A/N: This was a stubborn chapter, it stuck its heels in the ground and refused to be written. The git.


While They Walked

Chapter 19: Sleeping

The next evening Pippin woke earlier than usual. There was no particular reason, other than he'd already had a good night's sleep and two in a row would be far too much for one person. He slowly opened his bleary eyes and looked towards the setting sun. Merry was on watch and sitting at the fire, occasionally poking it with a stick. He wasn't being overly productive. Pippin called out a mumbled half-whisper that was originally meant to be Merry's name but didn't end up sounding so.

"Is one of you awake?" said Merry to the hobbitpile. Pippin answered in the affirmative though it sounded more of a sleepy groan.

"What are you doing up so early? You've got at least another three-quarters of an hour," Pippin attempted to answer that he didn't know and that he wished he were still asleep because he'd been having a brilliant dream about apple pies. But all that came out was a sort of "oomph".

"I see," replied Merry, "Now, are you Frodo or Pippin?"

He was answered with another sleepy groan.

"I'm guessing Frodo because he generally prefers bed more than Pippin. One grunt of I'm wrong, two if I'm right,"

Pippin grunted once.

"Really? What's made you so tired? You've had two nights without a watch!" Pippin made a noise very similar to "I don't know". Merry nodded and prodded the fire again. "Are you actually going to get up or are you going to lie there and grunt at me like a hungry pig?" Pippin answered by trying to drag himself from the warm blankets with much effort and limited success. "Do you need any help?" Pippin's answer was recognisable as:

"No, I'm fine,"

"You don't look it. Honestly, someone who'd just died would be up quicker than you,"

"And with much less noise," added Legolas, who'd obviously been disturbed from whatever Elves described as sleep. Merry jumped, for he hadn't noticed that Legolas had awakened. Pippin giggled.

"Legolas do you have to do that?" said Merry

"To what are you referring?"

"Can't you give some sign that you're awake or at least shut your eyes while you sleep?"

"Very well, next time I wake, I shall yell so that you are forewarned,"

"Legolas, that'll just make me jump more," Legolas smiled. Pippin trudged over to Merry and sat down next to him.

"I wasn't too loud was I?" asked Pippin

"No one else is awake as far as I can tell so I shouldn't think so," replied Merry.

"Good," said Pippin as he yawned, "Because it was bad enough that I woke up, I don't want to wake everybody else up,"

"You were hardly the loudest this evening," said Merry,

"I wasn't?"

"No, Boromir's been tossing and turning and crying out occasionally, he was far louder than you,"

"He always does that though, do you know why?" Merry shook his head so Legolas proffered his answer.

"I believe it may be because of the battles he's been in. He often gives orders to his soldiers and talks to them as though they've just fought together," Merry and Pippin both looked up from the fire and gave Legolas condescending looks.

"You listen? Legolas, that's terribly rude,"

"It can be hard to not hear when lying right next to him," said Legolas.

"He still dreams of battles? I'm glad I'm not going to do any fighting," said Pippin,

"You don't know that Pip, you may yet,"

"Yes, but not in a big army or a siege or anything, it'd be small, there are only nine of us,"

"Hopefully there won't even be small excursions with the enemy, we're trying for secrecy," said Legolas.

"I've heard Gimli mumbling in his sleep, have you ever listened to what he says?" said Pippin, completely disregarding the previous topic of conversation.

"Pippin! Don't encourage him!"

"Don't worry, Merry," said Legolas with a smile, "I've never listened to Gimli in his sleep, no doubt he dreams of digging holes in the ground or finding mithril in some cave deep within the earth. Nothing at all interesting,"

"Why do you dislike Gimli so much?" asked Pippin, "You disliked him before you even met him. Isn't that a bit silly?" Legolas' smile grew to a grin,

"It would take far too long to explain the relationship between the dwarves and the elves, it's much better to just leave it as 'we dislike each other',"

"But just because he's a dwarf? That's like disliking someone because they're from Buckland! Yes, they're all a bit queer over there, but really!"

"Pippin, don't think you can sneak insults past me," said Merry. After a sly grin, Pippin continued,

"I think I've worked out why dwarves live underground," Legolas raised his eyebrows with interest but Merry rolled his eyes.

"Here we go, be ready for one of Pippin's famously ridiculous theories," Pippin ignored him,

"I think they snore too loudly to be allowed above ground too often, do you remember when we slept right next to him, Merry? I dreamt about dragons all night!" Merry laughed,

"And if you're ever getting tired while on watch, just sit yourself next to Gimli and you'll have no chance of dropping off to sleep," the three burst into stifled laughter.

