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A Little Night Music
Evening fell on Hobbiton.
A deep hush settled over the hills as folk weary from a hard day's work but contented with jobs well done, laid down their labors and walked home, singing, to hearths and families. Good wives had suppers waiting and good husbands thanked them with kisses and hearty appetites. As night's hush deepened, children were washed and settled into their beds and maidens blushed to feel the first hesitant kisses of suitors on their cheeks. Life in the Shire continued, blessed as it had always been.
Rosie tucked her daughter under a blanket and bent to kiss her downy cheek. Little Elanor yawned wide and her mother felt sweet warmth from the child’s breath on her face. Moments later, the little one was asleep.
Outside the window, crickets chirped in a soft, low melody of summer. From the hillside below came the faint sound of a tin whistle playing. It was a familiar tune but the instrument's thin voice added a touch of melancholy to the music. Rosie pulled the baby's door to, leaving it open enough so that she could still hear Elanor if she cried, and strolled towards the kitchen. Forsaken toys, the refuse of a hard day’s play, littered the hallway, and she dutifully collected them as she went.
The smial was dark, but filled with comfortably familiar shadows. Rosie moved silently amid them, putting away the last remnants of their supper and stoking the dying embers of the kitchen fire, the only one that had been lit on such a warm summer's day. She picked up a pot left simmering on the hearth since dusk and poured a measure of steaming water into a basin. A quantity of water from the pump cooled it until Rosie was satisfied and she gathered up her hair from where it had fallen in sweaty ringlets against her neck.
She lay a bar of plain soap and soft cloths beside the basin and began to undress. By the light of the fire, she removed apron and bodice then dropped the loosened chemise from her shoulders. She laid a folded cloth on the floor and commenced her bath. The yellow, homemade bar only produced a thin lather but it was enough to cleanse the day's sweat from her body. She worked her way slowly down her legs, letting the warm liquid flow over her skin. The cloth on the floor grew damp under her feet. She drew the washcloth along her arms next, noting the play of firelight on wet skin and humming softly to herself.
The warm fire, warm water and the simple pleasure of being clean settled comfortably in her soul. In that moment, she could have wanted nothing more than for this blessed feeling never to end. Her hands moved more slowly, savoring the delightful sensations. Bubbles dripped off her fingertips and arms, then wandered down her neck as she squeezed the cloth against it. Water flowed between her breasts, tickled her belly and dampened the waistband of her skirt.
She did not hear him, but knew he was there, watching and silent, in the shadows of the hall. She could feel his warm, brown eyes studying her as she worked. Her hands slowed still more. She had begun her bath without pretense, relishing the simple pleasure for its own sake, but with his gaze upon her, she could feel the heat that flowed between them. She knew he watched her with the bold self-confidence of total possession. She was his, wholly and completely, bound, claimed, planted and harvested. He, too, was tied, blissfully captive, to she who had become his heart, his hearth and his reason for being.
She rinsed the washcloth undaunted and continued her bath. Water dripped from her arms and flowed under the curves of her naked breasts. She was no longer a maid and her body was rounded, soft and full, yet scarred by the battle of motherhood. Her nipples had grown large and dark, hardened by the suckling of an inexperienced child. On her belly was an intricate lacework of whitened scars. She did not hide these faults from him. He cherished every mark, for their love had caused each of them to be.
The scent of pipeweed and good earth drifted from the darkened doorway. She drew a line of water across the back of her neck and shivered as it trickled down. He took the pipe from his mouth and stepped silently into the room. Rolled up sleeves revealed sunburned forearms and coarse hair that looked like a haze of gold in the firelight. His brow was also pinked and from his collar peeked the whispered suggestion of more golden down. He tucked his sleeves another turn as he approached.
A gentle smile lit his broad face and Rosie basked in its light. When he looked at her like this she felt more loved than any creature in the world had ever been. There was devotion in his dark eyes and a promise of desire, of patience, of satisfaction and grace and of the comfort of his quiet strength. He took the rag from her hand and dipped it in the water.
