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Meriadoc The Magnificent and The Boss  by Grey Wonderer

“Meriadoc The Magnificent and The Boss”

It was small and cozy but with high ceilings and more windows than most smials. Pippin had built it upon his return to the Tooklands, or well, it is more accurate to say that Pippin had financed the building of it than to say that he actually did the building. What he truly had done was plan it out to some extent, pay for it and then get in the way while it was being built. Fortunately the builders were very good-natured about this and as they had been well paid one could hardly feel sorry for them. Pippin had appeared each day at some point during the construction of the little smial and proceeded to work in some area or another for hours on end. When he left, the workers usually managed to set to rights whatever Pippin had damaged that day before he returned again.

Merry chuckled. Pippin had once remarked that no matter how dreadful his efforts had looked when he’d left, they always turned out perfectly well upon closer inspection the next day. Pippin’s theory was that by the time he finished his labors he was just far too tired to appreciate the results. “Things always look better in the light of day,” Pippin had said.

The smial was Pippin’s pride and joy. When Merry had wed the lovely Estella Bolger, the house at Crickhollow had been too crowded for everyone to continue on as they once had. After a few rather embarrassing incidents, it had become clear that the newlywed Brandybucks and bachelor Pippin all needed more space. Pippin had remained for a few months and then had come in one day with his grand plan to build his own little smial in the Tooklands. Everyone was shocked that Pippin was returning home except Merry. Merry knew that Pippin, like most Tooks, loved his little corner of the Shire. It wasn’t the Tookland that Pippin disliked it was the Great Smials.

Merry had been sorry to see his dearest friend leave Buckland but he did understand. Pippin now needed his own home just as Merry and Estella needed time alone before moving up to Brandy Hall. Merry liked the idea of keeping house with his bride and had vowed not to move to Brandy Hall with its confusion of family and business until he had allowed himself the luxury of a few years on his own with his wife. He and Pippin had both found that they needed their privacy more than ever. It wasn’t until after the Quest that Merry had come to understand his cousin, Frodo’s love of living alone.

As Merry’s slowed his pony’s gait he took a look at Pippin’s little smial. It was set within walking distance of both the little farm that Pippin had grown up on in Whitwell and the Great Smials but it was not within sight of either. Pippin had purchased the land after selecting the perfect location and in Merry’s opinion, Pippin had paid too much for it but Pippin had pronounced it a bargain at any price. Four large windows looked out onto the green fields from the front of the smial, all trimmed in bright blue paint. The large, round door was also bright blue with a large brass knocker in its center.

Diamond’s flowerbeds decorated the front walk and there was a long wooden bench made of oak that Pippin had built sitting just outside of the front door. It was the perfect place for having an after dinner pipe or just to sit and watch the butterflies attack Diamond’s flowers. Despite being a disaster at smial construction, Pippin was a fair hand at building furniture since his lessons with Sam Gamgee years ago, but the Took was not at all traditional with his creations. In this case that was a very good thing.

The bench had a slanted back to it that forced one to lean back when they sat down. It had seemed odd to Merry at first. He’d been used to the traditional straight-backed sort of bench, but once he had become used to this one, he could see its advantages. One could relax and look at the sky from that angle. Even the seat of the bench leaned back a bit so that no one slid off onto the ground. In fact, Merry had become so fond of it that Pippin had built one for him for Yule two years ago.

Merry dismounted and led his pony around to the far left of the smial where Pippin’s barn sat. There didn’t seem to be anyone around but that wasn’t altogether surprising. Pippin and Diamond enjoyed doing most of the work on the little farm themselves. Pippin employed two hobbits that came on various days with no particular set schedules that Merry could ascertain. They helped with the larger jobs when they were around and the rest of the time the smial was the responsibility of Pippin and his lovely wife.

Merry walked into the spacious barn and found a stall for his pony. Pippin kept one stall empty near the front of the barn especially for Merry’s visits. It was quiet here today. Since the arrival of Pippin’s son, Faramir, a little over a year ago, one proud parent or the other usually had the lad outside in the fresh air on a lovely day like this. Perhaps Diamond had taken the little one to market in Tuckborough with her. She enjoyed taking the child to Tuckborough with her when she shopped. She would have known that Merry would be arriving soon. He did hope that Pippin was at least close to ready. They were supposed to leave after the noon meal and head for Hobbiton.

