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The Ramblings of Peregrin Took  by Grey Wonderer

This story was written for Marigold's third Challenge and  was taken from the book, although, when you read the first part of this, you may find that hard to believe. I was to write about Pippin’s search for Merry when it was learned that Merry was not with the soldiers as they entered Minas Tirith just after the death of King Theoden and after Merry had helped Éowyn to kill the Witch King. The parts of this story that are in bold type are direct quotes from the book. And as you know, none of these characters are mine and all of this is based on the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien. I thank him for the loan, and I thank you for reading.

                                    The Ramblings of Peregrin Took

Night noises are something that you shouldn’t hear. After all, you should be asleep, right? Well, I’m not asleep and so I am hearing all of them! Crickets, creaking noises from Bag End itself, fires crackling, my own breathing and Sam’s snoring. I wonder how poor Rosie ever gets any sleep with Sam making that racket every night. I had nearly forgotten how loud it was. So now, I am up and rather than roam about bumping into the furniture and making night noise of my own that will wake everyone else, I am sitting at Bilbo’s desk.

I feel like I shouldn’t be here and that he will come and find me out but, of course, Bilbo isn’t here. Both he and dear Frodo left with Gandalf to go to the Grey Havens. Now, the desk is Sam’s. I doubt he will mind if I sit here and write as long as I don’t disturb any of his personal things.

I am not a writer, really. I don’t keep a journal and my letters, I am told, are not the clearest. I tend to ramble just in the same way that I do when I talk. Oh, there are writers in my family, cousin Bilbo chiefly and then Frodo, of course. My mum writes a very formal letter when she corresponds with relatives, but I prefer my Aunt Esme’s letters. They are just like hearing all the news of friends and family while sitting around a kitchen table over tea and scones.

Sam’s letters are also very interesting. You learn a lot from them as he fills them with news and now and again, a bit of gossip which is fun. My cousin Merry likes to write down information. You get things that seem to be instructions or maybe educational in a way. He is working on a book of herb lore just now. I am sure if you want to know how to cure boils with tree sap, or make a poultice out of ferns then you will want to read this when he is finished. I have tried to read what he has so far, but, frankly, it is a bit dull, informative, but dull.

I am sitting here writing all of this to get it out of my head for a bit. Frodo always said that writing things down helped put them in perspective and so with that end in mind, I am going to write down the events of my day. If nothing else, I might at least make myself too sleepy to think and drop off.
So........


It was a lovely day and everyone was quite enjoying it right up until Rose and Sam came over. I was working on my third, or was it my fourth, well, not important I suppose, but anyway I was having an apple tart at the time they turned up. Merry had just finished his and I do remember that it was his fifth of the day. No harm in it though, as the fair only happens once a year.

All of Hobbiton was out in full force and there were a great many hobbits from other parts of the Shire as well. There is always a grand turn out for the Farmer’s Fair. What hobbit could resist all of the wonderful treats just waiting to be eaten? Well, not me and that is for sure.

I had just taken a bite of my apple tart when Sam and Rosie came up and both of them looked very upset which is not at all normal behavior for folks out enjoying the Fair. Estella was alarmed at once as lasses seem to know when something’s not right in short order. She moved away from Merry’s side and straight up to Rosie and asked her right out. "Rosie? What’s wrong, dear? You look so pale and you’ve been crying!"

She had too. I have sisters and I know when a lass has been crying. This was most unusual for Rose Gamgee. She is one of the happiest hobbits that I have ever known. She is always sunny and cheerful so, when she does cry, then you know that it is something serious. She’s not at all like my sister, Nell who will weep when she’s happy and weep when she’s sad and well, she will just weep for no reason at all that I can see.

"It’s papa, Stella," Rose answered in a small voice that didn’t even sound like Rose. She couldn’t even continue and so Sam had to finish it for her.


"Rosie’s father has wandered off somewhere and we can’t find him," Sam said and he seemed to think that this explained everything, but it didn’t really. After all, Rosie’s father was a grown hobbit with grown sons and daughters and grandchildren. He was a farmer and this was the Farmer’s Fair so why was everyone so concerned that he’d wondered off? It was like they’d misplaced a wee child.

