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The Lady’s Gift
A/N: This is my story for Marigold’s February challenge. The starter she gave me could have easily been made into something very angsty, but that would hardly be my style! The setting of this fic is during The Steward and the King. I can imagine that all of the companions of the ring got up to a great deal of trouble while they waited for Aragorn’s special day.
* * * * * *
S.R. 1419 (3019), Minas Tirith
Merry and Pippin huddled to together as heavy footfalls ran past their hiding place. It was dark, but the raised voices of those that pursued them were unmistakable, and Pippin cowered closer to Merry.
“Peregrin Took! When I get my hands on you…” Gimli the Dwarf roared.
“My friend, we may have more luck finding our little thief if you cease screaming out threats,” Legolas calmly advised.
“If I had wanted your advice, Elf, I would have asked for it!”
Both of the hiding hobbits held their breath. If they made any sound, Legolas was likely to hear it. Eventually, the voices of the bickering pair faded into the distance, and Merry hesitantly edged out from behind the large piece of rubble that he and Pippin had been using for cover.
“That was too close,” he muttered to himself. “Pip, they’ve gone, you can come out now.”
Pippin crawled out even more slowly than Merry had. Letting out the breath he had been holding in, he glared at his cousin. “This is all your fault, Meriadoc.”
“My fault?” Merry snorted. He motioned to Pippin’s right hand, which was clenched firmly in a fist. “You’re the one who stole Gimli’s gift from the Lady!”
“Well, I wouldn’t have done it if you hadn’t dared me to!”
“Don’t blame me – it’s not my fault that you’re constantly whining about being bored. I thought this might teach you a lesson.”
“It did!” Pippin snapped. “Never listen to a Brandybuck, especially not Meriadoc.”
Merry sighed, and sat next to Peregrin. “I suppose I should have learnt by now to never tempt a Took, especially not Peregrin.” He gave Pippin a lop-sided grin. “Forgive me?”
Pippin smirked in return. “Only if you admit your part to Gimli, if he ever finds us.” Pippin opened his fist to reveal three golden hairs. “I really don’t see why he’s so upset. It’s not as if they look different to any other hairs.”
“Ah, but Gimli knows they come from the Lady Galadriel. He saw her cut them from her own head.”
Peregrin shrugged. “Still, I’d wager he wouldn’t be able to tell the difference if we swapped one.” Closing the fist again, Pippin stood to examine Merry’s curly mop. “Your looks golden when it’s in the right light. We could try one of yours.”
Merry jumped to his feet before Pippin had a chance to pluck a hair from his head. “Oh, no you don’t, Peregrin!”
Pippin pouted. “You always ruin my fun, Merry.”
“Actually, I was thinking I should ruin your fun more often. Perhaps then we wouldn’t be in this mess!”
“Well, then, Master Brandybuck, what do you suggest we do now?”
“To be honest, Pippin, I hadn’t thought that far ahead,” Merry admitted. “I didn’t think that you would actually take the hairs.”
Pippin groaned. “That’s just great!”
“I suppose we might as well just put it back…”
“Put it back? Are you mad? Gimli’s probably waiting for us at the front door. And if he isn’t, then he has someone doing the waiting for him! Gandalf, knowing my luck.”
It was Merry’s turn to be angry. “Well, I haven’t heard any brilliant suggestions from you, Peregrin Took.”
Pippin weighed up the options, and decided that Merry was probably right. They couldn’t run from Gimli forever. They would have to face the consequences of their actions eventually. Pippin had always hated that part – he very rarely thought anything through before carrying it out, and so was constantly having to ‘face the consequences’. “Fine, we’ll take it back. But I still don’t much like the idea of marching straight up to the front door. We’ll have to find another way.”
* * * * * *
Gimli stopped to catch his breath. He angrily kicked the ground. “Curse that woolly-footed rapscallion! I’ll tear him to pieces!”
“Calm down, Gimli,” sighed Legolas. He could remember a time not so long ago that Gimli had wept to see Pippin alive and walking. “Perhaps you should have kept the gift in a more secure place.”
