Wedding Nights

Hobbits don't believe in weddings. Not the way Big People do them, at any rate. Instead, the groom's family and the bride's family throw a party, as grand and splendid as their combined purses can afford, with perhaps some help from other interested folk (Bilbo Baggins was a notoriously easy touch, as was Saradoc Brandybuck). The bride and the groom themselves stay just long enough to accept everyone's congratulations, and then they sneak off -- to a favorite grove of trees, to an inn, to their new home or to their old one. There, in complete privacy, they exchange the vows of matrimony. There, in privacy, the marriage is consummated. The next time they emerge into the public eye, they are considered married.

***
I. In Privacy
***

By the shouts ringing out behind them, someone had caught Tom and Nibs in their attempt to sneak off with the wedding cake. Rosie sat back on the carriage seat, breathless with laughter and nerves, and smiled over at her betrothed.

Married.

She was almost married. To Fredegar Bolger.

Even now, even silently, the words still tasted unreal. Only Freddy's firm grip on her left hand kept her believing this was truly happening, the way the heavy silver necklace about her throat kept her anchored for the past few months. Married.

"Where are we going?" she asked, before she could tie herself into knots again. Now that she looked out the window, she recognized the trees and fields of her father's farm. Surely Freddy didn't mean --

"Not to your father's hayloft, sweeting," Freddy said, as if he knew her thoughts. "Romantic though it might be. I promised you sheets."

"I liked blankets on the grass well enough," Rosie said, and squeezed Freddy's hand to take away whatever sting might have lingered in her³Hwords. Her Freddy was kind and sweet as a hobbit might be, but he preferred his comforts. "Brandy Hall?"

"Never," Freddy assured her. "There's hardly a place less private in all the Shire. Although I did think of a little cottage the Brandybucks keep, over in Crickhollow."

"But you changed your mind," Rosie guessed.

"Yes," Freddy said with a sigh. "I realized what would likely happen if Merry Brandybuck knew where I was going."

Rosie giggled despite herself. The rumbling vibration of the carriage beneath her made her feel as if the knots in her belly had become butterflies, trembling about through her. "No, he wouldn't. Frodo Baggins would've stopped him."

"I don't know," said Freddy, looking at her thoughtfully. "I know a few tales of Frodo, at that. Once, while visiting Buckland -- this was before Bilbo Baggins adopted Frodo -- I made the mistake of asking where I could find some blackberry juice..."

One tale led to another. Rosie listened, and laughed, but all the while, a part of her wondered where they were headed, and why Freddy wouldn't touch her. Yes, he held her hand, but no more than her hand. He hadn't so much as kissed her cheek since he found her at the party. She'd just drawn breath to say as much when Freddy leaned forward and looked out the windows. "We're here," he said.

The carriage door opened on the courtyard of an inn -- a grand large inn, like the Prancing Pony in Bree more than the Golden Perch in Stock. Rosie did her best not to stare about her at the hustle and bustle of hobbits hurrying to and fro. She kept tight hold of Freddy's hand.

"I wanted to take you home," Freddy said, as soon as they were alone in the room the landlord assigned to them. Freddy took both Rosie's hands in his, but he didn't speak to her face: he kept his eyes down, as if her hands could hear him better than her ears. "I still do. But it's at least two days more to Bolger lands and I -- I won't wait."

"I wasn't asking you to," Rosie said. She tilted her head to one side, trying to catch his eye. "I don't mind." What else could she say? She searched her mind frantically. "It's, er, it's a very nice inn."

That startled a laugh out of Freddy. "I'm glad you think so," he said, sounding much more himself, and looking up at last. "But now I -- now that--" He broke off, and squeezed Rosie's hands so tightly it hurt. He let go immediately when she squeaked, and tucked his hands behind him. "I don't know what to say. I know we have to say something, some sort of vows, just... not what."

Rosie smiled at him -- he looked like a naughty boy, with embarrassment reddening his face and his hands behind him like that. She stepped forward and reached around him to catch hold of his wrists. "I asked my ma what she said," she confessed, looking up into those deep brown eyes. "She wouldn't tell."

