Slash -- that means m/m love and sex. Also, if you are offended by the idea of a 20-year-old hobbit having sex, please do not read any further.
Thank you to Baranduin and Nienna for beta-reading this to make it understandable. Believe me, what you're seeing now is much better due to their efforts. However, any mistakes or inconsistencies are my fault, not theirs.
by Laura Mason
"You always spend a month in Hobbiton during the summer!"
"Yes, Aunt, but I don't want to leave..."
"Tweenagers," Uncle Rollo spat out between his mouthful of seed cake. "The boy has plans, it's plain as the nose on your face."
"He'll be up to mischief if he's here all summer," Aunt Blossom whined. "I don't know what Bilbo would think, either. We shouldn't be offending the only rich relation any of us have."
"I'll visit him at Harvest Festival, Aunt, for a week at least," Frodo promised. He couldn't leave now, he just couldn't.
"See? He'll kowtow to old Mad Baggins later in the year, 'Sommie. Let the boy stay."
Frodo tried to smile at his uncle gratefully despite another insult to Bilbo. Then he turned to look up at his aunt, pleading with his eyes. She'd resumed rolling her pastry dough with quick, angry motions.
"Off with you." She waved her hand toward the door. "Stay out of trouble."
"Thank you," Frodo whispered, hugging her, then his uncle. He wasn't quick enough leaving the house to avoid hearing more of their conversation.
"Feeding a tweenager for two extra months is no bargain, Rolly."
"He's got a girl, darling, sure as I'm bald. He'll make everyone miserable if we separate them right now."
Frodo blushed as he walked off, amazed at his Uncle's faulty reasoning. He didn't have a girl. Didn't want any stupid old girl. Then he wondered if Aunt Blossom would feel easier if he skipped lunch most days. Maybe he could eat off those wild fruit trees Robin claimed grew by the river...
Robin Sandybanks was the reason he wasn't ready to visit Bag End, much as Frodo loved his time with Bilbo. But since his cousin was always willing to keep him an extra month, and his relations in Buckland were never in a hurry for his return, Frodo felt sure that if he spent the summer in Hobbiton he'd miss Robin's coming-of-age in August. Grownups never asked him what he wanted to do.
Robin was the only hobbit Frodo called his friend. Some of his younger cousins were still friendly, and he was always watching younger children, trying to find a way to pay back the aunts, uncles and cousins who housed, clothed and fed him for months at a stretch. Aunt Blossom wasn't the first to complain about having another mouth. In fact, she was more polite than most, waiting until he'd left to say anything. Most would tell him to his face that he ate too much, cost too much, was too much bother.
Only Aunt Esme truly seemed to want Frodo in her home, but since he'd grown up enough to see the strain feeding another mouth placed on them, he didn't feel it was right stay there longer than a month at a time. Aunt Esme and Uncle Saradoc had plenty of their own children to care for.
So his little cousins were sweet, and they loved to hear Frodo's stories -- stories he'd learned from Bilbo during summer nights at Bag End. But they weren't friends, they were too young. And while Frodo admired Bilbo's learning and loved to hear about his adventures, Bilbo was too old to be a friend. There really was no one like Robin.
Frodo met him at the first grown-up party he'd been allowed to attend, Hambut Boffin's fiftieth birthday. Robin lived near the Boffins, on the other side of Buckland. Because of the distance and being twelve years older than Frodo, they'd never met before. But that night he introduced himself and spent time talking with Frodo. Later in the evening Frodo watched him dance with Mirabella Boffin and other girls. The music was nice, though no one asked Frodo to dance and as one of the younger hobbits present he felt too shy to ask anyone himself. Still, it was exciting to be with the adults and stay up late.
Robin didn't really look different than the other hobbits, with his rosy cheeks and light brown hair, but Frodo's eyes followed his every movement. When Robin saw him watching and smiled or waved, Frodo flushed and turned away. Still, Robin joined him for second supper and they'd managed to become friends that night.
