West of the Moon
A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive
AU, book canon. The young master of Bag End is brutalized in his home. His friends band together to help him heal emotionally and physically.
Warnings: Violence, rape, nonconsensual situations. Because of the sensitive nature of the material, this story is for ADULT readers only. Some chapters are rated PG-13, but just as many have R or NC-17 (STRONG ADULT) content. I will label all sections appropriately.
Note: "Devoted" is an epic work. Book 1 is about 180,000 words, and Book 2 is about 130,000 words. Because my computer time is limited, I will be posting this adventure to the WOTM archive over several months. The story is complete and can be found on my LJ. Please see "http://mariole.livejournal.com/23137.html" for a complete chapter listing.
Be advised that Frodo in this story has a het orientation. Various other hobbits do not, so the content includes both het and slash. This story explores the sexual feelings and repercussions of events experienced by the major characters. You might consider "Devoted" a basically gen work, a kind of psychological exploration of the affect a traumatic event can have on a person and his friends. The main hobbits involved are Frodo, Sam, and Merry. Pippin pops up as well, but he's only 13 when the key action starts.
Finally, a thousand thanks to my two wonderful beta readers, both of whom have now sought refuge in the Witness Protection Program. You're the best! I also owe a huge debt of gratitude to my dear "Devoted" readers. Your comments, encouragement, and insights have made the evolution of this story a pleasure. Thank you all.
Book 1: Into Darkness
1: Setting Out, Rated R
At the bottom of the Hill on its western side they came to the gate opening on to a narrow lane. There they halted and adjusted the straps of their packs. Presently Sam appeared, trotting quickly and breathing hard; his heavy pack was hoisted high on his shoulders, and he had put on his head a tall shapeless felt bag, which he called a hat. In the gloom he looked very much like a dwarf.
--"Three Is Company," The Fellowship of the Ring
They were on the road at last, and Sam wasn't sorry for it. The news his Gaffer had just relayed had given him a turn, and that was a fact. Sam dithered about how much to tell Mr. Frodo, as he hurried to catch up to him and Mr. Pippin in the newly fallen night. In time he spotted two silhouettes with trussed packs at the end of the lane. Even in the dark, he could pick out the beloved shape of his master. He wondered if it would always be so--that his eyes would be drawn as if by magic to that familiar form, to the exclusion of all others.
By the time he reached them, Sam had resolved to say nothing about the whispering fellow his Gaffer had seen. It weren't nothing Mr. Frodo could do anything about anyways, not now. And no doubt that black chap was off for Buckland by now, seeing as how his Gaffer had put him in that direction. He'd easy arrive ahead of them, if he kept to the Road. Mr. Merry would deal with him, Sam reckoned. No sense in upsetting Mr. Frodo when they were just getting underway, and he had the whole long journey ahead of him. He'd been through so much already; Sam wanted nothing more than for his master to travel with an easy mind.
But Sam was rattled by it, all the same. So when he came puffing up at last, and Mr. Frodo cheerfully complained about the weight of his pack, the first thing Sam did was put his foot in his mouth and go offering to carry more, like a fool. Mr. Pippin had the right of it, and turned it all into a joke. Sam had his doubts about Mr. Pippin at times, him being so young and all, but he was the son of the Took and one of Mr. Frodo's dearest friends, and there weren't much Sam could go saying to him, and certainly not to Mr. Merry, that weren't clean beyond his station.
But for all Sam's misgivings, Mr. Pippin did have his uses. He got Mr. Frodo's mind off of Sam and onto their journey in a twinkling, leaving Sam to plod along at their heels, grateful for the deepness of the night that hid the hot flush on his cheeks. He weren't used to lying to Mr. Frodo, even to the point of just leaving out some of the truth, and it was hard on him. Every so often Sam looked around, wondering if they'd catch sight of that black chap. Sam didn't know which would be worse: for the black fellow to catch up to them, or for Sam to be caught out in a lie. He weren't sure what would happen in the first case; he knew how he would feel in the second. The first night's march seemed to drag on forever.
The next morning, Sam's worry faded away like a bad dream. Here he was, in a beautiful wood, sharing a camp breakfast with the finest hobbit in the Shire. There was no way Samwise Gamgee would complain about that!
