Fine Words

Mr. Frodo meets me at the gate of Bag End. He's leaning there and humming something I don't recognize, maybe one of old Mr. Bilbo's songs, watching the sunset with dreams in his eyes. He blinks as I stop beside him, and smiles at me. "Evening, Sam. Off to the Green Dragon?"

"I am at that."

"Then I'll accompany you." He pushed away from the gate-post and starts down the path, right beside me.

I could say no, just off for a stroll, and I'd get the same answer from him. Lately I've been thinking that I could say no, I was coming up to see you, and not get an answer far different. Not for reasons of being a good host, neither.

"You're looking very nice tonight, Sam." Mr. Frodo doesn't take my hand, but he looks at me through his lashes like he might as well have. "That vest suits you."

"Er... thank you, sir."

"Or maybe it's the light," he says. He reaches up and brushes his fingers over my cheek: they feel cool, probably because I'm blushing like some maid-child. "You're beautiful in the sunset, Samwise, fair and golden as one of your roses."

"I'm not a rose," I say, because I have to say something, and I don't want to say stop that even when he's being poetical and foolishness like this.

But it's the wrong thing to say, because he smiles again, and his eyes glint like they do when he's intent on some bit of mischief. "No, you're right. You're the sun herself, bringing life to my garden and my poor heart--"

"Sir!" I glower at him as best I might, but it only makes him laugh. And then we're into the edge of Hobbiton proper, so he can't keep up with his nonsense. He's flirted with me like this since I was old enough to understand and blush at it, but never in public. We're neither of us reckless enough for that.

This particular night, Rosie Cotton is helping out in the taproom she's been sampling her uncle's beer a mite too much. She smiles at me as I come in the door, she serves me first out of all the room, and every time I chance to look her way, she's watching me. Frodo's watching me, too, but that's no more than he always does. He sees more than most hobbits think, for all he keeps his nose in a book more often than not. Rosie, now, she sees what she wants to see, and perhaps a mite more.

And what do you see, Samwise Gamgee?

I try to look around me. Rosie's wearing a blouse cut lower than usual, lower than her ma would let her out the door with. The Gaffer frowns into his ale whenever she goes past, but doesn't say anything. It's not his place to tell Farmer Cotton what his daughter is doing, although anyone with eyes can see she's after something. After me, and shaming in how blunt she is about it, too.

Frodo's sitting next to me, leaned back against some pillar. He talks with his friends, but absently. Mostly, he looks back and forth from me to Rosie. Sometimes he tilts his head to one side, and it's like he's gone from this room, far into his thoughts, though he never spills his ale for all his thinking. Other times he catches me looking back, and his eyes fairly dance, like there's some joke we share. I think about asking him what it is, but this isn't the place for it. Not if it is what I think it is. Not in front of Rosie. I may not want to wed her, but that doesn't mean I'll stand for shaming her in front of everyone.

She says nothing, at least. I bid her farewell at the door, and Mr. Frodo behind me, and she only bids us good night in return, though her smile is special for me.

"Farewell, sweet maiden of the golden hair!"

I look back over my shoulder. No, Mr. Frodo's right there beside me: it's one of his friends, bowing over Rosie's hand as if she were the Queen. I give Mr. Frodo a wary look, because if Mr. Fredegar got that notion into his head on his own, then I'm a horned toad. "More romantical nonsense," I say pointedly. "If I never hear another word of that sort of overblown foolery--"

"Don't worry, Sam," Mr. Frodo says cheerfully. "Rosie knows a fool when she hears one."

I stop short and blink at him, because it's not about Rosie. "She does?" I sound a right nincompoop myself. But Mr. Frodo doesn't say so, he only stops and waits for me.

I don't say anything until we're well beyond the square, and then I burst out with, "I wasn't talking about Rosie."

"I know," Mr. Frodo says, tranquil as you please.

That near to stops me short in my tracks again. "You did?"

He slants me a look. This one's not amused at all, it's all serious and shadowed under his hair. "Yes."

"If... you know I'm not one for the fine words, sir... " These are dark paths indeed, and I don't dare put a foot wrong for fear of where I'll go when I fall. "...then why do you still use 'em?"

We're at the gate of Bag End now. Mr. Frodo sets his hand on the gate, but he doesn't look away from me. "Because it's safer so," he said. "Good night, Sam." Off he goes, up through the gate and toward the door, and leaves me gaping.

I go back home, but I don't even think about sleeping. There's too much that wants thinking, and wants doing once the thinking is done. I'm not as clever as old Mr. Bilbo, or Mr. Frodo himself, but I can follow a cat by its tracks, as the saying goes. So it's no more than a half-hour later that I'm headed up the Hill.

My steps slow as I approach Bag End. I can't well go banging on the door of Bag End, not at this hour. What would I say? I've loved him for years: that's not a thing that needed thinking. It's him I dream about at night, heavy-eyed looks and sweet smiles. Seems I've left it a bit late to realize he might be feeling the same, and hiding it behind fine words and foolery.

"Is something wrong, Samwise?"

I've stopped just outside his window. He leans on the sill, hands folded loosely in front of him, and in the pale starlight he looks fair enough to make me want to try my hand at poetry myself. "No, sir," I say truthfully, and rest my shoulder against the turf next to his window. "Nothing wrong. Only thinking."

"About what?"

"About... about fine words, like. And romantic notions."

He's silent for a little. Now I wish I had something brighter than starlight: I can see he's still there, but not see his face well enough to guess at what he's feeling. "Have you decided anything?" he says at last, still calm and collected.