"Frodo Baggins, are you daydreaming again?" Robin's affectionate voice instantly brought Frodo out of his thoughts. He'd long since learned to ignore cranky remarks from older hobbits as he wandered Buckland, but Robin's soft call stopped him in his tracks.
"Hullo, Robin. Do you need some help with that?" At least he could speak normally to him now. As he took some of Robin's bundles, Frodo remembered how silent he'd been around Robin when they first met, despite Robin's friendliness. Frodo had been used to being ignored by older hobbits, and had assumed that Robin was only being kind because he didn't know Frodo was an orphan. It would change once he heard about the scandal of Frodo's parents drowning.
With the freedom of being in his twenties at last, Frodo had plenty of time the week after the party to take the hour-long walk past Newbury to visit. He pretended he'd been on an errand when he found Robin, then asked if he needed any help with his work. Robin worked with his father, carving furniture, and he was easy with his tools and clever with his hands. It was fun to watch him work and listen to him talk.
Frodo had gone three more times that week, always expecting that Robin would stop smiling and welcoming him, but it never happened. Surely by now he'd heard the rumors? But Robin remained exactly the same, and soon Frodo spent most of his free days at Robin's workplace, carrying tools to him and listening to his easy chatter. He had a friend at last, even if Frodo didn't understand why Robin would enjoy his visits. He truly wasn't very helpful, though Robin tried to teach him, never mocking Frodo's awkwardness with tools and unfamiliarity with the different woods.
Today it almost seemed as if Robin had come looking for him. Frodo glanced over at his companion with a smile, then shook his head. Robin had plenty of friends, hobbits closer to his own age. He wouldn't walk an hour just to be with Frodo.
"No lagging, Baggins. I've got to get these tools to Master Marroc for cleaning and oiling." Robin kept chattering, mostly gossip about Daisy Took's wedding.
Frodo usually was an appreciative audience and didn't speak much. He knew his fanciful stories weren't welcome and never spoke much around Robin's father. But when they were alone, Frodo tried to find his tongue.
"I know a walking song my cousin Bilbo wrote. Would you like to hear it?"
"Will it keep your feet moving along?" Robin laughed. "Or are you still daydreaming?"
"A little, I suppose. But the song's very energetic, and Bilbo is a wonderful poet."
"Fine, I'd love to hear it."
"Upon the hearth the fire is red..."
They lay beside the riverbank, resting from their walk. The tools had been left with Marroc Chubb and Robin didn't have to be home until supper. Frodo stared at him, watching the sun turn his hair golden and wondering what it would be like to be strong and handsome like Robin. To have silly girls wanting to dance with you...
"You're staring a hole in my head, Frodo. What's wrong?"
"Nothing." He looked down at the grass then, felt his face warming, and rolled away.
"Ah, don't be shy with me, Frodo Baggins." Robin sat up and reached out to him. "You're very pretty when you blush." Of course, he only blushed harder at that, but he looked up when Robin's hand grazed his face gently. Robin was very close. "You're beautiful, really."
Then Robin kissed him, the first time anyone had kissed his mouth, and Frodo was excited and afraid, all at once. His head spun.
"Kiss me back, Frodo. Don't pretend you haven't been staring at me, wanting this."
Frodo wasn't sure what to do, but he tried to relax, to enjoy the feeling of Robin holding him, running his hands over him, pressing him down into the soft turf. His mouth relaxed slowly, just like the rest of him, and then Robin's tongue was pressing there, too. Frodo pulled away for a moment, surprised, gasping for air.
He'd never wanted to kiss anyone before, but he'd only ever imagined kissing one of the silly girls he knew. It had seemed disgusting. Kissing Robin -- well, that was very different.
Robin was staring at him, panting, his eyes wide. Then he smiled and stood up, reaching a hand down to Frodo. "Let's go for a swim."
