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And All Was Made Ready...  by Dreamflower

Rating: G
Genre: Gapfiller
Theme: Aragorn’s Coronation
Elements: --An Old Saying; A Box of Salt; An Exotic Food
Author’s Notes: All quotations in italics are taken from RotK, Book VI, Chapter V, “The Steward and the King”.
Summary: The hobbits’ eye view of Aragorn’s Coronation…
Word Count: 8,714  

“All Things Were Now Made Ready…”

1 Lótessë , T.A. 3019
One hour before sunrise…

Psst…my Lords Holbytlan!”

Pippin’s eyes flew open, and his hand instantly felt for the sword at his side. It was still dark. What was wrong?

“I am sorry to wake you, but it is time…”

Pippin relaxed. It was the apologetic voice of the young soldier of Rohan who had been driving their waggon during the daytime. He stirred, and came up enough to lean on one elbow, aware of Sam‘s presence, stirring at his back. He could hear Frodo and Merry moving as well.

He remembered now. Today was the day--Aragorn was going to be crowned King, and they’d be entering the White City. They had to break camp early, in order to make sure that all was orderly for their arrival.

He rose to his knees, and began to help Sam, as they folded up the blankets that had made up the hobbits’ little nest in the waggon. It had been comfortable and consoling, having the others with him again.

Merry and Frodo had clambered over the side, and the two of them were pouring water into the pail that would serve as a wash basin. Pippin made his garments--for they were still sleeping in their clothes--as presentable as possible. Then he and Sam hopped out of the waggon and took a moment to splash cold water on their own faces.

He glanced at Frodo, who was looking thoughtful. “Why don’t Sam and I go fetch breakfast? I’m hungry, and if we don’t hurry, they’ll be taking the mess tent down before we can eat!”

Frodo startled, but Merry said “That’s a good idea! We can eat first, and then go to get into our finery.”

Pippin gave his cousins a nod, and with Sam at his heels, they made their way through the still darkened encampment towards the barely visible mess tent. The sounds of others beginning to stir and greet the day were all around them.

“D’you suppose it will be porridge again, Mr. Pippin?” Sam asked.

“Probably,” answered Pippin. “But anything’s better than dry bread and thin ale! And perhaps they shall have coffee again this morning!” He grinned hopefully. Coffee was a very rare treat in the Shire, but when the army had left Cormallen, someone had provisioned it with a goodly supply of coffee--it was far easier come by than tea, at this point. Pippin suspected the hand of Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth in making that little luxury available--he had managed somehow to provide quite a few delicacies and exotic foods to the army that they would not otherwise have.

From the smells emanating from the kitchen fires, it seemed that he was quite right--porridge and coffee…


Merry watched Pippin and Sam march off in search of breakfast, and then turned to Anwald. He had become very fond of his fellow Rider of Rohan, unhorsed in the battle of the Pelennor, and then injured slightly in the battle of the Black Gate. The cheerful young Man had driven the waggon carrying Frodo and Sam from the time they had left Cormallen.

He was young by Shire standards--only a stripling of eighteen--but among the Rohirrim, he was counted a Man full grown.

“Do you need any help with the horses, Anwald?” he asked. The two horses, amiable geldings, were not normally waggon-horses. They had lost their riders in battle, and because of their gentle natures, had been chosen to pull the waggon carrying the Ringbearers.

“My thanks, Sir Meriadoc,” the young soldier replied. So Merry hauled some water for them, while Anwald saw to their feeding. “We do not need to hitch them this morning.” He grinned. “I shall ride again, with Éomer King’s éored.” He gave a fond pat to the flank of the dun. “I shall ride Whitefoot here. And another of our unhorsed riders shall be riding Smoke. The waggon will be left here to be dealt with later.”

“That’s wonderful, Anwald,” Merry said. “I know that you were hoping to be able to take part in the procession.” He himself would be riding with his king, at Éomer’s back, as he had been doing ever since they had left Cormallen.

He glanced around him, as the slowly lightening sky began to show the encampment. It was hard to realize that a few weeks ago, this had been the sight of a bloody battle. Yet he was certain that if he looked closely he could see all the signs. He gave a brief shudder--best not to think of that on this glad day.

He felt Frodo’s hand on his arm. “Merry?” The tone was concerned.

“I’m well, Frodo! This is going to be a great day!”


Sam followed Pippin as they greeted the cook. He was standing over the cooking fire that had been kindled in front of the mess tent, sweat beading down his cheerful red face.

“Good morning, Ingold!” Pippin greeted him with a grin.

“Good morning to you, as well, Sir Pippin, and to you, Lord Samwise!” the cook replied.

Sam felt himself blushing to the tips of his ears. What would his Gaffer say, to hear his son being “lorded” all over the place? It didn’t bear thinking of! He was sure Strider had his reasons for doing that, but it didn’t sit well with a hobbit of the Shire, no it didn’t. Especially a working hobbit like Samwise Gamgee! But it would be rude, he guessed, and ungrateful as well to say aught about it to good old Ingold, who’d been naught but kind to the hobbits all the while, ever since him and Mr. Frodo had woken up.

Mr. Pippin saw Sam’s blush, and chuckled. Sam knew that he knew the title embarrassed Sam. But thankfully he said naught about it.

