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The Hay Wain

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They’ve walked farther than they intended, lured onward by the fine fall day, all golden sunshine and blue skies that beckon like that magical spot at the end of a rainbow. As they climb over a stile and down into a dusty lane bordering a hay field, Sam can see the weariness in Frodo’s face, well before his stubborn Baggins nature will allow him to admit to it.

The upper lid of Mr. Frodo’s right eye droops slightly whenever he is tired. Sam has observed it before, as indeed he has observed every aspect of that flawlessly beautiful face. A good servant, Sam has been taught by his gaffer, makes certain to know all his master’s moods, the better to serve him.

So Sam has made a quiet and thorough study of Frodo Baggins, especially in the years since Mr. Bilbo took off for parts unknown, leaving his cousin to assume the mantle of Master of Bag End. For there is nothing Sam wishes more than to serve his master well and anticipate his every need.

Such study is no hardship for Sam: far from it. The only hardship lies in curtailing it in the evenings to return home to Number Three, or in missing opportunities for further study when Mr. Frodo is away in Buckland or Tuckborough visiting his relations. Studying Frodo Baggins is akin to listening to an Elvish tale, Sam has concluded, for no matter how many times the tale is told, some new wonder will reveal itself to an attentive listener- and Sam is a very attentive listener.

Frodo has halted in the lane, ostensibly to adjust the pack he’s carrying that has slid a little to one side. He straightens it with a lift of his shoulders, and then dips a hand into the pocket of his brown velvet waistcoat, pulling out a linen handkerchief embroidered in midnight blue with the twining initials ‘FB’.

As Frodo mops his perspiring brow, Sam observes him closely, noting how his glossy brown curls- the exact shade of polished walnut- cluster damply at his temples and at the nape of his neck, and how tiny beads of sweat dot his upper lip, emphasizing its delicately etched curve. Sam’s gaze drops lower, and he further notes that the pale column of Frodo’s throat is glistening damply, too, and that a tiny trickle of sweat is running down it and pooling in the hollow at its base.

Sam wonders how that trickle would taste if he were to lap at it with his tongue: salty-sweet with a hint of musk, he decides. There are times, and this is one of them, when the unspoken limitations on Sam’s study of his master seem arbitrary and cruel. The eyes can only observe so much, after all. There are taste and touch and smell to be used, too… if only he was allowed. Sam discovers that his hands have closed into sweaty fists at his sides and his breeches have become a trifle snug. Studying Frodo tends to have that effect on Sam.

“Sam?”

He jerks his wandering eyes away from the gap in Frodo’s linen shirt where the top two buttons have been undone and yet another intriguing trickle of sweat is in evidence.

Frodo is watching him curiously, one eyebrow quirked. “Everything all right?” he asks, stuffing the handkerchief back into his pocket.

“Aye, Mr. Frodo,” Sam hastens to assure him, hoping his embarrassed flush will go unnoticed, though his master has from time to time surprised Sam by showing evidence of being as dedicated an observer as his gardener; very little gets past that piercing blue gaze. “I was only gathering some wool as you might say.”

Frodo looks thoughtful. “Hmm,” he says ambiguously. “Shall we go on then?” He raises his walking stick and gestures eastward in the direction of Hobbiton and home.

They’ve still a good ten miles ahead of them, but the sun is only two hours past the noon. There’s time enough for Mr. Frodo to take a brief rest before they press on. The problem, Sam knows from past experience, is in getting his master to take that rest. Frodo is well aware that some in Hobbiton (that Ted Sandyman, for one) consider him not a proper hobbit at all, and call him too pale and too thin and even, though no longer within Sam’s hearing, a weakling.

No, Mr. Frodo would no more admit to being tired than he’d fly to the moon. He’s proud and stubborn, and that’s a fact, though Sam wishes he could see himself through Sam’s eyes: the strongest and best hobbit in the Shire is Frodo Baggins, and he has no need to prove anything to a stick-at-naught like Ted Sandyman or to anyone else for that matter.