"Here, lass," he said and turned her to the fire.
With slow, methodical strokes, he cleansed her back, neck and arms and she sighed, happily, content to let him do as he will. He poured more water on her shoulder and chased the errant drips through the hollow between her breasts. She shivered. The water was growing cold.
"Almost finished," he whispered, wrapping his arms about her.
His hand stroked her belly tenderly for a moment and he reached for the waistband of her skirt. There was no urgency in his movement, but the slow and steady progress of someone certain of his propriety. Fingers too coarse for the delicate buttons fumbled for an instant, but as always, he persevered and succeeded. The skirts came free and he pulled them up and over her head.
The water in the basin had cooled but the heat of the growing fire dried it on her body quickly and she did not chill. He moved with slow purpose, washing her with as chaste and tender care as he would his treasured Elanor. When he was finished, Rosie lifted one of the towels by the basin and wrapped herself in it, then turned to him with eyes that smoldered with love.
"Sit," she commanded and took the basin to the washstand. There she got fresh water and carried it back to him. "Would you like it cooler or warmer tonight?" she whispered softly.
Sam smiled, his white teeth flashing in the shadows. "Best make it cooler than what you had, lass," he said, wrapping an arm around her waist. "I expect it'll be a warm night."
She beamed his smile back at him and dropped a kiss on his forehead before he released her. More warm water added to the basin and a touch of the hard, yellow soap and Rosie was ready to begin.
She refused his help, claiming the duty of disrobing him as her own, and set to work on his rough cotton shirt. The buttons fell easily to her nimble fingers and she spread the garment over his shoulders. A broad chest haloed with more golden down emerged. She signaled him to stand and set to work on his breeches. They were stiff with soil but also yielded to her experienced touch. She had him step out of them and laid his clothes beside hers on the table.
As licit as had been their attentions, Rosie felt her face warm at the sight of him standing before her. His nakedness brought forth memories of passionate nights, nights that had been becoming more commonplace now that Elanor was in her own bedroom. She smiled and let him think what he would of her flustered expression. She touched his hip and drew him forward so that he stood on the folded cloth. He complied docilely, responding as if completely unaware what bloom on her cheek and the sly curve of her lip meant. Rosie ran her hand up his side, delighting in the feel of its work-hardened bulk, but turned back to the basin as if her touch had not been the assent Sam knew it to be.
At the first brush of cool water he tensed and drew in a sharp breath. She held the washrag against him till it warmed, drawing the day's heat from his body, and then bent to her work. She slid the cloth slowly and methodically over him, cleansing the curves and hollows she knew as intimately as he knew her own. She drew a deep breath and the sharp bite of his scent filled her head; earth and sweat and the dusty smell of sun browned skin. Hers was as gentle and innocent a touch as Sam's had been and he stood fast, letting her complete the task with barely a flinch. She emptied the basin and came to stand before him, looking deep into his eyes. He touched her cheek and she bent into it.
"Ah, my Rosie-lass," he sighed happily. "There's as fine a way to end the day as I could wish for. A wash up, a cozy fire and the prettiest wife a hobbit could ever have." The firelight lit them both and amber shadows threw his plain face into noble relief. Rosie's heart swelled to hear him speak.
"Now, those elves are fair," he continued. "And the Lady Galadriel is like to put the stars to shame, but-" and then he faltered, at a loss, and shook his head. "I don't rightly know if I'm saying it proper, but Rose-lass, you're home to me, if you take my meaning. All the fine things I've seen in my travels are well and good, but they're too high above the likes of me. I was right lucky to see them, and no mistake, but, well, they didn't make me feel like you do." He took her face in both hands and looked earnestly into her eyes. "You're good for me, lass. You're what I was needing even when I didn't know I was needing it. You're the last touch of flavor that makes the whole supper perfect and I just figured I ought to tell you so." He cocked his head, sheepish and endearing. "Do you know what I'm trying to say, love?"
