1. Foolish Hobbit
-- Frodo Baggins, "A Shortcut to Mushrooms"
Frodo waited for the large green door of Bag End to click soundly shut, standing facing it for a moment, ensuring its firm seal into place before turning in a storm to the study and the awaiting wizard.
"What were you thinking, Gandalf?" He exclaimed as he entered the room. He was nearly shouting and somewhere, deeply buried below his fury, it registered that he was being rude – to an incredibly powerful wizard at that – but anything equivalent to reason evaded his mind and the volume of his voice remained constant.
"How can you do that to him?"
But Gandalf appeared unruffled by the small hobbit shaking with far from silent fury before him. He simply sat, though awkwardly, on a scarlet armchair near the study fire, his gray eyes twinkling with what Frodo was appalled to discover was mirth.
"My dear hobbit," Gandalf began, infuriatingly calm, "just what is it that I did to upset you so? You voice has not attained such levels since you were a small child." And he chuckled fondly at the memory.
"You --" Frodo stopped, a hand suspended in the air mid-swing, his eyes glaring in disbelief at his guest.
"Gandalf, you have committed Sam to an impossible journey under the threat of existence as a toad!"
"Really, my boy, he did seem pleased with the decision. He will go and see the elves --"
"And what else? There is more to my journey than elves, Gandalf. This isn’t some walking party you have invited him to join!"
"Of course it isn’t!" The wizard exclaimed, rolling his eyes and throwing Frodo deeper into his haze of anger. "It would not be much of a punishment if that was all there was to it. Really, Frodo, just going to see elves would not teach him much."
"Gandalf," Frodo was going to great lengths to keep his voice at a reasonable level this time, though his hands were slowly curling into trembling fists.
"Sam is my gardener, under my orders, and you have neither the right nor the authority to deal out punishment on him – certainly not without my consent which I have not and shall not give!" His attempts at calm already failing, Frodo abandoned this tactic entirely and his voice returned to its previously loud volume.
"Besides, this is not a punishment, this is torture!" Frodo stopped, the full meaning of his words sinking in. His mouth unconsciously formed a silent ‘o’ of horror, but he shook his head, brushing the new dark thoughts from his mind and regaining what remained of his composure.
"It’s not fair, Gandalf."
The wizard looked up from the pipe he had been intent on lighting and glanced appraisingly at Frodo, his eyebrows arching in surprise.
"And do you deem it fair to take back what has already been given?"
Frodo’s mouth assumed its open position again and he sank in sudden exhaustion into the billowing folds of one of the study’s larger couches.
"Do you really think you can convince young Samwise to not accompany you, especially now that the possibility has stuck in his mind?" The wizard chuckled, a sound Frodo was beginning to detest by the minute. "I tell you, I would not enjoy being the one to tell him he will not be visiting the elves."
"Would you bear him the unfortunate news that he was no longer threatened to join me in my hideous journey?"
"Come now, Frodo, do stop overreacting."
"Over --" And again, Frodo found himself speechless and he sank deeper into the couch’s soft embrace, begging to awaken from his growing nightmare.
"I am not overreacting, Gandalf." But the intended curt reply was muffled and pathetic as he turned his face into the giant cushion beside his head, scrunching his eyes shut and trying to breath into the fabric without much success.
Struck by a sudden idea, Frodo cautiously swiveled his head to glance testily at the wizard. A steady gaze met his, but he contained his wince and straightened as best he could in the pillows before speaking.
"I shall take him as far as Crickhollow – we will most likely meet an elf or two before then."
"And then?" Gandalf waited expectantly, a mischievous glint twinkling in his deep eyes and a small grin tugging at his mouth.
"And then our paths shall part," Frodo returned sharply. "Sam shall return home to his family and gardens and I shall go on to complete my journey and he shall never feel the touch of darkness or feel anything akin to fear or experience any of the horrid thoughts I now ponder because of you."
It may have been unfair to blame Gandalf for the extent of his problems, but caring had passed beyond Frodo’s range of emotions, which had been sharply reduced to a small selection consisting mainly of different levels of anger.
Gandalf smiled – an unusual reaction that ground infuriatingly at Frodo’s pride and stubborn tendency – and nodded in meek sympathy.
"Frodo," he began, his voice oddly soft after Frodo’s latest outburst. "Do you honestly believe you could make Sam abandon you at Crickhollow, or anywhere else?" He smiled secretively when Frodo’s head snapped up to meet his gaze.
"He --" Frodo paused painfully to swallow and clear his throat. "He should at least have the option."
Gandalf opened his mouth to reply but Frodo cut him off with an agitated wave of his hand – an action that few of the bravest knights would have dared attempt for the fear of a slow, painful death.
"And," he continued, undaunted by the scowl that flickered across the wizard’s face. "He should also fully know what it is he is committing to. I shan’t have him promising to follow me to the ends of the earth if he knows not where they are."
"I believe he acquired much of that information but a half hour ago from below your window, my friend," Gandalf remarked with a smile as he finally lit his pipe.
And Frodo could not help but let the smallest of smiles creep into his face.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.