I. The Errand

Daisy sat up against a tree, diving in the Red Book of Westmarch’s tales, now not even aware of the quiet surroundings of her. The sun elegantly graced the sky, and the trees seemed to sway with emotion at the joyful song of the Shire. To complete the iconic scene of relaxation in the Shire, a small bunny hopped by along with a squirrel attempting to crack a nut. Inside the house, Rose Gamgee — her mom — glanced up at her hotly. All the time she was outside. Reading. The wooden door opened with a creak and suddenly slammed shut as she was joined by little Robin, his hair disheveled and his hands grubby. He was trying to perfect a trick on his old wooden yo-yo; the one Sam gave to him that was from Dwarven-countries. He thought he had perfected it and ran out to the garden to see Daisy.

‘Daisy! Daisy! Look, I think I got it!’ he yelled as he bounded down the small hobbit steps, two at a time. He changed his form and steadied his eyes for showmanship. Daisy smiled at watching her jittery little eleven year old brother concentrate so hard. She knew the trick, and could do it blindfolded and talking over a loud crowd of people, but she remembered back when she was younger and her dad took time off from being in Michel Delving to show her the trick. He brought the yo-yo up and down several times before sending it above his head — and into the tree. Daisy laughed and hugged her little brother.

‘Aren’t you going to go get it?’ asked Daisy, ‘or should I?’

‘A girl?!?’ yelped Robin, ‘climbing a tree!?! I’ve never heard of that!’ Daisy glared at her brother playfully, hands on hips, tapping her large hobbit feet.

‘Wait here,’ said Daisy defiantly, ‘I’m gonna get a pair of Ham’s slacks and I’ll be back to climb that tree!’ Robin laughed so hard he hit the ground with delight and began rolling along the soft, long grass.

‘You ain’t gonna climb that tree, Dais! You’ll see… you’ll get stuck and mom’ll have to get dad from the Town Hole to get you out!’ Daisy stuck her tongue out at her brother and began marching back up to Bag End. She waltzed into Ham’s room without knocking.

‘You could knock,’ he muttered without looking up. He was attempting to fix one of Ruby’s old toys, which lost its rattle a few months ago.

‘Can I borrow some pants?’ Daisy asked flatly as she leaned against the door frame, ignoring his retort. He looked up in alarm.

‘Why do you need some of my pants?’ he asked, feeling a bit awkward at this conversation. Daisy let out a sigh. Why wouldn’t he just hand over the slacks?

‘If you must know,’ replied Daisy slowly, letting the situation marinate as she strolled from one end of his room to the other, ‘I’m going to climb a tree. Robbie doesn’t think I can do it.’

Ham snorted. ‘Neither do I,’ he snapped back dryly.

‘Then give me the pants so I can prove you both wrong!’ yelled Daisy, getting a tad frustrated.

‘Touchy, touchy,’ joked Ham as he threw a pair of pants at her from the crack between his bed and the wall. To the Gamgee-Gardner family it was known as the “abyss”.

‘You keep pants in the abyss?’ she asked in disbelief. Ham grinned, pulling out an apple.

‘I keep every thing in the abyss,’ he said with a laugh as he bit into the apple.

Outside, Robin had assembled a small crowd outside, which contained Daisy’s twelve other siblings, the Gardner-Gamgee kids, (including Robin and Ham, and Daisy’s big sister Elanor shook her head, wishing this was a joke – she knew it wasn’t when Daisy strolled out confidently in an old pair of trousers rolled up past her knees) as well as a few Cottons (their first cousins) and a couple Tooks and Brandybucks (Merry and Pippin and their children – Daisy wondered how they heard of it, then realized they were probably just trying to visit Sam and Robin lured them in).

Robin glanced at his sister spitefully, his arms crossed and tapping his already-hairy feet. ‘Okay, Daisy,’ he said when he pointed to the tall, thick, looping and twisted tree, ‘climb away!’ Shouts and cheers and heckled were suddenly brought up from the crowd.

From boys Robin’s age: ‘She can’t do it!’

Girls of all ages: ‘Whose pants is she wearing?’

From boys her age: ‘Nice pants! Now we got’s something to joke on her ’bout! Go Daisy, go!’

From Merry and Pippin: ‘Remember that time we climbed the party tree?’ ‘Ah, good times! A shame those ghastly ruffians burned it down, the kids would’ve loved it!’

Daisy reflected at the craziness of it all. They had all come to watch her climb a tree to get a yo-yo. ‘Oh, well,’ she thought, ‘they don’t seem to mind wasting twenty minutes or so.’ She glanced up at where the yo-yo was. It was marvelously high up, and would take her forever to get down. She kicked the trunk once or twice before leaping upwards to hold onto a large, mangled branch. She swayed her legs back and forth to gain momentum until she was able to swing her entire body above her arms and land, very dangerously, on the branch her hands had been on. The crowd gasped in fear before breaking into thunderous applause. Daisy clutched the tree trunk and grasped it for dear life. She selected another branch, about six inches or so above her foot, to step onto next. She applied weight on it to ensure its safety, and then stepped up.

