Beta appreciation notes for my astounding team:
Kat – thanks for your incredible “waffly” reviews, for your enthusiasm and encouragement, and for being such a constant light.
Chris – thanks for being such a terrific person, for your wonderfully perfectionist nitpicking, and for your thoroughly amazing editing, and editing.
Amethyst – thanks for being here, for the splendid venue and for the care.
And thanks, Bella, for the great title!
And thanks, Chris, for the ‘what if Sam got sick?’ bunny I forgot to thank you for!
And Laura, thanks for the important detail about the fait accompli.
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement is intended. I don't own
these characters. This story is not meant to violate the rights held
by New Line, Tolkien Enterprises, nor any other licensee, nor is any
WARNING: MORE than merely my ever-present touch of slash. Nothing graphic, just profuse and shameless mush.
For dearest Derby, who has been more than patient, and who loves Sam so. (And you’re right, Derby, so do I!)
“I was hoping they’d be asleep when Strider and me got back,” Sam muttered.
I bit my bottom lip and gave him a sympathetic grin, then said, “My poor Sam. No, they watched you and Aragorn walk off, and then Pip said, ‘Well, there’s a sight we don’t see very often – Sam walking off to get his backside warmed.’”
“Then Merry agreed, and then they started wondering when the last time was that you were spanked.”
Sam groaned again.
“Finally, Merry said, ‘I think it must’ve been in Bree.’
“‘Bree?’ Pip said. ‘Goodness! That long ago? Surely not!’
“And Merry said, ‘Unless he was spanked in Rivendell and we don’t know about it.’
“Pippin thought about that for a minute, then he said, ‘We would have known about it.’
“Merry agreed; then Pip said, ‘Bree. Ohhhh, my. Poor Sam. He’s really going to feel this one, isn’t he, Merry?’
“And Merry said, ‘’Fraid so.’”
Sam truly has the finest pout of any of us, and the one he took on now was adorable. We lay intertwined on our sides, beneath our blanket, facing each other as we often were before falling asleep. Sam’s britches were off, his bottom now nicely salved. I reached around to cup him there, feel him again, his skin still so warm, such a unique and odd feeling – my Sam, well-spanked. He winced a bit, and I kissed his sullen mouth, then smiled at him.
“At least they went to sleep rather quickly after you returned. And they didn’t badger you.” He gave me a sulky stare. “Well, not too badly. Just about the salve, and Pip was teasing me more than you. And the warriors had a good time with him in our defense.”
They truly had. But Pippin always brought these things on himself.
“Well,” my mischievous cousin had said with a wicked little grin when he’d seen me pulling the salve from Sam’s pack. “Talk about a switch! Think of it, Merry – Frodo with Sam over his lap, putting salve on his--”
“Pippin,” Merry had interrupted in his best warning tone. “Stop that. Don’t beleaguer poor Sam.”
‘Poor Sam’ had looked positively mortified.
“I’m not beleaguering him. I’m just making an observation,” Pip returned. Then he’d winked at me and said, “I guess that stuff isn’t so sticky when you’re putting it on a spanked backside ‘stead of getting it smeared on your own.”
I’d immediately recalled what I'd told Sam ten days earlier, right after the first time he had spanked me and was about to apply the salve. A warm blush flooded my cheeks, and I cast Pip a scowl.
Aragorn cleared his throat and said, “Pippin, one more word and you will be in need of my salve as well. I am sure Legolas or Boromir would be happy to take you aside and teach you the merits of courtesy and consideration should it be necessary.” He glanced at his fellow warriors. “Is that not so, my friends?”
“Indeed,” Boromir replied, turning a purposeful look on Pippin. “I am always happy to be of service when it comes to halfling discipline, my lord. Shall I take care of this matter now?”
“Not if I get to him first, little brother,” Legolas said, his eyes smoldering as he studied Pip. “You have only to give the word, Aragorn.”
“Of course, we could work as a team,” Boromir suggested, turning to the elf.
“Aye, we have done so before.”
“And done it well.”
Gimli was chuckling so much he began choking on his pipeweed. “Now that would be a sight worth staying awake for.”
Lighting his pipe, Aragorn said between puffs, “Well, Peregrin? Are you finished making observations about salve? Before you respond, keep in mind that should you feel compelled to say more on this matter and should one, or both, of these eager warriors needs teach you a lesson in courtesy, your paddled little bottom will not be afforded the comfort of my salve.”
