Title: Yule Memories
For: Breon Briarwood! Happy Holidays!!!
Summary: Aragorn decides to surprise the hobbits after hearing them lament missing the Shire Yule.
Disclaimer: Tolkein’s estate and New Line own everything! I am just a humble fic writer who writes because her Muse will not leave her alone.
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Author's Notes: This is my 2005 LOTR Secret Santa entry specially for Breon Briarwood. Just a little holiday ficcy set during the Fellowship. I hope you enjoy!
The remains of a small fire slowly dwindled away in the middle of a group of huddled figures. Strong cave walls protected the weary group from the howling wind and swirling snows just a few feet outside. Most took advantage of the respite from cold trudging, and the sound of soft snores and murmurs could occasionally be heard over the storm. Aragorn, standing guard near the entrance, seemed to be the only creature stirring on this bitter night. However, his sharp ranger ears picked up the sound of a soft conversation being held by three huddled bundles.
“Look at it snow,” Pippin Took sighed softly, thinking of another day trudging through the cold and snow.
“Reminds me of last Yule,” Meriadoc Brandybuck said. “Remember how we had to trudge through the snow to give everyone presents?”
Samwise Gamgee rolled over to regard Merry and Pippin with equal longing in his eyes. “The Gaffer put on an extra log to make sure the pudding got cooked properly, and people dropped in and out all day to sample and give gifts to each other.”
“The roasted apples,” Pippin said, his mouth watering at the very thought.
“The smell of pipeweed from all over the house, as people gathered together,” Merry added.
Sam nestled his head further into his blankets and said, “Carols being sung by passing by children in the hopes you might give them a slice of pie or a candied apple.”
“Sing all ye joyful, now sing all together!,” Merry sang softly, trying not to disturb the sleepers around him. The wind's in the tree-top, the wind's in the heather.”
Sam and Pippin picked it up by the next line, and the three sang together, “The stars are in blossom, the moon is in flower, And bright are the windows of Night in her tower.”
They paused when they realized a fourth voice had joined theirs, the gentle tone of Frodo Baggins. He propped himself up on one elbow and regarded them with his large, blue eyes. “Bilbo did so love to sing and tell stories on Yule night. He would sit up all night long and regale me with tales of distance lands.”
“The Gaffer would tell stories about the largest pumpkins and vegetables he ever grew and the secrets behind his success.”
A little giggle escaped, Pippin as Merry said, “We’d get all the little ones together and give them tips on how to steal mushrooms and play pranks.”
A collective sigh of memory and longing shook all four hobbits. they lapsed into a few moments of silence, each staring into the last embers of the fire.
“Do you suppose we shall ever see another Yule?” Pippin asked tentatively.
“Of course we will,” Frodo said firmly. “Why I am sure we shall be back in time for next season.” He resisted the terrible urge to grab the Ring as it seemed to laugh in mockery of his brave words.
Sam added his own comforting voice to Frodo’s. “Why Pippin, how can you doubt Gandalf and Strider? They will get us through this journey, you’ll see.”
For his own part, Merry reached out to hug Pippin close to him.
“I hope you are right,” Pippin said, resting his head against Merry. He thought of the terrible animals that had attacked them and the dreary, frozen trudge through neck high snow. “I should once again like to taste apple cider.”
“And taste fresh pumpkin pie with caramel sauce.”
“And wrap and unwrap brightly papered packages.”
“And sit beside my own fireplace and know the storm that rages outside can never touch us,” Frodo finished, staring out at the night. He noticed Aragorn prowling the entrance and admired the slim length of his body. “Now come, we should sleep. There are many miles to go tomorrow.”
Merry grumbled once, but settled down, pulling Pippin to lay beside him. His cousin burrowed his curly head into Merry’s chest and shut his own eyes. Samwise tucked his covers more securely around him again and turned to face away from the snow and wind, before trying his own hand at sleep. For another long moment, Frodo allowed himself the pleasure of gazing at the Ranger, before he, too, rested his head back down for dreams of a Yule spent not in the company of hobbits, but in the strong arms of a Numenorean.
Aragorn never stopped pacing the cave entrance, and his sharp eyes continued to gaze through the swirling whiteness for any signs of danger. On one such pass, he paused for a brief second, murmuring, “Yule,” before resuming his movements.
Frodo stared into the gathering darkness, wondering where Aragorn and Legolas had disappeared to over an hour ago. “Does it seem to you,” he asked Sam, “that aragorn has been acting oddly these past few days?”
