West of the Moon

A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive

 

 

Dangerous Fruit
A summer's bagatelle. Sometimes, it's good to get what you want. And sometimes, it's best that you don't.
Author: Elderberry Wine
Rating: NC-17

 

Notes: Part of the Shire Morns series. This falls fairly early on, between Floating into Light and A Rose for my Love.




It was later guessed that the Widow Rumble had brought it to the Summer Market, for she had a rare way with pastry, and delighted in trying something new. Golden brown crust, and the juice revealed through the cuts on the flaky top indicated that the interior was more golden still. "Peach," was Ned's first thought, but the still faintly warm pie was giving off a tantalizing aroma that was much more complex than that.

Drawing his attention from the mysterious pie, he glanced about for its creator, but found no likely candidate. Pansy Burrows was not far off, but that lass was useless in the culinary disciplines. He had had the misfortune of trying one of her scones, a few years back, and remembered it yet quite vividly. She and her sister, Iris, were laughing and gazing at the young lads self-consciously strolling about the Party Field, and taking no notice whatsoever of any possible partakers of the pie. No, neither one of those lasses was the baker; he'd wager a round at the Green Dragon on that.

From across the tent, the Widow Rumble, for indeed she was the baker, watched Ned near the pie with a certain amount of dismay. It was generally the older inhabitants of Hobbiton, those not concerned with the negotiations over the price of oats, or the going rate for a bushel of winter wheat, who were first into the food tents come late afternoon. Old Hamfast Gamgee, well known to be quite fond of a sweet with his afternoon tea, was normally one of the first in, but he had been button-holed by Goody Bottleby, a remote elder cousin of his on his mother's side (the Widow was renowned for her vast knowledge of all Hobbiton blood lines, whether they be those of the gentry or those of the most humble). Instead, it was Ned, unexpectedly finished with the business of the day early, in the tent first, searching for something to take off the edges until the evening meal.

The Widow continued to watch, as Ned cut into the fragrant pie, taking quite a decent sized slice, for he was even more famous for his love of sweets than was the gaffer. Her expression, however, had started to change from one of consternation to a more thoughtful mien. The effect was startling, but not long-lasting, she had been told. There might be some untoward consequences to be dealt with later, but Ned was a likely figure of a hobbit, stout in all the best of ways, even though he was at least a score of years younger than she. She stepped forward then, before she could think this through any further, and before her opportunity had gone to waste.

"Well, if it ain't Ned Proudfoot, come to sample me pie," she smiled at him. Ned looked up suddenly, the rest of the pie on his plate forgotten at once.


&&&&&



Sam sat with his brothers-in-law in the cool recesses of the Green Dragon, nursing a half-pint. It was his third of the afternoon, and he did not intend to have any more, not until Frodo could join him, so he sipped it slowly. His companions had no such compunctions, so they had already reached a rather cheerful muddled state, discussing diverse subjects from the likelihood of young Ted Sandyman's being evicted from the Summer Market meeting by his perpetually exasperated father, to the far more alarming prospect of the Green Dragon's supply of spring beer drying up early this year. Sam was following neither of these conversations though, the smile on his face dreamy, and his mind far from the inn. His patient companions had learned, in this last year or so, to let him be, when he fell into that state, and made no comment.

It was earlier that morning that Sam was remembering, quite early, truth be told. He had been awakened at the very first rays of dawn by Frodo's restless movements at his side, in bed. He knew why, as befuddled with sleep as he was. Last summer, it had been an undeniable surprise to him to discover how insecure Frodo could still be at times in regards to his role as the chief landowner in the Hobbiton area. Sometimes it was difficult for Sam to remember that even though Frodo was quite a bit older than he was, he was still, in the general scheme of things, young indeed, being barely of age. Frodo had turned from his back to his side, from one side to the other, and finally, although he had tried to restrain himself from awaking Sam, had rolled very close to him, with an arm thrown over him, and one leg lifted up and closely entwined around his.

That was quite all that was necessary. Sam had flipped a very willing Frodo on his back, at that point, and his mouth had found its way down Frodo's lean torso, until Frodo had been left gasping and moaning, convulsively abandoning himself to Sam's dexterous control, and until all thoughts of the upcoming day's events had been left far behind and Frodo was left limp and panting and breathing Sam's name with the utmost gratitude.