Of course, despite the undercurrent of intent, we all knew this was in sport. The warriors bore Pip no genuine ill will. But Pippin had still gone positively crimson. He’d coughed nervously, then muttered in a small voice, “I believe I’ve said enough.”
“Merry and Pippin were simply concerned about you,” I now said to Sam. “So they could not settle down until you were back. Can you picture Pippin actually nodding off to sleep when someone is out there getting spanked and due to return?” We shared a smirk. “I think Aragorn would suspect that Pip had fallen ill should he do such a thing.”
That brought me a sweet little Sam-grin. “Good,” he muttered. “Then the Took could try out Strider’s nasty medicine.”
“You mean ‘thad stiggy mass of gunk’?” He gave me his indulgent scowl, making me giggle, which meant that Sam burst into laughter, too.
Aragorn’s quiet, but stern voice cut through the stillness of the cave. Sam and I exchanged a grimace, then we scooted up on our elbows to look towards the warrior nest a little ways off. Aragorn, Legolas and Boromir always bedded down together a short distance from we hobbits. Both the Ranger and the elf had raised their heads and were now gazing back at us, Boromir snoring softly between them.
“Quiet down and go to sleep.”
We glanced at each other with furtive cunning and lay back down, pulling our blanket over our heads and escaping into our own little cave, our private sanctuary where we could immerse ourselves in each other, forget everything else and love with eager hunger as we did many times when the others were asleep or preoccupied in quiet moments themselves. Alone in our intimate retreat, Sam and I could enjoy each other as we used to in all our hideaways back home.
I tickled my fingers over the warm skin of his bottom, then grinned at Sam’s frown of mock reproach. “I’m sorry,” I whispered playfully. “Am I hurting you?”
“No. You’re just close to being a hobbit-brat and you know it.” I opened my mouth to protest, and he quickly pressed his fingertips to my lips. “Shh! We’re supposed to be settling down, Mister Frodo.”
Mmmmmm . . . Sam calling me a hobbit-brat, telling me ‘shh!’ Mmmmmm. Something hot and tingly rippled through me. I kissed his fingertips, then drew one into my mouth and began sucking on it. Sam instantly gasped. His eyes widened and his ardent look shot through me like hot lightning. I sucked his fingertip and I smoothed my palm over his round backside, and I felt that familiar liquid warmth oozing in my tummy, the same fluttery feeling I’d had earlier while applying the salve to Sam’s spanked bottom.
I’d loved that too much, seeing Sam spread over my lap like that. And yet I had no desire to see him in that position for any other reason. It felt unseemly to even imagine it. No, Sam would always be who he was to me, quietly stronger and much more powerful, but in his calm, unassuming manner.
It was the rarity of this that appealed to me, for Sam never allowed me to care for him. Of course, he simply viewed this as the proper way of things. He was my gardener, and it pleased him to serve me, as it had always pleased the Gaffer to serve as Bilbo’s gardener. Who Sam was, who he was born to be, defined who we were together. But only in part. There was more to Sam and I than what birth and lineage had ordained, a great deal more, and because of that, we were often feeling our way through unknown territory, finding things out and making up our own guidelines as we went along.
I often wanted to do things for Sam, but he wouldn’t have felt comfortable with that. So I’d kept it to myself, my longing to somehow give to him as he gave to me. I couldn’t tell Sam about it. He wouldn’t know what to do to help me. It would confuse him. It would torment him, for he would have no way of ‘fixing’ it, save to go against his very nature. And, knowing Sam, he’d feel badly, as if he should have somehow known all along that I yearned to give to him.
But how could Sam possibly know how much such a thing meant to me? He couldn’t know, really, and I would not want to cause him regret or pain by mentioning it. So this opportunity was a priceless one for me, and I intended to savor it.
I’d taken Sam over to a small niche behind a rock formation in the cave, and there I’d sat with my legs out straight and my back to a boulder, and I’d drawn him down over my lap, instantly loving the feel of him across my thighs, his warm, solid heaviness and the shocking intimacy of the position. He lay quietly, his head resting on his crossed arms, his eyes closed. He looked beautiful and peaceful, and when I carefully drew down his britches, he began to release repeated soft moans of contentment that shot through me. My Sam, over my lap, his pretty bottom reddened and glossy, clearly smarting with a sting I knew so well. I could scarcely breathe for the pleasure of it.
