Summary: Seasons change
Word Count: 3000
Author's Notes: Written for prompt #4 by vaysh.
Sam tipped the burnished leaf litter into the compost heap and put his spade back in its place. He cast a look around the neat and tidy garden. All the autumn pruning had long since been done. Many of the vegetable patches had been raked over and all the bulbs and seeds for next year planted and tucked in with soft earth and woodchips. There were still late apples on the trees and the pumpkins and marrows were flourishing. But much of his gardener's work was coming to an end for another year. Even the haymaking in the fields was done. It was the season of wild harvest, of blackberries and chestnuts. Blackbirds, nuthatches and robins were his visitors and the odd cheeky squirrel, scolding from the fence. The garden was exhaling, settling quietly into its slumberous season. Sam felt a sense of completion and accomplishment but wistful too. And restless. What would he do with himself all winter? At least tonight was the feast of Samhain, and the thought of its danger and magic quickened him.
Frodo paused at the top of the hill, resting on his walking pole. He propped his chin on top of his hands and gazed out over the valley. A mist lay over the stubbled cornfields. The late afternoon light was misty pink and the shapes of smials and stooks were deeper grey-pink shapes through it. He could just about make out a few shapes of feeding roe deer in Larch Meadow, a few hundred yards below. Beyond, the hills and forests were blue and endlessly remote. The woodsmoke from a few well-tended garden fires reached him. The turning of the year was almost complete. He turned and walked on. The path began to dip back down towards the vale, passing through a wood of beech and oak. Tiny gold leaves drifted from the heights of the tall branches above him to settle on the path ahead, a rain of summer's memories. The harsh cawing of a rook on a nearby bush startled him out of his reverie and he laughed. A whirring of wings above him was likely a pheasant, startled too. A smile was on his lips as he continued on his way. There was no need to mourn the summer. The autumn held life and promise too. He strode out towards home more firmly.
Sam tried to tame the stray curl on his forehead with water and a comb for the last time. When it sprang up determinedly, he sighed and laid the comb aside. He was wearing his best shirt with the lace up front, pressed breeches and braces with acorns sewed on. He put on his jacket, brushed and cleaned, and put into his pocket a small parcel of brown paper and string. He was ready. He left his home and made his way up the hill whistling a soft tune. When he reached the round door of Bag End, he knocked smartly. Frodo opened the door to him, looking finely turned out in green velvet.
'Ready?' Sam asked.
'Almost,' said Frodo. 'Care to step in a moment?'
Sam stepped into the cheerful hallway that felt as much like home to him as his own. He followed Frodo into the hearth-room. 'Should be a good one tonight. I hear there's a band from Frogmorton with three fiddlers.'
Frodo turned with two small goblets of wine he'd poured ready. 'First, a small toast, just for ourselves.'
Sam took the offered glass. 'You first.'
'To a fine rich autumn. To things beginning and not ending. To fun and madcaps and silliness and adventure.'
'To adventure!' Sam clinked glassed with him and they drank, the fine wine kindling as soon as it reached their stomachs, sending warmth and pleasure down to each finger and toe.
'Got you something,' said Frodo, taking up a wrapped parcel and holding it out.
'Me too, sort of.' Sam took his smaller parcel from his pocket and they exchanged gifts and unwrapped them.
'That's something like it!' said Sam, unfolding a red scarf of finest wool and trying it round his neck. 'Thanks!'
'It'll keep you warm out in the garden,' said Frodo. He peeled the last bit of brown paper away to reveal a pen-holder, hand-carved from a bole of young wood, decorated with vines, bird and berries and even a lizard peeping from some leaves.
'You carved this?'
'It's excellent work! It'll look very handsome on my desk. Thank you, Sam.'
He put it down on the sideboard. 'I suppose we'd best be on our way.'
Sam crashed back down at their table, fresh from a springle-ring dance.