Several times a year, Merry and Pippin would take a trip somewhere without their wives. It was their chance to catch up and spend some time together. This time, they were going into Hobbiton to pick up Sam and the three of them were going fishing. Sam would, by past experience, expect them to arrive late, but Merry always attempted to keep them on some sort of schedule. Pippin seldom cooperated.

As Merry approached the front door of the smial he could hear crying. Faramir must be out of sorts today. That would most likely affect their leaving time. He sighed and knocked. “Have patience, Merry,” he told himself. “You’ve known Pip long enough to be used to late start times. This trip is for relaxation, so relax.” He had just finished giving himself instructions when the door swung open.

“Merry! Here!” Pippin said in a startled tone and thrust Faramir at him. Recovering quickly Merry reached out and took the baby, putting one hand underneath each of the little ones arms so that he and the child were facing one another. Then the door shut and Merry was left standing on the stoop holding Faramir.

“Well, that’s quite a greeting,” Merry remarked to the small child. “Don’t worry. I’m sure he’ll remember to open the door again in a minute and let us back in.” Merry studied the tiny face and the wide brown eyes that were studying him back. “So, how have things been around here lately, Boss?” Merry asked, using his pet name for Pippin child. Merry had begun calling Faramir ‘Boss’ when it became clear that neither Pippin nor Diamond were willing to deny the tiny child anything.

Faramir wrinkled his little button nose up at Merry and continued to stare at him but didn’t make a sound. Merry could tell by the rosy cheeks and the drying tears that Faramir had indeed been the one crying as he came to the door but the child showed no signs of distress now. “So, Boss, your Papa seems a bit muddled today, or did he mean to give you to me and close the door?” Merry asked.

Faramir blinked, wrinkled his nose again and continued to stare at Merry. “You are definitely not the conversationalist are you?” Merry smiled. He held the child out at arm’s length and inspected him. The child was wearing clean short trousers in bright red and a clean, soft white shirt with little red bears embroidered all over it. “You seem well dressed and you must be well fed or you’d say something to me about that,” Merry said. He pulled the serious little child close and cradled him in one arm so that Faramir’s head could rest on his shoulder if the child became tired. Faramir held his head high and looked about intently finally settling on staring at Merry again.

“You do remember me, don’t you?” Merry asked. “Your Papa hasn’t left you with a stranger or anything. I’m your Uncle Merry, remember? I was here a few months ago and you visited my family and me over Yule holidays. You were rather young then and so you may not remember that but you seem to enjoy your visit.”

The door swung open and was left in that state and Merry heard Pippin say, “Come in, but don’t put him down. He cries if you put him down.”

“See, I told you he’d let us back in,” Merry whispered to the baby whose serious expression didn’t change in the least.

Merry walked into Pippin’s parlor and with one foot, closed the door behind him. The sight that met him startled him a bit. There was clutter everywhere. There was a laundry basket of what appeared to be clean clothing sitting by the sofa. Some of the clothes were half in and half out of the basket and others were trailing across the room in a random pattern. There were dishes on the small round table in the corner of the room. This was the Took’s breakfast table or so Pippin had named it. Not many folks had a table in the parlor big enough for meals but Pippin and Diamond did. Two of the four chairs that normally circled the table were missing. One of the two remaining ones was covered with letters. Pippin must have put the post there when it came and never retrieved it. There were three or four quilts on the sofa and a couple of bed pillows. Pippin’s dressing gown was hanging over the armchair. A collection of wooden farm animals and building blocks were scattered everywhere so that Merry had to watch were he stepped to keep from walking on tiny cows and sheep and pigs.

“I must say, I love what you’ve done with the place, Pip,” Merry said and then he winked at the baby. “I can see your contribution to this decorating scheme too, Boss,” he continued with a nod at one of the tiny cows that was perched on the edge of the table amid the dishes.

“Could you just-“ Pippin started as he hurried toward the kitchen. “I’m getting her tray and if he goes too-“

“You want me to hold the Boss while you see to a tray?” Merry asked calmly.

“Diamond has a very bad cold.” Pippin said. “Doesn’t want the babe to, and I have to, and if you put him down, so would you?”

