In the early morning hours, Frodo lay awake, staring up at the ceiling, not seeing the leaves painted there as his mind wandered. He idly stroked the long tresses splayed across his chest. Lily’s head nestled comfortably against his shoulder, and her right arm was draped across his waist.
He reflected on the previous evening. Dinner with the Gamgees had been both delicious and pleasant. How had he not noticed the way Lily was always touching him, both openly and unobtrusively?
Then they had attended the festivities, for a short time. Pearl had once again claimed her Uncle Frodo for a dance but had been willing enough to return to her mum afterwards, promptly falling asleep.
The rest of the evening belonged to his Lily. He had worried about his desire for her becoming too much to bear. It was then he began to notice she was always touching him, holding his hand, or her hand on his arm or back, or sitting or standing so close beside him her body brushed against his. He had fretted it might prove to be too difficult for him, and yet as the evening wore on he found it not only pleasant but comforting, until they returned home.
A grin spread across his face, and he struggled not to chuckle as he remembered readying for bed. He had encouraged Lily to change her clothes while he made certain the smial was in order, the fires put out that were not needed and the makings for tea set out for firsties. When he finished, he stopped in the bedroom doorway. His wife was rifling through his nightshirts... he bit his lip to keep from laughing. Perhaps rifling was too harsh a word. He had leaned against the doorjamb, and folded his arms across his chest as he watched her gently lift out his light green silk nightshirt. She raised it to her face and breathed deeply; she gazed at it smiling, then softly fingered the material.
His heart had tightened at the sight, but he needed to maintain a comfortable distance, so he had chortled and teased her by saying, “Mistress Baggins, are you stealing another of my nightshirts while yours is being laundered?”
Lily had glanced up at him guiltily, then smiled sweetly. “You don’t mind, Mister Baggins, do you?”
Frodo had been completely disarmed. He had to clear his throat before he could answer, and even then it came out only barely above a whisper. “Not in the least, sweet.”
She was fetching in his nightshirt...
He had been reluctant to go to bed, not wanting to feel her back against him. When he had crawled in beside her, she had turned to him and tenderly caressed and kissed him... for how long he did not know nor care. The pleasure she brought him...
She had finally cradled him close, until he calmed. He had murmured against the soft skin of her neck his appreciation for her attentions. He could hear her smile when she replied that he had, in a way, taught her what to do. He had drawn his brows together but needed to utter no words as she continued that she was grateful for all the things he had done for her without expecting anything in return.
He had shuddered down to his toes, wondering if his body could hold all the love he felt for her.
Then she softly sang to him. It was the first time he realized she had learned several of the Elvish songs. He had drifted into sleep, the Shire lullaby she had sung in Rivendell filling his ears.
Sometime in the night, they had traded places, and he gathered her in his arms. Now he found himself mulling things over. He thought he feared wanting her too much. But as he considered the possibilities, he realized things were not always as they first appeared. Instead of wanting her too much, mayhap the truth of the matter was that being bereft of her touch he feared she might somehow disappear, and he would wake to the nightmares of the past, alone.
Last night, she had dispelled those fears. In her murmurings into his ear, she assured him again and again she was his and would always be so, and they had all their lives together. It was a beautiful dream indeed, and one from which they would never wake, for they were blessed beyond measure; their dream was real.
They spent the day comfortably together. Lily admitted she was still a little weary from her course. Frodo suggested she rest in her chair in the study as he started work on the book in earnest, while meals were kept simple, requiring little effort.
When Frodo had finished the first page, he asked Lily to read it, to be sure it had the proper tone.
Lily wondered aloud, “Do you think Bilbo will mind being referred to as ‘peculiar’?”
Frodo twirled the goose quill in his hand, then brushed the feather across his chin. “As I remember, it was Bilbo who told me what folk thought of him, and he seemed to find it quite amusing.”
Lily glanced down at the sheet in her hand, then up into her husband’s eyes. “You’re writing this as though the story flows from someone else’s hand.”
“I thought it might be easier if I could... step away from it.”
Lily smiled at his furrowed brow. She realized he was uncertain as to the rightness of his decision. “I think that’s exactly the right idea. Then you’ll be able to more easily include everyone in the story.”
