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The Purple Path  by Dreamflower

B2MeM Prompt and Path: Purple path; Prompt-- Inclement weather (Square 12)
Format: Short story
Genre: Family, Friendship, Fluff (My favorite three "Fs"!)
Rating: G
Warnings: n/a
Characters: Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Bilbo
Pairings: n/a
Creator’s Notes (optional): The set of figures referenced in this story can be found in my first chapter of A Mother's Work
I use the two-thirds ratio of aging for hobbits. Pippin is 7, Merry is 15, Sam is 17 and Frodo is 29 (The physical maturity of a child from the Race of Men of 5, 9, 11, and 18.)
Summary: Young Merry and Pippin are visiting Bag End, and face a dark and stormy morning.

Rainy Day at Bag End

Merry stared morosely out of the window in his guest room at Bag End. It was pouring down rain, not simply a gentle garden-blessing rain, but a downpour complete with window rattling thunder and cracks of jagged lightning. So much for plans to go to Hobbiton with Pippin and Frodo. He heard Pippin pad up beside him and sigh.

He looked down at his little cousin. "I know Pip! I don't think we'll be taking a stroll into town to visit the shops today." He tried not to sound too unhappy. Pip was only seven and would take disappointment hard. At fifteen, Merry had to set a good example, after all.

Pippin took his hand. "That's all right, Merry. I guess we'll find something else to do, anyhow."

Merry had no chance to answer, because just then came the call that cheers up any young hobbit.

"Breakfast!" came Frodo's voice down the hallway. "Stir yourselves up, lads. I've griddlecakes and fresh strawberries and bacon!"

The two lads perked up at once, and grabbing their dressing gowns, they raced to the kitchen. Pippin still had only one arm in his when they came through the door to the warmth of the kitchen, and Merry stopped him to untangle him and get his arm through. Frodo looked on fondly, shaking his head.

"Where's Bilbo?" Merry asked, as he picked Pippin up and plomped him down in his chair at the kitchen table.

"He's sleeping in this morning, as he was up late last night working on translating that poem Lord Elrond sent him from Rivendell. He said not to get him up before elevenses!"

As Merry saw the meal was nearly ready, he busied himself setting the table for the three of them, pouring cups of tea for himself and Frodo, and a cup of cold milk from the larder for Pippin. Just as Frodo was setting the platter of griddlecakes on the table he looked angrily out the window at the back garden. Merry was alarmed as Frodo placed the dish down with a clatter and quickly strode over to open the door, letting in a blast of cool damp air.

Merry turned to see what the problem was. Frodo stuck his head out the door. "Samwise Gamgee! What on EARTH are you doing out there in this kind of weather? You get in here this minute!"

In just a moment, a dripping wet Sam showed himself shame-facedly at the door. Frodo pulled him inside by the arm. "You are likely to catch your death of cold, Sam! What would the Gaffer say if you got laid up with lung fever?"

Sam hung his head. "He'd say as I was a Tom-fool wooly-headed tween, since that's what he said when I left the hole this morning. He said as I didn't need to check the garden today, that Mr. Bilbo wouldn't mind. But, Mr. Frodo, them seedlings as I planted a couple weeks ago, I just had to see how they was faring..."

Frodo was roughly toweling down the soaking gardener with a kitchen towel, muttering under his breath about "...too conscientious for his own good...not enough sense to come in out of the rain..."

Merry piped up to distract Frodo. "Well, Sam, how were they faring?"

Sam was glad for the interruption. "Well the cabbages and radishes looked just fine, but the poor little carrots and lettuces are all beat down; I'll likely have to re-seed them." He looked sad; he hated it when that happened.

Frodo shook his head. "You stand right there for a moment, Sam. I'll be right back. Merry, pour him a cup of hot tea and set him a place at the table." Shaking his head, Frodo left the kitchen.

Merry handed the teacup to Sam where he stood. He chuckled at the look on Sam's face. "He doesn't scold you often, does he?"

Sam gave a rueful half-smile. "Only when he thinks I've done aught to hurt meself, Master Merry."

"Well, you know, it is kind of raining right now."

Sam finally laughed. "I guess I deserved it, seeing as I went against the Gaffer to come up here anyhow."