"Rosie..." Freddy hesitated a moment, drawing in a deep breath. Rosie abruptly realized exactly how close she stood to her betrothed: she ³H could feel him, warm and solid, pressed against her, body to body. She could smell him, like cinnamon on her tongue.

She stepped away, feeling her own cheeks heat. "The vows," she said. Her voice sounded husky and dark, and here they hadn't even taken off any clothing.

"The vows," Freddy agreed, though he smiled at her momentary embarrassment. "Um..." He licked his lips, then reached out to take her hands again. "Rose Cotton, I ask you to share my food, to bear our children, to warm my hearth and to share my heart." He looked up, and Rosie couldn't have looked away from those eyes for all the Shire and more besides. "Will you?"

"I will," she said softly. Then before she lost her courage or her sense, she cleared her throat. "Fredegar Bolger, I ask you to share my food, to fill me with our children, to warm my hearth and to share my heart. Will you?"

"I will," Freddy whispered, and kissed her at last.

He stepped away almost immediately, after hardly more than a brush of lip against lip and the softest touch of his tongue. "I -- er -- I think the, um, bed is over through, um, there." He nodded toward a nearby archway.

Bed. Oh. Yes. Now Rosie remembered. Consummation. She took a deep breath, then tugged at Freddy's hands. He let her go, which wasn't what she wanted at all: she caught the hand closest to her in both hers, and pulled again. "Well, come on," she said impatiently, when Freddy didn't move. "You said you wanted sheets."

Freddy allowed himself to be tugged this time, mum as a ragdoll. Once Rosie got him into the bedroom, she turned her attention to his clothing. The flutterings in her belly hadn't subsided, exactly, but she could pay them less attention while she'd buttons and lacings to keep her mind occupied. Jacket, waistcoat, breeches -- smallclothes under the breeches? Whatever for? Ah, now she understood: once she'd pulled his shirt-tail aside, she could see Freddy was fully erect and leaking, so his smallclothes were damp against her fingers as she finished unbuttoning his shirt. She laid the shirt neatly aside, then knelt down to pull down the dratted smallclothes.

He stayed pressed up against his belly, even once she had the fabric down and out of the way. The smell was stronger down here, less like cinnamon and more like musk. Curious, Rosie leaned forward and took a lick.

"Rose!"

Rosie looked up through her lashes. If she'd thought Freddy was red before, he was twice red now, flushed and sweating like the heat of midsummer. "Is something wrong?" she asked. It came out husky again, knowing.

Freddy laughed, though it sounded more like a groan. "Get up here, lass. We've still to get your dress off."

Rosie stood up again -- but for all Freddy's impatience, he lingered over her ties and hooks. Rosie didn't mind a bit of a tease, the press of warm fingers along the edge of exposed skin, or the scrape of blunt fingernails with a muffling layer of cloth between, but this took it too far. "Freddy, what are you doing?"

"Trying to slow matters down," Freddy said. He pulled the last hook of her bodice free from its eye, so the stiffened fabric sagged low over Rosie's breasts. "It'll hurt enough, the first time. I'd rather..."

He hesitated long enough that Rosie turned to face him as she pulled her arms free of her bodice. "You'd rather?" she prompted.

Freddy opened and closed his mouth a time or two. "I'd rather your first time were more than just the pain," he managed at last. He reached up and caressed her face, two fingers down her cheek and along her jawline, light as summer's breeze. "I didn't wait for sheets just to end things with two thrusts and a grunt."

Rosie laughed despite herself, the butterflies overflowing. "Such fine words!"

Freddy smiled as well, but he waited out her giggles. "Let me touch you," he said at last, when she'd quieted again.

"You are touching me." But no, that wasn't quite what he meant, was it? "I'm yours to touch." She turned back around again, and swept her loose hair forward over one shoulder again.