It was still a source of amazement to Sam that the collected, reserved Frodo that he had thought he had known was capable of such wanton surrender to the delights of the flesh, and what was more amazing, that he, Samwise Gamgee, the gardener's youngest lad, was the one soul capable of achieving that transformation. It was that thought that had caused his preoccupied smile, and the matching tolerant and affectionate grins of his companions. Night, which would discover Frodo and him once again in their bed at Bag End, seemed entirely too far off to Sam.


&&&&&



The fruit had found its way up from the South Farthing, up Cottonbottom way, via an old friend of the Widow's come to call. It was unknown to the Widow, and at first she guessed it to be some sort of smallish peach, although of a rich golden color with just a hint of a blush, and the most strangely alluring cleft. No, she was told, 'twas called apricot, and it was rumored to have some rare properties indeed. They had divided one then, and the Widow had marveled at the smooth velvety skin, and the firm yet yielding flesh. The aroma was rich and heady, a whiff, to her mind, of a foreign land, a warm southern land where finer fruit grew than the everyday apples and peaches of the Shire. Then she bit, somewhat hesitant, into her piece.

The sweet flesh and tart skin melted in her mouth to a glorious, entirely new taste, and she gasped in delight, sucking the juices from her fingers in a most unladylike manner. "Isn't it wonderful?" her friend had quite unmistakably giggled at her side, a sound the Widow could not recall her making since their childhood days.

"To be sure, 'tis all that!" And it must have been her imagination, but the Widow somehow felt tingly all over, and laughed aloud in pure delight.

"They do a body good, now don't they," her friend confided, her eyes sparkling in her aged face. "But, me dear, that's not all..."


&&&&&



Pippin bounced in the seat besides the driver in pure excitement. He could not believe his luck. From the look of the general bustle and festive atmosphere about Hobbiton, and most especially from the promising appearance of tents in the Party Field, it would seem that he had been fortunate enough to arrive for a visit to his cousin Frodo on Summer Market's day itself.

Well, it certainly would be pointless to continue out to Bag End, and miss out on any bit of the fun, so he genially pounded on old Burt's shoulder, causing him to turn his good ear in Pippin's direction (it was not coincidental that he was chosen for the task of escorting Pippin to Hobbiton) and informed him of the change in plans. Burt was not at all disinclined to go along with the altered course of action, which he immediately realized would provide for a longer stop at the Green Dragon before returning to Tuckborough, so the wagon was duly halted, Pippin's bit of baggage deposited in the grass at the side of the Party Field, and Pippin was off in search of Frodo or Sam.

There seemed to be a great deal of talking coming from one of the larger tents, so he popped his head, unnoticed, in the opening, and withdrew it just as fast. That was the obligatory business end of this generally jolly affair, and although he had spotted Frodo inside, speaking earnestly with several older prosperous-appearing hobbits, he did not wish to intrude upon matters of importance. Point of fact, it looked to be wildly boring, and he quickly guessed that where Sam could be found might prove a bit more to his taste.

That was when he spotted the food tent, or rather the scent of it wafted past his eager nose. All of a sudden it seemed absolute ages since his last meal, and he realized that he was feeling decidedly peckish. A quick bite to eat would be certain to do wonders for him, and then he could properly set off to search out Sam. Two rather elaborately dressed lasses eyed him with brief speculation as he approached the sweets table, and then continued to glance on past him. Pippin felt slightly miffed at that casual dismissal. He thought he had recognized them as acquaintances his sister Pearl had made, when she had been staying at Bag End earlier that spring, and was somewhat surprised not to be greeted by them. But as he passed the pair, heading toward the sweets table, he realized that their concern was scanning the older lads for likely prospects, and they had, in all probability, never recognized him at all. He was feeling slightly disgruntled about perpetually being considered too young by all and sundry, when he spotted the most delicious looking pie on the table ahead of him.

