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That One Time I Met a Hobbit

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She stared down towards the city gates. A lot of elves were waiting nearby to see them off. Most of the Fellowship was already there waiting. Gandalf was sitting on a large stone next to the gates. The old Istari appeared to be carrying nothing but the clothes on his back and his staff, but she knew that with wizards that didn’t mean much. He was puffing on his pipe and seemed to be deep in thought. She could only hope he was considering the best path for them to take instead of a new pair of socks, like certain other old wizards she had known.

Samwise was petting their pack pony, when she looked a bit better she noticed he was whispering something to it. He seemed like a reliable fellow. Merry and Pippin had their heads together above one of their packs. They seemed to be whispering about something or other. A smile took over her lips. She was glad those two were coming with them. From personal experience, she knew they would need someone to lighten the mood on such a perilous journey otherwise tension would grow until the Fellowship broke. Legolas was standing as far away from Gimli as possible, while still being a part of the group. He was looking over his bow and arrows so he could easily ignore Gimli’s not so subtile glares. Aragorn, Frodo and Boromir were still missing.

“Padfoot,” a very familiar call came from behind her. She turned around and tilted her head in question. Arwen smiled softly down at her. “I wish to give you something,” the elf explained. “For good luck on your travels.” She added softly. One of Arwen’s hands lifted hers. Harley caught a flash of silver and green as something was lowered to her palm. It was a necklace with a pendant. A sliver ivy leaf was warped around a small emerald green stone. The pendant hung from a very thin silver chain.

“Arwen, I can’t-“ she was quickly cut off.

“Yes, you can.” Arwen said as she closed Harley’s fingers over the pendant. “It is for good luck.” She repeated. “Besides it reminded me of your eyes,” their eyes met, a clash of pure blue and venomous green. When she saw the stubbornness in Arwen’s eyes a long, heavy sigh left her.

“Do you make it a habit to give away jewelry?” She asked jokingly. A soft smile was her answer. She looked down at the necklace again. It was beautiful and worth more than all of her possessions combined, she was sure. Then a thought occurred to her. “Wait, Aragorn isn’t going to try to drown me in a puddle if he sees this, is he?” She was only half joking. Aragorn still knew her as a man and she had no desire to find out how he would react to this little gift and its possible implications. What could only be the elven equivalent of a snort left Arwen, it was honestly adorable.

“No, he will not.” Arwen seemed highly amused by the mental image. With a small grimace, she nodded and clasped the necklace in place. She pushed it under her shirt and felt it settle under the Resurrection stone. When she looked back up at Arwen the elf was looking down towards the gate. She caught sight of Aragorn speaking to Legolas and understood. “Can I ask something of you…” Arwen turned back to her then “…Harley?” She whispered her name. Immediately she knew this would be serious. Arwen didn’t want to ask this of Padfoot, a mask, but of Harley, the person.

“That depends on what you will ask.” She answered seriously. She was done with blindly agreeing to anything.

“Fasta-, cheb- hon moina…mellon nin, (Please, keep him safe…my friend,)” the word friend caught her off guard. She only just came to terms with Aragorn’s friendship, for Merlin’s sake. She nodded nonetheless.

“Nin nidh-. (I will.)” Arwen smiled softly, her shoulders sagging in relief at her answer.

“Hanta- cin. (Thank you.)” She nodded back at the elf.

“I should go and join them now.” She said faintly, her gaze falling down to the fellowship. Boromir too was making his way to the gates. He still seemed unhappy about the way the council turned out.

“You sound reluctant.” Arwen observed and she couldn’t help but snort.

“What gave it away?” She glanced at the elf over her shoulder. “It is just,” a sigh left her. “It is just going to be a long and dangerous journey and I am afraid that this Fellowship might just fall apart before we even set off.” She admitted. There was no doubt in her mind that everyone in the fellowship was good on their own, but together, by Merlin. “Some of us clash as much as Dumbledore’s wardrobe.” She whispered.

“People like to surprise you at the weirdest of times.” Arwen told her quietly. “Have some faith in them.”

