Author's Notes: Since Tolkien himself made no fortune off his works, I would be horrified to accept any money for this. Thank you, Gabby! The speediest beta-reader on the block.

Innocent Brandy and Fireflies

By Icarus


At Merry and Pippin's departure, the world simplified, to just day and night, morning and evening, Frodo and Sam. Rain fell, or it didn't, in a changeless pattern. Their wills, which were hardened to push past endurance and then later, to smile and nod at strangers in unfamiliar surroundings, finally began to relax. They no longer slept from exhaustion, but settled into a restful pattern of life far from the reminders of the city. In their private corner of the world, time ran on effortlessly, uninterrupted.

For some weeks they barely saw each other outside of mealtimes, rarely speaking even then. They were bathed in a silence they sorely needed. Sam spent his days outside 'setting the garden to rights.' Frodo remained indoors for the most part; he'd the worse injuries and had taxed them too much in Minas Tirith, in his eagerness to be about. He delighted to find that the bedroom, in addition to their two beds, had its own fireplace, and a glazed door to the garden. There he wrote several letters to Bilbo, all unfinished, which was rather foolish, as it was likely they'd have to deliver them themselves.

In the morning light, Sam noted the little house looked a bit shabby, though the inside was in good repair. It faced southeast, and was fenced with a high overgrown hedge. The lane, really two wheel tracks, ran south just beyond the hedge. They were not far from the village market, and farm children passed almost daily up and down the road, their light high voices laughing and singing. The garden was many seasons overgrown, and Sam was pleased to find a vegetable garden in the back had reseeded and run riot with tomato vines and various herbs, some of which he didn't recognize. Daring the Doctor's wrath, not to mention further injury, Sam raised a trellis that cupped the small front porch, and was already training an unfamiliar flowering vine to climb it. "I only hope it doesn't turn out to be a weed of some kind," he mused. But it seemed to be doing well and behaving like a proper flower.

Frodo for his part, after 'supervising' the trellis, teased Sam about "poisoning us with that garden of yours," and wrote to Merry for some books on local herbs.

Slowly, as something undefinable in their friendship healed, they spoke more, almost shyly, of little things, mostly about the humid weather in Gondor, the cool mountain nights, and would you pass the toast? They found they in fact had too much to say to each other, and even Frodo found no words.

Instead Sam began to absurdly dote on Frodo, until in frustration Frodo complained he was no helpless grandmother. For his part, Frodo tried to do for Sam many of the things Sam had always done for his master, insisting on making tea, or dinner, or doing the washing. He was of no help at all, and soon they were awkwardly tripping over one another.

"Now Mr. Frodo, I'll be out of a job if you keep on like this," complained Sam one morning, while a rueful Frodo turned burnt bacon to see if any could be salvaged.

"That seems unlikely at this rate," he observed with a laugh, and yielded both the tongs and the kitchen back to their rightful owner. It was all quite awkward and they both gave it up as a bad idea.

So they did what any hobbits would do in their circumstances: filled up their pipes and spoke of small things of no consequence until late into the night, drinking in each other's company. They did continue the habit Sam had begun of helping each other with the salve, feeling slightly naughty, but finding it too practical to abandon. Also, Frodo was impatient for his feet to heal so he could explore the surrounding area.

Of evenings, Sam warmed a pot of water and set the jar of salve in it, chatting while Frodo lit the bedroom fire, more for the light than warmth. The light played on the walls and ceiling as Frodo sat on top of a deep green coverlet, his feet propped on Sam's lap, a glass of brandy in hand. Sam watched as the fireflies danced like stars at the windows. He never tired of them, as they had none in the Shire, save in deepest Southfarthing where he'd never been.

It was difficult not to touch the more sensitive parts of Frodo's feet, challenging even for Sam, and the fresh skin from the burns made it worse, but Frodo took a snifter of brandy to take the edge off his nerves, and to avoid kicking Sam in the face. He lay back against the pillows, eyes half-lidded, with a contented, beamy, slightly flushed expression, whether from the brandy or the attentions it was hard to tell. Sam couldn't resist comment.

"You look like a cat being stroked." Frodo merely smiled softly and stretched.