‘No fair!’ yelled Robin, ‘you’re going too slow!’

‘Oh yeah?’ Daisy called back. Robin bobbed his head up and down viciously. Daisy blew extremely hard and looked down, then looked up. She was already about six feet off the ground — almost her height doubled — and she still had quite a while to climb. She scrambled up the tree as gracefully as she could, trying to keep all minor squawks and squeaks as silent as possible. Finally, at last, she was nose to nose with the yo-yo. She held it up victoriously to shouts and cheers from small dots below.

‘Now come down!’ a small voice cried softly and far away.

Daisy viewed her options heavily.
She could jump. No, no, that wouldn’t work. She’d land face first and would never see the outside of the Shire.
She could slide down the trunk. That would be fun, and it was definitely less life threatening. Still, the tree had hundreds of gnarly branches for her to get stuck on. Then dad would have to come back from Michel Delving to save her.

The safest way she thought of was to simply come down the same way she came up: climb. Soon enough, she was on land again, handing the yo-yo to an astonished Robin, pulling up her extremely loose trousers. After a last huzzah and a snack (no one is sure where the snack came from, still an enigma till this day), the crowd quickly dispersed. Elanor approached her little sister and clasped her hands to her sister’s shoulders.

‘Are you insane, Daisy Gamgee?’ Elanor asked, searching Daisy’s face.

‘No,’ laughed Daisy, ‘I just like a little… change in my life. A little excitement!’ She turned to see Merry and Pippin approaching them.

‘Merry! Pippin!’ they all chorused, and there were hugs for all.

‘What are you doing here?’ asked Daisy excitedly. Pippin shrugged.

‘I just like following my cousin,’ he said, ‘but I think we’re here for something more important than watching eighteen year olds climb trees.’ He grinned at Daisy and she laughed. ‘But seriously, I think we got “political reasoning” to talk to your dad about. Isn’t that right, Merry?’

‘Yes,’ agreed Merry, ‘we were heading over to Michel Delving to go talk to your dad and your little brother was recruiting people and tossing them with great force into the garden. After it was over, Troy didn’t seem to want to leave.’ Merry tousled his son, Troywell’s hair. Eowyndoc (who everyone called Windy), his other son, seemed to be holding back a repressive dig or laugh at his big brother, who in return punched Windy in the arm.

‘Ah, and Far here wants to know the whereabouts of your sister Goldie,’ joked Pippin, pushing his own blushing son toward Bag End. Faramir had an eternal crush on Goldilocks Gamgee, who was renowned throughout the Shire for her foreign hair color. Hair had always varied from blonde to a deep brown, but never went to golden! This time Elanor laughed.

‘I think she’s out teaching Ruby how to read, either that or prying into Fastred’s business,’ Elanor remarked.

‘Fastred… that fine young fellow you’re marrying soon?’ asked Pippin, folding his arms and getting into the discussion. He unexpectedly pushed Faramir even more towards Bag End. Faramir, flustered, glanced back at his dad who was telling him with eyebrows and gestures to “Go! Find the girl and talk to her, nitwit!”

Daisy glanced to her left, where she felt a pair of eyes on her. Troy’s eyes met hers for a bit longer before trailing away. Merry tried to slyly pat his son’s back, but everyone else noticed. Daisy and Elanor’s eyes met during the embarrassing situation before quickly glancing away, stifling laughter.

There was a long, hesitant silence. Pippin, even though he was now in his 50s, glanced around with his hands in his pockets, swaying his body weight between his toes and his heels.

‘So,’ he said suddenly, to break the silence, ‘married in how long?’

‘Two weeks,’ replied Elanor.

‘Well, I wish we could all celebrate, but I suppose we must be off… lots of Thain/MoB stuff, ya know?’ said Merry.

‘Troy, say something to Daisy so we can finally leave!’ yelped Pippin as he turned to walk away. Then he added to Elanor and Daisy over his shoulder, ‘and if you see my fool of a Took boy, tell him to come over to Michel Delving before he gets left in Hobbiton, ’cause once I leave for Tookland I ain’t coming back!’


A week later planning for Elanor’s marriage to Fastred began. She would be wed in the same location as Mad Bagginses’ eleventy-first birthday with his mysterious and outrageous disappearing. While Elanor was seemingly indifferent about the entire whole ordeal and just wanted to be married, Rose, their mom, only wanted the best for her daughter. She wanted the town talking — in a good way — about this for a long while.

Either way, Samwise, Rose and Elanor were often gone. When Rose was at the house she seemed constantly irritable and vexed over the wedding planning. In comparison, Elanor — when she was in Bag End, those few short hours a week — was very calm and a glow shone about her when she smiled or was asked about the wedding, lifting everyone’s spirits within a ten foot radius around her. Samwise was gone the most, though whether the reason was government or for planning Rose (let alone Daisy) was never sure. Some days he was at home going through the Red Book and other days he said he was off with Pippin and Merry, visiting friends and acquaintances from adventures past. Others still he was at various meetings.