Sam enjoyed the salving process mightily when he had me thus. He always drew it out. But I easily took twice the time to apply the salve than he had ever taken with me, my fingers moving over his hot skin slowly, languidly. It was mesmerizing. I thought I’d felt blissful when lying over Sam’s lap, nearly losing control at times while he caressed my aching bottom, but from this side of it, oh, my! It was just as stirring. I felt a profound admiration for Sam’s powers of restraint.
And mixed in with that physical pleasure was the staggering feeling of fulfillment, the knowledge that I was, at last, doing something for my Sam. It had brought tears to my eyes, and I’d wiped them away at once, not wanting to disturb Sam’s tranquil state with anything that might upset him.
But now it all came flooding back, and I once again felt tears stinging behind my eyes, seconds away from making an appearance. I pulled his fingertip from my mouth. “Thank you, Sam,” I suddenly said on a rushed breath. I saw his blink of concern; then my vision blurred with tears.
“Here now, Mister Frodo,” he said in an ardent whisper. “What’s all this about?” He wiped away the few tears that had escaped my eyes. “Thank me for what?”
“For letting me put the salve on you. Thank you.”
“You’re thanking me for that?” Sam’s face relaxed into a bemused grin. “Seems I should thank you.”
“You did. Many times.”
“Aye, but I will again, because that felt right good, Mister Frodo.”
“Oh, I know; believe me, I do. But, I think it might have been a little awkward for you, being in that position, if . . . if you know what I mean.” Clearly Sam did. He blushed, and I gave a nod and said, “Ah. So it did feel awkward.”
“Well, I have to admit that, well, maybe it did, Mister Frodo,” Sam muttered, hurrying on to add, “But it didn’t have nothing to do with you.”
“Of course it did,” I replied, my apprehension growing. “How could it not?”
“Well . . . .” Sam heaved a quick flustered sigh, then said, “Oh, bless me, dearest Frodo! I’ll be honest, as I can’t seem to be nothing else, and I don’t want to be nothing else. I did have my doubts about the salve, but then Strider talked to me about how you’d likely want to put it on for me, and then, well--”
A hot rush of revulsion ripped through me. “Stri – Oh, no! Sam! You – you let me – because – not because you wanted me to, but – but because Aragorn told you – you allowed it so that I wouldn’t be upset? Oh, no!”
“Hush now!” Sam ordered in a tone of command. “Quiet down, Mister Frodo, and let me finish.”
But I’d already squeezed my eyes shut, too embarrassed to look at him anymore. This was awful. Awful! I heard Sam, though, heard that stern edge to his voice, and I responded, going silent.
“Open your pretty eyes and look at me,” he said, his tone more tender, but just as firm. I obeyed, and again he wiped away my tears. “That’s better. Don’t go flying off the handle like that when you haven’t heard all I have to say. Now, when all this came out in the open, I said I’d never lie to you again. I said I’d be truthful with you, Mister Frodo, and I mean to be, because you need to be able to trust my word, and the plain truth of it is, I felt a little funny about you putting that salve on me. I’m sorry as I can be, because I know that’s not something you want to hear, and I don’t want to have to say it. But that’s the plain truth of it.”
“Oh, Sam!” I felt sick. “I’m so sorry!”
Sam stared at me, then he pressed me onto my back and he kissed me deeply, and when he finally stopped, he drew back and looked down at me and said in his soft, reasonable voice, “I did go along with it at first because of what Strider said, that’s true. But what’s also true is--” He paused and sniffed and flashed me his shy smile. “I liked it.”
I frowned up at him. “What?”
He blushed. “I liked it. No, wait. That’s not right. I – I loved it. Soon as you had me there, over your lap like that . . . and then, when you pulled down my britches . . . .” Sam shuddered, his voice drifting off, and he blinked slowly and dreamily, as though the first feelings he’d had back then were hitting him once more. “Soon as you did that . . . oh, it just felt so good. And I loved it.” He smiled bashfully and focused on me again. “Strider might’ve gotten me over your lap, but it’s you made me want to stay there, sweet Frodo.”
“Oh, Sam,” I whispered. I stared up at him, remembering his low, repeated moans, remembering how he’d shifted on my lap, remembering how I knew that he’d been enjoying it. But I hadn’t contemplated it at the time. I myself was lost in some strong enjoyment of my own. “You really did like it! I mean love it!”
His sheepish smile was back. “I should say I did. And I can’t reckon why, ‘cept that it just felt so good, so close. And what went through my head was, ‘This is how Frodo feels when I do this for him, all safe and loved.’”
