"The Road goes ever on and on, down from the door where it began..." The harmony was tight, Merry taking the lowest part, Pippin the highest, Sam warmly carrying the tune, and Rosie and Estella smiled as they listened and watched Elanor's round-eyed fascination, but there was, as ever, something missing.
Still they sang, sitting by the New Oak, as Pippin liked to call it, on the soft patch of grass above and behind Bag End, soaking up the afternoon sunshine of a warm fall day. "...my evening rest," Pippin sang again with a flourish, "and sleep to meet." He sat with closed eyes for a moment before opening them and smiling at Merry, who sat on the other side of Sam, and then reaching for Merry's cider. "Singing makes me thirsty."
"Get your own," Merry retorted cheerfully, handing his mug over nevertheless. Sam smiled at them both, and at Elanor, who, released from the spell of the music, began crowing and waving her arms; Estella lifted her up in the air, encouraging her to laugh and kick, and Rosie laughed with her daughter even as she glanced over at her husband. Sam's smile twisted a little as he returned the glance, smoothing out again into something sadder, and Rosie blew him a quick kiss.
The silence began to thud in Merry's ears. "Bilbo did always write fine songs," he said as cheerfully as he could; Pippin caught his eye as he nodded agreement. Sam turned his sad smile to them, knowing what they were about. "Aye, he did, Mr. Merry. Shall we sing another?"
"How about something lively?" Estella suggested, "What do you think, Elanor? Would you like 'Troll Sat Alone'?" The breeze blew chill for a moment. Merry's throat closed up and he had to catch his breath, watching Sam go pale, watching Pippin put a hand on Sam's shoulder and Rosie helplessly reach out; fortunately, Elanor gurgled, keeping Estella's gaze long enough for the other four hobbits to school their expressions into smiles. "Ah, 'Stel," Merry laughed, eyes carefully on Sam, "that's not Bilbo's work, that's a Gamgee original." Pitching his voice a bit more honestly, Merry continued, " Sam, would you sing it to us?"
Sam smiled at Merry, a real smile if bittersweet, and squeezed his hand. "Of course, Mr. Merry," he said, rising to his feet, leaning over to catch Rosie's raised hand and squeeze it before he stood straight to sing. "Troll sat alone on his seat of stone..."
Merry watched Sam sing, the sunlight in his fair hair and the breeze blowing his cloak around him, the sky sharp-blue behind him, the sapling oak red and green as it stood where a mighty tree had once crowned Bag End, before the Troubles. Sometimes it seemed to Merry that everywhere he looked there were reminders and scars and memories; as if to echo the thought, his weak hand twinged. When Merry winced and flexed the hand Pippin noticed; without turning his attention from Sam's singing Pippin reached out and laid his hand, the scarred sword hand, atop Merry's own.
Merry looked at Pippin's hand on his, Sam's warm voice in his ear; he looked up at Pippin, then past the sharp-featured face to Estella's, her heart-shaped face all a-smile as she bounced Elanor on her lap in time with Sam's rollicking song. Elanor, new and fair and full of life, and beyond her Rosie, round with another child, looking up at Sam as if her gaze alone could keep him upright. Perhaps it did.
"...And the bone he boned from its owner!" Sam finished with a grin, and they cheered and applauded as Estella handed him Elanor, who claimed a fistful of his hair and tried to gnaw on his nose. "I know what can follow that!" Pippin cried cheerfully, as he sprang to his feet. "'Little Princess Mee...'"
The light dimmed. Merry blinked. The Sun hadn't gone behind a cloud; it merely felt that way, as he realized that the noise he'd heard was a sob. Sam's sob. Sam crumpled heavily, yet carefully, cradling his daughter as he fell to sitting, burying his face in her bright hair. "Sam?" Pippin asked, as Rosie tried to struggle to her feet, but Sam was already shaking his head, rubbing his face with the back of one hand. "I'm all right. I'm fine. Sit easy, my Rose." His voice steadying with each word but his face still turned to Elanor's hair, Sam slowly, surely continued. "I just, I used to sing that song to Mr. Frodo. No, Mr. Pippin, there's naught to beg pardon for, you couldn't know. Now, come on," and here Sam managed to raise his head again, and Merry's heart rose as well. “Come and sing for us, Mr. Pippin."
Pippin smiled, and nodded, and reached for Merry's hand; Merry took it, reaching for Estella's, who squeezed his hand as she reached for Rosie's. Rosie's other hand lay on her belly, fingers already intertwined with Sam's. Pippin reached to pat Sam's shoulder, and Elanor grabbed his finger in her fist; he smiled at her, and started to sing again, as they sat together in the fall sunshine. "'Little princess Mee, lovely was she, as in elven song is told..."
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.