Rosie took his hands in hers and stroked them. She had heard the tales. She knew her husband had seen more that was fair and high than her simple heart would ever dream of, and yet, he had come back. He had come back from all those wonders and chosen her. She would always love him for that.
"I'm glad I married you too, Sam. Very glad." And then she kissed his words away and he quit trying to explain himself.
There is warmth in a familiar kiss. There is the ease of answered expectation and a thrill of realizing that your beloved knows exactly how to please you. Long practiced in stolen moments, it becomes an art, until at last, when the time is ripe and the stage is set, the performance is flawless. This night Rosie and her Sam were entwined, one and whole, and the dance of lips and skin, soft caresses and gentle need, filled both their hearts. No dream would disturb their child's slumber and no regret would seize their hearts. Tonight would be magic. They could feel it already.
Calloused hands loosened the encircling towel and Rosie's fruitful body was revealed to the light. The stoked fire was building, fairly swelling the little room with heat. She wrapped her arms about his neck and pressed against him, delighting in the accustomed and particular play of his muscles. Did other wives learn their husband's bodies so well? Did they know their mate in the merest suggestion of his movement or was this innate familiarity proof she was born to be his? She had known others before him and yet Sam had taken her regardless and while she had tasted pleasure at another's touch, with him she felt the ease of comfort and the deep satisfaction of rightness. He was the bounty of summer and the warmth of prosperity and she blossomed at his side.
His voice was soft and low, and tickled her ear with hidden strength. She nodded once and he lifted her against him, wrapping her legs around his waist and his arms around her back. She buried her face in his neck and held on tight. From the kitchen through the darkened smial, he walked with his precious burden. They passed Elanor's room. Rosie listened intently for any sound, but the babe drowsed on. They came to the next door, the one that led to the largest bedroom. This was their room now. Rosie had spent months reclaiming it, adding her own touch to the furnishings, but lovingly preserving traces of its former occupant. Sam hesitated just a moment before stepping inside.
No fire was lit and the window stood open to the night air. The tin whistle still played below. Sam squeezed his wife once and set her gently on the bed and Rosie stretched like a cat across the counterpane. Then her husband became still again. She watched him, knowing why, and waited. He would often pause like this, reflecting. It was his way, but he only needed a moment and then would be himself again. She'd asked him once if the pain of his memories caused these silences and he had looked at her with surprise. No, he had answered. That was not why. With a loving smile that was yet underlain with regret, he explained that he only paused when he was happy, when the bliss of his life came near to overwhelming him. It was joy that made him stop and fix the moment in his mind, almost as if by doing so he could send a taste of his bounty winging to the one whose sacrifice had guaranteed it. He could not feel sorrow, not when he considered it his charge to savor the life he had been given to the fullest of its potential. 'Frodo's bane' he'd called it and a tenderer burden had never been laid on any hobbit.
At last he looked up and smiled and Rosie knew his heart was clear. No shadow could stay too long in that bright place. She sat up and took his hand, needing to feel him close by her side. He was happy to comply.
And lay beside her he did for long after while Rosie was contented to do nothing more than delight in the clean warmth of her husband's body. Sam stroked her hair and his gentle strength and unhurried manner almost lulled Rosie to sleep. At last, perhaps heeding a call that he could not deny, Sam bent and roused his lady. He seemed to know this was not a night to be slept away even in the arms of the one you loved.
Rosie could feel the desire in his touch and she stirred as warmth spread from his lips to wake her own ardor. The certain touch of his hand called it and, like a kindling hunger that did not make itself known until the sights and smells of food are nearby, it rose. She drew him closer until he lay full upon her and she could feel his own need rising.
"I guess you won't let a poor hobbit just sleep, now will you lass?" he teased, resting on his elbows and surveying his wife in the moonlight.
Rosie grinned in answer and Sam cocked an eyebrow at her unabashed reaction. "Well, as you've got me up," he sighed. "I might as well take advantage," and then he dove hungrily at her neck.
