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An Unexpected Adventure  by KathyG

Summary: In the spring of 2012, four American children find themselves thrust into an unfamiliar fantasy world and part of an unexpected adventure.  This story is AU, and blends Lord of the Rings book-verse and movie-verse.  This story also contains a lot of spiritual and religious content as a part of the AU elements.  (Co-written by KathyG and Dreamflower.)

Disclaimer: The world of Middle-earth and all its peoples belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien; the three films of The Lord of the Rings belongs to New Line Cinema and to Peter Jackson.  This story is not for profit, but is a gift for the enjoyment of those who read it.

Citations: In most chapters, there will be some quotations directly from both the books and/or the movies.  Quotations from the books are in italics, and quotations from the movies are underlined.  Occasional quotations from other sources as well as silent dialogue, words spoken in emphasis, and passages from the Bible will also be in italics, and those citations will be footnoted at the end of each chapter in which they occur.  We will also footnote research sources and credit the ideas of other people.

Thanks: To our beta, Linda Hoyland, who has been of great help with this story.  Linda is a well known and respected writer in the LotR fandom, who also posts on this site.

Chapter 17: Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

When they were awakened for supper-breakfast, they all found out what the problem was.  Between the fear of spies and the coming weather, the two leaders had decided which way they were going.

Joey was still groggy when he was wakened, and just barely heard Gandalf's explanation that they needed to hurry up and leave because he thought they were being watched, and it would be dark soon.

As he clumsily rolled up his bedroll, for he still was wishing he could just go back to sleep, he heard Boromir add that they needed to gather some firewood, because it would be bitterly cold on the mountain, and they would freeze to death otherwise.  "...When we leave here," the Gondorian was saying, "...where there are still a few trees and bushes, each of us should carry a faggot of wood, as large as he can bear.”

“And Bill could take a bit more, couldn't you lad?” said Sam.  The pony looked at him mournfully.

Gandalf reluctantly agreed, although he seemed to say they wouldn't use it if they didn't have to. Joey sure hoped they would have to.  The cold of the mountains was seeping into his bones, and a fire would be a very good thing.

They finished their meal quickly, and while Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, and Sam broke camp, Gimli, Boromir, Frodo, Merry, Pippin, Jennifer, and Joey all looked for wood.  Kevin found himself on watch.

The three hobbits and Jennifer and Joey located fallen branches and limbs. Joey followed the hobbits' example, watching them from the corner of his eye as he saw what kinds of wood they chose.  He'd gathered wood for campfires back home, but his dad wasn't so picky about what he found, so long as the wood would burn. 

The limbs that were too long, Gimli used his axe to chop into manageable lengths, and Boromir carried that wood back to camp, and then returned for more.  After a while, they had several bundles of firewood and kindling ready.  Joey and the hobbits each carried a bundle of kindling apiece on top of their packs.  Bill was laden with firewood, as were the adults of the Company.  Joey's backpack felt a little odd with the wood strapped to the top of it, and some of the bark against his neck made his skin itch.

The Company set out again with good speed at first.  In spite of their extra burdens, the children were in high spirits.  Pretty soon the snow was coming down quickly. It was hard to even see to the front of their line where Aragorn and Gandalf were.  Jennifer was not bothering to march or twirl her stick this time; she was too busy plodding through the rapidly-thickening blanket of snow to be able to concentrate.  Instead, she leaned on it, using it for a walking stick, thankful to Bilbo Baggins for the suggestion back in Rivendell.

Joey paused to gaze down at the soft blanket of snow at their feet.  A mischievous grin crept across his face: now that he was completely awake, he had more energy.  Bending low, he grasped a clump of snow with both hands, shaped it into a snowball, and hurled it at his older sister.

“Hey!”  Dropping her walking stick, Jennifer wasted no time in retaliating by throwing her own snowball back at her little brother.  Joey threw his next snowball at Kevin, who immediately hurled one back at him.  Joey giggled, and tossed another at his older brother.  The others watched, amused.

“All right, children!” Aragorn called.  “This is no time for a snowball fight.  We have to get over this mountain as quickly as we can.”

Kevin nodded.  “Yes, sir.”  Dropping their clumps of snow, he and his siblings resumed their climb up Mount Caradhras with the rest of the Company as Jennifer picked up her walking stick.  As they continued onward, Joey kept staring down at the snow, wishing he could play in it.

“I wish we could build a snowman,” he said.  “There’s a lot of snow already; we could build a hundred snowmen!”  He grinned.

