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When the King Comes Back ( Brandy Hall )  by Dreamflower

The next morning was the day of the proclamation. Pippin was nervous. His father wanted him, as a King’s Messenger and representative of Gondor, to read the King’s letter to the assembly.

Merry had to help him into his armor. “For goodness’ sake, Pip, you’ve been in front of kings and princes and Elven lords and wizards and Ents. You’ve slain Orcs and a troll. What is there to be frightened of from a bunch of Tooks?”

“Because they *are* Tooks.”

“You have a point there. Ah, see, I made you smile.”

Pippin made an effort to put the corners of his mouth down. “Did not.”

“Did so.”

“Did not.”

Frodo stood at the door with his arms folded. “Well, I must have come to the wrong place. I was looking for a couple of warriors from the South, and see I found the nursery instead.” He was glad to see them in good spirits. No dreams for Merry the night before. And he thought he might have a partial solution to the problem, if Paladin and Saradoc would agree.


In the clear cold morning of a late fall day the assembled hobbitry of Tuckborough gathered to see the Thain, reconciled once more with the Master of Buckland, and the Deputy Mayor of the Shire, and two very splendid Knights whose armor gleamed as their Elven cloaks whipped in the wind. And the one in black and silver stood forth, their very own Peregrin, and read out in a ringing voice the message they had heard rumored.

The King had come back.

And the crowd erupted in cheers.


Paladin, Saradoc and Frodo went to Paladin’s study immediately after the proclamation was read, in order to begin working on their answer to the King. A luncheon was brought to them there, so that they could work right through.

Paladin studied Frodo as the servant unloaded the trays onto the small table that stood beside his desk. The younger hobbit had a sad air about him that Paladin had never seen before; Paladin found his eyes drawn to the four fingered right hand, and noting the signs that pain had etched upon Frodo’s face. Yet one thing had not changed, his soul was written in his blue eyes for all the world to see. Paladin remembered his integrity. No matter what mischief Frodo had been into as a lad, he always owned up. What was the matter with me, he thought, what was I thinking, to ever suspect this one of anything underhanded?

After the servant had left, the three helped themselves to the food, and sat down around the table. Paladin was the first to speak.

“From the letters and from what Peregrin told me, my impression of our new King is favorable; still I’d like to know more about him.”

“I agree,” said Saradoc. “Merry is a good judge of character, and I trust that judgment, but I also need to know more. Frodo, what can you tell us of him?”

Frodo pushed aside his plate and leaned back. Both the older hobbits noticed that he had barely touched the small amount of food he had taken.

“I will tell you what I can of our King. He is a Dunadan, a Man of the West, longer lived than most Men. He was raised in Rivendell by the Elves after his father died. Lord Elrond is his foster father. He spent many years as Chief of the Rangers who wander in the Wild, and guard and protect our borders from the evils that surround us. Necessity made him a warrior, destiny made him a King, and his heart made him a healer. When the healer is needed, he puts warrior and king behind him in an instant.

He seems to understand more of hobbits than most Men. He does not call us halflings except when speaking to other Men who do not know the word ‘Hobbit‘, or treat us as children, something which even the kindest and most well-intentioned of Men can tend to do; it is hard to blame them when we do appear to them as children, but it can be tiresome. He cares about us a lot as friends.” Frodo stopped for a moment, as if trying to decide whether to continue, then he nodded to himself. “I love him; so do Merry and Pippin and Sam. We trusted him with our lives, and it was trust well placed, or we would not be home now.”

Paladin leaned forward. “Then it seems we are fortunate in our new King. But how will we know what he wants of us?”

This was what Frodo had been waiting for. Aragorn had talked to him for hours, trying to get his ideas on what would and would not serve the Shire best, and he was now to find out if the Thain and the Master of Buckland were ready to listen.

The three talked for a couple of hours, making a list of ideas, discussing the possibilities. Since they would be repeating the proclamation in Hobbiton and Buckland in a couple of weeks, they had plenty of time to work on details.

Frodo could tell that the two older hobbits were nearly ready to be finished with this discussion. Now was his chance.

“Before we go, could we talk about something else? Something to do with Merry and Pippin?”

Paladin looked puzzled; Saradoc asked “What is it?”

“Uncle Sara, did you tell Paladin about what happened with Merry the other night?”

Saradoc flushed. “No. Somehow I don’t think Merry would care for that,” he said reproachfully.

“Normally I would agree with you,” answered Frodo, “but I think we are going to need Paladin’s help.”

Now Paladin was reproachful. “What are you going on about?”

“Merry was having a return of the nightmares that plagued us after the War. Last night Pippin stayed in the room with him, and it helped. You need to know that Pippin may also have a return of these evil dreams; you have seen some of it--but not the worst. I cannot begin to tell you of the horrors that these dreams bring, night after night. They may go away for weeks at a time, but they always return.” His eyes were full of distress, and he raised his hand to Arwen’s jewel. “Merry and Pippin need to be together, now, even more than when they were children. They also need some privacy. The last thing you need here at the Great Smials or at Brandy Hall is gossip about why your sons spend their nights shrieking in terror.”

