Disclaimer: I do not own any of the recognizable characters; I am only borrowing them for fun for a little while. They belong to J.R.R. Tolkien.
Aragorn froze, his hand going automatically to the hilt of his sword at the faint sound that had captured his attention. He scanned the area around him intently looking for the source of the sound, but saw nothing in the thick brush and trees that surrounded the village. His piercing grey eyes narrowed as he heard the sound again and this time Aragorn identified the area and he eased his way soundlessly through the brush to where the noise had originated. Hearing the sound again, he realized it was the whimper of a young child and he quickened his pace.
Parting the bushes carefully, Aragorn found a young boy sitting under a tree with his arms wrapped around his pulled up legs with his face buried in his knees. As he watched, the boy let out little whimpers and his body shuddered with small hiccups. Aragorn frowned as he noticed the boy was barefoot. Not wanting to frighten the boy he moved back several paces until he was out of sight before picking up and breaking a stick with a loud crack.
“Wh-who’s there?” a quavering voice asked.
“My name is Strider,” he replied in a soothing voice. “Are you hurt? Do you need help?” He still could not see the boy, but did not want to approach him and frighten him unnecessarily. He knew he might scare the boy with his appearance - his dark, travel-stained cloak, long rough cut hair, and his beard which he had not shaved in several days. Most of the people in these parts neither liked nor trusted Rangers.
A moment passed before the boy spoke again, “I’m lost.” There was rustling in the bushes and then the boy hesitantly stepped through them. His brown eyes widened as he saw the tall Ranger standing in front of him.
Aragorn crouched down and studied the young boy briefly before he spoke. “How did you get lost, young one?” he asked gently.
“The other boys were chasing me,” he sniffed, wiping away a tear. “And I just kept running and I…” he looked around helplessly.
“Chasing you, hmm? Why were they chasing you?”
“I don’t know! I didn’t do anything,” he sounded more confused than angry.
Aragorn raised his eyebrow at his response but said nothing more about it. “I see.” He stood and gave the boy a thoughtful look. “How old are you?”
Aragorn held out his hand to the boy who grabbed it eagerly. “I best take you back to Bree before it gets dark. I imagine your parents will be worried about you.” The boy shrugged and looked down. “What is your name?”
The boy looked up at Aragorn and smiled. “Bill. Bill Ferny.”
Even villains were children at one time!