Title: What Fool Invented Kissing
Author: Fennelseed (fennelseed99@netscape.net)
Pairing(s): Frodo/Sam, Frodo/Merry
Rating: R
Summary: Frodo's goodnight kisses are starting to have a serious effect on Sam.
Just a traditional F/S slash-on-the-quest fic.
Disclaimer: Characters are Tolkien's, not mine; I get nothing for this except
very lovely fan mail.
Author's Notes: Title is from Jonathan Swift: "Lord, I wonder what fool it was
that first invented kissing!" Story is told from Sam's point of view
(obviously).

"I'll never get any sleep on this trip," I complain. There's been a root or a
rock or some lumpy thing in my back every which way I turn, and I haven't been
hesitating to let Mr. Frodo know about it.

"Neither will I," he answers, his voice all slow with sleepiness. Sounds like
maybe he's smiling, maybe teasing me, but I can't be bothered to care right now.
If I don't get to sleep, I'll be groggy tomorrow and then I mightn't be able to
watch out for him the way I should. But the more I tell myself how important it
is to sleep, the more awake and uncomfortable I get.

Frodo's turning over to face me, lifting himself on his elbows, smirking at me.
I feel a little guilty for sighing and making such a fuss. I look away.

But now he's pulling himself across the ground and his head is right over me,
his legs dragging behind in the bedroll. "Of course you can't get to sleep," he
soothes. "You haven't had your goodnight kiss."

And in the second when I lie there staring at him in surprise, he leans down and
kisses me, right on the lips. Not a big, dramatic, silly kiss like he might do
to tease young Pip, neither. It's affectionate; sweet, you might say. As if
we'd been kissing each other like that for years - which I can promise you we
haven't.

I'm so surprised I've not even moved my lips, and then he's smiling at me and
whisking himself back to his bedroll. He flops down just as before, his back to
me.

No chance I'm going to sleep now, that's for sure.

***

He's given me goodnight kisses before. I remember very well the first one. I
was just twenty-nine, and it was Tom Cotton's birthday, and I was walking Mr.
Frodo back to Bag End. As it was a fine spring night, he leaned on his gate a
while and chatted with me. Then I yawned, and he yawned too, and he put one
hand on the latch.

His other hand swung out and caught my arm, casually. "Thank you for walking
back with me, Sam," he said.

"You're welcome, sir," I was saying, when he pulled me a step closer, and pecked
me a kiss on the cheek. Just like you would to a favorite sister.

"Goodnight," he said. He smiled, patted my arm, and went sauntering up into his
hole.

I staggered home, honestly not knowing right then why I felt so light on my
feet.

Didn't take long for me to work it out.

Back then, I didn't think the kind of thoughts I think now. Back then, I knew
he was good-looking, I knew he was the smartest and the kindest fellow in my
acquaintance, I knew he treated me better than just about anyone else did - I
perhaps even knew I loved him, in my way. But I wouldn't never have thought of
him without clothes on, or thought of how he might touch me if he was in a
certain kind of mood, or thought of what he might do by himself if he was in
that mood.

Then last year, in May, I saw a flash of a glance he gave Merry, when Merry had
told us a dirty joke and we were all laughing. It wasn't that he was interested
in Merry; it wasn't that kind of look. It just showed that he *knew*. He knew
all about the kinds of things that joke was telling. He knew those feelings and
he knew they were grand. He knew them well enough to laugh like that, and to
throw Merry a mischievous look.

It made me think maybe it was all right, maybe it wasn't inappropriate, for me
to think of him that way. As soon as that thought jumped to mind I fair
panicked, and pushed it straight out, but now the lock was broken. Now those
thoughts kept coming back and there was no stopping them.

Him kissing me goodnight some evenings didn't keep them far from mind, either.
He didn't do it often; only when no one else was about; and he would only kiss
my cheek, never my mouth. He always said goodnight just after, and said it so
normal that you couldn't think anything was wrong or naughty about what he'd
done. I half wondered whether this wasn't a custom in Brandybuck Hall (except
I'd never seen Merry do it, and then if it was a custom why would Frodo only do
it when no one else was there?).

I hadn't the courage to kiss him back. At night, in my bed, just imagining
myself doing something so bold would make me hot and shaky, and I would have to
get my hands under my nightshirt and do things that would both calm me and
excite me, thinking of him the whole time.

Not a chance that I'd ever tell him how I felt, I thought. Not a chance that
I'd do anything as daft as that.

***

Then these strange occurrences started happening, strange rumors from outside,
Gandalf returning and telling us about the Ring.