She couldn't have said how long he took, in the end, before she stood naked in front of him. Not a part of her escaped him, from the tips of her hair to the tips of her toes. At last, as she lay back on the sheets, he touched her between her legs, a quick glide of his fingers through the wetness there.

"Yes, there," Rosie said. She tried to laugh, but she couldn't find the breath. It came out as a gasp as he did it again.

"It'll hurt," Freddy said. His voice sounded strange again, all tense and wavery.

Rosie forced her eyes open. Freddy knelt between her legs, and she could feel him trembling. But he still met her gaze, rather than look down at where he kept touching her, stroking back and forth.

"Don't care," she managed. "Just -- you."

She'd lost proper words somewhere, maybe with her clothes, and she wouldn't go back to try to find them. But Freddy seemed to understand her well enough. His hand left her at last. She would have whimpered at the loss of sensation, except he leaned forward, resting his weight on one elbow while the other hand fumbled somewhere below. And then --

Pressure. Odd thickness, not like fingers, not at all. Tight: it did hurt. Then Freddy backed off a moment, breathing hard. "Rose--"

"Please," she whispered. There had to be something more. He mustn't stop, not now.

Freddy groaned, and thrust forward again, a slow glide that didn't stop for tightness, didn't stop for pain, just slow and careful all the way inside. There he stopped again, trembling even worse than before. She could feel his hands clenched on the sheets beside her arms, feel the puffs of his breath against her lips, but she couldn't look away from his eyes, wide and dark.

"All right?" Freddy whispered.

She managed a nod.

He began moving again. The pain subsided, though she couldn't put a name to the feeling that followed. Not like the clear fire he'd given her before, with tongue and fingers. This was harder, messier, thick with blood and slow dragging sensation. She couldn't breathe, didn't want to breathe. More -- please, more --

Freddy groaned again, and his head fell forward, his face buried against her neck. His hips thrust hard against her a few times: the heat inside flared, then subsided into sullen coals as Freddy stilled, his weight heavy on top of her.

Rosie blinked rapidly, trying to keep back illogical tears. At last. This was right -- not perfect, no, but they'd time to get it done proper, with all the fireworks a lass could wish.

"Rose..." Freddy propped himself up again, caressing her cheek with the back of his right hand. "I'm sorry, sweeting."

"What've you to be sorry for? I wasn't objecting."

"I -- er -- because--" Freddy looked from the pillow, to her chin, to his hand, in a fine display of befuddlement. At last he gave up and chuckled. "You're more than any hobbit could wish for, Rose-love." And he bent and kissed her again -- not a quick kiss, either, but a slow, serious kiss that blew on the coals and woke them to smoldering again.

Rosie's breath caught. "Freddy?"

Freddy smiled down at her -- oh, she recognized that smile, the tell-tale twinkle that she'd seen first in that hayloft. A shift of his hips reminded her that he hadn't withdrawn after the first time. "Nothing says we can't do it a second time, Rose-love."

Rosie could only smile. She hadn't the breath for laughter. And in a minute, she hadn't the breath for anything except moans.


***
II. Sneaking Off
***

"No."

"But--"

"No."

Pippin leaned back on his elbows against the grass. His lips twitched as if he wanted to smile, or else was about to sneeze. "Merry--"

"The answer's no."

At that, the smile burst into being, bright as one of Gandalf's fireworks. "I haven't even asked anything of you yet!"

"You don't need to," Merry said, rather grimly. "I know that look." Wide eyes, mischievous grin... when Pip was younger, it used to be the prelude to 'hoy, Merry, I've an idea', and then off they'd go on to catch frogs in the Brandywine to let them loose at a dance, or run off and avoid a boring relation who didn't like young hobbits anyway, or whatever other nonsense they could concoct between them. These days, Merry could guess what 'idea' was rattling about in Pippin's brainbox. He'd read that letter. And until Pippin grew up a little more, the answer would stay 'no'.

"Then you're certain you won't help Frodo?"

"...help Frodo?" Merry turned his head to stare over at Pippin, next to him on the grass.

