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Watch the Clouds Go Sailing By  by Pervinca

 Watch the Clouds Go Sailing By

Chapter 16: An Important Message

“You beat me again!” Merry Gamgee complained. Young Bilbo simply smiled up at his older brother. The two had been playing chess, and Bilbo had one three out of the five games.

“I think you lose your skill at playing chess when you come of age,” Robin stated. He, Tom and Théodoc had been watching the game intently. “Because then you have to start showing an interest in lasses, and boring things like that.”

Upon seeing Merry blush, Théodoc laughed. “Don’t think we didn’t see you with Lavender Boffin at your party! Everyone saw!”

“It’s true,” Ruby giggled, as she and Éowyn joined their brothers. “Mother-Rose has even started talking about a wedding!”

“It will, of course,” said Éowyn, matter-of-factly, “have to wait until after Faramir and Goldi get married.”

Merry frowned at this. The conversation he had overheard his mother having with her friends was still weighing on his mind. Was Faramir really in love with Goldilocks? In some ways, it seemed so strange to him. They had grown up together. During their childhood, it had always been Merry, Pippin, Faramir and Goldilocks. Collectively, they nearly destroyed the Great Smials when Sam, Rose and Elanor had gone to Gondor. Just as Merry had always been closest to his brother, Faramir and Goldi had always been inseparable. During their tweens, they had drifted apart. Faramir seemed to be with a different lass every time they saw him, while Goldi tended to refuse the offers that came her way. Would she refuse Faramir too? Merry doubted it. They had been close, and they could become closer still.

“Won’t that be the biggest event in the Shire history?” he said, to amuse the younger hobbits. “Perhaps we could even convince Pippin to ask a lass for a dance.” The all laughed.

At the sound of a rap on the door, both Daisy and Primrose squealed together, “I’ll get it!”

They always loved answering the door, in case it was a handsome (and available) hobbit knocking. Unfortunately, on this day it was only a messenger, though the letter he held looked particularly fancy. Daisy took it and called to her mother. “There’s a letter here!”

“Who from?” Rose asked, poking her head out from the kitchen, where she, Diamond, Estella, Pervinca and Elanor were drinking tea.

“Don’t know.” Daisy handed the letter to her mother.

“It’s from the King,” Elanor gasped. She had seen a very similar letter once before, but Daisy would have been too young to remember it.

Rose hesitantly looked at the letter. “Do you suppose I should open it? It’s addressed to Sam.”

“It’s addressed to the Mayor and his family,” Pervinca pointed out. “And since Sam is not here, I think that gives you full right to open it.”

Diamond and Estella seemed to agree with Pervinca, so Rose carefully tore the envelope open. She gasped as she read it. “The King has asked that we meet him by the Brandywine Bridge again!” Rose looked up at her friends. “What should we do?”

“I’d bet that Brandy Hall and the Great Smials have also received such letters,” stated Elanor. “We should certainly go.”

“But Pippin, Merry and Sam aren’t here – not to mention Faramir, Goldi and Pippin-lad!” Diamond cried. “The King would wish to see them.”

“I think we should go to the bridge,” Estella suggested. “We may be able to ask the King for his assistance.”

“Or he may have seen them on his way,” Pervinca added. “If he came from Rivendell, and that is where we believe Faramir, Goldi and Pippin have gone, then it is quite possible that he may have found them.”

“Oh, Pervinca, do you think so?” Diamond asked her sister-in-law.

“Anything is possible, Diamond.”

“We should leave at once,” said Rose. “Stella, do you think that Buckland will be able to handle us all?”

Estella laughed. “I am sure that we could squeeze you all into Crickhollow. Pervinca, will you and Everard join us?”

“Well, I see no reason not to,” Pervinca replied. “A trip to Buckland would be nice. I have not seen Pim for a good while. I’ll meet you there, since I will have to collect Everard from the Smials. And I will check if a letter arrived for the Thain too.”

Rose nodded. “Ellie, tell your brothers and sisters that we are leaving for Buckland first thing in the morning.

* * * * * *

Faramir, Goldi and Pippin reached Weathertop just before dusk. Goldi did not like the look of the looming hill, and from the look on Pippin’s face, she guessed that she was not alone in this feeling, but she said nothing. Faramir was right; Weathertop was their only hope of finding their way.

On their way up the hill, they caught sight of a small dell. It would have made the perfect resting place, but a chilling feeling fell onto their hearts as they approached. The dell no longer seemed inviting. No one said anything, but all of their thoughts had turned to a night attack several decades previously. They hurried past.

Exhausted and panting, they finally reached the crown of the hill. Pippin collapsed on the ground, shrugging his pack from his shoulders. Goldi and Faramir, as often had happened on their journey, followed his lead. There was no point in surveying the lands. Night had fallen, and they would have been able to see very little.

“I’m going to light a fire,” Faramir stated. He looked at his two companions to see if they had any objections, but neither said anything. Faramir tried to hide the hurt look on his face as he started the fire going. Goldi had barely spoken a word to him since their fight in the marshes. He was beginning to doubt Pippin’s assuring words.

When he managed to get a good fire going – fortunately, there was plenty of available wood – Faramir sat back with his friends. With an encouraging grin from Pippin, he prepared himself to apologise to Goldi, but a noise from behind them stopped him.

