Epilogue

Mar. 21st, 2004 01:27 am
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Yay, it's finally finished! Enjoy!

Epilogue

“Da?”

The small voice was tremulous, wavering between wanting to be brave and yet needing comfort.

“Yes, Faramir?” Pippin asked gently, turning back from the door he had been about to close, gazing at his five year old tenderly.

“I’m scared.”

For a moment something flashed across Pippin’s face, then vanished, replaced by a small smile as he returned to the bed, sitting down on its edge and gently touching his son’s cheek.

“And what are you afraid of, Little One?” he asked gently, already knowing the answer.

“Monsters,” Faramir whispered fearfully.

“Ahhh,” Pippin murmured, looking out the window of his son’s room into the darkness, for a moment seeing not the stars and green hills of the shire, but a chilly mountainside and a wizened old man calmly smoking his pipe.

“They do exist, don’t they, Da?” Faramir’s voice asked hesitantly, as though afraid his beloved father would laugh at him for believing in such things.

“Aye, Son, they do,” Pippin whispered after a moment, and there was a hint of something sad in his Da’s eyes. “But you don’t have to worry about them.”

“Because you’ll protect me from them?” Faramir asked, smiling.

Pippin smiled back, ruffling his son’s unruly curls. “No, Lad.” His child’s smile faded as he looked up at him in confusion. “When the time comes for you to face your monsters, only you will be able to fight them.”

“I don’t understand,” Faramir admitted.

“Neither did I,” Pippin murmured, and once more his gaze wandered out the window, to something only he could see. “But you will, one day.”

He shook himself, then, as though just recalling where he was, and turned back to his son, smiling again. “As for now, rest assured that there are no monsters under the bed, in the closet, or anywhere else in the smial. Your cousin Merry and I got rid of them all a long time ago.”

“But what if new ones show up?” Faramir asked, unable to completely put his fear aside.

His father’s gaze wandered once more to the window, and Faramir had to wonder what he saw out there that no else could.

“Then you shall do the best you can, and simply do what must be done when the time comes.” He kissed his son’s forehead gently, standing. “Now go to sleep, and dream sweet dreams of honey buns and almond cakes.”

He was almost to the door when his son’s voice halted him once more.

“Da?”

“Yes, Faramir?” he asked patiently, turning around.

“Were you afraid when you fought your monsters?”

There was a long moment of silence, and then Pippin whispered, almost so the child could not hear him, “Yes, Faramir. Very frightened indeed.”

“Then how did you do it?”

His father turned away, but not before he glimpsed something sparkling on his cheek. “Because I knew that I had to face what came, as it came. Now go to sleep, Faramir.”

With that he closed the door, knowing his son would soon be sleeping peacefully. For a moment he leaned his back against the solid wood, eyes closed.

“Are you all right?”

He started, quickly wiping the tears from his eyes as Merry approached, gazing at him worriedly.

“Aye,” he assured the other, ushering him back into his study, where he poured them both a generous glass of brandy.

He handed Merry his, looking to a point above his cousin’s shoulder as he whispered, “To monsters - may they always be ready for a fight, because they shall certainly get one from us!”

“To monsters,” Merry agreed. They both sipped their brandy quietly for a moment, enjoying the now rare peace of each other’s company.

“Now,” Merry broke the silence, casting a penetrating glare at his younger cousin, “are you going to tell me about that pig or am I going to have to ask Sam why you were seen leading it around yesterday?”

“Well, Merry, it was like this…”

At that moment the clock chimed, and Pippin stood to mark the calendar, changing the date from March 15th to the 16th. Then he sat back down and resumed the tale, their laughter filling the night air and banishing any monsters that lingered.




Author's note: I forgot to post this in the last chapter, but for those of you have seen the Patriot you know where I got the idea for Pippin to put ink in Merry's tea. Just borrowing the idea, as I thought it was a very Pippin thing to do.
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Chapter Six

Pippin slept soundly all through that day, the first untroubled sleep he had enjoyed since before Rivendale. When Frodo gently shook him awake, he smiled up at his cousin beautifully, and received a smile just as large as his own.

“How are you feeling?” his oldest cousin asked, helping him sit up, and Pippin had a feeling he was referring to more than just his head.

“Better,” he answered truthfully.

“Good, because Aragorn wants you to drink this all up and then eat some breakfast – er, supper. Or whatever meal it is when we sleep all day and wake at night,” Frodo finished with a chuckle.

“Breakfast, and I see Aragorn is getting you to do his dirty work for him,” Pippin sighed, pleased to see that his hands did not shake as he took the proffered mug.

“Maybe he is just tired of you whining,” Merry murmured sleepily next to him, earning a dark look from both of them.