She never could resist him when he did that. The play of reflected light on the ceiling and the tickle of soft, loving lips bound her into a spell. She arched her back, feeling his firm weight settle possessively on her. With that slight shift of balance, a volume was spoken. She knew her husband would not be denied this evening. A little thrill, almost of fear, almost of anticipation, coursed down her spine and she draped her arms around his neck. He would take what was his and give everything he had if she would open to him this night.
She shivered as a swell of emotion filled her. Of course she would. Love bound them, and blood and shared joy. To no other in Middle-earth could she trust her heart so completely. Rosie groaned in delight, offering up her neck, but Sam's kisses were spreading fire down her breastbone. He paused and nuzzled each breast as Rosie squirmed in eagerness. Motherhood had not diminished this delight. Gently he took the nipple of one into his mouth and played her with practiced skill. Sweetness streamed from her bosom and he savored every drop. Rosie felt the release and groaned again.
He rumbled as he suckled her, low and soft like the purring of some great cat, and she felt the vibrations against her belly. Eager, she pushed up against him and the sound vanished with his sudden, almost primal pounce. Teeth glanced across her breast and now demanding hands encircled her waist yet it was not fear that gripped her but the lightning stab of lust; slow to build, but swift and sure when at last she felt its call. Rosie bucked and pulled her beloved to her, wrapping legs and arms about him with sudden, fervent need.
He paused again and Rosie looked up at him, surprised. His face was shadowed, yet there was something in his expression that moved her. In his glittering eyes was a purpose so vast, so deep Rosie could not fathom it. It was as if he had looked into the world's greatest mystery and saw its answer was a simple truth he had known all his life. A faint, sorrowful smile touched his lips and he seemed to decide something. A power beyond imagining was in his hand but he did not hesitate. He set his will and pushed on, his eyes open, trusting in hope and in right, because neither had ever really failed him, even in his darkest hour.
All of this Rosie saw and yet did not wonder how she understood. She always understood her husband, even when his thoughts were miles away lingering on wonders she could not imagine. Her heart trusted his humble soul just as her body welcomed him.
Seeing her acceptance, he arched his hips against her and with the eagerness of a tween and a hungry growl, thrust deep inside. Rosie gasped, shaking with keen pleasure. Her lust, answered, met his in an eager, writhing union. Though his mysterious purpose was still hidden from her conscious mind, she perceived his joy in it. Jubilation, ecstasy, and the power of the act itself quickened her and she rose up to meet her beloved. This was a familiar dance between them for they knew each other well, yet something was different this night. Tonight there was purpose in her husband's rapid thrusts, in his clear, piercing eyes, in his insistent and hungry lips, but at that moment Rosie did not care what it was. She knew only incomprehensible pleasure and a sense of vast power like that of the wheeling stars overhead.
What was it that she had read? Joy like swords. The phrase she had seen written in careful, flowing script leapt into her mind. That was what she felt. She was part of this moment, a small spark whirling with a glee that pierced the heart. Sam was there too and he danced with her, his own spark deep and red, as embers of fire grounded in the earth, as the westward setting sun, as the richness of blood. She felt his essence then and drew herself to it; his strength as deep as the roots of the mountain and his heart as clear as spring water.
Love was not always like this. The realities of life and the demands of their child often conspired requiring their lovemaking be swift and spontaneous, but on the rare occasions when heart touched heart, it was magical. She lived for nights like this, when she could truly know the hobbit she had bound herself to. He was real, strong and honest - as solid as the Shire itself. As she held onto his rich body she felt herself cleaved and furrowed, a fertile field welcoming the plow.
He slipped his arms under her back and pulled a volley of thrusts into her. It was his way and so conditioned was she to the pattern of pause, rapid thrust and pause, she doubted she could respond to any other's touch. He was a part of her and perhaps her movements, the familiar arch and sway of her writhing body, were as like treasured by him. In that timeless moment of connection, she was certain they were. She arched up and he buried himself in her deeply again, inducing her first soft cry of delight. There would be more. Muted at first, they would build, and as rapture overcame the conscious need for quiet, both lovers would sing out their delight.
