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(Originally written for Hobbit Month on LiveJournal)
Merry is one-hundred and ten when Pippin finally persuades him to accept Lothíriel 's invitation to visit her in her retirement at Dol Amroth; she dwelt in a dower house on the grounds of the palace where her nephew Adrahil held sway.
He had always declined the invitations, though Pippin quite wanted to go. “You know, Pip, that I have no fondness for the Sea; it's a gloomy, cold, grey thing that I have no wish to look upon again,” he would say, and a rare hint of bitterness would be in his voice. And Pippin would not press him, but would wait until the next time the widow of Merry's King invited them again.
But this year had been hard. Éowyn had finally followed her brother to the halls of their fathers, and Faramir had left Ithilien to the governance of his son, and returned to the City. Now the elderly hobbits cannot slake their need for green grass and trees by visits to him there, and when Faramir overheard their conversation, and having noted that his small friends had begun to wilt in the City, said “You know, Meriadoc, that you have only seen the inhospitable Sea of the North. There is nothing cold and grey about the warm blue waters at Belfalas.” And so Merry, noting that Pippin really did seem to need to get away, finally agrees.
A pleasant sail down the Anduin, and they are met not only by Lothíriel, but by a gaggle of small children, her great-nieces and great-nephews, all of whom are eager to meet the famous pheriannath.
And Merry is surprised to see that, yes, these Seas *are* warm and blue and teeming with life, and there are beaches of fine white sand that feel pleasant to hobbit feet. Even the harsh cries of the gulls sound pleasant in the warm breezes, with the hint of salt and fish. Lothíriel welcomes them warmly, and she and Merry spend time reminiscing about Éomer, while Pippin listens indulgently, only occasionally asking a question, to keep the conversation moving along.
The former Queen has a well-run household, and her cook is only too happy to indulge the appetites of these two jolly old creatures with as many meals as they seem to think are necessary.
One morning, Pippin has a bit of a lie-in. His knee has been twinging him a bit, and he'd not slept well the night before. Merry knows, and he slips quietly from their room, to have his first breakfast, and then to walk along the beach.
There he sees two children playing in the sand. They've a bucket of water, and a couple of small spades, and they seem to be constructing something.
They look up and grin at him in welcome. The children of the area quickly grew very fond of these small people, who are just their size, and yet have the smiles of tolerant grandfathers, and who can tell tales and sing songs and wipe tears.
Merry is fascinated, and soon the children are explaining to him the intricacies of building with sand. He quickly loses track of time, and at his age, his stomach is not quite so insistent at reminding him as it once was. He's very surprised to look up and see Pippin approaching, hobbling a bit, but carrying a laden basket, nonetheless.
“Whatever are you doing, Merry Brandybuck, to miss second breakfast and elevenses, and luncheon fast approaching!”
But Merry grins. “I don't suppose you thought to bring anything in that basket,” he laughs.
“Well, you'd suppose wrong. It's filled with cheese tarts and cherry pastries, and a bottle of lemonade,” says Pippin haughtily, but with a twinkle in his eye. “And I do imagine we've enough to share,” he added with a wink at the children.
It doesn't take long before the basket is empty, and Pippin joins Merry in the sand, as the marvelous edifice grows ever larger.
It's Prince Adrahil coming in search of his children, who finds the four of them, contemplating their work.
“Finished just in time, I see, for the tide to come wash it away,” the Prince remarks.
Pippin shrugs. “All things pass,” he says.
Merry laughs. “But we can build another one tomorrow.”
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