Title: The Unexpected
Recipient: Pearl Took
**The main character arrives home (from where can be part of the story if you wish) on Yule Eve only to find ____________ waiting for him.
Fill in the blank and let the story go from there.**
The main character can be Merry, Pippin or Sam. The visitor character should not be Merry if MC is Pip and should not be Pippin if MC is Merry as they might not be all that surprised to see the other. The visitor need not be a hobbit. If you want other characters to show up, that's fine but the story should start with just the MC and the visitor.
Summary: Two short ficlets, separated in time, and featuring different characters, but dealing with the same idea.
It was cold and dark when Frodo opened the front door of Bag End, clock already pulled tight around him. There was no snow, as he had hoped for, but instead a stark wind which churned the thick rain and whipped the leafless trees in a macabre dance, twitching each branch in turn.
It was not a pleasant day for any type of journey, least once right across the countryside with only a little pony for company. It was the sort of day where one stayed inside, huddled in a favourite chair, with a good book and plenty of tea. Even the warm fire of the Green Dragon seemed too far away, thought Frodo as he contemplated the ever encroaching storm-clouds.
It was a proper winter’s day, and not the sort that Frodo enjoyed. Snow, whilst being difficult to travel in, was rather beautiful to watch. Rain just made everything dull and dreary.
Still, he must set off now or he’d never get anywhere today. He had to get to Buckland by that evening or he would miss all the yuletide celebrations. Not that he would mind a year away from some members of his extended family, away from the whispering and from the suggestions of just who would be a perfect wife for him. But deep down he knew he would miss seeing his favourite cousins, especially Merry who, though several years his junior, was a great friend.
So, picking up his bag and carefully checking it was fastened tight against the rain (he didn’t want the gifts inside it ruined) he made his way down to the Green Dragon, where his pony was stabled, fighting against the wind. But when he arrived he was beckoned inside by the innkeeper, a jolly stout fellow who gave the impression of consuming as much of his ale as he sold.
“Don’t you know?” he said, then, not waiting for a reply, “S’pose you haven’t heard. The Brandywine’s burst its banks last night, swept the bridge right away! You won’t be getting to Buckland before this weather settles down, no chance!”
Frodo sighed and, taking off his cloak to hang on a peg, ordered a mug of ale. “Well, I’ll be spending Yule alone in Hobbiton, then.”
Suddenly a familiar voice called out behind him and he turned quickly to see Merry and two of his other Brandybuck cousins stood in the doorway, soaked to the skin.
“Aren’t you glad we thought we’d come to meet you along the way, Cousin Frodo.” Merry grinned as he rang water out of his hair. “And what better place than the Green Dragon for a few warming drinks!”
Frodo laughed and ordered three more ales.
The night was pitch black as Merry rounded the final corner of the road, the path ahead leading straight to Brandy Hall, to home. The glow of his lantern did little more than throw writhing, twisting shadows onto the sodden ground and he could not ride his little pony any faster than a walk, for fear of stones or swathes of mud hidden by the dark.
He had been visiting Rohan and had hoped to be back before the worst of the winter weather set in, he’d made good time between Rohan and Rivendell, with the escort provided for him by Éomer moving at a steady pace and meeting no trouble along the way. From Rivendell to Bree he had ridden with Elladan and Elrohir who, now Masters of that fair house, were quite pleased to accompany him on his journey and to teach him new tales or songs along the way.
But when he’d reached Bree the weather had turned worse and what had been drizzle and a chill wind turned to a full blown storm. He had been forced to tarry there for longer than he would have liked, and take a room at the Prancing Pony, until the storm eased and the flooded roads cleared.
Now he would be arriving well into the Yule celebrations, and he hoped he had not missed the bringing in of the log, or (as his stomach rumbled) any of the feasts. To pass the time along the road he had thought about all his friends, all over Middle Earth; the elves who celebrated the return of the leaves and flowers, Aragorn in Minas Tirith, feasting in resplendent glory, with his whole family gathered about him.
His heart sank when he realised that there were no lights shining out from Brandy Hall, not even over the entrance, so he stabled his pony slowly and made no rush in gathering his bags together. With the lantern swinging gently and bags full or gifts for his family slung over his shoulders he crept into the hall, determined not to wake a soul. Suddenly, without any warning at all, candles were lit all around him and many voices cried out in welcome. Pippin came forward first to relieve him of his bags, but as Merry was struggling out of his damp cloak and coat he recognised more faces and for a moment he thought he was dreaming because there, crouching under the low ceiling, was Aragorn, with Arwen and their children, beaming as wide as Merry himself at the delight of the surprise.
For what could be better on such as foul winter’s night than the company of friends to bring back joy and light.