by Laura Mason
G-rated ficlet caused by one of those FOTR movie-verse plot switches. Frodo/Sam. For all I know, two thousand stories have been written explaining this, but I haven't seen any of them.
This begins at the end of the Shire camping scene, after Frodo and Sam have seen the elves headed for the Havens.
"It's not working." He hears Sam moving again, then rustling -- is he taking more food? "I'm not going to sleep a wink."
"Me neither, Sam," Frodo replies, smiling. Sam is a marvel of hard-headed, soft-hearted hobbit sense. Despite grumbling, Sam will be at his side... "Sam?"
"Last night -- why were you at Bag End?"
"When Gandalf heard you at the window -- we'd said goodnight hours before." Frodo sits up and turns to face Sam, who is also upright and looking very wide awake -- and guilty -- now. "I know you don't trim the grass in the dark. What brought you back to Bag End?"
Sam blushes and puts down the food he's been nibbling.
"Mr. Frodo, sir, there's no good answer to that."
"Oh, come now. Did you see Gandalf's horse?"
"Yes, but..." Sam looks down, his face very red, but doesn't continue speaking.
"That weren't why I came back to Bag End. I know Mr. Gandalf is a friend, and that he visits at odd times."
"That's true, you've known Gandalf all your life. I didn't mean to imply that you didn't trust him, Sam." Frodo thought Sam somehow looked more miserable at his words, rather than relieved. "But you still haven't answered my question. And now that it's become a mystery," he continued with a smile he hoped Sam could see in the moonlight. "Well, there'll be no sleep for anyone in this glade, hobbit or wild animal, until I've wormed the truth out of you."
"Oh, dear me..." Sam looked up, down, away, then back at Frodo. "I never thought I'd be telling you this, and it's right difficult to find the words."
"Please, now you're frightening me. What could be so terrible? Just tell me straight out."
"I see you to sleep every night." Sam looks to him for a response, but Frodo is silent though his mouth is hanging open in surprise. "When I go home I usually wait an hour or so for you to finish your bath. Then I come back to Bag End to ... well, sort of tuck you in, sir."
"Tuck me in?" he squeaks.
"Just to make sure you're settled and get your sleep. I've been taking a nightly walk before bed and checking on you since Mr. Bilbo left. Meaning no harm, sir -- just neighborly like."
"I see." Frodo has a bedtime routine: bath, snack, reading. But now he's remembering how it's changed since Bilbo's departure. Bath, no appetite for a snack. Staring at the fire, ignoring the book open in his lap. Crying. He flushes uncomfortably. "Sam, I..."
"Oh, now I've gone and made you feel bad! That's a shame. I never would... Everyone knows how much you love Bilbo and miss him."
"No, I'm not upset, Sam... I just feel ... foolish, I suppose." Frodo tries to smile, tries to alleviate Sam's obvious distress. "I thought I was alone."
Frodo had thought he was alone, but he'd never been. While he'd been feeling sorry for himself, Sam's love and concern were being offered. Hidden to spare Frodo's pride, but right there nonetheless.
"I'm afraid seeing me off to sleep hasn't been much fun for you, Sam."
"It's no trouble."
"No, Sam, I must insist that you don't lurk outside Bag End any longer, missing your own sleep and taking care of me."
"I only wanted to help you."
"Yes, Sam, and you have." Frodo reaches out and Sam's hand finds his easily, naturally. "I think once we return home, we'll need to start a new tradition for how you tuck me in. You can come inside Bag End to bid me goodnight. And to make sure I sleep well, we'll have to think of a further ritual..." He carefully reels Sam to him for a warm hug. "Something like this, I think."
They stay that way, holding each other without regard for the time. Frodo wonders if Sam is taking any comfort in the contact. He pulls back a little, just to see if he's calmed Sam's fear of offending him. There's a smile on Sam's face and his eyes are wide and happy, full of the same love that got him sent on this journey. Frodo smiles back at him and leans closer, and the glowing eyes close in anticipation.
He drops Sam's arms and pulls away, brisk and businesslike, wishing he didn't see the change in Sam's face caused by his behavior. Confusion and hurt have replaced the joy that was there.
"Let's get to sleep then. No more silly questions, I promise."
Sam does not reply, merely returns to his bedroll. Frodo does the same, unable to shake off the dark thought that came to him as he held Sam. He is leading his beloved into danger. Sam's selfless love is comforting, but what it might lead him to do -- for Frodo's sake -- is more terrifying than the truth about Bilbo's ring.
They lie down again, Frodo facing away from him. After a long, uncomfortable time Sam's tossing finally stops and his breathing evens out. Frodo remains awake far into the night.
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