Written in 2004 for Marigold's Challenge #4, the first Marigold's Challenge in which I participated. This was my fifth fanfic.
Disclaimer: Middle Earth and all its peoples belong to the Tolkien Estate. I own none of them. Some of them, however, seem to own me.
IN THE FRYING PAN
"Well, we are really in the frying pan now," said Merry. It was several weeks after the Council of Elrond; the Elf lord had summoned Merry and Pippin to his library to talk with them. The two hobbits were convinced he was going to send them home.
"Do you suppose that it is very uncomfortable to be tied up in a sack?" asked Pippin mournfully. He was perfectly serious.
"Probably," answered his cousin. He was already wondering how hard it would be to evade the Elves' vigilance and follow after the Fellowship. It couldn't be too hard to escape from them-he didn't really believe they would tie them up in sacks, and Gollum had escaped from Elves, and so had Bilbo with thirteen Dwarves. Of course, those were Mirkwood Elves, not Rivendell. That might make a difference.
"You know if they get us all the way back to the Shire, our fathers will never let us out of their sight again." Pippin was more worried about his parents' vigilance than that of Elves. "Not to mention our mothers."
"Why do you think I said we were in the frying pan?" Although Merry was of age, he had no illusions about the trouble he would be in-especially for allowing the underage Pippin to accompany him. He put that out of his mind. He was not going back to the Shire. When they followed they would have to be very careful of Strider-Merry had no doubt they could evade detection by the rest of the Fellowship, but Aragorn was a Ranger. He was sure to notice if they followed too closely. But if they followed too far behind, they might lose track of them, and he had no intention of losing track of Frodo. Not after all the trouble it had been to come with him in the first place.
"Well, I think that it's bloody unfair-"
"Pip!" said Merry sharply, "mind your tongue!" Merry wasn't going to put up with that kind of language where Elves might hear.
"Sorry." He didn't sound sorry.
They rounded a corner and came to the passage leading to the library, and their steps slowed. No need to hurry up for bad news. Merry wondered who Elrond would send to track them when they slipped away. He couldn't spare Strider since he'd be gone with the Company. Possibly his sons, unless they were going south with the Ring as well. He did say nine would be going, and they had only chosen seven so far.
As they reached the door, prepared to knock, it was opened by Lord Elrond. He looked tall, regal and stern.
"Master Meriadoc, Master Peregrin, please enter."
The two young hobbits were very surprised to see Gandalf and Bilbo also in the room. They looked at one another in dismay. At least they could have been spared the humiliation of hearing the bad news in front of people. They gulped, and came in to the library; Merry remembered how he had felt as a small child when he had stolen two pies from one of the kitchens in Brandy Hall and had been called in for punishment, not by his father, but by his grandfather Rory.
Pippin and Merry looked at their feet. Pippin rubbed his left foot behind his right, a sure sign of nervousness.
Elrond shook his head. "Meriadoc and Peregrin, after consulting with Mithrandir, and with Bilbo, who is the senior representative of your family here in Rivendell, I have come to the conclusion that it would, after all, be best if you are both allowed to accompany Frodo on the journey south."
And then the words sank in.
Pippin gave a yell, then he and Merry grabbed one another in a hug and dance of joy, laughing and crying at the same time. Then they looked up finally to see Elrond smiling kindly, Gandalf's familiar stern twinkle, and Bilbo with a look of fond indulgence.
"Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" they both exclaimed.
"Do not thank me. I know that it is your heart's desire not to be separated from Frodo, but you are setting forth into peril and hardship. Yet I do believe that you are well able to handle it, and that you will do all that is in your power to help and support your cousin."
This reminder settled them down quickly, and they looked at the Elf lord solemnly. "We will, sir." answered Merry. Pippin nodded soberly.
"Well, my lads," said Bilbo, "you are well and truly in the frying pan now. I hope that you may keep out of the fire."