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A Rocky Beginning to the New Year  by Grey Wonderer

A Rocky Beginning to The New Year

“Middle of nowhere,” Pippin said. “I always thought that was such an odd thing to say.” He looked up at the trees blocking his view of the evening sky and sighed. “I did think that if you were anywhere at all you had to be some place. You can’t really be nowhere, can you? That’s what I thought before we set out on this journey at least. Now, I am starting to think otherwise. You can be nowhere. You just have to travel a bit to get there.”

Sam shook his head as if trying to clear it properly. He wasn’t certain exactly how to reply to whatever it was that Mr. Pippin had just said. Fortunately, Mr. Boromir saved him the trouble.

“*This* is not the middle of nowhere,” Boromir smiled. “Folks pass this way on occasion. I will admit that it is not a well-traveled path to take but it is a way that is known to some. You are not in the middle of nowhere.”

“I might as well be,” Pippin said spinning in a circle as he walked. “I haven’t any idea at all where I am so I might just as well be nowhere at all. If anyone should come up to me and say, “So, where are you now, Pippin?” I’d not have an answer for them. Everywhere I look my eyes are set upon things that I don’t recognize. Are we lost, Boromir?”

“We are not lost,” Boromir said looking stunned by this remark and perhaps, Sam thought, a bit insulted. “We are traveling on a path which will eventually lead us to Minas Tirith or at the very least, it will lead us to another path that will lead us to Minas Tirith. It is my hope that we will all travel there together to my City at some point. There is much to be done and I fear that the time grows short.”

“It does,” Sam murmured softly. He could agree with that assessment of things even if he knew full well that some of them would not be going to Minas Tirith.

Boromir went on as if he hadn’t heard Sam and Sam supposed that he might not have for he had spoken very softly. The big folk didn’t hear as well as hobbits. “You are in the company of skilled travelers who know this country well, Peregrin Took. You are not lost I assure you.”

Pippin had stopped spinning about and was now walking backwards facing Boromir and Sam. “I’m in the middle of nowhere on the eve of the new year,” Pippin said dramatically and then proceeded to back into Merry who was walking just in front of him.

“Pippin, watch were you’re going,” Merry said as he narrowly avoided running into Gimli. He glared at his cousin. “Pay attention, will you?”

Pippin shrugged. “If you think that will help matters. Do you know where we are, Merry?”

“Of course I do,” Merry said. “Well, I know generally speaking at least.”

Sam, Boromir and Pippin all looked at Merry and waited. Merry, looked about as if trying to spot familiar landmarks and said, “It is difficult to tell from the path without a clear view of our surroundings but generally speaking we are between Hollin and Rivendell, Pippin.” Having said that Merry turned around and resumed walking.

“How do you know that?” Pippin demanded hurrying forward to catch up with Merry. Sam noted that Mr. Boromir looked rather impressed with Mr. Merry's knowledge of things.

“You know full well that we were nearly six days out of Rivendell,” Merry said. “Count it up if you doubt me.”

“I may have done but I do tend to lose track of such things,” Pippin frowned. “Every day seems much the same. We sleep, we eat very little, we walk until we are near to falling over and then we sleep again. We don’t even do it in proper order so one loses track of it all. Everything we pass looks much like every other thing that we passed the day before and so I don’t know how you can recall how many days we’ve been walking. And where or just exactly what is Hollin?”

“Hollin is the next place that we shall reach,” Merry said sounding a bit cross. “You should have studied the maps, Pippin. You’d know where we are if you’d taken some time while we were in Rivendell and looked at the maps.”

“You looked. Frodo looked. I am traveling with the two of you and so why should I need to study the maps also?” Pippin asked.

Boromir looked over at Sam who was now walking along at his side and he smiled. The big man was obviously amused by Pippin’s logic. Sam grinned back. He wasn’t too sure of Mr. Boromir but he did think that he might like the man if he had the time to get to know him more. He hadn’t liked all of what Boromir had said at the council in Rivendell but he supposed that most folks were confused when it came to all of this trouble.

“If you should be separated from us then how would you find your way?” Merry asked reasonably. “If, for some reason you made a wrong turn or you lagged behind then how would you locate us again?”

