It had been an utterly boring Solmath, until Pippin arrived from Great Smials – very unexpectedly and behaving very oddly, even for Pip. Frodo brought him in out of the cold and sat him down at the kitchen hearth, and there he sat, saying nothing. Frodo prepared them tea and biscuits, then settled beside him in front of the fire. “Do they know you’re here, Pippin?”
Pippin shivered and shrugged, shook his head and then nodded. “I left a note for Vinca to find. She’ll tell everyone.”
Frodo left him in his coat for the time being but pulled off his mitts and chafed his cold hands. “You didn’t walk all the way…”
Pippin looked up at him, rosy cheeked and wide eyed. “I rode Wimsey.”
Frodo put a cup of hot tea into his hands. “I hope you took care of her.”
Pippin nodded emphatically.
Frodo nodded. “Good lad.” He supposed it could be worse. If Pal and Auntie Eg were concerned, they would send someone to check. More likely they were glad to let him deal with it, whatever it was. Frodo poured a cup of tea for himself then slipped an arm around his cousin’s shoulders. “Alright then, Pip, to what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?”
The lad looked at him, and looked away. “Merry went home.”
Frodo supposed Merry had to do that now and again. “Why didn’t you go with him?”
Pippin pursed his lips and stuck out his pointed chin. “We had a fight.”
“Ah, I see.”
Pip apparently thought otherwise. “You don’t!”
Frodo stared into those flashing green eyes until they were abruptly averted. He sighed. “Then you’d better tell me all about it.”
Frodo patiently pressed him. “What did you fight about?”
“I don’t know…”
“Pip…” Tears welled up in the lad’s eyes. Frodo gently rubbed his arm, and waited for him to come out with it, which he did at last in a breathy rush.
“I don’t know why, he was just angry, and it wasn’t my fault!”
Which really didn’t get them much of anywhere. As a prelude to starting again, Frodo picked up the plate of biscuits and offered it.
Pippin looked at it with big, sad eyes. “I’m not hungry.”
That was a shock. Frodo pressed his palm to the lad’s brow. “Are you ill, Pip?” He hadn’t thought of that, and didn’t like to.
But Pippin shook his head. “Frodo… where’s Sam? I thought he would be here.”
With regret, Frodo said, “Sam’s in Bywater, helping them shovel out the smials along the north lane.” The Shire was in a hard winter and Sam had been away much more than home these past weeks, out working to keep the roads cleared so food and other necessities could be delivered to where they were needed. Sam had spent most of the previous week out Needlehole way, helping shore up a row of grain silos that were in danger of collapse from the heavy snow. He’d only been back from that two days and they’d had little time to even talk, with Sam exhausted and he busy doing his part as he could. “He’ll be back later, Pip.”
Pippin sighed and went on sitting there, shivering, staring into the fire.
Frodo set down his tea and stood. “Come on, Pippin. Let’s get you into some warm, dry clothes. I suppose you didn’t bring anything of your own.”
Pippin just shook his head.
Frodo laid a hand on his shoulder to get him up but he wrapped his arms around his middle and wouldn’t be budged.
“My stomach hurts.”
Frodo knelt in front of him, maybe not such a good idea on second thought. “Are you going to be sick?” He shook his head again, but didn’t look altogether sure of it. Frodo moved to lay a hand on his knee. “Would you like to lie down, Pip?”
The lad dodged his touch with a shiver. “I want to wait here.”
Wait? For Sam? It pleased Frodo when he could help his young cousins with their problems. But he couldn’t help if Pip wouldn’t tell him what the problem was. He pushed himself to his feet and took down a lamp to light. “I’ll get you something to change into.” The lad just sat there, waiting.
Frodo passed the study on his way down the hall and quickly stopped in. He’d left candles burning and papers scattered over the desktop. He’d been working on a plan for distributing the surplus stored in Bag End’s cellars. He’d meant to go down the hill later and talk to Clematis Bolger about setting up a town meeting. It was important, but it could wait another day. He placed his quill back in its well and snuffed the candles.
