Written for the 2010 Yule Fic Exchange.
Request: “I would like to request a fluff story that includes Boromir and hobbits”
Author's Notes: This tale follows my story from last year, “A Yule to Remember” and also makes references to another of my Yule stories, “The Gift of Love”. I hope this story fulfills my recipient’s request!
“Yule Tales and Fellowship”
Merry settled into place by the fire with a sigh of contentment. “Ah, that was a splendid stew, Sam. I couldn’t eat another bite!”
“I could.” Pippin sank down next to his cousin, his pipe in one hand and a sweet biscuit cradled in the other. His injured wrist felt better, but it continued to cause him pain. The willow bark tea Aragorn had brewed had helped, and he did not want to complain and spoil everyone’s enjoyment of their Yule celebration. There certainly were enough things to bring their faces down and he wasn’t about to add to the problems. Carefully, he placed the pipe on the ground in front of him and fished in his pocket for the pouch containing the pilfered pipeweed. Leaning back, he took another huge bite of biscuit and chewed thoughtfully while he watched his companions.
“Well, there isn’t any more stew, so that’s that,” Sam said. He settled in front of the fire sitting between Frodo and Legolas. The wizard perched on a nearby boulder while Aragorn spoke softly with Boromir at the edge of their camp.
“Just the same, I couldn’t agree more with Master Pippin,” Gimli said with a wink at Pippin as he filled his pipe. “It was a most exceptional meal, the best we’ve had on our travels thus far. Samwise has quite a way with a few spices and some foraged roots and a fat rabbit or two.”
“Yes, indeed,” Gandalf agreed. “I believe hobbits learn how to cook before they learn how to walk and talk. Even so, Samwise does possess some particularly fine culinary skills.”
Sam blushed happily at all the compliments, protesting, “But everyone helped. I couldn’t have done it by myself.”
“So, Pippin, just when did you manage the opportunity to nick my pipeweed?”
Pippin laughed, rubbing his stomach. “Never mind. You were glad enough when you saw we were going to have a pipe for Yule. You should be thanking me for my foresight.” Merry only grunted. He hated it when Pippin was right.
Aragorn and Boromir returned to the gathering, each finding a place near the fire. Boromir glanced at Pippin, smiling to himself at the youth’s exuberance in spite of the fright he had been through earlier. “How does your wrist feel, Pippin?”
Pippin raised his bandaged hand and stared at it. “It throbs some, but mostly it’s better. Thank you for taking care of it.” Boromir inclined his head in reply.
“Tell us what happened.” Frodo retrieved a stick from their pile of wood and poked the fire. The flames stirred, rising into the starry night; the orange and red sparks crackled merrily; the gentle sighing of the wind soothed. Frodo was glad he hadn’t had much time between learning that Pippin was missing and finding his cousin.
Pippin grinned. “Ah. Well. . .I was reaching for a fallen limb that was along our path, thinking I’d use it for a walking stick. I didn’t know the edge of the embankment was so soft. . . or so near.”
“I attempted to grab his arm when he started to tumble, but rather than helping, it was my own undoing,” Boromir continued. “As Pippin said, the ground was soft along the edge and because of the darkness I did not realise just how close to it we were. I may have even been the cause of Pippin’s injury because I tugged so hard on his wrist when he began to slide. If only I could have kept my balance neither of us would have gone over the edge, much less both of us.” Boromir sounded disgruntled with himself.
“That’s all right,” Pippin told him, patting the Man’s shoulder with his good arm. “If you hadn’t tugged on me I might have bounced right down the side of the cliff and broken my neck!”
“Thank you, lad,” Boromir said. “I am glad you were not injured any more severely than you were.”
“And we did have quite a nice conversation while we waited,” Pippin offered. “I learned how important it is to have confidence even though I was thinking we might die right there where we were. But Boromir wouldn’t allow me to think like that.”
“I recall you were very anxious to return to camp and prepare the rabbits we’d caught for a stew. I did not find it difficult to encourage your confidence to return when your mind was on food,” Boromir chuckled. “Or your ‘wee surprise’.” The others joined them in laughter.
Pippin grinned, studying his pipe. “I’m glad I thought to save some pipeweed for tonight.”
“You mean, save some of my pipeweed,” Merry reminded him.
Frodo gave the brightly burning Yule log another nudge with his stick. He appeared thoughtful. “This reminds me of another Yule when Pippin went missing and gave the rest of the family the fright of our lives.”
Pippin’s eyebrows shot up. “What? I told you I wasn’t really lost at all, I was simply following Dizzy in the woods.” Pippin turned to speak directly to Boromir. “Dizzy was my dog when I was younger and he was always running away.” Pippin paused, scratching his head. “He’s a hound,” he added, as if that explained everything.
