First Watch, by Lbilover

This is for an LJ friend, who requested: gen on quest, interaction between fellowship members of your choice (although Frodo would be awesome!) A mix of movie and book verse.


moria frodo
moria frodo
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It was Frodo's turn to take first watch, and he was just as glad. After the departure of the crebain, spies of Saruman according to Gandalf, the entire company was unsettled and Frodo doubted he could have slept anyway.


He sat with his back against a rock and pulled his cloak tightly around him. The others tried to get comfortable on the unforgiving ground, eventually finding a niche or hollow to their liking, one by one dropping off to sleep.


The wind was unrelenting in this land of stone and scrub. Frodo listened to it whistling through the tangles of thorns and briars, a desolate sound, but better than the raucous caws of the crows that had passed like a black cloud over their hiding place. He wondered what news if any they had brought to the white wizard in Orthanc. A chill smote his heart. They'd barely begun the Quest and already it seemed that they were being hunted.


But for now, at least, they appeared to be unobserved and nothing stirred save Bill, who was cropping at what meagre clumps of grass he could find among the rocks, his long flaxen tail occasionally swishing. Though the pony was proving a surprisingly reliable barometer for anything untoward in the atmosphere, Frodo took little comfort from his contented grazing. Many things weighed on his heart and mind, the least of them at the moment being the golden ring hanging around his neck.


So preoccupied was he with his unhappy musings that he started when Aragorn's voice said softly, 'Is everything all right, Frodo?'


Frodo looked up at the tall Ranger, framed against the washed-out blue of the sky. 'Yes,' he replied in a half-whisper. 'Everything is fine - or as fine as it can be. But why are you awake? Surely it's not time for the watch to change, and besides, it is Gimli who is to take my place.'


Aragorn sat cross-legged beside him. 'I know, but something woke me. Perhaps it was your thoughts, Frodo. You seemed to be lost in them.' His look was gentle and inviting. 'What is troubling you? The crebain?'


'No, it's what came before the crebain that troubles me,' said Frodo.


'Before them? What do you mean?' Aragorn looked puzzled.


Frodo glanced over to where Merry and Pippin lay sleeping close together, a few arms' lengths away from Boromir. 'I mean the fencing lessons Boromir was giving my cousins.' He sighed. 'I never wanted this for them. I never imagined that they would have to learn how to wield a sword. They think of it as a pleasant game, Aragorn, but I very much fear that the time is coming when they will have to fight in truth.'


'No doubt you are right, Frodo, but would you rather they go into the fray unarmed or unskilled?'


'I would rather they be safely at home in the Shire.' A cloud passed over the sun, and Frodo shivered.


'But the Shire is not safe, not anymore,' Aragorn said gently. 'You know that as well as anyone. And those who remain at home may find themselves wishing they knew how to wield a blade, if things go ill with our Quest.'


Frodo was silent, recalling the Black Rider who had questioned Sam's gaffer, right there on the very hill itself, in the heart of the Shire. 'Gildor told me that the Shire does not belong to hobbits. That others dwelt there before us and others will after.'


'Gildor was right, and as one who spent many days guarding the Shire's borders, especially in these latter years since Bilbo departed, I have witnessed firsthand the growing unrest in the lands roundabout. And you yourself heard that man in the Prancing Pony, Bill Ferny's friend, talking about people finding room for themselves if room isn't made for them.'


But it was something else Aragorn had just said that grabbed Frodo's attention and diverted it from the topic at hand. 'Oh, how I wish I'd met you back then, Aragorn.' He looked apologetically at the Ranger. 'I'm afraid we hobbits have never thought much of Big People, having met so few. I formed entirely the wrong impression of what you were like.'


'And I thought Bilbo to be singular among hobbits, but nothing could be further from the truth,' Aragorn said with a smile. 'It seems that we have both learned a valuable lesson, Frodo.'


Frodo smiled back, the ache of worry inside him easing. 'I suppose we have. For that, if nothing else, I'm glad we found our way to the Prancing Pony and met the mysterious wandering Ranger called Strider.'


Aragorn laughed softly. 'I doubt old Butterbur will ever see me in a different light. But,' he went on more seriously, 'as to Merry and Pippin, I think you are worrying needlessly, Frodo. It is no bad thing to know how to protect oneself and one's friends. Boromir is an honorable man who will teach them to respect their swords and draw them only at need. And anything I can do to reinforce those lessons, I will. Does that ease your mind?'


'It does,' Frodo said gratefully. He trusted Aragorn as he did no one else save Gandalf and Sam.


'Good, I'm glad. Now, why don't you lie down and take a rest, Frodo. I'll keep watch until it is Gimli's turn.'


'All right.' Frodo didn't argue. He felt suddenly weary enough to fall asleep right where he was. But he pushed himself to his feet; standing he was nearly at eye level with the tall Ranger. 'Thank you, Aragorn,' he said. 'You have comforted me. I meant what I said: I wish I might have met you years ago. I would have shown you Bag End and the garden and we could have sat together on a bench smoking our pipes, without a care in the world, as friends do.'


'I wish so, too, Frodo,' said Aragorn, 'and who knows? Perhaps someday we shall smoke together in your garden, when this is all over.' He smiled again. 'But you look ready to fall asleep on your feet, my dear friend. That's enough talk for the present. Get some rest.'


Without another word, Frodo moved away, aware of Aragorn's gaze following him. He crept noiselessly to the hollow where Sam was lying, cast himself down beside him and fell at once into a deep and untroubled sleep.


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