Lord Of The Rings Fan Fiction ❯ Soulmates ❯ Hot Under the Collar ( Chapter 17 )
"I said no, Uncle!" Frodo snarled.
"But, Frodo, you must!" Bilbo insisted.
"Legolas and the others say we all must agree to it!"
"Others?" Elrond asked sharply. "What others?"
"I…Never you mind, Sun Elf!" Frodo spat angrily.
"Who else, Frodo!" Elrond boomed.
"Legolas went to go get them, so you'll find out in a while! But until then, you shan't get a word from me, you wretched snake!"
"Frodo Baggins!" Bilbo snapped. "You watch your tongue! I'm surprised at you! You are not a young, irresponsible Hobbit anymore! Besides me, you are the oldest Hobbit who has ever lived! Apologize immediately."
"Just like you to defend the Sun Elves, Bilbo!"
"You sour little beast!" Bilbo roared. "You will show me respect!"
"Mr. Frodo! What in the hell is going on?!"
The group of Elves plus Bilbo turned to see Frodo's Soulmates, and the former two froze. Sam hurried over to touch the distraught Frodo, but the angry Hobbit shoved him violently away. Frodo was feeling rather hot under the collar, literally. He needed air. Or water. Yeah, water. Air seemed like a bad idea for some reason, but he couldn't stop panting, sucking in great breaths. He was so very warm and every breath stoked the heat higher.
"What are ya doin', Mr. Bilbo! Yellin' at Mr. Frodo like that?" Sam demanded.
"He refuses to show me any respect!" Bilbo growled.
"Well, Mr. Bilbo, you ain't doin' a good job o' that yerself!" Sam said with a sharp nod.
"Why you insolent little pest! Time has done you no good!"
With that mean comment, Bilbo, in a fit of youthful rage, slapped Sam across the face. Frodo watched as Sam went down, sitting and rubbing his cheek, where he could visibly see a red mark forming. The heat rose up higher than before, and Frodo felt his cheeks flush. He spun his uncle to face him, and Bilbo opened his mouth to hurl another comment at him, but he stopped. He looked afraid.
"W-what's wrong with your eyes, lad?" he asked hesitantly.
Frodo could see his light blue eyes reflected in his uncle's. But they weren't light blue. They were flickering orange and seemed to be moving.
"Mr. Frodo, I'm all right," Sam said quickly, standing up and trying to tug his friend way from Bilbo.
"Apologize to him! Now!" Frodo shouted, sending the heat up a few notches.
"F-Frodo, lad, you're a mite warm. A bit hot, actually," Bilbo stammered, tugging away from his nephew's grip. "Maybe you should go cool down."
"I don't need to cool down! Apologize!"
"Mr. Frodo, really, it ain't nothin' I can't handle," Sam assured him.
"No, Sam, he must apologize!"
"Frodo, let him go!" Elrond said, grabbing his arm.
"Don't you dare touch me, Sun Elf!" Frodo snarled, trying to shrug him off.
"Frodo, calm down!" Legolas said. "Or you're going to—"
Elrond interrupted the Moon Elf by jerkin Frodo up to eye level. That was all it took to push him over the edge. Frodo heard a whining whistle, then the heat that had licked at him, growing greater and greater with every word that passed from Bilbo's mouth, finally exploded.
There was an intense blast of heat that sent everybody flying then fire followed, decimating every tent around. The grass was seared away beneath him at the intensity of the heat and Frodo hit the dirt gasping. Oh what a relief that was! He felt so cool now, so blessedly cool. Then he looked around. He paled.
"I…I am fire…" Frodo muttered, then began to cry.
Everybody was unconscious. By some miracle, the fire hadn't touched the bodies on the ground. The horses had run away when the fire had seared their reins away, fearing the heat. The tents were gone, small flames still licking at the ground. Luckily they had been moving, so their weapons and gear were on the ground.
The destruction was horrible, and Frodo stood and began backing away. He looked at his Soulmates. They wouldn't want him anyway. They had made that clear in their jesting two weeks ago. He turned and ran into Fangorn Forest, hoping they wouldn't find him, but knowing they would. It was only just a matter of time.
He alternated between running, hunting, and sleeping, going deeper into the forest. A week in, he heard a noise behind him, and began to run. There was a loud set of thuds then hands scooped him up.
Frodo gasped as he was lifted ten feet off the ground. O…kay. Not one of his Soulmates. He looked up to see…a tree?
"What?" he panted, trying to catch his breath.
"Pardon me, Hobbit," the tree said in a slow, deep voice. "I though you were Sam, Merry, or Pippin. You must be Frodo."
"I am," Frodo said.
"I am Fangorn," the tree said slowly.
"F-Fangorn?" Frodo asked, feeling a little intimidated. "Um, nice to meet you."
"A true pleasure." Fangorn stood and began walking deeper into the forest. There was silence for a while then Fangorn spoke again. "Why were you running, little Hobbit? You were frightened, and the trees do not think Orcs are the reason."