One of the cook’s assistants came over, bringing a small tray with five bowls of steaming porridge, and a covered pot with at spout and a handle, from which came the enticing aroma of the coffee. While coffee was no fair trade for a good cuppa tea, so far as Sam was concerned, Mr. Pippin had the right of it--it were better than watered-down ale for breakfast! And it did put a bit of get-up-and-go in a fellow!

Mr. Pippin went over to a table to the side--there was a salt box there--and he took a pinch to sprinkle on each of the bowls.

There was only one spoon and mug on the tray--for Anwald. Mr. Gimli had made hobbit sized tankards and spoons for them all to while away his time, when they was all waiting for him and Mr. Frodo to wake up, so they had those back at the waggon.

Just as he and Mr. Pippin was getting ready to go back, Ingold said “Wait just a moment! I have something else!”

He darted into the mess tent, and then came out with a small covered dish. “A merchant of Lebennin sent some to our soon-to-be King yesterday. The Lord Elfstone sent some of it here, with strict instructions to give it to you for your breakfast this morn!”

Ingold handed the dish to Sam, who lifted the lid and grinned. Honey in the comb! Now who’d have thought it?


Frodo woke instantly, when he heard Anwald’s whispered call, but even though his mind was awake, he couldn’t bring himself to open his eyes for a moment. He could feel Sam and Merry stirring on either side of him, and he could tell that Pippin was already moving. He spared a thought of amusement. Pippin had always been an early riser, full of energy--he found himself glad that his young cousin was still able to face each day with excitement, even after all he’d been through.

But Frodo had very mixed feelings about this day. He would be participating in Aragorn’s coronation. His pride in his friend, and his joy that finally Aragorn would be receiving his due was tempered by the knowledge that he himself would be a centre of attention as well.

He would be bearing the crown of Gondor: a responsibility and an honour he would have as soon foregone. Aragorn had insisted that it was important that the people of Gondor know and honour the one who had truly defeated Sauron, and all Frodo could think was in that case, it should have been Gollum who was honoured.

But Gandalf had reminded him that it was important the Shire be represented. Merry was a Knight of Rohan , and Pippin, besides being a Knight of Gondor, was also not of age. And Sam would have been mortified (though privately Frodo thought Sam deserved the honour more than he) to have such a part to play. And so the duty fell to Frodo, who had been the Ringbearer and was the eldest of the hobbits there. So underneath the gaze of the wizard’s sharp eyes, Frodo found himself accepting. He knew Gandalf was right.

But he still found it unsettling.

While Sam and Pippin went to fetch breakfast, and Merry assisted Anwald with the horses, Frodo busied himself gathering their belongings together. They would be staying within Minas Tirith after today.

He turned to look past the glittering field of campfires up at the huge white stone city, its marble walls gleaming dully beneath the early morning stars.

A city of Men, Boromir’s city, Faramir’s city--huge beyond the comprehension of a hobbit of the Shire. He thought of the many stories he’d learned from Bilbo of great cities, and realized that he had never begun to imagine the reality.

How many people would be in that city? How many eyes would be staring at him today? And how would four small hobbits cope in that vast warren of Big Folk?


1 Lótessë , T.A. 3019

Pippin ran his finger around his bowl, and then sucked on it thoughtfully. One good thing, Frodo had divided the honeycomb into five equal portions--sharing with Anwald, over that young Man’s embarrassed objections--and without one word to Pippin about sweets. Sometimes he thought his older cousins would never get over seeing him as a child. But clearly there was no thought of that today.

He sighed regretfully, as he put the empty bowl aside and glanced at Frodo, Merry and Sam. Frodo was holding forth on something, and Pippin smiled to realize that his oldest cousin seemed to be over his earlier quiet pensiveness. He caught Sam’s eye, and Sam gave a wink--he, too, seemed glad to see Frodo in a better mood.

It was growing lighter. Pippin hopped down from the tailgate of the waggon where they’d all been seated, and glanced towards the centre of the encampment and beyond--and his breath caught in his throat, and he gasped in amazement.

The mountains to the East stood out in the front of the rosy dawn, as the Sun slowly made her way up behind them. When last Pippin had looked on those mountains, they had loomed--a vast grey and menacing presence that seemed to overshadow all hope.

Now they had receded into the distance, and formed a crisp black border to the glorious golden sky.

The pavilions of the Captains had yet to be struck, and they gleamed like jewels, glistening with the morning dew. A breeze came up, and the standards were in full display: the beautiful standard of the King, bejewelled in splendour on the black of Gondor; the green, white and gold of Rohan; the blue and silver of Dol Amroth, and the banners of the lesser captains in every colour Pippin could imagine.

Pippin’s heart felt full to bursting with the beauty of it all, and he wished with all his being that he knew a song worthy of the moment.

He felt, rather than saw, the others standing up beside him. Merry’s hand came up, and landed on one shoulder. “Pip?”

Pippin turned a shining face to his cousin. “It’s so beautiful,” he whispered.

“It is,” said Frodo quietly.

Pippin reached out to his side, and took Frodo’s hand in his. “I’m glad you get to see it, Frodo,” he said, and was rewarded with a smile.


Merry sat between his cousins as they finished their breakfast. Pippin, as was his habit, was preoccupied in getting every last speck of sweetness out of the bowl. Merry suppressed a chuckle. Thank goodness Aunt Tina had broken him of actually licking the bowl, as he had done when he was small.

