BagEnd
Fic: Dreaming- "Absinthe Makes the Heart Go Fonder" Challenge - Hobbit Smut Fan Fiction Challenge Community
Phurveyors of Phreferred Pheriannath Phorn
lurea_aure
hobbit_smut
lurea_aure
Fic: Dreaming- "Absinthe Makes the Heart Go Fonder" Challenge
Name: Lurea

Title: Dreaming

Challenge: Hobbit Smut " Absinthe Makes the Heart Go Fonder" Challenge

Word Count: 10,443

Rating: NC-17

Pairing/s: Frodo/Sam

Other pairing/s: Sam/Rose

Warning/s: Het, slash, angst. Rose Gamgee.

Summary: Post-Quest, Sam and Frodo are both happy with their lives and choices...aren't they?

Notes: Thank you notabluemaia!

Dreaming

Few hobbits were out in the hot August sunshine when Rose Gamgee knocked at Gammer Weaver's door. The old goodwife opened the door herself.

"Rosie! Welcome, child. Will you have some tea?” Gammer's wrinkled face broke into a smile.

"Thankee, Gammer, but I can't stay long. I have to get back and fix luncheon for my Sam and his Mister Frodo, and then the baking after."

Gammer settled Rose in a chair by the sunny window, and brought out freshly baked seedcake. They chatted about the weather, and about Sam's sister May.

"That child'll be early, mark my words, Rosie, as high as she’s carrying. And a lad, too, big and strong like his da."

"She was hoping for a lass this time. Is there any way to tell?"

"Well, some say a needle held over the belly will swing in a circle for a lass and back and forth for a lad, but I've seen that be wrong as often as right.” Gammer looked at Rose shrewdly. “Are you asking for May or for yourself, little Rosie? I hope Sam isn’t fussing himself over the babe. It's hard for a man to be patient and let time take its course."

"No, no, not Sam so much at all. It's just that I know how much he wants a boy. He has his heart set on naming him after Mister Frodo..."

Gammer patted her hand. "And he'll get a lad, Rosie, no matter even if this’un is a lass. Boys run in the Cotton line. Why, if not this one, then the next. Likely you'll have more boys running around than you know what to do with! How have you been feeling? Sickly?"

Rose shook her head thankfully. "No, ma'am, not at all, and I am ever so glad. Why, May told me she couldn't eat naught but tea and bread for three months!"

Gammer smiled. "You're a lucky one, then. Some gets it, and some don't.” Rose toyed with a piece of seedcake, crumbling it between her fingers and a silence fell.

Rose knew Gammer must be wondering why she had visited, but for the life of her, she didn’t see how to raise the subject. Gammer cleared her throat, and Rose found the old hobbit looking at her sternly.

“None o' this is why you've come visiting old Gammer, girl. What ails you?"

"Naught,” she said. “But Sam—he worries about me, about the baby."

"They all do the first time, lass. Best enjoy it while it lasts. Soon enough it’ll be old hat to you both."

A bright blush stained Rose’s cheeks. "He really worries. Especially at night..."

Rose sneaked a peek at her face, wondering how she would take it. Surely respectable hobbits as old as Gammer didn’t think much of bed sport, did they? But Gammer’s eyes twinkled, and she looked to be trying to hide a smile.

"You mean, especially in the bedroom, Rose?"

Rose's voice dropped to almost a whisper. "Yes."

Gammer snorted. "First things first. Have you tried talking to him? Or just taking matters into your own hands, and not giving him a chance to bother himself?" She winked, and Rose thought her face would catch fire from embarrassment.

Gammer patted her hand and took a more serious tone. “He can’t hurt you or the babe, child. No matter how…enthusiastic he gets. Did it ever hurt you before?”

Rose gulped a hasty swallow of tea. “Only the first time, and then only a little.” The memories of her wedding night made her smile to herself. Sam had been wonderful, and when the moment had come, she’d been so ready she’d hardly felt a thing.

“Lots of young husbands worry ‘bout this, lass. Maybe he could talk to his Gaffer?”

"I don't think he could talk to the Gaffer. He’s been through so much, you see,” Rose said. “Far away, and then that trouble with those awful Men. I don’t think he’s quite got used to being…safe. I tried talking. But he still worries...and when he worries, I worry, and then I can't... I can't relax.” Rose stumbled through her explanation, eyes downcast. "And then everything falls apart. He's miserable, though he tries to hide it from me, and I'm miserable because he's miserable.” She missed their free and easy way together, but there was no need to tell Gammer that.

Gammer shook her head. “The tangles young hobbits get up to! Nothing that a little seasoning won’t cure, but that don’t help you now, does it?”

With the worst past, Rose could raise her head and address Gammer straight. “I talked to me mum and she said we was both thinking way too much, and it weren't healthy. She said to come and ask you..."

"’Bout a love potion, maybe?”

Rose looked startled. Of all the reactions she had considered, almost feared, calm matter-of-fact acceptance had not been among them.

Gammer cocked her head quizzically. "I've got something that might help with all that thinking, Rosie. Tasty, too, if I do say so myself." She chuckled. “I think there’s a child or two in Hobbiton who happened along nine months after one o’ my potions!”

Rose flattened a hand protectively over her stomach. "Will it hurt the baby?"

"Safe as houses," Gammer replied promptly. "Nothing but pure spring water, a little honey, and a few herbs, though I'll keep the exact mixture secret, thankee. Truth to tell, it's much the same as a bottle of brandy, 'cepting mine gives a better tingle and no nasty headache the next day." She smiled widely, showing healthy pink gum where two teeth used to be. "And I can guarantee you and Master Samwise won't have to worry about thinking too much!"

Rose kept the small corked bottle hidden behind the pickled beets for the next few days. Gammer had assured her it would be potent (what a wonderful word, potent! It gave her a quite delightful shiver) for at least two weeks. The right opportunity would present itself before then. A night when Mister Frodo was out visiting, Sam's favorite dinner, and then the two of them sharing an after-dinner drink... She hugged herself in glee imagining it. Mum had been so right to suggest going to Gammer Weaver.

It was only two days later when Mister Frodo pushed back his luncheon plate and announced his intention to walk that night. Sam looked alert. "Alone?" he asked.

Rose hid a smile. They went through this every time Mister Frodo decided to go on a walk. Frodo glanced sideways at her with a quirk to his lips that suggested he was thinking the same thing. He answered politely enough, though. One thing about Mister Frodo, he had beautiful manners.

"Yes, Sam, alone. I want another chance to enjoy this beautiful summer before fall settles in."

Sam glanced at her and she saw the indecision in his eyes. He hated leaving her at night, but he did not like Mister Frodo walking alone, either. "Maybe we could leave earlier and I could join you—" he began doubtfully.

Frodo neatly overrode him. "I insist on seeing the moonrise, Sam, and I'd just as soon walk alone. I will write a bit this afternoon, and perhaps Rose shall pack me a hamper. I will walk a short ways, perhaps just to the Water, eat a late supper and return. Perhaps I shall run across a fellow walker or two. You stay her and look after Rose. She was filling the wood box earlier." He looked significantly at Sam, who was instantly distracted.

"Rosie! Why didn't you get me to help you?"

"You weren't here, Sam Gamgee," she replied tartly. "And even if you had been, I can still move three measly logs from the pile just outside the door—” she pointed at the door in question, "to the pile just inside the door." She pointed again. "It’s barely five steps!"

