Seven Heavenly Virtues IV:
Prudence

Orithain and Rina

August 2003

Disclaimers: Sam, Frodo and everything and everyone else from the Lord of the Rings universe belongs to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien, Alliance Atlantis, New Line Cinemas, Wingnut Films and The Saul Zantz Company. No profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.

~ Prudence: wisdom, vigilance, carefulness, thoughtfulness, discretion ~

As the owner of Bag End, technically it was Frodo Bagginsí decision what should go into his garden, but in practice, like his cousin Bilbo Frodo found it much easier to leave it up to the men who worked in the garden, the Gaffer and Samwise Gamgee. Of course, when Sam had given him that look as if to say, ĎMr. Frodo, donít you care?í heíd found himself trailing after the younger Hobbit on his quest for new seedlings.

Before leaving, as always, heíd warned himself to be careful, not to treat Sam as anything more than the valued servant and friend that he was... no matter how much Frodo wanted to claim his lover publicly. Still, watching Sam compare various plants so seriously, it was hard not to let his fondness show, not to reach out and touch him possessively.

Gasping, Frodo snatched back the hand that had nearly made contact with Samís waist, and he darted a nervous look around to see if anyone had noticed.

Hearing Frodoís quick intake of breath, Sam turned, looking at the older Hobbit over his shoulder. "Is something the matter, sir?" he asked worriedly. His hands were full of young pansies, but he was ready to drop them in a moment if Frodo needed him.

"No, not at all, I just stubbed my toe," Frodo replied quickly, the faintest of flushes in his cheeks as he avoided the stall keeperís gaze. "Are these for the garden?" he asked, trying to change the subject.

Not quite believing his loverís answer but not wanting to contradict him in public, Sam nodded. "Yessir, they are. I thought theyíd go nice by the path to the gate," he said, offering them up for Frodoís inspection.

Frodo reached out to touch one, his fingers not coincidentally brushing over Samís. "Theyíll look lovely there. Thanks to you and your father, my garden is the nicest in all the Shire."

Sam colored and ducked his head. "I think the soil and the waterís got a lot to do with it, plus my dadís hand at it."

"Youíre too modest," Frodo protested, placing a hand on his shoulder and forcing himself to keep it still. "Youíre as good as your father."

"Mr. Frodo, youíll be making the boyís head too big to fit through the doorway," a gruff voice said from behind them, making both of the younger Hobbits start and causing Samís eyes to widen.

"No oneís as good as you, Da," he said quickly, taking a quick step away from Frodo as they had drifted together while talking.

Frodo snatched his hand back to his side and turned to face the Gaffer with a strained smile on his face. "No danger of that, sir," he replied. "Samís too quick to turn away a compliment, no matter how deserved." He wondered if he could leave Sam to finish his purchases; the last thing he wanted was to chat with his loverís father.

"That he is, but thatís as it should be," the Gaffer replied, pausing to suck on his pipe before continuing. "If I might have a word with you when itís convenient, Mr. Frodo? Thereís aught we need to speak about."

Under his tan, Samís face paled, and he darted a quick look at Frodo, then at his father.

Looking as pale as his far-distant Elvish ancestor, Frodo swallowed audibly and nodded. "Of course, sir. I, er, that is Iím free now if thatís convenient for you?" He decided that anticipation would definitely not improve this situation.

"If you arenít busy here," the elder Hobbit offered, "that would be grand."

Sam swallowed hard. "Iíll just finish getting these and take them back to Bag End, Mr. Frodo."

Frodo nodded jerkily before gesturing to Samís father. "After you, sir." He only hoped that the other Hobbit chose a private location for this conversation if what he feared was about to occur.

"Mind you donít let those sit in the sun, Samwise," the Gaffer called as he turned to walk away with Frodo. Looking over at the young master of Bag End, he narrowed his eyes slightly and chewed on his pipe stem. "I trust that Samís been doing all you asked of him, Mr. Frodo?" he finally said.