Her chest tightened at the sight of his face clearing, followed by a heartwarming smile. She could sense him shrug off the worry in his mind.
“Sweet, I suppose we should ready ourselves for tea at your brother’s. Sam and Rosie will be here soon to show us the way.”
Sam and Rosie enjoyed showing Frodo and Lily all the changes which had taken place in Hobbiton in their absence. Rosie boasted of Sam’s new plantings, and he blushed, pleased. The new homes replacing all those too badly damaged by the occupation of the Men had been completed before winter, but those needing renovation in one way or another had been put off until summer. Will’s new home was on the other side of Hobbiton.
When they arrived at the house Bell answered the door, very much the mistress of her home, though the wedding was still three days away. Hal, Daisy and Pearl greeted the guests, then stepped aside for Bell. She proudly walked them through every room. Even though she admitted she had known very little of woodworking before she met Will, she was learning and was amazed by his skill and reveled in bragging about the special details, the intricately carved tables, chairs, and mantels, not to mention the special still room created just for her, for drying flowers and herbs and fruits.
They finished the tour in the dining room. Tea was served at the elaborately carved table with a carved wooden plate in the center on a small stand that turned, allowing access to everyone at the table. Bell was particularly proud of the piece.
Once everyone was settled, she poured tea, and placed the cup on the server and turned it until it was in front of the person for whom it was intended. She delighted in everyone’s admiration of the device, then fell into conversation of the continuing festivities.
Daisy had Pearl on her lap and was feeding her small bites of scone. Between each small mouthful, Pearl waved her arms and bounced, anticipating the next.
Frodo and Lily laughed at the same time when Pearl’s face screwed up into an expression of distaste.
“What happened?” Frodo asked, still chuckling.
“That was a bit of cherry. She’s never had a cherry before. It’s easy enough to tell when she doesn’t like something new!” Daisy laughed.
“Pearl!” Frodo looked the babe in the eye. “How could you not like cherries?!”
Pearl’s eyes grew wide mirroring Frodo’s, then she wrinkled her nose and grinned.
Frodo handed Lily the small sugar bowl, just out of Pearl’s reach. The child had already tried more than once to get at the bowl.
Conversation continued for a time. Pearl was yawning now, and laid her head against Daisy’s breast.
Frodo could feel his wife watching the babe, and knew what was in her heart, for it was in his own. Someday... someday they would have a lass of their own... and not just one... The vividness of the thought caught him by surprise, and he almost gasped aloud. He reached for Lily’s hand under the table, and held it, trembling when she laid her finger across the space between his own.
He allowed the conversation to wash over him, quietly basking in the comfortableness of it all. His heart warmed further, knowing Lily could sense his contentment.
15 September 1420sr
The days of celebration had flown, and Frodo was glad of it. Will and Bell would wed this day. Hal and Daisy and little Pearl would spend tonight with Bell’s sister and her husband. Then tomorrow they would come and spend a few days at Bag End before returning to Deephallow.
Per tradition, he and Lily were expected at Will’s for first breakfast in less than a half hour. Surveying himself critically in the mirror, Frodo straightened his wedding finery, remembering the first time he had worn it, more than three months past. Glorious months, he reflected with a smile. He turned abruptly at the sound of his wife giggling. Then he caught his breath. She was still as breathtaking in her peach dress as on that day, mayhap more so. A broad smile spread across his face. There was no mayhap about it, she definitely was, for now he knew intimately the treasures concealed by the garment.
He watched appreciatively as Lily blushed prettily. She knew his thoughts.
Lily struggled to regain her sense of equilibrium. Her husband was simply devastatingly handsome. Her heart fluttered anew. How could she possibly be even more in love with him now than on the day they wed?
Her voice betrayed her own giddiness. “Come, beloved, or we’ll be late to my brother’s.”
Frodo gave her a mock-innocent gaze. “We can’t have them wondering what would keep us, now can we?”
Lily laughed. “Mister Baggins, you are incorrigible!” She winked at him. “Not that I mind in the least, as long as I’m the only one who knows to what extent.”
Frodo covered his heart with his hand and bent his head in salute. “I am your humble servant, gentle lady.”