Sam looked stubborn. "Just the same, Rosie-lass, next time remind me and I'll fill it as high as you like."

She patted his hand. Enjoy that protectiveness while you can, she remembered Gammer Weaver saying tolerantly. "Thankee, Sam Gamgee. You're right about that, and I shall next time."

Sam looked plumb startled when she gave in so easily, and Frodo laughed out loud. "Sam, either something highly unusual has happened or another Oliphant has come galloping over the horizon!"

It took her a moment to work out what he meant, and then she tapped Mister Frodo smart on the arm. "Now here, sir, are you implying what I think you're implying?"

Frodo turned to her with a twinkle in his eyes. "And what are you implying that I’m implying?"

"Why, that I'm bossy, o'course."

Frodo clapped one hand solemnly over his heart. "Never would I imply that, Rose."

"Nah," interjected Sam cheerfully. "He'll say it straight out.” Then they were all laughing, even Mister Frodo.

###

Later that afternoon, Rose fastened Mister Frodo's pack with a light heart. She had made him a cold supper of chicken, warm bread and some of that creamy white cheese he liked so well, ham, tart pickles and two apple pastries. Tucked into the bottom was a small jug of wine, well stoppered. If his past habits were anything to go by, he would be gone until well after moonrise, and perhaps longer. He did like walking at night, did Mister Frodo. He said it cleared one's head wonderfully well and ‘clarified’ things.

She stirred the pot hanging over the hearth, and kept a wary eye on her tarts cooling on the windowsill. No hobbit-children would be filching these today! She glanced down and gave her stomach a little pat. “Not leastways till you come along, laddie!”

By the time she had replaced the tarts with loaves of hot fresh bread, evening shadows from the great oak tree on the roof were lengthening across the windows of Bag End.

Frodo appeared from his study, dressed in old walking clothes and the grey cloak he often wore, stick in hand. She was woolgathering by the sitting room window, looking for Sam’s familiar figure striding up the walk. It was nearly time...

"Hullo, Rose," Frodo said. "I think I'll be going. It looks like a beautiful evening. Is Sam home yet?"

"Not yet, Mister Frodo," Rosie replied absently. It really was not much past the time when Sam usually returned—really, she shouldn’t worry.

I just don’t want all that work to go for naught. Supper was ready, the tarts were cool and sweet, and Gammer's special draught mixed in a bottle of wine. She’d even set out two of the crystal glasses what used to belong to Mister Bilbo.

"Oh." Was it her imagination or was there disappointment in Frodo's voice? He shouldered his pack, and took up his stick and went to the door. "I'm off. Thank you for the supper, Rose."

"You're more than welcome, Mister Frodo," she replied, and then in exasperation said, "Where is that hobbit?"

Frodo looked surprised at her outburst. "I am sure he will be home shortly, Rose."

Rose recovered her wits, embarrassed to have spoken so in front of Mister Frodo.
"Of course he will, sir. I beg your pardon. I'm a bit out of sorts today."

"Please don't even mention it.” Frodo hesitated at the door. "Would you like me to stay until Sam returns?"

Now Rose was abashed. What a silly mooncalf Mister Frodo must think her! "Not at all, Mister Frodo," she said hastily. "I'm sure you are right, and he'll be here any minute."

"Very well.” Frodo went down the path and through the gate. His grey-clad form somehow reflected the red and gold light of the setting sun until she could hardly see him. She wondered idly why he was walking toward town instead of over the fields. He went a short way down Hill Road and paused, shading his eyes as he looked at something off in the distance. He glanced back at her and pointed. She craned her neck but saw nothing, and shook her head. He came back up the road to the doorstep.

"I saw Sam just now, Rose, trotting down New Row. Likely the Gaffer has sent him on an errand."

"Oh." Rose felt vastly relieved. "What sharp eyes you have, Mister Frodo! I couldn't make out none o' that! Thank you for coming back to tell me."

Frodo smiled gently. "It's my pleasure, Rose. Now I will be off, and probably will not see either you or Sam till the morrow. Good night!"

This time he turned the corner of Bag End to go down the garden path, through the hedge and across the fields. He had gone down Hill Road, quite out of his way, solely for her sake, to see if Sam were near. She was warmed with affection for him—he was everything a gentle-hobbit should be.

She paced restlessly back into the kitchen, setting out dishes and stirring the pot on the hearth. She picked up the blended bottle of wine and sniffed the neck. It smelled delicious, with a faint flowery fragrance that tickled the nose delightfully. A wave of warmth passed over her, and she set it down hastily, fanning herself. Well, if that came of merely sniffing it, then she need have no fears for tonight!

A slanting beam of light cut across the kitchen and she frowned, her good mood slipping away. Sam was always here by the time the sun got low enough to shine in through the kitchen window. Always.

Her worry returned full-blown. Could the Gaffer be ill? Was that what had sent Sam down New Row so unaccustomedly late? She took her shawl from the peg by the door. Enough waiting. She would go down to the Gaffer's and find out for herself. And if all was well and Sam chided her for worrying, then they could laugh about it together. It would be a pleasant stroll back through the evening light, and she could tell Sam about the dinner and treats she had prepared.

But the minute Marigold opened the door, Rosie knew something must be wrong. Marigold beckoned her in hastily and then returned to packing a basket on the table. Herbs, ointments, clean cloths....

"What's wrong?” Rose asked through a dry throat. "Who is ill?"

Marigold looked up briefly from her work. "It's May. It's time and she’s having some fierce pains—not like before, she says."

"But this is her third, isn’t it?" First-timers often had long difficult labors, Rose knew, but third children usually arrived with little fuss or bother. Why, her own mother had hardly lain down for the delivery of her fifth.

Marigold looked grim. "I know. The midwife is there already, and I've sent Sam to fetch Gammer Weaver. I—I don't like it, Rosie. It’s early and she’s never had an early babe. She’s as white as a sheet, she’s that shook up. And she hasn’t dropped none, her belly’s still as high and wide as ever. What if there’s a problem?"

Rose took Marigold's hands and squeezed them between her own. "You’re borrowing trouble before there’s need, Marigold Gamgee. Just because she was never early before don’t mean naught. And maybe these are false pains—sometimes those feel mighty convincing even if they don’t go nowhere! The midwife and Gammer will take care of everything, no fear!"

Marigold smiled shakily. "You're right, o’course. Now I need to hurry. The midwife wanted family with her, keep her heart and strength up, and with Daisy off to North-farthing, that leaves me."

Rose considered all her careful preparations back at Bag End with a flash of regret. But kinfolk came first, and some day soon she would need support just like May needed it today. "And me. I'll go with you, Marigold.” When Marigold opened her mouth to protest, Rose shook her head and smiled. "I'm part of the family, too."

Marigold still looked doubtful. "The midwife says having a lass that's expecting at the birth could make her nervy for her own time."

"Nervy? Me?" Rose laughed. "I'm the least fanciful lass in the shire, Marigold Gamgee and I imagine old Mrs. Burrows will be the first to admit it. Why, I helped deliver one of Aunt Daffodil's babes when I was barely a tween." She opened Marigold's basket and inspected the contents. "Let's think what else we might need."

They had just stepped outside the door when Sam turned the corner, hurrying toward them.

"You're ready, Marigold? Good!” Then he greeted Rose. "You've heard, Rosie-lass? I didn't want you to worry."

"I'm not worried,” Rose replied calmly. "I'm goin' along with Marigold to help out."

Sam looked from her to Marigold and back again. "Are you sure?" he asked rather helplessly.

