7. Highday: Tumble

*

Warm. Soft. Spicy. These sensations flooded into Frodo's sleepy brain as he began to wake. A shallow breath stirred on his mouth, and golden motes swam under his eyelids. Frodo opened his eyes and found himself looking into warm brown eyes the colour of polished hazelnuts, and felt a softness pressing onto his lips that tasted of tea and pipesmoke.

Frodo gasped into Samwise Gamgee's mouth.

"Oh, I'm sorry!" His gardener jumped back, tugging at his weskit, a bright pink colouring his cheeks.

Frodo's bedroom was still blanketed in darkness; Sam had yet to pull back the curtains to allow light into the room.

"I didn't mean to wake you," Sam sighed, straightening his weskit proper- like. "You looked lovely, just lying there so peacefully. I just couldn't help myself, begging your pardon."

"You needn't be sorry, Sam," said Frodo, sitting up, pulling his fingers through his tangled hair. "What a delightful way to wake up."

"Well," mumbled Sam, striding to the window and pushing the curtains aside, leaning out to gaze upon the garden. "Are you hungry for a bite of something?"

"Sam, come back here," said Frodo, already missing the touch of Sam's skin.

Sam shivered slightly, walking over to take Frodo's hand in his own. Looking up through dusky eyelashes, Frodo asked, "What's on offer?"

"Fresh eggs and bacon? Toast and jam? What were you wanting?" prompted Sam.

"You," Frodo purred, reaching out and catching his gardener's shirtfront, intending to again taste those clever lips.

"Ah, no." Sam lifted his finger in admonition. "Kissing you in bed might very well lead to other things and," -- he lowered his voice to whisper -- "Mr. Bilbo's not even gone yet."

Frodo muttered what might have been an elvish curse.

"And, if you don't mind me saying," -- Sam glanced down to look upon Frodo's bare torso -- "knowing you've got naught on under that sheet will make it difficult enough to keep my mind on cooking." He shook his head as his voice trembled. "What is Mr. Frodo's pleasure?"

Frodo sighed in defeat. "A mushroom omelette," he said, and fell back into his pillows once more.

"You should be getting up to see Mr. Bilbo off." Sam put his hands on his hips.

"As soon as a certain hobbit leaves my bedroom I can get out of bed." Frodo gestured to the coverlet. "I happen to be naked."

"Doesn't bother me in the leastest, sir, but if you're shy about it..." Sam walked out the bedroom door with a wink in Frodo's direction.

Frodo lifted the blanket over his face and laughed. Today was the day, he just knew it.

*

Frodo stood at the parlour window, nibbling on his fingernails. Each Highday afternoon Sam went to join his Gaffer at *The Green Dragon* for a mug of ale as regular as clockwork. Sam had suggested Frodo join them, but Bilbo had yet to set off, and besides, Frodo knew he would be too anxious to sit and drink, and would probably spend his time watching Sam with unmistakable longing.

He tapped a torn fingernail against the glass, hearing a dull clink. Sam would make merry with ale and pipes and food till early evening, till the feasting ceased and he could come back up the Hill. The noise in the inn was sure to resemble a dull roar as the sun went to slumber, and undoubtedly there would be more than a few hobbits stumbling home.

Sam had reassured Frodo that he had a plan all worked out: he would tell his Gaffer that he must stay at Bag End while Mr. Bilbo was away, to cook and fetch for the young Master.

"And where will you sleep?" Frodo had asked mischievously. "I can make a pallet in the kitchen, so you can be near at hand."

"I'll be sleeping wherever you are, if you've a mind to trade in your feather bed," Sam answered, making a warm flush rise through Frodo's skin as he stole a quick kiss in the hall to seal the promise.

Frodo swallowed the flutter of nerves rising in his throat. Sam was confident that the Gaffer would let him stay over for the night, but what if the Gaffer said no? What if he suspected Frodo's visit to Number Three on Hensday was more than just delivering a sack of potatoes? Frodo curled his fingers over the window sill. Oh, there was no point in worrying, Frodo chastised himself; though he felt that if Sam didn't come up to Bag End tonight, he would surely die of longing.

Bilbo strode from room to room, talking to himself and singing as he packed. Frodo thought on his own plans. He would have a nice long soak in the bath, with fragrant oil laced into the water, then he'd prepare a light supper for him and Sam: the best of the Tookish wine, mushrooms with herbed butter, cold meats, wedges of cheese and a cream cake with berries. He would cut flowers from the garden and dust the petals over his bed, and light candles around the room, for the yellow glow would warm the radiance of Sam's skin.

And then... Frodo let his finger travel down the window's thick waving glass. A crunch of feet on the road, the scrape of the gate being unfastened, unsteady footsteps pattering down the path... *Oh, my dear Sam, please let me love you tonight. I promise it shall be-*

"Frodo! I'm leaving now. Come and say farewell."

Frodo found Bilbo in the hallway, shouldering his pack and swinging his walking stick from one hand. "Do you have everything you need, Bilbo?" he asked. "Your extra pocket handkerchiefs?"

"I'll not forget them again," said Bilbo, tugging out a white linen corner and squashing it back into his weskit pocket. He shrugged his shoulders. "I've forgotten how heavy these packs can be. Next time you can come along and take the heavier pack."