“Yes,” I said, relishing his wondrous smile. “That is how I feel.”
“And then I remembered how I always feel when I put salve on you, and I thought, ‘That must be how my Frodo’s feeling now.’”
“How does that feel to you, my Sam, when you put salve on me?”
He watched me with exquisite stillness; then he leaned down and kissed me again and said, “It feels like I’m getting to show you how much I love you. It feels like the deepest happiness there ever was or ever could be, because I’m getting to do something for you. Me. Samwise Gamgee. I’m helping my Frodo. He needs me. And there isn’t nary a better feeling than helping the one you love most in this world, is there, Mister Frodo? No better feeling than knowing he needs you.”
Fresh tears surged. I could barely whisper. “No, no better feeling. And that was how it felt, my sweet Sam. Just like that. Like I could give you something.”
He smiled softly and brushed a tear from the corner of my eye. “Are these good tears, pretty Frodo?”
I nodded. “Good tears.”
He played with my hair for a moment, quiet and thoughtful, then he said, “I reckon you don’t get to feel that very much with me, do you, Mister Frodo? Like, maybe you figure you don’t get to give me as much as I give you.”
I bit my bottom lip and dropped my gaze, feeling exposed and strange and suddenly uneasy. “I . . . I--”
“Shhh.” He rubbed my lip free from my teeth. “It’s all right. I guess I can understand how it seems that way.”
I shot him a look. “Seems?”
“Aye.” He grinned indulgently. “Seems. I mean, I can see how you wouldn’t understand how much you give me.”
What? I stared at him. “How much I give you? Sam, what--”
“Now, I just know you’re not going to ask me what you give me, Mister Frodo,” he said, “because that’s a question I could go on answering for the rest of our days. You just don’t see what you give me as being all that much, which is right peculiar, because you give me the best and the biggest things.” He studied my stunned expression with fond amazement, then said, “First of all, you give me the most important, ‘deep inside you’ thing you have to give. You know what that is.”
I thought for a moment. “My heart? And . . . and my love?”
He kissed me and murmured, “Aye. And beyond that are so many other things, one of the other big important ones being that you let me do for you. Do you know what I mean?”
And strangely, suddenly, I did. “Oh, Sam. Yes! I . . . I . . . .” My thoughts began forming, ideas scattering, tumbling, racing.
Sam waited. “Take a breath. Think slower.”
I did, then I said, “You let me put the salve on you. That was what you did for me, you let me do something for you! So-so-so--!”
“Shhhh!” He chuckled softly. “Settle down.”
“So when I let you do all the things you do for me--” I stared at him, the impact of what he had shown me, a simple, honest truth, stunning me to silence.
Sam smiled. “You give to me when you do that, don’t you, Mister Frodo?”
It seemed almost too simple to be real. Perhaps I was missing something. “I . . . yes, I do, but--”
“Nope. That’s all there is to that,” Sam said with finality. “When you let me help you, I get the biggest feeling inside, like the feeling you had when you put the salve on me. I think to myself, ‘Sam, you’re something special to him.’ I know I’m already special to you, but this feeling is a different one from the pure love we have. I think you know what I mean, seein’ as how you just felt it a little while ago yourself. And all’s I’m saying, sweet Frodo, is that you need to see how much you really do give to me, big things, all the time.
“So, what we have is near perfect, wouldn’t you say so? We give to each other, Mister Frodo. That’s as plain as can be. You give me all those biggest things, and you don’t even see it. But then--” He grinned again. “--you’ve always been that way. So I won’t be hearing any more talk about you not giving to me the way I give to you, will I?”
Sam leaned down and kissed me again, and every common sense point he’d made meshed together into a delicious feeling of comfort. Somehow he had done it. He’d made me feel that all was well, all was as it should be. He’d shown me that I did indeed give to him, and the sweetness of that surged through me, heating my blood and making my chest pound. Oh, how I loved him! I pulled him closer, kissing him deeper, and when he finally pulled back, I gazed up at my amazing Sam, the fresh, hungry light in his eyes matching the heat stirring in my belly. A sudden thought made me whisper something before I could stop myself: “Sam, your sore bottom--”
“Shh,” he murmured, nuzzling my neck. “Frodo, hush. Don’t you dare fuss now.”
And he said nothing more, nor did he need to, because when my Sam speaks to me like that and looks at me like that, when he becomes that Sam, the Sam who can both spank me into a state of weeping surrender and love me into a frenzy, the Sam who makes me realize that he’s bigger than me and stronger than me, when that Sam takes over, I’m no longer the ‘master,’ nor do I desire the role, for when he becomes that Sam, my Sam is a far greater master than I could ever be.
