Divided we fall - by Cunien
This chapter is pretty tiny. Sorry.
It is coming after a long period of stress, exams, writers block and all sorts of skulduggery and may therefore be rather crap. It is however, devoted to Marigold, who has prodded me with stickses and asked after this story. Thankyou!
Thanks again for reviews.
Disclaimer: I am making no money whatsoever with this, unless you count people paying me to stop.
Pippin rose at the crack of dawn, and cheered the rising sun. Of course, he had dragged Merry out of bed, and prodded his older cousin until he too gave the sun an ovation for it's remarkable feat of ascending into the clear blue sky once more.
It was of utmost importance that the sun shone that morning, as it was Shearing day, and shearing could not take place if it were raining.
Shearing day was Pippin's favourite day .... except perhaps for his birthday .. and Bilbo's birthday, because he gave wonderful presents. Then there was Yule, and any day that cook made cinnamon biscuits. Or when Merry came to play.
But it was still a most excellent day by any standards.
The Thain owned a great deal of land in Tuckborough, but rented most out to nearby farmers who would grow crops or farm sheep there.
But in the summer, when the ewes were weighed down with heavy coats in the heat, shearing would take place. The wool would be taken by a team of hobbits, normally wives of the shearers, who extracted the parts worth selling and placed them in giant hessian sacks strung between fenceposts. Little hobbit children would then be called upon to pack the wool down into the sacks by the time honoured method of launching themselves from low branches of nearby trees and jumping on the sacks till the wool was crammed tight.
Needless to say the lads and lasses needed no persuading to help in this manner, and also needless to say, there were many a scraped knee and bruise head when they threw themselves a little too enthusiastically onto the sacks, and ended up bouncing to the ground rather painfully. However, the injuries were never serious, and the adults could not bring themselves to ruin the children's fun, especially when it allowed the shearing to go ahead more efficiently and economically.
This hot June day, Pippin and Merry sat precariously on a gate, and watched in growing excitement as the unshawn sheep were herded in a stream past them. The air was thick with the waxy smell of wool and the cacophony of bleating sheep.
Pippin wobbled slightly as a small gust of wind almost blew him off the gate. Merry's hand was there to steady him of course. He was righting himself and had opened his mouth to speak to his cousin when a frightened noise drifted out over the inane bleating. The little hobbit scanned the seething mass of white in search of the source of the noise - across the sheep stampede, he could make out a little creature, wobbling on unsteady legs and bleating in terror.
he pointed, breath hitching with excitement.
It must have lost it's mother!
Merry opened his mouth to speak, but Pippin had already hurled himself from the gate and landed sprawled on the ground. His heart lurched as he saw his cousin pick himself up, lucky not to have landed on the back of an unsuspecting sheep in his flight from the gate. Before he could shout out, Pippin was trotting through the swarming animals, all of which towered over the little hobbit's head.
Pip! Come back! He squeaked, watching as the little curly head disappeared amongst the throng.
Fooool of a Tooook! shouted Merry in frustration, shaking his fist as he has seen many angry adults do to Pippin. His young cousin could either not hear or was choosing to ignore him. The older cousin drew a deep breath, and threw himself from the gate.
He however, was not as lucky, and half landed on the back of a passing sheep that bleated in surprise and ran off, leaving Merry sprawled on the ground. A few sheep skipped nervously over him, and the rest made a detour as he sprang up, now covered in more than a little dung.
When he found Pippin amongst the sheep, he was clutching a tiny lamb, in his arms. Head pressed against the lambs back and eyes closed, he rocked it affectionately as though it were a baby. Pippin spoke in a low soothing voice - - of course you shall live in my room, I don't care what Mama and Papa say. I have seen them take home lost lambs and put them in boxes by the fire to warm, but you shall have a real bed not a box and your bed will be beside mine so that you don't get scared in the night and -
Pippin! Come back now! You'll get trampled! Merry shouted, tugging insistently on his cousin's sleeve.
agreed Pippin, surprising Merry. The little hobbit set off back through the sheep once more, leaving Merry gaping.
