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Rising in the Spring

by Nifra Idril

     Subject: LOTR Rising in Spring (Frodo/Sam, NC-17)
     Date: Thursday, May 08, 2003 3:16 PM

     Title: Rising in the Spring
     Author: Nifra Idril
     Summary: Sam learns to like Frodo taking care of him.
     Rating: NC-17
     Disclaimer: Not mine.

A/N: It's my first LOTR fic, and it's not terribly ambitious. I'd love to know what you think of it! Feedback me at Nifra_Idril@yahoo.com


It's been raining for four days, and all that straight green grass bristling against the earth of the shire is starting to lie flat in the mud. The weight of the water is too much for the thin blades to bear. Sam winces slightly, adding the lawn to the list of things that are going to need his attention, and soon. Right after the roses that are losing petal after petal in the steady downpour, so that the streams of water making their way across the sloping yard are littered with small pink and red blossoms.

He shifts his shoulders slightly, ignores the pain in his head, and wipes his muddy hands against the wet fabric of his breeches, sneezing loudly. Four days. And every day he's been out here, doing his best for the gardens, but Sam's starting to realize that maybe they can't be saved. Not when it feels as though there are thorns curling up and up inside his skull, squeezing tighter and tighter as the moments pass. The mud beneath him looks so very, very welcoming. Like it would be soft to lie down on. He sneezes again, losing his balance. Maybe Mr. Frodo wouldn't mind so much if he just let this wait until after the rains have stopped. It won't be the finest year that Bag End's seen, but he's sure he can salvage something. His head hurts. It hurts so much, and seeing as Mr. Frodo's spending the day away, maybe he could just sneak a quick cup of tea before seeing to the rest of the smial. That sounds reasonable enough to him.

So Sam walks slowly, carefully - so as not to disturb the thorns in his head - into the house, dripping all over the kitchen floor. He leans against the counter, feels the water running over his face and pooling into the sink. He sneezes again, and the dizziness he felt outside is doubled. He falls to the floor, and that's not so bad after all. Kind of comfortable, and maybe it'll be all right for him to just fall asleep right here. Only for a little while, though, he tells himself, closing his eyes against the pain in his head and the itch in his nose. He'll be up in no time, feeling five times better, no doubt.


He wakes up, wondering when the floor became white and soft before realizing that he's in a strange bed...Mr. Frodo's bed. Sam tries to sit bolt upright, but can't. His head is, if possible, more painful than it was before and so he contents himself with a weak stir, and a low moan.

Instantly Frodo's face appears in his field of vision, dark brows drawn together over eyes that are just too blue and wide with worry. "Sam? Are you alright?"

And he means to say yes, really he does, but what comes out is a croaked, "Sick."

"Of course you are. You were soaking wet when I found you, collapsed on the kitchen floor. How long had you been outside?" There's a tantrum gathering in those stunning eyes, and that fair brow, and if Sam's head didn't hurt so much he'd probably smile just to see it. "How long had you been outside?" Frodo repeats.

"Since sun-up," Sam admits sheepishly, closing his eyes as he sneezes again, realizing as he wipes ineffectually at his watering eyes that he is very, very cold. "Is the window open, sir?"

"No, it's not," Frodo answers. He watches Sam pulling the covers up around himself and rests a fine, pale hand against Sam's forehead. "You have a fever," he says accusingly. "And it serves you right, spending a day out in the rain. Tell me you haven't been doing this every day, Sam?"

Sam becomes quite absorbed in rubbing his eyes, and says nothing.

"You have been, haven't you?" But the question is rhetorical, and Mr. Frodo mutters to himself as he pushes up from the chair, stalking across the room to the corner and tossing open the lid to the linen chest. He rummages through it, still talking to himself in a rough undertone, and his motions are jerky with anger. Sam's too sick to try and figure out why, but he can feel anxiety curling in his stomach, and with that extra discomfort comes another pathetically weak whimper.

Mr. Frodo's head shoots up, and he's beside Sam again in seconds, with a thick blanket in his hand. "Sam? What is it?" he asks solicitously, those long fingers brushing hair back from Sam's forehead before he tucks the blanket around him carefully.

"I didn't mean to worry you none, Mr. Frodo sir, I just worried after the garden. Seeing as how it's raining so hard, I thought as I should try and protect it. I know how you love the tea-roses, sir, and I wanted, well...I'm sorry, sir. I don't mean to be a burden." Sam shifts uncomfortably on the fine linens, not recognizing his own voice as it forces its way from his swollen throat. He closes his eyes and sighs heavily. "I'll go soon as I can move, sir. You ought not take care of me like this."

