A Yule to Remember by Cathleen

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Story Notes:

Written for the 2009 Yule Fic Exchange


Author's Chapter Notes:

Written for Rainbowmist.
Request: All I want as far as a story goes is something Pippinish with a bit of Boromir thrown in. I'd love to see them celebrating Christmas and or Yule while on the quest.


“A Yule to Remember”

Aragorn considered the backs of the three hobbits as Merry, Pippin, and Sam huddled together at the far edge of the Company’s camp in the shelter of some towering pines. The tone of the conspiratorial whispers told him there was a plot in the making, but he was not sure just what it entailed. Leaning forward, he listened closely and a moment later a smile began to play about the corners of his mouth.

“We may be able to provide a right nice feast if we put our minds to it,” Sam said.

Aragorn’s smile became a grin as the other two heads nodded. It appeared the threesome did not detect his presence and were going ahead with their plans in ever-increasingly raised voices as enthusiasm mounted.

“We’ll build up a roaring fire and not let it go out all night! And of course we’ll need a Yule log,” Pippin said, his voice rising above that of the others, along with his excitement. Merry shushed him.

Aragorn stifled a chuckle.

“Just think about all the fun we’ve had at Yule!” Pippin continued anyway. His eagerness was not to be squelched.

“It won’t be quite the same, but we still have each other. And I think it will please Frodo. That’s what’s important right now.” This came from Merry.

Always the one to consider the well being of his cousins, Aragorn thought.

“We can tell stories, maybe sing a few songs, too!”

“Yes, of course we will, Pip,” Merry reassured him. “But first things first. How are we going to get the things we need for a feast here?”

Ah, it seemed that practicality had settled in at last. Aragorn chuckled aloud this time. He turned at the sound of approaching footsteps.

“What is it?” Boromir asked, tilting his head in the direction of the hobbits. “Is something wrong?”

Aragorn had taken out his pipe and was now tapping it thoughtfully against the palm of his hand. He shook his head. “It would seem they are planning a Yule feast to cheer Frodo up.”

“Ah, the surest way to a hobbit’s heart!” Boromir laughed as he deposited his armful of wood on the ground next to the low fire and straightened his back. “I do not believe it will be much of a feast, though. At least, surely not of the proportions they are accustomed to at home.”

“Perhaps we can help.” Aragorn glanced around, considering the options.

“I just passed Frodo along the way to the river carrying a pair of water skins, but where are the others? They are not privy to the scheming it would seem?” Boromir glanced about the camp. Except for the hobbits, it appeared the men were alone.

“Gandalf is already filling the other water skins, and Gimli is off in the woods seeking pheasants. I recall he was muttering something about wanting a hearty meal. Legolas headed in the same direction only a moment ago.”

Boromir furrowed his brow, listening to the continuing chatter. Finally, he clapped his hands together for their attention. The hobbits turned as one looking surprised to find the listeners.

“Let us do what we must to make this celebration a reality then, shall we?” This declaration was met with a cheer from Pippin, and grins of gratitude from Merry and Sam.

***

Gandalf scanned the tree line with a frown. Not that there were many trees here to look past. Indeed, the area mostly boasted rocks and boulders, a few dead bushes and lots of scrub. Aragorn joined him, also searching the distance, hoping he would see a small hobbit and a tall man headed in their direction, distressed at being gone past the agreed upon time for their foraging.

“They are much too long overdue. We should look for them.”

“Yes.” There was no disguising the worry in Gandalf’s voice this time.

***

Their tumble had been a short one, thankfully. The ledge on which they’d ended up was at least wide enough to support them, and even allowed for a small amount of stretching, at least for Pippin. Now that the initial fright was past, the companions had sat in silence for some time, considering their plight. Boromir was wondering, not for the first time, just how he was going to get them out of this predicament when Pippin spoke up at last.

“Boromir?” Pippin stared up into the earnest face that looked back at him with concern. He shifted uncomfortably on the narrow shelf, careful not to move far.

“Yes, lad?” The man smoothed the damp curls back from Pippin’s forehead and felt the hobbit shiver in the cold. Carefully, he drew his fur-lined cloak closer about the youth.

“Are we going to die?”

Boromir started at the question. While it was true the same thought had crossed his mind, however briefly, he was loathe hearing it voiced by his small friend. “No, Peregrin. We are not going to die. The others will find us soon.”

“How do you know that?”

“I do. That is all.”

