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If I had a Hammer  by Grey Wonderer

Part 15

"What are upset about?" Merry asked. He had come into the parlor and found Pippin sitting cross legged on the floor with his back to the sofa.

"Why do you think Iím upset?" Pippin asked without looking up.

"Because Frodo and I are in the kitchen having a snack and youíre still out here," Merry said falling onto the sofa so that he was lying on his stomach with his feet over one arm rest. "Because youíre too quiet." He reached out a hand and poked Pippin in the ribs. Pippin flinched but didnít look at him. "Because youíre too still."

"Why canít I be quiet and still without folks thinking something is wrong with me?" Pippin complained, leaning back against the sofa.

"Because you just canít," Merry said with a sigh. "You arenít quiet unless youíre sick or upset and I donít think youíre sick." Merry rolled over on his back and looked up at the curved ceiling of the parlor. "You arenít, are you?"

"Iím not what?" Pippin asked.

"Sick."

"No," Pippin said.

"Are you tired? Is Sam working you too hard out there in the barn?" Merry asked in a half-teasing tone of voice.

"No, Iím not tired, Merry," Pippin said too quickly and as if to prove this point he stood up and nearly lost his balance in the process. "Iím wide awake. Wanna play chess or something? Draughts? Maybe read something? Frodo has lots of books and we could sit and read something out loud like we used to do when I had to practice reading, remember that? Remember, Merry? We would get a book and weíd take turns reading so it would be fun instead of like studying and youíd be really patient when it was my turn to read because I wasnít very good at it, but youíd never say anything nasty. Youíd just sit there and wait for me to read my part and be all patient and just listen even though it must have been dreadful having to sit there and just listen to me try to sound out all the words. Remember? Wanna read something?"

Merry sat up on the sofa and smiled. "Easy, Pip," he said. "Why donít you sit down here with me for a bit?"

"Iím not tired," Pippin grumbled. "Iím not, really, Merry. I could sit up for hours and hours yet." He sat down on the sofa, fidgeted a bit and then said, "We could get Frodoís armies out and line them up. I know he still has them. I know weíre both a bit old for all of that but it still might be fun to line them up and have the Battle of the Five Armies for old timeís sack. I promise that you can decide where they all stand. Iíll just help you and you can be in charge of the whole thing, Merry."

"Why donít we just sit here and have a talk," Merry suggested. "I think Frodoís armies are probably packed away and itís kind of late to be digging through the cupboards and storage areas looking for them now."

"Itís not that late," Pippin said sounding quite desperate. "I think I am hungry. Maybe we should go into the kitchen and get a snack. You said that Frodo was in there eating and we could go in there and eat something too."

"We could," Merry agreed but he made no move to get up.

Pippin shifted again. "Maybe we could have a pipe then?"

"You donít smoke," Merry said stretching his feet out in front of him and putting his hands behind his head.

"Wanna go for a walk?" Pippin asked standing.

"No one is going for a walk tonight," Frodo said coming into the parlor. "Itís rather late for that."

"Itís not that late, Frodo," Pippin objected. "Bilbo always liked walking late at night and you like it too. We could go for a long walk and take our packs and everything. I donít get to do much in the daytime because Iím always having lessons. We could go for a walk now, all three of us and you and Merry could smoke."

Frodo studied Pippin intently for a minute and then said, "All right. Weíll go for a walk, but we arenít taking packs because we wonít be going that far. Weíll just keep to the main paths and walk into Hobbiton or something easy and relaxed."

Pippinís face lit up and he hurried from the room. "Iíll get my pack anyway and we can put snacks into it or something."

Frodo watched him go and then looked over at Merry. "Stalling, isnít he?"

"That he is," Merry agreed.

"Doesnít want to go to bed, does he?" Frodo said in a low voice.

"No, he doesnít," Merry said.

"Get up, Meriadoc," Frodo sighed. "It would seem that we are going for a walk and you and I will smoke if we want to."

Merry stood and stretched as if just waking up from a long nap. "I enjoy smoking," Merry smiled.

Pippin peered around the corner of the doorway and asked, "Do you think twelve apples is enough? Iím got a bit of bread and some cheese, but thereís still room in my pack for a few more apples if you think weíll need them."

"Twelve should be plenty," Frodo said. "Iím not terribly hungry as Iíve only just had a snack."

"Oh, right then," Pippin nodded. "So just Merry and me will be eating most of the apples, then."

"Iíll just get my pipe," Merry said.

"Then you and Frodo can smoke and talk for as long as you like," Pippin said.

Frodo slung an arm about Pippinís shoulders and smiled down at him. "And you can eat all of those apples."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Right late for you lads to be out ainít it?"

Frodo looked up and saw Hamfast Gamgee standing there looking down at them. Frodo was leaning his back against the party tree and sitting on the damp grass, the tip of his pipe in his mouth. "A bit," Frodo agreed. "What brings you out so late, Gaffer?"

"Well, I was haviní a bit Ďo trouble sleepiní," Hamfast explained lighting his own pipe.

"Thereís been a lot of that going around," Merry said. He was seated next to Frodo puffing on his own pipe.

