A/N: I am sooo sorry for the delay! Please forgive me? Lol. :S Please READ and REVIEW! :]
Chapter Seventeen: On The Road Again
The sun was beating down on me as I stood beside Pippin and Bill the pony in the large courtyard just inside the gates of Rivendell. It was only a few hours after sunrise and although there was a chilling breeze, the sun's rays were at full blaze upon us, warming my shaking body. I was wrapped in my Hobbit dress, the only article of clothing that was truly mine, and clad in a thin but warming aubergine cape. I assumed it best to wear my Hobbit dress as it was the shortest of the dresses I had with me, therefore making it the most practical. It also filled me up with a warmth as it reminded me of home, which in turn made me feel safe and secure, two feelings I thought would be scarce to come by after today.
"What have you put in your sack, Clara? Its as heavy as a crate of old weights!" Sam laughed as he attempted to hook my bag onto poor Bill the pony's already overloaded back. I brought my gaze to his and smiled slightly.
"Well, just the usual things needed for a dangerous adventure: hair ribbons and dozens of unnecessary articles of fancy clothing, just in case the occasion calls for something more dashing than this," I laughed as I indicated to my worn belted cream and green dress that I was wearing. He looked puzzled for a moment, until I laughed loudly at his naivety. He quickly caught on that I was joking before mumbling something about 'women'.
"I rather doubt you're only joking, Clara," Pippin mused beside me as he raised one of his eyebrows in a questionable manner. "What do you have in there, anyway?"
I smiled an all-knowing smile before airily replying. "You will just have to wait and see, my good friend."
He chuckled lightly before we were interrupted by Lord Elrond approaching us, a large group of majestic Elves following closely behind him. We immediately stopped our laughter as we rushed over to where the others were standing before the intricate gates we would soon be leaving through. Strider was standing next to the blonde Elf as Frodo and Gandalf stood behind them, lightly conversing about something or another. Sam was with Merry now, Bill ever loyally at his side. The dwarf standing to the left of them, glaring at everyone with a clear look of apprehension. I couldn't see the blonde man anywhere and didn't care if he had slept in and decided not to come anymore after what I had overheard him saying last night. I was determined that I was going to prove him wrong, with or without his presence. He had hit a nerve with me with his harsh words, and I wasn't willing to easily forgive or let his cruel words be proven right.
I was pulled out of my thoughts by Pippin nudging my arm and signaling with a roll of his eyes that Lord Elrond had begun speaking to us. I stood straighter as my ears slowly began to tune in on his words. "...oath nor bond is laid for you to go further than you will."
My eyes caught those of Arwen's and noticed she was smiling towards us, her stare slightly glazed and tinged with sadness. I chanced a look behind me just in time to see that Aragorn was staring ahead with the exact same expression. I smiled at their intimate moment and wondered how the two of them had met and exactly how much they felt for each other. This was the first time I had seen them interact together since Arwen had shown up in the woods to rescue Frodo, but already I could tell that their love was deep and meaningful. You don't just share those looks with just anyone.
"Farewell," Elrond's voice carried over my thoughts, bringing my attention back to the front of the group to where the majestic Elf nodded over us all individually, "Hold to your purpose and may the blessings of elves and men and all free folk go with you."
I smiled wearily at the group of Elves before us, before Lord Elrond waved us off and into the wild, for another long and treacherous journey, no doubt. Pippin walked in synch with me as we passed through the gate, Aragorn and the blonde Elf trailing at the rear as Gandalf and Frodo took the lead.
"Where is Mordor, then?" Pippin asked beside me after we had walked a good hour or so in silence, our feet trailing down the leaf-littered ground leading to who knew where. His face looked semi-serious as he glanced at me.
"I don't know, Pippin," I murmured as the blonde Elf walked slowly past us, my gaze trailing after him ever so slightly. "I don't even know what direction we are heading in..."
Pippin nodded in agreement before the blonde Elf's voice graced our ears. "We are heading west, my Lady, and past the Misty Mountains."
"Do you hear that, Clara? The Misty Mountains!" Pippin almost screamed next to me, his face alight with excitement, making him seem much more youthful than he already was. "Bilbo used to tell us all about the mountains, didn't he, Clara? He would go on and on about them and-"
"Just like you are going on and on about them now," I slyly said as I nudged his shoulder, causing him to stop talking and nudge me back. I smiled at him as I ducked out the way of another one on his nudges, causing him to fall flat on his face.
The Elf looked at me, his stoic features changing to express what I assumed was confusion and slight shock, before Aragorn appeared beside us and helped Pippin to his feet. "We have only started this journey and already, you two are back to causing mischief again."
