Title: Treasure in the Shire

Author: marbienl

Summary: Pre-LOTR. What might have happened if a certain Ranger was in trouble while guarding the Shire? And what happens when Frodo gets caught in it?

Disclaimer I don't own them, just wish that I did… sigh. They belong to the wonderful professor named J.R.R Tolkien…

A/N: this is the first fic I ever started and I'm ashamed to say I've left it hanging for so long. I've finally come back to this one and made some slight adjustments in the first four chapters (used more synonyms – nothing's different about the story) and have written it till the end - cringes - only one chapter. Sorry for the wait, but I hope you'll enjoy it!

x x x x x

Chapter 1

It was a sunny afternoon when Frodo was taking a walk in the forest. Bilbo had gone away for the day, having some business in Tuckborough.

Frodo had wanted to take Sam with him, but the old Gaffer needed Sam to take over for him, since he himself was sick with the flu. Normally, the Gaffer would not have given up his work, but the flu had hit him badly. The old Hobbit had almost never in his entire life been sick, but when he was sick, he really was sick – unable to leave the bed and nearly delirious with fever. Luckily, all that he needed was a couple of days of rest and he would be as good as new, but in the meantime, Sam was going to have to say goodbye to free time.

Frodo sighed. Merry and Pippin were no doubt getting themselves into mischief, robbing farmer Maggot's crops again… Joining in the mischief might have been an idea, but he wasn't in the mood. While at Brandy Hall, he had been quite the terror. Getting into mischief on a regular basis, and though he still liked to do mischief, it was a lot less.

At Buckland, he had been surrounded with Brandybucks, who were notorious for their behaviour, but at Hobbiton… The Hobbits here were… different. Not bad people, but just, different.

It had been a long time since he had seen his younger friends. He really wanted to go there and see what they were up to, but if Frodo decided to visit them, he would be gone too long. He would worry Bilbo if he wasn't home when his uncle returned. So, with no one around to keep him company, he decided to go on a long walk. Normally, the young Hobbit loved to stay in the gardens of Bag End and read some of his books, but today was a good day and he would love to spend time in the woods…

x x x x x

Some time in his walk, Frodo heard a noise al of a sudden… He tilted his head, straining his ears to better hear where the sound came from. It sounded like… metal on, what? Metal? How could that be?

The youngster located the sound – it was coming from behind some bushes up ahead and, quiet as only Hobbits and elves can be, he sneaked closer to have a look at what was going on.

His mouth dropped open at what he saw. Men! He had heard of Men and knew that they were big – after all, he knew Gandalf and he was a big person – but to see Men here in the Shire!

Seven men there were. Six of them were clothed in the same fashion, all wearing black clothes and all were bald. Some carried bows nearly as big as themselves and knives, others carried swords. All had ugly scowls on their faces though which seemed to be carven in stone. Frodo shuddered; he instinctively knew that these were up to no good.

The seventh person was clothed in green and brown. He sort of blends in into these woods, Frodo thought. He had long, dark hair and his beard hadn't seen a razor in a long while, but he seemed to be a good person. It was just something in how he held himself… He was fighting off the other six with a sword. He's quite good with it too. Better than the others at any rate. And the man was; he defeated three men, knocking them out with swift moves, but, while he had been fighting them off, one of the six had sneaked behind him and was raising his sword to the man in green and brown, ready to strike.

I must do something! But what? I'm just a small Hobbit. I can't even fight off one Man! Frodo thought, looking down at the ground, looking at some stones by the bushes. Hmm, stones. Yes! They will do.

And, wasting no time, he grabbed one. He stood, aimed, and threw it, aiming at the one's head. It hit its target and the man fell down. He would be suffering a major headache when he woke. Quickly, Frodo hid again.

The man in green and brown heard a dull sound and managed to spare a quick glance at what it was. He saw one of his assailants lying on the ground, a bruise already forming on his head and his sword lying some feet away. He had not long to think about it, for the two that were left attacked doubly as fierce.

But, unseen to the stranger, and also to Frodo, one of the men knocked out before had regained consciousness and was sneaking away silently.

All of a sudden, Frodo felt a meaty hand clamp over his mouth. An arm went around his chest, squeezing painfully so. Frodo wasn't sure, but he thought he could feel some ribs crack under the pressure. It was getting hard for Frodo to breathe and he could see stars entering his vision.

"Big… mistake…" He heard a voice growling in his ear. "You shouldn't have meddled in other people's business. Now, you'll be sorry for it!"

The man lifted him up and carried him out of the bushes, walking to where the fight was taking place.

"Ranger!" he shouted. "If you care about your… little helper," he sneered, looking down at his captive, "you will lay down your sword and surrender!"

The fighting stopped. No! Don't! Frodo tried to yell, but he was not to be heard with the big hand covering his mouth.

The ranger looked at him and for a short moment, Frodo thought he saw surprise, followed by recognition, flickering in the grey eyes beholding him. Frodo tried to hold the ranger's gaze as the stars took over his vision, trying to let them say what his voice could not.

I'm so sorry…

x x x x x