“Ah.” Boromir nodded, casting a sideways glance at the other hobbits, and then at Aragorn. The Ranger shrugged.
“If you weren’t lost then how come you didn’t come home?” Merry challenged.
“Because Dizzy was tracking a rabbit. I thought bringing home something for dinner would be a splendid way to make Da feel a little better towards Dizzy.” Pippin turned to Boromir to explain. “Since Dizzy was always running away I had to find him and bring him home frequently. For some reason that seemed to upset my father.”
“It upset Uncle Paladin because Dizzy ran away in the dark as often as the daylight!” Merry shook his head. “And that time we thought you’d fallen into the pond because we found your scarf floating on top of it.” Merry turned to the others. “I thought Aunt Eglantine was going to swoon when Uncle Pad fished it out of the water and held it up.” Merry scowled at his cousin. “I thought I might swoon as well, it frightened me so badly.”
Pippin waved his good hand in Merry’s direction in dismissal. “I don’t know what everyone was so upset about. I’d lost that scarf days before. I do have more than one, you know.”
Merry stared at him in consternation. “Well, what did you think we’d think?”
Pippin sighed. “How was I supposed to know what you’d think when I wasn’t even there? Now, I’d like to get back to my story--”
Frodo cleared his throat and said, “I thought I was telling this story?”
Pippin blinked at his cousin. “Oh. Well. Yes, but I thought--”
“You thought you’d tell your version, that’s what you thought,” Frodo scolded.
“Yes, of course. Whose version would I tell, after all?”
Frodo sighed. Merry muttered under his breath. Sam shook his head. Boromir hid his mirth behind a polite cough.
“Ye are confusing me to no end, lad,” Gimli said with a grunt. He took a long pull on his pipe and stared at the would-be storytellers.
“Peregrin, perhaps you might allow Frodo to tell this tale,” Gandalf said, a twinkle lighting his eyes. He was the one to bring it up, after all.”
“Hmph. I reserve the right to jump in and correct any discrepancies though,” Pippin said.
“Very well.” Frodo nodded.
“Besides, you seem to have far too much energy for someone who has been recently injured and claiming to still be in pain,” Merry observed.
Pippin sniffed indignantly. “Telling stories takes my mind off my wrist. And that’s another good reason why you should allow me to finish this tale.”
“You may tell another one when I am finished,” Frodo said. “As I was saying, it was the eve of Yule and I was visiting the Took farm at Whitwell, along with a number of our relatives.”
“Merry and Uncle Saradoc and Auntie Esmie were visiting as well,” Pippin piped in.
“I think they know that already, Pip,” Merry said with a snort.
“They were just about to serve the eggnog when Aunt Tina declared she had not seen her youngest for some time and that he had been quiet for far too long,” Frodo continued, ignoring his cousins’ antics. “As we all knew, a quiet Pippin was never a good thing when he was a youngster.”
“Why do people always say that about me?” Pippin demanded. No one bothered to answer.
Boromir chuckled. “I think I can understand that. It was the same with my younger brother, actually. A quiet child is usually up to some kind of mischief.”
“Quite true,” Gimli agreed. “Dwarf children are the same. Before you know it they are wandering off to dig a tunnel to hide in, or bartering for gold with an imaginary dragon.” Gimli puffed away on his pipe, considering. “Sometimes the dragon was real, though. And that was sometimes a problem.” He waved the stem of his pipe around as he talked. “No good can come from a youth trying to barter with a dragon, mark my word.” This brought a ripple of laughter from the others.
“I recall being a rather quiet child but I do not believe I ever got in any mischief,” Legolas mused.
“Nor I,” Aragorn added with a sly grin.
“I might mention a certain eve of Efenniht, Aragorn,” Legolas reminded him. This brought a laugh from everyone. It had not been long since the Company had heard that tale.
“Well, what about you, Gimli? Didn’t you ever get into any mischief?” Pippin wanted to know.
“Never.” Gimli clamped his pipe firmly between his teeth and refused to say any more.
Pippin turned to Gandalf. The wizard shook his head. “I was never a child so you will not hear any tales of mischief from me, Peregrin.”
Frodo waited patiently, giving a sideways look at Sam, who grinned back at him. They were used to their tales taking unexpected turns and sooner or later they would come back to the tale at hand.
“What about you, Boromir?” Pippin eyed the Man.
“Nay, not I,” Boromir told him solemnly. “However, I may tell you a tale or two about my brother some other time.” Boromir glanced at Frodo, who began speaking again.
“It was one of those rare Yule’s when there was a fair amount of snow. The wind was blowing hard and it was difficult to see across the farmyard. I remember Eglantine was rushing about, trying to make sure we were all safe and warm inside the house when she realised Pippin was nowhere to be seen.”
