West of the Moon
A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive
Of Yellow Leaves and Gossamer
Frodo and Sam walk to the Woody End. Neither expect to find the gift that awaits them there.
Walking under the wet leaves, Sam felt cool droplets falling upon his skin and trailing down his neck. There had been barely a glimpse of the sun, only the sheltering darkness of the leaves shining with rain and, beneath, soft sliding mud that fooled his footsteps and send him sliding. The heavy pack on his back was bending him nearly double and he would have felt miserable, if it weren't for the presence of his master following close behind. Frodo carried no burden - Sam would not allow it. He walked untroubled by any baggage, stroking the trembling raindrops that laced the leaves as he passed, and watching the cool water slide along his fingers. It was as though he was scoring them in his memory, attempting to capture and retain, even as they eluded him. Sam stopped walking every now and again and turned back to Frodo and watched him. He studied Frodo's face for any trace of fatigue or misery, but found none, only concentration and remoteness, a result of his pains for which Sam had found no cure.
"Here, Sam, look!" Frodo called brightly, stopping Sam in his tracks.
"What is it, Mr. Frodo?" he said, hurrying back to where Frodo stood, his hands full of something dark and glistening.
"Blackberries!" Frodo handed some to Sam and he caught them gracelessly, noticing how the juice had stained Frodo's fair skin. Frodo popped some of the fruit into his mouth and gathered a few more to load his pockets. That silk lining will stain, Sam thought to himself, then instantly berated himself for his ridiculous petty concerns. It didn't matter anymore.
"Sam, won't you let me carry something? You must be tired." Frodo said, catching up with Sam and laying a cool hand against the back of his neck.
Sam shook his head stubbornly. "No, sir, I won't have you wearing yourself out. I can manage. It ain't far now, anyway."
Frodo sighed, "I'll be the death of you," he said, shaking the damp curls from his eyes. "Troubling you with my whims."
"I'm happy to do it," Sam replied, his jaw set like stone as he looked straight ahead, his heart suddenly tight and heavy in his breast, as if petrified.
"I never know whether to believe you, Samwise Gamgee. Sometimes it seems to me you've never once told me the truth, only protected me by telling me what I wanted to hear."
Frodo looked down at the ground as he kicked through piles of leaves, a fragrant carpet of gold and flame that was just beginning to decay and release an intoxicating sweetness. Frodo breathed deeply and felt the good earth entering his soul. Nothing mattered now, only to taste and to breathe and to walk side by side with Sam under the waning trees.
"I've never lied to you, sir, only tried to help best I could," Sam muttered, shifting the weight of the pack on his back.
"Above and beyond," Frodo said.
Sam opened his mouth as if to speak, then clamped down on his tongue. All words seemed small and weightless. They had no place here, in the singing silence of the woods. "When I'm under the trees, I always feel close to the elves, even though I know they're gone," Sam said, looking around at the kingly beech trees that stood in the splendour of their own scattered gold.
"Something remains, Sam," Frodo answered, stepping forwards to walk around a mighty beech, touching the rough bark and gazing upwards at the shivering dance of the branches as they were tossed by the wind.
Sam watched and his eyes welled with tears of inexpressible love.
Aye, it remains in you, in your soft hands and your bright eyes and the love you have for the things of the earth and the air that no one else can heed. It lingers in the low music of your voice and the words that you scribe on the empty page. It dwells in my love, in the cavern of my heart, that can hardly contain it.
How could this beauty that broke inside him like a cry be bottled up forever until the day he lay down on the earth and drew no more of life's breath? Then it would be wasted, of no more use than the skeleton leaf beneath his heel - no substance, fleshless and empty - open to the air.
"Mr. Frodo?" Sam's voice broke on the words; there was so much bursting out beneath them.
Frodo turned and looked at Sam, his eyes gleaming bright as jewels in the dusky light of the dying day. "Sam?"
Sam stared mutely, noting how the shadows were deepening in the well of his master's throat. Then he spoke - his voice sounding shrill on the still air. "Shall we stop here, sit and rest awhile? It looks as good a spot as any, the ground's soft enough."
