Disclaimer:  I don't own them, I've only borrowed them.

Genre:  Humorous Vignette

Warnings:  Sarcastic OOC-ness

Rating:  G

Summary:  A morning around the campfire yields interesting and ironic revelations for certain members of the Fellowship.

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Beauties – and a Beast?

By Tenshi Androgynous

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Merry sighed unhappily.  "Is he still watching us?"

Pippin glanced surreptitiously over his shoulder and saw the darkly burning eyes upon them.  "Yes," he whispered, a little loudly.

The other hobbits sighed together, pushing their food around on their plates in most un-Hobbit-like manner.  "Downright unnerving is what it is," muttered Samwise darkly.

"Just try to ignore him, and maybe he'll lose interest," Frodo said evenly, ever the voice of reason.  Lowering his voice, he added, "Still, I do agree that having those eyes always upon us is…unsettling."

"He's so…different!"  Merry gave an involuntary shudder.  He was putting it too kindly.

"He's so…ugly!" Pippin whispered.  The others stared at him in open-mouthed shock.  There, one of them had finally said it.

"Pippin!" Frodo hissed at him in surprise.  "Don't be so unkind to someone so unfortunate!" 

"But it's true, isn't it?  Mr. Frodo?" Samwise spoke up.

Frodo looked sternly at the younger Hobbits.  "True or not, we oughtn't to judge someone by our own standards.  For all we know, his own people may consider him quite handsome," he said in a hopeful tone of voice, though his expression told them he clearly thought otherwise.

"Handsome," Merry snorted, regaining the center of attention.  "With that stature?  Have you ever seen anything more ridiculous?"

"His bathing habits!" piped up Pippin once more, instantly forgetting he was supposed to be being chastised.  "I've never seen anything more atrocious!"

"The way he eats," added Samwise, "…and the way he smells…"

"And all that hair," finished Frodo (forgetting he was supposed to be defending the poor fellow), running a hand over his smooth cheeks and through his short, curly tresses.  "Or lack of it!" he added mirthfully, giving the luxurious fur on his graceful, shapely feet a tug, earning him chuckles from his fellow Hobbits.

Yes, it was indeed good to be a Hobbit.  Despite his advanced years, they still considered Frodo something of a beauty.  Merriadoc was known in the Four Farthings for his handsome face; Samwise had an undeniably pleasant countenance; and Pippin, the youngest, still had an air of childish beauty that served him well, poised as he was on the brink of adulthood.

Quite unlike…him.

The object of their scrutiny suddenly got up from his seat across the fire from them and tottered off awkwardly into the bushes.  The way he walked made the Hobbits shudder, but at least he was gone for a while and the Hobbits could eat in peace.

"Makes me loose my appetite to see him like that, it does!" Merry said vehemently, proceeding to cram his face.

"Just try not to think about it!" said Frodo desperately, following suit.  "After all, he's probably not doing it on purpose."  Probably.

Finishing their meal in haste, the other Hobbits pushed back and contentedly patted their full, pleasantly rounded bellies.

"Have you seen the way he eats?" ventured Sam, after a few moments of silence.

Frodo frowned slightly; he'd hoped they would leave that topic behind.

"Pretty disgusting," Merry agreed, shaking his head woefully.  Did their kind not have parents who taught their children proper manners?  Apparently not, for their comrade obviously had no clue about proper dress, grooming, or conversational skills.  It made one wonder what they did teach their children, if anything.

The object of their scrutiny came back from the shadows and resumed his seat just beyond the firelight.  He was silent for the moment, which was well, for his strange voice grated on their ears.

"What's he doing now?" whispered Frodo despite himself, for his back was to the fire.

"He's fiddling with his weapons," Merry whispered back, "Again."

Pippin gave a snort of disgust.  "Doesn't his kind think about anything besides fighting?"

"At least he's not staring anymore.  Those eyes of his give me shudders!" Sam put in.

"But I think his appearance is even worse," Pippin confided.  "All his improper habits aside, it's his body that is the worst part!  His limbs, his stature – so awkward!"

"Then you should pity him instead of reviling him like this," said a sonorously deep and somewhat reproachful voice from behind them.

"Oh!"  The Hobbits gave a squeal, unaware that another member of the party had joined them.  They gasped with relief when they saw who it was.

"Oh, thank Heavens it is you," said Pippin, pressing a hand to his racing heart.

"What is all this ungracious talk?" asked the newcomer.  "I expected better manners from Hobbits of such gentle reputation and renown."

All four flushed guiltily, looking at the ground.  He was right, of course.  They knew better than to pick on someone less fortunate.

"Chins up, lads, no real harm done.  But I suggest you try to make it up to him and be a little nicer in the future, for if I am not mistaken, he's overheard at least a bit of what you've said."

Frodo gasped, covering his mouth in shock.  Turning around, he saw that indeed their unlovely comrade was watching them once more, especially Frodo, with an expression of sorrowful regret plainly read in his abnormal eyes.  Frodo felt his heart plummet and guilt overcame him; he couldn't believe he'd spoken so unkindly of a comrade who was risking so much to help him!

"I must speak to him," Frodo said softly.  "I should apologize."

"Mayhap you should, lad."  The other shifted slightly on his feet.  "Remember, he's got feelings too, at least, one assumes, and he can't help the way he looks."

His resolve strengthened, Frodo squared his shoulders and prepared himself.  Casting a glance over his shoulder at his fellow Hobbits, who were watching him in surprise, he marched straight across the camp to where their comrade was seated alone.

The other figure looked up and an expression of mild surprise marred his strange features.

Swallowing a deep breath, Frodo addressed him.  "Legolas?"

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