NOTE: Thanks so much for all the inspiration and support! As you can tell, I tend to blend book-verse and movie-verse, so hopefully it's not confusing.
I have an idea for another (short) tale, but ideas are very welcome.
DISCLAIMER: Of course. The characters don't belong to me, I just get to think about them day and night.
THE BREAKING POINT
Frodo took the mug Legolas handed him. Every fiber of his being cried out for him to leap to his feet, throw himself in the Elf's arms, and ask his forgiveness. He wanted to tell Legolas how grateful he was that he was here, and beg him not to leave. It took everything he had to remain silent, sitting quietly. There would always be time for begging later, if needed, he decided.
Legolas sat down on the edge of Frodo's blanket, his own mug of soup cradled in his other hand. He waited for Frodo to take a sip, then he did so himself. Everyone was quiet, pretending to be busy at something. Gandalf returned from where he had been retrieving his pouch of pipeweed from Bill's saddlebag, and sat down near the fire. Pippin's eyes were wide, wondering if there was going to be a fight. He looked around, but no one else seemed worried.
"Frodo, you asked a question that I would like to answer, if you will permit me. As to why I came."
Sam lay a cloth down between them containing a generous portion of dried meat, and what Frodo suspected was the last of the bread, then slipped quietly away. Frodo gave a piece of the bread to Legolas and nodded for him to continue.
"In the days following Lord Elrond's council, do you know how many Elves asked to be given the honor of accompanying you?"
Frodo had never even thought about this. He shook his head, immensely curious to hear what Legolas had to say.
"Many, Frodo, many --- I among them." Legolas' thoughts flew back to Rivendell. "Your recovery from the Morgul wound was unprecedented; that alone showed incredible strength of will. But when you volunteered to take the Ring, barely recovered as you were…" Legolas shook his head. "That took my breath away. I have lived many years and have never seen such a display of bravery. How could I not support such a person and offer whatever he was willing to accept of me?"
Frodo could hardly breathe, could hardly believe what he was hearing. He always felt so small, so frightened, so fragile… could someone like Legolas actually think such things about him?
"I truly do not know why Elrond chose me over more worthy companions; I have wondered about it many times. But I am honored to be in this Company, Frodo, and will give you whatever strength and defense you may need. I never meant to be the cause of any distress for you, Ringbearer. I am most sorry to have done so."
Frodo smiled at him, lighter of heart than he had been in a long time. "Thank you, Legolas," he whispered. "Thank you for being here."
Pippin stalked over to Gimli, who hadn't said a word. "Now you!"
"What's that, Peregrin?"
Pippin kicked him gently on the leg. "Your turn, Gimli! Aren't you going to apologize to Frodo too?"
"Young hobbit, I will refrain from airing the well-earned grievances of the Khazâd and the Elves within Master Baggins' hearing. I have sworn it to that… to Legolas." He seemed to have difficulty using the Elf's name. "What else is required?"
Pippin obviously felt that a great deal more was required, but before he could get started, Boromir and Merry came over and escorted him back to his place. "Hmmmph," Pippin snorted, "Don't you think he should—"
"That's enough, Pippin," smiled Aragorn. "If there's something Frodo needs from Gimli, he'll let him know. Won't you, Frodo?"
Frodo nodded, grinning with relief at how things had turned out. "I surely will."
An air of lingering tension in the group dissipated, and Sam felt he could finally leave long enough to see to Bill and wish him goodnight.
Now that things were getting out in the open, Frodo decided he had one more thing to do before crawling into his bedroll. He walked over to where a now-sleepy Pippin was wrapped up in his blankets like a mummy, hardly any of him to be seen. Frodo sat down, grabbed the whole bundle of hobbit and blankets, pulled Pippin to a sitting position, and gave him a hug. The young hobbit was astonished at this unaccustomed action, and hugged Frodo fiercely in return.
"Pip," said Frodo gently, "Have I forgotten to tell you how glad I am that you're here?"
Pippin wondered if he were actually dreaming this. "Do you mean it?"
Frodo lowered Pippin and his cocoon back to the ground, and included Merry in his smile. "I sure do, cousin. I'm sure you didn't know what this "quest/thing" would be like when you volunteered to come, and believe me, I didn't either. But here we are, and I just can't imagine how dull it would be without you with us." Frodo turned slightly. "I'm sure you'd agree, Aragorn?"
A pause. "I wouldn't have it any other way, Frodo."
Pippin was wide awake now. "You know, as long as we're airing grievances, can someone else walk behind Bill sometimes? What I mean is—"
"Good night, Pippin," said at least four voices at once.