In a sheltered place, Sam put down his pack and spread the soft blanket wide on top of the leaves. Frodo settled beside him and watched as Sam brought forth the provisions he had packed for them that morning. Sam had been in a hurry, unprepared for Frodo's surprise decision to pack up and walk to the Woody End. There had been little to eat in the larder. With Rosie away, visiting her family, some of the duties had been slipping under Sam's care and all that he could find to eat were apples and cheese and a soft, rich fruitcake tucked away in a tin at the back of the pantry. Frodo didn't seem to mind. He packed his warm cloak and his pipe and stood at the back door of the smial, his bag at his feet, watching Sam fussing and scurrying about. As he watched, his eyes roved about the old place and a small, sad smile hovered about the corners of his mouth. Sam was pleased that Frodo wanted to go out and get some fresh air and exercise. It seemed to him a sign that Frodo was getting better, feeling the pull of the woods and hills once more urging him out. Perhaps this would mean that change was in the air. Sam shivered and tried not to dwell on his fears. Rosie would be back next week, and Elanor with her. Frodo might be thinking of moving on.
These last few weeks together had been precious to Sam. Alone once more, they had been living happily in quiet contentment, doing what they both enjoyed the most. Frodo had been steadily reading his way through the books that he had never had time to read. Old tomes of Bilbo's, some so heavy that Frodo's wrists looked tortured under the strain. Frodo read fast, flicking through the pages, his eyes alighting here and there on a fragment of verse or a beautiful woodcut illustration that would hold his attention for a while, before moving on, impatient and eager for more. He would call to Sam and Sam would hear his voice through the open window, carrying to where he worked, half buried by the rampant summer growth. Sam would hurry back into the smial and sit on the library chair and listen whilst Frodo told him all that he had read, filling Sam's mind with his own. Sam sat back and let the books enter his head, drifting into the neglected wilderness of his imagination, stirring him back to life. When Frodo had finished he would take a breath, smile and ask Sam for the next book, his cheeks flushed. Sam hadn't seen his master so animated since the dark days and it would have brought him ease, if it weren't for the fevered agitation in his master's slight frame, which spoke to him of restlessness.
Now the gentle summer days were gone and autumn had come too soon to the Shire. Frodo seemed to walk with his ear to the earth, listening to the rhythm as it began to ebb and slow.
Sam watched Frodo draw the blackberries from his pocket. They were soft and overripe, crushed to a pulp in his hands. He held them out and looked at them for a moment, before bending his head and drawing them into his mouth with one smooth sweep of his tongue. When he lifted his head, Sam could see that Frodo's lips were stained purple. Sam touched his fingers to his own lips, instinctively; mirroring his master's every thought, a shiver rippling through him.
"Sometimes it seems it's possible to forget what sweetness lies beneath your nose," Frodo said, his eyes bright and keen, making Sam blink.
Frodo cocked his head, as if listening and then smiled to himself.
"What are you listening for?" Sam said, his words falling cold and heavy as pebbles into water.
"Echoes," Frodo replied. "They're here, in this place, Sam, it's full of them." Frodo stood up, drawing his dark blue cloak tightly around his body. "Do you see how this glade is still light, whilst the deeper trees stand in shadow?"
Sam stood up and, sure enough, the surrounding woods were already dark, the trees mere pencil lines against the slate grey sky, pinpointed with tiny stars. But the round glade in which they stood was still lit with a light that seemed to emanate from the trees themselves, as if they had wrapped themselves in the remembered light of Lothlorien.
"It's an elf light, isn't it, sir?" Sam said, with reverence.
"It is, Sam. I didn't expect to find it here, so soon."
Sam turned to Frodo and tried to read his thoughts but found nothing but stillness and reflected beauty that glimmered on his fair skin. Sam reached out and before he could stop himself he had touched Frodo's cheek, gentle as a snowflake. Frodo smiled and seemed to lean into the caress, almost as if he had been expecting it.