“Is that some of that legendary elven wisdom I’ve heard so much about?” She asked, her tone joking.

“No.” Her blue eyes were full of mirth. “Just a recent observation.” Harley snorted at the jab.

“Fair enough.” She grinned at the elf under her mask. She caught sight of Frodo at that moment. He was deep in thought, his steeps heavy with something. This journey just begun.

.

“The ringbearer is setting out on a quest to Mount Doom.” Elrond spoke slowly, his face serious and his voice heavy. He kept slowly looking from one member of the fellowship to another, meeting each gaze with determination. “And you, who travel with him, no bond and no oath is laid to go further than you will.” She saw some straighten at his words. She wasn’t sure what the purpose of his words was. Her first guess was that it was some form of elven ritual for good luck, but she detected no magic. Perhaps it was supposed to give them hope or strength, or perhaps make those who doubted reconsider.

Harley looked to Arwen for just a moment. She was the only elf showing emotion. All other faces were set on the same expression of seriousness. In contrast Arwen’s nervous stance and sad eyes filled with unshed tears seamed out of place. The elf seemed small in comparison. As Arwen’s gaze met hers, her hand went to her chest, over the ivy pendant. The silver felt cold against her skin. She gave a small bow with her head, she wanted to show the elf she would honor her promise. Arwen took a deep breath and drew herself up to her full height. Harley’s hand fell away, her message received.

“Farewell. Hold to your purpose.” Her attention turned back to Elrond as the elf continued. “May the blessings of elves and men and all free folk go with you,” his face seemed to soften as he said his last words of farewell and gazed at them all. From the corner of her eye she caught sight of Gandalf, Aragorn and Legolas putting their hands over their hearts and bowing their heads. It seemed like this was some form of elven ritual or tradition for long journeys after all. She also saw Boromir look to Legolas in confusion and disbelief before he turned his confused eyes to her. She just shrugged back at him. He shook his head. The hobbits remained oblivious.

“The fellowship awaits the ringbearer.” Gandalf said, his voice serious. It sounded to her as if the line was rehearsed before. Definitely some form of elven tradition.

Frodo slowly turned back towards them. His posture was firm. He slowly looked to each one of them as he passed, they all followed. “Mordor, Gandalf, is it left, or right?” she heard the hobbit whisper and could barely contain her laughter. Someone bumped into her and she looked up to see amusement fill Aragorn’s eyes. “Left.” Gandalf’s voice was serious, yet there was still a hint of laughter. This was bound to be an interesting journey.

She almost followed after the fellowship, but she felt Aragorn stop and turn back around. She, too, stopped and waited. She saw him look to Arwen and for a long moment she thought he might just stay. Arwen seemed to think so too as hope filled her gaze. But then Aragorn gave a small, slow nod and turned away. His face was somber as he passed her. She glanced back to Arwen only to see the elf sink back into herself as more tears gathered in her eyes. And with that their journey began.

.

Harley ended up walking next to Gimli, the two of them falling back towards the end of the Fellowship. Only Aragorn was behind them, but she noticed he wished to be alone, so she had hurried her step until she reached the dwarf. She glanced back to Aragorn. His eyes were downcast, it was as if he was grieving a great loss, as if that was the last time he would see Arwen. With a low sigh, she turned back. Gimli kept glancing up at her.

“Yes, master dwarf?” she asked him finally, having endured enough suspicious glances.

“Why you walking with me lad?” his gruff voice asked.

She tilted her head. ‘My friend is a brooding mess right now,’ didn’t seem like an acceptable answer here. She caught sight of light blonde hair moving in the breeze and grinned. “You seem like a good elf repellant.” She answered startling a rough laugh out of the dwarf.

“Oh, and why would you want something like that? Why do you dislike them?” inquired the dwarf.

“Paranoia.” Was her simple answer. “You?”

The dwarf huffed at her. “Too much blood between our races.” She nodded at that. She noticed he liked to drag and roll his r’s. His voice was also rough and booming, like stone hitting stone.