But Sam doesn’t say this aloud. He’d never have the nerve, for one thing, and for another, well, all those hours of observation have taught him more than that Frodo is the strongest and best (not to mention loveliest) hobbit in the Shire. He has also learned a bit about how to handle that Baggins stubborn streak.

“Truth to tell, sir,” he replies, applying what he’s learned to the current situation, “I could do with a sit down first. I ain’t such a great walker as you, and my legs are feeling it. There’s a thick patch of grass across the way and a bank to rest our backs against. ‘Twould do nicely, I reckon.”

It’s not entirely a whopper; Sam isn’t a great walker compared to Frodo, who rambles about the countryside for miles nearly every day, but it is enough of a lie that he finds it difficult to hold Frodo’s gaze. He manages it, though, and is rewarded when Frodo agrees, with a definite hint of relief in his voice.

“Very well,” Frodo says. “But wouldn’t we be more comfortable in there?” He points with his walking stick again, this time at a hay wain that is parked a short distance up the lane, in the shade of an oak tree whose leaves are beginning to wear their autumn dress. The four-wheeled wooden cart is half-filled with yellow-gold hay that pokes out through gaps in the slats that form its sides. “No one is about, and I daresay they wouldn’t mind us making use of it for a short time.”

Sam has to admit that the wain would make an ideal spot for a weary hobbit to rest awhile, and it’s true that there’s no one about to object. An undeniable thrill races through Sam at the idea of sharing that secluded, snug space with his master. Nothing will happen, of course. Sam knows this. Nothing, that is, resembling the dreams he’s had waking and sleeping, the ones that leave him with a sticky belly, racing heart and a wistful longing for things that can never be. But still, simply to lie down beside Mr. Frodo in the hay… he feels almost dizzy at the prospect.

“Aye, I reckon you’re right, sir, on both counts,” Sam says, and is proud of the steadiness of his voice.

“Then the hay wain it is. Come on.”

Frodo sets out at a brisk walk toward the cart, the anticipation of a rest no doubt accounting for the renewed vigour of his stride. Sam hurries after him.

It is the most daring thing he has ever done in his life.

***

The sides of the wain are a good six feet high. Frodo tosses his walking stick over the back into the hay, and then begins to clamber up. He has always been a good climber- Sam recalls him as a tween making light work of even the most challenging tree- and easily finds purchase with fingers and toes between the slats. Within moments he has scaled the side and is straddling the top, legs dangling. He smiles down encouragingly at Sam.

“Climb up, Sam-lad. It’s sturdy enough.”

Sam rouses from a stupor that has resulted from studying Frodo’s shapely rear- of which he’s had a perfect view from below. “Aye, Mr. Frodo.” He hands up his own walking stick to Frodo, and then takes hold of one of the wooden slats above his head. He sets the ball of his right foot on the slat in front of him, and pushes off with his other foot, just as Frodo drops lightly down into the bed of the wain, disappearing from view.

He isn’t nearly as agile as Frodo, being considerably stouter, and he’s slower to reach the top. Perhaps because of his greater weight, the wain rocks a little as he throws his right leg over and prepares to jump down beside Frodo. The rocking movement pitches Sam suddenly forward. He overbalances and, with flailing arms and a startled cry, topples face-first into the hay. It’s not a long fall, and the thickness of the hay cushions it, but nothing can cushion the embarrassment he feels at such a performance in front of his master.

“Sam, are you all right?” Frodo grabs Sam by the straps of his pack and hauls him to his feet.

Sam can only splutter that he’s ‘perfectly all right, thank you’, and spit bits of hay from his mouth. He feels certain that no poppy could ever be a brighter red than he is at that moment.

“You’re all over hay!” Frodo exclaims, reaching out to brush a few strands from Sam’s shoulder. “Oh Sam, you should be standing in the middle of the vegetable garden with your arms raised.”

Frodo’s blue eyes are dancing with amusement, and Sam wants to sink right through the hay wain and into the ground. And even that doesn’t seem far enough to hide his humiliation. “It’s all I’m fit for,” Sam says miserably, “to stand in one spot. Clumsy oaf that I am.”

