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A Walk In The Woods  by Anso the Hobbit

TITLE: A Walk In The Woods



TITLE: A Walk In The Woods


AUTHOR: Anso the Hobbit


BETA: Marigold


CHARACTERS: Merry and Pippin, Paladin and Eglantine Took




SUMMARY: On a walk to visit Frodo, Merry and Pippin stumble into circumstances that require Pippin to use all that Merry has taught him.


TIMELINE: March 1404 S.R., so Pippin is 14 and Merry 22


NOTE: A birthday mathom from me to you. Humble thanks to Baylor and Marigold for letting me write a story from a bunny so close to their “universe”! This story should not be considered as an actual sequel in any way to any of Baylor's stories, though. Feedback would be nice…

Note from Marigold: I got this bunny from a moment Baylor described in one of her stories, and it has niggled me for a long while. Knowing that neither she nor I would get around to actually writing it, I have given the bunny a good home with Anso.









PART ONE: Walking Party


“Mum! We’re going for a walk.” Pippin yelled in to the parlour where his mother was sitting, helping Pervinca with her sewing.


“Take your scarf and cloak, darling. It’s windy today.”


“Come on, Pip.” Merry grabbed his own coat and Pippin’s scarf, holding it out to him.


Pippin looked angrily at the scarf for a moment, then snatched it from Merry`s outstretched hand.


“All right!”


Pippin had been sick all winter, and Merry was staying at the Great Smials, using most of his waking hours helping Pippin get back on his feet. They had started out slowly and had walked further and further as the days went by. Merry had made a promise, to see Pip well and strong again, and he was determined to do what he could for his little cousin. At first the walks were limited to the inside of the large smial that housed the Tooks, but as the weather got better and Pippin stronger, they ventured outside. Now it was middle March, and the weather was lovely.


Merry had tried to encourage Pippin as much as possible, but he knew it was a task of patience. Pippin had been terribly ill, and they had been very worried. Merry could not deny that. He had been frightened out of his wits. If he let himself think about it, he could still feel the fear of Pippin dying like a knot in his stomach. It had been so close. Merry shook his head, trying to not think of it, and reminding himself that Pippin was well now, his strength returning.


He ignored Pip's frustrated outburst about the scarf, opened the door, and went outside. “Where do you want to go today, Pippin?”






It was almost bedtime; they were sitting on the rug by the hearth in Pippin's room.




“I want to visit Frodo.”


“Do you think you are ready for such a long walk?”


Do you think… Not “I’m sorry darling, you are not well enough”. This was the Merry he loved!


In a flash Merry was toppled over, lying on his back on the floor, a certain Took wrapped around him, squealing with glee.


“Am I ready? Am I ready! Merry, we could be off tomorrow!”


“Hold on now, Pip. Don’t you think we should ask Frodo first?”


“Oh, right. Yes. We will write him tomorrow then.” Pippin was overjoyed. Merry had said they should ask Frodo, not his parents. Of course they had to ask his parents, but if Frodo invited them, it might be easier to convince them. Pippin bounced on Merry one more time, and enveloped his elder cousin in a great hug. They were going to visit Frodo! Frodo, of course had been at the Smials when Pippin was ill, but that was months ago now. 




Letter was sent, and letter received. Now they were preparing for the trip. They had agreed with Frodo to stay at Bag End for a month, before traipsing off to Buckland for the summer. Eglantine Took was not very happy with the thought of her lad going away on such a journey. It was 30 miles cross-country from the Great Smials to Bag End after all. Not a very long distance for one completely well, but it might prove too much for a young lad only a short time out of a sickbed.


“Paladin?” Pippin’s mother was determined to talk her husband out of letting the boys go. At least Pippin. They could not force Merry to stay, but Eglantine knew that if they forced Pippin to stay, Merry would stay too. At least until his presence was requested back in Buckland.


“Yes?” The Thain looked up from his work.


“I do not like this journey to visit Frodo. Pippin is well, I know that. But is he strong enough?”


“Darling.” Paladin rose from his chair and embraced his wife. “Do you not think that Merry will look out for him? He always has done you know. Merry is a good lad, and has a fine head on his shoulders.” Even if he sometimes uses it to no good, Paladin thought. All that mischief those lads have come up with lately, I don`t know where they get it from! But mostly Merry put his wits to good use. “Dearest, Pippin will be fine in Merry`s care.”