Leading up to me lying out here with Frodo.

Now he's kissed me for real, for the first time ever, and I haven't any idea
why.

**Rivendell**

None of my nightmares could have prepared me for the last few weeks. It's a
wonder I'm still walking. It's a wonder any of us are. I'm here surrounded by
Elves just like I always dreamed of being, and instead of having a glorious time
I'm weak and trembling.

He's all right, now. He finally awoke. They're sure he's going to mend, though
that scar won't ever leave him. He's a strong one, they said. They don't need
to tell me; I know it more than anyone. What maybe no one knows is that *I'm*
not half as strong as I seem. I nearly died myself, that night Strider said he
couldn't do a thing to heal Frodo, out in those horrid dark woods, with those
Ringwraiths screaming far off in the wind.

But I've promised myself, no more dwelling on that.

Now he's awake and walking next to me, and we're alone for the first time in
weeks. It's just reaching twilight, and we're under some aspen trees, by a
waterfall, and he's having me tell him everything that's been going on in
Rivendell.

Finally we go quiet, and he says after a spell, "It does seem ages since I've
got a goodnight kiss from you."

My heart bounces suddenly against my ribs, and I can't answer.

"Come to think of it," he adds, "you never have kissed me goodnight. Have you?
Or did you see to that while I was sleeping?" He turns and smiles.

"Course not," I say. "As if I'd do anything like that while you were..."
Unconscious and on the brink of dying. I can't say it, no more than I can bear
to think of it.

"Mr. Samwise..." he chides, and links his arm in mine. "I wouldn't have been
angry if you had."

Once in a while, he calls me "Mr. Samwise," as if to tease me for being
respectful and calling him "Mr. Frodo." For a while there, I thought I might
never hear him say it again.

Suddenly there are tears in my eyes.

When I don't answer, he looks closer at me. "Sam, what's the matter?" He
sounds sweetly upset, like he's startled and sorry. "I was only teasing. Sam,
don't..."

I shake my head, meaning he hasn't done nothing wrong, and squeeze his arm. We
sink down onto a bench that's there under the trees. I clear my confounded
throat and finally speak. "I said to myself that if you woke up...I'd tell you
this and I wouldn't let nothing stop me..."

"Tell me what?"

I've rehearsed saying this often enough, in my head. I've begged and pleaded to
Elbereth or whoever's listening that I would get a chance to say it before he
died. But that's all much different than having him right here, awake and alert
and looking at me. Try saying "I love you" when someone with those eyes is
looking at you like that; I dare you to try. You just can't.

But now I've got to say something, and it had better be good or he won't believe
me; he'll ask me what I *really* wanted to say.

So I have another look at his mouth, at the cut of those lips in the sunset
light, and I say, "I've been meaning to tell you that goodnight kisses are going
to be a two-way affair from now on, no matter what you may have to say about
it." And I smile, my best attempt at being something like "impudent," so he can
choose to think I'm just having a bit of fun, if he likes.

He laughs. "You had me worried for a moment!" He throws his arms around my
neck, and we're hugging like happy childhood friends. The fresh smell of his
skin under his collar (where my nose lands), all healthy and alive again, makes
me feel lightheaded.

Then he rises from the bench and beckons me back toward the houses of the Elves.
"Come on, then. Nearly time for supper."

***

It's several hours later. We've just been led back to the large chamber we
share, and the Elf who showed us there has left us. The door is closed behind
him. Frodo tugs off his waistcoat, yawning, and flings it over a chair in the
careless way he has when he's home at Bag End. He sits on the edge of his bed
and pulls one knee up so he can scratch the top of his foot.

Merry and Pippin have beds in this room, too, but they're still out at the
moment. I'm very shy, suddenly; the two of us all alone in a bedroom. I turn
away and start unbuttoning my waistcoat.

"Mr. Sam-wise," Frodo sing-songs. I look over my shoulder at him. He holds out
a hand like he wants me to take it.

What else can I do? I come forward and let myself get within reach. He clasps
my wrist and draws me in, saying:

"You said you would participate, a little."

"In what, sir?"

He rolls his eyes. "A goodnight kiss, *sir*. Come on, don't be shy. It'll be
over in about two seconds."

If he touched me a certain place, it probably *would* be over in about two
seconds. I'm glad the candlelight is so dim or he might notice.

He's still sitting on the bed, and I'm standing before him; our knees are
touching, and our noses almost. We're just inches apart, and he's got me around
the waist with both hands. He brushes my cheek with his nose. We breathe like
that for a few seconds, then his mouth stretches into a grin. "Well?" he asks.