“That friend of yours, he seems to like them.” She glanced back to Aragorn at that.

“Aragorn? I suppose so.” she answered slowly. “He was raised by the elves, hard not to like them then I suppose.” she continued. Gimli snorted at her answer.

“Ha! And I thought he was normal.” The dwarf declared, startling a laugh out of her.

“He has been a ranger most of his life.” she said in defense of Aragorn’s normality. Gimli snorted at her.

“What’s wrong with him now?”

“Not on me to say, master dwarf.” She deflected the question easily. “You will have to ask him and if he wishes to share his troubles, he will tell you,” she explained further. “What about you master dwarf? What brought you to Rivendell?” She offered, Gimli seemed like someone easy to get along with, so she wished to continue their conversation.

The dwarf looked at her, his gaze penetrating. He was looking for something, she supposed, but what she didn’t know. He came to his decision and with a nod started his tale. “A messenger” he spat out the word, “of Sauron’s came to the Lonely Mountain. He offered us friendship,” he snarled at the word “if we told him any news of a hobbit bearing a Ring. Now the King under the Mountain ain’t dumb lad, he knew of such a hobbit, but he was a friend. So, he sent the messenger away, said he would think ‘bout it, but he also sent us, me and my father, you see. We were to go to Rivendell, warn Bilbo and talk to the elf ‘bout the whole thing. We don’t like the elves, but when it comes to the likes of Sauron and Mordor, well, let us just agree that the elves have more experience.” The dwarf explained.

“What about you lad? What brought you to Rivendell?” requested Gimli. A story for a story she supposed.

“I helped escort Frodo to Rivendell.” she began. “We met them in Bree, Black Riders were closing in on them. Fortunately, we managed to evade them. Sadly, not for long. They caught up with us at the watchtower of Amon Sûl. Aragorn and I fought them but we were outnumbered. One of them slipped past us and got to Frodo. I tried to help him but I had no experience in dealing with a Morgul blade. He could have become a wraith if Arwen hadn’t found us and taken him ahead. And from there the five of us made our way to Rivendell. The Nazgûl hadn’t cared about us, only the Ring.” She finished her tale. Her eyes caught Gimli’s and the dwarf seemed to freeze for just a moment, before shaking it off with a grumble.

“You had a more interesting journey than us it seems.” He gruffly remarked.

“Ay. I suppose we did,” she agreed with a small laugh.

“Really, we didn’t even encounter bandits. Oh, if I had been with you I would have bashed a Nazgûl’s skull in with me axe.” He told her as he gripped his axe tighter.

“I am sure you would have,” she looked towards the front of the fellowship. “You might just get your chance to do so, master dwarf.”

“Ah, it’s Gimli lad.”

“Padfoot then.”

.

She dropped her five stone slabs to the ground and sat down cross legged. They had just stopped for the night. The camp was already set up and Legolas had been sent out to hunt for fresh meat. She threw a quick look around the camp. Boromir was sharpening his sword. Merry and Pippin were bothering Sam as the hobbit tried to find something in his large pack. Gandalf was puffing on his pipe as both he and Frodo stared at the fire. Her gaze stopped on Frodo. The little hobbit had the hardest task of them all. She might be able to do something to ease his burden, but it had to wait for now. She couldn’t see Aragorn, as the man had murmured something about scouting the area and then disappeared into the woods. And Gimli was over in the bushes…taking care of business.

With a shake of her head she got back to work. She twitched her finger and a small chip of wood was floating near her head. Two whispered words later and the chip was engulfed in Bluebell flames. She needed better light than what the camp fire provided for her work. Bluebell flames would also burn on their own and levitating a small piece of wood was less work than keeping a Lumos going at the tip of her wand or fingertip.

She had only started drawing the first rune in chalk when she felt two someones loom over her. “Yes? Merry? Pippin?” She asked the two with a sigh, dropping her work for now.

“What is that Padfoot?” Asked Merry, nodding to the Bluebell flame next to her. She saw Pippin’s fingers twitch towards the flame and smiled. The two had a childlike curiosity about them that was endearing.

