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Merry looked over as his younger cousin stomped dramatically into the barn. Pippin was frowning and his hands were fisted at his sides. Something or someone had set him off. Merry knew that temper all too well. Pippinís anger came in bursts, like lightening; here one minute in full force and gone the next as if it had never been.
"You look like you might explode," Merry said as Pippin made his way over to him. Merry had been giving his new pony a few treats and brushing the animal. It had been a long ride from Hobbiton and the pony deserved some special care. Merry had promised his father that he†was old enough to take care of this†pony. He was determined to prove that his father had been right to trust him with this new responsibility.
"You donít understand, Merry. Itís awful," Pippin said, sulkily. "They are every where! The whole place is filled with lasses all of the time!"
Merry laughed at his younger cousin. "There are only three of them, Pippin. You are exaggerating a bit arenít you?"
"Laugh if you want, but you donít have to put up with it," Pippin said, turning his back on Merry and walking over to pet Merryís pony. Merry was twenty-four now and had his own pony. This was something Pippin really wanted but his father didnít think him old enough just yet.
"No, I donít have any sisters. Thereís just me," Merry said. "I am my parents one and only." He would make small talk and let Pippin get his anger out of his system. It never lasted long.
"Youíre lucky," Pippin growled, rubbing his head against the ponyís soft nose. "No sisters, and you have your own pony."
"Jealous?" Merry asked, in a teasing voice.
"Yes, very," Pippin said, turning to face Merry.
"I might be convinced to trade if you think your father and mother will let you," Merry grinned.
"You wouldnít either," Pippin said, glaring at him. He knew that Merry was teasing him and he was in no mood to be treated like a child by yet another relative just now.
"I donít know. I might, if I could have all three for the pony," Merry said.
Pippin kicked at the dirt. "Theyíd drive you mad." He walked in a small circle, burning off some of his endless energy, hands behind his back. He looked so like his father when he did this.
"Really?" Merry said. "You donít think I can handle them?"
"No," Pippin said, softly. "It takes practice. Theyíd best you easy enough. Remember Nell and the worm?"
"I do and it is oh so kind of you to remind me of it. Sometimes I can still taste it if I think on it," Merry shuddered. "I do have her out-sized now and so I donít think sheíd manage that again." Even as Merry said these words, he doubted them. On some level, he was still a bit leery of Pimpernel Took.
Pippin glanced over at his older cousin and smiled, a bit wickedly. "You donít really believe that, do you?"
Merry frowned. He hated it when Pippin saw through him. It was unnatural and very inconvenient at times. "I out-weigh her."
"Thatís right, you hold onto that, Merry. Just donít turn your back on her, or any of them," Pippin said, seriously.
"Youíre making too much of this," Merry scoffed. "I think Iíd do very well in your position."
"You wouldnít be in my position," Pippin growled. "Youíre older than Vince and bigger than all of them. You are so lucky to be an only child, Merry."
"Youíll grow, or at least, I†hope you will," Merry said, smiling. He had to get even for Pip for bringing up the worm incident. "I wouldnít mind having three sisters to fuss over me and cook for me and treat me like I was the most important hobbit in all of the Shire." Merry walked over and patted the pony then looked at Pippin. "No, this is a very nice pony, but he canít cook and heís no help at all when I am awake late at night with nothing to do. I canít go into his room and see if he wants to raid the kitchen or just sit and talk. I could be tempted to trade."
"You could go out to the barn and feed him apples and pet him," Pippin said, looking over at Merry. "You donít really need all of these sisters teasing you and making your life miserable all the time. Heís a fine pony." Pippin reached over and stroked the animalís nose, longingly.
"I donít think I would do that late at night, Pip," Merry smiled. "No, I donít think heíd be very much company after a while. He doesnít say much. You'd be surprised but, sometimes, itís hard being the only child. If you get in trouble, youíre on you're own. If you get sick, you're by yourself. If your folks do something to embarrass you, there is no one around that understands. This little pony doesnít understand that itís embarrassing when my mum tells folks how much Iíve grown and then pinches me on the cheek."
Pippin smiled at that. "At least someone notices when you grow. At least you grow." The frown had returned.
Merry laughed. "Why do you think I keep you around? I kinda miss having brothers and sisters, you know.† In spite of the fact that you are a bit of a pest,†I have offered your sisters various things in exchange for you in the past, For some reason they donít want to trade. I never thought to offer you a bargain for them.† I thought you kind of liked them."
"Sometimes theyíre alright, I suppose," Pippin said, looking down. "I just got a bit upset with them just now is all." He was starting to remember his sisters all crowding around his bed just a few days ago when he'd injured himself while doing the dishes.† They could be very sweet when they†decided to be.† But still...
"Why?" Merry asked.
"They were teasing me," Pippin said, shyly. He continued to rub the pony and look at it as if he were telling it his troubles.
"Bout what?" Merry asked, curious now.
