1. Gone Missing
"It's a fine view, isn't it, Sam?" Frodo remarked, elbows supporting his weight as he leaned forward to look out across the broad wall to the vista beyond. "Looking out over the Pelennor from the upper levels of Minas Tirith is rather like being on a mountain ledge overlooking the valley below."
"Just like being on a ledge, it is, Mr. Frodo, sir," Sam agreed, but his enthusiasm for the view was much less marked than Frodo's. He stood well back from the wall, and his glances outward were not so much for taking in the view as they were to keep an eye on Frodo, in case he might lean too far and plunge over the edge.
"Careful there, now, Master," he cautioned. "It's a long ways down to the next level."
"Sam!" Frodo chuckled. "This wall is so wide, it would be impossible for me to accidentally fall over it. I'd have to get up atop the wall and walk to the edge to be in any danger! Come closer and see for yourself, it's perfectly safe, and the view is excellent from here."
"If it's all the same to you, I'm fine where I am, sir," Sam replied hastily. "It's a fine view, to be sure, but I'd as soon see it from down below, if you take my meaning. And let's not have any talk of walking on the wall, either, Mr. Frodo. It's a good thing that Master Pippin isn't close by to hear you say such a thing. He'd be already up and hangin' over the edge for sure, and then we'd have a pack of trouble to deal with."
Frodo grinned at Sam, and drawing back away from the wall, he linked Sam's arm in his. "You're right, of course, Sam. Come on, let's go see if we can find something to eat. The wind off the heights here gives me an appetite."
"Now you're talkin', Mr. Frodo!"
The two hobbits walked together in comfortable silence for a time, until at last Frodo spoke.
"You know, Sam... I've been thinking...." Frodo hesitated over what he had been about to say, and Sam looked at him quizzically.
"What is it, Mr. Frodo? Something on your mind? Are you still feelin' pain or anything like that? You ain't sick, are you?"
Frodo laughed. "No, no, it's nothing like that, Sam. I feel fine! It's been a very restful time here in Minas Tirith since the Quest was completed, even with all that's been going on lately -- coronations and weddings and so many people to meet and greet."
"Aye," agreed Sam. "It's been a busy time, for sure and certain. But restful, too, as you say. Just about anything that don't involve walking through Mordor seems restful these days!"
Frodo laughed again, and the sound of it was clear and beautiful to Sam's ears.
"Even so, Mr. Frodo," Sam continued. "You've been a mite quiet lately, don't think I haven't noticed! Seems to happen oftenest after you've been out and about, looking out at the view. Something about that makes you kinda thoughtful like, don't it? Why don't you just tell me what's on your mind and be done with it?"
"There's nothing wrong with your eyes, is there, Sam?" Frodo remarked ruefully. "I should have known you'd notice something like that! Not that I've been trying to hide anything from you, of course. It's just that.... Well, I have been thinking, and the magnificent view from the heights of the City does seem to have something to do with it. I am finding myself drawn to the wall, as if looking out with a keen enough eye will let me see into the distance far enough that I might even catch a glimpse of home. I think that's what I'm really looking for -- a glimpse of home. Now that I'm rested and feeling strong again, I'm being pulled back northwards. I want to see Bilbo, and then I want to get back to the Shire!"
Sam sighed as if in relief, and grinned at Frodo. "I was hoping you'd say that, sir, and no mistake! I thought maybe that's what was troubling you, and I'm in agreement with heading for home. I've been ready to go for at least a week now!"
"I know you've been ready to go, Sam," Frodo chuckled. "I saw your bag all packed and set to leave at a moment's notice, as usual!"
"It just seems like it's time to get going, don't it?" Sam continued, unperturbed at being caught with his bag packed. "I'm kinda worried about what's going on back there, to tell the truth. I'm wonderin' about Rosie and the Gaffer and if all is well...."
"Yes, I'm worried, too," Frodo agreed. "I wonder what Merry and Pippin might have to say on the matter? They've really made themselves at home here in the City, but I'm sure they must be thinking of home, as well. We should discuss it with them, and when we are all agreed, we'll approach Aragorn about making the arrangements. We needn't say anything to him just yet about leaving, but we might as well start planning among the four of us."
"I have a feeling old Strider...." Sam blushed and corrected himself. "I mean, the King will be sad to see us go, but he'll know better than anyone how much we'd be wanting to head back to the Shire and our families and all."
"He will indeed, Sam! Now, the question is, just where are Merry and Pippin? It figures they'd be missing just when they're wanted! I haven't seen them all day, come to think of it. "
"Nor have I, Mr. Frodo. Guess we'd best start searching for them. We can't plan without 'em, and we sure can't leave without 'em!"
