Seducing Sam by Lbilover

Assume in this story that it's movie Frodo and Sam, so they are about the same age, but otherwise this is sort of a Tolkien/Heyer hybrid.


~*~


Aunt Lobelia’s Saturday afternoon tea parties were a crashing bore.


Teacup in one hand, plate filled with biscuits and tiny fruit tarts in the other, Frodo searched for an empty chair somewhere in the fussy, extravagantly appointed parlour with its overabundance of flowered chintz, frilly throw pillows and china knick-knacks, while he mentally cursed his ill-fortune in running into his aunt in town the previous day. She had cornered him outside the bookseller’s shop and badgered him into attending this absurd affair, accusing him of neglecting his familial obligations.


He’d given in to her badgering, but not for the reason she’d believed. Familial obligation, when it came to dancing attendance on his least favourite relation, held little weight with Frodo. No, the truth was, he’d been running late for an assignation with a luscious armful of hobbit he’d met at the Green Dragon a few days earlier, and had simply wished to be rid of his aunt’s company as quickly as he could.


Across the room, Frodo spotted a spindle-legged chair that was blessedly unoccupied and hurried toward it. That luscious armful of hobbit had proven to be a bit of a disappointment in fact. Like his other recent liaisons, this one had left him feeling somehow hollow inside, even though the bed sport had been satisfactory.


Satisfactory? Frodo dropped into the chair (narrowly beating out two other hobbits who had it in their sights) and wondered when he had begun to consider a lively tussle among the sheets as merely ‘satisfactory’. Had he become jaded, he mused as he sipped his tea. Or had he perhaps finally reached that time of life when he wanted more than a lusty cock to ride? He hadn’t lingered in bed after they were done, but quickly pulled on his clothes and taken his leave, adroitly sidestepping his lover’s none-too-subtle hints that he was welcome to stay. Once he would have eagerly taken up the luscious armful’s offer, but those days, it seemed, were gone.


What it was he wanted exactly, Frodo had no clue, nor where in Middle-earth he might find it. All he knew was that something was lacking in his life. He felt restless and unsettled, and studied maps, and wondered if he oughtn’t leave the Shire altogether and follow his Uncle Bilbo’s footsteps into parts unknown.


Just then Clary Bunce and Primrose Bolger strolled past Frodo. Their bare white arms were linked and their curly heads were nearly touching as they whispered avidly to each other. The flounces of their trailing skirts brushed lightly across the tops of his feet, and they were close enough for him to hear their words.


“He’s from Tighfield, Lobelia told me. His family are ropers,” Clary was saying.


“Ropers?” Primrose repeated in evident astonishment. “Even Lobelia will have her work cut out for her turning that sow’s ear into a silk purse.”


The two girls giggled.


It was several months since Frodo had last been coerced into attending one of his aunt’s weekly teas. Sadly, nothing appeared to have changed in the interim. The usual crowd of gabbing, gossiping hobbits were discussing the latest scandals while surreptitiously studying each other’s outfits to see who was dressed in the latest kick of fashion- or, more importantly, who was not, so they could make pitying, pointed comments to those unfortunates wearing last season’s outdated designs.


Frodo accidentally made eye contact with Begonia Proudfoot, sitting a few chairs away. She gave him a bright and inviting smile that showed off her dimples- her best feature, everyone agreed. Frodo returned the smile blandly and looked away. He’d learned early on to recognise the hobbits who considered him on a par with a particularly large and elusive pike hiding beneath the banks of the Water. He avoided them with the skill of one who had been considered a prime catch ever since he left his tweens. ‘Never take a baited hook, no matter how eye-catching the lure’ was his motto. His proclivities ran in an entirely different direction, and while he was more than happy to indulge in a little mild flirtation, and indeed, found it quite enjoyable, Begonia had her sights set on marriage and becoming Mistress of Bag End, and that was a position no lady would fill in Frodo’s lifetime.


Bored and wondering how soon he could make his excuses and leave, Frodo raised a glazed apple tartlet to his mouth, bit into it, and paused for a moment in astonishment. ‘Bland’ and ‘uninspired’ were the first two adjectives that sprang to Frodo’s mind when thinking of the food served at Aunt Lobelia’s parties. Her cook had modest skill and no imagination. But this… A hum of purely sybaritic pleasure vibrated in his throat, a pleasure more intense than that he’d felt when he’d had the luscious armful’s cock in his mouth the previous day. The pastry was so flaky and buttery it practically melted on his tongue, while the tartness of the apples was offset by the richness of creamy custard.


Within a few minutes, Frodo had polished off the entire contents of his plate; each delicacy was more exquisite than the last. Clearly he had been wrong. In the interim since his last visit, one important change had occurred. His aunt had apparently acquired a new cook. Frodo discreetly moistened the tip of his forefinger with his tongue and then dabbed up the remaining crumbs from the plate. It would be a pity to let them go to waste.


“Beggin’ your pardon, sir,” a voice said in a soft west country burr, just as Frodo inserted his crumb-covered finger into his mouth, “but would you be carin’ for another tart, or a biscuit maybe?”


A pair of feet appeared in Frodo’s line of sight. Shapely, strong feet covered with thick, curling hair of a deep golden-brown that reached well above the ankles. Frodo’s eyes slowly travelled upward, noting sturdy well-muscled calves and powerful thighs that filled out tight buff-coloured breeches to perfection. His breath caught as he saw what else filled out those tight breeches to perfection. It was difficult to tear his eyes away from the impressive bulge that left little to the imagination, but he managed it and continued his upward sweep.


A chased silver tray bearing a variety of dainties came into view next. It was held between large square hands whose blunt-tipped fingers were sprinkled with golden hair on the backs. The edge of the tray pressed against a generous belly that strained against a white linen shirt. Frodo’s mouth went dry. He had a special appreciation for a proper hobbit-belly, being lacking in that department himself. An emerald green jacket with cerise piping- the colours of the Sackville-Baggins livery- encased broad shoulders, and a plainly tied white cravat encircled an eminently lickable throat.


Frodo raised his eyes to the face of the tray-bearing hobbit. Broad and snub-nosed, it would undoubtedly be called plain rather than handsome by some. Some fools that is, Frodo decided, taking in an upper lip that protruded slightly, as if in blatant invitation to be kissed and suckled. The hobbit’s head was crowned by hair of the same thick and curling golden-brown as on his feet. It was an unusual colour, like honey fresh from the comb, and complemented the warm tones of his skin. Lastly of all, Frodo met his gaze, and a bolt of lust scorched through him and a pleasurable ache invaded his groin as gold-flecked green eyes widened slightly as if in surprise.


Here, Frodo thought, was a creature of sun and earth, and he wanted to feel the heat of that sun and plough that earth, wanted it with an intensity that stunned him. He knew in that instant that he must have this hobbit—must and would.


Had he just been thinking that his aunt’s tea parties were a crashing bore? That he was becoming jaded? A different sort of pleasure curled through him then, the keen anticipation of a hunter preparing to pursue the most delightful of game.


Have you gone mad, Frodo Baggins? The voice of his conscience piped up then. Seducing a servant, and one who works for your aunt, no less?


It was true that Frodo normally avoided such entanglements, preferring to stay among his own class where the rules of seduction were known and understood and there was no question of coercion. He was, after all, the Master of the Hill, and a personage of power and influence in the neighborhood. Bilbo had warned him repeatedly that he must never abuse that power or take advantage of those of lower station.


And then the hobbit’s gaze dropped to Frodo’s mouth, and he realised that his forefinger was still between his lips. His conscience be hanged, Frodo thought. Let the seduction begin. Turning the finger slowly between his lips, he sucked away the buttery crumbs, removed it with a wet pop and licked his lips. Then he smiled, a warm and inviting smile that was, in fact, very much like the smile Begonia had given him. “Mm, that was quite delicious,” Frodo said.


The hobbit’s cheeks reddened. He swallowed and gave a tiny jerk of his head as if his cravat suddenly felt too tight. “W-would you care for another, sir?” He held the tray out a few inches.


“Thank you.” Frodo selected an apricot tart and set it on his plate. “You’re new here, aren’t you?”


“Aye- I mean, yes, sir,” he corrected himself with a quick glance across the room to where Lobelia was holding court among a circle of her friends. “I’ve been in the Mistress’s employ nigh on a month now.”


A month! This delectable ripe fruit had been his for the plucking for nearly an entire month and he hadn’t known. Frodo vowed to make up for lost time at once.


“And is it to you that we owe these epicurean delights?” He gestured at the tray.


“I don’t know about no ‘epicurean delights’, sir,” the hobbit replied, sounding uncomfortable, “but I’m the new cook, if that’s your meanin’.”


“It is indeed my meaning,” Frodo said. “It seems my aunt has found herself a treasure. I’m positively wracked with jealousy.”


The hobbit reddened even more. “’Tis naught but plain fare, sir. Nothin’ fancy.”


“Ah, but sometimes plain fare is precisely what one craves most.” Frodo’s eyes flicked down to the impressive bulge and back up again. He smiled to himself as the hobbit- and deuce take it, he couldn’t keep calling him that- swallowed hard a second time. The green of his eyes appeared to darken. The pleasurable ache in Frodo’s groin intensified. “Tell me, what is your name?” he asked.


“Gamgee!” The shrill tones of Lobelia’s voice rose above the chatter. “Gamgee, we require more biscuits here, at once.”


“Beggin’ your pardon, sir, but I’m needed by the Mistress.” Looking almost relieved, the hobbit called Gamgee hurried away.


Frodo watched him go, tapping his bottom lip thoughtfully with a still-damp fingertip. Gamgee. Definitely a west country name, and undoubtedly it was he whom Clary and Primrose had been discussing. Trust his fool of an aunt to try and force perfection into a different mold. Those uncultured accents had poured over Frodo like warm butter, and he could imagine how that soft deep voice would sound husky with passion as it murmured Frodo’s name. He would have to find out Gamgee’s given name. He did not intend to call him ‘Gamgee’ when he bedded him.


