11. Epilogue - Gillim
Frodo was cold.
At least, part of him was cold. His back and his shoulders, and the back of his thighs, and even his rear end, seemed to be very bare and very cold. His face and chest and arms were tucked firmly into something warm. Something that smelled, and since his mouth was pressed against bare skin, he licked -- yes, tasted -- like Sam.
He cautiously opened one eye, hoping against hope that the entire population of Hobbiton was not standing around them on the Hill in broad daylight.
Frodo took a deep, relieved breath. They were still alone on the Hill, and Sam was wrapped firmly around him, his sturdy body unaccountably warm on this chill night. Actually giving off heat like a furnace. For a moment, Frodo basked in that glow. Then he attempted to raise his head and found Sam's fingers, woven very tightly in his hair. Frodo smiled painfully. Apparently this steadfast grip on his hair was going to be a habit with Sam. He wondered briefly if his scalp would survive and felt a warm thrill at the prospect of finding out.
It was still dark, but he could see, just over Sam's shoulder, hints of grey light in a sky that was suddenly bereft of stars. And a chill wind was sweeping across the hill. A storm. A storm was blowing in. He shivered and a cloth-bound hand pulled him closer. He felt a weight move on his leg, which, he realized, was being held firmly between Sam's.
He grinned broadly. It was such a powerful feeling. It was as if some part of him that had always been empty was suddenly full to overflowing. He couldn't remember feeling this content and comfortable in a long time. Despite lying naked on cold ground swept by a damp wind, resting in Sam's arms felt strangely like coming home. Frodo was tempted to just lie there, entangled in that warmth, held securely to that broad chest. But he could smell the hint of rain in the air and he, for one, did not want this night to end with a cold shower.
“Sam,” he whispered. There was no response. “Samwise.”
“Sam,” he said loudly.
“Mis...Mister...Fro...” The gold head raised blearily and the gold eyes widened.
The head lowered again to the grass with a tremulous sigh. “Oh glory.”
Frodo managed to swallow a laugh. “Well, Samwise Gamgee, master gardener, you may think rain is glorious on a spring morning, but I, for one, would rather not be caught out in it.”
“Rain?” Sam pushed himself up, then yelped, realizing he had used his injured hand.
Frodo sat up quickly and yelped as well, promptly jerked back by fingers still laced in his hair.
“Oh! Sorry, sir. I mean, sorry,” Sam stuttered, blushing furiously.
Frodo rubbed his head gingerly. “Nothing too damaged, I don't think.” He turned quickly, taking the wrapped hand carefully in his. “But I am worried... Oh, Sam!” Even in the dark, he could see that the wrapping was grass stained and dirty. It was much the worse for wear, but it didn't look like there was a lot of blood seeping through.
“I heal really quick. Just twinges a bit,” Sam protested.
“We need to get you cleaned up and take a look at it,” Frodo said quickly. “We can check it and rewrap it in something clean.”
Sam peered at him in the dark, then reached out and pulled a strand of grass out of his hair, then another. “You need a bit of cleaning up yourself.”
“Mmmmm.” Chill bumps rose on Frodo's skin. He shuddered, unsure if it was the breeze, or Sam's fingers brushing at his nape. “We need to get in out of this wind.”
Frodo scanned the grass around them, looking for the light shadowy patches within the deeper shadows that might indicate discarded clothing. He managed to stagger to his feet and fish out a shirt, throwing it at Sam as he moved on to find his own breeches beneath a clutch of gorgeous blooms. Frodo stepped into the wrinkled garment, a bit clumsily, as he continued to search, finding his own shirt crumpled under the blanket and Sam's breeches pooled where he had stepped out of them. Then he stumbled over an odd shaped bundle and bent to scoop it up as well.
Sam had just barely struggled into his shirt, with some difficulty, when Frodo handed him his breeches.
“It's starting to rain, Sam.” Frodo shrugged into his own shirt, managing to hang on to the much-mistreated mathom as he did. “You don't need a chill on top of everything else.”
Sam was clearly struggling with the injured hand, just barely managing to get the breeches up. Frodo handed him the mathom and reached quickly behind him to tug gently at reluctant cloth, then knelt in front of him to efficiently tie the laces. He realized, a bit too late, what he had done when he felt a hand plough into his hair to hold him there.
What had immediately risen to Frodo's touch under that cloth proved that even cold rain would have no effect at this point. He vowed to do something very soon about the way this particular position affected Sam. If possible, before breakfast. Frodo smiled to himself at the thought, and let his fingers slip and touch, accidentally of course, just to see Sam's eyes flare and his mouth open with a soundless gasp as Frodo rose to his feet within Sam's arms.
“Good morning, my Sam,” he whispered. He swiftly caressed with his thumb the darkening mark that he had left on Sam's neck just beneath the collar of the rumpled shirt, then pushed a strand of flaxen hair slowly behind one sensitive eartip, slid his finger across a still swollen lower lip, and finally grasped the trembling chin to pull those lips to his.
A cloth-covered hand slid under Frodo's shirt to fumble at one side of his waist.
“Ow!” Frodo yelped when something hard and rough bumped into his other side. He stepped back, rubbing his ribs.
Sam managed to look apologetic and aroused at the same time. He held out the mathom wordlessly.
“Yes. I must open this if only to save my poor body from further abuse!” Frodo laughed.
He watched Sam's face intently as he pulled at the twine and unwrapped the cloth without looking. And Sam was watching with dark eyes as Frodo's fingers skimmed across a rough and spiny surface. Frodo finally looked down, intrigued. The cloth spun away from Frodo's fingers and he turned the object over and over in his hands.
Even in the dim light, he could see it was shaped like a star, fashioned not of light and heat, but of something more of the earth -- brown and prickly and oddly hollow. Frodo gazed at it in delight.
“Wherever did you get this, Sam? What is it?”
“A peddler. Not Old Snivey, another one,” Sam responded. “Never seen him around here before. He called it a 'gillim'. Least ways, I think that's what he said.”
“Gillim.” Frodo looked up, feeling that familiar stirring beneath his breastbone as he gazed at Sam's face. “ ‘Star fish’ in Sindarin.”
“I knew you would know that.” Sam smiled tentatively. “That old peddler had a few tales -- one of 'em was how the elves'd told him of the stars falling into the sea sometimes, burning as they went, and how this was the afters.”
Frodo's gaze shifted up at the empty sky then back down to the mathom then finally up at Sam's face. If the stars all fell from the sky, Frodo knew, at that moment, neither of them would notice.
“I thought you'd like it because I know you love the stars, and the sea, and it just seemed right you should have...”
Frodo swallowed the rest of whatever Sam had been going to say in a kiss that chased away the spring rain and put all the stars back in their rightful place.
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.