“I’m sure we could, Master Joey, but as Aragorn said, we have to get over Caradhras as quickly as possible,” Boromir pointed out.

“This would be great weather for skiing in, if we had some skis and a ski lift.”  Kevin scanned the mountain slopes that they were climbing as he spoke.

“It sure would,” Jennifer said wistfully.  “I wish we could do some skiing while we’re here.  You know, this mountain would be a great place to put up a ski resort!”  She looked at Kevin.  “Remember when Mom and Dad took us skiing last winter, during Christmas vacation?”

“I remember.”  Kevin grinned.  “It was Kaylee’s first skiing lesson on a bunny slope, remember?  She kept falling more than she skied!”  Jennifer laughed at the memory.

“Well, she was just four years old, so we couldn’t expect her to learn much in one week.  And it was Joey’s first time on an intermediate slope.”  Jennifer glanced down at her little brother as she spoke.  “You did pretty well up there, Joey, considering that you weren't even nine yet.”

"I was pretty good, huh?  Even Dad said so!" Joey answered proudly.  "After all, I'd been doing it since I was five!"

“You sure had been, and you sure were!"  Jennifer nodded agreement. 

Pippin had been listening curiously.  "What's 'skiing?'" he asked.  To his surprise, it was Gimli who answered.

"It's a method of travelling over mountains in the snow," he said.  "You strap specially carved boards of wood to your feet and glide on them over the snow."

"Yes," said  Boromir, "people often use skis in the White Mountains."

Joey was surprised.  He had been used to thinking that people here didn't know anything about the things they had back home.  It was kind of neat that they knew about skiing here, too.  He hoped he would get to ski again next winter, when they were back home.  He said, “This would be a great place to go sledding, too.  I wish I had my sled!”

Kevin smiled.  “Yeah, that would be nice.  There wouldn’t be time to go sledding here, though, even if you did.  We have to get to the other side of this mountain as quickly as we can.”

Joey grinned.  “Like the bear that went over the mountain?”

Kevin and Jennifer laughed.  “Yes, Joey!  Just like the bear that went over the mountain,” Kevin said.

Laughing, Joey began to sing:

“The bear went over the mountain,

The bear went over the mountain,

The bear went over the mountain

To see what he could he could see.

To see what he could see!

To see what he could see.”

When Joey finished singing that old children’s song, he, Kevin, and Jennifer all silently followed the hobbits for a time. In the process, Joey started thinking, and then, as he looked around at the thick blanket of snow they were walking through, another song came to his mind.  He began to sing again.

“Frosty the Snowman

Was a jolly, happy soul,

With a corncob pipe and a button nose

And two eyes made out of coal.


“Frosty the Snowman

Is a fairy tale, they say…"

Joey was singing the loudest through all the other verses, and when they came to the last verse, they repeated it twice; the second time, Pippin joined in.

“Thumpety thump-thump, thumpety thump-thump,

Look at Frosty go.

Thumpety thump-thump, thumpety thump-thump,

Over the hills of snow.”¹

The hobbits all laughed heartily at the end of the song.  "That reminds me of a story they tell in the Shire about two little hobbits who make a snow-hobbit that comes to life," said Pippin.

At the same time, Frodo, Merry, and Sam said all together, as if quoting, "Once there were two little hobbits named Tip and Tulip.  They were brother and sister, and they lived in a cozy little smial with their mama and their papa and their auntie."  Then they all laughed again.

Frodo explained, "There are many tales in the Shire about 'Tip and Tulip', nursery tales meant for very young hobbits.  All of them start the same way."

"Oh!" exclaimed Jennifer.  "We have nursery tales at home, too!  Fairy tales and folk tales and stuff like that.  Kaylee brought a book of such tales with her.”  She paused.  “We've told you so many songs and tales of our home.  We’d love to hear one of your Shire stories."

The younger hobbits all looked at Frodo, who was acknowledged as the best storyteller among them.  He began again with the same words they had already quoted, and then told the rest of the story, which was indeed very similar to the story of Frosty the snowman, except that the snow-hobbit was a secret to just the two little hobbits.  He ended it with, "But when they told their auntie, she winked at them, and said for them to save the snow-hobbit’s things, in case it should snow again next Yule."

Frodo chuckled.  "Tip and Tulip's parents never believe their adventures, but their auntie always does, and she always has the last word in the story."

“I wish Kaylee was here with us,” Jennifer said wistfully.  “She would have loved this story!”