And Frodo, on Merry’s other side, and much to Merry’s delight, was over his earlier brooding silence, and was busily issuing instructions.

“I know that you and Pippin have been on your own for a while, Merry. But I am still the senior cousin, and I’m still responsible for the both of you. Once we enter that city, there will be all sorts of celebrations going on! I expect the two of you to stick with us as far as your duties will allow. I’m not saying you shouldn’t celebrate, too, but I do expect you to keep your wits about you. And Sam--you are not to allow yourself to be carted off among the servants! Not that I think Aragorn would allow that, but no nonsense from you about your ‘proper place’. Your proper place is with the rest of us…”

Merry caught Sam’s eye at that, and they exchanged a conspiratorial smile. It was lovely to have Frodo acting almost like his old self once more.

Just then, Pippin stood up, and gave a little gasp of surprise. Merry stood as well, and put a hand on the younger hobbit’s shoulder. “Pip?” he asked, fearful that Pippin had seen something upsetting.

But the face that Pippin turned to him was rapt with joy, and Merry looked out across the field, bathed in the golden light of sunrise, and felt a thrill of wonderment.

And suddenly, carried through the clear morning air from the White City, came the joyful clamour of bells, deep and sonorous. As one, the four hobbits turned and looked at Minas Tirith, and watched a great white standard break over the Citadel, as bright and blinding as snow in the sun.


Sam listened with half an ear to Mr. Frodo’s exhortations to Mr. Merry. He knew well what was bringing all that on. For a year now, the Ring had hold of his Master’s mind, and Mr. Frodo had all he could do to tend himself--and to keep that thing out of other folkses’ heads.

Now It was gone, good riddance! and Mr. Frodo was coming back to hisself. He’d felt bad about dragging Sam and his cousins along into danger--or so Mr. Frodo thought of it. Though truth to tell, he’d’ve had no chance at all of keeping them out of it. Looked like he was planning on making up for lost time, and was back to taking care of his younger friends. Or trying to, anyway.

He’d soon learn all of ‘em had grown in more ways than one.

But at least it was getting Mr. Frodo’s mind off all that crowning stuff, anyway.

Just then, Mr. Pippin hopped down, and gave a little gasp. Sam stood as soon as Mr. Merry and Mr. Frodo did, wondering what was wrong--but soon he realized, nothing was wrong--everything was gloriously right!

Sam had seen many a sight, since leaving the Shire, and some of ‘em had been right terrible, and some had been right beautiful.

This was one of the beautiful ones--Sam wouldn’t’ve ever thought that it could be so pretty to see the Sun coming up behind the Black Mountains! This was going to be a fine day, for all that!

And as his eyes was taking in the sight, he heard a sound like he’d never heard before.

He turned to look at Mr. Merry, who had a tear running down his cheek. Mr. Merry said “Bells! They are ringing all the bells of the City! The last time I heard them was that day the Eagle came--came to tell us all that we had won! That the Dark Lord was no more!” His face shone with the memory. “I’d given up hoping, you see,” he said quietly. “I didn’t think I’d see any of you again--and then the bells were ringing and people were cheering, and suddenly I knew that I would see you all again!”

Sam stared at his friend. Mr. Merry weren’t one to talk so--he usually followed the Shire custom of making light of things. Suddenly Sam realized for the first time how hard it must’ve been for the Brandybuck--all alone, and certain that the world was ending. At least he and Mr. Frodo’d had one another on that fiery mountain…


“It’s beautiful,” Frodo said, as he felt Pippin’s hand steal into his. He gave his younger cousin’s hand a squeeze, and felt a pang to realize that hand was no longer smaller than his, but was larger, stronger, and callused from wielding a sword. Truly, his “little” cousin was all grown up, though he had another four years until his majority.

But as he studied Pippin’s face, he realized that Pippin might have gained some very painful knowledge, but his delight in beauty and the world about him was undimmed. And Frodo felt as though he could laugh, himself!

Day had come, and with it hope and joy! And he should feel nothing but happiness to be able to honour his good friend Aragorn on this glad occasion. The world would not be the same. The old saying“When the King comes back…”was about to come true.

The bells began to ring, and the hobbits turned to look at the City.

Merry began to speak, a tear of joy on his face--

“Bells! They are ringing all the bells of the City! The last time I heard them was that day the Eagle came--came to tell us all that we had won! That the Dark Lord was no more! I’d given up hoping, you see,” he said quietly. “I didn’t think I’d see any of you again--and then the bells were ringing and people were cheering, and suddenly I knew that I would see you all again!”

“Oh, Merry!” Frodo looked at him, stricken to realize how difficult it all must have been. But there was so much happiness on Merry’s face now that Frodo could not continue to worry.

As they watched the white standard of the Steward breaking over the Citadel, they heard a familiar voice.

“A stirring sight, is it not, my friends?”

They turned. “Legolas! Gimli!” the hobbits exclaimed, pleased to see their friends.

“We’ve come to escort you to the King’s pavilion, so that you may don your finery,” said Gimli.

Indeed, Frodo thought, their friends had already donned their own finery--for the first time since he had known him, Legolas looked every inch the Elven Prince he was. And Gimli’s armour gleamed.

“Well,” said Pippin, “we shouldn’t be holding things up! It’s further than you think to yon gate,” he added.


1 Lótessë , T.A. 3019
…the third hour

Pippin ran his hand over his surcoat, and the White Tree embroidered there. The silk livery he had been given for special occasions was light and more comfortable than the linsey-woolsey of his everyday livery.