“I know that, it’s just… “


“You are worried about Pippin, I am too. But he has been walking around the countryside for weeks now. Don’t you think Merry has proven himself more than capable of taking care of Pippin? Who was it that encouraged our lad to build up his strength, if not Merry? Who is the one who has been patient and understanding when Pippin found his recovery difficult and did not see any improvements? We all have, but Merry even more than the rest of us. I love Pippin dearly. But sometimes I think Merry knows him better. They’re inseparable, you know that.”


Paladin wrapped his arms closer about his wife, kissing her cheek.


“Do you not think that you – all of us – have been a little overprotective? You’ve seen how the lasses are, and the healer too, always fussing about him. Everyone loves Pippin very much, but maybe our love for him makes us too blind to see what is best for him? He wants to take a trip to Hobbiton, and then to Buckland, and who can blame him? Being cooped up all winter, weeks in bed?”


“I`m sorry. I was being foolish and selfish.”  Eglantine



“It’s not selfish to love one’s own children and wish the best for them. And you are certainly not a fool.”


Eglantine looked at her husband for a long moment. “All right. And I’ll stop the lasses badgering him. But I do want him to take warm clothes!”


Paladin just laughed at that. “Mothers” he muttered under his breath and kissed the mother of his children.


“Go on. Help him pack. He’ll appreciate it.”




And so it was that Pippin and Merry were ready for their trip. The Thain and his family kissed the lads goodbye in the garden in front of the Great Smials, and saw them well off. Pippin would be back before harvest, probably an inch taller and with enough of newfound mischief to last him the whole winter.





Merry and Pippin were enjoying a leisurely walk through the woods through the Tookland to Hobbiton, when the nice weather suddenly changed. The day had started fine and lovely with a high blue sky, but now clouds were gathering quickly. They had just sat down to enjoy their luncheon, when it started blowing. They finished their meal quickly, then packed up and walked on, the wind tugging at their cloaks. After a while a light drizzle was in the air.


“Are you all right, Pip?” Merry asked. He felt they should quicken their pace, it was after teatime already, and they would need to find shelter before nightfall if the wind continued to blow like this. He could hear thunder rolling not too far away, and the wind was howling now. Merry drew his cloak closer about himself and looked at Pippin.


“Yes, I’m all right.”


“I think we need to find shelter, it will be getting dark soon. Do you think you can walk a little faster?” Merry studied his cousin. Pippin did not appear to be exhausted, or even tired, they were after all taking it slow and easy. But the terrain they were about to walk into was more difficult than what they had tramped through until now.


Pippin nodded. They started walking again. The wind was increasing, and there had been one or two flashes of lightning already. The forest was getting thicker and thicker about them as they walked.


“Watch out!” Merry yelled. But it was too late. Pippin was lying flat on his face in the path.


“Nothing broken?” Merry asked, helping his cousin to his feet and brushing leaves and soil off him.


“No, I’m fine. It’s getting darker, Merry, soon we won`t see where to put our feet down.”


“I know. If I remember right there should be a cave up ahead. Frodo and I camped there once when we were out tramping. I know it must be somewhere close by. We can wait the storm out there.” Merry studied their surroundings for a moment, then decided on which way to go.


They had only walked a few more paces, before a branch suddenly fell down right in front of Merry and both lads jumped, startled. Then a sudden flash of lightning flared the sky, and they saw a rocky formation up ahead. The dim outline of a cave could be seen among the rocks. It was the shelter Merry was looking for.


“There it is!” Merry said and pointed. He had to raise his voice to be heard over the howling wind. A new flash of lightning flared the sky, and the thunder came loud and strong over their heads.


“Come on, Pip, we need to hurry. It’s not safe here. Give me your pack, and hold on to my cloak. We’ll walk faster that way. Keep behind me, out of the wind.” If Merry could keep Pippin behind him, sheltered from the headwind and blowing debris, and holding tight to his cloak, he would be able to get them faster to the cave, and Pippin would have a guide as to where to put his feet. Merry would also know where Pippin was all the time.


