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Just to be With You  by Pervinca

 Just to be With You


“One of the first that they found was poor Fredegar Bolger, Fatty no longer. He had been taken when the ruffians smoked out a band of rebels he led from their hidings up in the Brockenbores by the hills of Scary”

- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, “The Grey Havens”

10: The Rebellion

S.R. 1419 

Berilac Brandybuck frowned out his window. A heavy blanket of snow covered most of Buckland – the likes of which had not been seen for many years. But it was not the weather that unnerved him; it was the letter in his hand. It had come from Pimpernel, his wife, who had been staying with her family at the Great Smials. Things had become difficult – with Men prowling about Tookland, as they were in most parts of the Shire. Her father had had three of the Men shot, and now the watch on Tookland had been doubled. Pimpernel doubted she would be able to return to Buckland soon.

“Well?” Ferdibrand Took asked. He had managed to escape from Tookland and deliver Pimpernel’s message to her husband.

“I don’t know what to think,” Berry sighed, at length. “I knew things were bad in the Shire, but not this bad.”

“I was lucky to get out. No doubt all of Tookland is under siege now. The Tooks have never been to popular with the so-called Chief.”

“Pimple’s not too fond of the Brandybucks either.” Berilac sat down and massaged his temples. He needed Pimpernel. She always knew the right thing to do.

“A pity Merry and Peregrin are lost. They wouldn’t stand for this,” Ferdi said, sitting next to Berry.

“Who knows? Perhaps they may return.”

“From the Old Forest? I doubt it.”

The words “Old Forest” stirred something in Berilac’s mind. With Pimpernel trapped in Tookland, and Merry lost somewhere in the Wild, there was only one hobbit that Berry could think of talking to.

“I have to see your cousin.”

“Fredegar?” Ferdi asked. “Why?”

“He has always been close friends with Merry and Pippin, and Frodo. He was the last hobbit to see them alive Also, I cannot see him standing for this either.”

Ferdi shook his head. “He would not. And neither will I. I’ll come with you.”

Berilac nodded. He had hoped that Ferdi would say that. He had been none too keen about the idea of riding alone in the Shire at this time, nor in such bad weather. “Let me leave a not for the Master first. He wouldn’t want me running off without telling him, too.”

“Where are you running off to, Berry?” a voice asked. Berry and Ferdi turned to see Celandine Brandybuck standing in the doorway with her brother Ilberic and Doderic.

“I have to speak with Fredegar Bolger,” Berry answered.

“If you’re going to take a stand against these ruffians,” said Doderic, “we are coming with you.”

Berilac was about to refuse, but Ferdibrand said, “Five is better than two. Be ready to leave in half-an-hour.”

Once the three young Brandybucks had left, Berilac frowned at Ferdi. “They are too young for what we are doing,” he hissed.

“At times like this, Berry,” Ferdi sighed, “I don’t think there’s such a thing as too young.”

* * * * * *

Estella made her way to the front door of her home, hoping that it was not a gang of ruffians that were knocking insistently. But she could not think of anyone else who would be knocking this late at night.

“Good evening, Estella,” Berilac greeted, as she pulled the door open.

“Berilac! Ferdibrand!” she cried. “What are you doing here?”

“They’ve come to see me,” said Fredegar, coming up behind his sister. “Haven’t you?” Berry nodded, and Fredegar grinned. “You certainly took your time! I expected you a week ago.”

Fredegar and Estella led Berilac, Ferdi and their companions inside and out of the cold. Soon, all seven on them were in the Bolgers’ drawing room, sipping on what tea Rosa had to spare.

“Before we do anything,” said Fredegar, “I will have to move my family to a safe place. I won’t have harm come to them from my actions.”

Berry nodded. “They can stay at Brandy Hall. They will be well protected there, especially Estella.”

“But I’m not going,” Estella stated.

“Don’t be stupid, Stella,” Fredegar argued. “Go to Brandy Hall with Mother and Father. What we are going to do is far too dangerous…”

“Celandine is not being sent away! Besides,” Estella stared to the West as she spoke, “I have already lost one hobbit whom I love dearly, and I am not about to lose another.”

Ferdibrand, surprisingly, supported Estella. “Stella is light on her feet, even for a hobbit, and has a sharp eye. She would be a great help to us.”

Estella smiled at him in thanks. It was going to be a long night.

* * * * * *

The nest morning, Odo and Rosa set off for Brandy Hall. Before they left, Fredegar handed a letter to Odo. It was addressed to Melilot Brandybuck, Fredegar’s sweetheart.

“Give this to Mel for me,” he asked. “And tell her brother, Merimas, to keep her safe.” Odovacar nodded, and patted his son on the back, proudly. He climbed into the cart next to his wife, and drove in the direction of Buckland.

“We will need a base of operations,” Berry stated. “Unless, of course, Freddie and Estella want to work from their home.”

Fredegar shook his head. “Definitely not, but I do know of a good place. The Brockenbores, over near Scary. There are still some woods there, enough to provide food cover.”

“We may also find an abandoned house or hole,” Ferdi added.

“Agreed,” said Berilac. “We should gather everything we need – and that we can carry – from here and set off for Scary as soon as we can.”

Within an hour, the seven hobbits had collected all the food they could find, as well as several water skins. Estella had gathered every blanket the Bolgers owned, and at Fredegar’s suggestion, all of the dark clothes she could find. He brought out a bucket of soot and ashes.

“It will be useful if we want to travel unseen,” he explained.

Finally, they set off for Scary.