“I’d be delighted,” Merry said smiling at Faramir. As Pippin retreated into the kitchen, Merry looked at the baby and said, “Your mum has a bad cold and she doesn’t want you to catch it so your Papa has to keep you out of her room. He wants me to hold you because, apparently if I put you down, you’ll cry. Is that the situation that we are facing?”

Faramir smacked his lips together and then leaned his head on Merry’s shoulder and sighed deeply. “Well, I’m sure it isn’t all that distressing, Boss,” Merry said. “We can deal with it if we have to. You and I will just sit over here on the sofa for a bit.” Merry walked over toward the sofa, moved the quilts aside and settled in. Faramir announced his displeasure at once by beginning to scream into Merry’s ear.

Pippin, lunch tray in hand, came into the room looking a bit wild and said, “Merry, you can’t put him down.”

Merry had jumped to his feet the second the screaming had begun and was now holding Faramir out at arm’s length again and frowning at the baby. Faramir was quiet again and was staring pensively back at Merry. “I didn’t put him down, Pip. I just sat down. I was still holding him,” Merry explained.

“You have to stay on your feet and keep moving or he gets cross,” Pippin said. “Then he cries, Diamond hears it, frets over it, and-“ The sentence stopped there and Pippin left with the tray.

Merry scowled at the tiny Took in his hands. “What sort of madness is this?”

Faramir scrunched up his face and prepared to scream again. Merry pulled the child in closer and began to pace the room kicking wooden cattle and sheep out of his way as he went. “This cannot be tolerated for long, Boss,” Merry informed the child.

Faramir whimpered and leaned his head against Merry’s shoulder. “Of all the strange behavior, this is certainly topping the list. Are you in some sort of pain?” Merry asked.

Faramir, naturally, didn’t reply. Merry was beginning to wonder if this could actually be Pippin’s child. Faramir wasn’t the least bit talkative. At this age Pippin had gurgled and cooed and jabbered non-stop but Faramir seemed content to say nothing at all unless, of course, Merry sat down. Merry’s ear was still ringing from that experience. He looked at the dark curls nestled against his shoulder and the tiny hand now gripping his shirt and sighed. Whatever was bothering ‘the Boss’, the child was not going to explain it.

Merry had paced and talked to the child for at least twenty minutes before Pippin returned without the tray. Merry got his first good look at his younger cousin as Pippin came into the room and leaned against the back of the wing chair. Pippin looked dreadful. His eyes were too wide open and had dark circles beneath them. He face was slightly pinched looking as if he’d tasted something sour. This was a new look and not one that Merry liked. Pippin’s clothes were wrinkled and his shirt was hanging out over his trousers. His hair looked wind blown as if he’d been out in a fierce gale and Merry thought that there was jam on Pippin’s collar as well as on the right sleeve of his shirt. “What is going on here?” Merry managed.

“Diamond has a cold,” Pippin sighed as if those four words explained everything.

“And the Boss here? What exactly is his problem?” Merry asked.

“He’s fine as long as he’s moving,” Pippin said. “I don’t know what it is. He’s not got a fever and he eats and if you sing to him and walk with him he sleeps.”

Merry surveyed Pippin. “When do you sleep?”

“I suppose I haven’t for a while now,” Pippin said. “I’ve been seeing to Diamond and the smial and keeping Faramir fed and walking him about and playing with his cows and doing the wash and feeding the animals and,” Pippin paused. “I don’t know when I slept last but I must have slept. You have to sleep, Merry.”

“From the looks of you, I don’t think you’ve slept in a very long time,” Merry frowned. “Has a healer looked at this child?”

“No,” Pippin answered.

“Sit down, Pip,” Merry instructed. “I have the Boss so you can sit down for a minute.”

“You just got here and you,” Pippin frowned. “Why are you here, Merry?” He sank into the chair that he had been leaning on and stretched his legs out in front of him.

“You and I were supposed to go to Hobbiton and meet Sam, remember?” Merry asked. “Our fishing trip?”

“Oh, my,” Pippin said, popping up from the chair with more energy than Merry might have believed possible. “I can’t go now. You and Sam will have to go without me. Diamond’s ill and someone has to see to Faramir.”

Pippin came across the room and took his son from Merry, leaning the child over his shoulder and gently rubbing the little one’s back. “Tell Sam I’m sorry but I will try to visit later on,” Pippin smiled. His eyes had a sort of desperate look about them. Anyone could see that Pippin was completely spent.

