AN: I confess, this is only my third fanfic, but it's my first time writing Lord of the Rings. I'm sure I got tons of stuff wrong, but I googled maps for names and places, so I hope it works out right. If not, please tell me, and I'll change it.

There will be some discipline in my story, but now right away. This will probably a long story with spankings appearing throughout.

Time - Two years after all the hobbits returned, but before Frodo leaves, though he isn't really in the story. I'm following the books mainly, so I have a line or two about the Scourging of the Shire or whatever it's called.

What else do I need to say? I don't own this, nor make any money off of it.

Please be patient as I'm trying to reread the books, watch the movies, and work off websites to recall what all happened. I remember the gist of the story, but names, dates, and places tend to escape me.

Thanks. Look forward to your comments.

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The teapot was whistling shrilly as Merry hurried into the small kitchen. It was past second breakfast, not quite to elevensies, but he felt a very strong, hot cup of tea would be just the thing to drink on the mild spring morning. He wore a rough wool shirt and a loose pair of trousers, but he could not help thinking of his fine chain-mail shirt that hung in his bedroom. It was great fun to put on that armor and strut up and down the lane for all to see. The older hobbits just shook their heads over such silliness, but the young hobbits looked on eagerly, often in envy. And very young hobbits clamored for a story about their grand adventures.

It had been two years since they had returned to the Shire, but the stories felt just as real when Merry told them as they had been when he had lived through it.

Smack!

The door banged against the wall as Mr. Peregrin Took charged in.

"Pippin!" Merry exclaimed, annoyed. "Can't you knock? I could have been behind that door."

"I heard the teapot whistling – where's my cup?" Pippin looked about, his little hands itching to get around a piping hot cup of Brandybuck tea.

"I thought you were weeding the garden," Merry tried to look cross as he poured Pippin a large cup of the purplish brown tea and then reached for the honey.

"I was," Pippin hopped into his seat at the kitchen table and began munching on biscuits, teacakes, cold toast, and anything else he could reach. "I don't know why I have to get stuck weeding the garden," he groused. "You get to stay in here and eat all you like while I toil in the dirt under the hot sun."

Merry fixed him with a stern look. "When we agreed to move to Crickhollow, we decided I would take care of most of the indoor chores including the cooking, and you would see to the grounds."

"You decided!" Pippin added several large spoonfuls of honey to his tea.

"And," Merry continued as if Pippin had not spoken, "you have lazed around all winter, snuggled with blankets, books, and tea by the fire while I did the chores, promising that you would do more once spring came. It's barely been pleasant three days, and already you're tired of work."

"We shouldn't have to work!" Pippin sat his cup down with a clink. "We were heroes, still are in most people's eyes! We should have a proper maid and a gardener boy and fat cook to treat us up right."

"I'll treat you to a firm smacking if you don't stop this nonsense," Merry decided with a firm look. "Drink up your turn and leave the rest of those crumpets alone. Then back to the garden with you. Your hands aren't even dirty – did you weed a single bed?"

"Think I was the gardener boy, the way you carry on," Pippin huffed. But he finished his tea and got up, snatching two crumpets while Merry was wiping down the stove. And then Pippin ran outside, glad to be make in the sunshine and warm air again.

"Lazy Took," Merry muttered. "Should have left him behind somewhere on the journey."

But he washed up Pippin's cup and set to work peeling the potatoes for supper, careful to cut all the skin off them, just the way Pippin liked it for potato soup. And there would be bread and jam and butter and more tea and perhaps some cake if Pippin actually did any work. Merry had a barrel of fine wine hidden in the cellar behind the stacks of carrots and onions, but that would be for supper if Pippin behaved.

As he cooked, Merry wondered if sometime it might be better to tell Pippin that his good behavior would result in a treat. Whenever Pippin was naughty or rebellious and Merry told him "Well, I was going to make some apple tart tonight, but now you've lost your chance," Pippin always gave him a tragic look as if to say "I would have behaved if I knew there would be apple tart." Yet, if you told Pippin there was to be a treat, he would pester you all day long about. "When can we have it? Now, Merry? Please, Merry, let's have it now. I can't wait, I really can't."

"Merry! Merry!" Pippin ran back in the kitchen, panting hard.

"Dinner is not ready!" Merry slapped the wooden soupspoon hard on the table. "And if I have to tell you again to get to work, I'll take this spoon to your –"

"No, Merry, look!" Pippin held up a creamy-colored envelope. "It's a letter."

