Summary: A starry-eyed hobbit meets a wandering
Ranger in the woods of the Shire.
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters and make no
money from them.
Written for a hobbit_smut challenge.
Even the cleverest of rangers rarely could discern the
tread of hobbit feet through the woods. And yet to a
hobbit, with his sharp hearing, even the stealthy stride
of a ranger sounded like an oliphaunt crashing
through the brush. Therefore, Halbarad had never
actually encountered any of the Shire folk, even while
camping so close to their little villages that he could
sometimes make out the faint ring of jolly voices
raised in song and laughter. Rare indeed was the
hobbit that wandered so far from his hole to walk in
the woods under the starlight.
But then one fair evening, when the stars were
sprinkled across the sky like carelessly strewn gems,
Frodo Baggins strolled into the clearing in which
Halbarad had set up camp, his ethereal face tilted
toward the moon. Halbarad blinked, wondering if he
might have dozed and fallen into an elvish dream. So
fair was this slender halfling that Halbarad could only
stare in wonder. In that moment he at last understood
the spell under which Estel had fallen when he had
first looked upon Arwen Undomiel.
But the enchanted moment ended when the halfling
suddenly noticed Halbarad. He stopped, nearly
stumbling over his ungainly feet, and stared at
Halbarad like a startled deer, clearly not sure whether
to bolt or to speak. Halbarad could now see the rare
jewels that were his eyes, and was so captivated that
he could do nothing more than hold out his trembling
hands, palms up, and hope that the halfling
understood that he meant no harm. For many
minutes, neither of them spoke.
Then the halfling broke the silence. “Are you a
ranger?” His refined voice was steady, and his initial
fear of Halbarad had seemingly faded.
Still, Halbarad kept his voice low as he nodded,
careful not to make any sudden movements.
“Halbarad Dunadan, Ranger of the North I am.”
“Frodo Baggins at your service,” Frodo said, bowing.
“My cousin Bilbo once told me about your people’s
selfless service to the Shire. Most of my countrymen
know nothing of it and would appreciate it none the
better if they did know.”
“Still, I do it gladly,” Halbarad said. The moonlight
seemed treacherously bright, and it bathed the grass
in the clearing with fairy light. When he was a young
lad, he had been convinced that if he could capture
the moonlight in a jar he could use it as light on a dark
and rainy night. If he could but hold this very moment
in a jar, gladly he would do so. For he could not
imagine that this fair halfling would wish to remain in
his presence for much longer.
But Halbarad was wrong.
“May I…that is, would you mind company?” Frodo
asked. “I do so love to hear news of the outside
world. We hear so little of it here in the Shire.”
Halbarad tried not to sound too eager. “I would
welcome your company.”
And just as he had as a child, Halbarad harbored a
yearning that the sun would never rise so that he
could truly believe for a time that he had captured the
moonlight, that it was his to hold.
Frodo had dressed as lightly as possible, but the chill
of autumn had put a damper on his longing to wear
naught but a shirt and breeches. Therefore, Halbarad
was forced to unbutton weskit and shirt, as well as to
unclasp braces with his large awkward fingers, and
just as he had day after day for the past fortnight, he
showed no signs that he begrudged the extra effort.
Rarely did he remove all of his own clothing, including
his muddy boots, but rather he unclasped his belt, put
his weapons aside, and pulled down his worn
Halbarad had earlier spread his cloak on the ground,
and now he pushed Frodo on it so that he lay on his
back. The curled, dead leaves crackled beneath
them. Frodo wrapped his arms around Halbarad’s
neck, breathing in the worn leather of his tunic, which
abraded his skin in delightful tingles. Then when
Halbarad entered him, shuddering with need, they
rocked together, knowing no greater joy than not only
hearing, but also feeling the rapid beat of one
“What is this?” Halbarad asked. With Frodo, one
never knew what delightful surprises he would spring
on any given day.
Frodo threw himself down beside him and opened the
wicker picnic basket. Always with hobbits, it was food.
