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Written for Marigold's Challenge 17.
Title: The Wings of Eagles
The Wings of Eagles
'You can't be serious!' Of all the things he might've said in that moment, he probably said the wrongest.
Goldilocks stood, feet shoulder-width apart just as Faramir's father had taught Farry to stand in sword-training, hands on her hips, eyes blazing her ire and contempt.
'Goldi! Farry!' Rose Gamgee's voice sounded. 'Time for tea!'
Without another word, Goldilocks flounced away, though she took enough time to wipe her feet carefully before entering Bag End.
She did not look at Faramir through the high tea that followed; Rose had outdone herself to honour the Thain and his son, called to Bag End by the Mayor, and hopefully not too terribly inconvenienced by the summons.
'Well, Sam,' the Thain said, when he'd reluctantly refused third helpings of everything. He folded his serviette and pushed himself slightly away from table, patting his stomach just as a much stouter hobbit might do. 'No, thank you truly, Elanor, I could not eat another bite without bursting.'
Rose refreshed his teacup from the freshly brewed pot; he liked his tea scalding hot, and there was no use pouring out from a pot that had sat, cosied, for any length of time.
'Well, Sam,' he repeated. 'What was this urgent summons all about?'
'I scarcely know what to make of it,' the Mayor said. 'Just a moment...' He waved Pippin to remain seated as he rose from table and exited the room. He was back within moments, a fancy letter in his hand, ribbons trailing from the waxed seal.
'From Gondor!' Pippin said, starting up. 'I've had no word...'
'It's something of a private matter,' Sam said, but his voice was uncertain.
'A private matter?' Pippin said, curious. 'A message from King to Mayor, and Master and Thain not informed? Private, indeed! So why have you called me in?'
'Well,' Sam said uncomfortably. 'You are in charge of the Shire-muster, after all...'
'Shire-muster!' Pippin said, and now he was more startled than curious.
'It's just that... well, I wouldn't want anyone to be alarmed, and call a muster, and have a panic break out and someone shoot before thinking...' Sam said slowly.
'Curiouser and curiouser,' Pippin said, leaning forward. 'Something's about to happen that would warrant a Shire-muster, but you don't want a muster for some reason...'
'It doesn't exactly warrant a muster,' Sam said, and then Rose broke in.
'O for mercy's sake, put the poor hobbit out of his misery!' she said.
'The Eagles are coming!' Frodo-lad broke in excitedly.
Pippin looked at him sharply. 'Words out of old tales,' he said. 'What brings them to light this day?'
'They are!' Goldi said, flashing a triumphant glance at Faramir. 'They're coming!'
'Here, now,' Sam said, thrusting the letter at Pippin. 'It's all in Elvish, but the second page is in practical writing.'
Pippin scanned the first page, noting Sam's name in Elvish but no mention of Merry or himself, and then he laid it gently aside to read the second.
'What is it, Da?' Faramir said, unable to suppress himself any longer. Perhaps Goldilocks had not merely been teasing, before tea.
'Gwaihir, the Windlord, is growing old,' Pippin said slowly. 'He wishes to bring his sons to greet the Ring-bearer, that memory of the great honour done the Eagles of the North should remain bright.'
'The great honour done the Eagles of the North?' Sam said. 'That's the part that puzzles me.'
'The great honour,' Pippin said, more slowly, 'was that Gandalf asked them to retrieve the Ring-bearer and his companion from the slopes of Mount Doom. Thus they shared a small part of the glory of Sauron's downfall.'
Sam sat, mouth half-open as he digested this idea. At last he found his tongue. 'But the Ring-bearer isn't here,' he said. 'Not in Middle-earth, not any more.' And he blinked, and swallowed hard, and mastered himself again.
'I don't think Strider is talking about Frodo,' Pippin said gently, and as Rose gently covered one of Sam's work-worn hands with her own, he continued, 'you, yourself, carried the Ring for a time, in the Dark Land.'
'Only because I had to,' Sam said very low.
Pippin shook his head, with a sad smile. 'Frodo would have said the same,' he whispered. 'Only because he had to.'
Silence reigned until little Tolman crowed and waved his spoon.
'Now then,' Pippin said briskly, putting down the second page of the letter, picking up his serviette, shaking it out, and folding it again as he spoke. 'What exactly is it that you wish the Thain to do?'
'Get the word out,' Sam said. 'Tell the Tooks not to shoot when they see Eagles coming!'
'They're not coming to steal their sheep, after all, or their children,' Rose said.
'I've sent word to the Shirriffs, already, and the Messengers are taking word round to the rest of the Shire-folk,' Sam said, 'but the Tooks listen only to the Thain, and so I thought I had better pull that weed roots and all, in a manner of speaking.'
'I'll spread the word,' Pippin said. 'No enormous birds of prey are to be shot out of the sky, or while resting on the ground, or at any time in between.'
'May we be there?' Faramir asked, almost shyly. 'May we meet the Windlord and his sons?'
'If the Ring-bearer gives us leave to be there,' Pippin said, with a glance at Sam.
Sam seemed taken aback, but he rose to the occasion. 'Of course,' he said. 'It would be my pleasure.'
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