"Samwise Gamgee, if you try to leave that bed before I say you can then I shall be forced to do something horribly cruel to you," Mr. Frodo threatens, voice hard. "I'm not sure what yet, but it shall be truly terrible." His eyes glitter dangerously as he stares heatedly at Sam, who has to catch his breath. He is so lovely, is Mr. Frodo, and in moments like this it seems only natural to want...what he can never have. And he would remember that he can't have it, if only he didn't feel so wretched.

Sam's very good at knowing his place, and his place is not here, not in Mr. Frodo's bed, not noticing the way he nibbles on that full lower lip and wondering what it would be like to pull it into his mouth, and with a tender kiss sooth the small red marks those white teeth leave.

He sneezes again, and the motion hurts his head. Pressing his eyes shut, he leans back against the bed. "Alright sir, if you say so. Can't say as I mind staying right here much, Mr. Frodo."

"And if you're going to lie in my bed, you may as well dispense with the `sir' and the `Mister,'" the cultured voice teases, with a hint of an edge.

Sam merely nods, and immediately regrets it. He must have made a sound of discomfort because Frodo's hands are instantly on either side of his head. "Stay still," Mr. Frodo orders, a thumb brushing along Sam's cheek as his fingers slowly massage circles onto Sam's aching temples. "Rest, Sam."

And that sounds like the best idea Sam has heard in days. He drifts back to sleep as Frodo's fingers twine with his, and lips brush gently across his forehead.


He wakes at some point during the night to find himself cradled in Frodo's arms, one around his waist, pulling him tight, and the other pressing his head gently against his master's shoulder, as though he were a small child in need of comforting. He stirs slightly, surprised, and whimpers as the motion jars his head. Frodo's hand rubs his back gently in response.

"Shh, my Sam," Frodo whispers, mostly asleep. "It's alright. I'm here."

Sam stills, and closes his eyes, a smile creasing his face as he falls again into dreams.


When the kittenish morning light crawls into the room and rubs itself against Sam's skin, his eyes flutter open slowly and he's alone in bed and he feels...better. The ache that was in his head has lessened, and spread out through his limbs, but it's bearable.

"You're up again," Frodo says cheerfully from beside the bed. "Feel any better?"

"A bit," Sam says, slowly levering himself into an upright position. He turns, studies Frodo. "You're not angry with me anymore?"

Frodo's generous mouth purses. "I wouldn't quite say that, my dear hobbit. I'm furious with your own lack of self-preservation, and quite angry that you should think I value my garden over your health. However, I have decided that since the storm outside has passed, I shall endeavor to let this storm pass as well." He cocks his head, inquisitive. "Do you think you could manage to eat something?"

Sam thinks for a moment, before slipping his legs over the side of the bed. "Yes, sir, I think I could. I think I could even manage to make some tomatoes and that bacon you like so much."

Frodo's hand pushes him back down onto the bed. "Well, I don't think you could do that, Sam, because I believe you are going to remain right here. You are sick, and I refuse to allow you to make yourself sicker. And I believe I told you not to call me `sir.' Just plain Frodo will do."

It's said lightly, but there's a flash of stubbornness, like lightening in those too-vivid eyes and Sam can't argue with him when he looks like that, so he simply lies back down.

"Excellent. Now, give me a few moments, and I'll bring you an omelet with mushrooms. It won't be a patch on yours, but I believe I can manage something this side of edible." Frodo smiles self deprecatingly, the corner of his mouth twitching upward into the sweet roundness of his cheek. Sam sighs, and wishes he could stop noticing these things - stop noticing the broad line of Frodo's shoulders, and the grace with which he moved when walking away.

The silence is clear, easy to handle, and now that Sam is feeling better, he can manage to think. He remembers the night before, and Frodo's arms around him. The solid weight of Frodo's hand in his as he fell asleep, the brush of lips against his skin. And now that smile. So brilliant that Sam's breath catches thinking of it and he's in Frodo's bed and that, too, makes him a little light-headed.

He can hear the clatter of plates, pots in the kitchen, and an off-pitch humming. He's never been taken care of before, except for when he was a very small hobbit-lad and his mother looked after him. Frodo is taking care of him. And it's Frodo; not Mr. Frodo, or Master, but Frodo.