The bedroom was cold and dark. Sam had left very early that morning, after getting home late the night before and nearly falling asleep in his supper. He’d slept deeply, limp and heavy in Frodo’s arms, but still managed to be awake when he needed to be, to get back to work. Frodo had been restless and wakeful all night himself. He was still restless inside, lonely and wanting Sam.
At least Pip might take his mind off all that. Frodo picked out clothes for the lad from his own dresser, then went back to the kitchen and laid them there beside him. Pippin looked up at him with a remorseful expression.
“I didn’t mean to be snippy to you, Fro.”
Frodo gave him a willing smile. “It’s alright, Pip. Is your stomach hurting still?”
Pippin heaved a sigh and nodded. “I think it wants food.”
Frodo thought so too. “I’ll fix us something. You get changed.”
Frodo had no intention of watching him do that, but ended up standing with an armload of potatoes in the pantry doorway just staring, as the lad went to great lengths to maneuver a change of clothing without showing even a sliver of bare skin. Pip being modest? It was unheard of. He finished at last and turned with a sheepish look, his hair sticking out in all the wrong places and his shirttails hanging. Frodo couldn’t help smiling. “You’re a sight, Pip.”
Pippin dragged his fingers through his hair. “Is that better?”
Frodo valiantly stifled a need to laugh. “Better.” He put down what he was carrying on the table and turned to see about firing up the cookstove. Pippin came and plopped himself down at the table to watch.
“Frodo… why does Merry have to be so stubborn and pig headed?”
That was quite the question. “Pig headed? You are upset with him, aren’t you?”
Pippin’s mouth dropped open. “I am not! He’s upset with me. And I didn’t do anything…”
That last declaration faded into uncertainty. Frodo let Pippin think about it while he got a fire going in the stove. When he turned from it at last, the lad was looking hopelessly forlorn. “Pip.” He sat down across from his young cousin at the table. “I think you need to tell me exactly what you both said to each other, then we’ll see what needs to be done to make it right.”
Pippin squirmed, dropping his eyes. “I can’t!” He folded his arms on the table and buried his face, and that was that.
With his patience just a little bit tried, Frodo got up and set about heating a pan and dicing a slab of bacon. The lad would feel better once he was fed.
Pippin raised his head finally. “Fro… when do you think Sam will be back?”
Frodo quietly sighed. “Probably not until after dark, Pip.”
Pippin sighed, not at all quietly, and went back to his vigil.
Sam stopped at Number 3 long enough to let his Gaffer know what the news was from Bywater, to say the road was clear but if the wind picked up it would be drifted over again before long. It was only the middle of afternoon but he’d wrenched his shoulder and rather than risk making it worse and being unable to work for days, he’d put down his shovel early. The Gaffer shook his head at the weather and gave him a bottle of liniment for his shoulder. Marigold gave him a basket of fresh baked muffins and told him to get some rest. To make her happy, he said he would.
Rest wasn’t exactly what Sam had in mind though. He climbed the Hill with no other thought in his head than having the evening to spend with Frodo. They were both deserving of a little time for each other. The road was icy in places, and narrowed by snowdrifts on either side. Bag End was near buried, all shut up and cozy. Frodo would be in the study, writing by candlelight, those eyes of his bright and intent as he worked. Or he’d be thoughtfully pondering some weighty matter, slowly brushing his quill feather back and forth over those lips. It was enough to put a smile on Sam’s face, and make him grateful for a sore shoulder.
A smell of bacon frying came to him as he quietly closed the front door and leaned his tools in a corner out of the way. Just in time for tea, and Frodo was cooking. He eased out of his coat and hung it up, his stomach rumbling. His smile widened. He went silently, thinking he might catch Frodo in a hug if his back was turned. And Frodo’s back was turned, his attention set on stirring a sizzling pan on the stove, but he wasn’t alone. Master Pippin was there, sitting at the table looking pitiful. So much for surprising Frodo with a cuddle.