"Well, it's almost your turn, Master Cat. And don't let me fall asleep this time!" Truth to tell, Sam noticed the brandy put Frodo right out, given half a chance. It was one reason they'd moved these sessions from the living room to their bedroom, though comfort was their main thought. Many was the time he watched Frodo sleep and his heart would catch in his throat; or he would sit admiring, he looked so like some elvish creation, too fragile and pure for this world. Tonight though, brandy or no, Frodo's eyes remained alert, lively with restless intelligence and mischief.

At Sam's turn, Sam comfortably sagged into the cushions, both hands cupping a mug. The headboard was a pleasant oak, and Sam was careful not to knock his head against it. He always felt odd having Frodo serve him like this, it went against the grain somehow, it was not proper, but he knew better than to argue with Frodo about it. The fire had burned considerably lower, bathing the room and Frodo in a soft glow. The clock on the mantel counted time, but Sam blissfully ignored it.

Frodo's touch was gentle if somewhat less skilled than Sam's. Sam usually found himself to be thoroughly relaxed by this time, and in any case, he detested the sweetish taste of brandy, though any excuse would do for a mug of ale. It was thicker hereabouts than he liked, and not a patch on the Golden Perch as he had told Frodo many times, but it would do, and very nicely, too.

The fire flickered low as they sipped and talked, Frodo listening to every word of Sam's meandering talk about the garden and his day. He never tired of stories of Sam's family he'd heard a thousand times. Frodo hadn't really had a family as boy. It was unusual for Frodo to tell tales of his childhood in Brandy Hall as he did this evening, gazing up at the ceiling, particularly as the conversation turned to a saucy one.

You're in trouble tonight, Sam Gamgee, Sam thought aimlessly, sipping his ale and blushing from more than just the beer.

But he rose to the occasion with a naughty story of his own, regarding a certain Pansy Marish, and he related the gossip in the rich detail that only one who had been present could tell. He was absurdly pleased as this left Frodo breathless with laughter and unspoken respect. Frodo had his answer to that amorous adventure though, his better termed a misadventure, with the Tooks, one Pippin would surely cuff him for if he heard! Frodo made him promise never, ever, to tell, and Sam swore on his soul, may lightning strike him down. And so they laughed, all else forgotten, as the night closed in, they found themselves confessing things they never dreamed they would tell anyone, unwilling to sleep even as it pressed their heads into the pillow. Frodo's curls tumbled onto his face, and his eyes were preternaturally bright.

"We oughtn't to stay up much later," Sam offered, but, fortunately Frodo wasn't willing to sleep either and propped himself up, his elbow making a trough in the pillow beside Sam's cheek. A part of Sam, suspended, was aware of how close they were, and whether it was from the subject matter or no, he pulled away slightly to hide an embarrassing tightness in his trousers. Frodo didn't appear to notice, however, and Sam joyfully absorbed his animated face. Frodo was alight, as happy as he'd ever seen him, and it did his heart good to see it.

His eyelids slid shut of their own accord, and it was Frodo's turn to suggest, unwelcome, that they get some sleep. His chin burrowed in the pillow next to Sam's face. He didn't look at all sleepy. Sam lied, no, no sir, I'm not tired.

He took up his end of the conversation to keep his eyes from betraying him again. It was the utterly still hour of night, when all the world slumbered. He was uncomfortably aware of Frodo's breathing next to him, and he kept glancing over to see if he was still awake. But his master was stretched out beside him, gazing up at him contentedly. It seemed an age had passed when Frodo said, in a way Sam somehow understood, "you should leave, Sam," his voice strange, husky and tight.

Sam meant to make light, his wagging finger was intended as a chiding gesture, but the tip touched Frodo's lip - they were that close - and that first touch was electric. It shot fire all through Sam. He wanted to follow that sensation to the end of the rainbow, wherever it led. Frodo's skin, his face, his shoulders, all felt silky under his searching hands; reason melted.

