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Twice Twenty  by Dreamflower

Title: A First Time for Everything
Theme: Set #1, Theme ‘# 10, “Tree”
Genre (s): General, Family, Friendship
Pairing (s): N/A
Rating: G
Notes: In this story, Frodo is 30, Sam is almost 18, Merry is 16, and Pippin is almost 8 ( Or the maturity of 19, 12, 10, and 5 for humans).

Summary: Pippin learns what it means to make Merry angry…


Merry and Sam sat beneath the huge tree that grew atop Bag End. Above their heads, on a branch some seven or eight feet up, Frodo sat with his back against the trunk, and Pippin in his lap. He finished the story he was reading to them all, and closed the book.

“Time to get down, now, Pip. I need to take the book back inside the smial.”

Pippin craned his neck around. “I don’t want to get down, Frodo. Can’t I wait here?”

Frodo glanced down at Merry and Sam. “I suppose so. I will be right back.” He scooted Pippin out of his lap gently, and as the little one sat, swinging his toes back and forth, Frodo slipped off the branch, with the book under one arm, dangling briefly from the other, before he dropped gracefully and lightly to the ground.

“I’ll be back as soon as I put the book away, Merry.”

Merry nodded absently. He and Sam were now having a serious discussion about the dragon in the story and wondering if he were bigger and more dangerous than Smaug.

Pippin sat there on his branch, swinging his feet. It was boring just sitting up here waiting for Frodo to come back.

“Aye, Mr. Merry, I think you have the right of it. It took ever so many Elves to defeat that dragon, and old Smaug, he were killed by just one bowman.”

Just then several leaves and twigs pattered down from the tree to drop on their heads. Merry looked up, annoyed. “Pip--” his face suddenly changed, as he went pale. “Pip?”

Sam looked up. Pippin was no longer on the lower branches where Frodo had left him. In fact the two lads could not see him at all, though they could see the movement of the leaves and branches as he was ascending.

Merry gasped.

Sam patted him on the back. “It will be all right, Mr. Merry! Remember that tree he climbed at the Cottons’ place t’other day? He went up right high, and come down just fine!”

Merry shook his head. “Sam, he’s already far higher than he was that day! He must be more than twenty feet up now.” Merry swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry. He looked up, craning his neck to see. He thought he caught a glimpse of something pale. “Pippin!” he called. “Pippin, come down, now!”

“All right, Merry,” came the answer promptly. Then there was a silence.

“Pippin! Peregrin Took!”

“Merry?” There was a hint of panic in the lad’s voice. “Merry, I can’t! It’s too far!”

Merry felt his heart drop to his toes. “Pippin!” he called again, more than a hint of panic in his own voice.

“Merry!” Pippin wailed.

Sam looked at Merry’s white face. “Mr. Merry, I’m going to go get Mr. Frodo, right now!” He turned and dashed off.

Merry stood, staring, feeling nearly paralyzed.


He could tell. Pippin was crying. Taking a deep breath and holding it, he reached for the tree.


Followed closely by Sam on his heels, Frodo dashed up the Hill. He should have known better than to leave Pippin in that tree alone!

As he arrived beneath its canopy, he wondered where Merry could be.

He heard a whimper.

On a branch about ten feet up. Merry was clinging for dear life, his face pressed against the trunk.

Oh, Merry! thought Frodo, you shouldn’t have tried.

“Merry!” called Pippin again.

Merry sobbed, and clung even tighter to the tree trunk.

Frodo shook his head. “Pippin!” he called, “I’ll be up in just a moment, dear. Hold on!”

“Frodo? I’m holding!”

Sam had arrived breathless on Frodo’s heels, and looked up, astounded, at the sight of Merry in the tree. Frodo scrambled up to him. “Merry?”

“Frodo?” he whispered. “I was going to help Pip, but--” He was weeping. “You need to get Pip.”

“I’ll get you first, sprout. Here,” with much effort, he pried Merry’s hands loose from the tree and transferred them to his neck. Merry clung, almost too tightly, and Frodo carefully clambered down, holding on to the tree the whole way down, rather than dropping from the lowest branch. As soon as his feet touched the ground, he pulled Merry free. “Sam, look after him please, while I get Pippin.” And he leaped for the lower branches and once more began to climb, going up and up, until he was almost invisible among the upper branches.

Sam was worried now about Frodo, but he could not watch, for he was too busy comforting the hysterical young Brandybuck. “I tried, Sam! I really tried to get Pip,” he sobbed.

Sam patted his back awkwardly. He was not used to seeing the confident Merry in this kind of state, though he’d seen him worried about Pippin before.

“It’ll be all right, you’ll see! Mr. Frodo will get him.”

Merry nodded. Of course Frodo would get Pippin. Frodo was brave enough to climb up to where Pippin was, not a coward, like he was. 

