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Aragorn turned, surprised at the hesitant diffidence in Frodo’s voice. The hobbit stood before him, head bowed, eyes downcast.
“Frodo? Why are you so formal with me? I had thought we were friends enough that such titles were unnecessary.”
Frodo looked up, his eyes troubled. “But I didn’t know who you were! You are Isildur’s heir; you should be King.”
“But I am not King, and may never be so. For now I am Strider the Ranger.” He knelt down on one knee, so that he would be at Frodo’s eye level, placing a hand on Frodo’s shoulder. “Please, my friend, call me Aragorn, or even Strider as you first knew me.”
“We were so disrespectful to you! If we had even known you were friends with Bilbo, it might’ve made a difference.”
“Perhaps. But I never speak of Bilbo when I am outside this valley. His safety was at stake.”
“Oh.” Frodo bit his lower lip, and then smiled. “I hope that one day I you will think of me as being as good a friend to you as Bilbo is.”
“I already do, Frodo,” he smiled back.
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