These five teensy ficlets have been posted separately on my LiveJournal, but I thought I'd put them together in one place.  They range from pre-Quest to post-Quest, and I hope they all convey minimum angst and maximum love.  Starring:  Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin.

This is a companion piece to "Maybe it's the Accent".

DISCLAIMER:  Of course.  The characters don't belong to me, I just get to think about them day and night.


* The Start of a Beautiful Friendship *

"…and that's when I saw him!" Sam finished excitedly.

"Oh Sam," Frodo cried, his eyes sparkling, "how wonderful! I haven't seen an Elf yet, although goodness knows, Bilbo's seen his share. You must show me the exact tree where you spotted him. Maybe we can see one together!"

"That would be grand, sir!" Sam grinned. He had never before shared with anyone his greatest secret -- the Elf he thought he'd seen in the woods -- and he wasn't sure why he'd told Mr. Frodo, but it had just spilled out during their walk together. And Mr. Frodo had listened to him carefully, and hadn't laughed, not even a little bit.

"Elves," Frodo mused, gazing thoughtfully up into the nearest tree. "Why, they could be all around us." He sighed. "Come on, Sam, we should get back. Your parents will skin me alive if you're late to dinner." He reached down to take the small hand.

"I'm glad you've come to live with Mr. Bilbo, sir," Sam said shyly.

"So am I," Frodo replied, pulling the child into a hug. "So am I."

* A Winter's Morning *

My young cousin's light movements awakened me from a sound sleep. I felt him climb up, then crawl stealthily along the bed like a cat on the prowl. Just before he pounced, I grabbed him, eliciting shrieks and giggles from the little scamp. What a handful he is! Always squirming and wriggling, face alight with joy and wonder and neverending mischief. There wasn't a moment of the day, not even meals, that he didn't tackle as an exciting adventure. His visit to Bag End had certainly not been dull. I pulled Pip close with one hand, and tucked the thick, warm blankets around us both with the other.

"Cousin Frodo, it's snowing! Isn't that great?"

"It is great," I replied. "Did you tell Merry?"

"I can't," he sighed.

"Why not?"

"'Cause he's still sleeping."

I laughed and wrapped my arms around him. He sighed contentedly in the warm darkness and snuggled tightly against me, his cold little feet burrowing under my legs.

I turned slightly and looked at the window -- sure enough, large white flakes could be seen drifting lazily downwards. As I watched the snow fall the small bundle in my arms quieted, deep, even breathing telling me that he had fallen back to sleep. I was deeply asleep again myself when I felt someone else climb up on the bed, then crawl under the blankets.

"Cousin Frodo!" Merry's voice whispered urgently into my ear. "Are you awake? It's snowing!"

* Jools *

The first time he visited, Sam had looked around for big, impressive things to see -- solid gold dishes, maybe, or jools embedded in the walls or somesuch. There was nothing like that, but right from the first he couldn't help noticing other things. The blankets were thicker than he was used to, stuffed to bursting with feathers. Mr. Frodo had his own room, and closets just for him. And the linens were so fine, and the towels so soft, even the kitchen rags were nice, it seemed, and all embroidered with the fancy letter "B" that he had learned to read. There were books and lamps everywhere, and room after room that barely got used at all. It was truly grand, but…

But the quiet! He couldn't remember ever hearing so much quiet in someone's home. How did Mr. Bilbo and Mr. Frodo bear it, this quiet? Didn't they miss the sounds of kids running in and out, and voices yelling when's supper, and any hot bath water left, and I saved this bit of cake just for you, and come get your hug, Sam-lad… well, just knowing you weren't alone and someone was always near?

And so, while he could see that Bag End was grand and all, and Mr. Bilbo and Mr. Frodo seemed happy there, he couldn't help smiling when he opened the door to No. 3 Bagshot Row each evening after all his chores were finished, and let the laughter and talk and welcoming feeling and sounds of home wash over him. They were worth more than gold or jools, no doubt about it. A lot more.

* Looking for Fun in All the Wrong Places *

"Merry, look at this!"

Merry watched, appalled, as Pippin took off running across the highly polished floor of the enormous (and mercifully empty) ballroom, then abruptly stopped running and slid a good 25 feet before coming to a stop.

"Even hobbit feet slide on this," Pippin said delightedly. "Try it!"

"That's a game for children, Peregrin, and silly tweens," Merry said stiffly.

"I know that look, Meriadoc," Pippin chuckled. "You want to try it too. Go ahead, no one's about."

Merry pushed one foot tentatively along the floor. Pippin was right -- even tough hobbit soles would slide on this.

"Go on," urged a voice from behind him. "Why should Pippin and I have all the fun?"

"Frodo," Merry sighed without turning around, "you shouldn't encourage him."

"I'm encouraging you, you old stick-in-the-mud," Frodo replied. "As your elder cousin, you should listen to me once in a while, you know."

"It's like sliding on ice, Mer," added Pippin.

"This is the residence of the king," Merry hissed, "not Bywater Pond."

"Perhaps I should make it a royal decree, then," said a new voice from behind him.

"Strider!" Merry turned about in alarm to see King Elessar smiling down at him. "We were just---"

"Apparently a Knight of Rohan cannot slide as far as a Knight of Gondor," Aragorn said casually. "I thought as much."

"Is that right?" With a sudden whoop, Merry turned around and started to run.

* Happily Ever After *

Merry entered the ornate bedroom where Diamond was in bed, cuddling her newborn baby. Pippin stood next to the bed, looking happy and proud, and young Faramir sat next to his mother, staring at the tiny bundle in awe.

"Come in, Merry," Diamond said with a joyous smile.

"She's gorgeous," Merry said, coming close and stroking the infant's satiny-soft cheek, "just like her mother. What will you call her?"

"Primula," Pippin said.

"Really?" Merry grinned broadly. "Frodo would love that."

"I know. I need to honor him somehow, Mer."

"Another Took lass with a name beginning with 'P'," Merry observed. 'Your family is going to run out, soon."

"Nonsense," Pippin laughed. "There's still 'Pelennora'."

"Over my dead body," Diamond said firmly.

"Primrose?" Merry suggested.

"Sam says he and Rosie have that one all picked out for their next child," Pippin sighed.

"Here's a novel idea," Diamond suggested pertly. "Perhaps I could name the next one."

"Now why didn't I think of that?" Pippin asked softly. He sat next to his wife and pressed a quick kiss to her forehead. "You name the next baby, my love, and all the babies after that." He kissed her again, this time on the lips, and not as quickly.

"Faramir," Merry suggested, "why don't we leave your parents alone with Primula for awhile." He chuckled to himself as he led the child away, and closed the door behind them. That there would soon be more Took babies to be named, he had no doubt. No doubt at all.