Chapter 9: Balcony

For long moments, Sam stood as though rooted within Frodo’s chamber, seeing Frodo still before him, hearing only his voice, his words telling Sam so much. I can only let you go knowing you need whatever they can do. But there is so much I hope to do, too, for you, with you, to you… Frodo, be well… be back…

He gradually became aware that, as empty as the chamber seemed to him with Frodo gone, it had filled with graceful elves, freshening rumpled linens and clearing surfaces cluttered with the tools of healing and care used during Frodo’s long illness. His first instinct was to help, but before he could even decide what best to do, Gandalf laid a gentle hand on his shoulder, and spoke.

“Samwise, there is a balcony nearby, with fresh air and a new day to enjoy. Perhaps some rest and some quiet might benefit you, and your master, as he is tended. I should think you might find him returned soon after lunch, and I shall request that you be told if it is other than that.”

Sam looked up, and saw firm kindness, and sympathetic understanding, on Gandalf’s face. He means me to do just that, doesn’t he! And looks like I’m only in the way here, and, yes, it would be nice to sit and think of Frodo, and all that has happened…

Sam left Frodo’s chambers, reluctantly. There’s nowhere else I’ve wanted to be since we got here, but only because he was there – and he’ll want me there soon as he is back! He removed himself to the balcony Gandalf had suggested, and found a bench in a quiet corner, amidst rustling leaves, where he could gaze across the valley to the cliffs and tumbling waterfalls beyond. They no longer appeared bleak to him, but wild and majestic, and the music of falling water restored to him a sense of peace. This day was like none he had yet seen in Rivendell and a litany of hope rang in his mind: Frodo survived. Frodo is safe. Frodo will recover. And Sam found himself able, finally, to set aside the remnants of his terrible fear and wrenching worry.

He let himself float in happy memories of more peaceful times, picturing Frodo, always beautiful, and as fey as if he had walked right out of one of those old tales. Frodo’s living vivacity and Sam’s vivid dreams had always made any other hobbit pale by comparison, and Sam had long since decided that his Mr. Frodo, and a dream, were all he would ever need. To guard the happiness he already received, simply from enjoying Frodo’s company and working for him, he had carefully concealed such thoughts, creating sweet visions, which he had neither seen, nor ever thought to see, in his waking life. And, it was enough; it had been enough.

But now… A simple question resounded through his mind, asking again and again: “Would you see…?” And there had only ever been one answer to that. Sam closed his eyes, and quivered with longing, knowing his most cherished dreams might now be fulfilled in truth.

Oh, Frodo, what will it be, to see you… loving? Awake, yourself again, but as I’ve never seen you, filled with the wanting I saw in your eyes and heard in your voice, and held risen in your body… Oh, yes, Frodo, I would see you! Touch you… hold you… love you any way I can…

I was so afraid… of so much, and that I might never be able to tell you how much I love you. Could I have told you sooner? I don’t know… And Sam’s joy at this miracle received, was tinged with a pang of regret that he had not spoken before. It is by your courage that we know now… When did you know, Frodo? He realised then that there was something he had never dared wonder before, through all those contented years in The Shire. I just accepted what we already had, and it was a good life. I did not ask for more, but…

…what of your dreams, Frodo?

Had Frodo dreamed ever of someone special, someone dear? Certainly, he had several good friends, and his kinfolk, who obviously thought the world of him. In fact, most anyone in the Shire who knew him, respected his quiet integrity and gentleness – from a distance, since he didn’t let many, besides those few, get very close to him. And Sam did know that several had tried, for various reasons, good or ill. But, Sam could not recall Frodo returning such advances with anything more than courtesy; nor had he ever shown a romantic interest in any hobbit. And Sam was sure that he would have known, would have known the hurt of it; though if Frodo were happy, that would have been enough, and he would have borne it, if he could… But Frodo had not, and Sam had never had to find a way to let his Mr. Frodo go.

Or, if not a flesh-and-blood hobbit in The Shire, had Frodo dreamed instead of ancient romance and passion, enjoyed heated fantasies drawn from the texts he loved? He seemed often to drift, lost in those high tales and great deeds. And every star above told him legends; he would point and paint the patterns in the night sky to share with Sam. I suppose I just thought he found everything he needed in that vivid imagination… and his books…

But Frodo certainly didn’t read all the time, and Sam could recall his own indignation, hearing Mr. Frodo teased by his cousins for his preoccupation with old books and inkpots. And there was no question that his quick and curious mind was merged with physical grace and agility.