“That, my dear hobbit, is a Bluebell flame. It is a magical flame, waterproof and completely harmless to anything not plant based.” To demonstrate her point, she removed her glove and ran her hand slowly through the flame. All she felt was soft warmth. “So yes, Pippin, you can touch it.” She smiled at the hobbit as he ran his finger through the flames, very slowly, before laughing.

“Look Merry!” He said his voice filled with excitement as his fingers passed through the flame once again.

And as Merry also ran his hand through the flame and laughed, she realized she wouldn’t be able to get back to her work with the two hovering over her. With that thought she grabbed her expanded bag and summoned a jar from within. A murmur and a twitch of her fingers later and the jar was filled with soft blue flames.

“Here you go, you two.” She said as she handed the jar to Pippin. “Now leave me to my work.” With a nod at her the two shuffled back over to Sam to show off. She smiled softly as she watched the two talk to Sam. Her eyes turned to the third hindrance to her work. “I assume you want your own jar?” She asked The Grey Wizard.

He let out a puff from his pipe that turned into a bird and flew off before answering her. “I am more interested in what you are doing with this,” he tapped at the stone slab on her lap with the end of his pipe. She glanced down at the first line she drew. At this rate, she wouldn’t get any work done.

“I am making a simple ward. It will be tied to these stones and if I do it just right it should be portable and take less than half an hour to set up and dismantle.” She explained.

“And what shall this ward of yours do?” The wizard was back to puffing on his pipe but she had his full attention.

“It won’t be able to keep anyone out, if that is what you’re thinking. For something like that I would need a better base stone than just regular river stone, more time and a permanent residence, I’m afraid. This will be better than me setting up the wards without the stones, more solid, I suppose, and durable. This will simply tell anyone that doesn’t know about the camp that they really don’t need to be going this way. They will be able to resist the impulse if they really try to, mind you. It will also warn us about anyone coming within it. Well, it will definitely alert me. I should be able to key you into it and I might be able to key Legolas and Aragorn into it as well.” She explained to the wizard.

“And why is that? Why just the four of us and not everyone in the fellowship?” He had stopped smoking at some point during her explanation and was now giving her his full attention.

“Magic,” she said with a shrug. “The ward is magical and so it needs something magical to latch onto, dormant or otherwise.”

Gandalf hummed in thought. “I can understand myself and Legolas, as I am a wizard and all elves have dormant magic. But Aragorn?” He asked and she nodded at his observation.

“I have seen Aragorn heal a few rangers over the years. Don’t get me wrong he uses the traditional means, but his patient always heal faster than if anyone else would have healed them. I have sensed a touch of magic every time he heals. I suspect he does so subconsciously, but it is still there and still answers his call.” She told the wizard. “So yes, I might also be able to key him into the ward.” The wizard just nodded at her answer and then went back to his pipe, his gaze far away in thought.

She went back to her work. She was able to finish only the first symbol in chalk when she was distracted again. “What does that symbol mean?” Gandalf asked making her sigh in frustration.

“Look, I would feel a lot better if I could set these up as soon as possible. But runes require full concentration, otherwise I might screw something up and the stone will blow up in my face. I don’t fancy losing an eye to stone shrapnel so can you please let me do my work.” She snapped up at the wizard. As the wizard’s face fell, she could honestly say she felt bad for snapping at him. “Alright,” she gave in and Gandalf’s face brightened immediately. Manipulative old coot. “How about you let me finish the ward and I will explain everything after I’m done.” Before the wizard could interject she added. “And yes, I’ll answer any questions you have.”

After a moment of thought he asked. “And how long do you think you’ll need to finish?”

“Two or three days. Depends on how much time I’ll have.” She gave the wizard a pointed glare that made him chuckle.

“That sounds like an acceptable deal.” He answered and went back to his pipe, but he didn’t move away from her. Harley gave him a suspicious look.

“You still want your own jar of flames, don’t you?”

