One Night.

By: Violet Dawson

Author's Notes: What started out as an exercise in description turned into this.entirely canonical one chapter fic. Please let me know what you think!


Five shadows encircled the small fire that separated them from the night. Firelight reflected on their weary faces, the owner of each lost deep inside his own thoughts.

The single man in the group listened carefully, signs of black riders teasing the back of his mind, daring him to find their source.

A sandy-blond haired hobbit watched the man suspiciously and moved protectively closer to his master, taking his silence for ill wishes. Two cousins lay back-to-back; wandering threw a half awake world of warm kitchens full of wonderful smells.

And then there was Frodo, blue eyes fixed on the fire with feelings of hopelessness filling his mind. He was keenly aware that the only reason any of them where in the wilderness was because of him, everything was because of him, and a small gold ring. Surely someone would take it from him when they reached Rivendell and it would no longer be his burden to bear.

Then he and his friends could go back to their simple lives and forget about black riders and rings and all the adventures that came with them. But for now it was his, a heavy gold band looped threw a chain hanging about his small neck. He fingered it cautiously.

The man called Strider broke the silence, not with words but with a soft chant. His voice wove through the dark night, in and out of the fire and encircled all those who heard it within its spell. He told of times long past and of things that once were, giving so clear a picture that the hobbits saw images rising before their vision.

The chant was over too soon for any of their liking and Merry waited awhile before speaking, even then only daring a whisper. "The moon is rising, it must be getting late."

The company slowly turned to face the waxing moon, awakening as if from a dream. The hobbits looked for a moment and went about the business of setting up camp. Two stretched and walked away from the fire, heading for a nearby dell.

Strider continued to stare at the moon and the hilltop it was rising over, willing his eyes to focus on what appeared only a rock, but felt like something much more.

Frodo sat staring into the fire once again. He breathed deeply as the familiar smell of burning firewood filled his mind and took him back to BagEnd. Back to the evenings when he would sit up with Bilbo far into the night, talking of all the things he had seen or helping him with the details of his book. Now that he was on his own adventure, he wondered if he should ever live long enough to write it down. Frodo sat up straight and watched the man who seemed to be looking for something. He shifted his gaze to where Strider's was and looked for signs of danger.

He walked quietly over to the man, "Strider, I think."

"Hush." Strider interrupted him, his eyes darting back and forth from the hilltop to the fire.

"Keep close to the fire with your faces outward. Get some of the larger sticks read in your hands.and stay quiet."

He ordered and something in his voice made the hobbits rush to obey. Frodo looked at the hilltop once more, wondering what had the man so upset and then he saw them, three shapes sitting on horseback, mere shadows against the moonlight.

He remembered that Sam and Merry had left the safety of the group and whipped his head around, slowly letting out a breath he hadn't realized he was holding when he saw their backs against the firelight.

After several tense moments a slow fear crept into the hearts of all the company as they both saw and felt four shadows, so dark they were like black holes in the night. Four hobbits and a man stood trembling in spite of themselves as they realized the shadows were advancing on them. Fear overtook Merry and he curled up in a shaking ball upon the hard ground, chastising himself for his fright. Pippin was soon in a similar state, his head hidden in his quaking hands.

Sam moved closer to Frodo, wishing for the bravery to stand in front of him, but glad to see his friend relax slightly at his closeness. Frodo felt the fear as strongly as his friends, but soon it was blocked out with an overwhelming desire to put on the ring. Sam looked at his master, knowing there was some great battle going on in his mind and also aware that there was nothing he could do to aid his friend. So he merely continued to stand beside him, hoping against hope it was enough. He watched his master slip the chain from around his neck and place the ring on his forefinger, and then disappear from the sight of the living.

What happened next remained only a blur to all who witnessed it; Frodo reappeared, though injured, on the ground near the spot where he'd left them. Strider ran toward him, waving flaming braches at the riders and successfully forcing them to flee.

Sam knelt down next to his master, placing Frodo's head in his lap and weeping openly at the sight of him in pain. Merry and Pippin left their places on the ground and walked slowly over, confusion and shame written on their usually jovial faces.

There was no joy this night and serene songs sung only minutes ago now seemed to have taken place years in the past. Strider moved quickly, first kneeling next to Frodo and then running into the woods, leaving the hobbits with instructions to build the fire and stay near its safety.

The three companions hurried to obey, gently lifting Frodo and placing him closer to the fire. They then began rushing to gather all the wood they could find and pile it on the small blaze until it grew into a bonfire many times over. Sam, Merry and Pippin sat in a protective semi-circle around their fallen friend, tears shining in their eyes, willing him to awaken. Merry placed an arm around Pippin's shoulders and managed a weak smile for his sake.

And all threw the night, Samwise Gamgee never took his eyes off Frodo.