But fate had more plans for Mr. Frodo than Sam could prevent, however much he tried. He'd kept a good sharp eye and ear open on their journey, so he was the one who heard the following hoof beats first. He hoped that Mr. Frodo was right about it being Mr. Gandalf coming after them, but Sam couldn't make himself believe it. He fully supported Mr. Frodo's notion for them to keep out of sight when the unknown horseman passed. Then Sam had gone and hidden with Mr. Pippin, too far back to see anything. He'd been worried about Mr. Pippin poking his head up as when he shouldn't, and here it turned out that Mr. Frodo was the one getting too close--close enough to report sniffing. If that didn't make Sam want to climb into a hole--or better yet, a good stout wagon--he didn't know what would.
As soon as the fellow had moved on, and Mr. Frodo told them what he saw, Sam made a clean breast about what he'd learned the previous day from his Gaffer. To his relief, Mr. Frodo didn't seem overly alarmed by the visitor, just properly aware of his danger, as he should be. Sam breathed a sigh of relief. He'd wondered if old memories might make Mr. Frodo panic, but he'd underestimated his master, seemingly, and not for the first time. Apparently Mr. Frodo had made some sort of peace with the past, which was more than Sam could do. For all it was fifteen years ago, the nightmares still deviled him.
Sam knew something was amiss the moment he stepped into Bag End. It weren't the stillness; in the two and a half years since Mr. Bilbo had left, Sam had grown used to the silent smial, with only Mr. Frodo slumbering away in his room while Sam set about stoking the fires and heating water for his master's use when he should wake. But this morning something were different--some scent lingering on the air that didn't belong there. Sam wrinkled his nose at the acrid odor. Leaf, he'd warrant, and not of the best. Not anything Mr. Frodo had in his stores, Sam would vow.
So someone had been up to the hole last night. Odd for Mr. Frodo not to mention it. Sam had waved goodbye to him as usual at the end of the day yesterday. Mr. Frodo, his eyes focused on the book in his lap as he sat on the bench near his door in the mild spring air, had absently lifted a hand in response. Surely if he'd been expecting visitors, he would have mentioned it? Ah, well. None of Sam's business. Mr. Frodo could have in who he liked, when he liked, as often as he pleased. He were master of the place, and had settled into the role right well, after Mr. Bilbo had gone and left it all to him. Determinedly Sam put curiosity aside, and stepped into the smial.
Sand gritted under his feet. Sam paused to take stock of the floor. Footprints, plenty of them, left by some very unclean feet. Sam frowned. Mr. Frodo was free to entertain guests as he saw fit, of course, but most of those guests had sense enough not to track half the garden over Bag End's scrubbed and polished floors. With furrowed brow, Sam followed the trail farther into the smial. He could hardly do otherwise, seeing as the footprints followed the main corridor. Sam winced at a muddy print left on the great red rug that Mr. Bilbo had spread over the main parlor floor. From the looks of things, Sam would have to haul the thing outside and beat it; a weary chore. That rug was fine and thick and no easy thing to lift.
About to continue on his way, Sam froze. A number of shelves lined the inner wall of the parlor. Normally these were filled with books and such bric-a-brac as Mr. Frodo chose to display. Except this morning, the contents of most the shelves were knocked over in a jumble. Some papers and whatnot were scattered on the floor beneath, left to lie where they had fallen.
Sam's blood ran chill. With a hasty step, he crossed to Mr. Frodo's study. The door was wide. One glance inside was enough almost to stop Sam's heart. The room had been ransacked. Mr. Frodo's work lay scattered about on the desk and floor, and the two chairs were overturned. Books had been knocked from the shelves, the furniture disarranged, and the area rug torn up and flipped aside. The candles on the desk had burned down to empty sockets. The window was wide. From outside, in the cool dawn air, a single robin chirped.
Sam spun on his heel and hurried deeper into the smial. "Mr. Frodo?" His heart battered at his breastbone, and a nervous sweat broke out on his palms and back. He could only think, This is bad; this could be bad. "Mr. Frodo!"
