A/N: This is a work in progress. It's not the way I want it to be yet, but I got tired of staring at it on my computer, so I thought I'd put it up and get some kind of feedback.

Flames accepted so long as they're creative and not just vulgar, but I am hoping for some real feedback if at all possible.

I own nothing, and I'm making not profit, and I'd prefer that no one out there sue me.

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The Musings of a Brandybuck
Mandy M.

It was a strange time lasting perhaps an hour, perhaps less, when nothing was required of any of us, the remaining members of the Fellowship. We gravitated toward each other instinctively, without even noticing it was happening, and we sat together.

No one spoke. What we needed more than words was silence—a moment to breathe in the company of those we trusted. A moment where no one had to pretend to be braver than he was, or lie that this was what he expected when he agreed (or begged) to go along. The Riders of Rohan were busy with their own business, and wouldn't notice our shoulders sagging more than usual. If someone did see that we were more somber than usual, he said nothing.

My thoughts drifted.

I thought of Frodo, his eyes like those of elves, aged and knowing, misplaced in a face that, for all the years behind it, seemed to belong to one just barely grown, and I thought of Sam, with his unconditional loyalty to his employer and friend. I thought of Boromir, still near to my heart, though I would never look on his face again, and of Gandalf, riding back from death on the swiftest horse in all the lands of Rohan, white cloak billowing out behind him. I thought of Pippin in Gandalf's arms, so sure he was all grown up, and so wrong.

Aragorn with his reforged sword and his fantastic prophesies, and Legolas, an Elven-prince. Gimli's father had been on Bilbo's adventure, and Gimli himself was a mighty fighter in his own right. What was I in such company? Brandybucks may have been thought a bit odd back in the Shire, but there the name commanded respect. Here I had to earn my own respect among people who thought that hobbits were creatures from lore, long gone from Middle-Earth if they ever had truly existed.

Strider was called away by one of the Dúnedain, and after giving me a weary smile, he was off to tend to matters no one could be bothered to properly explain to a poor hobbit. Legolas and Gimli went off a short time later, perhaps to join Strider or perhaps on their own; I did not ask. If someone had told me a year earlier that this was where our little conspiracy would get me, I would have called him mad. I was sitting alone on the ground, with Big People running back and forth about me, feeling quite a bit smaller than I ever had before. What was I doing there, a little halfling getting in the way of these good men?

It was then that an explanation came to me, though I never knew from whence. While it did not calm all the fear in my heart, it gave me a strength I had not known before.

I was sole ambassador to these people for the Shire, and indeed, hobbit kind. I was there because we had not vanished from Middle-Earth, and I was willing to die so that we would not. I was there because, small and weak though I was compared to the lords of greater races, there were those smaller and weaker than I, and even the tiniest of hopes and the tiniest of creatures can have a profound influence on the ending of a tale yet to be finished. I was there because I wanted to be able to say that we all lived happily to the end of our days.

Things were never quiet the same as before the Ring, and how could they be? We had survived more then most hobbits ever hear of in the wildest of tales. And though perhaps my life was never again quite so interesting—thank the stars—I like to think that I did live happily to the end of my days.

~end