Words and Words: A Thought

Sam was very quiet as we walked home, replying to my ramblings with only, "Yes, Mr. Frodo," or, "No, Mr. Frodo." I thought nothing of it at first -- it would not be the first time Sam has rolled his eyes at his master's nonsense, and he had admitted to a headache before we left for the Green Dragon Inn. But rather than nod farewell to me and go back to Number Four Bagshot Row, he followed me up the path to the door of Bag End.

I hesitated before I opened the door. Sam tends to be conscious of what he calls 'his place', far more prone to back off than to push himself forward, even after we became lovers. Either Merry and Pippin had roused him far more than I'd guessed with their wild stories, or else they'd upset him even beyond what his blushes and uneasy glances had implied. But I opened the door anyway, and let him in before me.

He didn't speak until we'd reached my bedroom: even then it was merely a muttered, "Excuse me, sir," as he brought me the lamp to be lit. I watched him as he carefully placed the lamp back down on its table. He refused to look at me.

"What's wrong, Sam?"

"Nothing, sir."

I could scarcely help smiling: Sam still faced the wall, standing stiff and awkward there as a scarecrow out of his beloved garden. "If nothing were wrong," I said aloud, going over to stand next to him, "then you would at least face me." I laid one hand on his shoulder, surprised to feel him trembling slightly beneath my touch. "What's wrong? Is it something Merry and Pippin said?"

"No, sir!" Sam looked at me then, his eyes dry -- no frightened tears, as I'd half-feared -- but darker than usual. "That is, not exactly."

"Well, come here." I closed my hand around his arm, tugging gently to draw him toward the fire and the two chairs in front of it. "Sit down and tell me what it is, if it's not Merry and Pippin."

Sam allowed himself to be tugged along and seated. "It's not them exactly, sir," he said, fixing his eyes on the fire as if afraid of meeting mine.

"Then what? The tales they were telling?"

Sam hesitated a long moment. "I don't know as I have words for it, Mr. Frodo," he said at last.

I sat down myself, curling my feet under me so I sat by Sam's knee. He popped up from the chair with a startled exclamation, and would have had me in there if I hadn't pressed him back down. "I'm not going anywhere," I told him firmly, and shifted so my thigh pressed down on his feet, so he wouldn't be going anywhere either, then rested my head against his knee. Sam made a surprised sound that was almost a laugh, then one of his capable gardener's hands came down and began tentatively stroking my hair. I restrained the urge to purr. Instead I closed my eyes and watched the firelight dance through my lids and waited.

"They spoke of it so casual-like," Sam said finally.

Ah. Now I understood. But I kept my silence for the moment.

"The Gaffer always used to tell me, some things oughtn't be talked over," Sam went on when I didn't interrupt. "You shouldn't tell every hobbit who asked what lass you liked, and still less should you brag if that lass let you kiss her. The lads always talked anyway, and the lasses too from what I heard once or twice -- but to me it's something private, if you take my meaning."

I reached up and stroked his calf, trying to tell him I was still listening without interrupting his train of thought. His breath caught, but his voice never wavered.

"I know Mr. Pippin had maybe had more drinks than he ought, and Mr. Merry shouldn't have encouraged him neither -- nor should you," Sam added, and tugged on my curls sharply. "But to talk -- to talk of things so--"

"He was teasing you, Sam," I said, when Sam's voice choked off into silence.

"He'd no call to do so," Sam said, voice more sharp than I'd ever heard from him.

"No, he didn't," I admitted. "I don't doubt he'll regret it in the morning." I rubbed Sam's leg again: the motion soothed my heart, even if not his. "I'm sorry they made you umcomfortable."

Sam said nothing for a long moment, hand resting motionless on my head, then, he blurted, "I'd not known -- that was possible."

"Didn't you?" I raised my head and looked up at him, a bit surprised: he was looking down at me, now, rather than staring safely off into the fire.

"I knew what -- a lad and a lass could do," Sam said, words coming in quick rushes of breath as if he tried to outrace his own embarrassment in speaking so. "But not that two lads -- what they--" He gestured vaguely with his free hand, as if trying to describe the motion in the air.

"Uncle Saradoc believes in answering questions," I said. "Once, just before I came to live here, Lotho claimed that Bilbo preferred lads, and Merry and I went to Uncle Saradoc and wanted to know what that meant."

Sam chuckled after a moment, much to my relief. "I don't doubt he told you everything, sir."

"A lot more than I wanted to know, back then," I admitted, and kissed Sam's knee, because it was there and convenient and Sam had begun stroking my hair again. "Though it's come in useful since."

"Is it really like that?" Sam asked.

"I don't know," I said. "For Pippin's sake, I hope so."

That was the crux of the matter. Originally, we had gathered in the back room of the Green Dragon Inn because Merry and Pippin were meeting there en route to some celebration in the West Farthing, and wanted to see me (and Sam) while they had the chance. But Merry and Pippin had been in one of their moods, which had led to Pippin having more ale than was good for him and to some rather frank discussion. Merry and Pippin had been lovers off and on for a few years now, and neither of them, especially when drunk, had any compunction about offering advice to Sam on exactly what he should do with me. Sam had accepted it with good grace at first, until their suggestions had begun to grow exotic, and supplemented with anecdotes from their own history.

"Do you want to do that?" Sam asked abruptly.

My own breath caught in my throat, something between laughter and a gasp. "I hadn't thought about it!"

"I... wouldn't mind, sir."

I looked up at Sam. He looked back at me, his eyes still wide and dark, and my automatic response -- I won't have you sacrifice yourself for me -- stopped before it reached my lips. "Which way?" I said instead, the words coming out more ironic than I'd intended.

"I don't know, Mr. Frodo," Sam said. His hand came down my hair to curl around my face, fingertips light on my cheek and across my lips. "I'd not thought about it either."

"I..." I could hardly think, with those fingers tantalizing me and the promise implicit in Sam's steady gaze. "I don't know what I'm doing."

"No more do I," Sam said, husky voice hardly louder than a whisper. "We've done well enough so far."

I opened my mouth and shut it a few more times, rejecting further protests -- what if I hurt you, do you really want this. My gaze fell from Sam's, only to see -- my eyes narrowed. I looked back up at Sam, and reached out to rest my hand on the tangible proof of his lack of arousal. "Tonight?" I said.

Sam didn't pretend to misunderstand me. "I thought -- with it being fresh on our minds and all--"

"Oh, Sam." I rose to my feet. "Here -- scoot over. No, don't get up, just -- yes, exactly." I wriggled into the chair next to him, so we were curled up around each other on the chair. I wrapped my free arm around him, pulling him even closer.

"Does this mean no?" Sam murmured. I could hear the relief in his voice.

"It means maybe," I whispered into his ear. "Maybe someday. Both ways. When you want to, not because Merry and Pippin can't keep their mouths shut."

Sam stroked my arm thoughtfully, then raised my hand to his mouth and kissed it. "Might be a while," he said.

"Then we'll wait," I said. "Now turn around so I can kiss you."

end

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