Summary: Young Meriadoc has homework, and young Pippin wants to help. Light poetry and hobbit hugs. Rated G.

Disclaimer:

I don't own the characters. They and their surroundings are Professor Tolkien's creation. I gain nothing from this exercise but enjoyment.

Westfarthing Alphabet Soup

-Mbradford

Setting: A summer afternoon at Tuckborough. Although he is visiting his Took relatives, Merry's tutor has given him an assignment to complete before he will be allowed to go out and have fun with the other youngsters….

Meriadoc Brandybuck sat gloomily staring at the blank pages on the desk before him. How boring to have to spend time studying on a day like today! He was supposed to be having fun, visiting his large extended family in the Great Smials of Tuckborough, not confined to the library, poring over dull books and such. But a young Hobbit must be diligent in his studies if he wanted to succeed in life, or so his father and grandfather frequently said. After all, Meriadoc, or Merry as he was fondly known by family and friends, would eventually become the Master of Buckland. It was expected that he would be well educated. There would be plenty of warm summer days left for running and playing here or back home at Brandy Hall, or so the adults reminded him when he grumbled about his homework.

Just as he was becoming resigned to his fate and began contemplating the assignment his tutor had given him, a tiny whirlwind with a mop of light brown curly hair and insatiable curiosity burst into the room in the form of his younger cousin, Pippin. Pip's full name, Peregrin Took, seemed as yet larger than the youngster himself, for Pippin was a very small lad of 8 years.

Pippin stood on his tip-toes and peered over the edge of the desk. Still too little to get a good look at what Merry was scowling at on the paper, he abandoned the attempt to find out and settled for hugging Merry's leg tightly. "Merry! I've been looking for you everywhere! Will you come outside and teach me to skip stones across the water? You promised!"

Merry put aside his homework for a moment and the look on his face softened. In the short time that he and his younger cousin had known each other, they had formed a natural bond that only strengthened as time went by. Pippin's exuberance seemed without end, and was contagious to all those who were exposed to it. "I'd love to go outside with you, Pip, but I have to finish this first. When you get older, you'll have to study too. I guess it's important, but it isn't always fun."

"What are you studying, Merry? Is it about Elves or Dwarves? Is it about the wonderful places Uncle Bilbo went to before we were born?" Pippin plied his older cousin with the usual barrage of questions, barely stopping for a breath in between.

"No, Pip. It's nothing as interesting as all that. I have to write a poem… I don't know much about that. Uncle Bilbo is the one who has that talent. If he was here, he might be able to give me some idea of what to write about, but he won't be here for a few days yet. Looks like I'm on my own."

Pippin skipped over to a wooden box filled with various toys and began removing some wooden blocks with letters painted on them in bright colors. "Maybe I can help, Merry! I can give you some letters and you can make up a poem from the words we make!"

Merry laughed out loud. Trust Pippin to make a game out of a boring chore! "Ok, Pip. Let's have a try at it, shall we?"

As Pippin began to pull the blocks out and place them on the desk in a crooked row, Merry began to tap on the paper with the tip of the quill pen he was holding. Tapping and thinking… From time to time he would look up as Pippin put blocks on the desk before him, stacking them in pyramids and building little walls with the brightly colored letters.

He thought about his cheerful little cousin as he considered the blank page. Why not write a rhyme for Pippin? Something kind of funny that a little lad might enjoy? Opening his mind to the thought of something light and simple, he bent to his task anew.

Westfarthing Alphabet Soup

By Meriadoc Brandybuck

A is for Apples high up in the tree

B is for Bushes with Buzzing of Bees

C is for Cookies we have with our tea

D is for Daisies that grow wild and free

E is for Echoes of laughter and song

F is for Fir trees so tall and so strong

G is for Games we've played for so long       

H is for Hope for hope never goes wrong

I is for Ink as it flows from my pen      

J is for Jolly times had once again

K is for Keeping our very best friends

L is for Luncheon, and that will be when?

M is for Mathoms we have in the Smial

N is for Napping for just a short while

O is for Onward for mile after mile  

P is for Puppies that Play in a Pile

Q is for Quenya, the language of Elves

R is for Rivendell, home for themselves

S is for Stories in books on the shelves

T is for Tales into which we delve

U is for Under the warm summer sun     

V is for Very good times filled with fun   

W is for Whistling a tune as we run

X is for X-tra left over when done

Y is for You sitting here by my side

Z is for Zephyrs on winds that they ride

We've run out of letters, for all we have tried

To fit to a rhyme with our tongues getting tied!

Laughing and grinning and thrown for a loop

For now we've made Westfarthing Alphabet Soup!

Merry laid the quill pen down and looked at the page. He admitted he had taken a little bit of liberty here and there…after all, what in the Shire started with a letter like "X" anyway?

"Finished!" Merry said, leaning back in his chair with a sigh. That hadn't been so hard after all.

"Oooh, you wrote a poem? Merry, will you read it to me?" Pippin was at his side again, looking up at him with wide eyes.

"All right, but I can tell you beforehand, it isn't as good as the ones Uncle Bilbo writes."

Pippin jumped into Merry's lap the way he always did on those occasions when he could wheedle his older cousin into telling him a story or something of the sort. As Merry read his new composition, Pippin giggled with glee. Soon, they were both laughing out loud at the cheerful, simple rhyme.

"Merry! That was good!" Pippin clapped his hands happily. "I think it's just as good as Uncle Bilbo's poems!"

Merry smiled down at his little cousin and said, "I'm glad you like it, Pip. I wrote it for you."

Pippin's eyes grew wider. "You wrote a poem for me? Nobody's ever done that before. Merry, you're the very best cousin anywhere!" He gave Merry one of his trademark hugs, the kind that, were they not beyond words, would simply say, "I'm never letting go."

When he thought about it, Merry had to admit writing the poem hadn't been that hard, really. All he had done was to look around him and let his surroundings inspire him. The familiar things that were a pleasant part of his life had been, in the end, all that he needed. Was that how Bilbo wrote his songs and poems? He made a mental note to ask his Uncle about it in a few days when Bilbo would be coming to the Great Smials to visit for a while.

Pleased with the result of his efforts, Merry returned Pippin's hug. "Now I'll come outside with you and teach you to skip stones like I promised." The two youngsters left the library together, hand in hand, to go enjoy the rest of the sunny afternoon together.