“Hush, Merry, and get up, you can’t laze about all day, er, night. Sam needs help washing the pots, and your supper, er, breakfast is getting cold,” Frodo admonished, reaching over to pull the covers off of his reluctant cousin.

“Hey, that’s cold!” Merry protested, grabbing for the blanket and missing.

“Then get up and moving!” Frodo chuckled.

Pippin smiled at the antics, though it faded quickly as he downed the noxious potion. He shuddered, wondering for a moment if he was going to be sick again, then decided that his stomach was in a forgiving mood that morning. Er, night.

“All right?” Frodo asked, who had been watching him at the same time he was teasing Merry.

“Yech! I mean, yes,” Pippin assured him, shuddering one more time before handing the mug back to his cousin. “Though I think I had better eat that breakfast soon before my stomach decides otherwise.”

Merry stumbled past them, absently touching Pippin’s shoulder and Frodo’s hair as he passed, rubbing sleep from his eyes as he made his way to where Sam was trying to instruct Gimli on the proper care of fried potatoes.

“Am I allowed to help today, or must I stay inactive again?” Pippin asked, giving Frodo his best puppy-dog eyes.

“Oh, no you don’t, stubborn Took,” Frodo laughed, touching his cheek as he stood. “Aragorn wants you to rest until it is time to leave, and then you shall be carried again. If you have no more troubles by morning, then maybe he will let you walk tomorrow. Now eat up, you need your strength.”

It was with a much lighter step that Frodo left his cousin, though he still did not like how the light in Pippin’s eyes had not returned, and his smile was quick to fade.

***

“Here, Merry, Sam made some tea,” Pippin said cheerfully as he approached his cousin, who was standing guard with Borimir. “I’ll get you a mug if you would like one, Borimir,” he added.

“Aye, thank you,” the large man nodded, smiling down at the young hobbit.

Though he had still been silent and withdrawn most of that night’s travel, he had started to revert to his former self, every now and then throwing out an outrageous question and having everyone pondering some pointless fact. The tension in the group had faded noticeably.

He waited for Pippin to leave, but the tweenager stood there for a moment, as though waiting for something, and a moment later a startled cry jerked his attention back to his watch mate.

Merry was staring at his reflection in the tiny pond they had decided to camp by, a look of horror slowly changing to outrage.

“Pippin!” he snarled, turning to look at his cousin and revealing the cause for his distress.

His teeth and lips were stained black.

The youngest hobbit’s giggles quickly turned to shrieks as he darted off unsteadily, trying to avoid capture as Borimir watched in amazement.

Aragorn approached him silently, a smile playing about his lips as he watched the antics, Gimli’s laughter filling the clearing.

“Oh, Sam, you didn’t!” they heard Frodo ask in mixed horror and amusement.

They turned to see the two of them by the small fire Gandalf had permitted them, Frodo looking to his friend in wonderment.

“Of course not, Mister Frodo!” Sam answered in affront, though no one could deny the small smile that was playing around his lips. “Master Pippin put it in after I poured the mug.”

Frodo burst out laughing, and the others who had heard were hard pressed not to follow suit.

“Sam, how could you?” he finally managed, wiping tears from his eyes.

Sam swiveled slightly at the sound of Pippin’s shrill giggle, and the others turned just in time to see Merry mercilessly tickling Pippin, who was curled up in a ball on the ground trying to avoid those pitiless fingers.

“Some things are worth a bit of mischief, Mister Frodo,” the gardener answered softly, watching the scene play out before him.

Frodo watched as Aragorn went to break up the entertainment and admonish Merry about roughhousing with patients not up to it, not noticing as Pippin made faces behind the Ranger’s back.

“Indeed, Sam,” Frodo whispered, turning back to his friend and smiling. “Indeed.”

Chapter 5

Mar. 20th, 2004 09:31 pm
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Chapter Five

They stopped with the stars still overhead, dawn only a glimmer on the horizon. The trek that night had been mostly silent, the members of the Fellowship withdrawn into their own thoughts, with no distracting Tookish giggle to lighten the black mood.

In fact, the smallest hobbit made no sound as they settled about making camp and laying out sleeping rolls, resting as Aragorn instructed and drinking what was given him without complaint. But he did not touch the dinner that was given him, and this in itself was the companions’ greatest worry.

Frodo cast Gandalf a frightened look from across the clearing, absently running a hand through his cousin’s hair as he pleaded with him to eat just a few bites. Pippin shook his head crossly, saying something nasty that the wizard could not catch but made Frodo close his eyes in pain for a moment.

“Pippin,” Merry snapped, though it was apparent by the worry in his eyes that his frustration was caused more by concern than by anger. “There is no call to talk to Frodo like that!”

