After the celebrations of the downfall of the Dark Lord, the Fellowship stayed in Minas Tirith. Faramir, the Steward of Gondor and recently-named Prince of Ithilien, had been commanded by the King to recover his strength fully, as Aragorn took control of Gondor. Faramir retired to a place he loved best for a short week, the white beaches of Dol Amroth. As the Shire-folk had never seen the ocean (and as they had little to do in Minas Tirith, and Aragorn and Gandalf had much to do), Faramir had invited them to travel with him.
Pippin yelped as he fell off his board into the blue waves of the Bay of Belfalas. Fortunately the water was warm, and oddly soft and playful. He clambered back onto his board, determined that he would master this new skill. Bergil paddled his own board closer to Pippin. "Are you all right?" he asked. The safety of the Ernil I Pheriannath had been entrusted to him, and he did not want to lose Pippin in the waves.
Spitting out a mouthful of seawater, Pippin nodded. "I'm fine, just a bit winded." He would not confess to any sores from bouncing against the board, although the waters soothed his aching bones. The troll had been so large and heavy. Even though Aragorn (although Pippin would forever think of him as Strider the Ranger) had healed him, it would still be a while until his body fully recovered. He paddled the board out into the waves, ready to once again play with the ocean.
On the beach, Sam walked slowly, splashing his feet in the shallow water of the edge of the waves. The sea was oddly soothing to him, but somehow the sound also scared him. What have I got to be afraid of? he thought. It's not like I'm likely to get on a seaboat anytime soon! A yell alerted him to sudden peril, as the waves swept Pippin's board to the beaches, tumbling Sam to sit in the wet sand as Pippin laughed. "Pippin!" Sam scolded, struggling to his feet and trying unsuccessfully to sweep the wet sand off his linen breeches. "It's enough that you're soaked, did you have to soak me too?"
"Oh Sam, the water's so playful. You should try it -- it's not sneaky like the Brandywine. It just bounces you every which way," Pippin exclaimed. He stepped off his board, and picked it up from the sand. He shook his sodden curls, splashing even more water onto Sam.
"Enough! I don't want to go swimmin'" Sam protested, retreating to the beach. He looked at Pippin closely. "You'd better put some lotion on, or you'll look just like a red apple," he cautioned, holding out a jar of lightly-scented ointment. Indeed, Pippin was beginning to be much pinker than was normal for him (unless he'd just spied a pretty hobbit-lass who smiled upon him).
Pippin stuck his board into the ground so that it pointed into the air. He began spreading the lotion over his arms and shoulders. As he spread the ointment on his face, he asked, "Sam, what do you plan to do when you get back to the Shire?"
"I hadn't really thought about it much," Sam replied automatically, then caught the skeptical look from Pippin. "All right, I had. When the journey… when I needed to think about something else, I thought about going back home. I thought I'd go back to the Gaffer, plant a garden, go back and work on Bag End again." He paused, then said in a quiet rush, "And marry Rosie."
"Is that all?" Pippin blurted. "I mean, that's all well and good, but just a garden? Sam, you could build so much more than just one garden. You could do so much more."
Sam narrowed his eyes as he glared at Pippin. "I just want one garden, free and mine. Nothing more." Remembering temptation in Mordor, he closed his eyes and took a deep breath, then spoke more softly. "All I want is what I can hold. A place of my own, a family of my own."
Pippin knew he'd misstepped. "I'm sorry, Sam. I just meant… well, I know what I want to do when I go back." At Sam's inquiring look, he continued. "I want to tell everyone in the Shire everything. I want them to know what happened, and what nearly happened. I want everybody to know that we need to be a part of the world, not apart from it."
"Sounds like you've been listening to some of the Big Folk talk," Sam said quietly. "It's not for us hobbit-folk, not all that talk and happenings."
"I've been listening to Men speak, and an Elf, and a Dwarf," Pippin retorted. "I've been thinking about it a lot, since I looked into the palantir… since I felt his touch…" his voice trailed off as he looked down in shame. "Sauron was going to take everything, from the Men, from the Elves, and yes, even from us Hobbits. It was only because we all pulled together that he's no more. And I want everyone to realize it!"
"The Rangers guarded the Shire, keeping us safe from harm. Did you know that one of the Rangers that fell at Pelennor was Aragorn's kin? I think I saw him once, by the Brandywine, when I was with my father. My father said to not talk to him, not to deal with Big Folk overly much, and certainly not the Rangers.
