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Stuck In by Aliensouldream

Author:Aliensouldream
Title:Stuck In
Rating:G
Theme:Gratitude
Summary:Young hobbits are anxious over their plans for a festive frolic.
Word Count:300+
Note: Sorry I couldn't do the drabble thing. Hope this is okay.




'Oh no!' Frodo opened the shutters of Bag End and saw ... nothing but white. He'd had an awful feeling when he'd stuck his nose out from the eiderdown quilt and smelled the frosty air. He rubbed the pane of glass with the edge of his nightgown sleeve but it was not frost that turned the window white. 'Snow!'

Alarmed, he ran out of his bedroom and down the hall, rapping on doors as he went. 'Uncle! Merry! Pip! We're snowed in!' He reached the door of Bag End, drew back the bolt and tried the door. At first it was stuck to the doorway like an icicle to a branch but with a hefty heave, it came unstuck. Frodo fell backwards onto the floor, closely followed by a collapsing heap of snow from the open doorway. Despite this, there was barely a sliver of daylight at the top of the doorway.

'What the--!' said Merry, appearing with wild hair and a robe inside out. 'Sneezing dragons, that's a pile up!'

Thumping feet and in a moment Pip came running up. 'Snow!' he bellowed, excited. He fell to his knees and started playing with the fallen stuff. 'It's a whole mountain!'

'What? What's a mountain?' Bilbo appeared, knotting his dressing gown rather crossly. 'Oh Frodo!' He tutted, and stepped up to inspect the heaping snow beginning to puddle. 'You shouldn't have opened the door. Now how are we going to close it?'

'Sorry, Uncle,' said Frodo, getting to his feet and brushing the snow off himself. 'I wasn't thinking.'

'What a mess. Merry, fetch the mop and pail. Pippin, will you stop making a mess and go help your cousin?'

'Shouldn't we fetch all the buckets and fill as many as we can?' asked Merry. 'We can't get out to the pump and we don't know how long this snow might last.'

'Oh, that's quite right. Well, go along and fetch them!'

'Snowballs!' said Pippin. 'It's been years since I had a good snowball fight'. He hurled one at Frodo and hit him square in the chest.

'Ow! Pip!' said Frodo, spitting snow. 'I'll get you for that!' He began forming snow into a tight handful.

'Not now you don't,' said Bilbo, taking Pip by the ear. 'Off to the kitchen, both of you. Help clear this mess and then make my tea. It's freezing and I'm off to get dressed.'

A hour later and things were looking better. Assorted buckets and basins stood on the kitchen flags, piled with gently melting snow. The four of them were dressed warmly and seated round the kitchen table having breakfast. After two boiled eggs, two slices of buttered toast and his third cup of tea in front of a warm and bright stove, Bilbo was mellower.

'At least the chimney was clear enough for a fire,' he sighed. 'I'm a little too old now to be cold and tealess in the morning.'

'Nonsense, Uncle,' said Frodo. 'You're tougher than us all.'

'Get along with you,' said Bilbo, pleased.

'But how will we get out?' said Pip. 'Can't we have another go at digging our way out?'

'We can't,' said Merry. 'We might really start a proper snowslide indoors then we'd never get the door closed. Beside, what will you do if you get out there? The snow would be up to your eyebrows. There's no way of getting down the hill.'

'But, the Yule Fest?' Pip asked anxiously. 'We must get to that, surely?'

This was the treat they had been looking forward to for weeks. A huge skating party on Bywater Pond and the burning of the Yule Log in a bonfire on the Common, followed by a sumptuous festive dance in the village hall. Everyone turned out in their best for a wonderful night of feasting and merriment. It was the reason for Merry and Pip visitng the Bagginses at this particular time. But although previous years had seen a light snowfall or a hard frost, this was the first time they had ever known heaps and heaps of snow to arrive on this very day.

'I'm sorry, Pip,' said Frodo. 'I know you were looking forward to it.'

'We can't give up!' said Pip. 'I'm going to make some snowshoes from that old broken basket. Can I, Uncle?'

'Of course.'

'And then I'm going to dig my way out, alone if I have to!' Pippin took the basket and stomped off to his room.

