In the Hayloft

"Sam, where are you leading me?"

Sam closed the door behind them and tried not to grin. "If you don't know a barn when you see one, Mr. Frodo, then you were out in that rain too long, begging your pardon."

"I recognized the barn," Frodo protested, though his voice trembled with suppressed amusement. "I'm merely not certain Farmer Cotton would approve of your, ah, borrowing his hay loft for immoral purposes." He frowned at Sam reprovingly. The laughter tugging at his lips and dancing in those blue eyes ruined the expression.

"Tom Cotton borrows it often enough," said Sam, unreproved. "And Tom loaned me a blanket or two as well, so the hay won't scratch your skin, sir." Tom had winked and nudged Sam when he'd delivered the blankets, and asked the lass's name, but Sam saw no need to mention that. Mr. Frodo would endure enough teasing when he returned to Brandy Hall this evening, from those who guessed he'd done more than take a long walk.

Frodo tched his tongue in mock disapproval. Sam paid it no mind. For all the nonsense Mr. Frodo talked, he took tight hold of Sam's hand, and followed Sam into the rain-dark gloom of the barn, first up one ladder, then another. Four days they'd been away from each other, and that was three and a half days too long to Sam's mind. Mr. Frodo apparently agreed.

When they reached the top of the ladders, Sam stepped aside to show Frodo the nest he'd made there: hay left over from the winter, piled up neatly with a few soft blankets thrown over, and over in the corner a bottle of Old Winyards he'd smuggled from Bag End. A tiny window set up near the angle of the roof let in gray light, but no rain.

Frodo let go of Sam's hand and laughed, a soft, husky sound. "Sam, you are perfection among hobbits."

"No more'n being prepared, sir." But Sam flushed with pleasure at the words, watching his master's reaction.

Frodo looked over at Sam for the first time since they'd come up the ladder, mouth open as if to say something more. If he did, Sam didn't hear it. Four days. Frodo's lips, deep pink as Belladonna Took's roses back in the garden of Bag End. Lips parted to reveal ivory teeth and deeper pink tongue and a mouth that tasted -- that tasted -- Sam couldn't properly remember that taste. Four days.

Frodo made a soft sound when Sam kissed him, but not of protest. He opened his mouth to Sam's tongue, and his hands fisted in Sam's damp waistcoat as if he were afraid Sam would run away. Not likely, Sam thought, and then he couldn't think at all, burning like grassfire.

*

"In here, Mr. Fredegar! The rain doesn't look like stopping soon, and I won't have it said I led you to your death of cold."

Rosie held the barn door open for Fredegar Bolger and thanked her lucky stars for this rain. True, her skirts and best blouse were soaked through, but now she'd an excuse not to bring him in to meet Ma and Pa. Instead, she had him all to herself. "I'm sorry," she said sweetly, closing the door behind them. "I hadn't meant--"

"It's all right, Miss Rose," Fredegar said gallantly, taking one of her hands and raising it as if he meant to kiss it, but then let go again as if he'd changed his mind or lost his nerve. "I'd not... expected the rain either."

Rosie smiled at him. His eyes didn't meet hers, but they didn't linger on her bosom either like some hobbits she could mention. He watched her lips instead, and looked hungry, like a kitten begging for milk. "At least we're out of it now," she said, fluffing her skirts in a vain attempt to dry them, or at least keep them from sticking to her legs. Freddy -- Mr. Fredegar -- had kissed her once before, a stolen peck at a dance two weeks ago. He had the softest, warmest lips in the Shire.

Fredegar blinked a few times, then grimaced down at his own clothing. "Out of it, yes," he said. "But rather wet still."

He spoke true: his fine yellow waistcoat and blue woolen jacket, linen shirt and dark breeches, all clung to him worse than her skirts and blouse did to her. A wicked thought came to Rosie's mind, and she spoke before thinking. "Then let's dry off."

She skipped to the ladder up to the hay lofts, and reached the third rung before she realized Fredegar wasn't following her. He still stood near the entrance, watching her quizzically. "Do you have a clothesline up there?"

"No," Rosie said, and fluffed her skirts again with one hand, shaking some of the water onto the floor. "Only the hay lofts. I thought -- if my brothers come in here too, they shan't catch us--" Doing what? She mustn't be too forward. "--leaving these things to dry," she finished lamely.

She thought Fredegar blushed, though she couldn't be certain in the rainy half-light filtering down from high windows. "No, of course not," he said in a strangled-sounding voice. He looked up at the loft above them, sighed, then came over to the ladder. "After you, Miss Rose."

*

Frodo at last tore his mouth away from Sam's, breathing hard. Sam tried to follow, but Frodo covered Sam's mouth with his hand. "Slow," he said.

