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Author: Anso the Hobbit
Characters: Merry, Frodo and Esmeralda, Pardy (OC), mention of Pippin
Timeline: Brandy Hall, SR 1393, so Pippin is 3, Merry 11 and Frodo 25
Summary: Wee!Merry angst. To Marigold, because she needed to be cheered up.
The morning sun was shining brilliantly through the kitchen window, and Esmeralda stood Merry in the sunbeams in an attempt to see how she might tidy up her dishevelled son. Merry had been rambling about the grounds with the other children, and had rumpled clothes and messy curls to show for it. Merry himself wasn`t all that happy about being tidied up, and didn`t help his Mum much in trying to make him presentable.
“Merry, dear, stay still.” A few more tugs and finger combing of errant curls and she sighed. It would have to do.
“I don`t want to.” Merry put his heels in the ground and let his body become deadweight as his mother took him by the hand trying to lead him out into the hallway. She`d carry him if she had to, determined to get this over with.
“No. He`s bad.”
Esmeralda sighed heavily and let go of her son. Merry almost lost his balance, but righted himself quickly, crossing his arms over his chest and staring at his mother. Esmeralda drew a stool in front of him and sat down.
“Why won`t you go Merry? You`ve been through this before, and nothing bad has happened then.”
“He`s a bad hobbit Mum. He`s not nice to me.” He would not go. Merry knew all the children had to, and it was just as his mother said, he had been through it before. But Berilac had filled his head with horrible visions of what had happened with him just the previous week, and said that he barely had escaped unscathed. Berilac was two years older than Merry. Berilac said a lot of strange things, but this just had to be true, he wouldn`t lie about this, would he? Or want to scare Merry on purpose? Normally Berilac and Merry were good friends, but Berilac had taken to teasing Merry a bit lately. Mostly about him being too little to do grown lads` stuff. Merry tried to please those he loved, but after Berilac scared him with his tale, he`d do anything to not go through with this.
To both Esmie and Merry`s joy, the kitchen door opened and Frodo came in, looking for Merry.
“There you are Merry. What are you on about?” He registered his cousin`s glare and could clearly see the war of wills.
“Oh, Frodo. Would you take him? Maybe he`ll go willingly if you take him, instead of me dragging him through the Hall?” Esmie said.
“Of course. Where is he meant to be going?”
Esmeralda looked at Merry more than Frodo when she explained that all little hobbits under the age of fifteen had to be checked by the healer about once a year to see if they were growing properly. She turned to Frodo. “Apparently Merry doesn`t like the healer, and he has been fussy about it all morning.”
“Oh, come along, Merry. He won`t do you any harm, and besides, I`m with you, so nothing bad can happen. All right?” Frodo crouched down to be eye level with his cousin. Merry nodded slowly. Nothing bad could happen with Frodo there. “Just look at it as if it is an adventure Merry.” Merry loved Frodo`s adventures, and reluctantly he took Frodo`s outstretched hand.
“That`s my brave lad,” Esmie said, leaving a kiss on Merry`s cheek before they ventured out in the labyrinth of Brandy Hall`s hallways.
“Well, who do we have here?” Pardy, the Hall`s healer said, crouching down in front of Merry as the two cousins entered. “If it isn`t the little Master himself, eh?” The healer smiled but Merry didn`t answer, only nodded. He knew it was the grown-ups way of making him feel big by calling him “little Master” But right now Merry didn`t feel very big. And besides, Grandfather Rory was still Master, and people referred to his father as the Young Master, even if he did a lot of the practical bit of the job.
Oh, Frodo thought to himself as he saw the healer. He was rather old and had bushy grey curls and sharp and searching eyes. Putting himself in Merry`s situation he thought that if he had been a little hobbit, he certainly would have been afraid too. Frodo squeezed Merry`s hand reassuringly and let go of his cousin as Pardy steered him into his office. Frodo had heard earlier from Merry`s Mum that Pardy was kind and good natured and never did anyone any harm. Of course, being poked and prodded could be uncomfortable for anyone, and for little hobbits it could be experienced as unkindness.
Most of what happened during the examination was routine, and Merry just let the healer steer him about and sat or stood on his command, not daring to make trouble lest he`d do something horrible to him. He had been through this measuring and poking and prodding before, and it didn`t actually hurt or anything, but still. Berilac`s descriptions of what he had been through still shouted for attention in Merry`s head.
Pardy murmured a little as he looked Merry over, but as everything looked to be growing as it should, he didn`t say much. Besides, none of the child`s parents were there, only this Baggins cousin from Hobbiton. He lifted Merry up to sit on a high stool and turned to get an instrument at a side table. Turning back he met the frightened gaze of the little hobbit, and couldn`t for the life of him understand what had frightened him so.
“No!” Merry said, perching precariously on the high stool. “Not my ears. They`re mine!”
“Well, of course they`re yours. Did you think I was going to take them away?”
Merry nodded, his hands clamped about his ears, tears starting to gather in his eyes.
“Merry?” Frodo came forward now, having stood in the corner by the door, ready to assist if necessary. “Why won`t you let him look at your ears?” He reached to steady Merry. “They don`t hurt, do they?” He added worriedly.
“No.” Merry almost sniffled a little, but tried to hold himself in check. All those horrible things Berilac had said… Merry`s ears had hurt once before, and then the healer had done something that hurt but eventually he was better for it. “They don`t hurt, but Berilac said -”
“Never mind Berilac, dearest. He just wants to scare you.” Frodo knew how the older Brandybuck lad liked to tease his younger cousins. “You`re such a brave lad Merry.” Frodo tried to pry Merry`s hands away, but Merry held on tight. “Merry” Frodo looked him square in the eye. “What are you afraid of? Let go now, hmm?” Again Frodo tried to take Merry`s hands away. “He won`t hurt you, I promise. And besides, I`m here, so nothing bad can happen. All right?” Frodo repeated his promise form earlier that morning. Merry nodded and reluctantly he let go of his ears.
