Disclaimer: All characters and events contained herein are the property of J.R.R. Tolkien, or based upon the writings of the same. Some passages of the following story are direct or edited quotes from said writings. I just like to play, with no profit or assumption of ownership.
Written for Marigold
Frodo walked into the kitchen of Bag End to be greeted by a mess. White flour had settled upon every surface as though the weather had decided to defy both the season and the laws of nature by snowing inside the kitchen. Here and there some kind of batter was splashed across surfaces, furniture and floor alike. Bits of eggshell littered the floor, while dirty crocks were placed at random throughout the room. And in the centre of the floor, coated in flour, stood Merry, looking abashed, and Pippin, proudly holding up a plate.
When Frodo had stopped gibbering and been settled in a chair with a mug of tea, Merry tried to explain the minor disaster. It seemed that Pippin had merely been trying to cheer Frodo up...
"Pippin! What on earth are you doing?"
Merry stopped in the doorway of the kitchen and stared. It was early on the morning of the twenty-third of September, and a young hobbit stood in front of him, wrestling with a bag of flour. Milk and salt stood about him, and as he looked up his expression was stuck somewhere between guilt and pride.
"I'm making pancakes, Merry. D'you want to help?"
Merry frowned. "Pip, Frodo won't be happy if you mess up his kitchen."
"I'm making them for Frodo!" Pippin was actually bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet with excitement. "Remember, you said how he'd probably be sad because Bilbo's been away ten years now, and we had to be nice to him? I thought it would be nice to make him pancakes for breakfast!"
Merry raised an eyebrow, touched and surprised by Pippin's thoughtful gesture. Nonetheless, Pippin was barely into his tweens, and Merry felt he was perhaps too young to take on the task of cooking for all four hobbits. After all, Pippin's cooking skills were not exactly renowned...
"Pip, you should have told me. Here, I'll help you."
Pippin's excitement dissolved into a glare. "Merry, this is my present for Frodo. Find your own way to be nice to him."
Merry was somewhat taken aback: even he could not tell what Pippin was going to become defensive about. He could, however, usually win him over after a while.
"What about last time you cooked? I helped you then, Pip, and we had fun. Can't I help?"
Pippin's small nose scrunched up as he thought back to his last culinary attempt. It had been on Pervinca's last-but-one birthday, when he had honestly tried to be nice by making her a special cherry cake. It had tasted all right, too, once Merry had taken over and pointed out that Pippin had to put yeast into the mix to make it rise. It hadn't been their fault that the kitchen had got into a little bit of a mess, but his parents hadn't seen it that way.
Just when Merry thought he had won Pippin over, the little hobbit turned a fierce look on him. "This is my present for Frodo, you're not allowed to take over."
"Of course not," Merry agreed quickly as he finally entered the kitchen. "But you know you need to put eggs in the batter..."
"Merry!" Pippin snapped at him. "I'm in charge."
"Of course, sorry."
"Merry, I'll need some eggs for the batter, would you get them, please?"
Things had actually been going very well for a while: the batter looked, smelt and tasted pretty much as it should. Merry was very surprised by this, and said so as he delved in the cupboards for a griddle pan. Knowing Pippin as he did, he should have expected the egg that hit him in the back of the head as he stood up.
Pippin was sulking again, still armed with another egg.
"Of course it's fine," he said. "I told you it would be, didn't I?"
Merry opened his mouth to try and rectify the situation, but as he did so, the other egg impacted against his shirt front, smashing and leaving a trail of mixed yolk and white across his breast pocket. Deciding that action was the better retaliation, he grabbed for a handful of eggs of his own and dived behind the work surface.
The battle raged for ten minutes, both hobbits sheltering behind furniture and receiving hits every time they leant out to deliver their own assault. When there were no eggs left, cups of milk and water became the ammunition of choice, resulting in both hobbits being soaked from head to toe. The game finally reached a halt when Pippin grabbed the bag of flour and hurled it towards his opponent. It impacted in the middle of the floor, exploding and sending flour everywhere, filling the air with a thick white fog. When it settled, both Pippin and Merry were covered head to toe in a gluey white gunk, and every surface, wall and floor tile was covered in flour.
Laughing hard enough to give themselves stitches in their sides, Merry and Pippin hauled themselves up and went to work frying the pancakes. Pippin had been very keen to flip them by throwing them in the air, but after his first attempt hit the ceiling and refused to come down again, Merry insisted on using a spatula to turn them. They had just finished up the batter and loaded a plate full of pancakes when Frodo came in.
Frodo could not help but chuckle at the story, his attempt to be cross with his cousins fading away minutes into the story. Sam, however, was another matter. He walked in just as Merry finished and gazed around in dismay, taking in the filthy crocks, the smashed eggs and the white floor, by now riddled with footprints.
"What have you done to my kitchen?" he blurted in horror, momentarily forgetting his place.
"Don't worry about it, Sam," replied Frodo. "Merry and Pippin have been kind enough to cook us breakfast. Come over here and we can eat while they clean up. Then they can go down to the market and replenish the larder, and if they're lucky, we might leave them a pancake each."
Pippin looked so crestfallen at this statement that the elder hobbits could not help laughing. Merry took his young cousin by the shoulder and led him off to start cleaning, knowing fully well that Frodo would leave at least half, and probably more than that, of the pancakes for them. Meanwhile, Frodo and Sam settled at the table and began to eat hungrily. Frodo wondered if Pippin would become too confident in the kitchen altogether if he told him, in all honesty, that he had never tasted better pancakes in his life.