ESCAPE THE DARKNESS

By JULES

Author Notes – This story was begun a very long time ago, and it was never my intentions to leave it unfinished. This first was first published in 2003. I have twelve (12) chapters written – but want to add more to them and edit where necessary.

I will be going back through and editing a few scenes and adding to a few and fixing errors, now that I hopefully understand the Middle Earth world a little better since I first began. I hope to add a sprinkling of “The Hobbit” details in certain places where is needed. There will be a heavier saturation of this time period during the Rivendell scenes.

Real life just got in the way for a very long time and still is to a large extent.

I was going to add more to the synopsis, but for now I will leave you to read along and find out what happens along with Frodo and the rest of the cast as I take them out of the box. I promise to put them back when I am finished. If you think you know what might happen throughout and the ending, hopefully I have created enough twist plots and changes.

Strong friendship only – no slash. Very little romance (I am no good at writing that) – And plenty of angst, hurt/comfort. For those don’t know my previous work – this won’t be the Disney version.

This will be a very very long story, with many chapters, and many of those being long as well – just the way I write. And I usually try and describe from the viewpoint of multiple characters for any one scene. As well as describe every rock, tree branch and blade of grass along the way.

I have a very complicated plot planned, and some may not agree how I have altered the course of things, or that I introduce them and Frodo differently than the books or films. Hopefully you will continue to follow and read as the story progresses. If it hasn’t happened yet, or there isn’t enough information about something yet, that is usually deliberate on my part. Sometimes there are subtle clues that I put in chapters, other times I don’t.

This story explores the idea about what might have happened if Strider had come to the Shire to forewarn Bilbo Baggins about the Ring Wraiths that would soon come hunting for the One Ring. Commences a few days before Bilbo’s Birthday party and before Gandalf returns to the shire as well.

There are other changes that I will deliberately make to the story at a later date to explore how the journey may have changed as a result. “Hint Hint – some big changes that were the whole reason for starting this series”.

Strider had vowed to protect Bilbo when the Ring Wraiths are sent by the Dark Lord but he is unaware that the legacy of who is to carry the Ring to be destroyed falls upon a totally different Baggins hobbit.

In this story the corn fields in the shire are a little further away and I have added a lot extra between then and when the hobbit’s arrive at the Prancing Pony in Bree.

Hoping to add a few funny, light hearted moments in this one in between the serious stuff.

All mention of herbs or treatments used in this story or others come about from a little research I did into some and what their effects were. Some of them have been around since ancient times so I have no problem using in this time frame but still am not sure if they would have been grown near Rivendell.

Disclaimer -I do not own any of the characters I write about. I write about those created by J.J.R. Tolkien and marvel at such a story-tellers ability to enthral us all. There are occasional quotes from the movie in this story, just to keep the continuity going strong and to add just at the appropriate time.

Chapter Two:

the story begins: Breakfast At Bag End

“It’s alright Frodo, my lad,” Bilbo said as he tried to reassure his young charge who was still in pain from the hot water on his hand as well as dealing with his being startled by the Ranger. “Come on, let’s get you up off the cold floor and I will take a look at your hand,” the elderly hobbit added.

Frodo demonstrated a small amount of independent stubbornness, insisting and choosing to stand on his own two feet, and then proceeding to sit on one of the kitchen chairs.

Thank you, Bilbo,” making sure to acknowledge his Uncle’s offer of assistance to stand with gratitude.

Bilbo turned around and saw Sam still trying to break free from Strider’s grip on his clothes.

“Give me the fork please, Samwise,” Bilbo instructed, holding out his hand. Sam was a little reluctant to give up his trowel at first and looked back towards the Ranger a few times before handing over the small hand tool.

Bilbo was aware of the smaller hobbit’s fierce loyalty to Frodo and decided to make a choice that would suit both. “Samwise could you please get me a large bowl and pour some cold water into it please.”

“Yes, Master Bilbo,” Sam said, and was grateful when Strider set him down on the floor before releasing his grasp. The young hobbit did as he was asked without so much as a questioning look.

Strider was still standing close by, observing the interactions of these curious little people. He knew that he wasn’t being ignored. Bilbo would make the necessary introductions when he had seen to Frodo’s injured hand.

“Here you go Master Bilbo, nice and cold,” Sam declared as he brought back an over-sized ceramic bowl filled almost to the brim. When he set it on the table some of it sloshed over the sides and onto the table cloth. “I am sorry Master Bilbo,” Sam gave in apology.