Frodo choked slightly. "Er, yes, heís done more than I could ever have imagined," he said carefully.

"Not making a bother of himself, is he?"

"Far from it," Frodo replied stoutly. "I couldnít imagine Bag End without him."

"Really now?" The Gaffer puffed on his pipe, keeping his thoughts to himself as he walked alongside Frodo. "That would be a good thing, I suppose, consideriní the number of nights heís slept there."

Frodo sighed. "Perhaps we should speak bluntly, sir? I... care about Sam. Heís my best friend, and we look out for each other. Anything else is between us so long as weíre both happy."

The older Hobbit arched his eyebrows and gave a small smile. "And did I say any different? What I was getting to, sir, was the fact that perhaps it might be better for my Samwise to stay with you permanent like - so you could look after each other the better."

Jaw dropping, Frodo stopped in his tracks and gaped at the elder Hobbit. "You... I... that is. Ahem. Yes, well." He cleared his throat and tried to still his whirling thoughts. "If Sam agrees, I would like that very much, sir."

The Gaffer nodded to himself as if confirming a notion heíd had. "I love all my children, sir, and want them to be happy. If watchiní out for you makes him happy, then thatís what he should do." He frowned slightly, "Though there are others who might think otherwise. Begginí your pardon for being so forward, but youíll have to keep a watch out."

Frodo blushed crimson. "Yessir," he mumbled, then sighed. "We do try, itís just... well. Erm." No way was he going to tell Samís father that he could barely keep his hands off his son!

"Beiní young has its difficulties," the older Hobbit commiserated. "I remember them well. In time folk will stop wonderiní and gossipiní, never you worry."

"But weíll still have to be careful," Frodo said grumpily, then sighed again. "I know I shouldnít complain, sir, that Iím luckier than most to have Sam as a, er, friend, but I canít help wishing... well, if I were Rosie, we wouldnít have to be so careful."

"True, but if you were Rosie, then you wouldnít be you."

Frodo blinked, then started to laugh. "You sounded just like Sam just then!"

The Gaffer chuckled and switched his pipe to the other side of his mouth before removing it. "Iíd say, sir, itís more of a case of Samwise soundiní like me."

"Well, yes, of course, but I do hear him much more frequently," Frodo pointed out, eyes twinkling merrily. "And speaking of Sam, perhaps we should go back to the market? Iím sure he thought the same as I did, and it would be a kindness to put his mind at rest."

"Aye, that it would. I didnít mean to be springiní things on you like this, but it just seemed time."

"Well, I donít mind saying that you took ten years off my life," Frodo chuckled, "but it is good to have things out in the open between us. We werenít comfortable keeping things from you, sir, but... well, we didnít know how youíd react, and we didnít want to lose each other."

"Thatís very understandable, Mr. Frodo. Itís not a common thing, for young bucks to stay on with their... good friends like that, but if thatís what both sides are wantiní, who am I to say anythiní about it?"

"I wish all parents thought the same as you, sir," Frodo murmured, thinking sadly of his friends Merry and Pippin. "But for my own sake, Iím glad you do. Itís a weight off my mind." He strolled companionably at the Gafferís side as they retraced their steps to the market.

"Not much you can do about those who donít, except ignore them, same as you do any fool," the Gaffer commented, shaking his head.

Hearing his fatherís voice again, Sam looked up from the seedlings he was transferring to a wheelbarrow, his heart catching in his throat as he wondered just what Frodo and his father had discussed.

Frodo met Samís gaze and smiled at him as they drew closer. "Since our talk went more quickly than we expected, I thought I should come back and see if you needed help bringing the plants home?"

He turned to the Gaffer. "Iíd be pleased if youíd join me for dinner tonight, sir."

The older Hobbit nodded. "That would be fine, sir. Iíll take my leave now if youíll excuse me. I imagine youíll be haviní quite a bit to discuss with my son about the future arrangements."

Waiting until his father walked away, Sam turned to Frodo, his eyes wide. "Mr. Frodo? Is everythiní all right?"

