West of the Moon

A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive

 

 

Lover's Knot
AKA "The Shed Fic"
Author: Elderberry Wine
Rating: NC-17

 

Notes: Written for the Hobbitsmut "That String Around Your Finger" Challenge.
Part of the Shire Morns series, follows Milestone.

It was when Sam came in for luncheon that Frodo first noticed it; a rather grimy piece of twine wrapped about one of Sam's fingers. The day had turned out to be almost insufferable, warm and muggy, with thunderheads looming on the horizon, but sullenly refusing to release their healing rain. That made as near to no difference to Sam, in the usual course of matters, but the hay in the Cottons' back field did want mowing, before the coming rain slicked it to the ground and made it impossible to cut. Frodo hadn't seen Sam since first breakfast, but he knew that if the work went well, and matters were not urgent, Sam liked to come back to Bag End for the midday meal, and have a bit of rest before working through the afternoon.

Matters did seem to be well in hand, for Sam stepped through the kitchen door promptly at noon, cheerfully whistling some ancient tune that he had picked up from his gaffer, no doubt.

Frodo hid a wince. This sort of oppressiveness in the atmosphere nearly always made him irritable, causing him to feel sweaty and as if he was sticking to his clothing, and generally irascible toward any creature that did not seem to be as bothered by it as he was. He thought, on the whole, however, that he hid this fact from Sam rather well.

Earlier, he had been planning on baking Sam a nice cheese pie for luncheon (he'd become quite proud of his improved technique over the past several years), but the pastry stuck insufferably to his fingers, and absolutely refused to be rolled out, and he had, in a lamentable fit of temper, pitched the whole mess out. He felt somewhat guilty about it, since Sam really did deserve something substantial in his stomach to get him through the rest of the afternoon, but his mind, somewhat to his alarm, had gone blank and devoid of ideas, and he had, at last in desperation, set out a plate of the last of Marigold's brown bread, a rind of Cheddar with a rather largish piece left on it, and a jar of picked cauliflower of a dubious age. At least there were some nice plums to add, and since he couldn't bear the thought of anything requiring a fire, a large pitcher of water from the springhouse, rather than the expected tea.

Sam gave the table a glance, and subduing a raised eyebrow in the matter of an instant, crossed over to dry his hands on the dishtowel, having given them and his face a quick wash from the pump before entering the smial. He made no comment regarding the less than substantial meal, but sat in his accustomed chair with a sigh of relief, and picking up a fat plum, bit hungrily into it.

"There's a bit of string on your finger," Frodo noticed, although it was actually the sweet sticky juice of the plum running down Sam's strong fingers that was attracting his attention. The thought of swiftly leaning across the table to take care of that matter for Sam did flit through his mind, but the heat had caused in him a pronounced sluggishness that kept him fixed in his seat a moment too long, and then it was too late. Sam, giving the process a great deal of studied attention, licked the juice off of his fingers himself, giving Frodo a steady glance over the pit of the plum, and then looked down at his hand, as if just recollecting Frodo's comment.

"Aye," he noted, staring at the twine for just a moment. "Had to knot it, too, it'd be wantin' to slip off."

Frodo bit his tongue to refrain from asking the obvious question. It was all too apparent that Sam was waiting for him to ask why, and in the heat of the smial, with the noonday sun high overhead, he cantankerously refused to do so.

Sam seemed not to be nonplussed by the lack of further questions however, and after making short work of such food as there was before him, and setting the questionable jar aside with a frown, washed the food down with a long drink of water, and then rose to his feet. "I've a bit of time before I must be back," he mentioned mildly, "and a nap sounds like just the thing. 'Tis rather warm within, t'my taste, so I'll just be findin' a patch o'shade in the back garden then."

He turned, hand on the doorknob, as Frodo watched him leave, concealing his disgruntlement rather well, he thought. "If we work with a will, I'll be home by teatime, me dear. An' have ye never heard of a string t'remember by?"

"Remember what, Sam?" Frodo couldn't help but asking rather crossly.

"Ah, well, if you'd not be rememberin' likewise, well there ain't much point to me rememberin' on me own," Sam declared, with a chuckle, and was gone.