"Has there?" Hamfast asked arching his eyebrows and looking down at Pippin who was sound asleep with his head on Merryís lap. Frodoís coat lay across Pippinís shoulders. One of Pippinís hands was stretched out in front of him with a half-eaten apple still in it. Hamfast grinned. "The young ones can always sleep, though, canít they?" He puffed on his pipe. "My bones are a bit achy this eveniní and so I suspect itíll rain directly. The aches keep me up."

"How directly?" Frodo asked wondering if they were in any danger of getting caught in the rain.

"Oh, not aífore tomorrow morniní," the Gaffer smiled. "I suspect weíll likely wake up to it."

"Itís been dry this summer," Frodo said. "Just the occasional cloud burst or shower. Might be good if it rains all day tomorrow."

"Be good for the garden, but darned annoyiní for my bones," Hamfast said with a chuckle. "I suspect that I may have to do a bit oí medicatiní tomorrow."

Frodo smiled. He could remember Bilbo talking about the Gafferís Ďmedicationí. Most likely Hamfast Gamgee would be drinking a generous amount of his home brew tomorrow.

"You lads best get the little one into bed," Hamfast advised nodding toward Pippin who moaned softly and dropped the apple as if heíd heard what was being said.

"I suppose we will be doing just that in a few minutes," Frodo said with a look at Pippin.

"My Samíll†be right put out if that little rascal falls asleep during his lesson tomorrow," the Gaffer said.

Frodo grinned at the thought of Sam actually getting annoyed because Pippin was sleepy. "Pippin will be up and ready to work when Sam gets here," Frodo said. "Samís doing a fine job and Pippin is enjoying his lessons."

"My Samís a good lad," Hamfast said proudly. "And it were good Ďo you to offer him the job like you done."

"I was very pleased that he agreed to do it," Frodo said.

"You may have your hands full in a minute if you donít get those lads off to the smial," Hamfast said with a nod at Merry and Pippin.

Frodo glanced over and saw that Merry was now leaning against the tree snoring softly. "Iíve had my hands full all summer," Frodo said, putting out his pipe and getting to his feet.

"Young bachelor like yourself ought to be out walkiní in the garden with some sweet young lass instead oí riddiníí herd on a couple oí cousins," Hamfast winked. "Nice young lass with a bit oí sauce to her, but not too much, mind you."

"From what Iíve seen around the Shire, these two cousins of mine†are far less trouble than the sort of young lass that you mean, Gaffer," Frodo said with a wink.

"Far less trouble maybe, but you ought to spend a bit of time spooniní all the same," Hamfast said and turned to stroll back toward the row whistling softly as he went.

"Come on, Merry," Frodo said, shaking Merryís shoulder. "Time to go back to the smial.† I'm not about to try and carry you."

"What was that about spoons?" Merry asked yawning.

"Never you mind," Frodo said. "Help me get Pippin on his feet and letís try to act like sensible folk for a change and go inside."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The walk back to the smial had woke both Merry and Pippin back up. Naturally, once they were back in the Bag End parlor again Pippin was in no mood to go to bed. "You can both go on without me," Pippin said trying to sound casual. "I think Iíll sit up and practice my writing."

Merry snorted and Frodoís eyes widened. "Oh, you will, will you?" Frodo asked.

"I might do better if no one is watching me," Pippin explained. "I get nervous with you watching me sometimes, Frodo. Now would be the perfect time for me to practice on my own."

"I have a better idea," Merry said.

"What?" Pippin asked. "You want to stay up too and maybe play some chess?"

"Trade me bedrooms for the night, Pip," Merry suggested. "You sleep in my room and Iíll sleep in yours."

"Why?" Pippin asked looking a bit nervous now.

"Well, the light wakes me in the morning when it comes in through the windows," Merry said while Frodo stood there and admired†his younger cousinís inventiveness.† Merry had always been a quick thinker.†"I would like to sleep in tomorrow for a change. You have to get up anyway so the early morning sun wonít trouble you."

"No, Merry," Pippin said too quickly. "I like my room. Iíll go to bed in a while. I donít want to try and get used to another bed."

Frodo frowned. Heíd thought that Pippin would be more than willing to trade beds with Merry. What was going on now? Merry seemed surprised by this reaction also. "You sure?" Merry asked.

Pippin nodded. He faked a yawn. "Maybe Iíll just go on to bed now. Iím sleepier than I thought I was," Pippin said and proceeded to leave for his room.

Merry and Frodo looked after him in confusion. They were still standing there when they heard Pippinís door close a minute later.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Merry, are you awake?"

Merry rolled over on his side but didnít wake up fully.

"Are you awake, Merry?"

"What is it, Pip?" Merry mumbled sleepily.

"Are you awake?"

"Iím awake. What is it," Merry asked his eyes still closed tightly.

"Merry?"

Groaning, Merry sat up opening his eyes and pushing a mop of curls off of his forehead. "What is it, Pip?" He stared out into the darkness of his room but didnít see anything. "Pip?" He was alone. With a shiver, Merry snatched his dressing gown off of the foot of his bed and hurried out of the room. He was in the parlor before he realized where he was going. The fire was still burning brightly and there, sound asleep on the sofa, was Pippin. Merry stood there looking down at his younger cousin for a minute. Then he quietly went into the kitchen to get some milk and shake off the dream.

†TBC





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