West of the Moon
A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive
Sam finds things have changed when he returns to Bag End
Notes: Mostly movieverse. Many thanks to Lbilover for the beta.
Finally crossing the Brandywine River is a relief and no mistake. For so long I've dreamed of being back in the Shire, for so long I thought I'd never see it again, that, well, it almost seems a bit magical to me now, like a far off place in one of Mr. Bilbo's tales. The feeling of strangeness passes though, as I recognize each meadow and wood as home. Each smial, each fence, each cow grazing placidly in a field is dear to me, and a sense of homeliness settles in my heart and brings a smile to my lips.
That smile fades quick enough though, when I glance over at Mr. Frodo. There's no question the long trip home has been hard for him, slow and gentle as we've been going. His shoulder pained him something fierce when we passed Weathertop, and when we stopped that night, he sat all quiet by himself for a long time, and wouldn't even take the tea I brought him. I guess we were all a little quiet that night, remembering our first encounter with the evil Wraiths and what it nearly did to Mr. Frodo. Even Mr. Gandalf didn't say much, and he left us the next morning heading south, leaving us hobbits to return to the Shire alone.
I'd hoped just being back in the Shire would perk Mr. Frodo up, but he still has that faraway sad look in his eyes, that look that makes me want to hold him and protect him. I'm not sure what there is to protect him from now, what with the Ring being destroyed along with that Gollum, the Wraiths gone, and the King's men chasing down and killing the last of the orcs.
There's nothing for it but to get him to Bag End as quick as may be, where I can take care of him proper.
We create quite a stir as we ride past the Three-farthing Stone and come to Bywater. I reckon we look a bit outlandish in the finery we've been given. I have Sting at my side, and Merry and Pippin wear the livery of Gondor and Rohan and have their swords, too. Only Mr. Frodo is unarmed--he said he'd bear weapons no more. Hobbit folks' stares of suspicion turn to surprise when they recognize us. Some of the hardest looks are for me--I guess folk don't hold with a gardener dressing like his betters.
When we come to Hobbiton and head up the Hill, young lads and lasses run ahead of us, laughing and calling to each other like a troop of players had come to town. By the time we get to Number 3 Bagshot Row, my old Gaffer is standing by the gate, shading his eyes against the sun and watching me.
I slide off Bill and go up to him.
"Hello, Da," I say. To my surprise, he throws his arms around me and holds me tight for a few moments.
"'Bout time you came home, Son," he says gruffly, but I hear the catch in his voice. He holds me at arms' length and eyes me critically. "You look different, Samwise. Older."
"Aye, Da. A lot's happened."
"I reckon so. Well, I see you brung young Mr. Frodo and his kin home safe and sound." He nods deferentially at the three gentlehobbits, who sit waiting patiently on their ponies.
Safe? I think. If only I could have kept them safe!
"How have you been keeping, Da?"
"Well enough, I reckon. Your sisters look in on me when their husbands can spare them. Mari married young Tom Cotton, you know, four, maybe five months ago. And the Widow Rumble, well, she and I have been keeping company."
I stare at him. If he said he'd been elected King of the Four Farthings, I couldn't have been more surprised.
"Well, your Mr. Frodo is looking a bit tired. You'd best take him up to Bag End and see he gets settled in. I tried to look out for the place a bit while you were gone, but it was hard for me with no help."
I feel tears stinging my eyes. "Sorry, Da. It couldn't be helped."
"I know, Son" he answers quietly, and I think his eyes look a bit red, too. "Go on, get going. Stay as long as you need, I'll have the Widow to look out for me."
I lead Bill the rest of the way up to Bag End.
The garden is a bit overgrown, but considering we've been away for a year, it's plain my Gaffer spent a good bit of time in trying to keep it tidy. The key is right where it's supposed to be under the overturned pot, and Frodo opens the green door. It needs painting.