It was browned just so, with the most tantalizing golden interior, and straight away nothing would do but to try it. Cutting himself a generous portion, he bit into the treat, losing himself in the alluring taste and aroma. In fact, he so forgot himself that he gave an unconscious grunt of pure pleasure, and looked up just in time to lock gazes with the startled dark brown eyes of Pansy Burrows.


&&&&&



Earlier that morning, Frodo had insisted on the back path from Bag End, the narrow overgrown way through the woods and abandoned fields that lay between his home and Hobbiton. He was in no particular hurry to be closeted up with prosperous gentlehobbit farmers, discussing affairs of the purse and choking on the contained smoke of a pack of pipes. It was a lovely summer's day, and the warmth of the sun in the clear sky promised to be tempered to a perfect degree by a fresh breeze. The path was lushly overgrown, and the trees along the byway were tall and covered with leaves of the deepest green. A small trickle of a brook still ran alongside the remnants of the path, not yet dried by the midsummer heat, and it was delicious to stop, every now and then, and cool off one's feet in the delectably refreshing stream.

Sam walked at his side, content and humming some tune that Frodo had begun to recognize as one his mother had once taught him, and his eyes, as usual, attracted to all that moved in the woods about them, be it a rabbit scuttling through the brush on his way back to his burrow, or a flock of larks swirling in the blue sky, still feasting on early morning insects before the warming day caused them to retreat back to their secluded nests.

Frodo, still in a state of sated satisfaction from Sam's contribution earlier that morning, breathed in the fragrant air, determined to enjoy the moment, and to not consider the nerve-wracking business to come. In fact, he was in no hurry to arrive, and perhaps it would be best to more or less pop in toward the middle of negotiations and just pick it up from there, he concluded suddenly, with a certain amount of pleased justification. In which case...

Moving closer to Sam as they walked, he reached out for Sam's hand, entwining his fingers around Sam's and squeezing gently. Sam glanced his way, his attention once again back on his companion, just in time to receive Frodo's kiss, landing soft but emphatic on his mouth. "Umm," was Sam's slightly startled reaction, but his arm instinctively encircled Frodo's waist, and he fell at once into the spirit of things.

With great good fortune, a sturdy ash tree had presented itself quite close by, and Frodo began steering Sam in that general direction, his one hand having managed to snake its way under Sam's jacket and was diligently tugging at Sam's shirt, while the other continued to hold Sam quite close. Sam, after his first hesitant surprised response, opened his mouth eagerly to Frodo, his arms now flung around Frodo's neck, and was pursuing Frodo's tongue with enthusiasm, not finding it terribly difficult to capture. He had found this tendency of Frodo's toward out-of-doors interaction rather alarming at first, but was beginning to find it not quite as unsettling anymore.

His back had come to rest against something strong, he vaguely realized, as Frodo's hand had now descended from his chest to his waist, and sweet mercy, how did he get to be so very clever at undoing those fastenings with just one hand? Quite unconsciously he was groaning at the back of his throat by now, and he would have tried to assist Frodo in the same manner, but Frodo seemed absolutely intent on not stopping for that. There was no time at any rate, for he now found, with a sudden instinctive jerk, and gasped exclamation, Frodo's hand had progressed its way further down, and glory and stars, if between Frodo's mouth, still searingly hot against his, and that talented hand, that seemed to manage to be able to do what should be impossible for three, he didn't feel his knees begin to weaken. A very small bit of his mind was inordinately grateful for the solid trunk behind him, and his lower body had just begun to dance in the most lovely way in coordination with Frodo's masterful hand, when there was a sudden crashing sound and both hobbits froze.

It was a stag, tall and imperious, a sight rarely seen in the Shire this close to habitation. It stared at them both with grave and silent majesty, framed by the opening of the woods to the small clearing in which they were standing, as they both remained still and awestruck. Then, with a slow dip of its head, it turned and vanished into the woods once more.

"I've never seen the like," Sam breathed in wonder, turning to Frodo with his eyes wide.

"Nor I," Frodo admitted, straightening up, but his hand still where it had been.

Sam's expression had changed at his words though, becoming rather rueful, and he drew Frodo's unresisting hand up and gave it a light kiss. "You'd have t'be startin' all over again, me dear," he murmured wryly. And then a sudden suspicion clouded his face. "This'd not be about just gettin' there later, now, would it, Frodo-love?" and he gave Frodo a stern look.