As for Daisy, apart from Elanor’s happiness and the choosing of the dresses, she stayed as distant in mind and body from the wedding as possible.

‘I want to be surprised,’ she would claim as she grabbed a basket of food and something to entertain herself for the day. Then she would head out of doors. There, she spent most of her time; either in the gardens of Bag End, where she and her dad spent a lot of time; or she was visiting.

One fine day — rather rainy, but in healthy spirits — she and her sister, Goldilocks (she was rightfully named so, and was now often called Goldie-Rosie because she also took a large resemblance to her mother Rose) knocked on the cheery old door of Mr. Pippin Took’s residence. Merry was still yelling at Pippin with a mushroom in hand when he opened the door.

‘Why!’ Merry cried, ‘if it isn’t two of old Sammy’s girls! Pip, look here, its Goldie and Davie — what brings you two this way?’ with that. He opened the round hole door and offered them tea. Just as they settled down for another round of Diamond’s biscuits, Faramir bounded through the door loudly with Windy and Troy. Windy was holding furry, reddish object in both hands and Troy had a small axe in his.

‘Dad, we got the…’ Faramir’s voice trailed off at the sight of Goldie. She grinned nervously and blushed. He let out a small smile, his eyes glued to her. They had yet to notice Daisy had left to go put up coats. The room fell in a dead silence. After a long while the room was still gravely motionless, all except for Troywell’s crunch as he bit into an apple every now and again.

‘Dad,’ Faramir tried again, his eyes still on Goldie. By now Daisy was back. ‘Dad, we… we got the thing that was killing the corn.’ He pointed to Windy (that was what they called Eowyndoc, and Troywell was known as Troy) and Windy triumphantly laid a wild animal on the table. They all studied it in silence for a while.

‘Is it… even an animal?’ Daisy inquired finally, analyzing the remains of the thing, which obviously wasn’t privileged to a most painless death. They had bundled the pieces up and attempted to make it look good. Daisy thought once they had killed whatever it was with the axe they then took turns whacking it.

‘I think so,’ Troy replied uncertainly, glancing Daisy’s way. Goldilocks rose to inquire Faramir on its capture. Pippin clapped his hands.

‘No matter!’ the hobbit laughed, ‘whether it’s a furry crocodile or a common raccoon, it’s for dinner tomorrow! But today is turkey!’ the furry crocodile, of course, was just a joke. By now Merry and Pippin were sure it was a simple, woodland raccoon.
‘Windy, you start the spit! It should be cooking for a while,’ Pippin instructed.

‘Troy and Daisy-Lu, run an errand for me, eh?’ Merry handed off a few instructions to Troy before sending his son off with Daisy.

‘Hey!’ Windy grumbled, ‘and what’s Far to do?’ Faramir glared at Windy as Goldie giggled quietly.

‘Looks like Far’s got a job all on his own; I myself too. One day maybe you’ll have the looks to accompany a Gamgee girl,’ Troy shot back cunningly. The house was engulfed with laughter and Troy pinched his younger brother’s cheek jokingly before grabbing Daisy’s hand and setting off.


As Troy and Daisy ventured to Bree by a shortcut Pippin had found, to visit the Prancing Pony where the errand was, they seemed to be on no schedule. They would often stop to admire the sky; one minute it would glow with highlights of reds and oranges, and even a few shimmering golds, and the next it was darkening, darker by the minute, and the stars shown. After a while, far off you could hear the wood-elves playing and singing old folklore, and Troy and Daisy laughed and they tried to sing along, and they danced; in and out of puddles, under the mighty trees, across windows. Her skirt flew in and out according to the dance, her lacy hem became muddier and muddier but she laughed all the more. The forest was clad in green firs and browning trees and apples and citrus hung heavily from the trees. The road wound on to and fro on

‘We’re nearly half way there,’ Daisy said as they finished dancing, ‘and it’s already dark. What’s this errand your father’s got us on?’ Troy shrugged.

‘My dad said he didn’t expect us till late in the afternoon tomorrow,’ Troy explained, ‘but he gave me this envelope and told me not to open lest we come to the Prancing Pony.’

‘And did he say more… about the errand I mean,’ inquired Daisy as a rush of wind flew past them.

‘He said it was a small errand, but the things we may find out would be much to our liking,’ returned Troy, ‘but I have not a clue on what he meant by that.’ He paused. ‘Did you know they talk about you a lot?’ he said after a long wait.

‘They?’ Daisy mused. She glanced up at him, pressing him for more. Troy was unusually tall, standing at four foot seven inches. Sam said it was because of the Ent’s water Merry had all those years ago. Daisy herself didn’t even reach four feet on the tips of her toes.

‘They,’ said Troy, ‘as in my dad, and Pippin, and your dad. They claim — in laughs — that you’re an undercover Took, just like Mr. Gamgee, that’s what they say. Mr. Gamgee says you tell him all the time you’re looking for an adventure.’ He froze again, this time standing still. Daisy stopped in her tracks a few steps ahead and looked back at him.

