Summary: Sam realises something about the nature of love and how it colours the world. Notes: This is the first in a series with the ratings running from PG-15 to NC-17. This fic is around an added scene from the Extended Edition of Fellowship. Major thanks to my beta's, Mike, from the Boundless list and my slash Colonel, Louie. You guys are great!

Disclaimer: Not mine in the *slightest*. Characters belong to Tolkien.

Fading To Grey

The sun was casting a warming final glow over the land at the end of a long, unsurpassed day; rich reds and gold mingled against the rough bark of the trees; the last rays of the sun shining down through the fresh green leaves onto the forest floor below.

Frodo was sitting in the branches of a tree, while Sam was keeping himself busy, setting up the camp to his own liking, which generally meant to Mr. Frodo's liking. Being busy helped keep his mind off…other things.

He shook his head, getting annoyed with himself all over again. He told himself again that it wasn't his place to be thinking on such things, and set about fixing up the fire so he could cook them both a meal before they turned in.

"Better be careful with those pans of yours, Sam."

Sam looked up in a panic, his mind only half hearing Frodo's words, being busy as it was trying not to think about those other things. "What was that, Mr. Frodo?"

Frodo swung his legs round, his feet dangling just inches off the ground. Sam found himself fascinated by toes he must have seen more times than he could count. He forced his gaze upwards to meet Frodo's eyes.

"You're rattling them about fit to break, Sam."

Sam looked down at his beloved camping gear and frowned. Taking it out on the pots now, eh Samwise? he thought.

"Aye. I should know better, and no mistake." He set the pans down a little more carefully than before; glad to have something to do with his hands for the moment. "And them a gift from my Gaffer too."

Frodo chuckled, and Sam found himself smiling too as he started rooting around in his bag for those rashers of bacon he'd thought to bring with him. "I doubt we'd hear the end of it if we brought those back with holes in them, eh Sam?"

Ah, he'd finally found the bacon. He pulled the oilcloth out, and put a few strips down into the pan, where it began to sizzle alongside the sausages. Frodo like his bacon crispy. "He's still making a fuss over that shovel I broke up at Bag End."

Sam looked up to where Frodo lay in the branches when he heard him laugh. It was almost a naughty sound, like a child laughing at something it shouldn't. "That was almost three years ago! He can't…"

"You know my Gaffer well as anyone, Mister Frodo." Sam lit his own pipe with a twig he lit in the fire. "Still, I daresay we both know he likes the sound of his own voice just a tad. He never tires of telling of tales."

"A bit like Bilbo in that regard."

Sam looked up at the slight change in Frodo's voice, but said nothing. He knew Frodo still missed Bilbo, When you knew him, you couldn't help but miss him when he was gone. And who knew when they'd ever get to see him again.

The fire was crackling along nicely, the fat in the pan spitting and hissing, a good sign of a juicy sausage. Sitting out in the woods, enjoying his pipe, being with Frodo… well, Sam couldn't help but feel as content as a hobbit could be when he was out in the wild.

At first, Sam thought the sounds he was hearing were natural, something to do with the forest and night closing in. It wasn't until Frodo said it was Wood Elves that Sam felt his heart start to race. Frodo was up and running towards the delicate sounds of what Sam likened to eternity singing before Sam thought to run after him. Elves! He was going to see Elves!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

By the time they'd got back to their camp, the fire had died a little.

"Good thing I thought to take the pan off, I suppose." Things were sitting as they'd left them, and not knowing what else to do, Sam started cooking again.

Everything seemed quieter somehow. Like something of the forest, some essential part of it was gone now that the Elves had passed them by.

"I know how you feel Sam."

Sam looked up from the pan at Frodo, who was sitting across from him now. "You been reading my mind again Mister Frodo?" he half joked. It always seemed to Sam that Frodo knew what he was thinking. Often saying something that Sam was still struggling to put into words.

"It is sad. Something beautiful has left this world, taking a little of the colour with it." Frodo crossed his legs, taking up a stick to poke at the fire with.

"Aye." Sam whispered. "Yet I reckon I'd rather live in a world knowing that that colour was gone, than to have never noticed it at all, if you know what I mean."