Merry reached over and put his hand on Pippin’s forehead. “No fever,” he said.

“I’m not the one that’s ill,” Pippin said tiredly. “It’s Diamond. I had it two weeks ago and I gave it to her and now she’s ill. I’m fine, Merry.”

Merry watched as Pippin began to pace with the child. Faramir’s eyes closed and his thumb went into his mouth as Pippin began to hum softly.

Merry shook his head and began to pick up farm animals and blocks from the parlor floor.

“Merry,” Pippin whispered while still managing to hum. “I’ll get those later.”

“I shall round up the wooden live stock while you walk the Boss around,” Merry smiled. “I’m not very experienced with farm animals unless they are ponies, but I am capable of handling the wooden variety. Besides, I recognize some of these from your misspent youth. They’re old friends of mine.”

Pippin looked grateful and continued to hum to the baby who seemed to be sound asleep now.

As Merry put the farm animals into a neat row on the table beside of the one cow that had been standing guard over the dirty dishes, he glanced at Pippin who was walking back and forth and limping ever so slightly. “Give me the Boss, Pip,” Merry said gently. “I can pace for a bit and you can sit down.”

“I’m fine,” Pippin said softly. “He’s asleep. If we try to move him then he’ll wake up and you’ll have to start over again. It’s time for his nap.”

Merry walked over and began to pace along side of Pippin. “It past time for your nap, Pip,” Merry observed.

‘I’m a father now, I can’t just nap whenever I like,” Pippin said. “I have responsibilities to see to. Fathers don’t nap unless everything else is in order. I should think that you would know that, Merry. You do have children and you’ve had them longer than I’ve had this one.”

“I do indeed have children,” Merry said. “I have two lovely children who are currently at home with their mum, who is watching them while I visit with you.”

“Well, Estella doesn’t have a cold, does she?” Pippin asked tartly.

“No, and she isn’t watching them alone,” Merry said. “My mum is the with them visiting her grandchildren and spoiling them as much as Estella will allow. They had a day of it planned. Some outing involving the other children from the Hall and a picnic.”

“Sounds nice,” Pippin sighed.

“Pip, why don’t you send for Pearl?” Merry asked. He was stunned at the reaction that this one little question received. Pippin stopped pacing, turned to face him and went slightly pale. “What did I say?” Merry asked.

Faramir stirred and so Pippin began to walk again. “I can’t send for Pearl. You’ve no idea what that might cause, Merry. No idea at all.” Pippin was walking faster and so Merry hurried to keep up with him feeling silly. They both must look slightly insane walking back and forth across the parlor as if doing guard duty.

“Pearl is the very last hobbit in all of the Shire that I could send for,” Pippin continued. “She and Diamond are at odds just now over Faramir.”

“How did that happen?” Merry asked knowing how very out spoken Pearl could be. Pippin was prone to say the wrong thing or whatever came into his mind, but Pearl was unfailingly honest and had the ability to cut right to the heart of the matter. Sometimes she could be a bit difficult to take.

“It was my fault,” Pippin said glumly. “I was having trouble getting Faramir to sleep one evening while Diamond was at a quilting circle and so I put him in the pony cart, left a note for Diamond and went to the farm to get a bit of help.”

“And was Pearl able to get him to sleep?” Merry asked.

“She didn’t have to,” Pippin smiled. “He went to sleep in the cart on the way there.”

Merry stopped pacing. “Have you tried ridding him around in the cart recently?”

“I can’t go off with the babe and leave Diamond,” Pippin said, also stopping. “What if her fever goes up again? It went up last night and if I hadn’t been here then something dreadful might have happened. I can’t just pop the lad in the pony cart and go gallivanting off now.”

“I was hardly suggesting that you do any gallivanting, Pippin,” Merry sighed. “I thought a few turns in the pony cart might settle him enough so that you could get some rest.”

Merry frowned. “How did taking the Boss to visit Pearl in the pony cart result in an argument between Diamond and Pearl?”

“Well, Diamond came home early, found the note and rode out to the farm,” Pippin said. “Everything was fine for a while and then Pearl decided to give Diamond some advice on babies.”

Merry groaned.

