Gradually Frodo became aware of the soft crackle of the hearthfire, of the soft blankets drawn over him and tucked gently around his shoulders, of Sam's warmth against his side beneath the blankets. Slowly Frodo opened his eyes to find Sam's, shining with gentle mirth, looking down at him.
"I'll take that as a yes, you liked it," he said, grinning.
For a moment Frodo stared at him blankly, then, remembering, burst out laughing. He allowed Sam to gather him into his arms. "Yes," he sighed contentedly into Sam's chest. Then he snapped up his head to look back at Sam. "But what did you do with--don't tell me you--you swallowed...?"
Sam shrugged. "T'weren't that bad," he dismissed. "No worse'n Rosie's cooking."
"Oh, Sam!" protested Frodo, collapsing against him in laughter.
"You've had her cooking," argued Sam, drawing his fingers through Frodo's hair.
Frodo snorted. "I know," he admitted. "But still. Poor Rosie."
"Eh. Lucky for us all she's had me to teach her a thing or two."
"Indeed, and not only about cooking, I shouldn't wonder."
"Wonder if she'll want me to teach her this."
"Sam! No!" Frodo's head snapped up again.
"Hush, now," crooned Sam, his hand gently but firmly guiding Frodo's head back to rest on his chest. "I was teasing. I don't think she'd wish to learn it, nohow."
"Even if she did," countered Frodo, "she'd wonder where you'd learnt it, and then what would you say?"
"Mm." Sam fell silent. Frodo felt his breast rising and lowering steadily with each long breath, and for a time he wondered if Sam had drifted off to sleep. He shifted to glance up at Sam, who was not sleeping but frowning deep in thought.
"Oh, Sam," murmured Frodo, reaching to touch his face. "This isn't going to work, is--"
"Damn it, Frodo," burst out Sam with an exasperated sigh. "We've already been round this--"
"But you're still thinking about--"
"Of course I'm thinking about it! How can I *not* think about it? But that don't change nothing, neither way. I've loved you since I was old enough to love anyone." Another long, quiet sigh, followed by another long silence.
After a few minutes, Frodo softly mused, "D'you remember, Sam? How you used to follow me wherever I went?"
A sudden, brief chuckle. "I do, indeed," he murmured. His fingers began again to work gently through Frodo's hair. "I was a right little pest, I was."
"You weren't," protested Frodo, raising himself on one elbow to look down at Sam. "It was charming."
"Liar." Eyes twinkling, Sam lightly jabbed the tip of Frodo's nose. "You yourself used to say I was a pesky little tagalong nuisance of a thing, and couldn't you walk ten paces without tripping over me underfoot." Frodo gaped, then snapped his mouth shut, and Sam couldn't help but laugh out loud at the guilty look on his face. "Course I remember," said Sam in answer to Frodo's unspoken question. "You said it oft enough."
"Then I was an ass," said Frodo, cupping his free hand against Sam's face. "And I take every word of it back."
"Mm." Smiling, Sam drew Frodo's hand to his lips and kissed it. "And by your leave, Mr. Frodo, I'll be taking this back." Gently he pried open Frodo's fingers, exposing his palm; Frodo drew a sharp breath through his teeth as Sam's lips and tongue traced feather-light circles over the sensitive skin. He felt his elbow give way beneath him, and willingly he sank back onto the bed. Sam's mouth slipped warm and moist over one finger, then another, then another, sucking each one gently in turn, while Frodo moaned and sighed softly under his breath.
"I can't possibly recover this soon," he gasped.
"Mm. I know," answered Sam, his mouth skimming the tender inner wrist. "Now I can enjoy every bit of you, and you can enjoy every bit of me enjoying every bit of you, without you going off like a lad in his tweens before I've scarce begun."
"Oh--!" Frodo's exclamation ended in another sharp gasp as Sam's tongue probed the crook of his elbow. "You win, Sam," he managed to whisper, bliss suffusing his face as he let his eyelids drift closed and his whole attention drift to the soft, wet strokes of Sam's tongue over his skin.