No Other Explanation
He couldn’t stop swallowing. Over and over, he gulped convulsively, licking his lips between swallows. It almost seemed that every swipe of his dry lips—they should have been moistened by his saliva but there were so dry and chapped all of a sudden—triggered the immediate constriction of his throat muscles as he swallowed yet again.
He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know what to think—couldn’t think. Oh, his brain was swirling so fast that he couldn’t latch on to even one distinct thought before it whirled away from his mind’s grasp. Except for one thought, one feeling. He was so alone—with Kharam’s words still echoing in his mind when he could no longer push them away.
There is no other explanation, my friend. Your symptoms speak for themselves though of course time will inform us more completely … violent illness every morning that passes quickly and leaves you ravenous … tender, swollen nipples … a heightened emotional response to commonplace events which is most unlike you, my dear level-headed Frodo … certain other physical signs that I have observed during my close examination of you.
It is an impossibility in this world, and yet I have seen the unbelievable happen before in my life. Oh, not this particularity, truly not. But somehow it does not surprise me that someone of your unique character and history would have such an inexplicable thing occur. Rest now. I must return home to prepare some tonics for you. Do not worry. I will come back before long. When do you expect Faramir?
Faramir. How could he tell his darling something his mind refused to accept though his heart and body knew it was so? What words could he possibly find to tell him such strange news? For a brief moment, Frodo’s mind seized on something and stayed still. Folks in the Shire always said, “Strange as news from Bree.” He wondered if they would change that to “Strange as news from Umbar?”
Frodo stopped swallowed. He had to for he was shaking with laughter at the thought of the new saying that was sure to sweep the four farthings when they heard the news that the cousin of old Mad Baggins was going to have a baby. A half hobbit/half human baby. From him. Frodo. A male hobbit.
Frodo shook himself mentally as his laughter died down. “Hmph. I just won’t tell them. It’s not like anyone from the Shire is apt to come to Umbar any time soon.” His lips trembled and his eyes filled with tears. “I wonder if Sam would if I wrote to him.”
Just then, Frodo heard the front door slam and quick footsteps come through the house. Faramir was home; Frodo knew the cadence of his step. Though that particular event should not have agitated Frodo even more than he already was, it did. In fact, it made him curl into a tight ball on the bed and weep.
No words. He had no words to tell Faramir of this thing. Could not even begin to imagine the look he would see on Faramir’s face when he heard what his darling hobbit was going to do. When he learned what Frodo harbored within his body. Unnatural. Even as that word drifted into Frodo’s mind, a fierceness rose up inside his breast, and he knew he would protect the innocent creature inside him with his last breath.
As Faramir walked quickly into the room, his heels clattering on the tile floor, Frodo shut his eyes and pretended to be asleep, not that he had much hope he would succeed in his pretence. Especially not with him breathing in great gusty sobs.
Frodo stiffened his body when the mattress sank down to support Faramir’s weight. He did not respond when Faramir laid a hand on his shoulder and stroked gently. All he did was cry, and all Faramir did was slide his hand up and down Frodo’s arm, seemingly in rhythm with the hobbit’s tears. When Frodo finally quieted a little, his mind beginning to clear and prepare itself for what was to come, Faramir tugged at his sleeve and he rolled on his back, his eyes squeezed shut.
“Look at me.”
Cool fingers wiped away Frodo’s tears, yet still he kept his eyes closed. Better not to see …
“Frodo … I saw Kharam … we passed each other on the road.”
The lump thickened in Frodo’s throat again. “You know?”
“Yes. Won’t you look at me?”
Tears dripping from beneath his closed eyelids, Frodo whispered, “No. Can’t.”
Faramir did not insist and said nothing further. Instead, he leaned over Frodo and began to kiss his face--soft little kisses over his eyelids and the corners of his mouth, licking away the tears that had rolled down his face even onto the hollow of his throat. Slowly, Frodo began to calm and his tears stopped flowing.
When Frodo opened his eyes, what he saw on Faramir’s face was something new. Even in the dim light, he saw it. He could not put a name to this expression yet, but he was heartened a little for there was no disgust in Faramir’s eyes as he had expected.
Frodo said, surprised to find he even had a voice, “You don’t mind?”
It was a strange thing to hear laughter—oh, not the hysterical laughter that had overtaken him earlier, but sane laughter full of love and affection.
“Why would I mind? I suppose it is a little unusual, but then, we’re unusual. Aren’t we?”
Oh. Frodo knew what it was now on Faramir’s face. He’d found its name—joy. And pride. Faramir was proud of Frodo.
“But how will we … how will I …” Frodo’s voice trailed off and he looked to Faramir to give him the answer.
A tremor of something passed across Faramir’s face. Frodo knew that look quite well, all too well—fear. But it was only there for a moment before it passed, and then that new look was back quite firmly in place, and oh, Frodo liked it very much and started to think that maybe this thing wasn’t quite so dreadful after all.
Faramir stretched out next to him, and they lay nose to nose. Faramir said, “I do not know how we will manage, that is, how the babe will be born. But surely the Valar would not have sent us this gift if they did not plan to allow us to come through it safely. It will be all right. Trust me.”
Frodo’s eyelids grew heavy at these last words, and suddenly all he wanted to do was just sleep and sleep and sleep. With the solid warmth of Faramir to press against and hold on to, he knew he would sleep long and deep, and their babe would rest safe between them all the while.
Yes, a nice nap was just what he wanted--with a good dinner when he woke. Crying so hard was hungry work. Just before he sank into his sleep, Frodo murmured, “I wonder what’s for dinner. Do you know what Lilas was going to fix?”
Faramir chuckled. “Feeling better, are you, sweet heart? I do hope you’ll let me get a bite in, now that you’re eating for two.”
Faramir Drinks Himself Into a Stupor
But his hands were still shaking, and he didn’t think any amount of spirits would stop that. Not unless it could wipe out the fear that had coiled itself around his heart and fair stopped his breathing at Kharam’s news.
Kharam looked Faramir straight in the eye. “No. It is true.”
“I will kill you with my bare hands if any harm comes to Frodo …”
Kharam bowed, leaving Faramir to pace back and forth in front of Sea Dream, if you could call staggering around like a drunkard who cannot walk a straight line pacing.