Well, as I often do, I opened my big mouth and put my foot into it, which, for a hobbit, is quite a trick! "Well, if he’s wandered off in all of this crowd, then you will be hard put to find him that’s for sure. This place is mass confusion about now."

Everyone looked at me as if I had lost my mind, well, except Merry who just knows how I am. He just sighed and decided to help me in the only way he could. While Sam and Estella were looking daggers at me and Rosie was tearing up to cry, dear old Merry said, "Pippin’s right, Rosie. Your father is probably fine. I would venture to guess that you’ve just lost track of him in all of this. Why he is probably with one of your brothers or a friend doing just what we are all doing; eating and enjoying the fair."

This is just one of the reasons that I love Merry. He took the rather blunt thing that I had said and turned it a bit to make it less awful. Now, of course, he did give me a look that warned me to keep still at that point or I’d find myself on my own, so I kept still. I wasn’t sure what I’d said that might be amiss and so it was just good sense not to say anything else until I got the straight of this situation.

"No, we checked with Rosie’s brothers. In fact, we have all o’ them lookin’ for Tom and, so far, no luck at all," Sam said.

This worried all of my companions and I still had no idea why it would, but Merry’s earlier look was still keeping my mouth shut. It wouldn’t do to anger the only help that I was likely to get in this crowd. Merry spoke up just at that point. "Have you divided up the fair grounds, Sam?"

Sam seemed startled by this idea. What comes naturally to Merry, often surprises the rest of us. Sam slapped his forehead and groaned. "I didn’t even think of that! We all just sorta agreed to start looking, but no plan was decided on."

Estella was smiling over at Merry like, well, like she does and when she does, even I can tell that it won’t be too much longer before she’s Mistress Meriadoc Brandybuck, which, I know will be more than fine with Merry. "That’s a wonderful idea, Merry. It would make the search go faster."

"Then you’ll all help?" Rosie asked us, just like she thought we might not. The minute she came over and Merry started laying things out, I knew we were going to help her even if she didn’t realize it. I was finishing my apple tart just with that end in mind. Soon Merry would tell us what to do and I would need to be ready.

"Of course we will, Rosie. We don’t mind helping you find your father," Estella said and then she gave me that look! It’s one thing when Merry does it, but at that point I wasn’t too sure if Estella had that right. After all, she wasn’t Merry’s wife just yet!

I guess that Merry could see that after I swallowed my last bite of apple tart, I planned to say something to her to about this, because he started in giving instructions and he gave me the look again, so now I would have to keep still. Seems he had decided Estella had the right to silence me, even if I wasn’t too sure of her authority just yet. There was enough trouble now, though, so I let it go.

"Sam, why don’t you take the south end of the Fair and I’ll go north. Rosie, I think you should go back to Bag End in case he comes back there looking for someone." Rosie started to protest on this one, but Merry never lets you get ahead of his plans once he’s got started. "Your father is staying with you and Sam this week isn’t he?"

"Well, yes, Merry, but-"

Merry broke in and continued. "Well, you can keep watch there and then if any of your brothers check back, you can let them know what we are trying. Each of us will check back every so often with you to see if anyone has found him that way Bag End will be where we all keep track of one another and where we get our information. It will help to keep things straight if you are there."


Rosie was convinced that Merry was right and Sam was smiling gratefully at Merry. I have always wondered what it must be like to be the one that everyone relies on in an emergency. Sadly, there are three groups of hobbits in the Shire, Merry is one of the dependable organizers, and then there is a group of uninvolved types like the Bracegridles who don’t do much one way or the other and then there’s my group. I am one of the hobbits that is usually at the start of the problem! Well, at least this time, I didn’t start things which is always nice for me. Of course, at this point, the day was still on the early side and so I did have plenty of time to fall into my usual group. I was hoping to avoid that.

Merry was continuing with his assignments and now it was my turn and Estella’s. "Pip, you and Estella go west and look about over that way." Estella and I were both glaring at Merry now. I was wondering why I was going with his best lass and not him. I think Estella was trying to figure that out also because she looked just as happy as I did and I can assure you that neither of us was all that happy!

