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*sigh* I simply could not resist... hobbit romances must be my fandom calling or something. Anyway, this story (previously posted and still being continued at FFN) was in my head for some time before I finally sat down and wrote a bit for it. I have many things planned for this, not all of them happy. I think if I work this right, it could be my best fan fic to date. *knock on wood*
The Great Smials, 1426 S.R.
* * *
Paladin Took sighed deeply at his son’s firm voice. “Peregrin, try to understand...”
“Understand what?” Pippin asked, a fire lit in his eyes. “That you want to take me bride-hunting?”
Pursing his lips, Paladin continued in as even a voice as he could manage. “That you have been of marrying age for three years and yet have made no effort to find yourself a wife. Your friends are all married - why can’t you follow their example? Even that cousin of yours has settled down and now has a family.”
Pippin crossed his arms and lifted his chin in defiance of his father’s statement. “I remember a time when it would have grieved you to use Merry as an example of the right thing to do.”
“And that sentiment has not changed; it grieves me still, more so because you refuse to do what even he would!”
In an exasperated tone, Pippin replied, “Do you think I’m doing this out of spite?”
“It certainly appears that way!” Paladin fumed, all trace of evenness gone from his voice.
As he clenched and unclenched his fists at his side, Pippin spoke in a tone that bordered on rebellion. “For your information, Father, the reason I have not chosen a bride is because I have yet to find one.”
Paladin spread his hands suddenly as if his son was finally agreeing with him. “Which is exactly why I’m asking you to do this!” When Pippin rolled his eyes, preparing to turn away, Paladin continued in a calmer voice. “It’s just a short trip to Long Cleeve. I have to go there on Thain business anyway - you could simply say that you are there to help me. There are plenty of nice girls in Long Cleeve, you’re bound to find one that’s to your liking!”
His nostrils flaring, Pippin responded icily, “And if I don’t? I suppose you shall simply have to take me somewhere else to find a wife, won’t you?”
Taking a deep breath, Paladin sat down at the table and motioned for Pippin to take a seat next to him. When he did so, albeit reluctantly, Paladin spoke in a tired voice. “Son, I understand how you feel, believe it or not. I was barely a year younger than you when my father gave me a similar lecture to the one I’ve given you. My reaction was much the same as yours. I wasn’t going to allow anyone to have me tied down with a wife and children to support.” A wistful smile came to his face the likes of which Pippin had never seen on his father. “But then I met your mother. I’d never seen a more enchanting creature in all my life. The heart is a strange thing, Peregrin. It’s definitely not as intelligent as your head, but I think, in a way, it’s a bit wiser.”
Pippin raised an eyebrow at this, but decided not to push the subject. His father had grown a bit peculiar in his old age, even as Tooks go.
After a moment, Pippin sighed. “When do we leave?”
Paladin’s face broke into a wide grin. He clapped his son on the shoulder. “I knew you’d come through for me! We leave in one week. And perk up, lad! We’re going to Long Cleeve, not your funeral!”
Pippin gave a half-hearted attempt at a laugh, but didn’t get very far with it.
* * *
“Yes, Long Cleeve,” Pippin replied dully to Merry Brandybuck’s exclamation.
“Two questions,” Merry stated.
Pippin rubbed his temples. “One at a time, please.”
“All right, first question - what have you done with the real Peregrin Took? The Pippin I know would never allow someone to force him into looking for a bride.”
Pippin laughed mirthlessly. “I’m afraid he was the victim of Paladin Took’s incessant ramblings.”
“Well you know, there’s a simple solution to that. You do have a sword, in case you’ve forgotten.”
“Perish the thought, Merry, you know I could never kill my own father. Mum would never let me see the end of it.”
“And the second question?” Pippin prodded.
“Pardon? Oh, right, second question - why Long Cleeve? What’s so special about the lasses there?”
Shrugging, Pippin replied, “It’s convenient, I suppose. Father has to go there anyway on Thain business. He must have seen a brilliant opportunity to find a daughter-in-law.”
“I wonder what’s so special about the lasses there...”
Pippin shook his head. “I haven’t the faintest idea. But there had better be something spectacular about them.”
Smiling slightly, Merry responded, “I should hope so, if you’re going to marry one of them.”
Sighing, Pippin replied, “I’m not going to marry someone I meet in Long Cleeve. I’m just doing this to humor my father.”
Merry sat back and regarded his friend with a pensive look. “You know something, Pip? You and I are getting very old.”
Pippin couldn’t help but laugh at this sudden change of subject. “And what makes you say that?”
“Well, think about it - you’re going to look for (or pretend to look for, at least) a bride to humor your father, something you would have never done ten years ago. And I...” Merry let out a deep sigh. “I find myself going to all extremes to humor my darling wife.”
“Ah, Merry,” Pippin said with a grin. “I do believe you are the one who is aging the most. After all, you are the one with a wife and daughter to support now.”
Merry responded with an impish smile. “Just wait awhile. I’m sure those lovely Long Cleeve lasses will take care of that for you.”
Pippin snorted. “I wouldn’t count on it.”
* * *
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