My thanks to the always delightful lj user="Moit" for betaeing this fic. lj user="lilybaggins", this one's for you. Thank you for being so patient.
The Honorary Hobbit
Never Underestimate a Hobbit
Rated G, No pairings. Features Aragorn and Frodo most prominently along with the rest of the Fellowship.
Summary: Frodo is tired of being bedridden and ill and with Aragorn's assistance begins to get some much needed exercise and exploration around Rivendell, until the hobbits become bored leading to an out of control pranking spree.
***This first chapter will sound familiar to most of you who have read "Recovery in Rivendell" by lj user="Budgielover". There are many stories out there that have the same basic scenario as what you are about to read, but I believe hers is the most memorable. I tried to think of a way to make it somewhat different, but I have not been as successful as I'd hoped. I suppose the scenario it's everyone's take on the same scenario and that is what I've done here…my take. I just wanted you to know that I am aware of the similarities, and ask her pardon.***
"Aragorn, I need your help," Gandalf said, walking briskly down the hallway towards Frodo's room.
Aragorn quickened his pace to match that of the Istari. "Certainly Gandalf, how can I be of assistance?" the Ranger replied, alarmed that their destination seemed to be Frodo's room.
Gandalf stopped abruptly causing the Ranger to pass him by two paces. "Our Ringbearer seems a bit melancholy. He has not eaten in two days which is alarming in and of itself since he is a hobbit, he refuses any and all visitors, and even Sam has been tossed out followed by some rather vitriolic cursing." Gandalf sighed. "He is restless due to being bedridden for so long from his wounding. He inquires constantly about walks and exploring Rivendell but, since he won't eat, I doubt he could walk far in his current condition and could even suffer a relapse. I need you to convince Elrond to allow Frodo to leave his bed and explore Rivendell."
"I have already spoken to Elrond and told him of my findings. I believe Frodo is ready to start a limited exercise program and have told him that I will release him today to venture forth. I am on my way to his room now and, providing that he starts eating on a regular basis, he will gain his freedom. Is there anything else?"
"No," Gandalf sighed, "I am relieved you have decided to release him. He has become quite …unpleasant …to all and sundry. If you cannot convince him to eat…he can be quite stubborn."
Aragorn laughed, "Gandalf, you are a marvel at understatement. You know that getting Frodo to do *anything* he finds contrary is a battle most men would rather die than fight."
Gandalf smiled as he leaned forward on his staff, "I can think of no one better than you, my dear King in training to accomplish such a task."
Aragorn smiled and sighed, "I will attempt the impossible."
Gandalf grinned at the man, "I am confident you will succeed, my friend." With that, Gandalf was gone, his staff clicking down the hallway and his step decidedly lighter than a few moments before.
Aragorn's hand rested on the door knob as he took a deep breath and forced a smile to his lips, he opened the door. Frodo lay on his right side staring at the wall. He showed no sign that he had heard the door open or knew that anyone was in the room with him.
"Good morning, Frodo," Aragorn said with more cheer than he felt.
"Unless I am mistaken, a proper gentlehobbit's response should be, "Why good morning Aragorn, how in the devil are you?" Aragorn said with a grin.
Frodo rolled onto his back and stared up at the man. "You'll have to forgive me, Aragorn, I don't really care to exchange barbs with overly cheerful people, today," Frodo said without expression.
Aragorn's grin waned, this was going to be harder than he thought. "I saw Sam loading a tray with all of your favorite foods a moment ago and he should be here shortly."
"I don't give two figs, I am not hungry," Frodo retorted.
"That may be, Ringbearer, but I know for a fact that until you start eating regular meals, you will not leave this bed as I will deem you too weak to be about," Aragorn said, matching the retort with one of his own.
Frodo slowly sat up until he was mere inches from Aragorn's face. "Do not call me Ringbearer," he growled. "I loathe that appellation; it is as if by carrying the Ring it defines me.I am Frodo Baggins of the Shire," he ground out, before laying back down.
"I am sorry, Frodo, I did not realize you found it so offensive," the Ranger said softly.
"Better you should call me the "Wounded One" or the "Prisoner" than Ringbearer," Frodo muttered.
"Frodo you are not a prisoner here, you are an honored guest."
Frodo laughed harshly, "Tell me Aragorn does Elrond treat all his *guests* as he has treated me? Does he allow them freedom to move about Rivendell? Does he require someone to take an arm of his guest to use the privy? I have been constantly begged, wheedled and threatened to take medicines or to eat. I feel like I am a caged animal only to be released when it is time to carry the Ring into Mordor."
"Someone has had much too much time to feel sorry for himself, it would seem," Aragorn replied, immediately regretting it.
Frodo sat up suddenly, glaring blue fire into the Ranger's grey eyes. "How dare you! I daresay if our positions were reversed you would find the situation equally intolerable. If you do not wish to hear how I am feeling then why did you ask in the first place?" he sighed and looked down. "I am weary of this, leave me in peace," he murmured as he lay down.
Aragorn's eyes had widened in surprise. He had never seen this side of the normally soft spoken, courteous hobbit. He was rescued from further conversation by a timid tap at the door.