"Everything is fine, Sam," Frodo replied happily, beaming. "Weíll have plenty to talk about at dinner tonight. What your father wanted to discuss was since youíve taken over the gardens at Bag End and spend so much time working on them, he thought it might be easier for you to live there. Iím just ashamed that Iíve taken you so much for granted that I didnít think of it myself." There, that ought to put a stop to any rumors when Sam moved in, he thought with satisfaction.

The younger Hobbit was stunned into silence for a moment before his jaw dropped. "He - he - thatís a fine idea, Mr. Frodo, if itís no bother. That way Iíd be near if you needed anythiní."

"Exactly what the Gaffer said," Frodo agreed. "I think heís afraid the garden wonít be up to his standards otherwise."

A slow smile bloomed over Samís face as he realized just what this meant. "Iíll be sure to promise him to take the best care of it possible, sir, but then I do that anyway."

"And if he didnít approve of your efforts, he wouldnít have made the suggestion," Frodo replied, trying to make it clear that Samís father approved of more than just the garden. They would discuss it when they got home, but he wanted to share his joy with his lover as soon as possible.

Still stunned by this turn of events, Sam managed to nod. "Begginí your pardon, sir, but if I want him to keep approviní of my efforts, Iíd best get these little ones back to Bag End and in the ground so they donít start wiltiní on us."

Frodo nodded. "Do you need help getting them back? I feel rather guilty strolling along empty-handed while you carry everything."

"Itís no bother, Mr. Frodo," Sam assured him. "Thatís why I brought the barrow. No need for you to dirty yourself."

Frodo rolled his eyes but didnít waste his time arguing, knowing he would lose. As they headed home after paying, Frodo mused, "Itís a good thing we restocked the larder yesterday. We wonít have to get anything extra for tonightís dinner. Oh Sam," he murmured, keeping his voice down with an effort, "I can hardly believe it."

"Me either, sir." Samís hands were shaking, and he tightened his grip on the handles to quell them. "Itís - itís like some dream or some wish that I always wanted to have but never dared ask for."

"Exactly," Frodo breathed, sighing with relief as they stepped through the gate at Bag End. "Oh Sam," he gasped. "He knows. And he doesnít mind!"

"Itís a wonderment, thatís what it is." Sam lifted his eyes to meet Frodoís brilliant blue gaze and felt his heart clench in his chest. "And a relief, not to be haviní to talk around what weíre doiní."

With a quick glance at the flowers, which Sam had set in a shady spot, Frodo caught his hand and tugged him inside where no one would see them. The moment the door was shut, he flung his arms around Sam, hugging him hard, a huge smile on his face.

"No worryiní about what to say when I get home late. No haviní to leave before sunup. Just me and you for always," the gardener breathed, holding Frodo close to him, his chest heaving with the worry heíd suppressed the whole time his father and Frodo had been gone.

"Sharing a bed every night, falling asleep in your arms and waking up with you beside me. Having time to simply sit and be together. Oh Sam." Frodo beamed at him, his joy visibly shining in his big eyes.

"He knows, and heís giviní us his blessing so to speak," Sam murmured, reaching up to stroke Frodoís cheek before seeing the dirt on his hands and making a face. "I need to clean up - or more rightly, I need to get those little ones in the ground before something troubles them."

"Itís still early, you know," Frodo murmured. "If you get the planting done quickly, we should have time for a nice, long, leisurely bath together before we have to start preparing dinner."

Sam flushed at the thought of it. "That sounds just dandy. Iíll have to be seeiní about moving my things over here too." He gave a brilliant smile. "And here I was envyiní Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin for gettiní to live together and now we can too."

"And while we canít be as public as they can, at least we donít have to worry about your family like poor Pippin," Frodo agreed. "I think I prefer being prudent around others to being ostracized by my own family."

Some of the light dimmed from the gardenerís hazel eyes at that. "Aye, thatís a hard thing to have to deal with. What do you think Mr. Bilbo would say if he found out?"

