27. Filling up the corners
The First Year of the Fourth Age (May by Shire Reckoning)
"Pippin, what is that around your neck? I noticed it the other day, too." Frodo reached out to finger the silver chain and drew it out from beneath Pippin's shirt. A small silver ring set with a pearl hung from it.
Sam came over to examine the ring as well. "Why, that's Mr. Boromir's ring from his mother, isn't it? The one you got for him out of the crevice," Sam said in surprise.
Pippin nodded, watching Frodo's face carefully. From his chair by the hearth, Merry watched the exchange with keen eyes but did not leave off smoking his pipe to join his fellow hobbits near the table. The Fellowship was housed in the grandest guest house the king could provide, with opulent parlors and sitting rooms, so naturally the hobbits had taken to spending all their time in the comparatively simple kitchen, where they were to be found this evening, "filling up the corners" after supper.
"Legolas took it at Parth Galen so he could give it back to Boromir's family," Pippin explained. "He gave it to me to keep safe until I could give it to Faramir."
Frodo smoothed the chain, a trace of a frown on his face. "You should give it to Faramir, Pippin," he said, using his best elder-cousin voice. "You've had many a chance to do so by now."
"Oh, I already took it to him, Frodo," Pippin said. "But he would not have it back. He said I should keep it, to remember Boromir by. I feel rather bad about it -- it belonged to their mother, after all, and I don't know what I shall do with it. But it was Boromir's, and I do like having something of his near. It reminds me that I . . . well, it reminds me of him," he finished lamely, clearly changing his mind about what he intended to say.
Frodo smiled softly now, but had yet to meet Pippin's eyes. He inspected the ring carefully. "I believe it was made for a girl," he said thoughtfully, "which would make it the perfect size for a hobbit-lass. I suppose you shall just have to get married someday, Pip, and give it to your bride as a wedding gift." Now he lifted clear blue eyes that sparkled with mischief and peered into Pippin's green ones, expecting to find them horror-struck. But the tween-ager just looked thoughtful.
"That is a grand idea, Frodo," he said. "I think Boromir would have liked that."
Frodo laughed, and carefully tucked the ring back inside Pippin's shirt. "Is this the same lad who told me last year that for all lasses are pretty and fun for flirting with, it was just unbearable to think you would have to actually marry one and spend the rest of your life trying to appease her?"
Pippin blushed -- he had been late to discover lasses, and then had realized with deep disappointment that the serving lasses and traders' daughters whose company he had learned to relish were not in the pool he would be choosing a wife from. He had spent an entire month the previous year bemoaning this situation after his mother very pointedly seated him next to his third cousin Almira Banks for every Litheday festivity. The unfortunate Almira had a laugh "like a pig that has caught its leg in a trap," in Pippin's words, and a vast disinterest in adventures, ale, roopie, and conkers, and a decided dislike for ale-drinking songs, leading a woeful Pippin to declare to Frodo that if he had to marry someone like Almira, he may as well just give up speech now and save himself the trouble later.
"Well," Peregrin said now, limping only slightly as he moved to set his mug down on the table, "I have faced trolls and orcs and Balrogs and Ringwraiths and, on more than one occasion, a very put-out Gandalf, so I suppose that I could survive marriage. Though there's no need to think on it for some time yet," he added hastily.
"Plenty of time yet," Merry said, rocking his chair back on two legs and blowing smoke rings. "He has to wait for me, after all."
"And what is Master Brandybuck waiting for, is what all the available lasses in Buckland want to know," Frodo said.
"Oh, he is waiting for Sam," Merry answered with a cheeky grin. "But perhaps that won't be a long wait once we get home, will it, Sam?"
Sam blushed, but then dodged the question by addressing Pippin. "I think it's a fine idea, Mr. Pippin, that you give that ring to a wife someday. Mr. Boromir was right fond of you, and I think he would have been mighty pleased to see you give his mother's ring to your bride."
Pippin had pulled the ring back out and was looking at it again. "Thank you, Sam," he said quietly, and Frodo and Merry's faces sobered as they watched him. He put it away after a moment, adding, "I hope you're not waiting on Frodo to get married, Sam. He is so old and dotardly now that we'll never get him married off, and you'll just end up losing your chance with Rosie."
Sam turned a glorious shade of red, and Merry laughed so hard he tipped his chair over. Frodo said, "Peregrin Took!" in a fairly imposing voice, but then started to laugh, thereby ruining the effect. Pippin lost his composure, and the innocent face he had assumed, and no hobbit can be in a room full of laughing mates and not join in, so the still-flushed Sam abandoned his efforts at indignation and all four of them laughed until their sides ached.
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