"Are you sure you should go out this evening, Rosie love?" Sam said as he peered out of the window with concern painted on his round face. Heavy grey storm clouds loomed ominously on the horizon, and thunder rolled in the distance, threatening rain.
"Oh Sam, don't fret, it's only rain! Besides, if the storm gets too bad, I'll just have to stay there, won't I?" Rosie tutted as she scurried about the hall, gathering her belongings to take with her. At last she was ready, and gave Sam a peck on his cheek.
"Give my love to your Ma, won't you?" said Sam. "I would come with you, but..." His gaze darted to the door, and Rosie understood. "I will," she reassured. She left Bag End, humming to herself as she ambled down the lane.
Sam shut the green door and walked into the living room. "Well Mr. Frodo, it looks as though it's just you and me now. Rosie's gone home to see her mother for the afternoon."
Frodo was sat in his chair by the fire, gazing absently into the flickering flames. At the sound of Sam's voice, he glanced up.
"Oh." He tried to keep his tone nonchalant. Sam sat down opposite Frodo, and Frodo's heart gave a little flutter as he watched the shadows waver across Sam's face. Sternly he told himself to stop it, and wrenched his gaze back to the book lying on his lap. He took a deep, steadying breath and turned the page.
By four o'clock, the rain was cascading down in sheets from the steely sky. Lightning forked with almost terrifying ferocity, and the thunder boomed so much that the whole of Bag End shook with every clap. By half past five, Sam knew that Rosie would not be returning that evening.
"Rosie'll be staying with her Ma tonight," Sam said, breaking the long but comfortable silence between them. Frodo marked his place with a finger and looked up at Sam with a peculiar light in his eyes.
"Really?" he asked quietly.
"Yes. We shall have to be making our own dinner tonight I'm afraid Mr. Frodo."
Frodo gave a slight smile. It was a small one, but a smile nonetheless, and it warmed Sam's very insides to witness it.
"Oh don't worry Sam!" he exclaimed. "I'm sure we can manage on our own. We did before after all. Why, it'll be just like old times."
Sam grinned. "Aye well. Shall I go get some taters and veg from the pantry? I reckon they'd be fine in a pie."
Frodo nodded, his enthusiasm growing. "Yes Sam, and while you're there, I shall begin on the pastry." Sam nodded and they strolled into the kitchen. He turned into the pantry, leaving Frodo alone. 'You stop this nonsense right now, Frodo Baggins. It'll only lead to more pain. Just enjoy this evening while you can."
He rolled up his sleeves and managed to locate a large mixing bowl. He took flour from the shelf, and found some butter in a shady corner of the kitchen. He measured both ingredients into a bowl. Reaching in, he began to methodically rub the fat into the flour.
Just then, a particularly violent clap of thunder jolted him out of his reverie. Startled, he stopped moving his fingers and looked outside. The rain was pouring in torrents, turning the puddles into streams, and the streams into rivers. 'And all rivers eventually lead back to the Sea.'
Sam came bustling in with a small bag of potatoes and an armful of vegetables. He deposited them on the table and looked over at Frodo. "Honestly Mr. Frodo, you'll get nowhere like that!" He stepped over to view the contents of the bowl. "Here," he said kindly, "let me." Frodo's temper flared a little, as it was prone to do when he was criticised. But as usual, he quelled it, reminding himself that Sam only did it because he cared. He nudged the bowl nearer Sam, who stuck his hands in as well. Frodo felt a shiver travel down his spines as Sam's fingers brushed his, emphasised by a simultaneous flash of lightning.
They worked efficiently, and a few moments later, Frodo was binding the mixture into a dough while Sam rattled through the cupboards in search of a pie dish. Soon the pie had been assembled, and was stewing in the stove. They seated themselves at the table, and Frodo leaned back in his chair. He had relaxed, and felt more at ease than he had in a long time. So at ease that he said, "Do you miss them?"
Sam frowned. "Sometimes. I miss Strider the most, I think. Never trusted him at first, but..." He shrugged. "Now I've seen – you know – almost everything, I sometimes feel The Shire's a little rustic. I love it dearly and no mistake," he hastened. Frodo nodded eagerly, silently urging Sam to go on. He needed to hear more. "But I do miss the Elves," Sam continued with a sigh.
"Lothlórien seems a dream," commented Frodo, with sadness in his voice. Sam reached out and took Frodo's hand in his two, rubbing his thumb along Frodo's palm. A tremor ran through Frodo's entire body, and he bit his lip, anxious not to give himself away. A silent understanding passed between them.
However, Sam stood up, smiling apologetically, and went to go see to the pie. By half past seven, Frodo and Sam had eaten the dinner; the whole pie and some rich fruitcake for afters. Sam had noted happily that Frodo had eaten more in that one meal than he had all week. He looked over at Frodo, whose cheeks were now flushed and eyes bright, and decided to ask.
"Mr. Frodo..." he began tentatively.
"Might – might we perhaps read a book together tonight, like we used to when I was learnin' to read?" Frodo looked acutely surprised. "Why of course, I'd love to. What would you like to read?" Sam's cheeks reddened a little. "Something Elvish. Remember the Lady Strider sang about?"