"No," Sam protested, and pulled Frodo's hips in tightly, letting Frodo feel exactly how hungry four days of deprivation had left Sam.

Frodo's eyes went wide and dark, and he moved against Sam almost involuntarily, heat and hardness, proving he'd wanted just as much. But he shook his head nonetheless. "I know," he whispered hoarsely. "But it will be at least four more days before I can get away again. This will have to tide us ov-- ah!" (as Sam thrust up against him) "--over until then."

Sam sighed, and tried to think with more than what was between his legs for a moment. "Slow," he agreed grudgingly, the word muffled by Mr. Frodo's hand still on his mouth. When Frodo took the hand away, "I suppose this means you want us to take our clothes off, sir?"

Frodo stared at him for a moment, then stifled laughter against Sam's shoulder. "Kiss me, you fool of a Gamgee," he said, leaning back as his hands slid between them and down to Sam's waistcoat buttons, "and don't ask silly questions."

It took far too long to get waistcoats and shirts off. If Sam hadn't heard voices down below -- a young Cotton and his lass, belike -- he'd have cursed aloud at Mr. Frodo's frustratingly tiny buttons. Not that Frodo had any better luck with Sam's larger buttons, biting down on his lip and muttering angry words in two languages. The rain left buttons slippery and fabric tight.

At last Frodo pulled Sam's shirt free and tossed it over to lie on the hay next to his own shirt, both of their jackets and their waistcoats. "Enough!" he said.

"Stop, sir?" Sam gave Frodo his best innocent look.

"I said slow, but not that slow." Frodo let his hands slide slowly down Sam's chest, to hover around his waistband. "No, I mean no more wrestling with buttons for the moment. Our trousers..." He sighed regretfully. "Our trousers shall have to wait."

"There's still above the waist." And what a lovely above-the-waist it was, Sam thought dreamily. The pale light revealed creamy pale skin with dark rose nipples, erect now from wet and cold, begging for him to warm them up with his tongue...

"No," said Frodo, though his hands slid slowly back up Sam's chest as he stepped in closer. He sounded almost pouting. "I want to play with all of you." Down went the hands again, to caress Sam through the fabric. "Without wet trousers in the way."

Sam's knees threatened to give out. "I... take your meaning, sir." He tugged Frodo over to the blankets, so he could collapse onto them instead of just dropping to his knees. No advantage to that if he couldn't get into Frodo's breeches. No, no, above the waist for now, Samwise Gamgee -- ah!

Frodo followed him down onto the blankets, squirming down and closing his teeth on one of Sam's nipples. The feeling shot right through Sam, down to where Frodo's hand squeezed and stroked, and he bucked up against it. Frodo made a soft pleased sound, moved over and gently bit the other one. Sam heard himself make an inarticulate noise of his own, pleading for something.

Frodo let go, moved up and kissed Sam. The urgency wasn't there, this time -- every brush of Mr. Frodo's skin against Sam's chest sent a pulse of something through him, but not like grassfire any more. He could enjoy the kisses, the sweet feel of lips and tongue, the taste of Frodo in his mouth like flowers and honey, and the pressure of Frodo's body here and his groin against Sam's leg there and his thigh there, and his hands light as summer raindrops, touching everywhere he could reach. Sam tried to do the same, drinking in the feel of Mr. Frodo as if he were a blind man, smell of rain and hay in the air, gray and faded gold, and above both the sharp smell of Frodo's arousal mingled with Sam's own.

"Oh license my roving hands," Frodo murmured between kisses, "let them go between, around, above, below..."

Sam stroked the pads of his fingers down the inside of Frodo's arm, enjoying the way his master shivered. "Who wrote that?" Sam asked quietly.

Frodo's breath caught on a near giggle as Sam's fingers skated along his sides. "An -- an elf poet," he said, and moved against Sam restlessly, pressing down against Sam's thigh.

"Ah." Sam watched as Frodo sat up, straddling him. "You've been hiding in the library again, haven't you." Not a question: Frodo did that frequently when he visited Buckland, unless Merry or one of his other cousins pulled him out into mischief. But Sam had no mind for any answer, even if Frodo gave him one. Frodo tweaked one sensitized nipple, then drew a line down to Sam's waistband and set to work on those buttons.

*

"Would you like some help, Miss Rose?" Fredegar asked politely.

Rosie shook her head, and swallowed back a laugh. She'd heard muffled voices as they'd climbed, probably one of her brothers after all, hiding up in the upper hayloft himself with some lass. She'd no mind to attract that brother's attention, not now. "I've no sisters, Mr. Fredegar," she said, and began to unlace her bodice with quick, efficient pulls at its lacing. "I must dress myself, and undress too." Oh, dear, that sounded far too proud. Ah, well, she'd time enough to mend it -- they were trapped in here until the storm ended.