'Let him go,' said Merry, seeing Frodo about to go after him. 'It'll take his mind off it.'

'Well, this much snow can't last,' said Frodo.

'I wouldn't bet on it, lad,' said Bilbo. 'I once knew a snowstorm that lasted three weeks. That was in your granduncle's time. We were boiling up hazelnut shells for soup by the time it ended.'

The boys looked at him in alarm. They were comforted by the thought that Bag End's pantries were stocked to a pleasing fullness. But three weeks! And with Pippin's appetite. There was no telling the damage he could do, especially when bored.

'Do you think they'll have cancelled the Yule dance anyway?' asked Frodo.

'Maybe. If many folk are snowed in like us.'

'What about our hens?' Frodo suddenly remembered. 'What will they do?'

'They're well tucked in,' said Bilbo. 'The hen-hut is well lagged with straw bales and there's plenty of grain in the feeder.'

'And if the snow does last?'

'Then Pippin will have a chance to test his snowshoes, once we send him up the chimney,' Bilbo chuckled.

But they felt a little gloomy after that. They washed up the breakfast dishes. Bilbo retired to his study, to work he said, although the boys knew he meant a snooze. Then, with nothing else to do, the boys began to play Runestones by candlelight, a complicated game with rules they had largely made up themselves. It consisted of tossing the stones in the air and catching them on the back of your knuckles, but the number, order and runes on the stones affected your scores and the powers your imaginary Dwarf would have in spellcasting. It was an old school game that used to fascinate them for hours, particularly when they challenged each other with dares and riddles. But today their minds were only half on the game. Snow could be a wonderful thing but it lost its appeal once you were prevented from getting out and enjoying it. What was snow without snowballs or winter without Yule Fest? And how would Merry and Pippin get home to Brandybuck Hall in time for the Solstice celebrations in three days time?

'You won't mind terribly, will you?' asked Frodo, catching runes. 'About missing Solstice, if it comes to that?'

'How will we miss it?' asked Merry. 'We're here, together. There's a month's worth of food in the larder and unlimited snowcones. And I've sworn to whack you at this game or hang my head forever. I say that's a recipe for a grand Solstice.'

Frodo looked at him and slowly grinned. 'You're alright, Brandybuck,' he said.

'It's a gift.'

'I've done it!' Pippin burst out of his room, brandishing two wonky panels of plaited woodstrips. 'Here!' He held them out, but the middle fell out of one of them and the band surrounding it sprung back and hit him on the nose.

The other two boys burst out laughing. They only stopped when they saw that Pippin was becoming tearful.

'I hate this!' he cried. 'I hate you! I don't want to be stuck here with you! You're horrible!'

Frodo exchanged a look with Merry and they nodded. Rising together, they tackled Pip to the ground and attacked him for several minutes with relentless tickling. Wailing and squealing and finally reduced to helpless, teary scream-laughter, he suffered himself to be hugged and rubbed hard on the head.

'I didn't mean it,' he mumbled. 'I just wanted to go to that dance.'

'You, Pip, are a mutton-head,' said Merry. 'And we all wanted to go. Now blow your nose.'

'Dear, dear, dear,' muttered Bilbo, who had come out from his study, rubbing his face. 'I can hardly work when there are battles raging outside my door, can I? What on earth is this commotion?'

Frodo jumped up and hugged him. 'Sorry, dear. We were playing a game. It's all sorted now.'

They they heard a muffled cry from outside. 'Hullo--in--there!'

They all sprang round and looked in surprise at the door. Merry was the first to recover his wits. 'Hallo!'

Yes, there was digging, they could hear it now. And voices. 'Is--every-body--al-right?' they heard.

'Yes!' they all chorused. There came the thud of a spade on the door near the top. Merry and Frodo went for the door and they opened it together. Another snowfall inwards, but there! At the top, a good space of daylight, and a friendly face.

'Sam!' they yelled. He was red in the face from digging, and was lying on the snow so he could peer in the gap.

'Just you hold on in there, we'll have you out in no time!'

'Who's all there with you, Sam?'

'There's me, Tom Cotton and Fred Burrows and half the firewatch here. This side of the Hill got it right bad but we all turned out at sun up. We've dug out five holes already! You're the last one, cos it took us that long to get to you. Sorry for the wait.'

