|Author: Athea (email@example.com)
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Title: New Beginnings, part one
Summary: Their journeys begin.
Note: I condensed all the travel to three pages. Amazing. This is my reminder that this is an AU of what
Tolkien wrote. So yes, I took great liberties and played fast and loose with canon. Enjoy!
Date: 1 April 2002
I wept over King Theoden's grave while Pip held me. I had loved him like a second father and it still hurt to think that he'd died without knowing how important our battle had been. That's when I felt cold creep through me just like it had when I stabbed the Nazgul Lord. I shivered all over but Pip just held me tighter and reminded me that I wasn't alone any more.
So, I told Theoden how happy I was and about Pip and me. I think he would have liked knowing that so many of us were happy. Then we went back to the great hall for another ceremony. We got to watch Lady Eowyn marry Lord Faramir. And I was happy for them both. But it made me feel a little envious, too. Everybody was bonding but Pip and me and I wasn't sure how to ask him if he wanted that.
I know that I did but he was still so young and there was his whole family to consider. I was going to gather my courage one of these days and just come right out and ask him. But it was time to move on and I treasured the ancient horn that Eowyn gifted to me. I just hoped that I'd never have to use it.
Then we journeyed on to Helm's Deep and Gimli took all of us on a quick trip to the Glittering Caves. They were beautiful but I don't think I'll ever be able to be in a cave without being frightened. Pip and I stayed real close together and I noticed that Frodo and Sam did, too. Even Gimli decided that one day was enough to sight see.
He'd bundled Legolas up in so many layers that the poor Elf could hardly walk. And since his whole attention was on him, it's a wonder that we got in and out of those confusing caves in one piece. But we did and headed towards Isengard and our Ent friends. Our caravan was a real sight to the people we passed. We stretched for almost a mile with all the wagons of supplies for our new settlement.
After Isengard, the party would break apart with the Gondor contingent heading back to Minas Tirith, while the rest of us headed north to Rivendell to see Bilbo. I didn't want to think about that parting. I knew how much I had depended on Aragorn and the others when I was most scared during our journey.
Now, I'd have to be the brave one and that was a frightening thought. Was I good enough to get us through the emotional battles to come? For that's what it would be, a fight for the right to live our lives the way we needed to live them. Looking at Pip where he rode near Queen Arwen, I felt my heart clench at his bright laughter. He was worth every battle if I could only convince him of that.
"Merry, it will be all right." I turned my head to Sam who was riding next to me. "He's going to stand up to his father and be the adult that he's become. We've grown up out of all recognition to the Hobbits we were when we left. Remember that our future is brighter than ever."
"I know, Sam. I'm just a little sad, I guess at all the partings." I admitted ruefully.
"Don't I know it, Merry." He shook his head then smiled when he heard Frodo's laugh from up ahead where he was riding with Gandalf. "But it's only for a little while and then we'll all be together again."
"Right and we'll be building a whole new town with places for just us four." I grinned at him. "I mean six Halflings."
He blushed but his smile stretched from ear to ear. We rode on, not pushing our pace but definitely moving ahead towards our next stop. Treebeard was his jolly old self although his releasing of Saruman kind of took us aback. I could see that Gandalf was perturbed but he kept his own council and we were soon ready to move on. But not without drinking one last bowl of Ent-draught with our rescuer.
He teased us about growing taller but Pip and I just laughed and drank it all down. A little growth wouldn't hurt us. Our next parting was with the Lothlorien party who traveled on to that beautiful land, leaving us with a promise of a visit in the spring. That's when the party from Gondor left us to go back to their kingdom. It might have been sad but Arwen made Elrond promise to come to his grandson's christening in eight months time. By the stunned look on Aragorn's face, he was hearing the news for the first time, too. It looked like there were going to be babies all over next spring.
The dark Elf lord promised with a brighter look on his face than he'd been wearing. Then we were on the road again and it wasn't long until we were safe at Rivendell. It felt good to not have to travel for a few days and seeing Bilbo was a treat. He'd grown very frail but then his 129th birthday would be in less than two months.
Frodo and Legolas slept the first two days in Rivendell. They'd been hiding how uncomfortable the constant moving had been for them and Sam and Gimli were ever vigilant in their care. Bilbo listened to all our stories but he kept falling asleep in the middle of them so we'd have to start over. That was all right, it gave Pip and me time to cuddle in front of the comfortable fire.
I'd finally gotten up the nerve to ask him to bond with me and his enthusiastic yes almost broke the chair we were sharing. So we had our own ceremony with Bilbo, Frodo and Sam as our witnesses. Bilbo just kept shaking his head at our stories and our size. But when Frodo told him about the babies, he was speechless. Absolutely speechless, at least for a wee bit.