&&&&&



Frodo sat in the stuffy kitchen and pondered Sam's words. Apparently, there was something he was expected to remember here as well, but nothing at all came to mind. In an irritable mood, he rose, and dunking the dishes in the tepid water left in the dishpan from elevensies, gave them a hasty swipe. He laid them on the counter, clanking them thoughtlessly together, and the small chip thereby produced on the bottom one did not improve his mood at all. Really, it was quite annoying of Sam to produce a puzzle like this on such an insufferably stifling day. With a distinct aggravated huff, he snatched up the pan, and flinging open the kitchen door, heaved the water into the drain, not much caring if he splattered the petunias or not. Sheltering his eyes from the sun, he stared off in the distance, glaring at the high billowing clouds that were stubbornly halted over the farthest ridge. He turned back to the door, but in doing so, his eye caught on a very familiar shape lying in the grass under the poplar that shaded the path up to the hill beyond Bag End.

It was Sam, of course, lying on his side and breathing peacefully, oblivious to Frodo's gaze, and fast asleep. For just a moment, the thought came to Frodo of how pleasant it would be to be lying next to him, spooned against that familiar body, with that strong arm wrapped firmly around him, and perhaps a few sleepy kisses directed against that spot right behind his ear that Sam had long ago discovered, and made extremely good use of ever since.

But no. It was far too hot for that, and besides, he was provoked with Sam for being so very inexplicable. Banishing the mystery from his head for the time being, he made his way back through the stifling smial to the study, where he had been wrestling with a particularly thorny translation all morning. It was a pointless struggle, though. The words would not come to him, but teased and tantalized him by lying just out of reach, and his hand stuck horribly to the paper as he tried to write, and when the ink inevitably blotted across the word he was writing, entirely spoiling the whole page, he snatched it up, crumpled it angrily, and with a vehement expression that he was fairly sure he had never uttered in front of Sam, let it fly across the room in frustration.

Jamming his hands deep into his pockets, he stalked out of the study in a state, by now, of deep wrath. What possessed Sam, anyway, claiming that there should be something that he should be remembering? Was there something that he was supposed to have picked up in Hobbiton today? But nothing came to mind as being needed; there was plenty of food in the larder, he just wasn't in much of a mood to be cooking it, that was all. Was he supposed to go pick up the laundry from Daisy? Was he supposed to meet someone at the Green Dragon? Blast if he could remember, and if it had been something of the sort, why hadn't Sam simply said so?

Before he realized it, he found himself out of the smial and in the back yard again. Sam was no longer under the tree, back off to the Cottons', no doubt, but the imprint of his body still remained in the grass. For no particular reason, Frodo walked over to the shady tree and seated himself in the grass where Sam had been, his hand unconsciously stealing out to feel the indentation of the now absent form. The heat of the afternoon stole over him again, although it was in truth much more pleasant out of doors in the shade, and this bit of a hill did rather seem to catch a slight breeze; how did Sam manage to know these things? And before he quite realized it, he had leaned back against the tree trunk and had fallen quite asleep himself.


&&&&&


A gentle hand on his shoulder startled him awake, and he raised himself up on his elbow, blinking sleepily. Sam was crouched in front of him with a rather grimy countenance, and a small smile. "Tea," he mentioned, in a quiet voice. "We'd not be through, not just yet, but I did say I'd be back for teatime. I made a pot and thought you might be wantin' a cup, while it's still hot."

Frodo sat up straighter then, and looked around, a bit surprised. Had it really gotten that late? It must have, for the shadows in the garden had lengthened, and the sun was no longer overhead. It was still quite warm, to be sure, but the slightest of breezes had now picked up, and there was, at last, a hint of coolness in the air. He must have slept through the afternoon, he realized, rather guiltily, and hadn't even got anything out for Sam to eat, although, if lunch had been anything to go by, perhaps Sam was better off foraging through the pantry on his own.

Stifled remorse made his tone rather sharp as he rose, brushing off the grass that had somehow plastered itself to his cheek and clothing while he had slept, and said, "Sam, you should have woken me up a bit sooner. It's ridiculous that you should have to make the tea as well, when you've been working all day besides."

Sam, however, merely watched in fond amusement as Frodo went about setting his clothing to rights, tugging garments into place that had shifted, in unaccountable ways, most uncomfortably as he had been sleeping. "And why would I be botherin' you for that?" he answered cheerfully. "I'm already all of a sweat, there'd be no need for you t'be goin' back in that stifling kitchen for that and be gettin' hot likewise." Motioning back to the kitchen garden, he added, "I brought it out. We could sit under the vines, if you like."

