Author's note: These characters belong to the great J.R.R. Tolkien and I am but his humble servant. This is my first serious fic, so any suggestions or critism is welcome. Yes, this is Sam/Frodo slash; so if you don't like that kind of thing, don't read on! Rated R for sexual references/scenes. And a big thanks to my beta Tigerlily Brandybuck!

The Choices of Mr. Frodo

Chapter 1

Frodo Baggins sat at his desk, blissfully unaware that by the end of the day he would realize something that would change his life forever. He frowned at the manuscript in front of him. He was attempting to decipher the last passages of the tale of Eärendil. His cousin, Bilbo, had obtained the manuscript from Rivendell, many years before. The tale told of Eärendil, half elven, who had sailed to the Undying Lands with a Silmaril on his brow, hoping to persuade the Valar to help rid Middle-earth of the evil of Morgoth and his servants.

Frodo heard a sound behind him. Samwise Gamgee, his faithful gardener, was standing at his side. His cheeks were flushed and a smudge of dirt swept his cheek. "Mr. Frodo, I've got some taters for you," said Sam. He held out some dirt- covered potatoes in his grimy hands.

Frodo smiled. "Thank you, Sam. I could make potato soup for dinner tonight. Would you care to join me?"

Sam blushed. "I -- I would like to, sir. But, you see, I've been invited to Mistress Rose's house tonight for dinner."

Frodo laughed lightly, despite a growing feeling of nausea, "That's wonderful, Sam. I hear Mrs. Cotton sets a fine table."

"Will you be all right, sir?" asked Sam.

"Yes, yes, of course. I have this poem I'm attempting to translate and I suspect I shall be quite preoccupied with it." Frodo's tone was light, but Sam could tell there was something amiss.

"Well, at least let me make the soup for you, sir?"

Now Frodo frowned and his voice carried a hint of annoyance, "Sam, I am perfectly capable of doing for myself. You go and have a good time at the Cotton's. I swear, Samwise, you worry far too much over me."

"Yes, sir. I'd better get back to work, Mr. Frodo, them petunia's ain't gonna plant themselves."

"All right, Sam," Frodo said quietly.

"Right." And Sam turned and left the room.

Frodo stared after Sam, tears pricking his eyes. Why was he so upset that Sam was dining with Rosie tonight? Why was he troubled that Sam was spending so much time with Rosie? Frodo got lonely sometimes at Bag End, ever since Bilbo had left. Yes, that was it! Just a foolish need to have someone about.

Frodo knew Sam's birthday was coming up in a few weeks time. Not just any birthday, but Sam's coming of age. Once Sam had come of age he could ask for Rosie's hand in marriage. Frodo expected Sam would ask Rosie to marry him shortly after his birthday party. Sam was always blushing at the mention of Rosie's name, especially when he was teased by Frodo's cousins Merry and Pippin. Frodo wondered why all this made him feel like he had eaten too many mushrooms.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As the sun peeped out from the rain clouds, Frodo watched Sam out of the window. His muscled body was bent over, planting petunias in the rich soil of Bag End. His brown hands gently took the seedling and shook the dirt from the roots. He carefully dug a hole in the ground and pushed the seedling deep into the soil. Sam patted the ground smooth, then took the watering can and carefully wet the soil around the new plant.

Frodo found himself admiring Sam's rough, caring hands and his strong muscled back. His brown curls hung limply around his face, soaked in sweat from the hot sun. A light breeze ruffled his clothes and gently tousled the new plants. Frodo watched as Sam took another seedling and gently put it into the ground. Sam's hands stroked the seedling softly. Frodo blushed as he found himself wondering what it would be like for those hands to stroke him like that. He was sure that they would feel rough, but oh so gentle. Frodo turned away from the window, disturbed at these thoughts.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Frodo was sitting at the table smoking his pipe when Sam walked in. The sun was setting and bright pink sunlight was flooding through the window. A pot of potato soup bubbled on the fire. Standing there bathed in the sun's last colourful rays, Sam looked...beautiful! He had washed his face and hands, but soil still clung to his shirt and breeches. The sun had begun to turn his hair to gold this early April, and his skin had that healthy glow....

"I'm all done for today, sir," said Sam.

Frodo smiled. "Can you sit for a while? I'll make tea."

"Thank you, Mr. Frodo, but I best be gettin' home. Get myself cleaned up good, you understand. Thank you anyway, Mr. Frodo." Sam sounded a bit awkward.

Frodo sighed. He wanted Sam to stay more than anything. Frodo knew the thought was dreadful, but he didn't want Sam to go to Rosie's: not now and not ever. "Maybe some other time then," said Frodo. "I'm sure Rosie will be much more enjoyable company than a dull old bachelor like me."