Sam stepped into the kitchen, letting himself be heard. Frodo turned and met his eyes with a warm, welcoming smile and more relief than seemed warranted. Master Pippin looked around and brightened several shades. Sam gave him a pleasant nod. “Master Pippin. Have they got the road from Tuckborough cleared already?”
The lad promptly launched into a report of his trip. “The road was terrible, Sam! Have you ever seen so much snow all at once? And they’ve no place to shovel it to but alongside the way. It was like riding through a tunnel made of cloud with the sky all gray, and Wimsey didn’t like the drifts at all. I had to get down and talk her through them and my toes were freezing.” He stopped for a second to get a breath. “It was hard but we just kept going and we finally got here.”
Sam was sympathetic. “Sounds like it’s a lucky thing you made it, sir. Is Master Merry not with you then?”
The lad went from excitement over his adventure getting there to looking pitiful again, in a blink.
Frodo said, “They had a fight.”
Well, that was nothing new. Master Pippin looked Sam directly in the eye for a moment, a look that said there was a tale to be told, but he made no move to tell it. Sam went to the stove to see what Frodo was cooking, and Frodo gave him a discreetly exasperated look.
“Did you get the north smials dug out?”
Sam tried to sound easy and reassuring. “Nay, they’re still at work on it. I threw my shoulder a bit, so I left off. That last snowfall was a wet, heavy one and it looks like more coming.”
Frodo moved toward him, reaching out, then stopped himself. “How bad is it, Sam?”
Sam was mostly sure Master Pippin knew all about them, but Frodo wasn’t so sure and never liked them being too touchy when his cousins were around, Pippin especially. “Nay, Mister Frodo, just a stitch. But I’d not like it getting worse if a few hours off it might help.” Frodo didn’t look at all reassured. Sam took out the liniment and showed it to him. “The Gaffer gave me something for it.”
Frodo’s brows went up, both of them thinking the same thing at the same time, liniment and bare skin and Frodo’s fingers.
In danger of blushing, Sam half turned away and set his basket on the table. Master Pippin watched them, too interested. Sam pushed the basket of muffins toward him. “My Goldy must have had a sign you were here, sir.”
The lad actually hesitated, then lifted the cloth and took one. “Thank you, Sam.”
Sam smiled and nodded, and turned to get his hands washed at the pump. “I’ll do that for you, Mister Frodo. Bacon and taters, is it? I’ll chop an onion to go in.”
Frodo was quick to protest. “No, Sam. You’re hurt.”
Sam smiled at him gently. “Not so as I can’t cook, sir. You should go and have a quiet talk with your cousin.”
Frodo glanced back at Pippin, who seemed intent on stuffing himself with muffin crumbs. “I think it’s you Pip’s wanting to talk to, Sam.” Pippin raised his head with an expectant look. Frodo laid down the wooden spoon he was using. “I think I will turn this over to you. I need to go and see Clematis Bolger about that meeting.”
Sam couldn’t help being disappointed, and surely showing it. “You’ll stay and have tea first?”
Frodo put on a smile. “I think I’d like to just get it done. It shouldn’t take very long.”
Sam caught his eye and held it. “You dress warm, and tread careful.”
Frodo answered his unspoken regret with understanding. “I will, Sam.” He seemed to want to say more but finally turned away and just went.
Sam listened to the sounds of him in the front hall getting dressed, and the door opening and closing at last, then gave young Master Pippin his attention. “Would you like to help me, sir?” The lad dusted the crumbs from his fingers and got up to come around and join him at the board. Sam pumped up water so he could wash his hands and then put him to work chopping onions. Sam finished cutting the taters Frodo had started, saying nothing, letting him come to it on his own.
“Sam… do you think Merry is stubborn and pig headed?”
Sam gave him a sidelong glance. “That’s not a fair thing for you to be asking me, Master Pippin.” Not that he didn’t, or that the lad didn’t know so.