Pippin scowled. “Merry, we aren’t going to be separated. We are all traveling with Frodo and so we shall continue to travel with Frodo. If you and Frodo and Strider know where we are then I can’t get lost, can I?”

“You can,” Merry said flatly. “You could be walking along *backward* and trip and just fall right off the path into nowhere.”

Pippin looked stunned. “Well, someone would notice something like that! If I weren’t here then you’d notice and go back for me. You’d look until you found me. I wouldn’t be lost. I’d just be found is all.”

“Maybe not,” Merry said pleasantly but with a teasing glint in his eye that Sam recognized. “Maybe I’d think you were with Sam or Boromir or Frodo and so I’d not be worried until we were quite far along. It might be hours before I noticed anything amiss.” Merry walked on without looking back.

Pippin stopped in the center of the path. Sam had to stop so as not to run into Mr. Pippin who was blocking the path. Sam saw that Mr. Boromir had stopped too for lack of anything else to do. Merry continued on as if he had not said anything at all alarming.

“You’d miss me!” Pippin called out after a minute and then hurried on to catch Merry. “You’d miss me long before all of that, Meriadoc!”

Boromir chuckled and shook his head. Sam found that he liked the big man more all the time.

When Pippin reached Merry’s side, Merry swung an arm companionably over Pippin’s shoulders and Sam heard him say, “Of course I would, Pippin. I would miss you almost instantly.”

“I thought so,” Pippin replied wrapping an arm about Merry.

They traveled in silence for a while and then Pippin spoke up again. “So it’s the eve before the new year and here we are on the road to Hollin is it?”

“Exactly,” Merry said.

“I don’t suppose that we shall have a proper celebration,” Pippin said wistfully. “We’ve missed first Yule really and now we shall be missing second Yule. How strange it will be not to welcome the New Year.”

“Stranger still that today was first Yule and you didn’t mention it,” Merry said with a sad smile.

“I didn’t know,” Pippin said regretfully. “I was walking about in the middle of no, well, on this road to Hollin and I completely lost track of the time. Happy Yule, Merry.”

“Happy Yule to you also, Pippin,” Merry smiled.

“No mulled wine tonight,” Pippin said.

“No wishes of the new year,” Sam said without thinking and both Boromir and Merry turned to look at him.

“I was just thinkin’ of my family sittin’ around the hearth makin’ wishes for the new year,” Sam said a bit embarrassed that he’d spoken aloud.

“Is that a Shire tradition?” Boromir asked looking interested.

“Not exactly,” Sam said. “My family does it every year but not all of the folk in the Shire celebrate the comin’ of a new year that way. We sit around and make wishes for each other is all.”

“What sort of wishes?” Boromir asked.

“Silly ones mostly,” Sam grinned. “Like we wish for tomatoes the size of a hobbit’s head or we wish that there’s sunshine all day long and rain all night. Nothin’ that no one actually expects to get. It’s just for the fun of it. The bigger and more far-fetched the wish, the more fun it is to imagine.”

Boromir smiled. “We make vows.”

“Vows like in marriage?” Pippin asked turning to face them again and walking backward. Merry took hold of his arm to guide him but didn’t turn him back around.

“No, not like in marriage although some folks do marry on the eve of the new year as a way of starting off their life together in a new year,” Boromir smiled. “No, these are more like lists of things we hope to accomplish in the New Year. A person might wish to do better at his work or to get the courage to ask a certain woman for her hand. Things like that.”

Pippin grinned.

“You might wish to be more studious and look at the maps before leaving on a trip,” Merry said looking over at Pippin.

“And you might wish to be less single-minded and critical,” Pippin said grinning.

“I think I’ll just wish for tomatoes the size of my head,” Sam grinned shyly.

“And mulled wine,” Pippin said. “And a tin of holiday biscuits and maybe some raspberry jam and a plate of warm scones and-“

“Enough of that,” Merry said turning Pippin about to face forward again. “Wishing for what you don’t have to eat will only make you hungrier if that’s possible.”

“It isn’t,” Pippin said as his stomach rumbled. “I’m as hungry as it is possible to be now. Besides, you didn’t tell Sam that he shouldn’t wish for tomatoes the size of his head. Why can’t I wish for a big pot of my mum’s stew?”

