A Slow Evening

A/N: A weird thing I though of while trying to come up with a new chapter for one of my other stories. Is it me or is it a little surreal? Or is this just because it's 1:30 in the flippin' morning? Oh dear, dad's not going to be happy.

"Where have those hobbits got themselves to?" wondered Gandalf aloud to himself. "Boromir." he called to Boromir as he passed by on some errand, "Are the hobbits even up yet?"

"I don't believe so. No, I remember, none of the hobbits have seen fit to rise from their bed yet." Gandalf nodded, understanding exactly how the hobbits felt, though he would never admit it, he felt that some days, just staying in bed was the best thing to do, even when it wasn't.

"Could you get them up?" Boromir agreed to do so. He never liked waking the hobbits though, it usually landed you at the brunt of their verbal abuse and sometimes even a few thrown sticks. Boromir walked to the secluded corner of the camp, if there is such a thing as a secluded corner in a campsite, to where the hobbits had bedded, though nested was perhaps a better word.

Sam was no more than a few locks of golden hair peeking over the top of the blankets. Frodo had the blanket tucked neatly under his chin, his pale face contrasting with the dark brown of the material, he looked like a young boy, smiling slightly in his sleep. Pippin was, by the look of it, snuggled close to Frodo, the blanket just covering his shoulder and leaving his peaceful face showing. Merry's nose was just visible above the edge of the blanket and from what was visible of his face, he looked just as serene as the others did.

Boromir prayed silently that the hobbits would forgive him for waking them from their slumber. He had learnt from experience that poking, prodding and calling rarely changed a hobbit's state of consciousness and so, carefully prying the corner of the blanket from Sam's limp grip, he whipped the blanket off them. That usually did the trick.

But this time it didn't, the hobbits slept on. Boromir looked down upon their prone forms and couldn't bring himself to disturb them. Merry's arms were wrapped around Pippin's waist, constantly giving love and support. Pippin was hanging onto Frodo's shoulder, nearly using it as a pillow. Frodo looked happy to be the centre of such a group of friends, being the one they were all there for. Sam had a protective arm thrown over Frodo and reaching Pippin's hand where it rested on Frodo's chest, Sam looked as though he would reach his protecting arm right over to Merry if only it were long enough.

"Boromir!" called Aragorn from behind him, "Having trouble getting the hobbits up?" Aragorn had had his own share of attempting to wake the hobbits, having had sticks aplenty thrown in his face (though all were thoroughly apologised for afterwards). He was smiling jokingly until he came up beside Boromir and actually looked down at the creatures sleeping at his feet. His breath caught in his throat, they looked to him for all the world like four babes in a cot, the dying sun lit their skin a blood red but it did nothing to the innocence that shone through. He breathed again, completely understanding why Boromir just stood and watched, though he couldn't put it into words himself.

"What are you two doing? Gandalf shall become quite irate if you don't get a move on. Or, more to the point, if the hobbits don't." said Gimli as he sauntered up behind the two men. His reaction when he saw the four sleepers was much the same as Aragorn's. Pippin shifted in his sleep as a small draught breezed past and he snuggled further into Frodo's shoulder. Frodo's smile widened and his had moved over to Pippin's hip where he found Merry's arm and lightly grasped it. The three observers sighed, none of them wanted to bring them back into a world where nothing seemed to be going right for them. A world of worries and frowns.

"Come along you three! Gandalf's going to be..." Legolas' sentence ground to a halt as he came up and stood next to Gimli. He'd seen two-day-old foals with more worry written on their faces than the hobbits had right now. He'd never seen anyone that looked so young while not looking young at all. He couldn't explain it in any language that he knew, but he knew that it would be a long time before saw a look of such pure contentment on anyone's face again. He wouldn't think it possible for the hobbits to be so fully relaxed after all they had been through, and every step they took away from the Shire was a step into darkness and danger. Every member of the fellowship could see how their task pulled on Frodo, affecting him and those around him.

"What are you four up to?" said Gandalf from behind them, they didn't want to make the wizard angry, but none of them could bring themselves to move. "We can't stay here all night! We must move on, what is stopping you from getting those hobbits up?" Gandalf stormed up and looked across at the four observers. Aragorn and Gimli glanced up and shrugged helplessly and looked back down, to be lost in their own world once more. Gandalf followed their gaze "Oh." he said quietly. Even Gandalf, after all his years of studying and, at times, living with hobbits, he couldn't do any more to wake them than Boromir could.

The wind blew the trees gently and a few remaining leaves fell from their bare branches. Pippin clenched his fist and buried his face even further into Frodo's shoulder. Frodo's smile grew and turned into a grin until he began to chuckle to himself. Pippin was dislodged from his grip on Frodo's shoulder and he slowly came back to the waking world, quite quickly for a hobbit actually. His heavy eyelids blinked open and took in the small audience that had gathered about their bed. He shook Frodo gently and tapped him on the cheek. To Aragorn's and Boromir's complete amazement, Frodo woke relatively quickly and blearily looked around.

"We have guests Frodo." Pippin whispered. A groan and a stretch marked the moment Sam awoke and he lethargically sat up and grasped for the missing blanket, his sleepy mind wondering quite where it had got to. Frodo too sat up and shook his head to clear it finally. He looked up at his five companions and smiled apologetically.

"Did we... oversleep?" he asked. Boromir laughed and offered his hand to help Frodo up. Frodo took the proffered hand and brushed himself down. Sam stood up under his own power and life in the camp returned to normal. Pippin, however was still trapped in Merry's hug, Merry could sleep through most anything. Pippin turned so that he was facing Merry and tapped him on the cheek, then a little harder and a little harder still, until at last he gave Merry one almighty slap. Merry jerked awake, moaning before he'd even opened his eyes,

"Pippin what was that for? What are we doing today?"

"Don't worry Merry, we're walking again." said Pippin cheerfully, now able to sit up. In answer, Merry turned over and pulled the abandoned blanket back over his head. Pippin rolled his eyes and stood to get his breakfast. Someone else could get Merry up today.