Merry still felt cross. "I can see it's a letter. Frodo probably wants us to come to Bag End for supper, though he needn't have been so formal. He could have told any one of the village women and we would have gotten the message. Word travels so fast in these parts, but I bet Frodo is trying to play the part of the hero, new master of the Shire –"

"No, Merry!" Pippin was nearly jumping up and down in excited/frustration . "It's from Eowyn!"

Merry dropped the soup, splattering the floor with little bits of potato, but he didn't notice. "Lady Eowyn?"

"Yes, yes," Pippin cheered, waving the letter around. "She writes from Ithilien where she now lives with Faramir, and they are married!"

"Stop jumping about, and give me the letter," Merry insisted, but Pippin was far to keyed up to settle down. He hopped about the kitchen on his big, bare feet, cheering and waving the letter like a small banner.

"She writes and she wants us to come visit her. In Ithilien! Another adventure for the two of us."

Merry managed to wrest the letter away from him and read over it while Pippin whooped and crowed around the kitchen.

Dearest Merry,

I suppose I should address you as Mr. Meriadoc Brandybuck, but for me you will always be sweet, dear Merry who rode with me fearlessly and bravely out to battle. How does this spring find you? Very well, I hope, suffering no ills over the cold winter? Our winter was mild, but we lie south off your home, and we have not suffered illness or great loss in months here in Ithilien.

I write to inquire after you, and Pippin and even Frodo and Sam, and hope that you have all healed from the terrible war. I heard about your beloved Shire too late to act, or I would have gathered an army to march on your behalf and rid the vermin from your dear land. My husband also sends his sympathies and asks especially after Mr. Frodo and Samwise as he calls them with a fond smile.

I write also with another purpose in mind. I have decided that I must have you and Pippin come visit me for the summer, and I tell you right now I will not accept no as your answer. I must see you this summer at any cost, and you would love our home here near the river. Sam has written to me and told me that he is very busy with rebuilding the Shire, and poor Frodo would not feel up to travelling so great a distance, but I know of two very active hobbits who would like another adventure if I am not mistaken.

Now, Merry, before you grow concerned about going so great a distance, do hear me out. From Sam's letter, I gather that you and Pippin have set up house, but I'm sure by now you would enjoy a rest from such tedious work and I know that Pippin is eating you out of house and home. So I propose that by mid-May you close up your house, abandon the silly garden that Pippin must hate weeding, and come to visit Faramir and me for the whole summer. Yes, I said the whole summer. Indeed, I may insist you stay the autumn as well, just so I may have my fill of you.

We shall have dances and parties and Pippin must sing for us and you two must dance also. We shall go riding, and paddle in the river or swim if you like, and I shall send you back to the Shire healthy, happy, and twice as plump. And I have it on very good authority that someone or even two might be stopping by to visit, people you will dearly want to meet, around mid-summer. Now, I shall say no more about that, except that you will be very disappointed if you don't come and see who will also come, good friends of both of us.

As to the travel, I know it is over seven hundred miles, quite a long hike for two hobbits on foot. But I have spoken to several merchants, and I know of two very honest men who will give you a ride all the way to Rohan where I shall send my personal coach to pick you up if I cannot persuade Faramir to let me meet you there in person. Both merchants have very swift horses, and if you leave with the first merchants at the beginning of May, you will be here by the time the summer games start. If you must wait until the second merchant leaves, you will arrive at the height of the summer festival. That information is attached at the bottom, but I have already arranged it with both of them.

Dear, sweetest Merry, do come. I long for a familiar face. Faramir is the most loving, kind husband in Middle Earth, and I cannot say a cross word against him, but I miss my little friends. Now, that I have made you feel terribly sad for me, you must be persuaded to come and join us for the summer. You will come, I insist upon it as the sister to the King of Rohan, so you cannot refuse me.

With my deepest love and wishes,

Lady Eowyn

White Lady of Ithilien

"Well?" Pippin demanded the moment Merry finished reading.

Merry looked around at the cluttered kitchen. He thought about the work to be done for the summer, the garden they had planned out. He thought about evenings spent drinking and dancing at the small tavern with Sam and Frodo. He thought of warm summer days in the Shire, lying on the green grass and watching clouds float by lazily.

And then he looked at Pippin's eager, flushed face, waiting for an answer.

"Well," Merry smiled, "I suppose we're off on another adventure."

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Well, nice start? Bad start? Bring it on, I'm ready for the criticism.