Yule on the Quest: A Lord of the Rings Fan-Fiction Story

    

     “May I help you, Master Peregrin?” Glorfindel asked. 

     Pippin abruptly straightened and jumped off the chair he had brought up aside a high shelf in the kitchens of Rivendell. He colored guiltily as his quite full hands held his ill-gotten gains close to his chest, and his breeches and jacket pockets bulged with the same. “No, I mean, yes, well…I suppose…” he began, furiously trying to think of some way to explain himself. He stared up at the Elf who was twice his height. “I know it looks like I’m stealing, and I suppose I am, but it’s all for a good cause…and….and…”

     After Glorfindel patiently listened to the tween’s longwinded explanation, he not only allowed Pippin to keep the gathered sweetmeats as gifts but helped him carry some more. 

     “Thank you so much, my lord!” the pleasantly surprised hobbit said with a bright smile. “I really should have asked Merry to come along, but he wanted to look at the maps. He said it wouldn’t do if Frodo saw us both going into the kitchens. He would know something was up, but if he only saw me, then he’d just assume I was hungry again, which would be true in any case. I am still a growing lad, you know, and we hobbits do have to keep our strength up, especially since we were nearly starved to death just on the way here, though that wasn’t Strider’s fault, not really, and we actually did do much better than we thought we ever could have. The food is so marvelous here, but we’ll be leaving soon, and who knows when we’ll be able to eat properly again…” 

     Pippin’s chatter stopped while he carefully looked both directions before they exited the kitchen. He glanced back at Glorfindel. “I think it’s all right, my lord,” he said. “But we will have to be very quiet.” 

     The Elf smiled at how very serious Pippin sounded. They both silently walked down the hallway as only hobbits and Elves can until they came to the room the hobbits shared. Pippin stopped at the closed door. His hands were so full he had no way to open the door. 

    “Please allow me, Master Peregrin,” Glorfindel said, as he adjusted his grip on his share of the goods. 

     “Thank you, my lord, but do be careful. If Frodo’s in there, you’ll have to…” 

     “I assure you I will be most discreet,” the Elf said with a smile. “I do not believe anyone is inside at the moment.” 

      Pippin waited anxiously, bouncing from one furry foot to the other until Glorfindel looked back at him. “It is safe.” 

     The tween let go of the breath he had held, and they entered the room and closed the door. “Good ol’ Sam!” Pippin said. “I knew he could keep Frodo distracted long enough with all the gardens you have, and then there’s the library and all, but you never know.” 

     “Master Samwise is a very able guardian,” Glorfindel agreed. 

     “He is, but Frodo needs more than one person to look out for him on this adventure, which is of course why Merry and I had to come. You should have seen his face, Frodo’s I mean, when we told him!” Pippin put down all he carried, gathered a sack from under the bed he and Merry shared and put all the goodies into that, emptying out his pockets as well as he chattered on. “We have to take care of him because he’s always taken care of us, you know.” 

T     he Elf smiled at the tween’s cheer. “He is blessed to have such devoted companions as yourselves. The Quest will be that much easier for him because of it.” 

     “Well, that’s all we want to do, make it easy for him,” Pippin said. “Thank you again, my lord. Please don’t say anything to anyone, if you don’t mind too terribly.” 

     “It will be our little secret,” Glorfindel promised most solemnly. 

     The hobbit smiled, quite pleased. He hid the sack back under the bed. “Now I’ve got to find Lord Elrond to see if I can get something from him,” he said thoughtfully, almost to himself.

      The Elf watched with a bit of wonder as the little one begin to leave again. “Shall I take you to him, little master?” 

     Pippin beamed. “Oh, that would be splendid! I think I know the way, but it would be better if you could show me, just in case. If he’s not there, I’m sure you know all the places he hides out.” 

      Glorfindel raised an eyebrow. “We shall try the infirmary first. He’s most likely there. Or the library.” 

      Pippin fidgeted a little. “Well, I don’t think we should try the library since who knows Frodo may have wandered over there himself. He does so love books and languages and writing.” 

     “Your cousin is quite the scholar,” the Elf agreed. 

     “Just like Cousin Bilbo. Even Sam knows more than I do. It’s going to be hard to tear them away from such a wonderful place and I…” 

     Pippin prattled on as they left the room and found to the tween’s relief, Elrond in the study room he had off the main infirmary room. The hobbit walked quickly through that room, barely glancing at the bed that his cousin had slept in while the Elf lord had fought so hard to save Frodo’s life. There was too many memories of the long nights watching Frodo so pale and still, barely breathing, except for the cries he made when Elrond probed his wound, cries that went straight to their hearts. Tears sprang from their eyes, and they wondered how he – or they – could endure it. 

     Glorfindel knocked quietly at the door and received permission to enter. Elrond looked up in surprise as Pippin stood there. The Elf lord looked up at Glorfindel. “Master Peregrin has a request of you, my lord,” he said with a small smile. 

     “What can I do for you, little master?” 

     Pippin launched into his talk and happily left with the promise he had hoped to get. The conspiracy continued to grow. He returned to the hobbits’ room and innocently awaited his cousins’ return. 