We stand in the doorway for a long while, just looking at the familiar hallway, the paneled walls and tiled floor, the line of pegs for hanging coats, the walking sticks leaning against the wall. I try to catch a glimpse of Mr. Frodo's face to see what he's thinking, but he's turned away from me. The smial is dark and cool, but it doesn't have a musty smell, so I know the Gaffer has been inside and aired it out and dusted, and made sure no birds nested in the chimneys.
"Well, we're back," I say, and my words seemed to shake everyone from their daydreaming. Mr. Frodo moves towards the parlor, and sinks wearily into the soft armchair. Pippin declares he's hungry, and since there can't possibly be a proper morsel of food in the smial, suggests that he and Merry should go find something before the markets close.
Merry agrees with him, and after bringing in assorted luggage, and helping me unsaddle Bill and Strider, they head off again and Mr. Frodo and I are alone in the parlor. I look at him and he smiles at me wanly, but it isn't a real smile, and suddenly I feel tears starting again. It just ain't right! All he's been through and he's still suffering. And just that quick, the joy of being home is snuffed out. I turn away so he won't see my tears, and I fuss with the curtain at the window until I can speak again.
"I have a bit of tea in my pack, Mr. Frodo. I'll make you some."
"Thank you, Sam. That would be lovely." But his voice is soft and unenthusiastic.
I start a fire in the kitchen first, and set a kettle to boil, then lay fires in the other rooms: the parlor where Mr. Frodo still sits quietly, the biggest of the spare bedrooms for his cousins, who I reckon will stay the night, and finally, his bedroom. I pause there for a bit, picking up the assorted small treasures that line his shelves and wardrobe, one by one, recalling where they came from. This is the sparkling rock he'd found on one of his hikes about the Shire, this the strangely curved pale shell purchased from a traveling merchant and reported to come from the sea, this the vase I would put fresh flowers in every day. Each item is so well remembered, yet so strange and almost foreign. I have to scrub at my eyes again.
But it's time to fix the tea. Back in the kitchen, I add a generous dollop of honey from a small pot I find in the cupboard, and bring the cup to Mr. Frodo.
"Here, Mr. Frodo, this will make you feel better."
He takes the cup from me, but does not drink. His gaze is wandering around the room.
"Everything is the same, Sam." His voice is so quiet I have to lean nearer to hear him. "But it's all so different, too."
"Aye, sir, but I reckon it's us that's changed." I put my hand on his shoulder to comfort him, and he places his on top. We stay that way for a while, his cool hand growing warm on mine.
"Go on and drink your tea before it gets cold," I admonish him gently. He gives my hand a little squeeze and obediently sips from the cup. He looks up at me and smiles then, this time a real smile.
"Thank you, Sam," he whispers, and I know he is thanking me for more than the tea. My heart swells in my breast, and just that quick, the joy is back again.
I don't know what to say to him, and after a moment I self-consciously pull my hand away.
"I wonder where those cousins of yours have got to!"
Merry and Pippin bustle through the door, carrying great sacks filled with food to the kitchen, and emptying them on the table. There's a cooked ham, potatoes, turnips, winter squash, apples, three loaves of fresh baked bread, a good hard round of cheese, onions, mushrooms, bacon, eggs, butter, four large fruit tarts, and assorted brown paper packages tied up with strings.
I put a pot of water on to boil and set Pippin to scrubbing and chopping the vegetables, while Merry heads down to the cellar to look for wine. I cut some slices of cheese, apples and bread and take them to Mr. Frodo, who is gazing into the fire as if remembering other flames. His injured hand is clasping the jewel at his chest.
He starts as if from a dream. "Sam," he says, as if surprised to see me.
I set the plate next to him, but he doesn't look at it.
"Why don't you come in the kitchen and join us, Mr. Frodo?" He looks lonely and lost sitting there all by himself.
"Yes, I'll be there in a minute," he replies, but I reckon his mind is still far away.
I want to say more to him, but the words stick in my throat, so I return to the kitchen.
Merry is back from the cellar, laughing while Pippin is brandishing the knife like a sword.
