Thrice Returned

by Nefertiti

Disclaimer: I neither own these characters nor expect ever to receive any income from this story, which is offered purely for the enjoyment of fans.

Author's note: Book-based. The action occurs on the evening of September 22, 3001 (Shire Reckoning) and the morning of September 23. During that evening, Gandalf has his argument with Bilbo over the Ring and persuades his old friend to pass it on to Frodo; that argument arouses the wizard's suspicions about the nature of the Ring.

"The Morning After" fits into Chapter 1, "A Long-expected Party," and follows the paragraph ending "Gardeners came by arrangement, and removed in wheel-barrows those that had inadvertently remained behind." Essentially it covers the period of the next three sentences: "Night slowly passed. The sun rose. The hobbits rose rather later." Many thanks to Elanor for betaing, for great feedback, and for enlightening exchange on the esoteric subject of Gandalf slash.

Part 2: The Morning After

Frodo closed the round green door of Bag End, being careful not to slam it. He did not think Gandalf could hear it from the guest room, and the wizard was probably sound asleep anyway. Still, he did not want to risk waking him. Frodo was completely exhausted, not only by the hard work of helping with Bilbo's party but even more by the task of seeing the guests off. The house seemed different already with Bilbo gone. He was very glad that Gandalf was still there to keep him company. Of course, he would be very glad to have Gandalf there under any circumstances but especially now.

As he took off his jacket to hang it on one of the hooks in the hallway, he remembered the large envelope that Bilbo had left him. It was still on a table in the sitting room, where he had set it after his earlier conversation with Gandalf. He already missed his uncle, and he went in and broke the wax seal to see if Bilbo had left him any personal communication along with the legal documents. Sure enough, there was a brief letter in Bilbo's hand. He glanced through it. Nothing much, just a last farewell with a few instructions about Bag End, the papers, the gifts to their relatives, and the ring. After he finished reading the letter, Frodo thought it odd that Bilbo was most concerned about his possibly losing the ring. The other matters seemed more important. Indeed, Frodo had been surprised to hear that Bilbo had bothered to leave the ring with him. He had no particular interest in it. True, it was a magic invisibility ring-but although that might occasionally be an amusing thing to have, Gandalf had told him not to use it. What point was there in having it then? The whole thing seemed a bit trivial and childish. Still, he dutifully fastened the chain onto his belt and pushed the gold band down inside his trousers pocket. It certainly did seem oddly pleasant, knowing it was there.

The hobbit walked along the hallway, pausing at Gandalf's closed door. Should he go in and sleep with his lover and risk waking him, or should he simply go to his own room-a room he had not slept in for a week now? He stood thinking, or trying to, for weariness made it difficult. Every night since that first wonderful one a week ago he and Gandalf had made love, but now they were both obviously too tired for that. But they had also fallen asleep every night wrapped in each other's arms, and thinking of those blissful moments, Frodo decided he could not bear to sleep alone. He would not have Gandalf with him much longer, he thought with a pang of sadness. He silently opened the wizard's door.

Gandalf was indeed asleep, and Frodo did not want to disturb him by lifting the covers to slide in. Instead he quietly undressed and curled up on top of the quilt, not touching the wizard but near enough to feel the warmth of his body, and covered himself with a spare blanket. It had been a momentous night. He was now the master of Bag End. And even though he would greatly miss Bilbo, at least now he had Gandalf-and for another whole week! Yesterday the wizard had mentioned that he could probably stay that long. Of course, when he departed, Frodo would miss them both, and the comfortable hobbit hole would seem very big and empty. He would be more alone, he realized, than at any time since his parents had died so long ago. But he was basically of a cheerful disposition, and he thought, "For years now I've missed Gandalf when he left and longed every day for him to return. In those days I did not have any hope that he would ever suspect I loved him-let alone turn out to love me back. Now at least when I miss him, I know he'll come back just for me. That is a definite improvement!" And he fell asleep with a little smile on his face.

In the morning, like the other hobbits in the Shire, Frodo slept rather late. When he finally woke, he was lying on his side facing Gandalf, who was sitting up, leaning against the pillows, his arms crossed, staring abstractedly at him. Feeling refreshed and happy, Frodo said, "Good morning! I didn't get a chance to tell you that the fireworks last night were wonderful. The real ones, I mean. No time for the other kind." He expected some sort of teasing rebuke for that hoary joke, but Gandalf just smiled vaguely at him, obviously not paying much attention to what he said.

Frodo knew he would have to get up soon and deal with the aftermath of Bilbo's departure-most notably the prying of various greedy relatives. But he wanted to put that off-especially since he was distinctly feeling that it would be nice to linger with Gandalf for some talk and caresses--and maybe something more. The hobbit rolled onto his back, looking up at Gandalf. The blanket slid down to his waist, and although the morning air was a bit chill, he did not pull it up. He thought about how the wizard loved to kiss and lick his small pink nipples, or to lingeringly caress them with his fingers, and something besides the cold made him shiver. He was disappointed when Gandalf did no more than move his gaze briefly over the relaxed nipples to the flat belly and then back to Frodo's face.