He climbed over until he was fully stretched out atop me, bracing himself on his elbows and smiling down in that lazy, confident way that made my heart thrum, and then he began moving against me, yanking a ragged gasp from me. Smoothing the stray curls from my face, Sam whispered, “Do you remember how you felt that night I spanked you, sweet Frodo? How we both felt? What that . . . what it did to us?”
Ohhhh, indeed I did. I was the one with the throbbing bottom that night, and no power in Middle Earth could’ve made me want to stop Sam from what he clearly desired to do to me within our blanket cave. I nodded, but I didn’t need to, because Sam was studying me and reading every thought. He grinned knowingly.
“Then let’s not hear any more silly talk about my sore bottom, little sir. Not another word now. Understand?”
“They are not sleeping, are they? Frodo and Sam, I mean.”
Legolas cast me an eloquent glare and blushed charmingly. I had to grin. Several thousand years old, well versed and ever so highly skilled in the arts of passion, and yet my elf still blushed at the thought of hobbit lovemaking. It was delightful.
“You know they are not,” he said.
“I know how you become after a spanking, how the comforting affects you.” I grinned again at his widening eyes and deepened blush.
“Not just me!”
I chuckled softly, “Nay, pretty one. Not just you.”
“You are certainly not forced to oblige me!”
“Indeed not. In fact, I always eagerly await that hungry fire in your eyes, elfling mine.”
Legolas blinked, recognizing my playful goading, then he sniffed a bashful grin. “You never have to wait long, I vow.”
“No, thank the Valar,” I murmured, loving his flustered smile.
We lay on our sides, our heads braced on our crooked elbows, my fledgling fast asleep on his back between us, our fingers intertwined and resting upon the grey undershirt covering his stomach. On occasion, Boromir still fussed in his sleep, and he released a soft whimper now, breathing haltingly, his forehead tensing, then relaxing. Legolas and I watched him until he calmed, then we exchanged melancholy glances.
“I know they are just bad dreams, and that mortals are known to have them,” he ventured softly. “But--”
“Aye,” I said. “You long to tear them from him.”
Boromir shifted in his sleep, rolling onto his side to face Legolas, fitting his bottom against me. When he had settled again, my elf released my hand to smooth the locks from Boromir’s face, tucking them behind his ear, while I leaned over to kiss his head.
“There are times,” Legolas said in a hushed voice, “when he seems so lost, and so very young. How he does rip at my heart, beloved!” He lifted his large compassionate blue eyes to me. “He has no other, Aragorn, no mate. It grieves me to think of him so alone.”
“I know. His solitude is hard to bear.”
“Aye. He is so worthy, so beautiful and loving, so good. It makes me ache for him. All this time, alone. He has his brother, and this one called Damrod, so despite his hateful father, he does have love of a family kind, but not a . . . a love, like you and I, or Halbarad and Gwin.”
“Or Garrick and Devon.”
“He knows of us, beloved. He knows of those dear little ones, of what they are to each other. He is clearly accustomed to this.”
“Aye,” I said. “And he is comfortable with our affection towards him.”
“He relishes it, in fact. And I have watched him glancing fondly at the little ones when they are being . . . well . . . .”
“Openly loving? Like Merry and Pip were a few nights ago after you’d spanked Pippin, and Gimli growled for them to ‘take it beneath their blanket’?”
His tenseness eased, and we both chuckled, and then he said, “Aye.”
“I know,” I said, slowly sobering. “I have seen him watch them, too. With a certain . . . yearning.”
“Exactly. And--” He dropped his sad gaze to Boromir again and sighed, saying, “I simply long to . . . to help him somehow.”
“To make that loneliness go away,” I murmured.
We knew each other too well to wonder what the other was thinking. Boromir was hungrily responsive after his spankings, drinking in all our affection. But did he feel . . . more? Did he desire more? And if he did . . . well, what then?
It was not a question either of us could begin to address. The situation was too new, our mutual feelings for Boromir too strong and sudden to know how to best deal with what seemed to now lie before us. At the moment, all Legolas and I could do was watch each other silently, knowing each other’s thoughts, but uncertain as to where to go with our feelings.
But I suddenly remembered something Elrond had said to me just before we left Rivendell . . . and something he had done. Some of his words confused me at the time, and when I’d told him that I did not understand, he’d merely said, “You will, my son.”