"I…thought somebody was chasing me."
"Who?" Silence. "Certainly not me?"
"No. I didn't even know you were there, to be honest."
"Well...it doesn't matter."
"Hoom, hum, really?"
Frodo blushed as he realized something. "The trees told you, didn't they?"
"They mentioned that you were running, little Hobbit. Why, they're not sure. Hoom, but I am guessing that it has something to do with my little ion."
Frodo flinched as if he's been yelled at. "I'm...Yes. It has to do with Legolas."
"And the others?"
"Have they given you cause to fear them?"
"I just can't bear to have them reject me."
Fangorn stopped walking so suddenly that Frodo nearly lurched off the shoulder the tree being had placed him on. Treebeard picked the Hobbit up again and held him up to the gnarled face.
"Yes," Frodo said, looking down.
"Why would your Soulmates reject you?"
"Because I'm fire."
Nature didn't seem to make a single sound as Fangorn stared at him.
"You are fire?" he asked slowly. "I am afraid that I don't understand that. Is it something between you, hum, Soulmates?"
Frodo felt a chill run through him at the pure silence around them. It was as if the world was waiting for an answer.
"I…Well, Merry's is water, Pippin's is air, Sam's is...he never told me, but I think it's plants, and…you know."
"Hoom, hum! You are talking about your magic!"
Frodo nodded, looking away in shame. Treebeard was confused.
"Little Hobbit, why exactly are you running away? My son and your other companions will not abandon you because you discovered your magic. They will help you to understand it. They certainly will not reject you."
"Yes, they will."
"What makes you say that?"
"They don't want somebody who has fire. They made that perfectly clear."
"Hoom, so they said those words specifically?"
"Well…no. Not exactly. But they were joking about it."
Fangorn hummed again, low in his throat then placed the Hobbit back on his shoulder and resumed walking as the trees gave a ripple, though there was no breeze. "You know, Merry had this problem as well."
"Merry had what problem?" Frodo asked, curling his fingers around a sturdy branch.
"Thinking the others would be angry and shun him. He was the first one to discover his magic."
"Yes indeed, hoom, hum, little Hobbit. He ran in this direction, too. They did not discover he was gone for days. I found him four days into his run, half-starved and thirsting greatly. I took him back to my home, as I am doing for you. You seem like you have had enough food, though your voice is slightly raspy. Thirsty?"
"Yes! Very much so!" Frodo said with a nod.
"You are also covered in dirt. How would you like a bath?"
"That sounds very pleasant."
"Here is a creek that you may drink from and bathe in It's water comes from a cool spring just up the way."
Frodo was let down on the ground and he quickly stripped off his skirt and began bathing and drinking, taking great droughts of the water. When he was clean and his thirst was sated, he got out and shook to dry himself. He was slightly cold now, but he put on his skirt and sighed in satisfaction. Treebeard chuckled.
"You strange creatures like to be clean, but I'd say a layer of dirt is good for a body."
"Maybe for an Ent, but I truly like to be clean. It itches and chafes otherwise," Frodo said with a nod.
"Very well, come to my home, little Hobbit. Come and rest from your running."
Frodo climbed into the hand and sat back on Fangorn's shoulder. Fangorn stood and began walking again. He took Frodo to a little clearing where there was a small hollow off to one side. Frodo was set inside and Fangorn turned and walked away. He came back and handed Frodo a log with several fat mushrooms on it.
"Merry, Pippin, and Sam do so enjoy these. Would you like some?"
Frodo ate the mushrooms happily then stretched and yawned. He was tired. Lying down, he was soon asleep. For two days he stayed happily with Fangorn, the large being feeding him and showing him where he could drink. He also enjoyed many lovely conversations with the Ent. He was very wise and knowledgeable about the forest. But Treebeard never, ever tried to tell him that his friends wouldn't reject him. Not again, at least. Which made Frodo think the worst.
On the third day, Frodo woke pressed against warm bodies. He sighed and turned over, snuggling into a large chest before reason caught up with him. He quietly untangled himself from both Legolas and Sam then hurried over to dash between the trees. He paused, glancing back. Was it right to run again? No. It wasn't. But he wasn't ready to face them. He had never handled rejection well. He dashed away through the woods. He ran for a while before the need to breathe overwhelmed him. Then he strolled, feeling guilty. He paused by a little hole, where his senses finally catching up to him. It wasn't right to hide from his Soulmates. Not at all. They loved him, didn't they? They always said they did. Even if they didn't want him anymore, he had to know.
The Hobbit turned and took several steps back toward Treebeard's clearing. He had just passed close by the hole when the ground at his feet crumbled. He found himself sliding down a tunnel. He came out, fell twelve feet, then slammed belly first into the coldest water he had ever felt. The air was squeezed from his lungs and he floundered for the surface, but he couldn't tell which way was up. Bursting up to the surface, he gasped desperately for air. He found himself shuddering and swam to shore as fast as he was able. He crawled up, shivering. The cool breeze was now freezing him. There were no patches of sun to light up the clearing, so he sat there, shaking. He needed heat or he was going to die. The water must have been cursed, he thought, because I can't get warm.
