“What have you done with the Ring-bearer, you scoundrel?” Gimli stalked toward Aragorn in mock anger, fingering his axe.
“I stashed the four of them where no one will ever find them, my good Dwarf,” Aragorn chuckled. “Hobbits eat too much, we’ll have more to feast on without them.”
“Ah, but it will be a less merry camp without them,” laughed Legolas. “I will miss the singing!”
“Don’t talk to me about singing,” groaned Aragorn. “There is apparently not a pub, person, animal, time of day, or blade of grass in the Shire that does not have its own song. And between Merry, Pippin, and Sam I have heard them all!”
“Nothing from Frodo?”
“He proved himself much wiser than I by sleeping through most of it.”
“You must admit they have had little cause or opportunity to sing for some months now, Aragorn,” said Gimli. “Where have you stashed them?”
“There is a most remarkable cave some miles from here, Gimli, behind the highest of the waterfalls. I believe you would enjoy seeing it. It is completely hidden from view. Frodo and Sam were taken there on their way through Ithilien and they wished to see it again.” Aragorn sighed. “Pippin is a bit…… under the weather…… and was not yet ready for the trip back to camp. It seemed prudent to let someone know where we were. I’ll return as soon as I see if anything needs attending to here.”
“It has been very quiet. Even the two who had been ill with fever are well recovered.” Legolas smiled. “We will accompany you; it will certainly take more than one person to bring lunch to those four!” He looked up at the sun, now overhead. “Or, supper, more likely. Perhaps Mithrandir can look after things while we are gone. But tell us, what ails young Pippin? Does he need further healing?”
“He needs a good thrashing, and less love of wine,” Aragorn smiled. “But I suspect if he has survived Nazgûl, Orcs, the palantír, and trolls, he will survive this as well.”
“Don’t forget blizzards and the wargs,” added Gimli helpfully.
“Wine, eh?” Legolas looked thoughtful. “Yes, perhaps we should definitely accompany you. The hobbits are apparently in great peril and we should rescue them.“
“If you put it like that, Legolas, Pippin will most likely compose a song to honor the occasion,” said Aragorn with a grimace. “And I cannot be held responsible for my actions!”
Frodo and Sam stood together in the alcove where Faramir had passed judgment on Gollum, and themselves. “Do you remember that night, Sam?”
“Indeed I do, Mr. Frodo.” Sam sighed. “Only a month ago, though it seems years and years.”
Frodo gently touched the arm of Faramir’s chair. “A truly good man. We have met so many good people, Sam, it seems somehow to make up for all the evil things we’ve seen.”
Sam leaned closer to Frodo. “Don’t tell Mr. Pippin there’s more wine back here.”
Frodo burst out laughing. “I won’t!”
Merry came over and promptly sat in the big empty chair. “He’s finally fallen back to sleep. I don’t think he’s likely to be sick again, but he says he really isn’t feeling well.”
“Poor Pip,” said Frodo. “He’s not even hungry. Maybe he’ll see the value in moderation after this.”
“He’s been through a lot, Frodo,” said Merry solemnly. “We all have. And it’s going to be especially hard on him, I think, when we get back home. Taller than anyone, and after everything he’s seen and done still a tweenager in the eyes of everybody.”
“I’m not worried about him,” said Frodo with a smile. “And I suspect you’re not either, Mer, not really. He can take care of himself. That is, if he survives whatever Aragorn does to him when he sings this mysterious song of his. There won’t be anyone in the Shire who can scare him after that!” Frodo shook his head thoughtfully. “Has Pippin quite grasped the fact that “Strider” is about to become king of, well, everything? I mean, apparently Aragorn has kept some of those names of his secret for years and years.”
“Then he should have kept them secret a few more days!” Merry got up and wandered over to his pack. “What’s left for lunch?”
After awhile Frodo walked back to where Pippin lay asleep, only his tousled hair and one hand poking out of the covers. He sat on the bed and laid his hand gently on Pippin’s, then frowned and pulled back the furs a little. He for motioned Merry to join him.
“Merry, he wasn’t this warm before. And he looks a little flushed, too. Maybe that headache wasn’t only from too much wine.”
Merry knelt down next to the bed. “You’re right. He wasn’t looking too good last night either, but we were all drinking rather a lot.” He looked up, worried. “What should we do?”
“It’ll be hours until Aragorn returns, it was such a long way to get here. It might even be tonight. Why don’t you fill a basin with fresh water and I’ll see if Faramir’s men left any of those cloths behind. Aragorn said something about a cold compress, maybe that’ll help a little. I don’t know what else we can do.” Frodo sighed. “How could he have gotten sick?”
Merry thought about it. “Over the last few days he’s been visiting with a lot of the Men who were injured, keeping them company and trying to cheer them up. That’s a lot of people. Maybe someone was sick and Pip caught something.”
“That must be it.” Frodo got up but turned back to the bed at a small sound from Pippin. He knelt down next to Merry. “Pip? Are you awake?”
Merry smiled and stroked Pippin’s hand. “I think he’s talking in his sleep. Sounded like he said ‘Estel’. “
“What? Another one? Good heavens, Merry, just how many names does that Man have, anyway?”
“Last night is a bit muddled, but I remember hearing at least seven or eight. There may have been more.”
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.