Paladin looked at Frodo intently. “You seem to have something in mind.”

“Yes, I do. Since Lobelia gave Bag End back to me, I have no need of the house at Crickhollow. I am thinking that I could give it to Merry and Pippin for their own. They could live there together and help one another through the difficult times.”

Paladin shook his head. “Frodo, I just got my son back. How can I allow him to go off and live in Buckland? That will cause nearly as much talk as the other.”

“Not necessarily. If it’s put about that he’s feeling more grown up than he would be allowed to be here, well, nothing could be more natural. He’s been on his own for over a year, hard to come back and still have four years to go till he’s of age. People will understand that. And everyone both here and in Buckland knows how close the two of them are. I know that this proposal has some difficulties, but it could also be the solution. Don’t answer right away, but please tell me that you’ll give it some serious thought over the next few days while we’re here. Talk it over with Eglantine and Aunt Esme. And since you do not reject the idea outright, I will tell Merry and Pip about it myself.”


Frodo found Merry and Pippin in the stables with Pervinca’s husband Tanto Hornblower. They were examining Pippin’s pony, Butter, and discussing the possibility of Stybba getting a foal on her the next time she came in season. Pippin was still a bit concerned about the bruise caused by the ruffian’s rock, as well.

Frodo joined in the conversation briefly, but Tanto could tell that he had something else to discuss with his cousins, and tactfully excused himself.

Merry watched him leave. “I think I could get to quite like that Hornblower.”

“He’s a stout fellow. Vinca could have done a lot worse,” replied Pippin. “What did you need to talk to us about, Frodo?”

Frodo told them of his idea. “I do not know if your father will allow it, Pip, but he has agreed to think it over.”

Merry looked a bit unsettled. “Frodo, Pip and his father just got things worked out; I don’t want to be responsible for another rift between them.”

Pippin gave him a quelling look. “Cousin, it will be for my sake, too. You know that. And leave my parents to me.”


Pippin decided that his best help would come from his mother.

He found her the next morning in her room with her newest grandchild, watching over little Largo while his parents were busy with other things.

“Mother, can we talk?”

“I know what you want to discuss, Pippin. You can’t think that your father and I want you to go away again so soon after getting you back.”

“Please listen, Mother.” Satisfied by her attention, Pippin sat down across from her. “It’s Merry. Ever since before I can remember, Merry has always taken care of me, protected me, watched out for me. While we were gone, Frodo had all three of us watching out for him, and then he had Sam; I had Frodo and Merry the first part of the trip, and then I had just Merry. But Merry--well, I didn’t take very good care of him.” Pippin hung his head. One of the things of which he was most heartily ashamed was that it had been his foolishness in the matter of the palantir that had allowed him to become separated from Merry. “I know that it all worked out for the best, but I should have thought more of him.

Then after the battle of Pellenor, I thought I was going to lose him. I thought long and hard about what that might mean. I decided that I would probably survive; it would be like having an arm or a leg cut off, or maybe my eyes put out; it would be like having my heart ripped from me; but I would live.

He was just barely healed, and still in the grips of despair from the Black Breath, when I had to leave him again to go to my own battle.” Pippin looked at his mother with tears in his eyes, and saw her own tears. This was hurting her, but it had to be said.

“I did not tell you and Father just how badly I was hurt when that troll fell on me. I was dying, Mother. I could feel my spirit leaving; but there was Merry. His grief was so raw, Mother, I could tell that if I left he would not live without me. I had to go back for him. It is the only reason I am alive now. How can I not do anything for him? I do not want to hurt you and Father again, but please help me to help Merry.”

“Oh, my Pippin! I will speak to your father.”

“Thank you, Mother.”


Frodo was more than a little apprehensive two days later, when Paladin asked him to come to his study for a private conversation. He had heard no more from the Thain about his idea after he had put it forth, and was beginning to believe that it would be rejected. The thought of what his cousins would be in for if they remained separated made his stomach tie up in knots.

Paladin went right to the point. “I have been thinking over your proposal, and though I still have reservations about it, I think that I will allow it on a trial basis. I have a few conditions. Pippin will still need to spend some time here--after all, he is to be Thain one day, and he can’t manage the Tooks from Buckland. And I expect him to make himself useful to his Uncle Saradoc while he’s there. *I* know that he has grown up faster than he should have as a result of his adventures; he’s going to have to prove that to others. You know what talk can do. He cannot go back to his old ways of nothing but pranks and play and frequenting the inns.

I’m going to allow him to accompany you back to Hobbiton and Buckland now. In two weeks time, after we make the proclamations there, I’d like for all of you to return here through Yule. The lads can move to Crickhollow afterwards. Would you like to be the one to give them the news?”

Frodo nodded. “Yes, Paladin, I would. And thank you.”

“No, Frodo, thank you for looking out for them. It was well thought of.”


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