“What’s more secure than in my own room? In a house with friends?”
“I thought that a dwarf, of all people, should have known what remarkable burglars hobbits can make. Did your father not work with one such burglar? And did that burglar not snatch a great gift from right beneath the Dwarf-king’s nose?”
Gimli scowled at his companion. “Well, since we seem to be on that topic, did that burglar not steal many a supper from the tables of your father?”
Legolas laughed. “You have a good point there, my friend.”
With a sigh, Gimli sat on a piece of stone that had not yet been cleared from the streets of Minas Tirith. “It’s no use. Hobbits are very good at sneaking and hiding. We’ll never find him.”
“We certainly won’t while you think like that.” Legolas sat next to his friend. “Gimli, I have been apt in the art of tracking for many lives of men – and dwarves for that matter. One of the most important things to know about tracking is that you have to enter the mind of that whom you wish to catch.”
“You’re saying I have to think like Peregrin?”
Gimli thought in silence for a moment. “Merry, Merry, Merry. Frodo, Frodo, Frodo. Food, Food, Food. Perhaps we should toss a thought of ale into the mix there for good measure.”
Legolas laughed again. “You seem to have entered young Peregrin’s mind perfectly, and also found the point I was trying to make. Pippin will not stray far from his cousins, nor will he survive long without food. We need merely to wait for him to come to us.”
From beneath his thick beard, Gimli grinned. “And my father always taught me that elves were stupid.”
* * * * * *
Frodo and Sam wandered around the garden of their house in Minas Tirith, Sam stopping every so often to admire one of the plants that he had never seen before. Gandalf sat, not too far away, smoking and humming to themselves.
“You had better be right about this, Elf,” came Gimli’s voice. A moment later, both the dwarf and his elvish companion entered the garden.
“Ah, Gimli, Legolas, there you are,” Frodo greeted. “When I woke this morning, Sam and Gandalf were the only ones around. I wondered where everyone else had gotten to.”
“Good morning, Frodo,” Legolas returned.
“I don’t suppose any of you have seen young Peregrin,” Gimli inquired. He assumed that Frodo had not, but Sam or Gandalf may have.
“I had business to attend to this morning, and left well before any of you had risen,” Gandalf replied. “When I returned, I found only Samwise, and Frodo, still asleep.”
“I saw Mister Pippin this morning, Gimli,” said Sam, and Gimli listened intently. “He ran out of the house earlier, with Mister Merry, and then I saw you and Legolas run after them. I would have scolded the lot of you for making such a racket, but you were gone too quickly.”
Gimli frowned. “So you have not seen him since?”
“What has our young Master Took done now?” sighed Gandalf, working it all out faster than his companions.
Gimli looked at his feet and started muttering under his breath. Legolas assumed that he was embarrassed to admit what had occurred, and how greatly he treasured the Lady’s gift. Finally, Gimli spoke loud enough for them to hear. “He took my gift from the Lady Galadriel.”
Gimli had half-expected them all to laugh at him for being so sentimental. But they did not. Gandalf rolled his eyes, like he had expected this to happen, but Frodo’s eyes had widened in horror.
“He did what?”
“He snuck into my room and took the golden hairs given to me by the Lady.”
Frodo groaned. “I can’t believe he actually did it!”
“Beggin’ your pardon, Mister Frodo,” said Sam, “but what do you mean?”
“Well, first of all, Gimli, you cannot blame Peregrin alone,” Frodo sighed. “Meriadoc, and also myself, are partially at fault.”
“Explain yourself, hobbit,” Gimli demanded, ignoring the sharp look Sam had given him for addressing his master as such.
“Yesterday, Pippin was complaining that he was bored and had nothing to do. Both Merry and I were sick of his whining, so Merry told him to go do something. When Pippin asked what to do, Merry, well, he dared him to take your gift. We didn’t expect that he would actually manage to take it. We just thought he’d either be too frightened to, or that you would catch him in the act.”