"Sure as sure," she answered, and took his hand. He slipped an arm around her, and she leaned into him. My, he smelled good. The regret for their lost evening sharpened. "I've a nice dinner waiting for you at home, Sam. I'm sorry I can't eat it with you, that's how nice it is."

His arm tightened. "It'll keep till later. I'll wait for you at May's until you're ready to come home."

Rose shook her head. "That won't do, my dear. Both the midwife and Gammer won't like any extra folk hanging around gettin' underfoot. ‘Specially husbands. You'd best go on, and I'll just plan on staying at May's."

"You can't stay up all night," Sam protested. "You'll tire yourself." He poked Marigold in the shoulder. "Here now, promise me you won't let Rosie tire herself out. It'd be bad for her and the lad."

"I reckon I myself know when to rest, Master Gamgee," Rose said. "You best be minding my kitchen and not mussing it up. I've a special vintage of wine I was planning to serve, and I'll thank you to cork it for me." She gave him a quick kiss to soften her words. "We can drink it later," she whispered.

"Whatever you like," he answered, though she did not miss the quick flicker of anxiety in his eyes. More than ever, she determined to get things back on the proper footing for them. She hoped the potion wouldn't lose strength for having been mixed prematurely. If it does, then I'm back to Gammer for more. That nice tingle was the proof of the pudding in my mind, and just what Sam and I need to clear up this awkwardness.

At May’s, her husband and two young sons had cleared out to his ma's so the hole was empty but for the women. Sam was inside for all of two minutes before Gammer frowned and shooed him out. Rose gave him a quick kiss goodbye and a lingering look before hurrying into May’s bedroom. Marigold followed, and left alone on the doorstep, Sam turned his steps reluctantly back to Bag End. His thoughts weighed heavily upon him. He had never been a hobbit to dwell on doom and gloom, and even in the shadow of the Black Land had striven to keep a light heart.

The loss of those he loved was the greatest hurt he could imagine, but even when he had feared losing Frodo, he had not had this sense of helplessness, of things spinning completely out of his control. He and Frodo had chosen their doom, Frodo with wisdom and eyes wide open, and Sam with fierce loyalty and a stubborn determination to do right no matter what. May had not chosen a great task, a quest. She had simply sought to bring the joy of a babe, a living culmination of herself and her husband into this world, an event that by all rights should be joyous and pain-free. Fearsome thing women went through to have children, and he felt as if a door to a completely new experience had opened for him.

He had never before considered that he could lose Rose and their unborn child, the Frodo-lad he hoped for, and the thought twisted like agony. ‘Twas almost as bad to contemplate losing Mister Frodo, the dearest master that ever walked the Shire. Rose and Frodo had his heart divided up between them, and sometimes Sam wondered if he could love anyone else. But loving a child would almost be like loving Rose, while loving Mister Frodo, well, that was a whole different kettle o’ fish.

He looked up at the stars and wondered why it seemed that the Great Ones had determined that the best of this world should suffer so. Frodo...and May…and possibly... He could not even complete the thought, and pushed it away.

"You're as broody as a setting hen, Samwise Gamgee," he told himself aloud. "Nothing you can do now, but wait and trust in the midwife and Gammer, so go home and calm yourself a bit. Likely everything will be fine, anyway." He turned onto Hill Road and decided a spot of wine or even brandy would be just the thing for the long anxious night ahead. He wondered what special vintage Rose had come across. Some dandelion wine, or primrose brandy? There were other bottles in the cellar of Bag End. Mayhap Mister Frodo would return from his walk soon and help him pass the time.

###

Despite the beauty of the night, with the landscape gleaming like silver outlined in darkest black, Frodo felt little ease. A few fallen leaves littered the ground, fallen from the heat of the August days, he told himself, but he knew better in his heart. Summer was ending and the long slow slide into fall begun. Fall...and October. Twice now he had been overwhelmed by resurgence of old fears and shadows, and he could not prevent himself from dreading October's onset. Not for the first time, did his mind resurrect Saruman yet again, brooding over that last dire prediction. Were the episodes of the last year a sign of things to come?

He ducked nimbly under a low tree branch, his feet soundless on the turf. On the rougher ground between the fields, he wove his way nimbly through the fencerow. Any observers would see a Frodo Baggins little outwardly changed from his adventure. He had a healthy girth, his limbs were tanned from the time spent outdoors, and his wind strong. Even the scars across his right hand had faded, nearly lost in the folds and wrinkles of his skin. He could a grasp a walking stick or a pen with equal facility, and showed every indication of his uncle Bilbo's longevity.

But it was not in his body that the worst hurts lingered, but in his soul. I have been marked by evil, encompassed by the Shadow...and is there any coming back from that? The taint lingers despite my body's health and the buffer of the Shire. Do I risk those around me, as I brought evil to the Shire, not by my will or plan but merely by my existence?

He passed unaware through fields heavy with grain and near to harvesting, unseen by any save tattered scarecrows. Even my emotions are suspect. I would have thought that the bond between Sam and I unreachable by any touch of Shadow, but instead I find myself envying what Rose and Sam have. I watch them, and I wonder, and I lie awake at night… Frodo bit his lip, and almost physically wrenched his thoughts from the too-familiar path.

Despair chilled him through. When one's very existence constituted a potential harm to the innocents one loved… Well, then the path ahead was plain to see, even if one shrunk from it.

Frodo found himself on the back garden path of Bag End before he noticed. While his thoughts wandered, drawn hither and yon between worry and hope, his feet carried him straight home, and far earlier than he had intended. Why, the night had barely fallen. Neither Rose nor Sam would expect him this early. He rounded the corner quietly and studied the windows. He had an idea that Rose and Sam may have planned some time for themselves tonight, and he would not intrude if he could help it.

In truth, things had been a bit dicey ever since Sam had shyly confided that she was expecting. Rose had been very tired, and some days was snappish and out of temper. Sam had been too, come to think of it. Thank goodness, the household had been spared the sort of stomach-sickness some new mothers suffered through.

If need be, he would retrace his steps, and walk back to the Water and round again before allowing himself the solace of Bag End.

But all the windows were dark, without even a single candle lit to ward off the night. He hesitated a moment. He had never returned from a walk to such darkness for Sam always left a candle burning. The black windows looked sinister, even malicious. Rose and Sam could be gone, but where? On a moonlit walk like himself? He peered around but the gardens and grounds were decidedly empty. He opened the door and stepped inside.

"Sam? Rose?" he called softly. No answer. They must be absent, perhaps gone down to Old Gaffer's for some reason. Frodo groped for the candle kept close by the door and lit it.

He dropped his pack and carried the candle into the kitchen, and added a log to the coals on the hearth. A cool wind was blowing from the East and he welcomed the fire's warmth. Set close to the coals was a covered pot. He lifted the lid and the fragrant smell of beef, onion and potatoes drifted out. Sam's favorite beef stew. The pot appeared untouched, and when he looked over to the table, clean dishes were set out as if for a cozy supper. His earlier wondering blossomed into concern. Where had Sam and Rose disappeared to?

He leaned against the table, and noticed the wine, opened and set to breathe. He picked it up absently, noting that its sides felt lukewarm, with no trace of the cellar's coolness remaining. It had been sitting for some time.