Now Faramir was well and truly intoxicated. In fact, he was drunk as the proverbial skunk as he sat in the darkened kitchen while Frodo slept. When he poured his fifth (sixth? tenth?) drink, his hand shook so badly that the liquor sloshed over the glass onto the table. No matter. He hefted the glass and swigged back the drink with a flick of his wrist, wondering idly if Frodo would mind if he stayed drunk until the babe was born, father (mother?) and child safe and well.
He’d always wanted a child. During the long watches in the thickets of Ithilien, he had wiled away many an hour dreaming of such a thing. He knew just how he would care for his child, how he would love his son or daughter (he cared not whether it was girl or boy) and never speak a harsh word or raise his hand in anger. Not like his father had done to him.
When he and Frodo had joined their lives together, he’d given up that dream. Though he could not say that he had given it up gladly, he could truthfully say that he had let it go willingly.
He picked up the bottle and shook it. There were only a few swallows left, and he saw no reason to leave them in the bottle when they would do much more good in his belly, wrapping his mind and fears in a kindly fog. As a matter of fact, there was really no reason to even pour it into a glass, so he put his lips to the bottle and drank deeply, draining the contents. No burn at all this time, not even much warmth. He didn’t even really feel his lips any more, which was fine with him. Now all he had to do was stop that tight band squeezing his heart.
He knocked the bottle with his elbow as he turned around, and it clattered on to the floor and rolled across the room to come to rest at Frodo’s feet. Such funny, dear feet. Would the child have feet like that? He hoped so.
“Hullo, Frodo! Come here, my darling hobbit,” he said though it actually came out more like, “Lo Frood! C’mere myling hobbish.”
The hobbish did not comply with Faramir’s request, which vexed the man for he wanted desperately to hold Frodo at that very moment--hold him on his lap and inspect his limbs and tummy and every little bit of him.
Instead, Frodo bent down and picked up the bottle. “Faramir, this bottle was almost full earlier today.” He raised one eyebrow. Such a nice eyebrow, Faramir thought, a perfect eyebrow in his considered and unbiased opinion.
Faramir said, “I drank it all down,” and smiled. He knew Frodo liked the way he smiled so he gave it his best go, but it didn’t seem to have quite the effect he was hoping for as the hobbit made no move toward his lap.
“I see,” said Frodo, cocking an eye at the little puddle of spirits on the table. He retrieved a clean cloth and cleaned up the spill, dodging Faramir’s loving hands. “Let me get this cleaned up.”
Faramir decided that perhaps he should let Frodo have his way, for surely when he was finished, he would want to sit on Faramir’s lap and let himself be inspected. Unfortunately, Faramir’s hopes were dashed, and he watched with a rising sense of dread as Frodo edged around the table and sat across from Faramir.
“What’s this all about? You’re not a heavy drinker.”
“Oh, I like a little tipple now and again. You know that. Come sit on my lap.”
“Faramir?” Frodo said in a quiet voice and then fell silent, his gaze level and calm.
It took Faramir a minute or two of looking up and down and around before he met Frodo’s eyes. The jig was up. He was an honest man, so there was nothing for it but to tell the truth.
Faramir sat up straight in his chair, with only a little wobble or two, and said, “I’m sorry, very sorry. It was all my fault.”
At that, Frodo cracked a crooked little smile. “For getting drunk? I should think so … you’re going to have a fearful headache in the morning.”
Faramir shook his head back and forth. It really rather amazed him that once he started, he couldn’t stop the shaking, like a rag doll’s head that flapped away in a child’s rambunctious hand. “No, no, no … not that.”
“Tell me, then.”
The words came out in a rush. “What I did to you. I didn’t know … I wouldn’t have if I’d thought …”
Oh, though he was all foggy and numb, still he thought his heart would break when Frodo’s eyes grew large and that little wrinkle appeared on his forehead the way it always did when he was upset. “You don’t want it?”
“No, not that.” That didn’t come out right, and Faramir cursed his clumsy tongue. “Of course I want it. I’m just … “
“I’m frightened,” Faramir whispered.
The little crack in Faramir’s heart mended when Frodo smiled at him. “I know. So am I.”
“But I need to be strong for you …”
Frodo slipped off the chair and padded over to Faramir, taking his hand. “You are. But you’re allowed to be frightened, too.”
“Oh, yes … come to bed?”
Faramir stumbled a little when he stood up, but Frodo was there to lean on, which was most fortunate for he would surely have fallen on his face and lain on the kitchen floor the rest of the night.
“Come on, I’ve got you.”
As they made their way through the darkened house, weaving a little here and there, Faramir remembered the idea he’d had earlier.
“Is it all right if I stay drunk until the baby is born?”
There's Got to Be a Morning After ... Unfortunately
Given the previous day’s news from Kharam, his violent vomiting this morning followed by a sense of absolute well-being—ravenous hunger, not to put too fine a point on it—no longer seemed surprising to him. As a matter of fact, he thought he sniffed the delicious odor of frying bacon drifting in from the kitchen. Lilas must have arrived.
A weak groan at his feet reminded him that this morning he shared the bathing room. In more ways than one. He started to bend down, but a knocking at the front door distracted him.
“Now, who can that be so early?” Frodo murmured, patting Faramir’s rather flaccid shoulder. “I’ll be back in a minute. Can you manage on your own?”
Well, Faramir might have said “yes” and he might not have, but it was hard to actually decipher the specific word that was mumbled. Frodo stepped over his long, limp form—the man seemed to have acquired a fondness for rubbing his cheek against the cold tile floor—and hurried away.
He had not taken more than three steps from the bathing room when Faramir did manage to utter a comprehensible word. Two, actually.
“Bacon … no …”
Frodo stopped and turned back round, just in time to see Faramir heave himself to his knees and embrace the stone privy for what must have been the fourth or fifth time that morning. Being a thoughtful sort, Frodo shut the door to give the poor man his privacy. It was one thing for Frodo to observe Faramir’s exuberant illness, but surely his lover would be most embarrassed to have others see him. After all, Lilas was in the house and who knew who was knocking at the front door.
Kharam as it turned out.
“Good morning, my halfing friend. How is your health today?”
Frodo smiled. “Very well, thank you … er, now that my bout of illness is over for the day. Come inside … have you had your breakfast yet? I’m sure there’s enough.” Especially since Frodo had the distinct feeling that Faramir would not be too eager to have any.
Bowing once, Kharam said, “Ah, no. I am desolated, but I must be on my way to the city to attend on a patient. But I have something for you that, in my excitement yesterday, I forgot to leave with you.” Kharam pulled out a small bottle and handed it to Frodo. “Tincture of ginger. Freshly made. If your nausea disturbs you too much, please use it. Two or three drops in a small glass of water.”