"Yes," Pippin said patiently, sitting up again. "Spring cleaning. Everything in Bag End out onto the grass. He wanted us to help guard it in case people thought he meant it for some sort of sale. He asked us last night, remember?"

"...oh." He didn't even remember seeing Frodo last night. He'd been too busy watching Pippin dance with one young hobbit after another, lads and lasses alike, and leaving them all laughing. He'd danced himself, he'd eaten, but none of that lingered in his mind.

"Merry? I'm going, even if you're not. He said he'd feed us."

Merry pushed himself up onto his feet, and forced a smile over private confusion. "Well, then. For Frodo's gooseberry trifle, I'd dare even the Sackville Bagginses."

*

"Merry?"

"Quiet, Pip. I'm concentrating." Merry grimaced at the splendid knot of twine in front of him. It was supposed to look like a fly, and attract fish. It just looked like a knot of twine to him. He must have tied it wrong, or else Folco had been pulling the hair off his toes.

"I've a question to ask."

Startled, Merry looked up. Pippin stood in the doorway, hands behind his back, watching Merry with an unwontedly seriously expression. Oh, no -- another letter? He still hadn't worked out how to react to the first one. "No," he said, and turned his attention back to his knot.

"You've gotten very hasty," Pippin observed.

Merry sighed, and looked up from his knot again. "What is it, then?"

"I wanted to ask you to go fishing." Pippin brought out from behind his back a bucket and the box of hooks and twine that Saradoc kept in pride of place in his study. "I don't think I can do it as fancy as Folco could, but--"

"Oh, bother Folco anyway," Merry said, pushing his chair back and abandoning his knot quite cheerfully. This was certainly a bad idea -- long hours alone with Pip -- but better than sitting here and wishing he'd dared go off anyway. "He was exaggerating, like as not. I've never known a Boffin who would recognize a fish before it was fried up. Where did you want to go?"

*

"Pippin?"

"Yes?" Pippin's voice fair vibrated with innocence.

They were somewhere in the Woody End. Merry was quite frankly lost. Pippin claimed to know where they were, but since they'd left the road an hour ago and not see so much as a puff of smoke on the horizon since, to signal a distant hobbithole, Merry had his doubts on the subject.

Of course, Pippin might have lost them deliberately. Just at the moment, Merry didn't mind a bit.

"I've taught you entirely too well, you scamp of a Took." Merry took a deep breath. "Why--" The words near choked him for a minute. Then he forced out the question that had haunted him for months now. "Why did you write me that letter?"

Pippin stopped short, rocking back on his heels to look up at the bright color of the leaves above them. Then he looked back down at Merry, a quick meeting of eyes before his slid away again. "So you'd know."

"I knew," Merry pointed out in mild exasperation.

"I hadn't said it," Pippin explained. He hesitated a moment, and put his head to one side. "Had I?"

"Not in so many words, no." A breeze whispered through the trees, bringing with it the smell of plowed earth and mown grass, and a teasing breath of frost. The apples would be ripe soon, Merry thought, and wrapped his arms around himself. "But that doesn't answer my question, my dear Peregrin."

"I told you -- so you'd know. So you'd have it in writing." Pippin shrugged. With his hands in his pockets, he looked as if he hadn't a care in the world. Merry might almost have believed it, if Pippin didn't keep his eyes fixed on the bright leaves, or the grass, or Merry's own jacket, or anywhere except Merry's gaze.

"Have it in writing," Merry repeated. "You've been around Frodo Baggins too much of late."

To his surprise, Pippin bristled, and met Merry's eyes at last. "You wouldn't answer my questions. Who else was I to ask?"

"Pip, I wouldn't answer your questions because--" Because why? Oh, that was the nasty problem, wasn't it? Because he was frightened, that was why. What a thing to tell Pippin.

"Frodo said--" Pippin cleared his throat and took a step closer to Merry. "Frodo said you wouldn't kiss me because you thought you couldn't stop."