Frodo looked up from the fire, Sam feeling something of the intensity behind Frodo's stare. "Why Sam. That was a rather beautiful thing to say. Yes, that's it exactly." He smiled across the fire to Sam, who simply smiled back, loosing himself a little in Frodo's eyes. Yet the moment lasted longer than he meant it to, and blushing, Sam pulled his gaze away from Frodo and back down to the pan. "Dinner won't be much longer mister Frodo."

"Thank you Sam. I am starting to feel hungry again."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Despite Frodo saying he was not tired, Sam could tell he was fast asleep from the gentle breathing coming from his direction. It had taken him a while, but soon the sounds of gentle snoring assured him that Frodo was getting some much needed rest.

Whereas he would not be getting any rest tonight. Oh no. Not by a long shot. Not even the dirty great big root digging into his back was going to distract him enough from the thoughts that were running around and around in his head tonight.

He was trying not to think on it, really he was. But the more he tried not to, the more and more pressing the thought grew in his mind.

Sighing, he opened his eyes to look up at the canopy above him. He couldn't see much through it, although there was a single glittering star shining through.

This is hopeless, he thought to himself, finally allowing himself to think about what he'd been desperately trying not to since earlier on today.

He'd always loved Frodo. Always. It was a simple fact that had never been worthy of thinking on before; it was just a truth as common as the wind or the rain, or the grass growing green.

Today though, something struck him, something that he hadn't once considered in all his dealings with Frodo.

That he was in love with him.

He scratched at his head, puzzled at how he could possibly love two people at the same time. For, up until today, he'd been sure that his heart was falling at the feet of Rosie Cotton. Sam was hard pressed to recall how many extra hours he'd spent in the Green Dragon, just to get a glimpse of Rosie.

Yet, hadn't he been doing the same thing up at Bag End for many a year? He couldn't even begin to count the number of times he'd stayed late up at Bag End, maybe cooking Frodo his dinner, or excepting an invitation to hear more stories, settling himself down with his pipe to hear Frodo tell his tales of elves and other wonders.

Frodo Baggins had opened up a whole new world for Samwise Gamgee and it was looking like he was doing it all over again.

Sam had felt a strange sense of worry during that moment in farmer Maggot's field. With just one more step he'd have been further away from home than he'd ever wanted to go in his whole life. Yet he'd taken that step and at the same time he'd realised that he'd take as many as Frodo took, no matter what.

No matter what.

A scary thought for a hobbit who had never left the Shire his whole life. A scary, puzzling thought for a hobbit who had been afraid of asking Rosie for a simple dance.

He tried to rationalise it, really he had. He was only going as far as Bree, after all. It wasn't common, but Hobbits went there. Mister Merry had been there, he was sure of it. Just to Bree and to Gandalf, and then straight back home. An adventure of his own, a tale to tell around the fire.

It wasn't like he was doing it because he was in love now, was it? But you'd do anything Frodo asked of you, wouldn't you? Sam sighed, knowing he didn't really need to ask himself a question he already knew the answer to.

He really needed to stop thinking like this! Frodo wasn't the sort of hobbit who fell in love, not with the likes of him, no how. Aside from the blindingly obvious fact that Frodo was a mister, same as Sam, he was well above Sam's station in life, much more educated too. There was no way Sam would be able to keep up with all his interests and likes.

"Oh, this is hopeless, Samwise Gamgee!" As soon as he'd said it, he clamped a hand over his mouth, turning to stare at Frodo's back to see if he'd woken him. He'd had such a hard time falling over, he hated to disturb him now that he was finally asleep.

So, Sam rolled over to stare up at the leaves again.

Soon enough, he was back to comparing his feelings for Rosie with his feelings for Frodo. He stretched his mind back a good bit, thinking on how often he spent at the Green Dragon, trying to compare it with how much time he spent up at Bag End. Well, when I ain't at home, I'm either at one or the other, so that don't help me much, he thought to himself.

And just then, it struck him. Every time he went to the Dragon, he always went with Frodo.

Stop trying to deny how you're feeling! he sternly told himself. There's no use avoiding it now Samwise! You've been falling in love with Mister Frodo for a good long time now, only you didn't seem to notice. Typical of me really, he thought to himself, wishing he'd paid his own heart a bit more attention than he had been recently.

He glanced over once more to the sleeping form of his dear friend and master. What a kerfuffle!