“Thank you.” Frodo rolled the bottle in his hand, wondering. “Do you think it might help Faramir?”
Kharam raised his eyebrows. “Is the Captain ill?”
“Well, yes …”
“Perhaps I should examine him.”
Something told Frodo that an examination was exactly what Faramir would not like—nor did he need one.
“I think not … it will pass soon, I am sure …”
Kharam stared at Frodo impassively for a moment. “You are most mysterious this morning, my friend.”
Frodo dithered a little longer. “Well … no … actually …” Taking a deep breath, Frodo spit it out. “Faramir drank an entire bottle of grapeseed spirits last night.”
Though Kharam’s expression did not change, Frodo was sure he saw something in the man’s eyes, some strange light. It looked rather like he was pleased, though Frodo was baffled at drawing that conclusion. “Ah … yes, in that case, I suggest you try to get some of this tincture in him.” Kharam furrowed his brow. “Has he vomited more than once?”
Frodo didn’t mean to speak loudly, but he did. “Oh, I should say so! I think I’ve lost count.”
With those words, Frodo was absolutely sure that he saw a gleam of satisfaction in Kharam’s eyes. How strange.
Kharam said, “Yes, do dose him with the ginger. Do not worry if it comes back up right away. Eventually it will stay down. A few more things. Make sure he drinks plenty of water or he will weaken for longer than is necessary. Once he can keep liquid down, make him a mixture of fresh vegetable juices—one cup of carrot juice, a few tablespoons of beet juice, half a cup of celery juice, and a tablespoon of parsley juice.”
Frodo wrinkled his nose, and Kharam laughed.
“Ah, you will find Faramir will recover more quickly if you do as I suggest. The juices will help to flush the poisons from his body that are lingering there after his overindulgence.”
Frodo flushed at that last word. It’s not that it wasn’t true, but … “He was worried about me, I’m afraid. I’ve … I’ve never seen him drink so much before. He’s usually very sparing.”
Kharam smiled and bowed. “I understand, my friend. All the more reason to make sure he drinks plentiful fresh water and the juices I have mentioned. And now, I must take my leave of you. I shall see you soon.”
Frodo spoke a soft word of farewell and closed the door before returning to the bathing room and its hapless occupant. Though his mind returned immediately to how he could ease Faramir’s suffering, he could not help wondering at the strange, almost triumphant gleam in Kharam’s eyes.
“I’m going now, Frodo … the soup is at the back of the stove keeping warm.”
Frodo looked up from the counter where he was squeezing the juice from ground celery. “All right … thank you, Lilas. See you tomorrow.”
Though she was taking off her apron, unknotting the ties around her waist, she did not look as though she was happy about leaving. “Are you sure you don’t want me to stay a while longer?”
“It’s fine … we’re fine … that is, I am and I’m sure Faramir will be.”
Lilas smiled and nodded at the kitchen window overlooking the terrace. “Well, at least he’s not still lying on the bathing room floor.”
He didn’t want to, but Frodo had to laugh. “Yes, indeed. Good night,” he said and turned back to the painstaking task of squeezing the ground celery through fine cheesecloth.
After pouring the combined juices into a large glass, Frodo carried it out to Faramir, who was sitting at the table and staring rather disconsolately out to sea. Frodo watched him for a moment; he could have sworn that the man didn’t breathe visibly even once, so still was he.
“Head still hurting?” Frodo asked softly.
Faramir turned away from the sea and nodded, smiling at Frodo. “I think I’ll live.” Fixing his gaze on the glass in Frodo’s hand, his smile faded fast. “What’s that? It looks disgusting.”
“Vegetable juice—carrots, celery, parsley, beets. Kharam said you should …”
“Kharam? Has he been here again?”
What a scowl, Frodo thought. Don’t see something like that very often from Faramir. Aloud, Frodo said, “Yes, he brought me the ginger tincture this morning, and I’m glad he did as he gave me some good advice about how to help you recover from your … your …”
“Then why are you sitting out here in your nightshirt at the height of afternoon?” Oh, Frodo rather liked that deepening scowl; it was most amusing, not to mention intriguing. He continued, “You’re not still sick to your stomach, are you?”
Faramir shook his head. “No. But I’m not hungry … and definitely not thirsty, especially after all that water you’ve been pouring down my throat today.”
“Tsk. Kharam told me the vegetable juice will help wash away the poisons in your body. You want to feel well again, don’t you?”
“Yes, but …” Faramir’s eyes lit up, which was even stranger than the scowl. “I’ll drink it down on one condition.”
“Hmph,” Frodo replied. “And that would be?”
“Come sit on my lap.”
“Certainly!” Frodo set the glass on the table and climbed onto Faramir’s welcoming lap, smiling up at the man. “That’s not exactly something I think of as an unwelcome condition.”
Now it was Faramir’s turn to say, “hmph.” After wrapping his arms around Frodo, one hand splayed against the hobbit’s flat belly, he said in a gruff voice, “You weren’t too eager about sitting on my lap last night.”
Frodo leaned back in Faramir’s arms and laughed and laughed and laughed. “You are the silliest man. Last night you were … well … you were extremely inebriated. Like one of the Chubbs who had to be taken away in a barrow after Bilbo’s birthday party.”
“Like a Chubb?” Faramir’s eyes narrowed.
“Yes. Exactly like a Chubb. Possibly even a Grubb.”
“Well, if that’s what you think of me, I really don’t think I can drink that juice after all, Mr. Baggins.”
Frodo sat up straight in Faramir’s lap and wagged his finger right in front of the man’s impertinent nose. “Oh, yes, you will, or I shall call for someone to take you away in a barrow. Now!”
Though Faramir grumbled about it and squinted for a minute at the cloudy liquid, he picked up the glass and downed the juice all in one long swallow. A surprised smile spread over his face. “Is there any more?”
Frodo snorted. “Yes, a little, and I can make you some more later.” He peered at the glass. “Is there any left in the glass?”
“A little. Want a taste?”
“Well, yes …” Frodo tilted his head back as he drained the last few drops. “That is good. And not just as a remedy for drinking too freely.”
The glass completely drained, Frodo set it back on the table and snuggled into Faramir’s arms. They stayed quiet together for a few minutes in the late afternoon sun, Frodo contentedly rubbing his cheek against Faramir’s throat and Faramir slowly sliding one hand up and down Frodo’s back.