"Bless my soul, Frodo. Those old wives tales were right then?" He patted Frodo's hand absentmindedly and seemed to be thinking hard. "It's got to be on the Boffin side of the chart. There was always something rather different, almost Elvish about Great-grandfather Mungo. And where are you going to live? Not at Bag End, surely?"
"We're making a new home up near the Blue Star Mountains above the Ettenmoors." Frodo said clearly and watched Bilbo smile contentedly.
"Good, good, you'll be safe there, away from prying eyes and busy tongues. You'll have to bring the babies for a visit when it's safe for them to travel. Why, I'll be an honorary great-uncle, yes I will. What a wonderful thing to look forward to, I feel fifty years younger all ready."
All too soon, we were getting ready to go and suddenly we were at the Last Bridge just west of Rivendell where we were splitting off to go to the Shire while Frodo and the others were headed north along the River Hoarwell. Sam and Frodo were in tears, clutching each other and sobbing until I was afraid their hearts would break. But finally, Sam seemed to realize that it wasn't good for the babies and he made a few jokes about how the kitchen should be built in their hobbit-hole.
And Frodo nodded and smiled a watery little smile before kissing Sam one more time and then shutting his eyes. Sam mounted up with an anguished look on his face and we rode off, not looking back until we were across the river and too far away to see anything. Poor Sam cried silently for almost twenty miles until I was afraid that he'd make himself sick.
But Gandalf made him drink something out of a flask that made him real sleepy then we tied his pony onto mine while Gandalf carried him in his arms. He was asleep before he even knew it. The wizard said that he'd given the same potion to Legolas to give to Frodo so the sooner we got to the Shire, the sooner we could return Sam to his true love.
Pip and I were ready, too. The mithril bands set with moonstones that Bilbo had given us to get bonded with flashed on our fingers and every time I saw mine, I thought of how happy Pip and I were. Even without babies, we had each other and that was all we really needed. Another two days of travel and Gandalf stopped off to visit Tom Bombadil while we hurried on.
Well, the last three weeks had passed so swiftly that I could hardly believe it. The Shire was in a proper mess as Sam put it. But between the three of us we soon set things right again. Pippin told his father about us after the Battle of Bywater. The Thain took it kind of hard but even he could see that Pippin had grown up and beyond whatever path his father might have thought he should be on. His approval was grudging but sincere.
My father took it much better and Mother beamed and kissed us both. That was a great relief all around and I felt thirty pounds lighter once we'd received their blessings. Sam had the hardest row to hoe just then for the Gaffer was ailing a bit and grown rather hard of hearing. The Cottons had taken surreptitious care of him but I could see that Sam was torn in two between what his heart and his head were telling him.
When everyone asked about Frodo, we said that he'd sustained great wounds during the last battle and was currently in a healing center run by Elves. It was heartbreaking to see how easily he was brushed off and forgotten by our fellow hobbits. Sam's tongue got an awful workout with all the biting of it that he had to do. And I could see that Rosie Cotton was just waiting for him to ask her to marry him.
We needed a strategy and we needed it quick. Sam was traveling around planting new trees with a little of the dust that was part of the Lady Galadriel's gift. The silver acorn he planted where the old Party Tree had been and I could see him wistfully wondering if he'd ever know what kind of tree it would be. For we were all determined to head out again as soon as possible.
Fall would soon arrive and Sam fretted about Frodo feeling the pain of his wound from the previous Fall. So, I sat down with my father and mother and told them the truth ... all of the truth while Pip listened anxiously. They were amazed all right and I could see them wondering just what had been happening outside the cozy world of the Shire. But maybe getting invaded had opened their eyes to what was going on.
They offered to take the Gaffer in with them, to give him a home where he could live out his years comfortably. When we told Sam, I thought the poor hobbit was going to break down and burst into tears. Mother hugged him close and told him congratulations. She had some lovely baby clothes that were just sitting around waiting for her grandchildren, (here she gave me a sharp look) but she'd rather give them to Sam for his own sweet babes.
That's when Sam really did break down and cry. Mother just rocked him back and forth like she would have done any tweeny. So Pip and I went to get the Gaffer and bring him home with us. It took a while to get him to understand what Sam was saying. And he kept on muttering that 'this was a fine howdy-do'. But when his son burst into tears and told him flat out that he loved Frodo and always would, he patted his back with his old gnarled hand and said he just wanted Sam to be happy.
If that meant traipsing off to foreign lands and taking care of Frodo, then that would just have to be all right. Then Mother spoke up and told him that they needed a head gardener so badly that she just couldn't wait to ask him to come and help her renovate the wasteland that our home had become. He hemmed and hawed a bit but you could see he was flattered that the mistress of Brandy Hall wanted his expertise.
