A/n: Sorry this took so long! I've been blocked on EVERYTHING for about three weeks now, and I just finally started getting over it a little. Also, much thanks to Kora for helping me work out a few of the kinks in this chapter. You're the best, hon!
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Late that night, Frodo couldn't sleep.
He lay on his back in his bed, one arm tucked under his head, the other across his chest, gazing at the ceiling and thinking of the past evening with a smile on his face.
He and Sam had entered the settlement, arm in arm, to be greeted by an enthusiastic Bilbo and Gandalf. After enduring many 'I told you so's from both of them, they'd been led to the great hall, where there was a feast to celebrate the arrival of the last of the elves to the shores of Valinor. Elrond, Galadriel, and Celeborn had come to greet Sam personally, smiles lighting their beautiful faces. Sam had stood in awe; Galadriel had looked even more beautiful than he last remembered her. She asked him with a smile of the shire, and of the mallorn tree he'd planted at the sight of the old party tree. Though tongue-tied at first, he seemed to loosen up after a moment and spoke avidly of his children, his wife, and his gardens. Frodo'd watched his face carefully during his entire speech, searching for some sign that Sam was regretting leaving the shire, but despite the obvious love the hobbit still harbored for their home in middle earth, Frodo could detect nothing in his face that could be interpreted as homesickness.
Still, he was troubled.
Later, after they'd eaten and talked and laughed and told stories long into the night, they'd been drawn by the elves away from fire and hearth stumbling and yawning and led into the crystal-clear night. Sam had been led to his new room by Galadriel herself. Frodo'd felt reluctant to part with him. And as Sam was led away, stumbling with weariness, Frodo saw him glance over his shoulder with a look of reluctance in his eyes as well. Frodo'd watched them until they were out of sight, then walked back to his own room, his feet dragging slightly.
That had been over an hour ago, and despite his weariness, he couldn't seem to close his eyes. Over and over again, he played in his mind the scenes of joy and reunion from the day. It seemed he couldn't stop from seeing Sam's smiling face in his mind; stop recalling the feeling of safety and comfort in his strong arms…
Frodo shook his head and rolled over in his bed, as though trying to turn his back on his memories.
*Oh, for heaven's sake,* he chided himself, *it's only for a night. You'll see him again tomorrow.*
But he was afraid to sleep. It seemed that everything that had happened today was simply too good to be true, and if he slept it would all vanish into the night like a dream. He tried to tell himself he was being foolish; Sam was here, and he would still be here in the morning, so he had best just try and get some sleep…
A sudden noise from the doorway made him sit up, startled. He gazed into the darkness, trying to discern the shadows into sensible objects.
"Frodo?" came a hesitant voice.
Frodo felt his breath catch in his chest as a smile crept slowly onto his face.
"Sam," he whispered in reply, sitting up the rest of the way as his eyes made their final adjustments and he was able to see his friend clearly.
Sam was standing in the doorway of his room, one hand on the doorjamb, dressed in the nightclothes the elves on the ship had given him. He'd been unable to sleep, tired as he was, and had finally stood and began walking without a clear understanding of where he was going. He'd ended up here, outside Frodo's room, and at first he'd been sure of himself as he walked up to the doorway; now, however, he merely felt foolish. What would Frodo think of him? Here he was feeling a bit uncomfortable in this new place, so the first thing he does is go running to Frodo's room as a child would run to their parents' bed after a nightmare.
He stepped back and shook his head, feeling himself blush furiously. "Oh…uh, never mind…" he stammered, beginning to turn to go back to his room. Tears of humiliation pricked the corners of his eyes, and he ducked his head shamefacedly. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have bothered you…"
"Sam, wait!" Frodo called as he saw his friend start to turn away. Sam turned, and Frodo froze for a moment: the sight of Sam standing there, bathed in the Elvish light of the stars of Valinor, real, *here*, took his breath away. Then he saw the tears in Sam's eyes, shinning clearly in the moonlight, and his heart went out to him. Smiling gently, he turned and sat on the side of the bed, then patted the empty space next to him.
Sam approached slowly, shyly, and climbed up next to his friend. He sat with his hands folded so tightly in his lap the knuckles turned white, his legs drawn carefully away from Frodo's. He was painfully aware of their proximity; in fact, all he wanted to do was curl up next to his friend and fall asleep with his arms wrapped around him, never to let go…but it was not his place.
Frodo smiled at Sam's tenseness. He reached out and placed a hand over Sam's, feeling them relax a little under his touch.
"Sam…what is it?" he asked quietly.
Sam shrugged slightly, searching for the right words. He looked embarrassed, and Frodo's smile broadened in the darkness.