"I think Bilbo would say that itís part and parcel of a Hobbit who makes his own way and does what pleases him. Even as Bilbo himself did, if not in the same way. And I think heíd think I was very lucky to find someone as wonderful as you, my Sam."

Though he looked as if he didnít quite believe Frodo, Sam flushed at the compliment. "I hope youíre right, love. Now let me get those flowers in their beds, then we can think about that bath and what to make for dinner." He leaned in and kissed Frodo lightly, then with more hunger as the truth that theyíd never have to sleep apart again hit him.

Frodo was panting breathlessly by the time their lips parted, and he stared at Sam for a moment with a dazed expression. "Go," he urged, "Iíll be waiting when youíre done."

"Shouldnít take too long," Sam promised, backing away before he was unable to do so. "Be back in before luncheon."

Frodo nodded as he turned toward his study to continue reading an Elvish manuscript. He briefly considered making lunch to surprise Sam, but he knew the younger Hobbit would be appalled. A fond smile curved his lips as he considered his lover, then he was lost in the tale of the ancient Elves.

A delicious scent pulled Frodo from his contemplation of long ago romance and heartbreak, and he raised his head, immediately focusing on the Hobbit in the doorway. "Sam? Oh dear, is it time for lunch already? I must have lost track."

"That you did." Sam crossed to the book and scroll-covered desk and gently closed the tome Frodo had been reading, taking care to mark his place first. "Iíve got our meal ready and water warming for that bath if youíre still interested in takiní it. Thereís a nice bit of roast I put up for supper as well as some yams and peppers fresh from the garden. Should be plenty for the three of us."

"You spoil me, Sam," Frodo murmured, standing up into the other Hobbitís arms and sliding his own arms around Ssamís waist. "Youíre going to have to let me spoil you too sometimes."

"Donít know if Iím the type who takes to beiní spoiled," Sam shrugged, drawing Frodo into an embrace and kissing the curve of the older Hobbitís ear. "I do know I enjoy doing for you though."

"I shouldnít let you, but I must confess that I enjoy it too," Frodo admitted, his head tilting to one side and a small sigh of pleasure escaping. His fingers began to knead Samís sides where he was still holding him, and suddenly lunch was the last thing on his mind.

Shivering as Frodoís fingers worked at his sides, Sam kissed his way down Frodoís ear to his neck, groaning quietly at the feel and taste of soft, smooth skin under his lips.

"I think lunch is going to be delayed," Frodo panted, one hand rising to tangle in Samís curls and hold his mouth to himself. "Youíre much too tempting, Sam." His hips rocked forward, and he smiled crookedly when he felt the matching hardness meet his own.

"I should make you eat, but I canít, not now, not today," Sam murmured before falling silent as Frodo kissed him hungrily.

"Later," Frodo rasped, a leg gliding up the outside of Samís and curling around his waist, allowing them to press closer together. "Weíll enjoy it all the more after the... exercise."

"Might just have to make a tray and take it in by the bath," Sam sighed, his arms tightening around Frodoís slimmer body as they kissed again.

"Nothing wrong with that," Frodo purred, arching against him. "We need time for ourselves as well. And right now, I need you, my Sam."

"You know Iím always here for you when you need me, love." Saying that, Sam gently pulled back from Frodo and turned him in his arms so they could walk to the bedroom without either of them falling.

"I do know that, Sam, and I count on it," Frodo replied softly, his fingers interlacing with his loverís. "And to know that you will always be here... it fills my heart to overflowing," he said, more poetic than usual after a morning of reading Elvish tales.

Samís face took on a ruddy tone, but he didnít look away from Frodo when they reached the privacy of the bedroom. Reaching out, he stroked the older Hobbitís face before kissing him again. "Iím yours. All of me. Forever, Frodo."

"I shall hold you to that, my Sam," Frodo replied, hands rising to cup his loveís face. "But for the moment," he added, suddenly mischievous, "do you think we could possibly make it to the bed and make love?"

"No quoting poetry to me? All right, if we must..." Grinning, Sam tumbled to the bed, bringing Frodo with him.