‘He says,’ Troy says finally, ‘he says you say you want to adventure with a Took, or maybe a Brandybuck. Then they slap me on the back and say I’m the perfect Brandybuck for the job. And then, then they drink our good health,’ he added with a laugh, beginning to walk again. They walked side by side, closer together now because the wind was picking up and making it very cold.

‘Would you, I wonder,’ Daisy suddenly pondered aloud.

‘Would I what?’ Troy asked, shivering from the chill. He had given his cloak to Daisy — at least, Daisy had taken his cloak — because she had forgotten hers in a coat closet at Pippin’s house. She shrugged.

‘Would have come on the adventure with me was all I was thinking,’ she replied plainly.

He nodded. ‘I do think I would have,’ he supposed, ‘and I do think I will. Whenever the quest comes, we shall have it.’ From that moment on Daisy and Troy became two of the best friends the Shire had ever seen, like Merry and Pippin almost, and they could depend on one another with their lives.

Suddenly Daisy squeezed Troy’s hand. ‘We’re here!’ she squealed at the sight of the Prancing Pony sign. She broke out running, at first dragging Troy along. He let out a small yelp, at first unsure of what was happening, then gathered his feet and ran alongside her. They entered arm and arm skipping and laughing and landed in a seating area near the check in. He ripped open the letter and then began to read out loud.

‘”Dear T and D,”‘ he read, ‘”Thank you for doing this task. On June third”– that’s tomorrow, right? Thought so– “a package will come for me at the Prancing Pony. Please bring it over to Cousin Pip’s house ASAP. You might be wondering why I sent you a day early. Hang around the Common Room or a couple of Private Parlors; you might enjoy what you hear. Aragorn often spends time there (late mind you) and you’ll most likely see him. Money for lodging and unlimited food has been paid for.
Love and warm wishes, Merry.” Lu, he’s got us here for a package? He directed us here for a package, a package! Oh, almighty Eru!’ he folded the paper and put it in his pocket. Then they got up to check in, because Troy’s stomach started growling.

‘I think the reservations are under Brandybuck and Gardner,’ Troy told the man at the desk. The round hobbit propped at the desk ruffled a great deal of papers before letting out a small, triumphant yelp. He was known, most commonly, as Nob Jr., and his dad was Old Nob.

”Ere we are!’ jolly old Nob laughed, ‘you two are in Suites 119 and 120. Oh, and Ms. Gardner and Mr. Brandybuck?’ They both turned, since they had already begun to set on their way to their different places. Daisy’s real last name was Gamgee, but her entire family had also taken on the name Gardner, because Sam had been called that when he restored the Shire after the War of the Ring.

‘Your dads? Are doing an awesome job,’ he said eagerly, with a truthful and thankful grin. Daisy smiled and nodded at him.

‘Thank you, Mr. Nob, we’ll tell them you spoke of them.’ They got that often because both their fathers were both Counselors of the North-kingdom, Sam was the Mayor and Merry Brandybuck had been installed as the Master of Buckland. And with that she turned and she and Troy began reviewing their plans. He would go scope out the Common Room and she would meet him there a little later, because she needed to relax a while in her room.


‘Troy, was that you I saw coming in here with that Daisy Gamgee-Gardner?’ a voice asked as Troy entered the hall. The voice was Jon Sandyman, old Sandyman’s grandson. Old Sandyman and the Gaffer had seem to openly dislike each other back in the end of the Third Age, and though Ted and Sam (the son of Sandyman and the son of the Gaffer) got along well, Jon adored Mayor Samwise Gamgee-Gardner but almost despised all Sam’s sons, and Daisy and Elanor.

‘Yes,’ Troy returned, ‘what’s it to you?’ Jon signaled for more beer for everyone. He then glanced around to ensure Daisy wasn’t around.

‘Don’t hang ’round her,’ Jon warned, ‘she’s bad news.’

‘Excuse me?’ Troy asked, now irritable.

‘There’s more Took than Gamgee about her,’ Jon reckoned, shaking his head.

‘My cousins are Tooks, you know,’ Troy shot back.

‘Well, still, there’s this talk of her wanting adventure. It ain’t healthy!” Jabedee Proudfoot called out from their now attentive audience.

‘Calm, Jabedee,’ Troy urged.

‘Well, he’s true, greater still,’ Jon interrupted, ‘it ain’t healthy, especially for a girl, which brings me to another thing. She strolls around town in pants — the term shorts would be nearer to the mark! — like its nothing. I should think that isn’t right, either I say!’ Troy raised an eyebrow and took a drink.

‘That was once!’ defended Troy, ‘and do you mean to put across that you think pants make her unattractive?’ The crowd grew still. The Gamgee-Gardner girls were known as the prettiest girls in the Shire, especially Elanor, Goldilocks and Daisy. No one had ever thought those three unattractive.