How can I do anything else, when he's drawn me close like that, when he's fairly
commanding me to do it?

I tilt my face a bit and capture his lips with mine. We stand there awkwardly
for a moment, then he relaxes and breathes out through his nose. The very air
from him smells sweet, and makes me want to open my mouth to drink more. So I
do. And so does he.

And all of a sudden this is definitely not a kiss you would give your sister.
We're kissing like the couples who slip off into the trees at a village dance,
like a lass and a lad twenty years old and doing it for the first time. We're
still awkward, but my lips have turned all hot, and so have his, and we both
seem out of breath.

We break it off at the same second, and I pull back an inch - it won't do to
have him feeling how hard he's got me, and his knee is awful close there. Also
Merry and Pippin's voices are coming nearer, out in the hallway.

"Well," Frodo says, and his voice is cheerful but a mite shaky. "Soon we'll be
home, and things will be back to...somewhat normal."

I nod, and pretend to agree.

**Moria**

But that isn't how it goes.

Within days we're out on the road again, an even larger bunch of us than before,
and we're not going home at all; we're going to Mordor, the last place in the
world I ever wanted to see.

Now Strider or Gandalf or someone is always watching us - watching *him* - so
there aren't many chances for goodnight kisses. And Frodo's worried, as
naturally anyone would be in these circumstances, so kisses probably aren't on
his mind the way they're on mine.

I know it's stupid to think of him touching me, to daydream of giving him the
kind of pleasure I've so far only given myself, when all around us is danger and
fear and horror. But that's just it. It's my way of holding onto what's
beautiful in life. As long as I've got warm blood in me, I hope I can make it
warmer by thinking of him.

Tonight, in these awful mines, he comes and sits beside me while the others
rest. He takes advantage of the shadows by leaning over and kissing me nice and
slow on the side of my neck.

Though I'm supposed to be keeping watch, I turn and do it back to him, and for a
few seconds there we're both doing what I think they might call "necking" back
at home. His hand is under my cloak and kneading my arm, the way I squeeze the
bedsheets when I'm close to release.

Then just as I'm about to grab him with both hands, he pulls away, giving me a
smile. "Goodnight," he whispers. And settles down, resting his head on my
shoulder.

For an hour or more he stays there, slumped against me, breathing soft. His
hand is lying on my thigh. If he moves it about two inches he'll discover more
than I want him to. But he doesn't.

**East of Anduin**

There have been so many terrible things, I can't bear to think about most of the
last month. Even Lothlorien, maybe the prettiest place I ever saw, wasn't a
happy visit like it should have been. No; that first night we all were in
tears, missing Gandalf, though everyone tried to hide it in their pillows.
Eventually, the others fell asleep from exhaustion, but Frodo, a few feet away
from me, lay there with his eyes open and tear-tracks on his cheeks, not making
a sound, just looking at the trees.

"Mr. Frodo?" I finally whispered. He didn't look at me, but his hand uncurled
and stretched toward me. I took it tight. Then he crumbled, and rolled over
into my blankets, and tried to stifle his sobs in my chest.

By the time he had cried himself to sleep, I'd kissed him goodnight a hundred
times, but kissing away tears is a bittersweet kind of a job. I've imagined
sharing blankets with him, dreamed of it in fact, but that isn't how I wanted
it, with him more miserable than he'd ever been, and me nearly as miserable.

And somehow it got even worse.

Today he nearly left me, nearly struck out alone.

He hasn't told me everything, but I gather something nasty took place with
Boromir. I've been suspecting something would. And so he left, just as all
kinds of chaos was breaking out, with the sounds of Orcs screaming and swords
clashing all through the forest.

I'm not ready to think about that, about how he shouted at me to stay away, nor
ready to think about that ice-cold water sucking me down and pouring into my
nose and mouth.

All I need to think about is that I'm here now, alive, with him, sitting in
front of a small campfire. And that he's hugging me, rocking back and forth a
bit, as he watches the flames.

"I'm so sorry," he says, for at least the fourth time since pulling me out of
the water.

"You've nothing to be sorry for," I tell him.

"I didn't want to go alone, but I had to. I only meant to protect you. Does
that make any sense?"

"I've told you, yes, it does. And I'm sorry I made myself such a nuisance.
It's just, I only wanted to protect *you*..."

"No no no," he begs. "You mustn't apologize."

At the same moment we both realize we're being silly, and we smile at each other
- the first smile we've had in days.

He sighs, relaxing closer against me. "At least now I won't be wanting for
goodnight kisses."

"I'll see to that," I promise.