He startled when Lily slid her hand up his lapel, then cupped his face. He met her tender gaze, and was wholly unable to stop himself from sweeping her into his arms. He covered her mouth with his own, allowing the kiss to fill the aching hunger within him. A part of his mind told him he ought to stop, then he felt her fingers twine themselves in his hair, and he was lost to the sensations only she awoke within him, blazing almost out of control.
They broke the kiss together, their breathing ragged.
Struggling to catch his breath, his forehead pressed against hers, Frodo murmured, “We truly are going to be late.”
Lily gazed up into her lover’s face, and giggled. “We’ll tell them I overslept. They’ll believe that.”
Frodo’s eyes grew wide, then he laughed. “Come, Mistress Baggins, if we hurry, we might make it and not need to lie.”
Lily gave him a hurt look. “I never lie. I did oversleep; I would have risen earlier, if I’d known we were going to -- to be distracted.” Then she waggled her brows at her husband, and grinned.
They laughed together, then Frodo offered his hand to his wife, who clasped it securely.
Lily sighed. “We’d best be off, Mister Baggins. It’s going to be a very long day.”
Frodo nodded absently, then the words sifted through his mind, and he abruptly wondered if they held a deeper meaning. He had to abandon his pursuit of that possibility as Lily led him out the door.
After first breakfast, Paddo took Will firmly in hand, herding him off to get ready. Hal and Daisy with Pearl, and Frodo and Lily made their way out to the Party Field to decorate the gazebo with the fresh flowers collected for the day.
Sam and Rosie joined them; Rosie proudly showing off how Sam had coaxed some of the jasmine, brought by Aragorn for Lily and Frodo’s wedding, to grow up the gazebo. It was no longer in bloom but made for ready greenery and a place to entwine flowers that were in season.
When noon arrived, the Party Field was overflowing with celebrants. Will stood nervously in the gazebo with Paddo beside him on one side, Mayor Whitfoot on the other, and Holly next to the Mayor.
Will glanced up abruptly as the cheer went up, announcing Bell’s arrival to the wedding.
Frodo stood with Lily at the front of the crowd, with Hal and Daisy and Pearl on one side and Sam and Rosie on the other. Bell’s family stood the other side of Hal.
Pearl gave Frodo a toothy grin, then buried her face in her mum’s neck. Then she peeked up at Frodo and grinned once more, before hiding her face against her mum again.
When Pearl reached for him, Daisy turned her over with a relieved smile and whispered that is was getting more and more difficult to hold the wiggle-worm. Daisy did not mention that she took pleasure in the change in Frodo’s face in these moments. It reminded her of the first time she had seen it in their home, just last December. It was how she knew Frodo should look, without the care and worry and... sadness.
Not that her sister made no difference; quite the opposite. And yet, it seemed that Frodo worried for her, though not as much so this past week, Daisy had noticed... not like that week in February at Deephallow.
But Pearl was different. Daisy knew the child was as easy as they came, good natured, healthy, a delight. Daisy tried to push away her own fear of having another child. What if the next were sickly? Or difficult? Memories of her mother flitted into her thoughts, and then she firmly closed her mind to the fear of a miscarriage.
The ceremony began, and Daisy turned her attention to the couple taking the step she and her Hal had taken. She shivered happily at the feel of Hal’s hand gripping hers. Without looking at him, she briefly leaned her head on his shoulder. He squeezed her hand. She glanced briefly at him, and they shared a warm smile.
Frodo settled Pearl in the crook of his left arm. The babe seemed to relax and take in all the colours surrounding her from every direction. Frodo felt Lily’s hand slip into his own, and he intertwined their fingers, palm to palm, not unlike the last ritual of the ceremony. Then he felt her fingers tighten on him, and he knew she was thinking of it as well.
He hardly heard or saw any of Will and Bell’s wedding, remembering in stark detail his own to his Lily. As Will and Bell stepped into the open eyes and open hands, Frodo felt afresh the wonder and awe of being free of the darkness. Lily stood so close to him, he could feel the length of her touching him from shoulder to toe.
