Washed Clean by Lbilover

Written for 2012 Fandom Stocking.

The shadows the leaves cast dapple Frodo's face like smudges of dirt. When the wind stirs the leaves move, revealing skin clean but still too pale after the lightless days spent under the mountain. Sam watches Frodo sleep, glad that at least the visible signs of that ill-fated journey have been washed clean by the healing waters of Lothlórien. Of what lies beneath the surface and cannot be so simply erased, he tries not to think. Frodo's grief over Gandalf's loss is all the more painful to witness because it is so carefully hidden. Sam and the other hobbits have wept openly; if Frodo weeps, it is his heart's blood in private.

As if sensing Sam's steady regard, Frodo stirs in the flower-studded grass. His eyelids flutter and slowly open; in that drowsy moment before full awareness returns, Frodo smiles at Sam, an open and sweet smile. 'I'm sorry, Sam. I didn't mean to nod off like that,' he says.

'There's naught to apologise for,' replies Sam. 'You need the rest, and I reckon once we leave this place, we'll be getting little enough real sleep.'

'Once we leave,' Frodo repeats thoughtfully. 'But that will not be for some days yet, my heart tells me, and we must make the most of the time we spend here.' He holds out a hand to Sam, who takes it readily, and draws him down beside him. 'I think Gandalf would want us to,' he adds, mentioning the wizard's name for the first time since they escaped Moria.

The flash of pain across Frodo's face is more than Sam can bear after the unguarded sweetness of his smile. Obeying instinct, though he has no clear idea what Frodo intended when he drew him down, Sam shifts onto his side, leans in and kisses him, full on the lips. A pleased murmur escapes Frodo, and he tangles his fingers in Sam's hair and pulls him closer.

Later, as they lay entwined, silent and spent, Sam watches the leaf-shadows dance across Frodo's smooth bare shoulder, and thinks that perhaps some of what lies beneath the surface has now been washed clean, too.