MERRY'S SUMMER HOLIDAY, 1394, S.R.

Disclaimer: Neither the hobbits, nor the story surrounding my story belong to me; they belong to JRR Tolkien. This story, however, is from my own imagination, based on what my imagination believes may have happened to Pippin...and Merry. NO SLASH HERE! For those who like slash, you can look elsewhere.

Note: This is only a story--an extremely fictional story. So, if you take offense at Saradoc being an emotionally absent father to Merry, then you may not want to read any further. Most of my stories have a bit this storyline, if you will, in them. I'm new at writing (and uploading!), and I have never lived on a farm, so I will be happy for constructive criticism. Thanks!

CHAPTER One - Summer Holiday

Merry was jostled in the wagon that brought him to Tuckborough, though the trip wasn't as bad as he initially thought it would be, it was still a long one. For most of this trip, he slept--in spite of the vigorous road. The coachman woke him a short while ago to announce their approach to Whitwell.

Merry always looked forward to his visits to see his cousins, and he especially anticipated this one. He became ill over a month ago, and was bedridden until a week ago. His mother was concerned about the long trip to Tuckborough away in the West Farthing, but reckoned the air and exercise would be good for him.

The sun felt warm upon Merry's face. He shaded his eyes so he could better see the huge door to the main entrance of his uncle's smial in the distance. There were a few other smaller entrances built into the green hillside, but the main entrance was the door that all visitors and guests entered and departed, and he expected the driver to drop him off there. His gaze traveled further into the distant hills; they were beautiful to him. They contrasted with the wooded area of Buckland where he lived.

It was a few days from Mid Summer, and it was good to be out again. Merry drank in all the sunshine; he was indoors for far too long. The air smelled of dry warm earth, he thought; it had been nearly a fortnight since it last rained. Merry hoped it would rain while he was here. He loved the fragrance of the earth after a light summer rain. As the wagon came to a stop at the door, the driver got down and helped young Merry out. Yes, Merry was truly happy to see his Aunt Eglantine and Pearl step outside to welcome him.

"Merry! Oh, you have grown!", cried Pearl as she drew him in for a hug. Merry smiled that she noticed his new growth. He was a whole inch taller than when she saw him last.

Pearl was the eldest daughter at nineteen; and she reveled in it. She shadowed her mother nearly everywhere she went, believing her mother's authority rolled onto herself merely due to her seniority over the younger ones. But all in all, she was sweeter than honey; and her weakness was her little four-year-old brother, Pippin, for whom her heart would melt at every laugh and tear.

"Come here, laddie, and let me see you!", his Aunt Eglantine laughed.

Merry stepped up to his Aunt, who was only a few inches taller than he was, and also a little broader. She held his face with one hand and stroked his curly brown hair with the other. She gently drew his face towards her and enveloped him in an embrace that told him he was truly loved and welcomed. Auntie Eglantine always wore an apron, and her aprons always seemed to carry the aroma of cakes or cookies. After his Aunt finished hugging him, he stepped away and bowed as a young gentle-hobbit should, and thanked his aunt for welcoming him into her home. His aunt delighted in her nephew's good manners--he seemed already a courteous young hobbit.

Merry noticed a tiny little hobbit hiding behind his aunt Eglantine's skirt. Merry knew it was Pippin; he peered around his mamma's skirt in play, and smiled at Merry. Merry noticed the tiny hobbit was sucking his finger while laughing. "Peregrin Took! Take your finger out of your mouth!", said Eglantine while brushing Pippin's hand away from his mouth. She swept her young son up into her arms. Merry always thought Pippin to be small for his age, but thought perhaps it ran in the family.

Merry would never forget the first time he saw Pippin. Pippin was only a baby, but something in Merry's heart told him that he and Pippin had adventures ahead of them; Pippin was the little brother Merry always wanted, but never got. Merry smiled back and said, "Hullo Pippin!" Pippin laughed, and put his finger back in his mouth. Pippin knew Merry from previous visits and positively adored his older cousin.

Together, Eglantine, Pearl, and Pippin brought Merry into Great Smials and closed the door behind them.

"Meriadoc! Welcome!"

Merry spun around in the kitchen to see his Uncle Paladin approach him in the with his arms open wide and a smile to match. His uncle was a tall hobbit--at least to Merry--and, being a farmer by trade his uncle also had a healthy frame to his body. Merry met his uncle likewise, and they squeezed in a great bear hug. Merry missed his uncle; Paladin was like...like the father he, well...he was like a father.

Paladin released his nephew. "Turn around, lad! Let me see how much you've grown!"

Merry would not deny the chance of showing off how he had grown since last summer, so he did a pirouette with pleasure.

"My sister obviously cares well for her son!", beamed Paladin, patting Merry on the back, "and so shall I."

"Merry! Merry!!", Merry heard his other two cousins call and run towards him. Pimpernel and Pervinca also called Pim and Perva, respectively. As a baby learning to talk, Pippin couldn't pronounce their given names, and what he did pronounce, caught on with family and friends.

These two were closer in age to Merry, being three years older and three years younger than he. Pim loved Merry; she considered him the "extra" brother, and feared for him when she learned he was terribly ill. Like her sister Pearl, Pim carried an air of authority about her as well, even if it was only over Perva and Pippin. Being only fifteen, next in line to Pearl, she knew she was not the final word around the Took house. However, Pim could at times seem a bit bossy herself when she wanted her way while playing games. It was this false authority that made Merry laugh, and he enjoyed teasing her the most.

Perva, a little younger at nine-and-a-half years old, was also happy to see her cousin. Merry was her favorite cousin, and she had a bit of a crush on him, as well; she knew for sure that Merry had a soft spot in his heart for her. Merry would do just about anything for her, and she loved him for it.

With every visit to Whitwell, Merry saw what he didn't have at Brandy Hall. He wished with all his heart that he had at least one brother or sister; he'd settle for one of either. Since that seemed to be an impossibility between his parents, whenever he visited his cousins, he would pretend that they were his sisters and brother; even if it was for only a little while. Merry didn't care if it was a boyish notion, but truth be told, he felt his Uncle Paladin was more a father to him than his own.

Merry avoided talking about his father like the plague; all he knew was that although he had a father, he'd never really known him. He was always "busy", or locked away in his study. Merry's father never made time for him. His duties as Master of the Hall always took precedence. Saradoc only came out of his study to join his family for supper; Merry recalled that the conversations that did take place at the dinner table were very stiff and formal. When he was younger, he would draw pictures for his father to decorate his study with, but was never allowed inside to give them to him. He would have to wait until his father came out for supper. Saradoc never took a walk with his son, kissed him, hugged him, or even held his hand. Merry could not understand why his father was so distant from him. But he cheered up; he would make the most of his visit here. He'd leave Brandy Hall behind for a little while.