Frodo ate the apricot tartlet with relish, finished his tea, and then rose from the uncomfortable spindle-legged chair. He moved languidly about the room, doing the pretty with his numerous relations and acquaintances. All the while he kept a close if unobtrusive eye on Gamgee as he came and went, bringing more food and drink, clearing away dirty cups and plates, and mopping up spills. Several times the hobbit’s eyes found Frodo’s, as if against his will, and he blushed and looked away again immediately. Frodo exulted inwardly. The Gamgee was interested, no doubt about it.


There were other sets of eyes besides his own following that sturdy form, Frodo discovered. It seemed he was not alone in appreciating the servant’s impressive… assets. He didn’t mind in the least. It added an additional thrill to the excitement of the hunt to know that he had competition. After all, he had no intention whatsoever of losing.


Eventually Frodo worked his way around to where his Aunt Lobelia was sitting on an overstuffed love seat. “A splendid party, aunt,” he said with perfect truth as he perched on the arm of the sofa and began to swing one leg back and forth. “Thank you for inviting me.”


Lobelia gave him a suspicious look as if suspecting him of irony, and with good reason, as Frodo had never thanked her before. “I hope that means that it won’t be four more months before you grace us with your presence again, Frodo.”


Frodo smiled. “I believe I can safely assure you that I shall be positively slavish in my devotion in future.” He reached down and plucked a cheese straw from a plate. “If for nothing else than the food. Your new cook is a marvel, aunt.”


Lobelia’s expression took on an almost mellow cast. “Lotho discovered him on a hunting trip this past winter. He was working at an inn near Gamwich, of all places, and Lotho knew at once that the boy’s talents were being wasted there.”


“How very true,” Frodo agreed. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Gamgee bending down to pick up a fork someone had dropped. Muscular buttocks were clearly outlined beneath the tight breeches. Wasted indeed. It seemed that for the first time ever, he had cause to be grateful to his cousin Lotho.


“He didn’t want to come, but the father was amenable- once we’d settled on a salary that was mutually acceptable, that is.” Lobelia’s thin nostrils grew pinched. “He drives a hard bargain, that Hamfast Gamgee,” she said with grudging admiration. “But it is after all a step up in the world for his son. Of course, Samwise has that atrocious accent- I can hardly understand one word in five the boy says- but with time and encouragement, I’m sure that can be mended.”


Samwise. So, his given name was Samwise. Sam. Yes, that was better. He would call him Sam.


Frodo didn’t linger long after making this discovery. It was too soon to pursue Sam Gamgee in earnest- there would be no sneaking off to some remote corner of the smial this visit so Sam could roger him senseless- but the pleasurable ache was becoming almost painful, especially with images in his mind of himself bent over a table and Sam rutting against him, and he needed relief.


He took his farewell of his aunt, and as he made his way to the door, had the distinct impression that someone was watching him. A glance over his shoulder confirmed that it was, as he’d suspected, Sam Gamgee. The servant was standing ten feet away with a plate in either hand and he looked somehow a lonely and rather sad figure. Frodo wondered if he was imagining the disappointment in those warm hazel eyes. He hoped not. Never you fear, Samwise Gamgee, I’ll be back, Frodo silently vowed.


Outside in the bright late spring sunshine, it occurred to him that the luscious armful still staying at the Dragon would undoubtedly be eager and willing to scratch Frodo’s itch. The inn was but a short walk away. But the thought held little allure. He would settle for no one now but Sam, sweet honey-gold Sam.


Frodo walked quickly in the direction of the Hill for perhaps a quarter-mile, then turned left into a small grove of beech and elm trees. It was uncomfortable walking with his tight aching balls and full cock. He couldn’t recall a time since his tweens when he’d been this desperate for release, but he exulted in the feeling after the months of growing dissatisfaction with sex.


When Frodo was deep in the shaded quiet of the grove, he found temporary relief from the intolerable ache in his loins in the form of a slender young beech tree. He wrapped his arms around the smooth grey bark, spread his legs and began to drag his hips backward and forward, closing his eyes and imagining that the unyielding hardness against his throbbing erection was the rigid cock of Sam Gamgee. He pressed firmly, almost frantically, into the tree trunk, a low moan of ‘Sam’ escaping his lips. But he didn’t want to come inside his clothes and soil them; as he knew from experience, it would make for a deucedly unpleasant walk home.


He quickly turned so that his back was to the tree, and with fumbling fingers undid the buttons at the front of his breeches. Impatiently he shoved both breeches and smallclothes down to his ankles, kicked them out of harm’s way and took himself in hand. A few quick practiced strokes with the image of Sam on his knees before him was all it took; arching his back, Frodo let out a cry and came in long, creamy spurts, overshooting his feet with the intensity of his orgasm.


He slumped back against the tree, panting heavily. Sweet Eru, if merely the thought of Sam could do this to him, what would it be like when he had him in truth? His softening cock gave a little jump, and Frodo laughed shakily. It wouldn’t be long before he would require relief again at this rate. Bending to pick up his discarded clothes and shake them free of leaves and twigs, Frodo thought, I must have him soon. Very soon.


***


The ensuing week was a difficult one for Frodo. He thought of little else but Sam, and looked for him wherever he went. But alas, he caught not so much as a single glimpse of the young hobbit. He nearly called upon his aunt a dozen different times, in the hopes of seeing Sam, but in the end decided it was best to be cautious. Aunt Lobelia would find it odd, if not downright suspicious, for Frodo to be suddenly dancing attendance upon her, and he didn’t want her tumbling to the truth and throwing roadblocks in the way of his seduction.


On the Saturday next, Frodo bathed and dressed with especial care, choosing an ice-blue satin waistcoat embroidered with silver thread, and oyster grey trousers. An admirer had told Frodo that that shade of blue made his eyes sparkle like the finest sapphires, and he knew that the cut of his trousers showed his own, more modest, assets to their best advantage.


He arrived promptly at three o’clock, with no thought for being fashionably late, and Lobelia eyed him in some amazement as he bent over her hand. “I quite thought you’d forget, Frodo,” she commented. “Your memory has never been of the best.”


“How could I forget, aunt?” Frodo replied. “It was only a week ago.” The longest week of my entire life, he thought. “Ah, I see the refreshments have started to arrive. If you’ll excuse me, Aunt Lobelia, I missed second breakfast this morning and I’m absolutely famished.”


Sam Gamgee, dressed in the same close-fitting breeches and emerald-and-cerise jacket as before, had come into the room bearing a large tray of food. Frodo approached the sideboard just as he set the tray down.


“Good afternoon, Sam,” Frodo said, and the dishes rattled a little as if Sam was startled. Frodo suppressed a smile.


“Good afternoon, sir,” Sam replied. He didn’t look at Frodo, but concentrated on removing the dishes from the tray and setting them on the sideboard with quick, efficient movements.


“You don’t mind me calling you Sam, do you? ‘Samwise’ is rather a mouthful, and ‘Gamgee’ is far too formal.” Frodo bent his head and leaned in a little toward Sam. It was a warm day for late spring, and the kitchen was undoubtedly hot with the fire going non-stop. Tiny beads of perspiration dotted the bridge of Sam’s nose, his flushed cheeks and that oh-so-tempting upper lip. The honey-gold curls at his temples were dark with sweat and clinging to his skin. He smelled wonderfully of musky male and rosemary soap, and Frodo’s senses swam.


“I don’t mind, sir,” Sam said after a slight hesitation, and it took Frodo a moment to recall the question he’d asked. “’tis what I’m used to, you see. My family calls me Sam mostly, savin’ my gaffer when he’s upset wi’ me, and then ‘tis ‘Samwise’ or ‘ninnyhammer’ or worse.”


“Ah, then I must surely call you Sam, for I mean never to be upset with you. Quite the reverse.” Frodo reached around Sam to snatch a current-dotted buttermilk scone from a plate. With feigned casualness, he allowed his arm to brush against Sam’s, and he thrilled to their first contact and the hardness of the muscles hidden beneath the sleeve of that gaudy green and red jacket. He stepped back, and gave Sam an innocent smile, seemingly devoid of any salacious intent. “In fact, I very much hope that we shall become great friends.” Not to mention lovers…


Sam set the last plate on the sideboard and straightened, holding the empty tray in one hand dangling at his side. Finally, he looked full at Frodo, but there was no answering smile to be seen on his grave face. “There ain’t much chance of the likes of me becomin’ friends wi’ the likes of you, Mr. Baggins,” he replied quietly. “Now beggin’ your pardon, sir, but I’ve work to do.”


Sam was right of course, Frodo thought as he watched him go. Servants didn’t become friends with their superiors. But the rebuff stung nonetheless. Even more, there was a constraint in Sam’s attitude that had not been there a week ago. Frodo wondered what Sam might have overheard or been told about him. Enough to make him wary, it appeared. Frodo knew he had the reputation of being an idle, pleasure-seeking hobbit, and one inclined to love and leave with no care for the feelings of his erstwhile lovers.


But Sam, sweet honey-gold Sam, could hold his interest for weeks, if not months, if the pull of attraction was anything to go by, and Frodo fully intended to remain faithful to him during that time. He would have to reassure Sam on that point, lest he worry. Frodo had never allowed the opinions of others to weigh with him, but a small spark of anger burned in his breast that anyone would dare to interfere with his plans for seducing Sam.


There was, however, no opportunity for the remainder of the tea party to reassure Sam on that point or any other. Indeed, Frodo had no opportunity to speak to him at all. Whenever he attempted to get near him, Sam would find some excuse to move away or would vanish from the room altogether. Instead of finding himself a blissful step nearer to having Sam in his bed, Frodo found himself being held at arm’s length.