“That’s alright Sam, the water will do nicely for Frodo’s burn,” Bilbo said, taking the conversation away from the mishap entirely. “Cold water is the best medicine for this sort of thing, takes the sting out of it right away and the longer you leave the burn submerged, the better the results.”

Frodo had yet to say anything to anybody in the room after answering his uncle the first time. He eyes wandered on a few occasions over to where the Ranger was standing. He still had a small amount of unsettled fear about the man inside of him, but that was mostly due to the Ranger’s size. When he looked into the man’s eyes, they seemed to portray a difference that wasn’t immediately noticed from the outer appearance or demeanour.

“Now let’s take that hand out Frodo,” Bilbo suggested gently, trying to pry it out from underneath the lad’s coat. He didn’t want to pull too much and cause any more discomfort than was already apparent on his nephew’s face.

Frodo wasn’t quite sure what was going to happen, but he had enough faith and trust in his Uncle Bilbo to let the old hobbit attend to his injury as he deemed necessary. He couldn’t suppress the wince of pain that escaped his lips as his Bilbo’s fingers came in contact with the reddened and blistered skin.

“My apologies again little one for causing you this pain,” Strider commented as he watched the young hobbit. By now he too had had time to observe a little more of Frodo’s facial features and he was amazed at the colour of the boy’s eyes. He had never seen such a colour in a hobbit’s eyes before in his travels.

Most hobbits he had come to meet within the Shire, either had hazel eyes or ones of deep brown. To the ranger, they had always spoke of warmth and hospitality that the little people were known for. They also spoke of truth and honesty in what they did for the livelihoods and how they raised their families.

Looking at Frodo’s vivid blue eyes, Strider wasn’t quite sure what qualities this lad would possess. If the lad had been under Bilbo’s tuition he was in no doubt that all of the other characteristics he knew of would be present, but there was something else compelling about Frodo that the Ranger couldn’t quite put into words at the moment.

“I am sorry too, for acting so rashly Sir, but you startled me and I lost my balance and the caused most of my own injury.” Frodo said in response. His injured hand was now relaxing in to cool water and it did feel quite good. Some of the stinging sensation was already easing due to the temperature of the water.

“I think it is long overdue for some introductions,” Bilbo announced as he sat on a chair beside his nephew, carefully monitoring the burn on Frodo’s hand. He could see a reddened area spreading across half of the small hand but would wait until the water had done it’s job to take a more careful look at the damage.

“Frodo, my lad, this man is called Strider. We have known each other a great many years and you have no reason to be afraid of him. His a man as you can see but he means no harm to us here in the Shire,” Bilbo explained.

“Strider, this gentle lad is my nephew Frodo Baggins. His more correctly in a cousin, but the lineages from my family tree are too complicated to explain so it is easier that he call me Uncle,” Bilbo continued.

“Nice to meet you, Sir,” Frodo said in a most polite and formal manner.

“As it is to meet you, Master Baggins,” Strider replied, his manner also polite but almost regal sounding.

“This other young hobbit you have already met by other methods,” Bilbo stated, hinting at the forked trowel, “Samwise Gamgee.”

“Hello, Sir,” Sam said in a small voice, wondering if the man was going to ask for some sort of punishment for such rude treatment. “I apologize not acting proper, but I thought you meant to hurt Mister Frodo here, and I couldn’t let that happen,” Sam explained.

“Your apology is not necessary Master Gamgee when you are defending or protecting somebody you care for. It is a fine thing you look out for you friend, even when he doesn’t ask,” the Ranger commented.

Sam sighed audibly in relief at the man’s words and now took up a seat of his own at the table once Bilbo gestured for him to do so.

“You let that hand soak in that water while I start making breakfast Frodo, and then I will take a better look at it,” Bilbo said as he added a pinch of a herb into the water, allowing it to infuse. It usually worked better if the water was hot or boiling, but a small amount should show some benefit.

“I must have been away longer than I thought Bilbo. I had yet to learn that you had another family member staying with you,” Strider said as he watched the older hobbit hover around the assortment of pots and pots.

“It has been too long since we last seen each other, Strider,” Bilbo admitted, still talking with his back to the Ranger. He turned around to make a large pot of tea as he continued the conversation.

“I brought Frodo back with me from Brandy Hall and adopted him as my own. He is the now my heir and the heir of Bag End when that time comes.”