He poured himself a generous helping, using one of Bilbo's prized, clear glass wine-cups. It was Buckland wine. Merry had sent several cases to replenish the cellars of Bag End when Frodo took up residence. Saruman left cases and cases of wine stacked in the cellar, from far-off vineyards of the South and East. Frodo had been quite unable to countenance drinking any of it, and sent the whole lot to the first community celebration. That solved the problem of the wine, and garnered him and his fellow Travelers considerable good will in the process. Frodo smiled at the memory. How outraged would Saruman have been to see his prized vintages guzzled by simple hobbits, hands callused from plain hard work?

Frodo turned the glass in his hand. Simple hobbit-made wine, although of an unaccountably good year by the aroma. He took a healthy swallow and his eyes widened in appreciation. A complex, faintly flowery taste, and was that a hint of honey? Why, it tasted more like a mixture of liqueurs, for it warmed his throat and stomach like fine brandy, but slid effortlessly over the tongue like a nice dry wine. He took another swallow, and then drained the glass.

He did not intend to gulp it down, but the stuff was just that tasty. He picked up the bottle and examined it closely, but there was no hint from the simple label that the bottle contained anything other than straight Buckland wine, vintage 1409. Something special must have happened in Buckland in 1409. He refilled his glass and enjoyed another taste. He needed to congratulate Merry on this. Why, he would even buy a case or two, if Merry would let any go once he had tasted it for himself. This thought struck him as quite amusing and he laughed out loud.

Frodo fanned his face lightly. It was getting blasted hot in the kitchen. He would take the bottle and some extra glasses into the sitting room. Open the windows and enjoy the breeze. When Sam and Rose arrived, he would share his new find with them. Why had he worried earlier? Rose and Sam were simply out on a walk, most likely, or visiting with the old Gaffer, and would return soon, he had no doubt. In fact, he would get a second bottle, for one would not go far among three thirsty hobbits.

He brought a second of the same year from the cellar and opened it, lifting it at once to his nose. Disappointment filled him. This bottle displayed none of the charm of the first. He went to pour himself a glass, and somehow managed to fumble it badly, knocking over both bottle and glass, making a fine puddle on the table and floor. He blinked at it owlishly, and then carefully picked up the original flask. He would worry about cleaning that up tomorrow, he decided.

When Sam entered the hole a short time later, he found Frodo sitting quietly in the parlor, an open bottle of wine and cups before him. Frodo looked as if he were preparing to retire; he had removed his coat and vest and completely unbuttoned his shirt. Sam hoped the breeze from the window wouldn't chill him. He had been surprised but pleased to see the candlelight in the windows of Bag End, and to realize that Frodo had returned even earlier than he had looked for. A swell of gladness lifted his heart.

Sometimes it seemed that all Sam needed to be content was to be in Frodo’s company. He had scratched his head over it, tried to fight it, but nothing had changed since he was a raw youth, and the feeling had only gotten stronger since the Quest. And that did not even bear thinking about too much, not with Rose out of the house.

"Good evening, sir," he said. "Cut your walk short, did you?"

Frodo looked up a little blearily and Sam's initial impression was one of shock. Stars, is he drunk? But Frodo spoke quite coherently. "Sam, I'm glad to see you. Where have you been, and where is Rose?" He reached out and took Sam's arm, and his hand was warm and gentle.

Mention of Rose brought his earlier worries back to mind. "Well,” Sam sat down heavily, and accepted the cup Frodo offered. "May's time has come early, so Rose and Marigold are staying with her tonight."

“Congratulations on another little Gamgee! Here, let’s drink to the lass or lad.”

The warmth in Frodo’s voice nearly brought tears to Sam’s eyes. Would that it turned out so easily, and a matter for celebration and not concern…or grief. Frodo set down his glass and leaned forward. His master’s eyes were as sharp as ever, and Sam knew his emotions must be plain on his face.

“Dear Sam, is something wrong? Tell me.”

Sam gulped down some of the wine before answering. “I don’t know birthing from what for, but things don’t seem to be going like they should. The midwife, Missus Burrows and Gammer Weaver looked worried to me. I guess sometimes there’s problems if a babe is too early, and this one’s earlier than he should be.”

Frodo said nothing, but touched Sam’s shoulder. Sam leaned into the touch, drawing comfort from his nearness. “And I know it’s too soon to tell anything at this point, just wait and hope for the best."

Sam downed another gulp of the wine. It was uncommonly good. Sam normally didn't care much for wine, too much of it struck him as thin and sour, while Frodo raved about the 'dry tart flavor'. Beer was his usual tipple, but this wasn’t bad at all. It had a sweet flavor that lingered on the tongue. He felt warmth spreading from his lips right down to his stomach. Nice kick to it, too.

"Gamgees are tough, mind," he continued. "Tough as old leather and twice as long-lasting, lads and lasses both, so I reckon May will be fine."

He gestured with his empty cup for emphasis and Frodo adroitly snagged it, and filled it to the brim.

Sam sipped again and smacked his lips together. "My, this is tasty, Frodo. Where did you get it?" Faint anxiety prickled the back of his mind—was this Rose’s special drink?

Frodo smiled proudly. "It's a 1409 Buckland. From one of the cases Merry sent." Sam relaxed at the answer. Not anything special, then, but just another bottle from the cellar. Just to be sure, he went to the door to check the kitchen. At first, he saw nothing, then he made out the puddle of wine gleaming darkly on the flagstones, from the now-empty bottle.

Frodo followed his gaze and looked embarrassed. “Oh, yes, I spilled that earlier. Stupid of me to let it sit. Shall we clean it up?”

Sam contemplated the wreck of Rose’s special vintage for a moment and then shrugged. No use crying over spilled wine, was there? Surely, she could buy more of whatever it had been. Sam himself would buy her two to make up for the loss of the first. “It’s not going anywhere, Mister Frodo. I’ll get to it later.” He sat back down and held out his cup. “Refill, sir? Mister Merry was awfully generous to send this. Strange, I don't remember him bragg—er, talking about it."

Frodo refilled his own glass and clinked it against Sam's. "I fancy Merry hasn't realized the quality of this particular year yet. I will have to enlighten him. Or perhaps not. It would be wasted on him, eh?” He winked at Sam over the top of his cup, and Sam laughed uproariously, and began unbuttoning his own vest. It was warm as blazes in here.

###

Rose sank down in a chair next to May's bedside with a sigh. After an hour of increasingly painful contractions, everything seemed to have stopped. May's head had dropped back onto the pile of pillows in the bed, her eyes closed. Rose shook her head in worry. It looked like she might fall asleep, but the midwife wasn't urging her to get up and walk around to get the pains started again. Likely the midwife wanted her to rest for a bit. Her pains had been terrible, doubling her over in tears, which was just not right so early in labor.

When Rose had midwived her Aunt Daffodil, she had laughed and joked for the first hours, teasing her husband about whether ’twould be a lad or a lass. She had seen the look of concern on the midwife's face, and on Gammer Weaver's too. All that pain, and it seemed to be going nowhere, not getting May any closer to having a babe in her arms. The baby had not dropped at all, and even worse was the fact that the little hobbit head was still up by his mother’s heart, not down in her hips like it should be. She’d heard of babies being born feet first, but it were awful chancy and hard on both mother and child.

Marigold stretched from the other side of May’s bed.

"Why don't you go get some tea, Rosie," she said. "Rest a bit while May is resting. It looks like it's going to be a long night."

Gammer Weaver nodded. “Make a right big pot, child, for all of us, and extra strong.”