But the hobbits soon learned that finding Merry and Pippin was easier said than done. By the time they had searched for several hours, with no sign of the missing cousins, Frodo and Sam were ready to give up in exhaustion. Minas Tirith was simply too big for them to search by themselves.
"So you were unable to find them anywhere?" Gandalf questioned, after hearing the whole story from Frodo and Sam over afternoon tea.
"That's right, Gandalf, sir," exclaimed Sam. "Nowhere to be found! We looked in all the places they like go, but no one had seen 'em."
"We met Gimli and Legolas along the way, and enlisted their help, too," Frodo added. "Gimli's been busy looking over repairs to the stonework and the outer walls, while Legolas has been working with the King's architects to design more gardens; they've been all over the City in the process, but have seen nothing of Merry and Pippin today."
"Hmmm!" Gandalf replied thoughtfully. "A curious matter, indeed!"
"What about you, sir?" Sam asked. "Do you have any ideas where they might have got to?"
"Me? No, no, I've not seen them today. I do recall meeting them briefly yesterday, and perhaps there may have been a bit of whispering between the two of them, as if they were planning something. But I did not press them, and they offered no explanation."
Frodo sighed. "Those two don't always need an explanation for whispering! But it does sound like they had a plan for the day, doesn't it?"
"Is it urgent that you find them?" Gandalf asked curiously. "I expect they will return eventually. In time for the evening meal, if nothing else!"
Frodo shook his head. "No, it's not urgent, really. Sam and I just wanted to discuss some things with them, and then we realized they were nowhere about. And then, when we couldn't find them, we started to worry a bit.... You know how they are at getting into trouble!"
"Ah, I see!" Gandalf looked long at Frodo and Sam, as if he knew very well what the proposed discussion might be about.
"Well, my suggestion is this," he continued. "If you are concerned about them, and you can't find them yourselves, why not seek help from someone who knows his way around the City? Someone who knows those two as well as anyone and is practiced in tracking them, no matter how lost they are?"
"Strider!" Sam exclaimed.
"Aragorn!" Frodo laughed.
"Indeed!" nodded Gandalf. "Shall we go enlist his aid?"
Aragorn welcomed a visit from Gandalf and the two hobbits, and agreed most willingly to conducting a search for the missing Merry and Pippin. As it happened, he had been considering a search of his own. Lord Faramir, his steward, had been conspicuously absent all that day, and while there was no great matter of state that needed Faramir's particular attention, Aragorn had once or twice felt the need to consult him and the fact that he was not available was causing him to wonder.
"Fear not!" Aragorn assured Frodo and Sam. "I will take on the search for your lost ones, and if they are in any trouble, I will extricate them from it. Who knows? Perhaps in the process of searching, I will find the absent Faramir, as well! In any case, it is too fine a July day to be inside. I have been closeted with diplomats and counselors and envoys since early in the day and I feel sorely the need to get out into the air and stretch my legs."
Aragorn was methodical and thorough in his searching, and if he concentrated at first on being outside in the fresh air, no one would truly blame him. It was indeed a fine day, and it was uplifting to be free of the council chamber, to have the warm sun on his face and feel the wind off the mountains blowing through his hair. But his search produced no results, and a thread of worry began to work its way into his thoughts. After checking the butteries to see if the hobbits had stopped by for an afternoon snack, Aragorn stood irresolute, contemplating his next course of action, his next place to search. Where could they be? It was difficult to believe they had vanished without a trace; someone must have seen them at some point during the day!
"Might I be of assistance, my lord King?" said a voice at his elbow. It was Dûrlin, who had served as personal attendant to Boromir before his death, and now continued in similar capacity, serving his brother Faramir. In his hands Dûrlin carried a tray laden with food and covered with a cloth.
"Are you in need of some sustenance?" he asked. "I can arrange to have something brought to you if you are hungry."
Aragorn smiled warmly at Dûrlin. "I know, indeed, that you are the man to come to should I have such a need!" he replied. "But nay, all is well in that quarter. However, I am puzzled about something, and I am beginning to realize that I should have sought you out in the beginning for your help in solving my problem!"
Dûrlin inclined his head in acknowledgement of the King's compliment. "Tell me what troubles you and I will do what I can to ease it!"
"I have been searching long for the two young hobbits," Aragorn answered. "Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took, that is. Their cousin Frodo is asking for them, and I promised him I would find them, but they seem to have disappeared! Have you seen them by chance? "
"Ah, yes, Merry and Pippin," chuckled Dûrlin. "They, too, have realized that I am the man to come to when food is in question. I have had opportunity to serve them often of late -- and yes, even today. I have seen them and I know where they are to be found."