He brings his face near mine, and we begin kissing, kissing in that slow-hot way
like we did in Rivendell. I close my eyes and let myself sink a hand into his
hair, his beautiful tangled curly hair. He's doing the same to me, and now his
mouth is opening further, and I feel his tongue at my teeth. I welcome it in,
and taste him. A sound breaks soft from his throat, a fluttery kind of a moan.
Quite without meaning to, I make the same sound in answer.

He unwraps his tongue from mine and takes a moment to breathe, then says all
low, "Do you know, somehow I don't want to say goodnight just yet."

"I don't, neither," I say.

He strokes my face with his fingertips, and makes a little sound of frustration,
or maybe regret. "Sam...I have to confess this to you...oh, don't hate me."

"Confess what?" My heart is pounding, and I rush to add, "I won't hate you."

"I've fancied you a very long time...years, really..."

"Have you?"

He nods. He's still touching my face, but his eyes are downcast, like he's
ashamed. "Which is why I kept wanting to kiss you. But I was merely playing
with you. I had no consideration for your feelings. I...I was just out to
tease you, you might say."

I'm no longer sure this is good news. "I don't deny you put thoughts in my
head, kissing me that way," I say. "But don't think for a moment that I
minded."

"You should have minded," he protests. "You deserve more than some - some bored
bookworm toying with your body. You deserve - well, love."

Now I've no idea what to say. I just wait, staying quiet.

"But things have changed," he finally says, so low I can hardly make it out.
"And now I'm ashamed at how I acted."

"Frodo..." I say.

But he's not done. "I would have let you get into my bed if you wanted, back
then. And I wouldn't have felt a pinch of shame at using you that way." His
hand slips from my face and falls to his lap. "You ought to be very angry with
me."

I'm awfully confused. He's talking like he doesn't want me that way anymore -
but then what was that kissing all about, just a moment ago? "Then what's
changed?" I ask.

He shrugs one shoulder, and a bitter sort of laugh escapes him. "Only that I've
been in love with you since around Rivendell."

I find his fingers, and pull them onto my knee. "With me?"

He watches our hands intertwine, still not meeting my eyes. "Yes." A wry smile
quirks his mouth. "The other things, though - wanting to get you in bed - those
haven't changed."

I bring up his hand and kiss it, giving careful time to every knuckle. Then I
mumble, shyly, "Reckon you might have some guess how I feel. Sure it's clear
enough to everyone."

Finally he looks up, and if I didn't love him before, I'd start to now. That
open look in his eyes, apologetic and wise and scared all at once, is more
handsome than any sunset or Elven city. "If you still feel that way, after all
I've said to you in the last week...well, then it's more than I deserve."

"I still do," I promise. I give his hand a tug, and that's all it takes to
bring him back: his arms leap around me and we're kissing again. He wriggles
into my lap and gets both legs around my waist. Then he breaks off the kiss,
lowers his face to my neck and just hugs me. I feel him laughing in relief.

After a time, he settles down comfortably, right there with his legs wrapped
around me, and plays with the folds on my cloak. "Now, then," he says. "What
shall we do?"

"You mean in general, or just for tonight?"

His eyes meet mine again. Something smokier in them, now. "We needn't look
farther than tonight, I think."

I swear I can feel my heartbeat in the back of my throat. It's like the feeling
I used to have when I was first discovering how to bring myself off, under my
bedcovers at night, secret and forbidden. I've thought of doing those things
with him beside me, or helping him do them, but that was just fantasy and I've
no idea what he expects. He's quite a bit smarter than me, and might have
notions I've never thought of. The one thing I do know is I'm blushing, now.
"I don't exactly know what to do," I admit. "I mean, I've never quite..." I
give up trying to talk. I'm hopeless with words.

But he seems to understand. He tightens his legs round me, bringing his whole
body up against mine. He kisses my ear. "I've never quite, either," he says.
"The impression I get is, whatever feels good..."

I'm breathing terribly fast, now. He's hard; for the first time in my life I
can feel that he's hard, and he's letting it press against me. "Whatever feels
good," I echo. "That's a long list, sir."

"Isn't it, though, sir?" he answers, and sets to kissing me in a particularly
hungry way.

I swallow the taste of him and suck at his mouth for more. I wonder if I'm
being too forward, when I slide my hands around his rump and squeeze the backs
of his thighs, but he doesn't seem to think so - he whimpers and squirms
eagerly.

"Do you think maybe if we spread a blanket...," I say.

"Yes, that would be..."

