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A Question of Trolls  by Dreamflower

Disclaimer: Middle-earth and all its peoples belong to the Tolkien Estate. I own none of them. Some of them, however, seem to own me.


Pippin gave a sigh of frustration. Ever since they had returned to Rivendell after the Quest, he had tried to get a chance to talk to Bilbo privately. Here it was, his first chance to find his elderly cousin alone, without either Elves or other hobbits at hand, and there he sat, sound asleep.

“Out with it, child! What do you want to know?”

Pippin jumped as if stung. “I thought you were asleep!”

Bilbo chuckled. “Not at all, young Peregrin. I was just resting my eyes.” He sat forward and patted the bench next to him. “Come, sit by me and tell me what is so pressing.”

Pippin sat down, and suddenly, for all his need to know, found himself seized with a strange reluctance. After all, one could hardly call one’s most elderly and beloved relative a liar to his face. Well, some could, but he was no Sackville-Baggins. But he steeled himself to ask.

“Well, Cousin Bilbo, urmm--it’s--it’s” he took a deep breath. “It’s trolls.”

Bilbo nodded. “Ah.”

“Er--yes, it’s trolls.” Pippin looked into the wise old blue eyes, regarding him gravely, and encouraging him to continue. “They weren’t quite what I expected.” He gave a shudder.

“I see.”

“When we found your three, the stone ones, they were much bigger and very much uglier than I had thought they might be. But then I thought, well, sixty years of sitting out in all kinds of weather might account for it.”

Bilbo nodded.

“But then, in Moria, the one we fought there--it was a great deal bigger and even uglier. Not only that, but it didn’t talk. At least not in any kind of language that we could have understood. It was mostly just growls, grunts and roars, maybe a few words in the Black Speech. It didn’t seem any brighter than some kind of animal.”

Bilbo nodded again, and leaned forward.

“When we were in Minas Tirith, under siege, I saw several more. Some were bigger and uglier than the one in Moria, but none of them seemed to be any brighter, and were being used by the Orcs for all kinds of terrible things.” He blinked away tears. He really did not like thinking of the siege.

“Sounds dreadful, my lad.” The elderly Baggins looked at his young Took cousin with compassion.

“And then, you know, as we have already told you, I managed to kill one in the Last Battle. It lay on top of me for hours. And I find out that not only are they bigger, uglier, stupider and more dreadful than I had been led to believe, but they also stink like nothing else on Middle-earth, and are full of disgusting black blood!” As he finished the last sentence, his voice rose in anger, and he looked at Bilbo with rebuke flashing in his green eyes. “Why? Why, Bilbo?”

Bilbo looked distressed. He sat up and sighed. “Why did I not tell how awful they truly were? Why did I make them seem like some comic creatures that were not so bad as they really were?”

Pippin nodded. He felt ashamed of his anger; he had not meant to upset his dear Bilbo, but he needed to know.

“How old were you, Pippin, the first time you heard the story of the three trolls?”

“I don’t know. The first time I remember, I think I was about seven, but it seemed to me I knew the story even then.”

Bilbo nodded. “I can recall telling the story to you, Merry and Frodo, when you were barely a faunt in your cousin’s lap. Tell me, could I have told it to you then if I had not made a few modifications in what they were really like? What would your parents have said?”

Pippin sighed. “I guessed it might be something like that. But we were so unprepared for the real thing.”

“I never thought any of you would need preparation, child. I always thought that the stories would remain just stories, and I didn’t necessarily *want* them to be believed. I know I did not want to frighten anyone with the knowledge of just how terrible the real world could be. It never occurred to me that some of my dearest little ones would grow up and have to go out and face those terrible things.” He sighed. “I guess if I had known--well, Lord Elrond always says not to guess what I *would have* done, that it is useless to speculate.”

“I’m sorry, Bilbo.” Pippin laid his strong young hand on his cousin’s weathered old one.

“Not at all, my lad. You just need to think what you will tell of your own story when you get home. And you need to tell that story--do not hide it away or let it fester inside you. Even if you are not believed, even if you are called ‘mad’, even if people do not want to hear, you must tell it.”

“I’ll consider it.” Pippin still was not sure what he would tell when he got home. He was sure his parents, at least, would demand the truth, though they might not believe it when they got it. “So, if it did not quite happen that way?”

“It was not too far from the truth. They did capture us, and they fought over us, though I’ve not a clue of what, if anything, they were saying. Probably only as to which of them got to devour us first.” He chuckled. “Still, Gandalf *did* keep them busy till the sun came up--as you noted, they are in reality even stupider than in the story. But, also in reality, it was not a funny experience at all.”

“Thank you for telling me the truth, Bilbo.” Pippin leaned into his cousin’s side and gave him a gentle hug. He was surprised at how frail the old hobbit felt.

“It’s quite all right, lad. All you needed to do was ask. Do you suppose it is time for elevenses yet?”



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