“Yesterday … when you spoke with Kharam …”
Faramir stiffened a bit and held his breath, his hand still against the small of Frodo’s back. “Yes?”
“What did you two say … er … that is, did you have words or anything?”
After a minute, Faramir relaxed and started rubbing Frodo’s back again. “Now that you ask, yes, we did. Or rather, I did.”
“What did you say?” Frodo murmured, his lips against the hollow of Faramir’s throat.
“Oh, nothing much. I simply told him that I would kill him with my bare hands if he lets anything bad happen to you. Which it won’t.”
“Did you?” Frodo pressed closer.
“Yes. And I will. Not that there’ll be any need, of course.”
“Mm hmm … I know … love you, too.”
He knelt on the floor, the bowl clutched in his hands as he vomited over and over until his belly was empty. Until there was nothing but bitter gall dripping from his trembling lips. Cool hands soothed his brow, held his hair back from his face. When it was over, the same beloved hands wiped his mouth with a fresh cloth, cleaning the unsavory drops from his chin.
“Sorry,” Faramir whispered.
“Lie down for a while.” As Frodo helped Faramir to bed, he wondered if his lover would have sympathetic birth pains when the time came.
Were those puffed-up stumps at the end of his legs feet? Frodo longed to rub them, but when he tried to sit up, his belly defeated him and he flopped back, panting with frustration.
A well-loved arm slipped under his shoulders and slid him to a more comfortable position on the terrace chaise, but when Faramir kissed him, it was all Frodo could do not to push him away. How could anyone bear to be touched on such a day! Surely it wasn’t just his peculiar situation …
Frodo braced himself for more, but when it came, his eyes flew open.
Though Frodo intended to say “Yes!” what came out was not nearly so coherent.
Oh, blessed cool water on his feet! Was there anything so refreshing on a blistering hot day as paddling feet in cool water?
Frodo smiled but stayed where he lay, curled on his side with his back to Faramir, which did nothing to dissuade Faramir from sliding closer and curving his long body around Frodo’s slight form. He wrapped his arms around Frodo, and rested his hands on the hobbit’s little belly bump, his palms rubbing lightly as Frodo leaned into his embrace.
When Faramir drew his hands down to the hem of Frodo’s nightshirt and starting drawing it up and over the hobbit’s head, Frodo protested. “Don’t … oh, please don’t …”
“Why not, love?” Faramir whispered, nuzzling Frodo’s neck before slipping the gown off and tossing it on the floor. “’Tis not fair for you to be all covered up and me with nothing on at all.”
Frodo twisted around and lay on his back. He nodded at his gently rounded stomach. “That … look at me, I look so … odd.”
“You’re plump. Just like a hobbit should be.” Faramir smiled, one corner of his mouth quirked up with anticipation, for he knew the response he would get.
Rolling his eyes, Frodo said, “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a hobbit plump in quite such a manner before.”
“So you’re different … I like you that way.” Before Frodo had the chance to continue with his ineffectual complaints, Faramir pulled him close and kissed him so very thoroughly and sweetly that Frodo forgot all about his unique appearance.
When Faramir finally came up for air, he slid down Frodo’s chest until his face pressed against the small hard bump that they had somehow made together one night. Oh, he knew what night it must have been; it had to have been that night out on the terrace when the air had been so still and hot and the stars had shone so brightly that they both had cried out their joy at the sight. And melted into each other just as one star seemed to burst in the sky in answer to their cries.
Faramir rubbed his face against Frodo’s belly, gentling his touch so that it was the lightest brushing imaginable and made Frodo shiver with delight and twine his fingers in Faramir’s hair, clutching hard and moaning.
“So beautiful … you’re so beautiful to me, Frodo … don’t ever think you’re not,” Faramir murmured against Frodo’s smooth skin.
But by this time, Frodo was too far gone in his need to answer coherently. Instead, he pushed Faramir’s head lower, wanting his mouth *just there*.
Now it was Faramir’s turn to resist. “Are you sure? I thought you didn’t want … that …” Faramir meant to continue his jesting refusal—wanted Frodo to beg, how he loved to hear Frodo’s voice sharpen with desire—but one look at Frodo’s eyes dark with love and need and he was lost.
He lowered his head again and took Frodo in his mouth, took his sweet hard flesh in his mouth and loved him until Frodo’s wordless cries reminded him there was one thing he loved to hear most of all—Frodo’s voice keening out his pleasure.
Afterwards, Faramir laid his cheek lightly against Frodo’s belly again. This time something happened. Something—someone—answered his gentle touch with a soft flutter of greeting.
Frodo whispered, “You woke her up.”
“Oh, yes. I know it.”
“Then it shall be so.”
They lay spooned together in the night, white sheets lightly covering them and glowing in the light of the moon. Though they were not awake to see it, a certain star shone out brightly, a mithril gem sparkling and pulsing in time with the babe stretching and flexing beneath Faramir’s sheltering palm.
“Let’s try it at least. It can’t hurt, and Lilas says many of the women here make such use of olive oil to ease the skin’s stretching” said Faramir, sitting on the bed and sliding Frodo’s nightshirt to expose his full belly.
Frodo squirmed a little on the bed, trying to ease the ache in the small of his back that was constantly with him now that he was a full six months gone. He stared at his belly as Faramir uncorked the bottle of olive oil, hoping that it would indeed help the fearful tightness. How in Middle-earth his body would accommodate the continued growth he was sure he did not know.
The pale green oil was cold, and it tickled when it drizzled on his taut skin. It made Frodo laugh, and that was a fine thing to Faramir’s ears and heart. Frodo laughed far too seldom as the months passed and this strange thing that had befallen them took over their lives.
Faramir set to his task with careful diligence, first smoothing the oil over Frodo’s belly in a fine slick, then massaging with his fingers in widening circles. He smiled when Frodo closed his eyes and all the muscles of his body went limp with relief.
“Mm hmm …” Frodo cocked open one eye. “But …”
“I smell like a salad.”
“Do you?” Faramir bent over and took a quick lick. “Mmm … sweet … salty … I shall have to eat you all up.”
Always Feed a Hungry Hobbit, Especially If He's Pregnant
Frodo smiled before he stepped very carefully from the little footstool he used in the kitchen, his white nightshirt floating around his pumpkin-like belly. He turned round and wiped the smile from his face, for Faramir looked terribly stern, not that it alarmed Frodo in any way. An idle thought flitted through his head. Those veins bulging in his forehead make a rather intriguing pattern, almost like little worms wriggling about.