Merry blinked. Twice. Then he felt a grin stretch his mouth. Wonderful Frodo. Wise Frodo. He'd have to kiss him next time he saw him, even if Sam looked at him strangely for it. "Pippin, how close are we to, well, anywhere?"

Pippin frowned at him. "We're two hours' walk from the closest hobbit-hole I know of. Why?"

"Because I've a mind to prove Frodo right. Do you still want that kiss?"

Pippin stared for what felt like a very, very long time indeed. Then he threw back his head and shouted with laughter. Merry felt like laughing himself, unreasonable joy tickling him like fish in the river. Instead, he leaned forward and cut off Pippin's laughter with his mouth.

Pippin didn't quite know how to kiss. He pressed back against Merry's lips, but he opened his mouth wide as if he meant to swallow Merry whole. Merry murmured against his mouth, soft instruction -- not so wide, that's it, keep still and let me come to you. But after that, he had no mind for talk. Pippin's lips parted for his tongue, and Pippin's mouth tasted sweet and slippery, and Pippin hummed with pleasure and tried what would happen if his tongue touched Merry's like this.

Better yet, Pippin let Merry pull him close, then closer yet, as they tasted each other. Pip smelled of fallen leaves and the mint he'd been nibbling earlier. Merry slid his hands down to Pippin's waist, then up his back. Pippin felt warm and real under his touch, not a dream, not a child. Not a child at all. Merry let his hands glide down to Pippin's bum, pulling him still closer, pressing his arousal against the bulge he could feel in Pippin's trousers. Pippin wriggled, and made another happy sort of humming noise as he pushed back.

Merry let go abruptly, and stepped back, breathing hard. Pippin frowned up at him, and reached to pull him back. Merry held him back with a hand to the chest. "Just a moment, Pip."

The crease on Pippin's forehead only grew deeper. "What's wrong?"

Wrong? "Nothing's wrong." Only his knees were about to give out under him from nothing more than a kiss. Only two more minutes of Pippin pressed up against him, just there, and his tongue in Merry's mouth, and Merry would spend in his breeches. "But I think... perhaps we should lie down."

"The ground's rather lumpy," Pippin pointed out logically. He reached out and trailed his fingers down Merry's chest.

"Pippin, either we lie down or we collapse. I collapse. I mean--" Merry grabbed Pippin's wrist just as Pippin pressed his palm flat over the reason why Merry was going to collapse. "Lying down," Merry said hoarsely.

"I like you like this." The tease actually squeezed.

This wasn't working. Merry tried again. "Yes, but if we lie down, then I can make you feel like that."

Pippin tilted his head to one side, as if thinking. His hand stopped moving. Then he looked up at Merry. "Promise?"

Merry's heart nearly broke. What gleamed in Pippin's eyes wasn't arousal or teasing. It was years of want and yearning.

"Promise," Merry said. "Here -- lie down. Yes, on the grass."

The breeze quieted in the leaves above them. Pippin sprawled out on the ground beneath one of the trees: his shirt was all rucked up, his trousers distended with his own arousal. Merry knelt down between Pippin's legs. Deep breaths, he told himself. His heart pounded, and every breath brought the smell of Pippin -- not just leaves and mint, but something stronger. He reached out and unbuttoned Pippin's trousers quickly, grateful that his hands didn't tremble in the task.

Pippin watched all this, then curled up and pulled at Merry's own trousers. Merry stayed still, clenching his hands on the urge to hurry Pippin. He'd lost his patience. Just a kiss and -- oh, Frodo hadn't known how right he was, just one kiss and --

"Well?" Pippin lay back against the grass again and wriggled. His clothes were all pulled awry, his trousers half-way down his thighs. He smiled up at Merry.

Merry pulled down his own trousers, then lay down on top of Pippin and kissed him again. Just like -- yes, like that. Sliding pressure, slow thrusting of his hips against Pippin's. Pippin caught his rhythm immediately, pressing up against him and whimpering quietly. A little more, just a little more...