Frodo helped with his stubborn buttons that stood in Sam's way, and Sam heard his own groan of frustration as Frodo fended him off. "No, wait," Frodo whispered. Sam let go a moment, obedient but glowering, vaguely aware of Frodo tugging at his shirt, and then the hot hands and kisses and cool air touched his chest, exquisite and shivery. Sam swiftly got the point, and finished pulling off his own shirt, and slid their two bodies next to each other, smooth and pleasant. He was relieved to find that arcing fire was still there, it hadn't escaped. Sam pressed close, wanting nothing to separate them. Frodo sighed. Kisses rained on his shoulders, neck, then settled on Sam's mouth fiercely, and Sam was aware of lips moving softly on his own, and the warmth of hot breath under his chin as Frodo broke away with a shuddering sigh. Sam started at a sharp nip from his master and returned it with rough kisses of his own.

Frodo nuzzled his chest, and looked up at him with such dark, knowing eyes, Sam's heart skipped a beat. Something in him cooled to a steadier, deeper rhythm. As they fell into a deep kiss, the room spun. It was hard to tell where he began and his master ended.

He found himself, he was not sure how, tumbled on his back. He was gazing up at his master's bare, smooth skin, so delicate in the morning half-light; his thighs pinned Sam's shoulders deep into the downy pillow. Frodo's eyes, half-lidded, sparkled at him, playful, lips kissed as bright as a cherry. They looked fuller than usual, though they had their usual ironic smile. Sam's eyes grew big. His master's need was stretched out, near straight as a poker, across Sam, within easy reach, if Sam hadn't been completely trapped.

Sam felt suddenly shy and blushed at his own frank examination of Frodo's slender length, smaller and more delicate than his own. He looked away. Except, there was really nowhere to look but up, past the dark nipples and silently heaving chest, skin pebbled and chilled in the cool dawn air. He was caught by Frodo's eyes, which clearly read his embarrassment, softened and smiled. Frodo's hand gently touched Sam's cheek, comforting. A fire smoldered in those eyes with an intensity he'd rarely seen.

Sam glanced down again and licked his lips unconsciously. Then, locked to the gaze of those eyes, he raised his head slightly and touched the tip of that length with his tongue. Frodo jolted and gave a slight yelp, gasped a startled whisper: "What are you doing?" His eyes were wide with shock. Sam grinned foolishly. He lifted again with a questioning look -and more warning this time- and at Frodo's hesitant nod and wider blinking eyes, took first the tip, and then enveloped as much as he could with his mouth.

Frodo's entire body turned pliable and responsive to his touch, as he lovingly stroked the shaft with his tongue, trailing around the delicate, sensitive rim. Frodo's eyes slid shut, as something between a sigh and a moan escaped him. Sam's own arousal throbbed as he imagined Frodo doing this to himself -soon enough- but he tended his master's needs first, and thoroughly. Sam easily held Frodo and rolled him over, kicking the blankets out of the way, and settled in to do this properly, immersed in a flood of new sensation.

The curve of Frodo's smile was soft. There was an indentation where he had bit his lip to keep, unsuccessfully, from crying out. So much for your dignity, Mr. Frodo. A rosy dawn light filled the room.

Liquid eyes looked up at Sam in a glazed mixture of emotion, wonder and devotion, almost frighteningly intense. Dark sweat-dampened curls stuck to his forehead. Sam stroked Frodo's cheek, observing, "We sure made an awful mess of the bed." Frodo laughed shakily.

After a long moment they moved; their skin, stuck together, reluctantly separated. Sam murmured something about a bath, but Frodo shook his head and said softly, "No, thank you, Sam."

Keenly aware of how sticky he felt, Sam trotted off to the kitchen and returned with dampened tea towels, which Frodo insistently took from his hands and deftly rubbed him down, trundling him in a blanket, while Sam awkwardly tried to do the same. Frodo sank to the pillow, barely remembering to say "Goodnight, Sam," as they always did, on more ordinary nights. Though clearly it was now morning.

It felt strange to Sam to be naked beneath the sheets. Frodo was an arm's reach beside him. By the rise and fall of the stretched linens, he was already fast asleep. Sam's mind reeled with exhaustion and dumbfounded shock, his own bed across the room seemed a mile away. Finally, awake but knowing he had to sleep, he curled up under the blankets; and wisely put off thinking until the morrow.

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