“Diamond says that my sisters don’t think she’s a good mother to Faramir,” Pippin sighed. “She says that Pearl and Nell disapprove of nearly everything she does and I am not to go to either of them with anything concerning Faramir.”

“What on earth did Pearl say to Diamond?” Merry wanted to know.

“She accused Diamond of spoiling the lad,” Pippin said. “Pearl can be far too bossy you know and Diamond doesn’t know how to take her at times like that. I mean, I know how she is, but Diamond doesn’t always think that Pearl is being helpful. Diamond thinks Pearl is too critical.”

“I seem to remember that Estella threw her own mother out of our house a time or two when Dernhelm was a baby,” Merry nodded. “Her mother was giving what seemed to me to be rather reasonable advice but Estella said that her mother was insulting our parenting.”

“It was like that,” Pippin nodded. “Pearl said that Diamond and I were treating Faramir as if he were made of spun sugar and not a real baby at all. That we were actually too careful with him. Can you be too careful with a baby, Merry?”

“I don’t have a great answer for that one, Pip,” Merry said. He didn’t want to agree with Pearl just now. Pippin was in no shape for an argument and besides, if Pippin tossed him out then who would help out around here? No, now was not exactly the time for complete honesty. Now was one of those times that his father had warned him about. “Sometimes, son, the best response to a question is no response at all. If you can’t get by with that, then lie,” Saradoc had said. Merry was quite sure that this advice applied to the current situation.

“Well, Pearl was trying to be helpful but Diamond didn’t realize that and she thought that Pearl was being insulting and overbearing and nasty,” Pippin said. “That’s what Diamond said at any rate. So you can see why I can’t go to Pearl for help, can’t you?”

“Yes,” Merry said. “And Nell?”

“Diamond said that if we asked for help from Nell that it would likely be all over the Great Smials that we couldn’t raise our own child, Merry,” Pippin said. “Since Nell and her family are living at the Great Smials, if I turn up there with Faramir, then if will come out why I was there. You know how the gossip spreads. It’s part of the reason that I wanted to have my own smial. Nothing is private in that place. Come down to it, Diamond knows that Nell agrees with Pearl. Both of them seem to think that Diamond and I are spoiling the child.”

“And Pervinca?”

“Is carrying,” Pippin said, using the amusing Tookish expression meaning that a lass was with child. “Big as a barn and mean as a wild dog just now.”

Merry cringed. Pervinca was not one of those lasses who enjoyed pregnancy. Pervinca hated being pregnant and complained about every minute of it to anyone that would listen. Merry remembered a frighteningly long afternoon during Pervinca’s last month of her first pregnancy. He and Pippin had come by the Great Smials for a visit and Merry had mistakenly asked Pervinca how she was feeling. Pippin’s sister had yelled at him for nearly an hour and then cried on his shoulder for another two hours before her long-suffering husband had finally rescued him. “I am surprised that she is having a second child,” Merry said.

“So is she,” Pippin winced. “It was not her idea if you listen to what she has to say on the matter. I don’t recommend that you listen to it, Merry. In fact, listening to Faramir scream is much more pleasant.”

“I’ll take your word for that,” Merry said. “Why don’t you let me ride up to the Great Smials and get the healer? You could say that you wanted someone to have a look at Diamond just to be sure she was getting on properly and then while the healer is here, we could have him look at Faramir.”

Pippin yawned. “Could we?”

“Of course we could,” Merry said. “I can go now if you like.”

“Merry do you think he’s really sick?” Pippin asked worriedly. “I mean, do you think there’s something wrong with him?”

“It’s probably something simple like teething or a stomach ache, Pip,” Merry said gently. “A healer could set it all to rights in no time and then you could get a bit of rest. I know your leg is hurting. You’re limping.”

“I’ve done a lot of walking,” Pippin said. “I have to take him everywhere I go or he cries. I carry him to the barn when I feed the animals; I carry him to the kitchen when I go in there. The only place that I don’t take him is into Diamond’s room. We don’t want him to get this cold and so I have to leave him while I see to her but he screams the entire time that I’m gone. My leg isn’t troubling me that much considering all I’ve put it through. It’s my shoulders that ache.”

There was the sound of coughing coming from the direction of the bedrooms and Pippin looked at Merry. “Could you?” Pippin asked, looking beyond tired.

Merry reached over and pulled Faramir from Pippin’s shoulder. The little one resisted and then squealed. Merry took the child into his arms and began to walk.