“Here you go Frodo, tea just the way you like it and I added an extra spoon of honey just for you this morning,” Bilbo said as he placed the cup in front of the lad’s good hand.

“Adopted? May I ask where your parents are?” Strider asked not realising that particular topic was one that Frodo was not ready to discuss at any time, including the breakfast table with someone he had only just met.

Strider quickly regretted his question as he watched Frodo stare intently into his cup of tea, his face and cheeks turning a few shades redder, refusing to look at the person directing the question.

Bilbo now gave a curt shake of his head to the Ranger that indicated the subject was better to be discussed when such tender ears were not about to over-hear about such matters.

“I humbly apologise again little one. It seems that I have hurt you a few too many times already this morning even with just simple words,” Strider remarked.

“It’s alright Sir, even after all these years, the memories are still hurtful,” Frodo said as he looked up, unshed tears barely visible against the blue background. “My parents were accidentally drowned in the Brandywine river when I was twelve years old,” he recalled, at least completing half of the Ranger’s question.

“Please forgive me for my curiosity,” Strider asked formally.

“You were not to know,” Frodo returned, giving the Ranger a small smile in return.


“Sam would you like to join us in breakfast?” Bilbo asked Frodo’s friend sitting across the other side of the table. Bilbo thought Sam’s company would be most warranted this morning.

Sam looked a little shocked at first to the Ranger. He knew very little about the hierarchy that the hobbit society abided by, only what his Gaffer and older brothers had insisted that he understood to carry out his daily tasks. Sam couldn’t deny that he felt a little out of place in doing so when Master Bilbo was entertaining visitors.

“If you think that it would be alright, Master Bilbo,” Sam finally answered, not really wanting to leave Mister Frodo at this point in time. “My Gaffer would not think it proper unless an invitation be given first.”

“Well I will need your assistance with Frodo’s hand in a few minutes and he may require some help during his own breakfast,” Bilbo said with a sly wink towards his nephew.

Frodo was grateful that Bilbo had asked Sam. He would be more at ease with his young friend joining them for breakfast. He gave an appreciative smile to his Uncle and in return got a slight squeeze on his shoulder that spoke volumes. There were times when he and his Uncle needed to use very little words to convey how they felt towards each other.

“I would like you to stay please, Sam,” Frodo said in a gentle voice.

“For you, Mister Frodo anything,” Sam said honestly. “Just tell me what I need to do Master Bilbo.”

“Well Sam, I have just about finished cooking breakfast,” Bilbo said as he laid out an array of dishes that would suit both man and hobbit down the opposite end of the table from Frodo.

Even from that short distance away, the aromas were tantalizing and they looked much better than what the Ranger had been living off before arriving in the Shire. Strider couldn’t be anything else but impressed with Bilbo’s culinary talent.

“Now they are a little hot so while they cool slightly to enjoy I will take a look at this hand now, Frodo,” Bilbo said. He walked to the pantry and from one of the bottom shelves, produced a small cloth bag that contained some medicinal herbs and bandages.

Laying the bag on the table he now gentle removed Frodo’s hand from the water. It was now tepid to the touch and would be of little benefit. Bilbo carefully dried the small hand on a clean towel and closely examined the redness and blistering.

Bilbo could feel the Ranger’s eyes on him and Frodo’s hand the entire time, knowing of the Ranger’s healing abilities and skill, but choosing not to reveal them for such a minor incident. Frodo would come to know everything about the Ranger when it needed to be known.

“Well I think you have been most fortunate, Frodo,” Bilbo said, voicing his own relief that the burn had not been as serious as it could have been.

“Will he be alright, Master Bilbo?” Sam asked, seeming to be the only one not yet fully convinced.

“We will have to keep this area of the hand wrapped for a few days where the skin is most blistered. If the blisters are allowed to burst, then they may become infected if they are not kept extremely clean,” Bilbo explained to Sam and Frodo.

“Other than that and a few applications of a moisturising salve once the blisters have burst to keep the skin soft, then you should be just fine, Frodo,” Bilbo said as he now dug into the bag and gathered what he would need.

Not less than ten minutes later, Frodo’s hand was bandaged from the wrist to just above his thumb. The bandage was firm enough to prevent any foreign objects or dirt from entering but still allow Frodo almost full use of his hand without it being too tight. He would need to be careful about how he picked up things for a day or so until the soreness went away, but then he should just need to keep it clean and it would heal on it’s own without too much trouble.