"Ah, well, perhaps a bit," Frodo gave a sudden contrite chuckle, giving Sam an impetuous hug. "You read me far too well, my dear," he acknowledged, slightly apologetic, as Sam gave a grunt, and began tucking garments in again. "But you really didn't seem to mind too much, I rather thought."

"Never a bit of it," Sam responded with warmth, having put himself to rights, and grasping Frodo's hands, looked into his eyes with a fond smile. "But I do like to take my time, I do, and the sooner we are through with business, the sooner we'll be back home, and then we can see that it is done right."

"Good point," Frodo breathed, caught by the look in Sam's eyes, and still grasping one of his hands tightly, set forth once again with determination on the road to Hobbiton.

It was with this incentive in his mind that Sam suddenly arose from the table at the Green Dragon and announced, with every effort to appear nonchalant, "'Tis late enough, I'll warrant. I'll just be off then, to see if Mr. Frodo is through with business." His companions exchanged knowing grins as Sam strode purposefully out of the inn.


&&&&&



Ted Sandyman had annoyed his none too patient father for the last time. As the chief miller in the vicinity of Hobbiton, the elder Sandyman had a great deal to do with the setting of the price of wheat, so he had no time at all for Ted's various sniggerings and inane comments. He almost wished that Lotho Sackville-Baggins was somewhere about, since his son seemed to have a slavish fondness for the gentlehobbit, but Lotho seemed to have made one of his frequent trips from Hobbiton to places unknown (and probably just ahead of the Sherriff, too, Old Sandyman thought peevishly) and was nowhere about to distract his son. Finally, push came at last to shove, and Ted Sandyman was dismissed from the main tent on no uncertain terms. He stalked from the tent in an irascible mood, and then stood, uncertain, in the midst of the Party Field. It was starting to draw close to evening, even on such a long mid-summer's day such as this one, and the dancing was not far off. Ted felt undeniably nervous about that prospect; he was nowhere near as smooth as his idol, Lotho Sackville-Baggins, and without his mentor about to goad and guide him, he felt the almost irresistible urge to forego the dancing entirely. Perhaps something to eat, he thought desperately, that might make him feel more himself.

The sweets table appeared to be deserted, as he neared it, for it was close enough to dinner time, to tell the truth, and folk had begun to start lining up at the other end of the food tents. A quick bite of something wouldn't hurt, Ted told himself firmly, and his eye fell upon the last few slices of a pie. What it consisted of, he wasn't entirely sure, but it smelled sweet and alluring, and he now was, without a doubt, ravenous. With no hesitation, he grabbed the second to the last piece, and greedily started shoving it in his mouth. It was only then that he heard a friendly voice cry out in greeting, and he looked up just in time to see Samwise Gamgee, his hand raised in recognition, and a welcoming smile upon his face, striding past him over toward the other side of the food tent.


&&&&&



Ned stood, adjusting his jacket and trying to brush most of the bits of leaf and twigs from his clothing. Ever the gentlehobbit, he bent down again to offer the Widow assistance in rising from the copse in which they had abruptly found themselves. She smiled up at him, accepting his hand with grace, and standing up, performed her own bit of rearranging. Ned's head was spinning in a rather odd manner, and through the haze that seemed to permeate his mind, he tried to piece together just how he had found himself in this situation.

All he could vaguely remember is that the Widow had been looking especially well, quite handsome, actually, and it had been such a very long time since his poor late lamented wife had died. He'd always thought the Widow had fancied old Gaffer Gamgee, but perhaps that wasn't the case after all. She certainly hadn't seemed to require much persuasion, as far as he could remember, which truly wasn't very far at all. Still, all in all, it did seem a shame that he lived so very far away, on his bit of land in the foothills, and she all the way into Hobbiton. Perhaps he should arrange a visit into town with greater frequency.

For her part, the Widow thought the afternoon had gone quite well. True enough, 'twasn't the body she had been thinking of, when she had baked the pie precisely as her friend had instructed her to do, but she had very few complaints in regards to the unexpected complication. In fact, as she gave a small concealed shiver of contentment, graciously tucking a hand in Ned's arm as they headed back to the food tents in the dusk, she actually had no complaints at all.