I did understand now, and I knew at once that his words had not been for me alone. Smiling softly at Legolas, I rose and crawled down to climb over his and Boromir’s legs and came up behind my elf to spoon around him, gathering him to me. He made a low throaty sound of contentment and snuggled back against my body. Nuzzling his glistening hair, I said, “A few hours before we left Rivendell, Ada took me into his study, leading me to the chair.”
Legolas sucked a quick gasp, knowing, of course, what I meant. Then he paused and thought, and said, “Ah. No wonder I could not find you. I should have known. A comfort session?”
“So wise, Lord Elrond.”
“Aye. He knew how I needed it, just that feel of safety. I’d done nothing to elicit a spanking.”
“Nay,” Legolas said. “But you needed to feel his presence, know he was there and would always be there.”
“Aye. A comfort session. A last quiet time.”
“You over his knee, your breeches down, there in your special chair with him, his light, gentle swats--”
“Not even enough to redden the skin, but to just warm and remind . . . aye, my ada is wise.”
I let Legolas imagine it for a moment, and I languished in the memory as well, recalling how distracted I’d been that morning, slightly panicked by Gandalf’s sudden decision to leave a day early, desperately going over everything in my mind: Had we packed all we needed? What were we forgetting? Were the little ones ready? Could we really do this? I remembered feeling Elrond’s eyes upon me as I stormed about making last minute checks. I noticed he and my brothers speaking together and frowning my way, but I hadn’t had the time to concern myself with them. And, finally, I’d dared to feel impatient with Elrond when he was suddenly beside me, ordering me to go with him.
We’d had angry words over Arwen the night before. I’d looked up from my bed where Boromir lay sleeping in my arms and had seen Elrond moving in the gardens outside my chamber. I’d slipped out from under my sleeping fledgling and joined Ada in the shadowy darkness, only to have him scold me for leading Arwen on, accusing me of things that were hard to hear, telling me that she was giving up her life’s grace, staying in Middle Earth for me, and how wrong that was for her.
Well aware of all Legolas and I were to each other, Arwen had accepted it graciously, respecting our relationship and knowing that my love for Legolas was as much a part of me as was my mortality. Elrond was less understanding than Arwen was, but in all fairness, he merely wanted what was best for his beloved daughter. He had convinced me to separate from her, and I had done my best to do so, although I knew she had not accepted it, and I had felt badly overall.
So to see Elrond now glaring at me, and ordering me to come with him, was somewhat infuriating. I recalled my inner shudder when I realized where he was leading me, how for the first time since my youth I’d nearly defied my ada and refused to go into that room. Sheer anger and determination to get this business of his over with had kept me following his long stride. I recalled nearly flinging myself over his lap, not even trying to hide my irritation.
And then . . . then I remembered my ada, the ‘feel’ of him, the sense of him, his steadiness and courage, his enormous capacity to love and his desire to do what he honestly felt was right for those he cherished, despite how it often hurt him and them. I thought back on his slow movements, his graceful easing down of my breeches, his warm hand resting on my bottom, his solid thighs, his strong arm over the small of my back holding me firmly against him, just holding me still for the longest time, his only sound the occasional, “Shhhhh.” I recalled the tension inside me easing, my tight stomach relaxing from the comforting feel of the familiar position. I had listened to his silence. I had serenely watched the leaves whisper across the floor. I’d breathed in the rich scent of the volumes and the ancient manuscripts filling the room, lining the walls, an aroma of the ages. I remembered the light sting of Ada’s random slow and gentle swats. And, as I had then, I felt tears blur my vision.
Lastly, I recalled Elrond’s soft, reasonable voice, his words of simple wisdom, quiet truths spoken to my heart, and how I felt afterwards, how just that time spent over my ada’s lap had instilled such a feel of comfort, a solid base of love from which I could function again, be who I was again.
I now kissed my elfling’s pointed ear and said, “Ada told me something I didn’t understand at the time, but I think I do now, and I think he meant for you to hear it as well when the time came.”
Legolas shifted to look back at me, his eyes bright with curiosity.
“Ada said, ‘The Son of Gondor has come to you for a reason, Estel. You have connected with him again, as when he was a child.’
“I told him that, aye, I had.” I paused, then said, “Do you recall that morning when we left Imladris, elfling mine?”
Legolas winced. “All too well. The evening before, you had found Boromir and I quarreling outside your chambers.”