"His name was Halbarad, Sam. I wonder if anyone else in the Shire would know his name." Pippin kicked at the ground, then looked at Sam. "I'm shamed of my father, shamed of all the Shire! They protected us, and we just ignored them. We ignored all the rest of the world, while we stayed safe and sheltered. And protected. We owe it to them, to remember them. We owe it to ourselves."
Sam stared at Pippin, astounded. When did Pippin come of age? When did he stop being the foolish Took, and start becoming the Thain-in-training? "You've been thinking hard about this, then," he mused. "What if folks don't want to hear what you want to say?"
"Then I'll show them. I'll not stay in the Shire forever--I want to return to Gondor, to Fangorn Forest. And when I come back to the Shire, I'll tell the tales and show them what I've brought. I'll wear my arms and my armor, so that everyone will know the seven stars and the one tree. I'll name my children after those I've come to know… and maybe one of them would be Halbarad," he finished softly.
Sam looked at the young Took solemnly, then bowed a small bow of respect. "It's a worthy goal, Peregrin. I'd like to help, if I may," he said softly.
Pippin clasped his arm with delight. "I know exactly how you can help! I need you to make Frodo record our tale. He's the only one of us that can tell the story right, so that everyone will remember. But he won't unless he sees a reason, and you're the only one who's been able to push him into things."
"I'm not sure Frodo wants to remember everything," replied Sam sadly. "He's been through so much pain -- it's better for him that he forget."
"You know Frodo better than that, Samwise Gamgee," Pippin scolded. "I know there's much that Frodo would like to forget, but I know he won't be able to. He'll keep remembering inside, and not let it out. And it will fester in him, much as the Ring did, until he'll have no rest. But if he writes it down, he needn't look at it again. But others will read it, and remember." He gazed at Sam, pleading in his eyes.
Frodo needs to forget, Sam's head told him. He's been through too much to want to remember. But he needs to tell the tale, Sam's heart replied. He aches to tell all, but he doesn't know how. Sam sighed. He knew his heart was wiser than his head -- that had been proven to him in the darkest hours of his life. "You may be right, Pippin. But let me do it in my own way. He doesn't take to pushing as he used to."
Pippin grinned. "After what you have done, I trust you to accomplish whatever you want! I'll let you do it in your own way, as long as it's done. It can do nothing but good, ultimately." A particularly playful wave shoved him from behind, knocking him onto the sand. Pippin let the waves roll over and around him before he scrambled to his feet. Sam stood his ground, refusing to fall into the water, forcing the waves to roll around his legs and feet.
"But first things first! Sam, help me get Frodo into the water -- he and Merry have been much too serious under that shade-cover." Pippin ran to the two older hobbits who had been quietly smoking their pipes and talking. Pippin didn't exactly kick sand over Merry, but a large amount of sand was splashed over both Merry and Frodo. "You must try the water! It's so warm and playful! Come in and swim with me!" Pippin pleaded to them. A touch on his shoulder, and Pippin whirled to see Sam behind him. Pippin grinned to his co-conspirator, then just as quickly tried to wipe it from his face.
"Might make you feel better, Frodo," Sam said quietly. "At any rate, you'll need to rinse off the sand shower that Master Peregrin has kindly given you." Squaring his shoulders, Sam gave Frodo the look that said 'You're going to do this, and there'll be no argument.'
Frodo closed his mouth. That was a look he was much too familiar with over the past few weeks. He got to his feet, smiling with acquiescence to Sam, and started walking to the water. Pippin laughed, and ran to grab his board out of the sand. Frodo felt a tap on his arm as Merry cried "Race you to the water, Frodo", even as he started running across the sand. Frodo caught Merry's excitement, and laughed and yelled as he chased Merry into the waves.
Splashing into the waves, Pippin clambered back onto his board. He felt as if he could do anything, and a sudden impulse came to him. He started standing on his board, carefully balancing upon it. Merry and Frodo, acting as one, commandeered the board that Bergil had been using and clambered on. Defeated, Bergil splashed onto the wet sand, as Sam watched Frodo playing in the waves. "Pippin, what are you doin'?" Sam yelled. "You're not an elf, you're going to fall off that board! Peregrin Took!"