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To the Bottle I Go
A/N: This is a happy little one-shot set in Minas Tirith, after Aragorn and Arwen’s wedding, and after the Rohirrim return to the city (i.e. during Many Partings). Basically, it’s a bit of a lads’ night out, said lads being Frodo, Sam, Pippin, Merry, Gimli, Legolas, Faramir, Beregond and Éomer. The title of the story comes from the Drinking Song, featured in Three is Company.
* * * * * *
The city of Minas Tirith had been in a state of celebration for many days, and they had a good many reasons to celebrate. The most recent cause for celebration had been the return of the King of Rohan, and with him, the White Lady of Rohan. Faramir had been greatly joyed to see his betrothed again. This betrothal was also a great reason for celebration.
As night had fallen, the sounds of celebration had died down, but not in a cosy little Inn tucked in a quiet corner of the city. It was called The Quarry, and a great many merry voices could be heard coming from its depths from miles away. Aside from the regular patrons, tonight the Inn had some very special guests.
“Another round for my good friends!” Faramir, Steward of Gondor, announced. These good friends included four hobbits, one elf, one dwarf, one man of Rohan and another man of Gondor and all of them cheered as the barmaid brought over another nine mugs of ale.
Legolas had put aside his dislike for ale for the night. It had been Beregond’s idea to visit the Inn, so Pippin had felt it his duty to make sure that all of his friends attended. Aragorn had, of course, been unable to attend. Duties of the King (and with the new Queen) would keep him quite occupied for some time now. Gandalf had also politely declined, so when it came his turn to be invited, Legolas had thought that it would be rude for him to also decline. Besides, his good friend Gimli had practically bullied him into coming. He was glad that he had agreed to come, for the company was good and even the ale had its merits.
Both Pippin and Merry had consumed more than their fill of ale, and soon they were singing a jolly little tune. It was a song about Bilbo, which Sam and Pippin had thought up on their way from Hobbiton to Buckland. Merry had put in his own suggestions, but it had been Bilbo himself that had come up with the tune.
Underhill, in sweet Bag-End
Lived long Bilbo, dear Elf-friend.
He wandered far to distant lands
With a treasure hunting, dwarvish band.
Why wander from his cosy hole
To become supper for hungry trolls?
But his adventure did not end there
He made his way to Rivendell fair.
Over mountains and through goblins’ caves
He was left behind and all seemed grave
But there he found a magic ring
And much would come from that dratted thing!
Goblins, spiders, wolves and dragons!
Keep away from Old Mad Baggins!
Keep away your son and daughter
Lest they hear more than they oughta!
Wizards, dwarves, treasure and elves!
These all belong in books on shelves.
And in the Shire it can be seen
There’s only one Dragon, and it’s Green!
Their song roused another cheer from their little group, and it was Éomer this time who called for more drinks. In fact, none of the Hobbits had needed to buy a single drink the whole night. It never seemed to be their shout.
“Another ale for the Ernil i Pheriannath!”
“Master Holdwine, your mug is empty. Allow me to get you another!”
“More ale for the Ringbearers!” These cries, and many of the like, had been heard for much of the evening.
The talk at the table soon turned to women, and strangely enough, it was Gimli who started it.
“I still cannot believe your choice of the fairest of ladies,” he said to Éomer.
“I may say the same of you, Master Dwarf,” Éomer laughed in reply. “Perhaps we should enlist the opinion of another. Master Meriadoc! Who do you say is the fairest lady to live? The Lady Galadriel or Queen Arwen Evenstar?”
“I say neither, lord,” Merry replied with a grin. “My choice, if one must be made, would be your sister, the White Lady of Rohan.”
“Lord Faramir must be warned!” Éomer cried. Faramir turned his attention to the King of Rohan. “I believe you may have competition for my sister. Master Meriadoc names her the fairest lady to live.”
“And I agree with him,” Faramir replied. “Though I hope his friends will forgive me if I am to slay him if he ever tries to steal her away.”
