The cloaks felt warm on their backs, but that, Boromir noted wryly, did not seem to be the reason that the Hobbits giggled so. He watched them as they rode before him in the boat. They were doing things with their hands and feet and their cloaks and then, they would burst into peals of laughter. Boromir tried to shush them, but the sound of their mirth tickled him and he found himself hard-pressed to stifle a laugh of his own.
He could feel Aragorn staring at them and at last, in a gesture of helplessness, Boromir shrugged and looked away.
When they camped that evening, Boromir hoped that Merry and Pippin would settle down. They did, for the time that it took to eat Sam’s stew, but shortly thereafter, they started again. Whatever they were doing, he saw they could not cajole Sam and Frodo into joining them.
It was soon time to set up the first watch. Aragorn’s tone, as he told Merry and Pippin that, due to their high spirits, he would hold them to first watch, was firm. Boromir cocked an eyebrow. These two would be useless at watch tonight if they kept up their present antics! Aragorn must have thought the same, for he separated them, sending Merry to one end of the camp and Pippin to the other. Their look of extreme disappointment caused the man of Gondor to laugh out loud. Aragorn scowled at him and the Hobbits blushed in embarrassment.
Before their duty began, Sam went over and gave each one a good talking to. Boromir had to stifle another laugh as he saw Sam’s finger wagging furiously in front of the face of each one. Even Sam could tell it was a losing battle. He turned, grumbling, and went back to Frodo’s side.
“Mayhap they could have another moment before their duties begin?” Boromir had walked quietly to Aragorn’s side. “The camp has not yet settled, and I must admit some curiosity as to what mischief these two are about.”
Aragorn nodded. Boromir motioned to both Hobbits, who looked to Aragorn for approval, and, once he gave it, ran to Boromir’s side.
“Do you need some help, Boromir?” Merry asked hopefully. “We felt quite useless on the river today. Every time I put an oar in to help push, it was almost ripped from my hand by the forward pressure of your thrusts.”
“Merry!” Pippin cried in horror. “Never once did you try to help.”
“Aye. You are right in that, Pippin. Neither of you even attempted a hand. You were busy with other doings and I would ask you now what that was.”
Merry looked furtively at Pippin, who just smiled – a fell smile if ever Boromir had seen one! – and simply said, “We’ll show you.”
With that, they ran beyond the camp’s borders. Boromir’s jaw dropped in surprise and Aragorn stood in alarm.
“Forgive me!” Boromir held up a hand to his companions. “It is my fault that they have left the camp. I will bring them back.”
The beginnings of anger stirred in his heart. He had trusted them, had even intervened with Aragorn on their behalf, and yet, at the first opportunity, they left duty behind and ran into the forest. He called out quietly to them, but the only response he heard was soft giggling somewhere in front of him. The night was dark and he could hardly see. Now, dread replaced anger. What if the Hobbits could not find their way back? He quickened his step.
Off to the left, he heard more laughter. As he moved forward, he felt something touch his leg. He looked down in surprise, but saw nothing. Shaking his head in wonder, he moved forward again. Another touch upon his other leg. He whirled about, perplexed. Now the laughter came from behind him, somewhere in the direction of their camp. He heaved a sigh of relief as he walked towards the sound. At least Merry and Pippin were safe. He wondered again at the touch. Was the Lady Galadriel’s sorcery part of this? Did her power extend beyond the Golden Wood?
In the distance, he could see their campfire and counted the bodies around it. Only five. Merry and Pippin had not returned!
He looked to his left and to his right. There was no sign of either of them. A faint giggle arose in front of him; his frustration welled from him as a growl.
Suddenly, he was tackled from the front and from behind. Within a moment, he was sprawled upon the ground, his mouth eating dirt and leaves. The Fellowship, running towards him in concern, began to laugh.
At that, two hoods were popped back and the smiling faces of his tormentors could be seen. Merry and Pippin’s wide grins flashed in the firelight. “These cloaks are as good as the Lady said, Boromir. Not once did you see us!”
They plopped down on his chest, laughter filling the air. The rest of the Fellowship looked on in amusement.
“Indeed they do,” Aragorn stroked his beard. “Indeed they do.” He walked back to the fire. Legolas and Gimli, Frodo and Sam left also.
Boromir sighed. None would help him rise. The two Hobbits giggled and smiled at him. “Are you all right, Boromir?” Pippin asked.
“I will be, when I am finished with you!” He pulled them tightly to him and began to tickle them mercilessly. At last, he collapsed as laughter and fatigue took him.
Tears streamed down all their faces, then Boromir released them. Merry and Pippin rolled to the side. Boromir stood and bowed. “You have put my heart at ease,” he said gently, “and I am grateful. The Lady said the cloaks would protect us from unfriendly eyes. I would not have believed it myself if you had not shown me.” He bowed again and walked back to the campfire.
Merry and Pippin sat on the hard ground, their mouths opened in astonishment.
I had just finished re-reading Linaewen’s ‘110 Days’ – this little story came from one chance remark that Boromir makes in the chapter at Amon Hen. He wondered if the Lady spoke true; if the cloaks really would protect them. Any peace I can give the son of Gondor is well worth a few moments writing! Thank you, Lin, for the plot bunny! You can read it here - http://lotrscrapbook.bookloaf.net/stories/serial/110/index.html