"But, Merry, who will go and check things out to the east?" I asked, figuring my older cousin and Knight of Rohan had just forgot about that part. I also thought I’d get myself, and in the bargain, Estella, out of a bad situation.


"Let me worry about that Pip, you just go with Estella," Merry said, a bit sternly. He now sounded as if he believed I would need looking after. I would have protested this further, but Estella decided to have her say in the matter at that point.

"Merry, as much as it surprises me to say so, Pippin may be right. Who is going to check to the east?" Surprises her indeed! Sometimes I question Merry’s taste. I mean, she is very pretty but she is rather bossy. I gave her my best look of hostility which she ignored.

Merry leaned forward and looked her in the eye then and said, "I think you and Pip should go together. It will give you a chance to talk." Once he said this then Estella was very agreeable as if she knew why we’d need to talk. I still didn’t think this was the time for it. I mean, I know Merry would like for Estella and I to get along, but should he be thinking about that just now?
As it turns out, he wasn’t, but I still had not been let in on things properly.

"If any of us run into any of Rosie’s brothers during our search, or your brother, Estella, then we have them to search to the east." That Merry! He always had things worked out. "Now, we should all check back with Rosie in about two hours, or less if any of us finds her father. Any questions?"

Well, I had plenty at that point, but I decided it wasn’t wise to bring any of them up. No one else seemed to want to ask anything and so we were off. Sam went south, Rosie went back toward Bag End, Merry turned to go north, but not without giving both me and Estella a warning look, and so, I fell into step beside of Estella and she immediately began to talk! Turns out that there was a reason for this. I now knew why Merry had sent the two of us off together. It seems that I was, once again, the only one that didn’t know what was going on.

Estella knew a great deal and so she began to educate this poor, uninformed, Took. "Pippin, Rosie’s father has not been himself lately."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, the whole family has been worried about him. Rosie is afraid to let him go out alone anymore."

"I gathered that, but I don’t know why."

"I’m trying to tell you!" She was losing her patience with me as quickly as I was losing mine with her.

"You needn’t shout you know!" I shouted back at her.

She stopped walking and glared up at me with her hands on her hips and I was suddenly reminded of all of the females in my family. I was not going to win this one so I would do well to stop now and let her have it. Poor Merry! I wondered if he realized what he was letting himself in for with this one.

"Peregrin Took, this is not about us, it is about Rosie and you would do well to remember that. You and I can argue later. We probably will. Right now, I have to tell you about Rosie’s father and you have to listen before our two hours are up and we haven’t searched anywhere!"

I nodded and I may have apologized then but, you’ll not get me to admit that part just now.

"Tom Cotton has been getting lost in places that he knows just as well as you or I know the inside of Brandy Hall," she said and she was speaking quietly now. We were walking again and looking about for Mister Cotton as we did so.

"Several times lately he has become confused about where he is and he has even been lost a few times. Rosie says that her father will go out into the fields of his own farm and not remember how to get back to his home. One of her brothers found him just staring out into the corn field the other day and Tom confessed that he hadn’t known where he was." She stopped speaking there to let that sink into my thick skull and then she continued when I didn’t say anything.

"He has also started forgetting where he has put things and the names of his younger grandchildren. Rosie says he sometimes even asks things like when she and Sam are planning to get married." Estella was quiet again so I felt it was alright to say something, maybe even expected.

"Have they spoken to a healer?"

"Yes, and I am afraid that the news was less then encouraging. The healer seemed to believe that it was just his age. The healer told Rosie that Tom was getting old and that though it doesn’t happen to all hobbits, that Tom was becoming forgetful. Likely it will get worse and so the family has been taking turns looking out for him, but they try to do it with his knowing it as it upsets him. Sometimes he is still very much himself and at those times, he notices how they treat him."

Estella seemed to shiver at this and I thought she was probably just upset, but I decided that I should ask anyway. "Are you cold?"

"No, just thinking about that sort of thing worries me is all. I mean, everyone gets old at some point, Pippin. I don’t want to have that to face," Estella said, looking up at me.