Merry bowed. “You have little to fear, lord. For the second fairest lady to live waits for me back in the Shire, and she is a more fitting height for myself to wed.”
Faramir had heard of Merry’s betrothed from Peregrin, but this was the first mention Éomer had heard and he called for a toast. “To Meriadoc and his waiting bride! May their house be blessed with many children!”
“We should also have a toast for you, soon to be brother,” Faramir said. “I saw your eyes fall much upon my sweet cousin, Lothíriel, during the feasts.”
“I see I can hide nothing from you, lord,” said Éomer. “Perhaps we will soon be cousins as well as brothers.”
And Faramir then made a toast to Éomer and Lothíriel, very similar to the one Éomer had made for Merry.
“And you, friend Gimli?” Éomer asked. “Is there a fine lady waiting for you in your halls?”
“Nay, lord,” Gimli replied. “Dwarvish women are few, and marriages even fewer. I would wager that when I return to my own lands, I would be the most desirable of husbands for my deeds. But my friendship with this elvish princeling will not work in my favour, and my love of the Golden Lady will not allow me to see anything else as fair.”
Éomer was embarrassed, fearing that he had upset the dwarf. But Gimli smiled behind his mug and seemed content.
“I fear my reputation may also be marred by our friendship,” Legolas announced. “There were several elvish ladies lined up for me, though they were chosen by my father. I believe their affection will probably wane once word gets out that I have been spending time with one of Durin’s folk.”
Legolas and Gimli laughed and clinked their mugs together. “To many years of bachelorhood!”
“Hear, hear!” cried Pippin.
“What is this?” Beregond laughed. “The Prince of the Halflings does not have a Princess?”
“No, Beregond. I do not, though I am counting on being able to pick and choose from the hoards of lasses.”
“And when he does find that special lady,” declared Faramir, “he has my permission to name their son after me.”
“And what do you plan to do when you have five daughters?” Merry asked. “That seems to be how it works in your family. Your father had three sisters before he came along, and you had four, so young Faramir will have to wait until five little lasses are calling you Daddy.”
“Then he will wait,” Pippin replied. “The Took lads like to take their time. I shall have as many daughters as it takes to get to the lad!”
“Master Samwise! It is your turn now,” Éomer stated.
“M-me, sir?” Sam stammered. “I don’t rightly know what you mean.”
“Shall you be joining Master Peregrin in picking and choosing from the hoards, or does a special lass look to the South for her knight?”
Sam blushed, and the other hobbits laughed, even Frodo, who had been sitting quietly for most of the night.
“The fairest lass in all the Shire waits for our Sam,” said Frodo. “Let me tell you, lords, Sam here is the envy of every hobbit living. I am sure if you had asked him your earlier question about who is the fairest lady to live, he would not have hesitated to say Rosie Cotton.”
The rest of the table was quick to congratulate Sam, and of course, a grand toast to Sam and Rosie was made. They also pressed him to tell them a little about her.
“Well, sirs,” Sam murmured, “She’s the barmaid at our local, The Green Dragon. I won’t deny the ale here is good, and I have tasted many a good ale on my journeys, but I’d have to say that The Dragon is best, if only because the ale there is served by her.”
“That’s our Sam!” Merry and Pippin cried, together.
Éomer smiled. “Rosie is a lucky lass, if one so great thinks so highly of her. To Rosie Cotton!” He seemed to have forgotten that they had already toasted Sam’s waiting bride, but everyone else had forgotten too, and they all raised their mugs.
“Frodo?” Éomer asked at length.
“No, lord,” Frodo replied, with a sad smile. “There is no Mrs. Baggins waiting for me to return from some stupid adventure. And to be honest, I am getting on in my years, though I may not look it. Too old to be getting married…”
“Nonsense, Cousin Frodo!” Pippin interrupted in a loud voice. “When we get back to the Shire, you and I will have our pick of the finest lasses the Shire has to offer. With the exception, of course,” He glanced at Merry and Sam, “of Estella Bolger and Rose Cotton!”