"Youíll laugh too," Pippin said.
"I might, but you never know until you try me," Merry said, smiling at Pippinís discomfort. He never promised not to laugh because, with Pippin, you just never knew what he might say.
"My voice is doing funny things and they think itís amusing," Pippin groaned.
Merry laughed, very glad he hadnít promised not to do so. He had noticed that Pippinís voice was cracking lately, but he hadnít mentioned it. He knew how sensitive Pippin was about that sort of thing. His little cousin hated reminders that he still had quite a bit of growing up to do.
"See, you think itís funny too," Pippin said and his voice cracked a bit.
"No, I donít really, Pip," Merry smiled. "I remember when mine did that. I didnít enjoy it much either."
"Well, at least you didnít have to put up with three sisters teasing you about it," Pippin said. "Vince told me that I sound like a mouse half of the time." Pippin was truly insulted and very embarrassed.
"Donít worry, Pip," Merry said, putting his arm around his younger cousin. "It does stop eventually and besides, you wonít have to worry about Pearl. I happen to know sheís afraid of mice."
"Thatís not funny," Pippin said, trying not to smile.
Merry knew he had him and so he pressed on. "Does she jump on the table and scream when you come into the room?"
Pippin smirked, and then he laughed, remembering the image of his older sister standing on their kitchen table and quaking in fear of the mice heíd brought into the house. "Now,that, might be funny," Pippin said and his voice cracked on the last word, causing both he and Merry to laugh again.
They were trying to pull themselves together when all three of Pippinís sisters entered the barn. Pearl and Nell looked contrite, but Pervinca, well, she looked like she was planning to stand her ground as always. Merry loved that about her. Pervinca was a feisty little lass and Merry always enjoyed it when she made others squirm. Not himself, of course, but others.
Nell spoke first. "Pippin, weíre sorry. We were just teasing and you know it."
"I wasnít," Pervinca smiled, and Nell tugged her sisterís dark curls in retaliation, but Pervinca held her ground. "Well, I wasnít."
Just let Nell try and feed Pervinca a worm, Merry thought. Thereíd be none of that.
Pippin glared at all of them with renewed anger, the laughter dying rapidly.
"Come on, Pippin," Pearl tried. "You know we didnít mean to hurt your feelings."
"I donít care what you think," Pippin shot back. "I just wish all of you would leave me alone." He turned his back on them and looked at Merryís pony.
"Youíre just being a stubborn child," Pervinca sighed, looking bored. She had obviously not come on this mission of peace of her own free will. He could see Pearl's hand in this.††Pearl was the peace-maker†among the three.
"Well, how about it, Pip?" Merry said, indicating the pony with a nod of his head. "Still want to?" He caught his younger cousinís attention and grinned.
"Want to what? Peregrin Took, what are you up to now?" Pervinca asked, walking over. She stood in front of Pippin and looked up at him with her hands on her hips.
"Oh, just standing around being taller than you, Vince,í Pippin grinned, and straightened†to his full height.†
She glared at him. "You put him up to that, didnít you, Merry?"
"Not me," Merry smiled. "He got taller than you all on his own, my dearest Pervinca." Merry put his arms around her and she pretended to try to push him away. Merry nuzzled her neck and she giggled.
"Watch, Merry," Pippin whispered too loudly. "She bites."
"Oh, for evermore! Will you three please stop fighting like a bunch of small children?" Pearl sighed. "Come in the house and weíll all have some of the sugar cake that I made this afternoon."
"Better than standing in the barn watching Pippin pout," Pervinca said, with a last glare at Pippin. †Merry let her go, smiling. He then looked at Pippin. "Itís a nice pony, Pip." He whispered this†so the sisters couldnít hear and then winked at his cousin.
Pippin smiled. "Maybe Iíll just keep what I have this time. They arenít all bad, I suppose."
Nell draped an arm over Pippinís shoulders and kissed him on the top of his head. "Who isnít all bad?"
"Oh, itís nothing. Me and Merry were just talking is all," Pippin said, looping his arm around Nellís waist.
"Well, we are sorry, Pip. Itís just that itís kind of cute," Pearl said.
Pippin blushed and frowned. "Iím a bit tired of bing cute," he grumbled, looking at his toes.
"Well, I never thought you were cute," Pervinca said, grinning.
Pippin grinned back. "Thanks, Vince. That is the only thing I like about you, that and of course, that youíre shorter than me." His voice cracked at this point and all three sisters laughed.
Pippin turned deep red. "Merry, you still want to trade?"
"Who, me?" Merry asked, looking innocent. He smiled a bit. He did want to trade. It would be very nice to have a sister or two. Having three might be a bit difficult, but he would like to try it.†He sighed as he followed Pippin and his sisters out of the barn. ĎSilly Took. I hope you know just how lucky you are,í he thought. A sister is a rare gift and you have three of them.
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††~~~~~ †The End? ~~~~~
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