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Shire Yule  by Dreamflower

AUTHOR'S NOTE: "Thrimmidge" is equivalent to May; "1 Lithe" is the first of the Midsummer holiday; "Halimath" is September; "Blotmath" is November; and "1 Yule" is the last day of the old year, "2 Yule" the first day of the new. 


15 Thrimmidge, S.R. 1416

Frodo sat on the bench next to the front step of Bag End, enjoying a pipe, and watching Sam as he worked in the herbaceous border along the path. It was early for elevenses yet, but he was feeling a little peckish, and thought he would ask Sam to come in and join him for some tea and seedcake, when he noticed the post-hobbit coming in at the gate to Bag End.

“Good morning, Mr. Baggins!” said that individual cheerily. “And Sam.”

Sam looked up and grinned, but did not stop his work.

“Hullo, Hob! Post for me, I take it?” Frodo tapped out his pipe, and lay it beside him on the bench.

“Just the one letter here, Mr. Baggins, from the Great Smials…” he handed the envelope over.

Frodo raised his eyebrows at the familiar scrawl. Pippin, then. But he was surprised--Pippin and Merry had only just left Bag End from their spring visit last week. What on earth could Pippin be writing him about so soon? He hoped nothing was amiss…

As Hob went on his way, whistling happily, Frodo ran his thumb under the seal and opened the letter. It was brief, Pippin’s letters always were. Sam had stopped a moment to watch his master’s face.

Frodo grinned, and then laughed.

“Good news, Mr. Frodo?”

“See for yourself, Sam!” He held the letter out to the gardener, who stood up and wiped his hands on his trousers, and reached for it, not without a thought at the back of his mind that the Gaffer would not approve of his reading his master’s correspondence, even if it were his master’s idea.

“Dear Frodo,

I’m to be an uncle at last! Pimmie and Milo are going to have a baby sometime around next Yule! Isn’t it splendid?

your cousin,

P.S. Merry says tell you that if I don’t stop bouncing about and crowing over this he’s going to sit on me. I think he’s just jealous because he won’t be an uncle!”

Sam laughed. “If that don’t sound *just* like Mr. Pippin and Mr. Merry! So, there’ll be another little Took cousin for you, then, sir?”

“Goodbody,” said Frodo absently, smiling fondly. “Pimpernel’s married to a Goodbody. But I’m quite sure everyone will count this little one as a Took, whatever the last name may be!” With a tender smile, he folded the letter up and put it away. He would have to see about something very nice as a gift for the new baby. “Well, Sam, what do you say about some elevenses?”

1 Lithe, S.R. 1416

Merry looked up in amusement from the map of the Westfarthing he was studying. Pippin was going to wear a hole in the library carpet if Frodo did not arrive soon. He had to admit, he was eager to see Frodo again himself, but he was old enough now to wait with a bit of dignity, instead of hopping about the way Pippin did. He smiled to himself. Come to think of it, he didn't much expect Pippin would *ever* learn to wait with dignity--no matter how old he got.

He shook his head and rolled the map up, replacing it with care into the red leather map case. "Do you want to go down to the lane and wait?" he asked.

But just then they heard voices in the front hall.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Baggins, may I take your pack?"

"Yes, thank you, Timmon. Where may I find Pippin? Oof! Never mind." for Pippin had bolted from the library to greet his cousin, Merry at his heels. "You are getting too old for that, Pip! You'll be knocking me over next!"

Merry watched Frodo and Pippin for a moment, and then took his own chance to embrace his older cousin. "Hullo, Frodo! You're looking fit."

"I should do, after that trek." Frodo usually walked to Great Smials. It was only about fourteen miles cross-country, after all.

The three cousins linked arms and headed toward the passages leading to the Thain's apartments. Frodo knew that Timmon would already have taken his pack to his own guest room, and he was eager to greet Cousins Paladin and Eglantine.

Pippin was talking a mile a minute about everything under the Sun, when he stopped speaking abruptly. "Botheration!" he said.

The cousins stopped, and Frodo and Merry saw what Pippin had noticed. There stood Cousin Hyacinth, Reggie Took's wife, speaking to Mistress Poppy, the healer.

"I was just wondering," came Hyacinth's piercing tones, "how poor Pearl is taking this news of her sister's expectancy?"

Mistress Poppy looked as though she had swallowed something sour. "I am sure I could not say anything about that," she replied in an icy tone of voice. It had no effect on Hyacinth however, who continued speaking as though nothing had been said.

"After all, the poor dear has been wed to Falco Bolger for three years now, and no sign of a child. I am sure that this must be breaking her heart…"

Frodo pursed his lips, and glanced at his younger cousins. Merry's face was getting redder by the minute, and Pippin's was getting paler. "Good day, Cousin Hyacinth," he said frostily. He gave her the full benefit of his blue-eyed glare.

