by Niere

It was a perfect evening. The sky was clear and the air was crisp and clean. The four Hobbits were sitting around a crackling fire enjoying the last of their supper. It had taken some doing to get all of them released for this little get-away, especially Frodo. It was the endless begging and pleading from the three younger Hobbits which eventually caused Ioreth to allow it. He finally relented with the stipulation they take a cart. It was too far to walk and Frodo was much too weak to sit a pony.

They had traveled to Ithilien, to camp in the unblemished area there. They had all seen enough of war and the ravaged lands it caused. With them all taking turns at driving, it had been an easy trip. Occasionally, their merry laughter had turned the heads of those they passed, causing answering smiles to emerge.

Sam looked over at Frodo and saw him holding his bandaged hand closely and staring into the fire. "Mr. Frodo." Frodo looked up. "Your hand, is it bothering you?" he asked. "What?" Frodo replied, confused. He looked down at his injured extremity. Propping his arms on his knees, he looked back up at Sam with a weary smile, "No, it's all right." "You're sure?" Sam pressed, "I can get the medicine from your pack if it pains you." "No, Sam. I'm fine." Frodo turned back to stare unseeingly into the fire. As Sam watched, his hands slowly went back to their cradled position.

Sam regarded Frodo's pinched face with concern. He was too thin. Frodo had always been slender for a Hobbit, but now he was almost emaciated. Sam missed his smile and ready laughter. Rare was Frodo's laugh now. The trauma of the trip through Mordor, ending with the forceful taking of the ring and the loss of his finger, was taking its toll.

Suddenly, Pippin started humming. It was a childhood tune. "What 'cha doing Pip?" Merry asked him. "Composing," he answered. "Composing?" Merry laughed. "Composing what? Everyone knows that one." "OK," Pippin grinned sheepishly back at him, "so it's not an original tune. I re-wrote it. For some reason, it just came to me." "Well, sing it for us then," Merry said. Pippin sat there, blushing. "Come on, sing it," Sam encouraged. Frodo looked up at him. "Yes, please, won't you, Pippin?" Pippin saw the entreaty in Frodo's eyes and agreed. "Now, you'd better not laugh at me," he said sternly, then sang:

(To the tune of "Itsy, Bitsy Spider")
The huge, enormous Cave Troll
He burst in with a slam
Raising up his club
He almost got poor Sam
Later in the fighting
After a great fuss
He really sent me flying
When killed by Legolas.

The other three sat there for a moment, then burst into appreciative cheering. "Pippin, that was wonderful!" Merry cried. "I remember that," Sam said, thinking back. "I just knew I was a goner." Pippin looked at Frodo. He was heartened by the pleased smile he saw. It had been too long since Frodo had smiled. Maybe this trip WOULD do him some good.

"Let me try." Merry sat there thoughtfully for a few minutes. "I've got one."

(To the tune of "Old Mac Donald Had a Farm")
Farmer Maggot had a farm
And on his farm, he grew mushrooms
Filched by Pip and me
If we run real fast
Then we'll get away
Only to return
On another day
Farmer Maggot had a farm

Their laughter rang through the forest. Even Frodo chuckled at that one. "You were lucky he never got his hands on you," he laughed. Merry just grinned at him. "Sam's turn!" he said turning toward him. Sam reddened. "I couldn't," he mumbled, staring at his feet. "Oh, come on, give it a go. We won't laugh, we promise." Merry and Pippin crossed their fingers over their harts. Frodo placed a hand on Sam's arm. "Please, Sam? Try?" Sam sat there, flustered and thinking furiously. Finally, he sang:

(To the tune of "Row, Row Row Your Boat")
Hoe, hoe, hoe the weeds
Hoe them just that way
Hoe the garden and the beans
And keep an eye for rain.

Merry and Pippin started whooping. "That was great!" they cried. Sam looked over at Frodo, pleased to see the smile on his face and a lessening of the pain in his eyes. "Thank you, Sam," Frodo told him, "that was wonderful."

Finally, Merry's and Pippin's mirth died down, though they still chuckled at the silliness of their songs. After a while, Pippin looked over at Frodo. "What about you, Frodo? Why don't you give it a try? You can't do any worse than we did." Staring into the fire, Frodo began to sing, softly:

(To the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star")
You three are my greatest friends
You've stuck with me 'till the end
After all that we've been through
I hope you know that I love you
Thank you all for being there
I never knew how much you care.

The younger Hobbits looked at him for a moment, then gathered around him, hugging him. "We love you, too," they told him, "we always have, and always will." With tears streaming down their faces, they finally broke apart and rolled up in their blankets. Although his eyes remained shadowed, Frodo's face was peaceful. The others saw this and were hopeful. Maybe there would be healing for him yet.