Fair Folk at the Free Fair: 6. Picnic at Bag End

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6. Picnic at Bag End

"Pip! You're going the wrong way! The Fair is west of Tuckborough you know," shouted Merry jumping down from the driver's seat of the wagon and dashing to embrace the hobbit who had just run up the road towards them.

"Really? Oh dear, we must have taken a wrong turn," said Pippin Took, with a grin.

Glorfindel's eyes stretched as he took in the fact that this finely dressed and confident hobbit was the same Pippin Took he had first met, exhausted and dishevelled, on the edge of the Trollshaws Forest. The same Pippin Took he had caught sliding down a banister in Imladris and who had told Elrond he would have to be sent home in a sack before he would abandon his cousin to the dangerous road before him. The same Pippin Took who had returned in the uniform of Gondor, looking like a boy dressed as a soldier, but with a hint of something far older in his eyes.

Perhaps they had not noted the changes in Merry so much, since he had first started to visit Imladris several years ago. But, Glorfindel recalled, Merry had been a fully-grown adult when the Fellowship set out whereas Pippin had been yet to celebrate his coming of age. Now he was Thain of the Shire.

And as such he was offering elegant words of greeting to the elves - the first group from Rivendell (to anyone's knowledge) ever to have properly visited hobbits in their own land.

Once everyone was formally greeted and reintroduced, Pippin grinned again. "Well, I think that was enough delaying. Rosie was in a panic that nothing was ready, so I volunteered to find you and hold you up."

"But what are you doing here in Hobbiton, Pip? Are Diamond and Farry here too?" asked Merry.

"Oh, you know how it is at the Fair - we'll hardly get a chance to chat - so we thought we'd join the pre-Fair picnic."

Glorfindel watched with amusement, and perhaps a touch of jealousy, as Pippin clambered into the wagon and was hugged by the two laughing hobbit children, who immediately began to quiz him about the meal that was awaiting them at Bag End.

A few more bends in the road and they would be there - at the door where so many journeys had begun.

***

"They're here, they're here!" squealed Daisy jumping away from the window and crashing into Elanor, who deftly saved a dish full of boiled eggs from ending up all over the floor. Daisy and Primrose fled the kitchen despite their mother's pleas that they at least take some of the dishes outside with them.

For a moment Elanor felt torn between her desire to see the visitors and her obvious duty to stay in the kitchen until everything was ready. Biting down her impatience, she exchanged a frazzled smile with her mother and began to chop radishes for the salad. But her brother Merry, who suddenly popped his head in through the same window Daisy had been watching from, stretched her resolve.

"Come and look El," he said. "They're quite amazing. Not like other big folk at all."

"I have seen Lords Elladan and Elrohir before, for they came to visit the King while we were in Gondor," she returned, which earned her a pulled- tongue from Merry who had always been playfully envious of Elanor's journey to the south. "Here, take this and place it with the others," she added, passing a platter of bread rolls through the window.

As Merry vanished, she sighed.

"Go on Elanor, grab a couple of dishes and go and introduce yourself," said Rosie, grabbing one of the girl's apron string so that the bow unravelled as she dashed from the room.

"Thanks mum," called back Elanor, laughing.

***

The elves were beautiful, really quite dazzlingly handsome, thought Elanor as she gazed at the four in rapt admiration. They were noble of face and they moved with a lithe, elegant grace. They seemed to shine with an inner radiance. And their eyes! They twinkled with a friendly brightness, but at the same time were filled with depths of memory you could drown in.

Yes, she had seen two of them before, but really only at a distance, whatever she might let Merry believe. It was difficult to think that the silver-haired Celeborn was grandfather to the twins - they all looked the same age - or rather, looked ageless.

"El, it's rude to stare you know," said Pippin Gamgee, grabbing an apple flan as he ducked past her, pursued by another tiny hobbit.