“You mean you feel it in your heart, like Gandalf sometimes does?”

Boromir smiled, but it did not quite reach his eyes. Pippin was not easily fooled and he heaved a sigh. “I feel something else in my heart. I’m worried they won’t.”

“Have confidence, Pippin. It will sustain you.”

“Do you have confidence, Boromir?”

The man nodded solemnly.

“Then I suppose I shall have to follow your example.” Pippin shifted his weight again and a groan of pain escaped his lips. Boromir’s arm tightened around him protectively.

“I’m all right.” Pippin frowned, determined to be stoic, but his wrist throbbed from the fall.

Boromir examined the injury, feeling carefully along Pippin’s wrist to determine whether it was broken. Pippin hissed and tried to withdraw the limb as Boromir gently probed each finger, noticing they were slightly swollen, and then touched the joint where wrist and hand joined. Not broken, but dislocated. It would have to be set back into place, and soon, but he hesitated to perform such a procedure in such a precarious place. Perhaps if he could take Pippin completely by surprise he might pop the joint back into place and still keep him from moving around too much.

Pippin interrupted his thoughts. “Is it broken?”

“No, I do not think so.” Boromir hesitated to say more.

“But. . .?”

Boromir released his breath. So much for the element of surprise, he thought. “Your wrist appears to be dislocated.”

“Ah. I was afraid you were going to say that.”

“You knew, then?”

Pippin nodded. “I was hoping I was wrong. The same thing happened to my shoulder once, when I was very young.” An involuntary shudder went through him. “I can still remember when my da popped it back into place.”

Boromir gave a mirthless chuckle. “I imagine it was an experience you’ll never forget. The same thing happened to me when I was a young officer and I was thrown from my horse.” Boromir continued to study Pippin’s injury. “What mischief were you up to when you were hurt?”

“My sister Vinca and I were taking turns leaping into the haystack in the barn from the rafters above it.”

“Oh, and I wager that was something you were not supposed to be doing, hmm?” Boromir carefully kneaded the wrist and felt the tension in Pippin’s body disperse as Pippin warmed to his story.

“Of course not. What would have been the fun in it if we were—ahh!”
Pippin tried to wrench away but Boromir held him fast, now massaging Pippin’s wrist to ease his pain.

“That was a sneaky thing to do! Why didn’t you warn me? Oh. . .” Realisation dawned and he whispered his thanks. “It already feels better.”

“It needed to be done as soon as possible. I apologise for causing you even more pain, but at least it was temporary rather than allowing it to go on.”

Pippin nodded and settled against his friend. “Do you think Aragorn has any willow bark tea amongst his supplies? I think I could use some.” Pippin held his arm against his chest gingerly, glad that the throbbing had settled into a mere dull ache now.

“I would not be surprised.” Boromir drew back and gazed down at him. “It sounds like you have your confidence firmly back in place now, my friend. Yes?”

“I suppose I do. I can’t see spending the rest of the day here. It’s far too uncomfortable. I do wish the others would hurry up and find us.” He nodded towards the embankment above them. “We have to get those rabbits back to our camp so we can cook a nice stew. I’m starving!”

“Priorities, Pippin?”

“Certainly! We have to prepare our Yule feast, after all. Frodo already knows about it now. I wouldn’t want to disappoint him.”

“Ah, yes. It was a good idea to involve everyone in the gathering of food. It is quite a large task, after all. It will be interesting to see what the others have managed to seek out. I am also looking forward to celebrating Yule with my fellow travellers.”

“I do hope Merry has located some holly and a good Yule log.”

“And perhaps he even found a cache of nuts the squirrels have hidden away, eh?”

“That would be nice,” Pippin chuckled. “I have a wee surprise, too! Would you like to hear what it is?” Before Boromir could reply their attention was drawn to the sound of footsteps crunching on the snowy ground above.

“Pippin! Boromir!” Gimli’s voice rang out, blending with Aragorn’s and the Elf’s.

“We’re here!” Boromir shouted.

“Yes, here!” Pippin added. “Oh! I hope they brought some rope.”

“I see them,” Legolas said, pointing. “There, just below that thicket on the edge of the ridge.”

The trapped pair soon spotted a heavy branch being inched towards them. The concerned face of the dwarf peered through the dead leaves that remained attached to the limb.

“Here, grab on to this and we’ll draw ye both up and out of there,” Gimli directed.

