Merry sat hunched in front of his desk; Estella recognised the look as she set down the tea tray. Placing her hands on either side of his neck, she massaged the tight muscles. He looked up with a smile. 'Thank you, my love,' he murmured.

'You are working too hard again, beloved,' she replied. 'It is time to take some tea.'

He pushed himself back from the desk, rubbing the back of his neck with one hand, then stretching.

'It is just so frustrating,' he said.

'What is?' his wife asked gently. 'You've done so much already... I thought the writing was going well.' She looked at the page before him. 'Athelas... kingsfoil... that is what King Elessar uses, isn't it?' She bent to circle him in a sudden fierce hug. 'That is what brought you back safe... to me.'

He patted her arm. 'It's all right, love. But it would be nice to keep breathing.' She relaxed her grip slightly, then bent to nibble his ear.

He turned his face to hers with a chuckle. 'The writing may be going well, but it won't be going at all if you keep doing that!'

She released him with a low laugh of her own, but as she pulled away to pour out his tea, he took hold of her hand to leave a kiss in the palm.

She fixed the tea to his liking and brought him the cup, nicely decorated with two delicate biscuits perched upon the saucer. She looked at the work again. 'What's frustrating? It looks perfectly lovely to me! I'm sure it will be the best read book on herblore in the history of the Shire.'

He sighed and rubbed the back of his neck again. 'Best written, perhaps,' he joked, 'at least, listening to you one would think so. But I doubt anybody will read it. 'Tis a good thing I write for my own pleasure.'

'Nobody read it! How can you say such a thing?'

He took a sip of tea, devoured one of the dainty biscuits in a single bite, shook his head. 'They're not reading it now,' he said, turning back to the keyboard. 'Not a single review today. And the latest chapter's been up since the weekend.'

She kissed the back of his neck. 'Just you wait until I get back online, I'll leave you a review that will knock your socks off.'

'Hobbits don't wear socks,' he said absently as he began to type again, immediately absorbed in the work once more.

She smiled as she freshened his tea, gently kissed the top of his head, and crept from the room.