Laughing, Frodo rolled on top of the sturdy Hobbit and smirked down at him. "You forgot about our clothes. For shame, Sam, forgetting something as important as that." Sitting up straddling Sam, he reached up and unfastened his suspenders, blue eyes never leaving Samís suddenly widened ones, then began to unbutton his shirt.

"I - I suppose youíll have to remedy that, then," Sam whispered, watching hungrily as Frodo let his shirt slide back off his shoulders and down his arms, leaving his chest bare.

"I suppose I will." Frodo toyed with the top button on his trousers, teasing Sam, then slowly slipped it free and did the same with the next and the next until they were all undone. He reached down, pushing his smallclothes down, and his rigid erection was suddenly free, framed by the open placket of his pants, seemingly yearning toward Sam.

Eyes locked on the older Hobbitís body, Sam shivered, reaching out a sun-browned hand to stroke the engorged flesh that was enticing him. Closing his eyes, he gave a sigh of pure pleasure as his fingers moved over Frodoís shaft, the satin heat of his loverís body making his own ache with need.

Frodoís back arched as he pushed into Samís hand, the feeling of the hands on him making him shiver with arousal. Eyes half-lidded as he fought the urge to close them, wanting to see Sam, he reached for the buttons on Samís shirt.

Sam knew he should move his hands and let Frodo have an easier time of getting him undressed, but he couldnít. It was as if by letting go of the older Hobbit, heíd lose him, even as heíd just gotten him forever.

Frodo wanted Samís hands on him as much as Sam wanted to touch him, so once Frodoíd unfastened his shirt, he simply pushed it back over Samís shoulders, baring his chest. "I love you," he whispered, leaning down to kiss his lover.

"Love you always," Sam husked after their mouths parted. He licked his lips, groaning quietly at Frodoís flavor on him, then slid his arms upward, circling Frodo with them and pulling him down so their whole bodies were aligned.

Frodo squirmed atop him, gasping as his naked erection rubbed against the fabric of Samís trousers. "I need you in me, my Sam," he gasped, unable to remain still, his mouth moving voraciously over Samís throat and chest.

Almost whimpering at the naked wanting in Frodoís voice, Sam nodded blindly, trying to squirm a hand between them to work at his trousers, finally freeing his shaft and groaning as it rubbed against Frodoís bare erection. "Like this?" he asked, wanting to see Frodo sitting astride him.

Frodo didnít respond in words, simply rising up onto his knees and reaching back to steady Sam as he slowly lowered himself onto him. He gasped, biting his lip, as his body burned and stretched, but his own erection never flagged.

"Frodo, you need..." Samís protest as to the fact that this had to be hurting Frodo halted as he felt himself slowly surrounded by Frodoís tight heat. "Hurtiní you..." he managed to get out.

"Feels good," Frodo panted, head falling back as his hands rose to tease his nipples again, his weeping erection tight against his belly as he rocked atop Sam.

"But, but..." Sam protested before the way Frodo was moving on him drove the thought from his brain. Sliding his hands down over Frodoís hips, he left one there, dark against the pale skin, and moved the other to circle and stroke the older Hobbitís shaft, thrusting upward each time Frodo sank down on him.

Frodo cried out as Sam began caressing him, his eyes opening again to watch Sam, to see his hand on him and the pleasure on his face. He groaned as he began to move faster, needing more, his body clinging to Samís as he forced himself to rise again only to push back down harder with each stroke.

"Always yours, Frodo," Sam gasped, his back arching off the bed as Frodo tightened around him and he tried to keep from coming. He reached up, catching the other Hobbitís hand and bringing it to his mouth so that he could suckle on Frodoís fingers to keep himself from crying out at the pleasure.

"Sam," Frodo whimpered, his mouth falling open as he watched Sam fellate his fingers. Sam in him, his hands on him, his mouth suckling on his fingers, it was all too much for Frodo, and he cried Samís name as he came, clenching around the thick shaft filling him.

