Title: A Fate Worse Than Thorns
Theme: "Where Have You Been?"
Author's Notes: N/A
Summary: Merry and Pippin are late for lunch, with a tale of a narrow escape.
Word Count: 333
"Where have you been?" Frodo shook his head at the disheveled state of his two younger cousins. He'd been worried when they were late for luncheon; it wasn't normal for them to be late for a meal. He had been at the point of going out to track them down, with a few sharp words about their truancy. At least the meal would not grow cold; the weather was unseasonably warm today, and so he had prepared a salad of greens, a platter of meats and cheeses and bread and pickles, and green onions.
Now they had shown up, breathless, dirty, scratches covering their arms and lower legs, and tears in Pippin's shirt. Also Merry seemed to have lost his weskit.
"It was like this Frodo..." Merry started, when Pippin's stomach growled loudly.
Frodo held up his hand. "Go wash up and change. You can explain as we eat."
Moments later with clean clothes and shiny well-scrubbed faces, the two lads hurried to the kitchen table.
Merry launched into their tale as they ate. "We were coming home along the lane, and saw some early berries in the bramble thickets, and we stopped to pick them. We were putting them my weskit. And then suddenly we saw a horrible sight..."
"We had to hide in the thicket to be safe..." Pippin threw in.
"A fox? A hawk? Not a wolf?" Frodo asked, aghast. Hobbit children were taught to hide from predators, and a bramble thicket was considered one of the safest places.
"Worse," Merry shuddered. It was his Brandybuck cousin's look of utter loathing that gave it away.
"Sackville-Bagginses. You were hiding from the S-Bs." Frodo said.
Pippin nodded. "It was Lobelia and Lotho, coming up the road."
"We barely had time to hide. And we got tangled up. It took Pip forever to get us out." Frodo smiled. Everyone knew Pippin's clever hands were very good at such tasks.
Merry sighed. "I just wish we didn't have to leave the berries behind!"