A loud tear was heard, and a new branch flew through the air, almost knocking them down. Merry got a firmer hold of Pippin’s pack, and started walking at a brisk tempo, almost running. Pippin clutched Merry`s cloak, trying to keep on his feet in the gathering dark. If their path had not been so treacherous Merry would have grabbed Pippin`s hand and run for the cave, but he had to watch very closely where he put his feet down. The path was full of debris and stones and tree roots.


“Merry, I’m scared!” Pippin got a better hold of Merry`s cloak, and tried to wrap himself securely in his own, but the wind kept snatching at the edges. He had tried to pull his hood up against the drizzling rain, but the wind tore it off his head.


“I know, Pip. We are almost to the cave now and we'll be warm and safe. Hold on tight!” Merry was frightened too. If the lightning hits one of the trees, we might get trapped or worse. Or the trees could start burning.  Also, he did not like these flying branches and falling tree limbs. The cave was the only safe place for miles, as far as Merry could recall.


Merry had barely finished the thought when he heard a loud crash very close by. Right behind them, lightning had hit a tree, from high above a large branch was crashing to the forest floor. Without thinking, he whirled around, dropped Pip`s pack, grabbed the younger hobbit and threw him to safety away from the tree. Turning to run, Merry felt his foot catch then something hit him across his back, and he was falling. His head hit something hard, and he knew no more.




Pippin felt himself flying through the air and landed with a thud under a tree. What had happened? There had been a loud crash, and Merry had grabbed him and thrown him to safety. Pippin looked around, dazed, but he could not see Merry at first. He crawled out from under the tree, and spotted his cousin, lying lifeless on the ground with a large branch on top of him. The branch was almost as long as Merry, and it was very thick. Merry was lying with his head away from Pippin, and Pippin could not see if he was awake or not. Or alive…




No answer. Pippin snatched his cloak better about himself and took a few tentative steps towards his cousin. The wind was tugging at Merry`s curls, so Pippin could not see if he moved his head at the sound of his name being called, or any sign that he had heard him at all.




Pippin came closer. “MERRY!” He reached his cousin, and shook his shoulder. “Merry? Please. Mer!” There was no response. Tears started streaming down his face, and he scrambled round to see his cousin’s face.


Merry was lying with his head on a stone, blood in his bright curls. His eyes were closed, and he was terribly pale.


“MERRY!!” Pippin could not hold back his anguish longer, and began to sob. Was Merry dead? What should he do? What could he do? Pippin stroked his cousin’s curls, and whispered his name. No reaction. Leaning closer, Pippin caught a breath of warm air against his ear. He laid his ear against Merry`s mouth. There it was again. Warm breath against his ear. This could only mean that Merry was alive.


Gently, Pippin touched Merry`s neck, and found his pulse beat. Slow and steady it thrummed under his shaking fingers. Merry was alive! In a blur of motion Pippin got up, and grabbed the branch that lay across Merry`s back. He heaved and hauled, pushed and shoved, but he could not get it off. Pippin pushed with all his might, but he only pulled the branch down to lie across the small of Merry`s back, he couldn't budge it any further. Frantically Pippin looked about for something that could be used as a lever. Searching for this, he caught sight of Merry`s right ankle. It did not look good. A tree root nearby seemed to be the cause. It was bent like a bow just right above the earth, and perfect for a stumbling hobbit foot to be trapped in.


Pippin stopped his frantic searching for a moment, assessing Merry`s situation. His cousin was lying on his stomach, head on the stone, and a gigantic branch lying over his back. He would not be able to move, if he should awaken while Pippin looked for something to get the branch off. Another branch was what he needed! And quickly. Soon he would not be able to see anything, and how was he to get Merry in to the sheltered cave once he did get him free. One thing at a time, he told himself sternly. He wiped the tears from his eyes with his sleeve, and looked about.

Think, Peregrin Took, he said to himself. Think! What do you know about levering things? What has Merry taught you? Oh, Merry… Tears started welling up anew in his eyes, but he brushed them away. Merry needed him to get them out of this, and Pippin was determined that he would manage it. He looked around the forest floor where they were and saw several branches lying about. Quickly he gathered a few and ran back to Merry.