Frodo was happy that he didn’t lose the use of his hand. He wouldn’t not have been very pleased to have to rely on somebody else to help him out with certain tasks. One trait Strider was yet to learn about the shy young hobbit was his fierce sense of independence. It had been instilled into him from a very young age when most children perhaps were not expected to display the same attributes.

“Now, is that all that needs looking at Frodo?” Bilbo asked, knowing his nephew had a tendency to hide pain from him in the past on occasion.

Frodo was about to answer negatively to his Uncle when Sam answered on his behalf, “I think he might have cut his knee on the broken cup Master Bilbo,” he informed the older hobbit. Frodo inwardly groaned and didn’t think that such a minor scratch would need any attention.

Bilbo could see the quick change in facial expressions on Frodo that confirmed at least part of Sam’s theory to be truthful. Frodo was forced to pull his chair away enough from the table to allow Bilbo to judge for himself if there was any medical attention needed.

Fortunately for Frodo though, Bilbo erred towards his nephew’s thoughts upon looking at the three or four scratches that had occurred from the shards of broken cup and saucer. He briefly gave the area a swab with clean water on a cloth to clean the small amount of blood but would leave such minor abrasions to heal on their own.

“When did you arrive in the Shire, Mister Strider?” Sam asked innocently, trying to think of a way around coming and out to ask why the Ranger was here.

“I knocked upon Bilbo’s door late last night, Sam,” Strider answered. He knew there would be a lot of such questions asked about his sudden presence in the Shire. Some he was prepared to answer, others would be left for only those whom were directly involved.

Strider looked over at Frodo after answering Sam’s question and couldn’t help but think that the expression on the lad’s face gave him away. Frodo could have guessed that he had arrived the night before just by his appearance at breakfast. Something told the Ranger that Frodo knew exactly when he had knocked on the door last night.

‘Had I awoken Frodo with my arrival?’ Strider thought to himself. ‘If that was so, how much more information was he aware of that he had perhaps overheard?’

Bilbo came to the Ranger’s rescue, “I can see you are most interested in why Mister Strider is here, Sam,” he commented. He had to come up with a plausible explanation for Frodo too. Sam would take anything he was told upon face value. Frodo, however would not and he was astute enough to see through any deception that Bilbo might be concealing.

Strider tried to hide the smile that had formed on his lips at the older hobbit’s remark. He didn’t know how Bilbo expected to explain himself out of this, but he was certainly going to let him try first before the question was asked squarely of him again.

Frodo of course was now just as curious about Strider’s reason for being there as Sam’s. He just wasn’t as confident in asking the affairs of someone else.

Bilbo thought for a few seconds, “I asked Strider to come to my birthday party, Sam, for two reasons. Firstly because it is my birthday and he and I have known each other a very long time. Everyone thinks I am mad anyway so the appearance of a man at my party will certainly get the tongues waging for quite a while in the Shire I should think,” he said with a grin.

Bilbo certainly knew of the various rumours and idle gossip that circulated about him and Bag End and his adoption of Frodo. He didn’t usually listen to them except when they inadvertently hurt Frodo’s feelings or if something was said out of nastiness or pure spitefulness.

“As you know Frodo, my other dear long time friend Gandalf is also due to come today or tomorrow for the party as well. I have heard from certain sources that will remain secret that there may be some people at the party who are willing to cause some trouble either before, during or after the party. Therefore, I am taking all the necessary precautions in case these troubles eventuate,” Bilbo said, explaining his second reason.

“This is the second reason I have asked for Mister Strider to attend. I am hoping that he will be able to spot any trouble before it starts and deal with it accordingly without disrupting everyone else,” Bilbo informed the two younger hobbits seated at the table.

“You certainly look like you would be able to help out there, Sir, if you take my meaning, no offence intended,” Samwise commented. He seemed satisfied enough with the explanation for the Ranger being in the Shire. With the man’s size, he doubted there would be a hobbit daring to put a foot out of line.

Strider didn’t make any comment but looked intently at Frodo to see if he bought the same explanation as easily as Sam. Frodo’s face though was paused with a frown at present. Not because of the reasons given, but the announcement that somebody might be out to make trouble for his Uncle’s birthday.

Frodo preferred to stay away from many of the shire folk that spoke ill of his Uncle or himself but he would be determined to stop such foolishness and nonsense such as trouble if he knew if was about to take place.

