A teensy tiny Yule ficlet for all of you! This is based in my "Quarantined" universe – more specifically, set after "Force of Nature", and assumes that Aragorn has now met all of our hobbits – Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Merry, and wee Pip.

This ficlet references "Quarantined", chapter 10

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




…...I hope this isn't reaching you late, Estel, but Pippin's just arrived for his visit, and he wanted us to wait so he could write to you, as well –


Each "P" in the long line was different – some adorned with smiley (or frownie) faces, some with ears and a tail, some in different colors.

He's learning his letters, as you can see! (At the moment, he thinks "Peregrin" has far too many letters in it -- but soon he'll be proud to spell it out.)

I saw Merry last month, and he sends his love and greetings. He made me promise to ask you if Halbarad and Thalguron are behaving "as proper Brandybucks". He's learned quite a bit about tracking and following a map since you last saw him, and is quite excited about it. (When you see him next, please let him "teach" you something! It will thrill him so much.)

Scamp is a bit plumper than you remember, but it's been a cold winter and we haven't been out for our regular walks. We're both anxious to be out and about again. How are you faring? Bilbo and I worry about you when it's cold and dreary. Well, we worry about you all the time, really. You must visit more often so we can keep an eye on you. And your cousins are always welcome, as well. Please make sure they know that.

Did the cookies arrive safely?

Aragorn smiled and patted the as-yet-unopened parcel that had accompanied the letter.

We tried to send one of each kind we're baking for Yule. The big, squashed ones are from Pip. He says they're ducks! (It's hard to tell, I know, but they really are delicious anyway. They somehow remind me of the troll cookies you made for me when I was ill. Remember?)

Sam sends you a hug, with special greetings to his friend "Ollie". Oh, and let me tell you about---

"A letter from your family?" Butterbur asked, warmed to see a rare smile on the Ranger's face.

"Yes," Aragorn said softly.

"It's good to hear from our loved ones at Yule, if we can't be with them," Butterbur said, setting down a plate of hot, savory stew, fresh bread, and a mug of ale in front of the Ranger. "Will you be seeing them soon?"

"I very much hope so," Aragorn smiled. He re-folded the letter, and slipped it into his pocket to read more fully later that evening. "I miss them very much, and my visits are always... quite eventful!" He laughed and reached for the bread. "Thank you, my friend. Happy Yule."

"Happy Yule, Strider."