I wet my lips. "I... I still don't think I'm beautiful, or any of your fancy elvish stuff, sir. I'd rather look at you than at me, if you don't mind my saying."

He turns his head to look at me, but he doesn't say anything.

"I'd rather look at you than at anyone," I say, plowing on as best I can, for all he's making the ground hard. "But I don't have the fine words for saying it."

I can hear him smile. "Rather me than Rosie?" he murmurs.

"By far," I say fervently, and he chuckles.

Then I feel his hand on my wrist, tugging me closer to him. "Sam," he says, hardly more than a whisper. "Sam, if you come to me -- are you certain?"

The fact of the matter is, I know what he's saying. I know I could still back away, laugh it off. But I'd be a coward to try, and an ass besides for doing it. I try to meet his eyes in the dimness. "I love you."

Frodo's hand on my wrist tightens until it hurts, and he makes a soft sound as if I hit him. For a moment I think oh no, I've done something wrong, I've done something -- and then he pulls me in toward the window, hard, and he's kissing me.

This isn't fine words and fancy nonsense. It's not even Rosie loosening her blouse to show just enough to lure a lad into her skirts. Frodo's mouth is open against mine, heat and wet and desperation as if he thinks he'll never kiss anyone ever again. It's all I can do to slow him down: my lips hurt when we finally break from each other, and stare at each other as though we never saw each other before in our lives.

"Sam." Frodo tries to laugh, but doesn't quite manage: his voice cracks so it sounds more like a sob. "Wise Sam. I love you more than life." And those aren't more of his compliments, because his eyes are wide in the darkness and he's still holding me hard enough to hurt. He lets go of my wrist. "Will you come inside?"

Another step, a new threshold. I step over this one too. "Yes."

He's closed the window and shut the curtains by the time I get there, and built up the fire. I'm not sure if that's to see better or to keep us from cold. In either case, he waits until I've shut the door, then sets his hands to his own buttons.

I don't say anything. I'm not certain I can say anything. He calls me beautiful, but the clean pale lines of his body, exposed in the firelight, look fairer to my eyes than any flower in my garden. I bite my lip to keep from babbling and trying to out-poesy Mr. Frodo himself at his most high-flown. He sees it, and smiles as he drops his shirt to the floor next to him, then holds out his hand to me.

I take it and let him pull me closer, then touch him cautiously. He meets my eyes for a moment, then turns his attention to my buttons. "I won't break," he says, hardly more than a whisper. "Go on."

I try to tell myself it's like touching a flower petal, and certainly his skin is that smooth and fair under my fingertips. But flowers don't breathe, so their breath can't catch when I touch them just there -- and they don't moan if I pinch them just there -- and they don't cry out when my hand slips lower than I meant it to, and I find proof that Mr. Frodo has dreamt of this just as much as I have.

Frodo grabs my wrists at that and makes me stop. "Sam, if you don't--" He's breathing hard, and he hesitates, although I can guess what he means to say. Then he goes on, and I'm proved wrong. "If you don't stop, I'll have to retaliate."

I lean in and kiss him. He tastes sweet as summer on my tongue. At first I think it's just my head spinning from the kiss. Then he pulls back, and I find that I'm lying on his bed, more than half naked. I try to sit up, and he pushes me back down. "Let me," he says.

I look up at him warily. "Sir?"

"You are beautiful," he says. "And I'm going to prove it to you."

To his mind, proving that I'm beautiful first involves getting off all my clothes. I don't protest too hard, although I can't keep my face from heating the first time he sits back and looks at me.

Then he starts talking.

It takes me a moment to catch up to what he's doing. He's describing me, from head to toe, and he's using the most glorious language I've ever heard, near Elvish-like, finer than any of the outrageous compliments he's given me before. My legs, my belly, my face, my arms, my hair: he whispers me descriptions that make me blush worse than ever. In between whispers, he touches whatever he's describing, or gently bites at me as if he means to eat me.

"Please," I manage, and push up against him. He's still wearing his trousers. "Please --" I scrabble at his belt. Fine words are all well, and given long enough I don't doubt he could bring me to release with just whispering some of those elf-words in my ear, but not this time. This time I want him with me, crying out my name and nothing else.

He helps me, although we hinder each other as much as help. At last he wriggles them off, flings them to the floor, and climbs back on top of me. I catch hold of his hips and squirm a bit, carefully, looking for the right -- oh, yes. There.

Frodo's eyes go wide, and he pushes against me. A little too hard, but I push back. Frodo whimpers softly, and begins a slow rhythm. Too slow. I try to get him to speed up. He says something, though I can't hear it now through the sound of my heart, pounding in my ears -- too quick, I think, and something about don't want to. But he does want to. His arms tremble on either side of me, and his eyes are dark and wild. I move against him again.

That's enough, and more than enough. He loses control, holding on to me so tightly I'm going to have bruises in the morning, saying my name over and over again as he moves against me. I keep my eyes open with an effort, because I want to see, I want to know what he looks like when... when...

I can't breathe. Every muscle is trembling. So close, so close, Frodo Frodo FrodoFrodoFrodo--

He's beautiful in release. Not like a rose or a sunrise or anything. I'm not much for fancy words. He's beautiful like Frodo, and that's more than enough for me.

He curls up on my chest as if I were some mattress, with no mind that we're all sticky. "I love you, Sam," he says again, clear as anything, and then falls asleep. I give up on the cleaning. We'll know better for next time.

Next time.

I love you too, Mr. Frodo. I close my eyes and follow him into sleep.

end

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