'I'm not sure I can keep up this pace! I thought you said the fruit was ripe for picking here?'
'Cheer up, Sam! The pairing off hasn't really started yet. There's lots of merry maids here for the taking.'
'Well, we've been here three hours, and I ain't had so much as a kiss yet,' moaned Sam.
Frodo rose, leaned across the table, planted a firm kiss on Sam's lips, and sat back down in triumph.
'There's a kiss for you!' he winked, raising his mug in salute and took a deep draught.
'Here!' laughed Sam, staring at him in mock indignation, and in truth he was more than mildly astonished and embarrassed. He cast a quick, anxious look back at the dancefloor but no one seemed to have seen them.
'For luck!' protested Frodo. 'Haven't you ever heard the old saying "One kiss attracts many"? I'm just starting the ball rolling for you.' His happy grin faded as he surveyed his empty mug which he set down with a thump. 'I need another drink!'.
'I'll go,' said Sam, standing and collecting both mugs. 'What'll it be?'
'Something stronger this time.'
'Coming right up.'
Sam made his way amidst the dancing throng to the bar, rather glad of an errand to cover his confusion. Frodo certainly was on fine form tonight, he thought. Sam wouldn't be surprised if it was Frodo that ended up with an armful or two of rosy lass before the evening was through, as frisky and reckless as he seemed.
When he returned to the snug, Frodo was recovering his breath after an energetic reel. He quaffed from the glass of spiced wine Sam placed in front of him, then rose to go.
'Well, I'm beat, Sam. Think I'll be heading home. I leave the field to you younglings.' He patted Sam's shoulder. 'Have a good time, and don't hurry home. Goodnight and may you have a merry meeting!'
'Here, you can't be off just yet,' said Sam, rising in hopes of detaining Frodo, but just then a buxom hobbit-lass seized him by the arms and spun him off into the whirling bodies on the dancefloor. Before he knew it he was in the middle of a lively foursquare and swung from place to place so many times he could not follow Frodo's progress through the crowd, despite swivelling his head around anxiously to look. The dance seemed to take forever but as soon as he could, Sam made a quick bow to his eager partner and began squeezing his way past the cheery revellers and into the street outside.
The night air was refreshing and cool after the stifling heat of the overcrowded inn. Sam hurried briskly down the street and turned right into the deserted high road heading out of the village. Just a short distance away from the inn, the noise and lantern light had faded away rapidly, leaving the quiet streets cloaked in shadow.
'Frodo!' Sam called out, but there was no answer from the darkness ahead.
Sam hurried on to the edge of the village and looked out across the silvery fields, lit by moon and stars. Sam scanned the blue-black shapes of hay stooks and distant trees, and at last spied a silently moving smudge of darkness a couple of fields away, moving with a swinging gait he knew. He scrambled through the hedge line and broke into a run.
'Frodo! Here! Wait up!'
The shadow didn't stop moving until he caught up with it.
'What are doing, Sam? Go back! It's much too early to leave.'
'I'm not going to stay there on my own, am I?' said Sam, breathless.
'You were making friends,' protested Frodo. 'I don't want to drag you away from a good time!'
'You're not. I was ready to go when you said, only that lass grabbed me and I didn't want to be impolite.'
Frodo sighed. 'That's just what I mean. You should be back there, dancing, meeting people, not nurse-maiding me. I'm perfectly capable of walking a few miles home by moonlight, you know.'
'I know that,' said Sam. 'I'm just keeping you company.'
'Well, I don't need you to,' said Frodo with tipsy dignity. 'And it's a different sort of company you should be keeping. I thought you wanted a sweetheart?'
'I do,' said Sam, uncertainly. 'There just wasn't anyone there I were keen on, that's all.'
'That's ridiculous!' said Frodo. 'There were dozens!'
'Alright, have it your own way,' Sam shook his head, amused. 'But I'd rather we just have a nice walk home together.'