The picnic was a great success, Rosie's convenient summer solution to dealing with guests nearly twice the height of Bag End's tallest residents. Of course, Elladan and Elrohir had asked to be given the grand tour of the smial anyway - having heard so much about the place from Bilbo during his years in Rivendell. So before they sat down to dinner, Sam had led them around the place, and Elanor had tagged along.

Even the coat-hooks merited attention. "So this is where all those dwarves tried to hang their hoods?" asked Elrohir. Elanor had blinked in surprise - she had never thought of the coat-rack in her hallway as having special significance. That it should have been heard of by elves!

Like most Gamgee family picnics this one was a boisterous affair. Theo and Kali Brandybuck had immediately been swept into the games. Faramir Took was engaged in an earnest discussion with young Merry, Goldie and Hamfast - probably planning some scheme for the Fair. Young Pippin and Bilbo were play fighting with Uncle Merry.

Frodo Gamgee had somehow managed to join the rest of the adults who were sitting on rugs a slight distance away chatting with the elves. Elanor wondered whether she too could find an excuse to join them, though she feared she would be tongue-tied or say something stupid in front of the guests.

Suddenly there was a loud scream followed by a tearful howl. Elanor was on her feet in an instant, running over to where the youngsters were standing around a wailing Primrose. "What happened?"

"She slipped," said Theo. "Sort of sat down really hard. And I think she sat on a stone."

Elanor guided the sobbing child back to where she had been sitting and tried to pacify her with a left-over strawberry.

She was suddenly aware of a tall presence beside her. Looking up she saw one of the twin sons of Elrond frowning at the howling child on her lap. "Is the child hurt?" he asked.

Her heart raced. The elf was talking to her. Even meeting the king hadn't made her feel so fluttery.

"She just got a fright is all," she replied, trying her hardest to sound as sensible and hobbit-like as her mother always did when talking to big folk of any kind.

"Hello little one," said the elf. "My name is Elrohir. What's yours?"

"P-Primrose." She buried her face shyly against Elanor's shoulder. "I'm fine now El," she whispered. "Can I go back to the game?" Elanor let her go and the little girl ran back to the huddle of youngsters, sniffling back her remaining tears.

"Little sisters eh?" said Elrohir. "Mine was just as bad. Always falling out of some tree or another."

"Really?"

"Oh yes. And Elladan encouraged her too. Dared her to do the silliest things," he said.

"Like what?"

"Oh, diving into the deep waterfall pool, hanging upside down from a rafter, trying to dye Glorfindel's hair pink."

Elanor spluttered laughter. "No!"

"Well, she never managed it, but once the dare was set, Arwen spent months mixing dyes and trying to work out how she could trick him. She even tried to get father to mix up a sleeping draught."

Elanor gasped. She had only just realised that the little elf-sister they were talking about was the queen to whom she was maid of honour.

"And now she's about to have little ones of her own," said Elrohir.

"Yes, we heard," said Elanor. "In the last letter father had from King Elessar."

"Elanor!" It was her father calling. Elrohir offered her a hand to get to her feet and they walked together over to the group of grown-up hobbits and elves.

"Is Primrose all right?" asked her mother. Rosie immediately accepted Elanor's reassurance and the hobbit-lass felt a glow of pride that she was now trusted to make decisions about the hurts of the little ones.

"What were you two laughing about?" asked Elladan.

"Arwen's plan to dye Glorfindel's hair pink. Remember that?" said Elrohir.

Glorfindel groaned. "I hardly think it was Arwen's plan. I seem to remember her brothers had something to do with it. For months I had to check every ewer of water before I washed."

"But our beautiful queen will soon have to deal with such pranks from her own child, so we hear," said Sam.

"Indeed, we are to be uncles, and our grandfather here will be great- grandfather to the newest member of the House of Telcontar," said Elrohir. The three elves looked pleased and proud at the up-coming addition to their family.

But, Elanor noticed, a far more peculiar and strained look darted across the face of Glorfindel.


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.

Story Information

Author: snowballjane

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: 4th Age

Genre: General

Rating: General

Last Updated: 07/07/03

Original Post: 06/24/03

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