When Rose had finished and delivered the tea, she went back to the kitchen and sat down before the hearth fire. The bench there had a woven rush seat that was surprisingly comfortable. May drowsed still, and Rose wondered whether this night had been merely a false alarm. She shifted lower in the seat, and her eyes slowly closed. Her last thought was to hope that Sam wasn't worrying too much.

###

Frodo and Sam sat with the cool breeze from the window wafting over them without seeming to notice. They had both removed vests, braces and opened shirts as if they labored in the fierce heat of a sunny day.

"So then I leaned against the window frame, thinking to give a yell and scare the life out of her. But the window weren’t latched, see." Sam paused to make sure Frodo appreciated this salient fact. "Weren't latched, so in I fell, right at Daisy's and Ferd's feet. I look up and think, why I've scared them right out o' their clothes." Frodo burst out laughing, while Sam continued. "I've never seen clothing get laced up that fast before, and when Daisy told Gaffer I'd been spying on her, I couldn't sit down for days."

"What a rascal you were," Frodo said affectionately. "And so quiet and hard-working when you were here at Bag End!"

Sam paused, his cup at his lips. "Well, I had to be, didn't I? Otherwise, Gaffer wouldn't have brought me. And here was where I wanted to be, I knew that much even as a young'un."

Sam spoke softly, as if he what he said was of no importance, but Frodo knew better. Sam’s face was wistful as he stared into the flames of the fire, seeing perhaps that earnest young hobbit with a powerful case of hero-worship. How flattered Frodo had been when Sam followed him around and parroted all that he said. But unlike most small boys, Sam had not discarded that youthful habit once he got older, and the attachment had matured into friendship and affection. And then the Quest had taken both of them, hammering that attachment into something purer and better. Purer and better for Sam, at any rate. For himself, he could not admit to the longings that beset him. He felt mean and small for such thoughts, when he considered all that Samwise had done and been to him.

"You are a true friend, Sam. Once in jest, I called you Samwise the Stout-hearted, but Samwise the True would be more correct." Frodo lifted his cup, but it was already empty. He lifted the bottle and the quarter remaining sloshed. So much gone, so quickly! He was not feeling the effects yet. He poured it out, dividing it between his cup and Sam's.

Sam lifted his own in a return salute. "And to Frodo the Ring--" his words faltered when he took in the bleak expression upon Frodo’s face. He hastily amended it to, "Frodo the Wise, I mean." He grasped Frodo’s hands between his own. “If I’ve said something wrong, then I’m a twice more a ninnyhammer. Gaffer would try and teach me manners, but it all fell on deaf ears!”

"Ahh, Sam, don't fret," Frodo said quietly. "'Tis my doom to ever be linked with the Shadow...and my shame. That is the only legacy I shall ever leave the Shire, and I am long since reconciled to it."

"How could I have brought it to your mind, that old cursed thing," Sam said in frustration. "Don't think naught of It, sir, but instead of your Sam's fault, stumbling over his tongue like the rudest cob in the Shire."

Frodo looked at him over the top of his cup, and a smile crept over his face. "Sam, don't call yourself any of your Gaffer's harsh names. I am reconciled, as I said." Sam still held one hand, and the warm work-roughened grasp comforted Frodo. He squeezed Sam’s hand, and Sam squeezed back, his thumb rubbing soothingly across Frodo’s palm. Frodo leaned against the sofa back, away from Sam, strangely unsettled.

Sam appeared oblivious, absently watching how the glossy surface of the wine reflected the candlelight. “Now who's taking harsh words to themselves, Mister Frodo? Why, if it's a legacy you want, what about Merry and Pippin and me?"

"I'm not sure what you mean." The friction of Sam’s hand on his own distracted Frodo until he was not sure he could remember what they were discussing. Sam continued, apparently unaware of Frodo’s inattention.

"Just this. Do you think Mister Merry or Mister Pippin would be half the hobbits they are today without having known you? As for me, well, we both know the answer to that."

Frodo raised a shaky hand and rubbed his eyes. The wine must be turning his wits, that Sam seemed so intent…almost tender. "Without having been put in deadly danger by the Quest, is truly what you mean, Sam. The Quest may have been a catalyst, but their own inner strength and resolution caused the result. And yours, as well."

Sam leaned forward eagerly, bringing his face within a hand span of Frodo’s. Frodo found his gaze drawn to Sam’s mouth. His ruddy lips parted, moved sensuously as he spoke. "Forget the quest for a moment, Frodo. Would they have even wanted to come if not for having known you? Having loved you?”

A deep ache woke to life in Frodo’s chest. He was loved by others, kinfolk, friends, and companions. But not the kind of emotion he had seen between Aragorn and Arwen, or Faramir and Eowyn—for his beloved belonged to another.

Sam continued doggedly, tilting Frodo’s chin up with his hand to meet his eyes directly.

"Think on it, Frodo. You're loved by a powerful lot o' people. You think they’re all wrong, and you're really nothing much? Well, I'll be one o' them as has to disagree. That's your real legacy, and not nothing to do with that blasted ring at all."

Sam could hardly believe the words spilling madly from his lips, foolish words that he had sworn to never even hint at. It was too unfair to weight Frodo with the knowledge of his feelings when he knew they could never be returned. But he could not be silent, or hide behind a veneer of politeness, when Frodo sat before him, hurting and alone.

Frodo bowed his head, and Sam saw a bright tear fall sparkling into his lap. The sight drove him forward to put his arms around Frodo, feeling his own heart accelerate wildly. He dropped his head on Frodo's shoulder, and became aware of the smooth skin just beneath his lips, revealed by Frodo's unfastened shirt.

He exhaled and Frodo moved just the tiniest bit, a small motion quickly checked. Was Frodo's breath coming faster? Did the slender frame in his arms tremble?

The wine rushed giddily to his head at last, because he felt as if a maddened imp sat on his shoulder, urging him on. Put your lips right there. Move forward an inch, nay, half an inch, and just taste him. The warmth lingering on his lips abruptly kindled into a veil of fire reaching from the top of his curly head to the tips of his toes. And that middle part of him wasn't left out none, for it stretched and strained against his breeches until he imagined he would have button imprints down there in the morning.

In the backwash of that heat, he pressed his lips to Frodo's neck before he had even fully comprehended what he meant to do. His master’s skin was as smooth as silk and warm under his lips. As he lingered there, the indefinable scent that was Frodo filled his nostrils, the scent that had once been as familiar as his own during the long days of the Quest, but recently had faded from his mind. It stirred up recollections of Frodo's clothing, Frodo's body, lying cuddled close to him at night, weeping over him in loss and grief. He tightened his arms about Frodo convulsively. Tears and desire danced behind his eyes, until he was blindly kissing Frodo, tracing the lines of his jaw, skimming his earlobes, and at last, venturing to the corner of his mouth.

Frodo turned his head as Sam hesitated, and met his gentle lips fiercely. "Frodo, m'dear," Sam gasped, overcome.

Frodo's mouth opened beneath his own, and Sam ventured to slip his tongue within, tracing along the even teeth and clever tongue. Frodo pressed tightly against him and they both toppled slowly sideways to lie entwined upon the couch. Sam's member swelled desperately and he crooked one knee to ease it. Then Frodo's hands were on him, stroking, enclosing, and he tipped his head back and gave himself up to the touch, the long-suppressed love and desire overwhelming him.

###

Rose slipped from drowsing to deeper slumber, and watched Sam come through the door. Her heart speeded with delight, anticipation, and a certain wary shyness. Sam glanced at her and then froze, there in the doorway. For a moment, neither of them could move, and then he dropped his coat heedlessly on the floor.