I shivered a bit too. Everyone treats me as if I shall always be a child, but I know that this is far from true. After all, I am thirty-two now, and time does seem to be passing with alarming speed. Soon Merry and Estella will be married and Sam and Rosie already are. I then thought of my father for some reason and realized just how old he was becoming. "It’s like the healer said, Estella, not everyone goes through this."

She smiled at me as if I were terribly sweet or terribly naive, but she didn’t seem to be angry with me now, so things had improved a bit. We continued our search in relative peace.

Sam located Rosie’s brothers and put them on the search and Merry ran into Fredegar Bolger who is Estella’s brother, and put him to looking. Estella and I came across my sister, Pervinca and her husband and we asked them to look also. Soon we had a regular army of searchers but we were no closer to finding Tom Cotton.

At about an hour or so past the last meal of the day, with the sun having just set, it was my turn to check in with Rosie. Estella was now searching with Merry and I had been on my own for a bit. I wasn’t looking forward to my visit to Bag End as I had no good news and I was now very aware of how badly I had put my foot into my mouth earlier with Rosie. You would think that someone with as many sisters as I have might be better able to deal with lasses, but in my case, it doesn’t seem to have worked out that way at all.


I stalled as long as I dared and then entered the familiar Bag End kitchen. A slight sadness fell on me as I came into that room that I had spent so much time in. It always seems empty now that Frodo and Bilbo are both gone. Sam and Rosie do fit well in Bag End and I am very happy that they are living here, but for just a few minutes every time I come in, I miss Frodo and Bilbo so very much.

Rosie was working at the stove when I came in and she turned and looked expectantly over at me. Her face fell a bit when she realized that I hadn’t brought any news of her father. I started to apologize, but thought it might upset her more and so I just sank into one of the chairs at the table and leaned my chin on my hands. I was much more tired that I had thought I was. Once I had seated myself, I suddenly felt a bit weak in the knees. My mind was drifting a bit, when Rosie sat a large bowl of potatoes and sausages in front of me and then seated herself across the table from me.

"I am guessing that you are a bit hungry, Pippin," Rosie said, trying to smile at me. She and I know each other much better than Estella and I do and so it is far more comfortable between us. Well, it is except when I say things like what I did today. She must have realized that I meant no harm though. She was feeding me and she was trying to smile.

"About earlier, Rosie, I-"

She didn’t let me finish. ‘Hush, Pippin and eat. You didn’t know. We have tried to keep it quiet so as not to embarrass him, but I suppose after this, it will be hard to pretend any more." She looked so sad that I wished more than anything that there was something I could do for her.

"Now, you eat. I am very grateful to you for the help that you’ve been with the search so you have no call to feel bad." It seemed that I must have looked like I needed help also because she was trying very hard to cheer me.

"Don’t worry, Rosie. I know we’ll find him. Merry and Sam have everyone looking and he can’t have gone far." I wasn’t interested in my supper at this point. Maybe it was all of the apple tarts, but more than likely it was just the way the day had gone. I couldn’t remember turning down Rose Gamgee’s cooking before, but here I sat in front of a plate of her finest and I had no appetite. This was truly a waste!

"Do you really think they’ll find him? He has been missing all day now and it’s dark out. I must admit, Pippin, I am starting to be very frightened about him." I could hear the worry in her voice. Her eyes were red but she wasn’t crying just now. She needed someone to comfort her and all she had was me. I am probably the worst one for that job as I do have a way of saying all of the wrong things, but I did owe it to her to give it a try. All day, a memory from the quest had been trying to surface and I had been fighting it down. I decided to let it out as in some ways, it is a tale of hope. I wanted to help her and maybe this memory was coming up now for that reason.

"I believe that there is always a chance. I have to believe that because I know that it is true."

She looked over at me and I think she knew that I was going to speak about the quest. I am very sure that having helped Sam through all of his nightmares, that Rose knows when a story from our adventures is forth-coming.

Now it might seem to be odd timing on my part, but I did believe that this story might help in some small way. I only hoped that I would be able to tell it. Most of the time, I couldn’t talk about it, not even to Merry. I guess you have to know Rose, though to know how special she is and how easy she is to talk with. I wanted to help her because she had always been so very good to me and more importantly, she had been a good friend to Frodo when we returned.