A sly thought crept into his mind just then, and once there it was very hard to ignore.

Whenever he'd felt the urge to touch himself, he'd felt shy even then trying to imagine Rosie Cotton maybe doing those kinds of things. Kissing and touching him and the like. He'd never once thought about Frodo and him…

Well, he certainly felt his pulse racing a little at the thought of it, and soon enough the tell-tale bulge in his britches was starting to get a little uncomfortable.

What would it be like to have Frodo kiss him, he wondered. He closed his eyes then, imagining Frodo smiling at him, something that was never difficult to bring to mind. Soon enough he could almost feel Frodo's fingers trailing over his face, him reaching out to bring Frodo close as they gently pressed their lips together. Moving as close as possible into each other's space, their soft, wet tongues mingling together as they lay down with one another in Frodo's soft big bed back at Bag End…

Sam awoke with a gasp, the early morning sunlight streaming in through the branches above him.

"Did you rest well, Sam?"

Sam turned with a start to see Frodo sitting at a newly made fire; the one he'd made the night before no doubt having died through the night.

"Aye." he coughed a little, trying to clear his head. What were they doing here? Hadn't they both been at Bag End only moments ago? Sam blushed as he realised what he'd dreamt of the night before, the evidence of it sticking to him in his briefs down below.

"I've made a start on breakfast. Why don't you go freshen up by the stream, Sam?"

"You shouldn't be doing for me Mister Frodo. That's why I'm here, to look after you."

Frodo smiled at him, and Sam again felt his heart lurch against his chest. Oh yes, he was definitely falling for his hobbit here in front of him. There was no doubt about it. "Dear Sam, always thinking of others."

"Only thinking of you, Mister Frodo." Sam suddenly felt like he'd said too much, resisting the urge to clamp his hand over his mouth.

"Yes, well, you should let me think on you for a while." He lifted the small pot with the water boiling in it, preparing to make them both tea. Frodo looked up at Sam. "You didn't have to come with me, but you did, and I am glad of it, Sam."

"Aye," said Sam. "I'm glad too."

The silence stretched for a moment, Frodo smiling down at Sam, both hobbits perfectly at ease in each other's company. "Now go wash up, and let me get on with our breakfast." Frodo looked down at the pan. "Please tell me you like your bacon very crispy?"

"Anyways fine by me, Mister Frodo. Don't you be worrying about that!"

Sam got up, glad to have a chance to think and to clean himself up at the same time.

Sam could just imagine telling Frodo how he felt about him, and the resulting pity that was certain to greet his declaration was almost too much to bear. Frodo would no doubt be kind about it, as he was about most things in life, but Sam knew he would only end up being rejected for one reason or another, and he was afraid that he'd be too embarrassed to face his friend again, a friend he didn't want to do without. And to make things awkward while he was doing this important task for Gandalf seemed mightily selfish to Sam.

He had reached the steam, and seeing as it was only the smallest of rivers, no deeper than up to his knees, he waded in, feeling the cool water running over his feet and the bottom of his legs.

Sam shook his head, starting to feel particularly stupid. What was he thinking! All this thought didn't matter. None of it did! Frodo wasn't in love with him and never would be.

Males weren't supposed to lay down with males. Well, according to the Gaffer they weren't, although he'd heard tales about a couple of hobbits who had moved away from Buckland to Bree over something similar. Even if Frodo did come to feel the same about him, he wouldn't put Frodo in such a position. Bag End was his home. Sam wouldn't have anyone gossiping about Frodo and how cracked the Bagginses were any more than they did now.

He stood still in the water, feeling the weight of his decision come down over him. Frodo had a job to do, but once it was over, Sam was still going to be quiet about all this. Frodo's friendship was more important to him than any silly notion he might be having. And he wouldn't jeopardise that friendship no matter what.

Sam felt another wave of sadness wash over him. Something he'd never known existed and now it was gone away forever. The world suddenly looked a little less bright than it did before.

"Breakfast is ready Sam! Come and get it while it's hot!"

"Coming Mister Frodo!"

Washing up quickly, Sam rejoined Frodo by the fire. And as they sat sharing breakfast together, Sam contented himself with the thought that as long as he was Frodo's friend at least the world would hold some colour for him.