     “Remember, it’s a secret,” he said to Glorfindel, who pursed his lips to prove his faithfulness. 

     Pippin smiled as they parted. The tween was quite pleased with how everything was working out. He nodded to Merry when he, Frodo and Sam returned, and Merry nodded almost imperceptibly back. Frodo looked between his cousins. “Why do I think you two have started another conspiracy?” He glanced at Sam, who busied himself with getting the bed ready that he shared with his master and pretended not to hear anything Frodo said.

     “Not another,” Merry said cheerfully, “just continuing the same one.” 

     “Humph,” was all Frodo said. He pulled on the nightshirt that Sam put out for him and sighed in contentment as he slid under the warm and cozy covers. The blankets were that soft, and the pillow felt like he laid on air. Surrounded by such comfort and the love of his friends, he almost forgot the cold circle of the Ring on its chain over his heart. The other hobbits readied for sleep also and soothed by Sam’s breath against the back of his neck, Frodo fell asleep.

     The next morning, the Company was ready to set out. It was a cold morning, and they knew many more would follow and colder nights. Frodo already missed his bed, and then looking at his shivering uncle, his heart stabbed with pain and longing for someone he would miss so much more. Yule was just days away. He wished he could stay long enough to celebrate it once more with his beloved uncle. It was so long since they had last done it, and now he wondered if they would ever do it again. The cold of the Ring nearly pierced him through. Elrond gave his blessing, and Bilbo gave his farewell. The Company departed, though not before Frodo saw Pippin nod at Glorfindel and the Elf nod solemnly back. Had the conspiracy taken on new members? 

     The next few days they traveled on as best they could, sleeping in a hobbit pile at night, Frodo in the middle with Merry and Pippin on either side and Sam curled at his head. It brought some comfort to them all, and the others marveled and smiled at such loving care. Frodo’s heart was increasingly heavy though due to his burden. It was so silent and still while in the Elven haven, but now he began to hear its whispers again, and he was so weary of them. 

     “Let’s get some wood for the fire tonight, Mr. Frodo,” Sam said one night and hoped against hope that his master would not remember what night it was. 

     Frodo looked at his gardener and guardian a little suspiciously, as he had seen Sam put a small object into his pocket. The younger hobbit ignored the curious look and started off. 

     The Ring-bearer pushed aside a low-hanging branch. “Wouldn’t it be easier to use that light, Sam, rather than hide it in your pocket?” 

     “No need right now, Mr. Frodo,” Sam said, not missing a beat. “That there full moon will give us enough light.” 

     Frodo knew his gardener was right, though he had the distinct feeling that secrets were being kept from him. 

     Pippin and Merry looked at their retreating backs until they had vanished from view and then they quickly filled in the rest of the Company. With many a smile, they agreed to become members of the newly enlarged conspiracy. 

      “No, Gandalf, you can’t use your staff for it,” Frodo’s sharp ears heard Pippin’s words float back to him. “You have to use this.” 

      What ‘this’ was, the Ring-bearer did not hear.

     “And you all get some of these, but you can’t keep them…” 

     As Frodo and Sam returned, both laden with firewood, the moon disappeared under clouds, and they had trouble finding their way. A light snow began to fall. 

     Frodo sighed. “I wish we were back home, Sam. Or least that we could have stayed a few more days in Rivendell so we could celebrate Yule. I miss Bag End and Bilbo more than ever, being out here in the Wild.” He stopped to get his bearings as to where the camp was, but couldn’t see anything.

     “It’s just over here, Mr. Frodo,” Sam said, as he set down his load. 

     Frodo looked around in the darkness. “Are you sure, Sam? I don’t see any of the others.” 

     Sam carefully lit the light he carried. “Happy Yule, Master,” he said with a smile. 

     Frodo looked at him and then smiled back. “Oh, Sam. Happy Yule. At least you and Merry and Pippin are with me. It will be not so bad then.” 

     The Ring-bearer walked toward another light that flashed into existence a little further away. “Happy Yule, Frodo,” Merry breathed with a smile. 

     Another light then came a few feet further on. “Happy Yule, lad,” Gimli said with a smile. 

     Frodo walked slowly on, wonder filling him and memories. This was the way the night of First Yule was always as long as he could remember. 

     Another light was born amid the snow that slowly gathered about his feet. “Happy Yule, tithen min,” Legolas said with a smile. 

     There was another further one. “Happy Yule, mellon nin,” Aragorn said with a smile. 

     Joy bubbled up in Frodo as he traveled on. This was just like home! It was that real, even though many of the faces were different. The love he saw in those eyes and those smiles was the same. 

     “Happy Yule, Frodo,” Pippin said as another light flared. 

     Frodo smiled and tousled his beloved cousin’s curls. He didn’t miss the mischievous look with which Pippin looked at the snow. In fact he shared it. 

     Another light came into being. “Happy Yule, Frodo,” Boromir said with a smile. 

     Another came to life. “Happy Yule, my dear hobbit,” Gandalf said with a large smile. 