"Now supper ain't gonna get done that way," I admonish them, handing Merry another knife and pointing him at the vegetables.
"Yes, Sam," Pippin says meekly, and sets to chopping again, though he continues with his story of slaying orcs and trolls. The tale grows each time I hear it.
After a few minutes, Mr. Frodo comes in, carrying the plate of food. I notice he hasn't eaten any of it, though Pippin pinches a handful as soon as it comes within reach.
"What can I do to help, Sam?" Frodo asks.
"Well, sir, I reckon you could set the dining room table," I tell him, and am surprised by the look of gratitude he shoots me. I step out the door to see if there are any herbs in the kitchen garden to add to the now simmering stew.
When I come back in, Pippin is sitting on the kitchen table, swinging his long legs. "'Triplets, Mr. Boffin!' I exclaimed. 'Why your missus must be so proud and quite busy!' And he said, 'My missus? Mr. Took, Daisy is my cow! My wife's name is Dahlia!' And then he thumps me on the shin with his walking stick!"
It does my heart good to see Mr. Frodo laughing with his cousins, just like old times.
Pretty soon the stew is ready, so I fill the large tureen and carry it to the dining room, Pippin following me with sliced bread on a platter.
I stop at the doorway. The table is laid with the best china and silver, and Merry is pouring Old Winyards in the delicate crystal goblets that sit at each place, the wine sparkling like deep clear rubies in the candlelight. I suddenly realize I've never eaten in the dining room before. Oh, I've spent many a teatime or luncheon, and sometimes even a dinner, at the big wooden table in the kitchen, but I've never sat at the polished dining room table with my betters.
And I realize something else: I haven't been acting like they're my betters, I've been treating them like equals! I haven't even thought of Merry and Pippin as Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin for, well, for a good while now. Worse yet, I've been making free with Bag End as if I was its Master!
I glance guiltily at Mr. Frodo, thinking he's going to realize what I've been doing and send me back to the kitchen. Instead, he smiles at me gently. "Come, Sam, sit by me."
So I sit at his right hand, and Merry fills the rest of the glasses and lifts his high. "To the Shire," he says. "The Shire," we echo, and drink deeply and gratefully.
We all help with the clearing up until I notice Mr. Frodo is flagging, so I take him back to the parlor and settle him in his armchair, fussing about like an old hen. Merry and Pippin come in a few minutes later, and I'm surprised to see they have their travel cloaks on.
"Pip wants to ride on to Great Smials this evening," he explains.
"But it's too far," I protest. Mr. Frodo is silent, staring at the fire.
"We'll find an inn where we can stop for the night, and be there in time for second breakfast." Merry drops his voice so only I can hear. "Pip's family doesn't know yet that he's safe. He's eager to see them."
I can understand that, so I don't argue anymore.
But Merry isn't done with me yet. "You'll stay here, won't you? And look after Frodo? I don't think he should be alone." His voice drops lower. "He needs you, Sam."
"I'll not leave him. Ever." I say it fiercely, even though my voice is as low as Merry's. Tears are threatening again, but I fight them back.
Merry turns to Frodo. "We'll be back in a few days and help you get things sorted out, Frodo. Meanwhile, Sam'll stay with you."
Mr. Frodo looks up from the fire. "But his Gaffer..."
"His Gaffer has the Widow to look out for him." Merry laughs and gives me a broad wink, which makes me blush a little. I'm not ready to think too hard yet on what's going on at Number 3.
Frodo looks at me questioningly, and I nod. "Aye, I reckon my Gaffer's done all right by himself this last year. I'm happy to stay with you, Mr. Frodo."
Pippin is quiet for a change. He hasn't said much since dinner; I reckon he does just want to get home.
Mr. Frodo gets up and accompanies his cousins to the front hall, giving them long hugs before they leave. Merry whispers something in his ear; I can't hear it, but it makes Frodo look a long time into Merry's eyes before letting go. Merry and Pippin hug me too, and I'm sad to have them go, but immeasurably grateful to them for loving Frodo so much.