Sam urged him to say yes because he wanted him safe and sound before he left. Finally the Gaffer agreed and the sigh of relief from all of us could have been heard in Bree. In three days we were having a big party to pass along all the events of the last year outside of the Shire and to let everyone know about the new King. Then we could leave and head for our new home.
Mother was already packing all kinds of things for me to take and it looked like we'd need a wagon or two just for the baby things. She just sniffed and said wisely that babies were more work than men ever realized. But wonder of wonders, Pip's mother began to pack up things for Pip to take even though his father still disapproved. Under that faded exterior, Eglantine had a pretty stiff spine and she didn't back down an inch.
We were going to be well provisioned. Sam disappeared one day and returned quiet and a little sad. He just said that he'd had a long talk with Rosie and she was taking it hard but she had said that she understood. After all the time we'd spent wishing we could go home, it was hard to believe that the Shire wasn't home anymore.
The party was a great success since we found all the stores of grain and supplies that had been stolen by Sharkey and his gang. We took turns telling the tale of our journeys and how the new king had come to be crowned. We told them his vow to keep the Shire safe for all Hobbits and how he'd be visiting in a year or two. It was a lot to take in but Father got some of the elders to talking about what might be done to keep us safe.
Reducing the number of shirriffs was the first order of business, rebuilding what had been destroyed the second then committees started forming and pretty soon it looked like a Town Meeting turned upside down with everyone talking and making lists on whatever was handy. We wandered around, answering questions, retelling part of the story and steering some of the hotheads to the side of cooler minds.
It was great fun but I was gladder than glad when it was done. We all adjourned to Brandy Hall for a last glass of ale and some private conversations. Mother took me aside and talked to me about taking care of Pip. It was only later that I realized that Pip's mother was doing the same thing to her son. The two mothers had put their heads together and decided to give us the benefit of their advice.
And it was excellent advice, things like listening to each other, paying attention to what the other was saying or doing, looking below the surface to see what lay beneath a casual 'I'm fine'. Protecting each other from all hurts including the ones we inflicted on ourselves. But the best piece of advice was to never ever take each other for granted.
I never would and so I promised my mother. I'd already promised to love and cherish him forever and that's exactly what I told her. She hugged me close and told me that I was her favorite son even though I was her only one. Then she sent me off to bed where I lay alone for ages before Pip crept in and joined me.
I hugged him close and we shared all the advice we'd been given before sleep over took us. It didn't feel right to make love in my old room so we had just been cuddling every night. I could hardly wait to get on the road again so we had enough privacy to make love, even if we had to go find some trees and hide ourselves. Sleepy kisses weren't enough anymore if they ever had been.
After a big breakfast, we set out with an escort to the borders of the Shire. Actually, with the three big wagons full of supplies and furniture and who knows what all, we had also hired three Hobbits to do the driving. There were still bandits in the hills and for a brief time, we'd be traveling without any backup. Still, we had our armor and swords so I expected we'd have little trouble.
Sam was so focused on getting back to Frodo that it was all we could do to get him to stop at the end of each day. By the time we'd crossed the river, we'd all caught his urgency and when we found Elrohir and Elladan waiting for us as guides, we just carried on. They told us all the news up to a week before when they'd traveled south to wait for us. Gandalf had told them almost to the day when we'd appear.
The next seven days passed in a blur with Sam's urgency pushing us hard. We'd had to go around the Ettenmoors, which added time to the journey. When we were a day out, we were met by two Men of Rohan. They'd traded our ponies for horses and sent us on head with our Elven guides. This ride was exhilarating as we sped towards our new settlement.
Sam was so concentrated on riding that he missed the fence markers that showed where our new town started. I could see that the others had been busy in our absence but now the horses were slowing down and a cluster of houses came into view. Gandalf was waiting for us and Sam all but threw himself off his horse, calling Frodo's name. A door burst open just behind the wizard and Frodo met him in a hug that made me want to cry.
Legolas appeared with Gimli at his side to greet us and we left our horses for our own hugs from our companions. Sam and Frodo had disappeared already but the others took us to their newly completed home so we could freshen up before dinner. Since we hadn't eaten all day, the very thought of dinner made us almost faint. Their bathroom was beautiful with a sunken tub that reminded me very much of the one back in Gondor.
Once we were done, they took us over to the common house where the meetings would be held but which also served as the dining hall. Jallico had prepared a feast and the others let us eat first before asking for all the news. We ate as if starved then slowed for dessert. All the traveling caught up with us just then and Legolas decreed a good night's sleep before any storytelling was done.
We stumbled into Gimli and Legolas' guest bedroom and fell asleep almost instantly.