I looked sheepishly at him, whereas Pippin just looked rather chuffed with himself. I scoffed lightly in his direction before I heard Aragorn mumbling something to the blonde Elf which sounded a lot like "Hobbits" and something along the lines of "that is normal".
"I will leave you to it then, my friend, and shall scout out the land ahead for signs of trouble."
"What did you say to him about us?" I questioned the ranger as the Elf flew past us and towards the front, where Frodo was still conversing deeply with Gandalf.
Pippin joined my side again as I continued to searched Aragorn's face for answers. "Just to watch out for you two is all, my Lady," His face smiled down on us as he stalked ahead and joined the man from Gondor, who was lingering only a few feet ahead and was obviously listening into our conversation. A most disgruntled look scarred his features as he gazed at us.
"What have we let ourselves in for, Pip?" I mumbled, my head shaking from side to side.
"I don't know, Clara, but it doesn't seem all that much of a dangerous adventure to me!" he laughed, before he continued rambling on about Bilbo and the Misty Mountains again.
I chanced a look at the two men in front of us again, now deep in discussion over something or another. "Not yet, Pippin, but I have a feeling it will get extremely dangerous, and soon."
Supper had came and went by fairly quickly, considering we didn't have much else but meat on the menu. Legolas and Aragorn had managed to catch a rather large deer, something Legolas didn't look too happy about, but had assisted his friend in the hunt all the same.
The tall Elf was becoming something of a wonder to me. He seemed more agile and light-footed than the other Elves in Rivendell, and his hair shone like moonlight rather than the brown, flowing, satin crown of Arwen and her father. There was no denying his beauty, even to a humble Hobbit like myself. His eyes sparkled like crystals of amethyst and his skin was fair and smooth like that of pearls. I had found myself watching him on occasion, talking to Aragorn and even conversing with the Dwarf, who's name I had found was Gimli.
My stomached rumbled, much like my companion next to me. Getting used to only two meals a day after the banquets of food Lord Elrond's offered was becoming harder than I had thought. I was assuming after having had to get used to the lack of food journeying caused firsthand only a short time ago, it would be a simple matter of doing it again. But it seemed it was not like that at all, and I would have to suffer hunger pangs for days on end again until my body succumbed to the new diet of next to no food.
"I'm starving! This is horrible, not being able to eat again," Pippin moaned beside me as his stomach gave another almighty growl. We were all currently circled round a small fire in a clearing off the side of the beaten path we had followed. According to Gandalf, we were keeping good time and could rest until sunrise, which apparently was a luxury now. I groaned as I thought about the long lies I had been able to have in Rivendell, and how comfy the beds where there. Back to rocks and roots for bedding again tonight. Why did I agree to this, again? I was starting to forget.
"Me too, I forgot how hungry travelling made you. That and the severe lack of comfort that is available."
Pippin laughed, attracting the attention of some of the others. Frodo was next to Sam, two people away from Pippin, and had snapped his head towards us at the sound of laughter. "And what are you two laughing at? You have been very hush hush all day, tend to share?"
His eyes sparkled like sapphires as the cackling flames licked at his shadow. "I don't know if you're worthy enough to know our classified information. What do you think, Clara? Does he look worthy?"
I felt a rather large, mischievous smile plaster itself onto my face as I looked between Pippin and Frodo, only briefly aware that some of the others were turning to look our way themselves. "Hmm. Nope, I don't believe he is, Pip. He's just too mature to be wanting to know about our discussions. Besides, they are highly classified, after all."
Frodo's melodic laughter filled the air. "I am not mature in the slightest. Well, compared to you two, I might be, but so is little Grew Proudfoot, and he is only twenty!"
I scoffed, fairly insulted that he would compare me and Pippin to the gangly tween that was Grew Proudfoot. He was in the stage of trying to copy everyone else before we had left, and thought that putting snails in the barrels of ale was considered prankworthy. He had much to learn, that one.
"How dare you compare us to him!" Pippin shot out in a tone that was highly hilarious. He had stood to his feet now and had the face of utter shock. "We are twice as smart as him, any day!"
I nodded my agreement before Frodo walked over to join us on our side of the fire.
"I don't believe for a moment that you are smarter than him, Pippin!" Frodo laughed as he looked towards Pippin in a challenging way. It wasn't normal that I would see this side to Frodo, the fun-loving boy who loved to tease his friends, and it had been such a long time since I had seen him so light hearted that I couldn't help but laugh and agree with his comment, much to the dismay of Pippin.
"Hey! Thought you were on my side!"