“You’ve as much chance of getting that as Sam has of getting his giant tomatoes,” Merry sighed. “That’s exactly why you shouldn’t mention it again.”

“Place a smooth stone beneath the foot of your bed tonight and wish on it,” Gimli said over his shoulder.

“Do what?” Pippin asked interested. He quickened his pace so that he was now walking along side of the dwarf.

“At the eve of the new year we dwarves make a wish on a smooth stone,” Gimli explained loud enough so that all behind him might hear. “We search out the perfect stone all year for the wish.”

“Why not just make one out of a likely piece of rock?” Merry asked practically.

“Nay, that won’t work young hobbit,” Gimli said with a twinkle in his eye. “You have to find the stone and it must be the smoothest stone that you can find in nature. It can’t have been worked or carved. It has to be a stone that you find. Any dwarf can make a smooth stone. You have to find one for the wish to come true.”

“Like a smooth stone from the bed of a river?” Merry asked curious now.

“Aye, that’s the very sort,” Gimli smiled. “You hold the stone tightly in your hands and make your wish just before you go to sleep then you place the stone in your shoe at the foot of your bed.”

“I haven’t any shoes,” Pippin objected looking disappointed.

Gimli spluttered a bit, looked decidedly confused as to what he might say and then frowned. “Well, I don’t know if it would work if you only put the stone underneath the foot of the bed or not. I never did run into this sort of situation before. All dwarves have shoes.”

“I don’t even have a bed at the moment but I could borrow a shoe,” Pippin said brightly. “You could loan me one of yours. You only need one to make your wish, don’t you?”

Gimli blinked, wrinkled his brow, and then said, “That might well work. I suppose I could let you use one of my boots.”

“Splendid! Merry, you need to borrow a shoe,” Pippin said energetically.

“Can Merry use one of your shoes, Boromir?” Pippin asked before Merry could speak. “And we’ll need a shoe for Sam too! Of course Boromir can’t lend both of you shoes or he’ll not have one for his own wish.” Pippin frowned.

“But we don’t make wishes with shoes in Minas Tirith,” Boromir objected.

“You aren’t in Minas Tirith,” Pippin grinned. “Ask Merry and he’ll tell you. You’re on the way to Hollin. I’ll get a shoe from Strider for Sam and then one from Legolas or Gandalf for Frodo.” Pippin hurried forward through the group.

“Pippin, not Gandalf!” Merry cautioned.

“He wouldn’t,” Gimli whispered looking worried.

“Of course he would. He’s Pippin,” Merry sighed.

From further up the row of walkers they heard the wizard saying, “You want to put a stone in my boot?”

Sam squeezed his eyes shut and groaned.

“At some point on this journey Gandalf just may forget that Pippin is rather important to Frodo and Pippin may be sorry about that,” Merry said with a long-suffering sigh.

“What now?” Boromir asked.

“Find a nice flat stone,” Merry smiled. “You’ll need it. Pippin seems to be gathering shoes for all of us.”

Boromir, Sam, and Merry began to scan the ground for likely stones. “Aren’t you wishin’ for nothin’ this year, Mr. Gimli?” Sam asked noticing that the dwarf was not looking for stones.

“I have my stone,” Gimli smiled patting his pocket. “I’ll use the same one that I’ve used the past three years. It’s brought me luck, lad.”

Sam smiled. It was strange to think of the customs of other races. He’d never given it much thought before now. In fact, other than wondering about the elves, Sam realized that he’d never considered the customs of other folks. It was only right that dwarves had a custom involving stones. They did set a great store by stonework. Sam didn’t know that he was terrible anxious to borrow someone’s footwear but he suspected that Mr. Pippin’s enthusiasm for the notion would win the day on that score. Sam would likely be sticking his hand into a smelly old boot before the night was out. He’d done stranger things on this journey.

Pippin was gone for a rather long time but when he returned he seemed pleased with himself. “I have shoes for everyone,” he announced in a breathless tone. “You’ll have to explain it all to everyone, Gimli.”

“I will,” Gimli nodded. “Now, you will need to find a stone young hobbit.”

