Signs
Author: Permilea
Rating: G
Characters: Frodo, Pippin
Category: General
Status: Complete, but might become a proper fic someday.
Archive: For this bit of fluff?
Summary: A moment between cousins after a disastrous tea with the Sackville-Bagginses. Ficlet. Pre-quest.
Disclaimer: Middle-earth and its denizens belong to the Tolkien Estate.

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~Bag End, 1396 S.R. ~

"It wasn't MY fault," Pippin said, indignant. Frodo bit his lip and hugged him closer, bracing his feet and back against the walls of the window seat.

"Tell me about it then," he said, trying (and failing) to keep his voice from quivering. Pippin's eyes narrowed and he poked Frodo in the chest.

"It wasn't! It was meant."

"It was 'meant' that you would hide a frog in Bilbo's sugar bowl?" Frodo asked lightly. Pippin squirmed. Frodo settled him more firmly in his lap, and continued. "And that the frog would jump into Lobelia's cup when she lifted the lid, and she'd get tea sprayed all over her best lace front?"

Pippin looked up, mouth firmly shut, its corners drawn down. Frodo's own mouth twitched and he tapped him on the nose. "Well?"

Pippin's curly head nodded emphatically.

"It was. The sheep said so."

Frodo blinked. "The…sheep?" He looked involuntarily out the window into the falling dusk.  Hollyhocks and climbing roses blocked part of his view of the smials of Bag End Row and the party field, but he knew Bilbo let the Widow Rumble pasture a few of the woolly creatures here and there along the Hill.

"Yes. Three in a row baa-ed at me. And that was after I found the kitten with the different-colored eyes. But I wanted to be very sure, so after I caught the frog, I told myself I'd do it only if Daddy Twofoot bought something from the rag-and-bones hobbit, and he did, and you know he never does, and so I knew it was meant."

"I see," sighed Frodo.

"And so I did it. I don't know why everyone is so mad at me." Pippin scowled, quite put out. "It was just a little frog. It wouldn't have happened if Mrs. Sackville-Baggins wasn't always so mean to you! I could tell you knew all about my frog and that's why you took the sugar first, but then she grabbed the bowl away from you. She deserved to get splattered," he insisted when Frodo's eyebrows rose.

"What about Bilbo? Your frog made a horrible mess, Peregrin Took! Lobelia will probably not speak to us for months." Pippin stifled a giggle, and Frodo hurried on before the wretched Took could say anything about how he knew Frodo wouldn't mind that at all. "Bilbo will mind terribly if Mrs. Gamgee can't get the stains out of the carpet. Also," he added, thinking of something that might just make his heedless cousin think twice next time, "that was a very nice apple-cherry crumble and we didn't get any of it."

"Oh!" cried Pippin, and he sat bolt upright, eyes wide and dismayed. Frodo's triumphant smirk became an undignified squawk when the boy's knees dug into his stomach. "I forgot! That's your favorite, with sweet whipped cream and everything! I'm sorry, Frodo."

"That's all right, but move, you bony Took!" Frodo gasped, and shoved him off. Pippin immediately clambered back into his lap, face scrunched up in thought. Frodo sighed, and warily helped him settle into place again. Curling up against him, Pippin fiddled with one of the buttons on his cousin's waistcoat.

"Frodo, we didn't get anything else to eat, either. And that's not so bad once, but…do I really have to skip dinner too?" Pippin whined, and his head drooped. Frodo wrapped his arms around him and rested his chin on his curls.

"So your father says. Don't worry, no one goes to bed hungry in Bag End. And there's supper, you know."

"But that's hours away." Pippin started to sniffle. "It wasn't my fault! And I lost my frog!" Frodo felt laughter well up inside him again, and he buried his face in Pippin's hair. Oh help. He couldn't let himself laugh when Pippin was on the verge of tears.

"Pippin dear," he said, when his voice was under control again. "Perhaps next time you should ask for a sign to see if you should NOT do something."

Pippin just sniffled.