"Here, Sam, come here..." Frodo gently guided Sam deeper into the trees, their feet treading lightly upon the stirring gold.
In the middle of the glade, at its heart, the light was strong and outspread between two trees was what looked like a hammock made of silver strands as fine as the most delicate of gossamer thread. Interwoven with the gauze were green garlands entwined with moon daisies and foxgloves and other sweet memories of summer and from the trees above, long trailing vines of clematis and honeysuckle formed a sheltering bower. Sam blinked in astonishment and then moved nearer to inspect it more closely. At his touch, the hammock swung gently, making the air ripple and sing.
"What is it?" Sam asked as Frodo approached behind him.
"I think it is a gift." Frodo looked up, enraptured, as the bower swayed and glimmered in the soft, golden light.
"What kind of gift is this?" Sam asked, touching the flowers in disbelief. "They feel real enough, although I'm sure it must be trickery."
"It's real enough," Frodo smiled. "But you may take it for a dream, if you prefer."
Sam turned and watched Frodo carefully lifting himself up. He seemed as light as a feather as he stretched out his body, the silvery threads easing around him gently, moulding to his form. It swayed a little less now Frodo had laid himself within the cradle of it and rested his head on a cushion of bright poppies, their scarlet petals startling against the paleness of his skin.
"Come on, Sam, it's quite safe!" Frodo called and Sam stood dumbstruck for a moment before he could reply.
"Mr Frodo I can't - it wouldn't stand my weight!"
"Sam, it is elvish made, it can withstand two hobbits - we weigh as little as one elf maid!"
The very idea of lying down with his master in an arbour clearly made for love, made Sam's heart race and his body tremble. He stared upwards and tried to read messages of encouragement in the sky, but there was nothing, only the dancing trees and the night clouded sky, so distant, it seemed but a mirage of itself.
"Sam?" Frodo's voice sounded uncertain. "Really, please come, but only if you want to..."
"Oh I want to sir, I do!" Sam said, his voice tangling with the tears in his throat as he dived for the swaying bower and caught himself up in it with one swift leap. Frodo laughed lightly as Sam bounced onto his back beside him. The swing moved slightly from left to right and the wind sang in the treetops. Frodo sighed and wriggled his toes in the daisies.
Sam lay still, rocked like a babe in a cradle. He was aware of every breath that Frodo drew and every small flicker of laughter that rippled through Frodo's body, as if it were his own. Indeed, after a time, it was quite difficult for either to tell who was laughing. The air was so warm and somnolent that both were soon drowsy and a little intoxicated.
"Are you happy, Sam?" Frodo asked, after a time.
"Aye. This is a wonder, isn't it, sir?" Sam smiled, feeling utterly content.
"Yes, it is, it seems we've been granted a special honour." Frodo sighed and closed his eyes, relaxing his body into the gentle rhythmic rocking.
"Or we're having a dream or some kind of hallucination," Sam said, cautiously.
"Always the sceptic, Sam?" Frodo nudged him with his elbow and Sam yelped, shoving him back, playfully. A small corner of Sam stood appalled at such familiarity, but it didn't seem to have any bearing here and was soon forgotten.
"I feel like I'm floating on air," Sam sighed, trying to let go.
"Mmmm," Frodo murmured, like a contented cat and stretched out his arms over his head, filling them with flowers.
Sam felt something tickling his head. "Mr Frodo?" he said, his eyes closed in bliss. "What's that?"
"Can't you tell?" Frodo asked, twining something cold and ticklish behind Sam's ear.
"Aye well, if I told you what I thought you were doing, you'd call me a ninnyhammer and no mistake!" Sam said, giggling like a tween.
"Why not? You look beautiful, Sam," Frodo replied, and his voice didn't carry a note of sarcasm.
Suddenly, the weight in the bower shifted and Sam sensed the loss of Frodo's warm breath beside his cheek. Slowly, he opened his eyes and as he did so, he beheld the most astonishing sight. Frodo was sitting up on his heels, balanced in between two silver cords, his hair a tangle of green, like a rustic crown, such as the festival king might wear on Lithe days and Harvest, only with bright red petals caught up in it. The ruby red set against that dark hair and snowy skin, made for a picture fairer than any Sam had ever seen.
