“Sam, I've not even touched it yet.”
“Oh- ehm, s-sorry. It's just throbbing still, awful bad.”
Frodo gently angled little Sam's hand more directly into the sunlight. “You've only got to hold still, all right? It's not in very deep, but I'm going to use tweezers.”
Sam nodded and fervently scrubbed at his wet cheeks with his other hand. A little black stinger was embedded in a red lump at the top of his palm, where a bee had just stung him. He'd been picking flowers, only knowing for a moment he'd accidentally grabbed a bee in his bouquet, before the pain of its sting was all he could think about, and he'd gone running in tears to Frodo.
Frodo was perhaps over-prepared, with a saucer of rubbing alcohol on the table, in which he'd dipped the tweezers' tips. He took them now in hand, and repeated to Sam, “This is going to sting again, but please stay very still.”
Sam muffled a shriek as Frodo pulled out the stinger, and set it aside on the table, but did as asked by staying as still as he could, even though he was shaking all over. “Not done just yet,” Frodo had a cotton swab damp with more alcohol, and with numerous apologies for the pain, gave the site of the sting a quick swipe, before dunking Sam's whole hand in a bowl of ice water. “Done!” said Frodo, and gently took a kerchief to wipe Sam's cheeks. “Now we wait for the swelling to go down; the ice will help, and numb the pain. If it's still very painful in a little while, I'll check to see what cream we've got to numb it more.”
Sam nodded, struggling to calm himself down. “Thank'ee, Frodo. I went and lost me head, there.”
Frodo then took Sam's uninjured hand between his, and gave it a gentle squeeze. “No worries, Master Samwise. The Bagginses' Apothecary is always happy to help during emergencies. But- this isn't the first time you've been stung, is it?”
Sam shook his head, looking abashed. “Nay, t'isn't. Been gotten a few times afore, but this'un took me awfully by surprise.” Frodo looked to the collection of forget-me-nots and daffodils lying on the table – their stems slightly broken in Sam's pain and fright, but inside for his stubbornness to bring them to their appointed owner.
“Well, I'm glad it didn't turn out any worse.”
A shy look was given to the flowers and Frodo, each in turn. “Ehm, so- do you still like the flowers?”
Frodo smiled, shaking his head as he gathered up the slightly ragged bouquet, and tried to tidy it a little. “Yes, yes I do,” he said, taking a deep breath to admire their scent, “thank you for them, Sam; I'll put them in water right away. I am sorry you and the bee had it out over them, though.”
As Frodo rose to fetch a vase, Sam sniffled and waved his unstung hand. “I'll be all right afore too long. T'is the flowers as is important.”
“Are they for any special occasion?” Frodo asked, having chosen a vase and put it under the tap.
“Not as you might say, no,” Sam shyly ran a hand through his hair, “just meant as a thank'ee, fer doing all it is as you do. I- well, I wouldn't be knowing how to read so well, for one, if you didn't spend so much time helping me with it.” As he arranged the flowers in the vase, Frodo treated Sam to an endeared smile over his shoulder. “And- well, plain enough it is I think you're fair,” the hue of a soft carnation blossomed over Sam's cheeks, “and fair things ought to have more fair things.”
“I don't really know about the last part,” said Frodo, a delighted laugh underpinning his words, “but I'm very happy to help you with your books, Sam, and whatever else you need. I'm glad you appreciate it so much.”
In truth, Sam was awed by Frodo almost as much as he was by Elves, but said only Frodo was welcome, while the latter declared he'd put the vase in the window of his room. When Frodo returned, he asked Sam how his hand was, and they decided a bit of cream on it would be for the best.
Shortly after that, Frodo secured a plaster over the sting, and looked to Sam for approval. To his surprise, Sam was flushed and still looking tentatively expectant. “Shall I kiss it better, just in case?” he asked, the question sincere, and accompanied by a gentle smile.
“Mam says it ain't never hurts, and so can only help.” Sam replied, nodding with relative assurance.
“Very well then,” and Frodo placed a delicate kiss over the plaster, “now, consider yourself released from the doctor's for today, Samwise. Be gentle with it, and let me know if it doesn't feel better tomorrow.”
Sam nodded, and of a sudden rushed forward to hug Frodo. “Thank'ee awful much; you're grand, Frodo.”
“Only as grand as you are, Sam,” he replied, hugging the younger hobbit in kind.
