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Fate and the High King's Falcon  by Baylor

Day 31 of the New Year (April 25 SR)

Legolas was far, far from Ithilien, in a land he had yet to see that smelled of brine and wood and timelessness, when small, cold feet tucked themselves against his knees. Then the world smelled again of pine and heather, and of the hobbit burrowing into his side with his unique scent of apples and dried leaves and some strange spice Merry had told him was cinnamon.

"Are you cold, Pippin?" he asked, automatically reaching a protective arm down to curl about his unexpected visitor.

"Uhm," Pippin answered, and pressed his chilly nose into Legolas' ribs.

Legolas seldom actually lay down in his cot at night, but Éomer had led a small contingent north to scout, taking with him Merry and, surprisingly, Gimli, riding behind Éomer himself. Pippin had reassured Merry repeatedly that he certainly did not need taking care of and could spend a night on his own just fine, but Merry's brow did not unfurrow until Legolas had whispered to him that he would stay in the tent that night while Pippin slept.

Now, Legolas wondered if Pippin had had a bad dream, or if he had been merely cold, or perhaps lonely. The hobbits had separate cots, but more mornings than not found Pippin curled up beside Merry, having awakened at some point and sought the familiar security of his elder cousin.

Legolas shifted his blanket about until Pippin, who had wrapped himself in his own blanket before creeping into the elf's bed, was tucked beneath it. Under the double layer of warmth, the small body began to feel warmer to Legolas. Pippin gave a little sigh of contentment, and sleepily rubbed at his nose.

"I was thinking," he said with a yawn.

"What were you thinking about, dear heart?" Legolas asked.

"I was thinking about all the stories Frodo and Bilbo and Merry used to tell me when I was a little lad, and how things that happen in one story change what happens in another story without the people in the stories ever knowing about each other," Pippin said, sounding drowsy. "And how things that seem bad in one story turn out in the end to be good things in another story, and how some things that seem very good to start with aren't good at all in the end. And then -- Sam said we're all still in the same story, going on and on, and things that are happening to us that seem bad might not be bad once the story is finished. It's like they were supposed to happen, like it was fate, even though it all seemed wrong or bad when it was happening to us. I can't make it all quite make sense, but it seems important," he finished.

Legolas stroked the hobbit's curls. "It is all part of the song," he said. "The one great song that is still being sung."

"And to think I had a little part in it," Pippin said, his eyes shutting against his will and his voice dropping to a whisper. "Though I suppose my part was the drinking-chorus section."

Legolas shook with silent mirth, then sang quietly,

Ho! Ho! Ho! to the bottle I go!
While I have friends, there can be no woe.
When things look their worst
I'll just burst into verse.
Sorrow, anguish and despair will flee
In the conquering face of our shining glee.

"Legolas, you made up a drinking song," Pippin whispered with delight.

"Surely not," Legolas replied. "I think you must be dreaming, Pip."

"Not even I could dream up the Prince of Mirkwood composing hobbit drinking songs," Pippin asserted, and then squawked as elven fingers pinched his ear. There was a sudden tussle involving tickling elvish hands and kicking hobbit feet that ended with the hobbit snuggling contentedly into the elf's shoulder.

"I knew my part was a drinking song," Pippin said with a resigned sigh as he began to drift back toward sleep.

"Perhaps that is just part of your song," Legolas said, and Pippin made a sleepy noise of agreement as his eyes shut. His breathing deepened into sleep moments later, and Legolas lay humming the drinking-song tune deep in his throat. When his mind returned to rest, this time it wandered through green fields and orchards, over small fences and babbling brooks, and past the golden lights of tiny inns.

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