Pippin muttered something under his breath, shook Frodo’s hand off his head and stood as though to leave the three of them sitting there, mouths open. He swayed a moment, all color draining from his face, and Merry was on his feet and putting a steadying arm around him before the others could think to move.

“I’m fine!” Pippin growled, though there was a suspicious glint in his eyes as he tried to shake his cousin off.

“Here, now, Master Pippin, none of that!” Sam finally put in, standing as well and putting a hand on Pippin’s. “You’re going to make yourself sick, and there’s no call to be acting this way to your relations!”

The tweenager looked on the verge of saying something that they would all regret when a form suddenly loomed before them, casting them all into silence.

“I believe that a good pipe is in order,” Gandalf said matter-of-factly, his eyes boring into the young hobbit. “Perhaps you should join me, Peregrin.”

The others hid their relief as Pippin meekly allowed the wizard to lead him a little ways off from the small gathering with one firm hand between his shoulders.

Frodo, Merry and Sam all exchanged a glance composed of worry, fear and dawning hope before setting about finishing off their own suppers, purposefully leaving Pippin’s plate untouched.

Legolas and Aragorn exchanged a similar look as they watched the whole proceeding, long association allowing whole conversations to pass between them unspoken.

“He will be well,” Legolas assured his friend softly.

Aragorn did not answer, but went to the other hobbits, offering them the only comfort he could as he handed them each a small, brilliantly red apple he had been saving. Their smiles were thankful as they accepted, but it was with little enthusiasm that they ate the treat.

***

Gandalf sat down upon a bare patch of ground, sighing as he shifted to get comfortable and motioning Pippin to do the same. Silently they packed and lit their pipes, inhaling the sweet fragrance of Old Toby and allowing the weariness of the road to recede with the smoke.

When Gandalf did speak, it was with far more gentleness than Pippin had heard in a long time.

“Tell me, young Peregrin, what has you so bothered that you try to start a fight with your cousins, hmmm?”

“I didn’t -!” Pippin began, then stopped, realizing that the wizard was correct in his observations. “I don’t know, “ he finally whispered, taking another long pull on the pipe as he gazed out into the darkness. They were far enough away from the others that they could still be seen but not heard. For some reason Pippin was infinitely grateful for that.

Gandalf kept quiet for a moment, seeming to enjoy the silence and his pipe. Pippin began to relax as he realized he wasn’t going to be lectured or punished for his behavior, and instead started to feel guilty for the way he had been acting.

“Did you know that Gerontius was afraid of the dark well after coming into his majority?”

The question caught Pippin completely off guard.

“N-No, I didn’t,” he answered, slightly confused.

“Oh, yes. It used to be such a bother to get him to come out with me for a good smoke.” Pippin stared at the wizard for a moment, unsure what to say to this astonishing fact. “One night, though, when his firstborn had wandered off and gotten quite lost, he spent the whole of the night searching for him, looking into dark holes and up every tree. Amazing, actually.”

He gave Pippin a sidelong stare, making sure he was paying attention.

“When I asked him about it later, how he managed to overcome his fear, he told me it was quite simple.”

“What else did he say?” Pippin finally prompted after a moment of silence.

“That when it came down to it, the only thing that had frightened him about the dark was that he couldn’t see what dangers lurked and so couldn’t prepare for them. But not knowing the fate of his son was even more frightening, and made him realize that danger or no, he would simply have to face what came, as it came.”

Gandalf met Pippin’s wide eyes with his own, and the hobbit’s breath caught in his throat. There was so much wisdom in that glance, so much love and understanding that he found himself fighting back tears he did not know the cause of.

The Wizard seemed to, though, and gently pulled the tween to his side, smiling tenderly as Pippin brought in a shaking breath and let it out with a small, strangled sob, pipe laying forgotten next to him as he buried his face in the Wizard’s robes.

“It is all right to be frightened, Pip-Lad. But to let it eat at you, that is a shame. Do not be like Gerontius, afraid to go out your door simply because you do not know what awaits you. Realize, as he did, that what is going to happen shall happen regardless of how well prepared you are, and simply do the best you can.”

“I –I –” He tried to get the words out, but the sobs were making it impossible to speak, and so he merely cried, allowing the tears to wash away something inside of him that he had not realized was there. Finally, after what seemed a very long time with nothing but the sound of his heartbroken crying and Gandalf’s gentle murmurs, he managed to say around hiccupping breaths, “I fe-feel br-broken, Gandalf.”

His face was still buried in the other’s robes, so he did not see his friend close his eyes against his own unshed tears.