"Here?" Frodo looked around. The riverbank wasn't too steep, he supposed, but hobbits usually didn't swim in the river proper, but in shallow pools along the bank.
"Of course, here, silly. Do you want to be in a crowd of children?" Robin was pulling off his clothes as he spoke, so Frodo unbuttoned his trousers and pulled off his tunic, wishing he wasn't quite so scrawny compared to Robin. Robin had muscles in his arms from his work, and broad shoulders. He seemed to understand that Frodo was embarrassed, because he stopped watching him undress and walked away, headed toward the river, instead. Frodo was too shy to openly stare after him. He concentrated on removing the rest of his own clothes.
He'd never liked the water much, though Uncle Saradoc had insisted on teaching him to swim. So he carefully followed Robin, grateful that the older hobbit didn't turn and look at him. The water was cold but Robin was already waist deep, so he quickly ran out to join him.
"Frodo." Robin's voice had never seemed so warm, so sweet. He reached for Frodo, taking the hands Frodo extended to him and pulling him close. "You're very pale, my boy." Then Robin pulled Frodo against him, into his arms, and began kissing him again.
Frodo's body tingled as Robin rubbed against him and he moaned, opening his mouth to invasion again. But now Robin was giving him time to learn what to do, leading him.
"Do you like that? Do it back to me." Frodo tried pushing his own tongue into Robin's mouth. Robin sucked on it briefly, then swirled his own against it. Then he pulled back and nibbled at Frodo's lips, and when he stopped Frodo carefully did the same to him, thinking how lovely it felt and how sweet Robin was to teach him about kissing.
Then Robin released him with a laugh, dunked Frodo and paddled slowly away. Frodo followed, grabbing his ankle and trying to pull him under.
"Give up, Frodo. I'm bigger and stronger," Robin said, his voice husky. They kissed again, Robin running his hands over Frodo's back. Frodo did the same, and their dance continued.
Hours later they were still by the river, their hair dripping but their bodies dry under the warm sun. They were still kissing, but it no longer was playful or tentative. Robin was on top of Frodo, his hands kneading Frodo's hips, and he was grinding his body against him urgently. Frodo was gasping for air, his lips warm and swollen, his body on fire.
"Love you, Frodo, you're so beautiful..." Robin grimaced and Frodo felt warmth spread wetly between them. Robin's arms were actually shaking. Frodo pushed his own hips upward, feeling that tingle again, but not sure what else to do. As Robin collapsed beside him, Frodo merely put his arms around him and kissed the side of his face gently.
"I love you, too, Robin." He'd always loved him, since the night they met. Frodo finally understood his own feelings. He had a friend to love, and he'd never been happier.
The summer had gone by too fast, Frodo thought as he watched Robin greeting guests. He was always beautiful, but tonight the excitement of his coming-of-age was making Robin sparkle. Frodo knew he was staring, but he didn't think anyone in this crowd would notice. He was sitting off to the side, in the darkness away from the torches, feasting his eyes while dreaming of the changes that were possible now that Robin was an adult at last.
Robin laughed at something Mirabella said and swung her around. She kissed his cheek when he sat her down, blushing prettily. Frodo felt a tiny stab of jealousy. Mirabella would dance with Robin later tonight, though he could not. Frodo told himself that in a few days, Robin would no longer feel it necessary to keep their feelings for each other a secret.
Now that he was independent Robin could have his own hole. Frodo had always planned to study more, like Bilbo, but he would find a job instead. Perhaps he could work at the market, and learn how to help Robin with the accounts for his business.
He wished he'd paid more attention to cooking, or that he had any practical household skills. Frodo shook his head, wondering why Robin loved him at all. But then he began imagining how wonderful it would be to wake with Robin every morning, to see him every day. To end each night with sweet kisses and lovemaking. It was a beautiful dream, and after this evening it could come true.