Many years later – after Bilbo had left with a bang and a flash, leaving Frodo to his own devices – a particularly brutal spring storm had sent a tree branch crashing through the garden shed, and this morning Sam was overseeing the repairs of it.
Seeing as he'd been insistently told to stay inside, and that Sam had everything well in hand, Frodo did as he was told, spending the majority of the day in his study. He'd been enjoying a cup of tea there quite happily, when he nearly spilled it all over himself and his desk in surprise, for a shriek of “BLOODY FECK!” came sailing suddenly through the window.
Frodo abandoned his tea to grow cold as he bolted outside, and waded through the myriad of construction hobbits fluttering anxiously in the yard after the exclamation. The source of it was found beside the crew's forehobbit, who was nervously trying to get Sam to show him his hand. When the forehobbit caught sight of Frodo, he hurried to explain. “Right enough I did tell Mister Gamgee he needn't help us, but he said he wanted to be of some use all the same, and now he's gone and bonked his thumb with a hammer.”
Sam was clutching the injured hand to his chest, and only with firm prompting from Frodo did he extend it. Fortunately, the concerned digit still looked perfectly in tact, if not red and swelling. Frodo offered his apologies to the construction crew, and herded Sam inside, fetching a bowl of ice water for him.
“Now will you listen to Mister Burrowes when he says he doesn't need help?” Frodo asked, teasing, as Sam's hand soaked in the bowl.
“Aye,” sighed Sam, sounding defeated, and rubbing the last of his tears from his face. “and I'm awful sorry to all of you. Weren't meaning to make such a fool of meself.”
“I think the worst you've done is frighten the crew for the rest of the month,” Frodo's eyes were glittering with measured mirth – respectful of Sam's genuine plight, “and me as well. You can be quite loud when the fancy strikes you.”
“Hoping they ain't heard me down in Bywater...” Sam mumbled.
“At least not as far as Frogmorton, I don't think.” Frodo smiled like an imp, to Sam's simultaneous pleasure and ire. His hand was hurting rather badly, but it was difficult to be upset with Frodo when he was smiling.
Once all the ice had melted from the bowl, Sam offered his chilled hand to Frodo for inspection. In spite of the long soak, he still cringed as Frodo gently squeezed and bent the digit this way and that, pausing intermittently to feel his other, undamaged thumb. “As far as I can tell, you've not hurt the bones at all, just given all the blood and muscle a good scare. I think it is going to bruise, and for a while, but you won't need a cast.”
Sam sighed like a bellows with relief. “Thank'ee, Frodo. I'm more glad than I can say.”
“Hm, I can imagine.” and Frodo flashed another impish grin. “Now – somehow this seems familiar, but:be gentle with it, and let me know if it doesn't feel better tomorrow.”
Sam shifted a bit in his seat, and his face became nearly as red as his thumb. “Eh-”
Frodo quirked an eyebrow. “Shall I kiss it better for you, Samwise?”
“Well, it wouldn't hurt...”
“Much,” and Frodo illustrated his point by pushing his finger gently against Sam's thumb, causing the latter to flinch, “and weren't you rather smaller when you last asked something like this?”
Sam was now growing flustered, and made to hide his face with his other hand. “T'is true, and I'm right sorry-”
Frodo stilled him by very carefully clasping his injured hand. “You don't need to apologize, silly; I'm only teasing. Now,” he placed a gentle kiss against the pad of Sam's thumb, “the next time you'd like a kiss, please ask for it before you go and hurt yourself again, all right?”
Sam was very still, and stared at Frodo dumbfounded. “You mean- I- r- right now?”
Frodo looked at him expectantly. “Well, you'll need to tell me where it hurts, first, won't you?”
Sam's movements were slow with wonder, and shyly he pointed to his forehead. “I did clonk it just last night, one on of the cabinets as I were getting a plate.”
As promised, Frodo leaned forward and placed a kiss – somewhat firmer than the one on his thumb – to the indicated spot. “Anywhere else?”
Still slowly, hand trembling, Sam indicated his nose. “S-slept on it funny?”
Keeping eye contact, Frodo placed another kiss on its tip, and raised his eyebrows as a prompt, asking if there was any other spot. This time without an explanation, Sam gestured vaguely to his mouth and looked away.
His breath was taken away, as Frodo indeed kept to his word, and kissed him on the lips. Not even for the last time, though Sam never had to feign another hurt to get one.
“Does it hurt very much?” Frodo asked in a soft whisper, as they cuddled together beneath their cloaks and blankets, struggling to keep out the chill after the embers of the fire had gone out.