After Mr. Frodo closes the big green door behind his cousins, he looks lost and pale. "I think I'd like to go to bed now, Sam," he says, and I follow him to his bedroom.
While I light the fire, I tell him to get himself ready for bed and I'll make sure Bag End is closed up proper before coming back to tuck him in. "I can sleep in the spare room across the hall," I say. "I already laid a fire there for your cousins."
"Please, Sam," he whispers. "Stay here with me. I don't want to be alone."
Well, of course I can't say him nay, so I go and make sure the fires are banked and the candles put out. When I come back to his room, he has changed into a soft flannel nightshirt and is sitting on the wide feather bed. I tsk at him as I pick up his clothes from the floor and fold them neatly over the back of a chair, and he gives me a rueful smile.
"Sorry, Sam," he says meekly, getting under the covers. "I'm afraid I don't have a nightshirt that will fit you."
"That's all right, Mr. Frodo. I'm used to sleeping in my clothes." I take off my weskit and braces, and after hesitating, my breeches, too, and put them on the chair next to his clothes. I climb into bed with him.
There's still a chill in the room, so I take him in my arms, and he snuggles up next to my chest. After a while, his breathing slows and deepens, but it's a long time before I fall asleep.
I awake when something smacks me in the jaw, and for a moment I forget where I am, and think we're under attack from orcs or worse. I sit bolt upright in bed, reaching for a sword that isn't there, and then recollect myself.
Frodo is thrashing and crying out in his sleep. It about breaks my heart to see him still having nightmares, and I gather him up in my arms, heedless of his flailing limbs.
"Frodo, me dear, wake up! We're home, you're safe! It's me, your Sam."
After a bit, he wakes, staring about the room in confusion, his eyes big and fearful.
"Sam?" His voice quavers, as he realizes where he is. "Oh, Sam, my Sam. I'm so sorry."
"Hush, me dear. It's all right," I whisper in his hair.
He clings to me, shivering hard and murmuring my name over and over. I hold him as tight as I dare, rocking and petting and loving him, and trying to warm his cold body. I'm murmuring soft words to him, but I don't know what I'm saying, and we're both crying a little.
I realize his hands are caressing me, my arms, my back, my hair, and it sends a shiver though me though I'm not cold. Then he pulls away from me a little so he can look in my eyes.
"My Sam," he whispers again. "My dearest Sam." And before I know what's happening, his lips are on mine, and oh, ain't that a wonder! I can taste the salt of our tears, and the wine from dinner and something rich and warm that is just Frodo.
"Frodo!" I gasp, breaking away, and for a moment there is fear again in his eyes, fear that he did the wrong thing in kissing me, but I let him know how right it is by taking his face in my hands and kissing him tenderly, his brow, his eyelids, his cheeks. And then his lips again, his beautiful lips. They part for my tongue, and I drink at them, worship them, adore them.
Then he is the one gasping my name, and he pulls back a bit so he can reach the buttons of my shirt, fumbling at them awkwardly.
"Sam, I want you!" He is kissing me again, his lips wandering down my neck.
I surprise myself by chuckling. "Then you shall have me, my love. For I have always been yours."
He is still arguing with my buttons, so I pull the shirt over my head and toss it in the direction of the chair, missing it by a good yard. He lifts his arms so I can pull his nightshirt off, and I don't even know what direction it goes because his hands are moving on my chest and lower, and he's rubbing his cheek against me, and I have to pause and collect my wits.
I realize his body is naked and that takes all my attention from what he is doing. His skin is pale and soft under my hands, and he glows with that soft light like I saw in Rivendell and Ithilien. I can't see the scars though I know they are there. He looks perfect and pure and noble, like the marble statues in Minas Tirith. But he is behaving anything but pure, reaching for my smallclothes now.
"Sam, please," he begs. His face is flushed a lovely rosy color.