Things are shifting all around him, but Sam isn't quite sure he understands how, or why, but he plans to ride the currents and see where they take him, and so when Frodo walks in, whistling to himself, Sam lets his eyes wander for just a second longer than usual, lets himself take in the beauty of Frodo's smile, his eyes, and the white column of his neck that rises from the unbuttoned collar of his shirt. He feels the corner of his mouth curl upward in a small, private smile, and ducks his head.

"Here we are. I thought you might like some company, so I shall breakfast with you," Frodo says with a twinkle of his eyes. "It will be a great sacrifice, of course, for me to eat some of these lovely mushrooms and spend an hour or two talking with my best friend, but I shan't allow it to ruin my day."

Sam doesn't respond, merely lets the smile on his face deepen, and looks up. There's a long moment, and all they do is smile at each other and there's something there, in that stillness, some kind of warmth that flows from Frodo to Sam, as though there were a cord connecting the two. Sam thinks that this moment, this one moment, is perfect.

It's broken when Frodo looks down, laughs a little. "It's a poor spread compared to the feasts you make, Sam, but I've done my best. Here, let's eat," he says, laying the tray on the bed, and sitting next to Sam. "I've made you some chamomile tea with honey, as I don't think lemon would be easy on your throat right now."

"I'm sure it's fine, Frodo," he replies, saying the name shyly and watching the hobbit beside him. Long fingered hands fidget slightly, straightening the sheets underneath him a little. Sam reaches out and touches his hand to the thigh beside him. "Thank you," he says quietly, raising his gaze to Frodo's face. "I'm sure I'll be better right soon, what with all this attention you're giving me."

"I'm giving you no more attention than you would me," Frodo replies, blush rising in his cheeks. Long, dusky lashes sweep down and cover his eyes, but he seems flustered. "And, really, it is my fault that you're so terribly sick. I didn't think to make sure that you were at home; I just assumed you had the sense to stay out of the flood waters! What did your Gaffer say to such foolhardiness, I wonder?"

"My Gaffer!" Sam exclaims, sitting bolt upright. "He'll be worried sick, he will. I've got to send word to him, Frodo, or he'll be beside himself. Oh, how could I have forgotten?"

"Quite easily, as you're very ill, my dear Sam," Frodo says, amused. "And I sent him word as soon as I found you in the kitchen. He knows that you're here, and he says that it would serve you best to stay as long as need be for you to regain your strength. There, do you see? Nothing to worry about except for the rapidly cooling breakfast I've made you."

Sam smiles. "You've taken care of everything then, haven't you?"

"Only you, Sam," he responds, an impenetrable expression darkening his eyes momentarily before he laughs gaily. "But come, you're still not eating! Don't fear that you shall become sicker. I have cooked before, you know."

And maybe it's whimsy, but as they eat side-by-side, conversing comfortably, Sam thinks the connection between them revives, and feels waves of contentment flowing off Frodo and into him and moves closer toward it - like flowers turning up to the sun.

Their hands brush, and their thighs lie next to one another and Sam is having difficulties focusing when he looks at Frodo because of that mouth, and breath is trapped in his chest when Frodo licks jam off of his fingertips. He looks out the window to distract himself, and can't look away. He stands abruptly, moving closer so he can see.

The garden is a mess. All mud, and bent over plants, and Sam makes a small horrified noise when he sees it. This isn't what he expects to see when he looks out the window at Bag End. All of the buds he's tended so carefully are washed away, and the grass is completely water logged. The damage is extreme.

"Sam," Frodo calls quietly from behind him. "Oh, Sam, it can be fixed."

"Aye, it can," he hears himself say with something like determination. "I'll have to start first thing tomorrow, though. No more sleeping the day away if we're to have things as they should be."

"You'll do no such thing, Sam." Strong hands guide him away from the window, and back to the bed, and Frodo squats before him, taking Sam's hands in his own. "Sam, please. Listen to me. Your health is more important to me than an entire forest of rosebushes. It doesn't matter to me whether or not I can look out that window and see blossoms or simply grass, not so long as you are well. If I must choose one or the other, as it seems you think I must, then I choose you without hesitation."

"But...Frodo...I...'tis what I do, sir," Sam says, reverting to formality.

"And you do it wonderfully, Sam," Frodo assures him, rubbing his thumbs over the back of Sam's broad hands and staring up at him earnestly. "I know what it means to you. I can see the pride you take in the work you do, but I should hate to gain a beautiful garden and lose a beautiful gardener."