“That would be most appreciated, yes.”

.

They had stopped for lunch this time. Just a short rest before they move on. She doubted she would have gotten much work done on the ward stones so she decided to take care of her knifes instead. She found the action calming, unfortunately she noticed she was almost out of oil. “Here.” Someone said as a bottle was offered to her. She looked up and met eyes with Boromir’s light blue ones.

“Thank you,” she said while slowly taking the bottle form his hand. “How did you-“ She began to ask but was cut off.

“You were glaring at your bottle.” Answered Boromir as the man sat down. She huffed at his answer. Boromir took one of her knifes and started inspecting it. “Throwing knives?” He asked and she shrugged up at him.

“I used to have a bow and arrows, but I find these easier to carry and conceal.” She explained. Boromir nodded and then joined her in cleaning her knives. She raised an eyebrow at his behavior, but said nothing. The two of them lapsed into a comfortable silence. She noticed that one of her older and less used knives had rusted a bit at the dull edge.

Just as she started to remove the rust a large hand grabbed her wrist. “No, no you are doing it wrong.” Said Boromir gaining a glare from her.

“And how am I, pray tell, doing it wrong?” She asked harshly.

“You are using too much pressure,” he explained. “Here, let me show you.” And with that the knife was out of her hand and in Boromir’s. She watched the man gently work. The rust seemed to slowly melt away and all that was left behind was shiny metal. “Here,” he returned the knife to her. She turned it over a few times. “Weren’t you taught proper weapon maintenance?” He asked as he watched her.

She felt her cheeks heat up. “Erm, no,” she squeaked out. Boromir raised an eyebrow at her. “I mean, no. No, I wasn’t. I’m self-taught.” She answered.

Boromir scoffed down at her as he glanced at her sword, which lay down on the ground in its sheath next to her. “And is your sword wielding also self-taught?” He demanded of her. She snorted at him.

“No. I was taught.”

“I find that doubtful. A proper teacher would have taught you sword maintenance too.” His tone was mocking.

“There was no need for it.” She remarked. “The knives came after and the sword doesn’t require maintenance like this.” She explained. Honestly even if she had wished to learn actual sword maintenance she had been better off asking the house elf. She doubted that a pureblooded wizard such as her teacher would have known such a thing.

Boromir snorted at her answer. “What kind of sword doesn’t need to be maintained?” He demanded of her.

“A magical one,” she glared up at him.

“Is that your answer to everything? Magic?” He demanded again.

She snorted back. “No, of course not. Magic cannot solve all your problems, but it helps in most cases.”

Blue eyes searched hers for a long moment before Boromir nodded at her answer. “So…how do you take care of your sword?” He asked her, she could see the curiosity in his eyes.

“I make sacrifices to it.” She answered, her tone serious. Boromir stiffened at her answer and pulled a face that made her burst out in laughter. “Not like that,” she said between breaths, Boromir relaxed and glared at her. “By Merlin, that was my reaction too.” That seemed to do the trick as a small smile pulled at his lips, it was barely noticeable but still there. “What I mean is that I sacrifice my magic to it, otherwise it would draw on the magic around it and that isn’t recommended. Can be risky in some cases.” She explained.

“Here, look.” She said as she lifted the sword into her lap and pulled it out slightly so that the blade was visible. She feed it a tiny bit of her magic and the sword seemed to hum in satisfaction, the blade gave of a small glow in appreciation.

“It is beautiful.” Said the man next to her as his hand went towards the blade. She quickly snapped it back into it sheath.

“Better not, the blade has venom in it. So, we better not risk it,” she explained at his look. “You did cut yourself on the shards of Narsil,” she teased making the man huff at her.

“And why does it have venom in it? Doesn’t seem very honorable.”

“Wasn’t my decision,” she explained and got a raised eyebrow for her efforts. “Let’s just say that I killed something very venomous and the sword decided that it wanted some of that.” She could see he wasn’t satisfied with her answer but he nodded none the less. That is when Sam called them to lunch.

.

