For those following "Quarantined", Chapter 5 has been posted.
Omigosh, "Avalanche" is finished! This story was a real labor of love. Much as I hate to end it, I've squeezed every drop of inspiration possible out of my Muse. Let me wrap this up with an enormous "thank you", from the bottom of my heart, to everyone who accompanied me on this adventure and let me know you were enjoying it. (And remember that I am *always* looking for hobbit-oriented story ideas!)
PLEASE NOTE: I am not a medical professional and do not claim to be. This is a work of fiction. No medical treatment or description of physical or emotional injury in this story should be taken as anything more than the author's own opinions and plot devices.
As the Fellowship begins its journey Pippin is 28 years old, a hobbit not yet "of age". I have chosen to write him as such; a tweenager trying to hold his own in a group of adults but still on shaky emotional ground in a lot of ways.
DISCLAIMER: Of course. The characters don't belong to me, I just get to think about them day and night.
Chapter 19 --- All The Magic We Need
Very slowly, Frodo moved the fingers of his left hand, then moved them faster.
"My wrist doesn't hurt at all anymore, Aragorn." Puzzled, Frodo looked up at the Ranger. "Should this have healed so fast? How long have we been here?"
Aragorn continued his examination of the tiny wrist. "Time does seem to move strangely here, does it not?" He gave Frodo's arm a pat, and smiled at him. "This has been a time of healing for all of us, in many ways."
"Yes," Frodo said thoughtfully. He and Aragorn were sitting under a tree on one of the many soft, green lawns in Lórien. Merry and Sam were lying in the grass nearby, relaxing, and Pippin had fallen sound asleep. Frodo tilted his head back and looked up through the leaves, shimmering gently in the afternoon sun.
"What are you thinking about?" asked Aragorn.
"Pippin," said Frodo quietly.
"I thought we had lost him all over again, after Gandalf fell," said Frodo. "That first night after…… after, when he wouldn't eat and wasn't talking……" He sighed. "I was afraid for him."
Aragorn lay back in the soft grass and peered up through the leaves. "So was I."
"None of us knew……" Frodo's voice grew even softer, remembering. "He eventually told Sam, Merry, and me that he had been sticking so close to Gandalf, in Moria, not just because of his fascination with that staff……" Aragorn grinned. "…… but because of what had happened on the mountain. He said that he was never going to fall off anything ever again, and……" Frodo swallowed hard. "…… he believed that a wizard could *never* fall off anything. Even when Gandalf was cross, Pippin felt so safe around him. He wanted to stay close to him --- to stay safe. And then when Gandalf fell……"
"I didn't know that," said Aragorn, looking over at where Pippin lay, peacefully asleep. "I cannot imagine the shock he must have felt. Different from ours, I suspect."
"Everything changed in that moment," said Frodo. "On the mountain, Pippin learned that something could happen to him……" He smiled ruefully. "…… and not just to me. But in Moria, he learned that anything can happen to anyone. Even Gandalf." He sighed. "That was hard for me to learn, too."
"Anything can happen, Frodo," said Aragorn, "but not just events that bring grief or fear. There are also sudden moments of surprising courage or insight, unlooked-for friendships, unexpected beauty."
"I know," said Frodo softly.
Merry opened one eye. "Strider, so little ever happens in the Shire, some hobbits can go a lifetime without experiencing any of that."
"Not any hobbits *I've* known," chuckled the Ranger.
They were quiet for a time, thinking about everything and nothing.
"You should get in more sword practice, Frodo," said Aragorn after awhile. "As you said, anything can happen."
"No," said Frodo. He lay back in the grass between Aragorn and Merry. "No more of that. I've decided to stay in Lórien and sleep for a year or so, assuming we haven't already been here for a year or so." He smiled. "I think I'll let Pippin carry the Ring from now on."
There was a muffled snort from Merry. "Uh oh."