Sam had, a few years back, built a wide trellis for the grapes that Frodo had brought back from Buckland for him. They had flourished, despite Saradoc Brandybuck's skepticism, and now grew in leafy profusion over the trellis, creating a shady nook just the right size for a small table and a pair of comfortable chairs. It was here that they frequently ate, during the warmer months, and following Sam, Frodo found the table had already been set with the teapot and accompanying cups, not to mention the honey pot, and a basket of sugar-dusted muffins.

"Marigold was bakin' and so I brought a few back with me," Sam explained, reaching up and twisting off a cluster of dark plump grapes with an experienced gesture. "The bread wasn't all done when I left, but I'll be bringin' a pair o'loaves home tonight."

"How can she bear to face a hot oven on a day such as this?" Frodo shook his head, as he sat down in his usual chair, gratefully inhaling the mixed scent of tea and the damp earthy moisture that was always present under the vines.

"There's no point in frettin' about it, when there's work as needs doing," Sam shrugged, philosophical as usual, sitting down as well and pouring out the tea. "Not that I'd be lookin' for that sort of chore on purpose, on a day such as this, mind you, but sometimes there's just no gettin' around it."

Frodo fell silent then, hungrily eating the muffins as he realized, in a vague sort of way, that he had, after all, not had much lunch. He stopped mid-bite though, as he caught sight of Sam's left hand. "That string around your finger. It's still there," he pointed out, somewhat gratuitously.

"Aye," Sam nodded his head, popping a fat grape into his mouth and chewing it in a meditative manner. "Day'd not be over yet," he added when he was able, giving Frodo an unreadable smile.

"Look here, Sam, I have no idea what you are going on about," Frodo was suddenly quite frustrated with all this unnecessary mysteriousness. "I have absolutely no idea what I should be remembering, so string or no string, this isn't doing me any good at all. Is it something I'm supposed to do, or get? Don't expect it, if so, if you won't be telling me what it is."

Sam lifted the cup to his mouth to drain the last of the tea, but Frodo could have sworn that he saw reflected in those eyes, dark green in the shade, a look of definite amusement, before Sam lowered the cup and stood up with a perfectly solemn face. "I'd be needin' to get back, Frodo-love," he declared calmly. "And 'tis not a thing, me dear, 'tis a day. But if you ain't rememberin', 'tis no point, as I said before, to me rememberin'." And with that cryptic remark, he was gone.


&&&&&



Frodo sat in the bathwater, which had only been tepid to begin with, and which was now quite cool, as he pondered, once again, what Sam could possibly have meant by his last remark. A day that needed remembering. That was an alarming possibility, for Sam was very good at remembering not only the birthdays, anniversaries, and any other momentous day of his immediate family, but those of all his nieces and nephews likewise, not even to mention the Cottons, as well. Even the Widow Rumble was not forgotten, and always found a large bouquet of the season's finest blossoms on her doorstep for her birthday each and every year. In addition, he seemed to have, with no effort at all, absorbed the birthdays of all of Frodo's friends and relatives, and was an invaluable source of information in that regard. Frodo had long since let the rather confused list that he used to attempt to keep up to date go by the wayside.

But this did not seem, somehow, to be a birthday, he reflected, wiggling his toes absently out of the water, and letting the water trickle off of his dark foot hair and back into the bath. The room was rather shadowy, for since the smial was still uncomfortably warm and stuffy, he had only lit the smallest of candles for light. Sam usually enjoyed a good soak after a day in the fields, before he was ready for dinner, but Frodo, as a rule, preferred his bath later at night, or in the morning. This evening, however, he was still at a loss for something to do, and besides, the tub was always a rather productive environment in which to contemplate complex questions such as the current one.

So it would seem to be more in the line of an anniversary, he mused, sinking a little further down in the water and drawing his knees up. An anniversary that Sam thought he should remember. Well, there were, of course, those days back when he and Sam had first fallen in love, which would always remain indelible in his memory. There was the night of the ice storm, when he and Sam had fought their way back to Bag End from the Dragon, in the freezing hail, and he had clung to Sam's hand through all the ferocity of the storm, and knew, all of a sudden, that he was irrevocably in love. And then the day, not long after that, when he had unexpectedly heard his name uttered by Sam, just his name, and realized that Sam returned his love, and he had kissed him for the very first time. There was an unconscious smile on his face now, and the pictures that he was seeing in the shadows, which the guttering candle was throwing against the wall of the small room, were vivid precious memories. Last, of course, there was the evening after the great snowstorm, when a worried Sam had finally made his way back to Bag End, and he had been so desperately hungry to see him and hold him that he had gathered the courage to ask him to spend the night. He had never seen Sam's dear face look lovelier than when he had shyly smiled assent.