Groaning in pleasure as Frodo convulsed around him, Sam shuddered, managing only a few more thrusts up into Frodoís now pliant body before he, too, was coming, whispering his loverís name against the fingers in his mouth.

As soon as Sam came, Frodo collapsed on top of him, whimpering softly when Samís spent cock pulled out of his body. "I donít ever have to worry about losing you," he whispered into the sweaty flesh beneath his cheek. "Your family wonít take you away."

"Not ever," Sam promised, stroking his hands over Frodoís damp back before hugging him close. "Youíre stuck with me forever, sir."

"Exactly the way I want it," Frodo replied, cuddling into him, content in Samís arms. "Though we may end up literally stuck to each other if we donít clean up soon," he chuckled, though not trying to move.

"Or youíll be stuck to my clothes anyway," Sam murmured, kissing Frodoís temple. "Plus thereís lunch to eat and dinner to work on then clean up to be done before my Da gets here."

"You mean youíre actually going to let me do something?" Frodo gasped, sitting up and pressing a hand to his chest. "Iím not sure I can survive the shock."

Sam snorted out a soft laugh. "Consideriní what we just did and how we did it, Iím not sure youíre going ta be doing much of anything at all other than sitting on a pillow."

Frodo winced, but he couldnít deny that he was feeling the results of their activities. "I think Iíd rather stand up for a while, if itís all the same to you," he admitted wryly.

Now frowning in concern, Sam gently eased Frodo to his side before reaching for a cloth to clean them up. "What about soaking in the tub while I put a tray together for you?"

Frodo leaned over and kissed him soundly. "Now donít you start feeling guilty, Samwise Gamgee! I loved what we just did, and a bit of an ache is a small price to pay for such pleasure." He frowned repressively at Sam, then smiled again. "But I will soak in the bath for a bit. Iíd hate to have the Gaffer ask questions." He flushed faintly at the thought.

Sam turned a sudden and violent crimson at the thought of his father wondering what they had been doing. "Yes, a soak in a hot tub would be for the best then," he said quickly, hopping out of the bed and fastening his trousers as he hurried to the kitchen to put more water on to warm.

Frodo buried his face in the pillows to muffle his laughter at Samís reaction. When heíd regained control, he stood up slowly and moved toward the bathroom.

"Are you sure youíre feeling up to sitting through the meal?" Sam asked, glancing up from the simmering pots he was tending to look over at Frodo, who was sitting at the table. "I could trot down the row and tell him something came up if youíd like."

"Since the something was you and I, Iíd really rather you didnít," Frodo chuckled, shifting uncomfortably. "Besides, Iím looking forward to having dinner with the both of you."

"Yes, but..." Sam began, before sighing and falling silent under Frodoís implacable gaze. "I still donít like the fact that Iím the cause of you hurtiní, even if it was pleasurable while we were doiní it."

"Sam, we did exactly what I wanted. I enjoyed every moment of it, and Iím still enjoying the reminder. Every time I move itís as if I still have you inside me. Iím not sorry for that."

"Neither am I, Iím just hopiní that my Da doesnít start thinking that too!"

Frodo turned scarlet. "I certainly hope not!" He shuddered at the thought. "Perhaps Iíll just sit still tonight and let you serve dinner."

Sam raised the spoon heíd been stirring the potatoes with and pointed it at Frodo. "I was planning on that being the case anyway."

Frodo sighed. "Yes, Sam. Whatever you say, Sam."

The younger Hobbit smiled and nodded. "An excellent answer, Mr. Frodo."

"You are a very bossy Hobbit, you know that?" Frodo tried to frown at Sam, but it was difficult when looking at Sam always made him want to smile.

Sam shrugged and gave an apologetic smile. "It comes from wanting to take care of you since you canít seem to do it yourself," he answered.

"But I donít need to since you do it so well." Frodo grinned at him, then started to rise when he heard a knock at the door. Seeing Samís frown, he subsided back into his seat, sighing. "Can I at least move to the parlor so we can sit comfortably?"