She laughed. "Did you miss me, Sam?" she asked.

She felt suddenly as happy as she could ever remember being. Not bothering to fully unbutton his shirt, he loosened the collar and yanked it over his head.

"What do you think?" he said, his voice muffled by the cloth. He pulled free and dropped it, rushing over to join her in their big bed. He pulled the covers back slowly, his eyes wide with appreciation. "New nightgown?" he asked.

Rose winked at him. "I'd say so. I spent the last year knitting all this lace."

His eyes never left the lace insets over her breasts. "Then that's a year well-spent, my love."

He lowered himself to lie next to her and kiss her, and she sighed and opened her arms to him. He unlaced all the careful lacing restraining her breasts, caressing them gently, as they spilled into his hands. Lips followed hands an instant later and she arched her back, jaw tightening before she realized she had no need to stifle her cries. Mister Frodo traveled to Buckland with Mister Merry this night.

###

Frodo groaned when Sam's clever hands found his breeches and the swelling length within. He felt as if he were falling, with no firm ground and nothing to hold on to... Except for Sam’s warm body, nearly as familiar as his own. Sam, who had kissed him, one little kiss and released a voracious desire within his body. Sam tugged his breeches down and the cool night air felt as welcome as a kiss on his sweaty body.

A part of Frodo stood apart from the person who writhed on the sofa, whispering endearments to Sam, part of him was dismayed and appalled at the transformation taking place. Months, nay, years of careful denial fell tumbling about him, the walls breeched relentlessly, forcing him to acknowledge that which he had never wanted, hoped, dreamed of acknowledging. Regret, pain, that is all that lies ahead if you continue, this part warned darkly. But in the breathless heat of the moment, the wild intoxication of finding Sam's desire rising to meet his, he could have ceased no sooner than he could have flown.

Sam wiggled out his own breeches like an eel, boldly pressing himself into Frodo's hips. They fit together nigh perfectly, Sam shorter but stockier, and Frodo's taller length curled around him. Sam raised himself on one elbow and the wavering candlelight glistened on the tawny gold of his chest, warmed by the sun and sprinkled with hairs bleached gold by his labors in the sun. And lower down, a darker line led Frodo's eyes inevitably to his proud cock, thrusting up from his groin, swelling darker as he looked. Frodo stared; male anatomy was no stranger to him, not even Sam's. Among nine men on a Quest, privacy was one of the first things to go. Seeing him now was different, knowing that he alone caused it...

He reached out tentatively, and grasped the length. Silken skin over heated rigidity--Sam exhaled roughly and dropped his head to Frodo's chest, exploring the base of his neck and his chest with his mouth. Frodo had never touched another as he touched Sam, so similar but so delightfully different than his own flesh. He felt like a child with a new toy, squeezing and caressing. Ah, this provokes that reaction. He was lost in the joy of discovery. In his head beat the unending words: he feels as I do, all this time, and he feels as I do, I was so afraid, and he feels as I do, and he stroked Sam with increasing speed.

Sam shook, his mouth finding Frodo's nipples and ever so gently teasing them until they hardened, and Frodo unwillingly focused on Sam's mouth, sliding lower and doing such interesting things. Sam grabbed Frodo's hand and pulled it away.

"You're having a right fun time o' that," he said hoarsely, "But I'm not ready to finish just yet." Before Frodo's dizzied mind could even take in what he meant, Sam's mouth swooped lower, encasing him in liquid heat, and his body jerked in reaction.

###

Sam tugged the nightgown over her head, oh-so-deliberately to avoid tearing the delicate fabric. Even in the midst of her impatience, she felt an upsurge of love at his care. Her Sam would never paw and rip at her garments, but would treat them and her with naught but loving gentleness. She reached down to his rod and tugged gently, making him stiffen and catch his breath.

"I was starting to think you'd be gone all night," she accused softly. "And here I was, all alone in bed."

His hand traced a tickling trail of delight down her stomach between her legs. "I hurried back soon as I saw Mister Frodo and Mister Merry safely off." He stroked deeper, and a coiling tension tightened her belly. "Glad you didn't start without me."

She tried to laugh, but she was nearly too breathless. "Who says I didn't?"

He did not answer, but dipped his head, suckling her breasts while his fingers continued to stroke her, driving her hips helplessly forward to the rhythm he set.

"Oh, Sam," she gasped, her head falling back on the pillow. She felt as if she were right on the edge of a chasm, teetering and about to fall, screaming all the way...and he pulled abruptly away from her, hands and mouth still.

Her eyes flew open. "Oh! You—" she said wrathfully. He looked wounded.

"Can you blame me for wanting to go along, love?"

She softened at once, and took a deep breath. "O'course not, but even so—" she wriggled around and took him in her mouth, impatiently and all at once. He became absolutely still as if afraid to chance moving for discomfiting her. He tasted salty at the tip; a ripe male taste that deepened as she slowly stroked her lips up his length.

His fists clenched hard in the bedclothes, and when she peeked up at him, his beautiful eyes stared unseeingly at the ceiling. She reached around with her free hand and touched his sac, fondling his stones and the tender skin of his buttocks. He tensed under her touch, that part of him contracting with desire and drawing up tight to his body.

He let loose a groan that rattled the timbers, and she almost giggled, thinking how embarrassed he would have been later tonight if Mister Frodo were here. He thrust upward, but she slowed deliberately, taking her time and drawing out each nibble and lick as if she meant to wait all night. Then he half-turned reaching down between her legs with a touch light as goose down, a touch that had her exhaling hard and wildly impatient to feel him within her.

"I want you, Rosie-love," he said, his voice low.

"Oh, yes," she said shakily, and without another word, he yanked her up to him, and under him, and then he filled her. The sheer pleasure and joy of it rocked her back into the bed, clutching him for dear life. He thrust into her, and she caught a glimpse of his face as he moved over her, his expression as concentrated, as intent as she'd seen him when struggling over a knotty problem in the garden or conversing of deep matters with Mister Frodo. He pushed forward until it seemed he must be nearly splitting her in half but it all felt so good, and as she yelled and grabbed him, and she wondered if this would be the night they made a child.

###

They were pressed close, belly-to-belly. Frodo studied Sam's face in the flickering candlelight, his eyes nearly closed, a fine sheen of sweat on his face, teeth worrying at his lower lip. Frodo leaned closed and kissed that lip, laving it gently with his tongue, even as he speeded the rhythm of their joined hands. He thought perhaps that there were other ways, whispers he'd heard once or twice, but he liked this, looking into Sam's face, seeing every twitch and catch of his breath. He stored every image deep in his mind, where he could find it again as a defense against lonely nights ahead. But not to think about that now. Sam opened his eyes abruptly, catching Frodo studying him.

"Frodo, m'dear," he whispered, leaning forward to kiss him back as tenderly as he had been kissed a moment before. Then he dipped his head, his lips tracing a line of fire across Frodo's chest, and a cool breeze from the open window made the candle flicker, throwing wildly distorted shadows across the walls. That candle will blow out, Frodo thought abstractly, then he could not think anymore and could only feel. His and Sam's hearts beat in unison, pounding madly, and their hands speeded, squeezing and caressing, and it felt so different from any of the times he'd set hand to his own flesh. He wasn't in control, and couldn't touch the exact spot he needed—he could only wait helplessly, groaning, as Sam came nearer and nearer, tipping them both closer to climax. Sam's teeth were clenched, his face drawn as if in pain, and Frodo's hips thrust upward, desperate for release.