She let out a slow sigh and relaxed her body fully. The ward stones were finally finished. And she had just enough time to set it all up before they went to sleep. Well, set it up, key Gandalf into the ward and explain it all to the old wizard. She lifted her head and looked for the wizard. He was sitting by the fire, puffing on his pipe as per usual.

“Gandalf,” she called gaining the wizard’s attention. “I have finished.” She explained as she lifted one of the stone slabs. “Do you want me to explain now or some other time?” She asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Now would be fine, if you agree,” the wizard said and she nodded. He got up and then sat next to her.

“Alright. Uhm, where to start?” She asked herself.

“At the beginning would be preferable,” she glared at the wizard as he gave her a teasing smile.

“At the beginning, then. This is the center stone,” she began as she lifted the first stone. “We know it is the center stone because the runes on it branch out in all directions. This big symbol in the middle represents balance.” She said as she tapped her finger next to the symbol. “Do you see how these runes crate a chain of sorts?” She asked. Gandalf nodded and she continued. “Those four chains will connect to the other four stones. North, South, East and West respectively.” She pointed out each line as she mentioned them. “This is also why those symbols are slightly bigger than the rest. They are what is keeping the ward together so they need to be a little stronger than the rest. Now the rest of these symbols, represent what you want the ward to do. That is also why they are smaller and spaced further apart,” she put down the center stone and took the second one.

“Now this is the north stone. You can recognize it by this big symbol here, which basically means north. And we know it is one of the outer stones by two things. One, the runes spread only in thee directions. And two, by these two thin tight chains of runes to the left and the right of the north rune,” she explained as she ran her finger along each rune chain. “These two chains represent the outer edge of the ward, basically the outside ring of it. I wrote them this small and tightly packed because that is how you want the magic of ward to be. As tightly packed as you can make it so it is harder to break. And of course, you again have this chain which connects the north stone and the center stone. And you also have these smaller runes which give the ward its purpose. All the outer stones are made in a similar way.” And with that she finished her explanation.

She looked at Gandalf. He was slowly puffing on his pipe, but his eyes were running along the stone in her lap. “Any questions?” She asked.

Gandalf hummed. “How would you make the ward stronger?”

“There are multiple ways of doing so. The easiest one is getting a better base stone. The harder the material the better. Diamond would be the best choice, but it is hard to find one big enough, much less multiple. You can also tie the ward to a plot of land,” she said. “You can also change the number of outer stones. Some also try to draw on the magic of numbers, but that is a double-edged sword. Numbers have a tendency to strengthen some things and weaken others. It is always a case of what you want more. And then there is the way that sets apart the masters and the average ward makers, layering and connecting your rune chains,” she answered.

“How would you go about layering chains?” Asked Gandalf, his bushy eyebrows coming together in a frown.

“You don’t actually put layers of chains on top of each other,” she said with a chuckle. “That is just the best way to explain it. It is all one chain, but you make it so it can be read in multiple ways. Left to right, right to left, upside down and so on. And if you have a see-through base, like diamond, you can engrave the runes inside the stone. This way you add another dimension to your ward stone and a whole other level of complication.” She explained. “This is why even the most experienced masters prefer to connect their chains than layer them. With connecting you just begin one chain in a different one and you are done. Chains can also cross, but that is still a lot easier than layering.” She fished her explanation.

Gandalf hummed in thought and puffed on his pipe. She stretched and heard her back give a bunch of satisfying pops. “That is all I can teach you right now.” Gandalf’s eyes were on her now, a question clear in his eyes. “I could teach you the meaning of each rune and how to connect them, but right now we don’t have the time.” She explained and got a nod in return.

“Understandable, once everything is over perhaps?” He smiled at her.

“Perhaps,” she agreed. “I’m going to set the ward up and then I can try to key you in. I’ll do Legolas and Aragorn tomorrow.” She said as she got up, the stone slabs in her hands.

Gandalf chuckled at her. “As you wish.” The wizard took another puff before suddenly looking up at her. “Ah, Padfoot. You wouldn’t mind telling me where you learned all of this?” The wizard asked.