“If you say so, Cousin.” And Frodo had to smile as the men around him raised their mugs to the Mrs. Baggins that would never be.
“Well, Beregond,” said Faramir, placing his hand on the guardsman’s shoulder. “I believe you are the only one we have not yet made a toast for.”
“A pity Bergil could not come tonight,” Pippin sighed. “But I suppose he is just a lad.”
“I seem to recall you having an experience with ale when you were around his age,” said Merry.
“I was eleven, and I seem to recall that experience being your fault, Meriadoc.”
Faramir laughed. “Well, this sounds like an interesting tale! Let’s hear it in full.”
“There’s not much to tell.” Merry was also laughing. “At Frodo, and his Uncle, Bilbo’s birthday party, young Peregrin and myself decided that we would cause a little innocent mischief. My idea was to make holes in the bottom of the ale kegs, but my girth,” He patted his stomach, which had almost returned to a healthy hobbit shape, “meant that it was my sweet cousin who had to make the holes. It was all going fine, until he decided that he was thirsty…”
“Pardon me, dear cousin, but that was not what happened,” Pippin grumbled. “I don’t actually remember what did happen, but it was not that!”
“If I may continue – I dragged Pip out by his ankles and found that I had one rather intoxicated Took on my hands.”
“You’re just lucky no one found us until I was sobered up, and that Pervinca was nice enough to lend you a hand!” said Pippin.
“I always wondered where the three of you disappeared to,” Frodo laughed. The other hobbits took a moment to simply listen to a sound that they had missed much. “And that also explains why you were in such a vile mood the next day, Peregrin!”
“Perhaps I should be thankful that the Inn would not allow Bergil inside,” Beregond mused. “I cannot imagine what horrid things you would put my son through.”
“We could have messed up his hair a little,” suggested Pippin, “stuck some to his feet and made him walk around bare foot. He would have passed for hobbit, I am sure!”
The group roared with laughter. Faramir was about to call for another round when one of the barmaids timidly came to the table.
“Beggin’ your pardons, sirs,” she said, “but it’s gettin’ near close time. I hate askin’ you ta leave, but we need ta close eventually…”
“No, m’lady,” Éomer apologised, “It is we who should be begging your pardon. The time has simply escaped us. We thank you for tolerating this rowdy bunch for most of the night.” He bowed low and the barmaid blushed. She was not used to being treated so grandly, and for it to come from a handsome young King was especially flattering.
“You’re quite welcome, lord,” she stammered. “The Quarry’s door is always open for ye, as long as it’s durin’ tradin’ times.”
“Come friends,” Éomer called. Aside from Peregrin and Meriadoc, he had probably consumed the most ale that night. “Let us bid this fine establishment farewell!”
Beregond and Faramir left the cheery group almost as soon as they had left the Inn. It was fortunate that the King of Rohan was staying in a house close to that of the Companions of the Ring. Legolas helped Éomer as he stumbled down the road, and the elf wondered what he would have done if no one had been able to aid him. Merry and Pippin were helping (or hindering) each other, singing many songs about nonsense as they did. Sam was a stout little fellow, and had always been able to hold his own when it came to ale. He walked by his master, though Frodo had no need of help, since he had drunk the least. Sam looked at the man, elf and hobbits that walked in front of he and Frodo. If he tried very hard, it was almost possible to imagine the two overly tall figures being much shorter and with curly hair and bare feet. When he did, it almost felt like a normal night back in the Shire, going back to Bag-End with his master and his master’s friends.
Gimli came last, and anyone who came near him would have heard him humming a little tune about a certain hobbit named Bilbo.
* * * * * *
A/N: Yes, that horrible piece of poetry was written by me. It seemed like a good idea at the time! It’s been a while since I’ve written any poems, so let’s hope I can be forgiven.
And I hope you all liked the story. Come on; admit it! You can all picture Éomer drinking everyone under the table!
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