'This will never do! We must find you a maid, Sam!' Frodo declared, looking urgently all round at the darkened landscape.
'Yes, but it needn't be tonight, surely!' laughed Sam. 'There'll be plenty of other nights.'
'You're not giving them a chance,' said Frodo, reproachfully. 'There were plenty of girls in there with their eye on you, I saw them, dozens of them. But you can't expect them to hurl themselves at you the minute you walk in the door. There's such a thing as maidenly modesty. They need time to warm up, some sweet words and a bit of coaxing. It's all part of the – hic – game!'
'Sounds like you know what you're on about,' grinned Sam. 'But I think it was probably your coaxing that most of them were wanting. Why didn't you take your own advice and stay the course a bit? That dark-haired lass looked fair smitten with you.'.
'Sam!' groaned Frodo. 'We went there for you. I've had my fill of pretty lasses.' He paused. 'Which dark-haired lass do you mean?'
Sam laughed. 'Oh, I see. Just for my benefit was it?'
Frodo stared at him, then snickered. 'Well, I can look, can't I?'
They both giggled at each other.
'Are you sure you won't go back?' pleaded Frodo at last.
'Quite sure,' said Sam, laying an arm affectionately around Frodo's shoulders. 'Come on now, it's a lovely night for walking'.
Frodo moved forward a little reluctantly, it seemed. 'Alright,' he said quietly. After a few moments walking, he added 'Too bad you're such a sluggard, Sam. It's a lovely night for a lot of things.'
Sam chuckled. 'I think you'll have to be teaching me something about that coaxing business. I've always been pretty hopeless with the maids, if you want the truth,' he confided. 'Unless they drop themselves right in my lap, I never know what to say to them.'
'What do you want to say to them?'
'That's the problem. You can't be telling maids the truth, that you wouldn't mind a quick tumble. You have to come up with all this stuff about their lips being like cherries and their breath being like wine and how they'd put a Spring morning to shame and all that malarky.'
'It doesn't seem to me like you have any trouble now,' said Frodo.
'But that's just it. I know it but I can't say any of it to a lass. I'm as tongue-tied as a scarecrow. And the better I like her, the worse it is.'
'There's a lot you can say without words,' said Frodo, thoughtfully. 'Looks and hands can be just as eloc... elo ... can say just as much. More so.'
'I'm no better at those. And I can't dance to save myself, either. Did you see me out there tonight? I must have trodden on a dozen toes at least.'
'You were doing fine.'
'Nah, the lasses just pushed and pulled me round or I'd have been lost.'
'You must go to more dances, then you'll be more confident.'
'Stone me, if there's anything I hate, it's dancing. Never could get the hang of it.'
'You mean like this?' Frodo suddenly grabbed Sam around the middle and began dancing with him wildly.
'Here, steady on!' laughed Sam, pushed and pulled off his balance by a surprisingly strong Frodo. Staggering crazily from one place to another, they whirled around until the movement and the effects of the ale made them giddy and their heads began to spin. Laughing, giggling and breathless, they crashed finally against a haystook, their bodies thrown clumsily together, each surprised by the warmth and resistance of flesh and muscle.
Winded, but high on excitement, Sam looked at Frodo's sparkling eyes and smiling mouth with a wave of affection, and on a wild impulse, he leaned in and kissed him. He pulled back, gasping, heart beating hard. 'For luck,' he whispered, quickly.
Frodo stared at him wide-eyed, the smile gone from his parted lips. The quiet night seemed to suddenly thicken into dense walls around them and their unsteady breathing was all the sound that could be heard. Their eyes held each other's and their hearts pounded unnaturally hard.
Suddenly Sam knew keenly that this was what he'd wanted all evening. Had wanted all summer, and perhaps for a very long time before that. The knowledge should have stunned him and yet it felt right, somehow perfect. Nothing was real unless he shared it with Frodo. Good, dear, kind Frodo, his heart's companion. Beautiful Frodo. Oh, yes, Sam had always known what those lasses sighed after and what they dreamed about. It was right here in front of him.