Frodo roused himself from these dreams with a start, abruptly standing up and grabbing a towel to dry himself off. That had all happened at the end of the winter, and the beginning of spring, not on a hot late summer's day such as this one. It couldn't have been that that Sam meant. He was being a romantic old fool, Sam wasn't thinking of anything of the sort. There must be a more reasonable explanation.

The weather had been warmer, he remembered, as he dropped the towel behind in the bath room and walked down the hall to the bedroom where he had left his clean clothing on the bed, on the night when he had thought that he had lost Sam. But Sam had rebelled, even though Frodo had never asked or even dreamed that he would, and had defied the gaffer, leaving Number Three Bagshot Row for good in exchange for Bag End. That had been the night that their futures had been irreversibly joined, and Frodo had known, with a grateful certainty, that their hearts had chosen true. That had also been the night of Marigold Gamgee and Tom Cotton's wedding, though, and that date was one of the few that Frodo never forgot. It wasn't, however, this day.

The smial was yet uncomfortable and warm, but Frodo strode into the kitchen, once dressed, with renewed determination. Sam would have a cheese pastry for dinner; he would see to that. Briskly, he started to work grating the cheese, and then set out the board on which to roll the dough. Tossing the flour and a bit of salt together on it, he reached first for the butter, and then glanced thoughtfully at the small covered jar in which Sam collected bacon grease. It did make the flakiest pastry, after all.


&&&&&



The clouds were at last starting to cover the sky as Sam walked up the Row from the direction of the Cottons' farm. Dark grey parapets of promised rain, they were underlit with the rose of sunset, and the deep rich accompanying smell of oncoming moisture spoke of a wet evening. Frodo, waiting on the bench outside of the smial as he puffed on his pipe, saw Sam's bowed head and slow footsteps, both indications of a wearying day, but when he raised his head and glanced up at Frodo, there was nothing but warm pleasure at that sight in his sudden smile.

"Coolin' off at last," he pointed out quietly, as he closed the gate behind him and walked up the path to where Frodo had stood up.

"You knew it would, didn't you," Frodo returned his smile, reaching out a hand for him.

"Alus does," Sam's smile broadened, just before Frodo pulled him closer and gave him a lingering kiss.

One of Tom Cotton's brothers, who had been walking homeward behind Sam, gave a polite sort of throat-clearing sound in the Row, as the crunch of gravel indicated that he was walking by the smial's kitchen garden, but neither Sam nor Frodo turned to see who it was. Instead, Frodo, with a laugh, broke away from Sam, and tugged him into the kitchen.

"Ah, look there now, a cheese pie!" Sam's eyes lit up at the treat displayed on the worn kitchen table, with a bottle of Old Winyards and a salad of lettuces and radish next to it. "And you do that so well, me dear!"

"Then you best be taking that bath of yours in a hurry, Sam, love," Frodo teased him, his eyes sparkling in the shadowed light of the kitchen. "Especially since it's all ready for you."

Sam needed no more invitation than that, and was soon soaked and scrubbed, with clean clothes and wet curls plastered behind his ears, and sitting down to eat with Frodo. The food had just disappeared, a matter that took no time at all, with Sam heartily praising the flakiness of the pastry between bites, when Frodo rose, grabbing what was left of the bottle up in one hand and the two glasses in the other. "It hasn't started to rain, yet, Sam," he gave a merry cry, "and this smial seems to take forever to cool off. Let's finish this outside."

Sam chuckled agreement and followed him to one of their favorite benches up on the back hill under the pine, but as he reached up to grasp the glass, into which Frodo had just poured the last of the wine, Frodo caught sight of the mysterious adornment on Sam's finger once again.

"Sam, you must forgive me, but you are simply going to have to tell me what today is the anniversary of," he murmured repentantly, reaching out with the hand that was free of the wineglass and catching hold of Sam's. "You know how utterly awful I am with remembering these sorts of things, but I can't think of anything specific that happened this time of year."

"Not a'that surprising," Sam stated in a low voice, finishing his drink with a swallow, and laying the glass down in the grass next to the bench. " 'Twas a very long time ago, to be sure."

"Was it now?" Frodo's words were subdued as he was struck by the look in Sam's eyes, and laying down his glass as well, he caught up Sam's hand with both of his own.

