Written for the classy, funny, and oh-so-hospitable Lily Baggins. G-rated slash based on my "Beyond" universe.

 

Five Things That Make Frodo Think That Estel Might Be in Love with Him
by Laura Mason

 

1. He climbed under a bush. Frodo admired Estel before that day, but somehow the kindness of him, assuming such an uncomfortable position to apologize -- that means so much. It was the moment Frodo fell so deeply in love, and he thought it might be mutual. After all, the man climbed under a bush to find him and bring him home. But Doc soon convinces Frodo he's wrong.

 

2. But then Estel ate one of those cup-cakes. All of it.

 

3. And Estel always seems so sad when they part. He comes to Combe to visit Doc, Frodo knows that, but he always smiles at Frodo. Frodo likes to imagine it's a special smile, just for him, when Estel's face lights up so beautifully. But Frodo supposes... knows ... that it's just a fraction of the joy that must be on Estel's face when he visits his betrothed.

 

4. That day Frodo swam out to try and help young Jeb, Estel was so very kind. Imagine, calling him a hero! Frodo hoped it meant Estel returned his love, just a little. But the very next morning Estel spoke to him about his Lady, and Frodo knew there could only be friendship between them. He tells himself it's enough.

 

5. Frodo doesn't know the whole story; he was injured, then ill. He can't bring himself to ask Doc, and he'd never mention it to Estel. Ferny and the others who gossip about "old Strider longshanks" aren't fit to wipe Estel's boots, anyway. Their tales can't be true.

But some nights after Estel has left them and Frodo's heart is aching, he thinks what it might mean if Estel did kill Harle for hurting him. Frodo knows it would be very wrong to feel joy at something so horrible, but it seems like a proof of Estel's affection -- and so, he does.

 

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