Frodo smiled up at her.  “I’m sure that Bilbo is sharing some of our stories with her while we’re on the Quest.  Anyway, she’s safer in Rivendell.”  Jennifer nodded.  As much as she missed her little sister, she could only agree.

-oo000oo-

Bilbo answered the rap on his door with anticipation.  Lady Arwen had told him that she would be bringing Kaylee and a couple of her handmaidens once Kaylee's sewing lesson had ended.  “Hullo, Miss Kaylee!”  With a chuckle, Bilbo gave her a gentle embrace, and then smiled down at Lucy, who sat obediently at her young mistress' feet.  Kaylee held the end of her puppy's leash loosely in her right hand.  "And how are you, today?" he asked her.

“Fine, Mr. Baggins.”  Kaylee grinned, and the elderly hobbit bent over and rubbed Lucy’s head.  The puppy licked his hand.

Stepping backward, Bilbo indicated the ottoman upon which Kaylee often sat when she visited his quarters.  He then turned with a courtly bow and greeted Lady Arwen and her two handmaidens, courteously seeing them seated and made comfortable.  He rubbed Lucy on the head again, and the puppy sniffed his hand and then licked his fingers.  “Hullo, Lucy,” he said.

Bilbo turned toward the low table.  “There are some savoury biscuits waiting on the table for us, as well as teacakes and currant scones, and some radish and cucumber sandwiches.  You ladies must help yourselves while I fetch the tea tray.  I will also bring a little dish of milk for Lucy."

“Goody!” Kaylee exclaimed in delight.  She dropped Lucy’s leash and rushed toward the table.  Lady Arwen unfastened the leash from the puppy’s collar, and Lucy began to sniff around the room.

Bilbo went to his small kitchen and returned with the tea tray, set with the teapot and cups, sugar, honey, and milk, as well as a bowl of chopped meat for Lucy which he set on the floor as soon as he had laid the tray on the table next to the food that was already there.  Lucy immediately began to eat her treat.   Bilbo took his own seat, and invited Lady Arwen to do the pouring out.

Kaylee took some of the biscuits and scones, as well as a couple of the radish and cucumber sandwiches.  When they had first arrived, she had thought that sandwiches made with vegetables were weird and not very good, but when Jennifer had insisted she try some to be polite, she had learned they weren't too bad, and now she sort of liked them.  The homemade butter helped.  It was much more tasty than the butter spread back home, that came in a plastic tub!  Of course, she loved the biscuits and cakes and scones much better than the vegetable sandwiches.

After a leisurely tea, during which Kaylee munched on her food and regaled Bilbo with news of how well her needlework was coming, she slid off the ottoman and went to sit on Arwen’s lap on the Man-sized couch.  The other two Elves sat on the other Man-sized chairs.  Bilbo sat on a hobbit-sized chair and gazed at Kaylee.

“This is a story I often used to tell to Frodo and his cousins when he was a little hobbit,” he told Kaylee…

-oo000oo-

Once there were two little hobbits named Tip and Tulip.  They were brother and sister, and they lived in a cozy little smial with their mama and their papa and their auntie.

One fine Spring morning, Tip and Tulip finished their first breakfast.  It was a lovely first breakfast: porridge with berries and honey, toasted bread with butter, and a cup of tea apiece with plenty of milk and honey stirred in.

They knew that they had to do their morning tasks right afterwards.  Tulip cleared the table, and Tip helped Mama with the washing up.  Then Tulip went right out to sweep the front step, while Tip helped Auntie with dusting the parlor.  (Of course, they had made their beds and tidied their own rooms before first breakfast!)  Then Tip brought in some firewood for the kitchen, and Tulip took a basket and went out to the back garden, and gathered in some spring onions and radishes and young lettuce and brought them in for Mama to use later.

The last morning task was to take a bit of food out for the family cat, Honeybun.  Tip carried the small dish of minced leftover meat, and Tulip had the little bowl of water.  Honeybun's food and water was always placed on the back step by the kitchen door.  She would run up each morning with a little mew, and rub against Tip and Tulip's legs before gobbling up her food and drinking a little fresh water.  Then Tip and Tulip would sit upon the step and play with Honeybun for a few minutes, before they went in to have their lessons with Auntie.

But that day, Honeybun did not come.  They were quite surprised, but waited a few moments, and then began to call her.  Still, Honeybun did not appear.

"Where do you think she is?" asked Tulip, with a worried look in her eyes.