"Aye, half my life ago, and half of that again," Sam's other hand closed around his, warm and secure.

"That's a very long time ago," Frodo looked into Sam's eyes, shining, even in the dim twilight, with happiness. "You would have been just a faunt."

"And so I was," Sam gave a slight nod, "but that doesn't mean I'd not be rememberin' it, no ways. And it was right down there, just under that larch."

"What happened under the larch, Sam, all those years ago?" Frodo whispered, grasping Sam's hand tighter, and sure, all of a sudden, that he knew the answer after all.

"I saw you, me dear, an' heard Mr. Bilbo a-tellin' the gaffer as you'd moved to Bag End for good, and faunt I was, but I knew that nothing'd ever be the same, for you were the prettiest thing ever, Frodo, and I dreamed about you that very night. And not for the last time, no, no ways at all for the last time." Sam's voice was husky and caressing, and Frodo suddenly found he had to blink to clear his eyes. " 'Tis two dozens of years now gone by, love, but I still remember runnin' home t'tell me mam, and her smilin' at me. Why, he must be as lovely as all the Shire in spring then, she said t'me and laughed, but you were. And still are."

Frodo gave a choked gasp, and hastily withdrew a hand from Sam's to wipe his face, but before he could respond, the sky was illuminated with light and the simultaneous crash of thunder caused them both to look up in astonishment. The rain, that had been thus far withheld, began to pour from the clouds in great fat pelting drops, and another streak of lightening rent the sky with an acrid sharp crack.

"The tree, 'twill draw it," Sam shouted against the accompanying roll of thunder, looking up in alarm at the tall pine over their heads.

Frodo blinked in the rain which was being swept against his face, and then pointed to the tool shed, not far off. "There, Sam, it's closer than the smial," he yelled in Sam's ear, and Sam gave a brief nod. Grasping Sam's hand, he made a wild dash for it, just as another lighting bolt seemed to miss the pine by only inches.


&&&&&



The tool shed was dry and a welcoming shelter, with the aroma of potting soil and linseed oil for the tools, but it was not large, and quite dark inside. The occasional flashes would momentarily light up the interior, and somewhere a window must have been left partially open, for the air was fresh inside, but none of these details were anywhere near the forefront of Frodo's mind at the moment. Far more of importance was the warm body he had tugged inside after him, with his wet homespun shirt plastered against his chest, and the hand that was not still in Frodo's was finding its way, blindly but sure, up the side of his face, curving back and under his wet hair, and then there was Sam's mouth against his, and he opened his own, eager, to it. It was the wine that he tasted, and perhaps cheese and rain, mixed together somehow, but it was mostly Sam, and how could it have been this many years, and yet how could it still be a taste he never tired of, but rather always craved all the more? There was Sam's tongue, probing and knowledgeable, and he met it, fervent, with his own, joining and stroking, tasting and suckling.

Impatiently, he pressed against Sam, pushing him back against the rough wooden wall, and Sam's other hand now broke free of his own and swept around his waist, encircling him firmly, and urging him ever closer. "Sam, my dearest Sam," his voice was ragged as he at last had to draw his mouth away from Sam's, his breathing heavy. He could not see the face of the one he loved so, but Sam was in his arms and his hands were wrapped about that strong back and shoulders, and held him as tight as he could. He really needed no light, for there wasn't an inch of this body that he hadn't known and ardently touched and caressed, and had kissed with passion. He could feel his chest meeting Sam's, their hips pushing and grinding closer together, and Sam's desire answering his own.

"I never thought, that day, so long ago, I never dreamed, me darling," he could hear Sam whispering in his ear, and the words were rough with emotion.

"Oh, but I'm so glad, Sam, I can't begin to tell you, love, how very glad," he gave a fierce mutter in the darkness, and unerringly found Sam's mouth once more.

There wasn't room, a rational corner of his mind realized, not nearly enough room to lie on the floor of the shed, but he suddenly was desperate for Sam now, and waiting for the storm to lessen in order to return to Bag End was absolutely unthinkable. It was abruptly clear that Sam felt the same, for he, all of a sudden, loosened his hold on Frodo and let him go, and Frodo could feel his hands lowering and grabbing for his own trousers, unfastening them and frantically tugging them downwards with a rapid motion. They were beginning to slide slowly down the side of the shed now, and Sam ended up sitting on the wooden floor, with his trousers pushed past his up-drawn knees, reaching up and pulling Frodo into his lap. "Please, Frodo-love," his voice was thick with want and yearning, "please, me darling."