"It would certainly be interesting," mused Aragorn. "Let's see. Sam would no doubt stay here with you……"
"No doubt," murmured Sam.
"…… Legolas and Gimli never pledged to even come this far, so perhaps they would head home; I know Gimli wants to warn his people about Moria. Boromir is returning to Minas Tirith…… Hmmm. That would leave Merry, Pippin, and me to continue on."
"At least it won't be a dull journey South," Frodo said. "Pippin knows loads of songs you haven't heard yet."
"There can't be any more."
"Yes there can," yawned Merry.
Aragorn was silent.
"On the other hand, you wouldn't have anyone to speak Elvish with you," continued Merry.
"Legolas will just *have* to come with us, then. And I know Gimli will stand by his side."
"Boromir *is* headed South anyway," said Sam.
"That makes six in the Fellowship. It might still work; and it will certainly be easier to feed two hobbits rather than four."
"Of course, you wouldn't have Sam to help with the cooking," said Merry.
"That's a dreadful thought," said Aragorn. "Sam, I think you will have to accompany us after all. And since you won't leave Frodo's side……"
"I give up." Frodo stood up and shook his head. "Pippin will never know how close he was to being the Ringbearer." He gave Aragorn's leg a gentle kick. "You don't have to look so smug. I don't know why I'm being so nice to you, after you let me think I was dreaming when I wasn't."
"A healer does whatever he has to do."
"Apparently. Where were we?"
"Sword practice," said Aragorn.
"My wrist isn't strong enough yet."
"You broke your *left* wrist, Mr. Frodo," said Sam helpfully.
"Thank you, Sam."
Frodo held out his hand to Aragorn. The Ranger took it with a smile and got to his feet.
"Sword practice it is, then," said Frodo. "Of course, I'm not entirely sure where I left Sting……"
"It's underneath your bedroll, Mr. Frodo."
Frodo sighed heavily. "Thank you, Sam." He and Aragorn walked off.
"How long *have* we been here?" mused Merry.
"Hard to say," said Sam. "At least Mr. Frodo's eating well and sleeping better, and that's all I care about…… but as soon as we leave……"
"I know," said Merry softly.
"Is there much further to go, Mr. Merry?"
"Yes, Sam, there is."
"Oh." Sam stood up. "I guess there's no telling when we might be leaving, then. I think I'll take a long walk underneath these trees. I've never seen their like."
Left alone, Merry sat up and shook Pippin's shoulder.
"Wake up, lazy."
Pippin opened his eyes. "H'lo." He smiled. "I was dreaming about Gandalf."
"It must have been nice."
"It was." Pippin yawned and stretched. "We were walking along, just the two of us, and I was trying to convince him that I needed a staff just like his."
Merry chuckled. "Oh Pip, not that again."
"But he said……" Pippin closed his eyes, remembering. "He kneeled down and looked at me, and said I didn't need it anymore, Mer. He said, 'You already have all the magic you require, Peregrin Took.'" Pippin opened his eyes and looked at his cousin. "Do you think I do?"
"I've *always* thought so."
Pippin smiled, and stretched again. "I like that dream." He looked around. "Where did everybody go?"
"Strider hauled Frodo off for some sword practice, and Sam took a walk." Merry suddenly grinned. "You know, Pip, we were talking about you when you were asleep --- about your singing."
Pippin looked wary. "What about it?"
"Strider seemed awfully surprised that he hadn't heard all your songs. He didn't come out and say it, but I think he'd like you to sing some more of them for him."
"Really?" Pippin sat up, looking pleased.
"I'm sure of it. The longer the better."
Pippin suddenly looked thoughtful. "Mer?"
"Do you really think we have all the magic we need?"
Merry smiled. "We've made it this far."
Pippin smiled back, then squinted his eyes a bit and tilted his head.
"What are you doing, you silly Took?"
"You know, Mer, it's strange, but sometimes, if I look at someone in just the right way……"
"It's like they're all lit up."
** END **