Speculation gradually blossomed into perfect certainty: someone had warned Sam against him—his aunt, perhaps, or his cousin Lotho. Even the most innocent of questions from Sam to either of them was likely to lead to a diatribe about Frodo’s many failings and his string of romantic conquests.


Well, let them do their best, Frodo thought as he stalked moodily back to Bag End later that afternoon, filled with dissatisfaction over his lack of progress. He would have Sam despite them, and not only that, he decided, he would have him right under their sharp, interfering noses, too.


That night after he’d undressed and was lying naked and perspiring atop the sheets in his still, humid bedroom, the only sound the droning of crickets outside in the unkempt garden, Frodo allowed his mind to concoct various scenarios, each one more daring than the last, wherein he and Sam made love in the Sackville-Bagginses smial, risking discovery in their frantic need to couple. His eager cock, never far from arousal since Frodo first set eyes on Sam, was soon erect and straining against his stomach as images of them partially clothed and moving flashed through his brain. Frodo was on his hands and knees with Sam buried deep inside him, first under the dining room table during a meal, then behind his aunt’s love seat during one of her interminable tea parties, and lastly in her bed while she was at home and might wander in at any moment and discover them…


Suddenly, Frodo rolled over and reached for the top drawer of the bedside table, biting his lip against a moan as his overheated groin pressed into the mattress. He squirmed a little against the cool sheets to relieve the intolerable ache, even as he opened the drawer and withdrew a small vial. His fingers shook slightly as he removed the stopper and poured some of the clear, lavender scented oil into his hand, and then returned the vial to the drawer.


Quickly, he smoothed the fragrant oil between his palms, and then slicked it over his shaft before sliding one hand down to oil his tight sac. He rose to his knees and then leaned back, bracing himself on one arm, thighs spread wide to help maintain his balance and give him full access to pleasure himself. He repeatedly stroked his cock with long, smooth pulls that ended in a sharp, satisfying twist at the flared crown. When he’d brought himself perilously near the brink of climax, he stopped, panting, and slid his hand between his thighs, reaching back to find the puckered opening behind his sac. He teased it lightly with his oil-slick forefinger; a moan was torn from his throat. Then he steadily pushed the finger inside, gasping at the delicious sensation as he was fully impaled. A second finger joined the first, and then a third; Frodo imagined they were Sam’s fingers, thicker and longer than his own, loosening and opening him, preparing Frodo for his shaft…


Frodo curled his fingers inward, unerringly finding and rubbing the hard nubbin of flesh that gave such intense pleasure. Once, twice, thrice… Frodo threw back his head with a hoarse cry as his balls clenched and his cock spurted hot fluid onto his belly. He just managed to pull his fingers free before his arm gave way and he collapsed against the pillows, sweating and gasping for breath.


In the aftermath of release came a crashing disappointment. Frodo climbed out of bed on trembling legs and going to his dressing table, filled a china basin with tepid water from the ewer. Almost angrily he dunked a washcloth into the water and swiped his sticky belly and genitals clean. This wasn’t what he wanted, pleasure from his own hands, however skilled.


He wanted Sam.


***


But Frodo did not get Sam. Not that week, nor the week after, nor the week after that. Six entire interminable weeks passed, and spring turned into a golden summer, and still Frodo was no closer to his goal. His emotions fluctuated wildly, from hope to despair, from unaccustomed jealousy to even more unaccustomed anger. The longing for Sam was a continual torment, and he grew weary of spilling his seed on the sheets night after night in a vain attempt to keep it at bay.


If Sam were a wall, Frodo sometimes thought, it would be impermeable, built of some strong seamless smooth stone against which one might cast oneself over and over or beat upon with one’s fists, but come away with only bruises to show for it. Sam was ever polite, but never more than polite, when Frodo attended those torturous weekly tea parties. He seemed oblivious to Frodo’s ‘accidental’ touches, his inviting looks and innuendo, forcing Frodo to make meaningless chitchat with his boring relations, instead of sneaking away with Sam for a bit of sport.


And yet… Frodo was absolutely convinced that Sam was aware of him, and not just as a visitor in his employer’s smial. He might have concluded that Sam simply had no interest in coupling with a male, but he was far too expert at reading the signs of attraction to mistake them. No, it was not that, although it wouldn’t have deterred Frodo anyway. He’d been blessed with a face that was almost feminine in its comeliness, and eyes that were the envy of every hobbit lass in the West Farthing and beyond. He had no qualms about playing the female if necessary. He’d learned that once a hobbit was in bed with a willing warm body that had a tight hot opening in which to thrust, what sex one was made little difference, and the pleasure taken was just as great.


But while Sam might remain aloof in his demeanor, he could not control his eyes, and they followed Frodo more often than he probably realised. He always quickly averted them when Frodo caught him watching, but not before Frodo glimpsed emotions that set his heart to racing and his cock to twitching. He’d made a study of those gold-flecked green eyes over the weeks, changeable eyes that reflected Sam’s every emotion, even when his face was otherwise guarded. Any intense emotion made them darken, and darken they did when they were watching Frodo.


On the fourth Saturday, the first chink of light had appeared in the impenetrable wall that was Samwise Gamgee. Frodo had been, as usual, covertly watching Sam, while he wondered if it were indeed possible to go mad with longing. In his distraction he carelessly splashed scalding tea on the back of his left hand, and let out a small cry of pain and surprise. No one appeared to have seen the accident, and Frodo, relieved that his clumsiness had gone unnoticed, had bit his lip against the searing pain and mopped up the spilt tea with a napkin.


“Mr. Baggins, is aught amiss?” It had been Sam, appearing as if out of nowhere, a look of concern on his face.


“I’ve foolishly burned my hand,” Frodo had said, holding it out for inspection.


Sam had wasted no time, but said in a low voice, “Come wi’ me, sir.” He’d led Frodo into the kitchen and sat him down at the table. “You wait here,” he’d ordered bluntly, “while I fetch some ice from the cellar.”


Frodo, rather stunned, not to say aroused, by this suddenly masterful Sam, had obediently waited, blessing his good fortune in spilling the tea, for it had gained him some precious time alone with Sam. In a few minutes Sam had returned with a piece of thin cloth within which he’d wrapped chips of ice. “Hold this on the burn, sir,” he’d instructed Frodo, handing him the cloth. “’twill take the heat from it and keep it from formin’ a blister.”


The cold ice had soothed the pain almost at once, and Frodo had said, “Thank you, Sam. It feels better already.”


Sam, busying himself at the stove, had replied without turning around, “You’ll need to keep the ice on it for a full ten minutes, sir.”


Just as Frodo was exulting, thinking of how he could use that time to his best advantage, Sam had said uncomfortably, “I’d best go see if the Mistress has need of me, Mr. Baggins. I’ll be back in a few minutes. Don’t you remove that ice, mind.”


“Frodo,” Frodo had whispered after Sam was gone. “My name is Frodo.”


To Frodo’s profound disappointment, Sam hadn’t reappeared until the ten-minute mark, as if he’d been checking the time. He’d knelt before Frodo and examined the reddened area, taking Frodo’s hand in a careful grip and turning it this way and that. Then he’d breathed a sigh of profound relief.


“’tis not over bad, Mr. Baggins,” he’d reassured Frodo, who was conscious only of the bliss of Sam’s fingers holding his for the very first time, and wouldn’t have noticed at that moment if his entire body had been scalded by hot tea. It was already gone up in flames. “But to be on the safe side,” Sam had added, “I’ll rub some butter into it.”


He’d fetched a crockery butter dish then, and with gentle fingers had rubbed the softened yellow grease into the burn. Frodo had been certain that it was not wishful thinking on his part that Sam had lingered in the tending. His colour had been high, and the hand holding Frodo’s had trembled slightly. Frodo himself had scarce drawn a breath, so mesmerised was he by the motion of Sam’s blunt fingers, circling and circling until every scrap of sensation in Frodo’s body became focussed in that one small spot on the back of his hand.


Here at last, Frodo had thought with anticipation, was the perfect opportunity to take the next step in the seduction of Sam, a Sam who was on his knees in front of him as if in blatant invitation to be seduced. He had only to lean forward, slide his free hand to the nape of Sam’s neck and pull him into a kiss, and then, oh then… He could almost feel Sam’s mouth wrapped around the head of his shaft and suckling it hard.


But as if he’d sensed Frodo’s intent, Sam had abruptly dropped his hand as if he was the one who was now scalded, clambered to his feet and said in a stifled voice, “You’d best get back to the party, Mr. Baggins, and I’d best get back to my duties.” He’d hurried to the counter and grabbed a basket of rolls.


“Sam…” Frodo had begun in a pleading voice, starting to rise from his seat, but too late. Sam had taken the rolls and fled.


The next week, though Sam had inquired, with a hint of anxiety, after his hand, nothing had changed between them. The wall of polite and repressive distance still loomed large.


If only he could get Sam alone again, truly alone, Frodo felt certain he could break through that wall for good. But if Sam ever set foot outside the Sackville-Bagginses smial, Frodo concluded that it must be under cover of darkness and in the middle of the night, for he looked everywhere for Sam- in the markets, along the lanes, and in the shops of Hobbiton and Bywater- but he never so much as clapped eyes upon him.


Frodo even started to frequent the Ivy Bush of an evening, much to the astonishment of the locals, unaccustomed to having one of the gentry in their midst; but Sam apparently didn’t frequent the inn either. But had Frodo been looking for a likely lad to tumble, the Ivy Bush could have yielded any number of eager candidates. The handsome Mr. Baggins of Bag End created quite a sensation.


And then one night nearly seven weeks since the day he met Sam, Frodo, sitting morosely at a corner table, deep in his cups, thought, ‘Why not? Why not take advantage of what is right here under my nose? Sam might not want me, but he isn’t the only fish in the Water.’