“It fe-feels as though I am sinking in qu-quicksand, and there is no-nothing to grab onto. Like a part of me is all slimy and horrible, while the other is fading.” He had regained his breath, and only the occasional hiccup interrupted him, though still he did not raise his head. “I am so afraid, Gandalf! I do not know what to do, and, and, and having the others be nice to me makes me feel even worse, because I don’t deserve it!” This last was said in a strangled cry, and then he was sobbing again, his small body shuddering with the force of his pain.

“Now, now, Lad, enough of that, you’ll make yourself sick, and then what shall I tell Aragorn, hmmm?” Gandalf admonished, and the gentle rebuke brought about the desired choked laugh as Pippin struggled to gain control. “That’s better.”

He gently sat the youngster up, wiping away the tears with a wrinkled and wizened hand that had done so for many of Pippin’s childhood hurts.

“Now, listen to me for a moment,” he said firmly, lifting the tweenager’s head with a firm finger, looking into those red and swollen green eyes. “In all my years, I have met a great many warriors, some of whom were brave, and some who were cowards. And there is only one thing that ever separated the two of them.” He paused for a moment in which Pippin sniffed but said nothing, nodding his head to show that he was paying attention.

“A brave man realizes that the only man who does not feel fear is a dead man, and thus they are not ashamed of their fear, but use it to do what they must. A coward thinks that he is the only one who feels afraid, and because of this, acts accordingly, and shrivels up into himself.”

Gandalf’s gaze was piercing, but Pippin did not flinch from it.

“And you, Peregrin Took, are not a coward. So stop shriveling.”

Pippin swallowed hard, taking in the words as he nodded.

“Good.” The Wizard nodded, patting him on the shoulder as he turned back to his pipe. “Now, let us finish our smoke and get some rest, shall we?”

Pippin nodded again, still not able to speak, and retrieved his own forgotten pipe, allowing the companionable silence to settle around him like a warm and comforting blanket.

When he returned to the others some time later, much subdued, he apologized to all of them with head bowed. Merry was the first to encircle him in his arms, followed swiftly by Frodo, then Sam. For a long time they stood thus, a foundation for Pippin to grab onto and finally stop his sinking.

Then they released their hold and told him quite firmly that if he did not eat every bit of his dinner they would pour another of Aragorn’s potions down his throat.

He smiled as he did so, and as he lay down to rest, Merry’s arms clasped firmly around him, head nuzzled into his shoulder, the dawn finally came.




Author's note: Not finished yet, still one chapter and an epilogue to go!

Chapter 4

Mar. 20th, 2004 02:59 pm
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Chapter Four

They set off again as soon as the sun set, Pippin walking unsteadily beside Merry. His head was pounding something fierce, and the world had an odd tendency to list and slip out from under his feet at unwelcome times.

“For pity’s sake, Pip,” Merry finally growled as his cousin clutched his arm for the fifth time in less than a quarter hour. “Why didn’t you just let Aragorn carry you like he wanted?”

There was worry in his tone despite the words, and Pippin grimaced at him in apology. “I thought I was up to it,” he explained simply, trying to right himself.

“Is everything all right?” Frodo asked anxiously ahead of them, stopping to turn around and glance back. His frown deepened at Pippin’s near gray complexion.

“I think –“ Pippin began, then stopped as a wave of nausea had him doubled over, retching miserably. Vaguely he was aware of someone helping him to the ground, Merry probably, and someone else rubbing his back soothingly.

“Is there a problem?” Borimir asked somewhere off to his left, though his eyes were closed as he fought another round of heaving and unable to see the man’s expression.

“Pippin’s sick,” Merry told the warrior worriedly.

“What’s happening?”

Pippin groaned as Legolas’ voice joined the others and he wished for everything he was worth that he could simply crawl into a hole and shrivel up. Being sick in front of his cousins was one thing; they had tended to him since he was a babe and had dealt with his soiled nappies and spit up.

The others were another matter altogether.

“I’m all right now,” he managed to get out between breaths of air that seemed suddenly strained.

“No, you’re not!” Sam pointed out grimly, kneeling down next to him and placing a cool hand to Pippin’s brow.

“Really, Sam –“ he tried to protest, though he never had been able to argue with the gardener about anything more serious than a stolen taste of whatever was cooking. He was too honest a friend.

“Hush, Pippin,” Frodo ordered, and Pippin realized it was him who was still rubbing his back.

The three hobbits looked up at the sound of approaching footsteps, and then Aragorn was kneeling next to him, nodding slightly to Sam as the other was forced to move slightly.

“How are you feeling now, Pippin?” he asked worriedly, placing his own large hand to the tween’s head.

“Sick,” Pippin whispered, closing his eyes again.

“Is he all right?” Gimli asked worriedly, Gandalf close behind him.

“He will be once he rests a bit more,” Aragorn assured everyone. “Let me get him something to drink and then we shall be on our way again.”

