Title: Amazing Creatures
Theme: POV challenge
Elements: colour blue, shape square, number 100
Author's Notes: Beta by Elanor; thank you so much for helping to make this story more than it would be without you.
Summary: During the Quest, someone observes the Hobbits, and ends up being quite amazed by them
Word Count: 1076
He sat apart from the group, under the large elm tree on an outcropping of rock. Pipe stem clenched between his teeth, he surveyed the scene before him with detachment. It was early evening, and the members of the Fellowship were getting their gear situated for the night. Invariably, his eye was drawn towards the group of small beings clustered together: the four halflings.
There was something about Frodo that he couldn't quite put his finger on. Something about him that engendered fierce loyalty and protectiveness from his fellow travellers. Even Boromir, as aloof and gruff as he tended to be, seemed to let down his guard a bit when Frodo was near. He happily told the Ringbearer about his home in Gondor, and about his family: his father and younger brother. Frodo would listen intently, smile and ask questions at all the right places. But he always held himself somewhat apart from the others, even from his cousins and Sam, and sadness drenched his cerulean eyes; one couldn't look at those eyes without turning quickly away, feeling strangely unsettled.
He took another puff of his pipe as he watched the little group of hobbits prepare for the nightly rest. Sam was neatly and judiciously arranging all of the bedrolls in a certain order. He would not allow his master to lift a finger, much to the frustration of Frodo. Sam was giving orders to the two youngest hobbits; they had followed this routine for the past few days. Sam was instructing Merry and Pippin to prepare some tea. Even though it was the wrong time of day for Shire tea, the hobbits had adapted, and changed the schedule so that it followed dinner and preceded bedtime. Three meals a day just were not adequate for the Shire-folk.
As Samwise arranged the bedrolls, Merry gathered up kindling to stir up the fire a bit more, and Pippin traipsed off to fetch some water for the tea-kettle. He didn't have to go very far, as the Fellowship had been following a little stream for the past week. Frodo, insistent that he must do something, retrieved some cheese from Sam's pack and started cutting it up into small squares. He also collected the little packets of tea that they had brought with them from the Shire, along with some small cups. As always, when Sam was done arranging the bedrolls, he offered their meagre supply to the rest of the Fellowship. As always, the rest of the Fellowship declined, sensing this was a ritual that was better kept amongst the hobbits.
Pippin returned with the tea-kettle full of water, and placed it on the newly awakened fire. He shivered and adjusted his blue scarf tighter around his neck. Rubbing his hands together, he turned towards Frodo, leaned in and asked a question. Frodo shook his head, and Pippin backed away, his green eyes dimming abruptly, reflecting the sadness in Frodo's. Merry put his arms around Pippin, and whispered something in his ear. Pippin shrugged as he replied, looking crestfallen.
He took the pipe out of his mouth and squinted. Right now he wished that he could read lips, or that he had Elvish ears. What was this that was going on, a quarrel amongst the cousins? They were all so devoted to each other, it was hard to imagine. Ah, now Sam was making his way towards his master.... with a scowl on his face! Sam placed a hand on Frodo's shoulder, and turned Frodo around to face him. It was clear that Sam was giving his Mr. Frodo what-for, for his treatment, whatever it had been, of Pippin. Now this was a side to Sam that he had never seen before! Meek, mild-mannered Sam, giving a lecture on how to behave to his master? Now he'd seen everything!
As he continued to watch, straining to catch a stray word or two, Frodo went over to Pippin, laid a hand on his shoulder, and spoke softly to him. He could just make out the words 'forgive' and 'acting like an ass'. Pippin broke into a wide grin, and tackled Frodo in a huge hug. In his exuberance, Pippin said quite loudly and clearly, "Of course I'll forgive you, you silly ass." When he realized that he had spoken loudly enough for everyone to hear, he blushed furiously and looked around, smiling sheepishly at everybody.
And with that, the hobbits set to their meal. They only had about two pieces of cheese and a cup of tea apiece, but they seemed content and relaxed, and afterwards all four brought out their pipes, and sat about in a little circle, chatting amongst themselves in low voices. Once in awhile, a shout of laughter would erupt. It was at these times that Frodo seemed almost happy, and it was the only time of the day that he was seen to smile, however slightly.
He realized that it was for the Ringbearer's benefit that this time was set aside from the other members of the Quest. Frodo's friends knew that it comforted him to spend time with his fellow hobbits, beings that reminded him for whom he had taken on this task. Yes, the Ring must be destroyed for the well-being of all of Middle-earth, but in reality, there was only one little corner of it that was uppermost in Frodo's mind as he undertook this journey. And his friends were there to remind him of that fact.
After the hobbits were done with their tea and their cleaning up, they got ready to turn in for the night, just as the rest of the Fellowship was. The observer tapped out his pipe, and rose to get ready to set first watch. He stretched, and walked over to Boromir to remind him that he would wake him in four hours for second watch. As he walked past the hobbits' sleeping area, he noticed, not for the first time, how they had arranged themselves. Frodo and Sam together in the centre, with Merry and Pippin firmly settled on either side of them. With a start he realized that this was no random placement. It was strategic, quite deliberately done to provide for maximum protection for the Ringbearer!
Gandalf smiled, and murmured to himself, "Hobbits are the most amazing creatures. You can learn everything there is to know about their ways in a month, and after a hundred years they can still surprise you!"