While they Walked

Chapter 1: Ages

"So," said Pippin, the place was far too quiet. He didn't mind silence as a rule, but hours of it got on his nerves. "Boromir!" he said, just because Boromir was closest to him. "Do you have any brothers or sisters?" It was such a typical question but an interesting one all the same.

"Yes, one brother." Said Boromir in clipped tones. Pippin nodded in acknowledgement and walked in silence once more until he realised Boromir wasn't going to expand on the subject.

"What's his name?"

"Faramir."

"Oh, that's a nice name."

"Yes, I've always thought so." There was more silence while Pippin racked his brains for something to say.

"How old is he?"

"Thirty six."

"Really? Why that's the same age as Sam! Don't suppose he's a gardener though." Upon hearing mention of his name, Sam joined the conversation.

"What are you saying about me Mr. Pippin?" he said, unable to keep the suspicion out of his voice.

"Did you know that Boromir's brother is the same age as you, Sam?" Sam raised his eyebrows.

"Younger brother I should hope." Said Sam.

"Yes," affirmed Boromir, "Four and a half years younger than myself." Both hobbits stopped dead, causing Merry and Frodo, who had been walking silently behind, staring at their toes, to bump into them. There were assorted cries of 'watch where you're going!' and 'what have you stopped for?' before peace was restored and Boromir was able to ask the reason for their surprise. They continued walking.

"Why," said Sam, "You've only been seven years as an adult! What father would send his son out at such a young age? I know Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin here are younger but we were in dire circumstances, are things really as bad as that where you're from?" Boromir looked quite bewildered and Pippin was catching Frodo and Merry up on the conversation so far. Boromir opened his mouth to reply with confusion but Merry butted in first.

"Forty? A whole ten years younger than Frodo here!" Boromir shook his head, had he heard that correctly?

"I'm sorry, did you say ten years younger?"

"Well, he's not aged a day since he came of age, but it's a good adventuring age!"

"Begging your pardon Mr. Pippin but I don't think there is such a thing as a good age for adventuring."

"Well, it's as good a age as any. Only a year younger than Bilbo was." Boromir was becoming more and more lost in the conversation. He'd only been asked about his brother! What had happened?

"Mr. Bilbo didn't want to go adventuring at first though, like any sensible hobbit."

"Sam, are you saying my two fine cousins and I aren't sensible?"

"Oh Mr. Frodo no!" Sam quickly rethought his words, "Well, yes I suppose I am if I'm not being too bold. Not enough hobbit-sense between the three of you to fill a thimble."

"Well, we're fine with that aren't we Frodo?" Frodo nodded. "Now what were we talking about? Oh yes. You're only forty?" Pippin turned to Boromir again, who nodded dumbly.

"Pippin, that's still twelve years older than you, I don't think you have the right to say only forty." Boromir did some quick calculations in his head.

"Wait, you're saying that Pippin is twenty eight? I thought he was still a child!" Boromir was very muddled.

"He is still a child, can't you tell?" That earnt Merry a shove.

"But I was fighting orcs at twenty eight!" There was a gasp from the hobbits, especially the younger of them.

"That's just not right! You can't spend your best years fighting orcs!" said Sam, though Boromir could barely tell the difference between the four anymore.

"Surely that was your first time?"

"First time?" Said Boromir, finding a thread of the conversation he could latch on to. "I truly wish it was."

"Does your brother fight orcs?"

"Of course, I don't think he's as keen as I was, but he still does it and very well."

"I can't imagine Sam fighting orcs, He'd probably end up hitting them round the head with a frying pan!" Pippin broke down into gales laughter. Sam looked rather affronted.

"It's a fine use for a frying pan, as long as it gets the job done!"

"Yes, it doesn't matter what it is, sometimes in battle you even have to use the stones from under your own feet." Boromir was talking from experience.

"Oh well we've all done that. We took out a fox that had got past the bounders didn't we Merry?" boasted Pippin.

"Yes, you did." Said Frodo, "And you needn't keep telling us that you have."

"Oh Frodo, just because you couldn't throw a rock to save your life."

"Mr. Frodo can throw! I've been on the receiving end of one of his stones and it stings like you wouldn't believe!"

"Sam!" shouted Frodo, Sam immediately went a deep red and put his hand over his mouth. "You promised you wouldn't tell anyone!"

"You threw a stone at Sam? Why did you throw a stone at Sam?"

"I didn't mean to, only my aim was a little off."

"I remember what Bilbo used to say!" cried Merry. "'Good and strong' he said, 'but couldn't hit a barn door'!"

"I'm sorry Mr. Frodo, I didn't mean to say a thing, my mouth just opened and it popped out!"

"That's alright Sam, I-"Gandalf interrupted, announcing that they would stop for a short break. The hobbits immediately forgot their argument and set about making the spot as homely as they could, a ritual with them it seemed. They left behind them a very lost and confused Boromir, Aragorn came up behind him, laughing slightly.

"We should help them with the camp."

"Is everyone in the Shire like that?" Aragorn looked thoughtful.

"Most likely."