“Oh,” Pippin looked surprised. “I was so worried about the shoes that I forgot about the stones.” He leaned forward and began to scan the ground as he walked. He soon ran into Legolas who kept both of them from falling. “Do you have your stone?” Pippin asked the elf.

“Elves do not make such wishes,” Legolas said rather formally.

“Everyone else is doing it,” Pippin said. “Hobbits don’t do that either but we’ve borrowed shoes for it. I’m looking for my stone right now.”

“I will help you to find a stone then,” Legolas agreed. Sam thought that was a very clever way that Mr. Legolas had of keeping from agreeing to take part in the wishing.

Pippin walked with Legolas until they made camp.

Frodo walked over to Sam and Merry and smiled. “Did you both find stones?” Mr. Frodo was looking rather cheerful just now.

“I did,” Merry said. “You?”

“I have a nice one that Strider spotted,” Frodo said. “What about you, Sam?”

“I found three and I’m goin’ to have to decide on which is the luckiest one,” Sam said enjoying Mr. Frodo’s light mood.

“Boromir, are you wishing also?” Frodo asked looking over at the big man.

For an answer Boromir held out a stone on the palm of his hand for the hobbits to inspect. “I trust that Pippin found one,” Boromir said as the hobbits admired his own selection.

“He did,” Frodo said. “He spotted one just to the side of the path and Legolas retrieved it for him.” Sam noticed that Mr. Frodo had that look he gets when there’s more to be said but he isn’t sayin’ it.

Mr. Merry must have noticed the look too because he spoke up then. “What’s wrong with Pippin’s stone?”

“Nothing that I could see,” Frodo smiled.

“Frodo, there’s something wrong,” Merry prodded.

“No, I don’t think so,” Frodo said. “It’s a smooth stone and it’s flat and it’s very nice really.”

“But?”

“That is all I’m saying, Merry,” Frodo grinned. “You’ll see and so will Pippin.”

Sam watched as Mr. Merry walked off in search of his younger cousin and Mr. Frodo leaned over to Sam and said, “Don’t get rid of those extras that you have, Sam. Someone may need one.”

Sam nodded. He noticed that Mr. Boromir was looking curiously at Mr. Frodo but Sam suspected that the big man was too polite to ask what might be going on.

As Sam prepared their evening meal he heard Mr. Strider talking to Mr. Gandalf. Sam didn’t like to listen in but since Mr. Strider was only joking with the wizard Sam supposed it wouldn’t hurt nothin’. He kept his head down so he’d look busy and tried not to laugh.

“I most certainly did not give Peregrin leave to use one of my shoes,” Gandalf was saying. “That Took is not putting rocks into my boots.”

“That’s a shame,” Mr. Strider was saying. “I should think wishing on a smooth stone and placing it into the shoe of an actual wizard would increase the chances of your wish coming true.”

Sam shivered a bit as the old wizard looked directly at Mr. Strider and said, “If you should suggest any such notion to that hobbit or any other hobbit you will live to regret your actions.”

As Gandalf strode off, Sam watched and Mr. Strider actually looked back at Sam and winked. Sam grinned shyly. He supposed a good ranger always had to know who was listening. Sam would have to be more careful from now on.

For some reason Gandalf let them have a small fire that evening and he actually seemed rather cheerful. Sam was just finishing has bit of supper when Mr. Merry spoke up. “Since it is nearly the New Year and we are all here together I think we should each share a custom with the others. We probably can’t do all of them but it would be interesting to know how other folks spend their second Yule.”

“Second Yule?” Boromir asked curiously.

“Oh, that is what we hobbits call the first day of the New Year,” Merry said informatively. “First Yule is the last day of the year and Second Yule is the first day of the New Year. What do you call it?”

“We simply call it the beginning of the new year,” Boromir said looking a bit distressed that it wasn’t a more impressive title for the holiday.

“How do you celebrate it?” Merry asked. "You did mention that you resolve to do better in the new year but what other things might you do?"

“We raise a glass in toast,” Boromir said smiling at his own memories. “We toast the coming new year in the hopes that it will be good for all.”

“We can do that one,” Pippin said eagerly. “We’ll have to use water but we can toast the New Year like they do in Gondor.”

“We can use this,” Strider smiled. He reached into his pack and pulled out a flask. “There should be enough for all.”