He buckled on his barrow-blade-- “Trollsbane”, Gimli had named it, saying that a weapon which had accomplished such a great feat deserved a name to commemorate it. He had to confess to himself, it did make him feel just a little a bit heroic, to have a sword with a name.

He turned to help buckle Merry into his cuirass. “Thanks, Pip. It’s hard to manage those buckles by myself.”

Merry’s leather cuirass seemed to Pippin to be more cumbersome than his own chain mail hauberk, but Merry seemed happy with it, and Pippin had to admit, his cousin looked very dashing in it. Merry had refused to name his own sword.

“I haven’t done any great deeds with this one,” Merry’d said, for of course, his own barrow-blade was no more. “I hope I never need to use it for anything more serious than sparring, or for ceremonies.”

And Pippin had to admit, Merry had a point. He hoped the same. He had come to enjoy sparring with his cousin--though not as much as Merry himself did, but if he never had to see another battle again, it would be too soon. He had listened to Gimli and Legolas and Strider and some of his fellow Guardsmen and a few of the Rohirrim--they all seemed to relish discussing their fights, and describing the blows they had landed. They could stand about for ages, gesturing at one another . He remembered one day he and Merry had watched two of the Rohirrim, who didn’t speak a word of Common Speech, but they could follow the conversation perfectly well, simply by watching them swinging their imaginary swords.

If he lived to be as old as the Old Took, he didn’t think he’d ever understand them. When he remembered blows he’d landed on Orcs, it just made him cringe. It certainly wasn’t something he’d ever want to describe to someone else.

He looked over at Legolas, who had been standing by to assist them if needed. “Do we need our helms today?” he asked.

Legolas raised a brow, and then glanced across the pavilion to where Elladan and Elrohir were assisting the soon-to-be King into his own armour.

“Do Merry and Pippin need their helms?”

Aragorn looked up. “No, there is no need for helms, not this morning at any rate.”

Pippin breathed a sigh of relief, and he and Merry exchanged a look of satisfaction. Helms were smelly and uncomfortable, whatever Gimli said of them.

Merry elbowed Pippin and gestured with his chin, to where Sam was donning his own new finery with Gimli‘s assistance. The gardener looked distinctly uncomfortable. “Shall we see if Sam needs some help?”

“I think Gimli has him well in hand,” Pippin answered. But he grinned, and they went over to Sam anyway.


Merry had briefly stopped by the pavilion of Éomer King, to see if he was needed in his duties as esquire. But the young king of Rohan was being attended by his cousin Éothain.

“I thank you for your offer, Holdwine,” his liege had answered. “But you will be attending me later. Go you with your cousins and friends to make yourself ready, and do not worry about me.”

So Merry had caught up with the others and continued on to the large pavilion where Aragorn had been staying.

His dress livery and armour had been laid out there the night before, along with that of Pippin. And fine new clothes had been delivered for Frodo and Sam just the day before.

He laid a hand on his livery--deep green, with the running horse of Rohan emblazoned on it. Then he began to get dressed: a silk shirt, a lightly padded linen jerkin, his surcoat. The cuirass was difficult to manage by himself--he could manage, but it was awkward, and he was grateful to Pippin for his assistance. He found his gloves and his gorget, and then buckled on his sword.

He picked up his helm, but was grateful when Strider said they needn’t wear them. His own helm, he thought, was a bit more comfortable than the one Pippin had to wear, but neither of them were especially comfortable. They were hot, and soon smelled of sweaty wool (from the padding) and sweaty rust, no matter how much they cleaned them.

When he had complained of this to Gimli once, the Dwarf had looked at him as though he were daft. “Of course they smell like that! What’s wrong with it?”

Well, he and Pippin were ready. He glanced over--Frodo was deep in conversation with Gandalf, but Sam was still getting dressed.

“Shall we see if Sam needs some help?” he asked Pippin.

“I think Gimli has him well in hand.” Pippin sniggered, and then met Merry’s twinkling eyes with his own. “But maybe he can use our advice anyway.”


Sam had entered Strider’s pavilion with a feeling of apprehension. He was very uncomfortable with the idea of all this finery. The very day after Mr. Frodo and him had been feasted in Cormallen, a tailor had showed up, and insisted on measuring them within an inch of their lives. The tailor was an older Man, though he weren’t all that much taller than the hobbits. But he was surely no hobbit, because he was bald as an egg.

Mr. Frodo and Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin had stood about when he was doing his measuring, looking at Sam as though it was the funniest thing they’d ever seen. Them being gentlehobbits, he supposed they were used to tailors putting tapes all around and up and down, muttering and mumbling and writing in a little book. But Sam had never had to put up with such a thing in all his born days.

And then Mr. Frodo had spoke to the tailor, and explained hobbit styles and what he wanted for them, even taking the Man’s little book and making a drawing in it. “Shirts, a weskit, a jacket, and breeches to the calf. The breeches are held up by braces, like so,” Mr. Frodo was speaking as he sketched, and the little tailor was bobbing his head up and down, and scratching his chin as he listened.

Sam had been very hopeful when he listened to Mr. Frodo talking. The children’s hand-me-downs were clean and soft, but altogether too fine for Sam’s liking. That Prince Imrahil, he’d told Sam that the clothes he’d been given had once belonged to poor old Boromir as a lad, and that gave Sam a bit of an awkward feeling. He still hadn’t worked out all his feelings about Mr. Boromir.

