Disclaimer: I do not own these characters: They belong to J.R.R. Tolkien.

A Tea Party by Any Other Name

King Aragorn and Queen Arwen made every attempt to keep the hobbits way of life available in Minas Tirith and that meant maintaining the tradition of high tea. Aragorn had asked some of his advisers to read up on this "tea time" and what exactly it involved. He so wanted the hobbits, especially the homesick Frodo, to enjoy what time they were spending in the stone city until it was time to escort King Theoden's body back to Rohan.

He discovered that high tea was a time after luncheon, before supper. There were usually different blends of tea offered as well as finger sandwiches, scones, breads with butter, and dainty cakes. It sounded to him like a "tea party" than rather a social engagement before the supper hour. Arwen had given him an idea as to "host" this event and invite the former Fellowship to his chambers before having a grand buffet. "It would just be you and your friends, dear. You all have not been together since Frodo and Sam awoke in Ithilien sometime ago. They need to see that you are still apart of their lives, not just a 'King'",Arwen suggested with her musical voice floating in the air that was left between them as she stepped in close, their lips meeting. 'Boy', Aragorn thought, she does have a way with words and smiled upon his wife kissing her back.

As King Elessar sat at his desk to address the invitations in his most neat penmanship, it occured to him that the original Fellowship was short one member. Boromir had fought bravely to protect the Ringbearer's cousins from the impending attack by the Orcs. He deserved to be remembered. So, he invited Faramir in his stead.

Faramir, the former Steward of Gondor, was Boromir's brother. He also faced temptation of the Ring and denied it. He fought bravely as well to protect the borders of Minas Tirith, but Pelennor Fields had been overrun by Orcs. Pippin showed great protection towards the Captain when he was fell by a Nazgul's arrow, and Denethor wanted to burn him alive. Yes, Faramir was as much part of the Fellowship as was his brother.

Yes, he would do this for his friends. "Now to go to the cook to see if they have any recipes that would suffice for this tea time," he said to himself walking down to the grand kitchens of the stone city.

8

A messenger arrived at the doorstep of the room the hobbits and Gandalf occupied while staying in Minas Tirith. One was addressed to the "Shire Hobbits" and one was written for "Gandalf the White" both were sealed with the King's crest. The door was opened by Samwise Gamgee.

The messenger was aware of the hobbits, and recognized this one was on Mt.Doom with the Ringbearer. A chill went down the messenger's spine as the thought of this race saving humanity. What if they had not the courage? What would have become of them all now. He did not want to think on it any further. He owed his life to these Shirelings. He bowed and handed the invitations to Sam, then with a nod he turned on his heel and left.

Sam looked at the invitations, impressed that the King himself wrote these. He crossed the threshold into the living quarters. It was a room adorned with hobbit size and big men furniture alike. Passing by the bedrooms, where he would usually find his master, he went on towards the back of the bungalow to the balcony. The balcony was huge, adorned with giant pillars of stone formed into banisters and a ledge overlooking the city of Minas Tirith. In the middle of the stone was a cushioned seat built into the banister especially for the comfort of the Ringbearer when he wanted to be out in the open when reading. Potted plants were brought in for shade which capped the ends of the specially built bench. That was where Sam found his master. He had been reading with a large book propped up on his lap, but it had recently slipped as his fingers went lax when Frodo had fallen asleep. The sun was just at the height where it cast a shadow over the trees, keeping the occupant cool.

Sam could tell it was too cool. Frodo refused to wear his cloak again, saying he would be more than warm enough without it with the sun directly overhead. That was nearly three hours ago and now the sun was lower in the sky. Sam saw the slightest shiver run through his masters arms as he gazed over the loose clothing, indicating that Frodo was not eating like a normal hobbit should. Quietly, Sam took off his cloak while he approached his master and slipped it around Frodo's shoulders.

Stirring to the light touch, Frodo woke to see Sam pulling away. "Sam, anything wrong?" Frodo asked with brows quirking together in apprehension.