Sam sighed and, sitting up, raised a hand to pluck a petal that drifted around Frodo's cheek. The petal was soft and silken in his hand. As he caressed it slowly with his thumb, Frodo watched, enthralled, his lips parted as if in deep concentration. Sam shuddered and closed his eyes once more, unable to stem the flow of unspoken desires that came, unbidden, to his lips, biting back cries which would sound ferocious should they ever surface. But Sam realised that the fight itself was futile, when he felt the soft, moist brush of lips against his own. Sam moaned low in his throat and opened to Frodo like a flower, tangling his fingers in Frodo's hair and drawing him deeper so that their tongues wound together like entangling vines.
Sam was nearly weeping when Frodo pulled away and stared down at Sam as if he wanted to speak but couldn't form the words. Sam touched Frodo's lips, swollen now with kisses and wondered if Frodo was surprised by the depths of love he had unearthed, or if he had known of it and only kept distant for the sake of propriety. Perhaps it didn't matter. All that mattered now was the awakened love between them that had lain quiet for years, hiding its head as if in shame, sleeping until it was called.
"You know that I'll love you even if you ain't lying in my bed. You know that, don't you?" Sam asked. "Wherever you might be, my love is with you and it ain't just the love of a help for his master - it's more than that..."
"I know Sam, we moved beyond that a long time ago. But the time was never right for us, nor ever will be, perhaps." Frodo's face betrayed a flicker of sadness, which soon passed like a cloud over a meadow on a sunny day. Sometimes he was like that - shadow chasing shadow - but Sam knew that a burst of sunlight would soon follow, his master's moods seeming as familiar as his own.
"Frodo?" he said, drawing loving caresses down Frodo's cheek.
"Yes, Sam, love?" Frodo replied, his eyes blazing with renewed joy.
"May I kiss you again?"
"You may," Frodo smiled eagerly and pulled Sam up against him, kissing him playfully with his tongue and teeth until both were pulling at buttons and ties in an effort to free themselves of all that kept them apart. Sam laughed as half of his buttons burst off in the process and fell to the forest floor. Despite the season, it was warm in the elf light and both felt the radiance bathing their skin.
"May I touch you?" Sam asked, looking at the strange woodland creature that sat before him, otherworldly and fey, more beautiful than he had a right to. But Frodo nodded and Sam could not resist stroking down that smooth, moonlit skin, watching how Frodo quivered and sighed like a reed beneath the light sweep of his hand. He curled his hand around Frodo and stroked gently, in rhythm with the breeze, feeling the sensations that coursed through Frodo's body shooting through his hand and into his heart. He opened his mouth, but no sound would come out, only the open gasp of settling amazement. Frodo threw back his head, revealing his unmarked throat, tense with captive bliss. Sam took him roughly and pressed searing kisses there, as if determined to place upon it the warm brand of his love. He felt Frodo's breath coming hard in short, ecstatic gasps as Sam's hand moved more quickly with the lurching of the swing, drawing forth moisture and rending holes in the thickening silence of the air.
Frodo was panting but still seemed restless, for he wrestled at Sam, trying to ease his hands free to explore the captor who had successfully pinned him to the bed of flowers, his mouth half tearing at the poppies, his fingers raking through a soft bed of fragrant camomile. But Sam, his body half senseless with delight, sensed only the pleasure that he was giving and thought nothing of his own desire that seemed satisfied only to serve.
"Sam!" Frodo gasped, as Sam flicked his hand lightly and sent sparks of near fatal pleasure shooting through Frodo's head. This time Sam seemed to hear, for he stilled and hesitated, his hands trembling and his heart pumping against Frodo's own. "Please, Sam, let us be equal in this," Frodo pleaded and his eyes were so earnest that Sam could not bring himself to deny him.