And most of all, Sam had been uneasy wearing breeches with no braces! Belt or no belt, he couldn’t feel certain that they weren’t going to fall down around his ankles!

But when he saw what the tailor’d made for him, he’d been dismayed. The shirt was of such fine creamy linen as Sam had never seen before. And the suit of clothes was made of lush velvet cloth, the colour of Old Winyards. It was the sort of thing Mr. Bilbo or Mr. Frodo himself might’ve wore on special occasions.

But Mr. Frodo had been pleased to no end when he’d seen those suits. “Oh Sam! You are going to look splendid in that colour!” he’d said, and he’d looked so glad that Sam didn’t have the heart to tell him that “splendid” was the last thing a plain gardener of the Shire should look!

Mr. Frodo’d gone off to get dressed himself, with Gandalf at his elbow, and for some reason, Gimli thought Sam needed his help. Mostly, he sat there and made remarks about hobbit styles while Sam was putting the clothes on.

And now here came Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin with a wicked gleam in their eyes. Sam sighed, and waited to hear what sort of jokes they’d find to make.

But other than their knowing smiles, Mr. Merry just said “Is everything all right, Sam?”

Sam sighed. “I’m just glad the Gaffer’s not here to see this. He’d think I looked a right ninnyhammer in this get-up!”

“Oh,” said Mr. Pippin, “I don’t know. I think he might be glad to see that the Big Folk know how to appreciate his son.”

Sam blushed.

And then Mr. Merry said, quite seriously, “We’ll be going home in these ’get-ups’, you know, Sam. Nothing any of us brought out of the Shire with us is fit to wear.”

And Sam felt his heart drop to his toes.

And then Mr. Pippin grinned, and said “Well, you will look very nice at your wedding, anyway!”

And Sam’s heart lifted once more. He blushed again, but he grinned as well.


Frodo was very pleased with the suits the tailor had made for them. He had been afraid that Gandalf and Aragorn had plans to make them wear their mail and their swords again--as they had done in Cormallen. But he was relieved that the suits had been finished in time and it would not be necessary. He really was uncomfortable with the idea of wearing that mithril shirt again--and he had given Sting to Sam.

He admired the one made for him, a rich grey-blue velvet, with a shirt of pale blue lawn. The stitching was flawless. The cut was not quite what one would find in the Shire--there was something a touch foreign about the cut--but all things considered it was a beautiful bit of work. He was quite sure that Bilbo, for one, would admire it considerably.

He spared a moment of regret that Bilbo could not be here to see this, followed by a pang of worry. How would Bilbo be faring, now that--It--had been destroyed? He’d begun to find silver hairs in his own head. Would Bilbo have survived the Ring’s destruction?

He looked up to see Gandalf standing there, giving him a searching look.

“Gandalf? Will I see Bilbo again?” he asked.

“I am sure of it, Frodo.”

Reassured, Frodo dressed quickly. It was nice to have braces and a weskit once more.

“Now, Frodo, let us speak of what is to come this morning.”

Frodo nodded, and sat down on a small stool. Gandalf pulled over a nearby chair. “I know that I’m to carry the crown to you,” Frodo said. “And you said I didn’t have to speak,” he added, half-fearful that had changed overnight.

“No, it will not be necessary for you to speak, but there has been word now from Faramir as to the details. Faramir will hand the crown to Aragorn. He will then hand it back. You will receive it then from Faramir’s hands, and bring it immediately to me.”

Frodo nodded. It sounded rather complex, but then ceremony often was. He thought with amusement that at least they would not need seven witnesses and red ink here.

“The crown is heavy, Frodo. I wish you to be prepared for that. Faramir will be sure that you have firm hold upon it before he lets go. He’ll wait until you nod before he removes his hands.”

“It would be horribly embarrassing to drop it, Gandalf.”

“I have every confidence in you, my lad. You won’t drop it.”

“Thanks,” Frodo responded dryly.

“Now, we shall be entering the City on foot. However, it’s quite a distance until we get there. We will be riding for most of the way.”

Frodo took a very deep breath and let it out slowly. “I wish that Aragorn would not insist on this.”

“It is important, Frodo. And he will have it no other way.” Gandalf’s gaze was fond, but implacable. Frodo knew there would be no getting out of this. But hopefully, once it was over with, everyone would be so excited about having a new King that his own role in things would just fade away.

He could hope so, anyway.


1 Lótessë , T.A. 3019
…the fifth hour

Once more Pippin found himself mounted on Shadowfax, in front of Gandalf, approaching the vastness of Minas Tirith. He could not help but remember that first time, a ride against time, and how desperate things were.

But today, the Sun was at her brightest. The sky was clear and bluer than he could remember seeing it before in these southern lands. The White City gleamed, almost blindingly bright. True, there was still an army at their backs, but this was a victorious army, coming home in triumph. The road was lined with hundreds of people, people who had returned from their refuges in the mountains and lands further south. They were cheering and throwing flowers. He could hear singing, some of them singing the song Pippin had first heard in Cormallen--praising Frodo and Sam!

He was trying to be the dignified Prince of Halflings that all these people expected of him, when he wanted to do nothing more than to grin and wave and shout: “That’s my cousin who saved the world!”