Pippin hurried off to the kitchen and the hurried back through the room carrying a bottle of some red tonic and a spoon. Faramir watched him go passed and then stared at Merry again. “So, here we are again, Boss,” Merry said. He took a moment to study the child for any signs of illness. Pippin was right. He did have two children of his own. He should know what a sick baby looked like. He frowned at Faramir and felt the child’s forehead as he had done Pippin’s earlier. It was warm but Merry suspect that was from leaning against Pippin’s shoulder while he slept. “Here, let me see inside of your mouth,” Merry said and he attempted to pry Faramir’s mouth open. The child squirmed and kicked and then finally opened his mouth and yelled. Merry used that opportunity to examine Faramir’s throat. “Hush,” Merry hissed. “You’ve already got your poor Papa running about like a scared rabbit.”

“Merry, is he all right?” Pippin called out.

“He’s fine, Pip,” Merry called back as Faramir became quiet again and stuck out his lower lip in a full pout. “You seem fine to me,” he said to the baby in a whisper. “In fact, I think you’ve been running the show around here for too long now, Boss. It’s time I took over for a while.” Determinedly, Merry walked over proceeded to put the child down on the sofa. Faramir sat there for a minute, looked at Merry, reached for him and when Merry didn’t pick him up, he began to scream. The tears came instantly and the little feet kicked.

It was hardly a second before Pippin charged into the room and hurried over to the sofa. “Merry, what are you doing?” Pippin demanded, reaching for his son.

Merry blocked him from the child and said, “Let’s see what happens.”

“He needs someone to pick him up, Merry,” Pippin said concern in his voice.

“Or he just wants someone to pick him up,” Merry frowned down at the child. “That, cousin, is a temper tantrum if ever I saw one.”

“Pippin?” Diamond called out in a hoarse voice.

Pippin gave Merry a stricken glance and then called out. “It’s all right, love. He’s just a bit cranky. I’ll see to him. You rest now.” Pippin reached for the screaming child and again Merry stopped him.

Faramir howled in frustration and balled up his fists and Merry had to wrap both arms around Pippin to keep him from picking up the child. “Peregrin Took there is absolutely nothing wrong with that baby,” Merry said sharply.

“He wouldn’t cry if he didn’t need something,” Pippin objected struggling against Merry’s hold. “I have to see to him, Merry.”

“And I think it’s about time you stopped seeing to him quite as often,” Merry said firmly.

“Meriadoc Brandybuck, you let go of me,” Pippin objected. “I have to pick him up. I always get him when he cries.”

“And he knows that, Pippin,” Merry said. “He’s got you pegged, my lad.”

Pippin stopped struggling and frowned. “What do you mean?”

“I mean that there is nothing wrong with that little imp,” Merry said. “He just knows that you will hold him all day and night if he wants you to do so. I don’t call him the Boss without reason. Take a look at exactly who is running this smial, Peregrin Took.” Merry released his hold on Pippin and pointed to the still screaming baby on the sofa.

Pippin looked at the child with a mixture of frantic worry and complete fascination. “He can’t know what he’s doing, Merry. He’s a wee babe.” Pippin ran nervous fingers through his own hair and fidgeted.

“Oh, can’t he?” Merry asked, smiling at the child.

“But how do you know?” Pippin asked reaching for the child but stopping long before his hands could get close enough to pick up the crying child. “What if he’s sick? What if he thinks I don’t care about him? He might need changing or to eat or-“

“He was dry when I sat him down there if he’s done anything, he’s just done it. Frankly I think he’s been too busy screaming to load his trousers,” Merry said. “He isn’t sick. I know a healthy child when I see one and that one is disgustingly healthy. If he’s hungry then you can feed him once he stops bellowing.” Merry placed a firm hand on Pippin’s shoulder and pulled his cousin a few feet back from the sofa. “Now, just give this a minute or two and we’ll see if I’m right.”

Pippin was literally shaking with the stress of hearing his only child cry. He hadn’t really listened to that sound for very long because he or Diamond always scooped Faramir up the minute he seemed to need anything. “Merry?”

“Not yet,” Merry said. “This is nothing, Pip. Eowyn can scream like that for nearly an hour without giving up.”

Pippin looked horrified. “You and Estella have let her scream for an hour before?”

