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Dreamflower's Mathoms II  by Dreamflower

Title: Freedom's Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose (The Great Auntie Pringle Took Remix)
Author: dreamflower02
Characters/Pairings: Merry, Pippin, Pervinca, Pimpernel, Aunt Pringle Took (OFC)
Summary: Young Merry, Pippin and Pervinca are overheard having a conversation…
Rating: G
Warnings: N/A
Word Count: 940
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters are the property of the Estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. No offense is intended, nor profit made.
Title, Author and URL of original story: Great Auntie Pringle Took, by ceshaughnessy.


I know they are there. They think I don't see them, hiding from me, spying on me, mocking me. Why should I care? I have my birds, my lovely birds who fly away on wings of freedom, who sing to me, and speak to me. But I can hear the children whispering.

The older lad – that Meriadoc – he's a sharp one, as Brandybucks often are. He has eyes to see in his head, which is wiser than his years. And the lass, she's pretty quick as well. Their whispers are more penetrating now.

"Well, perhaps she talks to birds because no one talks much to her." Pervinca squinted up her eyes as she studied the scene thoughtfully, tugging at her bottom lip. "Perhaps she's lonely."

Lonely? Why would I be lonely when I have my birds, and my Pepper?

"She's daft! Of course no one likes to talk to her, they're afraid her strangeness is catching."

"That's not very nice Pip." Merry frowned disapprovingly.

"Yes, that's really not like you to be so mean."

Ah, the youngest! No, you are right – that child usually never has an unkind word. But I smell his fear. He's afraid of me – afraid that someday he will become like me – and he's too young to know what to do with his fear.

"I heard she hears voices too."

"And has visions. I know. But Merry, that's why everyone thinks she's dotty!"

"But they call her eccentric."

‘"That's just to be nice. You know what they're really thinking."

"Well, I think she just likes to be the center of attention. She reminds me of you Pippin!"

"There's no call to be insulting Vinca."

"Oh! Oh, look! Auntie's doing her bird calls again!"

"And here comes Pepper straight away."

Yes, here comes my Pepper, my darling, my own. Such a sweet and lovely bird! He knows what to say to me!

The whispers, which had grown low, are louder once more: Bilbo doesn't like me? I smile to myself. If they only knew; Bilbo knows we are alike, he and I. We don't speak because we both know the world would only call both of us even *more* "cracked" than they already do. I caught Bilbo's eye, earlier today. He tipped me a wink.

And he knew – he knew I didn't mean to hurt his trinkets, even if they had been his mother's. "Don't fret yourself, Pringle-lass," he'd said. Lass! Though it's true he has many more years than I, he looks too young to be calling me lass – but he said, "don't fret yourself! I learned long ago on my Adventure that people are far more important than things, be they the finest jewel beneath the Mountain or no!"

Adventure! Poor Bilbo – everyone knows of his Adventure! But no one knows of mine! The day I met that old Man in brown, down in the Woody End, back when I was a chit of a lass! He's the one showed me birds have voices. Yes, my Pepper, you do have a voice, my lovely!

"Pip, we may think Auntie Pringle odd but we shouldn't speak ill of her."

"Vinca, I wasn't being mean! I was being truthful."

What a sharp denial! He knows that he was being mean, though he doesn't know why he said it.

"Well, I think we ought to – "

Perhaps the children would like to talk to you as well, Pepper, do you think? Let's go talk to them now, such sweet children, I could just pinch their cheeks..

"Um, Pip. Pip! She's heading straight for us! Run!"

"What? Every hobbit for himself!"

"Or herself!"

Ah now! There's no call for that! As if Pepper or I would bring them any harm…oh, well, they are gone now. I wish I could speak to the youngest one, young Pippin. I know what he fears, and I know, I have seen flashes – he is right to fear. That lad is in for an Adventure someday himself, and it will be far darker than anything the Shire can imagine.

Oh! Look! Old Snowy has got herself a new brood of ducklings! I do believe I should go and make their acquaintance.

They are young and fearful – look how they scatter at my approach. Their mother is calling, telling them I'm no threat, but they don't heed her.

Good heavens! My old legs are not so steady as they used to be, especially since that day long ago, when I fell on my head, and was freed. This water is cold, cold and wet and rather unpleasantly muddy. Everyone's running here and there, one more tale of how "dotty" old Auntie Pringle is. I smile to myself. The dottier they think I am, the dottier I am free to be.

Here come the children. "Thank you, Pimpernel," I say, taking the towel she offers. "I seem to be wet. How extraordinary!"

The young Brandybuck is offering a hand to me. Behind him I see Pippin, staring at me with his green eyes wide; fear is there, and something else – he flushes bright red. Shame – yes, a child so good at heart would feel shamed for the things he had been saying. He knew better. He gives me a half-smile, and I accept the unspoken apology, for he doesn't realize I heard his unkind words.

I wish I could warn him. But he'd say he didn't believe it, even though he would, and he'd be fearful again.

Besides, no warning will keep him out of his troubles, and he will come through them well. It's a shame I won't live long enough to see it.

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