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TITLE: A Walk In The Woods
AUTHOR: Anso the Hobbit
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.
WEB PAGE: www.livejournal.com/users/ansothehobbit
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.
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.
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