‘Heavens no!’ Jon burst loudly. ‘Her… and her sisters… they’re stunning. I’m just saying it ain’t female-like to go prancing around it trousers.’ A roar rose from the crowd once more. Troy fell gravely silent and stared ahead at the menu, jaw clenched.

‘Oh, goodness me, Troy, I didn’t mean to ruin your mood,’ Jon apologized, ‘it’s just–‘ he glanced up at the Common Room main door. Daisy was coming through the door, in a grey bodice vest with a pretty green skirt that brushed the floor. Her dark brown hair was wavy and wound down her shoulders from two ponytails at the nape of her neck. Her cheeks were rosy and her skin was tan from all her days outside. She was greeted by a group of Bolger girls who immediately began gushing over her hair. Her brown eyes remained on Troy before averting her attention to a baby hobbit hugging her skirt, almost hidden because she was so short. Troy prolonged his gaze a little more before Jon groaned.

‘What is it this time, you sad sack?’ Troy joked.

‘I just feel sorry for you is all,’ Jon let the words linger through the departing crowd as he sipped the Shire-renowned beer.

‘And am I supposed to ask why you’re having pity on me?’ Troy retorted, drinking the rest of his own cup, seeming very ill gotten.

‘I never said I had pity on you,’ returned Jon, ‘I said I felt sorry for you. Nevertheless, I feel bad for
you because you’re in love… and with a Gamgee! One that’s not even in her tweens!’ A final chortle swept over the audience as Jon snorted, drained his glass, firmly set his cup down and strolled out with Jabedee.

‘In love my foot,’ Troy muttered, though he felt the Common Room was a few hundred degrees too hot suddenly.

On the other side of the Common Room, Daisy sat with two of her good friends, Ophelia and Jessyn Bolger. Little Debbie Bolger sat happily on Daisy’s lap and giggled as she coiled a lock of Daisy’s dark hair with her small finger. Whenever Debbie saw Daisy she’d squeal, ‘Davie!’ and attacked her with kisses. Soon enough, the name caught on and not only did she go by Daisy Gamgee-Gardner but Davie Gardner as well. Ophelia sipped some tea before beginning to talk.

‘Oh, Davie, how are the plans coming along?’ Ophelia pondered. Jessyn quickly agreed and Debbie gave Daisy a big hug. Daisy laughed.

‘I would assume well,’ Daisy started, ‘my mother hasn’t fallen gravely ill. But I am attempting to stay as far away from the planning as possible. Usually I take Bilbo and Tolman and Robin out for a walk and we fly kites or something. Or Primrose, Ruby and I will go pick flowers.’

‘Oh,’ Jessyn replied, ‘so who’d you come with?’ Daisy glanced at the table where lots of hobbits, a few dwarves and even a man or two surrounded a very ill looking Troy.

‘Um, Troywell Brandybuck,’ she returned, glancing back and Ophelia and Jessyn, ‘you know our dads — his is Merry Brandybuck — they’re good friends? I was visiting the Tooks and his dad sent us to pick up a package tomorrow.’ Jessyn sighed dramatically and studied Daisy. She was ten, and very much attached to Daisy like her little sister. She had a plain, round face with dimples that were very visible, sometimes even when she wasn’t smiling or laughing, and she usually wore a light violet-purple to match her green eyes. Daisy laughed again.

‘What is it this time, Jessyn?’ Daisy pondered. Jessyn shrugged.

‘I dunno, sometimes I just wonder what it’s like being you, visiting Tooks and being Sam Gardner’s daughter, reading tales and climbing trees and coming to the Pony on errands and not wearing skirts! You’re so… so unconventional!’

Daisy raised an eyebrow at Jessyn’s last word. It seemed to her like Jessyn did a fair deal of reading herself, or at least listening.

‘Unconventional?’ Daisy said, ‘I haven’t been called that before. Where’d you get that word?’ Jessyn sat up triumphantly, placing her hands on her small waist.

‘I found it… myself!’ she proclaimed. Ophelia rolled her eyes.

‘Let’s not forget who told you what it means, Jess,’ she returned swiftly before ordering more crabtops (a form of pizza with seafood piled atop a thin crust, marinara sauce and just a touch of cheese).

‘Oh, Jess, it’s ready,’ Charlotte said, ‘will you get it?’

Debbie glanced up and touched her nose with Charlotte’s. ‘I like food a lot!’ she said. Charlotte smiled and tickled her as Jess wandered off to go find the pizza.

‘So,’ Ophelia started, ‘how was your trip here?’ Daisy glanced up from the laughing child reclining on her lap.

‘Oh, fine, though time seemed to pass quickly,’ she replied.

‘Did you dance?’ Ophelia asked slyly, sneaking a look at her young friend. Ophelia was the oldest out of the four of them, well out of her tweens. Her own dark mane of curls was usually pulled back. Daisy bit her lip.

‘Depends, Ophelia,’ she replied after a while, ‘were you spying?’

