Title – My Looks are Against Me
Author: Linda Hoyland
Characters/Pairing: Aragorn, Halbarad, OMCs, OFCs
Book/Source: LOTR book-verse
Disclaimer – Middle-earth belongs to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.
The two lads peered out from the side of the barn they were concealing themselves behind to observe the old woman disappearing down the lane.
“She won’t be back for ages,” said one, a lanky young fellow with a birthmark disfiguring his cheek.
“How do you know, Will?” asked the other, a shorter youth with an unruly mob of brown hair.
“She is visiting Widow Appledore, and between them, those two old biddies can talk a donkey’s hind leg off! Come on, Bob let’s get the eggs, we can make a tidy profit at the market this afternoon.”
“What if anyone guesses that we took them?” Bob protested.
“They won’t,” Will said firmly. “Not when there are Rangers around to blame. I saw two of them hanging around here last night. We’ll take the eggs into Bree to sell and should make a tidy bit of brass for them.”
“My eggs have been stolen!” The woman’s cry drew the attention of her neighbours who hurried out of their cottages or in from the surrounding fields and gardens where they were working.
“What is wrong, Mistress Mugwort?” Will asked solicitously.
“I went into the henhouse to collect my eggs to take to market and they have vanished, every one!” said the woman.
“What sort of despicable scoundrel would rob a poor old woman?” cried a man.
“There are Rangers in the area,” said Bob. “I saw a couple skulking around Mistress Appledore’s cottage last night.”
“Let’s find them and teach them a lesson they won’t forget!” said the man.
Aragorn and Halbarad were enjoying a leisurely luncheon in a field adjacent to Widow Appledore’s orchard. Hearing angry voices approaching they rose to their feet and prepared to draw their swords.
“How dare you rob a poor old woman!” Mistress Mugwort accused them.
“We have robbed no one,” Aragorn said calmly, though he regarded the dozen or so angry country folk with dismay.
“What has gone missing?” Halbarad enquired.
“A full basket of eggs. When I looked this morning my hens had laid a fine clutch of large brown eggs and now they are gone! How could you do such a thing?” She dabbed her eyes with her apron.
“I assure, we did not, good lady,” Aragorn repeated.
“What’s that on your plates then?” said Mistress Appledore. “It looks like eggs to me!”
“A woman in Bree gave us half a dozen in exchange for mending her roof,” Aragorn explained.
“Fiddlesticks!” cried the man. “You stole them! Now have the decency to pay for them and apologise.”
“We stole nothing,” said Aragorn, his eyes gleaming.
“They should be put in the pillory!” said Mistress Mugwort.
“Or horsewhipped out of town!” cried the Will.
“Thieves, good for nothing vagabonds!” shouted the man, spitting in the direction of the two Rangers.
Aragorn and Halbarad paused only to snatch up their packs before fleeing.
An hour or so later the Rangers flopped down exhausted behind a hedge.
“It seems our looks are against us, Aragorn remarked wryly once he had got his breath back.
“We try to help them and they repay us thus!” Halbarad said angrily. ”If they but knew who you were ...”
“They would not believe it if they did,” Aragorn replied taking a swig of water from his water skin.
“One day you will come into your own then those who reviled and falsely accused you will tremble, while others will cheer as you pass by,” said Halbarad.
Aragorn rose to his feet. “Come on, we cannot linger and brood on the matter. Orcs have been sighted in this area and will be abroad when night falls. We must be ready for them.”
Thirty years later
A crowd lined the roadside as the King and Queen ride through Bree. Amongst them were two men in their middle years, a tall man with a birthmark on his face and a stocky fellow with unruly greying hair.
The King reined in his horse and cried in a loud voice “Good people, you are all invited to a feast to celebrate my return to these lands.” Espying Nob, he recalled from the Prancing Pony, he dismounted and went to speak to the Hobbit.
“It can’t be!” Will exclaimed.
“I am certain he is one of those Rangers!” Bob replied. Not waiting to see if their suspicions were correct, the two fled.
“Whatever has got into those two?” a woman asked her neighbour.
“Who cares, there will be all the more food for us to enjoy,” the neighbour replied.
Aragorn smiled at the cheering crowd and recalled Halbarad’s words.