Pippin wailed in his ear, and Merry squeezed his eyes shut as release thundered through him. Pippin, Pippin, Pippin -- did he say it, or only think it? He couldn't have moved, not if the entire Shire suddenly decided to parade past them. And Pippin was warm under him.

"I am not your mattress, Meriadoc."

So much for that idea. "Didn't think you were, Pip." Merry made himself roll off Pippin, upon which he discovered his belly was covered with, well, rather a mess, and most of his clothing was sticking to him uncomfortably besides. Pippin likely had it worse, what with fallen leaves and dirt. "Ugh," Merry said aloud. "Next time you seduce me, I vote for it being in a bed."

"I seduced you?" Pippin abandoned his attempt to pull his trousers back up, and stared at Merry. "Who demanded I kiss him?"

"You asked me to do it!"

"You brought it up!" Pippin finished pulling his trousers back into order, not without several expressive grimaces. "Next time I'm bringing along a handkerchief."

"Oh, for -- here."

"Well, it's too late now, isn't it? Use it yourself." Pippin's frown shifted abruptly to that tell-tale mischievous grin. "Besides, it's only two hours to that bed you wanted."

"Whose hobbit-hole is this that's only two hours away? I think you're making a lot of unwarranted assumptions." But Merry wiped himself off with his handkerchief anyway, did up his trousers, and followed Pippin toward that promised bed.


***
III. Generally Acknowledged
***

If Bilbo preferred to do the cooking, Frodo insisted on helping with the washing up. Thus, the evening before his birthday, Frodo stood in the kitchen of Bag End, wiping plates and discussing Elvish translations with Sam Gamgee. Well, to own the truth, Frodo discussed Elvish translation, and Sam listened, with little more contribution than a nod or shake of his head, and a smile at Frodo's frustration over the occasional word in Sindarin that simply would not translate properly. The cookfire still crackled invitingly, and the smells of stewmeat and spices lingered in the air.

Then Sam turned from his tureen of soapy water and said, "What's it like?"

"What's what like?" Frodo ran over the last few things he'd mentioned. Genitive absolute? Battle? Translating Elvish at all?

"Being on the--" Sam made a rude gesture, reddening as he did so. "On the receiving end, if you follow me."

Frodo opened his mouth, then shut it again. Then he very carefully set down the pot he'd been wiping. "It's... er... it's..." Pain that promised pleasure, slow stretch and fullness. Sam's grip tight on his hips, and the knowledge that it was Sam deep inside him, Sam's quiet groan in his ear as he moved. Fire struck through him with each thrust and unexpected friction. "It feels good," he said lamely.

"Begging your pardon, but I knew that much." Sam reached out and, with damp fingers, pushed Frodo's hair back behind his ear. "You've made it plain enough you like it."

And so do you like loving that way, my Sam. Frodo could see the memory sparked behind Sam's eyes. Frodo chuckled, then leaned forward, molding his mouth over Sam's.

Sam opened to him gladly, tongue and lips and body close against Frodo's. But when Frodo broke from him, breathing hard, Sam said, "We've still--" He swallowed hard. "The washing-up, sir."

Frodo glanced around and nodded, smiling ruefully. In that haze of arousal, he'd pressed Sam up near the tureen of washwater. Only luck saved Sam from wet, soapy breeches. "The washing-up," he agreed. "And then some place where Bilbo is not likely to walk in at any moment."

Sam muttered something that sounded like nor my Gaffer neither, but he said nothing more on the subject. They continued washing and wiping for a few minutes more. Then Frodo asked, attempting to sound casual, "Why did you ask?"

"No more than knowin'," Sam said. He glanced at Frodo sidelong. "And on account of your birthday tomorrow."

But not another word could Frodo get out of him. Sam turned the conversation back to translations of the Elvish, and there it stayed despite Frodo's best efforts.

*

"What's going on between you and young Samwise?"

Frodo raised his glass of wine, hiding a wanton smile behind a sip of his favorite vintage of Old Winyards. "Are you certain you want to know, uncle?"