“What is it?” Frodo asked curiously.

“I took the liberty of bringing some wine from Elrond’s home,” Strider said. “I meant it to be for emergencies but perhaps a toast will do us all good and hearten us so that we may face the journey ahead.”

“I think that’s a splendid idea,” Merry said brightly.

“And Boromir can offer the toast since it is his custom,” Pippin said.

Sam noticed that Mr. Boromir looked a bit reluctant but at the same time Sam did think that he was pleased to be asked. When every had a small cup filled with the Elvin wine they all looked at Boromir. The man cleared his throat and lifted his cup. “May prosperity and plenty visit your homes in this new year. May your homes be blessed with the joyful sounds of family and friends and may you want for nothing!”

Everyone drank. Sam allowed himself to savour the wine and did not gulp it down quickly. He preferred ale but this wine might be the last that they had for some time. He didn’t know what might lay ahead in their journey but he was certain that wishes and wine would not make it go easy for them. He was just finishing his wine when Mr. Merry spoke again. “Sam, what was that about impossible wishes that your family does?”

Sam blushed to find himself the center of attention but he said, “It’s not a real Shire custom, Mr. Merry. It’s more of a Gamgee custom. We just sit around the hearth and we wish a silly or impossible wish for each other.”

“The wishes aren’t for yourself then?” Frodo asked.

“No, I wish for something grand for my sister, Marigold and then she wishes for something grand for our sister, Daisy and so on,” Sam said. “Don’t none of us expect the wishes to come true. It’s just a game.”

“Go ahead then, Sam and show us,” Frodo suggested.

Maybe it was that tiny bit of Elvin wine that made Sam feel brave enough to do it but he found himself saying, “I wish that Mr. Gimli’s beard grows ten feet this New Year!”

The dwarf laughed to be the recipient of Sam’s wish and he stood and bowed. “And it may for my folk are known to grow impressive beards.” Everyone, even Legolas, who Sam had noticed didn’t seem to like Mr. Gimli much, laughed. “Now, is it my turn to wish?” Gimli asked looking at Sam.

Sam nodded and listened in amusement as Mr. Gimli said, “I wish that young Meriadoc would find that his pipe was ever filled with fine pipe weed this year and that it would never need refilling.”

“Thank you, Gimli!” Merry grinned. “That is a splendid wish indeed.” Merry looked around the circle and his eyes fell on Boromir and he said, “I wish that the White City of Minas Tirith would welcome Boromir home in the new year as a hero and they would shower him with gifts and wealth.”

Boromir rose to his feet and bowed to Merry and then he looked at Frodo. For an instant Sam thought that Mr. Boromir was feeling a bit uncomfortable and then that passed and Mr. Boromir said, “I wish that Frodo will find a lovely hobbit lass in the New Year and they will marry and have many fine sons and daughters.”

Now Mr. Frodo was blushing and Merry and Pippin were laughing. “It might well happen,” Mr. Frodo was saying but Sam could see a trace of sadness in Mr. Frodo’s eyes. For that moment Sam wished that Mr. Boromir would be right.

Frodo stood now and said, “I wish Sam actually would grow tomatoes the size of Strider’s head this summer.”

Everyone laughed and Sam stood up. “As I started then I can’t wish again so someone else will have to go next.

Pippin got to his feet quickly and with a rather sneaky smile he looked over at Gandalf. “I wish that Gandalf would loan me one of his boots for my new year’s wish.”

Sam watched as Mr. Strider laughed helplessly and the wizard wrinkled his brow. Mr. Frodo moved over next to the wizard and whispered something into his ear. Sam noticed that the wizard was now smiling. He waved a hand and said, “Very well. I will grant your new year wish, Peregrin Took.”

Everyone was stunned and poor Mr. Strider looked as if he might choke. Mr. Frodo and Legolas were both looking very smug now and Sam couldn’t figure why.

“I wish that when all of the wishing is completed that Legolas might sing something,” Gandalf said. Sam didn’t want to point out the both Mr. Gandalf and Mr. Pippin had lost the spirit of the thing by wishing for things that they might actually get. Everyone, most especially Mr. Frodo, seemed to be enjoying the wishing so he didn’t think it would do no harm to keep still about it.