Deciding that honesty was always the best policy, and not just because it was the hobbity way, Frodo lifted his chin and said, “I’m hungry.”
Giving the hobbit a long look up and down, which gave Frodo that tingly feeling the man had always been able to induce with just that little lift of slanted eyebrows, Faramir said in his best stern Ranger-of-Ithilien-turned-Emissary-of-Elessar-the-King voice, “You should have told me. Did we not have that discussion? You agreed that you would wake me when you are hungry in the middle of the night.”
Hmph. “But you don’t know how to make what I want.” Oh, dear. That did sound rather, well, uncompelling as a reason to go back on his agreement. Not to mention a little abrupt.
Well, at least it made Faramir smile, mingy little thing that it was that disappeared as quickly as it appeared. “Were you not willing to inform me of the necessary ingredients and methods? I believe I could manage, given the proper instruction.”
Hm. The Faramirian martyr syndrome was appearing, though overridden by a more urgent concern in Frodo’s opinion. He shuffled his feet, trying to ease his aching back and thinking that the best way to jolly Faramir out of his hangdog mood was to give him something useful to do. “I am quite tired, Faramir. Why did you not wake when I got out of bed?”
“Wh ... b-b- ...” Oh, Frodo did enjoy making Faramir’s mouth drop open. Such a nice mouth. Perhaps later, once he’d satisfied one appetite, he’d see if he could talk Faramir into some additional duties.
Without saying anything else, Frodo made his way slowly across the kitchen and sat at the table, bringing forth a loud groan as he eased onto the low chair. “Oh, that’s better. My aching feet.” He smiled. “You are awfully nice to me, Faramir. Thank you for waking up and making me my snack.”
Ah, the twinkle was back in Faramir’s eyes though he tried very hard to keep his mouth grim and straight, like one of those graven figures in Rath Dinen Faramir enjoyed describing to Frodo in one of his endless stories about the glories of Gondor. Sauntering over to the counter that the hobbit had abandoned, Faramir peered at it and then turned to Frodo, his brow wrinkled. “I am at your command, my love, but I am sure I have no idea what you want me to do with a lump of cold oatmeal.”
Just the merest utterance of “cold oatmeal” brought a dreamy smile to Frodo’s face, and he sat on his chair, rubbing his belly with a mixture of anticipation of his snack and in an endeavor to still the babe’s efforts to remove herself from Frodo’s body two months too soon. When Faramir made no move toward the oatmeal, Frodo decided it was time for a gentle reminder. “I’m hungry,” he said. Loudly.
After Faramir’s wordless spluttering died down again, Frodo said, “Listen carefully, Man of Gondor. Get butter and brown sugar and a skillet and that little pot you use to heat up my milk. Oh, a sharp knife and a spoon. Hm, a little water.”
With a polite bow, Faramir gathered the requested items. “Very well. What’s next?”
“Set the skillet on the fire and melt some butter ... a LOT of butter.”
Before doing so, Faramir held his hand over the surface of the stove. “You stoked the fire.”
Frodo sighed. “Guilty.”
Faramir said, “Hmph” but did as he was bid.
The next few minutes sped by in a flurried fulfillment of fast and furious commands (furious, that is, when the man moved too slowly or clumsily)—slicing the cold, solidified oatmeal into thick slabs; melting a goodly amount of brown sugar with a little water in the pot until it turned into a thick syrup; frying the oatmeal slices in what seemed to Faramir a veritable vat of melted sweet butter.
Finally the work was complete and Frodo sat happily on Faramir’s lap, eating his rather enormous dish of ...
“What’s it called?” Faramir asked, sticking his finger first into the pool of warm syrup and then into Frodo’s mouth.
It was Frodo’s turn to be speechless, for he had no idea whether the thing had a name or not. Finally he said with a shrug, in between bites of melting sweetness, “I don’t know! My mother used to make it when there was leftover oatmeal, but I don’t think she ever called it anything.”
Faramir leaned back. “Well ... I think it needs a name.”
They both thought hard for a moment. That is, Frodo would have claimed he was thinking hard as he dug into his third oatmeal cake. If he’d been pressed.
“I’ve got it!” Faramir finally said.
“Mmphhmm,” Frodo responded, licking a bit of sticky syrup from the corner of his mouth.
It had taken him almost unawares, but now it was his world.
That morning Frodo had awoken early and lain contentedly next to Faramir, watching him sleep peacefully with one hand flung across his eyes and the other fitted snugly around the ball of Frodo’s shoulder. Just holding him. After a few minutes of listening to Faramir’s even breathing, he had become aware of a little pain low in his back. Just a little ache, so faint that it was barely worth even calling it “pain”—more a twinge of pressure that almost tickled.
But it had not gone away when he had slipped out of bed and, walking slowly to the bathing room, relieved himself. Neither had it gone when he had wandered into the kitchen, looking for a piece of bread to chew on. Nor had he been able to walk it off, padding heavily around and around the house and terrace, trying to move quietly and not wake Faramir.
Now this pain—this living, breathing thing inside him—chewed on him. Gnawed at him with barely any respite. At first, he had tried to crawl away from it, and so he writhed on the bed as strong hands—Faramir? Lilas? Kharam?—held him down. Some feral part of him must have thought that, if he twisted and turned enough, he could outsmart it and escape the trap. But it had not left him. No, it was his closest companion. He almost missed it when it released its grip on him for a few minutes. Almost.
Oh, how had that clenched fist punched its way into his belly? It squeezed, tighter, tighter. How had Faramir allowed such a thing to happen?
Then again, the whole thing had been Faramir’s fault.
He wasn’t sorry when he bit Faramir’s wrist. Not sorry at all. The man deserved worse in his considered opinion. How in Middle-earth was he supposed to be sorry for anything when he couldn’t breathe for the pain, couldn’t move for the pain yet couldn’t stop shifting and rocking back and forth. Never mind Faramir yammering at him in a most irritating fashion to breathe as he had been instructed by Kharam. He’d like to see Faramir breathe when it took every bit of his will not to explode into a thousand pieces.
It might have been midnight, and it might have been midday when he surfaced briefly from the pulsing hot red pool that threatened to drown him. They had propped him up so that he lay cradled in Faramir’s arms and lap, his knees draped over Faramir’s thighs. The haze cleared a little, enough for a moment of observation and clarity.