He took a deep breath, and sat up even straighter.


“Yes, Peregrin?”

“Do you think all these people really understand what Frodo and Sam did?”

“If you mean, do they truly understand how it was accomplished, I am afraid not. There are many tales and rumours. But there is no doubt at all that they know it is to Frodo of the Shire and Samwise his servant that they owe their very lives.”

Pippin nodded. “I suppose there is time and enough to set them straight on the details later. As long as they appreciate Frodo and Sam, I guess that’s enough for now.”

Gandalf chuckled. “And I’ve no doubt, my young Took, that you will see to setting them straight.”

“Of course, Gandalf!” He said it with such perfect confidence that he was rewarded by a hearty laugh from the wizard.

And Gandalf’s laughter was more than reward enough for Pippin.


Merry made himself comfortable behind Éomer’s broad back, as he rode pillion. It was easier than riding in front of Dernhelm-- Éowyn--had been. They had nearly a league to the place where they would dismount and go on foot.

He patted the rather heavy pouch at his side, and felt satisfied at the hefty jingle. Gimli had helped him and Pippin exchange some of their silver pennies from their knighting for silver farthings and copper pennies and farthings. It would be far easier to spend that way.

He frowned and bit his lip. Frodo had been offended and had dug in his stubborn Baggins heels when Aragorn had offered him a stipend, even though it had been explained to him that he would be owed it as a member of the King’s court while they were in the City. And naturally, Sam had decided that if Mr. Frodo wasn’t taking anything, he wouldn’t either.

Well, Merry thought, he and Pippin had more than enough now to take care of the four of them. And Frodo could scarcely refuse to allow his cousins to treat him, even if he wouldn’t take anything from the King.

Merry was worried about Frodo’s reluctance to admit that he’d done anything worthwhile. Of course Frodo was properly modest, as any well brought-up young gentlehobbit should be, but on the other hand, Frodo had never been one to refuse to see the truth of things, either. This conviction of his that he had somehow failed because it was Gollum who took the Ring into the Fire seemed ominous to Merry. It was so contrary to Frodo’s usual clear-sightedness.

But they’d all been through a lot, and Frodo more than any of them. Perhaps his older cousin just needed a bit of time to think things through. Of course, that had to be it. Once things were back to normal, Frodo would realise that he was a hero, even if he didn’t wish to boast of it. And hopefully he would stop brooding over Gollum. As far as Merry was concerned, Gollum was not worth Frodo losing sleep over.


Sam had been shocked to realize that he would be riding behind Prince Imrahil! He’d hoped he could have rode with Strider. But of course, Strider was going to be King, and it was only right that Mr. Frodo ride with him. But Sam didn’t know this Prince any too well--just that he was uncle to poor Boromir and to Captain Faramir. Older brother on their mother’s side as he’d gathered.

And Sam felt a bit green, too, so high up on this big horse!

“Are you well, Master Samwise?” the Prince asked.

Sam swallowed his bile, and lied. “Yes, sir.” And then in order to forget the roiling in his stomach, asked, “So, are you and your sons Captain Faramir’s only kin now?” For Mr. Pippin had told them how Faramir’s dad had died--a dreadful thing that was. And poor Mr. Pippin had been white as a ghost when he told what he’d seen there at the last.

The voice above him spoke. “Nay, for I have a daughter as well, Faramir’s cousin, Lothí riel. She will be travelling to the City soon. And there is my older sister, Faramir’s Aunt Ivriniel, who has two daughters of her own, the older of whom has a son and daughter as well.”

“That’s good, then,” Sam said. “I didn’t like to think of him being all alone in the world. He’s a good Man.”

“And what of you, Master Samwise? What kin await your return in your far-off land of Shire?”

This most hobbity topic of conversation quickly took Sam’s mind off how far from the ground he was, and the bouncing gait of the horse. He even forgot to be awed by the fact that he was conversing with a Prince.

“Well, the only ones still to home are my old dad and my younger sister Marigold. My mam’s been gone these eighteen years--she was taken young by an apoplexy. But I have two older brothers and two older sisters, and a whole passel of nieces and nephews. My oldest brother, Hamson, him and his wife live in Tighfield. He was ‘prenticed to my Uncle Andy, the roper. Hamson married Violet Brown, and they have four young ones, Holman, Andwise and Erling are the lads, and little Pansy is their lass. Halfred’s off in the Northfarthing, and he wed Pearlina Hill. They have a lad named for my dad, young Hamfast. My sister Daisy is married to Finch Noakes and they have two lasses--they still live in Hobbiton, but my sister May lives in Overhill with her husband Tam--he’s a Tunnelly. She has a lad and a lass…”

“Ah,” said the Prince, as he chuckled warmly, “it sounds like quite an extensive family.”

“Yes, sir. And then there’s my uncles and my aunt and my cousins. Aunt May, she and her husband Rufus, they live in Michel Delving--or just outside it at any rate…”


Frodo sat before Aragorn, on his huge horse. He shot a look at Sam, and was surprised at the look of animation on Sam’s face. What had he found to talk about to Prince Imrahil, whom Sam had seemed to find intimidating?

“Aragorn, are you nervous?” he asked.

“I wish you would still call me ‘Strider’,” the Man said. “At least when we are not in formal situations. No. I’m not nervous--this is something that was meant to be, and I am glad that it is finally happening.”