I began my story.

_____________________________________________________________________________

"A great many sorrowful things had happened to us in the city of Minas Tirith before the Rohirrim arrived to come to our aide. I will not speak of those now as they do not have much to do with the point of my story, but just know that by the time the Rohirrim arrived and we heard their horns blowing in the distance, we had been through much. Even after we knew that the Rohirrim had come, we still had yet another trial before us, Gandalf and I. I wish that it had not been so, but because of the events there in the City, we were not able to go immediately to meet the Rohirrim and join them in the battle which had been Gandalf’s plan. It was because we were delayed that I nearly lost Merry. I will not speak of why we were delayed, but because we were and because we didn’t come to the battle when we should have, Merry was put at great risk."

"If Gandalf had been able to ride from the city and meet the Witch King on the field of battle, then Merry and Éowyn would never have had to do battle with that evil force. Merry and Éowyn suffered so because Gandalf could not go when he meant to, but the life of Lord Faramir was saved. As it happens this turned out to be very important to Éowyn and to all of Gondor."

My eyes were a bit out of focus and I was staring into the kitchen’s fireplace while speaking. I had no need to explain who these people, of which I spoke, were. I knew that Sam would have told Rosie all about the Lord Faramir and about Éowyn also. I knew that Rosie would know that the Lord Faramir was the son of the Steward of Gondor, Lord Denethor, and most importantly to us hobbits, Lord Faramir was the brother of our friend and Fellowship member, Boromir. Boromir had died trying to save Merry and me from the Orcs. It was in honor of Boromir’s life, that I offered my service to the Lord Denethor and became a knight of Gondor.

"Éowyn was closer to Merry than to any of the us as she, while dressed as a male warrior of the Rohirrim, had ridden into battle and had taken Merry with her. He had been unaware that he was riding with the niece of King Theoden. He knew her only as Dernhelm, his friend and the soldier that saw to it that he was not left behind. Together, while Gandalf and I came to the rescue of Lord Faramir, Merry and Éowyn killed the Witch King of Angmar, leader of the nine servants of the Ring." I pushed my plate away a bit and continued. I hoped Rose wouldn’t mind that I wasn’t eating.

"I had gone down to the gate to meet the returning soldiers along with Gandalf. Hope filled my heart that soon I would be reunited with my dear cousin, Merry. It seemed to me that we had been apart forever. I had been desperately lonely without Merry. Merry was such a part of my life that I had hardly known how to function without him. If it had not been for Gandalf and Beregond, I don’t know how I would have got through my time in Minas Tirith. Now, I was going to be with Merry again and so everything would be put right. I could face anything as long as I was with Merry."

"As we neared the company returning from the battle, I began to crane my neck and search for my cousin. One small hobbit among so great a company of warriors would be easy to miss. Also, everyone was very upset as King Theoden had died in the battle. His body was being borne into the city in honor by his men who loved him and respected him. This was one of their last chances to honor their noble king. Also, being borne into the city was the king’s niece, Éowyn. She had, at first, been feared dead, but though she yet lived, she was grievously wounded. She would be taken to the houses of healing."

"As all of this great procession of soldiers and their fallen King who was upon a litter and covered with a great gold cloth, and the King’s niece who was resting on soft pillows made their way through the city, weary from battle and sorrow, I was desperately searching their ranks for Merry and had separated myself from Gandalf in my eagerness to locate my cousin. Fear was growing within me as the minutes passed. Merry should be with them and yet there was no sign of him. Where was he?"

"I moved nervously through the crowd of warriors and of cheering citizens of Minas Tirith. The people were so grateful that the Rohirrim had come and they wished to honor them and to pay their respects to the fallen king. I just wanted to locate Merry and I was having great difficulty just moving through the throngs of people. No one, it seemed, was looking down on this day and so I was very much over-looked. I felt myself being pushed about and I kept being moved from my course. I was trying to make my way to one of the soldiers to ask about Merry. Surely all of them would know Merry! After all, he would be the only hobbit among them. I remember that my head was throbbing and that I was feeling quite sick inside with the fear of it all. I was afraid to think that Merry might have been killed in the battle and as my search continued to turn up no sign of him, the thought that he might be dead kept edging its way into my weary brain. I was fast losing the strength to push this idea away and I was beginning to panic by the time I finally found a soldier that I could speak with."