Frodo made deliberate eye contact with a striking young hobbit who had been giving him admiring looks all evening. Dark-haired and dark-eyed, the hobbit otherwise bore a distinct resemblance to Sam, with his sturdy, well-made body and snub-nosed face. Frodo held the lad’s gaze, and gave him a sultry, inviting smile. He jerked his head toward the exit. The hobbit’s eyes widened, and he grinned. Dropping a few coins on the table, he rose and exited the common-room. Frodo followed after a few minutes later, weaving his way through the tables a little unsteadily. He wished with a sort of drunken defiance that Sam was there to see him, to see that there were those who were eager and willing to take what Frodo offered, even if Sam was not.


The hobbit was waiting for him just outside the front entrance; without a word they turned and walked around the side of the building into the deep shadows where no light from the windows could penetrate.


Frodo found himself suddenly and roughly pushed up against the wall, and the hobbit’s muscular thigh insinuated itself between his legs, so that a rock-hard erection pulsed against Frodo’s hip. Frodo opened his lips to speak, but a greedy kiss cut him off before he could utter a word. A tongue thrust boldly into his mouth, tasting of beer and unpleasantly of onions.


“Eh, but you’re a pretty thing, Mr. Frodo,” the hobbit muttered, his hand groping for Frodo’s crotch, “with them eyes like a lass’s. But you ain’t no lass, more’s the pity. Still…” He squeezed Frodo’s cock almost painfully hard, and chuckled. “I reckon you’ll do, right enough.”


If Sam’s soft accents poured over Frodo like melted butter, these harsher tones acted like a douche of ice-cold water. He came to his senses with a start, and wondered what in Middle-earth had possessed him to act as he had.


With a lithe twist of his body, Frodo slid out from between the hobbit and the rough plaster wall, and backed away a few paces, holding his hands palm outward in rejection. “I’m sorry,” he said quietly, “but I’ve changed my mind.”


“Changed your mind?” the hobbit repeated incredulously. “’Ere, what sort of game are you playing at, Mr. Frodo?”


“No game. It was a mistake, that’s all, and I’m very sorry.” Frodo felt a fool. But what could he say, after all? You aren’t Sam? “I’m sorry,” he repeated, and turning, walked quickly away.


“You’re a cock tease, that’s what you are, and don’t think I won’t tell everyone so.” The angry, accusing words floated after Frodo as he broke into a run, and he knew that he would never again return to the Ivy Bush in search of Sam.


That night Frodo barely slept, but tossed and turned, feeling the lowest he had since the day his Uncle Bilbo left the Shire for good. Shame at his behaviour alternated with his raging desire for Sam. He had rarely gone this long between lovers, and that hard ridge burning against his hip had been a potent reminder of the fact. But he knew with greater certainty than ever now that he would settle for no one but Sam, sweet honey-gold Sam.


Perhaps he should leave Hobbiton for a while, Frodo thought suddenly. He could visit his cousin Merry in Buckland, or his cousin Pippin in Tuckborough. He had fobbed them both off a couple of times in the past six weeks, not wishing for their presence in Bag End to put a damper on his pursuit of Sam. But he could have used a dose of Pip’s unquenchable high-spirits or Merry’s sage advice at that moment. He knew what Merry would say, of course. His cousin had long predicted that one day Frodo would meet his match and discover that there was a hobbit immune to his charms. When he finally stopped laughing long enough, Merry would advise Frodo to give it up, accept defeat, take a long holiday and not return until he’d finally got over Sam.


Oh Merry, Frodo thought as he stared out at the gradually lightening sky, how I wish I could follow your advice.


But Frodo knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that come this Saturday, at precisely three o’clock, he would be ringing the doorbell at his Aunt Lobelia’s smial.


~*~

Frodo eventually fell into a light doze, and woke some hours later to late morning sunshine pouring through the bedroom window. He had the headache and his mouth tasted like stale onions. Quelling a cowardly desire to remain hidden beneath the covers, he forced himself to get up and dressed. Several cups of strong tea later, he decided to go for a walk. The fresh air would do him good and clear any lingering fuzziness from his mind.

Walking stick in hand, he set out in an easterly direction across the fields. The fresh air, as a matter of fact, did do him good, and gradually his native optimism began to reassert itself. He must not give in to despair. He was not out of the running yet. After all, had Sam not cared for his burned hand with the tenderness of a lover?

When Frodo spied the familiar figure cutting across the fields at an angle to him, he was certain that he was imagining things or that it was another hobbit of similar height and build. But though the hobbit was clad in simply-cut breeches, shirt and waistcoat of muted colours, not the Sackville-Baggins livery, the sun glinted off unmistakable, unusual honey-gold curls. With a leap of his heart, Frodo realised that it was indeed Sam. At last, he thought exultantly, fortune had smiled upon him, as if to make up for the previous day’s disaster.

Frodo almost called out to him, but at the last moment changed his mind. Sam was walking as one with a distinct goal in mind, his arms swinging and legs striding briskly, and he had obviously not seen Frodo.

Instead, Frodo stopped and waited until Sam struck the same path that Frodo was on, and then followed after him. He had no compunction about his actions. After all, he had been walking in this direction, hadn’t he? And he was curious, avidly curious, to know where Sam was going with such single-minded purpose

A short distance ahead, the path went over a rise and descended into a small wood. It was a pretty place: a stream wound through it whose banks were lush with ferns and wildflowers. On hot summer days, Frodo often stopped to dabble his toes in the cool, slow-moving water, and enjoy the peace and tranquility of the place. It was also, he’d often thought, an ideal spot for a spot of dalliance. Was that what Sam had in mind? Was he on his way to meet a lover?

Frodo halted. A shaft of pain lanced through him at the very thought, and he was tempted to turn back and return home at once. But he couldn’t. He simply had to discover the truth, for good or ill, even if it killed him. And at that moment, he feared it would kill him to discover that some other hobbit—a lusty lad or, even worse, a lass—was kissing that full upper lip, winding eager fingers through those honey-gold curls, rubbing sensuously against that generous cock.

Once, the idea of watching a potential lover sporting with another would have excited Frodo. The elicit thrill of it would have roused him, and he’d have watched from a place of hiding, his hand plunged into his trousers to stroke his quickening shaft as he imagined himself on the receiving end of whatever erotic love play was in progress.

But the thought of observing Sam thus did not excite Frodo; it filled him with helpless frustration and a burning jealousy. He felt feverish and sick, and it was with dread in every footstep that he continued to follow after Sam.

Once within the shade of the trees, Frodo halted again, cocked his head and listened intently. Twining with the murmur of the stream was a fainter sound, that of a voice. Softly and carefully, he moved through the dappled golden light that filtered through the treetops, pausing frequently to listen. Following the nigh indistinguishable sound, unable to tell if it were Sam’s voice or that of another, Frodo was drawn not toward the stream but away, deeper into the woods. Up ahead he could see a dazzle of light, and the sick sensation intensified. A tiny glade lay on the other side of the trees, Frodo knew, a secluded spot unknown to most hobbits. There could be no safer place for a lovers’ meeting.

Stepping with exquisite care, so as not to snap a single twig, Frodo crept closer until he was hidden behind the bole of a large elm tree on the very edge of the glade. He could hear the voice quite clearly now. It was Sam’s voice. He was speaking to someone, and Frodo’s heart sank like a stone. Sam wasn’t alone. He had come, as Frodo had feared, to meet a lover. Unaccustomed tears stung Frodo’s eyes and he blinked them furiously away.

“Don’t you look a treat today,” Sam was saying in a fond voice. “More beautiful every time I set eyes on you.”

Don’t look. Just turn around and leave, Frodo told himself even as he peered cautiously around the trunk, unable to stop himself. He had to see, had to know, the identity of the hobbit who had stolen Sam right from under his very nose.

His eyes immediately found Sam, all aglow in the sunshine, and then frantically swept the rest of the glade for his companion. But he found none. Sam, it seemed, was alone. Completely, entirely, blessedly alone. Then to whom had he been speaking? Frodo was mystified.

“But you look a mite thirsty,” Sam said next. “I reckon you could use a nice drink of water, it bein’ such a hot day.”

Before Frodo’s fascinated gaze, Sam lifted a shiny copper watering can resting on the ground by his feet and poured a careful trickle of water around the base of a small rosebush.

A rosebush? Sam had been talking to a rosebush?

A hysterical desire to giggle welled up inside Frodo, and he stuffed his fist in his mouth. The relief of knowing that Sam had not, after all, come here for an assignation with a lover was so intense that Frodo felt positively giddy. He slumped against the tree, weak-kneed with relief, and that was when he first noticed the flowers. There were flowers blooming everywhere in a riot of glorious colour, transforming the tiny glade into a garden of such beauty as Frodo had never seen before in his life.

Had Sam performed this miracle?

Frodo stepped out from behind the tree trunk and onto the soft grass. It was time to make his presence known. “Sam?” he said. “Is this your work?”

Sam dropped the watering can with a clatter and jerked around. “M-Mr. B-Baggins. W-What are you d-doing here?” he stammered, and his face had gone quite pale.

“I followed you,” admitted Frodo, advancing further into the glade. “I was taking a walk when I saw you enter these woods and, well, to be honest, I was curious.” He looked around him in wonderment. “But Sam, this is beautiful,” he went on. “Please, tell me. Is this your work?”

“Aye, it is,” Sam confessed, hanging his head and having apparently forgotten Lobelia’s frequent strictures on the use of ‘aye’ and ‘nay’.

Frodo stared at him in puzzlement. “You say that as if it is something of which to be ashamed.”