Frodo knew that there were a great many people invited to the birthday party. His Uncle had shown him the guest list a number of times and had included a lot of distant relatives for his benefit even though he had told Bilbo it wasn’t necessary to invite them. Some of the names on the list Frodo couldn’t even put a face to and many of them would be travelling a great distance.

Frodo of course hadn’t even considered the idea that he was the primary person Bilbo had asked the Ranger to help protect from the trouble. He was only concerned about his Uncle and assumed that if Bilbo had thought there was going to be trouble then such information couldn’t be taken lightly.

“Don’t worry Uncle, I will make sure that nobody interrupts the celebrations,” Frodo said with determination in his voice.

“Oh Frodo, my boy, I know you will look after your Uncle,” Bilbo said with a proud laugh as he gave his nephew’s hand a quick squeeze to signify his gratitude.

“And I will be there watching out for you too, Mister Frodo,” Sam said as he realized that Bilbo’s concerns were mostly for his master than himself.

“And if this morning is anything to go by, then you have nothing to worry about, Frodo,” Strider said as he rubbed absentmindedly at the part of his rump that Sam had stabbed with the garden fork.

All four around the table laughed together in mirth and breakfast was commenced, even though a little late.

Strider had filled his own plate sparsely as he did not require large amounts of food as hobbits were known to consume. He didn’t quite understand the custom they had of partaking in a meal more than three times a day. He supposed because of their stout bodies they needed more food more often to keep themselves going.

The differences in physique between Sam and Bilbo to Frodo had been apparent even after only brief glimpses at the boy earlier that morning. Whilst Bilbo and Sam had the normal short, rotund build that was associated with hobbits, Frodo was as thin as a pencil, not an ounce of extra weight to him.

Sam’s plate was quite the opposite from that of the Ranger’s. His plate was full with a little out of each dish, as too was Bilbo’s plate. They both were enjoying their breakfast with rejuvenated vigour. Frodo’s plate was quite sparse in helping as Striders. He had only taken a few samples of his favourite dishes and now only picked occasionally at the plate with his utensils.

“If it is alright with you Uncle, I think I will go for my walk now,” Frodo announced, pushing aside his barely eaten breakfast and getting up from the table.

Sam looked a little disappointed at how much his master had consumed but didn’t let Frodo see it openly. His own plate was only half finished and he rather have preferred to eat the rest.

“That’s alright Sam, I can go for the walk on my own, you can catch me up after you have finished,” Frodo suggested. The thinner hobbit cherished his friendship with Sam but also treasured the times when he was left to his own devices and wander at his own leisure.

“That’s alright Frodo, off you go but be careful. Sam you can finish your breakfast and then be so kind as to show Strider around the Shire for a few hours and then meet up with Frodo later while I attend to some necessary business for the celebration,” Bilbo said. He could see his nephew’s wish for some solitude and was happy to cater to both Frodo and Sam.

“Of course, Master Bilbo,” Sam said in respect. He didn’t want to get his Gaffer’s master cross but he didn’t feel right leaving Frodo alone for too long either. Bilbo’s idea would work out for all involved. Sam often wondered if Bilbo wasn’t more educated than most shire folk gave him credit for.

“Are you certain that you have had enough breakfast Frodo,” Bilbo asked, a little worried about how much his nephew had left on his plate. Frodo’s eating habits were always a source of concern for the older hobbit but all of the methods he had employed to change them so far had either failed or not had the desired effect.

“I will see you a little later than Sam, hopefully with yourself Mr Strider,” Frodo said, his manners and politeness again shining through. He failed to answer his Uncle’s question or decided to avoid it.

“Good day to you Mister Frodo, I trust you will enjoy your walk,” Strider replied.

“No rough play today with that hand, Frodo,” Bilbo softly admonished as his nephew opened the door and prepared to leave.

“I only plan to go as far as the trees Uncle and maybe read a little,” Frodo responded with a smile and then closing the door behind him.

“Read?,” Strider asked questioningly of Bilbo. “You have a young scholar for a nephew then my old friend.”

“Yes, Frodo has always preferred quiet reading under a tree to more physical interests that other boys his own age participate in,” Bilbo answered. “He learns well and very quickly so be on your guard Strider,” he added with a smile, knowing that his nephew’s thinking might even match that of the Ranger himself.

“Sam, why don’t you get ready to show Mister Strider around the Shire whilst we wait for you in the sitting room,” Bilbo said, indicating to the Ranger that he wished to say a few words out of earshot of the younger hobbit.

“Yes Master Bilbo, Sir,” Sam replied, not reading any more in the request.