“We have and it didn’t harm her in the least, I assure you,” Merry said tightening his grip on Pippin’s shoulders. His younger cousin seemed about to leap out of his skin. “I think he’s slowing down a bit now.”

As if knowing what Merry had just said, Faramir bawled out in pure rage and then swung his tiny fists in the air. Pippin jerked forward and Merry placed an arm around his cousin’s waist and hauled him backward. “Why don’t you go into the kitchen and fix Diamond a bowl of soup? I’ll deal with the Boss,” Merry suggested.

“I can’t make soup with him screaming!” Pippin shouted.

“Well, you better learn to do something while he screams, Pip,” Merry said firmly. “Babies scream. Sometimes they do it because something is bothering them, but sometimes they do it just to get your attention. Now this little Took is over a year old. If you don’t stop giving him his way every time he screams you are in for quit a time once he begins to talk.” Merry’s throat was beginning to feel slightly painful from yelling over the sound of Faramir’s screams. He wondered why yelling like that didn’t give small babies sore throats.

Pippin was beside himself with worry over this. “Merry, he needs me,” Pippin said weakly. “I can’t just let him cry like that. I never let-“ Pippin stopped speaking suddenly and looked intently at Faramir.

Faramir’s screaming had died down and was become sniffling and whining. Merry released his hold on Pippin and the two of them stood there and watched as Faramir settled into a sort of hic-cupping little whine. Faramir stopped kicking his feet, put his thumb in his mouth and looked longingly up at Pippin. Pippin started to reach forward and again Merry stopped him. That was when Faramir reached out both chubby little arms and whined at his father. Merry groaned as Pippin lurched forward. “Pip, don’t pick him up,” Merry said sternly. “Sit down with him. Put him on your lap if you have to, but do not stand up!”

Pippin practically dived onto the sofa next to the tiny child and quickly pulled him into his arms. Faramir whimpered again and rubbed at his eyes and then burrowed into Pippin’s shoulder. Pippin hugged the child to him and began to rub his back. “There, there, it’s all right now,” Pippin said gently. “I’m here. You’re going to be fine.”

“Now, very slowly, lay down on the sofa with him and I think he’ll go to sleep,” Merry instructed. “Just keep doing what you are doing, Pip. If you stand up now, then you’ve lost what little control you’ve managed to gain. Don’t stand up.”

Merry watched as Pippin leaned against the pillows on the end of the sofa and held the child against his chest. Pippin pulled his feet up onto the sofa and stretched them out while continuing to rub the baby’s back. It was then that Merry noticed Diamond standing in the doorway watching them. She looked as nervous about the entire event as Pippin had but she didn’t say anything. She put a finger to her lips so that Merry wouldn’t say anything either.

Merry pulled a quilt over Pippin and tucked it around Faramir’s shoulders and then stepped back quietly. In seconds both Took lads were sound asleep. Merry walked over to Diamond and whispered, “You should be in bed, lass.”

“I know,” she said. “Is Pippin all right? He looks so tired, Merry. I haven’t been any help to him at all.”

“He told me you’d been ill,” Merry said.

“I have,” she nodded. “He should have sent for someone to help him with the baby.”

Merry’s face must have shown his surprise because Diamond sighed. “I suppose I didn’t exactly leave him with anyone to go to for help, did I?”

Merry shrugged again and employed his father’s advice for a second time.

“He told you about Pearl and me didn’t he?”

“He mentioned it,” Merry said gently.

“I just get so frustrated with her,” Diamond sighed. “She thinks she knows all there is to know about children. She makes me feel like I am hopeless at this.”

“I am sure she doesn’t mean to, but I do know that Pearl has a way of speaking that isn’t always easy to take,” Merry said as he put an arm around Diamond’s shoulders and began to lead her back to bed.

“Poor, Pippin,” Diamond sighed. “I knew he had sisters when I married him but I didn’t think that would be a problem. I like them most of the time, you know.”

“I know you do,” Merry smiled, holding open the door to the bedroom and motioning her inside.

“I’ve never raised a child before,” Diamond said. “How did you know that Faramir would stop crying?”