Without his conscious will, Sam's hand had already reached up to cup Frodo's face.
'You,' he husked out, robbed of other words. Looks and hands speaking more than he could say.
Frodo pounced, hands gripping, dragging him in for a kiss so full of hunger that desire ripped through Sam like lightning. He pulled Frodo into his arms and drove him hard against his body. They staggered together, locked in embrace, arms grappling and lips moving on lips. Frodo's mouth was passionately hot and sweet and sent fire racing in Sam's veins. He couldn't bear to break the kiss, even when he had to or suffocate. When he did, it was to drag air into his aching lungs and to kiss again, and then again, deeper and more passionately than before. All the while their bodies strained against each other, now one, now the other seeming to brace them both against collapse. Frodo locked his fingers in Sam's hair and Sam gripped the back of Frodo's neck, as if both were afraid the other might try to escape, when the only direction they wished to take was each other. They squeezed fit to break each other, trying to climb each other's bodies. In the heat and oblivion they finally crashed right into the haystook, tearing a space into its side as they fell inward in a heap.
Rolling together in the shallow cocoon of sweet-smelling hay, they feasted on each other's mouths until they ached with lust, each kiss more maddeningly perfect than the one before. Sam knew then that in all his life, he would never get enough of the taste and feel of Frodo's lips. For his kiss tasted of cherries and his breath was like wine and Sam held moonlight and shadow, alive and lissome, in his arms. Sam tried to break free, to explore, but though he kissed Frodo's hair, and eyes, and the milk-white flesh of a perfectly-arched neck, desire drove him always back to that perfect mouth, moving and opening so voluptuously beneath his that it drove Sam's lust to the point of pain.
He sobbed when he felt Frodo's fingers at his belt and after that there was only the frantic race to struggle free of enough cloth to drive against each other. Unstoppable as a river's flood, they thrust wildly, driven into a frenzy. They kissed until it was impossible to contain any more feeling, then Sam buried his face in Frodo's shoulder and with a surge like a loosed arrow, he felt himself falling forward and drowning in a pool of starlight. Frodo arched steeply against him and bit into Sam's shoulder, shuddering, then he too was still.
Sam didn't know how long they lay there. He came to himself slowly, breathing hard, once more conscious of his limbs, his weight, the feel of the night air on his flesh. He badly wanted to stay this close to Frodo forever, face pressed into his shirt, breathing his scent and feeling the thud of his heartbeat, but sudden shyness made him move. Awkwardly, he disentangled his limbs and raised himself away from Frodo, who then slowly and unsteadily got up and moved off into the shadows, straightening his clothes and brushing haystalks out of his hair. Sam followed suit in silence, afraid to be the first to speak.
Frodo stopped. He seemed to be making a huge decision. He turned and looked at Sam, his eyes huge and liquid in the dark.
'If you come home with me now, Sam,' he said, his voice heart-breakingly tense, 'there's no going back.'
Sam met his gaze steadily. 'I don't want to go back,' he said.
Frodo stepped to him and tenderly brushed Sam's cheek with his lips then touched them to his mouth with aching slowness. Sam tremblingly answered the kiss with equal restraint and gentleness though those lips felt like fire against his.
'Come on then,' said Frodo, taking his hand.
Together they walked home in the moonlight and to Sam it was a magical journey steeped in elvish wonders. Had the moon ever looked so huge and bright as it did that night? Had the stars ever glistened in just that way? Sam stole glance after glance at Frodo's profile, silver-gilded and serene, and his breath tangled in his throat whenever Frodo glanced lovingly at him and smiled, which was often. They squeezed each other’s hands and whenever shadows beckoned they pulled each other into the darkness to exchange many fevered kisses, Frodo always breaking off at last and tugging Sam onward, the promise of even greater delights in the sweet pressure of his fingers.