Like the popping of a tiny bubble or the tiniest pin prick, a sensation drifted across her distracted awareness. It was a feeling that had been a part of her life for so long she didn't even consciously acknowledge it anymore. Her mother, a hobbit wise in feminine lore, had once told her what the little flutter meant; her womb was ready and she could now be got with child. Suddenly she understood her husband's purpose with astonished clarity. How had he known? Had he somehow sensed her impending fertility? Was it a scent in the air like the hint of ripeness? A ripple of fear chilled her but she was too impassioned to heed her doubts. Sam must have known, somehow, and decided, in his earthy, practical way, it was time again. Her fingers dug into his back as she held on and remembered to trust his strength. Perhaps it was.
As if sensing her understanding at last, Sam pushed forth with renewed fervor. Rosie, at the edge of ecstasy already, was unable to resist him and reeled with the coursing culmination that rocked her. She cried out, welcoming the rhythmic throes, knowing he would feel them too. He could not resist seeing her peak; feeling her writhing, swooning body, hearing her increasingly wild calls. She knew it was his greatest satisfaction to know he had pleasured her. His own release would not be far behind.
"Ai!" he groaned with bared teeth.
A shiver coursed through him. Rosie's own climax might have triggered her husband's, but the sensation of his streaming seed in turn finished her utterly. His body locked, hard and unyielding, as he drove himself into her deepest reaches, yet she was only dimly aware of it. Her own mind was lost in the might of a whirlwind. Perhaps it was the knowledge that tonight's joining meant more than pleasure that filled her heart or perhaps it was the magic she had sensed, but joy like swords consumed her. In that moment she perceived a music, high and sweet; a melody akin to that which had brought the world into being. It touched her heart and flooded her mind with light. Wave upon wave, it flowed over her, overwhelming, dominant and wholly unstoppable. At last the music faltered, released its hold and faded to leave her in a space of quiet astonishment and sated warmth.
Sam lay upon her, kissing her cheek, her ear, her hair, and she raised a hand to his curls.
"Ah, lass," he whispered softly. "My love, my dearest Rose -" His voice broke then, as if words were not fit for the surge of love he felt. Rosie turned and looked deep into his clear, brown eyes.
"Ai," she agreed and kissed him long and tenderly.
The music still played down the hill as Rosie held her Sam long into the deep, starry night. This time it was he who nearly fell asleep against her breast while she gently stroked his hair. She stared out into the night but could not sleep. There was still magic to be felt and miracles were stirring within her. She wanted to savor these moments now that she was aware of what they were. Finally, she tickled his nose and he wrinkled his face up in mock displeasure.
"Sam?" she whispered.
"Hmmm?" he responded snuggling deeper against her soft bosom.
"Do you know what we've gone and done tonight?" she asked, her curiosity getting the better of her.
"Hmmm?" he asked, blinking his eyes open and trying to focus on her.
"You had some purpose on your mind tonight, there's no use denying it."
She felt his grin as he kissed her breast. "I've always a purpose for you lass."
She tried to hide her own smile in mock exasperation. "Well, I thought you might like to know you succeeded, though I suspect you knew you would before we started."
He was silent but against her skin Rosie could feel his grin broaden into a smile. With infinite care and knowing gentleness he squeezed her once as if to say, 'I did at that' but he had the decency not to crow out loud. Rosie rolled her eyes, but her own smile was growing too. She squeezed him back and settled comfortably into his strong embrace. After a long while she spoke again.
"It'll be a boy this time, I should think," she said, matter-of-fact. "It feels different than last time somehow. Yes. A boy. I am certain."
Sam's happy smile relaxed against her. He was quiet for a very long time and she could almost feel him turning the news over in his mind, considering it. At last, he sighed and Rosie sensed the weight of an age long past and the hope of a new one to come in the passing of his breath.
"Well," he said, in a plain but heartfelt whisper. "I guess we already know what to call him."
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