Tip shook his head.  "I don't know.  I hope she is all right."

They called some more: "Here, Honeybun!  Kitty!  Kitty!  Kitty!"

But still there was no sign of Honeybun."

Kaylee gave Bilbo a worried look. "Is their kitty okay?" she asked.

Bilbo smiled. "Wait and see…"

Tulip was on the verge of tears, and Tip was frowning with worry.  Where could Honeybun be?  They called and called, and walked about the back garden, looking.

Just as the two of them were nearly ready to weep, a voice called them from the back door.  "Tip!  Tulip!" called their auntie.  "You are late for lessons!"

"Oh, Auntie!" they exclaimed, and ran to her.  "Honeybun is missing!  She did not come up for breakfast, and we've called and called!"

Now, Mama would have said, "Don't worry, she'll come when she is hungry!" and Papa would have said, "Perhaps she's caught a mouse!"   But Auntie knelt down and hugged them and said, "Well, then, we shall have to go and find her, for I know we'll be too worried to think of lessons until we do!"

Bilbo then described all the places that the children and their auntie had searched.  Finally, their auntie suggested the top of the smial where the rooftree grew.

So they went to the north side of the smial, where it sloped down, and there was a little dirt path that led up to the rooftree.  Papa had built a little playhouse among the rooftree branches, but not high up at all, for the branches came quite close to the ground.  It was one of Tip and Tulip's favorite places.

As they approached, they could hear mewing!  Such a lot of mewing!  Tip and Tulip raced over to their hideaway, but Auntie came more slowly.

"Auntie!  Auntie!" called Tip.  "Come and see!"

"What do you think they found, Kaylee?" Bilbo asked.

Kaylee shook her head, her eyes wide with curiosity, as she was under the spell of Bilbo's story-telling.

"There was Honeybun!  She was all stretched out, her front paws kneading at the floor, while she fed three tiny, brand-new kittens!

Auntie stood by, while Honeybun allowed Tip and Tulip to crouch down beside her kittens, but told them not to try and touch the wee babies.  There was one ginger, and two little tabbies.  After a few minutes, Auntie sent Tip and Tulip off: Tip to bring Honeybun's food and water up to the playhouse, and Tulip off to find something warm for mother and kittens to lie upon.   

Tip soon returned, holding the cat's food bowls carefully, and then Tulip came back with one of her mother's old flannel petticoats, which was too worn to mend.  Mama had said she had planned to tear it into cleaning cloths, but that Honeybun needed it more.

That afternoon at tea, the conversation turned upon the new members of Honeybun's family.  Papa said that Tip and Tulip could keep one of the kittens, but they would need to find homes for the others in a few weeks; Mama said for the children to make sure that they took good care of the little cat family in the meantime.  But Auntie said, "You shall need to find names for them all!"*

-oo000oo-

Kaylee smiled broadly; all of her front baby teeth showed.  “I love kitties,” she said.  “I’d love to have a kitten.”

Bilbo chuckled.  “You already have a puppy, do you not?”  He gazed down at Lucy as he spoke.  The puppy had finished her chopped meat, and now she was lying on the floor and licking her front paws.

“Yeah!  Uh, yes, sir.”  Kaylee twisted around to look up at Arwen, who smiled at the little girl and nodded her approval.  With a giggle, Kaylee slid off of Arwen’s lap and plopped on the floor next to Lucy.  Sitting cross-legged, she picked the puppy up and held her against her chest; Lucy licked her face.  “But I’d love to have a kitten, too!”

Arwen smiled.  "Perhaps tomorrow, you can go down to the stable for another riding lesson, since Bilbo has kindly agreed that you may learn to ride upon Merrylegs."³  This was Bilbo's own old pony, who had brought him to Rivendell when he came to live there.  "There are some cats and kittens at the stable, but most of the kittens are half-grown.  There are a few very young ones, though."

Kaylee grinned and clapped her hands with excitement.  She laughed, and then politely asked, "Mr. Baggins, may I please have another teacake?"

-oo000oo-

The McCloud children had coaxed the hobbits into singing one of their own songs, and this time, Pippin, who had a very good voice indeed, began to sing "The Greening of the Hall", a song about decorating the Hall with greenery for Yule.

“Cedar, spruce, and fir and pine,

All of these will do just fine!

Holly berries and mistletoe,

Wrapped with ribbons, decked with bows,

From doors and windows and ceiling beams,

We place the ever-living greens!


“The greening of the hall!

The greening of the hall!

