MERRY'S BIG DECISION

Disclaimer: Neither the hobbits, nor the story surrounding my story belong to me;

they belong to JRR Tolkien. This story, however, is from my limited imagination

based on his lovely story. Merry and Pippin are usually the center of my stories.

I do not write slash in my stories, either.

Again, this story is extremely fictional; if you take offense at Saradoc being an emotionally absent father to Merry, then don't read further. But I will say that he makes progress in this story...

One last note: I don't know why, but my documents are not uploading in the format I've saved them in...sorry about the extra spaces.

Chapter 1

Merry relished his visits to Whitwell; he sometimes felt that this was his real home and his real family, and then for the rest of the year he went away to a boarding school at Brandy Hall. But for his sweet mother, his own home was merely a place to keep out of the rain.

He sat at the table eating second breakfast and waiting for Pip to join him. He and Pippin were to take one of the pigs to the butcher today for Paladin, and then meet him in the fields to help out with the late summer harvest. The task seemed easy enough for Merry.

Pippin ran into the kitchen and skidded to a stop at the table. "Good morning, Pip!", said Merry, wondering why Pippin was in such a hurry. Pippin didn't even bother to sit; he gulped down his mug of milk Dahlia set out for him, grabbed a small loaf of bread, two apples and ran out of the door. He paused only long enough to say to Merry as he ran, "Meet you at the brook!", and he was off.

Merry didn't have long to wonder why Pippin was in such haste. He heard commotion and yelling coming from the back of the smial. It was coming closer until he saw Pim emerge from the hallway crying and screaming at an absent Pippin. "Come back here, you brat!! Come back here and let me flay you for supper tonight!!"

Merry was shocked at Pim's temper. He'd never seen her so worked up before. Then as he drained his mug of milk he saw it, and snorted a laugh. Pim looked straight at him and quelled any notion to laugh--out loud. Pim sported a new moustache painted under her nose; painted on with one of her own cosmetics, of course, but it was there for the whole world to see. Oh, Pippin, you are going to get it when you get home!, Merry thought as he wiped his mouth. Dahlia hurried over to Pim to help her wash off the paint. He felt his eyes tearing up from holding in his laughter. "I...I need to fetch the pig...for the mustache--I, mean, market!", his eyes welled up with tears from trying not to laugh. Dahlia and Pim glared at him. He couldn't hold it in anymore; he tripped over his chair trying to make it to the door without getting whacked on the head with a towel, and ran out holding his sides laughing.

Merry ran in the direction of the brook. He spotted Pippin sitting and eating his fill of the bread and washing it down with handfuls of water. He ran towards his cousin. When he stopped, he knelt over with hands on his knees, out of breath, "What are you trying to do, Pip? Get yourself killed at the hands of your sisters?"

"You should've seen what she did to me yesterday before you arrived!", said Pippin with his mouth full of bread. "Everyone thought it was so funny for her to put ribbons in my hair while I slept!"

"Did your father find out?", asked Merry. Surely Paladin would've stopped the madness right then.

"Of course not! I wouldn't hear the end of it if I told papa! Pippin's a little baby--he runs to his papa every time!", sneered Pippin for effect. "I can handle my sisters!"

"Your sisters are all older and bigger than you, Pip, and liable to get the better end!"

"Not anymore!", said Pippin, biting into one of his breakfast apples.

They started walking back in the direction of the pigpen. "What are you talking about?", said Merry. He knew his young cousin had a secret plan up his sleeve. For an eight-year-old, Pippin didn't let anything slip past him, and because of this, Merry thought they made a great team.

"I'm fighting fire with fire!", he replied. "For every trick they think they get over on me, I will be waiting with a trick of my own! Yesterday's ribbons declared war!", and Pippin and thrust a fist in the air for emphasis.

Merry laughed at Pippin's declaration. "Just be careful the fire doesn't end up on the seat of your trousers as usual!"

CHAPTER 2

They took the pig and walked it to market in Tuckborough, found the butcher, then took the road back towards Whitwell. As the two cousins walked the three miles towards the fields, they stopped at the half-way point for a rest.

"Let's go more into the trees, Pip", suggested Merry. Pippin noticed a gleam in his cousin's eye; he smiled and followed him.

As they became more concealed among the trees, Merry looked about to make sure no one else was around, and surreptitiously took out of his vest pocket...a pipe!

Pippin gasped. "Where'd you get that?!"

"My father gave it to me."