“Sam.” To Sam’s astonishment, two slim white fingers come to rest beneath his chin and gently lift his head. Frodo gives him a mock stern look. “You are not a clumsy oaf. The cart distinctly rocked, I felt it, and anyone might have been thrown off balance.” With a teasing smile he adds, “I daresay we shall both resemble scarecrows after we’ve lain in this hay for a while. Then we can stand side by side in the garden together and frighten the birds away.”

Sam can’t help but grin, embarrassment retreating in the face of the absurd image Frodo has conjured up, as Frodo, kindest of masters, no doubt intended. “Don’t know what my old dad would say if he saw us.”

Frodo laughs and drops his hand, much to Sam’s disappointment, for that light touch had burned and not unpleasantly. “He’d say your master is leading you astray.” He slips his pack off his shoulders and sets it to one side.

I want to be led astray, Sam thinks as he follows suit, setting his pack beside Frodo’s. The skin beneath Sam’s chin still tingles with warmth. And is it his imagination or is there a slight flush in Mr. Frodo’s cheeks, almost as if he’d had the same thought as Sam… It has to be his imagination, he decides, watching Frodo settle down in the hay with a contented sigh, one arm crooked behind his head.

“Don’t just stand there, Sam,” Frodo says, patting the straw invitingly with his free hand. “You said you needed a rest.”

A rest is the last thing on Sam’s mind, but he obediently follows suit, trying to act as if there is nothing unusual about this moment, as if he’s in the habit of sharing such intimacy with Frodo. And intimate it is: the piles of golden hay and the tall sides of the wain block the lane and fields from view, enclosing them in their own private world. The air is close, and the intensity of the hay’s sweet fragrance makes Sam’s head swim. The branches of the oak tree form a living canopy above them, and sway gently so that sunlight and shadow dance around them like courting lovers.

But though the hay looks a soft and comfortable bed, stiff stray pieces of it poke into the exposed skin of Sam’s neck, prickling unpleasantly. He squirms, trying unsuccessfully to find a more comfortable position. “Blast,” he mutters, scratching at the back of his neck.

“Is the hay biting?” Frodo asks sympathetically, seeing his discomfort.

“Aye,” Sam admits, embarrassed yet again, for Frodo appears entirely unbothered by the hay’s bite. “But I can ignore it,” he adds stoutly, resisting the urge to scratch again.

“There’s no need.” Frodo sits up and shrugs out of his waistcoat. “You can use this to cover the hay beneath your head and neck.” He holds the brown velvet garment out to Sam.

“Mr. Frodo, that ain’t necessary,” Sam protests, but there’s that stubborn Baggins jut of the chin in response, and he knows he’d as well argue with the sun about coming up each morning. Reluctantly, he takes the waistcoat from Frodo; it is warm from the heat of his body and slightly damp to the touch, and Sam tries not to notice how the linen shirt Frodo has been wearing underneath clings to his body in sweat-darkened patches.

But it is impossible not to notice, not when he’s holding warm damp velvet in his hands and wondering if this is how Frodo’s bare skin would feel. Suddenly, to lay his head upon that waistcoat is what Sam wants most in the entire world- and at the same time, it is what he fears most, lest the depth of his longing to do more than study Frodo from afar be revealed to that observant blue gaze.

Sam hesitates, glances at Frodo with his uncompromising chin, and gives up. He smoothes the brown velvet over the hay with the palm of a hand that trembles ever-so-slightly, and then with a rustle of crackling hay, slowly sinks back again.

“Is that better?” Frodo asks softly after a few moments.

Sam only nods, his mouth is dry as a husk, and with good reason. The tantalising smell of Frodo- a combination of musk and rosemary and lavender- is swirling around him, teasing and tormenting his senses. He fights against the urge to turn his head and rub his cheek against the nap of the velvet, to bury his nose in its softness and breathe the very essence of Frodo.

