All Tuckborough will Kneel

by pippinmerry

Chapter One

He hadn’t gotten a decent nights sleep since he returned to the Shire just a week before. His nights were constantly interrupted by nightmares. He’d wake up in a cold sweat, hoping he hadn’t shouted out in his sleep. His family noticed the change in his appearance. The dark circles under his eyes made his normally sparkling green eyes, dull and dark. His attitude also changed. He normally had an even temperament, but now even the slightest thing would set him off. His family made the choice to send for one of only three other people who had known what he had suffered in his thirteen months away from home. They sent for his closest friend, Merry Branybuck.

“Merry! Great to see you!” Ferdibrand Took called out as the hobbit got out of his wagon.

“Ferdi!” Merry smiled as he hugged his old friend. “How is he, really?”

Ferdi sighed. “I’ve heard him calling in his sleep, but he won’t take comfort from anyone.” He looked at Merry who, also, looked as if he hadn’t slept. “Nightmares yourself?”

Merry sighed. “No. I haven’t slept right since I got the letter from Uncle Paladin. I guess I’ve been quite lucky.” He and Ferdi began to make their way into the smial. “Now, Ferdi, how are you, old friend?”

“I’ve been better, I suppose. I was very happy to see Pippin back among us, but now...” He sighed. “I miss the old Pippin. I miss the Pippin who bounded into the Great Smials five years ago, full of energy. He hasn’t smiled since his first night here.”

Merry frowned. “My poor Pippin. What does he call out in his sleep?”

“Mostly he tells someone to leave him alone, and he calls your name a few times. And he says ‘Boromir’ a lot.”

Merry patted Ferdi on the back as the two found themselves standing outside Pippin’s room. “He’s in there?”

“He should be. You’ll be able to help him, won’t you?”

He smiled softly. “Don’t worry, Ferdi.” Merry turned and walked into Pippin’s room. “Cousin! There you are!”

Pippin looked up from his desk. “Hello, Merry,” he said softly.

Merry ran over and grabbed Pippin by the arms. “Who are you and what have you done with my dear little cousin?”

“Merry,” he said, pulling his arms free. “I’m not in the mood.”

Merry sighed. This was going to take a long time. “Come on, Pippin. Let’s go.” He took Pippin’s arm and dragged him from his room. Ferdi, still standing by the door, watched in amusement. “Coming Ferdi?”

“No. My father needs my help.”

Merry raised an eyebrow slightly at this, but decided not to comment. “We’ll see you later than.” He lead Pippin outside, despite his protests. “Ahh. Smell that sweet fall air, Pippin.”

“I don’t care to.” Pippin yanked his arm from Merry’s grasp and crossed his arms over his chest.

Merry looked at his cousin. He began to wonder what had come over him. Pippin had been happy on the way home, happy that first day back in the Shire, and happy when he left the next day to see his mother. Now, the hobbit before him seemed to be just a shell of the cousin he once knew. “Pippin, come on now. It’s a wonderful day out. We’ve been gone for so long...well, I’ve missed this.”

Pippin looked Merry right in the eyes. “Not today, Merry. I told you, I’m not in the mood.”

Merry was shocked by what he saw. He’d seen his cousin sad before. He remember vividly the day his sister had died and the haunted look his eyes held. This was different, however. The cheerfulness his eyes held, the sparkle, the joy, and happiness, had gone out. “Pippin. For me. Please.” He took his cousin’s small hand in his. He ran a finger over the scar on the back of it, a remnant of his near-death under a troll. “Let’s torture the Shire like we used to.”

“Why are you here, Merry?”

“Everyone’s worried about you, Pip. You aren’t sleeping.” Pippin pulled his hand free from Merry’s and walked away but there was no escaping his cousin. “You’re not eating. Your temper’s shorter than a...than a...well, I’m not sure, but I do know it’s shorter than it usually is.”

“And what do you know about it?”

“See! There it is! Short temper.” Merry sighed and walked over to his cousins side. “What happened to you, Pippin? You were so happy that day we returned to the Shire. What happened that changed all that?”

“Nothing, Merry, just leave me alone.” Pippin turned and headed back inside.

Merry sighed as Paladin Took approached him. “Hello, Uncle.”

“Merry, great to see you again.” He hugged his nephew. “I see you got him out of his room.”

“Not for long, Uncle. It may take more energy than I have at the moment. I’m going to ride to Hobbiton and get Frodo and Sam. That is, if you don’t mind the extra company.”

“If you think it will help my son, than invite everyone you need.”

Merry rode one of the Thain’s best ponies to Bag End. There were many shouts of greeting as he flew past them. The Shire was very happy that the four of them had returned and they were eager to celebrate.

He came to stop at the front door of Bag End. He was surprised to see Sam working in the garden. “Sam? What are you doing out here?” he asked as he dismounted.

“Oh, hello, Merry.” He brushed the dirt of his hands as he stood up. “Just...keeping my mind of things.”

Merry nodded, understanding. “How’s Frodo?” he asked as the two walked into Bag End.

“Better than I expected, considering. What brings you to Hobbiton?”

“I can’t come and see two of my friends?”

Sam stopped and stared at him. “I know you better than that, Merry.”

“Yes, you don’t you?” He sat himself down in on of the chairs in the sitting room. “It’s Pippin.”

Sam looked quizzically at Merry. “Pippin? What about him?”

“According to his family, he’s not eating, his tempers gotten short, he’s not sleeping much, and the times he does manage to fall asleep, he wakes up from nightmares.” Merry sighed and leaned forward, elbows on his knees. “I looked right into his eyes. He’s lost his sparkle. He’s lost everything that made him Pippin. He won’t talk to me, at least not now. I need you and Frodo to come to the Smials with me.”

“I wish I could go, Merry, but I can’t.”

“Why not?” He watched as Sam blushed. “Ah, so you finally talked to Rosie?” He smiled. “Good for you.”

“I’m sure Mr. Frodo will go with you.”

“Go where?” Frodo entered the room. “Merry!” He smiled broadly at the sight of his cousin. “What are you doing here?” He walked over and hugged him.

Merry sighed. “It’s Pippin. He’s not eating, sleeping, and...he’s just not himself. Will you come with me to the Smials? We have to get our old Pippin back.”

“I don’t think we’ll ever get the old Pippin back. Are you the same you were when we left?”

“No, I’m not. But we can’t just let him stay like that. We have to do something, Frodo. Please.” Merry couldn’t believe he was begging Frodo to go. He knew that they both loved Pippin dearly, but for some reason, Frodo was hesitating. “He’s our cousin, Frodo. He’ll die if we don’t.”

Frodo sighed and nodded. “I’ll go. I won’t abandon him...not now.”

Merry and Sam exchanged a puzzled look, but let it drop.

“Are you sure you can’t come with us, Sam?” Merry asked.

“Someone has to keep an eye on Bag End for Mr. Frodo.

Merry and Frodo waved good bye to Sam as they rode off to the Smials.

“Good bye, Merry, Mr. Frodo.” He stood silently by the gate. “Good luck,” he whispered before going back to his work in the garden. “Oh, Mr. Pippin, if only you know the stress you were causing your cousins right now,” he muttered.