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Then And Now  by MarigoldG

Then…


Pippin was a fretful baby, and didn’t thrive. His appetite was poor and he tended to point to things he wanted, seldom speaking save the word ”No!”

When the Brandybucks arrived for Pimmie’s birthday Merry couldn’t wait to see his Pippin and hurried to the nursery via the kitchen, where he liberated two gingerbreadlads. Pippin, just waking from a nap when Merry burst in, fairly beamed in delight.

“My Mer!” he crowed, and was soon cuddled in his cousin’s arms.

“My Pip! Look what we’ve got!” Pippin took a big bite, grinned, and said, “One for Pip, one for Mer!”

Now…


When Pippin was tiny he never wanted to eat, though Merry could usually coax him. Very unhobbit-like. Now a tweenager, Pippin wanted to eat constantly. Very hobbit-like, but they had scant food on this journey. Often Merry or one of the others offered him some of their share, saying he was still a growing lad.

Pippin usually declined, though Merry or Gandalf frequently insisted he accept. It was hard taking something a friend needed just as much, but Pippin understood they worried, and always thanked the giver sincerely.

Pippin wished he could remember how it felt, not wanting to eat.

********************

Then…


“Umph!” The small hobbit tackled Merry excitedly, tumbling them to the ground. “I win again, Merry!” Pippin squealed. “That’s three for me and two for you.”

“You win then, Pip, I am worn out.” Merry hugged him close, Pippin panting, his heart thumping. No more today then. They’d raced between the oak and pump five times. Merry couldn’t let Pippin win every time as he was no fool, but a year ago Pip wouldn’t have been able to run so far once! Pippin was getting stronger and Merry would keep pushing him, for his lad was too precious to lose.

Now…


“To the oak tree, Pippin! Once more, love! See if you can beat me again!” And they raced, Merry urging him on, and Pippin would’ve laughed for joy if he’d had any breath to spare. Merry pushed Pip’s limits, and that was good!

Now there was a whip-wielding orc instead of Merry running behind. In this unending nightmare, all that kept Pippin moving was repeating Merry’s childhood encouragement endlessly in his mind and knowing that Merry was somewhere near him, wordlessly demanding Pip not surrender, though neither could win this race. Pippin heeded and ran, pushing his limits beyond enduring.

******************** 

Then…


Tiny Pippin tired easily and even Merry couldn’t cajole him into crawling much, or to begin walking when the grown-ups thought he should. But Briony was not worried, saying Pippin would walk when he was ready.

Then one day Merry fell from a tree. Briony gave Pippin a biscuit to keep him busy as Hortensia bandaged Merry’s sprained arm. “Poor my Mer,” Pip said tearfully, and the three watched dumbfounded as Pippin tottered across the room to press the now-soggy biscuit into Merry’s good hand. He patted his cousin’s leg comfortingly.

“See?” Briony sniffed. “He just needed a good reason."

Now…


Pippin remembered family stories of how long it was before he could walk. He vaguely remembered Merry’s voice, coaxing, “Foot by foot, Pip-love,” without success. It took Merry falling from a tree to finally put little Pippin on his feet, toddling to his hurt cousin.

Merry was hurt again, but this time so much worse. Now ‘twas Merry could not take a step, too weak, cold, dying perhaps, lying with his head in Pippin’s lap. Pippin had echoed Merry’s words, “Foot by foot.” Without success.

Merry might die. Pippin wept for days long past when soggy biscuits cured most anything.

********************

Then…


When Pippin was six, he came to Buckland after being very ill. Merry never left his side. One day they happened to walk past where Merry’s sisters were buried. Pippin couldn’t read the marker, but found the cat Merry had carved when last there. Merry explained gently that he had made it for his sisters who had gone to Overheaven long ago. Pippin was intrigued that Merry had sisters who had gone away but more interested in the cat. “Would you make me a pony, Merry, if I go to Overheaven?”

“If you like Pip,” said Merry, his voice shaking.

Now…


He should be resting while Frodo spent some time alone with Pippin. Instead, Merry concentrated on the gift he was making. He worked carefully, with skill, and despite tears falling from his eyes the carving would be exquisite.

As it should be. As Pippin was.

He remembered a day more than twenty years ago, and the request his Pippin had made without knowing what he really asked of his Merry. "Would you make me a pony, Merry, if I go to Overheaven?" "If you like Pip." Merry had managed to answer. Slowly Pippin's pony took shape, wrought by Merry's hands.

********************

 Be sure to read Pipfan's sequel to the final drabble, Simple Things, here on Stories of Arda.

 Briony and Hortensia belong to Baylor and are used with permission.  





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