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Twice Twenty  by Dreamflower

Title: O! Water Cold
Theme: Set #2, Theme #5, “Falling rain”
Genre (s): General
Pairing (s): N/A
Rating: G
Notes: Readers of this story who also follow “The Road to Edoras” at Stories of Arda, may recognize this as an expansion of an anecdote told by Gimli and Legolas in Chapter 13.
Summary: The Fellowship seeks some sort of shelter from a thunderstorm; tempers are short…


The Company trudged along miserably, soaking wet, their cloaks offering little protection from the downpour. It was early afternoon, as the storm made night travel dangerous, and Gandalf was quite sure there would be no crebain flying, what with the rain and the wind gusts.

It was raining so hard that the hobbits were certain it could rain no harder. They were wrong. There was a loud clap of thunder, and the water came down in buckets.

“That was very near,” said Frodo.

“It was,” agreed Aragorn. He was beginning to think that it might be wise to seek *some* sort of shelter, though what they might find in the wilderness was doubtful. It would most certainly not be a good idea to get under a tree, with all the lightning and thunder.

“Gandalf!” he called.

The wizard turned to look at him. His hat brim was soaked, and hung about his head, while his hair and beard were streaming. He did not look happy. “What is it?” he asked gruffly.

Before Aragorn could answer, there was another clap of thunder, nearly simultaneous with a brilliant flash, followed immediately by a crash just behind them. Bill nearly bolted, and it took both Sam and Gimli to keep the frightened pony from careening away. Half a huge pine tree lay on the path behind them, steam and smoke coming from the break, where the lightning had hit.

Everyone stared. Boromir swore, and the hobbits were pale and trembling. Even Legolas looked dismayed.

Aragorn turned back to look at Gandalf. “I think we need to seek what shelter we may find, and quickly.”

Gandalf nodded. “I think perhaps you are right. But I do not know what we may find in this barren wilderness.” They had begun to leave the foothills of the Misty Mountains behind, and were getting near the knees of the mountains themselves.

Legolas said “I can go ahead to scout for a place, perhaps a crevice, or even a cave.”

Gandalf nodded. “Do not seek too far, however. The nearer the better.”

The rest of the company huddled together, chilled and shivering. Legolas soon returned.

“Alas, the best thing I could find is a bit of an overhang nearby. Perhaps we bigger folk can keep the worst of the rain off the smaller ones, and we would at least be safer from the lightning.”

Another, somewhat more distant crack of thunder decided them. They picked up their pace as best they could, and coming around a curve in the path, they saw what Legolas had described. They put poor Bill on the windward side, and as the four hobbits huddled together, the rest of the Fellowship stood over them, cloaks spread, trying to at least keep them a bit warm, if not dry.

Sam was muttering softly, and gradually grew louder. Finally he said “I don’t call this shelter. No walls, no roof, no floor. Shelter keeps the weather off…”

Merry said crossly “At least it’s better than being on the trail, with trees falling on us.”

“If we was in a nice cozy smial…” Sam started.

“Well, we are *not* in a nice cozy smial, Sam, and we *won’t* be in a nice c-cozy s-smial or anything else remotely called cozy f-for sometime to come,” said Frodo firmly. Sam rarely complained, but on the few occasions that he did, he would stubbornly go on and on, on the same theme over and over.

Sam snapped his mouth shut, as Frodo hardly ever used that tone with him, but he looked very nearly mutinous.

Gandalf said nothing, leaving the squabbling to the hobbits, and the other members of the Company wisely followed his lead. They had learned to let the hobbits settle these occasional difficulties themselves.

Pippin had said nothing, but looked at the angry faces of the others, and now said brightly, “How about a song?”

Now Merry looked at him crossly. “A song? Are you insane? You think everything in the world can be solved with a song?”

Pippin looked seriously thoughtful. “It would be well if it could. But sometimes songs do help a bit--and with all this water, I think I know just the one!” He turned his face up, and closed his eyes and began to sing:

Sing hey! for the bath at the close of the day
that washes the weary mud away!
A loon is he that will not sing:
O! Water Hot is a noble thing!”

The others looked at him incredulously, their quarrelsomeness completely forgotten in their surprise. Even the Big Folk looked amazed, as Pippin continued:

“O! Sweet is the sound of falling rain,
and the brook that leaps from hill to plain;
but better than rain or rippling streams
is Water Hot that smokes and steams.”

Merry rolled his eyes, and a little smile began to twitch at Frodo’s lips. Sam suppressed a chuckle.

“O! Water cold we may pour at need
down a thirsty throat and be glad indeed;
but better is Beer, if drink we lack,
and Water Hot poured down the back!”

Just then a huge gust of wind-driven rain sent copious amounts of very *cold* water down the backs of the Big Folk as they stood over the hobbits! Boromir gave an exclamation of startlement, but Aragorn laughed out loud at the incongruity of it all. Frodo began to snicker.

Pippin began the last verse:

“O! Water is fair that leaps on high”

And then the other hobbits joined in.

“…in a fountain white beneath the sky;
but never did fountain sound so sweet
as splashing hot water beneath my feet!”

The hobbits all laughed, and the others began to smile in spite of the conditions. But after a moment, Merry said: “Well, Pip, that’s all well and good, but you’ve seem to be confused. This water is anything but Hot.”

With a very solemn expression on his face, Pippin lowered his voice to a whisper and replied--“Shh--don’t tell me. If I don’t know, then maybe I won’t notice.”

At this, the whole Company burst out in laughter, even Gandalf.

The hobbits began to reminisce about the song, and several memorable bath times, mostly involving Pippin’s older cousins getting drenched trying to bathe an enthusiastic small Pippin. Pippin had always loved his bath--only too well, sometimes.

“You came out lucky, Frodo,” said Merry. “You usually had my help, and only had to give him a bath at Bag End. I had to deal with *this* one at Brandy Hall as well!”

“Well, you will recall that *Bilbo* managed to *never* have to give him a bath! He always gave that particular task to us!”

“Do you recollect the time I had to help you wash the sap out of his hair?” asked Sam.

Far from being abashed or embarrassed at these childhood anecdotes, Pippin managed to stand there looking insufferably pleased with himself. He glanced up, and grinned, as Gandalf gave him a wink.

Legolas turned slightly, and looked to the sky. “The rain is slacking off. I think this storm shall soon have passed us.”

And within moments, the rain was gone. Cold and wet, the Company moved on.
*Taken from The Fellowship of the Ring Book I, Chapter V, “A Conspiracy Unmasked”

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