"Why donít you go in there and Iíll get the door and let the Gaffer in," Sam suggested, holding himself back from helping Frodo to his feet only by reminding himself that Frodo wouldnít particularly like it.

He waited until the older Hobbit had crossed to the parlor, then padded down the hallway to the door, swallowing hard before opening it and stepping out of the way so his father could come inside. "Evening, Da. I hope youíre doing all right?" Sam asked after escorting the Gaffer into Bag End.

"Tolerably," the Gaffer allowed, looking around. Heíd expected Frodo, the host, to meet him at the door, but remembering the way heíd seen Sam hovering over the older Hobbit, he wasnít surprised. "You seem well enough," he stated, eyeing his son before following Samís gesture toward the parlor, where Frodo, presumably, awaited them.

"Very good, sir." Sam nodded almost violently, before chewing on his lower lip, stopping his father before they could reach the parlor. "Da, I - this means the world to me, that youíre knowiní and still all right with it."

The Gaffer stopped and turned to face Sam directly. "I wonít pretend that I donít think it would be easier for you if youíd settled on a lass, Samwise, but I can see that you and Mr. Frodo truly care for each other, and what I really want is for you to be happy. I think thatís what he wants as well."

"It is," Frodo said quietly from the parlor doorway.

"I know, sir, but he does make me happy." Sam crossed over to Frodoís side and took his hand, his cheeks flushing at doing so in front of his own father. "And I want to do the same for him."

"Then thatís all that counts, at least in the privacy of your own home. It would be best if you were restrained in public, but thatís not alone with family. Iím happy for Sam, Mr. Frodo."

"Just Frodo," that gentle-Hobbit put in, hoping to be more successful than heíd been with Sam. "After all, youíre by way of being my father too now."

"Hrm." The Gaffer didnít say anything, but he seemed pleased.

"Dad..." Sam began warningly, before stopping his remark as Frodo tightened his fingers around his hand. "Why donít you come have a seat in the parlor? Dinneríll be ready soon, but we put up some snacks."

"That sounds right nice," the Gaffer said. He followed the two younger Hobbits into the sitting room and settled himself in a comfortable chair.

Knowing that Sam would be displeased if he tried to serve anything, Frodo seated himself as well, but he kept an eye on Sam. He wanted it clear that in their home he and Sam were equals, and if he had to sit on Sam to make him stay still, he would!

That in mind, he waited until Sam had offered the tray to his father and the Gaffer had helped himself, then when Sam tried to offer to him as well, Frodo took it from him, set it down, and yanked Sam down to sit beside him on the loveseat. "Do sit and relax for a bit, Sam," he said, a determined glint in his eyes.

"But, Frodo, the wine..." Samís protest trailed off when he saw the steely look in Frodoís blue eyes. "I suppose itíll keep," he mumbled, grinning sheepishly.

The Gaffer chuckled aloud at that. "Very nice work there, Mr. - ahh, Frodo." He sampled a cheese puff and smacked his lips. "It seems the two of you will have things settled in no time at all."

Frodo nodded. "Truthfully, sir, my only real concern was how you would react. Nothing else is more important to me than Sam."

"I have no doubt of that. Itís plain enough on both your faces if one knows where to look."

Sam blushed a furious red at the thought of being so obvious. "We would have told you before, I just was worried - with what happened with Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin and their folks and all..." He trailed off uncomfortably.

Frodo clasped Samís hand in his, taking as much as giving comfort. "Iím glad youíre more understanding."

The Gaffer nodded. "That was a bad situation. But what can you expect from a Took? We Gamgees are much more sensible," he said, only the twinkle in his eye belying his serious mien.

Sam tried to keep from laughing, but his fatherís comment combined with his nerves had him resting his head on Frodoís shoulder and giggling until his sides hurt.

"Most of the time," the Gaffer allowed, this time allowing himself a small smile.

"But not all," Frodo chuckled, relaxing fully. It really was going to be all right. He leaned against Sam, smiling.

END

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