Between the two of us, and in between kisses, we get a blanket unrolled on the
ground, and soon he's pouncing on me, knocking me onto my back. There's some
small rocks poking at my shoulders through the blanket, but this time I don't
feel the need to complain. Other things poking at me, warmer and from on top,
are more deserving of my attention.

We're both a bit shy. We're staying dressed, and we're not moving overmuch.
We're mostly just lying together and kissing very deep, and hugging very tight,
but still there's a small rhythm going on down there. He's moving his hips ever
so slightly, and I'm moving mine the same way, and it's just enough to bring the
color bright into both our faces. And it's near impossible to stop doing it.

I'm drunk with kisses, soon. The thought of him taking me out of my trousers,
putting his hand around me, almost pushes me over the edge. Is that what he
plans to do, I wonder? Another little sound escapes my throat, just imagining
it.

Frodo hears it, and smiles. "How are we, Mr. Samwise?"

"Very fine, thank you."

"I'm not crushing you, am I?"

"You? Hardly." I grin, and run my hands up his slender back.

"You're not..." (He kisses me slowly, once.) "...uncomfortable?" (Another
kiss.) "Anxious?" (Another.) "Anything like that?"

"No, sir - well, anxious maybe. It's only, I...I wonder what we *are* planning
on doing."

Frodo, blushing in a very becoming way, slides off me, and snuggles up against
my side. "Well," he says. "Sam, I take it you've...educated yourself...on what
feels good. Say, when you're alone. In bed, maybe."

I cover my eyes with one hand. "I - yes. Of course. I'm young, Mr. Frodo, but
not that young."

He chuckles, and nestles his face near my neck. Against my hip I can still feel
him, hot and firm. "I was eighteen the first time I did it right," he says.
"The first time I actually...finished, I mean."

Now that's a sight to picture. I might faint if he keeps talking this way. Oh,
this is by far the best conversation I've ever had.

"How old were *you*?" he asks, near my ear.

"I think seventeen," I whisper.

"And has anyone ever...watched you do it?" He's sounding rather breathless now.

"Not so far as I know. Why? Has anyone with you?"

"No..." he says, slowly, as if that isn't the whole answer. But he doesn't tell
any more. He just starts nuzzling his nose on my neck, which feels wonderfully
good. Then he says in a small voice, "We could always do that."

"What? Watch each other?"

I feel him nod in answer.

"I might feel sort of...silly...," I say, but now I'm so excited that I know I
wouldn't be feeling silly for very long.

"You don't have to do it," he whispers. Then his hands are at his breeches,
undoing a button. "But do you mind if I...? Because I...I really..."

By way of answer I turn onto my side toward him, begin to kiss him, and start
undoing my own breeches. A sharp gasp from him makes me look down. He's taken
himself out now - long and flushed with heat - and he's stroking it slow. The
sight nearly undoes me. Now I have to hurry in getting myself out, or it'll be
a sticky mess in my clothes.

Our foreheads are pressed together, and we're panting for breath, looking down
sometimes at where our breeches are open to expose that one private part of us.
We're squeezing ourselves, watching each other's hands at work, and surely
wearing brighter blushes than ever before in our lives, but that doesn't matter.

"Feels so hot," Frodo whispers in between breaths. "I love...doing it in front
of you."

"I love it too," I breathe back, then I groan, because oh, it's starting, I'm
going over that edge, and oh, oh, I'm spurting onto the blanket and gasping
against his cheek.

And a second later, he moans and starts to shudder, and I feel something warm
splash onto my fingers. Mr. Frodo, coming in front of me, on my hand, quivering
and making the most delicious sounds - oh, I can't believe this; I couldn't be
this lucky.

Of course, some wouldn't call it luck, us being on our way to Mordor, and half
likely to die getting there. Maybe this is a reward for services rendered. But
whatever it is, I'm very grateful to be alive at this particular moment.

We're both still catching our breath, and murmuring silly shy things to each
other, when an eerie sound comes from the forest. It's a hiss, a rattle,
something very much unpleasant. We freeze. I feel myself shrink back into my
trousers. I quickly do up my buttons.

"Did you hear that?" Frodo whispers.

"Aye," I whisper back. I sit up and look about while Frodo fastens his
breeches. The sound comes again. "What is that?" I ask.

Frodo suddenly seems to know. He looks grimly at me. "It's Gollum."

**Ithilien**

Gollum's presence throws a wrench into the works, saying the least. Neither of
us trust him, and he's not the sort of person you want to do private things in
front of.