“I’m nervous, and I’m not even doing that much,” Frodo said ruefully.

Aragorn laughed. “That’s because you are a hobbit,” he said, “and I’ve discovered that with rare exceptions, hobbits very much dislike attention.”

Frodo could not help but smile. “I suppose I know who the exceptions are. Pippin and Uncle Bilbo!”

“Indeed. They do love an audience.”

“That’s the Took in them,” Frodo replied. “I take far more after the Brandybuck side of the family, I think.”

“And what about the Baggins side of the family?”

Frodo thought for a moment. “Well, I suppose that’s the scholarly side of me. Bilbo certainly loves his books, and I know that my father did as well.”

“I learned a good deal from your Uncle Bilbo. He’s been a good friend to me, and I am sorry that he is not here to see this day. I believe that he has been looking forward to it as much as anyone. But he will be very proud to know of your part in it.”

Frodo smiled. “I was thinking about that earlier. I think of that poem he wrote--‘All that is gold does not glitter…’  He would be so proud to see this day finally come.”

Do you know, Frodo, he wrote that poem only a very short time after meeting me. Although his own first impression of me was not really that flattering. Did he ever tell you about what he did when he first caught sight of my unkempt self?”

Frodo laughed. “No, I don’t believe he did.”

“Well, it happened this way…”


1 Lótessë , T.A. 3019
…one furlong from the walls of Minas Tirith

The procession stopped.

They were surrounded now by the Dúnedain, and the sons of Elrond, and Legolas and Gimli, who had been riding behind. They dismounted and four of the Dúnedain took the reins of the horses.

Gandalf dismounted from Shadowfax, and then reached up to help Pippin down. Pippin’s knees gave just a bit, as they tended to do when he’d been riding for a while atop a horse--which was a good deal different than riding a pony. But he kept his balance and stamped his feet a couple of times before standing erect.

He glanced about. Éomer had also dismounted, but Merry managed to clamber down on his own--Firefoot, after all, was wearing a saddle. Saddle or no, the Prince of Dol Amroth had to lift Sam down. Sam’s eyes widened as he stumbled, but the Prince caught him before he fell. Aragorn was riding Elf-fashion, so he also had to lift Frodo down, and he kept his hands about Frodo until he was steady on his feet.

There wasn’t any talking now. A solemnity had descended on them all. The crowds, which had been cheering fell silent, and then the silence gave way to the buzz of quiet conversation.

They were close enough now that Pippin could make out the barriers at the broken Gates. He felt his heart lift at the sight of Faramir there--with the Lady É owyn at his side. Behind them were some of his friends among the Guardsmen--those who had not marched to the Black Gate, but had remained in Minas Tirith to defend the city if all else failed.

The rest of the Dúnedain formed a guard of honour around them.

Without another word, Aragorn stepped forth. As he did, Éomer fell into place at his left hand, and Gandalf on his right. The Prince of Dol Amroth stepped out at Éomer’s right hand, and the four hobbits took their places immediately behind them.

There were no words between the hobbits, either. Frodo and Sam were in the centre, with Merry next to Frodo, and Pippin next to Sam. Pippin felt a grave joy, and his eyes filled with unshed tears. They were together, they were all alive, and they were returning together. He stood straight, and put one hand to his sword hilt.

And they began to walk that last furlong to the walls of the White City.


Merry looked at the white walls looming before him, blackened and broken as they still were in places from the damage of the siege. A shadow of memory made him shudder briefly--his last entry into this place had been encompassed with grief and sorrow, and he himself had felt that he was under the shadow of death and despair. He could barely remember it.

But his Pippin had found him, and dear Strider had brought him back from that black place where his spirit had been trapped. And while his grief for his Théoden, his lost liege, still ached, Éowyn had lived and found joy in the end. He could see her now, in a gown of white and mantled in blue, standing at Faramir’s side. There was a great happiness now ahead for everyone who had survived the War.

He had been reunited with not only Pippin, but beyond all hope, with Frodo and Sam as well. He glanced to the right, where Frodo walked beside him, and felt a swell of pride in this cousin who had done what no one else--not wizards, nor kings nor Elven lords had dared to attempt. He had taken that foul token all the way to Its place of destruction.

Frodo was as white as marble, and the look on his face was one of sheer determination. Merry knew, none better, that Frodo had not wished to put himself forward on this occasion.

But Merry also knew, none better, that it was what Frodo deserved, beyond a doubt.

And also beyond a doubt, Merry decided, he would never let his cousin go off without him ever again.


They were coming to that barrier that was in front of the broken Gate. Sam had been glad that all of this had been explained to them earlier, else he would’ve thought the people of the city meant to keep them out and didn’t want Strider for their King.

But it was all just for ceremony, they had told him. He understood that. It was like a Shire wedding. Everyone always knew who the bride and groom were, but they had to be identified all proper-like by their witnesses, or the ceremony wouldn‘t count. Now Strider had to be identified all proper-like by Captain Faramir--Lord Faramir, as he should say, Sam supposed, seeing as his father was dead.

Sam looked up at the great walls briefly, and then quickly looked away again. He’d never seen no place so mighty, not one built by hands, anyway. He wondered what they’d be doing and where they’d be staying, so high up--it was like a mountain. In fact, Mr. Pippin had told him it was built right into a mountain.