"I'm a bachelor, my lad, not an innocent," Bilbo informed him, keeping his voice low enough that none could overhear this conversation over the merry music being played across the field. "I've seen an inviting look or two in my time, and it doesn't take the eyes of an Elf to notice Sam's hardly looked away from you all afternoon."

Frodo flushed, and set down his glass. Bilbo didn't sound condemning at all. True, he'd had a year to grow accustomed to the notion, but this was more than Frodo had hoped. "It's, er, private games," he said apologetically. Sam, turning over for him, wanting it -- no, mustn't think about that now. "I hadn't realized we were that obvious."

Bilbo hmphed. "You're not. But you've not kept it a secret, either -- oh, don't flinch, lad, it's not common gossip down at the Green Dragon, nor will it be after this. The only folk here are your friends and mine, and they know better than to indulge in idle talk."

Bilbo sounded bitter as he spoke of idle talk and common gossip, near to angry. Too strong for mere protection, even of a beloved heir. Frodo frowned in thought, then swallowed back a laugh as he suddenly remembered. "Idle talk, uncle? Does this have anything to do with that old story I heard about you kissing a dw--"

"Enough!" Bilbo cried, the clouds on his face clearing. "Off with you!" He lowered his voice again. "And take your Sam with you! He looks as if he wants to eat you with a very small spoon -- go put him out of his misery."

Of course it was not so easy as that to escape from his own birthday party. Everyone wanted to greet him again, and wish him a happy birthday. Merry winked, and offered to eat his portion of the cake. Fatty clapped him on the back. And Estella Bolger, of all hobbits, she whom her brother claimed was sweet on Frodo, dropped him a curtsey and told him to be good to Samwise.

Frodo kissed her hand. "I would sooner give up trifle, Miss Bolger."

"Good," she said, and dimpled at him. "Happy birthday, Mr. Baggins."

Frodo was laughing as he reached Sam. Sam looked from him to the crowd and back again. "Something wrong, sir?"

"Nothing at all," Frodo said, taking his hand. "Have you been given your gift yet?"

"...no, sir." Sam glanced at the crowd again significantly.

"Here, then." Frodo tugged him toward the path up to Bag End. "Bilbo told me we were fooling no one," he added more quietly, into Sam's ear. "He bade me take you off and tup you before we burst. I'm only sorry I didn't think of it."

Poor Sam didn't know where to look: he muttered something about more public than I meant. But he led a round-about way up to Bag End.

*

"You're right sober."

"Over-thinking," Frodo admitted. Why had Sam worn a jacket? Surely it wasn't that cold out. He tossed the vexing thing aside. And why had Sam buttoned his waistcoat all the way up? He wanted Sam without clothes, and now.

"Impatient, more like." Sam captured Frodo's busy hands in both his, and held him still until Frodo looked up and met his eyes. "It'll keep long enough to take these clothes off," Sam said gently. "I want this."

Frodo tried to laugh. "I'm sorry, Sam. I don't doubt you, it's only--" Only that he couldn't stop thinking about it, now that Sam had put it into his head. Couldn't stop imagining what it would feel like.

"Don't you apologize," Sam interrupted, letting go of Frodo's hands again. "It's no more than restlessness and wanting."

Yes, Sam would know -- how often had Sam begged for Frodo's touch in the past year, his wanting firing Frodo's? Frodo went back to unbuttoning Sam's waistcoat. "You make me sound like a very small lad who can't wait to unwrap a birthday present."

"It's your birthday," Sam reminded him. "And I'd look a right fool in naught but a ribbon around my, er--"

"Waist," Frodo suggested innocently, and laughed for true at Sam's glare.

As was the usual illogical way of things, the undressing went much more quickly once he stopped trying to hurry it. Frodo knelt beside the bed to draw Sam's breeches down off him, then let his eyes and hands drift upwards. He'd never tire of this, of the warmth of Sam's skin beneath his touch, of the way Sam moved restlessly when Frodo's fingers lingered in certain places.

"Frodo?"