“He is. I’m twenty-three years old and he treats me like a teener. I told him so and he got angry and we had a big fight.”
Sam shook his head. “The two of you fight all the time, sir, that’s a fact.”
Pippin paused in his onion chopping. “But that’s only pretend fighting. And… it wasn’t really a fight this time. It was more like… a kiss.”
Sam took that with surprise, and not. The lad didn’t wait for him to comment.
“He kissed me but he was angry and when I kissed him back he got angrier. Then he went home.”
Sam considered that. “Did you tell this to Mister Frodo, sir?”
Pippin gave him an earnest look. “I couldn’t, Sam. Frodo would tell Merry I told him and then Merry would be even angrier. And Frodo, I can’t talk to Frodo like that.” He dropped his voice down to a whisper. “I get all excited, you know, just thinking about it… about Merry kissing me… and looking at me like that…”
It didn’t take the lad glancing down at himself for Sam to understand what he was saying. He had his shirttail out like he was using it to hide something. It was like Pippin to come to him with questions he didn’t want to ask Frodo, and Sam supposed it had to come to this eventually. He cleared his throat, not a bit comfortable with it, but what choice did he have? “You know, sir, you can take care of that yourself.”
Pippin gave him a look of pure frustration. “I know that. I don’t want to take care of it myself anymore.”
Sam slowly nodded. He could well remember feeling that way, and never imagining there’d be anything more for him as long as he had to follow his heart. It seemed a strange thing, young Pippin needing to tell him these things, when he was the least likely to be able to do anything about it. “I think you’d be better off talking to Master Merry, sir.”
The lad heaved a big sigh. “I tried to, Sam. That’s when he got angry. He said I’m too young to know and I have to try it with a lass but I don’t want to. I’ve known a long time. I want Merry.”
Master Pippin was sure of himself, no doubt of that. Master Merry on the other hand, was a puzzle. Sam knew for a fact Master Merry enjoyed the lasses. “You should know, sir, it may be Master Merry can’t feel those kinds of things for you.” He regretted having to say it when the lad’s eyes went all shiny with tears.
“But… he kissed me.”
Aye, there was that. Sam took the knife from his hand and finished the onions so he could get them into the pan, and to give himself time to ponder it.
Pippin watched him, clearly pondering things himself. “Does Frodo love you, Sam? Does he love you like you love him?”
Sam ducked his head. “Aye.” Frodo loved him. Frodo let him know it every moment they were together.
Master Pippin nodded, in a way meant to convince himself, Sam was sure. “Merry loves me.”
Sam didn’t doubt that he did.
“He told me so. Then he kissed me and went home.”
Sam knew Pippin wanted to be told what to do by someone he believed experienced in such things. That someone should have been Frodo by rights. But it was him the lad had come to, and he had to respect that. He carefully collected his thoughts on it. “Well, Master Pippin sir, I don’t think you’re too young to know. I was just your age… when I told Mister Frodo how I felt, and he told me he felt the same.” And Frodo had thought he was too young, until he proved he wasn’t. “Master Merry had no right I’m thinking to kiss you if he didn’t mean it. To be fair, that’s not like Master Merry. So I’m minded to think he meant it and won’t be forgetting it soon himself. If you see what I mean.” Pippin seemed hung on his every word. Sam dearly hoped he was getting it right. “I’m guessing you let him go then, when you should have had it out right there.”
A lost and bewildered look came over the lad. “He was angry. He’s never been really angry with me before.”
Sam understood that, better it seemed than Pippin did. “I think it’s likely himself he was angry at, not you.”
The lad’s eyes went wide, and a slow but eager smile followed. “Do you think so, Sam?”
Sam thought about it very seriously, and finally nodded. “Aye.” He scooped up the taters to add to the fry pan. “I think when you see him next you ought to stand up right and make him say to you what he meant.” Pippin smiled a devilish little smile, apparently feeling better. Sam wiped his hands and reached up to open the dish cupboard, and his shoulder gave him a sharp twinge. He dropped his arm, wincing.