His lungs heaving for air and pushing with all his might, Pippin finally managed to get the huge branch off of Merry. He had forced a smaller branch in by Merry`s side, and used all the force his limbs could muster to push the large branch off. Falling back by the power of the smaller branch moving the larger one, he had finally managed to get Merry free.


But how was he going to get Merry into the cave? Pippin looked up at the sky. Lightning flashed from time to time, and Pippin heard a new branch falling off a tree, just to the right of him. If he dragged Merry, he might get him into the shelter. The largest problem though, was that there were several large rocks in front of the cave, and he could not drag Merry over them. He needed to carry him somehow.


Wait, he thought. What if Merry had broken something? Now that Merry was free, Pippin gently felt his arms and legs for broken bones, but not having done that before, he hoped he did not miss something. Merry`s ankle looked bruised and swollen, but it was not lying in an awkward way. But he would need to do something about Merry`s head. Gently he lifted it, and pushed aside the stone that he had hit when falling. It was a large, rough stone, but there were no sharp edges on it. Pippin lay Merry`s head down again.


Using what there was left of daylight; Pippin grabbed his cousin’s arms and started dragging him towards the cave. It was heavy work, for even though Merry was not a particularly heavy hobbit, he was dead weight in Pippins grasp, still unconscious, and the wind was blowing straight at him. Pippin struggled on.


He was by the entrance to the cave at last. He laid Merry gently down and caught his breath. He needed to hurry! The rain that had been a drizzle earlier had started to pour down in earnest. Pippin studied the rocks in front of the cave. He had to get Merry inside before he became too wet. Summoning all his strength he reached down and lifted Merry halfway. He had thought he could carry Merry on his shoulders, but his cousin proved too heavy. He did not even manage to get him up on his shoulders. Merry`s head lolled forwards when Pippin grabbed him under his arms, but it was the only way he would manage to get them to the shelter. Pippin needed to drag Merry into the cave like this. He hoped it would not hurt Merry`s ankle more.




Pippin dragged his unconscious cousin over the rocks and into the safe and dry cave. He laid Merry gently down, and put his own cloak under his cousin’s head. Then he scrambled back and fetched their packs, before he went out one more time to gather relatively dry firewood from under the trees.




Pippin boiled some water and by the light of the fire found a clean shirt in his pack. Taking Merry`s head in his lap, he gently washed the wound. It was not deep, and Pippin did not think Merry needed to see a healer for it, but it was bleeding, and it probably hurt. Merry flinched a little when the cloth touched his sore head, but he did not waken.


Laying Merry back down, Pippin felt around Merry`s foot a bit more, but from what he could see in the firelight it was only swollen and bruised. He washed and wrapped the ankle and put a fresh pot of water on to boil. He then got out Merry`s bedroll and wrapped his cousin warmly in all of their blankets. Then he sat down to wait. The rain poured down outside their shelter, lightning now and again flaring the sky.




Merry awoke to a headache he did not understand how he had got. And his ankle hurt too. Where was he? He shifted round a little, and found himself snugly wrapped in blankets, lying on something hard but dry. Slowly he opened his eyes. Pippin was hovering over him, and all Merry could see at first was a concerned face, and large, tearful eyes.


“Oh, Pip.” He whispered. “What happened?”


“Hullo Merry. How are you feeling?”


“I feel … “ Merry thought for a moment. His head hurt, his ankle hurt, and he felt a little sick. The world was spinning slowly round. “Dizzy.” He finally said. “And my foot hurts.”


“You fell you know. What do you remember?”


“We were walking through the trees, when lightning hit. I heard a branch falling. Then…” He licked his lips and tried to think.


“Here.” Pippin carefully lifted his cousin's head onto his lap, and held a mug to Merry`s lips. “It’s tea. You’ll feel better for it.” Merry turned his head slightly. “No. I don’t think I can hold it down. I feel sick.”


Pippin put the mug down, but kept Merry`s head in his lap, stroking the other’s curls. “Do you remember more?”


“I dropped your pack, then tried to get you out of the way, and I think something hit me. My back is sore.”


“Yes. A branch almost as long as you are had you pinned to the ground. It must have fallen off a tree right behind us I think. And you hit your head on a rock and probably hurt your ankle when you fell, for there was a tree root sticking up just by your feet.”






“How did I end up here then? Did you bring me here?”


