Best Brew in Buckland, The
4. The Golden Stallion, Pt 2
Pippin looked across the table nervously at Faramir. "Good evening, my lord," he said stiffly.
"Good evening, Master Peregrin," Faramir replied, inclining his head in a mock bow. "You will be pleased to know the first shipment of galenas will arrive from Druedain later this week."
When Pippin did not reply after several seconds Merry said, "Well, that's good, isn't it, Pip --"
He was interrupted, however, as the barmaid approached with two half-pint mugs. "Two E.P.'s, on the house, my lords," she said, a smile on her face as she set the drinks in front of Merry and Pippin.
"Now is that any way to greet your honoured guests, Idreth?" Merry demanded, a mischievous look in his eyes.
"With free rounds, no less?" she asked. "What more do you desire?"
"The same as last week, of course," Merry replied, and he gave her his best pout.
"Oh, very well." She crouched in front of the table and presented her cheek to Merry. He did not take the proffered prize but reached around and kissed her squarely on her lips. After a second she pushed him back and slapped him across the cheek. "Master Meriadoc, we discussed this yesterweek! I will permit your boldness, but only to an extent. Your tongue must stay in your own mouth!"
Éomer and Gimli looked at Merry, growing admiration in their eyes. Even Faramir, who did not object to his men stealing kisses from willing barmaids but would never condone them forcing their attentions on unwilling women, barely stifled a laugh.
"I suspect you will be wanting more food now?" the barmaid asked.
"You need not ask," Faramir said, "with periannath at the table."
"Yes," Éomer said, "whose renown for their heroics during the war is surpassed only by their insatiable love of food and drink."
"We already ate," Pippin began, "but if it's no trouble ... "
"I'm still hungry," Merry put in. "I could do with a second dinner, if you've got the mind."
"Second dinners it is," Gimli said, "or first, as the case may be." He turned to the barmaid. "A basket of apples to start, and another loaf of bread. And you have partridge? Bring the partridge. That should do us."
"And some more ale for me," Éomer added. "Stallion Best, this time, I think."
Idreth smiled and repeated the order, then went to the kitchen. A moment later she returned with a basket of apples and Éomer's refilled stein. After she had left Faramir asked, "E.P.?"
"Ernil i periannath," Pippin explained, an amused look on his face. "Have you not heard of it? Most inns have a similar drink." He took a sip and set his mug down, sighing contentedly.
Faramir took another sip from his own stein, then asked, "You have your own drink?"
Merry nodded. "Half-grown mugs for half-grown hole-dwellers. so they say," he explained, offering a taste to Faramir. Faramir accepted, and his eyes went wide. "It has quite a kick, or so we've been told," Merry continued. "The Stallion's isn't so bad -- no Green Dragon, mind -- but the Red Squirrel's --"
Pippin made quite a face. "Ted Sandyman's home brew would suit me better," he said. "We won't be going there tonight."
Gimli and Éomer questioned Merry and Pippin for some time after that about their visits with Frodo and Sam (and also about their less honourable doings in the city). Faramir tried to listen but the increasingly noisy common room made this difficult. Pippin occasionally looked nervously at Faramir, but as Faramir slowed no signs of holding a grudge about their last nighttime meeting, the hobbit slowly became more and more comfortable. The food arrived, and Faramir turned his attention to his plate. The potatoes were remarkably good, he decided.
Not that the others showed such discernment. Gimli and Éomer were both on their second plate, and Merry and Pippin on their third. Do they never stop eating? Faramir wondered. Apparently not. Faramir drained his pint and discovered another sitting at his elbow. The common room had by now filled with elves, Dúnedain, and soldiers from every corner of Gondor and Rohan so that, try as he might, Faramir could not hear what his friends were saying. At last he set his fork down.
"My lords," he nearly shouted, "may we go find somewhere more -- quiet?"
"Aye," Éomer said.
Faramir pulled some coins from his money-pouch, then led the group back through the doors. "Where should we go?" he asked once they were outside in the still night.
"The Drunken Dragon, I think?" Éomer asked. "It is less known to foreigners and will likely not be as noisy."
"All right," Faramir replied. "Where is it?"
"Downhill," Pippin replied, that mischievous grin consuming his face again. "It's not far." And he led the way toward the gate into the next circle.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.