     Frodo looked all around him. Light filled the glade, with him in the midst of the circle they formed. Above him, the clouds parted for a moment, and a bright star appeared that the Ring-bearer looked up at in wonder. 

     “See, Frodo,” the wizard said, “even the Star-Kindler greets you.” 

     “Happy Yule!” the Ring-bearer cried to them all, as he threw his arms wide and laughed with the joy that burst forth from him. 

      Frodo and Pippin reached down at the same time to pack some snow into their hands and threw the hastily made balls at each other with twin squeals of delight. The aim of both was good, but the Baggins was a tad faster than his cousin and ducked. That dodge, however, put him square into the trajectory of the ball that Merry threw with well-honed precision. Frodo gave a surprised little howl, as his back was hit and whirled around to strike back. The others smiled. Sam innocently stood with the others, but then suddenly a snowball hit him, and he saw his master run away.

     The three cousins were soon at it, and none of the others could determine who was the better player. Though Sam held off from hitting anyone, one by one, the other hobbits drew the rest of the Company into the fray. Pippin hit Boromir square in the chest and Aragorn in the legs, Merry hit Gimli’s arm and the legs of Legolas, and Frodo’s scored a remarkable shot against Gandalf’s shoulder. Not to be cowed by such assaults, they all entered into the battle against the hobbits. It was a wondrous time for them all, as they celebrated their fellowship and Frodo’s joyful cries. 

     “Now for the rest of the celebration!” Pippin said, after they were at last exhausted enough to stop. Even though they were all quite covered with snow, no one had emerged a clear winner, which caused the hobbits to argue about that for some time as only hobbits can. 

     The firewood that Frodo and Sam gathered – which the elder hobbit now understood was not only necessary, but also a distraction – become the Yule log set ablaze which they all set around. 

     “I get to go first,” Pippin said. 

     “You always get to go first,” Merry complained. 

     “That’s because I’m the youngest,” Pippin explained patiently. “You’re next youngest so don’t fuss. You wouldn’t want to start with the oldest first, would you? There would probably be nothing left by the time it finally got to us.” 

     “True,” Merry said, mostly mollified. 

     Gandalf and Aragorn laughed slightly, Sam shook his head when he didn’t think anyone would see, and the others just smiled. Pippin may be the youngest, but as far as this part of the conspiracy was concerned, everyone knew who was in charge and who they took their orders from. 

     “Now, Frodo, this is for you,” Pippin said. “I wish I could say I made it myself, but actually, I had some help.” 

     The Ring-bearer’s face lit up as he accepted a small, round, sticky ball. “Oh, Pippin, my favorite!” he cried and promptly popped it into his mouth. “Thank you,” he said as he hugged his cousin tight. “How did you manage it?” 

     Pippin hugged him back and then let him go. “Nothing but the best for you, cousin. You are quite welcome, and there’s plenty more where that came from, isn’t there?” he said, looking significantly at the others who surrendered the gifts Pippin had given them. Frodo’s lap was soon filled with the sweets, several of which he gobbled up right then.

      “Now, be careful, Mr. Frodo, you don’t want to get a bellyache like you did last time,” Sam said. 

     Frodo looked up at his guardian and gardener guiltily, his hand half way up to his mouth with another one. “Quite right, Sam, this will be the last one.”

      The others smiled at how easily Frodo took orders from Sam. 

     “Thank you all, for such a wonderful Yule!” the Ring-bearer said after he licked his fingers, and Sam carefully stored the other candies away. 

      “Take this, Frodo, if you’d like to wash your gifts down a bit,” Gandalf said and handed him a flask of miruvor that Elrond had given with his blessing after Pippin told him of the celebration plans. The cordial warmed Frodo from his head to his toe, but it was just an added bonus to the warmth that already filled him from the love of his friends. He passed the flask around until everyone had some. Then a shadow fell against his joy.

      “I’m sorry I have nothing for any of you,” he said. 

     Merry took his hand and squeezed it. “You have yourself,” he said. “That’s all we want. There isn’t a better gift than that.” 

     “Just like your presence is a present, my Merry,” he said and hugged his cousin, then he looked out at all of them. “Just like all your presences are presents to me.” 

      “And you to us,” Gandalf said with a warm smile. 

     At long last, the hobbits arranged themselves in their customary pile. Frodo was not only wrapped in his own cloak, but Merry and Pippin put half of theirs over him also as they cuddled close. Only the very top of their curls heads showed once they were all settled. Aragorn adjusted the end of the cloaks so their feet would be warm. Sam took up his position where his head touched his master’s. 

     Frodo had a smile on his face that remained deep into the night. The moon did not return, but that single star remained to shine down upon the Ring-bearer to augment the soft glow from within the hobbit himself. The others smiled at it and the innocence of them all. Gandalf looked up at the star and his words moved in silent prayer to Elbereth and the One Who had made them all. If there was any hope that they would defeat the darkness that loomed so deep and near, it would be with the four hobbits who slept so contentedly together. 

     It was a very good Yule. Light had begun to return to the world. 

By Anne Marie Gazzolo

 

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