Just then, there was the sound of a trumpet--such a sound it was! Sam had heard a few of them since he’d awakened--the army seemed to move by the sound of trumpets--but this was a mighty sound, and reminded him of poor old Boromir’s horn, that he’d blown when they set out from Rivendell.

And then Lord Faramir came towards them. There was another Man by his side, an older one with grey hair, dressed in white. Behind them came four Guards all dressed up in that black-and-white get-up like Mr. Pippin’s, that Sam knew stood for Gondor. They were carrying a big black box.

And Lord Faramir came and knelt in front of Strider--and even though he was kneeling, Sam thought that he looked as proud as he did humble.

“The last Steward of Gondor begs leave to surrender his office,”he exclaimed. And he held out a white rod.

There was a great silence.

Then Aragorn took it, and handed it back. “That office is not ended, and it shall be thine and thine heirs’ as long as my line shall last. Do now thy office!”  There was a roar, as all the folk gave a mighty cheer. Sam might have thought he’d be deafened by it, but his eyes were on Aragorn, who seemed to be shining like a star, even in the bright light of day. He looked so mighty and noble and high--yet, even now, Sam could see within him the Strider the hobbits had grown to love.

Then Faramir stood up and spoke out in a clear voice: “Men of Gondor, hear now the Steward of this Realm! Behold! One has come to claim the kingship again at last. Here is Aragorn son of Arathorn, chieftain of the Dúnedain of Arnor, Captain of the West, bearer of the Star of the North, wielder of the Sword Reforged, victorious in battle, whose hands bring healing, the Elfstone, Elessar of the line of Valandil, Isildur’s son, Elendil’s son of Númenor. Shall he be King and enter into the City and dwell there?”

And he realised that the King had been inside of Strider all along, and marvelled that he’d never seen it before, on that long road from Bree.


Frodo’s eyes were on Aragorn. He had never seen his friend look so very clearly what he was: a true king. He was clad in black and silver and mantled in white, and the Elfstone gleamed at his throat, and the Star of the North upon his brow. Frodo felt his eyes fill with tears of joy. How many long and lonely years had Aragorn spent to gain this day? Here was one who truly deserved all the acclaim that was his due.

Frodo scarcely heard the roar of the crowd: his own part in this would be coming soon, and he felt the palms of his hands sweat. He took a deep breath and brought his attention back to the ceremony before him.

Faramir made a speech about the crown, and then the guards brought forward the black casket they had been carrying.

Frodo’s eyes widened as Faramir brought it forth: it did not look anything like what he’d ever imagined a crown to look, and he now understood Gandalf’s warning about its weight. It was like the helms he’d seen on some of the Guardsmen, but much higher, and it was white. There were wings on it, embellished with pearls and silver. He saw no fewer than seven diamonds set in the circlet. And the jewel on the top shone very nearly as brightly as the Lady’s phial.

Faramir placed the crown in Aragorn’s hands. He held it up, and chanted, almost singing, in Sindarin: “Et Eä rello Endorenna utú lien. Sinome maruvan ar Hildinyar tenn’ Ambar-meta!” His voice carried out over the assembled crowd, who marvelled at it.

Frodo recognised those words. He’d learned them of Bilbo long ago--they were the words of Elendil when he had come to Middle-earth after the drowning of Westernesse.

Now Aragorn handed the crown back to Faramir, and there was a gasp from the assembled host--none but those directly involved in the coronation had known of this part. Frodo straightened and prepared himself, as Aragorn explained what he was doing.

And then Faramir turned toward him with the crown. Frodo reached out to take it, and was very glad of Gandalf’s warning, for without it, he very well mighthave dropped it. But he clasped it firmly, and gave a brief nod. Faramir took his hands away, and Frodo turned, and walked a few steps to place it in Gandalf’s hands.

Gandalf gave him a nod in return, and a very brief and solemn smile, as if to say “Well done,” and Frodo blushed a little at his regard. Then Frodo stepped back as Aragorn knelt before Gandalf.

And as Frodo watched, and heard Gandalf say:“Now come the days of the King, and may they be blessed while the thrones of the Valar endure!”

And it seemed to Frodo that Gandalf blazed with light, and suddenly it seemed that blinders fell from Frodo’s eyes, and for the first time, he realised just who and what the wizard was, and he marvelled that he had never known it before. Yet it seemed that no one else had noticed.

Now Aragorn stood once more, and the hushed silence of the assembled was even mightier than their cheers had been.

Frodo gazed on his friend in wonder, for Aragorn too, seemed to shine. Tears of joy ran unnoticed down his cheeks. The King had returned.

And then Faramir cried: “Behold the King!”


1 Lótessë , T.A. 3019
…the Citadel

Pippin sighed in his sleep, and pushed the coverlet away from him, back towards Sam. Merry was snoring softly, and Sam lay with one arm across his master.

But Frodo lay awake still. It had been a long day--the trek from the broken Gate to the Citadel had been exhausting. And the feast had lasted for hours--of course, hobbits found nothing to object to in a long feast, but they had all been awake since before sunrise.

And then they had discovered they had been assigned separate chambers. They’d said not a word, but after the servants had all left, Merry, Pippin and Sam had quietly come to Frodo’s room, and arranged themselves about him, as they had done ever since leaving the Shire.

It was all over now.

Soon, soon they would go home to the Shire. His last thoughts as he drifted off to sleep were of Bilbo, and how glad he would be to see him once more. 

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