"Shh." Frodo leaned forward and licked along the line that divided leg from torso, a broad swipe of his tongue. Sam tasted of salt sweat and something else Frodo couldn't identify, a faint flavor of Sam-ness. Sam whimpered, then whimpered more loudly when Frodo set his teeth there in a gentle scrape.

He hesitated a long moment over Sam's arousal, then moved on. There were other delights to be savored first. Not quite exploration: over the past months, Frodo had touched and tasted every bit of Sam. He knew that the scrape of fingernails over Sam's belly made Sam's breath catch in something between laughter and a flinch, that Sam roused to rough pinches and bites at his nipples, and that neither of them could ever get enough of each other's mouths. Slow kisses, Sam's tongue in his mouth, wet and lazy as a summer's swim in the Brandywine; quick kisses, brush of lips over Sam's light as dreaming. Frodo crawled up onto the bed, braced himself over Sam, and took the kiss he'd wanted back in the kitchen.

His head spun -- no, that was his entire body spinning, pinned beneath Sam's weight. Sam smiled down at him. "Lie back," he said softly.

"Sam--"

"It's all right." Sam gently pushed forward, proving that their play -- or else the long anticipation -- had him as roused as Frodo. "Well enough, at least."

"I don't want 'well enough'."

"Then show me." Frodo felt something pressed into his palm: he looked over to find the balm they'd used before for this purpose. "Show me," Sam whispered again, and went up on hands and knees over Frodo.

It was near as awkward as the first time they'd ever lain together -- bumping into each other, moving too fast or else too slow. But Frodo managed to work two fingers in deep, and Sam successfully smoothed the slippery balm over Frodo's arousal, caressing it until Frodo had to stop him. At last Sam knelt up over Frodo and slowly, slowly, pressed down, taking Frodo inside himself.

Frodo's eyes slid shut. Ah -- oh, there weren't words for this! His gasp slowed into a soft moan, near sobbing from him as the last few inches slid home, buried to the root in his Sam.

Frodo felt the touch of warm fingers stroking his belly, soothing and distracting him from the overwhelming sensation, and heard Sam's voice -- I love you. The words, still so new and precious between them, brought his eyes open again. Sam watched him intently: the gold of his hair was darkened with sweat, and Frodo could feel his thighs trembling. His arousal had faltered a bit -- he hadn't given himself time to adjust as he took Frodo inside, it must have hurt.

"Sam," Frodo whispered. He hadn't the breath to say the words back to Sam. Instead, he caught one of those caressing hands in his and squeezed it, then let his hand drop to Sam's thigh.

Sam licked his lips, then shifted his weight, the slightest movement of up and down. "More." It came out almost as a question, Sam's voice rough and dark.

"More." Frodo pressed up, the slightest hint of friction, and Sam's eyes went wide. Frodo felt the stir of returning arousal beneath his palm: he retreated, then thrust up again, watching Sam's expression. "Please, Sam."

The pain faded from Sam's face soon enough, as they found the right rhythm. By then, Frodo trembled as hard as Sam: between the tight heat into which he thrust, and the sound of Sam's pleasured moans, he had to bite his lip hard to keep from losing control before his Sam. Just a little harder, a little faster -- Sam's breath catching, every muscle clenched as if he meant to pull Frodo's release from him by force -- and then the fire roared through Frodo. He thrust up into Sam hard, spending deep inside, even as Sam's own seed leaked onto his belly.

Afterward, they curled up next to each other on Frodo's bed. Frodo wondered lazily if it were evening yet, or if he should run down to the kitchen to fetch wet cloths. From past experience, if they didn't wipe up immediately, they'd wind up falling asleep this way, and would wake up all sticky and smelling of their loving. Poor Bilbo would have to make their excuses to everyone.

Sam murmured in his sleep, and pulled Frodo closer. The words weren't clear, but they didn't need to be.

And I love you, my Sam. Frodo smiled, and closed his eyes. Tomorrow morning would be soon enough for cleaning.

– end –

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