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17 October 2011 | 1823 words
Legolas has been conspiring with Merry and Pippin to convince Faramir to take an afternoon to relax.
“I do have work to do, you know,” Faramir said, as Merry and Pippin dragged him down the path among the trees.
“You do not,” Pippin said cheerfully. “Your brother gave specific instructions that you were not to do any work today.”
“That’s only because he thinks I’ve been working too hard.”
“You have been working too hard,” Legolas said, looking back over his shoulder.
Faramir scowled at him. “Thank you for your vote of confidence.”
“It’s just one afternoon,” Merry pointed out. “And isn’t it nice to be out of the city and under the trees on a warm summer day?”
“It’s especially nice when the cooks send us a picnic lunch, too,” Pippin added, nodding to the basket he was carrying.
“I’m surprised the cooks gave you two anything,” Legolas said.
“Only because we told them it was for Captain Faramir,” Merry said.
“Did you tell them Captain Faramir didn’t want to go on a picnic?” the man asked.
“No,” Pippin said. “Then we wouldn’t have got any food. We could have brought another basket, but Merry’s carrying the fishing poles, and Legolas wouldn’t help.”
“I suspect there’s enough in that basket to keep you from starving between lunch and dinner,” Legolas observed.
“There!” Merry said proudly, pointing ahead down the path. He and Pippin had found this fishing spot a week ago and guarded it jealously. Faramir, though he was far from being a fisherman, had to agree that it was a lovely place, a sun-dappled pond among the trees with broad, grassy banks. As they approached, a few large frogs plopped lazily into the water, sending out slow ripples. A pair of turtles regarded them with beady eyes from their perch on a floating log.
“I told you it was nice,” Pippin said, grinning up at Faramir, as Merry hurried ahead to lay down their fishing poles.
Faramir sighed and allowed the younger hobbit to tug him forward. Merry pointed to a spot near the water.
“I believe you’re mistaking me for my brother’s dog.”
“No,” Merry said. “If you were Finn, I wouldn’t bother to tell you to sit, because I’m not Boromir, and he’s the only one she listens to. Now, sit down and stop being difficult.”
Faramir sighed and sat down cross-legged in the grass. Legolas strolled up and sat down next to him, looking out over the smooth surface of the pond. The hobbits set about unrolling an old blanket and laying out the contents of their picnic basket.
“Did you encourage this?” Faramir asked.
Legolas smiled and shrugged his shoulders. “Does it matter?”
“I take it that means you did.”
“You’re getting more like your brother all the time,” the elf said. “If I wanted to spend my time with a bad-tempered, impatient mortal with no sense of humor…”
“No arguing,” Merry scolded.
Pippin, who was attempting to eat a large pastry and untangle his fishing line at the same time, muttered something in support of Merry’s statement.
“This is supposed to be an afternoon for relaxing,” the older hobbit said, handing Faramir a fishing pole.
“When you’re a Ranger, fishing is for having something to eat, not for relaxing,” Faramir said.
“Well, if other Rangers are much like Aragorn, none of them have any talent for relaxing whatsoever,” Legolas observed.
Merry left the man and the elf, and he and Pippin made their way down to the edge of the pond. Merry, being a Brandybuck, had considerable experience with fishing that most hobbits lacked, but Pippin had spent enough time with his cousin over the years that he was no amateur himself. Faramir watched as the two of them laughed and argued over their knotted lines and made crude suggestions about where fish hooks might get stuck if certain hobbits were not careful.
“You’d think they hadn’t a care in the world, those two,” Faramir said.
“You might think that, if you didn’t know them,” Legolas agreed.
“What do you mean by that?”
“No member of the Fellowship ended that journey without bearing scars to prove it,” the elf said. “Those two have seen awful things. They saw Gandalf fall with the balrog in Moria… and the balrog is a demon few mortals will ever be unfortunate enough to see. They faced the Black Riders and escaped from the Uruk-Hai. They both went to war and faced death just like men and elves did. They’re a very, very long way from home. But they don’t seem concerned about that now, do they?”
“No,” Faramir said. “And I know perfectly well what you’re trying to tell me.”
“Oh? What’s that?”
“To stop dwelling on unpleasant things and enjoy a nice afternoon in the sun.”
“To see the good things that are all around you,” Legolas added.
“Or sitting next to me?” the man asked, raising an eyebrow.
The elf laughed. “Perhaps.”
“One of the finest-looking things, no doubt,” Faramir said, reaching out to tuck a strand of pale golden hair back into place behind a pointed ear. “Although with an occasional tendency to be disagreeable.”
They were interrupted by a loud shout of protest; somehow both hobbits had ended up in the pond and were splashing and cursing at each other as they climbed back up onto the bank. Faramir chuckled.
“You evil thing!” Merry said sharply. “You tipped me into the water!”
“You pulled me in!”
