All Tuckborough will Kneel
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
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
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.