"I remember taking hold of his trouser leg and giving it a tug to draw his attention. ‘Please sir, could you tell me any news of Meriadoc Brandybuck? He is a halfling like myself and he would have been among your riders. Do you know him?' "

The soldier was very battle-weary and he seemed for a moment as if he might just ignore my questions and go on, but he didn’t do that. He spoke to me. "I know of the halfling. Word is that he was left behind when we rode. Our king," and here he paused in his grief. ‘Our beloved King Theoden felt that the halfling would slow us down.’ He then walked away slowly. I called after him, but he would say no more." I swallowed a bit of tea from my cup and then continued lest I lose my nerve.

"I turned about, trying to find sight of Gandalf in all of this vast sea of long legs and armor but I could no longer see him. Somehow, he found me and I was startled when he put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘That soldier is wrong, Peregrin. Merry was, indeed, with the riders and you must go and find him. He seems to have gotten separated from the soldiers and he may very well require the aid of a healer after what he has been through this day.’ I was quick to heed Gandalf’s words and went in search of Merry. One hobbit alone in a battle-weary city filled with big people stands very little chance of gaining their notice. Also, it was raining a bit and the rain had put out some of the fires left by the battle so the air was thick with smoke. That made seeing anything much harder." I was looking deeper into the fire now and I could almost feel the smoke burning my eyes as it had on that day.

"You see, Rose, everyone about me was also looking for someone that they loved who had been sent to battle or they were morning the loss of someone who had not returned." I had started not to say this but I felt it was important to the way this story turns out and to what I was trying to say to her about hope. When she didn’t seem to break down on this part, I plunged on.

"Finding no help among the soldiers and having left Gandalf, I decided to return the way that the soldiers had come. It seemed to make a bit of sense to me as Merry, like me, was so much smaller than these men that he might have been too weary to keep up with them. I hoped that I would find him if I retraced the steps of the soldiers. In my heart, I feared that I would not find him at all. I feared that he might be among the dead or missing. Right now, I longed to see him. I was very glad that he had not been left behind, yet still frightened for his safety."

I didn’t tell Rose just how badly that I knew it would have stung Merry’s pride and his sense of duty to be left behind. If you know Merry, and Rose does, then you know that being left out of that battle would have cost him a great deal. I also didn’t have to tell her that he is stubborn and so not easy to leave behind.

"I back-tracked along the narrow, winding streets of the White City which was, at that moment, dark and grey. The rain had put out many of the fires, but some yet burned and I kept having to step around fallen walls and fallen soldiers and worse, fallen Orcs. Oh, I was not so sorry that these evil creatures had fallen in battle, it was just that seeing them there, on the streets of Minas Tirith made me realize just how close we’d all come to losing our lives. It also made me think of my time as their prisoner along with my dear Merry and those are not memories that I hold dear."

Rose put her hand on mine at this point for support, but I didn’t dare look up at her as I knew it would make me unable to continue. I have never been able to stand the looks that others give us when we dare to speak of these things. Some, like that nasty old Ted Sandyman, don’t believe us and others, well, they do believe us and their pity cuts through me. I like to think that Rose’s look was like neither of those, but I am not sure as I didn’t meet her eyes.

"The street that I was moving along was very narrow and very long. It reminded me of a tunnel in that way. I was having trouble seeing much of anything ahead of me as the smoke was burning my eyes and I had begun to cry. I was trying not to, as if I found Merry, well, I wanted him to think that I had been brave while we were apart, even it wasn’t altogether true of me. I also knew that if I didn’t find Merry, then I might never stop crying. I had this dreadful ache in my chest and it was getting hard to breath. As you can see, it all seemed so hopeless."

I was crying a bit as I recounted this part. It was impossible not to. I only hoped that I wasn't doing Rose more harm than good. I was, at least, coming to the hopeful part of things now.