* * * * * *

And so, Fredegar’s band of rebels was born. As a joke, they called themselves Fatty’s band. Their “base of operations” was a derelict and deserted hole, outside the town of Scary. It had been ransacked, and the rebels wondered what had happened to the original inhabitants. It made a good hideout, nonetheless. There were three doors, which were guarded day and night. Though it was difficult to do so in the beginning, the rebel band soon grew in numbers.

Mosco and Moro Burrows, cousins of Berry, joined the band after they ambushed an escort of ruffians taking the brothers to the Lockholes, apparently converted storage tunnels in Michel Delving. Mosco and Moro had been accused of sabotage, and were happy to join Fatty’s Band. Also with the escort had been a young Sheriff by the name of Inigo Brownlock. He had been labelled a traitor by his fellow Sheriffs. Fatty’s Band begged him to join them, since his knowledge of the Chief and his ruffians would be invaluable.

Two young hobbits from the town of Scary came next, Tulip Chubb and Mungo Goodbody. Both had been forced from their homes by the ruffians, and Mungo’s father had been killed. They found the rebels’ hideout by accident and were all too glad to join them. Mungo even enlisted his good friend, Rollo Grubb.

Prospero Bunce and Cosimo Boffin had fled from Hobbiton when they had disobeyed the Chief’s orders. They had heard the rumours of a grand army operating from somewhere in the East Farthing. Despite finding the rebel band to be far less than they expected, they were glad to be with hobbits that shared their view on the Chief and his Men.

The last to join the rebels had been Sancho Proudfoot. Berry had found him at the side of the road, badly beaten by ruffians and left for dead. Once he had recovered from his injuries, Sancho became a deadly archer, and had killed the most ruffians, despite being one of the youngest in the band.

The rebels would attack groups of ruffians, from vantage points chose by the light-footed Estella, their scout. It was Estella’s job to map out the best areas for an attack. Ever since the shootings in Tookland, the ruffians had become warier, and now Fatty’s Band was giving them another reason to fear these seemingly harmless Little People.

The band had been operating for several months now, and it was well into Spring. The longer days made it harder for the band to remain unseen, but they tried. One night in mid-March, Estella returned from scouting the immediate area around the hobbit-hole. Berry was on guard at the main door, but Mungo relieved him as soon as Estella arrived. Together, Berilac and Estella went to their leader’s room.

Fredegar was sitting on a makeshift bed, deep in thought. He looked up when his two fellow rebels arrived. “Anything to report, sister?”

“No, brother,” she replied. “There is nothing on the roads for miles, and naught in the fields but birds.”

“And yet, you seem troubled.”

“I do not like this eerie peace. I suppose we could be optimistic and believe that they have abandoned this region for fear of us, but I don not think it to be so.”

“Nor do I,” said Berry. “These ruffians would not give up so easily.”

Fredegar sighed. “You are both right, but there is nothing that we can do, save wait for them to make a move. Curse them!”

Estella silently slipped from the room as Fredegar and Berilac continued to discuss the situation. She was exhausted from her evening of sneaking, so wished for the solitude of her room.  She flopped onto her bed and stared at the ceiling. As always, she thought about Merry; where he could be, and whether he was thinking about her too.

Merry was in the Houses of Healing in Minas Tirith, waiting for the arrival of a doom Estella knew nothing of. And when he was not worrying about Peregrin, or Frodo and Sam, his thoughts often turned to the hobbit-lass he had left behind.

* * * * * *

Estella had not even realised that she had fallen asleep, but she could see that it was morning from the light that squinted through the boarded up windows. Her nose picked up a scent that she knew should not be present, and it took her a moment to decipher what it was: Smoke. She could smell smoke. The rebels were not permitted to light fires, since the smoke would draw attention to their hidings.

Estella ran from her room and found the situation was worse than she feared. The hallway was full of smoke, meaning that this was not a simple mistake where a cold hobbit had sought comfort. She ripped off one of her sleeves and wrapped it around her nose and mouth.

“Fredegar! Freddie!”

Fredegar had been on his way to her room and they collided in the hallway. The look on his face was grim. “They have found us,” was all he said.

Berilac ran up and stopped at Freddie’s side, gasping for breath. “There are great many of those Big Folk ruffians outside. They’ve set fires at all of the doors.”

“We shall be burnt alive!” Estella cried.

“No,” said Fredegar. “We can still escape through the windows.” He did not need to add that they would surely be captured if they did.

Estella nodded. “My room is furthest from the doors. Gather everyone and meet me there. I will start on the boards.”

Fredegar, Berilac and Estella ran in three differing directions. Estella returned to her room and started yanking off all the planks of wood that covered her window. Fredegar soon returned with Sancho, Ferdibrand, Rollo, Tulip, Mungo and Prospero. Berry arrived a moment later with Doderic, Ilberic, Celandine, Cosimo, Mosco, Moro and Inigo.

Estella stepped aside and allowed Berry and Sancho to finish clearing the window. As soon as it was open, the hobbit rebels moved towards it. Celandine and Tulip were first, then Estella. The moment she felt fresh air, Estella also felt a pair of large hands grab her roughly. She suddenly became aware that she could hear Celandine screaming.

The ugly face of a squint-eyed man peered at her. He had grabbed her so that her arms were trapped against her sides.

“‘ullo there, little rat,” he sneered.

She knew that there was no point in warning the others. A far worse fate waited for any that remained inside. Estella was passed, none too gently, to another cruel looking man, and promptly shoved into a sack. She heard a voice snarl, “To the Lockholes with you!” then she saw or heard no more.

* * * * * *

A/N: I don’t believe it is ever detailed who the members of Fredegar’s rebel band were. I hope everyone enjoyed my members. Many of them were resurrected names from The History of Middle-Earth. I tend to get a lot of OC names from there.

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