&&&&&



Sam discovered Pippin standing near the food tents, looking strangely agitated. "Mr. Pippin," he exclaimed happily. "I'd not be expectin' you to be here!" Sam was managing to lose the title, after a great deal of prompting by both Frodo and Pippin himself, when they were safe at Bag End, but he could never imagine addressing him without it in public. Unlikely as it seemed, this scrawny youth was to be The Took one day, after all. He gave what he hoped was a casual glance about. "Would Mr. Merry be with you, now?" he asked with as much nonchalance as he could muster, and tried not to feel to gratified when Pippin shook his head in the negative.

"No, his mother is inflicting some sort of instruction or other on him, and I was going mad buried at the Grand Smials all by myself. And so here I am," Pippin explained in an oddly distracted manner. "I found cousin Frodo trapped among a stodgy lot, and escaped just in time myself. But tell me, Sam, who is that extremely fetching creature?"

Startled, Sam looked about, trying to determine who Pippin could possibly mean. "Erm, well, there are that many folk about," he hedged carefully, noticing no one who fit that description, at least not to his mind.

Pippin shook his head with impatience. "How could you not know who I mean?" he snapped, with a bit of irritation. "That glorious lass, the one with the rather extravagant number of ribbons in her hair," he specified, nodding his head in the direction of Pansy Burrows.

Sam's eyes widened immediately at that information. He had never heard Pippin take any notice of the lasses of Hobbiton, indeed, lasses anywhere. He had always assumed, he now realized, that Pippin rather took after Frodo in that regard and, he had to admit with some hesitation, himself as well. But Pippin was definitely taking interest now, his thin limbs practically quivering with anticipation. "Erm," Sam began again, heartily wishing that Frodo was around for advice on such delicate matters, "that'd be Pansy Burrows, I'd expect. Would you like to be makin' her acquaintance, then?"

Pippin laughed, or to be more precise, giggled at the thought. "Oh, I can handle it on my own," he assured Sam loftily. "Just wanted the name, that's all. Don't worry about me, old chap. I'll be finding my way to Bag End sometime tonight, or perhaps, tomorrow.
"
Both Sam's eyebrows shot up at that remark, and he suddenly realized that finding Frodo had become imperative.


&&&&&



Ted Sandyman followed the retreating figure of Samwise Gamgee with narrowed eyes. That scrawny outsider with the odd looks, that Baggins interloper, might be wrong six ways from Sunday about most things, but it did seem, all of a sudden to Ted, as if he really had had the right idea in regards to this one. Samwise Gamgee was, no doubt, a fine figure of a lad, and even though a trifle young, all the better. Really, what would that Baggins fellow be able to do with him anyways? Mayhap it was about time that someone with a fair amount of experience, and the strength to do summat about it, should take the gardener's lad in hand. Gamgee wouldn't be thinking a'that much about the Master of Bag End after a night with himself, he'd warrant that, sure enough. Oh, he might play a bit coy to start with, and be telling him that he'd have none of it, but just give him ten minutes or so, and that fine lad would be begging for more, Ted was absolutely sure of it.

Unfortunately, the brat Sam had been talking to was the high and mighty cousin of Baggins, that Took, and now it looked as if Sam had gone off to fetch his master. Somehow, he must intercept Sam before he could do so.

With unaccustomed stealth and grace, Ted Sandyman slunk off into the shadows of the oncoming evening.


&&&&&



Pippin approached Pansy Burrows with the utmost confidence. "I believe we have been introduced," he proclaimed rather dramatically, performing a sweeping bow in front of the hobbit lass and her sister.

"Really? Erm, I mean, how delightful," Pansy stammered, gazing at the young hobbit in some bewilderment, and hastily executing an excuse for a curtsey. She was racking her brain to determine who this young stripling was, and was coming up with absolutely nothing. Judging from his dress, and she was indisputably an expert in that line, he was a gentlehobbit, but who he was, exactly, she hadn't a clue. Desperately, she glanced toward her sister for assistance, but it was clear that Iris had not recognized the young hobbit either.

