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.

Song and Dance

"Just tell me if it hurts, Mr. Frodo."

"Really Sam, it's fine, hon – Ow!"

Frodo bit back his renewed protest as Sam raised an eyebrow, and resigned himself to being once more the injured party. Sam deftly wrapped his swollen ankle in layer upon layer of bandages, shaking his head and occasionally muttering to himself.

"What's that, Sam?" Frodo asked, a smile tugging the corners of his mouth.

"Nothing, sir! Well, that is... wouldn't you be safe- er – happier dancing the quiet dances with a nice lass, or perhaps coming and sitting in on the sessions? We could do with some more decent pipers, and you do tend to get bashed up an awful lot, beggin' your pardon."

Frodo chuckled. "Where you can keep an eye on me, you mean? I'm not that good a piper, you know."

"I think you're wonderful," Sam said loyally. Frodo grinned.

"Well, it would be safer there," he mused. Truth be told, anywhere was safer than the vicinity of his cousins at a dance, but somehow that was exactly where Frodo always managed to end up...

xxxxx

The evening had begun just fine: the music was good, the dancing was lively, and one of the advantages of being a rich and eligible bachelor meant that Frodo had no shortage of partners. Not to mention that he was good on his feet: growing up at Brandy Hall had given him plenty of practice, and he had always been nimble and quick.

It was a pity the same could not be said for Merry and Pippin.

The first sign of danger, as usual, had come during Galopede. A cry of "Charge!" had echoed off the trees surrounding the field, and Frodo's end of the set had only just managed to dive apart when the future Master and Thain came flying down the field in what could only be termed galloping if tumbling out of control down a hill could be classified as flying. Not that this was anything new: every hobbit there knew to stay out of the way of Merry and Pippin when they chose (as they frequently did) to dance together.

Frodo had thought himself safe tonight: over the past couple of dances he had mastered the art of not getting in Merry and Pippin's way, even when they were polkaing. Somehow it was always him that ended up injured by their antics, but for a good few months now he had been footloose and injury free.

He had not, however, counted on their experimenting with standard dance moves. When The Willow Tree came up, Frodo hadn't minded Merry and Pippin diving into his set, since even they couldn't mess up so simple a dance. Or so he thought. Pippin, dancing as a lady, had evidently decided that he was skilled enough at dancing to put in some enthusiastic extra twirls into the steps. Unfortunately, Frodo was already reaching for his arm before everyone realised that he really wasn't good enough for such frills. As he slipped he had grabbed Frodo's arm, and the two fell together, ankles hooked around each other, bringing the rest of the set crashing down on top of them.

The next thing Frodo recalled was Sam hurrying over from the session, still clutching his fiddle in one hand, and gently helping Frodo to his feet. They had left swiftly to bring the incident to a close as swiftly as possible, and as Frodo bade his farewells he saw Pippin hopping around like a frog on a trampoline, apparently none the worse for his accident.

xxxxx

"All done," Sam announced, sitting back on his haunches and lowering Frodo's foot gently to the floor. "Let's get you into bed, shall we, sir?"

"I can manage," Frodo began to insist, but he'd not gone more than half a step when his ankle gave beneath him. Fortunately, Sam was there to catch him, as if he had fully expected that to happen.

As Sam set Frodo down on the bed, the front door of Bag End slammed open and a giggle sounded in the hall, followed by a number of rather loud shushing noises. Frodo grinned.

"We're in here," he called, pretending not to notice the disapproving slant of Sam's eyebrows.

"Frodo!" Pippin cried at the top of his voice, although he was a mere five feet away. He ran to the bed and jumped heavily onto it, shortly followed by Merry.

"We're sorry, Frodo..."

"Yes, sorry..."

"We didn't mean for you to get hurt..."

"...but Pippin's such a klutz..."

"I am not! You take that back, Merry Brandybuck!"

"...such a klutz, and apparently can't control his feet..."

"Merry!"

"Alright, alright, I take it back, let go of my hair..."

"Anyway, we're really sorry for hurting you..."

"...we didn't mean to..."

"...and to prove it, we're going to make you breakfast tomorrow! How about that?"

Images of Merry and Pippin's last attempt at breakfast flashed unbidden to Frodo and Sam's minds. Frodo saw his cousins, coated in flour and egg and water and requiring at least two baths each to get cleaned up, and Sam saw his beloved kitchen, white as if it had snowed inside the hole, little patterns of footprints crossing the floor.

"No!" they cried in panicked unison.

fin