Frodo grew colder and colder, and his shivering grew worse. Suddenly a warmth in his belly hit him just as he heard footsteps, and he burst into flame. He sighed in relief as the water was dried and he warmed up quickly. There was the sound of a throat clearing, and he looked up. The flames died away, and he found his cheeks hot for another reason. He looked away and felt uncomfortable at his Soulmates' silence. He swallowed.
"If it helps, I was trying to go back before I fell down that hole," Frodo muttered. The trees around him confirmed that that was true.
"What hole?" Sam asked, sounding concerned.
Frodo pointed at the opening in the side of the cliff that he had fallen from. They looked at it then turned back at Frodo.
"If you hadn't been running from us, you wouldn't have fallen down a hole," Merry said.
"Yeah, you would have been safe and warm with us," Pippin added.
"Are ya all right, Mr. Frodo?" Sam asked, walking over and looking him over.
"I was freezing a few minutes ago, but the fire helped."
"You and yer skirt are filthy," Sam said disapprovingly. "Come along. Let's get back ta Fangorn's. We'll talk there."
They were soon sitting together in the little clearing. Frodo was naked as Legolas cleaned his skirt. He hung it up to dry then sat down and pulled a clean Frodo into his lap. Treebeard was sitting a short way away, watching them silently.
"Now, we are going to give you one chance to explain yourself," Legolas said sternly. "I highly suggest you take that chance."
There was silence for several minutes. Frodo finally took a deep breath.
"You don't want fire."
"It's a mite warm for a fire, isn't it?" Gimli asked, confused.
Frodo swallowed. "No. I meant my…my magic."
"Why would you think that?" Aragorn asked, leaning back on his hands.
"You were laughing about it."
"You all implied that you didn't want that."
"Stop right there, Mr. Frodo," Sam said sternly. "That is where ya went wrong. You assumed. We implied nothin' o' the sort. We was just jokin' 'round. We don't mind at all that your power is fire. Do we?"
There were five head shakes. Legolas spoke up. "I actually thought that fire might be yours. Just look at your skirt. Our skirts reflect our inner magic."
"That's what I thought, too," Frodo said, leaning his head back against the Elf. "I…I know it might seem silly, but I was genuinely afraid that you would reject me. You say you love me all the time, but…Oh! I feel as if I'm an attention-hogging child. It's just, and please don't be offended, but it doesn't seem like I'll ever get enough of it."
"It?" Merry asked, tilting his head.
"Your love and affection."
"Oh, Frodo," Aragorn said with a shake of his head. "It's understandable that you need us greatly. You were separated from us for three hundred years. We desire to shower you with the love and affection you crave as much as you need it, if you'll only accept it."
Frodo nodded. "I just feel so greedy. It seems like you give and give and give, and all I do is take, take, take."
"You give us things," Pippin said with a smile.
"Yes. You give us time and your presence. We missed you so much."
"But you said that you felt like I was here the whole time," Frodo argued.
"You misunderstand. We missed you a lot, Frodo," Gimli said. "As much as you missed us."
"But," Aragorn said solemnly. "When you came back to us, it was as if you'd never left. We knew that we all belonged together. It was completeness like we had never really experienced."
"I complete you?" Frodo asked, sounding unsure.
"We complete each other. We're whole now that you're here," Pippin replied.
Frodo felt tears well in his eyes, but he ducked his head to hide them. Sam crawled over and kiss his friend's cheek then tilted his head up.
"Frodo," he said softly, and Frodo noticed the lack of formality at once. "Don't ya hide how ya feel. If ya need ta cry, then cry. We understand how overwhelmin' this is fer ya. Relax. Let it happen."
Frodo burst into tears, clinging to Sam like his life depended on it. Sam held him tightly, and Merry and Pippin joined him, kissing Frodo's head repeatedly and whispering that it was all right. Legolas pulled out his soul and everybody else followed suit. They settled in something like a pile, all of them comforting their Soulmate. Frodo fell asleep and when he woke, he was in Gimli's arms. Gimli was murmuring a soft Dwarven song. He smiled when he saw he was awake.
"Good day, Frodo Baggins," he said. "Did you rest well?"
"Yes. I feel good. Really good. You all love me and don't want to throw me away because I can wield fire."
"It is very good and important for you to understand that," Gimli said.
"Where are the others?"
"Over there eating lunch. Would you like to join them?"
Frodo's stomach rumbled, making Gimli laugh. "I suppose I do," Frodo said, his cheeks slightly red.
The Hobbit stood and realized he was naked. He thought about that for a moment as they walked over to his friends. A smile came to his face as he shrugged it off. His Soulmates didn't care, so, he thought with joy, I don't care.