Aragorn had promised the cut on Sam's head looked worse than it was, and in fact he was lucky the weapon that had given it wasn't poisoned. Nevertheless, Frodo had seen before a chunk of hair was now missing, and it had been bad enough to make Sam to fall behind the Company as Frodo had.
Sam nosed him. “Feeling much better after the athelas. Anyways, it's you as is got me worried.” Frodo felt Sam's hand gently run over his side and pull him closer. “Them bruises look awful nasty – and that spot where the ringmail went clean into you.”
“They don't really hurt any more,” Frodo promised, “as you said, not after the athelas. But I feel like a wooden board that's been given a good pummeling; sore, and stiff all over.”
Sam's eyes glittered wetly in the dim moonlight. “I'm wishing I could kiss 'em all better.”
Frodo slipped a hand beneath Sam's shirt, over his heart. “I'm afraid kisses can't heal everything, Samwise.” and they shared a grieved moment of silence for Gandalf.
“Nay,” Sam struggled through oncoming tears, “they can't. But I been saying for years they don't hurt, neither.”
Frodo smiled, wet tracks trailing down his own face. “No, Sam-love, they don't.”
Then, with infinite gentleness, they snuggled nearer, and shared a string of gentle kisses, over lip, cheek and neck, slowing to nuzzles and noses as they drifted to sleep, grieved not for the night by ill dreams.
Golden-pink, morning light was filtering in through the silky white curtains of their room in Minas Tirith, and though they were both awake, neither of them wished to rise.
They'd spent the night together, grateful to be alive, listening to Gandalf and Aragorn's words of explanation and council before they bid them a peaceful rest together.
It had not been peaceful – in fact it was full of talk, tears, and a good many interruptions for desperate kisses – but now, as the sun began to rise, they had exhausted themselves. It was dawn, and they were at last nearing ready to actually fall asleep.
But Frodo's tears had begun anew as he looked at his maimed hand, where Sam had gathered it against his face, and cradled it against his damp cheek. “It's so very ugly, isn't it?” Frodo asked, repulsed by its sight but unable to look away.
“Don't go saying that,” said Sam, looking pained, “it is what it is, is all.”
“Ugly.” Frodo repeated, and would've wished to snatch it back and hide it away, were it not for how dearly Sam was trying to comfort him. “A lasting reminder of my failure.”
“Didn't you listen to a thing Gandalf and Aragorn were just saying?” asked Sam, his frustration mounting – though neither his touch nor grip ever grew harsher, “Ain't nobody could've destroyed it with a mind to, and you done what most nobody could anyhow, getting it right where it needed to be.
“I ain't never gonna forgive them for it, but Gandalf went and said the Council was hoping for luck there at the last minute. You done just as you was asked.”
Frodo's headache began pulsing anew from his weeping, and somehow ever more tears fell from his eyes, hot and wet. He felt a growing agony and rage inside himself to shout that Sam was simply wrong and didn't understand – but in the secret, gentle corner of his heart, that had been hidden for so long through Mordor – he knew Sam was right.
His wrath thrashed itself to exhaustion; and he let it go. Crying still, he desperately to find solace within himself. “I'm sorry you can't kiss it better, Sam.”
Sam pulled Frodo's hand from his cheek to inspect it, before looking to Frodo, and then back and forth between them. “Sure enough I'm gonna try.” he said, and kissed Frodo's palm, heel to knuckles, before kissing the missing stump, and settling the hand over his heart, so he'd have both of his own free to unbutton Frodo's nightshirt. The latter hiccuped with surprise as Sam placed a kiss over his heart, and then over the lasting scars from Moria, up to the wound from Weathertop, and at last to his face. He cupped Frodo's cheek with infinite gentleness, and said, “You're the sweetest, bravest, cleverest and strongest hobbit I ever did know. Mayhap I can't kiss you all better at once, but I want to spend the rest of my days doing the best I can.”
“Oh, Sam-” they kissed again, fierce and hard with dedication and promise – sealing Sam's vow – until it softened to simple but staggering love and care. As they stopped to breathe, Sam used the cuff of his sleeve to dry Frodo's tears. “My dearest Sam, I do love you so.”
“And I love you too, Frodo dear; and I will 'til the end of my days.”
They slept nose-to-nose, chest to chest, Frodo's four-fingered hand between them, still pressed over Sam's heart. It did not feel so evil, now, awash so with such love.