"Come!" he called.
"It's jes me, Mr. Frodo, I've come with your breakfast, sir." Sam said as he fairly tiptoed to the edge of the bed while balancing an overburdened tray.
"Hello Sam," Frodo said quietly. "I am sorry you went to all that trouble, but I am not hungry." The gardener looked as if he would have preferred anything other than being the bearer of the detested tray.
"Hello Sam," said Aragorn cheerily.
"Mornin' Mr. Strider," Sam said quietly, his eyes darting towards the unmoving figure on the bed.
Aragorn had repeatedly requested that Sam drop the *Mister* when addressing him, to no avail. It was obviously too deeply ingrained in the gardener and Aragorn had finally decided to let it pass.
"What have you brought Frodo this morning," he asked, taking the tray from Sam and removing the covers over the plates. "Hmmm, this looks delicious." There was a small stack of sweetcakes with butter drizzling down the sides and a cup of Rivendell's sweet maple syrup to go with them, fresh raspberries with a light sprinkle of sugar and clotted cream, three slices of crispy bacon and a mushroom omelet oozing a creamy sauce from its sides. Accompanying this was a large pot of tea, a frothy glass of milk and buttered toast squares.
"Frodo, if you will eat this delectable breakfast, I have it on good authority that you will be released from bed rest and allowed to walk as far as your endurance will allow," Aragorn said conspiratorially.
Frodo's ears perked up as he gave Aragorn a doubtful glance. "I will not be able to eat all of it, you realize," he said cautiously optimistic.
"I understand, but perhaps you could make an effort to *try* to eat let's say…half of it," Aragorn bartered.
Frodo's eyes swept the tray as he estimated half of its contents. "One quarter," he countered.
Aragorn shook his head, "I know hobbits, my dear Frodo, and that isn't enough to justify a day out and about."
Frodo frowned, "I will try *if* you guarantee I may take a walk about Rivendell," he challenged.
"You may only walk a small amount today. Each day, providing you begin to eat strengthening amounts of food, we will increase the length and breadth of your walks. I will be watching you to make sure the terms of our agreement are met," Aragorn replied slowly, his eyes studying Frodo.
There was a long pause. "Very well, I will attempt to meet your criteria," Frodo said as he sat up. He inwardly groaned as he looked at the quantity of food presented to him. Sam rushed to Frodo's side, placing two fluffy pillows behind his back. Aragorn placed the tray over Frodo's lap and watched as the hobbit began to timidly nibble on the toast squares.
Frodo very slowly, ate his final bite of the mushroom omelet. The irony of the situation was not wasted on Frodo Baggins of the Shire, mushroom thief extraordinaire, that this last bite was from a dish drowning in mushrooms.
Aragorn smiled as he looked at the tray. Exactly half of everything, except the raspberries which were all gone, had been eaten by the stubborn Ringbearer.
Frodo leaned back against the pillows obviously miserably full and stared at the smiling Ranger. "I would like to take my first walk after I have had a chance to digest the huge amount of food you have forced upon me," he groaned.
Aragorn covered the plates, took the tray and rose, "I will be happy to oblige you, Frodo. Remember, you may continue to walk anywhere within Rivendell's borders as long as you continue to eat your meals." He walked to the door, letting himself out. After dropping off the tray he made his way to Elrond's apartments.
Elrond opened the door with a smile, admitting Aragorn. "I hear that our Ringbearer is once again, refusing his meals."
Aragorn smiled, "Frodo can be quite manipulative and stubborn when he wants to be, Ada. But I did find a weakness and shamelessly exploited it to my advantage."
"Pray tell, Estel, it could be most useful in the future," Elrond sat slowly in his large ornate chair and beckoned his son to join him.
"I deemed him fit enough to be released from bed rest but only on the condition that he begin to eat a suitable amount of strengthening food. This morning I told him he could walk about only if he ate half of his breakfast."
Elrond's elegant eyebrows rose and he sat up straighter, "And did he eat half of his breakfast?"
"He did, it was exceedingly difficult for him, but when Frodo is motivated he is usually successful. I think, in the future the meals will need to be a bit smaller and then increase in size as he becomes stronger."
"This sounds acceptable. As he ventures about, his stamina will return and his appetite should as well. I am most impressed that you have been able to find a weakness in our Ringbearer. It seems the barter system is our best chance at reasoning with young Master Baggins."
"He is a formidable foe, although I must admit I did enjoy the battle," Aragorn smiled widely.
Elrond placed a hand to his forehead then raised his eyes to Aragorn's. "I do not mind a Ringbearer who is a 'formidable foe' for the quest to destroy the One Ring, I *do* find it incredibly frustrating to have said hobbit adversarial in my home. Do you feel he is ready to be up from his sickbed?"
"I do. It will be wearying for him at first, but there is none more determined than our Ringbearer. He is ready for some slow walks about the premises. Perhaps Gandalf spoke with you concerning Frodo's state of mind?"
