1. The Way To A Hobbit's Heart
"Just a little something I whipped up." Frodo grinned modestly.
There had had to be a period of adjustment in the kitchen, as well as generally, when Frodo first moved to Bag End. Bilbo also liked to cook, and tended to resent anyone else in the kitchen when he was busy. He whizzed around, creating total chaos and enjoying himself (and the end product) immensely. Once he had admitted that Frodo was in a fair way to being a better cook than himself, he decided to make (and eat) the best of it. They worked out an agreement under which Frodo was allowed unfettered access to the kitchen on two days a week, but otherwise only when Bilbo was occupied elsewhere.
Frodo had been most impressed when he discovered the quality of the food stuffs to hand. “I admit I was worried, coming to live here, whether the high standard of produce at Brandy Hall would be available,” he‘d said. “I thought that perhaps the best stuff wouldn’t be, but with Sam being a wonder at bringing in garden stuff that's at its peak, the farm behind The Hill for butter and cream, and the best butcher in The Shire right here in Hobbiton, I doubt that the Master eats better than you do!”." As he had settled in, his flair for the culinary arts had blossomed.
"But who taught you? I'm a fair cook, as you know," (Frodo raised his own glass, here) "but I stick to the tried and tested things. You don't just cook good stuff to perfection, like tonight's meal. You experiment and concoct and..." Bilbo waved his hand vaguely, indicating the nebulous nature of whatever Frodo did when creating a new dish.
"Ah, that was Aunt Lily. She's very adventurous when it comes to food - very Tookish, on both sides!" The smile faded as he went on, "After my parents’ accident, I thought I should learn to cook for myself. I expected to inherit just their cottage, and it seemed to make sense to be able to make more than just tea and toast. Aunt Lily took me under her wing and I started to really enjoy it."
The Great Kitchen at Brandy Hall was an enormous cavern, walls lined with hearths and ovens, sinks and pumps. The central space was a maze of tables, each cook having his or her own, jealously guarded area. Feeding several hundred hungry hobbits every day was a serious business, and the cooks' efforts had to be carefully co-ordinated to ensure that meals didn't consist solely of meaty soups or of mouth-watering puddings (not that the younger generation would have objected to the latter, but their elders preferred a more balanced diet).
Aunt Lily's contribution was speciality dishes; experimenting, testing and tasting until ready to present a new dish to the Master and his Lady - Lily didn't cook for the masses. She didn't cook with the masses, either, and had, by force of personality, annexed one of the small side kitchens as her domain. Where Frodo's first attempts had been a nuisance and a distraction to the harassed hordes, Aunt Lily had time and space to encourage a budding cook.
Frodo had taken to her regime like a Took to trouble, and once she was satisfied of his competence and commitment, they had worked together on many of the Master's favourites. Although she was often referred to behind her back as a grumpy old bag, Lily had a soft spot for Frodo. She taught him everything she knew, and encouraged him to be creative with ingredients. She also made him eat his failures.
It hadn’t taken many such completely, disgustingly inedible dishes for Frodo to realise for himself the value of conservatism in the use of spices; and although he had only been physically sick after one of his own creations, he retained a rooted dislike of marrow – no matter what was done with it.
Lily wasn't really Frodo's aunt - it was a courtesy title, just as Uncle was for Bilbo. Complicated genealogy charts could prove that they were related several times over, but Aunt and Uncle were in standard use for any older relative. Aunt Lily was one of the people Frodo missed most when he moved to Bag End, but they kept in touch by letter. Many an exotic new dish that appeared on the Master's table had come from Frodo, and Bilbo was an appreciative consumer of some of Lily's best recipes.
Today had been one of Frodo's kitchen days, and he had to admit that he was quite pleased with the results, though the skill had been in bringing out the best of the intrinsic flavours rather than masking them in a complicated dish. The spring lamb had been succulent and tender, a mere hint of garlic combining subtly with the rosemary; the new potatoes and tiny peas were as fresh and delicious as everything grown by Sam, and the gooseberry fluff had been exceptionally light and creamy. Frodo particularly enjoyed the seasonality of cooking; there were few things quite so good as the year's first taste of something you'd really missed (though he could think another he’d like to try).
"I can't understand why you're not plumper. You never seem to put on the inches that we cooks are supposed to." Bilbo patted his own proud (and full) hobbit stomach affectionately.
