Mr. Underhill, My Foot
Chapter 1 – The Prancing Pony
The Prancing Pony. That's when I saw him for the second time in my whole life. He strode in, well, more like waddled in, with his three companions by his side. They were soaking wet and their hoods drooped over their heads. The four Halflings took their hoods off and I got to really see him, his angelic face, scraggy hair and pale skin. It was clear he got his skin and lips from his mother, but his hair and eyes definitely came from me.
He approached the Inn-keeper warily and tried peeking over the table.
"Ex-Excuse me?" His voice wavered.
The Inn-keeper looked around in surprise; he peered over the desk and saw four little hobbits staring up at him.
"Good evening, little masters. If you're seeking accommodation, we got some cosy Hobbit-sized rooms available. Mister...?"
"Underhill. My name's Underhill." He stuttered.
What the-? Underhill? That isn't the name Arwen and I agreed on. I thought we gave him to the Bagginses...hmm, very odd.
The Inn-keeper looked at him curiously. It was obvious that he thought of the name on the spot, after all, what kind of a name is Underhill? Even for a Hobbit.
"Underhill, yes." The Inn-keeper nodded his head.
"We're friends of Gandalf the Grey. Can you tell him we've arrived?" Wait, what? Gandalf never told me that he was acquainted with my little boy.
The cheek of the wizard, he could've at least dropped by once in a while and tell me how my own son was doing. Then again, he probably didn't think I deserved to know, since the only part of his life that I've been involved in was the 'giving up' part.
"Gandalf?" He cocked his head to the side, thinking to himself. "Gandalf..." He repeated. "Oh, yes, I remember. Elderly chap. Big, grey beard, pointy hat." He nodded and smiled to himself, then shook his head. "Not seen him for six months."
Frodo looked at him as if he was mad. He was so sad, so crestfallen, the sight of him made my heart melt. He glanced away at his friends.
The chubby one, I later came to know was Sam, leaned forward.
"What do we do now?" He whispered, but loudly enough for me to hear.
Frodo looked around and then gestured to an empty table, thankfully only a few feet away from where I sat by the window, smoking my pipe.
The two other Hobbits went to the bar and brought back four drinks. Frodo took it gratefully and turned to his gardener.
"Sam, he'll be here. He'll come." He was so hopeful, so determined.
One of the Hobbits, the one I assumed was the more sensible one, left the table and came back with a huge cup filled to the brim with bubbles. He was concentrating very hard on not tipping over the almost over flowing cup, yet still managed to let it swish to the side. So much for sensible.
The attention of the Halfling sitting next to him was immediately aroused. "What's that?" He asked with way too much curiosity.
"This, my friend, is a pint." The 'sensible' one looked at his little companion greedily.
"It comes in pints?" His eyes widened. Idiot, of course they come in pints. "I'm getting one." He said to Frodo and his gardener.
"You got a whole half already!" Sam shouted after him.
Frodo looked after his tiny figure disappearing amongst the hordes of drunks, forcing himself not to laugh at how out of place the little Hobbit looked, surrounded by fully grown men who were towering over him.
The blonde Hobbit, sitting next to Frodo, nudged him and pointed at me.
"That fellow's done nothing but stare at you since we arrived." Ed' i'ear ar' elenea! Am I that obvious?
Frodo guardedly turned his head towards me. I exhaled deeply out of my pipe and a ring of smoke emerged out of my mouth, lingering over my face and then vanishing into the air.
The Inn-keeper passed the Periannath but was stopped by Frodo's outstretched arm.
"Excuse me," Frodo looked up and the Inn-keeper knelt down. "That Man in the corner. Who is he?"
The owner of the Inn risked a quick glimpse at me and his eyes widened for split second. He turned back to Frodo cautiously.
"He's one of them Rangers. They're dangerous folk, wandering the Wilds. What his right name is, I've never heard, but around here he's known as Strider." He nodded and walked away.
Brilliant. The first thing Frodo hears about me is that I'm an andelu Taur'ohtar. Who also happens to like staring at Hobbits. Wonderful.
Frodo gazed at the carvings on the table. "Strider," He whispered to himself.
I watched carefully as his eyes slowly drooped down, I glanced at his hands and stifled a gasp. So it was true. The Ring, the One Ring, really was in the hands of a Perian. It was in the small hands of my son. He fingered the golden ring, absentmindedly. I could see the index finger on his right hand creeping closer to the Ring; he was going to wear it. Well we can't have that.
Suddenly his eyes snapped open when one of the Periain who had gone to get a pint said: "Baggins? Sure, I know a Baggins."
Frodo's head whipped around to his Hobbit friend sitting on a stool much too high for him at the bar.
"He's over there. Frodo Baggins." He turned and gestured towards Frodo with his pint.
My son's eyes widened as the idiot Perian continued talking about him. "He's my second cousin, once removed on his mother's side...and my third cousin, twice removed..."
Frodo jumped up and pushed his way through the crowds. Then realisation dawned on me, he isn't any Underhill, he stayed a Baggins. But he was disguising himself. And now the stupider one of the Periain was blowing his cover. I removed the pipe from my mouth as I watched him bustle through the Prancing Pony.
"Pippin!" He cried and grabbed the Hobbit's arm. Unfortunately he clutched onto the arm that was carrying his pint and it sloshed over.
"Steady on, Frodo!" Pippin yelled, evidently annoyed at losing even a small amount of his drink.