"No,sir,just seeing you shiverin' is all. Layed something on you to keep you warm," he said picking up the invitations from the ground where he had stooped.

"Oh, Sam, thank you," Frodo said fingering the cloth, tension leaving his face. Opening his eyes wider and giving a huge yawn, Frodo swung his feet down off the bench and let them dangle. His head bent over, he could easily see that the cloth was Sam's own cloak. He looked up to see his gardner staring down at him.

"Now dan't go makin' a fuss. I won't have it. You were cold and I'm not. Jus keep it on till we get indoors," Sam rebutted before he could let Frodo get a word in edgewise, handing the invitation to Frodo.

Frodo smiled at his friend for being so frank. He knew that Sam always fussed over him and did not mind giving his shirt off his back if it meant between saving someone's life or a slow painful death. Then he saw the parchment with the King's seal on it in Sam's hand for him to take. "What is this?" he asked taking the parchment from Sam's hand.

"I dan't know, Mr. Gandalf has got one, too," Sam replied turning the remaining parchment over in his hands.

After reading the front of it, then breaking the seal, Frodo asked "Why did you not open it, Sam? It is addressed to 'Shire Hobbits'?"

"Dan't rightly know. It doesn't seem right, if you know what I mean," Sam continued as he sat down next to Frodo. "What does it say?" curiosity getting the best of him.

Frodo finished reading the half way neat handwriting, a smile creeping across his face as he thought that Strider, Ranger of the North, did not have much practice out in the wild to improve his writing skills. Giving the parchment to Sam, he said "You read it."

"Sir?"

"It was addressed to you as well, and maybe you could make something of his chicken scratch. I think you could put the King to shame, Sam," Frodo said as he remembered the many times him and uncle Bilbo sat down and included Sam in his studies of letter writing and penmanship.

"It is an invitation to a tea with the King. It is for tomorrow, sir. And just the Fellowship will be there," Sam said aloud as he folded the parchment back up.

"Are you going, Mr. Frodo?" he asked timidly wondering if Frodo would go. He had missed out on so many parties that they had been expected to attend. None ever included an invitation, though. This must be a special occasion, but Sam could not figure what in Middle Earth it could be.

"Yes, Sam. I am going. Now, lets go inside. I am getting colder and hungry," he said looking at Sam.

"Yes, sir! And I know just what to fix tonight. Even Merry and Pip will stay awake long enough to eat it," Sam started as he guided Frodo off the bench and lead the way back into the warm bungalo.

Merry and Pippin did stay awake long enough to enjoy Sam's cooking and to hear about the King's tea party that they were invited to. That meant the Fellowship would be together under one roof again catching up on all they had done in the past weeks. Gandalf was equally grateful for being invited even though he had disappeared for a while during the quest.

"I heard that Aragorn had someone research what is actually served at tea time. Why did he not just ask us, I bet the Queen must have put him up to it," Pippin said dreamily as he thought about the mighty Queen Arwen batting those long dark eyelashes at him, no Aragorn.

"There he goes again. Wake up lover boy!" Merry said shaking his head and knocking the back of Pippin's with his hand.

"Oi,Merry!"

"Go take a bath, you stink," Merry said hoisting his cousin up by the shoulders and leading him towards the bath house.

"If those two had not been in the war..." Gandalf mused, "neither one of them would have survived without the other."

Frodo pondered on what Gandalf meant, then thought better of it. He had always talked in riddles, and figured this statement was one, too. The former Ringbearer took one last swig of his cordial, for he knew one was his limit, and got off the divan announcing,"I am off to bed. See you all in the morning."

"Good night, my dear boy," Gandalf said as he caught Frodo's arm and embraced the lad. It had been so long since he hugged him, he almost forgot how it felt to have him embrace back.

"Goodnight,Gandalf," Frodo said as Gandalf released him heading for bed actually looking forward to the next days event.

tbc: will only be 2 chapters.