"I, uh…I just…I couldn't sleep…" Sam muttered, and Frodo could just imagine the blush that would be spreading up his friend's face. "I never meant to come here, that's the truth, I just…well, I just sort of followed my feet and they brought me here unwittingly, if you follow me." He broke off, flustered, and a tear made its way down his face. "I'm sorry," he whispered again. "I'll just…I'll just be going now, I'm only being a nuisance to you…"
Frodo didn't reply, but put an arm around his friend, pulling him down onto the bed next to him. Sam tensed, but relaxed after a moment. Without a word, Frodo pulled the blankets around them and settled down into the pillows. He heard Sam release a shaky sigh from beside him. Acting on impulse more than anything, Frodo reached out and took Sam's hand in his own. Sam squeezed his hand in the darkness, and then they were in each other's arms again, holding one another close as the night grew and deepened around them.
Sam nestled his face in the curve of Frodo's neck, sighing as he wrapped an arm about Frodo's shoulders. Frodo smiled, and drew his friend closer still. After a moment, Sam's trembling lessened, and he released a shaky sigh. Frodo reached out and stroked his hair soothingly, waiting for Sam to speak.
San clung to Frodo more tightly, closing his eyes as he breathed deeply of Frodo's cherished scent. After a moment, he said softly, "I…I didn't want to be alone. It felt…wrong, somehow, if you follow me, sir."
Frodo let go of the breath he didn't realize he'd been holding, his heart filling with sympathy at Sam's words. Sam seemed to misread noise, however, and pulled back some, raising his gaze to Frodo's as his deep brown eyes began to swim. "I…I'll leave, though, sir, if…if you …" he bit his lip, unable to continue, but started to push himself out of the bed.
Frodo grabbed his arm and pulled him back down. Sam gasped and looked up at him, surprised. Frodo just shook his head, glaring playfully at his friend. "When will you learn, Sam," he said, his tone lightly mocking, "that you're not, and have never been, a nuisance to me?"
Sam blushed and looked away, and Frodo grew serious, reaching out to turn Sam's face to him. He saw there were tears streaming down the hobbit's face, and he felt a great rush of pity swell within him. He pulled him back into his arms and held him as Sam cried softly, his body shaking with anguish. Frodo felt the tears welling within his own eyes as he held Sam tighter, wondering what had brought on this sudden bout of emotion.
Then, suddenly remembering his fear from earlier, Frodo felt his own heart clench painfully in his chest. *Did Sam regret…?*
Frodo gulped, afraid to hear the answer, but forced himself to ask the question that had been plaguing him since this evening.
"Sam?" His voice to shaky for him to speak any louder than a whisper. "Do you…are you sorry you came, Sam?"
Sam gasped, his head snapping up, and the look of disbelief on his face made Frodo close his eyes briefly out of relief.
"Oh, Mr. Frodo, of course not!" he said, and Frodo believed him. "Not at all, sir, never!"
Frodo smiled, though it was a little shaky, and tilted his head quizzically.
"Then, Sam…what's this all about?" he asked gently, reaching out to brush at Sam's tears with his thumb.
Sam bit his lip and looked down, unable to meet Frodo's gaze.
"It's just…I…" he broke off for a moment, then continued in a rush: "I've missed you so much, for so long, and I almost forgot how much at times, because I couldn't think on it or I'd have never stopped hurting…And now I'm here, I'm finally here after years of wishing and hoping, and praying that someday I'd see you again, and it…it's just…" he broke off, but when he looked up at Frodo again he was smiling despite his fresh tears. "I just almost can't believe it, if you follow me," he whispered. "It's like it's too good to be true, and I didn't want to be alone because I was so afraid…if I went to sleep I'd wake up and find it was all just a dream, do you see?"
"I do," Frodo replied, smiling as he kissed Sam's forehead gently. "Because I felt the same way."
Sam looked up at him quizzically. Frodo smiled again and shook his head. "Oh, Sam. Don't you know I've been waiting for this day as long as you have? That despite being here in this place of joy, I've never felt complete without you at my side?" His lips quirked slightly at the sight of Sam's amazed face. "Sam, you're my best friend," he whispered. "You mean more to me than anything in the world, surely you must know that?"
Sam seemed to realize he was gawking at Frodo, and ducked his head a moment before daring to meet Frodo's eyes again, a small smile creeping onto his face.
"Aye, sir, I suppose I do," he whispered. "Because I feel the same way."
Frodo's face broke into a grin, and he choked on a joyful sob before pulling Sam back into his arms. For many long minutes they simply held each other, crying out the years of heartache and separation and reveling in the prospect of the eternity they had before them. Finally, their tears slowed, and Frodo's hand ceased it's movements through Sam's hair as they began to drift off. He leaned forward and placed the barest brush of a kiss on Sam's curls before closing his eyes. Just before he dropped off, he heard Sam murmur, "I love you, sir."
He smiled again in the darkness. "I love you too, Sam," he whispered. Then, "Oh, and Sam?"
"Yes, Mr. Frodo?"
"Don't call me 'sir.'"
Sam laughed. "Aye, Frodo," he whispered. "Goodnight, then."
Frodo smiled as sleep closed over him at last. "Goodnight."
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