4. Bag End
"I know." Pippin scooted back a few feet from the last wafer of lembas so he wouldn't be tempted. "At least now I won't be hungry for dinner. Or maybe even breakfast." He plucked the ornate key from Merry's hand and frowned. "Didn't anyone miss this?"
"Remember, everyone thought we had been lost for good in the Old Forest. My dad said no one ever asked for the key." Merry chuckled. "No one wanted to go near the Old Forest before we left, and for certain not after we disappeared!" His smiled faded. "If Tom Bombadil hadn't found us, we'd still be there, swallowed up by that evil tree." He shook his head. "Just think of it. Between the Old Forest and Lórien and Fangorn, I think you and I have seen all the most amazing trees in Middle-earth."
"Don't forget the White Tree of Gondor," Pippin reminded him.
"That's right," said Merry. "Gondor," he sighed.
"We should go back someday," Pippin said. "Maybe visit Treebeard and.. oh Merry, we could drink more Ent draughts and grow even taller!"
Merry laughed. "Peregrin, we already have to have clothes made for us, how much taller do you think hobbits should be?"
"You're right. But we should go back. Someday?"
Merry nodded. "Someday."
(three days later)
Pippin groaned. "Rosie, that's the best meal I've ever eaten. And I mean ever. We've dined at the table of nearly every king in Middle-earth, and you could teach them all something about what food should taste like." He sighed. "Would you please marry me, Rosie?"
"Too late," grinned Sam. He pushed back from the table and gazed lovingly at his wife.
"Can I live here, then?"
"Not that either."
"I happen to know that Bag End has a lot of empty rooms."
"At the moment," said Rose, smiling at her husband.
Pippin sighed. "All right. But maybe Sam will be so happy with what we brought that you'll kind of forget I'm here, and then after a few days----- "
"Pip," said Merry with a frown, "Remember, Sam might not be that happy with what we brought."
Rose stood up. "If you three will kindly leave, I have dishes to wash and children to see to." She pushed them out of the room and hummed happily to herself as she went to make sure Elanor and Frodo were asleep.
The three friends went into the front room and settled into chairs, Merry retrieving a small package he had left on one of the tables.
"I thought Elanor was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen," said Merry, bringing out his pipe. "But Frodo is just as beautiful."
"Thank you, Merry, we think so too. We.... Where did you get that?" Sam motioned to the pipe Merry was smoking. "That looks like your old pipe."
"It is," said Merry. "We'll tell you all about it."
"Sam" said Pippin, "I'm so glad you don't call us 'Mr. Merry' and 'Mr. Pippin' anymore. I mean, you're a hero, and the master of Bag End, and maybe someday mayor, and----"
Sam looked up abruptly, staring at Pippin. "How do you know about that?"
"Frodo told me," Pippin said. "When we were in Rivendell, before we came back here, I asked himif he was going to go back to live at Crickhollow or maybe move back to Hobbiton and become mayor or something, and he said you were going to do that, only you didn't know it yet." He smiled at Sam. "You should, you know."
Sam sighed. "He told me that, too. He told me a lot of things..." His voice trailed off as he gazed into the fire, for the moment lost in memories.
"Sam," Merry said gently, pulling his friend back to the present, "Strider sent Pip and me a box. It seems that some of his Men found our packs, you know, the ones we left by the River that... that day." He chuckled. "Pip's was full of four-year old bits of food, you can just imagine!"
"That I can," Sam grinned. He was about to say something else, but decided to wait to hear Merry's news first.
"Old clothes and all kinds of other stuff.." Merry didn't mention Boromir's clasp, not sure if Pippin wanted to talk about it yet. "Even the Lady's gifts, remember those belts?"
"I do," said Sam. "All silver, weren't they?"
"Yes," said Merry. "And something else, something we want to give you. But first, read this." He pulled out Aragorn's letter from his pocket and handed it to Sam. Sam unfolded the sheets and looked at the date on the letter.
"October 1," he mused. He didn't say anything else, but read the letter through. He re-read the paragraph about Frodo, then closed his eyes for a moment.
"He's all right, Sam," said Pippin softly. "He's all right."
Sam looked up and nodded. Merry got up and handed him the small packet wrapped in cloth. "There were three of these in my pack. Still good, if you can believe it. We want you to have one."
Sam unwrapped the cloth and laid his hand gently on the leaf-wrapped wafer. "Lembas," he murmured. "I never thought I'd see another of these, and that's a fact." He didn't unwrap the leaf, but laid it on the table next to him and just looked at it. Suddenly he got to his feet.
"Thank you," he said softly. "I think... I need to go for a bit of a walk." He put on his jacket and cloak, opened the door and stepped outside, closing the door behind him. Pippin looked at Merry in dismay.
"Do you think we made him sad?"
Merry didn't answer, but got up and walked over to the front window. Just then Rose came into the room.
"He's just outside, Rosie," said Merry. "Looking up at the stars."
"Yes," said Rose, joining Merry at the window. "He does that." She looked at Merry. "Did he tell you his news?"
"No," said Merry. "Has something happened?"
Rose smiled at him. "I'll let him tell you, then." She turned at the sound of a huge yawn from Pippin. "Come, I have your bed all turned down for you." Pippin got up and followed her down the hallway, but not before one more anxious look at Merry.
Sam returned after about half an hour to find Merry sitting in the front room smoking his pipe and looking through one of Frodo's books. He took off his cloak and jacket and walked over to the table, gazing down at the packet of lembas.
"All right, Sam?"
"Yes, thank you, Merry. I just had to..."
Sam looked up at Merry with a the beginnings of a smile. "Still good, you say?"
Merry smiled back with relief. "Amazing, isn't it? Want to taste it?"
"In the morning," said Sam. "I have something to show you, too."
"What is it?"
"Rosie and I, we got a letter and a package too. We'll show you and Pippin tomorrow." He led Merry down the hallway.
"You're still good at keeping secrets, Sam!" Merry chuckled. "By the way, *would* you consider letting Pippin marry Rosie, or adopting him or something? He's no more trouble than two children, and doesn't eat more than three."
"Here's your room, Merry," said Sam with a smile. "Good night."
"Good night, Sam."
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.