"Perhaps he's still tired from last night," Frodo thought. It had been a very elaborate fireworks program, and Gandalf had set off all the pieces himself, not trusting anyone else to handle the intricacies of the various fuses. Still, the wizard did not look all that tired, and he had awakened before Frodo himself. Frodo wasn't about to give up so easily. After all, last week when Gandalf had first arrived, it had taken Frodo forever to break down his resistance and get him to admit his love for the hobbit. Perhaps more blatant means were necessary. He moistened his lips and pursed them slightly, twisting a bit so as to let the blanket slide even further until the curly hair of his lower abdomen was just visible. It would be so easy for the wizard to slip his hand under that blanket. Frodo was pleased to see Gandalf's eyes linger a bit longer as he looked down at his torso, but again he returned his serious, thoughtful gaze to the hobbit's face.

"All right, one more try and I give up," Frodo privately resolved. Aloud he said, "There's a lot of clearing away and cleaning up to be done today, but I wouldn't mind starting by polishing your long staff a bit."

Gandalf gave him a reproachful little frown, but then looked down at the quilt, saying nothing. Frodo was a bit miffed. Two horrid jokes in a row and no retort! Gandalf must be more tired than he looked. The hobbit sighed and began to roll away to get out of bed. But suddenly the wizard pulled him onto his back again. Gandalf leaned on his elbow, gazing down intensely into Frodo's eyes. "You know how much I love you, don't you, Frodo?"

Frodo smiled up at him. This was much better! Maybe now he would get some of what he wanted. His cock stirred at the thought. With a happy little sigh of anticipation he replied, "Of course I do. This has been the most wonderful week of my life, learning just how much."

Gandalf did not smile in response. "I want you to remember it, Frodo, after I leave. If I do not return or send messages for long stretches of time, you must remember it."

Frodo's smile faded. He had expected a conversation like this, but not now. A week was soon enough. Why think about it until they had to?

Gandalf saw the puzzlement in his face. "I know it is difficult for you to imagine, Frodo. You have never gone journeying. You can have no idea of the great distances between the various places I must visit when I am not here in the Shire. Some of them are very remote, with travel difficult and accommodation not to be found. Often I need to consult documents in archives, and those are held in very few spots, often hundreds of miles apart. And then there are destinations, equally distant, where I must go and meet with others among the Wise, on matters of great weight. I assure you, I would not leave you for these things if they were not vitally important. I hope you will try to understand."

Frodo became progressively sadder and more worried as he listened to this speech, and his slight arousal of a few moments before faded. "I will try. I know I'm lucky that such an important person as you would want to spend even a little time with me. I must say, that's what I really can't understand."

This finally drew a smile from Gandalf, and he kissed Frodo gently on the cheek. "Frankly, neither can I-the whole thing puzzles me greatly. I only know that I want to spend more than a little time with you. A great deal of time, in fact. More than I can. Much more."

Frodo pressed his lips together regretfully. "I wish I could crawl inside that bag of yours and go wherever you go."

Gandalf chuckled, though his eyes remained sad. "In a way that would be wonderful, but you would be a most distracting piece of baggage, Mr. Baggins. After my experiences of this past week, I don't think I should get anything done at all. You would be a danger to Middle-earth! . . . . Good, I like to see you smiling. But seriously, my dear hobbit, if these were ordinary travels, I would take you with me no matter what difficulties that entailed. But I most definitely do not want you becoming involved in the troubles of the world outside. I know them well, and it is my responsibility to deal with them. And I, along with some others, have the power to do so-I sincerely hope! But I want you to stay here, in the Shire where you belong, safe and happy, very, very happy-and I shall do whatever I can to keep you that way."

Frodo nodded, although he was puzzled by the wizard's vehemence. "Gandalf, I am happy. I know I shall miss Bilbo, but he's doing what he has so long wanted to, and I must admit, I like the idea of being the new Mr. Baggins of Bag End. And now I'll know that you'll come back to me, whenever you can. Will you think of this as your home from now on, Gandalf? Please, say you will."

The wizard smiled rather wistfully. "I should like to, Frodo. When we first made love last week, I thought it might be possible, and maybe it is. But in all my time in Middle-earth, I have never been able to feel that any place is really home for me here." He paused, glancing away for a moment, and said very quietly, "After all, I have a home elsewhere." He looked back at Frodo. "I probably shall go on thinking of Bag End as your home-the place where I can come and find the most wonderful welcome in all of Middle-earth."

Gandalf gazed down into Frodo's eyes for a long time, with a hint of a frown on his face, stroking the hobbit's soft cheek. Frodo's puzzlement returned. Why was Gandalf telling him all this now, and why was he so serious? And where was his home? But he sensed that the wizard was not going to explain it all to him-perhaps could not explain it.

