8. Chapter Seven - Celebration
It seemed to Frodo that he had spent the whole day waiting. Despite the brief moment before lunch when he had been light-hearted and relaxed, he had found himself becoming increasingly impatient and edgy as the afternoon wore on. Frodo realized that he was nervously fiddling with a thread hanging from one of the buttons on his waistcoat when the button popped off and landed in the dirt right in the middle of the Hill Road. Pushing away from the white fence that edged the road in front of Bag End, he bent down to grab the button and shove it into his waistcoat pocket, then gazed down the road one more time.
Sam was probably exhausted. Starting before dawn at Bag End, then moving to Lobelia's at noon, and working until you could barely see your hand before your face. Frodo had already made a trip down to the Row twice to check, and still they weren't home.
Frodo looked up at the windows of Bag End. Bilbo was holed up in his study already and Frodo had told him that he was planning to go to the Green Dragon tonight to celebrate Sam's birthday, so Frodo decided to check one last time. Perhaps the Gaffer had dragged Sam off to the Dragon on the way home, instead of coming home to wash up and eat first. He could walk down to the Row and see. If they weren't home this time, he would head on down to the Dragon himself.
He strolled down the Hill Road and went around the corner to the Row. When he had checked before, Daisy had been fairly certain that the Gaffer and Sam would be home in time for supper, but standing out by the roadside, Frodo listened closely and couldn't hear the Gaffer's or Sam's low tones in the kitchen at Number 3. All he heard were the high-pitched voices of Sam's sisters, so he quickly backed away and headed for the Hill Road once more. He had endured enough of Marigold's giggling and smirking and Daisy's curious looks today to last a lifetime.
As the sky deepened into dusk and the earth under his feet swiftly lost the warmth of the spring sun, Frodo barely noticed the scent of wild blooms and freshly tilled earth in the evening air. He was nervously trying to remember every word that had been said on the hill earlier that day as he strode down the Hill Road toward the Green Dragon. Trying to remember so that he could say the right thing to Sam, if he got the chance. But what would the right thing be?
Frodo heard them before he saw them. Gruff words from the Gaffer and Sam's voice responding in his familiar tone, but the words were undecipherable. Frodo's heart leapt into his throat with anticipation, then came crashing to his feet when he rounded the curve and caught sight of the two of them.
Sam was hunched over and walking far too slowly and the Gaffer was pushing the barrow that Sam normally handled. Something was wrong. Frodo ran. He saw the gold head lift when Sam spotted him. Something clenched in his chest when he realized that Sam was cradling one arm in the other and his hand was wrapped in a dishcloth.
“What happened? Sam, are you all right?” Frodo skidded to a halt beside them.
“Nothing to worry yerself about, Master Frodo. Samwise just got hisself sliced a bit by his own shears,” the Gaffer explained in a tired voice.
Frodo looked into Sam's face as he reached for the bandaged hand. “Did you get it seen to?”
“Miz Aster cleaned it up and wrapped it right nice, and had a bit of the strong stuff at the Dragon to numb it down, he did, but he'll be useless ta me for a bit. And us with all this planting ahead of us! I dunno what got in ta him today. Never seen him so clumsy as that.”
“I was just tired, da.” Sam's voice was a bit slurred.
The Gaffer made a growling noise. “I seen you tired boy, an you never sliced yerself up afore.”
Sam's gold eyes slid up to Frodo's in the dim light and Frodo reached out quickly to grab his elbow. After a moment's resistance, he felt Sam lean into him willingly.
“Well, we'll just have to celebrate your birthday tomorrow, that's all,” Frodo stated firmly.
“Hmpf. That crowd at the Dragon done plenty'a celebrating already for the next few birthdays, if'n ya ask me.”
Frodo wondered just how much 'strong stuff' they had poured into Sam in the name of 'numbing it down' before they started celebrating. He leaned around to get a good look at Sam's face. Sam blinked at him tiredly, then gave him a lopsided grin, his eyes shining. Frodo smiled back, realizing his heart was probably in his eyes as well.
“You have to be careful Sam. Bilbo won't tolerate our master gardener getting hurt working for the S.-B.s,” Frodo joked.
The Gaffer made an undecipherable noise under his breath, but said nothing.
Despite a nagging worry about how badly the hand was cut, Frodo felt strangely content walking up the Hill Road with Sam leaning on him. With every stride, Sam managed to press more of his arm into Frodo's until they were practically walking in a stumbling lockstep. And Sam kept sneaking looks at him, as if reassuring himself that Frodo was really there, holding onto his arm. Frodo could feel the strong steady throb of Sam's heartbeat thrumming under his fingers as he gripped Sam's wrist. He felt the cadence speed up with each glance, and could feel his own pulse hammering in response.