It was only then that Frodo remembered, with a sudden start of gratitude, the small jar that he had earlier slipped into his pocket. He had had plans, for later that evening, but there was no postponing now the inexorable need for Sam, the absolute compulsion of feeling Sam surrounding him and in him. With no hesitation, he stepped aside, and rid himself of his own trousers, withdrawing the jar as he did so, and then knelt beside Sam.

A brief flash of lightning just then revealed Sam, his head flung back against the wall, his eyes closed and his mouth open, and his hands on himself. Frodo swiftly unscrewed the lid, and dipped his hand in the soft grease, and then his hand joined Sam's, and Sam cried out in startled gratification. Stroking and enticing, Frodo's hand was sure and practiced, and Sam pressed upward against it, with soft moans of abandon. His hand left himself, and unerringly found Frodo, and Frodo gave a gasp at that warm, slightly rough palm, pushing in such a knowing way up against himself, and knew he did not want to wait any longer.

Placing a quick hand on Sam's shoulder, the better to judge the distance, he straddled Sam, and then slowly, skillfully, lowered himself down on Sam. Sam cried out at the sensation, his grasp around Frodo's waist immediate. Leaning forward on his knees, Frodo found Sam's mouth once more, bruisingly kissing it as he drew himself up and forward, and then slid back again with a grunt of gratification. Sam's hands dug into the flesh of his hips as he leaned back again, and moaned, "Oh, oh, Frodo!"

Achingly slow at first, Frodo rocked himself up and back down, and Sam's hands clutched lower, smoothing and then gripping those smooth, rounded curves, as the breathing from both of them became heavier and more rough. Frodo leaned forward, resting his forehead against Sam's shoulder, and everything other than the glorious sensation of Sam, full and throbbing within him, was of no matter at all, as his downward movements became harsher and more rapid. But it was only when a final flash lit up Sam's face, and he caught a glimpse of his expression, that he had to cry out, "Sam, oh, Sam, quick!" Sam understood and in an instant had Frodo held firm within his hands just in time for a final downward thrust. Quivering with the release, Frodo froze, spilling into Sam's hands and feeling Sam's release within him.

With a gasp, he collapsed into Sam's embrace, and lay there in the dark, feeling delicious lassitude flood his limbs, and nuzzling his face into Sam's still-wet shirt. He could feel strong arms encircle him, and Sam bent his head down against him, hiding his face in Frodo's curls, and murmuring his name in a tender chant of love.


&&&&&



It was much later that night when they at last found themselves in the great bed in Bag End's master bedroom. Frodo lay propped up on his elbow, watching Sam by the light of the single candle still burning in the holder by their bed, and lightly brushing Sam's hair back from his forehead. The rain still pelted without, but the thunder and lightning had both faded away into the distance. Sam lay peaceably on his back, obviously tired from the long day, but with a gentle hand on Frodo's knee, bent on the bed next to him.

"Now, Sam, answer me true," Frodo spoke suddenly, in a quiet voice, with the trace of a smile on his face. "I know you have a wonderful memory for this sort of thing, but is this really the day I came to Bag End?"

Sam gave a sleepy chuckle, turning his face toward him and tightening his grip on Frodo's knee slightly. "Well, me dearest, it was exactly that many years ago, that'd be no lie. And 'twas this time of the year, that'd be sure enough, likewise. But the actual day? I thought it'd be close enough."

Frodo laughed, and picked up Sam's hand, examining it with an expression of contentment. "That string's still there, dearest."

"Aye," Sam gave it an amused look. "Tied that knot that well, it seems, you'd best be cutting it off me tomorrow."

"But, whatever made you think up this anniversary for us, Sam, love?" Frodo was turning to reach out for the candle, but paused to give Sam a last curious look.

Sam raised his hand, and brought it down the side of Frodo's face with a slow, loving motion. "I know how this heat bothers you, m'dear, and thought a bit of a puzzle'd take your mind off of it. Twas naught but that."

Frodo smiled tenderly down at him, and turning his face into Sam's hand, kissed his palm with love. "In another couple dozen years, Sam my love, feel free to puzzle me all over again, for I am sure the date will escape my mind once again. But I will be every bit as hungry for you, dearest, I can promise you that. Nothing at all could change that, for I do love you so very thoroughly."

He pinched the candle out, and took Sam up in his arms. The rain continued to strike the ground above Bag End, but the two hobbits within soon heard it not.





 

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