Truth to tell, Frodo was exceptionally slim for a hobbit. He enjoyed good food but, like Aunt Lily, he found more satisfaction in the feeding of others than in eating for eating's sake. He knew that he was considered odd for his slenderness, but he wasn't going to stuff himself silly, just to conform to general hobbit standards.
"Well, you'll be a fine catch, one of these days - provided you put on a bit of weight!" Bilbo rambled on, over his third glass of wine. "They say that the way to a hobbit's heart is through his stomach, and I'm sure there's many a lass out there would welcome a suitor who could woo her like that."
Frodo got up from the table and began clearing the dishes, avoiding an answer. He was indeed hoping that his culinary skills might pave at least part of the way to a hobbit's heart, and he had his own heart set on which hobbit. He just wasn't sure that his love would - could - be returned.
He had taken to baking in the afternoons, when Bilbo was officially writing, but was in truth more likely to be found nodding in his favourite armchair by the parlour fire, an open book in his lap. (When Frodo woke him, with a necessarily late tea tray, he would claim to be resting his eyelids, grown heavy from his researches. They would both smile - it had become a standing joke at Bag End.)
Once all his teatime delicacies were laid out on the kitchen table, he would make a pot of fresh tea, and call Sam in for a tasting session. Sam's opinions could be relied on to be objective - though he was adamant in his assertion that Frodo was the best cook in the whole Shire.
"What about these? I thought a touch of cinnamon would make all the difference."
"So it does, Mr Frodo. My mum couldn't make as tasty a batch as this." Sam had no higher form of praise, and Frodo would blush becomingly.
"Now try the strawberry shortcake. I think the orange zest really brings out the flavour of the berries."
The best thing about the tastings was that Frodo could stare openly at Sam, ostensibly awaiting his verdict, but really revelling in the sight of sun-kissed hobbit. Sam brought in with him the freshness of outdoors, and the heady scents of the herbs he brushed against while working combined with Frodo’s own light-headedness where Sam was concerned, to devastating effect.
While Sam chewed his way happily through the day's offerings, Frodo's thoughts were envious of each lucky dainty as his lips closed around it. Sam's tongue, darting out to lick crumbs from the corners of his mouth, affected him deeply. His mind wandered longingly to what that tongue might feel like on his own skin, what Sam himself would taste like...
"You're right about that, Mr Frodo." Sam's voice would bring him back to reality
Frodo had never been in love before, though he had a more than just a few stolen kisses to his credit. He had expected that sooner or later his fancy would be taken by one of the lasses who were paraded before him, whenever there was a social occasion, by mothers hoping to settle their daughters advantageously. Being Bilbo's heir had certainly improved his chances in the marriage stakes, but Frodo knew now that he would never marry, whether his cautious culinary wooing of Sam came to fruition or no. He wasn't sure how long he had loved Sam - probably from the moment he met him. It had just taken time for him to realise that Sam's absence left an empty space in his day; that he awaited his first glimpse of Sam each morning, with breathless anticipation; that life without Sam would be unbearable even if Sam couldn’t love him as he needed to be loved. (Also that he had to guard against a betraying tendency to bring Sam’s name into every conversation.)
He had started getting up at dawn, so that he could be on the doorstep – for a breath of air - when Sam arrived for work. He couldn't feel that the day had really begun until he had wished Sam a good morning. Of course, it hadn't stopped there, and soon he was inviting Sam in, to share a pot of tea before he started work. That progressed to cooking succulent breakfasts - for himself, but somehow he always seemed to have made too much, and Sam would have to help him out (so as not to waste good food). It was fortunate that Bilbo was a late riser, so that Frodo had time to put the kitchen (and himself) to rights, before he appeared.
All the extra feeding was having a wonderful effect on Sam's roundness. His tummy swelled so enticingly, and his plump hobbit bottom was such a temptation, that Frodo had to be relieved, as well as disappointed, that they must sit down to eat. The table laden with offerings for Sam's delectation also offered much needed cover for the effect that Sam was having on him.
He usually had to grab one of Bilbo's ruffled pinnies (gifts from aunts with more time on their hands than sense, but useful none the less), and sweep it over himself as though about to begin the washing up, so that he could get up to see Sam to the door, without having the bulge in his trousers noticed. He could feel the day coming when he would no longer be able to resist Sam's offers to stay and help with the dishes, and he wasn't sure how he was going to cope when it came. His usual trip to the bathroom wouldn't be appropriate while Sam was still there.