“There`s my brave lad.” Frodo didn`t leave Merry`s side, but stood beside the stool, holding his hand as Merry had his ears checked. “See” Frodo said, as the healer was finished. “That didn`t hurt, did it?” Merry only shook his head.
“Well, how about if we see how tall you are then?” Pardy said, gesturing to a measurement line drawn on the wall. Merry hopped down and Frodo led him towards the wall, letting go so Merry could stand against the line and stand straight.
“Now, would you look at that? Frodo, do you see the same as I do?” Pardy held a flat stick against Merry`s head, so he could see the measurement behind him.
“Yes. That is really incredible. Merry, you`re exactly two feet tall. Not an inch more or less.”
“You`ve grown a lot this year, haven`t you?”
“Yes,” Merry nodded. His Mum had complained that he outgrew his clothes too fast, and that if he continued like this, he wouldn`t fit the clothes he got after Berilac before Berilac had used them himself. He`d soon have to get Frodo`s old clothes then. And if he continued to grow like this, he`d very soon outgrow Frodo too. “Mum says I grow too fast.” He just hoped that his little cousin Pippin would grow so he could have the clothes Merry had grown out of. Merry knew that his Mum had sent some trousers and shirts and smallclothes to his Auntie Tina so that Pippin could have them. But they were still a little big for the wee Took.
“Well” Frodo said, as they started on the way back to the Master`s quarters. “That`s my big lad then!” And he grabbed Merry and swung him up in the air. Merry shrieked with glee, but as he was set down, his face became solemn.
“But Frodo, I don`t want to grow fast or become big.”
“Why ever not? Don`t you want to grow up?”
“Why is that?” Frodo didn`t think this had to do with Merry being the future Master, because he liked the tasks his father assigned him and loved to travel about Buckland with him. This had to be something else.
“Because Pippin is still so little, and if I grow so fast I will outgrow him in no time. And” Merry`s voice trembled a little. “And Auntie Tina said that he still is too little for his age, and he has been so very ill, and I don`t want to grow so fast that he can`t follow! And Frodo, what if Pippin doesn`t grow up to be a big and strong lad?”
“Oh Merry,” Frodo lifted Merry again and gave him a fierce hug and a kiss to his curls. “I`m sure he will. But he has been very ill, and you know that when little hobbits get ill, they grow slower than healthy hobbits.”
They had come to the kitchen now, and Frodo sat down, taking Merry in his lap. It wasn`t long since Merry and his family had come back from visiting with Pippin`s family, and Pippin had been ill again while they were there. It hadn`t been life threatening this time, and Merry had been spared having to see his little cousin lying on the brink of death, but Merry had been there all the time, and had watched over and sat with his cousin just as every one else. No one had greater patience with the little hobbit than Merry. For endless hours he would sit and sing or read to him, or tell stories. Pippin would always calm down when Merry was there, and Frodo had watched as the close bond between the two grew even stronger and firmer. Frodo and Cousin Bilbo had come down from Hobbiton when they got the news that Pippin was faring badly. But Frodo knew that the summons calling him there hadn`t been for Pippin`s sake only, but also because there was another little hobbit lad visiting that might need the comfort and support of an elder and beloved cousin.
Merry knew that Pippin had been deathly ill once or twice, and he knew that he almost didn`t make it through his own birth. And he knew how the tiny hobbit fought for his life. Still, Pippin was so very tiny and Merry couldn`t quite believe that he would someday grow up to be just as strong and big as every other hobbit lad he knew.
“Merry?” Frodo looked down at the little cousin in his lap. Merry had started crying now, and silent tears ran down his round cheeks. Frodo brushed a few curls back to better see his eyes, and dried the tears with his thumb. “Merry, sweetie. Pippin is a fighter. I am sure he`ll grow up to be a big lad too.” Frodo turned Merry around a little in his lap so that Merry faced him. “And you know what? You can help him. In fact, you already do!”
“I do?” Merry looked up to meet the steady gaze of this beloved older cousin who knew the answer to everything. “How?”
“Just by being who you are, by showing him that you love him. Merry, didn`t anyone tell you what a wonderful job you did helping Pippin when you visited?”
“Erm... I don`t know Frodo. Mum said I was a good helper, and Da said I was brave, but -”
“But nothing dearest. Being a good helper to your Mum and Auntie, and singing and reading to Pippin, is all that you need to do dear. Pippin knows that you are there for him, and he knows that you love him. That is all that matters.”
“Mmm.” Merry thought for a while, leaning his head against Frodo`s chest. “Just like I love you and you love me, and you tell me stories and sing to me if I am sad or sick?”
“Exactly! I want to, too, you know. Because I love you so much and because you`re my very special Merry-lad and I`ll do what I can to help you through. “
Merry threw his arms around Frodo. “I love you too, and when you`re sad or sick I`ll tell you stories too!”
“I`d like that Merry.” Frodo said, tousling Merry`s golden curls and setting his little cousin on the ground.
“Now, I don`t know about you, but I`m famished, and such big and strong lad as yourself must be too after today`s adventure. How about if we see if your Mum has made anything good we can have for elevenses?”
“Yes!” Merry said gleefully, and hand in hand with Frodo he started the adventure it was to raid Brandy Hall`s pantries.
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