Strider and Bilbo moved to the sitting room to continue their whispered conversation. “Strider, I don’t want to seem like an overbearing old fool, but I can’t tell you how much Frodo has come to mean to me since moving here. It would disturb me greatly if harm of any kind was to befall him, even if accidental.”

“You wish me to keep an eye out for the lad whilst I am here, Bilbo,” Strider surmised, almost as though he read the old hobbit’s train of thought. “I would be honoured to do so and you need not ask. I must say he already is a very likeable young hobbit and I have only just met him.”

“Don’t get me wrong Strider, Samwise has always looked out for Frodo and he can tell you some of the harshness that my nephew faces every day from folk who have nothing better to do than say an unkind word. But if what you say is true about a darkness coming to this area soon, then there is all the more reason to be extra vigilant against things that neither Frodo or Sam have come across before,” Bilbo stated as he voiced his worst fears to the Ranger.

“Frodo wouldn’t like the idea of him being watched over constantly by someone such as yourself. That is why I suggested that you and Sam meet up with him later, that way you could still appear to be observing from a distance without crowding his individual space. He enjoys his hours alone and I don’t want to put a stop to his wishes, but I need to make sure that he is safe too,” Bilbo added.

“Understood Bilbo. I won’t alert the lad to anything other than friendship between himself and me,” Strider replied.

Any further discussions between the Ranger and Bilbo were interrupted by Sam’s appearance at the sitting room doorway, signalling that he was ready to leave upon their tour of the Shire.

“I’ll leave you in Sam’s capable hands Strider. I will be here in my study if you require anything. I trust you too enjoy your walk. Sam make sure you take Strider by the field that I intend using for the birthday party celebrations. The marques and tables won’t be erected before tomorrow afternoon, but at least he will have an overview of the area,” Bilbo instructed.


An hour after Samwise and Strider had left Bilbo’s house together in company, the Ranger was still fascinated by the young hobbit’s knowledge of local history and current events.

Sam had barely stopped talking to take a breath and his knowledge of who lived in what dwelling with whom and each scandal that presented itself was in depth and made for very interesting conversation as they walked.

“Would you mind telling me a few more things about your master Frodo, since you seem to know him better than most?” Strider asked as Sam stopped his last sentence.

“I would tell you what I can without Mister Frodo being cross at me for telling, Sir,” Sam replied.

“Alright then, you just tell me if I ask the wrong type of question or one that you will not answer for fear of what Frodo might do if he finds out,” Strider said with a chuckle. He was quietly amazed at the loyalty that the young hobbit was displaying towards Frodo. It did seem that there was very little, if anything that he wouldn’t do for the dark-haired lad.

“Why does Frodo not look like most hobbits for instance?,” Strider said as he asked his first question.

“Mister Frodo has never been one to eat very much, as long as I can remember. Just seems to take a little and that’s enough to keep him going. He is a lot smarter than most others in the Shire too,” Sam added. “I think that comes from reading all those books with Master Bilbo and learning all those different words.”

“You mean other words that he doesn’t speak,” Strider commented, taking that as what Sam meant by “different words”.

“Yes, Mr Bilbo has taught him to read some other languages such as the elves talk and the like,” Sam said, giving a more detailed answer.

Strider found this fact to be most interesting. He knew that Bilbo had learned a great deal about many different races through his travels. The fact that Frodo was willing to learn such difficult languages in the first place spoke highly for the lad and his ability to take in information.

“What is this Brandy Hall place that Bilbo speaks about?” asking his second question.

“Don’t rightly know a real lot about that place. Never been out of the Shire myself, and Mister Frodo never did really like talking about it. That was the place where Master Bilbo went to get him from when he adopted him. Master Bilbo thinks that they didn’t always treat him properly and let him be himself,” Sam explained.

“And seems as you know so much about your Master,” Strider now said, holding back on the rest of his questions until later. He didn’t want to ask too many questions all at once.

“Where do you think he is right now?” he added, noting it had been quite a spell during their walk and they had yet to see any sign of Frodo in their travels.

“That’s an easy question,” Sam said with a grin and promptly started leading Strider along a different pathway to that they were currently travelling. The Ranger soon found himself following the young hobbit through the trees and tall grass to an area dotted by very large shade trees.

Sam put his fingers to his lips when he stopped, “He’s over there, but I don’t like disturbing him when he is reading.” The hobbit held out his arm and pointed towards one of the more central trees in the field and a small figure sitting underneath it and leaning back against the trunk.