"Suddenly as if by some magic that I didn’t fully understand, there making his way through the streets and through the smoke, was Merry! I was over-joyed! I can’t began to tell you the relief that came over me when I saw him. At first he didn’t seem to see me and so I rushed up to him and spoke to him. ‘Well, Merry! Thank goodness I have found you!’ He looked up and the mist before his eyes cleared a little. Then he knew me, though he was still very confused. He rubbed his eyes. ‘Where is the king?’ he said. "And Éowyn?’ Then he stumbled and sat down on a doorstep and began to weep again.’

“It hurt me to see him so and I was trying very hard to cheer up and to reassure him but all I could say was, ‘They have gone up into the Citadel, I think you have fallen asleep on your feet and taken the wrong turning. When we found that you were not with them, Gandalf sent me to look for you. Poor old Merry! How glad I am to see you again! But you are worn out and I won’t bother you with any talk. But tell me, are you hurt, or wounded?’ I could see that he was hurting but I wasn’t sure if it was grief over King Theoden’s death or if he had been injured."

I paused again and her grip tightened a bit on my arm, but she didn’t interrupt me with any questions and so I went on a bit more. It was hard to talk about this most of the time and it was strange to be saying all of this out loud, but at this point, I doubt if I could have stopped.

"Merry looked over at me and his expression broke my heart. He looked so pale and so unlike himself, but he answered my question. ‘No,’ said Merry. ‘Well, no, I don’t think so. But I can’t use my right arm, Pippin, not since I stabbed him. And my sword burned all away like a piece of wood.’

He was telling me of how he had killed that evil creature, the Witch King, and he was so confused, but I had found him and I was determined to get him to help. I said to him, ‘Well, you had better come with me as quick as you can. I wish I could carry you. You aren’t fit to walk any further. They shouldn’t have let you walk at all; but you must forgive them. So many dreadful things have happened in the City, Merry, that one poor hobbit coming in from the battle is easily overlooked.’"

I didn’t tell Rose what Merry had said then and how it had chilled me to the bone but I thought of it and I may have sat quietly for a minute or two as it ran through my mind. "It’s not always a misfortune being overlooked," said Merry, "I was over-looked just now by -no, no, I can’t speak of it. Help me Pippin! It’s all going dark again, and my arm is so cold." His voice was sounding in my ear and I could feel the fear that I had felt all that time ago filling me up just as it had then. I had to continue, but I would leave out that part. Rose had no need of it.

"I then turned to Merry and said, ‘Lean on me, Merry lad! Come now! Foot by foot It’s not far.’ I was trying my best to help him through the narrow streets and back to the Houses of Healing and to Gandalf who, I knew, would be waiting for us."

Here I left out even more of the story because I became unable to continue for my dear Merry’s voice was ringing in my head and asking, "Are you going to bury me?" I could also hear my own frightened voice answering him, "No, indeed! No, we are going to the Houses of Healing.'" I muffled a small scream that was trying to make its way up my throat and out into the kitchen by forcing some tea down which resulted in my getting a bit choked.

Dear Rose had to pat me on the back and she kept repeating over and over, "Pippin? Are you alright?" I was, but just barely. I managed to nod and I think I even managed to smile at her, at least I did try to do that. I hope it came off well but there is no telling. Instead I decided to give the whole thing a quick wrap up as I had now looked into her eyes and could not hope to continue.


"Anyway, the point of this is that in spite of all of the confusion and all of the smoke and, well, I found him and he was basically alright. I found Merry and help soon came and it was Gandalf who took Merry to the Houses of Healing and it was Aragorn who healed him. They will find your father, Rose. I know they will." She was looking at me and trying to smile as if she believed I was right when the door to the kitchen opened and there was Tom Cotton standing between Sam and one of Rose’s brothers and Tom looked fine. He was a bit confused, but he wasn’t hurt.

I had to turn away and so I missed parts of the reunion between Rose and her father. I could hear them, but I had to look away. I was still seeing my own reunion with Merry and I needed to get myself back to the Shire and away from Minas Tirith before anyone noticed me carrying on like a small child.
I had just managed to straighten up a bit, when Estella and Merry and Fatty all joined us in the kitchen and since I was afraid to let Merry see me too closely as he always knows, I busied myself with doing Rose’s dishes. The kitchen was a right fair mess where all of us had been coming and going all day, getting quick bites to eat and then returning to our search. Things had piled up on us.