"Frodo, love," Sam cried, spasming, and the heavy weight of his body on Frodo's, the feel of the warm wetness on his hand tumbled Frodo over, and stiffened his back in pleasure so pure it was almost agony.

The tension left them both abruptly, leaving them lolling bonelessly on the sofa, their breathing slowing at last. Sam shifted slightly to one side, easing his weight off Frodo considerately, and Frodo's heart wrung at the well-practiced maneuver. Frodo felt as if he had awakened from a dream.

How had this happened? He blinked and tried to reason it out, to understand how they ended up here, but his thoughts just whirled, and the room spun around him. The only relief from the whirling was to close his eyes, and twice he jerked awake from a doze. This would not do, he and Sam, lying here naked. Why wouldn't it? It was very comfortable, no doubt abut it, and he enjoyed the closeness of Sam's warm body.

###

Rose jerked awake with a start, putting a hand to her chest. Why, feel her heart thumping away! She felt flushed and warm all over, and no wonder with what she had been dreaming. No one else was in the kitchen, thank goodness, for Rose would never have lived it down if she had made some betraying sound before Gammer or Marigold.

She hurried into the bedroom, to be met by smiling faces all ‘round. All except for May’s, that is. Hers was tight with the pains, but merely tight, not contorted and tearful with agony as before. Gammer leaned close to whisper in her ear. “The babe has finally dropped, head down as he should be. Now things will go right, you’ll see.” She patted Rose’s flat stomach. “ ‘Tis a good omen for you and your babe, Rosie.”

###

Frodo’s tired mind conjured up a picture of Rose, dressed as he had last seen her, entering a strange room, and he jerked awake with an oath. Rose! She would be home in the morning. He had to get up and put things to rights. He raised his head cautiously, and the dizziness worsened. He was dreadfully tired… But no, he mustn’t fall asleep. The night sky beyond the open window was pitch black, without even a hint of moonlight. It must be quite late.

Sam’s body was tense beside his own, and Frodo knew he was awake. “We should get up,” he said finally, almost afraid to hear Sam’s response. He was sure that something should be said between them. But what? Frodo was at an utter loss.

But Sam said only, “Yes.”

Frodo felt him rub his eyes, and surreptitiously wipe his other hand on his thigh. He could smell the scent of their bodies and their mingled release, an aroma that up to this point in his life had signified only loneliness, solitude, and sorrow, as he sought relief of his own purely physical needs. With Sam, it meant joy, and love, and shared desire… He sighed.

Sam would rise, wash, and go to his bedchamber (that he shared with Rose, a wistful part of him whispered) without another word. Whatever guilt or remorse he suffered, he would suffer alone. Sam would not speak a single reproach to Frodo, or talk of blame, and he would never even mention this night again…if Frodo wished. Frodo knew this, just as he had known that given any choice at all, Sam would follow him to Mordor. Loved and loving, and only now did he see that what he had taken for brotherly affection, the loyalty of a true friend, was anything but.

Frodo felt as he had when Gandalf spoke of the mithril coat, when he learned that he witlessly carried the worth of the Shire on his back, and never truly valuing it for what it was. He could not let Sam walk away from him, without knowing that he feelings were returned. Frodo captured Sam’s hand, stilling his movement.

“Sam, before you go…” Frodo twined Sam’s fingers about his own. He did not want ever to let him go. “Even if I should, I cannot regret this. And before you go, I want you to know how much this meant to me. How much you mean to me. I—”

“I love you,” Sam interrupted, rising on one elbow.

Frodo was startled into silence, feeling an almost reproachful rush of gladness at the words. Sam’s eyes were suspiciously bright, and he touched Frodo’s face with the backs of his fingers, slowly, tenderly.

“Frodo,” he said, “Didn’t you know how I felt? Didn’t you know?”

Frodo stared at him. So much had changed between them on the Quest, not least of which was Sam’s knowledge of his master’s failings, his weaknesses, his enduring shame. Frodo was not a proper hobbit anymore, and he was beginning to suspect that he never could be again. How could he be worthy of this kind of love?

“No, no, I didn’t.”

“Frodo, me dear love,” Sam murmured.

“I was afraid—”

“I’ve always felt this way, but I never—”

“I imagined myself odd, even a little mad, but you, Sam, you were—”

“Thought you could care for a bumpkin like me, when you’re—”

“Everything a hobbit should be.”

And Sam murmured, “Everything a hobbit could want,” a breath after Frodo.

They rested for a time, curled around each other, hearts beating, and even breathing as one, Frodo fancied. The candle stood with wax drippings heavy on its sides, and Frodo felt the night slipping away. How much had gone already? How to remember this, impress it on his heart so that through all the long years from now, he could return to Sam’s arms around him and his love warming him? But why should it be the one, the only? Why couldn’t he share in Sam’s love for a time? Rose would not begrudge him, surely, not if she knew all that was in his heart.

The temptation was like a bit of honeycomb with a bee trapped in it, sweet but with a sting in the end. Would Rose begrudge him? Might as well ask if he would begrudge Rose, were their lives switched. And he would. That was not even considering the cost to Sam, in deceit and dishonor to his commitment…his child. Would he degrade the love he and Sam shared for that? Never. Never.

The decision made stabbed into his heart like a knife, but left peace in its wake. Never again, he mouthed silently.

Sam stirred as if he had heard. “I wish there was some other way…My heart’s fair torn in half, Frodo.”

“I know,” Frodo replied. “But you were meant to be whole, Sam, and you should be. You will be.” Unlike myself, Frodo thought but did not say. He sat up, and Sam reluctantly followed him. They doused the candles, and trod heavily to their respective rooms. At Sam’s door, Frodo stepped wordlessly into a final embrace. Over Sam’s shoulder, he saw their bedchamber and felt a sharp pang of guilt at the signs of Rose’s presence, the pretty brush and comb on the washstand, the sweet smelling sachets tucked into the pillowslips.

"A dream, Sam," he whispered. "A dream of something that never happened, could never happen, not while we are the hobbits we are. You are bound here, and I—I am bound over Sea." For a moment, the thought of the vast Sea oppressed him. How cold and empty it seemed, next to Sam’s easy warmth and comfort. He laid his head on Sam's shoulder.

"A dream," Sam answered quietly. Frodo closed his eyes tightly, willing himself to remain calm. Unbidden, an image formed in his mind, one that had come to him before. Sam surrounded by children, Frodo-lad, Merry, Rosie-lass, Pippin, and Goldilocks. A prosperous Sam, in a fine waistcoat, and a stout and happy Rose, beaming broadly. Frodo, long gone over the Sea. Was there a shadow in Sam's eyes above the familiar grin, a hint of long sorrow and loneliness? A longing for someone gone far away, where he could not follow, wouldn't follow for years and years?

Frodo wiped his eyes, and kissed Sam one last time. "I will wait for you, Sam." Then he entered his room without a backward glance.


~~The End~~










24 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
aussiepeach From: aussiepeach Date: August 12th, 2005 08:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh lord, you've almost got me crying here. That was wonderfully hot, and so tender and poigant.. guh, I've got a lump in my throat. Thank you, Stormy!
lurea_aure From: lurea_aure Date: August 13th, 2005 06:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Cool icon! Thank you, Peachy, for reading and commenting! Slash is new territory for me, but thankfully Nota helped me out. :) I'm really glad it was believable to you.
elycia From: elycia Date: August 12th, 2005 10:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, my. So beautiful, and so, so sad. You've captured beautifully the loneliness and isolation I also think Frodo must have felt in the Shire after the Quest. If only he'd had the courage to open his heart, just a bit, to those who loved him so...

