LOTR Secret Santa
Requested by: Saklani
Fic, fanart or either?: fic!
Scenario, prompt: Frodo gets lost in the woods!
Squicks: please no deathfic for Christmas!
A/N: Since there was no rating requested, I played it safe at PG-13!
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Tolkien and New Line Cinema! Not mine!
Frodo surreptitiously eased the strap of his pack off his aching shoulder. He tried not to call attention to the fact that he was beginning to feel twinges in the Wraith-wound the further the Fellowship trekked away from Rivendell. He had been almost without pain since the Council meeting and had allowed himself to hope that the consequences of that wound would be only a distant memory soon. A fruitless hope, obviously.
Strider – no, Aragorn was by his side in an instant. “Frodo, are you feeling weary? We will soon be at a place where we can call a halt.”
His cheeks heating, Frodo straightened his shoulders and frowned slightly at the Ranger – King-to-be. “Hobbits are used to hiking many a mile with no ill effect, I assure you, Aragorn.” He forced a smile. “In fact, I would wager that any of us hobbits could keep going as long as you long-legged folk through any weather.”
Aragorn merely bowed his head and moved away. Gimli dropped back to join him. “A wager, eh? What shall we set as the winnings? How about I pace young Master Pippin for the next twenty miles? If he can keep up with me step for step I give him a pipeful of my best weed; if not, I get a pipe of his Longbottom Leaf!”
Pippin bounced up, eyes sparkling, to set the terms of the bet. Gimli laid a heavy hand on his shoulder with a grunt of laughter and moved him back onto the path.
Frodo saw Legolas smirk and open his lips. Quickly, in order to stem whatever insult about dwarfs the elf had in mind to deliver, Frodo turned to ask, “Where do you think the best place to make camp will be, Legolas? Surely we won’t be able to go more than a few miles before dark falls.”
Legolas turned his attention to Frodo, a courtly dignity replacing the mischievous leer. “I believe we will soon be at a place of good shelter near running water where we will make camp.” He hesitated, then said, “Aragorn meant to stop there anyway, Frodo. It is not that he thinks you could go no further.”
Cursing himself for his transparency, Frodo merely nodded and walked onward. Aragorn had already gone ahead towards the woodlands that lay in their path. Frodo dropped back, embarrassed that he had spoken so to their leader. Frodo had just wanted to make Aragorn realize that he would not be a burden on them, that he could keep up as well as anyone.
His left shoulder began throbbing in time to his heartbeat, to which he found himself matching his steps. He heard a low buzzing noise, one that he had not heard since the day of the Council when he stepped forward to lay his hand upon the Ring once again, to claim it – NO, to volunteer to take it to its destruction.
A pain jolted through him at the thought. Frantically trying to ease his mind, he stared ahead to where Aragorn’s powerful form stood outlined against the colors of the setting sun. As he neared the Man, the buzzing diminished and then disappeared.
After they had set up their campsite, Frodo found himself once again watching Aragorn, who knelt beside the fire. The flickering flames showed strong cheekbones, an aquiline nose, long dark lashes hiding the downcast eyes… Suddenly those lashes lifted and Frodo found himself pierced by smoky grey-blue eyes, his own glance caught as in a vise.
Trembling, Frodo broke the gaze and stumbled to his feet. “I, I need to go a step into the forest. To – I have to do my business, I’m sorry,” and he bumbled his way over a log and out of the clearing.
As he pushed his way heedlessly through the underbrush, Frodo realized that he was in a state of panic. He stood still, breathing deeply to calm himself and looking about to see how far he had dashed from the campsite. He did not know from which direction he had come. Once again that ominous buzzing arose.
He settled himself on the ground with a thud. “All right, Frodo Baggins,” he thought. “You know what is happening. This is the effect of the Ring. It has been growing on you since we left the protection of the Elves. It makes you fearful, shows you lies, tries to trick you to make you put it on, urges you to flee.” He groaned quietly, remembering the dreams that had come to him in the night, showing the gory ends to which he had led each of his friends, which the Ring whispered would have been avoided had he only left them.
And yet, this last flight did not seem motivated by the Ring. He had not felt its eerie presence until after he was far from his friends. Why then had he panicked and run?
Clenching a fist full of mossy dirt, Frodo forced himself to be honest. He had fled Aragorn’s direct gaze. Ever since he had seen those heated eyes fixed on him at The Prancing Pony he had been unable to meet them without a little thrill in his belly. Strider had been watching him ever since, and not just as one of the hobbits under his protection. Although always respectful and never intrusive, Strider’s looks proclaimed that he found the sight of Frodo a pleasant one at the very least. Frodo trembled, remembering Strider keeping watch over him that night in Bree, singing his lonely ballad in the Midgewater Marshes, fighting off the Ringwraiths with sword and flame, sinking to his knees before Frodo to offer his pledge…
Suddenly the ache in his shoulder flared once again, as if trying to reclaim him. He grabbed at the pain, then gasped and folded himself over his knees. The blackness seemed to rise and swallow him.
Two weather-beaten leather boots appeared before his eyes. A sense of relief flooded over him as two strong hands gripped his arms and gently pulled him up.
“Frodo?” Aragorn’s face was pale and concerned in the gloom. He tilted Frodo back over one arm, using his free hand to massage the shoulder Frodo clutched. At Aragorn’s touch, the pain flared and then dissipated into nothingness.
Frodo sighed. Then, looking straight up into those smoldering eyes, he put both of his arms around Aragorn’s neck and kissed him.