“What’s that?” Frodo whispered as he reached for Faramir’s hand, the hobbit’s voice harsh and rasping after the strain of screaming and screaming for hours on end.
“Nothing, just a bandage,” Faramir whispered back, stroking Frodo’s damp forehead.
“Not … nothing … what,” Frodo managed to gasp.
“Well …” A quick kiss on Frodo’s forehead. “You bit me.”
There was no time to respond except for a rather surprising (to Faramir, that is) little smile that passed as quickly as it came. He’d forgotten he’d done that. But there was no time to ponder this interesting development, not with that brutal fist beginning to squeeze again. Hard. A good thing that he was already lying down since surely the cramp would have dropped him to his knees if he had been standing.
He had to be strong. He knew he had to be strong, had to breathe and be calm. For the baby. But it had been so many hours. Or had it been days?
“Faramir, this situation has gone on too long. I must take additional measures now.” At least that’s what Frodo thought the voice said. A rich, deep voice. Familiar.
“Are you sure?” That was Faramir. Frodo was sure of that.
“Wh—what …” Frodo said, with not enough strength to finish the thought. What thought? He opened his eyes, and though only a few candles burned, the light of them hurt his eyes. Faramir was solid against his back, and Kharam sat at the bedside.
“Can you understand me, Frodo?” Kharam asked. Oh, his eyes were so dark.
When Frodo opened his parched lips to speak, nothing came out, all his strength gone for the moment. He managed a nod.
“You are too weary to continue. I must take the child now. Do you understand?”
Another nod, and just enough strength to whisper a few words. “You will save her … please …”
Though he felt Faramir’s arms tighten around him and Kharam spoke once more, everything was lost again in the wash of bright hot pain that tumbled over and over him. He cried out, but no sound came from his lips.
When it receded for the moment, Faramir was still there warm against his back and Kharam still sat by him. But now Kharam had something in his hand, a small round candle held in his palm, its small flame flickering steadily.
“I will take the babe soon, Frodo, and all will be well, but first I shall help you a little bit. Look into the flame. Can you keep your eyes on the flame, my friend?”
“What foolishness is this?” Faramir’s voice came harsh and quick.
“Not foolishness, Captain Faramir. Or would you perhaps prefer to take over his care and deliver the child yourself?”
Their voices went on, bitter and low. Frodo knew he had no time to stare at a candle, and no need to do so, just as Faramir insisted. He trusted Faramir. But Kharam persisted in his softly-voiced instruction to watch the flame, and indeed the violet heart of the flame told him it was necessary and good.
It was but a little flame, so fragile that the merest breeze would surely snuff it out, but it glowed steadily in Kharam’s hand. And as Frodo watched it, it seemed to grow, pulsing cool blue and hot yellow, until it took up all his vision. Even when it seemed to Frodo that he had somehow floated up and off the bed and hovered above them all just under the ceiling. Yes, there was Faramir, and there was Kharam in his long robes, and there he was cradled in Faramir’s arms. And there was the friendly flame surrounding him, no matter which way he looked. Even if he closed his eyes.
The pain came back, yes it did though it seemed not to touch him even as he watched the halfing on the bed cry out weakly and go still.
An age passed while Frodo floated in the silent dark, content to just be, alone and untroubled by tearing pain and harsh screams ripped from his raw throat. He had no doubt that he was dead, though it did not trouble him. Perhaps later it would grieve him, but not now when the cessation of all bodily sensation was utterly welcome. He was grateful for it.
At least the Ring is destroyed. I got that far. Sam?
But that didn’t seem right either. Anyway, Sam was back in the Shire and wed to his Rosie, while Frodo was … nowhere.
Ah. There was sound in this place, a sort of faint buzzing that thrummed in the darkness. Soft at first, it grew and flowered from a constant note to an ebb and flow that soon filled his mind. And it was warm; this pulsing song was so warm. It surrounded him in its warmth just as the kindly darkness held him safe. How could that be?
Bother. I like it.
Frodo concentrated on the friendly humming that filled his ears, and soon he understood that not only did he have a living body but the sound was connected to this body somehow. My body. It should hurt, but it didn’t. Not yet.
Open your eyes.
He couldn’t. Such a little thing to do, but he couldn’t manage even a twitch of an eyelid though he concentrated with all his might on that one little point of his awakening body. On further consideration, he saw no reason why he should even try, at least not yet. It would be far nicer to cuddle into the sheltering hand and drift a while longer. Just a little longer.
Frodo, please … don’t …
Oh, yes, floating in this place was the nicest thing he’d ever done. All by himself, all alone the way he liked it. It was pulling at him now, pulling hard, hard and so insistent that the blackness seemed tinged with red at the margins of his seeing even though his eyes were shut fast.
Please … don’t …
There was another sound. A voice crying out in counterpoint.
This new voice was harsh though the words soon trailed away, but it disturbed him and perplexed him. Had it just started and had he heard everything it had said, or had he ignored its pleas in favor of his fascination with the beating of his own heart and the rush of bright blood through his veins? Though Frodo wanted only to sink into the blessed nothingness again, the voice seemed so distressed that he had to listen. Just a little longer, he told himself, and then he could slip away again, slip away for as long as he liked.
I’m listening. What’s wrong?
He knew something must be terribly wrong, for this new sound—without words, faint and low, welling up and spilling into his perception until the beating of his own heart seemed no longer of any interest—was sad. Frodo had never heard such a sad sound: someone was crying as though his heart were broken.
Open your eyes.
If Frodo had lain in the silent darkness for an age, two more ages passed while he struggled to open his eyes. It was a good thing that the room he lay in was dimly lit for even such a diffuse light made him want to squeeze his eyes shut as soon as he opened them.
Peering through his eyelashes, he apprehended the source of the sorrowful noise: a man kneeling at the side of the bed with his head pressed to the mattress. Frodo’s body was a little warmer where the man’s head rested against his hip, and it was right that it should be so. He could not see the man’s face for it lay hidden against sheet and nightshirt and tangled hair, but he knew who it was. How could he have not known? How could he have not recognized the voice?
Oh, how he longed to reach out and stroke Faramir’s head, to pull back the snarled tangles of hair and caress warm, remembered skin. But he couldn’t. It was beyond his reach.
Faramir? Please …
No good. Faramir could not hear his thoughts, though that seemed somewhat strange now to Frodo as the man had always seemed to read his mind so effortlessly.