“Good.” Frodo cracks a large yawn, his eyes and nose scrunching up like a child’s. “Mmm. I think I could sleep. I’m glad you suggested we take a break.” He settles more deeply into the hay, turning slightly toward Sam with one knee drawn up toward his chest and his head pillowed on his arm, and smiles sleepily. “Pleasant dreams, my dear Sam.”

His eyelids drift closed, and mere moments later, or so it seems to Sam, Frodo is sound asleep with his lips slightly parted and his breathing deep and even.

Sam lies there paralysed with shock, hardly able to believe his own ears. Had Frodo really just called him my dear Sam? And then simply fallen asleep? Sam nearly groans aloud with frustration, and even the knowledge that Mr. Frodo needs to sleep cannot quell the wish that he might wake up and tell Sam exactly what he meant by those words.

But Frodo shows no sign of waking, and Sam sighs and stores the words away in his heart to be brought out that night when he’s home in bed, and can count them over like hard-earned coin.

A low murmur escapes Frodo’s lips; Sam shifts onto his side so that he is facing his master. His cheek now rests on the plush brown velvet of the waistcoat and he rubs it lazily, luxuriating in the feel of the fine material, while he imagines that it is instead the flawless smooth skin of the beautiful hobbit who lies so close to him.

But the languid movement gradually ceases as Sam becomes lost in dreamy contemplation of Frodo’s sleeping face. The play of light and shadow across its planes and hollows holds Sam spellbound. He stares and stares, unable to get his fill of that beloved face, even as he knows that he shouldn’t be staring, that it’s rude and wrong and not at all what his gaffer had meant. Sam decides, defiantly, that he doesn’t care; an opportunity such as this is rare and precious, and surely Frodo wouldn’t mind.

If only his eyelids didn’t feel so heavy, though, as if tiny weights were dragging them down. If only the air wasn’t so close and the thought of sleep so enticing…

My dear Sam, my dear Sam, my dear Sam… Frodo’s words repeat over and over in Sam’s sleep-fogged brain, like the low crooning of a lullaby, and send him at last, against his will, deep into slumber.

***

A sudden lurch and rumbling noise awaken Sam from the most vividly erotic dream he’s ever had about making love to Frodo- and he’s had many such dreams. In this dream, they are lying together in Frodo’s bed, their naked bodies touching from chest to toe, and the slippery lengths of their erections are sliding against each other, eliciting the most pleasurable sensations Sam has ever felt in his life. Sam is moaning against Frodo’s mouth, and with every repetition of the delicious friction of cock on cock, he draws nearer and nearer to the edge…

“Gee up,” a harsh male voice says, intruding rudely into Sam’s state of utter bliss.

Sam’s eyes start to open, reluctantly. Nooooo, he almost wails aloud at the disruption. He’s so hard, he’s so incredibly, incredibly hard and so close to release… It’s simply not fair. Shut up, go away, what are you doing in my dream? he wants to yell at that annoying voice.

Only he doesn’t, because he is awake now and several things have hit him at once with the force of a Dwarf’s hammer on some hapless goblin’s skull.

Sam isn’t in the master bedchamber at Bag End. He’s in the hay wain. And the hay wain is moving, rumbling and rattling up the lane to the accompaniment of the clop, clop, clop of pony hooves. At some point while he and Frodo slept, the farmer who owned said wain had arrived and harnessed his ponies to it, and now he is driving it back to his farm or some other destination, completely unaware, seemingly, that he has acquired a couple of passengers.

But this discovery, shocking though it is, is not the biggest shock. No, it’s not even in the running.

For somehow, while they slept, he and Frodo have managed to close the respectful gap between them. They are now lying pillowed in each other’s arms, touching from chest to toes, exactly like in his dream (only clothed, alas). Sam’s face is buried in a tumble of silky, rosemary-scented curls, his arms are snug around a firm, sleekly muscled back, and his rock-hard erection is pulsing against a velvet-clad hip. To add to the shock, Sam realises that an equally rock-hard erection- Frodo’s rock-hard erection- is doing the same sort of pulsing against Sam’s hip.