Rose came up behind me and said, "You don’t have to do that, Pippin." But she was wrong as I really did have to do something.

Sam saved me from answering as he said, "No, Rose, let him do it. It will be good for him to do a bit of hard work. Besides, you need to spend some time with your father and then get some rest."

Then Estella joined in, pinching me on the arm as she said, "Yes, Rosie, and I will even volunteer to help Pippin with all of this. We have all eaten up most of your food and dirtied your smial and all you have done is cook all day long!"


At this point, I started to see what Merry sees when he looks at Estella. She really is all right and I am getting to like her a bit. She and I will probably become great friends once I stop being childish and a bit jealous of the time she spends with Merry and once she realizes that I don’t mean to say all of the things that I do.

"You two have spent the day together and the Shire still stands!" Merry said, with one of his great laughs and then he teased about being jealous, but I could tell that he was pleased that Estella and I were starting to get along. She and I did clean the kitchen and everyone left us to it. We didn’t talk much, but we also didn’t fight and it was one of those comfortable silences that you can have around friends. All right, I admit it, if only this once, I do like her.

And that, as they say, is why I am still up and still writing and still rambling on. I never sleep well after those memories find me. Most of the time now, they only find me at night, but I guess the search for Rose’s father just brought them out. However it happened, I don’t think that Frodo was right. What he said about writing a thing down helping to put it in perspective just isn't so, because I don’t think that I have gained anything from this save cramps in my fingers and ink stains on my shirt. Why am I so messy, even at this age? I am yawning a bit, though, so maybe sleep will not be long in coming. Maybe there will be no dreams.

___________________________________________________________________________

Merry and Rose, both early risers, found Pippin slumped over at Bilbo’s old desk, sound asleep, the next morning. The fire in that room had just gone out recently and so it was just a bit chilly.

"I suppose he couldn't sleep last night," Merry said, more to himself than to Rose. He was wondering if maybe Pippin had been awakened by one of the nightmares that still plagued his younger cousin.

"Yesterday was a bit trying for all of us," Rose said. It sounded a bit lame even to her own ears, but she didn’t think she should tell Merry about her talk in the kitchen with Pippin. That wasn’t her place. If Pippin wanted Merry to know, then he would find a time to tell him. She suspected, knowing Pippin, that he would tell Merry.

Merry seemed to take her odd tone of voice for something else and he said, "He didn’t mean it, you know."

Rose was, at first, confused by this, and then she realized what Merry was thinking of. "Oh, I know that. We talked and he simply didn’t know the whole situation. How could he have known? After all, we have tried to keep things quiet."

"I should have told him, but I never thought to," Merry admitted, and taking a blanket off of the back of an old chair near the fire he went over toward Pippin.

"Actually, he helped me a great deal," Rose assured Merry.

Merry, stopped and looked back at her. "Did he?" Then he grinned and draped the blanket over Pippin’s shoulders. "Ah, yes, all those dishes!"

Rose smiled, her eyes a bit misty with the memory of Pippin’s story. It had affected her deeply but she just smiled at Merry and said, "Yes, he did do me a favor by helping out with those dishes. He is a good friend."

"The very best," Merry said, as if he could see into her mind and then he turned to Pippin and spoke into his ear, gently, "Come on, Pip, let’s get you to bed." He helped his cousin to his feet and for a moment, Rose was remembering the story again, and she could hear Pippin’s voice saying, “Lean on me, Merry lad! Come now! Foot by foot It’s not far.”

Instead, what Pippin said just at that moment was, "Well, Merry! Thank goodness I have found you!" His voice was filled with sleep and a bit muffled, but she was sure that was what Pippin had said, as Merry led him from the room and off to bed.

After they had gone, Rose went over to the desk and picked up the small stack of papers that Pippin had been sleeping on and folded them up. She would put them up for safe keeping and later, she would find a quiet moment to give them to Pippin. She didn’t read them.





        

        

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