There was no response to his shout. Sam burst from the hall into the airy kitchen. It had also been turned upside down, apparently this time for food. A right feast lay scattered on the table, or such a feast as animals might make--half eaten food left out to sit, crumbs everywhere, cut slabs of cheese curling up at the edges as they dried into tiny, inedible bricks. Sam spared no more than a glance for the wreckage, before plunging on down the hall. "Mr. Frodo!" His shrill cry echoed in the empty corridor.
Mr. Frodo's bedroom was the first on the window side of the smial. Sam threw open the door, and groaned. They'd been here, too. The fire was long out, the dim room chill in the early light, but Sam could see the overturned chair by the window. The drawers of the tall press and the bedside dresser were awry, with contents from each scattered upon the floor. The bed was made, though the floral-pattern coverlet was rumpled. Mysteriously, the two pillows were heaped in the middle of the bed. There was a dark stain on the topmost one, a great misshapen blob. Sam went still when he noticed it, then crept closer, heart pounding. Surely that weren't...
That's when he saw it. Near the head of the bed, almost hidden in the shadow of the dresser, a pale wrist was lashed to the leftmost bar of the headboard. It hung secured by white linen, while the limp arm descended into the pool of darkness next to the bed.
Sam banged his hip on the rear bedpost in his rush to get around the bed. He staggered forward, and stopped in shock. Huddled in the hollow between the pillow-height dresser and the bed, held vertical only by his single bound wrist, a dark-haired body slumped against the wall. The naked skin seemed to glow, even in the shadows.
Sam bolted forward, then gently gathered his master into his trembling arms. Mr. Frodo's skin was cold, but Sam was certain he were warm underneath the chill. Surely he were warm underneath it. He wasn't... he couldn't be...
Sam tipped the dark head up. "Can you hear me, Mr. Frodo? It's your Sam. I've come."
The head flopped back, and Sam caught it before it could knock into the bed frame or wall. Mr. Frodo's eyes were closed. There was a bruise on his left cheek, with the eye swelling shut on that side. A trickle of blood had dried along the right side of his face, near his ear. More blood was matted in his hair. His knees were bent up towards his chest, but his right arm lay loosely at his side, the hand resting nervelessly on the floor. Even in the poor light, Sam could see red marks and dark blotches on the skin, showing where that wrist had also been bound.
Holding back his horror, Sam braced the limp body against his own, then reached for the knot securing Mr. Frodo's left hand to the bed frame. "Just you hold on, Mr. Frodo," Sam reassured him, his voice not entirely steady. "I'll have you out of this in two shakes."
He let his master loll against him, cradling that pallid face between his neck and shoulder as best he might, and plucked at the knot. It was pulled fast, and he could make no headway with it. The linen was stretched so tight, the knot was a solid lump in the fabric. He'd never get it loose this way, working only with stubby, tremulous fingers.
"Half a moment, Mr. Frodo," Sam said, as if Mr. Frodo were somehow able to hear him. "I'll fetch a knife from the kitchen, and be back in one tick. Rest you there." He eased Mr. Frodo against the wall. His master settled in a boneless heap.
Aflutter with nerves, Sam dashed round the bed and out to the kitchen. A number of dirty knives lay upon the table. Sam seized the handiest, a serrated table knife, and raced back to the bedroom. As he rounded the bed and flung himself towards Mr. Frodo, he halted. His gorge rose, and his stomach clenched. Between Mr. Frodo's legs, mostly hidden by his drawn-up feet, a great dark stain had spread onto the floor. There was no question what it was.
Sam's knees buckled. Bracing himself against the bed, he stumbled forward and half-fell into his former place at Mr. Frodo's feet. With shaking hands, Sam gently pushed Mr. Frodo's body back towards the wall, looking for a wound on his chest or belly. There was a lot of bruising, some of it dark like he were bleeding inside, but no wound. Sam let Mr. Frodo slump forward against him, and checked his back. Same story again; bruises but no wound. A thin red sheet down his right side showed where the head cut had at one point gushed down his back, but it had spread thin by the time it reached his hips. There just wasn't enough of it to account for the blood Sam had seen. The bleeding were... lower.
Sam swallowed in a dry throat. Gently he hugged Mr. Frodo to his chest, and patted his back. "There, now," he murmured, and his voice was harsh. "There, now."