This time he did not protest as he drank the foul liquid Aragorn had apparently prepared beforehand. And when the large Ranger picked him up tenderly to carry him, the only thing he felt was grateful that he was able to hide his face in the other’s cloak until sleep could erase the shame burning around the lump in his throat.

***

He used to enjoy sleeping. Often times his mother would come into his room in exasperation, throwing aside his blankets and declaring for the third and last time that if he did not get up he would not get second breakfast for a week.

The feel of leaden muscles, of eyes contentedly heavy and a mind dulled to all around it had been the greatest of comforts. Whether laying upon thick, warm blankets with a soft pillow cradling his head, or on the side of a hill in summer, the smell of fresh grass in his nose, sleep had been more relaxing than any drought of ale.

But now his slumber was troubled, and the dreams he used to look forward to as he closed his eyes at night had fled. All that remained were shadows with gleaming eyes and faces hidden by a darkness that no light seemed to pierce.

***

“I am worried about Pippin, Gandalf.” Frodo’s voice was soft, filled with worry as he gazed at the sleeping form held so gently in the Ranger’s strong arms as they continued to climb the never ceasing mountain. “I have known him since he was but a few days old, and never have I seen him so quiet or withdrawn.”

Gandalf sighed, his own eyes seeking that silent form even as one of his wrinkled hands came to rest on Frodo’s shoulder. He, too, had his worries. Much as he had complained of Pippin’s constant chatter and endless questions, he missed them. In all his long years he had known a great many number of Tooks, each of them a shining light even in the darkest of hours. Rarely had he ever seen any of that clan falter in their curiosity and cheer.

But when they did…

Even the stars at night dimmed in sorrow at the loss of such rare innocence and simple love.

“Is there nothing we can do?” Frodo asked. “He won’t even speak to Merry now when we stop, just says he is tired and doesn’t want to talk.”

Gandalf’s eyes narrowed for a moment, then he squeezed Frodo’s shoulder and smiled encouragingly down at him, an odd twinkle in his eye.

“I will speak with him when we stop for the night. And let us see if he will refuse to have words with me.”

Frodo smiled up at him in relief. So long as Gandalf was around, he knew his Pip would be all right.

Chapter 3

Mar. 20th, 2004 01:31 am
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Chapter Three

He awoke with tears on his face, though he could not remember why he was crying or what had caused the lump in his throat. There was a feeling, as though someone had taken his insides and replaced them with a dripping ball of something slimy, in the pit of his stomach.

“Pippin?” Borimir’s voice was gentle, questioning. “Are you in much pain? Should I call for Aragorn?”

“No,” Pippin whispered, burying his face into the strong shoulder of the man that carried him, wiping away the tears as he did so. “I am just –“

He could not finish, not knowing exactly how he felt. All he wanted at that moment was to curl into a tiny ball and disappear, to become something so small that no one would ever notice him again. Maybe then the icky feeling inside of him would go away.

“I understand,” Borimir whispered, and placed a soothing hand on his back. “Go back to sleep. It is still a while before we shall make camp again, and then I fear you shall be subjected to another of Aragorn’s tonics.”

Some of the despair vanished as he giggled tiredly, allowing the steady rocking of Borimir’s tread to lull him back into a restless slumber.

***

They had decided to walk the rest of the night through, moving until the travelers were completely exhausted and their steps stumbling. Only then did they call a halt and rebuild their camp.

“Pippin,” a soft voice called to him, bringing him up from the darkness of troubled sleep. He blinked blurrily at the figure above him, realized he was once more laying on blankets and covered with a warm cloak.

Aragorn knelt beside him, Frodo, Merry and Sam hovering over his shoulder. He managed to smile weakly at them as the Ranger helped him sit up. He was pleasantly surprised when the world stayed in its proper place and only a slight throb met the movement.

“How are you feeling?” Merry asked softly, taking his cousin’s hand in his own and frowning at how cold it felt.
“Better,” Pippin assured him, frowning at the mug Aragorn held in his hand. “Though for how much longer with that threatening me I’m not sure.”

“Oh, come now, Pip,” Frodo teased, though his voice was strained and he absently stroked the tween’s curls around the bandage. “If I survived all the potions that Aragorn fed me while in Rivendale, I’m sure you’ll manage.”

“I don’t know, Mr. Frodo,” Sam added, smiling slightly at the disgusted look on Pippin’s face as he eyed the concoction. “That doesn’t smell nearly as good as the stuff you drank.”

“You lot are not helping,” Aragorn sighed, casting them exasperated looks before turning back to the battle at hand. “Really, Pip, just drink it quick and then you can have some warm stew that Sam made to wash away the taste.”