Before his brain can fully process this wondrous development, the wain bounces as it hits a rut in the lane, and Sam’s rigid cock is rubbed against the jut of Frodo’s hipbone. He nearly cries out, but then the final, greatest shock of all occurs: one of those slim white fingers touches his lips to silence him, and an aghast Sam turns his head and meets a pair of vivid gentian-blue eyes.

Frodo is awake.

Nothing in Sam’s years of Frodo studying has prepared him for this unprecedented situation. But clearly he has to do something: offer an apology, beg Frodo’s forgiveness… move back, although he thinks that might quite possibly kill him. Gritting his teeth, he starts to ease his aching groin away from Frodo’s hip, but he hasn’t moved an inch when he finds himself held immobile by Frodo’s right leg, which has hooked around the back of his thighs and is pinning him strongly in place.

“Wh-" Sam begins, but Frodo shakes his head, mouths one word: ‘hush’, and then nods toward the front of the wain. Sam cranes his neck around and sees the back of a wide-brimmed floppy straw hat belonging to the driver of the wain, still oblivious to their presence. Sam returns his gaze to Frodo. He can’t really mean for them to… But though Sam can hardly credit it, there is a sultry spark of desire heating Frodo’s eyes. Frodo is not only awake, he is fully aware and he wants what Sam wants every bit as much as Sam does.

Now would be a very, very foolish time to faint, Sam decides.

Frodo’s expressive dark brows lift in a question. Scarcely daring to believe this is really happening, Sam nods. Frodo smiles his approval, and pushes his hands through the tangle of Sam’s curls, holding his head still against the swaying of the wain. While Sam waits with bated breath, Frodo angles his head to one side and then, wonder of wonders, leans forward and covers Sam’s mouth with his own. With throaty hums of encouragement, Frodo gently coaxes Sam’s lips apart and slides his moist tongue between them to begin a thorough and leisurely exploration of the inside of his mouth.

Sam isn’t entirely without prior experience at kissing, but as well compare those occasions with this as compare a candle’s heat to that of a bonfire. And Sam feels as if his entire body is going up in flames, in fact.

Ohhhhh. Frodo swallows Sam’s moan as he deepens the kiss even further, and he shifts, pushing Sam back down into the yielding warmth of the hay and covering him with his body. Sam whimpers deep in his throat as he feels Frodo’s arousal, scorching hot even through their combined layers of clothing, press against his own. With a boldness he’d never have believed himself capable of, Sam’s hands slide down to cup Frodo’s firm bottom and knead it. This time it is Frodo’s moan that is swallowed and his hands tighten convulsively in Sam’s hair. He moves restlessly against Sam as their tongues parry and thrust against each other in imitation of the movements of their bodies.

And through it all, not a single word is spoken; only the tiniest of panting gasps escape their lips, to be quickly lost among the rattle of the wain, the creak of the ponies’ harness leather and the rustle of the hay as their twined bodies rock together.

Those years of studying Frodo seem to have been designed for this very moment. When Frodo abruptly tears his mouth away and sits up, panting, Sam can read the intention in his eyes even before his hands fly to the waistband of his trousers and fumble at the buttons. Sam shakes his head and pushes those shaking fingers aside. Let me, please, he begs with his eyes, and Frodo yields.

With eager, trembling hands Sam slips the wooden buttons free and pushes Frodo’s trousers and smallclothes over his narrow hips and the round globes of his buttocks, exposing a thatch of curling dark hair and the rose-hued shaft that springs out from it to stand stiffly erect between the tails of Frodo’s linen shirt. Sam couldn’t have spoken then even if he’d wanted to. The sight of Frodo, looking utterly wanton as he straddles Sam’s hips, is breathtaking. His tousled curls are flecked with gold, his shirt has slipped off one creamy shoulder, his cheeks are hectically flushed and his lips ripe and swollen. And his eyes… they glow like sun-lit sapphires.

For a long moment they stare at each other, and then Frodo begins attacking the buttons of Sam’s breeches. He frantically gets them undone and then tugs at breeches and smallclothes as Sam obligingly lifts his hips to hasten the process. Any shyness or worry that Sam might have felt at being exposed before one so fair vanishes in a flash as Frodo draws in a sharp breath at the sight that greets his widening eyes. Almost reverently he draws a finger up the ridged length of Sam’s erection, from the honey-gold curls at its root to the tip that is welling clear fluid.