She stiffened at his words. “I…I would rather not talk about that.”

Gandalf gave a slow nod. “I understand. We feel some things are better left in the past,” he told her. “I still hope you will tell me one-day Padfoot.” And with that he turned back to the fire and their conversation was over.

.

She woke up with a start. There was no reason for it. No bad dream, no one disturbing the ward. One moment she was in deep sleep and the other she was awake. She sat up slowly, stretching her body this and that way and hearing her joints crack. This was the second night of the ward being up and the first night she got a decent sleep since they left Rivendell. She rubbed at her eyes as she stumbled to her feet. Toilet, she needed a toilet now.

Keying Gandalf into the ward had been easy, the man was a wizard after all. Now keying Legolas and Aragorn had been a nightmare. First, she had to explain the whole thing to them. Aragorn accepted the whole thing, no problem there, now Legolas needed a bit of extra convincing. In the end, she had to key in Aragorn first and only when Legolas saw that he didn’t spontaneously combust did he agree. Not to mention she had to draw the magic from their blood herself because neither one of them could use it consciously.

She stumbled back to the camp. “What in Arda, is that thing on your head?” Legolas’s melodic voice greeted her. She opened her eyes to look at the elf. His expression was filled with disgust as he looked at the top of her head.

Her hand immediately went to her head…only to glare at the elf. “It is my hair.” Her hood must have slipped off sometime during the night.

“That isn’t hair. It resembles a bird’s nest more.” Legolas told her in disbelief.

“Well I don’t exactly have the time to keep it all nice and tidy.” Her hair was stubborn and keeping it all nice and straight took time, time she didn’t have. Not to mention it also needed a special potion. The elf’s eyes met hers and she snapped. “Okay, that is it I’m cutting it off.” She said as she stomped towards her pack.

“Wait, don’t.” Legolas said before he could stop himself.

“And why not? You were glaring at it a minute ago,” she demanded, but no answer came. “This is an elf thing, isn’t it?” She asked.

“Perhaps you could braid it.” Was the answer she got.

She rolled her eyes. “I tried that once. My fingers got tangled in it and I had to cut it off anyway.” Legolas frowned at her before looking back to her hair.

“Are you sure you are not a dwarf?” The elf remarked and she bristled.

“Now listen here-“ she started but was cut off.

“Ay. It does look a lot like dwarven hair.” Both of them looked towards Gimli. “Come here lad, I’ll see what I can do. Would be a shame to cut it all off.” The dwarf said gruffly. She and Legolas exchanged a look. She slowly sat down in front of the dwarf, still very unsure of what was happening. She felt Gimli’s fingers comb through her hair a few times as the dwarf muttered to himself. “Do ya have a comb lad?” He asked and she slowly nodded still very unsure of what was happening.

She summoned her bag and pulled out a comb. “Here.”

“Hmm, it will have to do,” the dwarf nodded to himself. She felt both Gimli’s fingers and the comb slowly untangle her mess of a hair.

“I…erm…can you put it all into one braid?” She asked slowly.

“Sure can, if ya want it that way,” the dwarf answered before getting back to work.

She met eyes with Boromir, he looked as confused as she felt. “I wish I could say this is one of the weirdest things that has ever happened to me, but it isn’t even in the top ten.” That got her a snort in return and she grinned.

The rest of the fellowship started to slowly wake up. They all gave the two of them curious and confused glances, but none commented. Sam had started on breakfast when the dwarf handed her back her comb. “Here lad. Looks better now.” She immediately summoned a piece of wood and transfigured it into a mirror.

Her hair didn’t look better. “It actually looks good,” she said in surprise as she looked over the braid. “Thank you, Gimli.” She said to the dwarf while still gazing at her reflection in astonishment.

“It was nothing. I’ve seen worse on little dwarflings.” The dwarf chuckled at her.

