Apple & Leaf by elwen of the hidden valley

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Author's Chapter Notes:

I don’t own the characters or setting of this tale.  They belong to JRR Tolkien.  The opening lines belong to Shirebound, who provided them as a prompt.  This is fanfic so it’s written for fun, not money.


“Did you ever wish you had sisters, Frodo?” Pippin asked sleepily.

 “Not really.”

 “Brothers?”

 “No.”  Frodo yawned and burrowed deeper into his bedroll.  “Some people don’t mind being all alone sometimes, or even most of the time, Pip.  Bilbo is like that.  I am, too, I suppose."

“It’s strange to think about,” Pippin mused.  “I like knowing that there’s always someone around.  I’d hate to find myself alone someplace, without any friends or family.”

“Not much chance of that,” Boromir chuckled as he walked by.  “There would be no one for you to talk with.”

“I don’t talk that much, Boromir,” Pippin replied.

“Care to put your money where your mouth is?” Merry instantly piped up.  “How long do you think you could go without saying anything at all?”

“Uh oh,” Sam moaned.  It was going to be one of those days.

“Now you know I don’t have much money with me, Merry,” Pippin pointed out smugly.

“True, but I happen to know that you still have some Longbottom Leaf at the bottom of your pack.”   Merry dropped this little titbit of information into the sleepy pot of silence with all the subtlety of one of Gandalf’s fireworks, and suddenly all three of the other hobbits were wide awake.

“Mr Pippin!  You said you didn’t have none left, yesterday!”

Pippin assembled his most mischievous smile.  “Well, of course I did.  I didn’t want my greedy cousins wasting it.  I was saving it to share on a special occasion.”

Frodo folded his arms, giving Pippin a steady blue gaze that would have done Master Elrond proud.  “To share?”

Pippin only blinked and tilted his head in a way that always worked with his maiden aunts.  “Of course, Frodo.”

Having stirred the pot, Merry simply rolled onto his side and leaned on his elbow, watching the results.  The big folk joined him, although a little more surreptitiously, continuing to organise their camp for the day and rolling themselves in blankets.  Even Legolas could be seen to smile as his eyes roamed the horizon. 

“I don’t believe you for one moment, Peregrin Took, you little rascal.”  Frodo stated firmly, although his lips quirked in the beginnings of a smile at his young cousin’s tactics.  He was no maiden aunt and recognised them for what they were.  “I believe you were about to share it, just as much as I do that you would be capable of keeping your thoughts and questions to yourself for more than a few hours.”

“Not very convincing, is he cousin?” Merry asked, matching Pippin’s innocent look.

Frodo’s clear gaze fell on him and Merry swallowed hard.  “And I suppose you kept the secret this long because you did not want to spoil the surprise?  You had no intentions of slipping into Pippin’s pack and taking it for yourself, did you?”

Merry had several years more experience than Pippin and simply went for the truth against Frodo.  “I was just biding my time to mention it to him.  A little bit of information like that can come in very handy when you want an extra apple after supper.”

Sam’s exclamation of, “Mr Merry!” went unheard amongst the general laughter that followed that remark.

“Merry!  You scoundrel!”  Frodo tried to bring his laughter under control, wiping away tears of mirth as he turned back to Pippin, who was trying to bury himself back in his blankets and pretend to have fallen asleep.

“Oh no you don’t Pip.” Frodo announced, throwing back his cousin’s blankets.  “I think this little deception needs some punishment.  What say the rest of you?”  He glanced about the camp, taking in the big folk as well.  After all, Legolas and Boromir were the only ones who did not smoke.

“I believe I will stay out of this,” Aragorn announced quickly. 

“I am sure that we could find a fitting punishment,” Gimli added with a chuckle.

Gandalf lowered himself onto a nearby boulder.  “I think this is a decision that should be made by the Ringbearer.”

Frodo’s eyes widened and he glared at the old wizard.  Gandalf only smiled in return, a twinkle very evident in his gentle eyes.  Now Frodo found all eyes focussed on him.  For a moment the Ring weighed heavily on its chain but he shook himself free.  His first decision as Ringbearer could have been more difficult. 

“Very well.  Peregrin Took.  You said that you would be able to keep silent if you needed to.  From now and throughout our entire walk tonight, if you can resist making conversation until we bed down for the day you can keep your Longbottom Leaf.  If, however, you let your chatterbox nature get the better of you, you will share it with us all at breakfast tomorrow night.”  Frodo glanced about the Fellowship and received a round of agreement.  “Well, Pip?  I will let you answer this question.”

“Pah!  Easy,” Pippin replied confidently.  “I only talk to keep your spirits up, you know.  I can keep quiet for an age if I want to.”

Frodo met his gaze squarely.  “Very well, Pippin.  We are all witness to this agreement.  No talking from now.”

“And now we have that settled, can we all please get some sleep?” Gandalf asked, with just a hint of an order in his voice.

If there was one thing that they had all learned to do on this quest so far it was to obey the wizard when he got that particular edge in his voice, and the hobbits began to snuggle down in their blankets.

 




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