Gradually Gandalf began to breathe more deeply as he stared at Frodo, and abruptly he rolled slightly to prop himself on his elbows above him, kissing him deeply and with an almost savage fervor. Frodo was startled. He had been longing for Gandalf to embrace him and caress him, but he was not prepared for such intensity. The wizard's lips and tongue and teeth seemed to be demanding so much from him, and he struggled slightly in Gandalf's arms. But as the wizard's tongue claimed his entire mouth and he felt fingers find his nipples, pinching and twisting them, he relaxed and let Gandalf's insistent mouth and hands excite him, swiftly and irresistibly.

Frodo's cock soon was straining upward against the wizard's body. By now Gandalf had moved to his neck, sucking at his flesh with an open mouth and writhing tongue. Then the wizard's teeth were pinching bits of his delicate skin, always stopping just short of hurting him. Joy flowed over Frodo, and yet at the same time he was worried and even a bit frightened by the wizard's sudden and overpowering need for his body. Yet Gandalf was rapidly arousing a similar need in him, and his erection throbbed almost painfully. He wrapped his legs around the wizard's waist, thrusting against him and wordlessly inviting penetration. Gandalf invoked the little spell that they both knew well by now. The familiar relaxation of Frodo's anus followed, and Gandalf pushed quickly into him-though he went no deeper than usual. By now they knew much about each other's desires and limitations, and as always Gandalf took great care not to injure his smaller partner. As the wizard entered him, Frodo arched his chest and pressed the top his head back into the pillow, humming with pleasure.

Gandalf thrust no harder or deeper than usual, but he was moving far more quickly, his breath hissing in rhythmic bursts through his clenched teeth. He wrapped one arm around Frodo's body, holding the hobbit firmly against him and cupping his buttocks with his long fingers. Frodo whimpered as the wizard's other hand slid between their bodies and stroked and pulled his cock insistently. Soon he felt himself reaching the brink. "Please, Gandalf . . . it's . . . it's . . ." he begged frantically, and almost at once he moaned in blessed release as he sprayed hot streams up over both their chests. Gandalf immediately thrust even faster, moving with an impatience and desperation that Frodo had not sensed in him before. Soon the wizard grimaced as his ecstasy hit him, groaning loudly with each intense spasm, gradually slowing his pace but continuing to thrust hard, milking every last bit of pleasure until it faded away completely.

The whole thing had taken only a very few minutes, but Frodo was dazed and wonderfully satiated by its force. Gandalf again rested on his elbows above Frodo, his eyes closed, taking deep gulps of air. Finally he gently arched his arms up over the hobbit's head, enveloping him in his beard as he bent down to kiss his forehead. Frodo reveled in the warmth and security of Gandalf's body and wriggled to free his arms so that he could embrace the wizard. As he did so, he realized that Gandalf's body was still tense-not placid and blissfully relaxed, as it always had been after they made love. Finally Gandalf lifted his head again, and Frodo looked up into his face with a worried expression. Seeing this, the wizard smiled and licked the tip of Frodo's nose lightly. Frodo laughed, relieved, and stared adoringly up at him.

Reluctantly Gandalf rose and moved off the bed. "I must bathe quickly and go out for a while," he said.

Frodo sighed. "Yes, I have to get a bath, too, and face the repercussions of Bilbo's departure. In case you're hungry again after last night, there's a bit of bread and fruit. You know where everything is. Just help yourself."

Gandalf turned back to him, smiling regretfully. "It's odd to think that Bilbo won't be there, puttering around the kitchen." Frodo nodded, then moved toward the chair where he had draped his clothes.

"Frodo, I . . ."

Frodo turned back. "Yes?"

"Nothing. Well, I . . . I'm going into the village on some errands. For one thing, I want to check on my horse. Just to make sure that the lads at the stable are treating her well."

Frodo looked at him curiously and shrugged. "They always do, don't they?"

Gandalf replied, "Yes, yes, but it never hurts to check. At any rate, I have been away so long that they have some new fellows working there now. And I have a few other things to do. I'll be back this afternoon. Let me know if you need anything from the village."

Frodo grinned. "You always have what I need, my dear wizard, and you don't have to fetch it from the village."

Gandalf laughed softly. "I'm glad you realize that, my dear hobbit."

And with that Frodo turned again to pick up his clothes, reflecting that if he could just get through the next few hours, the rest of the coming week would be quite delightful.

Gandalf stood silently watching him. As Frodo moved toward the door, he saw the gold chain attached to the belt and hanging down into the trousers pocket. He winced, for that hidden gold band was driving him away from his beloved hobbit. For how long, he wondered. It didn't matter. He had to find out about the Ring, for Frodo's sake as much as any one else's. Still, he had not been able to bring himself to tell Frodo he was leaving that day. The hobbit had enough worries, having to face his relatives. He would put off disappointing Frodo so cruelly until the last minute. They had had one week of delight together. He suspected that it would have to do for a long time.

At the end of Chapter 1, in the afternoon, Gandalf abruptly returns and tells Frodo he must leave immediately, and the chapter ends, "Frodo did not see him again for a long time."

TBC in "Thrice Returned #3: A Long-Expected Return"

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