Pippin, feeling somewhat taken aback that the lass was not already swooning at the honor of being so addressed, hastened to give her further information. "My sister spent some time here a few months ago," he explained. "Pearl Took, that is. I believe you have mutual friends?"

"Ah, 'tis Peregrin Took, to be sure!" Pansy exclaimed, now placing him. "And how is your dear sister, then?"

"Fine enough," Pippin quickly assured her, feeling the conversation veering from the subject he wished to keep it focused on, namely himself. "But I must say that you are truly looking splendid this evening, Pansy, is it?"

"So it is," Pansy laughed, amused by the young hobbit's audacity. "That would be the name, right enough. And I'm sure you'd be remembering my sister, Iris, likewise?" she added, indicating her sister who stood grinning at her side.

"Of course, of course," Pippin replied hastily, although of course he hadn't. He was not at all sure what the next step was, but there was no doubt in his mind that this lass was of a rare all-surpassing beauty, and that he, Peregrin Took, should definitely be doing something to address that fact. The sound of the musicians tuning up that wafted out into the evening air came to him as a gift, and he seized it at once. The thought of snatching this splendid creature up in his arms, quite closely, too, and moving about in tandem with her suddenly struck him as a wonderful idea. Any dance would do, really, as long as it involved a good deal of physical contact.

Pippin was hardly subtle, and his intentions were rather vividly written across his face, and Pansy, trying her best to suppress her giggles, pleaded the need to have a quick glass of something first, being parched to the extreme. Pippin agreed with reluctance, and stood, jiggling his hands in his pockets impatiently, as he awaited her return.

"Good heavens, Iris, how old do you suppose the child is?" Pansy whispered in delight to her sister as she poured herself a cup of the cold brew so graciously provided by the Green Dragon.

Iris gave him a quick critical glance. "Why, I'd wager he might be a teen," she frowned dubiously. (Pippin, in fact, had just reached that celebrated landmark a few months prior.) "He certainly seems rather forward for such a child."

"Doesn't he just," Pansy couldn't help giggling. "Go fetch May, my dear, I know she'd never forgive us if we didn't."


&&&&&



Frodo gratefully exited the stuffy tent where he had been trapped all afternoon, and thankfully breathed in the cooling evening air. Business had been concluded, more or less to his satisfaction. He did wish that he could have quickly confirmed his prices with Ned, who had been such a great support to him the year before, but the older hobbit seemed to have quietly melted away sometime during the course of the afternoon. Now all that remained to do was to find Sam, have a bite to eat, and head back to Bag End. He had no mind for the dancing, this year, and had high hopes that Sam felt likewise.

He checked the Green Dragon first, where they usually waited for each other if one or the other was engaged in business affairs, but the Cotton lads informed him, in a distinctly slurred manner, that Sam had left some time ago. Precisely when was definitely in doubt, however, and he soon left them debating the point with some heat. The dancing had begun, when he returned to the Field, and to his surprise, he saw an unexpected Pippin engaged in quite a vigorous dance with one of the Burrows lasses, and instinctively looked about for Merry. His older cousin, however, was nowhere to be seen, and more to the point, neither was Sam. Reflecting on all the possible places Sam could have gotten off to, he halted by one of the food tables and glanced down.

There was one last piece of pie on the plate near his hand, and what sort it was, he had no idea, but he realized that all the negotiations he had had to conduct that afternoon had quite worked up his appetite, so without any thought, he picked up the piece and bit into it, savoring the delicious taste in a somewhat dreamy manner.

"Mr. Baggins, how good to see you here," he recognized Iris Burrows' voice, and started to turn around to greet her. "And here is my cousin come all the way from Frogmorton, Tobias Burrows."

It was all Frodo could manage to croak out a rather pie-stifled greeting as he spun around in time to meet a breathtakingly well-built, exceedingly handsome stranger, who smiled into his eyes with an unmistakable warmth.


&&&&&



With a sigh, Sam turned from the Green Dragon, where his companions had informed him, with a rather noticeable fit of the giggles, that Frodo Baggins had just been, not fifteen minutes prior, inquiring for him in this very same place. For reasons best known to themselves, they seemed to find this fact immensely amusing, and Sam was not in the best of humors as he took a shortcut through the hedge on the way back to the Party Field.

