This was written in 2006 for the LiveJournal Community wee!hobbits for the crawling baby challenge, as well as to commemorate the birth of a son to "Pippin" (Billy Boyd).

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Merry-lad Gamgee is 3, Pippin-lad is 1 (about 18 months and 8 months in Man-years) and Pippin's daughters Primrose, Pansy and Petunia are 2 and 1 (about 13 months and 8 months in Man-years) Faramir and Goldilocks have yet to be born. The older Gamgee children and Merry's daughter and son do not come into this story.

A SURFEIT OF BABIES

"Sam, why did we agree to this?" asked Merry, snatching his namesake Merry-lad Gamgee away from the edge of the teatable, where the dishes rattled as the child had been reaching up to try and snatch the bread that was just out of his reach.

"Because it was your mother's idea?" asked Sam, bouncing his youngest, little Pippin-lad on his hip. He had to speak rather loudly to be heard over the screaming of the baby, who was teething. He and Rose had brought their brood to Crickhollow for a visit.

"Primmie!" shouted Pippin, as he noticed his oldest daughter crawling as fast as she could for the open kitchen door. He managed to snag her before she could reach and closed it with one foot in the same motion.

"Well done!" said Merry, who was still holding his wriggling namesake.

Just then, there came an enormous racket of screaming from the next room.

"Oh no," said Pippin. "The twins are awake! Why in the world did I let Diamond talk me into having children so close together?" He plumped little Primrose down next to Merry and raced into the other room, emerging with a screaming baby in each arm.

"You know," said Sam, who had quieted little Pippin-lad with a rusk of bread, "the two of you ain't going to catch up with me and Rose nohow," he said with a smirk.

Pippin sighed. "I don't know how you and Rose manage, actually."

"Well, we had ours a sensible two years apart."

Merry shook his head. "I'm glad Estella and I stopped at two!"

"We weren't counting on twins, you know!" Pippin objected, handing little Pansy to a bemused Merry, while he lay Petunia down on the table. "I just hope it's a lad this time. I don't think I want to catch you up, Sam!"

"Hoy!" said Merry. "You aren't going to change her nappy on the kitchen table are you? Diamond would skin you! And Estella wouldn't be too happy either."

"Well," said Pippin around the pins in his mouth, "they aren't here, are they?" There was a slight note of resentment in his voice. There the wives were, off to a party at Brandy Hall-"for lasses only!" Esmeralda had said emphatically, and here the husbands were with all of the youngest babies.

"Merry-lad!" cried Sam, "that's enough of that!" The faunt had found a large wooden spoon, and had begun to amuse himself by banging it on the floor, adding to the racket. He looked up at his father crossly, before giving one more defiant bang, and throwing the spoon down. Then he stuck his thumb in his mouth and glared at his father.

Fortunately the older children had gone with their mothers: Merry's daughter Wyn and son Perry, and Sam's older children Elanor, Frodo-lad and Rosie-lass had gone along so that they could play with the other children at the Hall, while Esmeralda was throwing a special party for Rose and Diamond, who both were expecting again. Diamond and Pippin would be expecting their fourth child sometime in Foreyule, while the sixth little Gamgee was due in Rethe, near Elanor's birthday.

"I don't know where your mother got an idea like that in the first place," grumbled Pippin.

Merry sensibly kept quiet. He had read his mother part of a letter from Éowyn, in which she recounted the party thrown for her brother's wife Queen Lothiriel-a Gondorian custom, to shower the new mother with gifts. There was no way he was going to let Sam and Pippin know this was his fault.

Pippin looked around for someplace to put the wet nappy, and finally settled on just opening the door, and chucking it on the back step. Then he turned around to give little Pet to Merry so he could change Pansy.

"Where's Primmie?"

She had crawled off again.

"Where is she?" shouted Pippin, thrusting Pet at Merry, who suddenly found himself holding two babies, and looking around wildly. Merry and Sam exchanged anxious glances and began to look around as well.

Merry-lad took his thumb out of his mouth. "Ova dere!" he said, pointing with one chubby finger.

"Oh no!" said Pippin and Merry at the same time.

Little Primrose was sitting happily next to the box in which the cold ashes from the stove were emptied, to be saved for use in the garden or for soap-making. She had pulled it over on its side, and was cheerfully playing in the spilled ashes, covered from head to toe, and watching them float about in the air, drifting like dirty grey snowflakes.

xxxxxxx

Three hours later, three tired fathers collapsed in the sitting room, each holding a tankard of well-deserved ale. The babies had all been fed, changed and bathed, and now all of them save Merry-lad were sleeping. And the faunt was snuggled contentedly in his Uncle Pippin's lap.

The hobbits were looking rather newly-scrubbed themselves, and the kitchen was as clean as a pin. There was nothing to show of the near disaster of earlier in the day, and they were congratulating themselves that their wives would never know how hard they had found it.

They heard the sound of the waggon from the Hall, which Esmeralda had sent to take her guests back to the cottage, and soon there were the sounds of children running, and the door opened. Estella came in, followed by Rose and the older children.

"Where's Diamond?" asked Pippin.

"Oh, she had a basket full of leftover food from the party. She went straight to the kitchen," said Estella, coming in, and dropping a kiss on Merry's head. Rose reached down to take little Merry-lad from Pippin, before doing the same to Sam.

"Peregrin Took!" came an angry shout from the kitchen.

Pippin sat forward, a look of panic on his face. What had he done wrong?

"Just what is that dirty nappy doing on the back step?"