Pippin, who had been watching with eyes wide as saucers, for he'd never even seen Frodo so much as mildly cross with Sam before, piped up. "I'm glad you came, Sam! Now we'll have more company, since we have to stay in!"

Sam grinned at the little Took's enthusiasm. "Why, thank you, Master Pippin! It's good to see you so cheerful!"

Frodo came in just then with an armload: a large towel, and several items of clothing. He thrust them at Sam. "I am sorry for shouting, Sam, but I should hate for you to get ill," he said. "Now, you go to the bathing room and change your clothes. They're bound to be a bit small as thet are some of Bilbo's old things, but they will fit better than any of mine. Lay your things out to dry in front of the boiler. Then you come back and join us for breakfast!"

Sam hurried to do as he was told, rather than risk Frodo's ire again. As he left the room, Merry cheerfully added, "And do hurry before the griddle cakes get cold."

The gardener was back in almost no time at all (Bilbo's garments more or less fitting, being only too short in the sleeves and at the knees), and the four young hobbits sat down to a long drawn out first breakfast that kept going right into second breakfast. They entertained themselves with hobbity gossip of the goings on in Brandy Hall and the Great Smials and Hobbiton. Pippin had them all gasping with laughter as he described how one of the chickens at Whitwell had decided his sister Pimpernel was its mother, and followed her around wherever she went. "She can't shake it whenever she goes outside it comes running right up to her. Papa teases Pimmie, and says the chicken is his grand-daughter. She gets so mad that her face turns purple and her eyes bulge out like this..." and he made a horrific face that almost made Sam spit out his tea for laughing. Though their conversation was punctuated by the sound of wind, rain and thunder, they scarcely noticed it.

Finally, they finished filling up the corners and amiably did the washing up together, Pippin's task being limited to drying the silverware, and they were finished.

"Why don't we go into the parlour," said Frodo, "and I'll tell you stories of Bilbo's Adventure!"

Frodo had barely begun to tell of the Battle of Five Armies, when he stopped suddenly. "I've an idea! I shan't just tell the story! Merry--pop into my room and get the wooden box from under my bed. Those armies have not seen the light for many years, and I don't believe Sam or Pippin have ever made their acquaintance!"

Merry grinned, and rushed to do Frodo's bidding. The two of them had always had so much fun with those old toys!

Soon he came back with a fairly good-sized wooden box and handed it to Frodo, who opened it, and held it so that Sam and Pippin could see inside. It was a set of little figures with which to re-enact Bilbo's Adventure, or create a child's own adventures. Originally, it had included only a hobbit, a wizard, thirteen Dwarves, three trolls, a mechanical Dragon, that would flap its wings and roar when the little key in its back was wound up, and about a dozen each of Elves and goblins. In the years since Bilbo had first gifted nine-year-old Frodo with it, Bilbo had sent more Elves and goblins, some Men, including a bowman, some Spiders and wolves and a few Eagles on sticks, that flapped their wings when the sticks were pulled. His final gift had been a bear, a large one, to represent Beorn. That had come the year he turned fourteen.

Pretty soon the four hobbits had the figures all set up and they began to fight the battle. Pippin wanted to change the story so that Thorin and Fili and Kili didn't die. It took them a while to figure out how to accomplish that, but finally settled on having the Eagles snatch them away from the battle at the last second. Merry decided that Bilbo did not get knocked on the head either, and used Sting to slay several goblins. Sam thought he didn't like changing the story from the way it happened, but he didn't say anything about it.

They were quite absorbed in their play that they were startled when Bilbo stuck his head in the room. "Frodo! You didn't wake me!"

Frodo turned his head to the clock on the mantel. It was a quarter past noon! "I'm sorry, Bilbo! We lost track of time!"

"Well, I'm going to whip up a quick meal--whether it's late elevenses or early luncheon, I'm not sure. Put these things away for now, and get ready to eat."

Pippin might have protested, but his tummy gave a growl, and he realised he was hungry. "I missed elevenses!" he said, surprised.

Frodo and Merry made quick work of stowing the toys back into their box, and Sam and Pippin followed Bilbo into the kitchen to help him prepare a platter of bread, cheeses and fresh fruit.

As they ate, Pippin gladly exclaimed, "I'm so glad it rained! We had lots of fun this morning!"

"Look!" said Merry, pointing out the window. "The rain's stopped and the Sun is shining!


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