The words are out clearly before Frodo intends for them to be, and Sam simply stops breathing. Two splotches of red appear on Frodo's cheeks, and he pulls away, the blue of his eyes clouded with embarrassment, beginning to sputter some kind of an explanation before Sam rests a hand on his shoulder and says, simply, "I'll wait until you say as I'm fit, then. It wouldn't do aught anyway, trying to do a thing out in mud like that when I feel like this."

Frodo's smile is slow in coming, and lacking the intensity that Sam relates with his happiness, but it's genuine. "I'm glad to hear that, Sam." He studies Sam for a moment longer, eyes traveling the length of his form, and Sam would give anything to know what he's thinking. Anything.

"You look tired," he observes. "Perhaps you should lie down again and I'll read to you."

Sam nods, lets himself be led over, and lies down obediently.

"What would you like to hear?" Frodo asks him, shuffling through assorted papers on the desk. "Something Elvish, of course, but what?"

"Whatever you'd like to read me, Frodo," Sam tells him, watching the long line of Frodo's back, and trying to puzzle out the last few minutes. The comfort that had flown between them so steadily is now pricking at his skin; something hotter, wilder, and he wonders if it's just him, or if Frodo is feeling it, too.

Frodo half turns, and their eyes lock. Sam drowns in the blue of his eyes, darker now than before and suddenly, Sam can understand. He knows what that look means. Frodo wants him.

He may be young, but he's not as innocent as Frodo clearly thinks he is, and that look is just...plain as day, and as gorgeous as anything Sam's ever seen. Shivers run up his spine and he feels his mouth go dry.

The bed shifts as Frodo settles beside him, thumbing through the book he holds in his lap without meeting Sam's eyes once. He begins to read, voice soft and low. A little husky, and that makes Sam smile. He can affect Frodo that much - he can turn that smooth voice raspy.

What to do about this? Does he lean over the book, turn Frodo's face toward his and press his lips gently against that sweet, full mouth? Does he look into the blue of that direct gaze and say it simply, laying all of himself bare with three small words? Does he dare give life to the feelings he's clutched to himself so tightly, for so long?

Or does he just hold onto that knowledge, folding it into his heart, and treasuring it with each breath he takes, without ever using it?

His eyes trail over Frodo, taking in the casual elegance of his garments and his pose. The creature beside him is so unfathomably fine, so heartbreakingly wondrous. There is something almost ethereal, insubstantial about that pale skin, those shining eyes, and the line of his jaw. Would he break, Sam wonders, if Sam were to press his calloused fingers into Frodo's shoulders, and would the delightful rose of those lips bruise against Sam's kiss?

This kind of delicacy, this was never meant for Sam. Sam knows it but...he's so close, and the wanting is so strong. It wells up within him like a fizzing in his veins, a pressure in his chest; a great bubble of unfulfilled desire that spreads his skin thin. And so the word escapes him before he even realizes that it's passing over his lips.

"Frodo," he calls, and his voice is...rough, and filled with everything he wants to say but can't.

The dark head turns toward him sharply, with an audible inhalation of breath. Frodo's cheeks are suddenly flushed, and Sam's hand is against his face, pushing back the dark curls that lie against his forehead. "Sam, I..."

The connection between them flares, this time blinding in intensity, and Sam feels pulled so thin that every part of him is suddenly more sensitive. It's imperative that he speak, and he searches for something that will communicate all the feelings that are rising through him, but what comes out instead is, "Do you truly think me beautiful, Frodo?"

"Oh, my Sam..." the full tones of Frodo's voice are suddenly thin, breathy as he turns his face into Sam's hand, pressing his soft cheek against the rough palm. "How could you not know? How could you not see how lovely you are to me?"

And at that his decision is made. Sam leans in, eyes locked with Frodo's, and kisses him gently - a tender brushing of lips until Frodo grasps the back of his head and pulls him closer, sucking lightly on his lower lip before pressing inward with his small, clever tongue. Sam gasps, and Frodo learns the shape of his mouth, tracing his teeth, his lips carefully. The kiss leaves him shaken, breathing hard, with his forehead pressed against Frodo's.

"I never..." he begins, but Frodo's fingers on his mouth stop him.

"Me neither," Frodo admits with a shaky laugh. "Sam, is this...Why?"

The smile blossoms on his face so quickly that it surprises Frodo. "Because, Frodo, I've never known one so fine as you in all my life. You're...you're something special, you are."