Aragorn laughed in relief. "So! Are they secreted away with a stash of food somewhere? I trust they are not in any trouble?"
"No trouble, my lord. As it happens, they are secreted away with my lord Faramir. Their stash of food has been depleted so I am on my way to bring them another round."
"Ah, so Faramir is with them, is he? You have answered my next question, Dûrlin, before I had even asked it. Faramir has also been missed today. Is there something special about today that these three are spending it together, out of sight of everyone who seeks them?"
"It is as you say, my lord," Dûrlin replied solemnly. "It is a day of commemoration for my lord Faramir, and he asked the two young halflings to spend it with him. I think... No, I am certain he would not mind if you joined them, as well. In fact, I think it would be most fitting, given the circumstances. Will you come?"
"I am intrigued, Dûrlin!" Aragorn replied. "Of course I will come with you. Even if it were not for my promise to Frodo to find the missing hobbits, I would learn what this special day is that keeps these three hidden from sight -- and honor it myself, as I am able."
Dûrlin led Aragorn to the tower that housed the Steward's family, up several flights of stairs and down a long corridor, before stopping before an ornate door that stood slightly ajar. Aragorn could hear the murmur of voices from inside, among them the light, happy tones of the young hobbits.
"Is this Faramir's room?" he asked Dûrlin, keeping his voice low so as not to disturb those inside the room.
"Nay," answered Dûrlin. "This is Boromir's chamber. It has been empty and unused all this long year of his absence, but today it is occupied once more, in his honor."
"Ah!" breathed Aragorn, understanding dawning in his eyes. "I begin to see what today's occasion might be. May I enter, do you think?"
"Of course! Let me announce your presence."
Balancing the tray of food on one hand, Dûrlin gave a sharp knock upon the door, then pushed it open without waiting for a reply. He gestured for Aragorn to follow him as he entered, setting his tray upon a table set just inside the door.
"Here is one who wishes to join you, if you will have him," stated Dûrlin. "He has been seeking you this day, and when he could not find you, I offered to lead him here. It seemed fitting to me that he should join in the celebration, as well."
Faramir had been sitting by an open window gazing out at the sky while one of the hobbits regaled him with a tale. As Aragorn entered, he leaped up and rushed forward, hands open in welcome.
"Of course, you are most welcome, my King!" he cried. "I would have invited you in the first place, but I thought you were thoroughly occupied today with matters of state. I am glad to see you are free of them now and can join us."
"Aragorn!" Merry and Pippin shouted in unison. "Come, sit. Have something to eat. Dûrlin's brought us some more provisions, so we'll have plenty and to spare. You can tell us one of your tales, I'm sure you know some we haven't heard as yet."
"Tales?" Aragorn looked puzzled. "I understood this was a celebration of sorts. Does it involve, then, the telling of tales?"
"They're special tales, of course," Pippin replied. "Stories of Boromir!"
"Indeed!" Faramir smiled. "Today is the fourth day of July, and upon this day one year ago, Boromir set out on his journey north. I wanted to honor him somehow on this day, and spend the time remembering him and his deeds in such a way that we can rejoice in his life and forget the sadness of his death. These two who were among the last to see him living have been telling me many a fine tale of Boromir during the course of the Quest, to ease my heart. And I, in turn, have shared a tale or two of my own concerning Boromir in the days before he left us."
"A day most worthy of being celebrated!" Aragorn exclaimed, bowing to Faramir and then in turn to both Merry and Pippin. "I would be honored to join you in remembering Boromir, for he was very dear to me. As the one who was with him at the very last, I have things to share, and solace to gain from your words as well."
"I wonder now," said Faramir slowly, "if I have been too greedy in wanting this day to myself, with only a few companions to share it. There are others of your Fellowship who might wish to honor Boromir with us, perhaps. Shall I send for them?"
"That would be a welcome invitation, I expect," Aragorn answered. "And it would save me having to send a message to them as to where these two lost hobbits have been all day!"
Merry and Pippin grinned at him, and tried for a moment to look remorseful, but failed. Dûrlin, at a nod from Faramir, gathered up his now empty tray and turned to leave.
"I shall bring word of your gathering to the others," he confirmed, "and bring food and drink for five more."
"And then you can join us, too," Pippin called out to Dûrlin's back as he exited the chamber. "I bet you know some good stories of Boromir that no one's ever heard before. Now, then, Aragorn. You sit here between me and Merry, and get ready to tell us one of your stories of Boromir. But first, I have to finish the one I was telling Faramir when you arrived with Dûrlin. Let's see now, where was I? Oh, right, I remember. So there we were, Faramir, in the middle of the wilderness, and Boromir was the only one who remembered it was Yule...."
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.