Frodo tripped on someone's shoe and fell back, his left hand flung in the air, his palm stretched outwards. And then, right in front of my eyes, the Ring flew up, out of his hand. I lurched forward, suddenly aware that at the precise moment, anyone could've turned around and snatched the Ring, and the world of man-kind would fall.
Everyone around Frodo turned to look at the fallen Hobbit just in time to see him stretch out his index finger and let the Ring slip onto it. He vanished. Despite the fact that almost everyone in the Prancing Pony was drunk, they had enough sense in them to know that disappearing like that was just about impossible, they all gasped.
The mouths of the three other Periannath dropped open and their eyes widened. Dear god, it wouldn't be long till the Úlairi came, they would've sensed Frodo putting on the Ring.
He vanished for about 20 seconds before returning to sight again. His back was against a wooden post, his breathing was heavy and his head whipped from side to side as if expecting someone to attack him.
I sighed. He couldn't keep doing this, he couldn't be so reckless. Someone had to set him straight, and who else better to do it than his own father?
I grabbed his left shoulder and dragged him to the wall. My hood was draped very low over my head; the only visible parts of my face were below my eyes.
"You draw far too much attention to yourself, 'Mr. Underhill.'" My foot.
Clutching onto his shirt, I lifted him with ease and pushed him up the stairs into a room in the corner. He dropped to the floor and rolled across it for a while before straightening himself up.
"What do you want?" He said with dignity and clear stubbornness. No doubt a trait he inherited from me.
I turned from the door after slamming it closed. "A little more caution from you. That is no trinket you carry."
"I carry nothing."
"Indeed." I walked to the window and put out the candles with my bare fingers. "I can avoid being seen if I wish, but to disappear entirely, that is a rare gift." I whipped off my hood, showing myself to him properly.
"Who are you?" Frodo asked carefully.
"Are you frightened?"
"Not nearly frightened enough, I know what hunts you." Of course, that's not exactly what I really wanted to say. But I couldn't very well blurt out 'its okay, you can trust me. I'm your father. Yes, I gave you up at birth and your mother used Elven magic to turn you from an Elf-Man to a Hobbit, only because it's the easiest conversion and we weren't allowed to keep you.' Like that was going to happen.
The door burst open and I whirled around, my hand instinctively pulling out my sword.
"Let him go! Or I'll have you, Longshanks." Sam shouted with naught but his stubby little hands, which were balled up into fists, to protect him. The two Periannath by his side bore either a metal ornament with three lit candles on it or a chair.
I sighed and lowered my sword back into its case.
"You have a stout heart, little Hobbit. But that will not save you. You can no longer wait for the wizard, Frodo." Saying his name gave me a warm feeling, I have never felt more regretful in my life for giving him up then I did at that moment. I walked to him. "They're coming."
By Frodo's expression, I assumed he knew that I spoke of the Úlairi.
I ran down to the main bar and booked two rooms under the names 'Baggins' and 'Underhill'. Hopefully, the Úlairi will take the bait and, being crazed and driven by the call of the Ring, will abandon their senses and head straight for the room signed under 'Baggins'.
I waited for the surprised Inn-keeper to pass me two keys and I ran to the false Baggins room. As professionally as I could, on the four beds, I put stuffed pillows under the quilts to make it look like there were actually Hobbits sleeping there. Satisfied that my work would fool even the damn Nazgûl, I left the room and returned to the room in which Frodo, Sam, Pippin and the other not-so-sensible-one were gathered around the fireplace.
I heard a thud far away from the Inn. They were here. With wide, but forcibly controlled eyes, I ushered them into bed and sat by the window.
Just as their heavy breathing turned into snores, the door of the room that I booked under 'Baggins' was banged open and four Nazgûl sauntered into the room. Each of the Black Riders went to a bed, all of which had very believable fake 'Halflings' underneath the duvet. I stared out the dirty, fogged up window into the room opposite mine.
I saw a flurry of black cloth and feathers scatter across the room. And then there was screeching. Lots and lots of screeching. Enough even to wake up the Hobbits that lay sleeping in the beds next to me. Frodo sat up, followed by Pippin and the other one, whose name was apparently Merry.
"What are they?" Frodo asked, his arms crossed over his chest.
"They were once Men." My son looked at me disbelievingly, I don't blame him. "Great kings of Men. Then Sauron the Deceiver gave to them nine rings of power. Blinded by their greed, they took them without question. One by one, falling into darkness." I glanced out the window, watching as the frustrated and agitated Úlairi left Bree, convinced the Frodo must've already moved on. "Now they are slaves to his will."
I turned back to Frodo. "They are the Nazgûl. Ringwraiths. Neither living nor dead. At all times they feel the presence of the Ring, drawn to the power of the One. They will never stop hunting you." It pained me to say it, and there was so much more I wanted to say. But I refrained from adding that there was no need to look so scared, they was no reason to be frightened, he was in good hands.
But in truth, there was a reason to be scared. Frodo's life was in danger. But there's no chance in hell that I'd let any harm come to him. At least, I convinced myself that I could protect him from getting hurt, until Weathertop happened.
So there it is; the first chapter to the first LOTR fan fiction I've ever written. As of now, the story is just a recap of the exact scene in the Fellowship of the Ring just so you know where this starts from. You've probably figured it out by now, but anyway, the story is written from Aragorn's POV and it's about him seeing Frodo for the second time. And this is 'important' because, well, Frodo is his son. His and Arwen's son. Everything will be explained in the next chapter!
Reviews are much loved!