Soft was the summer evening as Merry and Frodo walked together, quietly conversing as they strolled through the wooded meadows surrounding Crickhollow. Merry told Frodo what he had told Pippin the night before, how his forthcoming marriage to Estella Bolger was convenient, indeed.
"If you don't mind my asking, Merry," Frodo hesitated, then pressed forward, "how long have you and Pippin...?"
Merry's face set grimly. Looking over the twilit field, he at last softly answered, "It was the night we got back to Crickhollow. After seeing you off. At the Havens."
Wincing, Frodo clamped his eyes shut until the threat of tears subsided. "To -- to comfort each other's grief," he said.
"Yes." A few moments of silence, then, hesitantly: "I think it was you I also wished to comfort."
Frodo's eyelids flew open. He glanced sharply at Merry, who was still gazing fixedly into the distance.
The other Hobbit turned, saw the question -- no, the hope in Frodo's eyes, and a smile spread slowly over his face. "Yes," he whispered, as Frodo's lips met his. They kissed gently, unhurriedly, at last opening their eyes to gaze fondly at one another.
"I'm your cousin," Frodo said, but he was smiling softly.
Merry returned the smile. "So's Pippin."
At that Frodo laughed. Then he sobered again, thinking. "Was it just to console me, or, or...did you...?"
"Ever since I was old enough to want to," he answered, leaning close to kiss Frodo again. Then it was his turn to laugh. "If only you knew the things I imagined those nights I stayed at Bag End!"
Even in the twilight there was a visible gleam in Frodo's eyes. "Show me," he huskily entreated, pressing himself against Merry and entwining himself in Merry's long limbs. Merry obliged, his mouth softening against Frodo's, their tongues teasing, stroking, withdrawing. With deft, practiced fingers Merry quickly had Frodo's waistcoat and shirt undone, and was working on the breech buttons when Frodo abruptly broke away. "Sam," he gasped, but Merry set a finger to his lips. "If Rose doesn't mind sharing Sam," he reasoned, "then Sam oughtn't mind sharing you."
Frodo wasn't sure if that really came out to a reasonable conclusion, but his judgment was somewhat hazed by a renewed rush of desire as Merry's fingertips stroked the newly-bared flesh that burst out of his unbuttoned fly. Groaning, he let his mouth cover Merry's once again, kissing him deeply and passionately as he wrested Merry's breeches loose.
Divested of clothing, they lay together, skin against skin, hands seeking and stroking every inch they could reach, and straining toward such inches as they couldn't reach, mouths exploring faces, necks, ears, bodies writhing fluidly against one another. They settled, panting, on their sides, with Merry curled up behind Frodo, his long arm draped languidly along Frodo's upper leg as they both strove to catch their breath.
"I can't believe we're doing this," murmured Frodo.
Merry grinned. "I can." Slowly he drew his hand up the length of Frodo's side; Frodo shivered, and settled back with a faint moan.
"Mmm. Don't suppose Sam will think badly of me if I spoil you rotten?" murmured Merry, his breath moist upon Frodo's ear. His hand continued in long, smooth strokes along Frodo's hip and thigh, and Frodo sighed quietly, relaxing into Merry. Smoothly Merry let his hand slip behind and between Frodo's thighs, briefly brushing the sensitive skin before slipping around his own member and sliding it along the cleft of Frodo's buttocks.
With a cry of terror Frodo wrenched away, quivering from head to toe.
"Frodo!" cried Merry, dismayed as Frodo began to emit loud, wracking sobs. "Frodo, whatever is wrong? I couldn't possibly have hurt you--oh, Frodo!" he wailed, as a thought struck him. He hastened to Frodo's side, gathering him into his arms. "I'm sorry, Frodo, I'm sorry," whispered Merry, over and over, through a stream of tears. "I'm sorry. I only wanted to please you. I'm sorry." Frodo, incapable of giving any other answer, shook his head fitfully, his breath coming in great, ragged gulps. *What did they do to you?* he desperately wondered, though in the same thought he acknowledged that one did not have to be a wizard to see the answer. Merry's eyes flooded anew as he clasped Frodo securely to his breast, stroking his hair to soothe away each resurgence of hysterical sobbing.
Night was quite fallen when at last Frodo grew, and remained, quiet. Gently Merry inquired, "It seems Pippin and I were not the only ones to keep a few things to ourselves?" Frodo nodded against his breast. "Well, cousin, " mused Merry, "I have it on good authority, from a very wise person, that it helps to talk about these things with someone dear." He smiled tenderly as Frodo tipped his head to look up into his eyes. A corner of Frodo's mouth twisted ruefully. "And would you throw my own words back at me?" he asked.
"I would," Merry firmly replied. "They were wise words, and you ought to keep a few of them for yourself."
Frodo gave a little laugh, then grew thoughtful, his gaze dropping. "I -- all right," he said. "I'll try. I don't know if I can -- but I'll try."
Merry twined his fingers in Frodo's and pressed reassuringly, and Frodo, falteringly and with a few more tears, spoke at last of the horrors which he had endured in the tower of Cirith Ungol at the hands of the orcs, horrors which he had kept hidden from the others for all these years. "But don't tell Sam," he pleaded, wiping his eyes for what seemed the hundredth time. "It would crush Sam beyond words."
"It fairly crushed you," Merry dryly observed, "not to tell."
"Don't worry, dearest Frodo. I shan't tell Sam." He squeezed Frodo's hand. "I'll leave that to you."