Come, ye laddies and lassies all

For the greening of the hall!


“Out in the frost or snow, we trek

To find the finest boughs to deck

Each modest cot or finest smial!

The cold may nip till we can't feel

Noses and toeses, but we don't mind,

So long as the greenery we can find!


“The greening of the hall!

The greening of the hall!

Come, ye laddies and lassies all

For the greening of the hall!”*

Kevin, Joey, and Jennifer laughed.  “Do you put up Christmas trees, too?” Joey asked.  “Uh, Yule trees.  We put them up at Christmastime!”

“Yeah, fir trees,” Kevin added.  “We set them up in the corner of the living room, and we always decorate them.  And then we put most of the presents underneath!”

“Until we open them on Christmas morning, yeah,” Jennifer added.  “Oh, and when we put up the Christmas tree, we put up the other decorations, too.  Including wreaths on our front doors!”

The hobbits laughed.  "Whole fir trees?" asked Merry incredulously.  "That would take some doing in a hobbit hole!"

Frodo added, "Fir trees usually only grow in parts of the Northfarthing. But we do make use of other evergreens, mostly mistletoe and holly, as well as sometimes pine or cedar.  But wreaths on the doors, and garlands in the Hall and around the doors and windows, are common."

Pippin grinned.  "We actually have a staircase in the Great Smials, leading from the main level to the ballroom.  Those are always garlanded with greens and ribbons for Yule."  The Tooks were quite proud of that staircase, one of the few in the Shire, and the largest and grandest staircase, at that.

“And guess what?  We kids hang up stockings, too,” Joey added, smiling.  “For presents to be put in.  On Christmas Eve.  Before we go to bed.”

Jennifer grinned.  “We always have to wait till after breakfast to open the presents under the tree, but we do get to take the gifts out of the stockings as soon as we get up.”

"Well, as for stockings, you'd be hard put to find a single one in the Shire," laughed Sam, holding up one of his furry feet.  Joey giggled. 

Pippin looked around at all the snow.  "Snow that stays on the ground is unusual in the Shire, but sometimes it happens.  They'd love a snowfall like this back home.  Sleds and sleighing and snowhobbits and all!"  Joey smiled broadly in anticipation.  He loved to build snowmen and go sledding and have snowball fights in the winter.

Then Jennifer began to sing in her turn:

“Sleigh bells ring; are you listening?

In the lane, snow is glistening;

A beautiful sight.

We’re happy tonight,

Walking in a winter wonderland…”

After she had sung the remaining three stanzas, Kevin, who refused to be outdone by his brother and sister, sang “Sleigh Ride,” and then Joey sang all three stanzas of “Jingle Bells” with help from the others.  Following that song, Kevin sang “White Christmas”.  And then he, Jennifer, and Joey led them in all three stanzas of “Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly”; the hobbits joined in with the "tra-la-la-la-las".  When that song was over, Pippin taught them to sing another hobbit Yule song:

“Come now, good hobbits, be of much cheer,

And let's raise a toast to the coming New Year--

May each day dawn bright and fair,

Free from want and free from care!

May the year be short on sorrow,

And long on joy with each new morrow!

May the Shire know peace and plenty,

That no larder may go empty!

And blessed be the earth we till,

That each belly may have its fill!

May the ties of family, too,

Be strengthened by hearts warm and true!

May each hobbit have a hand to hold,

And love for all, both young and old!

Let the halls with laughter ring,

As to the New Year, we gladly sing!”³

Meanwhile, it continued to snow heavily; soon enough, neither children nor hobbits had the breath to sing anymore, and with the wind blowing so hard, they could not have heard one another at all.  Soon the weather got even worse, and their way grew steep and difficult.

“I don't like this at all,” panted Sam.  “Snow's all right on a fine morning, but I like to be in bed while it's falling.  I wish this lot would go off to Hobbiton!  Mr. Pippin’s right.  Folk might welcome it there.”

Gandalf halted.  Snow was thick on his hood and shoulders; it was already ankle-deep about his boots.

The rest of the Company came up closer, so they could hear him.

“This is what I feared,” he said.  “What do you say now, Aragorn?”

“That I feared it too,” Aragorn answered, “but less than other things.  I knew the risk of snow, though it seldom falls heavily so far south, save high up in the mountains.  But we are not high yet; we are still far down, where the paths are usually open all the winter.”

“I wonder if this is a contrivance of the Enemy,” said Boromir.  “They say in my land that he can govern the storms in the Mountains of Shadow that stand upon the borders of Mordor.  He has strange powers and many allies.”