“I will do that,” Legolas said formally and he looked over at Pippin and said, “I wish that in this New Year you may find each day exciting and pleasant, Peregrin.”

Mr. Pippin was grinning and Sam suspected that in some small way Mr. Pippin did find each day pleasant. “Thank you, Legolas!” Pippin said. “And Sam, one of us will have to wish a second time because Strider didn’t get a wish.”

“Yes, we are an odd number and so that was bound to happen,” Boromir said.

“Go ahead then, Mr. Pippin and wish something for Mr. Strider,” Sam said. He could tell that Mr. Pippin wanted to be the one to do so.

Pippin grinned. “I wish that Strider were the finest hunter in all of Middle earth and that he would be able to find us more wild game than we could possibly manage to eat daily.”

Everyone laughed and Strider said, “Was that wish for me or for you, Pippin?”

“I think it was for all of us,” Merry pointed out. “And while we wait for your hunting skills to improve I think we should all have a biscuit.” Sam watched as Mr. Merry pulled a tin from his rucksack and stood.

“You have biscuits? I was wishing for biscuits earlier!” Pippin said completely stunned. “How could you have biscuits that I don’t know about?”

“Until today, I have let Gimli carry them in his rucksack,” Merry said. “I didn’t think you’d go poking about in his things.”

Pippin’s mouth fell open. “I do not poke about in your things.”

“Have a biscuit, Pippin,” Merry said extending the tin to Pippin first. “It was very difficult to save them but as I have managed it then have one before I lose control and eat them all.”

Pippin reached into the tin and took a biscuit. “Merry, you are a wonder. Remembering biscuits for the Yule holiday with everything else.”

“It is one of our Shire traditions to feast and I thought we ought to have a bit of cheer if we could,” Merry smiled offering the tin to Boromir who also accepted a biscuit. “I made these in the kitchens in Rivendell one afternoon while all of you were otherwise occupied.”

Sam took a biscuit when the tin was offered around. Mr. Merry was a fine baker if the biscuits were any indication and Mr. Frodo was having such a wonderful time. Sam was very pleased that they had decided to celebrate the New Year.

Legolas sang while they finished their biscuits. Sam didn’t understand one word of it but elves had the most wonderful voices and the song seemed to fill Sam up somehow. He couldn’t explain it really but he was sorry when it was over.

“How do the elves celebrate the new year?” Mr. Merry asked after they’d all had a chance to appreciate the song in silence for a time. Even Mr. Pippin had been quiet.

“To us I am afraid that the coming of the new year holds no tradition other than that which I have just performed,” Legolas said smiling. “We sing songs to welcome in the New Year and to close out the old one.”

“Then I suspect that we should all gather our stones and make our wishes and go to bed,” Gandalf said with an amused look.

“Your wish should be known only to you,” Gimli said and you should hold the stone tightly between your hands while making your wish. It should feel warm against your skin as you put it into your boot or shoe. Then you place your boot at the foot of your bed and go to sleep. You will know in time if you’ve chosen wisely.”

“Some may know sooner than others,” Frodo whispered to Sam.

Sam wondered why Mr. Frodo was so amused but he suspected that he’d learn soon enough. Maybe Mr. Frodo had some kind of prank planned. Mr. Frodo could, from time to time pull off a clever prank if he wanted to.

Everyone got was busy setting out their bedding and the hobbits collected their borrowed shoes. All was quiet but soon everyone’s attention was on Mr. Pippin who was seated on his bedding having retrieved a boot from Gandalf. Sam watched as Mr. Legolas came over and put a very large, flat rock into Mr. Pippin’s lap.

Sam’s eyes widened as Mr. Pippin placed his hands on the rock. It was too big to be thought of as anything other than a rock.

Mr. Merry looked over at Mr. Pippin who slept beside of him and gaped at the rock. “Pippin, that is the biggest stone I’ve seen in some time.”

“I plan to make a big wish and so I thought I’d need a very big stone,” Mr. Pippin explained. Sam noticed that Mr. Frodo was covering his mouth to hide a grin.

“What are you wishing for?” Mr. Merry asked and Sam wondered the same thing.

“If I tell then it won’t come true,” Pippin said. “Gimli said that we each have to keep our wishes to ourselves.”