“I suppose that explains why Merry is with him,” Legolas concluded, and Frodo nodded.
Gandalf laughed. “Well, Master Dwarf, it seems you have forgotten that hobbits make excellent burglars, even for their friends.”
“Legolas has already pointed that out to me,” Gimli grumbled. “He also seemed to think that Peregrin would eventually return here.”
Frodo smiled. “Yes, he will, but despite what you may think, neither of my cousins are so stupid as to walk up to the front door when there is a chance that someone will be there waiting for them.”
“What do you mean?”
* * * * * *
Merry looked at the – what he thought to be – towering wall in front of them. “No, Pippin. No way.”
Pippin let out a frustrated sigh. “What’s wrong with you, Meriadoc? We need to get inside, and aside from the front door, the only way to do that is to climb up to one of the windows!”
“Are you even looking at this wall? It’s far too high!”
“Nonsense! I’ve climbed taller trees, and so have you.”
“The last time I climbed a tree that tall, Pippin, I seem to remember falling out of it and breaking my wrist.”
“You are such a coward, Meriadoc!” As if to prove his point, Pippin hoisted himself onto one of the barrels that was rested against the wall. To him, it was hardly a difficult climb. There were plenty of platforms for them to rest on, so it was not as if they had to climb straight up the wall.
Merry hated being called a coward, especially by Pippin. He took a deep breath, and started to follow his cousin. In the end, it proved to be not as difficult as he thought. Of course, he had to make sure he did not look down, as he had always been rather afraid of heights.
Pippin made it to the window first and quickly climbed inside. He called back to Merry, “See, that wasn’t so hard.”
“Why, how nice it is to see you back, Peregrin.”
Peregrin turned slowly, with a look of pure terror on his face. Sitting on one of the beds was Gimli. Legolas was next to him, and Pippin also saw that Gandalf, Sam and Frodo were standing nearby. He backed towards the window, as Gimli stood and advanced towards him.
“Merry, Merry, stay back,” Pippin hissed.
“What’s that Pip?” Merry asked, as his head appeared in the window. “You know, that wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would…” He was cut off as Pippin’s back collided with him. He lost his balance and started to fall.
“Merry!” Pippin quickly turned and caught Merry’s hand. But Merry was heavier than Pippin, and the younger hobbit was also dragged out of the window.
Gimli cried out, and rushed forward, grabbing onto Pippin’s legs before they slid out of the window completely. With the strength that only a dwarf could possess, he pulled both hobbits back into the safety of the room. Merry and Pippin sat on the floor, panting and trying to regain their breath after their scare.
Pippin held out his hand to Gimli. “Here’s your gift from the Lady, Gimli. I’m sorry I took it.”
Gimli held out his own hand, and Pippin placed the three hairs on his palm. His own heart was still throbbing from the fright of almost losing his two little friends. Seeing Pippin’s large, pleading eyes, he knew that he could never stay angry at the Took, no matter what he did.
Gimli smiled, and ruffled Pippin’s hair. “You are forgiven, Master Peregrin. As are you, Merry. Frodo has already turned both you and himself in for your part in this theft.”
Merry smirked at his older cousin. “Traitor.”
Frodo laughed and shrugged his shoulders. “You should know that I can never let Pippin just take the blame.”
Pippin stood and offered to help Gimli to his feet. Gimli regarded the small hand in front of him. How had one so small managed to have such a firm grip around the heart of Gimli, son of Glóin? Gimli took one of the golden hairs rested in his palm and handed it to Pippin.
Pippin looked at it in confusion. “I can’t accept this, Gimli! This was your gift from the Lady.”
“Aye, it was,” said Gimli. “But I have three, and I only have one Peregrin.”
A broad grin spread across Pippin’s mouth. He smothered the dwarf in a hug. “And I only have one Gimli.”
* * * * * *
A/N: I hope the end was not too soppy! I couldn’t help it – I just know that Gimli had a soft spot for Pip!
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