“His arm has grown long indeed,” said Gimli, “if he can draw snow down from the North to trouble us here three hundred leagues away.”

“His arm has grown long,” said Gandalf.  The wizard looked sad and weary.

Kevin and Jennifer exchanged a surprised look.  Some wizards could actually control the weather?  Gandalf did not say it was impossible.  They weren't quite sure what to make of that.  In front of them, Joey gulped, and turned around to look up at his brother and sister.

While they were halted, the wind died down, and the snow slackened until it almost ceased.  They tramped on again.  But they had not gone more than a furlong when the storm returned with fresh fury.  The wind whistled and the snow became a blinding blizzard.  Soon even Boromir found it hard to keep going.  The hobbits, bent nearly double, toiled along behind the taller folk, and Kevin and Jennifer had drawn Joey between them.  Kevin had his arm around both his siblings, but it was plain that they could not go much further, if the snow continued.  Glancing at Frodo, Kevin could see from the way he was trudging that the Ring-bearer’s feet felt like lead.  Pippin was dragging behind.  Even Gimli, as stout as any dwarf could be, was grumbling as he trudged.  Joey was shivering, and his teeth were chattering.

“I want my mom and dad,” Joey said at one point, his voice small.  Kevin squeezed him even closer to his side, pulling his sister in as well.

The Company halted suddenly.  Joey, who had been too miserable to even think, stopped in relief, not really caring why.  But then he began to hear eerie noises in the dark.  Even though he was sure it was only the wind, it sounded like scary voices.  And he flinched at the sounds of small stones rattling down the mountain. They seemed to be awfully close.

“We cannot go further tonight,” said Boromir.  “Let those call it the wind who will; there are fell voices on the air; and these stones are aimed at us.”

"I do call it the wind,” said Aragorn.  “But that does not make what you say untrue.  There are many evil and unfriendly things in the world that have little love for those that go on two legs, and yet are not in league with Sauron, but have purposes of their own.  Some have been in this world longer than he.”

At that point, Joey tuned out what the grown-ups were saying.  He badly wanted to just stop walking.  But his ears perked up when they seemed to be agreeing with him.  It seemed Gandalf knew of a spot where they could get out of the wind.

“And it is no good going back while the storm holds,” said Aragorn.  “We have passed no place on the way up that offered more shelter than this cliff-wall we are under now.”

“Shelter!” muttered Sam.  “If this is shelter, then one wall and no roof make a house.”

Everyone was too miserable to even smile at Sam's joke.

They bundled up together as close to the rough mountainside as they could.  Bill the pony stood patiently but dejectedly in front of them, and screened them a little; but before long the drifting snow was above his hocks, and it went on mounting.  If they had had no larger companions the hobbits would soon have been entirely buried, and the snow would have come up to Joey's chin.

In spite of the protection of the adults and the two teenagers and a pony trying to block the snow, the wind whipped and whirled flurries of the snow beyond them.  Boromir glanced back at the small folk; Frodo and Joey both had snow up to their waist, and it was not much better for the rest of them.

Boromir turned and began shaking the snow off first Frodo, and then Joey and the other hobbits while he was at it.  “This will be the death of the halflings, and possibly the children as well, Gandalf,” he said.  “It is useless to sit here until the snow goes over our heads.  We must do something to save ourselves.”

“Give them this,” said Gandalf, searching in his pack and drawing out a leathern flask.  “Just a mouthful each—for all of us.  It is very precious.  It is miruvor, the cordial of Imladris.  Elrond gave it to me at our parting.  Pass it round!”  

Jennifer looked dubiously at it, but Kevin took a sip and said quietly, "Take some, sis.  Think of it as medicine."  She tilted her head and rolled her eyes at him, but obeyed him.  She knew there was alcohol in it, but it didn't taste like it.  Immediately, she felt much warmer, and seemed to have more energy.  She passed it to Joey, and as he sipped it, she saw a proper color come back into his face.  His lips had been nearly blue.  Not far from her, Boromir was speaking to Gandalf, but she paid no attention to what he was saying; she was too focused on Joey.

She noticed, however, when Gandalf reluctantly gave permission for a fire, and when Gimli and Aragorn had both failed at the task, crossly agreed to light it himself.  “If there are any to see, then I at least am revealed to them,” he said, once he had gotten the fire started.  “I have written Gandalf is here in signs that all can read from Rivendell to the mouths of Anduin.”

