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(Written for Hobbit Month on LiveJournal)
LOOKING FOR MAGIC
The music flowed and eddied, sometimes coming within the reach of his understanding, before drifting away again. Song after song, and his heart yearned for something…
Pippin sighed and stirred. He had been seated on the floor in the Hall of Fire, leaning against Merry, who was leaning against Frodo. Frodo had a gentle arm around Bilbo, and Sam was also on the floor, leaning against Bilbo’s knee. Frodo was still awake--Pippin could see the glitter of his eyes as he lost himself in the magic of the Elven song flowing about them. Merry and Sam were frankly asleep, though he was uncertain about Bilbo. Several times since their return to Rivendell from their long journey south, Bilbo had seemed to be asleep when he was not.
Pippin, too, had been lost in the song; but it had been a long time for him to sit still without moving. He got up very carefully, so as not to disturb Merry, and stretching a bit, he moved soundlessly to one of the wide doors that were always open to the vistas of the Valley of Imladris. He took a deep breath of fresh air, and noticed another figure, robed in white. Marvelous figures of smoke drifted from his pipe.
He took his own pipe out, and went to stand next to the Wizard, and they smoked in companionable silence for a few moments. Pippin studied him for a while; Gandalf the White, so much lighter of heart, so much more open than Gandalf the Grey. His grumpy manner had changed little--but now it was clearly only an amusement, for his dark eyes sparkled with a depth of mirth that Pippin could never before have expected to see there. And he no longer tried to hide the love and affection he felt for the hobbits who had become his companions. When they left Rivendell this time, it would be just the four of them and Gandalf. Pippin found comfort in that thought.
The wizard placed a friendly hand on his shoulder. “Why so quiet, Pippin? I do not think you have asked me a single question in days!” There was a mirthful challenge in the familiar deep voice.
Pippin chuckled. A sudden thought had come to him. “I do have one question, Gandalf--one I’ve been meaning to ask you for years! But what with the Ring and all, it rather put it out of my mind.”
Gandalf turned to look down at him, drawing together his bushy eyebrows. “And what pressing question is that, Peregrin?” he said with mock sternness.
“Well, you know, I’ve rather wondered about the Secret Word--you know, the Secret Word that worked the Old Took’s shirt studs…” He let his voice trail off, slightly abashed at his own impudence. There were far more important things on Gandalf’s mind than magic shirt studs. Pippin had come to realize that whatever Gandalf was--and what he suspected he scarcely dared put into words, though he was certain that Frodo for one *knew*--he was far above the comic figure that the Shire had been so familiar with for uncounted years.
Gandalf laughed outright, and his laughter was like the laughter of Elves, lifting the heart and filling the spirit with joy. “Ah, Gerontius’ shirt studs! That was quite a jest between us. They were my gift to him upon his accession to the Thainship. But you tell me the Secret Word was lost?”
Pippin nodded. “I’ve been told they worked for Isengrim III, but he died suddenly, and never had the chance to tell his brother. It’s clear enough they are still magic, for now that the Word is lost, they do not even work in the way that normal shirt studs do. They have a special place in the Thain’s mathom room. I’ve only ever seen them once myself.”
Gandalf sighed. “Dwarves made those for me, and I magicked them--the only time I have ever made anything like that. But Gerontius had such a sense of wonder, that I wished to indulge it. You remind me of him a good deal, Pippin, my lad. You have his eyes, and his smile.” He drew on his pipe, and then sent forth a bit of smoke in the shape of a large butterfly. Pippin’s eyes grew wide, as it spread its smoky wings and drifted away. “I shall tell you the Word. But you must swear to pass it on to no one save your father and in time, your son!”
Pippin nodded, awed. Gandalf bent down, and whispered into his ear. “Oh Gandalf!” he breathed.
“Now remember what I said.”
“I will. Father will be so pleased! But what makes you think I’ll have a son?”
The wizard smiled. “Of course you will.”
Pippin sighed. “I don’t know. Up till now, all the lasses I’ve liked have thought I was too young and silly. And all the ones who’ve liked me have only done so because I’m the Thain’s Heir.”
“Trust me, Pippin. You will in time find a jewel among wives, and you will have a son someday.”
“I’ll always trust you, Gandalf. How could I not trust the White Wizard?”
The summer of 1420 was mild and fruitful, and Thain Paladin was expecting the Great Smials to fill for his birthday this year. But first breakfast was for family, and he sat at the head of the table in the private dining room of the Thain’s apartments, and one by one, opened the gifts of his wife and offspring.
He looked puzzled when he came to the end of them, and raised a questioning glance at his son. Pippin stood up, and taking out a small box, handed it to his father.
Paladin looked surprised when he opened it. It was not really done to give someone a gift out of his own mathom room. Pippin chuckled. “Those are not your gift, Father. This is.” He leaned over, and whispered in Paladin’s ear.
Paladin looked up at his tall son in amazed wonder, while Eglantine and his daughters looked on in confusion.
Paladin took up the shirt studs and whispered to them.
And Pippin was pleased. Magic had returned to the Tooks.
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