Virgin Sacrifice

~ For keelywolfe, who wanted a virgin sacrifice

The Fellowship had settled around what passed for a fire -- all they dared build, and only because the landscape afforded some minor protection against far-seeing eyes. There was no flame, just smoldering coals, but they all agreed it was better than having built nothing.

The sun had just finished its crawl from dawn to daylight, and soon they would turn in to sleep the day before rising to march again through the night. Gandalf had just settled himself a bit away from the rest to take his turn at watch, but he sat near enough that none felt he was excluded from the conversation.

They'd been marching long enough to feel the pangs of exhaustion, yet not so long that they were too tired to sit and talk. Each morning, thus far, they'd shared songs and histories, taking turns telling or singing stories. This morning, Frodo had begun with a simple song which then gave rise to conversation.

"Well, it isn't uncommon for a hobbit to be a virgin well into their sixties," Frodo explained casually. The lady in his song had been celebrating her sixty-fifth year, and was wondering if she would ever meet that one right hobbit with whom to celebrate her deflowering.

The other hobbits nodded, as the others in their party gave each other guarded looks.

"I would think that... landed people such as yourselves, would be... free with such relations," Aragorn said in a careful tone. "In Bree, the villagers always seem to... engage themselves at quite early ages." He glanced around, as though wondering if his words would be taken as offensive.

"Oh, no," Frodo said, shaking his head. "Hobbits can be quite restrained in that respect." He paused, then said causally, as Aragorn still looked as though he was afraid he'd said something indelicate, "In fact I'm still a virgin."

The other members of the Fellowship -- save for the other hobbits, for they already knew -- stared at Frodo. Each one looked astonished, and in the face of such, Sam spoke up defensively. "As am I. Ain't nothing to be shamed of."

"Oh, I meant no offense," Aragorn said quickly. "I was simply surprised. Though... I confess I know less about hobbits than I had come to believe."

"A hundred years, and I still get surprised," Gandalf observed, from where he sat. "The day Bilbo told me he was still a virgin..." Gandalf shook his head. "But there is, as Samwise says, nothing to be ashamed of about it. Wizards are often virgins throughout their lifetime. There's nothing odd in that at all."

Now everyone turned to stare at Gandalf, who sat calmly, smoking his pipe. Pippin asked, "Gandalf, are--" He stopped as Merry glared, but the question was already asked.

Gandalf smiled genially. "I am, in fact."

"As am I!" Gimli blurted, seemingly embarrassed -- though not by his admission, but by the fact he was making it. His gaze darted from one member of the company to another, as though waiting for the first comment and ready to leap upon it to demonstrate how little the fact of his virginity bothered him. When none said a word, he added, "Dwarves don't, until they're married. And when you marry for life, you take your time finding the right person."

With that, he settled back, crossing his arms as though his duty was done.

"Elves don't," Legolas said, surprising the company with his carefree tone. "We simply don't have the urge for it." He shrugged. "It's why there are so few elven children. At times, when an increase in population is needed, our women will encourage themselves at it. But mostly we don't bother."

"And that is why I have never," Aragorn said quickly, with a deceptive casualness. "I was raised by elves, and once I fell in love with Arwen... I felt no need to force my desires on her, unwilling. Someday, perhaps. But until then... I see no need for it." He seemed a bit uncomfortable.

"But... weren't you in the White City, among men, for many years?" Frodo asked. "Surely you would have had opportunity then." Frodo's innocent curiousity seemed to sheild the question from rudeness.

Aragorn shook his head, but did not answer save for a glance at Boromir. It was Boromir who then answered, "It is custom for the warriors of Gondor to refrain, that their strength might not be squandered. When a warrior has grown too old to fight, or has been injured, he may take a wife and is then encouraged to bear many children. Until it is time for me to take Stewardship, I shall not marry, nor know another in that way."

No one had anything to say to that, beyond looking at each other, then the remaining two members of their group. "Well, I'm a virgin too," Merry spoke up. At this point there seemed not point in refraining for admitting it, what with an entire company of virgins together.

Almost.

"You mean I'm the only one who's ever had sex?" Pippin cried.

Everyone turned and stared. Pippin gaped back in amazement.

"You... have?" Frodo asked, then he broke off, trying to think.

"I have! Every bloody week, with one or another. I never thought I was the only one -- though now I know why you never talked about it!" He glared at Merry. "I thought you were just... shy, or circumspect or something. Now you're telling me you never said anything because you'd never done it!" Pippin shook his head, sighing in disgust.

Then he realised that every single member of the Fellowship was staring at him. Their expressions were no longer that of surprise.

Frodo was the first to speak. "What... is it like?"

"Tell us," some of them begged.

Then someone asked, "Show us."

Pippin squeaked.

It was going to be a long, long journey.