Nobody really cared; they were too glad of the warmth and light to worry about being seen.

But the wood was burning fast, and the snow still fell.  Soon the fire burned low, and the last faggot was thrown on.

“The night is getting old," said Aragorn.  “The dawn is not far off.”

“If any dawn can pierce these clouds,” said Gimli.

Boromir stepped out of the circle and stared up into the blackness.  “The snow is growing less,” he said, “and the wind is quieter.”

Kevin wondered how Aragorn and Boromir could tell.  But as he paid attention to the sky, he began to hope.  Daylight was coming, and to his everlasting relief, the snow had finally stopped.  All about them, the morning revealed a white world.  It looked like a sheet spread over a bed full of toys; he remembered as a child trying to hide the messiness of his room by pulling the sheet up over all his mess.  His mother had laughed in exasperation at him, but there was nothing funny about the cold white field about them, with no sign of a path to be seen, and clouds hiding the sun above.

Gimli looked up and shook his head.  “Caradhras has not forgiven us,” he said.  “He has more snow yet to fling at us, if we go on.  The sooner we go back and down the better.”

Everyone was in agreement, but it seemed impossible.  The snow was up to Joey's shoulders, and it was even higher than the hobbits' heads.  In some few spots, it was even higher than Kevin’s own head!

Kevin grimaced.  Now would have been a good time to have some snow skis for everyone!

“If Gandalf would go before us with a bright flame, he might melt a path for you,” said Legolas, who had totally ignored the storm.  It had troubled him little, and he was the only one in a good mood.

Everyone stared sourly at the Elf.  Since he had not seemed affected by the cold at all, his remark, thought Kevin, went over like a lead balloon.

“If Elves could fly over mountains, they might fetch the Sun to save us,” answered Gandalf.  “But I must have something to work on.  I cannot burn snow.”  Kevin thought the wizard sounded even crankier than usual.

“Well,” said Boromir, “when heads are at a loss bodies must serve, as we say in my country.  The strongest of us must seek a way.  See!  Though all is now snow-clad, our path, as we came up, turned about that shoulder of rock down yonder.  It was there that the snow first began to burden us.  If we could reach that point, maybe it would prove easier beyond.  It is no more than a furlong off, I guess.”

“Then let us force a path thither, you and I!” said Aragorn.

"And me!" Kevin added.

Aragorn was the tallest of the Company, but Boromir was only a little shorter, and he had a broader build.  Kevin followed them.  Slowly they moved off, and were soon toiling heavily.  In places the snow was breast-high, and nearly shoulder-high for Kevin, and often Boromir seemed to be swimming or burrowing with his great arms rather than walking.

They had been working for a while when suddenly they looked up to see Legolas running past them—on top of the snow!  He waved at the three of them as he went by, giving them a smug smile as he ran.  Kevin rolled his eyes and shook his head.  “Show-off!” he muttered.

"Bloody Elf!" Boromir said.

"Language!' said Aragorn.  "Although I can think of a few words myself!"

"Sorry, Kevin," Boromir added.

Kevin didn't say that in America, "bloody" wasn't really swearing, although he'd heard that it was used that way in the UK.  The British used that word in the way that Americans would use the words, “drat” or “darn.”  But these people thought it was swearing, so he shook his head, and just said, "Well, on this occasion, I think he deserves it."

Meanwhile, up the slope, the others waited huddled together, watching until Boromir and Aragorn and Kevin dwindled into black specks in the whiteness.  Everyone had crowded against the cliff. The hobbits had put Joey between Frodo and Pippin, with Merry and Sam on each end.  Jennifer sat directly behind Joey, with him perched halfway in her lap.  Gimli and Gandalf were standing in front of them, and Bill in front of all, blocking the wind.  They'd huddled like that, sharing body heat, for what seemed like forever.  Then Gimli gave a shout.

"Here comes the Elf," he said.  "Show-off,"  he snorted, not knowing he was echoing Kevin.

“Well,” cried Legolas as he ran up, “I have not brought the Sun.  She is walking in the blue fields of the South, and a little wreath of snow on this Redhorn hillock troubles her not at all.  But I have brought back a gleam of good hope for those who are doomed to go on feet.  There is the greatest wind-drift of all just beyond the turn, and there our Strong Men were almost buried.  They despaired, until I returned and told them that the drift was little wider than a wall.  And on the other side the snow suddenly grows less, while further down it is no more than a white coverlet to cool a hobbit's toes.”