His disposition was not improved in the least by the sudden appearance of Ted Sandyman, with a somewhat unfocused expression on his face. "Bugger off, Sandyman," Sam growled, having no idea what the miller's son thought he was up to, and absolutely no intension of finding out.

"Funny you should say that," sniggered the older hobbit, with a decidedly odd manner, approaching Sam with firm intent.

But Sam had no time for Sandyman's idiocies, and no desire to determine his level of drunkenness on this night, and his patience was absolutely gone. So when Ted made a rather staggering run towards him, Sam calmly stepped to the side, and obligingly assisted Ted's head into making contact with an accommodatingly nearby tree. Feeling slightly bad about that, but only very slightly, he hauled the unconscious Ted next to the tree in a sitting position, where he was found the next morning, and was assumed to have met with the tree, in an unfortunate accident, by all including himself. He kept his mouth firmly shut in regard to the odd dreams he seemed to remember having, however.

Sam stepped over Ted with no further thought, and resumed his search for Frodo.


&&&&&



It was a wonder indeed, Sam thought to himself, that Frodo had managed to walk at all, especially as far as Bag End, in his present condition. Sam had noticed that Frodo seemed quite glad to see him, or to be more precise, was in some ways quite excited to see him, from the moment Frodo grabbed his arm near the food tent and told him, in no uncertain terms, that it was time to be getting back to Bag End. Not that he had any qualms about missing out on the dancing; as much as he enjoyed it, it had been rather awkward last year not to be able to dance with the one person he wanted to dance with, and being forced to avoid certain parties who wished to dance with him. Pippin seemed to have been abandoned, with no compunction whatsoever, by Frodo to the dance field, although Sam had noticed, with a certain amount of surprise, that the young hobbit appeared to be making quite a reputation for himself there. Frodo had insisted on not waiting for his cousin, and had mumbled something Sam did not quite catch about his knowing the way to Bag End, and there being more time for themselves. Sam had shrugged philosophically then, and felt that last bit sounded promising indeed.

Sam had half expected to be dragged into the shrubbery on the sides of the lane leading back to their home, especially since the moon was only a quarter full, and the night was dark with just that and starlight to guide them back. It would not have been the first time, either, but Frodo seemed to have taken Sam's comments earlier that morning to heart, and appeared to be intent on getting them back to the smial as soon as possible.

And it was amazing to Sam how fast Frodo could travel on such a dark night, for in no time at all, they were back at Bag End and Frodo had slammed the kitchen door open. The next thing Sam knew, he had been shoved back against the table in the dark kitchen, and Frodo was on top of him, his breathing heavy, and his hands frantically divesting Sam of every garment that concealed him from his waist down. "Ah, Frodo," he had attempted to say, as he felt the edge of the table grinding into the small of his back, but Frodo was clearly not in the mood for chatter. His mouth was suddenly covered by Frodo's, and he felt his trousers give way, and the buttons likewise, as Frodo's tongue was hot and searching in his mouth.

It was an easy enough matter for Sam to surrender to the moment, for he could feel Frodo hard, grinding into his leg, and after all, this morning they had been interrupted far too soon. But as he reached for Frodo, to attempt to disrobe him as well, he was dismayed by a sudden absence of that heat, and the body that had been pressing with such eagerness into his but a moment ago had vanished.

The room was dark, for they had not taken the time, as they had entered, to draw the curtains, but he could hear Frodo step away from him. With a muttered exclamation, however, and the clatter of some sort of crockery, Frodo was soon back. And now Sam gave a startled yelp of delight, for it was Frodo's hand upon him, slippery and sliding with sweet firm strokes. The butter, thought Sam, in a daze, he's gone and found the butter. Joining his hand now fervently to Frodo's, he stroked himself as well, his hand joining and caressing and becoming as slippery as Frodo's.