Pippin could not resist interrupting again. “Frodo, remember you wouldn’t even have been at Whitwell if not for a certain amount of coaxing from Merry and me. Frodo was giving us a dreadful hard time about coming for the Yule celebration that year,” he explained. “It was because he was sad about Cousin Bilbo leaving the Shire and he wanted to stay at Bag End and sulk all by himself, but we wouldn’t let him. Would we, Merry?”
“I was not sulking, as you put it Pippin. I was feeling more than a little nostalgic at that time and felt I would find if difficult to be around everyone. I did not want to spoil the celebration for anyone with my long face.”
“We couldn’t allow you to do that, though, could we Merry?”
“That’s right,” Merry nodded. “And we did manage to get you to Whitwell in spite of everything.”
Frodo gave them a wistful smile. “True.”
“And you were very glad that you came, weren’t you?” Pippin insisted.
“It turned out to be a good thing, I suppose, because they needed all the help they could get to find you, Pippin.” Frodo said, frowning.
“Tell us,” Boromir prodded them. “What happened? Did Pippin get hurt, or did he get home all right?”
“Aye, and what about the wee dog?” Gimli wanted to know.
“Oh, Dizzy was fine! No worse for the wear, I’d say, unlike the rest of us who were more than a little exhausted after tramping about in the woods for two or three hours,” Merry said. “It’s a good thing the wind had died down and it had stopped snowing, else we would have had an even more dreadful time.”
“Oh, Merry. You’re making it sound so frightful! Really, it wasn’t that bad at all.”
“That’s easy for you to say, Pip. You seemed to make it through the experience without so much as a sniffle or a wet cloak. I, however, caught a horrible cold soon afterwards.”
“Well, you seemed to enjoy lying about in bed and being waited upon because everyone felt bad for you,” Pippin shot back. “While they were all throwing dark, accusing looks at me as if it were my fault you were sick.”
“It was your fault! And just because I got some chicken soup--”
“And a back rub, hot tea, and everyone running about bringing you extra blankets and handkerchiefs--”
“Because I was ill!”
“Lads, can you please stop arguing and allow your cousin to continue?” Gandalf said. Merry looked around sheepishly. Pippin chuckled and the gathering grew quiet.
“You know, it was very odd, actually,” Frodo mused as he stared into the fire, poking it absent-mindedly with his stick. “In the end, Pippin actually had made it back to the house on his own and was already in bed by the time the rest of us returned to the farmhouse. What happened reminded me of the dream I’d had several nights before that had prompted me to make the trip to Whitwell after all.” He looked fondly at his young cousin. “I dreamed Pippin had come to Bag End in the middle of a great snowstorm and we spent a delightful time reliving a past Yule when Bilbo and all the rest of our families were together. My parents were in my dream as well, but it did not seem odd to me at the time that I was fully grown and they were with us. Bilbo sat by the fire and he kept winking and nodding at me, as if to say “There’s a good lad, now. Go ahead and have some fun, enjoy Yule with your family.”
“And we danced and sang and told stories all the night long! And in the early morning hours Gandalf appeared and set off his fireworks for us!” Pippin said.
“But, how did you know that, Pippin, if it was Frodo’s dream?” Boromir asked him, his brow furrowed.
“Frodo told us about his dream while he was visiting,” Merry said. He glanced at his cousin. “But he said he only wanted to share it with us, and not to tell anyone else.”
“Because it was such a special dream,” Pippin finished.
“I see,” Boromir said.
“Yet it seemed that I had a part to play by going to Whitwell,” Frodo said.
“How so, Mr. Frodo?” Sam piped up for the first time.
“Because I knew when Pippin was safe and it was time to turn back. If we had continued further into the woods, unprepared as we were, we might have got horribly lost and frozen to death. At first, Paladin would not listen to me because he was near frantic with worry. But I was able to convince him and the others to return, and there we found Pippin, all tucked into bed with Dizzy at his feet, completely unaware of all the fuss.”
“Hmm, but how did you know?” Boromir studied the Ringer bearer’s face. “How could you have known?” Frodo shrugged, but a hint of a mysterious gleam in his eyes seemed to satisfy the Man. Boromir knew the gift of love could be a strong one, reaching across all barriers and defying all explanation. He had felt it many times himself. He shook himself from his reverie, watching the cousins and Sam. How much like him they were. And to think only a short while ago he had thought hobbits to exist only in the myths of his people. Boromir thought he had been fortunate in the time he’d spent on the ledge with Pippin. Now he raised his head with a roguish grin and offered his own tale of childhood mischief to the Company.
“One Yuletide when we were children, Faramir and I were exploring the confines of the wine cellar when we came upon a huge barrel that appeared to be empty. . .”
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