Why, it only takes half an eye to see he’s fit and strong, leastways before all this, what with everything he enjoys outside: rambling those hikes together, with a sudden storm wind tangling curls cross his face and him laughing and pushing them back, all impatient to get on to wherever he wanted us to go. And climbing trees for those crisp sweet apples, plucking and dropping the reddest so’s I could catch them for him. And that swimming he likes so much, any chance he gets, while I fretted for fear I’d have to go in after him!

But, he does love his books… Frodo, savouring the pronunciation of melodious elven phrases… glancing up to see Sam’s appreciative smile.

And the gardens… Frodo, curled in shade nearby, a book on his lap, pausing to watch while Sam tended the plants…

And being with his closest friends, and with me… Frodo, breaking from his studies, or whatever task he had at hand, to seek out Sam in the gardens or the smial or even sometimes on Bagshot Row, with an invitation to talk or listen or walk, or simply to sit together in comfortable silence, sharing a pipe or a quiet drink. Any time they were together, Frodo always seemed as content as Sam was himself, and those were the times when Frodo was most peaceful and happy…

Frodo loves all those he lets close, and in truth, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know that he loves me, too… Sam knew he had long been held dear as trusted friend, as fellow student of the old tales, and as well-respected gardener, whose knowledge and gifts were quite different from Frodo’s own. And his Mr. Frodo had always encouraged Sam’s own interests, been happy for Sam’s own joys, listened to Sam’s concerns, from the time Sam was a lad learning from a gentle tutor, til he was an adult whose opinions Frodo sought and considered on so many issues. His kindness and generosity gave me the work I love best, and free reign in the finest gardens around, to boot…

And in all my years of service, Frodo never once asked more than his due, nor but a tiny bit of what I’d have given gladly. And what’s more, for every thing I ever did for him, he’s done tenfold for me, out of plain thoughtfulness and sharing, and sometimes not even knowing how much he gives just being himself… and if that isn’t love?

But even beyond all that love all these years…

In a moment of utter trust and deepest need, suspended between life and death, or worse, balanced together on the splintered edge of a broken blade, his Frodo had revealed even more, far beyond what had ever been spoken between them: that he also desired Sam. He had said so then, as plainly he was able to do, shadows looming before him: with his gentle hand inviting, with his body welcoming Sam’s intimate caress, and with a soft sigh… And when he reached for my touch, it was from wanting me – and want of life itself. Oh, my Frodo!

I must go to him, find him, say what I’ve wanted to say for so long, what he needs to hear from me, what I thought I might never have the chance to tell him!

Then, with sudden insight that caught at his heart, Sam realised that whatever he might say, Frodo must already know. Everything that had ever passed between them had proven Sam’s love to Frodo, and Frodo’s to Sam, and it was because Frodo knew that love that he could show that he needed Sam, that he had dreamed of more.

And now, in the heat of a sensuous silken touch, he had offered everything. Sam’s breath caught and he closed his eyes. Recent memory tingled on his skin and in his hands for the feel of Frodo, wakened and trusting… embattled and brave… needing, wanting Sam’s comfort and love through lull and storm and night triumphant. He heard Frodo’s well-loved voice, saying so much with that soft ‘my Sam’ and a husky ‘Would you…?’ He saw again the invitation in expressive eyes, blue as the clear autumn sky before the turn of winter… as The Water dark flowing at dusk… as summer-lit larkspur and delphinium at dawn…

Finally, sitting here in Rivendell, far from their Shire and the life they had known, all became clear to Sam. My Frodo lives… and he loves… and this miracle has given me my every dream… A rush of pure joy overwhelmed him. Dizzying heat surged and burned, flaring at the memory of that moment that had changed his world. He closed his eyes, resting his forehead against his hands, and took several deep breaths to steady himself. He could feel Frodo in his arms, lithe, alert, so very alive… He saw his own sun-browned hands laid in desire on that fair, familiar face, on the white skin of arched throat and smooth chest and taut belly, stroking down… coaxing… nurturing need to fulfilment… Sam’s eyes flew open, and he looked down in wonderment as he held his hands out before him. May these hands… may I… give him every pleasure he ever dreamed and even more…

And then, with a start and a gasp and a grin, anticipation shuddered through him anew. Oh, my! Frodo always gives good as he gets! He’s likely to have some pretty good ideas of his own, what with that imagination, and those lovely, lively hands of his… Oh!

Well, we may lack some experience between us, but neither of us has ever wanted for dreams! Samwise Gamgee, if you have ever done anything in all your life, you cherish every bit of time we have together! You’ve had a miracle, but you almost lost him… Whatever time we may have together is all spared moments, and don’t you never take a second of them for granted!

Oh, Frodo, love! Soon…

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