Sam hid a little smile behind his hand, thinking the only true odd behavior lately was Frodo’s preoccupation with the Ranger. “I’m not sure I see any difference, Mister Frodo. Strider always seems to be sneaking around or disappearing without a word.”
Frodo managed to break his eyes away from the area Aragorn disappeared from to watch Gandalf and Boromir build what appeared to be a gigantic blaze. “And when have we built such large bonfires?”
“Gandalf said there would be no danger in having such a nice fire tonight,” Pippin announced, flouncing over to flop beside Frodo. “Apparently, we do not need to worry until we actually reach the door to Moria.” He scratched his curly mop of hair, sending little puffs of dust everywhere.
“My dear cousin, you need a bath,” Merry said, trailing over to sit with the other hobbits. “And I agree with Frodo... there is something very suspicious going on here. All the big people are behaving very strangely. Why, I asked Boromir if I might help with the fire, and he started as if I had asked a naughty question.” He fixed suspicious blue eyes on the Gondorian.
At this moment, Legolas emerged from the darkness. He carried a small sack carefully in his arms with great care. With a nod of greeting to the hobbits, he pranced over to Gandalf and showed him the contents. The Istari smiled and mumbled a few words of praise.
“What is going on?” Pippin asked, agreeing now with his cousins that the big people were being very mysterious.
“I don’t know,” Sam admitted with a slightly nervous smile. “They do seem to be a little secretive tonight.” He peered at the sack intently, trying to guess what might be inside.
“That settles it,” Frodo said, standing up. “I am going to ask Gandalf what they are up to.”
Before he could take a step, a loud rustling in the bushes behind them startled him. All four hobbits whirled toward the sound, hands reaching for their small swords.
Aragorn, dirtier and more ragged than ever, crashed through, dragging after him a most marvelous boar. “I have been more successful than I ever dreamed,” he said, hauling his prize toward the fire. Boromir quickly hopped up to help him move the beast. “This shall make for a wonderful Yule feast.”
“A wonderful what?” Frodo asked, hurrying after Aragorn and staring at him in confusion.
“Yule. I know that we are not in the right season, yet it seemed somehow fitting, after battling the frozen wastes of Caradhras, to somehow celebrate winter.” He smiled warmly at his smaller companion, eyes sparkling.
“Oh, Strider!” Frodo cried and jumped right into his arms.
Aragorn caught him and hugged him tightly. “I heard all of you remembering Yule's past and thought you might enjoy a little Yule of our own.” He gestured to the others. “Everyone else agreed, and we have worked very hard to organize something without being caught.”
“Of course, it may not live up to the standards of a Shire Yule, but we have arranged for most of the essentials,” Gandalf said, his smile wise.
“Apples, plums and berries,” Legolas said, displaying the contents of his sack.
“A bright fire and some Yule drink,” Boromir said, pulling a small bottle from his pack’s contents.
“And of course, presents,” Gimli said, carefully digging out some carefully wrapped packages, one for each hobbit.
“Not to mention a tremendous feast of boar to top it off,” Aragorn declared. “Happy Yule, Frodo, Merry, Pippin and Sam.”
“Happy Yule!” they all chorused and bowled Aragorn right over by all four jumping him.
Boromir, Gandalf and Gimli laughed at the astonished expression on Aragorn’s normally stolid face as he hit the dust with a crash.
Merry, Pippin and Sam hopped off nearly as one, all running to help with various parts of the Yule preparations. They also managed to hug everyone possible; Pippin even catching Legolas off guard by grabbing his long legs.
Frodo remained with Aragorn, gazing at him fondly. “Oh Strider, this shall be the nicest Yule ever, even if it is not the right time of season.” He threw his hands around the man’s neck.
“I am glad to hear it, Frodo,” Aragorn said, pressing a kiss to soft curls. He pulled his head away and found two blue eyes staring right into his, a hint of quiet desire there. And because it was Yule, after all, and he really wanted to anyway, he pressed a kiss to the small mouth... and lingered... and lingered... and lingered... until a series of little chuckles from the fire made them pull away with equal blushes.
When the others stopped teasing them, Aragorn settled Frodo back on his lap and watched Boromir and Sam argue how to properly roast a boar. “Happy Yule, Frodo,” he said softly, his hand warm on Frodo’s side.
“Happy Yule, Strider.”