Ophelia burst out laughing and kissed her friend on the forehead. ‘Yes, now that you mention it I dare say I was. But it’s okay — the wood-elves have a special power, I believe, even if they don’t recognize it. They can turn an old hobbit’s tale into a beautiful song worth dancing to.’ She glanced off to check on her younger sister, who was carrying quite a large dish their way. Daisy patted Debbie to wake her up and handed her fractions of pieces for her to eat.

‘Goodness, look at the time!’ Ophelia exclaimed as they finished off the last few pieces. Daisy yawned warily and glanced at the clock.

‘Oh, you’re right… and I was tired before but now that you mentioned the time…’ (Another yawn as Daisy lifted Debbie and handed her over to Ophelia.) ‘…I’m off. Goodnight, Ophelia. Goodnight, Jessyn.’ She glanced over in her friends’ direction once more before waving good night and slowly opening the giant door to leave.

In her room, Daisy slept for only a few short hours before waking up, restless. First she walked around her room, touching the pictures and antiques, feeling each of the fabrics and textures, trying to get herself tired again. Finally she realized there was no point in trying lullay herself back to sleep and, putting on Troy’s cloak, went down stairs.

Downstairs there were but three people apart from staff still in the common room — a stocky hobbit, a man, and a woman who seemed Elven. Daisy looked down in thought; in Merry’s letter, he had said Aragorn often visited late.

‘Is this one of Sam Gamgee’s?’ the man asked with a proud smile, glancing up at her.

‘Yes sir,’ Daisy replied quietly, for even though she wasn’t tired she wasn’t completely awake, ‘I’m Daisy Gamgee-Gardner.’

‘Nice cloak,’ Troy said with a laugh as she sat beside him.

‘So you’re the wonderful little Daisy… the one Elanor has always been talking about!’ Arwen gushed while lovingly stroking a small child who sat on her lap, who was probably only a foot or so shorter than Daisy.

‘Wonderful?’ Daisy repeated, shocked. She and Elanor were extremely close (up till now she was Daisy’s only best friend) but to go as far as wonderful Daisy was unsure. Arwen nodded happily.

‘She talks about you as if you’re her other half. She says you love all your father’s stories about the War and elves and Aragorn and I and all the Fellowship. I think it’s wonderful the bond you two have,’ Arwen returned. Troy arose to quickly buy a great deal of food for the five of them, as a “midnight snack” he claimed, and then took a vote on who wanted beer, not counting Daisy.

‘Every hobbit needs its beer,’ he claimed. A chuckle was stirred only between Aragorn and Troy (who they called Merry Jr.)

Arwen touched her husband’s arm. ‘I left Athbeda’s blanket in the lobby,’ she murmured, ‘I need to go get it.’ She rose and tip toed out of the room. Aragorn studied Daisy. He knew the sense of excitement gleamed inside of her as it had her father — and still did.

‘Do you like the Shire?’ he asked, glancing at the map that stretched across the entire Western wall. Daisy thought that over.

‘Is it okay when you love something, but you’re waiting to leave?’ she asked slowly, trusting Aragorn immediately. He smiled. He didn’t expect for her to say that.

‘I do think it is. But remember this: having a quest in a far away land is exciting, but you’ll always want to find your way back home,’ he said, leaning back in his seat. Daisy thought that over.

‘I have always wondered,’ Daisy started, ‘what life would be like if my dad never returned to the Shire, but stayed in Gondor or somewhere in Eriador. The Shire would never have been restored, he never could have taken office, and I might’ve well been born a Boffin or Sackville-Baggins!

‘And I might have never known Elanor and… and…’ her voice trailed off before she could continue. ‘And sometimes I just really just stand still and am thankful the outcomes came as is… even if it doesn’t mean I was involved. But I still wish I was. And I can’t even imagine what life would’ve been like if my Da, or Pippin or Merry — or you even, even if I just now met you — I can’t imagine what life would’ve been like if fates took a turn for the worst and you’d died.’

‘You’re very thoughtful, Daisy,’ returned Aragorn, slowly and strongly, ‘especially since you’re not yet in your tweens. Did you know there’s a song about a girl who’s just like you… I remember it in Elven but… Arwen, do you remember it in common tongues?’

Arwen reemerged, this time with a sleeping Athbeda. She began singing in a soft, elvish accent,

‘Young in years yet wise in age
Walks this world for Mankind’s sake
Though she’s wise she worries still
On things unforeseen and things not foretold
Only the wisest can see her pain
And tell her once, and then tell her again
Do not fear what you don’t really know
Do not fear what you don’t really know.’

They all stayed silent for a moment, even Troywell ceased from eating for a bit. Finally Troy, feeling very out of place and irritated, spoke. ‘Well, this is all a bit mysterious,’ he muttered, ‘may we talk on something we all know about?’ Aragorn chuckled.

‘Fine then,’ he replied, ‘did you know I met your fathers in this very location? Untrue, my fault. I met Merry a little later. But anyhow, I told them nothing more of my identity except I was a Ranger, named Strider and that I knew Gandalf. And then Sam, old fellow, pressed me for more. And Merry and Pippin followed. I could tell that Frodo would have a few liable friends, and hopefully I would, too.