"Oh, no, Mr. Frodo, don't say that. You ain't dull and yer certainly not old!"

"That's very kind of you, Sam."

"Well, it's the truth!" said Sam defiantly. He scowled and put his hands on his hips: no one was allowed to be unkind to his Mr. Frodo!

"Go on, Sam, have a good time," said Frodo. He bit his lip, trying not to let a tear fall and forcing a smile. He walked Sam to the door. Frodo looked into Sam's eyes. Frodo couldn't believe he hadn't noticed how marvellously brown they were.

"Please, give my regards to Farmer Cotton, won't you?"

Sam looked at Frodo curiously. "Are you feeling alright, sir? Might you be coming down with a cold or something?"

"No, I'm fine, Sam. Go on then, you don't want to be late." Frodo gave Sam a slight push out the door, ignoring the spark that seemed to travel though his fingers at the touch. Sam looked like he was going to say something, then decided against it and walked out the door.

"G'night, Mr. Frodo," Sam said cheerily.

"Good night, Sam," whispered Frodo. Frodo watched Sam walk down Bagshot Row, feeling more miserable than he had ever felt in his life.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Frodo lay in bed. He couldn't sleep. Images of Sam and Rosie flooded his head. Rosie laughing at a joke Sam had told her. Sam and Rosie walking through the fields, holding hands. Sam giving Rosie a goodnight kiss. The images made Frodo feel sad and angry. Why did he feel this way? Other friends of his had wed, and he did not resent it. Was he jealous of Sam? No, he didn't fancy Rose for himself. Of course she was very pretty and had a musical laugh, but he was certain he did not feel that way about her. The thought of remaining a bachelor did not upset him. Why, Bilbo had been perfectly happy for many years being a bachelor! Besides, Frodo had much work to do, and had a habit of taking off for weeks at a time. He did not have time for a wife and children. Truth be told, he could not imagine marrying any lass. Frodo much preferred the company of Merry and Pippin and Fatty and Sam than that of any lass.

Frodo found himself thinking of Sam's hands patting the petunias into the soil and the smudge of dirt on his flushed face. Sam always managed to get a smudge of dirt on his face and it always seemed to linger there the whole day. Frodo gave a slight gasp. Perhaps -- perhaps he is not jealous of Sam, but of Rosie. But he didn't like Sam that way, did he? Things like that were generally frowned upon. Why, Frodo didn't even know any folk who were that way. Could I be that way, he wondered. He had never before found any male hobbit attractive -- except for Sam.

Except for Sam.

Frodo sat up. He did like Sam that way. Frodo thought of Sam's brown curls, his large brown eyes and his stocky, well muscled frame. He felt a shiver of delight course through him. Frodo realized that he felt that way for Sam all these years. But, out of shame, he had hid those feeling deep inside. He remembered Ted Sandyman telling a group of young hobbits that only evil would come from that type of immoral thought. His feelings had not caused him any trouble until now, when he realized he is going to lose Sam forever. But, what could he do about it? Sam is going to marry Rosie. Frodo was not going to ruin Sam's chance of happiness just for his selfish desires. Yes, thought Frodo, he will support Sam's marriage to Rosie and be happy for him. He must bottle up these selfish thoughts, for nothing will ever come of them.

A thought came to Frodo and he found himself getting out of his bed and walking into the front hall, and over to the trunk. He opened it up; unsure of what he was seeking. Suddenly, he spotted it: a sealed envelope. Frodo took the envelope back to his room.

He sat on the bed and slowly opened the seal. A ring dropped into Frodo's palm. A golden ring, simple, unadorned. Frodo remembered Bilbo had told him he had found the ring in the Misty Mountains, many years ago. Gollum had owned the ring previously: a horribly wretched creature, who hated all light and goodness.

Frodo held the ring up, studying it. Gandalf had been so concerned over it. "Keep it secret," the wizard had said, "Keep it safe." Bilbo had used the Ring often, especially when the Sackville-Bagginses were about. It made you invisible. Bilbo had worn it many times and had seemed none the worse for it. Frodo found himself blushing furiously as he imagined putting on the ring and sneaking in to watch Sam and...what?

'Ash nazg durbatalûk, ash nazg gimbatul,' a cruel voice whispered in the depths of Frodo's mind. Frodo looked around. The room seemed to grow dark and threatening. Shadows crept across the walls. Frodo quickly tucked the ring back into the envelope and slid it under his pillow. That night he had strange dreams of flaming eyes and icy screams.

End of Chapter 1

To be continued...