"Your father wouldn't give you a pipe! He doesn't let you smoke yet!", Pippin nearly shouted.

"Shhh! He doesn't know he gave it to me, yet!", Merry replied, then he added, "He doesn't let me do a lot of things, but that doesn't stop me! Now be quiet, or you'll give us away!"

Pippin sat next to Merry on an old log and watched him stuff the pipe bowl with some leaf he had. He watched intently as Merry put the pipe between his teeth and struck a flint to light it. Pippin sat in awe of how Merry expertly puffed out huge plumes of smoke from the pipe. "You can smoke!", Pippin exclaimed, "Let me try!"

"Not on your short little life!", laughed Merry. They both suddenly froze as they heard a twig snap close by; they turned around in unison.

Merry let out a huge sigh of relief. "Frodo! You nearly made me jump out of my skin!"

Frodo laughed at the thought. "I saw you two at the market and wanted to speak with you, Merry, and so I followed you. So, what are you two up to?" Then Frodo saw the smoking pipe. "No good, as I see it!", he said chuckling.

Pippin observed the exchange and guessed this hobbit to be friend of Merry's, though he didn't remember ever seeing him before today. Pippin thought he looked a little older than Merry, but didn't seem old enough to be of age yet. Merry apparently got out of Brandy Hall more than he let on!

Merry noticed his younger cousin's curiosity. "Pip, this is another cousin of mine; Frodo Baggins is his name. He used to live at Brandy Hall--but he was able to escape!", Merry jested on the last, as he exhaled a trail of smoke.

"Hullo, Pippin!", Frodo nodded to Pippin, who only nodded back. "Actually, I'm your cousin as well, and I've met you before, though you were but a babe at the time!"

Pippin recognized the name, though not the face. He nodded again, thought for a second, and said, "Yes...you're my second cousin once removed on my father's side and your mother's.", and then cocked an eye, "You're the cousin having a Birthday dance the day after tomorrow, are you not?"

Frodo took Merry's pipe and inhaled the pipe smoke with the same expertise Merry did. Frodo looked amazed at Merry, "How did he know? I haven't sent out invitations yet!"

"Sisters." Merry offered. "Older sisters!"

"Ah...that's right--Pearl, Pimpernel, and Pervinca!", Frodo nodded. "News travels fast in the Shire with the lasses, eh?"

"Faster than one of old Gandalf's rockets!", Pippin snickered.

"How do you know of Gandalf?", Frodo was puzzled.

Pippin shrugged. "Who doesn't?"

Frodo laughed, and then asked Merry, "How old did you say he was?" Merry smiled at his little cousin's quick wit.

Pippin, for his part, was now growing annoyed that everyone was enjoying a smoke of the pipe except him. "Frodo, may I try? I believe I can do just as well!"

Frodo looked at Merry; Merry looked back and just shrugged. "Are you sure you can handle it, laddie?", asked Frodo, with a sly grin.

Pippin walked over to Frodo with his indignant eyes locked on his, and nearly snatched the pipe out of Frodo's hand. He sat back down where he was sitting, and trying to act like his father, Paladin. He cupped his hands around the bowl and drew in a long wisp of smoke.

"Is he always like this?", Frodo muttered to Merry, wanting to laugh, but knew it would infuriate the boy.

"'Oh, yes! He is a handful at times", replied Merry, "but I wouldn't have it any other way."

Pippin didn't hear the last part Merry said; as soon as he inhaled the large amount of smoke his lungs immediately went into coughing spasms, and he swallowed most of the smoke. He thought for sure he would choke and suffocate right there in the woods! He dropped the pipe and bowled over coughing until he thought he had no air left in his lungs. Then he rested with his back against the log gasping for air. Fresh air never smelt so good!

Merry got up, picked up the pipe and handed it to Frodo, and then helped his younger cousin onto the log. "I tried to tell you, but as usual, you're as stubborn as a mule!"

Pippin, now green with nausea, crawled on all fours to a tree some few feet away and heaved up everything in his stomach. When he was finished, he sat back and wiped his mouth with his sleeve. All the trees kept moving.

"Looks like you'll have to wait a bit before the two of you can head out again.", Frodo told Merry, looking at Pippin. "For a bright chap, that wasn't the cleverest thing to do."

"You don't know anything about anything!", muttered Pippin, though loud enough for Frodo to hear.

"You hear that, Merry?", he chuckled, "I don't know anything about anything!"