“I have been through this with two of my own,” Merry smiled. “Don’t you dare tell Pippin this, but I was as bad or worse than he is with Dernhelm. It was Estella who set me straight about it all. She could always tell when Dernhelm or Eowyn were just screaming to get their own way. Besides, while Faramir doesn’t remind me too much of Pippin as a baby, they do have one thing in common.”

“What’s that?” Diamond asked.

“Pippin was fond of getting his own way when he was small too,” Merry grinned. “Faramir is more openly vocal on the screaming side of things, but Pip was quite the little manipulator.”

“Diamond smiled. “I just feel so lost some days, Merry.”

“You’re doing just fine,” Merry assured her as she climbed into bed. “You just have a cold. I’ll help Pippin with the smial and that will give him more time to look after Faramir and take care of you.”

“You’re a very good cousin, Meriadoc Brandybuck,” Diamond said smiling up at Merry.

“And you are a wonderful wife and mother, Diamond. Pippin and Faramir are very lucky,” Merry said. “Now, get some rest so that you can get back on your feet again. You do know that you will have to be the one to hold Pippin to this new resolve, don’t you? Pippin is far too tenderhearted to resist Faramir without help. You will have to be the strong one just as Estella was in our home.”

Diamond nodded. “I know. I just hope that I can manage it.”

“You will,” Merry smiled.

He left her and went back into the parlor where Pippin was sound asleep with his tiny son in his arms. Faramir was sleeping in the strange way that little babies have, knees drawn to his chest and tiny bum in the air. His thumb was in his mouth and a hand full of Pippin’s unruly curls in his other fist. Pippin had one arm around the baby and was completely relaxed in every other respect. “Now, that’s much better,” Merry whispered to himself. “I have yet to meet the Took that I can't best in a fair fight. I got three in one afternoon. Not a bad day’s effort.” He turned his attention to quietly removing the dirty dishes from the table.

*****

One week later:

The cart pulled up in front of Bag End and Sam and Rose came out to greet their guests. “It’s about time,” Sam grinned as Merry climbed down from the pony cart. The two friends embraced and then Merry leaned over and gave Rose a kiss on the cheek.

“Where’s Pippin?” Sam asked.

Merry grinned and pointed to the back of the cart. “I let him sleep.”

“Is he all right?” Rose asked raising up on her toes and peering into the rear of the cart at Pippin who was wrapped in a travel cloak sound asleep.

“Diamond’s had a cold and Pippin’s a bit worn out from looking after things,” Merry said. “I guess you could say that Pippin is still recovering from Diamond’s illness.”

“We got your post,” Sam nodded, grinning.

“Well, we are a week late in arriving,” Merry sighed. “I figured that I should send you word.”

“So, are you sure he’s up to a fishin’ trip?” Sam asked. “I mean he didn’t get the cold did he?”

“No, he had it first,” Merry explained. “Believe me, he needs this trip more than you or I do, Sam.”

“Do you plan to leave him in the cart or will you be wakin’ him and bringin’ him inside?” Rose asked.

Merry chuckled. “I’ll bring him in but remember, he’s had a rough go of it. He has this child, you know.”

Sam and Rose exchanged looks. “He has one child,” Rose objected thinking of her own children as she spoke.

“Yes, but it’s a Took through and through,” Merry grinned.

Sam laughed and took Rose’s arm. “You bring ‘im on in. We’ll put supper on.”

“Sam,” Rose hissed. “It’s one child.” She rolled her eyes and sighed looking disgusted.

“Merry’s right, Rosie,” Sam said. “It’s only one but it’s a Took child and worse still, it’s being raised up by not one, but two Tooks. One Took is like eight or ten Gamgees.”

“Honestly, Sam,” Rose grinned. “Don’t be such a tease. It’s a baby.”

Sam put his arm around his wife’s waist and smiled. He was remembering what it was like when Pippin had been small. It was true what folks said, ‘What goes around, comes around.’ Peregrin Took would have his hands full for some time to come.

The End

GW 03/19/2006

*****

Dernhelm and Eowyn are the names that I have given Merry's two oldest children in another of my stories. Merry's youngest, Fredegar, in my world of fiction, would not have been born at this point. The idea for Pippin to have a smial of his own is entirely mine and may go completely against the canon however I couldn't recall anything that indicates that Pippin couldn't have had a little place of his own before he became Thain. If he didn't then that portion of this story would be AU, naturally. As always, thanks for reading!

GW 03/19/2006





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