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AUTHOR'S NOTES:(1) This was written for hobbit_ficathon's "Moving Day" challenge in LiveJournal.
(2) In my version of the Shire, Ferumbras abdicates the Thainship to Paladin when Pippin is fifteen, due to poor health and the fact that a severe case of mumps a few years earlier had left him impotent. (“My health is not what it used to be” is a Tookish euphemism for that.)
(3) In this story Pearl is 30, Pimpernel is 26, Pervinca is 20, Merry is 23 and Pippin is 15 (Or 19, 16 and a half, 13, 14 and a half, and 9 in Man years)
Paladin looked about him. They were taking only their personal possessions; the tenants would keep the furniture, for the Great Smials were well furnished. Still, the farmhouse looked very bare without the pictures and cushions and clothing and other items. He sighed. He did *not* want to do this. He had thought he would have several more years of freedom, before the Thainship landed in his lap. He would miss Whitwell. After all, he had grown up here, and had raised his family here.
But when Ferumbras had come to him and told him “My health is not what it used to be, and I shall now never wed. I wish to give over the job to you now, so that I can have a little peace and quiet before I die.” Paladin’s heart had dropped to his toes. He had tried to argue, but it was in vain, and Ferumbras had grown suddenly hard. “You *will* do this, Paladin Took, or find yourself and your family homeless. This farm still belongs to the Took family, and not to you personally.”
Put that way, of course, there *was* no recourse. He had given in with as much grace as the circumstances would allow.
He turned to his wife, who was watching him worriedly. “Hullo, Tina. I’m sorry, dear, I didn’t hear you come in,” he said sadly.
She came over and put her arms about him, kissed him gently. They put their foreheads together briefly. “Are you going to say good-bye to the children?”
He nodded, and hand in hand they walked out into the late summer morning.
He could hear the peals of Pippin’s laughter as he stepped outside. Merry had apparently chased his younger cousin down, and was tickling him unmercifully. Paladin grinned at the sight. Pippin was so excited to be going to Buckland at this time of year that he had not stopped moving or talking since he found out. Merry was doing his best to wear out the younger child before they started. Pervinca was already in the coach with Esmeralda.
She leaned out to hug him. “I’m going to miss you, Father.”
“Give your mother and I time to settle into the Great Smials. We will send for you as soon as everything has calmed down again.”
“I understand, Father,” she said. Her expression seemed to say that she did, but Paladin hoped that she truly did not. He was not going to have his children subjected to the scrutiny and gossip that would be part and parcel of his new position, until things had truly subsided and the novelty of having a new Thain had passed.
He turned and took a few steps, and grabbing his nephew by his braces, pulled him off his son with a grin. “Come now, you overbearing little Brandybuck. Give me a minute or two with my son.”
Merry gave him a little hug. “Of course, Uncle Paladin!” and the tweenager raced off to help his own father putting the last of the travelling cases onto the back of the coach.
Paladin knelt down, and brushed off the back of Pippin’s shirt. “Now, Peregrin, I know that you are excited to be going and staying in Buckland for a while. But I want you to mind your sister and your cousin as well as your Aunt Esme and Uncle Sara. And stay out of the back tunnels!”
“Father! I *always* mind Merry! Well, almost always --and that was *ages* ago, anyway! I was only eleven!”
“And now you are all of fifteen! I don’t doubt that you and Meriadoc will find a good deal of mischief--but try not to disgrace me, lad.” He smiled when he said it, but he meant it and Pippin could tell that he did.
Pippin gave his father a fierce hug, and looked up to see his mother. He let go of his father and barreled into her. “Mother!” he suddenly had tears in his eyes. Now it came to it, he was not so sure about this. He had made visits to Buckland and Bag End on his own since he was seven, but this visit was different. It wasn’t at his usual time of year, and it was indefinite. His parents had made it clear they did not know *how* soon they would send for him and Pervinca to come home.
And home would not be Whitwell anymore. It would be the Great Smials.
Paladin walked over to the pony trap, where Pearl and Pimpernel sat with the Goodbodies--Longo and Dianthus and their son Milo. They were ready now to drive off, and only awaited the last farewells.
Pearl was very pale. Only she, of the children, had any understanding of how difficult this move was for her parents. “Father,” she whispered. She bent down for a last embrace, and her father’s kiss on her brow, and then Pimmie did the same.
“Behave yourselves, my lassies, and do not give Uncle Lon and Aunt Dee any trouble.”
He looked up at the Goodbodies. “Take good care of them.”
Dee nodded solemnly back at him. “We will, Paladin.”
Eglantine had come up, with Pippin still by her side. He looked up at his oldest sisters. “ ‘Bye, Pearl and Pimmie. I’ll miss you, even if you are bossy.”
His sisters giggled. “I know you will, Pip,” said Pimpernel. “We’ll miss you, too, although we won’t miss the frogs in our beds.”
Pearl looked at her mother. Tears stood in her eyes, as well as Eglantine’s.
“Be well, dear,” was her mother’s response.
“We’ll try to be a credit to you, I promise!”
“I don’t doubt that, my love.”
“Farewell!” said Longo, and he shook the reins, and the ponies stepped forth. Calls of “Good-bye!” and “Farewell!” and waves of the hands continued as the pony-trap moved down the lane.
Saradoc stood behind his brother-in-law. “Diccon tells me we are all set to go, now,” he said, gesturing to the driver, who was already seated and waiting.
Paladin picked Pippin up, although really, his son was far too old for that now. But he wanted one more excuse to hold his lad in his arms for a moment, and Pip made no protest, as he would have under other circumstances. He carried him over and deposited him in the coach, and Saradoc clambered in after. “If all goes well, brother, we will see you at your investiture next month.” But they would not be bringing the children.
Paladin nodded. He looked at his son and youngest daughter. “I will see the two of you at Bag End, for Cousin Bilbo’s and Cousin Frodo’s birthdays in a couple of months.”
They nodded somberly, both of them now fighting tears. Merry had a protective arm around Pippin’s shoulders. Saradoc signaled the driver, and the Brandybuck coach also moved down the lane.
Paladin felt his wife at his side, and placed his arm around her waist. He heaved a great sigh. “Well, my dear, it is our turn now.”
She nodded. She went over to the waggon, where young Clover and Tulip Tunelly waited. The lasses would be going along, and would join the staff at the Great Smials. “Is everything loaded?”
“Yes, ma’am,” said Clover.
Paladin spoke to their cousin Sparrow, who would be driving. He would not remain in Tuckborough, but would return to Whitwell, and be one of the farmhands for the new tenant, one of Paladin’s cousins, Isemgrin Took.
Paladin handed the hobbit a small pouch. “You’ve been a faithful worker, Sparrow. This is just a token of our appreciation.”
“Thank you, Mr. Paladin--or Thain Paladin, as I should say now, I guess.”
Paladin shook his head. “Not quite yet, lad. I’ve a few more days until I take up that title.”
He turned and offered his arm to his wife, as though they were going in to dine, and led her to their own pony-trap. He helped her up, and then climbing up himself took up the reins, and shook them. The trap rolled out, followed by the well-laden waggon.
Paladin kept his eyes straight ahead. He refused to look back one last time at the farm.
That life was over now.
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