‘And then, at the Council, he told us — in more or less words — that he, he had made it his sole mission to protect Mr. Frodo; as did the others,’ Aragorn added, and with that Daisy grabbed Troy’s mug and began drinking (he said that it was all a joke and he was only kidding when he said he would buy her one). Aragorn laughed once more, feeling rather close to these two hobbits.

‘Hobbits are a tough and rather weird race,’ he joked, ‘Gandalf had told me they’re related to men, and I can believe it a hundred percent. I love your fathers dearly, and I, too, am glad the fates didn’t turn the wrong way.’ Suddenly he rose. ‘Well, we must get going,’ he began, ‘but do deliver this to your father for me,’ he finished as he handed Troy a package. With that he winked and pushed in the large chair he had been using. Arwen lovingly squeezed their hands before following her husband out of the Prancing Pony.


‘Now we’re on the way to home
The road is lengthy but not too long
We sang and drank and danced and laughed
And now at home our journey lasts!’ Daisy and Troy sang the song several times over while nearly running home and laughing the entire time. Daisy had come up with it herself, and was very proud.

‘I’ll sing it all the time!’ Troy promised, ‘It’ll be a song people have stuck in their heads forever, they love it so much! We can teach it to everyone! It’ll become a song they sing on holidays, on errands, on any day of the week and on any occasion!’ Daisy laughed and just skipped ahead. She was still wearing the cloak. She didn’t even bother taking it off after Aragorn and Arwen left.

Finally they reached Pippin’s house and knocked on the door. ‘Where’s my Dad?’ Troy yelled past Faramir at the door, ‘we got his package!’ The next thing you saw were two hobbits — that weren’t in their tweens anymore (although sometimes even they forgot) — bounding through the hole as fast as lightning.
But in all reality, all you could see till they reached the door was a blur of their green and pale orange garments. Merry grabbed the box and Pippin grabbed Daisy and Troy, and with an arm wrapped around each kissed their little hobbit heads. Then they sped back into the dining room to unveil the contents inside the box.

‘Scissors, scissors, I need scissors!’ Merry called out in a singsong voice. Someone handed him a pair of scissors and he began cutting open the package.

‘What’s in there, dad?’ Faramir asked, amused at the anxiousness of Pippin and Merry. Suddenly, Merry held up a sword, with carvings that showed a beautiful river flowing down and at the very top there were small imprints looking like a kind of exotic daisies. But if you followed the river as it went down the spine of the sword the river formed into a dragon.

‘We should name it!’ Goldilocks offered, ‘isn’t that what a sword like this deserves?’ They all nodded in agreement.

‘Maybe Daisy?’ Windy suggested, smirking at Daisy. In response, Pippin bopped him. Windy let out an audible yelp because he hadn’t been expecting it, a yelp that made him look rather stupid.

‘Where was it made?’ Faramir inquired.

‘Quenya and Sindarin I believe,’ Merry answered, examining the wonderful, immaculate blade.

‘I think we should name it Aika-aer,’ Troy decided.

‘And what does that mean? You could be cursing the thing,’ Windy said. Troy ignored his ignorant remark and explained what it meant.

‘Aika is a word that means “sharp” in Quenya, I think,’ he explained, ‘and aer is Sindarin, meaning “sea.” Those are the only two words I know in elvish.’ Merry held up the sword and smiled with acceptance.

‘I dub the Aika-Aer, or Sharp-Sea!’ he proclaimed.

‘And with that deed done, we must eat!’ Pippin added. Everyone laughed, but no one disagreed. They all swarmed toward the outdoor kitchen.

The raccoon that they had found the day before had been roasted on the spit and now looked delicious. When everyone had been served, and they were all happily eating, Pippin and Merry started their story that they loved to tell.

‘This is my side of the story of the War of the Ring,’ Merry began, ‘so Pippin, don’t butt in!’ (Laughter.) ‘Okay, so the way it begins for me is I was walking down over to Bag End to go visit Frodo when I saw old Bilbo walking by. His hand was in his pocket, like it always was. I took the forest route so I was almost positive he couldn’t see me. Then from nowhere come the Sackville-Bagginses, Otho and Lobelia. Back then, they had been trying to claim Bag End and everything for the longest time, and seeing as Otho had been the heir (if Bilbo ever died) you could be sure they were hot as fire when Bilbo adopted Frodo. They would always come around poking their heads into personal business like it was theirs to have! And they were rather loud about it; you could hear them coming a mile away. So poor Bilbo heard then coming, and I guess he was already having an off day, because he scooped a ring out of the pocket his hand had been in, placed it on his finger and suddenly disappeared.