From where Strider was standing, he could see Frodo was relaxed and calm, quietly reading a small brown covered book which he was holding in his uninjured hand. There was a long stalk of grass protruding from his mouth as he looked as though he was totally engrossed in the literature that was in front of him.

That relaxation seemed to be shattered in a brief second as Frodo suddenly jerked his head up and scanned the immediate area. It looked to Strider and Sam as though he had been struck by some sort of object. Frodo had looked at the particular area on his arm where he felt it strike him. It hadn’t hurt him, just alerted him to the fact that somebody else was nearby.

Frodo didn’t seem to notice Strider and Sam where they were standing. Thinking that maybe a seed from the tree above was responsible he returned to reading his book.

A few seconds later his attention was drawn again from something striking his shirt, this time the projectile had hit him with a little more solid, making him gasp out of surprise rather than feeling any pain.

There was now a pause in anything striking Frodo and the hobbit seemed to be satisfied enough to go back to his reading once again. He couldn’t see the cause and so didn’t think much about it.

“What is going on?” Sam asked himself, realizing that his Master’s relaxation was being disturbed by an unseen party.

Strider was beginning to think that maybe Bilbo had a reason to be worried about Frodo. He used his keen eyesight to look amongst the long grass to track down the reason for Frodo’s disruption.

“I should have known,” Sam said in a slightly angry voice as he spotted the responsible party before the Ranger. “Lotho Sackville-Baggins,” he said between his teeth, pointing to the shielded figure of a hobbit trying to conceal himself in the long grass, a short distance away from Frodo.

Sam could see the questioning look on the Ranger’s face about who Lotho was. He decided to give the shortest but more correct account he could for a family that seemed to want to taunt his Mister Frodo no matter what he was doing or where he was.

“His parents Lobelia and Otho Sackville-Baggins take any chance they can to remind Master Bilbo that Mister Frodo doesn’t belong here and should be sent back to Brandy Hall. They like it even less that Mister Frodo has become Master Bilbo’s heir and they are out to take any opportunity to change that,” Sam informed Strider.

“They are awful hobbits, if you beggin my pardon, Sir. I try not to find fault in most, but they say cruel things behind Mister Frodo’s back and to his face that hurt him. Lotho and his parents think nothing about making idle threats to Master Bilbo and Mister Frodo about what they would do if they inherited Bag End,” he continued.

“Mister Frodo tries his hardest to ignore the harsh words and threats. Even so much as to act just as polite as always to then when they turn up unannounced at Bag End for afternoon tea. But it just isn’t right what they say about him all the time. I wish they would just leave him alone. Maybe they are the ones that Master Bilbo talks about making trouble at the birthday celebration,” Sam now thought.

“The party is also for Mister Frodo who is becoming of age and maybe they aim to spoil things before it becomes official for my master to inherit Bag End,” Sam said to Strider. “It would be just something that they would do to hurt him,” he said, not able to hide the dislike that he felt towards the Sackville-Bagginses.

Sam could see Lotho holding a sling shot which he was using to hurl small stones at Frodo. Sam wasn’t going to stand for this nonsense and was about to go towards the other older hobbit when he felt a gentle restraining hand from Strider.

It was Strider’s turn to put his fingers to his lips, signalling that he would sneak up on this other hobbit nuisance and stop him from annoying Frodo with any more stones.

Lotho had another stone in his hand, a little larger than the first few and was about to fire it at Frodo when he was startled by a hand grabbing the sling shot and stone from behind him.

“What do you think you are doing?” Lotho demanded angry before turning around and facing Strider. He couldn’t help but swallow as he noticed it was a big person. He was determined not to show his fear though and decided to demonstrate his usual arrogant and self-assured side to the stranger interrupting his fun.

“What do you think you are doing Lotho?” Samwise said, tapping his foot towards the older hobbit, trying to intimidate him a little. It didn’t work though as there was a considerable age difference between him and Lotho, not to mention his height.

“Well if it isn’t a lowly little Gamgee hobbit come to take care of his master,” Lotho jibed towards Sam. It was clear to all that he was looking down at Sam to indicate their social statuses within the Shire.

“I believe Samwise asked you a question young ruffian,” Strider said in a low but deep voice that demanded respect.

“I don’t believe I have had the pleasure,” Lotho said cheekily trying to see if the stranger react to such taunting. The grin was wiped from his face though as Strider’s grip on his hand was made a little tighter, making the hobbit wince at the vice-like pressure.