“Ah, it is as I said,” growled Gimli.  “It was no ordinary storm.  It is the ill will of Caradhras.  He does not love Elves and Dwarves, and that drift was laid to cut off our escape.”

“But happily your Caradhras has forgotten that you have Men with you,” said Boromir, who came trudging up at that moment, with Aragorn and Kevin behind him.  “And doughty Men too, if I may say it; though lesser men with spades might have served you better.  Still, we have thrust a lane through the drift; and for that all here may be grateful who cannot run as light as Elves.”

“But how are we to get down there, even if you have cut through the drift?” said Pippin.  It was evident to Jennifer that he was voicing the thought of all the hobbits.

“Have hope!” said Boromir.  “I am weary, but I still have some strength left, and Aragorn and Kevin, too.  We will bear the little folk.  The others no doubt will make shift to tread the path behind us.  Come, Master Peregrin!  I will begin with you.”

He lifted up the hobbit.  “Cling to my back!  I shall need my arms,” he said and strode forward.  Aragorn with Merry came behind, and Kevin had Joey do the same.  While Joey clutched Kevin’s chest, he watched Boromir widening the track in front of them as he went, making it easier for the rest of them to follow.

They came at length to the great drift. It was flung across the mountain-path like a sheer and sudden wall, and its crest, sharp as if shaped with knives, reared up more than twice the height of Boromir; but through the middle a passage had been beaten, rising and falling like a bridge.  On the far side Merry, Pippin, and Joey were set down, and there they waited with Legolas for the rest of the Company to arrive.  Aragorn, Boromir, and Kevin returned to fetch the others.

After a while Boromir returned carrying Sam.  Behind in the narrow but now well-trodden track came Gandalf, leading Bill with Gimli perched among the baggage.  Last came Aragorn carrying Frodo, and Kevin walking next to Jennifer, supporting her and helping her keep her balance on the slippery packed-snow trail. They passed through the lane; but hardly had Frodo touched the ground when with a deep rumble there rolled down a fall of stones and slithering snow.  The spray of it half blinded the Company as they crouched against the cliff, and when the air cleared again they saw that the path was blocked behind them.

“Enough, enough!” cried Gimli.  “We are departing as quickly as we may!”  And indeed with that last stroke the malice of the mountain seemed to be expended, as if Caradhras was satisfied that the invaders had been beaten off and would not dare to return.  The threat of snow lifted; the clouds began to break and the light grew broader.

As Legolas had reported, they found that the snow became steadily more shallow as they went down, so that even the hobbits and Joey could trudge along.  Soon they all stood once more on the flat shelf at the head of the steep slope where they had felt the first flakes of snow the night before.

The morning was now far advanced.  From the high place they looked back westwards over the lower lands.  Far away in the tumble of country that lay at the foot of the mountain was the dell from which they had started to climb the pass.

“The birds again!” said Aragorn, pointing down.

“That cannot be helped now,” said Gandalf.  “Whether they are good or evil, or have nothing to do with us at all, we must go down at once.  Not even on the knees of Caradhras will we wait for another night-fall!”

A cold wind flowed down behind them, as they turned their backs on the Redhorn Gate, and stumbled wearily down the slope.  Caradhras had defeated them.

Kevin looked at his sister.  "All that way for nothing," he said crossly.

Jennifer sighed wearily as she fell in line with the rest of the Company, Joey's icy hand in hers.

-oo000oo-

A/N: "The Bear Went Over the Mountain" is a popular children's folk song, and is in the public domain.  "Frosty the Snowman" was written by Walter "Jack" Rollins and Steve Nelson and first recorded in 1950.  "Winter Wonderland" was written in 1938 by Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith.  The rights to both of those songs currently belong to Warner Music Group.  "The Greening of the Hall" and "Come Now, Good Hobbits" are both originals written by Dreamflower, and have been used in more than one of her stories.

The "Tip and Tulip" stories are part of the fanon of Dreamflower's Shire universe.  They are popular stories for very young hobbits, and are an integral part of the culture.  Many of the stories have been written down, but there are far more that are only transmitted orally.  Some of the stories are quite fanciful, while others are more practical, but they all have an important lesson.

Merrylegs belongs to Lindelea, and appears in her delightful story, http://storiesofarda.com/chapterlistview.asp?SID=3826 ("The Tenth Walker"), which may be found at the Stories of Arda Archive.  It's Bill the Pony's POV of his adventures with the Fellowship.







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