Author: Athea (
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Title: New Beginnings, part 10
Pairing: Merry/Pip
Summary: All is resolved.
Date: 4 May 2002

I was scared. Pip was scared. Frodo was terrified.

But Sam just smiled and let Frodo fuss over him. Adjusting the mithril chain mail under his warm flannel shirt, then adjusting it again while his hands shook.

"It will be all right, Frodo, my dear. You'll see." He gathered him into a hug and gestured at us to open the front door. "We'll all be fine. Once this is over, we'll go back to getting ready for our babies to be born."

"You promise that you'll get away from him at once?" Frodo sniffed and blew his nose on the handkerchief that Sam handed him.

"I promise that I'll stay as far away as I can. Now, let's get going so we can end this once and for all." His eyes had that steely look that I'd seen once or twice before. There was more to our Sam than the Shire Hobbits had ever dreamed of. That was a very comforting thought right now.

We left the house and Sam turned towards Harriman's while we went to the dining hall. Jallico was alone so we could sit him down and tell him what was going on. Frodo and I took it in turns, starting with the mining attempt and then about the poisoned tea while Pip kept watch. He was shocked, of course, but also angry that someone would use his kitchen to try and murder someone. He wanted to come with us but we explained that too many people might spook the would-be murderer.

But when he offered to be a witness from the stables, we took him up on it. The more who knew what was happening and why, the better off we'd be. He left out the back when Pip told us that Harriman and Sam were coming. Taking deep breaths, we went out the front talking about lunch. We pretended to be surprised at meeting Sam. Frodo immediately asked him why there weren't enough potatoes to make Sam's famous potato fritters.

He shook his head and smiled up at Harriman. "My fritters are pretty well known in the Shire. I make them every time we have a party. Didn't I tell you, Master Harriman, that we should have dug up all those potatoes after that last storm?"

"You did indeed, Master Gamgee." He seemed so calm and jovial that I could hardly believe that he wanted to murder our friends. "I'm looking forward to tasting this famous dish of yours."

Sam began talking about his cooking while Frodo stayed glued to his side. Pip and I fell back a little, walking behind them but close enough to get to them if we had to. I was ready to hamstring the Man with my sturdy knife if he tried anything. If it worked on a Nazgul Lord, even though it wasn't a sword then it should work on an ordinary killer.

The potato beds were nearer to the stables and I hoped that Jallico had gotten there in time to explain things to Bix, the Man who took care of all our horses. He'd been eliminated early because he was working with Sam when Gimli was caught in the rockslide. It would be good to have yet one more witness.

The small tool shed that hid behind a great big evergreen hedge was where we were headed and I looked towards the cottage where at least one of the twins was waiting. We'd have to be careful not to get in their line-of-sight in case they had to shoot the big Man with their arrows. The conversation was still genial while Sam got out a big shovel for Harriman and his own well cared for one.

That was one thing we'd made sure to bring with us. Sam's Hobbit-sized tools that he'd worked on Bag End's gardens had stayed safe with the Cottons. Rose's father had brought them to the wagons himself and Sam had almost cried to see them again. He'd told us that it was like a bit of home whenever he used them here in our new settlement. For me, it was the lamp on our bedside table from the room I'd grown up in. And Pip's stuffed rabbit that sat jauntily between the pillows on our bed, was his reminder of home.

We'd bought back Frodo's favorite books from Lobelia and he'd cried when he opened the trunk that held them. It was good to have such reminders of our youth now that we were starting families of our own. I found myself holding onto Pip's hand tightly. It was almost time for us to wander away from them and my heart was beating really fast for some reason.

Voices came from the other side of the hedge. Legolas' laughter and Gimli's deep voice brought our eyes over to the garden gate but I was looking at Harriman and for a split second, I saw the wolf that the old Elf had mentioned was hiding inside of the gardener. That glimpse made it all very real to me and I shivered hard. But it also firmed my resolve to make sure that he didn't hurt anyone.

