Rating: G
Summary: Merry gets a tear in his new waistcoat and must bargain with one of Pippin's sisters in order to have it fixed.
Feedback: Constructive criticism is welcome. I attempt to keep as close to book canon as possible. Ideas on how to improve in this area are particularly welcome.
Disclaimer: The places, situations and characters of The Lord of the Rings belong to the Tolkien Estate. This work contains no original characters. No money is being made from this work.

Author's Note: We all have our strange fixations—I just love Merry's gold waistcoat from the LoTR films. It is what inspired me to write this particular story. I was first inspired to write about 'baby hobbits' after reading fanfiction posted by esmeraldabrandybuck to the Merry's Mob thread, which was then at Imladris.net, and can now be found at khazaddum.com.

"The Waistcoat"

One day, for no particular reason, Saradoc Brandybuck decided that his son Meriadoc needed a new waistcoat. Merry was about seventeen at the time--not of age, but not just a little lad anymore either--and one can suppose that Saradoc thought that his son should start dressing "older." An afternoon of going to the tailor and other various specialists yielded a very striking gold waistcoat for Merry. While Saradoc's wife Esmeralda thought that her son did indeed look very handsome in his new piece of clothing, she was rather convinced that he would stain it or tear it fairly quickly. She had no doubt, knowing Saradoc, that it had been most expensive, and she tried to dissuade Merry from wearing it all the time. However, Merry would not be parted from it, for his mother was not the only one who thought he looked mighty handsome wearing a nice green jacket over his gold waistcoat. Esmeralda smiled and rolled her eyes, and Saradoc burst with pride when he saw masses of lasses following his boy around. Merry also enjoyed the attention (sometimes), and he could never be parted from his coat.

****

"Are you suuuuure this is a good idea?" Peregrin Took, Merry's cousin looked at him with wide eyes. Pippin was one of Merry's primary companions, and in the young Brandybuck's mind, his little Took cousin was a most excellent one. Pippin was quite fond of Merry, as Merry had been of Frodo (though the age difference between Merry and Pippin was much smaller). Merry was fully aware of this admiration, and exploited it as much as he possibly could, for Pippin could be an excellent pawn in some of his schemes. In this particular instance, he had been trying to get Pippin up a tree so that they could drop bugs on two of their girl cousins who were visiting the Hall. (You see, Merry was still in that stage where he couldn't decide if girls were good or bad, and Pippin was of the opinion that they were altogether icky, for his sisters' friends were constantly doting on and fussing over him and making his life miserable.)

"Pippin," said Merry, "have I ever steered you wrong before?"

Pippin tilted his head to the side, put his hand on his chin and replied, "Well Merry, there was that time when we were trying to--"

"Oh, besides that!" exclaimed Merry.

"Um, well, I suppose not," said Pippin, with much trepidation, for he was rather afraid to climb up the tree. Meekly he asked, "Will you come with me?"

Now, Merry was accustomed to having Pippin do the dirty work (being that Pippin was just a lad and all), but he really wanted this plan to work, so he agreed. They crept from the bushes where they had been scheming, toward the tree in question.

"Pippin!" shrieked one of the cousins, "why are you sneaking about? Come play with us!" Poor Pippin was so startled that he froze, and Merry tumbled right over him--and in the process, ripped his waistcoat.

The two of them looked at each other (Pip had heard the rip) and ran as fast as they could to another one of Merry's designated hiding places.

"Merry! Merry! Merry---what are we going to dooooooooo?" Pippin whined.

"We are going to get seized if you don't be quiet!" hissed Merry. "This tear is bad," he said, "and it needs to be sewn back."

"You can sew?" said Pippin, employing a rather strange leap of logic, his admiration for Merry growing with every passing second.

"Of course not," snapped Merry. "But your sister can."

Pippin looked at him, truly terrified. "Y-y-you're g--going to ask Pimpernel? B-b-but...I'd rather just tell our mommies!" Pippin was about to cry.

"Oh be quiet," said Merry. "It won't be that bad, I swear."

****

"I'm afraid I'll require your souls as payment."

Pippin began to wail. "Pimpernelllllll!"

Merry tried to look intimidating, for he was closer to her age. "Now, will that really be necessary?"

Pimpernel was trying not to laugh. She knew it was wrong to torture Pippin and his cousin so, but really, how could she pass up the chance? "Yes, it will be most necessary. You might as well agree to it now, for if you don't, I shall find mother and Aunt Esmeralda straight away."

Merry gulped. This had been a disaster.

"Will we be able to get our souls back?" he asked cautiously.

Pimpernel pretended to ponder the question a bit. "I suppose you can. I'll require them for an hour after I am done."

Merry and Pippin looked at each other. "All right," they said.

Pimpernel took out some writing paper and scrawled. She could not believe Merry was falling for this---he was only three years younger than she was. 'Mother does say boys are sillier than girls,' she thought to herself. "Now when you sign this, you sign over your souls to me. See, it has a seal." Merry and Pippin nodded and signed.

Indeed, Pimpernel was able to do an excellent job sewing Merry's waistcoat back together. When she was done, she handed it back to a waiting Merry and said, "In one hour, you may have your souls back."


"Oh thank you so much!" cried Merry, and he and Pippin went off to another designated hiding place and were very still (they didn't want anything to happen without their souls). In an hour, they found Pimpernel.

"I'm afraid you can't have them back," she said calmly.

"I'm telling Mommy!" screamed Pippin.

"No you are NOT!" shouted Merry, pulling him back. "Cousin Pimpernel, why can't we have our souls back."

"Because I like having them, silly little Cousin Merry. Come back in thirty minutes."

They did as they were told, and again, Pimpernel refused to "give" back their souls. This time, Merry could not stop Pippin as he ran to find Esmeralda and Eglantine.

The two ladies were having tea in one of the side parlors when Pippin rushed in. "Mommy, Aunt Esmeralda, Pimpernel took me and Merry's souls and won't give them back!" He thrust his head into his mother's lap and began sobbing. Eglantine and Esmeralda looked at each other and it took every bit of tact they had to not burst out laughing. "Pippin," said Eglantine, lifting up her son's head, "bring Pimpernel to me." Pippin trotted off, and ran into Merry on his way back.

"What did you tell them?!"

"That Pimpernel took our souls!"

"Did you say why?"

Pippin thought, and then his face brightened. "No, I forgot."

Merry grinned. "I knew you would! We can still save ourselves then!"

"Umm," Pippin said very softly, "I have to bring Pimpernel to our mommies."

Merry's face fell.

****

Pimpernel, Pippin and Merry were facing Esmeralda and Eglantine. Pimpernel spoke up. "Mother, I am truly sorry. I was just playing a trick on the two little boys. Merry, Pippin, I didn't really steal your souls. You still have them."

Pippin was astonished, "We do?" He looked at his mother and aunt for confirmation.

"Yes Pippin," said Esmeralda, "you do."

Pippin's eyes got wide again, and he smiled broadly.

"All right," said Eglantine, "now that this is settled and everyone knows the state of his or her soul, run along so that Aunt Esmeralda and I may finish tea."

The three of them walked out. Merry realized that the coat never came up. Outside, he and Pimpernel looked at each other, and he gave her a big hug. "Thank you so much!" he said to her.

"Cousin Merry," she laughed, "it was no problem at all."