Sam lowered his body onto Frodo's and felt a jolt of heat as their arousals brushed together. Frodo smiled and moved his hips so that his slighter frame rose up against Sam's broad hips, fitting together perfectly as if they were two pieces of a puzzle. Sam paused and stared down at his love, lying so pretty and calm amongst the flowers.
"I wish I could keep you there, like that and never let you go," Sam whispered, pushing down gently with his hips.
Frodo made a broken sound and closed his eyes, his lashes fanning dark along his cheeks. "Then you know..." Frodo whispered.
"I know I'd as likely keep the wild hare in the woodshed, as hole you up forever in that smial. I'll not tether you, Frodo, if you'd be wanting to go." Sam bent his head and tasted the warm skin beneath his lips, drawing it into his mouth in the most intimate of kisses. Frodo sobbed and grasped a handful of Sam's hair, his body swaying from left to right, sending a searing note of music into the air, shredding the stillness. His tears were concealed from Sam where he lay, smiling against the curve of Frodo's neck.
"I love you, Sam," Frodo said, softly.
Sam didn't reply, but trailed earnest caresses along Frodo's body, until he reached Frodo's outstretched hands, imprisoned by green vines. He watched how they wove and clung to him as if they intended to hold him there. But Frodo did not fight them.
"Don't you go worrying about it now, me dear. There's time enough for that," Sam said entwining his fingers with those of his love.
Not enough...Frodo bit his trembling lip and gave himself up to Sam's hungry mouth as it roved down his body, rising beneath like a wave of flame.
Time...Sam closed his mouth around Frodo and all thought fled from Frodo's mind, before the sweetness of it, sharp and burning, drawing forth such cries, loud enough to wake the enchanted as they slept.
I love you, love you, oh, my love.
Sam heard nothing, but sensed Frodo's restlessness as he cried out and twisted and turned to break free from the restraining vines. As if upon command, the green leaves at once wilted away and Frodo managed to raise himself to his elbows and look down at Sam. Sam raised his own eyes and they locked with his master's, now darkly dilated and heavy with desire. Sam held his gaze until Frodo could no longer stay upright and fell, half swooning amongst the flowers. As Sam pulled Frodo deep, one more time, his body began to tremble and it seemed as if he were spinning upwards, a small, bright star, all energy and life glimmering in this one, shining orb. And then he was shattering, breaking into thousands of tiny shards of light. He fell upon Frodo, feeling his need hard and warm, as he strung his legs around his love and held tightly to him, arching against Frodo's eager thrusts, which sent them both swaying perilously, back and forth, secured only by the ropes of glimmering gossamer that bound them together.
Sam begged himself to hold back, to let the moment last. He closed his eyes tightly, swaying, clinging, willing that this might not be a dream, but the movement of the lurching swing and the tight intimacy of their embrace, could not be denied and he soon found himself clutching Frodo's face and drowning in it as he peaked again and again. When Frodo stilled and cleaved to him, his body pulsing warmth, it was all Sam could do not to fall into the empty air.
They lay together in silence for a time with only the beating of their hearts and the harsh catching of their quickened breaths disturbing the stillness there. Sam realised that Frodo was weeping. He reached out a hand and held it against Frodo's cheek, finding wetness there. He tasted the salt upon his tongue as he leant in for a kiss.
"I'm sorry, Mr Frodo..." Sam started, instinctively.
"No Sam - don't say it!" and Frodo sounded so agonised that Sam quieted immediately.
Sam forced himself into silence and tenderly gentled Frodo in his arms as the binding leaves softly wilted away. "If it helps, may I just say I'm truly happy," Sam said, speaking softly as he brushed back Frodo's hair, picking out stray, curling petals of daisy and forget-me-not.
"And so am I Sam - remember this, won't you, remember me?" he said, his voice barely a whisper now on the darkening air.
"I'll not forget, I promise," said Sam.
But even as the words passed his lips, the trees began to moan and the wind took on new and steely possession of the trees, driving them wildly one against the other. Even as he settled Frodo more closely against him, he began to feel the cool autumn air settling upon his skin, already enclosing him in the promised sweet delusion of sleep, and with it, the balm of forgetting.
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