Pippin was quick to notice. “Is your shoulder hurting?”
Sam couldn’t well deny it. “Just a little, sir. If you’ll take down a couple of plates for me, I’ll be grateful.”
The lad did that and then gave him a careful hug. “Thank you, Sam.”
Sam laid a hand on his back and gave him a one armed hug in return. “You’re right welcome, sir.” He just hoped very much he hadn’t messed it up.
There was a wind picking up as Frodo left the temporarily boarded up tea shop after speaking with Clematis. A few fresh snowflakes swirled through the air. He’d seen no one out since leaving Bag End, so the muffled thudding of a pony’s step coming up beind him took him unaware. He stepped aside, half turning, and abruptly stopped. “Merry?” The rider reined in and stopped as well. It was indeed Merry, hooded and scarved against the cold. Only his eyes showed, but Frodo could see and feel his anxiety. He slid down from his pony and pushed back his hood.
“Frodo, is Pip here? Is he alright?”
Frodo was glad to reassure him on that score. “Yes, Merry. Sam’s looking after him.”
Merry looked away. “I did a foolish thing, Fro.”
Frodo was glad to hear it actually. If Pip wouldn’t tell him what had happened, Merry surely would. But Merry clenched his jaw and set off for the Hill lane, leading his pony. Frodo had to step lively to keep up with him, raising his voice to be heard above the wind. “What did you do, Merry?” Merry glanced aside at him uneasily, and shook his head. Frodo supposed it might be something they shouldn’t shout about in the streets and didn’t push it until they were inside the stables at the end of Bagshot Row, with no one to hear but the livestock. Pip’s little sorrel mare was put up there in a nice, big corner stall, with hay and grain aplenty and a bucket of fresh water. Merry led his Juniper into the same stall and went about settling her. Frodo leaned on the gate rail. “What did you do, Merry?”
Merry gave him not even a glance, but finished what he was doing and patted his pony’s rump, then came and stood close enough to whisper. “I kissed Pip.” Frodo could almost feel his cousin’s heart thumping, could easily hear the tremble in his voice. “One moment we were talking about lasses and the next my fingers were in his hair and I was kissing him, on the lips.” He finally looked into Frodo’s eyes, gripping the rail and leaning close. “I know it, Fro. I know I shouldn’t have. I’m not like that. Am I?”
Frodo impulsively laid a hand over one of his. “Don’t you know, Merry?” Merry seemed not to. Frodo asked him outright, “Did Pip like you kissing him? Did you like kissing Pip? Did it make your toes curl and your stomach twist?”
Merry scrunched up his face and finally nodded.
Frodo was beginning to see it quite clearly. “Pip said the two of you had a fight.”
Merry shook his head. “We didn’t. It wasn’t Pip’s fault.”
Frodo gave him a serious look, but squeezed his hand affectionately. “You should have told him that.”
Merry sighed. “I know. But… it scared me… so I ran.”
Frodo understood that also, very well. “It can be scary, I know. But if it’s right, Merry… you don’t want to miss it. At the very least, you’re going to have to talk to him about it.”
Merry slowly nodded. “I’m here, Fro. I didn’t get a quarter of the way home. He should have known I’d come back.”
Frodo stepped away and pulled open the stall gate enough for Merry to pass through. “You gave Pip as much of a scare as you gave yourself. But still, I think he’ll be happy to see you.” The two ponies nuzzled, glad to be back together. Merry looked at them and smiled, then took up his baggage and followed along, out of the warm, shadowy dark of the stable into a gray, blustery snowfall. Frodo flipped up his collar and wrapped his coat closer while Merry flung his scarf around his mouth and nose.