Pippin nodded. “Yes. You`re quite heavy I`ll have you know.”


“My brave cousin!” Merry shifted a little and saw the fire and the packs and their bedrolls. “And then you ran out and gathered our things and made a fire.”


Another nod. “Yes.”


Merry felt overwhelmed, and proud. If Pippin had not been there, he still would have been lying under that branch, getting soaking wet. And who knew how long he would have to lie there before someone found him or he got himself freed?


“Oh Pippin!” Tears welled up in Merry`s eyes.


“Sssh now, Merry. It’s all right. You are well, at least almost, and I am well, and we are safe and dry. Sssh. Don’t cry.”


Seeing his cousin’s distress, and realizing they were finally safe, Pippin started crying himself. He hugged Merry tight, and let out a little sob.


PART THREE: The Proud and The Brave


Merry looked up at Pippin. His little cousin had tears in his eyes, but looked down at Merry with so much love and care, that Merry knew that they would be all right.


“I’m so proud of you Pip. You have acted maturely and sensibly. One could almost believe you were a Brandybuck!” Merry poked his cousin a little in the leg with his hand. “If it had not been for you, I would have been lying there still, wet and hurt.”


“I only did what I had to do Merry. I’ve done nothing that you would not have done for me.”


“But how did you know what to do?”


“You silly Brandybuck. Don’t you know? All I know in life, I have learned from you or Frodo. You have guided me and taught me and helped me. If it had not been for you, Merry-mine, I would not have known what to do. I just tried to do what I thought you would have done in my place.”


“Oh!” Merry had hoped he had been able to teach Pippin some things that were worthwhile, and now it seemed that he had. Carefully he sat himself up, directing each limb with care, so not to make the world spin around again, now that it finally had settled down.


He sat up completely, and held his arms out and Pippin snuggled into his embrace.


“I’m so proud of you, my Pip. You have been so very brave!”


“I’ll do anything for you, Merry.”




They sat like that for a while, arms around each other. Finally, Pippin spoke.


“How are you now Merry? Would you try some tea?”


Merry listened to his body for a moment. His head was still hurting, but the world was still, and his stomach had settled down too. “Yes. I think I can manage some tea. The world has stopped spinning now.”


“Well, you just sit there and rest, and I’ll get you a fresh mug.” Pippin said. The mug he made a little while ago had gone cold now.


Merry did as he was told, and after a few moments, he had a mug of hot tea in his hand.


Pippin looked at him critically.




“Do you feel up to some food too?”


Merry laughed. It was so like Pippin to start thinking about food as soon as the danger was over. He did not need to answer though, for his stomach decided it wanted to be filled, and made that clear loud and long for all that could hear.


“I’ll take that for an answer, then.”


When Merry would get up to help him, Pippin forced him down again. “You stay put, young master, and I’ll fix us supper.” Merry grinned and shook his head at this suddenly mature and wise cousin of his.




After supper the two hobbits sat back, relaxing. The storm was dwindling away, and they would be able to go on tomorrow, Pippin thought. That is, if Merry was well enough.




Merry had been thinking a bit on his own, and looked at his cousin with an abstracted look on his face.


“Hmm, Pip?


“How do you feel? Do you think you will be able to go on in the morning?”


Merry lifted a hand, and gingerly felt his head. It still hurt, but he had been sitting up for a good while now, and even if he moved his head in a normal way, the world stayed put. He reached for his ankle. That did hurt too, but he didn’t think it was terribly bad, and Pip had bound it up nicely.


Slowly Merry lifted himself to his feet. Pippin shot up beside him ready to offer support at the slightest evidence of weakness. Merry planted his weight on his good foot, and straightened. He put his other foot down, and pain shot up through his leg.




Pippin grabbed hold of him, and sat them down again.


“Not tomorrow then. We can sleep here, and” he rooted through his pack, “we have enough food for several days here. We are on an adventure!” Pippin squeezed Merry`s shoulder. “Don’t worry, Mer. I’m going to take care of you.”


And Merry did not doubt him for a second.


“I know Pip. Thank you.”


Giving his cousin in a brief hug, Pippin settled them both down to sleep, taking care that Merry was comfortable, warm and dry. They would manage, no matter what happened.









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