The One Hour Fellowship Writing Challenge

Tog by onónë
(11:45 p.m.)

Gandalf walked in front, and with him went Aragorn, who knew this land even in the dark. The others were in file behind, and Legolas whose eyes were keen was the rearguard. The first part of their journey was hard and dreary, and Frodo remembered little of it, save the wind. For many sunless days an icy blast came from the Mountains in the east, and no garment seemed able to keep out its searching fingers.

Sam looked up at Boromir walking a few paces ahead of him. He still felt awkward around this man. He had gotten used to Strider… after all, Strider was the one who had saved Master Frodo from the Black Riders on Weathertop. And Strider was friends with the elves. And Strider, Sam was sure, had a sense of humor. But Boromir, so tall and serious and proud… Sam wasn't sure what to think of him.

Sam's foot caught in a tree root and brought his thoughts back to his surroundings. He pulled his cloak around him even tighter and quickened his pace to catch up with the other hobbits in front of him.

Merry and Pippin were walking just in front of Boromir. They had been silent for quite a while, each occupied with his own thoughts. Then Pippin looked up from the path, reached over and tapped Merry on the shoulder.

"Tig!"

Merry looked at him and kept walking. He wasn't really in the mood for games. He was cold, and all he could think about was a nice warm fire and half a pint of the Gaffer's home brew.

"Tig!" Pippin did it again. Merry shoved back. "Tog."

Pippin bopped Merry on the head. "Tog, tig!"

Merry retaliated: "Tig, tog!"

Pippin giggled and Merry laughed out loud. He was still cold and tired, but not so gloomy as he had been before.

"Tag!"

Sam had caught up with them and hit Pippin on the shoulder. The three went at it full force. Pippin tig-tigged Sam; Sam tig-togged Merry; Merry tog-tigged Sam; Sam tagged Pippin.

"What are you doing?" Frodo turned around in time to see Pippin tig-tog-tag Merry.

"We're playing a game," said Merry.

"I wish I could play, but I haven't the heart," Frodo sighed. "I can't seem to get rid of this terrible heavy feeling inside me - this sense of doom and danger. On top of that, I'm cold and tired and hungry and my feet hurt." His shoulders sagged and he hung his head wearily.

Sam's heart bled for Frodo. He looked so tired, so forlorn. What had happened to his master's merry laugh that he remembered echoing around the passages of Bag End? Sam sighed, too. He didn't feel like playing games any more. A gust of wind made him pull his cloak around him even tighter. The world seemed dark and cold and ominous again.

Pippin looked at Frodo walking dejectedly in front of him. He was sorry for Frodo. What had happened to all the fun and games they had together? Pippin could remember countless times of frivolity and merrymaking at the Green Dragon before all this Ring business had started. He wished those times were back. He wished he could do something to cheer Frodo up. A very small thought started forming. He hurried so he was walking next to Frodo.
"Tig."

Frodo looked up, startled out of his introspection. Pippin tapped his shoulder again. "Tig."

Something in Pippin's bright eyes appealed to Frodo - something saying, "Come on. You know you want to! It'll be fun!" Frodo reached over and gave Pippin a small, apologetic shove. "Tig."

Merry caught up with them. "Tag!"

Frodo tagged Merry back. A small smile toyed with the corners of his mouth.

Merry tig-togged Pippin. Pippin tig-tigged Frodo. Frodo hit Sam, "Tig, tog."

"No, no, Frodo!" Pippin corrected. "You can't tig tog Sam if he hasn't tig tagged you yet."

"Oh," Frodo said. "I guess this game had more rules than I thought. Can you teach me?"

Pippin and Merry exchanged mischievous glances. "Sure!" Merry answered.

For the next hour, the four hobbits walked along, not minding the wind, not thinking about the danger that lay in their path, not thinking about tired feet and weary bones.

"Tag!" "Tig, tag, tog!" "Tog, tig!" "Tig, tog!" "Tog, tog!" "Tig, tig!"

"No, no, Frodo! You can't double-tig Pippin on a tog-tog!"

Boromir watched the four hobbits in front of him with curiosity. He admitted he did not know much about the halflings and their ways. Nevertheless he was amazed to see them so carefree and cheerful at such a time. His thoughts drifted back to more innocent days when he and Faramir would play in the fields. They would pretend to sword-fight. Boromir always won. He had to. Even then, he took his sword very seriously. Somehow Faramir hadn't cared. Faramir, he thought, would like these hobbits.

"Tig, tag!" "Tog, tig!"

"No, Frodo! You can't tog-tig unless Merry tig-tags you first and then you can only tog-tig Sam unless Pippin is walking in front of you at the time and then you can do it to him!"

"Tog, tig, tag!" "Tig!" "Tag, tog!"

(12:45 a.m.)