After he'd steadied himself, he reached both hands around his master's limp body, and leaned forward to bring the knife to bear on the knot. He sawed away, feeling the taut fabric rip strand by strand. Suddenly he squeezed his eyes shut. The tears slipped out anyway, hot and furious beneath his lids. Stop it, Samwise Gamgee! he scolded himself. Mr. Frodo needs your help. Don't you go falling apart on him.
The cloth parted all of a sudden, and Sam caught Mr. Frodo's hand. It were icy and swollen from where the circulation had been so long restricted. Sam chafed it between his hands, then lowered it gently to Mr. Frodo's side. He reached up one-handed to toss back the coverlet, then gathered his master into his arms. "Come on, Mr. Frodo. Up you get."
Sam straightened from his knees, keeping his back straight as he lifted his master from the floor. He needn't have been so careful; Mr. Frodo was even lighter than Sam had imagined he would be. As he stood him up, Sam paused. Unmistakably, he could hear the patter of droplets hitting the floor. Sam closed his eyes, fighting a surge of sickness. Mastering himself, he braced Mr. Frodo against him. With his left hand, he snatched one of the clean towels from the stack he always left atop the dresser, ready for use. He snapped it open, then ran it quickly down his master's back and bottom and legs, where new dark trails hurried to join the pool already staining the floor. Dropping the used towel to cover the mess, Sam eased the coverlet farther back, then spread a clean towel over the sheets as best he could with one hand. No sense in getting any more blood in the bed than he could help. Sam swallowed hard.
Sam tipped Mr. Frodo forward, then deftly caught him behind the knees and shoulders. Sam hoisted his master up. "Onto the bed, sir." Sam set Mr. Frodo as carefully as he might onto the towel. The heaped pillows were a problem; both the coverlet and Mr. Frodo's left leg had hitched up on them. Sam reached over to pull the topmost pillow out from under his master's bent knee. At this close distance, there was no doubt as to the identity of the dark stain; it was a great blot of dried blood, stiff and already beginning to flake. As Sam shifted the pillow, he noticed it showed a set of stains--blood mixed with irregular blobs of yellow-white, that gave off an unmistakable pungency. Sam jerked back as if slapped. He stared, horrified. Then, in fury, he hurled the pillow across the room. It slammed into the wall next the fireplace and fell. Biting his cheek to stem the angry tears, Sam took the unstained pillow, plumped and reversed it, then gently placed it beneath Mr. Frodo's head, careful of the cut that had raised a lump at the back right side of his skull. Sam worked the coverlet free from Mr. Frodo's legs and pulled it over him.
"Just a moment, sir. I'm going to get you warm."
Stooping towards the fireplace, Sam shoveled the dead coals frantically into the ash bucket. Out of the corner of his eye he could see the thrown pillow, and clenched his teeth. There were naught to do about it now; the fire must come first. Fire, then a healer. At some point Sam would have to decide just how much to tell folks about what had happened to his master, but at the moment he couldn't begin to think on it. He seized the ash bucket and made for the kitchen, banging his knees against the full pail. No fire was laid there, either, and Sam cursed himself. True, he'd been rightfully distracted that morning, but it vexed him to have to take the time now to build one. At least it weren't a dead loss. A few coals still glowed in the fire pit. Sam tipped some into the kitchen bucket, grabbed an armful of kindling, and carried the lot back to the bedroom. He laid the fire in a flash, for all that his hands were shaking and his legs quivery as a jelly. As soon as the blaze caught, Sam brushed his hands against his breeks, then turned again to the bed.
Mr. Frodo lay exactly as Sam had placed him. Sam approached hesitantly and rested a hand against his cheek. It were still too cold.
"Begging your pardon, Mr. Frodo, but I've got to leave you for a spell. Only to fetch a healer, then I'll be back as fast as my legs can carry me, and nothing will take your Samwise away from you again."
The pale form didn't move. The long, dark lashes rested against the clear skin, the thin chest rose and fell beneath the blankets. Sam swallowed hard, then reluctantly backed away from the bed. Then he turned, and fair tore out of the bedroom. He burst out the front door, not stopping to close it behind him, and pelted down the Hill towards the Row. The light was growing broad, but Sam didn't care, except in the sense that the stronger light made his path easier to see--all the better for him, as the world kept disappearing behind a watery blur of tears.
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