Halbarad had once jested that he had counted how
many times their conversation had turned to the topic
of food of some kind or other, whether literal or
figurative, and it had worked out to be nearly half of
Frodo grinned as he pulled item after item out of the
basket. “Pickled mushrooms, made with herbs grown
freshly in the garden. Tea cakes with poppy seed,
pound cake drizzled with honey, bread baked fresh
just this morning, apple jelly, made with apples fresh
from the orchard beyond Bagshot Row. Oh, and this –
a specialty of the Gamgees. Pickled cow’s tongue.”
“Now -- that’s rare!” Halbarad laughed. “This alone
makes the labors of my people to protect the Shire
“You cannot keep eating as little as you do.” Frodo
patted Halbarad’s taut abdomen. “If you are to spend
so much time in the Shire, the least you can do is
sample the native food.”
“I am not complaining,” Halbarad said, but he winced
just a little. “But cow tongue?”
“You will find it delightful.” Frodo rose up on his
knees and threw his arms around Halbarad, pressing
his mouth against Halbarad’s and sliding his tongue
inside his mouth. Halbarad hardened at once – Frodo
had this effect on him and it had not faded over the
months they had taken pleasure in one another in
these woods of the Shire. Frodo wriggled his bottom
over Halbarad’s arousal in tantalizing promise of what
was to come later before he pulled away to sit primly
beside the wicker basket again. “After all,” he said,
raising his eyebrows. “You clearly enjoy hobbit
“That I do,” Halbarad said, chuckling before biting into
a fresh slice of bread drizzled with honey. He took
comfort in the knowledge that he could soon satisfy
the maddening itch that sometimes flared just from a
casual touch or a light kiss or even a glance into
those expressive eyes.
After they ate, they leaned against the fat trunk of an
oak, too full to do much more than doze. Even idle
conversation took too much effort, and Halbarad’s
arousal had relaxed somewhat.
After a time, Frodo fiddled with his foot. He had no
qualms about grooming his feet in front of Halbarad,
pulling out burrs and clumps of dirt, untangling curls
with his deft fingers. Halbarad stared in fascination.
Hobbit feet were enormous, even more so than
Halbarad’s – and Halbarad was tall for a man. And
Frodo’s feet were so sturdy. Such a foot could tread
on shards of broken shells and still not bleed.
Halbarad had never told Frodo this, but he had once
snapped the neck of a man from a distant wild country
who had killed a hobbit from Staddle for sport. Before
killing him, the man had brutally cut the hair from the
hobbit’s feet, leaving them hairless and bloody.
So much of what encapsulated hobbits lay in their feet
– sturdy, warm, and of the earth. And yet there was
something that Halbarad read in Frodo’s eyes that
spoke of an ephemeral existence, something that
slipped between his fingers. And this yanked at
Halbarad’s heart until his chest ached and he could
“Why?” Frodo asked, his heart mirrored in his
Halbarad wished he could take back what he had
said. He could continue to have this delicious creature
night after night, and neither of them would tire of it.
And perhaps one day they could make a home
together, perhaps a quaint lodge in the woods out of
prying eyes of ranger or hobbit. But a dark shadow
had pressed on his heart, a portent of evil to come.
One day their fates would twist together in great
deeds and an unhappy ending, and sometimes
Halbarad dreamed about fire and ash and of a great
battle at the end of the world.
But Halbarad could not tell Frodo this. Instead he
kneeled, grasping Frodo’s arms, more to steady
himself than to give false comfort. “I cannot do this.”
“You cannot…?” Frodo looked puzzled, although his
lips had paled and he had begun to breathe in sharp
gasps. “But you have.”
Halbarad uttered, “Moonlight does not last. Nor can
you capture it. And in the end there is only darkness.”
Frodo did not blink. “But moonlight is constant and
gives of its light freely.” His voice choked. “Do not do
this. I love you.” His hand trembled as he reached for
Halbarad’s chest, as if to feel if his heart were still
“And I, you. My heart tells me that we might meet
again one day, although not under this sun.”
Frodo fell against him with a cry of grief, and they held
for so long that Halbarad feared he would never let
When as a lad Halbarad had been unable to trap the
moonlight in his jar, he had taken the jar and dashed
it against the rocks in a fury. He had wept bitter tears,
but far better to mourn greatly for a short time than to
grieve each time the sun rose.
Halbarad watched as Frodo walked out of his dream,
bathed in the light of stars and moon, and he never
again, as he had foreseen, saw him again under this