“This is a waste of time!” Pippin slumped against the back of the armchair. A cloud of dust rose in the air, causing him to choke.
“Shut up!” Merry hissed. “You’ll wake everyone!” Turning back to the mahogany bookcase that spanned the breadth of the study, his glance fell on battered leather book, with peeling gold letters running down the spine. “The Diary of Gerontius Took,” he read aloud, rubbing his hands together. “Pip, I think I’ve found something!” He whispered excitedly, hauling the scowling hobbit to his feet.
“What’s the big deal?” Pippin grumbled. “It’s a diary!”
“It might tell us where the fireworks are hidden!” Merry was trembling with excitement.
“If there even are any,” his cousin muttered. “Look, Merry, this ridiculous! If that stupid diary leads us to the ‘alleged’ hiding place of any fireworks,” Pippin folded his arms across his chest. “Then I’ll clean the stables at Buckland for a month!”
Merry sighed in exasperation. Was a little faith to much to ask? He reached out and grabbed the spine of the book, and tried to yank it off the shelf; but it held fast.
“Um, Pip?” Merry asked sheepishly. “Could I get a hand?”
Groaning, the young Took gripped the book, and they pulled. Nothing. Tightening their grip, the two hobbits leaned forward, then; with all their strength, pulled again. Merry stumbled, and they were thrust backwards, landing in a heap on the floor.
“I think I’ve broken something!” Merry whimpered.
“Yeah – my hand!”
* * * * * * * * * * * *
‘I see you…’ The voice echoed in Frodo’s head. He shuddered in his sleep, but the eerie taunts did not abate. ‘I see you, little Halfling. There is no hiding from the me…’ A cold, high-pitched laugh filled the air. Frodo sat up in bed, his brown hair matted with sweat. He rubbed his eyes, and blinked.
“Argh!” He dived under the bedcovers. The eye of Sauron, encircled in flame, stared at him from the ceiling.
“Mr. Frodo!” Sam barged into the room. “Are you all right?”
Cautiously, Frodo peered up from the bedcovers. The Great Eye was gone. Panting for breath, he muttered, “Bad dream. I’m fine. Just… Just go back to sleep. It’s nothing. I’m fine.”
Sam did not look convinced, but reluctantly turned back to his own bedroom.
Frodo shivered. Why was he so frightened? Sauron had been destroyed – he had seen to himself. There was no need for fear. Yet the violent dreams that plagued him would not stop.
He sighed. “Am I ever going to get any rest?”
The voice of the Evenstar echoed in his head: “I have made the choice of Luthien, the choice of mortality. I will not follow my kin to Valinor, but you may take my place, if your heart desires it. If the pain of your deeds still ails you, then you should pass into the West with the other Ringbearers, and be healed of your afflictions.”
His clammy hand clutched at the necklace she had given him; he wore it always, allowing it to feed him strength. He heaved another sigh. Perhaps Arwen was right; perhaps he should depart Middle Earth, like the Eldar.
Still clasping the necklace, Frodo drifted off to a dreamless sleep.
* * * * * * * * * *
Pippin smirked once he and Merry had untangled themselves. “I hate to say I told you so, but…” Merry muttered several expletives under his breath. Feeling smug, Pippin rested a hand on the diary, and leaned back.
“Argh!” His cry echoed as the bookcase gave way, and he plunged into darkness.
“Pip?” Merry called into the blackness. “Are you all right?” A weak voice mumbled in reply. “Hold on! I’m coming!” He leapt in the cavern after his cousin.
“Where are we?” Pippin asked, pulling himself up from the damp floor. “A wine cellar of some sort?”
“Not exactly,” Merry grinned. “Let’s just say that the stable hand will have an assistant from next month.”
Merry pointed triumphantly to an open crate in the corner, full of….
“Fireworks!” Pippin gasped.
PART THREE: SUCCESS!