Pippin wrinkled his nose at the thought, but took the mug from the Ranger. His hands shook slightly, and Merry instantly reached to steady them, placing his own over his cousin’s. He drank quickly, nearly gagging on the taste but managing to finish the entire contents in one swallow.

“Bleeeccchh!” he gasped, twitching at the taste that lingered on his tongue. “You could use that to kill weeds, I wager!”
Merry laughed as he handed the mug back to Aragorn, exchanging it for the bowl of stew. “Here,” he offered, placing the bowl to Pippin’s lips.

The others watched as he ate silently, content for the moment to simply reassure themselves that the youngest member of their group was well.

“And how is young Peregrin doing?” Gimli asked as he approached the group, smiling around a rather large bald patch on his beard that was overlaid by a nasty cut.

Pippin stared at the dwarf in worry before he replied, “I am doing much better, Gimli, thank you, but what of yourself?”
“Oh, this is nothing, nothing!” the dwarf was quick to assure him, though he seemed touched and a bit flustered by his concern.

“It may be nothing, but it was valiantly won,” Legolas’ voice said a moment before the elf knelt down beside the little group, moving with his usual silence and grace. “Borimir and Gandalf are standing first watch, and suggested, rather forcefully, I might add, that we all try and rest.” His gaze rested for a moment on Gimli then quickly turned away.

Pippin wondered what he had missed in his moments of unconsciousness that had the elf acting so.

“Agreed,” Aragorn sighed, and stood with a creak of leather and metal. “To rest, all of you, and that includes you, too, Master Gimli. I believe we have second watch today.”

“Harrumph,” was the only response as the three of them drifted to their individual sleeping spots, leaving the hobbits to arrange themselves. Frodo curled himself around Pippin’s left side, Merry on his right, with Sam curling around Frodo.

“You had us worried for a while there, Pip-Dearest,” Frodo murmured, touching his cousin’s face gently as he gazed at him sleepily. “When that creature hit you-“

“Aye,” Merry breathed, once again taking Pippin’s hand in his own and squeezing it.

“You was very brave, Master Pippin,” Sam put in, eyes closed. “But mayhap next time you could be a little less brave and avoid going for the creature’s heart.”

Pippin giggled around a yawn before he answered, “I’ll remember that, Sam.”

“Good, see that you do,” Frodo admonished, eyes closing as he shifted slightly, snuggling closer.

Soon the only sound to be heard was that of weary travelers drifting off to slumber. But Pippin lay silent and still, eyes staring up at the rocks that provided them cover, clutching Merry’s hand close to his heart.

At least I can see the monsters in the daylight, he thought to himself.

And strangely, with this thought, he finally managed to drift off to sleep

Chapter 2

Mar. 19th, 2004 11:56 pm
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Here is chapter two, and don't worry, I am working on chapter three as soon as I get this posted. It will probably be up before I go to bed tonight.



Chapter Two

The night held it’s breath as the two stood, peering into the inky black that surrounded them. Aragorn tightened his hold on the young hobbit as he saw what had frightened him so, feeling the taut shoulder tremble under his hand.
Two glints of moonlight stared back at them, unblinking and still as death.

“Aragorn –“ Pippin hissed, sounding faint and frightened as he lifted a shaking hand to point to a second set of eyes that joined the first. Then a third.

A low growling filled the air, like the sound of a thousand angry bees caught in a jar.

“Wake the others,” Aragorn hissed, drawing his sword as he gently but firmly pushed the hobbit towards the others. “Quickly.”

Pippin did not hesitate, scrambling over the unseen bushes and rocks in his path as he made his way towards where the others slept. He stumbled, falling onto the nearest form.

“What the -!” an angry voice gasped, muddled with sleep and indignation at having his rest spoiled.

“Wake up! Wake up!” Pippin snapped, shaking the shoulder of the unknown. “There is something out there!”

He did not wait for a reply but hurried to the next form, now stirring sleepily.

“Wake up!” he moaned, fretfully turning his eyes back to Aragorn, relieved to see he still stood immobile, seemingly staring down their invisible attackers. “Please, wake up!”

“What’s going on?” Legolas asked, already standing with his bow in his hand.

“Something is out there,” Pippin whispered, moving to the other forms that were by now all moving, throwing blankets aside as they sat up wearily, seeking weapons hidden by shadows.

“AAAAAAAAAHGGGGGGG!”

The cry startled all of them, followed by the sound of a sharp yelp of pain, though human or creature they could not tell. Legolas was running before Pippin could blink, and a stout form brushed past him as Gimli let out his own battle cry, ax at the ready.

Borimir joined them a heartbeat later in the dash to Aragorn’s side, while the Hobbits struggled to gain their feet and their weapons at the same time. Gandalf appeared seemingly out of nowhere, his staff held high, voice grim as he warned them, “Prepare yourselves, Lads, the battle has begun.”