The following Mersday, Bilbo was up early to go to a meeting of the Farthings Liaison Committee in Michel Delving. This meant that he, and not Sam, shared Frodo's breakfast, which left Frodo more than a little discontented until he realised that he had the perfect excuse for inviting Sam to lunch instead. And with Bilbo away for the day...
All morning - well, between periods spent gazing out of the window to watch Sam as he went about his work; it was unseasonably warm, and his shirt was clinging to his torso in the most delightful way - Frodo prepared and cooked and fussed until he was satisfied that what he had made was worthy of Sam's enjoyment. (A corner of his mind kept wandering to thoughts of empty rooms - specifically bedrooms, and even more specifically, his bedroom. Though he tried to dismiss them, his nervousness increased.)
"Sam!" he called through the window, when lunchtime finally arrived.
"Mr Frodo?" Sam came across the garden, rubbing soil from his hands in a movement that took Frodo's breath away.
With an effort, he managed to say, "I've spent all morning cooking, forgetting that Bilbo wouldn't be here, and there's far too much for me to eat alone. Would you join me for lunch, Sam?"
Sam didn't answer immediately, and Frodo closed his eyes against the pain of refusal, let alone the dazzling vision that Sam presented. He stood there in full sunlight, his hair glinting like Smaug's treasure, and the shirt now unbuttoned in the heat, to reveal a glorious chest with a fine ruffle of equally golden curls and, just visible as the shirt slipped sideways, a plump nipple. Frodo's belly did a somersault, and he knew that if Sam returned to Bagshot Row for lunch, he probably wouldn't make it to the bathroom.
"If you're sure, Mr Frodo, I'd like that. I'll just get cleaned up a bit and be right there."
By the time that Sam appeared in the kitchen, damp and delicious from his spell under the pump - but, much to Frodo's disappointment, wearing a clean shirt he must have brought to wear at teatime, and which didn't have the same clingy properties as the other, and was correctly buttoned up besides - deep breathing and the exercise of iron self control had enabled Frodo to subdue his reactions sufficiently to begin serving lunch.
Sam's appreciation of the meal was lost on Frodo, whose appetite had vanished completely, and who couldn't remember what he had cooked anyway. Although he managed to respond in more or less appropriate places to begin with, the conversation became more and more stilted, and had faded to silence by the time that Sam helped himself to a very early peach (courtesy of the Mayor's much-vaunted glasshouse). As some of the juice escaped Sam's lips and trickled slowly from the corner of his mouth, Frodo couldn't avoid a suppressed whimper. Sam looked up from the fruit. When their eyes met, Frodo's spine tingled, his pulse began to race, and his problem returned in spades.
"Mr Frodo? You haven't eaten much." Sam paused and drew a deep breath. "W-would you like a bite of this?" He held out the peach, the marks of his teeth clearly visible in the soft golden flesh.
Frodo blinked, then leaned forward. His tongue came out of its own accord, and licked at a stray drop of juice that was threatening to descend onto Sam's hand. The juice was delicious, but far better was the taste of Sam, as his tongue slipped - or had Sam's hand come up to meet it? Whichever way, Sam's strangulated response was remarkably similar to Frodo's earlier whimper.
Frodo bit down on the peach, then licked at the copious juices now trickling generously through Sam's fingers. Sam dropped the peach and turned his hand helpfully. Encouraged, Frodo took it in both of his, and licked languorously and deliberately up the length of each finger, then swirled his tongue in circles around the palm By now, Sam's eyes had drifted shut and he seemed to be having trouble breathing. Frodo licked his way up the middle finger once again. Gently, he set it to his lips, and sucked.
"Ohhh!" Sam's eyes snapped open and (as best he could, given the level of distraction) he gasped, "M-Mr Frodo? If we've finished eating, do you think we c-could leave the table?"
Frodo's reply was necessarily indistinct, but gave Sam to understand that he agreed – possibly also that he approved of Sam’s good manners, but Sam had no time to waste on that. Careful not to disengage his hand from Frodo's ministrations, he stood and slid somewhat dizzily around the table. As this brought him belly-to-nose with Frodo, it became obvious to the latter that Sam's problem was possibly greater than his own. He hummed approval around the finger, and this time Sam's groan was unmistakeable.