Thanks for this! (And I hope Elanor gives 'em all hell for that foolish nattering about hoping she's a boy! )
lurea_aure From: lurea_aure Date: August 13th, 2005 06:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
LOL! It was really fun expanding on the 'hoping for a boy' theme. We know from the text that Sam was so set on a boy, he hadn't spent any time at all thinking of a girl's name, which is unusual in my personal experience.

I agree with you about Frodo's inability to open up--instead he withdraws and closes himself away, which is about the saddest part of the story. Ohh, Frodo! Thank you so much for reading and commenting.
b_briarwood From: b_briarwood Date: August 12th, 2005 01:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh my... *wipes at teary eyes*
lurea_aure From: lurea_aure Date: August 13th, 2005 06:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
*hands you a tissue*

Thanks for reading and commenting!
withywindle01 From: withywindle01 Date: August 12th, 2005 06:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is absolutely beautiful and so sad. Thank you so much for writing it!
lurea_aure From: lurea_aure Date: August 13th, 2005 06:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank YOU for reading it! It's so much fun after laboring (he!) over a story in relative isolation to find that readers actually do understand it, and that the story accomplishes what you set out to do. Thanks again!
empressaurelius From: empressaurelius Date: August 12th, 2005 06:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
This was just utterly beautiful. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to have a good cry.
lurea_aure From: lurea_aure Date: August 13th, 2005 06:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
For some reason, I just tend to angst up poor Frodo! Maybe I need to take a few comedy lessons from Mariole and Peachy... ;)

Thanks so much for reading and commenting, and I'm glad the story touched you.
feather_silver From: feather_silver Date: August 13th, 2005 12:50 am (UTC) (Link)
New favorite fic. Thank you :) That's a dead spot on Frodo you have there, as well as Sam. Really amazing. Brilliant read :)
lurea_aure From: lurea_aure Date: August 13th, 2005 06:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm so glad you liked it! I really enjoy writing Frodo, to the extent that sometimes I get a little lazy with the other characters, especially Sam. ;)

Thankfully, my wonderful beta Notabluemaia keeps me from getting away with too much. I'm so glad Sam seemed in character to you! Thank you so much for reading and commenting!
hildigard_brown From: hildigard_brown Date: August 13th, 2005 02:10 am (UTC) (Link)
This was so beautiful... not to mention quite hot!! I already had my tissues out reading that last passage, but then you went straight for the throat heart with the "I will wait for you, Sam" and sent me right over the edge. **sniffs** Thanks, Lurea!
lurea_aure From: lurea_aure Date: August 14th, 2005 04:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
No, thank YOU! I really wasn't sure how this was going to end, and whether I needed to show any morning-after stuff or not. But then I hit that line, and had the sense to recognize that *was* my ending. ;)

Frodo is so gracious, even when his heart is broken, isn't he?? *loves on Frodo*

Thank you so much for reading and commenting!
abby_normal From: abby_normal Date: August 13th, 2005 01:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ack!! I don't think I've ever read a more moving 'might have been' before. What a lovely job you've done here! The story parallels are very effective and creatively done. I love how you've written the Sam/Rosie relationship, as well - too many times she is just badly portrayed but you've made her a decent person with whom the reader is sympathetic and who we understand and root for, while at the same time rooting for Frodo as well because... well, because he's FRODO!! *grin* Really, though - a lovely, bittersweet tale and I enjoyed it very much. Thank you so much for playing.
lurea_aure From: lurea_aure Date: August 14th, 2005 04:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad I played, too! :D Thanks for letting tardy me slink in under the wire, LOL. Notabluemaia and I have speculated several times on when a physical relationship would've been most likely to happen between Frodo and Sam. Of course, Rosie is difficult to integrate in any case, so this potion-mix-up was an interesting way to imagine it.

I was a little worried about how Rosie would come out so am very glad you found her palatable. ;) Thanks so much for reading and commenting, it really means a lot to me!
pearlette From: pearlette Date: August 13th, 2005 08:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
This lovely, sexy, sad story expresses very well the 'torn in two' dilemma that Sam faces. Writing Rosie in F/S can be tricky but you convince me of Sam's deep love for both his wife and his master, thanks to your sympathetic portrayals of the three main protagonists.

It's so bittersweet: Sam gives Frodo the love and sexual healing he has always longed to give and Frodo has always longed for, but it can only be for one night as both of them know that the honourable thing must be done. And it's not as if Sam doesn't love Rosie. He does.

Poor Frodo, so alone. :( It's so sad ... but at least his Sam came to Eressea in the end. :)

lurea_aure From: lurea_aure Date: August 14th, 2005 05:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know! Poor Frodo! Thank goodness for the hope the Professor gives us for Tol Eressea--otherwise the ending would be unbearable.

I'm so glad the relationships between the three worked for you. You're right, having Rosie in there is really tricky, because it's just difficult to reconcile an honorable Sam marrying her, after the deep love he's shown toward Frodo all through the books. Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Pearl. :D It really means a lot to me!
strangerian From: strangerian Date: August 26th, 2005 03:38 am (UTC) (Link)
This is very sad, but so well portrayed that it feels real. All the characters feel rounded and alive, especially Rose. The detail and the poignant writing, the "dreams" of all kinds here, make this vivid and believable.
lurea_aure From: lurea_aure Date: October 8th, 2005 08:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Disgracefully late reply, I know. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I'm really happy that you enjoyed the story, and super happy you found the characters believable!
elanorgardner From: elanorgardner Date: September 2nd, 2005 02:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Last to the party. My apologies!

I would really love to taste that wine. The descriptions make it sound delicious, really. Not only that, but the lovely side effects...

I do love that you portray Rosie as a lovely and loving wife and lover for her husband. And Frodo as thoughtful and considerate and as in love with the Shire as ever -- and as in love with Sam as ever.

Beautiful and bittersweet.

Thanks so much for participating in the challenge!

EG
lurea_aure From: lurea_aure Date: October 8th, 2005 08:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
EG, thanks so much for commenting! Sorry I'm so disgracefully late in acknowledging it. :(

I enjoyed writing Rose this way, and trying to show some of the strengths in a simple hobbit's character. We see the weaknesses all too well during the scouring and after, but there has to be strengths in even the plainest hobbit or this society couldn't have produced the hobbits we love. :) And I just love angsting out poor Frodo, he has such a talent for it, poor dear! :D
mariole From: mariole Date: January 24th, 2006 03:23 am (UTC) (Link)
I am dreadfully late in reading this, but I had to let you know how much I adored this story. It is gorgeous from beginning to end, perfect and loving in its mood, sad without being depressing. Just a marvelous piece of work. Thanks for sharing it.
rubynye From: rubynye Date: March 3rd, 2006 06:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I came here via the Golden Mushrooms, and I'm so glad I did. Like others, I'm really glad you wrote Rosie as sympathetic and complex, not the harridan so many seem intent on portraying her as, and I utterly adore your Sam, your Frodo, your Shire in general. This is a beautiful, truthful story that doesn't oversimplify anything. I'm glad you wrote it, and that I finally read it!
24 comments or Leave a comment