She shook her head to get back on track. “I better go and dismantle the ward.” She transfigured the mirror back into wood before getting up. She needed to remove the outer stones first so she headed for the north one, only to bump into Aragorn on the way. “Ah pardon me,” she said still a bit dazed. Aragorn smiled down at her. He witnessed the whole thing and knew how confused she was, she was sure of it. She glared up at him.

His smile suddenly fell. One of his fingers went to her brow. She frowned in confusion. Then he traced a familiar pattern on her forehead and down to her brow and she froze. “What happened here?” He asked, voice low.

Her eyes were wide as she stared up at him. “Something bad,” she swallowed before pulling away from his touch. “I don’t…I can’t…” She tried to explain, but no words came to her, so she just brushed past him. That memory was still a very painful one, she had been through too much because of that damn scar.

.

Aragorn watched Padfoot walk away from him. His hood was back up and his back was stiff. That was the first time he saw what was under that hood. He still hadn’t seen most of his face, but he now knew Padfoot’s hair color. Red, like fire. He was merely looking over what he could see of Padfoot, this new piece of the puzzle, when he saw it. A thin silvery scar that started on his forehead and covered most of his brow and eyelid. Normally you couldn’t see it, but with light shining so clearly onto it, it was hard to miss.

Once he had asked why there was no scar left behind when Padfoot healed a wound. The man had said that magic took care of that, but that some wounds still left a scar. Deep wounds, ones that would lead to death if not treated immediately and wounds done by dark magic. That was why Frodo had a thin scar now. And what ever happened to Padfoot looked bad and he worried for his friend.

.

They had stopped for lunch among some large rocks. A small cooking fire was set up and Sam was bent over it. She sat on one of the higher flat rocks. She had a good view of Boromir and Aragorn training Merry and Pippin in sword fighting. She was currently working on a way that could help Frodo resist the Ring, but it was slow going. She smiled as she watched the two hobbits train. She could hear Gimli complaining to Gandalf. She listened with half an ear to their conversation.

“Sorry!” Boromir’s voice caught her attention. She turned back towards the four only to see Boromir get tackled to the ground by the two hobbits. She joined into their laughter as she watched Merry and Pippin push at the man.

“Pippin and Merry, that is enough.” She watched Aragorn walk over to try and stop the mock fight. He tried to pull the two hobbits away only for them to pull his legs right from under him. She almost fell of her rock from laughter. Aragorn groaned as he slowly got up.

“So, you think this is funny?” The man asked her as he straightened up. Behind him Boromir fought the hobbits to get up.

“Hysterical.” She answered back between large gulps of air.

“Let’s see how you like it.” Aragorn grinned at her.

“What? Wait, no, no, no, Arago-“ She tried to get away, but was too slow. The large brute actually tackled her off her rock. She groaned. What was that idiot thinking, she was tiny in comparison. She could have been crushed. And the ground was very hard. She heard traitorous laughter come from behind them. “Auch…” She said slowly as Aragorn pulled his weight off her.

“What is that?” She heard Sam ask as Aragorn stood up and offered her a hand.

“Nothing, it is just a wisp of cloud.” Gimli’s gruff voice answered. She was easily pulled to her feet. Both of them looked towards this so-called cloud.

“It is moving fast…against the wind.” She heard Boromir say. This didn’t look good. Not good at all.

“Crebain from Dunland!” Yelled Legolas.

“Hide!” Yelled Aragorn. Everyone exploded into action. She heard someone douse the fire. Everyone grabbed their packs and other loose objects and ducked under bushes or rocks. She herself grabbed her bag and ducked under the nearest bush. Within seconds everyone was hidden and the crebain were flying above them. The crebain looked like regular crows to her, except they made this awful noise. This sort of squawking and croaking noise that grated against your very nerves. And just as quickly as they came, the crebain moved on away from them.

“Spies of Saruman.” Said Gandalf as everyone got out of their hiding place. “The passage south is being watched.” The wizard continued as everyone gathered around him. “We must take The Pass of Caradhras.” He said as he turned towards a tall mountain behind them. A very tall and very much covered in snow mountain. Oh, he had to be kidding.