Pippin’s chest felt as though it might burst, and he suddenly realized he had stopped breathing. He took in a gasping breath, drawing his sword with a shaking hand as he huddled close with the others. Merry was at his side, though he could not remember how he got there.

He had only known such intense fear once before, on Weathertop with the attack if the Ring Wraiths. Then, as now, his world seemed to slow, the blood rushing in his head blocking out the sounds of battle. He was vaguely aware of yelps and howls, of movement beside them, and then Gandalf yelling at them all to move, while Merry grabbed his arm.

“Look out!” Sam shouted.

And suddenly the monster was in front of them.

***

For a moment the world ceased to breath, and only silence rang in his ears. A wolf, larger than any Pippin had seen or heard of, barred their path, lips pulled back in an enraged snarl to reveal white, glinting teeth.

He met the creature’s eyes, and for the barest of heartbeats, saw the whole of the world in their depths.

Perhaps, he thought absently to himself as Gandalf appeared with a great yell and engaged the beast, not all monsters are monsters by choice. And then he thought no more as another beast appeared beside the first.

As one the hobbits charged, screaming shrilly as they did so, distracting the second wolf from its attempt to corner the wizard.

His blade met flesh, knew the others had hit their mark as well as a great screech filled his ears. The wolf snarled, whipping its head around and catching him in the stomach. He flew backward, landing awkwardly on his side. Something exploded in his head, and for a moment not even Gandalf’s fireworks could match the brilliance of the stars before his eyes. And then they, too, twinkled and died.

***

He was cold, a cold that seemed to seep into his bones and rattle them. For a moment he could not breath with it, as though his lungs were filled with ice, and panic gripped him.

“Calm down!”

He knew that voice, though it took his fuzzy brain a moment to register who it belonged to.

“Calm down, Pippin. The battle is over, it’s all right,” Aragorn soothed, and for the first time he was aware of a gentle hand working its way through his hair. Fingers brushed the back of his head, just above the neck, and he yelped as a sharp pain had him gasping for air again.

“Hush, hush, it’s all right. I’m sorry, Pippin, I had to see how bad the wound was.”

For the first time he realized that he was sitting up, body canted forward and supported by the Ranger’s strong arm. He opened his eyes with effort and then wished he had not as the world seemed to spin dizzily around him.

His breath hitched in his throat and he knew he was going to be sick. Apparently Aragorn did as well, for he quickly shifted him to his side, allowing him to vent his stomach without choking.

“Easy, Little One, I’ve got you,” he soothed, stroking Pippin’s back as he continued to dry heave long after his insides were empty. Finally the terrible nausea eased, and he was able to breath again.

“Better?” Aragorn asked softly, and Pippin managed to nod, then wished he hadn’t as a dull throb met the movement.

“What –“ he rasped, then coughed with the dryness of his throat. He was shivering now, and barley able to get the words out once he regained his voice. “What happened? Is anyone hurt?”

“Only you were truly hurt, Pippin.” Aragorn answered the last question first as he gently laid the hobbit back down onto what felt like blankets. “As for the attack – all I can say is that wolves do not normally attack prey such as us. There were seven of them, now all dead. Borimir and Gimli are burying the bodies as we speak, and the others are packing our gear. Once they are done, we must move out.”

Knowing what he was going to say before he could even open his mouth to ask the question, Aragorn smiled encouragingly and added, “Do not worry about moving about, Master Took. Myself or Borimir shall carry you for as long as we must. Now, I need you to try and drink this, and then rest until it is time to go.”

A warm mug was held to his lips, and though it smelled strongly of something very unpleasant, he drank it gratefully just for the warmth it presented. After he had done so Aragorn bandaged his head as gently as he could, then allowed him to lay back down, drained and feeling utterly spent. He did not even realize when he fell back into sleep.
piplover: (Default)
This story is dedicated to Shirebound for the wonderful plot bunny and Ansothehobit. Thank you both for encouraging me to write and get this out.

Monsters

When the darkness falls around the smials and hobbit holes of the Shire, and little lads and lasses shiver under their blankets, worry chattering their teeth, hobbit parents take over for the comfort of the light of day. Offering warm glasses of milk and a biscuit, they tuck little ones under their covers, leaving a small lantern lit to illuminate the night and help banish nighttime fears.

But some children know better, and insist that in the shadows, beneath the beds and in closets, lies a more substantial darkness, a blackness with form and intent. There is no name for such vileness, only a word that encompasses all the fear and terror it evokes: Monsters.

A word that is whispered with terror in daylight and never in the night. A word that leaves the younglings looking over their shoulders as dusk approaches, unconsciously standing closer to older relations or siblings just as frightened. A word that older hobbits laugh at, and tweenagers shake their heads at even as they shudder in remembered fear that is not so distant.