Finding Bag End in the maelstrom felt like an accomplishment. Unexpected houseguests or no, Frodo was glad to be home. A scent of cooking wafted from kitchenward, and a soft murmur of voices. Frodo hung up his coat and stamped his feet, brushing the snow out of his hair. Merry was looking anxious but determined. Frodo gave him a comforting pat on the back and steered him down the hall.
Sam and Pippin were washing dishes and both looked around, hearing them come in. Pip’s eyes lit up, there was no mistaking that, then the lad put on a stern face and crossed his arms, tapping his russet furred toes on the tiles.
Merry’s voice wobbled when he finally spoke up. “Hey, Pip. Why did you run off?”
Pippin’s eyes went wide. “It was you who ran off, Merry!”
Merry took a hesitant few steps toward him. “I came back.”
Pippin said nothing but Frodo could see he was ready and willing to be forgiving.
Merry slid an arm over his shoulders. “Let’s go have a talk and you can yell at me.”
Pippin went with him, tossing a pleased smile in Sam’s direction. Frodo listened for a door closing down the hall, and finally looked around to find Sam leaned on the drainboard, smiling.
“I’m thinking they’ll have that sorted now in no time.”
Frodo went to him. “Dear Sam, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have left you to deal with Pip on your own.”
Sam reached out to pull him close and hold him. “I think we did alright. Fancy Master Merry showing up like that, in perfect time.”
Frodo hugged him and breathed in the warm scent of him. Merry and Pip could be hours. He leaned back to look into Sam’s velvet brown eyes. “Which shoulder is it?”
Sam smiled at him softly. “The right.”
Frodo slipped fingers into his shirt to slide it off that shoulder and pressed a tender kiss to the smooth, hard muscle. Then he took Sam’s left hand and stepped back smiling. “Bed, Sam.” Sam didn’t offer any protest. Frodo took up a lamp from the table and Sam snatched the liniment bottle.
There was no sound from Pip’s room as they passed by, or from Merry’s next door. If they were having a talk, it was a quiet one. Frodo squeezed Sam’s hand and led on to their bedroom. Sam mumbled something about making a fire. Frodo stopped him. “I’ll keep you warm. Just take off your clothes and lie down.”
Sam gave him a slyly amused look. “You think I should be naked for this?”
Frodo smiled at him and said, “Yes, Sam, and me as well.” He set the lamp on the bedside table and threw back the covers, then quickly stripped, watching Sam as he shed his own clothes and stretched out face down on the bed.
“Like this, sir?”
Frodo shivered. There was a nip in the air but it barely contained the heat he was feeling inside. Sam’s bare skin glowed a soft gold in the lamplight, little goosebumps raised on his lovely, pale rump and the downy fur on the insides of his thighs standing out. Frodo climbed onto the bed and shrouded him, skin to skin, sliding both arms down under and around his chest to hold him tight and breathing a happy sigh. “This will do quite nicely, I think.”
Sam whispered, “Frodo… ” and shifted under him, making everything fit just right. Frodo took shameful advantage of it, thrusting his hips a little and sliding his already quickening arousal against Sam’s insistent grip, a damp of sweat risen there where they pressed together. Heat poured off Sam and enveloped him like a thick down comforter.
Frodo caught a breath, his heart beating faster. He was forgetting himself. He touched a pattern of soft kisses over Sam’s poor shoulder, and then pushed himself up to his knees. Sam protested with a little moan of disappointment. Frodo gently ran both hands over his naked back. “We have to do your shoulder, Sam. Where did you put the bottle?”
Sam sighed very loud and deliberately, then proceeded to roll over, somehow picking him up and catching him close on the way. “My shoulder’s as fine as need be. I’ll take it careful.”
Frodo couldn’t resist for the moment, with their bodies in the most intimate contact. Sam’s legs caressingly twined with his, clever toes playing in the hair on his feet. Sam’s hands restlessly roved between his shoulders and his backside, making him tingle and twitch, and Frodo impulsively buried his fingers in Sam’s hair and breathed warm breath at his ear. Sam writhed under him and moved to take him in a hug, and Frodo felt him flinch. He completed the embrace as if he didn’t care, but Frodo did. “Sam.” He forcibly pushed himself back up to his knees. “We have to do your shoulder, dearest one.”
