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Watch the Clouds Go Sailing By  by Pervinca

Watch the Clouds Go Sailing By

Chapter 6: Three is Always Company

The warm morning sun and quietly chirping birds woke Goldi. She opened her eyes, thankful that the shade of the trees had shaded her face from the Sunís rays. Though she was awake, she wasnít quite ready to get up. The ground was surprisingly soft and comfortable, though her side must have been against a tree, for there was something hard that she was pressing upon.

Goldi suddenly realised that she was lying on her side, and not her back as she had thought. What she had thought was a tree against her side, was actually the ground. Then what is that soft thing at my back? It was only then that she noticed the soft warm breeze tickling her ear. It was someone breathing.

Squeezing her eyes shut, Goldi moved slowly and quietly until she was sitting upright. She opened her eyes, and saw what she had feared. Faramir was lying next to her, breathing softly. And worse, Pippin was nowhere in sight, which meant he had seen them snuggling in their sleep. I suppose we both got cold during the night, and found the warmth beside us. But Goldi knew that explanation would probably not work on Pippin. Goldi sighed. Pippin loved to tease her, and now he had the perfect material.

But when Pippin returned carrying filled water flasks, he did not start a verbal assault on his sister. He greeted her pleasantly, and mentioned how lovely a day it looked. Goldi wondered if he had not seen herself and Faramir snuggling at all. However, this thought was dismissed the moment Pippinís eyes fell on the young Took. Pippin looked at Faramir with an angry glare. He kicked Faramirís side, and yelled, "Wake up, you lazy Took!"

"Wh-what?" Faramir woke in a daze. "Oh, good morning."

"Get up," Pippin sternly replied. "It is already half-past eight, and if you want to get a good start on anyone following us, we had better leave now." Pippin grabbed the remaining flasks, and stormed back to the stream, without another word.

"Whatís wrong with him?" Faramir asked, rubbing his eyes.

"Iím not sure, but I will find out." With that, she ran after her brother, leaving an only half-awake and very confused Took.

Pippin was nearly finished by the time Goldi found him. She stood behind him as he filled the last of the flasks, with her hands on her hips. "What was that all about?"

"You mean you donít know?" he asked, doubtfully. "This morningÖhe was lying awfully close to you. Closer than he ought to."

"It was cold last night."

"AndÖ?"

"We probably snuggled together for warmth! Nothing more than that. There was no need to kick him anyway."

"Do you promise that was all it was? Snuggling for warmth?"

"Yes. Faramir and I are simply friends. There is nothing going on between us." Goldi smiled. Pippin smiled back, accepting her explanation more easily than she had expected. As he headed back to their camp, and was out of earshot, Goldi surprised herself by adding, "Well, not yet, anyway."

* * * * * *

Diamond shook Peregrin. "Wake up, you sluggard."

"Just five more minutes," Peregrin muttered.

That was a bad idea. Diamond immediately started screaming at him. "Peregrin! You will get up right this minute, and go to find our son! How can you be so insensitive?"

"Diamond, please, not so loud. I have a headache!"

Meriadoc, in the guestroom next door, woke up with a start. He heard Diamondís screeching, and feared that the Black Riders had returned and were out for revenge. Then he realised that it was Peregrinís angry wife, and his fear grew.

"Mordor hath no fury like a Took-lass scorned," he chuckled, climbing out of bed. He could tell by the tone of Diamondís voice that they would be leaving as soon as possible. With a sigh, he changed into some comfortable travelling clothes.

Merry poked his head into Meriadoc and Estellaís room. "Whatís going on in there? Diamond certainly does not sound too pleased. I know Peregrin drank a little too much last night, but not so much as to earn such a nagging."

"Last night," said Meriadoc, "we discovered that Faramir, Pippin and Goldilocks have gone on a little wander. Your father, myself and Peregrin haveÖbeen forced to go after them."

"Pippin, Goldi and Faramir went on an adventure without me?" Merry was fuming. "That is not fair!"

"Funny, I said that exact same thing last night, but for the opposite reason. Well, come on, Merry-lad. We should go save Peregrin from the wrath of his dear wife."

They left Meriadocís room to see Peregrin already escaping, backing out of his room at a rather quick pace, and pulling on his clothes as he did.

"Hullo, Peregrin. How are you this morning?" said Meriadoc.

Peregrin frowned. "I have the most terrible headache, which was made worse by Diís persistent screaming. I wish we did not have to go!"

"I am the one who should be complaining. It is your son that is missing. I was simply nominated to go along. But I will go, and so will you, even if I have to drag you all the way to Rivendell and back."

Peregrinís eyes brightened. "Rivendell! Meriadoc you are a genius. Now we will not have the scour all of Middle-Earth for those three rascals. They have gone to Rivendell! I doubt it not."

Sam had arrived to hear the end of Peregrinís speech. "Who has gone to Rivendell?"

"Faramir, Goldi and Pippin of course. Where else would they go? They have heard our tales many a time, and most likely want to experience the adventure themselves. It makes perfect sense!"

"Peregrin Took, in all the years I have known you, this must be the first time that I have heard you say anything intelligent. To Rivendell we must go."

Rose had woken early, and had prepared packs for their journey. The moment the three hobbits eyed their packs, they knew that their journey would be slow. Of the three of them, Peregrin was the youngest and thinnest, yet he was still quite unfit. And the packs were unfairly and unnecessarily Ė or so the three hobbits thought Ė large and heavy.

Peregrin, Meriadoc and Sam sighed in dismay, but shouldered the packs without audible complaint, knowing that anything would be better than remaining at Bag End with two irate and over-protective mothers. They pitied the Gamgee and Brandybuck children, who would, no doubt, bear the brunt of Diamond and Roseís fury.

Diamond, Rose and Estella almost forgot to farewell their husbands as they shooed them out the door and onto the road. "Hurry back!" they commanded. And with that, the door to Bag End was shut.

"Well, here we are again. A company of three," said Peregrin. "Though this time, Cousin Brandybuck joins us in the place of dear Frodo." A cheerful and carefree face hid pain and sorrow. Tears openly sparkled in Samís eyes. Meriadoc looked at the ground.

Suddenly, he cried out. For upon the ground, just in front of them, he had seen proof beyond doubt that Pippin, Faramir and Goldi were indeed headed east. Upon the grass that bordered the road, footprints could easily be distinguished: two sets, side by side, one smaller and lighter; and another set, slightly to the side, even lighter than the second, though larger.

"It seems that we need not a ranger among us to notice signs!" laughed Meriadoc. "Surely these prints belong to our truants. Goldi and Faramirís can here be seen, side by side, and these must be Pippinís Ė stealthily following his friend and sister."

"They are going across the fields," said Peregrin. He turned to Sam. "I would wager that they are trying to retrace the steps we took on our way to Buckland, and perhaps even beyond Ė to Rivendell."

Sam nodded. "I believe you are right Peregrin. But I also think that we should not follow their road. We would never catch up to them by that route. They are three, young and strong, while we are old and unfit. Taking back ways would slow our pursuit, so we must stick to the roads, though it may mean that we will only pass them at parts where they journey to the main ways."

"Then we are agreed," said Peregrin. "I for one, would much rather follow the roads then stumble across the countryside again. At least this time, we will not be chased by Black Riders!"

So Sam, Peregrin and Meriadoc tightened the straps of their packs, and started down the road, and as Bilbo Baggins had always said, they had no idea where they would be swept off to.





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