“Well, sir, the plain fact is that this ain’t my land,” Sam explained awkwardly. “But I wanted a bit of garden to tend. You see, Mr. Baggins,” he went on in a rush, “ever since I was a lad, all I’ve wanted is to be a gardener. But I was set to work in the kitchen at the White Stag in Gamwich, havin’ no talent for the ropin’ trade but a knack for cookin’, and then Mr. Lotho come in and liked what he et, and next I knew, my gaffer and the Mistress had arranged for me to come here.”

“I’m selfishly glad that they did,” interjected Frodo, and before Sam could impute any double meaning to the words, added, “Your renown as a cook is spreading, Sam, and I only wish Ivy Goodbody, who does the cooking and cleaning at Bag End, had half your skill.” Sam looked intensely uncomfortable at Frodo’s praise, and Frodo said quickly, “But go on, Sam. I interrupted you.”

“I thought maybe Old Toby, the Mistress’s gardener, would welcome a hand,” Sam said, “but well, he didn’t take kindly to my offers of help. So when I found this place, I thought I’d see what I could do to brighten it up a bit.”

“A bit?” Frodo walked slowly along the perimeter of the flower beds that encircled the tiny glade, admiring the scarlet and gold of snapdragons and the deep purple-blue of harebells, with sunny shy daisies, forget-me-nots and primroses peeking out from amongst them. There were tall graceful white lilies and vibrant delphiniums and cheerful pinks and salvia and several varieties of yarrow, and many others he didn’t know. Rainbow-hued butterflies flitted from plant to plant, and bees droned by laden with pollen. The air was perfumed with sweet scents, and Frodo turned a wondering face to Sam, who was watching him apprehensively.

“My dear Sam,” he breathed, “you are a marvel. I can hardly credit that you created all this in a few short months.”

Sam blushed. “I was born wi’ green fingers, Mr. Baggins. Plants like me and I like them.”

“That’s clear,” Frodo remarked admiringly, and Sam blushed harder.

“I didn’t grow ‘em all from seed, though I brought some wi’ me from home.” Sam hesitated. “Old Toby, he knows right well how to grow vegetables, but he don’t have a knack for flowers, Mr. Baggins. Puts ‘em in the wrong spot most times, he does, gives ‘em too much sun or too little. I tried to tell him, but like I said, he didn’t take kindly to my advice. So I…” He stopped, looking exceedingly guilty.

“You what?” Frodo prompted.

“I took some of ‘em,” Sam said as if revealing a deep, dark secret. “The ones as were sickly and in need of coddlin’.” He gestured to the small rosebush. It had a few deep pink blossoms adorning it, but appeared rather stunted. “Take this poor rosebush,” Sam said. “Dyin’ it were, and Toby, he dug it up and threw it on the rubbish heap, so I brought it here.”

Sam bent and very gently stroked one soft pink petal. “Just look at it now, sir,” he added with a tender smile. “Why, every day ‘tis growin’ taller and stronger.”

That tender smile struck Frodo like a thunderbolt, rendering him speechless with shock.

“Mr. Baggins?” Sam was looking at him now, a puzzled frown on his face. “Are you all right, sir?”

No, Frodo thought dazedly, I’m not all right, Sam. I’ll never be all right again. For you see, I’m in love.

***

“Now this flower here is called lady’s seal,” Sam said, pointing out a plant with white bell-shaped flowers edged in green. “It don’t like the sun overmuch, that’s why I’ve got it planted here in the shade.”

Frodo listened to Sam’s horticultural discourse with only half his mind. The other half was entirely occupied with Sam himself, and the wondrous, unsettling feeling that he engendered in Frodo. Love. He had never thought to experience that emotion. In fact, he had thought himself incapable of feeling it. But that he now loved, there was no doubt. The jealousy and anger, the fear and uncertainty, were explained. He studied the familiar planes of Sam’s expressive face as he talked about sun and water and mulch and compost, and he thought, ‘Oh, but I love you, Samwise Gamgee, and I don’t want you for a few weeks or months or even years, but forever.’

But loving someone was entirely new territory for Frodo, and he felt at a loss as to how he should proceed. He needed time to absorb what had happened to him, and to determine the proper course of action. Seducing Sam was no longer an option. Seduction implied sex alone was the goal, and Frodo now wanted more, much more, than Sam’s body, however desirable it might be.

A tiny frisson of fear coursed through him as he followed Sam around the garden. What if Sam couldn’t love him in return? The idea was unthinkable, intolerable, but Frodo was all too well aware of his own misspent life of idle pleasure, and surely someone like Sam, so hardworking and conscientious, could only view Frodo with scorn?

I have Bag End to offer, and as large a garden as Sam could ever desire for his own. But Sam would not be won with bribes, nor would Frodo want him to be. No, he must rely upon his own merits, such as they were, and that was a frightening proposition.

“Now, this is a flower I don’t know, Mr. Baggins, for it grows wild here, but not up by Tighfield where I’m from.” Sam crouched down and indicated a small white flower nearly hidden in the lush grass.

Frodo roused himself from his unhappy thoughts. “It’s called simbelmynë, Sam.”

Sam stared at him as if he’d suddenly grown two heads. “But that sounds like an Elvish name,” he exclaimed.

“It is Elvish. I expect it has another name, but my Uncle Bilbo called it simbelmynë. He always preferred to use an Elvish name if possible.”

“Do- do you know Elvish, sir?” Sam asked in a hushed, reverent voice.

“A little,” Frodo replied. “Bilbo gave me lessons when I was younger. But I’m afraid I’ve rather let my studies slip since he went away.” A wry smile twisted his lips. “He’d be disappointed in me, Sam, if he knew I’d given it up, but there’s seemed little point with him gone. It’s not exactly a popular field of study in the Shire.”

“I reckon you must miss him somethin’ fierce, Mr. Baggins,” Sam commented softly. “I’d know a bit about that, you see- how it feels to be missin’ your family, I mean.”

“I know what you mean, Sam,” Frodo said sympathetically. “And yes, I do miss him. There was no one quite like Bilbo.”

“They tell tales of Mr. Bilbo Baggins where I’m from, about his adventure and dragons and dwarves and all them jewels and gold he brung home. It seems queer somehow to be talkin’ to someone as knew him for real.” Sam sank down into the grass cross-legged, and Frodo followed suit. “I do love tales of that sort, sir, and anything at all to do wi’ Elves. I’d dearly love to meet Elves someday.”

“Bilbo and I met Elves once,” Frodo said, and was rewarded by Sam’s expression of pure wonder. “In the Woody End one autumn, the year before he left the Shire.”

“Won’t you please tell me about it, sir?” Sam asked, with his eyes alight with interest, and his voice eager. “What were they like? And what did they wear? Were they tall or short? Did you speak to them? What did they say? And-“

Frodo began to laugh. “Hang on, Sam,” he protested. “I can’t keep up with your questions.”

Sam blushed again. “I’m sorry, Mr. Baggins.”

“There’s no need to apologise. But Sam,” Frodo said, “before I tell you about the Elves, will you do something for me?”

Sam stiffened a little and grew instantly wary as if he were a mouse and Frodo a particularly large and hungry cat. “What might that be, sir?”

“Call me Frodo, please?”

“All right, Mr. Frodo,” Sam replied, seeming relieved that it was so simple a request, and while ‘Mr. Frodo” wasn’t quite what Frodo had been hoping for, it was better at least than the ridiculously formal ‘Mr. Baggins’.

Sam listened with rapt attention to Frodo’s story, hanging on every word, and peppering Frodo with question after question. The time flew by, and then suddenly Sam sat up, squinting at the position of the sun in the sky, alarm writ large upon his face.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Frodo, but I’ve got to go or I’ll be late, and the Mistress won’t be pleased wi’ me, not by a long road. She’s got company comin’ for dinner.”

Don’t go, Sam, Frodo wanted to beg. Stay and talk to me. That’s all I’ll ask of you, I swear. But he said nothing, only watched as Sam climbed agilely to his feet. Sam had a job to do, and he’d not thank Frodo for getting him in trouble.

Sam stared down at him. “Thank you, sir, for tellin’ me about the Elves and all.”

“It was my pleasure. It’s rare indeed that anyone cares to hear about them.” Which was sadly true. Frodo had forgot how much he enjoyed such conversations, daily fare when Bilbo was still at Bag End. He stood up, brushing blades of grass from his trousers’ legs, and fixed Sam with a serious look. “I want you to know that I shan’t tell anyone about this.” He gestured around the garden. “Your secret is safe with me.”

Sam smiled a little. “I know that, sir. I trust you.”

These words pleased Frodo more than the most extravagant compliment about his looks would have. “I’m glad; you have no idea how glad. Sam, may I visit here again?” asked Frodo, his heart beating rather fast with apprehension of Sam’s answer. “It’s such a lovely and peaceful spot.”

Sam considered the question for the space of several painful heartbeats. Then he said quietly, “I come here nigh on every day after lunch, Mr. Frodo, to tend to the flowers.”

It was more than Frodo had hoped for: an implicit invitation to be here when Sam was. “Thank you,” he said. “Perhaps I shall see you tomorrow then.”

Sam nodded. “Well, I’d best go, sir,” he said, with another anxious glance at the sky.

“Very well, if you must.”

After Sam had departed, taking a portion of the sunshine with him, Frodo lingered. He was not ready to leave this beautiful glade that would forever now hold a hallowed place in his memory. For it was here that he had first understood what it meant to love. He lay on his back in the soft grass with his eyes closed, the sun dancing against the lids, and imagined Sam was looking down at him with that same tender expression he’d worn when he touched the rose petal. This time when Frodo stroked himself to completion, heels digging into the soft soil as he arched his back and cried out Sam’s name, he pictured them coupling not with frantic desperation but with slow and lingering caresses, as if they had all the time in the world.