'Sam, you're a sight for sore eyes!' said Merry. 'Is the hill passable?'

'It's deep and no use saying it isn't, but we've got two dray ponies made it up here with a sled. We'll get you down to the village for Yule Fest, never you fear.'

'Hooraaaay!!!!!' cried Pip, jumping for joy.

'And you're all invited to stay with the Cottons till we get a proper route dug to Bag End tomorrow. Now, I can't stick around here chatting. Get your stuff together and rig some kind of a step here. We'll dig down a bit deeper then haul you up one at a time. Mr Bilbo first. Look lively.' And he disappeared, replaced by digging shovels.

The cousins quickly got wrapped up warmly and took just what they needed wrapped in knapsacks. They used snow to damp the stove and made sure everything else was in order and every candle out. Then they took turns to be hauled up to daylight, a trunk doing excellent work as a footstool to help them reach the strong arms of their rescuers. There was a tricky moment when they wondered how to close the door after them. In the end, Frodo tied a bit of clothesline to the handle and when he was out, the diggers hauled on it. It didn't close perfectly but as Merry said, if burglers were that determined they would brave this snow, good luck to them.

Finally settled on the sled, they set off at a slow pace. The horses had to go in a shallow wide zigzag pattern to negotiate the hill safely and even their long legs sunk down deep into the snow at every step, making it slow going. But they were going, that was the important part. And excitement bloomed in each of them again for Yule and being a part of that indefinable magic that was so fleeting and special.

'Well, I will say, I never expected this, Sam,' said Frodo, who sat up front with him. 'Talk about kindness above and beyond the call. Thank you, a hundred times, thanks to you and everyone.'

Sam shrugged, but his ruddy cheeks turned ruddier. 'Nothing to it,' he said. 'Couldn't have you frozen in there when there's drinking to be done, could we?'

'Here, here!' said Merry. 'Well done, Sam. You're a champ this day. We owe you one or three.'

'Wait!!' shrieked Pip, suddenly. 'Stop! We've got to go back?'

'Back? What for?'

'I left my snowshoes behind!'

The Cotton and a half dozen other strong lads laughed heartily at this, to Pippin's embarrassment.

'There's gratitude for you,' said Merry.


- the end -

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
kayleelupin
Nov. 18th, 2014 02:31 am (UTC)
Oh my goodness, snowed in!! That's a fate I've never had to endure and can't even begin to imagine! It's lucky Sam and the other lads were able to come to the rescue!

Pippin and his snowshoes made me laugh :D

Kaylee Arafinwiel
shirebound
Nov. 18th, 2014 02:31 am (UTC)
That's a LOT of snow! It reminds of when we had to dig snow tunnels when I was a child, after blizzards piled up the snow over our heads. I enjoyed this story very much.
karri_kln1671
Nov. 18th, 2014 02:40 am (UTC)
A very fun tale! I need to work on being as optimistic as Hobbits.
kgreen20
Nov. 18th, 2014 03:25 am (UTC)
Whoa! Completely snowed in, and in danger of missing a fun event! Thank heavens Sam and the others came to their rescue. Great story!

baranduin
Nov. 18th, 2014 04:46 am (UTC)
What a fun story!
blslarner
Nov. 18th, 2014 05:19 am (UTC)
Oh, very cute! Poor Pippin, working so hard and having his snowshoes left behind like that! Not that he'd likely be able to walk far in them to begin with. Heh!
talullahred
Nov. 18th, 2014 07:58 pm (UTC)
What a fun story, filled with lovely detail. Great characterizations!
(Deleted comment)
hhimring
Nov. 20th, 2014 08:39 am (UTC)
Well told and a very neat last line!
I'm glad they got to go to the Yule Fest after all!
kimby1967
Nov. 20th, 2014 10:38 pm (UTC)
Good old Sam, always coming to the rescue. Thankfully the hobbits didn't have to resort to boiling shells for soup! I remember a winter when we had to dig a tunnel from the door to get around. It was fun when I was a kid but glad I never had to do it when I had to get to work! Nicely done.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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