Frodo's eyebrows knitted together. "The leaves were long, the grass was green, The hemlock umbels tall and fair, And in the glade a light was seen, Of stars in shadow shimmering," he muttered. "The Lady was Luthien Tinúviel." Sam nodded happily. "Mr Bilbo had a book, as I remember, in Elvish it was of course." Frodo's face lit up as he recalled it. "Oh yes, it's in the study. I'll just go get it. Shan't be long." He padded off and returned a few minutes later with a large volume. He settled himself on the sofa, and Sam stoked the fire before sitting down next to Frodo. They balanced the book across their knees, and began to read aloud, turning the crackling, ornately decorated pages with great care.
When they had finished, Sam sat back contentedly. "I do love that tale. I didn't really understand it when I first hear it though."
"Why ever not?"
"Well, I didn't really know what love was then." Sam blushed and stared at his feet. Frodo's heart sank. Now he'd have to listen to Sam talk about his love for his wife. He felt as though the pain was so intense it would tear him in two there and then. ' And the evening had been going so well.'
He decided he had better respond. "W-what do you think now then?"
Sam tore his gaze from the rug. "Loving someone," he said slowly, "isn't necessarily getting married to them." Frodo reeled and tried to arrange his facial expression so it wouldn't betray him. Sam continued. "To love someone, you have to know them inside out, and be able to see into their very soul. Even if - " he took a deep breath. "Even if that love ain't considered n-natural by others." Frodo gripped the arm of the sofa so hard that his knuckles turned white. "If you love someone," said Sam, "nothing should take that away. You can pretend to everyone, even yourself, but the heart shines through." His brown eyes smouldered like dying coals in the fire as he stared at Frodo almost meaningfully.
Frodo opened his mouth, trying to speak, or find something to say, but his breath seemed to have left him completely. "Do you know what I mean, Mr. Frodo?" Sam whispered shyly, leaning a little closer to the other Hobbit. Frodo found his voice at last. "Sam...I-I-I think - " he stumbled over his words. "What about Rose?" It was inevitable that the question was asked, and Sam pulled away and averted his face. "Sam?" Frodo lightly touched Sam's shoulder and Sam turned to face him, tears glimmering in his eyes. "She's a dear thing," he whispered, "but oh, I feel so divided. I love you so much." Frodo's whole world spun, and he was so overwhelmed he could hardly find the words to express his feelings. "Do you know how long I've wanted to hear you say it like that, Samwise Gamgee?" he said evenly. Sam shook his head mutely. "Neither do I," Frodo laughed gently. "But it feels like forever. I love you, my Sam with all my heart and soul." Sam smiled, and to Frodo it was like the sun coming out from behind a thundercloud, no matter what was going on outside. Frodo returned the smile, a smile that was warm and genuine, and that reached his deep blue eyes this time. "Oh, you are beautiful," Sam breathed. Frodo looked down, abashed.
Sam leant forward and tilted Frodo's face towards his. And, in a heartbeat, he placed a soft, kiss on Frodo's lips. Frodo gasped a little, and then kissed Sam back tenderly. Sam's arm reached around Frodo's shoulders as he ran his fingers through Frodo's dusky curls by the nape of his neck. The kiss deepened, and Frodo felt as though he had very nearly lost himself. After an age, they broke apart and surveyed each other wordlessly.
Sam's hand slid down to Frodo's shirt, and he undid the top button, raising an eyebrow questioningly. "Only if you want to as well," he said huskily. Frodo reached out a trembling hand and tucked a stray lock of sandy hair behind Sam's ear. "Yes. Oh Sam, I do want to. I need to. I need you," he murmured.
"And I need you."
That was too much for Frodo. Overcome by his absolute happiness, the knowledge that Sam truly felt the same way he did, and the terror that he could lose it all, he burst into tears, burying his face in Sam's neck. Sam rocked him back and forth, comforting him, and eventually the sobbing lessened, and he reached up to kiss Sam again. Frodo surrendered himself, and outside, the storm raged on.
The grey pre-dawn light filtered in through the window of the master bedroom, and Frodo stirred, wondering for a moment why he felt so comfortable. Then he remembered. Last night he had – He scrambled up and sat bolt upright, panic rising within him. But Sam was still there, propped up on the downy pillows, wide-awake. "Good Morning." Frodo's voice was blurred by sleep.
"Morning Frodo," he replied.
"I thought maybe you'd left me."
Sam frowned. "Why's that?"
"Well, Rose will be returning, and - "
"We have a while yet," Sam interrupted him, "and I wouldn't leave you, not ever. And I won't." He trailed his fingers down Frodo's chest. "I'll always be here," he let his hand rest over Frodo's heart, "even if I'm not with you." Frodo put his hand over Sam's and twined their fingers together.
"I love you," he murmured, snuggling closer to the other Hobbit. Sam traced the outline of Frodo's delicately pointed ear. "I love you too."
He waited until Frodo's breathing became deep and even. Then he bent down and kissed his forehead, brushing Frodo's hair out of his eyes, just as he had done when Frodo had had the nightmare.
He got out of bed, and with one last look at his love, he slipped out of the bedroom as the sun rose.
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