"Easy, me dear." I laugh a little, giddy with want and love. Together we pull my smallclothes off and I kick them to the floor. I lay him on his back and gaze down at him, almost afraid to touch the beauty beneath me.
"Oh, but you are beautiful," I whisper.
"And so are you, Sam. So are you." He reaches up and pulls me down, and I lay atop him, our arousals pressed between our bellies.
I'm not sure what to do, so I just start moving in a way that feels good, and it seems to feel good to Frodo, too, for he is making little mewling noises and arching up under me. I capture his mouth in mine again, exploring with my tongue, swallowing his gasps and cries. He is trying to thrust against me, but it's not enough, not enough, and I turn us on our sides, and reach down and take us both in one hand.
At first I'm afraid the calluses on my hand will be too rough for him, but he is crying out and thrusting harder now, and he joins his hand to mine. And, oh, now I'm moaning and thrusting too, and Frodo's face is so beautiful I can scarcely bear it, but nor can I take my eyes from it.
Frodo stiffens then, gasping my name. A long low cry is torn from his throat, and he is coming on our bellies. I thrust one, twice, thrice more, and then my seed mingles with his.
"Sam! Oh, my love, my Sam."
"Frodo, my dearest!"
My blood is thudding in my ears, and he is trembling in my arms, or I in his, but I can no longer tell where I leave off and he starts for our bodies and hearts are too intertwined now.
After a while, our breathing and heartbeat slow to normal. I fall asleep thinking what a marvel it is, and wondering why it took me so long to realize I could love Frodo with my body as well as my whole heart and soul.
When I wake, the sun is up and the day well started. Our bodies are sticky with dried sweat and come, but I cannot bear the thought of disturbing the warm hobbit sleeping in my arms. It's as lovely a Shire morning as I can remember, with the sunlight golden through the window and Frodo as pale and lovely and insubstantial as the full moon by day. I hold him tighter, as if afraid he will disappear with the sun, but he feels real enough, though still far too thin for a proper hobbit.
That thought, and my rumbling stomach, remind me it's past time for second breakfast, and I carefully disentangle myself from my love. He murmurs briefly, but settles again, and I place a gentle kiss in his hair before gathering my clothes from various parts of the room.
I build up the fire, wash and dress myself quickly, all the while keeping an eye out for any sign of wakefulness from Frodo, but he slumbers peacefully on. I watch him a moment longer from the doorway, then head to the kitchen.
I bless Merry and Pippin for all the shopping they did yesterday as I gather eggs, butter, mushrooms, bacon and onions from the larder. Pretty soon I'm busy fixing a big breakfast and my heart is so full to bursting that I start humming and then singing a happy Shire song.
I hear a sound behind me, and turn from the stove. Frodo is standing in the doorway, wrapped in a dressing robe and looking all disheveled. For an instant, just a brief instant, I falter and my heart quails.
"I'm sorry if I woke you, Frodo," I say, and I see right off that he notices the use of his plain unadorned name. I can't bring myself to call him "Mister," not after what we did last night.
But he smiles, a smile such as I've not seen in a year, and my heart starts beating again.
"I can't think of a better way to wake on a lovely Shire morn than to the sound of your singing and the smells of your cooking in my kitchen," he says, and his blue eyes are sparkling like the sun on the Water.
"Our kitchen," he corrects himself, and there's nothing for it but to open my arms to him.
He comes to me and I gather him up, and before I know it, he's kissing me and running his hands up and down my back and I feel him growing hard against me. I'm starting to grow hard myself. But I laugh and step back.
"Now, Frodo-love, if we're not careful, I'll be burning our breakfast!" I take the sting away by kissing him soundly before turning back to mind the eggs.
He sighs and leans his head against my back. "Very well, Sam. I'll wait until after our breakfast. Then I'm taking you back to our bed."
I take the pan off the stove, and set it aside, turning back to him again, tears suddenly stinging my eyes.
"Welcome back, Frodo," I say. "Welcome home."
He kisses me sweetly, and we share the first breakfast of our new life together in Bag End.
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