Sam stared up into his eyes with a heavy lidded, sultry look, and gripped his naked behind with both hands. “You’re teasing, sir.”
Frodo caught a breath. “I’m not, Sam!”
Sam smiled, and with a firm but gentle tug pulled him back into position, then caught his arms to pull him down for a warm, enticing, breath sharing kiss. Arousal flared harder and brighter, snugly pressed between their hot, sweat slicked bellies, until Sam jolted and let go, dropping his right arm with a muffled curse.
Frodo gasped and quickly braced his hands and elbows to take his weight off Sam. “My poor love, you’re hurting and you can’t tell me you aren’t.” Sam tried to, but he wouldn’t have it. He pushed himself up and reached over to get the bottle of liniment. “Maybe this will help, Sam. Is it something new?”
Sam nodded, unclenching his teeth with an effort. “The Gaffer got it from Old Tom, as got it from a peddler passing through.”
Frodo uncorked the bottle and sniffed. It smelled of woodsy herbs, nothing too pungent. He poured a bit out into his palm and found it liquid and oily. He warmed it in his hand and then gently smoothed it over Sam’s injured shoulder. Sam slowly relaxed back into the pillows, looking like he might fall asleep. The caressing hand on Frodo’s thigh stilled. Holding himself braced, Frodo finally laid his oily hand on Sam’s chest and was bending down to touch a kiss to his lips when the door suddenly opened.
Frodo jumped and scrambled for cover and Sam was abruptly wide awake, dragging a blanket up over them.
“May I come in, Fro?”
Frodo dragged in a shaky breath as Sam got an arm around his waist and held him there close, stifling a laugh in his hair. It was absurd. But what could he do? “Yes, Pip, for a moment. What have you done with Merry?”
Pippin came bouncing onto the bed like he was oblivious to the state in which he found them. “Merry’s having a nap because he hasn’t slept for weeks from thinking about me. We talked and then we tried kissing again and it was very nice, and now I’m going to make food for him. Is that alright?”
Frodo felt serious reservations about that. Sam peered out from behind him and voiced them. “The fires’ll have to be stoked for cooking. I’ll fix supper in awhile, sir, if you can wait.”
Pippin put on a pout. “But I want to, Sam. I don’t have to cook. I’ll just see what there is in the pantry. Please?”
Frodo broke. “Alright, Pip, but be careful please.”
Pippin threw open his arms and leapt on them both with a big hug. “I have the best cousins ever!”
Frodo smiled and hugged him back, then gently removed him. “Go on, Pip, we’ll see you later.” The lad took himself off and closed the door. Only then did Frodo fully take in what had just happened. His heart was thumping. “I guess we won’t have to sneak around anymore when they’re here.”
Sam quietly chuckled. “Thank the stars for that, sir.”
Startled, Frodo shook his hand and raised it to look at. His fingers felt hot, with a pulsing warmth that spread across his palm. He twisted around in Sam’s embracing arm as Sam put a hand over his chest where Frodo’s had lain minutes before. They looked at each other, and looked at the liniment bottle.
Sam grinned. “Well now, there’s something.” He carefully rolled his shoulder, and breathed a relieved sigh.
“Is it better, Sam?”
Frodo reached to the table for the bottle, with rather wicked thoughts in his head. “I wonder…”
Sam reached out and caught him close again, smiling into his eyes. “You wouldn’t have something unnatural in mind, sir, would you?”
Frodo gave him a sweet smile in return. “Would you mind, Sam?”
Sam lovingly cuddled him close. “I’m thinking not.” He snatched the covers back over them. “In case Master Pippin can’t find the mushrooms and needs to come asking.”
Frodo just laughed.
This story was written for the Live Journal community Hobbit Smut's First Line Challenge.
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