Water stripped off the lacing with each pull through the holes, but the string came loose nonetheless. Fredegar made an inarticulate sound that might have meant embarrassment, and looked around the loft as if trying to find something on which to fix his eyes other than her rapidly loosening bodice. He hadn't done more than take off his jacket and unbutton his waistcoat himself.

Perhaps, Rosie thought with a shiver of nerves and delight, she would have to be forward after all. "I don't mind," she said aloud.

"Mind what, Miss Rose?" Fredegar still wasn't looking at her.

"If you look," she said.

As he did look, eyes wide with bewildered surprise, she let the opened bodice fall to the loft floor atop the hay. With a quick twist and pull, she undid the knot that held up her skirt, and stepped forward out of that as well, leaving her in only blouse and petticoats.

Fredegar swallowed hard, then looked again, eyes slowly traveling from the curls on her head to the curls on her toes and back again. "You look... very nice," he managed to get out.

"Am I embarrassing you?" She didn't want to scare him away. She'd brought him to the barn precisely so her mother, ever-vigilant for possible husbands for Rosie, wouldn't scare him away.

Fredegar swallowed again, then slowly shook his head. As if sleepwalking, he shrugged out of his waistcoat.

Rosie hesitated. She wasn't quite certain what she was doing, nor where she wanted this to go. But 'a thing half-done is worse than not beginning at all,' as Pa said. She raised her hands to the lacing of her blouse's neckline, and watched as Fredegar mirrored her, his hands going to the buttons of his shirt.

She had hers loose first -- of course, he had far more to undo than she did. But she hesitated, hands fidgeting with her hem, and waited until Fredegar had all his buttons undone. Then Rosie met his eyes and pulled off her blouse over her head.

She emerged, shaking her head to try to get her hair out of her eyes, to discover Fredegar had dropped his shirt onto the hay. His eyes dropped again, and stayed there. Rosie felt herself blush bright red. She'd slapped other hobbits' faces for looking where he was, but with Freddy it felt... safe. No, not safe, she felt safe with her brothers, or perhaps with Sam Gamgee, who might as well have been one of her brothers. Freddy... she liked him looking there.

He looked up at last. He might have been blushing too, but she couldn't be sure, not in this light. "Trousers?" he asked.

Her blush would burn through her cheeks in a moment. But Rosie made herself nod once, and reach for the tie on her petticoats. A thing half-done -

*

Frodo tossed his breeches off onto the hay, but didn't crawl back on top of Sam immediately. Instead he stood there for a long moment, as if posing in the rain-gray light. Not that he needed to pose, as to Sam's mind Frodo was beautiful even if covered in Marish mud. Naked, erect, blue eyes burning into Sam like heart of flame as he admired Sam's nakedness in turn... Sam lay back on the blankets and stretched, arms over his head and arching his back cat-like as he did in the garden sometimes when he knew Frodo was watching.

Frodo's breath caught audibly in his throat, and he knelt down carefully next to Sam, hay crinkling under his knees. "What do you want to do?" he asked.

Sam licked his lips, considering. Four days... then he heard the murmur of voices again, and he decided. "Best be something that keeps our mouths quiet, if you take my meaning."

"Yes," Frodo whispered, voice still trembling with -- excitement? laughter? Sam couldn't tell, nor did he greatly care, for Frodo kissed him again, tongue sweet in his mouth, then deliberately shifted around so they lay head to toe.

Slow, Frodo had said, back when they'd just settled into the loft. Sam breathed in, tasting the smell of musk and sweat and the flower soap Frodo used. Then he opened his mouth wider and allowed Frodo to thrust in, even as Frodo bent down and took Sam into warm wetness.

Taste and be tasted, like a slow-shrinking spiral. The fire rose slowly now, with each dab of Sam's tongue, slow slurp of Frodo's mouth, or deep sucking swallow, careful thrusts in and out, careful not to choke, careful not to lose control... one of them would at last, but not yet. Spiraling up, up, breathing when he could, thrusting up helplessly against Frodo's clever tongue, salt and bitter musk on his own tongue fanning the flames.

Sometimes they could do this for hours, backing off whenever things threatened to end. But not this afternoon. Sam swallowed Frodo deep, and heard his master's muffled cry as his pleasure was pulled from him, pulsing into Sam's throat. Sam drank it, his own fire forgotten for the moment, then released Frodo. Frodo lay still for a moment, panting as if he'd run a race, then squirmed around once more and bent over Sam and --

Sam's eyes snapped shut. He couldn't watch, too close, too close. Frodo naked and aroused was beauty enough, but this -- the sight of Frodo Baggins kneeling between Sam's legs, dark curls half-veiling his face, as he closed his lips around Sam's erection -- could drive a hobbit to madness, it could. His release trembled in his hands, his legs.