Reluctantly Sam took back his hand, though the resistant sucking made it difficult, in more ways than one. His fingers seemed suddenly to be directly connected to parts of him that, logically, shouldn’t be so affected by whatever Frodo’s wicked mouth was doing (though Sam had incontrovertible proof to the contrary); parts which were insisting that there were other things which might be ventured, what with Frodo’s eyes so heavy, and his smile so dreamy and so inviting.
Raising Frodo to his feet, he whispered, “I’m a terribly messy eater, Mr Frodo – I’ve got peach juice on my face, too,” and tilted his chin for inspection.
Frodo couldn’t mistake the invitation, despite his befuddled state, and it would be terribly impolite not to help out his guest. He stepped close to Sam and - at long last - threaded his fingers through those spun-sunshine curls, to bring his face close enough to sweep away the remnants of juice with his tongue. The two sensations staggered him more than a little, but Sam put his arms around him supportively, seeing that he was a little unsteady on his feet.
Then his tongue brushed across Sam’s lips, which parted helpfully. Oh, if tasting Sam’s hand and his face, had been good, kissing him was – but confused impressions of peaches and velvet, of furnaces and cool rivers, vanished completely, as Sam moved against him. The day’s – months’ – wanting was suddenly focussed by a rhythm that was wholly instinctive and almost enough to….His hands slid downwards to knead the coveted bottom possessively, and to bring Sam even closer.
Eventually a lack of air and mutual dizziness forced them to take a breath.
“You’ve been doing all this cooking deliberately, haven’t you? Seducing me with your saucepans!” Sam gasped teasingly, rubbing his nose to Frodo’s. He tried to pull back a little, to slow things down, but Frodo didn’t seem to think this a good idea.
“Mmm,” he agreed, but he was really more interested in regaining Sam’s lips, and the feel of him, hard and straining against his own heat. He murmured, “I didn’t think you would want me just for myself,” into Sam’s mouth, with a playful nip at his delicious lower lip, adding a sweep of his tongue which was far more stimulating than apologetic.
“Not want you? I’ve done nothing but want you since I can’t remember when!” Sam said, when he could.
“Seems to me,” he slid his own tongue around Frodo’s lips, feeling his shiver with satisfaction, “that I’ve done a fair bit of tasting for you. I think it’s time I did some tasting of you.” Frodo’s eyes were closed, but the fluttering of his lashes, dark against suddenly pink cheeks, and an alluring tilt of his chin, encouraged Sam in his belief.
His lips worked lovingly over the planes of Frodo’s face, essaying a muffled comparison which was definitely to the detriment of the peach. They trailed down his neck, lingering wherever the resultant reactions seemed particularly appreciative. Frodo had thoughtfully undone his top few buttons before Sam arrived (in the interests of making his guest feel that his own buttons need not be quite so properly fastened), which gave unrestricted access to the hollow of his throat (a very receptive spot), though Sam seemed keen on extending the area, judging from the fingers on his buttons.
With less than half a thought to spare from the fire at every nerve ending, Frodo noted vaguely that Sam’s commentary on his skin was murmured with a great deal of satisfaction. (He hoped that his own sighs and whimpers conveyed suitable gratification.) Honey and wine were certainly mentioned, as Sam’s tantalising licks and kisses, whispers and gentle nibbles progressed slowly, tantalisingly, downwards; salt and strawberries and cinnamon and –
“Oh!” Somehow (his mind had been occupied by far more important things), Frodo found that he was lying on the kitchen mat, shirt and trousers undone, and –
- “Musk,” Sam said hoarsely, as he bent to take Frodo into his mouth. For a fleeting second, he worried that Frodo’s gasp, and his sudden stillness meant that he should stop (though he was very sure that he couldn’t curb his own rising), but a push forward, and a pleading whisper of his name reassured him. With infinite gentleness and absolute empathy, he used lips and tongue (and a tiny hint of teeth), letting Frodo’s movements and stillnesses and breathy cries guide him until –
“Ss - aaah! - mmm!”
When Frodo’s breathing slowed enough for speech, he managed, “Sam, that – I –“ but a kiss would say so much more than words. He pulled Sam down to him, fumbling frantically for Sam’s buttons, wanting to give - but Sam had loved him so sympathetically, that Frodo’s first touch had him crying out in his turn.
The kitchen was empty, save for the remains of a meal (and a good deal of washing up), but a muffled, and very satisfied, murmur could be heard from the direction of Frodo's bedroom. “Mmm! I think from now on, that peaches will have to be my second favourite fruit."
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.