Oh, I must have been so ill with it this time. Poor Faramir. It must be October.
Faramir’s crying grew softer but did not stop completely as Frodo lay watching him, willing the man to raise his head and see that there was no need for so many tears. The effort to keep his eyes open grew too great for Frodo, and he sighed soundlessly when they drifted closed again.
Don’t … I don’t want to …
Though Frodo could still hear Faramir crying, once his eyes had closed, he was back in the grip of the darkness. Indeed, it was a good thing his eyes were shut for surely the spinning would have been worse otherwise. Strong the grip was, strong and hard and beckoning, and his breathing grew harsh and loud in his ears.
Frodo opened his eyes again though his eyelids trembled from the effort of keeping them open even a bare fraction. His hand lay on his chest, his fingers curled under his palm.
There were only a few inches between his hand and Faramir’s head, but it might have been the width of Nen Hithoel and no boat in sight.
Coward …do you prefer the darkness? Is it warm enough for you?
For it called to him. As each second passed without Frodo making any attempt to move or speak, the darkness wrapped itself tighter and tighter around him, threatening to pull him beneath a surface that he knew could not be regained if he went under one more time. Not without first making contact with Faramir.
Slowly, with almost infinitesimal progress, Frodo straightened out each finger on his hand, aware of the smoothness of his nightshirt against his skin. Even more slowly, he walked his hand, a finger at a time, toward Faramir, toward his lover’s bowed head. Sweat dripped from his brow and slipped between his shoulder blades.
Oh, it hurts … my stomach. I don’t understand …
What a time for bodily sensation to return in full, but Frodo pushed on until the tips of his fingers reached a strand of hair. Thumb and middle finger drew together and tugged. Once, twice … then with a final effort Frodo cupped the palm of his hand around Faramir’s head.
Frodo’s hand slid to the mattress as Faramir raised his head and looked at him, his eyes swollen and red from crying so long and hard, his cheeks still wet. Even worse, the light in Faramir’s eyes had gone dull with hopelessness written clearly in them.
Say something …
His entire body seemed on fire now with a pain that flared sharp and hot from a thick line across his belly. Had he had some sort of accident?
No time … say something and then you can sleep … sleep, not drift …
His lips were dry and cracked, but he managed a whisper. “Don’t cry.”
Tears welled up in Faramir’s eyes and spilled down his face. “Then don’t leave me.”
Oh, sleep was pulling at him now. Sleep, not that other thing though Frodo knew he would have to be vigilant even as he slept. He licked his lips and spoke again with his tongue thick in his mouth. “Where would I go?”
“I don’t know … but not away from me. I could not bear it.”
Frodo smiled and wanted to say more, something soothing to reassure Faramir, but exhaustion was winning.
Oh, it hurts … my stomach … I don’t understand.
“Sleep, Frodo. I’m here.”
With that, Faramir leaned forward and slipped his hands with the utmost care around Frodo’s face, his thumbs stroking Frodo’s soft cheeks in such a gentle, warm clasp that it almost brought tears to Frodo’s eyes.
This was the embrace he wanted, not that unknown web of darkness that beckoned without promising anything but lonely oblivion.
He would sleep, sure and safe in the warm clasp around him. Once asleep, the pain across his middle would fade, whatever it meant. What was it?
“Faramir … my stomach … hurts …”
“Sshh … I know. Sleep now.”
“Sleep … yes … tell me later.”
And Frodo slept.
It was Frodo who saw Kharam to the door.
“Although the situation could be averted if you two were to change your practices such that …” Kharam’s voice trailed off as Frodo’s face flushed like a ripe tomato.
“Yes, er, of course,” Frodo said. Well, Kharam did have a point, but Frodo was not about to have that kind of discussion with the man, even though he was a fine healer and had seen him safely through his confinement and apparently enough of a recovery to discuss the renewal of intimate relations between Frodo and Faramir.
Kharam bowed, a gentle smile on his face. “As you see fit. It is but a suggestion on my part … and one which I do not expect to be taken though I pose it merely for your health. But I understand. Between male and male, it is certainly common for particular roles to be taken and not exchanged.”
“Yes, indeed. Good day, Kharam. And thank you.” Frodo shut the door and leaned against it, blowing a little breath of air up against his forehead, shaking his curls. Or was it the laughter that caused his hair to shiver and blow about as if a little wind had suddenly sprang up inside the house?
Faramir was still sitting where Frodo and Kharam had left him, at his desk in the library, staring down at the little box. Joining him, Frodo clambered on his lap and peered at the box.
“Open it,” Frodo said.
“Is Prim still asleep?” Faramir asked, his glance moving rapidly between the box and the open doorway as if he expected the three-month old infant to come bursting in on them in their guilty perusal of the box’s interior.
Frodo chuckled. “Yes, yes, she’s sleeping. Open it.”
With a sigh, Faramir nodded his head and opened the box. Nestled inside, each in a little compartment, were what looked like tiny sausages. Empty sausages, that is. Faramir pulled one out, and indeed it did look like a sausage casing, with one end neatly closed and the other open. From the open end dangled a narrow but sturdy-looking ribbon.
They stared at the thing for a minute, pulling on it to check how stretchy it was (for it seemed far too small a thing to ever fit over any sort of erect member, be it man or hobbit or elf or dwarf or even orc).
“What did Kharam call it?” Frodo whispered.
In a matching whisper, Faramir answered, “Umbar riding jacket …”
“I thought he said it’s also called a Gondor riding tunic?”
With a snort of derision, Faramir said, “I suppose … though never have I seen such a thing before in Gondor.”
“And when would you have had occasion, hm?”
“It won’t go on.” His face streaming with sweat and his hands slippery with more sweat as well as oil, Faramir turned away from Frodo, kneeling at the foot of the bed to hide his embarrassment. Of all things, not to be able to get the fool thing on. “It keeps popping off before I can get it on right and tied off.” With a sigh of exasperation, Faramir flung the offending little thing on the mattress next to him where it lay oh so limply. And completely empty.
Frodo bit his lip. “Let me help.”
Another gusty sigh escaped Faramir’s lips as he sank down on his haunches. “Too late. Sorry. I won’t be able to now at all …”
Well, a little momentary inability was not something to stop a hobbit intent on his pleasure, so Frodo crawled forward and wrapped his arms around Faramir’s waist, resting his cheek against the man’s back. Everything about Faramir went stiff except for the one bit of him that was supposed to.
