Author note: This ficlet is part of my "Quarantined"-verse AU.

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Morning Song

Scamp poked her nose out of Frodo's blankets and wriggled out onto the grass. She had no idea why people slept past sunrise; early-morning smells were the most enticing! She sniffed about for a few moments, then visited her favorite tree to leave messages and conduct other important business. Once that was done, she scampered back to the gathering of bedrolls and inspected each one to ensure that all was well -- one of her duties on this camping trip.

The littlest hobbit, with the golden tousled hair and boundless energy, was wrapped around his 'pony'. Scamp gave one of his fingers a lick, which elicited a giggle from the sleeping lad. She eyed the stuffed animal carefully, noting the ear that she had been permitted to chew and tug on -- a satisfying task she would get back to later that day. Close by lay an older boy with slightly darker hair, who watched over Pippin with the devotion of a mother to her newborn pup. He spent time with Scamp playing "I hide and you seek me", which they both enjoyed. The Ranger was teaching him to "track", which Scamp found very amusing; all you needed for tracking was a good nose and alert ears! The next bedroll held the lad who was doing such a good job caring for her pups (under her watchful eye, of course). She stayed particularly close to him when meals were being prepared, as he was the one most likely to "accidentally" let fall slivers of savory meat or crunchy vegetables.

The Ranger's bedroll was the last to be investigated. It was even too early for this one to be awake, although he was usually nearly as alert as a dog. When he visited, Scamp noticed that Frodo bestowed upon him 'temporary pack leader' status, although it was Frodo to whom she still answered, of course. The Ranger's clothing smelled the most exciting, enlaced with leather and hide. They also played a game each day; his boots were placed high in a tree in the evening, where her eager teeth couldn't reach them, then they reappeared in the morning when the Ranger put them back on. That was the moment when Scamp scurried in for a quick bite and tug on the laces, with the small ones laughing and the Ranger's deeper chuckle filling the air. He was very, very tall, but was careful around the hobbits and herself, never once stepping on a tail or speaking harshly.

Scamp had taken a few slurps from her water bowl, and was investigating the cold firepit and the pots lined up nearby, when her head came up and her body quivered with alertness. A light, sweet fragrance made her nose twitch, and gentle voices nearly too soft to be heard came from somewhere she couldn't pinpoint. She knew what this was! It was the people who shimmered with light, and seemed somehow both here and not here! She looked about eagerly, but couldn't see them. But they were near, and she heard her name in their song. She longed to bound off and find them, but the voices bade her stay. She almost felt she could respond in the same tongue, and a soft yip escaped her throat. The song changed, gentling and calming her, then moved off and was gone. With a light, almost dizzy joy, she pounced on a patch of grass and rolled onto her back, letting the moistness cool and invigorate.

"Scamp, come," came a familiar, beloved voice. She got to her feet, shook vigorously, and returned to Frodo, who was blinking sleepy blue eyes at her and holding up a corner of the blankets. Early-morning chores completed, she burrowed back into the warmth, reveling in fingers that sought out ears and belly, knowing exactly where she needed to be scratched. "Silly dog," came the same voice, "it's too early." The words weren't as clear as the Elves' song, but the intention was unmistakable; her people wanted to sleep, and breakfast wasn't being served just yet. With a contented sigh she curled up again, licking her master's chin just a bit and feeling him smile. A hand slid next to her and she ducked her head under it, feeling warm and protected. As she settled back into sleep, a few notes of sweet music followed her, and she joined Frodo in a dream of warm sand and sparkling water.

END