Frodo realized once the music began that it was just as it had been eight months ago when they first met. Robin was laughing and dancing, constantly surrounded by others, and Frodo sat and watched him, still mesmerized. Robin would occasionally catch his eye with a smile. The only difference was that tonight when Frodo blushed, it was because he saw the heat of passion in Robin's eyes
It was very late when the last guests finally departed and Robin came to Frodo. He'd almost fallen asleep on his seat in the shadows, waiting. But a touch and a kiss from Robin had him fully awake and ready to continue their private celebration.
"Frodo, Frodo." Robin kissed him, pushing him into a tree, holding his wrists beside his ears. "Make love with me."
"Always," Frodo whispered back, transported by the feeling of Robin pushing against him, holding him, removing his clothes. He helped Robin out of his own weskit and shirt, tumbling to the ground with him eventually, laughing and panting as they resumed their passionate kisses. And then there was only the sound of stars singing overhead as they gave each other pleasure beneath the tree.
Later, oddly not at all sleepy, Frodo nestled next to Robin and felt his love's hand moving on his breast, near his heart.
"I will miss this," he whispered, and Frodo immediately turned his head up, startling Robin into backing away.
"What do you mean, Robin?"
"Only that our summer is over, Frodo. I'm a grown hobbit now."
"I know, silly," Frodo said, rubbing against him again. "But I'll be with you even more now that you're of age." He paused to gather his courage, then continued "I thought we might live together, if you'd like. You know there's no one who'd care enough to stop me."
Robin sat up then, pulling Frodo with him, and began to re-dress. "Frodo, you're still such a child. Move in with me? What would people say?"
"It doesn't matter what they say," Frodo shrugged. People always talked about him, after all.
Robin laughed a little. "I always forget how different you are, Frodo. I should know by now." Frodo frowned as he pulled on his best shirt, now missing a button.
"Aunt Lily will scream if she sees I've lost another good button. It's too dark now, but I'll have to come back early to find it..."
"Frodo." Robin's voice was harsh and Frodo looked at him in concern. Robin grabbed hold of his face, looking in Frodo's eyes as he spoke. "Listen to me, you've got to understand this. All normal hobbits want to marry and have a house full of children. That's the way we are."
"Frodo, you've been wonderful. But our time is over."
He just stared at him, mouth open. Robin wasn't making any sense. He didn't want to marry or have children; he wanted Robin. Robin loved him; he'd said so over and over.
"Maybe you're just too young to understand, Frodo. Or too ... I don't know. I hope you'll understand someday."
Three weeks later Frodo went to visit Bilbo at Bag End and remained there. His official adoption was finalized in a year.
October 5, 1419
Sam was stowing luggage on the pony, and Frodo found himself watching every movement. Their journey was coming to an end, as was their time together. Frodo wanted to keep each memory of Sam sharp and clear.
Sam must have felt his stare, for he turned and met Frodo's eyes with a sweet smile and slight blush. Then he turned and resumed packing.
"He loves you very much." Elrond's voice was soft, but Frodo still jumped. Elves moved just as quietly as hobbits.
"Sam is the love of my life," Frodo acknowledged, his eyes never leaving the sturdy body that touched him with so much love. "But I'm not what he truly wants."
"Are you certain of that?"
"All normal hobbits want to marry and have a house full of children. That's the way we are." Frodo laughed, though it hurt. "Except me."
"Perhaps Sam would choose to remain with you."
Frodo began to shake, standing there in the bright, cold sun. He wouldn't allow himself to even imagine it. Sam had somehow escaped being tainted by their quest. Frodo couldn't take that from him. Wouldn't.
"What can I offer him, Lord Elrond? What is there left of me, to give in exchange for such a heart?"
They stood in silence a few moments longer, watching Sam laugh with Pippin and Merry. The carefree sound made Frodo's eyes water.
"In that case I think, Frodo, that maybe you will not need to come back, unless you come very soon," Elrond said softly. "For about this time of the year, when the leaves are gold before they fall, look for Bilbo in the woods of the Shire. I shall be with him."
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