“Pleasant evening, isn’t it?” a voice commented. Goldi, Faramir and Pippin all turned to see three figures standing just outside the reach of the firelight. Their faces were hidden by the darkness and by hoods.

“W-who are you?” Faramir demanded.

“Merely travellers, like yourselves,” the figure closest to them replied. “Would you mind sharing your fire with us, for the night is cold.”

Goldi could have sworn she had heard the voice before, but she could not think where. It seemed buried with a memory from her childhood. She also thought their was something significant about the size differences of the three strangers. One was very much shorter than the other two, but too tall and stout to be a hobbit. Another was tall and slender, but the one who had spoken to them was the tallest.

“I don’t think we should let them come near,” Pippin hissed. “We don’t know who they are!”

Faramir nodded, but Goldi could see that he, too, was struggling to work out why the voice seemed so familiar. He did not have to cast his mind back quite so far as she. He remembered hearing that same voice once yelling at him, when he had been a teenager.

“Faramir Took! Can you not be left alone for a moment? What have you done? I should have learnt my lesson long ago about Tooks!”

“I’m sorry, Your Highness!” Faramir squeaked, as he became caught up in his memory.

The tallest figure laughed. “It seems impossible to fool you, Master Faramir, despite what may be said about your family. You are too much like your namesake.”

Goldi and Pippin gasped as the hoods were thrown back, and there stood King Elessar, with Legolas the elf and Gimli the dwarf. No wonder I thought he sounded familiar! Goldi remembered that the King had once come to the Brandywine Bridge to greet his old friends, and their new families. His own edict had made it impossible for him to enter the Shire.

“Did I not tell you that you would have more luck with Strider the Ranger?” Aragorn called. From the shadows behind him, stepped three more figures that Faramir, Goldi and Pippin had certainly not expected to see.

“Dad!” they all cried out together.

“Goldi! Pippin!” Sam ran to hug his daughter and son.

“You had better have a good excuse, Faramir,” said Peregrin, as his pulled his son into an embrace. “Your mother has been worried sick. She made us come after you.”

“Uncle Merry too?” Faramir asked.

Meriadoc laughed. “Yes, my dear wife thought I should tag along to make sure Sam and Pip did not get lost or fall down a hole or anything like that.”

“Please don’t be angry at Faramir,” Goldi whispered to her father. “We’re all safe, and he meant no harm.”

“I’ll have to decide later whether or not to be angry at him,” Sam replied. “Right now I’m too happy to see you both again.”

“What’s this?” Meriadoc asked, pointing to the sword on Faramir’s belt. “You didn’t steal your father’s old Troll’s Bane, did you?”

“Oh, no!” Faramir cried. “We found them. The treasure from the Barrow that Tom Bombadil rescued you from – it’s still there! Well, some of it anyway. Pippin and I found swords like Dad’s and Sam’s, and we found a nice Elvish knife for Goldi.”

Sam did not know if he approved of Faramir arming his children like that, but he held his tongue. No doubt Rose would have enough to say about it when they returned home.

“The Barrow Downs? You went through the Barrow Downs?” Peregrin asked.

“Of course!” Faramir replied. “And the Old Forest, and…”

“I think that there is a story to be told,” laughed Legolas, interrupting, “but perhaps it could wait until after supper. And then it should be told from the beginning, for those of us who do not yet know it all.”

The hobbits had no complaints about that. Goldi, Faramir and Pippin were happy to see that their fathers had brought ponies with them. They were able to make a hearty meal form the remainder of their rations, plus some of what the ponies were carrying.

Faramir could not wait until after the meal to tell their story. As they ate, he told of their adventure from Bag-End, through the woods of Woody End, to the Maggots, through the Old Forest and the Barrow Downs, to Bree, and through the Midgewater Marshes. He was careful to leave out anything pertaining to his reason for coming on the adventure, and Pippin also refrained from mentioning anything about it, even though he constantly interrupted Faramir’s tale to add any other points the Took may have left out.

“Well, you certainly have had yourselves quite an adventure,” said Gimli, once the story had come to a definite end (it had taken a while to do so, because Pippin kept thinking of things that Faramir had forgotten).

“Imagine Old Man Willow being asleep!” laughed Meriadoc.

“I hope you have all learnt your lessons, though,” said Sam, more cautiously. “Adventures should never be taken lightly. You three have been incredibly lucky.”

“We’re lucky that you found us,” Faramir admitted. “We became lost in the marshes, and Goldi pointed out that our food was getting low. Rather stupid of me to not bring a pony.” He caught Goldi’s eye and mouthed I’m sorry to her. She smiled back at him – she had forgiven him long ago, but had enjoyed seeing him suffer.

“Well, it is rather sad that you did not make it to Rivendell after all,” said Aragorn. “I believe you have some rather anxious mothers waiting for you back in the Shire. Perhaps one day in the future, you may be able to get there.”

Faramir shrugged. “I’ve been there before. The real fun was in the adventure, not having anyone telling me to be careful…except for Goldi of course.”

* * * * * *

A/N: Sorry to the readers who hoped they would make it to Rivendell! But think of poor Rosie and Diamond waiting for their babies to come home, and not knowing where they are! They had to come home eventually.

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