Hmm. This called for delicacy of suggestion and touch rather than going immediately for the main point. Frodo pulled Faramir back against himself and began stroking the man’s thighs. Lightly, just barely touching the tips of his fingers to Faramir’s skin, rustling the fair, soft hair. It seemed to have some effect, as Faramir shivered and pressed against Frodo’s chest.
But apparently not enough effect. “Perhaps we should change what we do … how we … seeing as I can no longer …”
“Change what, sweetheart?” Frodo asked, his hands still moving slowing back and forth and his lips and tongue tasting the back of Faramir’s throat.
“I don’t know … since we need to use something to prevent another child … perhaps we should just change how we do this … you know sometimes we have in the past …”
“Yes, and we both agreed we prefer things this way. You know how I love it when you fill me up.”
Faramir sighed (again). No wonder he can’t, er, perform. He’s using up all his energy in sighing, Frodo thought. “Would that I could.”
While it might have been to Faramir’s surprise, it was certainly not to Frodo’s when the hobbit dragged his knuckles lightly over Faramir member. Very stiff member, at least for the moment. Thinking with satisfaction how well a light touch sometimes worked, Frodo grabbed the jacket and, with his nimble fingers, worked it over Faramir’s stiff flesh in a second, biting his lip as he tied the little ribbon around its base.
“There,” Frodo said, crawling back up on the bed and laying down with his legs spread wide. “What was that you were saying about switching … oof!”
They laughed as they untied the ribbon’s little bow and tugged off the jacket. Faramir said, “Well, I guess we know the secret of getting this thing on now.”
“You have to put it on.”
Frodo rather liked that, liked being in charge of things that way. He held up the limp little thing, the pool of seed safely trapped in the casing. Well, he didn’t like that part of it, but it would do for now.
“Come into the kitchen with me.”
“Because I want you to.”
Frodo fisted his hands against his sides and looked into his daughter’s stubborn gray eyes. Such a pretty face … marred only by a trace of blood around her mouth. A very stubborn mouth to match the eyes.
“I want to wash your mouth off … you don’t want Faramir to see you all bloody, do you?”
Gray eyes narrowed. “Well … ‘member, you promised …”
Frodo smiled. “That I did. And I keep my promises, don’t I?”
“Yes,” she answered though it really sounded like “yeth.”
“All right, then. Come on.”
Hand in hand, they walked into the kitchen. Frodo stepped onto the little stool by the sink and wetted a clean cloth as Prim watched him suspiciously.
“Let’s get you cleaned up.” Frodo stepped off the stool and bent over Prim, not that he had that far to bend. She was growing so fast, like the prettiest wildflower in the Party Field. Taking her chin in one hand, he dabbed at the blood at the corner of her mouth. When she started, Frodo winced inside for he knew he must have jarred the loose tooth.
“Sorry, Snagglepuss. Did that hurt?”
Prim shrugged. “Not much.” Brave words, if you didn’t notice the tears standing in her eyes.
Frodo stroked her cheek, pulling an errant strand of dark hair behind her ear. “Are you sure you want to wait? I can pull it so fast you won’t even feel it.”
“NO! You promised! Want Faramir!”
Though it hurt to do it, Frodo gave her a wide smile and held up his hands. “Just checking.”
Oh, how had he produced such a stubborn creature? When Frodo saw a little trickle of blood appear at her mouth, he decided that it was time for Prim to learn that not all promises were of equal importance. Fortunately for both of them, Faramir arrived home just as Frodo opened his mouth to break the sad news to her.
Prim took off like a streak, crying “Faramir!”
Though he wanted to follow, Frodo stayed put, listening to Prim’s excited babble and Faramir’s answering laugh. After a minute, they came into the kitchen, Prim held firmly in Faramir’s arms, her head pillowed on his shoulder and her arms wrapped about his neck.
“I see Snagglepuss is ready to have that tooth pulled,” Faramir said, sitting down at the kitchen table. “Let me see.”
“It’s all wiggly with my tongue,” Prim said and opened her mouth wide.
“Hmm, yes. Well, I’ll have it out quicker than Frodo can eat a plate of mushrooms.”
They all laughed at that—except for Frodo, who practically felt steam coming out his ears. “Please just do it,” he said through gritted teeth. “She’s been worrying away at it all afternoon.”
Faramir looked at Frodo with his eyebrows raised. “Why didn’t you just do it yourself? I’m sure you could have managed. It should come out quite easily.”
“Easily!” Frodo counted to ten before he continued in a calm voice. “She wanted you to do it. She’s quite stubborn, you know.”
“Did she?” Faramir took a good long look at Frodo’s thundercloud of a face before saying in a very stern voice, “Primula Finduilas …”
The stubborn one snuck a quick look at Frodo before smiling up at Faramir and patting his cheek. “Don’t be cross, Fara.” She opened her mouth wide again, and just as both Frodo and Faramir had said, that tooth came out quick as a flash though not without a little tug that started the tears in earnest.
“Frooooo!” Prim wailed. Frodo grabbed a clean cloth and climbed on Faramir’s lap, and for a minute they were all a tangle of arms and legs until they got everything sorted out neatly. And there they stayed, with Prim on Frodo’s lap and Frodo on Faramir’s lap, the battle over for now.
But he gave it back, you know, held out his hand and gave it back to Arwen. He said he didn’t need it, told Aragorn’s blissful queen that all he needed was encompassed by broad shoulders, a loving heart, and endless patience. Though he directed his words to Arwen, all the while his gaze drifted to Faramir.
Faramir did not tell Frodo for a long time that Arwen had slipped the necklace into his hand that soft spring night in Minas Tirith. But he was grateful to her, for he knew that it did comfort Frodo when the darkness crept up on him. In time, Frodo grew grateful for its return though he wore it infrequently.
It fascinated their spoiled little darling from the very first time she saw it hanging around Frodo’s neck. Not to put too fine a point on it, she coveted the sparkling bauble and begged to wear it, did our Miss Prim.
Prim got her wish on her fifteenth birthday. Frodo thought it was too soon, but Faramir reminded him that she was only half-hobbit. The look on Prim’s face when they gave it to her—covering her eyes and fastening it around her neck—was something they remembered all their long lives.
Frodo found it a bit unseemly that she wanted to wear it all the time, but he bit his tongue and never told her that seeing it made him want it.
It was warm from Prim’s skin the October night she slipped it around his neck.