She started when she saw him. For some reason he flustered her badly. "Er, good afternoon, Frodo. I--I need to be going now." She beat a hasty and scarcely dignified retreat.

Poppy Burrows watched the retreating back with amusement. "Thank you, Mr. Baggins," she said, "I was at a loss as to how to get rid of her."

"Think nothing of it," said Frodo. "I am quite sure that Pearl is just as thrilled for her sister as all the rest of us are."

Poppy smiled at him. "I think you are quite right! But I need to be on my way. One of the new kitchen maids seems to have developed a bit of a stomachache."

Pippin was looking at Frodo in admiration. "I wish I knew how you do that, Frodo!"

Frodo shook his head; he was sure he didn't know, but it *was* effective.

In the Thain's apartment, a family gathering was already underway. Paladin and Eglantine greeted Frodo fondly, and he went over to also greet Pippin's aunts, Primrose and Peridot. They both had quite a soft spot for the son of their dear friend Primula.

Pimpernel was seated on the settee by the hearth. She was clearly blooming--it seemed that being with child agreed with her. Her sisters Pearl and Pervinca were listening to her as she discussed the possibilities for names for the baby.

"If it's a lad, it will be named after Milo's great-great-great-grandfather Togo. But we are really having trouble with a lasses' name. Milo and I are agreed: no 'P' names! We will leave those for Pippin, when he marries and has children. The baby will be a Goodbody after all. We want a flower name--the problem is *which* flower. So many of the best ones are taken!"

" 'Aster'," said Pearl.

"Too common," answered Pimpernel.

" 'Hibiscus'," offered Pervinca.

Pimmie shook her head. "Too fancy. It's going to be a Yule baby, so there's not much in bloom that time of year…"

"How about 'Snowdrop'?" asked Pearl.

Pimmie pursed her lips. "I don't think so."

Frodo walked over and greeted the Took sisters. "You are looking very well, Pimmie."

"Thank you, Frodo."

"I couldn't help but hear your discussion. Why should it be any particular flower? 'Blossom' is a lovely name, as is 'Flora'."

"Hmm…'Blossom'? I'm not sure…but, you have given me an idea or two, Frodo."

In the corner, Milo was talking with his mother Dianthus Goodbody, a close friend of Eglantine Took. "Yes, mother, we will be moving into our own set of apartments at the end of Afterlithe. Pimmie and her mother are having them painted and redecorated, and one of the rooms outfitted as a nursery…"

A peal of laughter from the settee caught Frodo's ear, as the sisters began to suggest more and more outrageous names.

" 'Lithodora'," said Pearl.

" 'Calibrachoa'," giggled Pervinca.

" 'Cabbage'," grinned Pearl.

" 'Turnip-blossom'," laughed Pimpernel helplessly.

"Just so long," said Frodo, arching one eyebrow mischievously, "as you don't name her 'Lobelia'."

At that, nearly everyone in the room burst into laughter.

22 Halimath, S.R. 1416

Pimpernel looked out of the window crossly. It was a cold and grey day, more fitting to Blotmath than to Halimath*, but it suited her cold and grey mood. She placed one hand over her rounded stomach, and shook her head. She was feeling quite sorry for herself.

She looked about the new apartment--it still smelled of new paint, though not as strongly as at first it had. She had needed to return to her parent's apartment for two weeks as the paint smell dissipated, for it had made her feel quite ill.

Moving away from the window, with its depressing view of drizzle, she turned to the new nursery. It was cheerful and colorful. The beautiful cradle of oak that was an heirloom of the Tooks had been refinished, and gleamed golden, and it was dressed in a beautiful knitted blanket of palest green and yellow. Aunt Primrose had knitted the blanket. There was a yellowish cast to the paint on the walls. Her sister Pervinca had painted leaves and vines around the windows and doorframes, and gauzy white curtains hung at the windows. It was all very nice.


Here she was, all alone. The rest of the family had gone to Hobbiton for Frodo's Birthday, but it simply wasn't on for her to travel so far right now. And Milo had not gone without her, but he *had* gone into town for some reason.

She sighed.


It was Milo. "I picked up the post while I was in town," he said. He had two parcels, one of them rather small. "I knew my mother was sending this."

Curiously, she took the first one he proffered, the larger one. It was addressed to her in her mother-in- law's elegant hand. She pulled the brown paper away.

"Oh Milo!" Her eyes pricked with tears, as she held up the tiny garment, of white lawn and lace.

"It was my Naming Day gown, and my sister's after me," he said.

"It's beautiful!" She looked at the tiny stitches, the white-on-white embroidery, the perfect little tucks at the bodice and hem.

"You had another parcel as well, my love," he said.

