The One Hour Fellowship Writing Challenge

Comfort in the Cold by Overlithe

The cold gnawed at his bones. It had been thus for days on end Frodo had lost count already. This Journey, quest, thing was not what he had ever envisioned. Frodo stood looking out across the hills his back to the wind. If he closed his eyes he could still imagine the Shire; the green fields and rolling beauty and flowering gardens in his memory stood in stark contrast. The reality of the outside world was hard and cruel. He had known it would be difficult but the reality of a thing is different than the imagining of it and He was cold. Colder than he had ever been, no there was one other time he was colder. At the thought of Weathertop cold pierced his shoulder. He blanched and swooned with the pain with great effort he remained standing alone looking, listening hoping and wishing.

The wise leading them discussed endlessly their paths and possible obstacles. Frodo could no longer listen. To live each miserable freezing day one at a time was all he could do. The “big folk” stood adorned in boots and furs and armor seemed little bothered by the icy winds. It seemed they thought little of the scant clothing that each of the halflings wore. Though their legs and feet were quite well insulated this cold penetrated all things.

Several layers of clothing and a cloak was all that stood between Frodo and the cold winds from the misty mountains. He shivered again as he felt a warm hand settle on his shoulder. “Mr. Frodo”? It was Sam of course always it was Sam concerned for him.

Frodo turned to face him, the wind tossing his hair back from his face. “Yes Sam”? Sam’s face was a comfort in itself a gentle reminder of home and of peaceful mornings and of the garden at Bag End. A smile formed unbidden on his lips. Sam reached for his master and pulled him gently back closer to the group. Merry and Pippin sat huddled closely together for warmth. Sam and Frodo joined them and the four sat closely. Merry and Pippin continued their light banter speaking of nothing more than childhood pranks and of opportunities missed for more pranks. Theirs was the greatest loss, Frodo suddenly thought. He himself had endured much during his lifetime. True nothing could have prepared him for this journey and he had lived very comfortably. But he was no innocent; Frodo knew how cruel the world could be. He had seen death and known fear, real fear and he had survived. It made him stronger inside he knew. Sam had a harder life though full of love and fun no doubt, but he toiled out of doors and he was hardy. Merry and Pippin though adventurous and high strung knew little of the hardness of the world and less of the cruelty.

Frodo mourned the loss of their innocence as if it was he who had stripped it from them. Indeed he felt responsible for his younger cousins If not for him they would be home by a fire or planning the next big hoax to play on Merry’s Da. Pippin’s cheerful laugh brought him out of his thoughts and he looked at the others. They were dirty and hungry freezing and yet they were unchanged. Merry though much reduced in hobbit padding was still himself and Pippin still was as carefree as ever. The warmth and conversation infused Frodo with the Shire. This was home, The Shire was a place but that place was special because of the beings that lived in it. Their very presence here with him was a comfort in the cold. He leaned in and listened as Merry began the next tale. When Frodo was about 18…