"Not half so special as you," Frodo breathes against Sam's cheek before trailing kisses lightly over Sam's cheek, to his neck, where he nibbles lightly. Sam shivers, and he can feel the curve of Frodo's smile against his skin. "I've wanted to do this for so long," Frodo whispers, sucking at the juncture of Sam's throat and shoulder, hard enough that Sam knows there'll be a mark there, and he moans as Frodo's hands rush over his back, book falling onto the bed, forgotten. And it feels so good that Sam is light-headed, and he squeezes his eyes shut and he...sneezes.

There's a moment of stillness, and then he can feel Frodo's laughter against his skin, like a brush of petals. "Oh, Sam..." he says, sitting upright again and cradling Sam's head. "I daresay I'd forgotten entirely how sick you are. You distracted me rather completely. Perhaps this isn't a good idea now...perhaps you should sleep."

"As if I could after..." Sam protests, laughing too now, tracing Frodo's mouth with his fingers. Frodo kisses the tips of them lightly. "But I wouldn't want to...that is, you could get sick. And that'd be...well. I don't want that."

"Always looking after me, aren't you?" Frodo murmurs, brushing hair back from Sam's forehead.

"Of course," Sam answers immediately. "If I didn't, who would?"

"I can look after myself, Sam." A slightly displeased look settles on Frodo's face as he pulls back.

Sam leans forward to preserve their closeness. "No, no, I said it all wrong...what I meant was that, well...I...I look after you because it's who I am, Frodo, and because...you deserve so much, you deserve all that there is...and though I'm not...I'll never be...like you, never quite so fine, I love you more than anyone else, and isn't it right to do for those that you love?"

"Yes," Frodo whispers, smile blinding in its brilliance. "That's why I wanted to keep you here, take care of you." He leans in and kisses Sam again, a tender meeting of mouths and tongues as Frodo runs his fingers teasingly over Sam's sides. "I love you so, Sam...and to think that you...Oh, the time we've wasted when this is where we've both wanted to be..."

"Right here," Sam agrees, nuzzling Frodo's neck with his lips. "With you, always with you..."

"Always," Frodo repeats, kissing Sam deeply.

He pushes Sam back, onto the bed, and Sam's fingers are already teasing buttons open when Frodo starts doing the same, lips against the skin of Sam's chest as more and more is exposed. A hiss escapes as Frodo darts his tongue out to tease Sam's nipple. He's being consumed by this - all this heat - and Frodo's shirt balls up in his hands as he pulls it off, and tosses it across the room, and then they're skin to skin. He learns the dips and hollows of Frodo's chest with the tips of his fingers, and there's so much feeling, so much feeling for this beautiful creature he holds so gently. He wonders if Frodo will shatter under his touch, and Sam's very, very careful as he explores the body that's bared before him.

But Frodo wants more than worship - won't let Sam treat him as anything less than an equal. "I won't break," he whispers on a gasp into Sam's ear. Frodo presses his teeth into Sam's shoulder to make his point, hard enough to leave small indentations in the flesh, and Sam flips them over so that Frodo's beneath him. With one hand he holds Frodo's wrists and there's wildness in the blue eyes, wildness that sets Sam aflame. He captures Frodo's mouth with his own, thrusting aggressively with his tongue as he scrapes his nails along the lean, white chest beneath him.

Frodo whimpers, gasps, and bucks up against Sam, hardness pushing against hardness and it shocks a whimper out of Sam. "You'll be the death of me, Frodo love," he says, loving the spark in Frodo's eyes as he says it. Frodo bucks again, impatiently, and he knows the time for talk has passed.

Sam's breath hitches as he hurries with the buttons on Frodo's breeches, the back of his hand brushing across the soft skin of Frodo's flat stomach. He pulls them down, quickly, feeling his own erection harden even further as he stares down at Frodo, who is... breath taking.

He releases Frodo's wrists, traces his fingers up the milk white thighs that lie open beneath him, loving the gasps, whimpers, sighs he evokes. Hazel eyes lock with blue as he runs his fingers over Frodo's shaft, base to tip, very gently teasing the underside.

The flush is high in Frodo's cheeks, his white teeth are cutting into the pink, full lower lip, and he's so stunning that Sam just has to taste him, and so he does, lowering his mouth, swirling his tongue over the head gently, before repeating the action faster, and harder. He licks the erection, gentle flicks of the tip of his tongue against the sensitive skin, waiting until Frodo's hands are clenching and unclenching in unconscious invitation to finally take Frodo into his mouth entirely. His own hardness twitches at the noise Frodo makes then. Long white fingers run over his shoulders frantically, and Frodo moves with the motion of Sam's head - following the rhythm Sam sets and Sam knows he's close, so close...