“And I don’t believe you will, but you listen and do so well my young hobbit,” Strider began to warn, “You need not to know who I am or what I have to do with Frodo Baggins other than I plan to make sure that he comes to no harm. If you do such much as even look at him the wrong way and I find out about it…, he paused briefly to gauge if he had the hobbit’s full attention. Or you attempt any unplanned or unnecessary physical contact with him, then you and I will meet again under less friendlier circumstances.”

“Don’t you threaten me,” Lotho declared as he pulled his hand out of the Ranger’s grasp. “I will not have you speak to me in such a fashion,” he added, his voice no longer able to hold the arrogant attitude.

“My mother will hear of such an outrage,” Lotho said, looking directly at Sam as he spoke the words. Sam knew all to well that any retribution would of course be directed at Frodo rather than the big person.

Lotho now stormed off in the opposite direction of Strider and Sam and Frodo, heading back towards the town, mumbling to himself that such insults would not be tolerated without a response of some kind from him or his family to that hateful Frodo Baggins.

From where Lotho was, any conversation between Sam, Strider and him would go unnoticed by Frodo. Just like Bilbo wanted.

“Thank you Mister Strider,” Sam said in genuine thanks as he watched Lotho walk away. He was grateful to see that the Ranger was ready to assist his master where possible. They needed to be more alert over the next few days and at the birthday celebration.

“No need to thank me Sam, I have come to like your master Frodo, even in such a short time. I would not like to see him hurt or upset either,” Strider said.

From where they were standing, Sam and the Ranger could still see Frodo buried in his book under the tree, seemingly oblivious to anything going on around him after the stones stopped striking him.

But after a few seconds another sound entirely could be heard coming towards them. It sounded like it was coming from the roadway rather than amongst the trees.

Sam and Strider waited where they were to see if they could see what was coming. Frodo had also heard the noise. At first his brow had wrinkled as he too tried to listen more intently, trying to judge if what he was hearing could be true.

When he was certain, Frodo jumped to his feet in excitement, and as he looked towards the roadway, Sam and the Ranger noted a large grin on the lad’s handsome face. Recognition was obvious but before Sam could alert his master to their presence nearby, he and Strider were both amazed to see Frodo now running as fast as he could towards the roadway.

To be continued.

Author Notes: This story was started a long time ago (over fourteen 14 years ago), but I felt there were parts that needed more, and I wanted some more scenes in certain areas and include some of my new arcs.

I apologize for any mistakes I may have made about Lord Of The Rings history or any names I may have mis-spelled. I also hope that I have not wavered too far from people’s takes on the individual personalities of each character.

I don’t mean to make Strider and Bilbo out as so secretive. I just want to keep the idea about the Wraiths coming until later in the story. The fact that Bilbo knows that danger is coming and doesn’t do anything straight away is also not intentional and I humbly ask for readers to believe that’s what happened.

Any medicinal information is only from my own sources and not meant as true procedure to any injury or treatment that I may have used in my story so far or will in the future.

As you have probably guessed, I leave this chapter at the place where Gandalf arrives in the movie and hope that the sequence of events that I have included is at least logical.

Not much has happened yet. More to come. In next chapter, the party preparations take place that I envisaged happened prior in the movie. A few little incidents to come involving Lotho.

I know the appearance of a big person in the Shire would be out of place too, but I need that to make the story work. I just need both people, elves, dwarves and hobbits everywhere to suspend what they know to be true for a while and take what I write as happening.

I have also referred to Frodo as a boy in many parts – not intending for him to be called a human “boy” – just makes the story flow a little easier at times instead of constantly using “the hobbit” and similar descriptions.

Any information that I write in my Lord Of The Rings stories about eating flows on that in the two other fandoms I write – the main character in each all are finicky eaters and just push the food around on a plate or go for long lengths without anything to eat or refuse to do so. The other two are like this in all stories that I know about them as well. One other character also dislikes milk to the point of refusing to drink it – I am going to include this for Frodo later on – just something I dreamed up – nothing from the book or the movie. I wanted to write a close relationship between Bilbo and Frodo as well as friendship Frodo and Aragorn and Sam too.

Last note – I am Australian – there will be spelling differences for a number of words. I write as I normally would in my own style and apologize if this offends anyone. Please keep reading despite these differences.

Please review and let me know what you think. I will try and update as soon as I can, but please be patient as time is often not on my side.

Jules6