The ceremony over, the crowd cheered, and Pearl shrieked with glee. Then the family, followed by the other well-wishers, moved forward to greet the bride and groom.
Frodo and Lily glimpsed Will and Bell slipping away, and shared their private smile. Then they turned themselves to enjoying the rest of the celebrations. The revelers slowly dispersed over the course of the afternoon, until all that was left were the families of the new wedded couple and those who would be helping in the cleaning up.
Lily gave her husband surreptitious glances, and struggled not to blush when he caught her gazing at him. Her mind drifted to the past several days, including the choosing of his light green nightshirt. He did not know why she selected it from all his others, and she had decided to not tell him. She never wanted to see him in it again. It brought back too many vivid memories of his illness. Yet she did not want to dispose of it, for it also reminded her of the miracle that was now theirs to enjoy. It warmed her that her husband truly shared everything with her. He claimed nothing as his alone.
During the evening meals, she endeavored to participate in the family gatherings. However, she found it increasingly difficult as she became ever more aware of her husband’s nearness.
The Sun bid farewell as the Moon rose, round and bright, and the families drifted to their homes. Sam and Rose left the Party Field with Frodo and Lily, then agreed to meet the following day before making their own way home.
Frodo stepped into the bedroom and found the bed already neatly turned down. Then he saw Lily, standing in front of the full-length mirror, in the corner of the room.
Her voice was hushed. “I thought you’d like to help me remove the pins from my hair.”
Frodo’s heart pounded in his chest. “I would.”
Lily turned slowly to face the mirror, while Frodo strode across the short distance separating them.
One by one, he began removing the pins and noticed his hands were shaking. He smiled to himself; it felt like their wedding day. He glanced up, and realized Lily was watching him in the mirror. She gave him a knowing smile, and his breath caught in his throat.
Frodo met his lover’s eyes in the mirror and smiled in return, holding her gaze as he removed the last of the pins. Her tresses fell around her shoulders and down her back. He gently lifted away a long lock so he could kiss her neck below her ear.
She arched her neck, and Frodo’s smile deepened. In the mirror, he could see her eyes were closed. He kissed her neck once more, and then she leaned back against him. He slid his arms around her waist, and pulled her close. Then he trailed kisses from her ear, down her neck, to her shoulder, nuzzling her dress and chemise a little aside, then retracing his path to her ear.
Lily released a shuddering breath, and sighed, pressing her back against her husband. She shivered as his hands caressed her.
“Frodo...” she whispered, lost in the sensations he stirred. She bent her head back against his scarred shoulder, then nestled it there, feeling her lover’s own satisfied response to the touch.
He breathed in her ear, “Lily-sweet, how I love you.” Then he gently turned his wife. His chest tightened, at the adoration in her vividly green eyes.
“I love you, dearest Frodo.”
Then Lily slid her hands into his silky chestnut locks, smiling at the way her husband closed his eyes and tipped his head forward to ease her reach. She took advantage and brushed her lips across his, her heart leaping at the sound of his indrawn breath. Her own breath was stolen as he captured her lips in a tender caress. She felt his hands slide up her body and into her hair as he tasted her with the softest of kisses.
Frodo murmured against her lips, “Would you like to sit?”
A smile filled Lily. “No. Not yet. I’m happy with just this, here...”
Then her breath caught, as she felt her husband’s arms wrap around her, holding her close, then easing enough so he could unbutton her dress as he gazed into her eyes. She pressed herself against him, twining her arms about his neck.
Frodo grinned. “I seem to have hit a problem...”
Lily giggled. “Ah, the buttonhole that’s too small...” She released her hold on her husband, allowing the dress to fall to the floor. Then she stood still, inviting her lover to drink in the sight of her in only her chemise. She recognized the passion flaring in his eyes.
Then she slid his coat from his shoulders, and let it drop to the floor, followed by his waistcoat and braces. No fear touched her heart as it had the day they wed.
They each feasted on the sight of the other. Then Frodo helped Lily step away from the clothes scattered on the floor, gently leading her to their bed. They paused, thanking Ilúvatar for the love and joy they shared. The night brought a renewal of their passion and commitment, as memories of their wedding day flooded in like the moonlight which bathed the place where they lay intertwined.