Mr. Frodo's lapsing into strange moods, as we get closer to Mordor - it's the
Ring, of course. The landscape is ugly and dangerous besides. You can hardly
find a less romantic place than the Dead Marshes. So we haven't done anything
more than some brief kissing and touching, since Gollum joined us.

The day after that lovely night in the forest, we were packing up our gear, and
Frodo made the comment: "Strangest stains on this blanket."

"Can't imagine where those came from," I answered. We enjoyed a secret smile at
each other, but then Gollum, crawling about under the trees, said in a
particularly suggestive tone:

"Yesss, good hobbitses, they play so nicely with each other."

Frodo had to hold me back from slicing the creature's head off. But he looked
furious too, not to mention slightly sick.

That night we sat together under a rock in the Emyn Muil, while Gollum was out
prowling around for fish. We tried kissing, but then I had to pull away.

"The thought of him watching...," I said bitterly.

"I know," Frodo said. He put his head on my shoulder. "I wish he weren't here.
I wish we didn't need him."

"I wish we could just be sure he wasn't looking at us."

Once we got out of the Dead Marshes, Frodo seemed to improve a bit. At least
the ground isn't stinking and treacherous anymore.

Today we've entered a lovely forest in Ithilien, and the change is doing us both
good. And while Gollum's off sniveling about how he hates the nice flowers and
green trees, I get up the nerve to ask:

"Mr. Frodo...I don't know how you would have...but have you ever spied on me,
like, when I was - doing what we did the other night? I won't be angry,
honest."

His eyebrows leap up and dive back down. "Heavens, Sam! No!" He starts to
laugh. "I can just see myself creeping about the bushes near your window! Can
you imagine your Gaffer catching me at that?"

I do have to smile at that image. "Well, then, have you ever maybe overheard
me, or anything?"

"No. Why?" His smile turns a bit naughty. "Have you been doing it in places
where I might overhear?"

I kick shyly at the weeds on the ground. "No. Well, possibly. I don't know
how good your ears are."

Frodo laughs again, and joins his arm with mine as we walk. "I haven't heard
you, and I haven't seen you, except on that very delicious occasion a few nights
ago. Now why on earth would you think I had?"

"It's just...it was strange, the question you asked me. About whether anyone
had ever watched me. Seemed you meant to say something."

"Oh." Frodo smiles at the ground, and doesn't answer for a little while. "All
right. I did have a bit of an interesting experience, once, which probably had
an influence on the way I think of lads."

"What kind of an experience?"

"It was with Merry," he says. "He couldn't have been more than twenty at the
time - I was about your age, maybe a bit older."

I flinch in jealousy, and Frodo adds quickly:

"Oh, no - we weren't lovers. It was just...well, I'll try to explain. Merry
is...bold, as you know. Has something of a wicked streak. He used to flirt,
and ask me all kinds of questions about sex, and I would give evasive answers -
I was pretending to be very wise and mysterious. In truth I just didn't want to
talk about it. You see, I liked Merry, I even found him attractive, but I
didn't want to be quite *that* close to him. Well. One day he said he wanted
to show me something secret. He took me into a bedroom at Bag End and locked
the door."

I groan in disgust. "I think I see where this is going."

Frodo nods. "He sat on the bed, took down his trousers, and...started
demonstrating the art of self-pleasure, shall we say."

"What did you do?"

"I...I admit I was excited. Very much so. Nothing like this had happened to me
before. But I was frightened, too - which was silly, since I was so much older
than him. Nowadays, I simply would have said, 'Meriadoc, what on earth are you
doing? Put that away this instant.' But at the time, I could scarcely speak."

I'm thinking I might have to punch Merry in the face, if I'm ever lucky enough
to see him again. "Did you touch him?" I demand. "Did he touch you?"

"No; I didn't move. I stayed with my back against the wall, just watching. And
then...he was telling me how good it felt, and I..." Frodo shakes his head, and
puts a hand over his face. "I came in my trousers. Right there. Quite without
anyone touching me."

My face is hot, and I'm veering between insane jealousy and insane arousal.
"Did he notice?" I ask.

"I don't know," Frodo says thoughtfully. "I don't think so." He chuckles. "I
made some ridiculous excuse and fled from the room. It was a month before I
could look him in the eye."

Well, at least that's not how he's treating *me* now. Far from it. I squeeze
his arm, and I can chuckle too, now. "Poor Merry," I say.

"Yes. I did apologize, eventually. He took it quite gracefully, all things
considered."

We consider this for a little while, then dissolve into snickers. Frodo topples
down onto a fallen log, pulling me with him. In an awkward heap with all our
gear, we sit there laughing, leaning against each other.

