Author: Rachel Stonebreaker

Title: Jack of the Lantern

Rating: G

Summary: Co-authored story with Amy Sweetwater. Amy's version is slightly different and posted under her pen name Amaryllis Sweetwater (246551)on and Yahoo's List Merry_Piplovers. This story is based on the European myth of Jack and the Lantern, a story about a man who rescues his true love from Hades by using his wits, his friends and a turnip. It's been modified to fit Hobbit fanfiction. Five chapters.

Characters: Our favorite hobbits, Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin and Bilbo

Genre: Drama, Friendship

Disclaimer: All hail JRRT, the master. I hope he doesn't mind us playing with his creation. I certainly don't make any money, fame or fortune off of my writings. I WISH I did, but I don't so don't sue me. Authors Notes: Amy conned me into writing this story. She'd heard me tell the Jack-o-lantern story about a zillion times to anyone who would listen as they passed by my ale stand at the Renaissance Faire where I work in the fall. Yeah, until the final Sunday of the Faire, it would get pretty slow the hour before closing, so I'd tell pagan and Elizabethan stories to entertain the crowds. Jack of the Lantern was one of the favorites.

~ Chapter 1 ~ The Darkness

Frodo and Sam stood unmoving looking wearily across the barren wastelands. Their journey to the gates of Mordor had only just begun, in reality. Yet it seemed as if they'd been walking and fighting and struggling for years upon years. Both were weary. Both were down in spirits. But Samwise, ever the stalwart, volunteered to take first watch as they settled for a very short rest. In truth, he was determined to keep the entire watch if Mister Frodo could get to sleep. Frodo needed sleep badly. As much as he needed food and fresh water. But neither of the two latter items were to be found anytime soon. So, it would have to be sleep, if it was to be anything.

Sam had managed to convince Frodo to try and lie down. Perhaps if he closed his eyes, he'd at least get some sleep.

Frodo, not to hurt Sam's feelings, obliged though he knew there'd be no more rest for him. There was nothing to do in the quiet except try to sleep as Sam kept the watch. The silence wore on Frodo and grated his nerves. "Tell me a story Sam. One of heroes. One that will dispel the dark and bring me hope"

"What should I recite? You know I'm not much good at telling tales."

"Oh, Sam. You really must stop saying that. You are very good at telling tales. Why, you've memorized nearly every one Bilbo told us and probably half the ones you've heard in Rivendell and Lothlorien, even though they were in Elvish!"

"That tisn't true and you know it. Least ways not about the Elvish, sir." Sam smiled at the thought, because he HAD tried, though not successfully.

"Well, whether or not you think yourself a passable story teller, you're the only one I've got right now and if I'm to try and sleep on this stony bed, then I'll need something to keep my mind occupied while my body finally decides to relax. So, tell on, Master Samwise. And make it good."

"All right, then. I'll do just that. But only because I know you need your rest and it seems you'll sit up the rest of the night arguing with me if I don't. Now, which one shall it be? 'Heroes', you say? Something about light... Oh, I know! The one Mister Bilbo told us on All Hallow's Eve that year I was 20 and you were just turned 32. Mister Merry and Mister Pippin were there and it were nearly the coldest All Hallows Eve we'd ever seen. You and me made the tea for everyone..."

"Yes, the story of Jack and the Lantern. I remember it. Though, Uncle Bilbo modified it a bit, as I recall, to fit your request for a love story and Merry's demand for a terror story. Bilbo managed to pull it off well. Do you remember it all?"

"Of course. I retold it for Marigold the next year. Though I changed it a bit and included a pony instead of a cat. She was death on cats, you remember, she'd been scratched by one that summer, got a fever and swore revenge. You wouldn't know that today, seeing how's she's got three. OH, how I miss her. How I miss my whole family."

"Tell me the story, Sam, or you'll have me packing it all in and whisking you back to the Shire so you can tuck your little sister into bed!"

"Now, we can't go having that! Not after all we've been through. I'll not be the one responsible for turning back this quest and failing the whole of Middle-Earth."

"No, it wouldn't be you. Of that I'm certain." Frodo reflected quietly and waited for Sam to begin.

~ End Chapter 1