“Pippin is injured,” Boromir informed them.

“What sort of injury does he have?” This came from Aragorn, who was now leaning down from the embankment squinting in concern at his companions below.

“His wrist is--”

“I’m all right now,” Pippin insisted, interrupting. “Boromir took care of me.”

The man stood carefully, hoisting the hobbit onto his shoulder. “Hold tight as best you can.” Boromir wrapped Pippin’s arms around his neck and called out for the others to pull them up.

***

“Here they are!” Merry ran towards the returning party, closely followed by Frodo and Sam. “Pippin! Where have you been?”

Pippin held up his swollen wrist, now bound in a dressing following Aragorn’s attention. “I tripped over a big tree root and fell down a hill and onto a rock ledge. Boromir started to pull me up but the ground was soft and he fell too.” Pippin shivered. “It looked like a long way down, so the only thing to do was to climb back up the way we came.”

“Yes, it was a sheer drop the other way, but climbing back up proved to be more difficult than I had at first thought, and after several attempts I decided to wait with the hope you would locate us before long. Pippin’s injury also had to be taken into consideration,” Boromir told them. “We were very lucky that you found us so quickly.” He nodded at their rescuers.

“Indeed.” Gandalf looked disapproving, but they all knew he was masking his relief. “All of this trouble simply for Yule, foraging for a feast in the wilderness! It is a wonder you both came back in one piece.”

“Particularly since we have found all of these lovely surprises! Why, who would have thought that Bilbo would have hidden a special sack filled with sweets and biscuits and tea just to help us celebrate Yule?” With a sly grin, Frodo held up the small pack he’d been carrying in addition to his own. “There’s jerky and dried fruit, too. And some flint strikers, and even some handkerchiefs! Gifts for all imagine that!”

“Dear Bilbo,” Gandalf said with a sigh and a slight shake of his head, but even he could not keep from smiling.

“I wondered what you’ve been hauling around in that extra pack, Frodo.”

“I realise you have, Pippin, and I also know you tried to sneak a peek inside it at least once or twice.”

“You can’t blame a lad for trying,” Pippin said with a chuckle.

“Well, Mr Merry and I rounded up some real nice fat rabbits and wild roots and onions, and I started a stew cooking over the fire while everyone else was busy. I reckon it’ll be ready right soon, too.” Sam looked rather pleased with himself. “I even added some of my special seasoning that I brought from home.” Sam patted his shirt pocket.

“I didn’t think you had any of that left, Sam,” Frodo said.

“Aye, I did, just a little. There’s naught left of it now, though, except for a sprinkle.”

“That was very thoughtful of you to share it with your companions, Samwise,” Aragorn said, laying a hand on Sam’s shoulder.

“Thank you Strider! I hope you like the stew.”

“I am certain I shall. I hope it is almost time to eat?”

Sam nodded and ambled over to the fire to check on supper.

“Pippin?”

Pippin twisted around to look up at Boromir.

“What was that ‘wee secret’ you mentioned earlier?” The man seemed genuinely curious.

“Oh!” A sheepish smile crept across Pippin’s face. Reaching into his pack he carefully withdrew a small package tied with string and held it up proudly for Boromir’s inspection. “I saved a good store of pipe weed, just for tonight. You can’t have a Yule celebration without a good pipe. Or at least, that’s what my da always says.”

Boromir burst out laughing.

“You managed to actually save some extra pipe weed, Pip?” Merry came up behind them and stared at the package. “Wonders never come to an end, I suppose. At least where you’re concerned! Wait a moment. . .” Realisation dawned slowly. “So that’s what happened to my extra pipe weed! I thought I’d lost it out of my pocket. Pippin! You’ve been into my things!”

“Well, Merry, you did lose it out of your pocket, such as it was. Now be nice or I shan’t give you any,” Pippin scolded, and then peered up at the Captain of Gondor. “Would you care to try a pipe, Boromir?”

“Ah. . .thank you for the offer, but I am sure I will receive more pleasure simply by watching all of you enjoy it.”

Pippin shrugged. “You don’t know what you’re missing.”

“I stand forewarned,” the man intoned solemnly.

“Cheeky Took,” grumbled Merry.

The Yule log blazed gaily and the Company gathered around to share their scant feast. Yet it was still more than they’d grown accustomed to on their journey, and they were grateful for both the food and the companionship they shared. Afterward, their voices lifted in song to the night sky, and the telling of stories began.




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