"Sam," Frodo said, somehow clear even with his mouth full, and touched Sam just there as he took Sam deep in his turn, and release finally washed over Sam Gamgee.

*

The hay was rather prickly -- Rosie understood now why her brothers were always taking blankets into the barn, and why her mother always shook her head over it. But she didn't mean to stop and go get blankets. Not while Freddy's kisses made her head spin, slippery and intimate in ways she'd never imagined. Not while his hands, newly bold, explored parts of her she'd never thought about, and her hands touched everywhere of him she could reach.

"Rose--" Freddy backed off a bit, breathless. His voice trembled. "Oh, Rose, Rosie-lass, do you know what you're doing?"

"I'm finding out, aren't I?"

"That's not what I mean." Freddy sat up, which would have looked more dignified if they weren't both naked and if he weren't sitting between her legs, one hand still stroking her inner thigh. "I like you, Rose," he said, sounding uncannily sober. "But I don't want to find your father coming to my door with a skinning knife to tell me I've a choice between marriage or castration."

Rosie groaned. "How can you think at a time like this?" Her whole body ached, a pleasant, heavy sort of feeling. She struggled to sit up, too. "My mother showed me how to make the Tea, and I drink it every morning. And my parents don't know you're here."

"They don't?" Freddy sounded bewildered. The hand that had been on Rosie's thigh slipped so it lay between her legs, so she suspected he was hardly more than teasing.

"I wanted you for you," she said impatiently. "Want you, I mean. Not for some forcing you to a wedding."

One of Freddy's finger's pressed inside her, and her breath caught again -- until it hit something painful, tight and blocking. "You're still virgin, Rose," Freddy said.

"What of it?" Rosie grew weary of all this talk. She wanted his hands back on her.

Freddy smiled at her, the sweetest sight she'd seen since he stood before her naked and held out his arms. "So you deserve sheets, at least, for your first time," he said. "Not hay sticking you, and chaff getting everywhere."

"Does that mean yes or no?" Rosie squirmed a bit, trying to get him to move.

"For that --" Freddy removed his finger from her, "not yet. I'm a Bolger and a gentlehobbit and I shan't treat you that way." Before Rosie could do more than draw breath to shout at him, demand he not leave her hanging like this, Freddy's smile changed. Not sweet at all, this one: she'd never seen its like. "But I know a few other things we can do," he said. "Lie back, Rosie."

She lay back, and only barely remembered not to scream. Fingers she had expected, but not his mouth, not down there. If her brother hadn't been in the barn, she would have screamed. Even better, Freddy taught her how to use her hands on him so he panted and moaned and spurted all over his belly.

Given the choice, she'd have stayed there all night. But the rain had slowed down, and Freddy must leave before Pa brought the livestock back into the barn for the night. With a kiss goodbye, and a promise to somehow arrange another meeting, Freddy dressed again and vanished out the door.

Rosie dressed more slowly. She wanted to avoid her brother, if she could. She suspected his lass was already gone -- she'd caught a glimpse of someone slipping out the door, shortly after Freddy left -- but he was likely still up in the loft. She finished dressing, counted ten, and headed for the door as quick as quick.

Not quite quick enough, as it happened. The ladder creaked before she reached her goal, and she sighed and turned around to face the scolding she'd likely get. Brothers never wanted sisters to grow up.

But the dim light didn't reveal one of her brothers. It revealed Sam Gamgee, as tousled as she was, carrying a full bottle of something in one hand and with a piece of hay sticking out of his hair. He'd been visiting for the past few days, and Rosie's Ma had insisted he meant to court Rosie. Belike not, if he'd just been with a lover of his own, but that didn't make being caught any more pleasant. Rosie's cheeks flushed with embarrassment.

But Sam didn't tease her, or scold her. In fact, he looked as painfully embarrassed as she felt. Rosie plucked up her courage, went over to him, and brushed the hay out of his hair.

He blinked at her.

"The hay," Rosie said, pleased with how steady her voice sounded.

Sam blushed even more. "You've a bit sticking out of your waist, yourself," he said politely.

She did. But once she'd gotten rid of the evidence, she didn't know what to do. She stood and stared up at Sam.

After a moment, a smile tilted the corners of his mouth. He shifted the bottle of wine from one hand to the other, and offered her his arm. "I won't tell if you don't."

"Agreed," Rosie said, and returned his smile despite herself. She'd her Freddy, Sam his whoever, and not all the foolish mothers in the world would change that. She took Sam's arm, and together they went out into the rain.

end

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