Pippin was a good twenty-five feet up. Frodo was grateful he had gone no higher. Frodo himself had been higher up, but he was a good deal larger now than he had been then, and he was sure that the branches further up would no longer support his weight.

Pippin was clinging to the branch just above him. “Frodo? I think it’s too far!”

Frodo smiled at him. “Well, it very well might be, if you cannot get yourself down, you know. Come here.” He reached up, and Pippin trustingly loosed himself from the branch into his older cousin’s arms. “Here, hold on piggyback.” They climbed down about ten feet, and Frodo could feel Pippin beginning to relax. “Do you think you could let go now, and we’ll climb down together, Pippin?”

He heard a sigh. “I think so, Frodo.” Pippin loosened his grip, and the two of them climbed down together, Pippin gaining more speed as they got nearer the bottom. At last they dropped to the ground and stood beneath the tree.

As they had come in sight, Merry and Sam had looked up, and followed their progress. Merry’s face was a sight, his nose red and his eyes tear-swollen. Pippin darted over to embrace him.

Merry flinched and jerked away. He looked down at Pippin, grey eyes stormy. “You stupid little hobbit! Don’t you ever do that to me again!”

And he raced back down the Hill, leaving three shocked hobbits staring after him.

Pippin burst into tears.

Sam looked up at Frodo, perplexed. “I ain’t never seen Mr. Merry angry at Master Pippin before!”

Frodo sighed and shook his head. “There’s a first time for everything, Sam.

Sam took himself home to Bagshot Row, and Frodo carried the still weeping Pippin into Bag End. A startled Bilbo stood waiting.

“Frodo, whatever is the matter with your cousin? He ran into his room and slammed the door, and I could hear him crying.” He looked at Pippin, whose own tears redoubled at this statement.

“Merry said I was stupid!” he sniffed.

Frodo sighed, and explained what had happened.

“Oh dear me!” said Bilbo. “Here, Pippin, come to me. Frodo, you go talk to Merry, and I shall try to explain things to young Peregrin.”

Frodo knocked on the door to the room Merry was using.

“Go away!”

“I think not, dear.” Frodo leaned his forehead against the door, and willed Merry to say something.

A mighty sniff was the answer, then a brief silence. “All right, come in.”

Frodo entered quietly, and shut the door behind him. Merry was sitting up on the bed, looking at him half-defiantly, half-longingly, with his tear-ravaged face.

Frodo walked over to the washstand and poured some fresh water into the basin from the ewer. Then he wet a clean flannel, and went over to sit on the bed and wash Merry’s face. Merry suffered his ministrations silently.

“You know, Merry, that was very brave of you to try to get Pip.”

“Brave! I was a coward! I couldn’t even get half-way to where he was! Why did he do that anyway?” His voice rose shrilly.

Frodo carefully wiped his face once more with the cool cloth. “Yes, Merry you were brave to even try, knowing how you feel about climbing. As to why he did it--” He poked a finger on Merry’s nose ”--you know the answer to that as well.” He smiled slyly.

Merry tried to hold on to his temper, but felt his lips twitch. “Because he’s a Took and it was there,” he responded, with an attempt to cling to his sullenness.

“You know, he’s too young to understand why you were angry.”

“I know,” Merry sighed. “I was scared, Frodo.”

“I know,” said Frodo, and wrapped his arms around his cousin, and rocked him back and forth, as he used to do when he was a very young  faunt.


In the front room, Bilbo sat with Pippin on his lap. He pulled out his handkerchief and held it up to the lad’s nose. “Blow!”

Pippin blew mightily, and then handed the handkerchief back to Bilbo.

“Why is Merry angry at me?”

“He was frightened, Pippin. Merry is frightened about going up in high places. Have you never noticed that he does not climb trees the way you and Frodo do?”

“But Merry’s not scared of anything!” Pippin exclaimed firmly.

“You are wrong, Pippin,” said Bilbo. “Everyone is scared of something. Is there nothing you are frightened of?”

Pippin’s little brow furrowed in thought. Indeed, there were many things, but only one stood out at the moment. “I’m frightened of jumping the ditches. I always think I will miss and fall in. When the big lads do it, I run away, and they call me a baby!”

“Well,” said Bilbo, “there you are! And you see, Merry was doubly frightened, because there are two things that terrify him very much: one is high places, and the other is that something bad will happen to you.”

“Oh.” Pippin leaned into Bilbo’s embrace silently for a few moments. Then he said, “I’m scared of two things, too. Ditches. And having Merry mad at me.” He looked up at Bilbo with wide eyes. “It’s really scary having Merry mad at me.” He snuggled up to his oldest cousin, and sniffled a bit more. What if Merry stayed angry with him forever? How could he bear it?

Just then he looked up. Frodo stood in the doorway, his arm around Merry’s shoulders.

Merry held out his arms.

Pippin rushed into them.

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