Frodo gave a low craving moan then, and muttered something that sounded both like Sam's name, and please, and oh, Sam, now, and Sam did not linger on himself any longer. Frodo's trousers had already been undone, and it was a simple enough matter to slip his hand inside, and his slickly sliding hand found Frodo. Stars above, he realized with a bit of a jolt, if Frodo wasn't that hard. That had to be painful, and as if to confirm that fact, Frodo hoarsely moaned in his ear, and reaching up with his tongue, frantically began to suckle Sam's ear tip.

There was no doubt in Sam's mind, then, what Frodo needed, and without hesitation, he grabbed Frodo's hand again, and guided it, mutely begged it, almost coerced it, to enter him. With a sob of gratitude, Frodo did so, testing one finger, and then three, in his haste. And then his hands flew to Sam's waist, and with a rush of force, he lifted Sam against the table and fiercely entered him. Sam gasped at that, lifting his legs as he balanced against the rough table top and leaning back, clutched the edges tightly, for they had not had that much practice yet along these lines, and normally he was lying down. It was somewhat painful at first, to be sure, since Frodo seemed to have thrown subtlety to the winds, and was fiercely intent on reaching his goal with all possible alacrity. But it was no more than the matter of a few moments until Sam realized that he was quite enjoying this, in fact, immensely enjoying this, and he wasn't sure how Frodo had managed to get himself worked into this mood, but it was definitely a consideration that bore investigation as soon as possible. However, this was not that moment, since all his capacities from the waist up had suddenly deferred to those below.

Alas, it was also was no more than the matter of a few moments until Frodo gave a none too muffled shriek in Sam's ear and froze, promptly before collapsing, limp, against him. Sam gave an inward groan. That had really been far too fast for him to keep up with, and now it was he who was in that extremely uncomfortable state Frodo had previously been in. In the dark kitchen, he could only just see the outline of Frodo's head, as it leaned heavy against his chest, but finally he felt him pull back, and heard Frodo swallow hard.

"I'm sorry, Sam. That was rather sudden, I'm afraid," Frodo whispered, somewhat uncertain.

"Ah, no, me dearie, 'twas that fine, to be sure," he murmured warmly, reaching up and stroking Frodo's face.

"Perhaps, but it was undeniably fast," Frodo replied ruefully, his hand discovering, in the dark, Sam's condition. "And weren't you just telling me that you liked to take your time?"

"Aye, that I do, Frodo-love," Sam answered with firmness, finding his feet again. Wrapping an arm around Frodo's shoulders, he began to guide him down the hall toward their bedroom. "And I'm fond of a bed, likewise. So if you'd not be mindin', me dear..."

Their remaining clothes were shed somewhere in the hall, and the curtains drawn at once in the bedroom to take advantage of the clear starlight, and in the wide bed of the bedroom of the Master of Bag End, Sam had his wish, and was loved as long and thoroughly as he possibly could desire.

It was as he was finally drifting off into a dreamless sleep that he heard Frodo's voice, as he was tucked tight against him, whisper into his ear in a sleepy sort of way, "Never leave me, Sam. I do love you so."

"Never will, me dearie," he murmured happily back, hugging Frodo closer to him. "Never will."


&&&&&



Try as she might, the Widow was never able to replicate that magical pie. So that evening's events gradually faded into the memories of those who had tasted it. She and Ned Proudfoot continued to enjoy each other's company, on occasion, but never again quite so closely as on that night, a fact that did not over trouble either of them. Pippin gained, that evening, the reputation for being a wildly inventive and electrifying dancer; an undeserved reputation to be sure, but one that he eventually grew into. Ted Sandyman was never quite sure of what had happened that night, and went along with the theory of those who knew him that it required an amazing amount of drink to cause one to run into a tree, but that Ted had somehow managed that feat. He was never quite able to work up as much obligatory dislike for Samwise Gamgee though, the next time his mentor, Lotho Sackville-Baggins, began to sneer at Frodo's choice, but he did manage to conceal that fact.

And the Burrows' cousin returned to Frogmorton with only the most fleeting impression of that odd-looking Baggins fellow, and the manner in which he had disappeared into the night with such abruptness. For, no matter how treacherous the fruit might be, apricots have but the power to do so much, and sometimes, a pie is only a pie.



AN: The apricot, in medieval times, was considered to be an aphrodisiac.

 

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