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When the King Comes Back ( Brandy Hall )  by Dreamflower


His parents took him to their private quarters for a late supper. A few others came along, among them Berilac, his Uncle Merimac, and Estella Bolger, Fatty’s sister, who had been staying in Buckland since her brother had been captured.

So pleased was she at the news that her brother had been rescued that she rewarded Merry with an enthusiastic hug and a grateful kiss. It was very pleasant and not at all cousinly. He blushed and looked at her as though he had never seen her before.

His mother noticed and hid a smile.

While he ate and the family nibbled to keep him company, they talked of doings in the Shire. He brought them up to date on the rout of Saruman’s bullies, but said little of his year’s absence or his journey.

When he finished eating, he pled tiredness from the day’s travel, and excused himself. But he managed to catch his father’s eye and signal that he wanted to talk privately. His father glanced at Esmeralda, but Merry shook his head. He couldn’t speak freely in front of his mother about some of the horrors he had faced, nor see her worry when she realized how much danger he had been in. It might not be very brave, but he’d rather she heard some things from his father.


A short time later, Saradoc came to Merry’s room. “You wanted to see me, son?”

“Yes, sir. I’d like to report to you on what happened and get it over with as soon as possible.  You need to know as much as I can tell you. There have been a great many changes in the world, and a lot of them will affect the Shire.”

“Well, I can save you a bit of the telling, Merry. Your note made it clear that something serious was afoot, and after those Black Horsemen came through, I thoroughly questioned poor little Fatty. Of course he finally told me everything, so I know about the Enemy’s Ring. When I realized what you were up against, I very nearly came after you myself. It was thinking of those Black Riders, though that made me realize you’d actually be safer away from here.

Then Paladin came roaring down here, breathing fire. I must say, son, taking Pippin with you was not the best idea you’ve ever had.”

“Da, do you really think we had a chance of getting away without him, once he’d made his mind up to come?”

Saradoc shook his head. “Probably not. But I saw a note he left. I can hardly blame Paladin. It said ‘Dear Mother and Father, I’m off on an adventure with Frodo and Merry. I don’t know where we’re going or how long we’ll be gone. Give my love to the girls. Love, Pippin’.”

Merry groaned and sank his head in his hands. “Oh, Pip! That’s worse than no note at all. And, by the way, he told me he did not leave one.”

“Well, I suppose he would not have counted that one, as his father retrieved it from his wastebasket.  Once Paladin got here, we had to mount a search. He was too angry for me to confide in him, and I don’t think it would have done any good anyway. He wanted Pippin back, and he wouldn’t have listened to reason.”

Merry just sighed and shook his head. Although his heart still went out to Pippin, he was beginning to understand Paladin’s anger.

“We traced you as far as Bree, but you were nearly a month gone by then. The news we got made Paladin despair, for he was sure you had all been taken into the Wild by a brigand and had your throats slit. I, on the other hand was heartened to know you had fallen in with one of Gandalf’s Rangers.”

“Not exactly Gandalf’s--wait a minute--you *knew* about the Rangers?”

Saradoc smiled. “Shortly after the time of Bilbo’s Birthday Party, Gandalf had a quiet word with your grandfather Rory, and also with Ferumbras, the old Thain. He told them he was setting these ’Rangers’ to guarding the Shire. Your grandfather passed the word to me, as I would have to you in time, but Ferumbras never passed the word to Paladin. I would have told him myself when I realized he didn’t know, but the state he was in, he would not have believed me.

We had no more word of any of you after that, of course. It was getting hard to keep our hopes up, son. I’m afraid that my own hope was beginning to come from just plain contrariness, after Paladin decided to give up so publicly. We had such a row at Midsummer over that ’memorial’ for Pippin. We abused each other soundly and things were said that are not easily forgiven or forgotten. It’s just about broken your mother’s heart.”

Merry sighed. “I wish that there had been another way, Da. But we did what had to be done, and it was to keep all of you safe as well. If the Ring had still been here when the Nazgűl came, every Hobbit in the Shire would now be either dead or enslaved, and it would all be one vast wasteland. 

This is what happened  after we left Bree…”


Frodo sat in the Cotton’s front room by the fire. The Gaffer sat across from him dozing. Though the window was closed, he could hear the soft rise and fall of Sam’s and Rosie’s voices from where they sat on a small bench outside in the cold night. He could hear no words, but he did not need to, for he knew that Sam had chosen tonight to tell his Rosie of their journey.

Right now there was a lightness to Sam’s voice that indicated to Frodo that he was talking about Elves. In spite of all the time spent among them, Sam had never lost his love and awe for the Firstborn.

Soon enough, the tale would turn dark again. Frodo hoped that Sam was not too modest. Rosie needed to know how stout-hearted her Sam really was. He thought, though that she was intelligent enough to see through Sam’s diffidence to what he did not say. Just then, Frodo realized that the Gaffer was no longer asleep. He wondered…

“Gaffer, did Sam tell you of what we did while we were gone?”

“Aye, summat, Mr. Frodo, about what you had to do, and how hard it was for you. I just hope my Sam gave satisfaction and was a help to you.”

“A help? Oh, Gaffer,” Frodo’s eyes filled with tears. “Let me tell you of the help your Samwise was to me…”


In the Great Smials at Tuckborough, Pippin sat beneath the disapproving stare of his father, and the anxious eyes of his mother and sisters, and unburdened himself of the tale of the Quest. It was not quite so hard as living through it had been.

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