Oh, you are so beautiful, Sam. The words hang unspoken in the air as Frodo bends greedily to take Sam’s mouth once more. He settles in the cradle of Sam’s strong thighs, clutching at his shoulders. Dark curls and golden mingle as they begin to move together, and it is exactly as it was in Sam’s dream, slippery length sliding sensuously against slippery length. Sam explores the exquisite softness of Frodo’s bare skin with his calloused fingertips, reveling in the freedom to study Frodo at last as he has always wanted to: with every single one of his senses. At last he dips a finger into the shadowy cleft at the base of Frodo’s spine, and follows it down to the puckered opening that he traces in light circles with his fingertip.

This is too much for Frodo, whose hips thrust in several helpless, erratic jerks before he spills his hot seed onto Sam’s stomach, muffling his cries of release against Sam’s mouth. Sam hurtles after him moments later, and they collapse together in a panting heap, while the farmer hums tunelessly to himself and slaps the reins on the ponies’ backs, completely oblivious to what has transpired right under his very nose.

***

Frodo and Sam don’t linger, hoping to make good their escape before the farmer reaches his destination. Using every ounce of hobbity stealth they possess, they climb out of the hay wain on slightly shaky knees after hastily cleaning themselves with Frodo’s handkerchief and adjusting their rumpled clothing. They almost forget Frodo’s waistcoat, half-buried in the hay, but Sam leans perilously down and snatches it up at the last moment.

“Why, Samwise Gamgee, you look like you’ve just been tumbled in the hay,” Frodo teases lightheartedly, when they are standing breathless in the sunny lane, watching the wain rumble away. He reaches out and plucks free a long golden stalk tangled in Sam’s hair.

“Aye, and so do you, Frodo Baggins. Anyone seeing us will know in a trice what we’ve been up to, and it ain’t practicing to stand out in the field and scare away the birds neither.” Sam returns the favor, removing a piece of hay from the collar of Frodo’s shirt.

Frodo frowns at that, and Sam’s heart sinks. Of course he won’t want no one to know, Sam thinks. Me being just his gardener and all.

“Sam,” Frodo begins very solemnly, and Sam’s heart plummets even further, “I suppose there are some things that need saying aloud, for I wish there to be no misunderstanding between us, now or ever.” He holds Sam’s eyes with his own. “That was no mere tumble in the hay to me, my dear, and I shouldn’t like anyone to think that it was- least of all you. The truth is I love you, and I have for quite a long time.”

“You do? You have?” Sam feels a fool. All those years of studying Frodo, and he’d never figured out that his feelings were returned.

Frodo’s smile holds a mix of amusement and tenderness. “I do and I have, and I must confess, Sam, that I had no intention whatsoever of letting you out of that wain without stealing a kiss from you first. But when I woke to find myself in your arms, I knew I had to steal much, much more than a simple kiss.”

Sam blushes, recalling his erotic dream and the state he was in when they awoke. “I reckon you could tell right off that you wouldn’t have to be stealing nothing from me, Frodo.” He gathers up his courage. “I love you, too,” he blurts out, and it doesn’t take any great powers of observation for him to figure out how Frodo feels about this declaration. Frodo throws his arms around Sam’s neck and kisses him- and he has no need to steal this kiss either.

Some considerable time passes before they’ve had their fill of kisses and are ready to take up their packs and walking sticks and continue on. About a mile up the road they come to a wooden barn, and discover the hay wain parked beside it and the farmer busy unhitching his ponies. He glances up and sees them approaching and waves in a friendly fashion. “Good day to you, sirs,” he says, and Frodo and Sam, careful not to look at each other, return his greeting with equal friendliness, giving no sign of the giddiness that bubbles up inside them.

But as they hurry on, eager to reach home (and bed), they are laughing and holding hands like a pair of mischievous children.

~end~