That evening Frodo strolled around the Bag End garden in the twilight, seeing as if through new eyes signs of neglect everywhere. The lawn was trimmed once each week by Marten Goodbody, who maintained the small kitchen garden, did some desultory weeding of the flowerbeds, and planted a few annuals to brighten things up. But he, like his wife Ivy, was getting too old for much hard labour, and it showed.

Sam, though… Sam could revive Bag End’s garden and transform it, make it blossom anew as he had done with that rosebush. And perhaps he could do the same for Frodo.

***

Frodo arrived early at the glade next day, unsure of exactly when Sam might appear, if indeed he appeared at all.

He had come prepared with a book of Elvish tales from Bilbo’s collection that he thought Sam might enjoy. Browsing through the bookshelves in the study after supper had revived Frodo’s moribund interest in Elvish. He’d stayed up half the night reading, appalled by the rustiness of his Sindarin and thinking again, as he’d said to Sam, that Bilbo would be severely disappointed if he knew.

When Sam came striding out of the trees some half hour later, Frodo could barely suppress his desire to run to him and embrace him, for a surge of love and longing welled up inside him. Instead, he only smiled and raised a hand in greeting, determined not to do anything that would cause Sam to regret his decision to allow him to come here.

Sam was utterly fascinated by the book, and leafed slowly through the pages with such a spellbound expression on his face that Frodo was doubly glad he’d thought to bring it with him.

As he returned the book to Frodo, Sam shyly said, “Would you be willin’ to read to me, sir? I’ve never heard anyone speak Elvish proper-like.”

Frodo smiled. “Of course I’d be willing, Sam, though I warn you: I am woefully out of practice.”

So, as Sam watered and weeded and deadheaded plants, Frodo sat cross-legged in the grass and read aloud, stumbling a little over some of the words, but gradually regaining his feel for the rhythm and flow of the language.

“Oh Mr. Frodo, that was a treat and no mistake,” Sam exclaimed when Frodo stopped. “I’ve never heard aught lovelier in my life.” His eyes were actually starting with tears, and Frodo thought they had never looked greener. “I don’t understand a single word, o’course,” Sam went on, turning thoughtful, “but it don’t hardly seem to matter. ‘tis the words themselves, just the sound of ‘em, that goes straight to the heart.”

“Why Sam,” Frodo said, moved, and thinking that there were depths to this hobbit that he was only beginning to plumb, “I dearly wish Bilbo could hear you say that. He’d be delighted, for he always claimed that Elvish was a language meant to be read aloud, that it was the sound of the words as much as the letters on the page that conveyed meaning.” Frodo had shut the book, using his forefinger to mark where he’d stopped. Now he opened it again and asked, “Would you like for me to read another chapter?”

But Sam was shaking his head, though with obvious regret. “I’d like it right fine, Mr. Frodo, but the Mistress weren’t over happy wi’ me for bein’ late yesterday, and I dursn’t be so again.”

It was hard indeed to school himself to patience, when Sam stood before him with his throat bare, his sleeves rolled up to expose muscular forearms dusted with golden hair, and his shirt sticking wetly to his sweat-damp skin, but Frodo managed it. One day, perhaps soon, Sam would no longer be constrained by the demands of Aunt Lobelia and cousin Lotho, but free to spend as much time as he liked listening to Frodo read Elvish aloud- or indulging in any number of other, even more delightful, pastimes.

***

The next day was Saturday, and Frodo knew that there was no chance of meeting Sam in the glade. But there was still Aunt Lobelia’s tea party to look forward to, and look forward to it, Frodo did.

He had spent considerable time the previous evening deciding what to bring with him as a gift for Sam. In the end he had chosen another of Bilbo’s Elvish books, one that would be of especial interest to Sam, he judged, for it was an herbal and had lovely hand-coloured illustrations of the various herbs, along with instructions for their care. I can help to translate it for him, Frodo thought, and aside from the enforced intimacy that that would afford, there was genuine delight in the idea of working on a translation with Sam as Bilbo once had worked with him.

Frodo set out at a brisk walk for the Sackville-Bagginses smial, the slim leather volume tucked into his jacket pocket. He passed the time by picturing the look of delight on Sam’s face when he handed him the book, and felt an absurd inclination to skip along the road like a child.

There was already a considerable crowd of hobbits milling about when Frodo showed up at half past three. He had not been exaggerating when he told Sam that his renown as a cook was spreading. It was both a blessing to Frodo, in that it was easy to pretend that it was Sam’s cooking, not Sam himself, that drew him back week after week, but also a curse, for it meant that opportunities to speak with Sam, not to mention get him alone, were increasingly hard to come by.

Such was the case today, Frodo discovered with a sinking heart. He caught glimpses of Sam, hurrying to and fro with food and drink, but other than a quick, serious, “Good afternoon, Mr. Baggins,” said in passing- a return to formality that left Frodo totally deflated- he and Sam exchanged not a single word.

I oughtn’t to have come at all, Frodo decided, and bit almost savagely into a cherry tart. The euphoric mood of earlier in the day had vanished, and rather than skipping, Frodo had a childish inclination to kick something… hard.

“Darling Frodo, do have a little more respect for that ambrosial concoction,” said a languid voice behind him.

Frodo’s mood sank even further. It was his distant cousin and sometime lover, Reginard Took, the last hobbit he wished to see at that moment, for he had a keen eye and an appetite for gossip.

“Hallo, Reggie,” Frodo said. “What brings you to the wilds of Hobbiton?”

“Much as I’d like to say that it is your charming self, my sweet,” Reggie drawled, “alas, I fear I cannot tell a lie. Rumour reached Tuckborough that Lobelia has acquired a cook of outstanding talent. I simply had to come and see for myself.”

Reginard Took flipped up the tails of his close-fitting peacock blue jacket and sat down close beside Frodo; very close, in fact. He draped one arm along the back of the sofa they were occupying so that his thin white fingers, adorned with several bejeweled rings, rested intimately on Frodo’s shoulder. His perfume was cloying and almost overpoweringly strong, something that Frodo had never noticed before.

“And what is your verdict?” Frodo asked lightly, resisting the urge to move away. He and Reggie had been lovers for some months a few years back, and on occasion since then, when both were at loose ends and in the same neighborhood. He knew Frodo well, and would become suspicious of such behaviour at once, and not rest until he’d figured out the why and then the who.

“Oh, a veritable pearl among hobbits, Frodo,” Reggie proclaimed. “I’m tempted to snatch the luscious Gamgee out from under Lobelia’s nose and sweep him off to Great Smials.”

Frodo forced himself to laugh, a light, amused laugh. “You and a dozen others, Reggie.”

Reginard pouted and helped himself to an iced lemon biscuit from Frodo’s plate. “You’ve stung me to the quick, I vow, rating me no higher than a dozen others. I hope you intend to make it up to me, Frodo. An invitation to spend the night at Bag End, perhaps, hmm?” Reggie toyed with a curl at Frodo’s ear.

“Reggie…” Frodo began, and then, to his dismay, he noticed that Sam was standing but a few feet away. His gaze was fixed on Reggie’s hand with a sort of horrified fascination. The tips of his ears were bright red but his face was pale and set.

Once, Frodo would have responded in kind to Reggie’s advances, found amusement in the scandalised looks of the other guests as they flirted outrageously with each other. But there was nothing even remotely amusing about the expression in Sam’s eyes. They were dark once more, but with hurt, pain and confusion.

“As a matter of fact, my sweet, I believe it’s a very good thing for you that I’m here,” Reggie was saying. “For that is not the only rumour I’ve heard recently, Frodo. I was passing through Bywater this morning, and an interesting tidbit of gossip reached my ears, about a certain Frodo Baggins and a farmer’s son he met at the Ivy Bush two nights ago.”

A cold, clammy sense of dread came over Frodo then. He didn’t dare to look at Sam again, but fixed his gaze on his crumb-laden plate without the slightest desire to dab up the remains. The Frodo who had done that and the Frodo he was now seemed like two very different hobbits.

Reggie went on, “I’m afraid the lad had nothing very complimentary to say about you, my love. ‘Cock tease’ was the phrase he used, I understand. My dear Frodo, I thought you knew better than to consort with one of the lower classes. They simply don’t understand the rules.”

There was a clatter, and Frodo looked up to see Sam hastily, almost frantically, piling dirty dishes on a tray. When Sam picked up the tray and strode quickly away, it took every ounce of self-control Frodo possessed not to leap up from the sofa and run after him, beg him to stop and listen to Frodo’s explanation. But he mustn’t do anything impetuous, not in front of Reggie. He had to find some valid excuse to get up and leave.

An idea flashed into his mind. Well, it had worked once to gain him time alone with Sam.

“I should have known better, Reggie,” Frodo said, and added, meaning every word, “I was a fool.” He made an impulsive gesture with his left hand, seeming to forget that he held his teacup in that hand, and the tea slopped over and splashed onto his trousers. “Oh dear, look what I’ve done!” he exclaimed, mopping ineffectually at the soaked fabric with a napkin. Fortunately, the tea was only lukewarm, although it would have served him right, he thought, if he’d been scalded again. “My trousers are quite ruined.”

Reggie had raised his quizzing glass and was examining the spreading stain. “I’m afraid you’re right, my love. A pity.”

“Perhaps Lotho has a pair I can borrow,” Frodo said, as if struck by a sudden inspiration. “If you’ll excuse me, Reggie…” He got up and, heart beating fast, threaded his way through the crowded room and down the hallway to the kitchen.

Sam was there. He was standing with his arms braced on the edge of the kitchen table and his head was bowed. He glanced up as Frodo came into the room, and his eyes were red-rimmed and miserable.

“Go away, Mr. Baggins,” he said in a hoarse voice. “Go on back to your fine friend wi’ his rings and his fancy talk.”

“Sam,” Frodo implored him. “Please…”

Sam straightened and faced him, arms dangling limply at his sides. “You’d best go, Mr. Baggins,” he said dully. “Someone might come in, and I wouldn’t want you to stand accused of consortin’ wi’ one of the lower classes.”

