1. A Fellowship of Food
"Gaffer knows best."
It was no good; nothing was the way it should be. They couldn't eat at the right times and it was just unnatural for hobbits; only one breakfast. This… this…Man was hurrying them along and Mister Frodo looked as if he needed a strong cup of tea and some hot food…
Everything was wrong since they left The Shire; more wrong since this 'Strider' had hurried them out of Bree.
Sam felt life was not just all at sixes and sevenses – it was at eights and elevenses. The Gaffer had been right; no good ever came of listening under windows.
"Guests for tea; or vice versa..."
Daily, Bilbo invited Gandalf and the hobbits to afternoon tea, until Master Elrond announced who else would accompany Frodo; then he changed his habit. One by one he entertained the other companions.
Carefully he considered a suitable tea for each and was, generally, satisfied with his choice.
Aragorn – one stronger than it at first appeared.
Legolas – green-leaf tea, appearing delicate, but welcome when the mortal body tires.
Gimli – a strong, dark, tea brewed long over the fire. Sustaining in itself.
For Boromir he used gifted leaves of fine quality. But, later, Bilbo worried when he found their keeping quality uncertain.
"And Is There Honey, Still, For Tea?"
Bilbo put as much thought into the fare for each guest as he did into the choice of tea.
He knew enough of dwarves to think that Gimli would appreciate toasted cheese, gingerbread (dark and well spiced), and girdle scones cooked on the fire as they talked.
Boromir – a man of good appetite, he thought; raised ham pies, good pickles, and a rich fruit cake.
Legolas would feel at home with mushroom tartlets, a cake of nuts, and toast heavy with honey…
But Aragorn…? The Dúnedan knew beauty, drank it in; for him Bilbo prepared a feast for the eyes…
"You say Tom Ay To and I say Tom Ah To…"
Gentle, good-natured, bickering did no real harm and kept the fellowship walking when they might, otherwise, realise that they needed rest.
Sometimes, however, it could become wearying…
Gandalf turned, suddenly.
"Stop! Neither is wrong; you are both right. They are different words – not a mishearing one of the other.
"'Luncheon' comes from an old word for 'lump'; no hobbit would go to the fields without a good lump of something for mid-day.
"'Nuncheon' come from 'noon-shenk' – 'noon-drink' – Gondorian farmers must have valued their drink above their food!"
"Drinker…!" Merry accused.
Boromir's brow darkened; then he smiled.
"Guilty as charged."
Before they left Edoras the companions ate a breakfast of thick porridge with honey and cream.
Aragorn was reminded of breakfasts with his own people, on cold, cold, mornings in the Angle.
Gimli thought of breakfasts at home, porridge cooked overnight at the side of the forge.
Gandalf thought of breakfasts eaten at Bag End.
All three would have been surprised to know that Legolas, nibbler of lembas, also thought, longingly, of breakfasts at home of thick porridge, honey and cream.
But elves survive better on short rations than mortals; and would not embarrass others by making their self-sacrifice obvious.
They looked straight at each other. He had really missed looking people in the eye, Pippin thought, fleetingly.
Then both pairs of eyes turned towards their plates – bread, a rather uninspiring piece of cheese, some meat that was, even for a hobbit, difficult to identify.
Daymeal, Bergil had told him this meal was called, taken as the sun went down. Except it had hardly been up today.
Daymeal. If it was to be the last daymeal for either, or both, Pippin wished it more memorable…
He paused. What good is 'memorable' if you may have no more days for recollection?
No banquet, this supper of cold meats, pickles, bread and fruit; but better by far than the last time these eight had eaten together, in Moria.
He wondered if the others also thought of the, missing, ninth who had been so desperate to save Gondor. Strange that all those here had, eventually, fought to that very end. Gondor was safe.
The Steward's son had been tempted almost beyond endurance by the siren song of The Ring… yet so, he guessed, had they all, every one. He knew that he had.
He stood and raised his cup.
"To Boromir," said Frodo.
Disclaimer: The characters in this story do not belong to me, but are being used for amusement only, and all rights remain with the estate of JRR Tolkien.