Merry shrugged and sat down with his own stone and began to concentrate on his wish.

Sam tried to keep his mind on his wish as he clutched his stone but he couldn’t help noticing how amused Mr. Frodo, Mr. Legolas, and Mr. Gandalf looked. All of them were watching Mr. Pippin who had both hands on the top of his rock and both eyes tightly shut. Suddenly it hit Sam why they were all so amused and it was all he could do not to laugh. He saw Mr. Merry drop his stone into the boot that Mr. Boromir had loaned him and he knew.

Pippin struggled to his feet holding the large stone in his hands. Everyone else had made their wish and each of them were now sitting back on their bedding watching as Pippin lugged the huge rock over toward the boot that Gandalf had agreed to loan him. Pippin stood there for a full minute looking down at the boot and then back at the rock while everyone tried not to laugh out loud. Sam watched as Legolas even struggled with a smile.

“Why didn’t someone tell me?” Pippin demanded looking around at them all annoyed.

Frodo and Gandalf were the first to begin laughing and everyone present soon joined them. Pippin blushed furiously and looked down at the rock in his hands. Reluctantly he lowered it to the ground beside of the wizard’s boot. “I never thought about it not fitting into the boot!” he said.

“Oh, Pippin,” Frodo laughed. “Surely you had to know!”

“I was trying to find the proper stone for a very big wish,” Pippin objected. “I didn’t think about the size of the boot while I was at it.”

“You might want to make a smaller wish next new year,” Merry snorted.

“Or find a bigger boot,” Frodo offered between laughs.

“Well that’s no help at all now,” Pippin said sounding very put out with all of them.

Mr. Frodo nudged Sam in the shoulder and whispered. “Now might be a good time to loan Pippin one of your spare wishing stones, Sam.”

Sam nodded. He stood and walked over to Mr. Pippin. Grinning he handed a small flat stone to Mr. Frodo’s young cousin and said, “I have one you can use. I found several.”

Mr. Pippin, still blushing, looked up at Sam and said, “Thank you, Sam.”

Everyone settled down into their bed rolls save for Gimli who was taking the first watch minus his boots. Once Mr. Pippin had got the wizard to agree to loan him his boot Sam had been offered the use of Mr. Gimli's boot. He felt a bit bad that the dwarf would be standing watch without his boots but Sam knew that Gimli didn't mind at all just now. He was too amused by Mr. Pippin's actions. As the dwarf settled in to watch and everyone got quiet, Pippin said, “Legolas, why didn’t you say something when I asked you to help me get that great big stone?”

“I thought that you must know more about dwarf customs than I did,” Legolas said calmly. “I thought you had a plan, Pippin.”

Merry smirked. “He planned on making a very big wish!”

“Laugh all you want but I wishing something for all of us,” Pippin said annoyed.

“That wouldn’t be the wish where Strider becomes able to hunt more game than we can eat would it?” Merry asked quietly though everyone heard him because Sam heard Mr. Gimli chuckle.

“I’m not supposed to tell but if you’ve spoiled it then it’s down to you if we starve,” Mr. Pippin growled. “Not only that but if that was my wish then you’ve spoiled it for Strider.”

“Mr. Pippin?” Sam said unable to keep from grinning. The fire was out now so he didn’t think anyone could see him.

“Yes, Sam?”

“My Gaffer always said that there’s no harm in thinkin’ big as long as you don’t mind fallin’ from a great height if your plans don’t work out,” Sam offered.

“I’ve fallen before,” Mr. Pippin said dryly. “And I still think it might have worked if only Gandalf had bigger feet.”

Sam could hear Mr. Frodo trying to smother his laughter in his blankets and then Mr. Pippin said, “Gandalf, could you-“

“No, Peregrin. I cannot make my shoe any larger. Now go to sleep or join Gimli on watch,” the wizard said.

Sam relaxed into his own blankets. Maybe it was the elvish wine or maybe it was the nice biscuits or the little fire they’d had. Maybe it actually was the dwarf custom of making a New Year's wish. Whatever the reason, Sam was soon fast asleep which only proves that the customs of other folks can work out well for hobbits. Sam had wished for a good night’s sleep and he got one!

The End

GW 01/01/2008





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