Elrond nodded and smiled, "Since he feels he has bested you and will eat to walk, so to speak, I believe if Frodo increases his exercise and sees the sites of the Last Homely House, it will make his spirits rise and his appetite as well. His eating was the last condition to him acquiring his freedom. It may be unpleasant to have to browbeat the Ringbearer into compliance but it is good exercise for you to learn how to bargain with an adversary."
Aragorn chuckled, "I can think of no better primer for negotiation. Anyone who can talk Frodo into something he does not wish to do would make an exemplary diplomat."
Frodo took advantage of his new found freedom and, after a period of frustration at his inability to walk as far or as long as he wanted to, slowly built up his stamina almost to the point prior to his wounding. His melancholia all but disappeared and frequently his clear ringing laughter could be heard about the Last Homely House. In fact, Frodo had felt so good that incidents of pranks had increased exponentially. Merry and Pippen had been frequently the culprits, but now there was a certain 'flair' to the pranks that had been lacking prior to his constitutionals.
Elrond could never seem to catch the Ringbearer in the act but after querying Frodo on numerous occasions and receiving only wide, innocent blue eyes and apologies for his cousins, always with the barest hint of a smile, Elrond was convinced that the latest hijinks had been the work of Master Baggins. The Elf Lord decided he needed help of a different kind to stop the mayhem that had overtaken Rivendell, so he, once again, called Aragorn to ask for assistance.
Aragorn found himself in Elrond's apartments for the second time in as many weeks, having tea and talking quietly about the Fellowship's preparations for the journey to Mordor, when the conversation turned to the four hobbits.
"Estel, have you given any thought to the hobbits going on perhaps, an extended hike?" Elrond said quietly, his eyes studying his son.
Aragorn slowly swallowed his tea and put the cup down. He grinned, "This would not have anything to do with the flurry of pranks, would it?"
Caught, Elrond's eyes dropped to his hands, "Estel, in an age of man, I have never experienced this much chaos in Rivendell." He looked up at Estel in frustration, "The hobbits have too much free time on their hands and are in need of diversion. I would ask you my son, to take these four…gentlemen…away from Rivendell for an extended outing, if for no other reason than to allow me some much needed rest and a chance to regain my composure. Take them … anywhere," he waved his hand in the air making it obvious he did not care where they went especially as long as they were occupied elsewhere.
Aragorn chuckled at Elrond's expense, "Surely it is not that bad, Ada," he smirked.
Elrond hesitated before beginning to list the recent activities of the hobbits. "Firstly, *someone* placed grease on the interior door knobs in all of the bathing areas. After the victim found his hands covered in grease, he would go to the sinks and try to wash it off. Little did he know that the soap had been tampered with and would stain the hands blue of whoever used it…dark blue." Estel's smile grew.
"Glorfindel went to the stables yesterday only to discover Asfaloth wearing one of my favorite robes and Gandalf's pointed hat was sitting on the horse's head tied with a large pink bow. How they got that horse's legs into those sleeves I will never know." Aragorn was bent over laughing so hard he could not catch a breath.
"Then there was the incident with the honey…"
"Honey?" Aragorn wheezed.
"Yes, apparently Legolas enjoys communing with the ancient oaks in the courtyard. At the end of each day, he sleeps beneath the giant oak in the center of the area. Obviously, someone has seen him come there on a daily basis because *someone* suspended a burlap bag of goose feathers above the area where he usually lies. Two days ago, while Legolas slept, *someone* drizzled honey all over the elf but mostly in his hair then loosed a stone, possibly from a slingshot, into the burlap bag, covering Legolas in feathers." Elrond's color was very high as he stood, frowning down at his foster son who was laughing loudly and bent nearly double as he clutched his stomach.
Aragorn wiped his eyes repeatedly as he tried to regain control of himself. He held up his hand, "Stop please, I can take no more," he gasped.
"Merry and Pippen's pranks were more of a spur of the moment type of activity…simple and to the point. These latest antics have had more attention to detail and were done by *someone* who has patience, and cunning, a person that is clever, and mentally keen and he is wreaking havoc on my home."
Aragorn smiled, "Frodo."
Elrond nodded, "I believe that the normally dignified and proper Master Baggins is … repaying me, for his perceived exigency due to his illness."
"Ada, Frodo does not seem to be a vindictive person. Are you sure you are not feeling perhaps a small amount of paranoia?"
Elrond smiled, "Perhaps I am, though it does my heart good to know that Frodo still has that playful nature within him."
"I believe Frodo is strong enough to go on an extended outing," Estel mused.
Levity gone, Elrond frowned. "He is not as strong as he thinks he is yet. The wound still pains him…it probably always will, however if he and his cohorts have enough energy to stir up so much trouble at this peaceful sanctuary, I believe they will all do well redirecting their focus on other pursuits."
Aragorn smiled, "Very well, I will take them on an extended march. It will make them stronger physically to begin walking about the valley and they will need that strength and stamina for our journey. If I can teach them some basic survival skills that would be an additional boon, but I would prefer this to be a more exploratory adventure. There is so much beauty in this valley they have yet to see; perhaps this expedition should be one of discovery and enjoyment."
Elrond nodded, "They will have enough trials once they leave the protection of Rivendell."