Pippin's heart was beating so hard he could not tell if it was his or Aragorn's. After a few moments of cursing and crying, he sat and tried to calm himself a little. He would be no help to the man if he couldn't control himself. But still he could feel his heart beating painfully hard in his cheeks as the fever still burning in his body made itself known. The adrenaline was beginning to wear away now, and exhaustion was setting in. He could feel the panic rising until it felt as though it would engulf him totally, sweeping him away like another avalanche and leaving him broken and discarded, alone again.
He hung onto Aragorn's wrist as though it were the only think tying him to reality.
After he had ridden the wave of nausea and felt it subside a little, Pippin began to feel a fluttering in the man's wrist, just discernible beneath his own pulse's mad pounding.
Pippin sat back in the snow and wept, big heaving shudders of sobs that he could not restrain. There seemed little point in trying to remain calm. There was no one here to see and the situation was utterly desperate. He sobbed so much he began to heave and threw up a bloody phlegm. And still he kept crying. He tore at his hair, beating at his forehead with balled fists in utter frustration and self loathing.
He had never felt so worthless.
Of all the people!! he screamed, though his raw throat allowed no more than a strangled croak.
Why me?!?! Aragorn is hurt and I am the most useless member of the Fellowship and there is nothing I can do! Pippin cried in one long breath that left him weak.
He looked at the man lying motionless in the snow in front of him.
I cannot even move him because I am too small. whispered Pippin.
What can I do?
Caradhras gave no answer. Everything was closing in on him. The glittering mountain slopes and the clear blue sky were all there was to the world at that moment.
Pippin crawled over to Aragorn and pushed himself as close as he could. Lifting up the Ranger's arm like a dead weight, he draped it around his shoulders so that he was enclosed within the man's arms. Maybe some of the heat radiating from him would warm Aragorn.
The little hobbit took the man's hand and pressed it to his burning face, feeling the cold sink into his feverish skin a little, before confused and exhausted sleep took him.
The shearers were greatly amused by Pippin's new brother', and agreed that the family resemblance was uncanny. They ignored Merry's protests and agreed that the best place for Little Brother would be back in the Great Smials, as the mother seemed to have passed away, and none of the ewes would accept the orphan lamb.
On the short walk back to the Smials, Merry did his very best to convince Pippin that he could not hope to keep the lamb as a pet.
Pippin scolded Merry for calling Little Brother a pet'.
Don't say that in front of him Mer, it upsets him. He is not a pet, he is one of the family. He is a Took.
But Pip, he would be better off with his own kind because he is a lamb and you are not. Merry pointed out And besides he will not be a sweet little lamb forever, soon he will be a big smelly sheep that does nothing but eat and meh' and poo all over the carpet. he insisted.
Little Brother gave a feeble bleat. Pippin informed Merry that Little Brother had no intention of ever becoming a sheep, and was quite insulted by Merry's criticism of his toilet habits.
He would not be better off anyway, insisted Pippin, He has no Mama and Papa and I have no brother, so you see we are meant to be together. Now he has a family and I finally have a brother.
But I thought you said that I was your brother, Pippin. Merry said, a little hurt.
Oh of course you are, but you are a big brother, and he is a little brother. They are quite different you see. He needs me and we must look after those that are smaller than us.
There are not many things that are smaller than me after all. said Pippin, in a voice that made it quite clear the conversation was over.
Back at the Great Smials, Pippin sat at the kitchen table as Little Brother sucked contentedly on an old baby bottle full of milk.
You see, I am always being looked after, he confided in the little lamb, Just because I am smaller than everyone else. Now it is my turn to look after someone, because I know I can do it just as well as anyone.
Sorry for the length and lameness of this chapter. I wanted to write something rural and hobbity - New Zealand has a lot of sheep, and so does Wales, which sometimes looks a little Shire-like, so I decided on Shearing. We own a sheep farm and some of my earliest memories are of rounding up the sheep and helping the shearing by bouncing on the sacks of wool like trampolines. Ahh, good time, good times.