But for some hobbits that word is more than an abstract. It is a word with a face, with a voice that growls low in its throat and sounds like boots scraping over loose gravel. It is a hulking form that smells of rotten garbage and dying flesh, with hands that are scaled like a fish and cold as ice.

For some hobbits, Monsters are very real indeed.


Chapter One

Peregrin Took lay silently in the darkness, the sounds of his sleeping companions comforting against the blackness. Frodo, Merry and Sam huddled together next to him, arms and legs entwined as they slept fitfully.

It had been a long day of marching over endless rocks and bushes that tore at clothing and bare hobbit feet. The Big People were pushing them, forcing them to walk at a pace that left legs aching and backs sore, and had them almost asleep before they even lay down. Even a fortnight into the quest, they were unused to it.

A rustle next to him had Pippin sitting up, heart in his throat, eyes staring into the darkness as he tried to make out what creature was creeping up on them.

“It’s just me, Pippin,” Aragorn soothed quietly, kneeling down next to him. A shadow with form in the pitch. “It is time for our watch.”

The ranger was watching him a bit oddly as he regained his breath, so Pippin nodded and untangled himself from the blankets and bodies. Merry stirred, reaching out blindly in sleep as his cousin stood.

“Go back to sleep,” Pippin whispered, bending down to gently squeeze the questing hand. Merry sighed and settled down once more.

“Have you slept at all?” Aragorn asked softly as they headed over to where Legolas stood with Borimir, waiting for their relief.

It was chilly out, and though Legolas did not feel the cold, the other three did. Borimir stomped his feet to keep them warm and Pippin wrapped his arms around himself to ward off the chill. He wished the others were not using his cloak as a blanket, but he would not take that extra comfort away from them. Aragorn wrapped his own cloak tighter about himself, making a mental note to include Pippin in its warmth once they settled.

“A little,” Pippin murmured, his attention already on the terrain beyond their camp, eyes scanning the night for unseen dangers.

“All is quiet,” Legolas reported as he and Borimir started to their own sleeping rolls and rest. “All that stirs tonight are the usual nighttime animals.”

Aragorn nodded, absently touching the elf’s shoulder as he passed, then taking a seat on the rock the two had just vacated. Pippin scrambled up next to him, the shadows under his eyes mostly hidden by the dark. He did not see the worried glance the ranger sent his way.

It had been a long time since Pippin feared the night.

“What troubles you, Master Took?” Aragorn finally asked, his eyes looking into that troubled face with worry. He had never known this hobbit to be so silent for so long, and had seen the worried glances the others had been casting each other throughout the day as he failed to chatter as he normally did.

Pippin started, smiling sheepishly as he shook his head. “It is nothing Aragorn.”

“If it troubles you to where you cannot sleep, it is something,” the other persisted gently. “You need to rest, to gather your strength. The hardest part is yet to come.”

Pippin shuddered slightly, eyes looking beyond the trees and the darkness, to a point that Aragorn could not see.

“I have not feared the darkness since I was a wee lad,” he finally murmured, more to himself than to his companion. “But now I fear the night as though it were a great enemy.”

Aragorn was silent for a moment, trying to find the words to answer this surprising statement, when Pippin continued.

“I used to lay awake at night, terrified of closing my eyes. Then Merry came to visit and let me sleep with him, and it was all right for a little while. But when it was time for him to leave, I was so afraid again, and told him so.” He smiled slightly at the memory, for the first time turning those green eyes to the ranger. “He told me I did not have to fear the night, because he would always be there to protect me. Even if he was not there with me, he would be in my dreams, and would keep everything at bay.”

He sighed, looking down to his hands, which were twisting around themselves without him seeming to notice. He frowned, clenching them into fists. “But some things even Merry cannot make better.”

There was a long silence in which nothing seemed to move. Nothing at all.

“No,” Aragorn finally agreed, the barest of whispers. “But the nine of us can.”

Pippin met the other’s eyes, and for a moment that utter silence between them returned. Then a rustle, no more than what the wind would make as it passed among the branches, and Pippin was on his feet, eyes scanning the darkness, body near quivering with strain. Aragorn stood as well, trusting to the hobbit’s hearing, feeling his body tense as he, too, heard the rustle where there was no wind.

He heard Pippin catch his breath, felt rather than saw the other take a small step backward in fright.

“What is it?” he demanded, placing a strong hand on Pip’s shoulder, feeling the muscles tremble. His other was resting on his sword, ready to draw it. “What do you see?

There was the barest of pauses before Pippin’s voice answered, firm despite his obvious terror. And when he spoke, the ranger felt a shiver run down his back.
“Monsters.”

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