Each word struck Frodo like a blow. But he could not, would not leave without at least attempting to explain. “Sam, please listen to me. Please. It’s true that I was at the Ivy Bush the other night. I went there hoping to see you. But you weren’t there,” he hurried on, desperate to get the words out, “and I had too much to drink, and it seemed I would never have you, and I… I did something foolish, Sam. I admit it. But I couldn’t go through with it. Do you understand? Because he wasn’t you.”

There was a tense silence while Frodo waited for Sam to say something, anything. But he simply stood there, stock-still, hands clenched now into fists as if he were waging some internal battle. Frodo could wait no longer. He simply had to get through to Sam, somehow. Perhaps the only way was to confess the truth, and risk the worst sort of rejection.

“Sam… Sam, I-” he was on the verge of blurting out the words ‘I love you’, when a voice, Lobelia’s voice, said irritably and alarmingly close-by, “Gamgee? Gamgee? What are you about, disappearing that way? I am most seriously displeased.”

Frodo looked desperately around, espied a closed door, and, darting forward, grabbed Sam by the hand and dragged him, unresisting, toward it. He yanked the door open, stepped inside, and pulled Sam in after him. Just in the nick of time, for he had barely closed the door behind them when he heard Lobelia’s voice again, much closer this time.

“Not in the kitchen?” she muttered. “Where in Middle-earth can that boy have got to? I shall have a few words to say to him when I find him.”

Frodo was holding his breath, his ear pressed to the door. When it appeared that Lobelia had left the kitchen, he let out a sigh of relief, and turned to face Sam. They were, it appeared, in a broom cupboard, a very small broom cupboard, barely large enough to accommodate the both of them. As Frodo turned, his body brushed against Sam’s, and he heard a quick intake of breath. His eyes were adjusting to the dimness- several chinks around the door let in a little light- and he could see Sam staring at him, and there was no mistaking the hectic flush on his cheeks or the glitter in his eyes. He wanted Frodo.

Frodo was never afterward able to say which of them made the first move. All he knew was that the wall between them was gone, vanished as if it had never existed, and suddenly Sam’s arms jerked him close, and his mouth slammed down on Frodo’s, and then they were kissing, hungrily and wildly. Frodo’s arms wound around Sam’s neck, and he pressed up against him, moaning deep in his throat as he felt the hard ridge of Sam’s arousal burning against his stomach through the layers of clothing they wore. His hand forced its way down between them to learn the shape and feel of it, and Sam’s hips jerked, and he moaned, the most beautiful sound Frodo had ever heard. No, the second most beautiful sound Frodo had ever heard, for then Sam gasped hoarsely against his lips, “Frodo, oh Frodo…”

Sam appeared to reach the same precise conclusion at the same precise moment that Frodo did: that it was intolerable to have any barrier at all between them, and they fumbled with desperate fingers at each other’s clothing. Buttons pinged and there were tearing sounds, and in the tight confines of the cupboard, it was a struggle to get undressed, especially as they couldn’t stop kissing each other. But finally the last scrap was kicked away, and bare skin was touching bare skin, and Frodo’s hands began to move, exploring and caressing Sam’s body, revelling in each whimper and moan he wrung from Sam’s lips.

By now he was just as aroused as Sam, and as their rigid shafts brushed against each other, lightning bolts of intense pleasure tingled through every limb, to the very tips of his fingers. Frodo was tempted to take their cocks in his hand and bring them to release that way, thrusting into the tight passage of his fingers, but that wasn’t what he wanted for their first time.

Tearing his mouth away from Sam’s, Frodo sank to his knees, so that Sam’s cock, thick and full and jutting out proudly, was at eye-level. This was what he wanted, to pleasure Sam with his mouth, to taste him and drink him down.

Sam, eyes wide open, was staring down at him as if mesmerised.

“Has no one ever done this to you?” Frodo asked, surprised.

Sam’s cheeks reddened with embarrassment. “Nay, nor aught else, save some kissin’,” he confessed.

“Are they all fools in Tighfield?” Frodo said, even while he exulted at the knowledge that he was Sam’s first, that he would be the one to teach him this and so much more. And that was a first for him, to thrill at such knowledge, for in the past he had always preferred an experienced partner. Sam’s first lover… It was arousing past belief, and he was harder than he had ever been before in his life, his cock straining like a hound at the slip. Patience, he told himself. Sam’s pleasure was paramount, not his.

Frodo leaned in, and buried his face in the juncture of Sam’s thigh, turning his nose into the nest of bronze-gold curls that surrounded his shaft, and breathing deeply of the wonderful musky smell. His hands circled lightly up the backs of Sam’s legs, revelling in the feel of his hair-roughened thighs, and then closed tightly around the swell of his buttocks, fingers digging into the firm muscle, kneading it. Moving his head lower, Frodo found Sam’s tight sac, and sucked one ball into his mouth, rolling it with his tongue. Sam cried out, too loudly, and Frodo sat back, alarmed.

“Sam, you have to be quiet,” he cautioned, “unless you want this to end before we’ve barely begun.” He groped on the floor with one hand and grabbed the first item of clothing he touched. It was his waistcoat, and he handed it to Sam. “Use this if you need to.”

Sam took the ice-blue satin in his fist, wadding it into a ball, and nodded. “Sorry, but that was…” Words seemed to fail him, then he breathed a heart-felt, “Wonderful.”

“What about this then?” Frodo turned his attention at last to Sam’s cock, the most magnificent he’d ever seen: a roseate pillar of satin draped over marble, perfectly formed, with a flared head like a mushroom top—and Frodo had a passion for mushrooms. He trailed one finger from root to crown, feeling the shaft pulse and twitch beneath his touch, growing impossibly larger. He followed finger with tongue, licking upward in a broad sweep with the flat, ending at the spot, just beneath the head, that was particularly sensitive. He scraped his teeth gently there, and pearly drops of fluid, welling from the slit, spilled over and he tongued them away. A muffled cry greeted this action, and Frodo glanced up to see Sam, head flung back and eyes closed, with the waistcoat stuffed into his mouth. Sam wouldn’t hold out long—that was clear; he had yet to learn control.

Frodo firmly wrapped the fingers of one hand around the base of Sam’s cock—as much of it as he could, that is—and sucked the crown into his mouth. Sam’s hips jerked convulsively, and he let out another muffled cry, and Frodo began squeezing with his hand while he hollowed his cheeks and suckled hard, gradually taking more and more of Sam into his mouth until at last, with a quick practiced motion, he relaxed his throat and took him all the way in, until his nose was tickled by the tightly curled pubic hair. He made a humming sound deep in his throat, and Sam’s hips jerked, again and again. Ruthlessly, Frodo pinned them against the cupboard wall, as he began to bob his head rapidly up and down, up and down. Sam’s keening cries made Frodo glad he’d thought to hand him the waistcoat. Sam was going to be a noisy lover, it seemed, and Frodo couldn’t wait to get him somewhere private where he could yell to his heart’s content.

Soon Frodo recognized the first signs of imminent climax; he could feel the tension building inside Sam, like a dam about to burst.

“I- I- I’m afraid I’m about to…” Sam stuttered, having briefly removed the cloth from his mouth to warn Frodo.

At the very last moment, as Sam’s balls clenched and his body grew rigid, Frodo changed his mind and sat back, so that the pearly strings of Sam’s hot seed spurted onto his chest and stomach. He watched Sam’s face go slack, and thought: How beautiful he is.

Sam slumped back against the wall, his chest heaving for breath. His dazed eyes found Frodo and widened as they took in the sight of him, still kneeling before him and covered in his come.

“I want to wear you on me, Sam,” Frodo said in a hot whisper, spreading the seed with his fingers, and Sam let out a soft ‘oh’, his cock jerked, and a final creamy spurt emerged. Frodo caught it in his cupped palm, and avidly lapped it up, like a greedy kitten at a bowl of cream.

“What,” Sam cleared his hoarse voice, “What does it taste like?” he asked curiously. “I’ve always wondered, but never had the nerve to try.”

“Then wonder no more.” Frodo rose on his knees and reached up with one arm to pull Sam down into an open-mouthed kiss. Sam hesitated at first, and then started licking around the inside of Frodo’s mouth, tasting himself for the first time.

He drew back and made a face. “You can’t possibly like that,” he said, and Frodo laughed softly. “Oh, but I do, very much. Although I admit it is a bit of an acquired taste.”

“Must be, I reckon.” Sam’s eyes fell to Frodo’s cock, standing up stiffly and curving slightly to the right. “Do- do you want me to do that to you?” He sounded nervous but eager, and Frodo smiled. Sam was going to be an attentive pupil and a very quick learner, he predicted.

But he said, “I want you to do that to me, very much indeed, but not now.” He held Sam’s gaze and said softly, “Turn around Sam.”

Without a word, Sam did.

“Spread your legs wider,” Frodo instructed, and again, Sam wordlessly complied. But his body was trembling. “Shh,” Frodo soothed him, “shh…” He wrapped his arms around Sam from behind, planted a soft kiss on the tender skin at the base of his spine, and then rested his cheek there. “We don’t have to do this if you don’t want. There are other things we can do instead. Just say the word.”

He could hear Sam swallow hard. “Nay, I won’t say it,” he whispered, and widened his stance further, as if in mute invitation. Frodo’s heart slammed against his ribcage and excitement surged inside him. The first time he’d seen Sam, he’d thought him a creature of sun and earth, and wanted to plough that earth. It was not the accustomed role for him, to be the one doing the ploughing, but he needed to stake his claim to Sam beyond all doubting, plant his seed deep inside him.