"So then..." he says, as he recovers his breath, "I looked at you one day. My
sweet young gardener." He touches my face affectionately. "And I thought,
'What if Samwise wanted to show me that?'" He shakes his head, pretending a
great show of regret. "It's been something of an addiction ever since."

I swallow the watery taste that's collecting in my throat, then I pounce on him,
and we're all tongues and lips and hands and legs. Against my thigh I can feel
that telling his story has made him hard, as it's made me. I move over a bit,
and this time I put my hand there, on him.

"Mmm," he sighs, and lifts his hips up to meet me.

"Nice Master shouldn't let nasssty Samwise touch him that way, no, no," says
Gollum - who's appeared out of nowhere on the other side of our log. We both
leap about half a mile.

I've got my sword in hand before my feet hit the ground. "Mr. Frodo, let me
kill him, *please*."

"Smeagol!" Frodo scolds. "What have I told you about sneaking up on us?"

Well, that does it - dirty creature starts whining about Frodo using the word
"sneak" (as if that's the worst thing anyone's ever called him), and we're busy
smoothing his ruffled feathers for the next half-hour.

This trip is frustrating in so many ways.

**Henneth Annun**

I can't say as I trust all these Men of Gondor who have taken us to this cave,
especially as Faramir is Boromir's very own brother. But there's a few good
things to come out of it so far.

One is food. We've been fed proper for the first time since leaving the woods
of Lorien. Another is that they've let us have a bath, and have offered to wash
our clothes, which have been in a dreadful state ever since those marshes.
They've given us a bed, as well - a nice soft corner with a curtain we can draw
to hide us. When Mr. Faramir showed us to this bed and told us we'd have to
share as there wasn't much space, we nicely said we didn't mind. I didn't dare
look at Frodo for fear I'd burst out laughing. They surely haven't half an idea
what we might get up to in that private soft corner.

And maybe the best thing is that Gollum's disappeared, at least for now.

It's late at night, and Mr. Frodo and I are just going to our bed after a long
conversation with Faramir. My mind's filled with all this troublesome talk
about the Ring, and I assume Mr. Frodo's is too, so I'm surprised to hear him
chuckle behind me as I pull our curtain shut.

I turn around - he's lying in the bed, halfway under the blankets, watching me.
"What are you laughing at?" I ask.

"You do look rather fetching in that silly shirt," he says.

I look down at myself - we're both wearing old white shirts of the Men's, while
our clothes are drying. They hang down nearly to our ankles, like nightgowns,
and we've had to roll up the sleeves. I look at him and smile. The shirt's
hanging open on his chest, flashing one nipple at me. I happen to know neither
of us is wearing nothing beneath. Suddenly my knees go weak and I have to hang
onto that curtain for support.

Frodo's eyes fall to just below my waist. He can probably see the effect he's
having on me. He holds out his hand. "Come here, Samwise," he whispers.

I seize his hand, and jump into the bed. He flips the blankets over me, then
drags me down in a luscious kiss. He tries to lie on top of me again, but I
wrestle him around and pin him underneath me. We're both giggling, trying to be
quiet. The shirts may be big, but they're thin, and they're all we're wearing -
I can feel his lovely shape in detail, every bone and muscle, every soft and
hard place. It's wonderful; I've never held him quite like this, so near to
naked.

I'm fairly stabbing him in the leg. I pause in our wrestling to reach down and
move myself so it's up flat against my belly. "That's a spot more comfortable,"
I say.

"I agree." Frodo wriggles against me, just those thin pieces of cotton between
us, and nibbles my lower lip. We both moan softly at the same time. Then he
puts his hands on my shoulders, to stop me.

"I was a bit...hasty the first time," he says, "and I apologize. As you may
have guessed now, I'm rather...excitable..."

I smile, and slide against him a little. "Don't ever be sorry for that."

"I am, though," he says, playing with the curls at my neck. "I was so worked
up...I had to get it done with, before I had a repeat of that scene with Merry."
He smiles ruefully. "Really, this time I promise I'll take better care of
*you*."

"I was in just the same mood," I assure him. "Maybe it wasn't traditional, what
we did, but it was about all there was time for." I slide against him some
more, and his breath catches in quite an attractive way. "Besides...," I
whisper in his ear. "You said you wanted to see it. Me doing that."

His hands are leaving my shoulders and are making their way to my backside, now.
He squeezes it tight. "I did. I do." He sounds out of breath. "But I also
mean to do it proper, as you might say. To touch you myself."