‘Well, I was just shocked. I didn’t even visit Frodo, I was so spooked. I just got up and got out, didn’t stop running till I reached home. There was obviously something odd about that ring, other than it making you disappear, but I wasn’t sure what it was. So, the next time I visited Frodo and Bilbo was out, I snuck a peak at his memoir. The way he had won it was completely surprising, and I enjoyed reading them. By a dozen visits or so I secretly read the entire thing, and told myself to keep it covert. So I did. When his birthday speech ended with his disappearance, I laughed to myself even though I was extremely frightened along with the rest of them.

‘But I still kept it a secret for seventeen years, and nothing exciting happened too much. He, Pippin and I, we went out of the Shire occasionally, some people thought Frodo visited Elves, but the most exciting thing was still back when “Mad Baggins”, as they started to call him, disappeared. Then one day Frodo got a visit from Gandalf and he suddenly seemed always worried, and elsewhere; in another place if you will.

‘After a few weeks, I just couldn’t take it anymore. So I gathered up Pippin here, and Sam, and we decided we were going to figure out just what was eating up our friend. And then… then Goldie and Davie’s father here found out he was going away, far from the Shire, on a perilous journey, and we all just decided we were coming along, and there was no way Frodo was getting rid of us. And rather instantaneously, might I add.

‘Now it might not be a secret I’m rather organized. When Frodo decided to sell the Bag End to Lobelia, seeing how Otho had died, I’d helped him move over to the house Pippin had him buy. And when we traveled over to Crickhollow I had made sure the ponies and all the supplies — especially the food — was ready for our journey. Our first obstacle on our way to Bree was the Old Forest. I was familiar with the Forest and volunteered to lead the way the gate at High Hay. But even though I’d been there before, it didn’t help me none with giving in to the spell of the Withywindle valley… do you remember that, Pip?

‘Anyway, so I wake up and I’m half inside this tree! And worse yet, Pip’s inside of the tree! And the tree starts turning and shrinking and choking us and I’m sure we were going to die. We would’ve if it weren’t for Tom Bombadil. Bombadil and his funny rhymes and songs.

‘And it wasn’t only once that he saved our skins. Soon as we left Tom’s house we entered into the Barrow-downs. The Barrow-downs were a dangerous place full of evil mystic beings. So as soon as we left Tom Bombadil’s house we entered the Barrow-downs and a fog came in and confused us all, allowing us to be put under a Barrow-Wight — those are the names of the mystic beings — spell. They have a long story too, involving a Witch-Lord who sent them from Angmar and Rhudaur. Anyhow, when I woke up, I had a vision, a memory of a man, a man who fought the Witch-King. The weird thing about this memory was that it was so long ago, before I was even born…’ His voice trailed off for a moment, as if he was remembering something. Suddenly he continued.

‘But, other than the memory, most of everything else is all but a blur. I do remember Tom handing me my sword… the sword of Westernesse. I do believe I still have it, stowed away somewhere, maybe I shall show it sometime if it’s not still with Eowyn in Gondor. Then, finally, we reached Bree. Here, my story is a bit different than the others. When we got to the Prancing Pony, the others went into the Common Room and I decided I wanted to take a walk instead, just to unwind. I saw a Nazgul and tried to follow it; just out of curiosity y’know? But then the Black Breath — the torture — I still have nightmares sometimes. So I ran back to my room, when I had realized what I was dealing with.

‘That night, the inn was attacked… by the Nazgul for certain, but no one really knows. My ponies had been set loose. I was given Bill the Pony as a replacement, and that became all us hobbits’ “horse”. We left Bree with a Ranger named Strider, who we later on found out was Aragorn, King Elessar.

‘On the way there we were being followed, and more or less attacked, by the Nazgul. Elrond, whom I still visit from time to time, made the waters at Bruinen rise and the Nazgul got swept away in the river. I think by then the date was October 20, 3018. However, Frodo was brutally wounded by the Witch-King’s Morgul-knife. So while he was recovering we got to be in Rivendell for a while. I spent most of my time in the library with maps. I was determined to know the areas I might be visiting when we were journeying with Frodo. Then, Frodo got better and the day came. We would discover who would go where. Elrond dearly wanted us — me and Pip, that is — he wanted us to go back home and warn everyone here in the Shire. But Pippin and I were determined to go with old Frodo. But, Gandalf… who was on our side, mind you… he decided we better go with Sam and Frodo.

‘Looks like its getting a little late,’ said Merry, breaking his story. A bleary eyed Faramir poked Goldilocks, who had fallen asleep on his shoulder. She snorted softly, yawned, and stroked her chin once. Daisy, who had been leaning on the table, mesmerized by his tale, sat up suddenly, somewhat disappointed.

‘You’ll finish it, right Dad?’ Troy asked eagerly.

‘Of course, though I feel only you and Daisy are completely and wholly interested. See, your brother isn’t even here!’ Suddenly Windy emerged from inside the house. They all looked him over.

‘What?’ he asked, ‘I was hungry.’

‘What do you mean hungry, Windy? We ate already!’ Pippin replied, laughing.

‘Yes, well your story was so… enchanting… that it took all the food from my belly and I had to eat more,’ Windy tried. Troy urged him silently to be quiet.

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