"Well, I was until I thought through who could win this argument, and I decided to change to the winning team. Sorry, Pip," I laughed kindheartedly as Pippin pouted like the child Frodo was claiming him to be.
"Fine. Merry, you agree with me on the fact that I'm smart, don't you?" he called over to where Merry was perched next to Sam, who was currently shaking his head at us with great disapproval already.
Merry shrugged his shoulders. "Think they have you with that one, Pip. There's no comeback for you there."
Despite the awkwardness that still lingered between Merry and I, I laughed even harder at him offering his friend no aid before Pippin rushed into Frodo and toppled him over. Merry and Sam jumping over in a heartbeat to join in.
Boys and thinking rolling around on the floor was amusing, which it was, but also extremely silly and immature. I was starting to think Frodo had just proven himself wrong, and that he, too, was as immature as the rest of them.
"Calm down, my friends, we don't want to be overheard," Gandalf chuckled as I chose to leave my position next to my bickering Hobbits and join the rest of our group on the other side of the fire. I perched myself on the ground neatly between Aragorn and the Elf, ignoring the stares the fair-headed man was shooting at me as I did so.
"Not wanting to dirty yourself by joining them, my Lady?" The dark-haired Ranger smiled down at me as I nodded 'no' in response. His Elven friend seem intrigued by his line of conversation and turned his gaze from the quieting scuffling Hobbits to mine. My breath caught in my throat at his intense beauty.
"I am afraid I do not understand the need to fight with friends," He said as he looked from me back to the boys, who had just stopped rolling over each other and where now sitting, laughing, covered in dirt.
"I sometimes forget that you have much to learn in the traits of Hobbits, my friend," Aragorn smiled to him as he lightly tapped his shoulder in a brotherly response.
"They only do things like that because they are incredibly juvenile," I scoffed as I attempted to hide my smile. Frodo caught my eye from across the fire, making my cheeks flame ever so slightly in the cold night air.
"But they are of age, are they not?" Legolas politely quizzed me as his brow furrowed in slight confusion.
"It is because they are nothing but mere children, Elf. They feel play-fighting while we are at war is fun and acceptable," The sharp tones of the man on Aragorn's other side cut me off. I felt the same anger overcoming me as it had the night I had been eavesdropping on his and the Ranger's conversation. He is seriously taking his dislike of me and my friends to far.
"Enough, my brother. They are only lightening the tense and otherwise darkening mood" Aragorn once again came to our defense as he stared at the man, Boromir, his name was. "We rest safe tonight, let them have their fun while we still can be at ease."
I do not know what it was, but something that Aragorn seemed to have said then made Boromir relax a little more. Curiosity got the better of me and I let my gaze land on the insulting man, catching his intense gaze leaving the backward form of Frodo as his tight shoulders became loose. "I apologize for my rudeness, it has been a long day," he abruptly murmured.
I kept my gaze on him as he stood from his position to the right of me and walked towards the edge of the woods, on the outskirts of the clearing we now inhabited. His eyes seemed to follow Frodo all the while as he did so. I looked to Aragorn and Legolas once he was claimed by the shadows of the trees.
"He doesn't seem to like me or my race much," I murmured, interrupting the all-knowing look the Elf and Ranger were currently sharing. "He thinks we are useless."
"Fear not, my Lady. I fear that he is more the one to keep an eye on than you or the rest of your friends," Legolas calmly stated before nodding to his friend, bowing to me and then heading off in the opposite direction of Boromir to rest for the night.
"He is right, little miss. I would not worry about your use in our journey, as there will no doubt be others who shall succumb to their worries before you," Aragorn slightly smiled down at me before nodding to something behind me, and then heading off for bed as well.
I turned my gaze behind me, to where he had looked to see no-one but Frodo and Sam left sitting at the fire now as everyone else had went to rest for the night. I hadn't even noticed the difference in sound. Some help I was going to be on this journey. I caught Frodo's eyes again, sharing a tender smile with him as my eyes travelled of their own accord down to the glinting gold at his neck. My neck craned to the side slightly as I took in the gold necklace of his for the first time, my thoughts lingering on what on earth Legolas and Aragorn were going on about before they had left. I never was one for solving riddles. It was always one of Bilbo's great abilities. I smiled one last time at Frodo, and then Sam, before heading off to find a semi-comfortable place of my own to sleep tonight. My eyes lingered off to the faint silhouette of the Misty Mountains in the West as I settled down in my makeshift bed for the night next to Pippin's already sleeping form, my thoughts staying on Bilbo and how he would have loved to have been here as I drifted off to sleep.