He wants this to be good for Frodo, wants it to be amazing, so he relaxes his jaw and increases the pressure, and the pace, until Frodo's calling his name out in small, breathy pants, and he comes, salty-sweet, in Sam's mouth and when he does...he calls Sam's name in such a low, groaning voice that Sam...Sam knows he won't last much longer either.

This first time, the wanting is too thick for the long, slow, gentle love-making Sam had envisioned and Frodo's hands pull Sam up for a searching kiss. Tongues swirl, and Frodo's clever, long fingers are stroking Sam through the cloth of his breeches.

"So wonderful, my Sam..." he whispers, eyes heavy-lidded and sleepy as he takes off Sam's remaining clothing quickly. Those elegant white hands stroke him quickly, and it's good, the friction is so very... ooh, Sam wants this, and he wants Frodo to keep looking at him like that forever, never wants to be somewhere those hands can't reach out and touch him, and that mouth...oh that mouth it's so hot, so soft, so warm as it settles over him. Pink tongue licks the length of him thoroughly, and then he's in Frodo's mouth and Frodo starts... humming. And Sam's lost. His head arches, falls back, his fingers fist in the sheets, and he's telling Frodo how much he loves him, loves what Frodo does to him...and Frodo's still humming...and Sam feels as though his heart will burst as he orgasms.

Long cool moments pass, and Sam's in Frodo's arms again. Frodo is kissing his forehead, his eyelids, his lips. "Right here, Sam...this is where I've wanted to be," he says against the skin of Sam's temple.

Sam says nothing, but a tear slips down his cheek. Frodo kisses it off, eyes questioning. "`Tis only...you're meant for things greater than me, Frodo, though none will ever...I can't imagine loving anyone more than I do you."

"There's nothing greater than you in this wide world," Frodo tells him soberly. "Nothing. If you...if you worry that this isn't right, then I can't think of what possibly could be. For you see, I think that if I didn't have you here...I think I very well might die without you, my Sam."

And Sam can't let that go unrewarded, so he kisses Frodo tenderly. "That would never do," he whispers huskily, tracing the line of Frodo's cheek. "I shall have to stay close by then, won't I?"

"Yes," Frodo tells him, pulling him closer. "You shall have to stay right here."

"Always," Sam agrees, laying his head on Frodo's shoulder. "Always."


The night passes with the two of them tangled in each other and the fine linen of Frodo's sheets. Moonlight spills in through the window, slowly mellowing into the softer light of dawn and morning. Sam wakes, alone, and shivers, fearing that the night before was a dream, and nothing more. But then he hears the sound of someone grunting and heaving in the garden, and he stands, goes to the window.

Frodo's standing in the yard, struggling against the weight of a fallen trellis. He's sweating with effort, and his feet slip in the mud. Much of the debris the rain had left in the once ordered beds of flowers is now gone, and as Sam hurries outside, he realizes how much time Frodo must have spent working out there already.

"Oh, no, Frodo, you mustn't...if it bothers you, I'll fix it," Sam offers breathlessly, reaching over to take hold of the trellis.

The welcoming smile perched on Frodo's lips dissipates into a shocked scowl. "You will do no such thing," Frodo says, peeling his hands away. "You are still sick. What you will do is go back inside and lie down."

"You come, too, then," Sam entreats. "You've no call to be working in the garden like some common -"

"Samwise Gamgee! Stop that right this instant!" Frodo explodes. "Is that how you think of yourself? Common? You work in the garden day in, day out. You work yourself to exhaustion and yet I shouldn't spend even a morning out here? Do you think I shall break in two if I exert myself? You do both of us a disservice if you believe either of those things."

Frodo blows out a long breath, trying to calm himself. "Sam, I...I thought it would please you - to see the garden set to rights, I mean. It was a small gift I was trying to give you."

The words strike Sam unexpectedly, leaving him feeling almost hollowed out by joy, and the smile he turns on Frodo is blinding. "I understand," he whispers. "But, Frodo, surely you know that you don't have to give me anything, other than what you already have."

"But I want to, Sam," Frodo tells him, smiling gently. "I want to give you the world."

Sam ducks his head, but when he looks back up under the cover of his tawny hair, his eyes are intense. "I don't want the world; only you."

Frodo takes his hand, and leads him back inside. The door closes softly, displacing air that stirs the grass. Wind shivers through the trees, mingling with the soft cries that tumble out of the bedroom window. Later, when Sam traces patterns on Frodo's skin, he looks out and sees the sun. He smiles - it's going to be a good spring after all.


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