"I'd be glad to," said Frodo.

"Good lad!" Bilbo's lips suddenly curled into a wry smile. "And how will you be when I'm gone?"

Frodo turned his eyes to the floor with a blush. "Sam will look after me."

"See that he does," Bilbo said with a sigh. "I wish you happiness and joy, Frodo. Be mindful that once you take this step, you cannot take it back."

"I know, Uncle. I shall remember."

"Hmph." Bilbo shook his head. "I must be off. Farewell, dear Frodo." And Bilbo kissed Frodo on the brow, and walked out the bright green door, his head held high.

*

Frodo wandered through Bag End's garden, arms wrapped around himself to stay the chill. Stars pricked the sky above. In the east he could see the Sickle rising high above the treetops, cresting the shadow of the Hill. The lights of Hobbiton winked below, golden and bright. But Frodo wanted to be here, in Sam's little realm, in the cool shade of evening, wakening to the wispy perfume of snapdragons and nasturtiums. If Frodo closed his eyes, he could almost *feel* him, could almost reach out and-

"Mr. Frodo?" Warm, steady arms wrapped around Frodo's waist. "I'm here."

Lips moved across Frodo's neck, stopping at the corner of his mouth. "Oh Sam," Frodo murmured, chuckling softly with relief.

"I thought I'd find you inside Bag End; I was worried you'd changed your mind." Fingers raked the curls on Frodo's nape, gentle and sure.

"I'm not, I haven't," Frodo laughed, twisting his head to claim Sam's mouth. "I came out here to feel near you. You taste of ale. Very good ale at that."

"Nothing compared to the taste of you," Sam replied, and kissed his Master again.

Sam's hands wandered across Frodo's chest, warming his skin through the fine linen of his shirt, while Sam's mouth was busy scattering kisses up and down Frodo's throat. Frodo could smell a wholesome, fresh fragrance, driving away all care but one. "You smell so good, Sam."

It seemed Sam had taken a liking to the base of Frodo's neck, for he dallied there for several more heartbeats before he answered. "It's them flowers in the windowbox I'm leaning against."

"Oh!" Frodo glanced over Sam's broad shoulder and saw that they embraced right beside the window of his bedroom. "They smell lovely, whatever they are..." Any other words the hobbit might have spoken were lost with his breath; Frodo arched his body against the sturdy frame of his gardener, so that his neck could be kissed thoroughly.

Sam's mouth threaded up to Frodo's ear. "'Tis called heart's-ease. Look closer." Sam stepped around Frodo, placing gentle hands on either side of Frodo's waist.

Sam's voice blew tiny breaths of wind into Frodo's ear. "I planted them by your bedroom window to ease your heart."

"And who knew my heart was lost?" Frodo gazed at the small, nodding flowers, dark purple in the shadows. Sam's hands rested firm on his hips.

"Because I see how you think on the loss of your folk, and worry on losing Mr. Bilbo, and I know you're afraid of being left alone. So I put these flowers here, so they could always greet you in the morning and see you to sleep."

Frodo brushed a thumb along a delicate petal. "I don't deserve you, my Sam."

"Now don't you go saying that." Sam drew a finger along Frodo's jawline. "I want to do for you, in everything."

"Everything," said Frodo softly, twisting his head to catch Sam's mouth. "Sam, may we go inside?"

"Sir?" Sam looked shy but eager, brown eyes brushed with shadowy moonlight.

"Sam," chuckled Frodo, squeezing Sam's arm gently. "You've been so patient, waiting all week."

"Longer than that, months, years," murmured Sam, fingers tangled in Frodo's weskit.

"Even so, it's been a long week."

"I haven't been patient," said Sam softly, ducking his head. "I thought I'd break my wrist with the frustration."

"No one to help you, poor dear?"

"Just me, myself and I," Sam grinned.

"I couldn't stop thinking about you and what I wanted to do. I even went for a walk in the rain, hoping to cool myself down," said Frodo in a rough whisper.

Sam grunted. "Did it work?"

"No." Frodo grasped Sam's wrists and held onto him, his face flushed bright at the memory. With Sam so close to him now he was beginning to burn once more, blood running smooth and quick through his veins.

Sam pushed his face into Frodo's shoulder. "I saw you."

"What?" Frodo gasped with a shudder of delight.

"On Trewsday," whispered Sam. "You had your hand down there, and if I hadn't been such a fool as to make a noise I might have--" And the gardener smiled with the corners of his mouth, one eyebrow lifting in wry humour. "The sight of you would have gone a bit toward easing my frustrations this week."

Frodo smiled. "I nearly died of shock."

"I hope you didn't mind."

Frodo caught a breath, memories flowing through him, heady and sweet. "No, of course not. Shall we go inside, dear Sam, and do something about it, at long last?"

Frodo was answered when urgent lips touched his own.

*

Author's Note: There is more of this story, but I've decided to put it on my website (check my profile for the address) because it is most definitely rated NC-17. So if this kind of thing bothers you, or if you're underage, please be responsible and do not follow the link. Having said that, I hope you enjoy rest of the last chapter, and of course you may leave any comments here if you wish.