19 October 2011 | 885 words
Summary: The War of the Ring has ended, but danger is ever-present, as Pippin, Merry, Gandalf, Aragorn, Faramir and Éowyn find out.
Disclaimer: The characters belong to Tolkien. I make no money from this story.
Written for the challenge Seven Elements Put Together.
Notes: The desire to tackle a challenge came suddenly out of nowhere, probably because I was bored of struggling with my other works in progress, and so this took shape. It is intended as a gift for the archive’s seventh birthday. The story contains a ship, some bananas, a happy Éowyn, an angry Gandalf, a gift, a horse race and it is as short as I could make it. It is also book-true, I hope. The plot is set in Minas Tirith in the days after Aragorn became King, before the arrival of Arwen and their marriage. PG-rated for verbal threats and life-endangering situations. Any and all feedback will be appreciated and answered. And I don’t know how, but this story happens to have exactly 700 words, so there’s another reason for it being a birthday present.
“What exactly is this, do you think?” asked Pippin to Merry, as they both examined a great plate of unknown yellow fruits. The two hobbits were in the kitchens as usual, but they were alone for once.
“I have no idea, but I expect they’re from Harad or the Far East or whatever. They are sending embassies to Strider all day with all kinds of gifts in token of peace. I wouldn’t take a single one of them if I was him. Blackguards.” Merry had still at heart Théoden’s death.
“Oh, come on, I would have nothing against one of these, aren’t you hungry?” said Pippin, taking a banana, and before Merry could say something along the lines of Pippin getting in trouble for touching things that he knew nothing about, he had got a big bite, skin and all, into his mouth.
“Please come quick! Pippin is dying!”
Aragorn and Gandalf turned to see Merry Brandybuck running at them, face livid. They didn’t ask questions, but followed him directly, listening to what had happened along the way.
“He just bit at it and fell, choking desperately and getting all red,” cried Merry, even as Aragorn knelt by the unconscious Pippin. “Can you save him?”
“We need the antidote,” said Aragorn, “it will be in the embassy’s ship. I must stay by his side.”
Gandalf turned on his heels and ran out of the room, after giving Merry a terrible “We’ll settle up this matter later” sort of look. On his way to the stables he met Faramir and Éowyn preparing for a ride. They had never seen the old wizard so worried.
“Where is Shadowfax? Quick!”
“He’s in the fields, but –“
“Then either give me your horse or in the King’s name go to the Haradrim ship at the Harlond and ask them for an antidote to bananas!”
Faramir didn’t understand what this was about, but he knew an emergency when he saw one.
“I’ll go,” he said.
“We’ll go,” corrected Éowyn, already on her horse.
“Make haste, Pippin’s life depends on it.”
Faramir mounted his steed, and Éowyn looked at him, a grim smile on her lips.
“Let’s race there,” she said, and was gone before he could even turn to follow her.
The ship was already making sail south, but Faramir rang a clear horn and she came about. Then he pushed his horse into the water, and spoke with the captain, and received from his hands a small bottle which he gave Éowyn, for she was a better rider than him. Swifter than the wind she galloped back to the city, her hair blowing behind her like a standard of gold and light.
Later that evening, Pippin, feeling very faint, sat up in his bed to meet the unwavering gaze of the wizard.
“For your information, Peregrin Took,” said Gandalf the White, “Haradrim fruit is treated with a mixture that prevents birds –and hobbits– from eating it, unless properly cleaned and cooked. No harm has come to you, but that was more than you deserved. My labours are now finished and everything has turned out well. If you or your kinsman,” there he gave a stern look to Merry, “ever spoil these days of bliss again by threatening the peace of mind of everybody around you, I swear I will personally make sure that neither the Lord Faramir, nor the Lady Éowyn, nor anyone else is allowed to save such a troublesome nuisance as you.”
Pippin looked at Faramir, still soaked from the water of the Anduin; at Éowyn, whose clothes and features were covered in dust; at Aragorn, whose face looked slightly wearier and older than it had been that morning, despite his expression of relief and even of suppressed mirth; and he blushed and murmured an apology.
Only then did Éowyn grace Faramir again with the look of love and happiness that she had been withholding while Pippin’s life was in danger. The Steward looked at her dirt-stained, smiling face and forgot everything and everyone else.
“We need a bath,” she said, “and then you might want to think of a fitting reward.”
“What for?” he queried.
“I won the race.”
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