They were both too absorbed to notice that the Gaffer was looking at them with an odd expression on his face.
“I'll head up to Bag End with these. You get home and get some food into ya, boy, afore you get sick from all that drinkin.” The Gaffer headed on up the Hill Road with the barrow and they walked several more steps before they realized they were completely alone.
Frodo stopped suddenly in the road and Sam almost fell over. Frodo looked around quickly and pulled him off the road and into the shadows on the other side of a huge shade tree that angled out over the road. He carefully helped Sam lean against the trunk and reached for his injured hand.
“Sam, are you sure you're all right?”
“Just a little dizzy is all,” Sam managed.
“Does your hand?”
“Stings a bit. Picked my shears up wrong and sliced the palm good.”
Frodo cupped the swathed hand gently in both of his and looked up at Sam. “I wish I could take you home with me and take care of you. You won't be able to do anything with this hand for a while.” As he spoke, Frodo watched the expressions chase across that face. Even in the deep shadows under the tree he could tell what Sam was thinking. Those lips had opened a bit at the thought of his Mister Frodo 'taking care of him' and Frodo felt the broad hand shake in his. Frodo smiled. It was a powerful feeling to realize that he could make his sturdy Sam shiver in anticipation.
“But,” he continued, “I suspect your sisters will lavish you with attention and wait on you hand and foot.”
“Hmpf. That's just what I need,” Sam snorted, “Those three playing nursemaid and all.”
Frodo laughed. “Poor Sam. I just wish this hadn't ruined your birthday.”
“Oh, it didn't ruin my birthday,” Sam said dreamily, staring at Frodo's mouth.
The heat in that gaze made Frodo's knees go a bit wobbly. He took a deep, shaky breath. “I'm glad, Sam,” he managed, leaning forward to press a quick kiss to Sam's mouth. He was pulling away, thinking that kiss would have to last for a while, when Sam's other hand ploughed into his hair.
“Sam!” Frodo whispered. Then suddenly he could taste the sharp tang of spirits and the sweet intoxicating brew that was Sam on that mouth. And then Sam tentatively ran his tongue across Frodo's lower lip. Frodo lost all sense of reality and leaned into that sturdy form as Sam held him firmly in place with one hand. When he felt Sam move his hand and head in order to delve even deeper, Frodo closed his eyes and moaned, opening his mouth to further exploration by that tongue and curving his fingers around Sam's nape.
Then Sam groaned, and Frodo felt the vibration from his head to his toes. He knew that his mouth was moving over Sam's hungrily, almost roughly in his urgency, but he suddenly couldn't think. He could only feel, and he was lost in the sensation.
Until he heard the slam of a door on the Row and managed to jerk backwards, almost falling on his backside in the process.
“Sam!” he hissed. “You... Uh.” Even in the dim light, he could see the hunger in Sam's gaze. He lost all reason looking at that face.
Sam would never have dared a kiss by the side of the Hill Road without a strong drink or two under his belt. And the Gaffer may have already noticed far too much. He didn’t want to force Sam to face that particular discussion yet, especially not in this condition.
He took a shaky breath. “We have to get you home.” He took Sam's good hand from where it had fallen limply by his side and levered him back up onto the road, pulling the arm around his shoulders so that most of Sam's weight was leaning on him. They walked awkwardly toward the Row, managing to stay mostly on the road and not in the verge.
“Yes Sam?” he managed breathlessly.
“You really are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen,” Sam continued. “An I've seen a lot of lovely things, ya know.”
Frodo felt strangely as if he wanted to shout with frustration and laugh hysterically at the same time. “Thank you very kindly Sam,” he managed in a light tone. “By the way, happy birthday! Did they treat you up right at the Dragon? Did you really celebrate properly?”
“You are really beautiful, an...” Sam was fairly determined to carry on the single-minded conversation even if it was with himself.
Frodo shook his head, grinning. It was impossible. He could only hope that Sam would, once inside the smial with his sisters and the Gaffer, manage to control this impulse to talk out his feelings.
They were almost at the door of Number 3. Frodo was so busy concocting logical excuses for their delay in his head that he almost didn't hear the end of Sam's conversation with himself.
“...an I've seen more of you than most.”
The door to Number 3 opened just as Frodo turned and gaped at Sam.
“Where have you been boy?” the Gaffer roared in his ear.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.