"Hello, Hobbits," Gimli greeted us with a smile, his bonded just behind him. "I see that potatoes are on the endangered vegetable list? Legolas has yet another craving."

"Unfair!" The tall Elf pouted. "I can not help it when this need arises. I told you that I'd be more than happy to dig them for myself."

"You don't need to be bending or twisting, Prince Legolas." Sam smiled up at them and thrust his shovel into the damp earth. "I'll be happy to dig up as many as you want."

Harriman was a trifle slow to join him and out of the corner of my eye, I saw his face begin to change again. But it looked like he still had some control over his emotions and I knew that there were too many witnesses to what he might want to do.

"Frodo, why don't we check and see if there's still some of those cranberries in the bog." I gave the signal and watched him bite his lip.

"Yes, let's, Cousin Frodo." Pip spoke up and took his hand. "Jallico said that he'd teach me that wonderful recipe for the cranberry bread you like so much. Let's go berry picking."

Frodo smiled although it was a very shaky smile. "Yes, that's a delicious recipe and it's been a week since we last had it."

Gimli's deep voice almost startled me. "Sam, if you'll lend me your shovel, I'll dig here while you help the cranberry pickers. Eight hands are better than six when it comes to berries."

That wasn't part of the plan but Frodo's eyes beamed at the Dwarf. I could see that Gimli was trying to keep the number of witnesses to a minimum. The wolf needed to be coaxed to the surface and the fewer people there were, the quicker he might appear. Sam nodded and handed him the small spade, taking Frodo's hand and leading him down the spiral path that led to the bog.

We followed with a wave to the others. Twenty paces down the path, we were hidden from view. Sam made an abrupt turn alongside another hedge and we silently made our way back to the potato hillocks. We'd be able to hear them even if we couldn't see them. By the time we were in position, I was shivering with anticipation. Frodo sat cross-legged on Sam's coat while the rest of us laid down quietly on the silvered remains of the asparagus bed.

With just a little wiggling, I gently created a little window in the dense hedge so I could see a bit of the other side. Pip was right beside me sharing it and we both had our knives out in case we needed them. But at the moment, all we could see was legs and spades.

"How are you enjoying our new home, Harriman?" Gimli's voice was smooth but I noticed that he kept his body between the gardener and Legolas. "Are the gardens what you wished for?"

Harriman was slow to answer. "The earth is fertile here. Once spring arrives, we'll know more about how much we can grow."

"By that time I'll have birthed these babies and will finally be able to enjoy the produce you grow for us, Harriman." Legolas laughed quietly and I saw the gardener's spade stop for a long moment.

"Yes, my Prince. I'll be glad when you are yourself again." His quiet voice sounded almost menacing. "Do you have a date for when they are to be born?"

"Not yet. Rheanas isn't sure how much time is needed for babies that are half-Elf and half-Dwarf." The Elf spoke deliberately slowly and I watched the spade overturn a small clump of potatoes before pausing.

"There has never been such a combination before but once the Dwarf healer arrives, we'll know more." Gimli's voice sounded prideful and just a little boastful. "You'll be just fine once he takes a look at you."

"Rheanas is a fine healer, my love." Legolas protested weakly.

"Not as good as a real Dwarf healer will be." Gimli stubbornly refused to back down. "I need someone here to look after you so I can go back to the more important work of mining."

"I know that I'm holding you back, Gimli." The Elf sighed wistfully and even though I knew it was all a play, I felt a little sniffle tickle my nose.

"My Prince, you are the important one here." Harriman had stopped digging completely and I wished that I could see what his face looked like. "Nothing is more important than your health."

"Thank you, Harriman. I appreciate your kind words." Legolas sounded like he was smiling sadly.

"Nonsense, love, you're fine." Gimli said gruffly. "Don't be so elven maid-ish about a few aches and pains."

Harriman gasped and we heard a growl rumble in his chest. My stomach was churning and I could taste the bile at the back of my throat. I was scared and mad all at the same time.