Remaining on his knees, Frodo slid his fingers into the damp heat of the shadowed cleft between Sam’s buttocks, stroking along the line of coarse hair until he found what he sought. Using both hands to spread Sam’s cheeks and gain access, Frodo blew softly on the small puckered opening then pressed a series of small kisses there, the taste upon his lips different, darker, more earthy. Sam jerked when Frodo inserted the tip of his tongue, working it around the rim and then pushing inwards, beginning the process of loosening and opening that would ready him for Frodo’s possession.

When the first infinitesimal signs of relaxation told him that Sam was ready for the next step, Frodo wet his middle finger lavishly with saliva, and slowly inserted it where his tongue had been. Sam was panting hard now, his forearms braced against the wall. “Try to relax, Sam,” Frodo whispered, as he pushed deeper, breaching the tight ring of muscle, until his finger was fully inside Sam, clenched tight in the narrow passage. Frodo bit his lip as he anticipated that heated passage clenched around his aching shaft, and his hips thrust involuntary and he fought against the nigh overpowering urge to sink into that blissful heat at once, without delay. Instead, he slowly moved his finger in and out, establishing a rhythm that soon had Sam pushing blindly back against him. A second finger joined the first then, and Frodo rejoiced at the first guttural moan that told him Sam was nearly ready, the inevitable discomfort transmuting into that liquid sensation Frodo knew so well, as if his insides were turning to melted butter. He curled his fingers, found the hard nub and stroked it once, lightly. Sometimes the sensation was too intense, almost painfully so, but Sam’s reaction, a desperate plea of “Please” was all the invitation Frodo needed.

His cock was already slick with clear fluid, but he spat in his hands, rubbed them together and spread the resultant wetness over himself from root to crown. Standing and moving close behind Sam, he looped one arm around his waist, while with his other hand he guided the head of his shaft to the opening. With one smooth steady thrust of his hips, he pushed inside Sam until he was fully seated, balls pressing hard against Sam’s rump, and he was forced to muffle his own cries now, pressing his mouth against Sam’s damp shoulder, tasting the salt of his skin.

He resisted the urge to withdraw and thrust again, but remaining still and giving Sam time to adjust to this new invasion required every ounce of his control, for his body was clamouring for him to move. “Sam,” he breathed anxiously, remembering his first time and the burning stretch. “Are you all right? I don’t want to hurt you.”

“I- I hardly know. It feels so queer, but it ain’t painful, exactly… more like… a fullness if that makes sense.” Sam shifted his weight, and Frodo gasped as his cock shifted with him, and the delightful friction sizzled through him. “Can you- can you move?” he asked in a tense voice.

“Yes, it’s what I want to do, more than anything.” Frodo pulled out a short way, and then pressed home again, repeating the motion but drawing further out each time and thrusting back in with greater force. In, out, in, out, faster and faster he moved, angling to touch that sweet spot inside Sam, and with each stroke Sam whimpered, but not with pain.

Sam was leaning on one arm now, for his other hand had gone to his own cock that was beginning to quicken again. Frodo reached blindly down and covered Sam’s hand with his own, lacing their fingers together tightly around his damp, rapidly swelling shaft. In a perfection of harmony such as Frodo had never known with anyone before, they moved, their harsh breathing and the wet slap of Frodo’s sac against Sam’s buttocks the only sounds now in the steamy, musk-scented room.

The familiar tension, deliciously irresistible, was gathering inside Frodo, and his thrusts became shorter and sharper. Sam's whimpers grew into moans.

“I simply don’t understand where Gamgee could have got to, Lotho.” It was Lobelia’s voice again. She’d returned to the kitchen and this time with her son. “It’s as if he’s vanished into thin air.”

Frodo instinctively clamped his free hand over Sam's mouth to stifle the noise.

“We’ll find him, Mother. He has to be here somewhere,” replied Lotho. “Probably taking a nap, the lazy fellow.”

“Well, we haven’t tried the root cellar yet,” said Lobelia. “Come along, Lotho.”

Frodo was too close to the edge to stop even had he wanted to, but he imagined the cupboard door opening, and Lobelia and Lotho discovering them inside, Frodo with his cock up Sam’s naked arse as he was claiming him for his own, and the mental image was simply too exciting to be borne. Frodo sank his teeth into the fleshy spot near the base of Sam’s neck, biting down hard enough to leave bruises, as his balls tightened painfully and his hips slammed home one final time. Then at last the bliss of release took him, his seed gushing warm inside Sam, and through the roaring sensation in his brain, he could faintly hear the patter of Sam’s come as it spurted out and hit the wall, and wet warmth dribbled over his fingers that were still entwined with Sam’s around his shaft. Sam's final, triumphant cry of 'Frodo' died behind his fingers, and Frodo dropped his hand.

“Ohhhhhh,” he breathed. It had been beyond measure the most intense, most glorious orgasm of his entire life. He wasn’t at all certain his legs could support him, so he remained draped across Sam’s back, his softening cock still inside him. He didn’t want to pull out, to separate from Sam. For the first time in his life, he understood how coupling could make you feel a part of another, as if you were no longer two hobbits, but one.

“Come with me,” Frodo said impulsively, planting an open-mouthed kiss on the sweat-soaked curls at the nape of Sam’s neck. “Sam, come to Bag End with me now. My aunt doesn’t deserve to have you in her employ for one minute longer.”

So convinced was he that Sam would say, ‘Aye, I’ll come’, that when Sam stiffened and stepped away, so that Frodo was forced to separate from him, he could hardly understand what had happened. What had he said wrong?

“Sam? What is it?” Frodo’s hand fluttered out as if to touch Sam, but he didn’t dare.

Sam was huddled into the corner of the cupboard, as far from Frodo as he could manage, with his back still to him. “So that’s what this was all about?” he said in a bitter voice. “’Come to Bag End, Sam, to cook and clean and warm me between the sheets until I’m done wi’ you?’ Is that it? Well, I’ll not go, Frodo Baggins, not though you offer me ten times the coin the Mistress pays me.”

Frodo was struck absolutely dumb, and could only stand there, wondering how things could have gone so dreadfully, dreadfully wrong, as Sam went on, “I’ll be your lover, aye, even though you break my heart in the end. I wanted you the first moment I set eyes on you, though I tried to fight against it, and now I know what it’s like to be wi’ you, I could never say you nay. But I’ve heard the stories about you, Frodo, and I’ll not live in your home and die a little inside every time you bring some other to your bed after you’ve tired of me.”

Something snapped inside Frodo then, and anger, blinding anger, filled him. “Can you believe that?” Frodo said almost wildly. “Can you, after what we have just shared? Yes, I have been unconstant in the past, but of you I will never tire, never. Sam, do you not understand? I love you.” He grabbed Sam’s shoulders and jerked him around. “I love you,” Frodo cried out, heedless of being overheard, and taking Sam’s face between his hands, he kissed him savagely hard and without an ounce of finesse, grinding their mouths together until he tasted blood, whether his or Sam’s or both, he couldn’t say. “I don’t care if you boil so much as a single drop of water or ever push a broom, as long as I have your love. Sam, I offer you a place at my side and in my bed forever, and a garden that needs your love as much as I do.”

Sam looked deep into his eyes: it was an intent uncompromising look that plumbed the very depths of Frodo’s soul for sincerity and truth. The silence lengthened and Frodo’s heart began to quail. Had he ruined all chance for happiness? Was this to be his punishment for breaking others’ hearts?

Then Sam finally spoke. “You’ve cut your lip,” he said softly, and touched the abraded flesh with his thumb. “Let there be no more hurtin’ between us, Frodo.” He leaned in and kissed him with infinite gentleness.

“Does…” Frodo hardly dared ask the question. “Does that mean you’ll come?”

A smile grew in Sam’s eyes and on his lips. “Aye, I’ll come,” he replied, “and gladly. For I love you, too, Frodo Baggins, whether or no.”

“Oh Sam,” Frodo whispered, and his head drooped forward to rest against Sam’s breast. “Thank Eru.” Sam’s arms came around him, and they held each other like two weary soldiers when the battle is over, scarce daring to believe they are alive.

Then Frodo stepped back and grinned like an excited child. “Come on, Sam,” he said. “Let’s go.”

“In naught but our skin?” Sam teased. “That’ll give the Mistress and her friends somethin’ to talk about and no mistake.”

“They’ll talk anyway, but I guess we should get dressed first,” Frodo agreed. His eyes swept up and down Sam’s naked body. “I don’t want anyone else to see you like this. You’re mine now,” he said possessively, and stooping, picked up Sam’s clothes and handed them to him.

It was even more awkward getting dressed again, and they kept bumping elbows and knees, but it only made them laugh, breathless and giddy. Sam handed Frodo his jacket, and the slim leather book about herbs slipped out of the pocket and fell to the floor.

“What’s this?” Sam asked curiously, picking it up.

“A book I brought for you.” Joy bubbled up inside him as he added, “We can read it together at home, tonight.” He slid his arms into his jacket and then said, “Are you ready, Sam?”

“Aye, that I am,” Sam replied steadily.

Frodo held out his hand, and Sam took it in a firm grip, and then he pushed open the cupboard door.


Epilogue

There was talk, and it was no mere nine days’ wonder, either. The story of how Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee (their disheveled state leaving no one with the slightest doubt as to what they’d been up to) walked hand-in-hand through Lobelia Sackville-Baggins's crowded parlour and out the front door, bold as brass, was told for a year and a day. Straight up to Bag End they went, and there they stayed.

Lobelia’s hysterics at the theft of her pearl of a cook were prolonged and severe, and she never did forgive Frodo.

As for Frodo, he and his sweet honey-gold Sam lived a simple, happy life, studying Elvish and making love (perhaps rather more of the latter than the former). Over time Bag End’s garden became renowned throughout the Shire for its beauty, and at its heart was the most magnificent pink rosebush anyone had ever seen.

~end~