"Is that from your mother also?"

He shook his head, and handed it to her.

She looked at the address. "Why, it's from Cousin Frodo!" Eagerly she pulled the paper away, to reveal a letter and a small box. Opening the box, she gasped. There, on a fine gold chain, was an enamel pendant of her nameflower.

Milo grinned at her. "Should I be jealous of Cousin Frodo?" he asked teasingly.

She laughed, and handed him the necklace, reaching up to pull her hair away from her neck. Obligingly, he fastened it for her. Then she took up the letter, written in Frodo's graceful script:

"My dear Cousin Pimpernel,

I was so sorry to hear that you would be unable to attend my Party this year. But I am very glad of the reason. However, I could not allow this gift to go to waste, even though you are farther away than twelve miles.

Affectionately yours,

Cousin Frodo"

Pimpernel giggled, all her good humor restored. "This was very thoughtful of Cousin Frodo," she said. "He could have simply sent the package home with my parents." She smiled up at her husband. "I am still a bit sorry to be missing the party."

Milo leaned over to kiss her gently. "I'm not. I'd much rather be alone with you." He placed an arm around her, and she leaned into his embrace.

She left her head against his shoulder for a moment, and then looked up. "Oh! Look! The Sun is coming out!"

27 Blotmath, S.R. 1416

Merry entered his parent's apartment--it was time for elevenses, and yet for him it would be first breakfast. He'd been out a bit late the night before, and was rather tired. It had not been nearly the fun it would have been. As it was, he'd nursed one ale all evening while his cousins Berilac and Merimas, had made themselves more than a little tipsy. Of course, he had the satisfaction of knowing that however sleepy he might be, he wouldn't be nursing a sore head as they would be this morning.

It was not that he regretted his pact with Pippin, not to get drunk without him (and he would make that promise again in a heartbeat) but it was not a lot of fun to be sober when everyone else was at the silly stage. Jokes that seemed hilarious when one was flown with ale seemed to have no point at all when one was sober.

Well, Pip would be along for Yule soon enough, and Frodo as well.

"You missed both breakfasts, son," his mother said with mild reproach as he entered the small private dining room.

He shrugged, said "I'm sorry, Mum," as he headed for the teapot on the sideboard. It looked as though there were seedcakes and sweet buns for elevenses--he would have preferred to have broken his fast with something a bit more substantial, but he'd needed the sleep as well.

Saradoc looked at him in amusement. "And what time did you get in?"

Merry chuckled ruefully. "I think it must have been after three o' clock when I poured Beri and Snub into their beds." "Snub" was Merimas; he had a greater share of the distinctive Brandybuck nose than most.

"You have letters," his father said, handing him the post.

One was from Frodo, and he opened and read it eagerly. Frodo confirmed his plans to be in Buckland two weeks before Yule, so that they could have a good visit--his fall visit had not materialized this year, as there had been some business in Hobbiton Frodo could not escape.

"I had hoped that perhaps Gandalf would pay a visit this year; however it seems very unlikely. I did get a letter from him, saying that he had seen Uncle Bilbo, and that he is well. It has been so long since we have had a visit from the wizard--I had begun to wonder if he had not forgot about the Shire completely. 

I've had the second pantry enlarged--so next spring you and Pippin shan't have to worry about my running out of provisions." Merry gave a bark of laughter at that. As if Frodo ever would.

"The Gaffer had a particularly bad flair-up of his rheumatics last week, and I gave Sam a few days off to assist Marigold in tending to him. And the Widow Rumble has been a bit distressed that her old cat has gone missing. I am very much afraid the poor old thing has gone off to die somewhere--he's quite ancient for a cat.

I've been working on a bit of history to do with the settling of the Shire, so I will look forward to seeing the library at the Hall once more. Brandy Hall's library may not be so large as that of the Great Smials, but it has some volumes that are very old and rare, with information I've not found elsewhere."

Merry shook his head. He was not going to allow Frodo to spend his whole visit immured in the library!

At any rate, Merry, I'm looking forward to seeing you very much. Please give my love and regards to Aunt Esme and Uncle Sara!



Merry looked up from the letter. "Frodo sends his love," he said. Then he opened Pippin's letter. It was short, as he expected, but the news was *not* what he expected.

"Dear Merry,

I don't look likely to come for Yule this year. It looks as though Pimmie's baby will make its appearance right at the turning of the year, and I just can't be gone when that happens.

I hope you understand.



Well. *That* was unexpected. And yet, it wasn't. Several of Pippin's brief but frequent letters this fall had to do with his sister's coming confinement, and more to the point, Pippin's impending uncle-hood. The lad had quite an enthusiasm for the event, and was excited and worried by turns. But Merry had not really thought it would keep him from coming at Yule, and for a few seconds he indulged himself in ill-temper and a bit of unbecoming jealousy.