"You should be more respectful to your Prince, Dwarf." It sounded like he spoke through gritted teeth.

"You forget yourself," Gimli's voice was scornful. "He is bonded to me."

"That can be remedied, Dwarf." The feral growl came as a shock and I know my eyes opened wide while Pip held onto my hand tightly.

"Don't worry, Harriman. I know that I'm pretty useless at the moment." Legolas said quietly. "He means no harm."

"No, he has bewitched you with some kind of evil Dwarf magic." The spade disappeared and I wondered if he had raised it as a weapon.

"There is no such thing as Dwarf magic." Gimli said grimly. "Put down the shovel and no one will get hurt."

"No, I've seen your evil hold on my Prince. You took something that didn't belong to you. He is innocent and you put your evil seed inside of him. They're demon spawn and have to be destroyed before they kill him." His voice was growing louder and louder.

I thought that Jallico and Bix could hear him just fine by now. Pip was shaking beside me and Frodo was weeping silent tears. Sam looked pissed and he was holding Frodo tightly.

"They are part of me, Harriman. If you kill them then you'll kill me, too." Legolas' voice shook just a little.

"No, once they are dead, Rheanas will cure you. And once I kill this dwarf, you'll be free of his spell." That smooth mad voice was going to haunt my dreams for weeks to come. "Then you'll see truly and we can be together for always." The shovel hit the dirt and we all jumped.

"Put down the knife, Harriman. Don't even try to harm him." Gimli's feet moved him directly in front of Legolas. "You're not thinking clearly."

"No, I've seen your perverse handling of my beautiful Prince. You sully his innocence with every touch. You are a foul creature of darkness trying to capture his bright shining spirit." The earnest tones sounded so incongruous coming from someone that I'd considered a bit simple.

"Harriman, please. Put down the knife and let us help you." Legolas pleaded with him.

"You'll thank me later, my Prince. Don't worry." He took a step closer to the other two and continued his ravings. "After I cut out his black heart, I'll carve out those cursed spawn."

"Over my dead body, Harriman." Gimli's growl matched the demented gardener's.

Sam let go of Frodo and sprang up, heading quickly for the end of the hedge. I jumped up and followed him without thinking. We were making noise but the others were too concentrated on what was happening in front of them to notice. When we burst around the evergreens, Gimli and Harriman were still faced off with long knives drawn. Our arrival distracted them for just a moment.

But with a shout, Harriman jumped to the side and stabbed Legolas' rounded stomach. The next few seconds were a blur as two arrows from opposite directions pierced the tall gardener, Gimli sank his knife into his side and Legolas' throwing knives both appeared as if by magic in his chest.

"Legolas!" Gimli's cry resounded through the chill air.

The Elf was on his knees, clutching his stomach and I felt as if I'd been the one to get stabbed. All the air left my lungs and the world seemed to go into slow motion.

Not the babies, was all I could think.

Harriman lay outstretched on the ground, all but forgotten while we clustered around Legolas. Gimli had his bonded cradled in his arms, rocking back and forth. "It's over, love. It's over."

"Thank the Lady," Legolas sighed and pulled far enough away to show us his unbloodied front. "Is he dead?"

"H-h-how?" I managed to stammer.

"Frodo wasn't the only one to own a mithril shirt." Gimli said with a pat to their hidden twins. "I re-forged the side links so it would tie above Legolas' waist. I was afraid that Harriman would try something like that."

I sat down abruptly, all the energy running out of me. In no more than a couple of minutes, I felt like we'd run through a week's worth of emotions. Pip appeared and hugged me close while Frodo joined Sam. The feeling of excruciating relief flooded me and it was all I could do to not shake in front of everyone. And I wasn't the only one. We all looked like a good wind would knock us over.

Others began to arrive and excited voices flew around the potato hillocks. But one deep voice captured my attention.

"Well, Gimli, it appears that I came just in time."

Our friend froze then slowly turned to gaze at a strange dwarf who stood by Rheanas' side. "Father?"

The end for now