“Aye. You had been so hurt and angry, having discovered that I’d spanked Boromir, and you’d stormed off, and I’d spanked him again that night for his rude words to you.”
“That is not a fond memory, Aragorn. I do not like thinking of that time when this little one and I were at odds.”
“I’m sorry, sweetling. I merely meant to point out that this was the next morning, and Elrond, of course, knew of what was happening with you and me.”
“Aye. He would, of course.”
“So, Ada went on to say, ‘What is good and noble within a man can be nurtured with attention and love. The love you and Legolas share is absolute, beyond time, beyond measure. Such an enormous love as yours can save a man from the darkness that threatens him, Estel.’”
Legolas stared at me. “What did he mean by that?”
“I was as baffled as you.”
“Ai! I know you are repeating his words as he spoke them, but--” Legolas sighed. “Lord Elrond and his cryptic ways.”
“My thoughts as well. I said to him, ‘Ada, I understand your words, but how can Legolas be part of this? He and Boromir were nearly at each others’ throats last night.’
“‘Time will see to that,’ he said. ‘Legolas needs to learn more of this man before your elf can find his compassion. He needs to hear what you know of Boromir, where he came from and how he has lived. Your beloved elfling has a heart as large as your own, Estel. As you had room in your heart for this human, so will he.’ And I knew that Ada was right.”
Legolas gave me a quiet half-smile and glanced back at Boromir. “Aye. I can scarce recall the time when he was anything but my little brother.”
“Unless some thoughtless lout reminds you of it?” Legolas cast me a grin, and I went on. “Ada then said, ‘When the time comes, listen to your hearts concerning Boromir. You and Legolas will know what to do. Trust that when it is right for you to understand, all will become clear.’ I, of course, sighed loudly, and his next swat was a bit more forceful.”
“But I had to tell him that I just did not understand. And he said, ‘You will, my son.’”
When I said nothing further, Legolas asked, “That is it?”
He watched me, his eyes darkening with a quiet dissatisfaction. “Aragorn, is there some answer in this that I am not seeing?”
I grinned and kissed him, simply for being so beautiful, even when his face was tight with bewilderment. “Perhaps not the answer you are looking for at present, elfling mine, but, aye, there is an answer in it for now, one that can perhaps bring us some comfort. For although we might not know at this moment what is best to do for Boromir, we can rest in the assurance that, when the time is right, we will know what to do without hesitation or confusion. Clearly, that time is not yet upon us. But it will be. And we can choose to find comfort in that.”
I waited for Legolas to consider this. Slowly, the tension left his face, then he sighed and he cast me his irresistible little grin. “Well, to quote Master Samwise, ‘It’s better’n nothing.’”
I buried my face in his neck and chuckled softly. It was simply too hilarious when the Prince of Mirkwood mimicked dialect.
“We should put your britches back on before you fall asleep.”
“I don’t want my britches back on.”
“Well, you can’t go bare-bottomed all night.”
“I want to.”
I pressed up against him and slyly murmured, “But you like me with my britches off.”
Sam shuddered, making me grin. He pressed my hands down on either side of my head and kissed me soundly, then said, “Stop that.”
“Am I being a hobbit-brat, Sam?”
“You know you are. And we’re both much too tired for your brattiness.”
“I’m not tired.”
“You are. You get silly and cheeky when you’re overtired, and you don’t care what you say to who.”
“That’s not so.”
“It is, too.”
“I’m not silly or cheeky or tired.”
“Oh, no? You nodded right off after that last time.”
“Did not.” Sam held me still, gazing levelly at me. “Well, maybe I did. But just for a minute.”
“Hmmph. You only woked up when I tried to put your britches back on you.”
“I don’t want my britches on. Please, Sam. I just want to lay like this, feel you against me. I’m warm, really. Just stay where you are, right where you are.”
“I can’t be falling asleep on top of you, Frodo love. I’m too heavy for you.”
“No, you’re not!”
Sam sighed, watching me with a sweet mixture of patience and amusement. We’d often had this little squabble, and I’d never won, but perhaps . . . .
“I promise to fall asleep if you stay where you are,” I whispered. “And as long as you don’t put my britches back on.”
Sam blinked, an alarming gleam flashing in his eyes. “Now, see here, Mister Frodo, we’re going to have us a discussion about this promising to do one thing if I do another. Like that business with your dinner and me taking that broth when I was sick.”
“But it worked.”