I've got that fluttery feeling again, my heartbeat going miles a minute. "Not
sure it would last any longer than before," I say, "but you're welcome to. As
long as I can touch you right back."

He turns his face and finds my lips, and now we're kissing and writhing together
madly, all that lovely soft cotton getting bunched up between us.

"Suppose we should try not to stain these nice clean shirts they've given us,"
Frodo murmurs.

"Aye, you're right," I say, and pull mine straight off. I throw it aside; it
lands on the floor, and now I'm fully naked atop him.

"Mm," he purrs, placing hands on my chest. "I've seen you like this, but never
been allowed to touch you."

"All you had to do was ask, Mr. Frodo," I say cheerfully.

He laughs. "Oh yes, I was ever so likely to ask you *that*." He takes hold of
the shirt he's wearing, and tugs it over his head. He drops it from the bed,
and then falls back shyly on the pillows, watching me.

I sigh and lie down beside him, propping my head up on one hand so I can look at
his naked body while I run my other hand along it. "Ah, but you're a pretty
picture," I say. "Always have been. Even with this cursed thing on you." I
pick up the chain around his bare neck, and flip it over his shoulder so I don't
have to look at the Ring. I'm very careful to touch the chain only - I don't
never want to touch that Ring.

He shivers, and his eyes flash for a second in anger. I clasp my arm over him
tight, and lie there hugging him until he takes another deep breath and gives my
shoulder a kiss. "It's all right," he says. "It's all right. I forgot about
it before, and I can forget about it now." His lips travel up my neck. "As
long as you go on touching me," he whispers.

"I can handle that," I answer.

And this time, when we start to kiss and lick at one another's mouths, he moves
his hands to my rear, rubbing and squeezing slowly. I start doing the same to
him - it pulls us close so we're brushing against each other in front. The
touch is hot and ticklish, and makes me want to throw him on his back and grind
myself against him. But I hold back, quivering from wanting more.

One of his hands trails over my hip and goes down between us. It closes around
me, and, oh, I can easily forget the Ring now - with him holding me *there* for
the first time, feeling it between his fingers like he might a nice piece of
silk. I catch my breath against his mouth. He moves his hand delicately,
tracing his fingertips all over it, until my skin feels on fire. Then his hand
slides beneath, and holds the sack there with the lightest of squeezes.

"Oh..." I say aloud, not quite intending to.

"You like that?" he breathes.

"Yes..."

His palm slips up and down, all around, between my legs, teasing me. "You feel
so hard," he says. "I do believe you've got me dripping like honey."

Now *that* I have to feel. I look down as I reach for him, and my eyes (and
fingers) find him wet and slippery at the tip. I spread it around with my hand,
and when I grip him everything is slightly sticky. I can feel a surge in
myself, answering the heat with early drops of my own.

Frodo finds them on his fingers, and moans into my open mouth. "It's so hard to
hold back, isn't it?"

"Yes," I gasp. Then I start moving my hand on him, tighter. "Oh, please do it
harder," I beg him. I'm pumping against his light touch - it's been too many
days; I've wanted it too long.

He drowns me in a kiss, seizing me tight at the same time, and we're stroking
each other fast, hard, pulling each other to that straining point. And
everything feels so good, oh, so good, I can't stop moving - he's twisting like
a wild creature - I'm whispering "Yes" between kisses - then we're both tumbling
over that crest; we're coming, on the sheets and on our hands and on each other;
we're clutching each other and I'm gritting my teeth to stay quiet so the
soldiers don't hear, and it goes on for a wonderful long time.

We relax slowly and lie there, spent, catching our breath. Frodo chuckles, his
head on my shoulder. "We seem to be good at doing that in unison," he says.

I rub his back, smiling. "We're a team, you and me."

"Yes," he yawns. "We are."

***

I'm dreaming that he's lying in my arms, but instead of being indoors with soft
blankets around us, we're outside on cruel black rocks. And though he's in my
arms, he's not warm and he's not answering me; he's cold and I can't wake him
up. I'm sobbing, crying harder than I ever have, begging him to open his eyes.

I'm praying it's only a dream, praying it's not real; I'm pleading with myself
to wake up - and I succeed. I open my eyes here in Henneth Annun, in bed beside
him. Thank goodness. My eyes are dry, but there's a throbbing kind of a pain
in my chest, like I really have been crying. The blanket's slipped off the bed,
which is probably why I was cold. I pull it carefully back over us both, making
sure Frodo's all right - which he is; he's just sleeping. He curls up closer to
me as I settle back down. He's warm and he's breathing and he's safe. I kiss
his head, through his clean fragrant hair.

For now, he's safe.