort, because he wanted - oh he wanted - to watch, and Sam paused in his thoughtful suckling, to raise his brows and smile around his warm mouthful. He smiled dazedly back, and then - O Elbereth - he was looking dizzily up at the ceiling, feeling as if Gandalf's fireworks had taken up residence in his skin, for Sam had taken him in, all of him, deep into heat and fire and -
"Sam!" Frodo's body arched like the bow Legolas wielded so well, and he came, deep in his beloved's throat, and it was so beautiful and so right. For a moment, he fell into night, losing all sense of who he was - then he came back to the light again, cradled against Sam's broad chest, with Sam's arousal hot against his belly. He fondled the silky length of it and looked up at his lover.
"Sam? I expect I won't be walking on the morrow, but do you think you could..." He stopped and lowered his eyes, feeling an unaccountable shyness well up inside him.
"I expect I could, at that," Sam chuckled softly. "Frodo, you goose. I hoped you'd want to - and it won't hurt. Well, not much, anyway."
Frodo rolled his eyes in exasperation. "Do you take me for a green 'un, Samwise? I'm no blushing virgin come to her bridal bed, you know. I know it will hurt - but I don't mind. It will be well worth any amount of pain."
Instead of replying, Sam turned to the table by the bed. A crystal flagon sat near the back of it, and Frodo knew it hadn't been there that morning.
"I plumb forgot to tell you, Frodo, but Mr Gandalf sent you a Yule gift too." Sam unstoppered the bottle, and the fresh scent of aloe escaped into the air. "Though likely it was for us both, I'm thinking. He's spelled it, he has, and he told me it would dull some of the pain, but none of the pleasure. Thought at first that it was for your shoulder, and couldn't figure where the pleasure came in."
"Gandalf too?" Frodo moaned. "Does the whole of Middle Earth know my business?"
"You could say he's got experience, at least." Sam availed himself of the Wizard's gift and applied it where it would do the most good. Then he kissed Frodo again, reveling in the sweetness of his master's soft lips, and slicked himself up quickly.
"It feels like cheating, somehow," Frodo protested feebly.
"Hush, love. No one who holds you dear would ever want to cause you pain. Lay you back now, and let your Sam love you."
And as they joined and became one, he did.
The cries split the silence of the night, winging into the darkness in a paean of joy.
"It worked, Merry," Pippin snuggled deeper into the warm arms and sighed. "Sam will never allow him to go into danger now."
Merry kissed the soft curls fondly. "He would have followed his Master to the ends of Middle Earth regardless, Pip."
"Perhaps so, but loving makes one so much braver, doesn't it?"
Merry looked down at his cousin with something like surprise. "You're a wise one, Peregin Took. I do believe you're right."
He paused, and pondered on Frodo's solitary life - the responsibility that bowed the thin shoulders and the sweetness wasted on books and dusty words. A thought came to him, and he felt tears rise to his eyes.
When there's love to come home to, living is sweet.
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