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A belated birthday present for cpsings4him, who likes hobbits (especially recovering-Frodo) and popcorn and soft, fluffy blankets.
Gift from a Land beyond the Sea
'What do they call this stuff again?' Frodo said, hitching the soft blanket closer around his shoulders. Though a bright fire burned on the grate, there was a chill in the air as a spring storm rattled the tall windows.
'Corn?' Merry said, examining a kernel. 'Not wheat...' he mused, 'nor barley, I should say. I wonder what sort of...' He popped the white, fluffy morsel into his mouth, and his eyes widened. 'It's like... it's like...'
'The texture is something like lembas,' Frodo said, extending the bowl to Merry, that his cousin might take a plenteous double-handful. But he jerked the bowl away from Pippin's reach. 'Lay off, you greedy wretch! Oldest first, as is only right...'
'No, it's "hungriest first" and you know that tweens are always hungriest,' Pippin said, reaching for the bowl with a feigned look of hurt that dissolved quickly away as the King's voice was heard outside the door. He jumped to his feet, starting to brush his buttery fingers on his front, but remembering in time to save the White Tree from such desecration, he grabbed up a serviette instead and hastily wiped his hands clean.
Elessar entered, smiling to see the bowl in Frodo's lap. 'Well now,' he said. 'I'm glad to see Cirdan's gift has reached its intended recipient.'
'What is this stuff, Strider?' Merry said, taking another handful.
Elessar took a closer look at Frodo, who was picking up pinches of the treat and nibbling absently, his attention riveted on the King as he awaited the answer to the question. The Ring-bearer was still much too thin for a proper hobbit, but no longer so emaciated that he resembled skin stretched over bones. 'Yes, Strider,' the hobbit said. 'Of all the wondrous things we ate amongst the Elves of Imladris and Lorien, I don't ever remember eating this! Yet you say it's an Elvish treat...'
'It comes from across the Sea,' Elessar said, stepping forward to take a handful of the butter-drenched stuff. 'I have had it once or twice in my life, but it is not common in Middle-earth. Cirdan sent a large sack of seed along with wedding gifts from Lindon--a rare and valuable gift indeed!'
'Mmm,' Frodo agreed.
'Peregrin? Why are you not eating?' the King said, his smile turning to a frown as he looked at his smallest guardsman.
'I--I'm on duty,' Pippin stammered, though he could not avoid stealing a longing look at the diminishing contents of the bowl. 'The head cook sent me to bring this to Frodo, and...'
'And you discharged your duty admirably well,' Elessar said.
'Yes,' Frodo laughed. 'Why, the bowl was still full when he arrived--of course, it was covered, and wrapped in a cosy to keep the contents warm, so he didn't know what he was delivering until we unpacked it...'
'And of course I had to test it,' Pippin said earnestly, 'to be sure that it wouldn't upset Frodo's digestion, or something of the sort.'
'Of course,' Elessar said. 'And now they are arranging a tea tray for the Ring-bearer and his companions, and the last I saw Samwise was waylaid by one of the gardeners with a question, so someone will be needed in the kitchens to see that the Ring-bearer's tea is brewed to his satisfaction, and that the food is all that it ought to be.'
'Well, I'm off duty at the moment,' Merry said, lounging back in his chair and reaching for more of the fluffy treat, which Frodo obligingly extended to him. 'I suppose Pippin had better go.'
'If you think I ought...' Pippin said, with a last longing look at the disappearing treat.
'It would be a proper part of your duties, I esteem,' Elessar said. He didn't think it necessary to cheer the young hobbit with the news that more of the popped corn was in progress, and that this time the stuff would be drenched in sweet syrup, to further tempt the appetite of the Ring-bearer, along with generous portions of other treats, savoury and sweet.
And if Pippin were to sample all the offerings, and eat a fair portion in the course of his duties, well, the cooks were prepared for such a contingency, and had as a matter of fact baked several seedcakes just for the benefit of the smallest guardsman.
'Very well,' Pippin said, standing straighter. 'Per your orders, my lord...' With a serious nod to his older cousins, he marched from the room.
'Perhaps we ought to save him some,' Frodo said, glancing into the bowl.
'Go ahead and eat that while it's still warm,' Elessar said, and added a hobbity phrase he'd picked up from his diminutive friends. 'Plenty more where that came from.'
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