Sam gazed at me, taking on the most adorably menacing glower. I had to giggle.
I giggled more.
Sam rolled his eyes and groaned. I giggled more. He fired me an exaggerated frown; then he pulled the cover down far enough for us to lift our heads and look over at Legolas and Aragorn. They were lying next to each other now, both of them braced up on their elbows, glaring at us.
“Aren’t you asleep yet?” I asked in a mildly surprised tone.
I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but their glares sharpened. “Excuse me?” Aragorn growled.
“Nothin’, Strider. Sorry.”
“You two do not want to make me come over there,” he said.
“I should say we don’t!” I exclaimed. “We have no britches on.”
Sam, now positively scarlet-faced, swung a fierce scowl down at me and said, “Frodo! Hush.”
“No britches, little one?” Legolas said. “How very convenient for what we have in mind.”
Sam clamped his hand over my mouth and stared down at me, his eyes smoldering. “Don’t. You. Dare.”
I blinked up innocently.
“One more word, Frodo,” he murmured in a scathing tone, “just one, and you won’t sit again until all this is over and we’re back at the Green Dragon, and even then you’ll need a pillow under your smart little bottom. You understand me?”
I gazed up at Sam, my chest pounding and my blood racing despite my tiredness. I felt tears sting my eyes. Oh, how I loved him! I just loved him so. And in that moment, I’d have done anything for my Sam. For my Sam did everything for me.
I nodded, and I knew from Sam’s softening expression that he’d seen my eyes starting to glisten.
“Good tears?” he whispered.
I blinked slowly, spilling a few, and nodded again. Sam replaced his hand with his mouth, kissing me gently.
“Oh, bother!” he whispered against my lips. Then he raised up again and we turned once more to the two warriors, who were watching us with obvious exasperation.
“I’m sorry, Strider.”
“Do I need to come over there, young sir?”
“No. No, Strider. You sure don’t.”
“I know you have been sleeping a great deal, Sam, but Frodo has not, and he needs his rest.”
“You’re right. I know. You’re right, of course.”
“And you are still recovering, sir, so you need to rest as well.”
“I know. I really do know, Strider. We’re both tired. That’s why Mister Frodo is so full of sass right now. You know how he gets when he’s overtired. And I’m tired, too. Honest, I am.”
“I should think you would be,” Legolas remarked. “It has been some time since Aragorn last spoke to you, little one. I dare say you are well tired out by now.”
A second later, Legolas jerked, as though he’d been pinched somewhere tender. I bit my lip to keep from giggling again. But Sam, dearest Sam, missed the elf’s jest entirely.
“Oh, I am tired, Legolas. I surely am. I’m plum wore out.”
I bit down harder on my lip and gazed at Legolas, who appeared to be using every ounce of his phenomenal elvish control to keep from exploding with laughter. He was actually trembling from the effort, his eyes huge and glistening. Meanwhile, the Ranger had lost his battle. He had lowered his head behind the elf’s shoulders, and his body now clearly shook from the force of his chuckles. Sam watched them with his sweetly befuddled, ‘What?’ expression.
“Huh,” he muttered. “Seems I said something funny.” He glanced down at me, and I quickly released my lip and blinked up at him with a genuine smile. Sam shrugged, looking bewildered, but relieved, and said, “Oh, well, I guess they’re not feeling vexed no more.” He placed a finger on my lips. “Now, you just keep quiet, little sir, and let me finish taking care of this. Then we’re both going to sleep, and no more fussing. And, aye, you can keep your britches off.”
I grinned. “Thank you, dearest Sam.”
Sam looked over at Aragorn and Legolas again, who had now collected themselves. “Don’t worry, Strider. We’re going to sleep now. That’s a promise.”
Aragorn cleared his throat and raised his head, shaking his hair back from his eyes, once again perfectly calm. “Then I can rest easy, Master Gamgee. Your promise is good enough for me. Thank you, sir.”
Sam nodded and lay down next to me, gathering me up against him. He would watch me now until I fell asleep, then he would sleep, himself. I suddenly felt exhausted, but I smiled at him first and wiped away the few large tears that trickled from the corners of his eyes, knowing their source.
“Yes, you heard him,” I whispered. “Aragorn, son of Arathorn, Lord of the Dunedain and the rightful King of Gondor, said to you, ‘Your promise is good enough for me.’”
Sam coughed a tiny chuckle and nodded, too moved to speak.
“Good tears, my Sam?”
He nodded again, and I closed my eyes and slept.