But his good nature reasserted itself quickly. Of course Pippin was excited over being an uncle, and was worried for his sister. And Merry was very fond of Pimpernel himself. He chuckled ruefully--how silly he was, to be jealous of a wee babe who was not even born yet!

Would it be a lad or a lass? he wondered. Perhaps after Yule, he'd accompany Frodo back to Bag End, and they could both go to the Great Smials and meet the new addition to the family.

First Yule, S.R. 1416

It's taking forever! Pippin thought. He sat down once more, right at the edge of the settee, his ears strained for the sounds behind the closed door between the sitting room and the bedroom. He heard another heart-felt moan from his sister, and jumped up again, pacing to the window to look out at the clear night. It had been *hours* and *hours*. In a few moments it would be midnight, and Second Yule.

He bit his lip, and went over to the hearth, where he picked up the poker, and jabbed at the fire, causing sparks to fly up the chimney, and the log to break in two. He reached down and placed a new one on the fire.

"Pippin!" Paladin too, was anxious, and Pippin's fidgeting was getting on his nerves.

"Sorry, Father." He went over and sat down once more, still tightly wound, and ready to spring up again at any moment. "Why can't *we* go in and see her?"

"Son, the only male who needs to be in there is Pimmie's husband. She would not even take notice of us! And Mistress Poppy has all the help she needs, between your mother, and Milo's mother, and Pearl and Pervinca and her apprentice." Paladin sighed. "They would all only yell at us to 'get out!' and rightfully so."

"I suppose." He got up again. It was Yule. He *could* have been at Brandy Hall with Merry and Frodo. Pimmie had told him that he needn't feel obliged to be here when she gave birth--had found it rather amusing that he thought he needed to be. But good heavens! a chap didn't become an uncle for the first time every day.

Now, however, he found himself wishing he had listened. It was awful, this waiting about, and every so often hearing his sister cry out. If it was so painful, it made him wonder why lasses ever wanted to have babies. It's a wonder there were ever any new little hobbits!

A few hours earlier, he'd gone with his father to the main hall, for the lighting of the Yule log. They'd not stayed for the festivities--the Tooks understood why. All the Great Smials were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Thain's first grandchild.

Pippin winced, as he heard Pimmie giving another groan.

The door to the sitting room opened, and he looked over in relief to see his Aunts Primrose and Peridot enter. Auntie Prim went over to her brother, and she and Paladin conversed in low tones. Aunt Peridot came over and stood by him. She gave him a little kiss on the cheek.

"Is everything all right, Pippin?" she asked gently.

"I don't know," said Pippin. "It seems to be taking ever so long! I hate this waiting about!"

She smiled at him. "I've an idea, my dear." She walked over to the shelves near the fireplace, and picked up her lap harp, and Pippin's fiddle and bow.

Pippin's face brightened at the thought of music, and she handed the fiddle to him. In only a few moments they were playing "Light the Yule Log", and followed it by "No Shorter Now Will Grow the Days", "Wassail, Wassail" and other seasonal tunes. Pippin felt himself relax as he made music with his aunt.

Just as they were finishing "It is the Turning of the Year", they heard another sharp cry from the bedroom, followed by the lusty wail of a baby.

Pippin stopped playing and grinned. The door opened, and his mother came out, looking tired but happy.

"It's a lass!" she said.

There was much cheering in the sitting room. Paladin turned to Pippin. "Son, would you like to go make the announcement in the main hall?"

Nodding, Pippin dashed out and ran all the way.

After the cheering and back-slapping had died down, he returned wearily to the family apartments, where most everyone was now in the sitting room except for Milo. Pervinca was asleep in a chair, and on the settee, Paladin had his arm about an exhausted Eglantine. He looked up as Pippin came in.

"Would you like to meet your new niece, son?" He gestured to the other room with his chin.

Almost shyly, Pippin tapped at the door, and entered diffidently at Milo's greeting. Pimmie lay in the bed looking pale and a bit disheveled, but happy, with a blanket-wrapped bundle in her arms. Milo, who had been sitting at the edge of the bed stood up.

"Come and meet little Flora, Pippin," he said softly.

Pippin went over to the bed, and Pimmie pulled back the blanket. He looked at the tiny red face, topped with a few downy reddish-gold curls. No doubt they would darken soon enough.

His sister smiled at him. "I heard your playing, through the door. It really helped, and made me feel better, Pip."

He smiled at her, gratified. "Did it? I'm ever so glad, Pimmie, if it did."

"Would you like to hold her?"

Pippin nodded, and Milo bent over and picked up his daughter, placing her carefully in Pippin's arms.

Pippin smiled down at the sleeping little one. "Happy Yule, Flora."

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