“Only because you pushed me first!”
“I did not!”
They stopped, looked at each other, both dripping wet and muddy, and both burst out laughing.
“You’re a mess, Pip.”
“You’re a worse mess.”
Ignoring the mud as well as the man and the elf, Merry tugged the younger hobbit close and kissed him thoroughly before releasing him and trudging back out into the water to retrieve his fishing pole. In very little time both of them were stripped down to their breeches, the rest of their clothes hung over a branch to dry, and settled down in the grass by the water. Their cast lines made two little splashes that quickly settled, leaving the surface of the water still again.
“Are you going to fish?” Merry called.
“In a little while, perhaps,” Faramir answered.
“I believe we’ll go off and find some dry wood,” Legolas said. “That way, if you two fools actually catch anything, we can build a fire and cook it.”
Merry snorted. “Of course. As if Pip and I don’t know where the wood you’re looking for is.”
“And I doubt Faramir would approve of you setting it on fire,” Pippin said, giggling.
“You know,” Faramir said, “just because you two can’t be out of sight for three heartbeats without groping each other doesn’t mean that’s what Legolas had in mind.”
“I don’t think it’s his mind giving the directives,” Merry chuckled.
Faramir rolled his eyes. Legolas stood up and offered the man a hand, his blue eyes bright and amused.
“Come on, then, Faramir, and we’ll get down to the very serious and not at all questionable activity of gathering wood.”
They were barely out of sight of the pond, and could still distantly hear Merry and Pippin’s laughter, when the elf wrapped his arms around Faramir and kissed him. The man grinned.
“I thought this isn’t why we were coming out here.”
“You said this wasn’t why we were coming out here. This is exactly why I was coming out here.”
He prevented any further discussion by silencing Faramir’s mouth with his own. Faramir attempted to protest, but failed entirely when Legolas slid a strong but slender hand under his shirt, fingers tracing the lines of muscles and old scars.
“Whatever you’ve got in mind… the hobbits are likely to stumble onto it…”
Legolas shrugged. “It would only be fair, after all the times everybody always stumbles onto them while they’re at it.”
Faramir closed his eyes. “It’s remarkable how fast you can undo the laces on breeches.”
“I’ve had a bit of practice,” the elf said, grinning. “Now, considering that the two nosy little creatures are just over there, you’ll have to be very quiet while I do this, won’t you?”
Legolas chuckled and let his hands trail down the front of Faramir’s body as he slid to his knees. Faramir gasped and clutched at a handful of long golden hair.
“Shh,” Legolas reminded him.
“We could go… further away…”
“Ah, but that would ruin the fun of watching you try to stay quiet.”
Faramir expected laughter and jeers from the hobbits as he and the elf wandered out of the forest without so much as a twig collected, but the clearing had gone unusually quiet. Faramir felt a twinge of concern before he spotted the two hobbits lying in the grass near the water, their fishing poles propped up with small piles of stones. He walked toward them and found them wrapped contentedly around each other, Pippin’s hands, as they so often were, tangled in Merry’s coppery curls and Merry’s arms around the younger hobbit, holding him secure against his chest. Hearing the man approach, Merry opened one eye and smiled up at him.
“What are you up to?”
“Fishing,” Merry said, running a hand down Pippin’s bare back as he yawned and buried his face in Merry’s shoulder.
“You are not fishing. You’re sleeping.”
“I didn’t know you couldn’t do both at once,” Pippin muttered.
“Well, you’re certainly not going to catch anything,” Faramir said, reaching for one of the fishing poles and pulling the line in. “See? Something’s gone and stolen your bait.”
“What bait?” Merry said, smiling sleepily.
Faramir raised an eyebrow. “The bait you put on a fish hook…”
“Silly man,” Pippin giggled.
“What’s so funny?” Faramir asked, starting to smile in spite of himself.
“You only bait a fish hook if you actually intend to CATCH anything,” Merry explained.
“But… I thought… so why did we even bring the fishing poles?”
“Well, if you don’t bring any fishing poles, you can’t rightly call it fishing, can you?” Pippin asked.
“But why call it fishing if you’re not going to catch any fish?”
“Because if you don’t call it fishing, then it’s just napping by the pond, and that tends to be frowned upon when folks think you should be doing something useful,” Pippin said, looking up from where he was still wrapped up in Merry’s arms.
“I see,” Faramir said. “But why bother to…”
There was a hiss, and then a splash. Faramir spun to find Legolas slinging his bow over his shoulder and then calmly reeling in his arrow by the fishing line fixed to it, finally holding up the arrow with a large fish impaled on it.
“Fishing with poles is a dreadfully inefficient way to procure food, anyway,” the elf said mildly. “Perhaps we should build a fire and I’ll catch a few more of these, and after we’ve eaten, maybe we’ll try out some fishing, Merry-and-Pippin style.”
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