Written for SlightlyTookish's 2007 birthday. Mostly book verse.

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Pippin's Secret

"Gandalf?" Pippin stepped hesitantly into Frodo's room. "Is it all right if I come in?"

Gandalf smiled and motioned Pippin to come nearer.

"Sit with me, Peregrin," Gandalf said. He moved over in the large chair, and Pippin scooted up next to him. "He will be all right," the wizard said reassuringly. "Elrond removed the splinter of the Nazgûl blade a short while ago."

Pippin sighed with relief.

"The wait has been just dreadful. When will he wake?"

"Soon," Gandalf said. "Tomorrow morning, perhaps."

"Where's Sam?"

"He's just gone to tell your friend Strider the good news. I am certain that he will return very soon."

Pippin sat quietly, watching his cousin sleep.

"He looks so much better," Pippin murmured after awhile. "You can't imagine the awful things that happened before we got here, Gandalf."

"I am very proud of all of you," Gandalf said. "I was quite startled and pleased when I learned that you and Meriadoc were with Frodo and Sam. It takes a great deal to surprise a wizard, Peregrin Took, and hobbits always seem to be at the source of it." He smiled down at the youngster. "My goodness, you were just a wee lad when we last spoke."

Pippin looked up in amazement. "You remember me? From Cousin Bilbo's party? I was only 11."

"I remember you," Gandalf said softly. "And over the years, I have watched you nearly as closely as Frodo, although you knew it not; for 17 years you kept hidden and safe the same great secret as did Frodo."

Pippin gasped. "You knew about that?"

Gandalf nodded. "I was not the only one that night who saw Bilbo hide the Ring behind his back, and put it upon his finger. Nearly everyone at the party was sitting in front of him, but I was behind him... as were you."

"I thought I was hiding so well," Pippin smiled. "It was lovely beneath the cake table. I could see everyone, but no one could see me. Or so I thought!"

"You didn't tell anyone what you saw... not even Merry."

"No," Pippin whispered.

"Why?"

"That night was so magical, Gandalf!" Pippin's eyes sparkled at the memory. "First the wonderful toys, and the fireworks, then Cousin Bilbo just... vanished. Everyone was so confounded, but I knew his secret! It was delightful to know something—"

"That no one else knew?" Gandalf smiled.

"Yes. And then, as the years passed, I could tell that Frodo was hiding something. I thought maybe he had a magic ring, too, like Bilbo's. It just seemed like something I shouldn't talk about."

"And you never did."

"No," Pippin said. "That is, until Merry got so worried that Frodo would leave the Shire that he told Sam and me what little he knew about the Ring. Then I told them I had seen Bilbo put it on, too. We watched Frodo ever so closely from then on."

"And that," Gandalf said, "is why I was so pleased to see the two of you turn up with Frodo and Sam. All four of you have shown great courage and devotion. Quite remarkable."

Pippin smiled happily, suddenly feeling much more comfortable around the great wizard than before. He sat with Gandalf until he started to feel sleepy, then hopped off the chair.

"I want to get a snack before bed," Pippin said. "Don't you dare leave Frodo alone, Gandalf. He's likely to wake and sneak off again, and Merry and I just won't have it."

"No, I see that you will not," Gandalf said thoughtfully. "How interesting. Good night, Peregrin."

"Good night, Gandalf."