"Gandalf's mumbling can be quite distracting as well, don't forget," said Legolas. Pippin nodded enthusiastically,

"Don't even try listening to it though, one day I spent until lunchtime wondering about what I'd heard,"

"That's why you were so quiet!" Pippin hit Merry lightly on the arm for that remark.

"Speaking of quiet, Aragorn's the quietest sleeper I've ever seen,"

"You have to remember he's a ranger, Pippin," said Legolas, "Silence is very important out in the wilderness,"

"I realise that, but couldn't he at least show some signs of life? I had to prod him to check that he hadn't died!" Legolas laughed but Merry said:

"Yes, I've had that problem too, it's most troublesome when you have to stare at him for half a minute to work out whether he's breathing or not,"

"That's not the case with your fellow hobbits?" asked Legolas,

"No, why would it be? We're quite used to the privacy of our own bedrooms where we can be as loud as we want in sleep,"

"You are very quiet creatures, though," said Legolas, "It would make sense for your sleep to be quiet and you are by no means the noisiest sleepers of the fellowship," Pippin snorted,

"You'd think differently after a night of Sam snoring in your ear, it's almost a relief to go on watch sometimes. Like when he had that cold and his nose was blocked up; I was too exhausted for words but I still didn't get to sleep for an hour!"

"Listen to yourself, Pip! You sound like an old gammer at the market gossiping to all her friends!" remarked Merry,

"It's true though!"

"Merry," interrupted Legolas, "May I ask what a gammer is?"

"You may," said Merry. Legolas waited for the answer but none was forthcoming. Pippin sighed and rolled his eyes,

"Don't mind him, Legolas, it's an old trick of his. A gammer is the same as a gaffer, only female,"

"And what's a gaffer?"

"An old hobbit," answered Merry. Legolas nodded to show he understood. "I'm surprised you've not heard Sam say it, he often does,"

"I've heard him, I just haven't understood him,"

"Actually, Frodo's taken to mumbling a bit hasn't he?" said Pippin,

"He's always mumbled,"

"No, I mean in his sleep,"

"He didn't used to?" said Merry, mildly interested.

"No, he was a very silent sleeper,"

"He was? How do you know this, Pip?" Merry was quite flustered that Pippin knew all these things about Frodo that he didn't.

"When I was younger, I used to sleep in Frodo's room whenever I stayed at Bag End,"

"You did? I don't remember you doing that,"

"That would be because only me and Frodo knew. It was back when I was sent to bed much earlier than everyone else and one night I got bored, so I went into Frodo's room but he came to bed and caught me there. I asked if I could sleep there that night and he said 'just this once' so I made a habit of it,"

Merry mumbled something under his breath, Pippin looked at him suspiciously, believing he knew what Merry had said but he couldn't be sure. Legolas, however, had heard quite clearly: "Tooks!"

"Well," said Merry, "I know for certain that you've always been the most fidgety little hobbit in bed and you most definitely still are!"

"And you're the perfect example of a still sleeper?"

"Of course!"

"You only say that because you don't have to put up with yourself. You manage to take all my blankets even when we're not sharing them! You punched poor Frodo on the nose the other night as well,"

"I heard that," said Legolas, "I was about to come to your aid but you seemed to have managed on your own,"

"Perhaps I should sleep next to Gandalf tomorrow night," mused Merry, "He deserves it after last morning,"

"O no, don't go on about that, I'm embarrassed enough as it is," said Pippin.

"Gandalf was terribly harsh on you though, I think he should learn to keep his temper under control," Merry had a gleam in his eye that meant a plan was in the making.

"Well, don't expect me to have any part in it, I'd rather just forget it," said Pippin.

"I would like to play a part in your plan," said Legolas.

"As would I," said Aragorn.

"I was hoping I could be of some service as well," added Boromir. The two hobbits and the elf looked towards the men, slightly startled (the hobbits more so than the elf).

"How long have you two been listening?" asked Pippin,

"I've been listening since you said Aragorn was a silent sleeper," answered Boromir,

"I've listened since your explanation of a gammer," said Aragorn.

"For goodness' sake! You could've said good evening or something,"

"I was waiting to see if you said something about me," said Boromir,

"As was I," said Aragorn.

"No manners. No manners whatsoever!" said Merry, mostly to himself.

"Are you the only ones awake?" asked Pippin, they all turned to look at Gandalf, who was as asleep as he ever seemed.

"I should think so, but let us continue this conversation another time, it's nearly time for everyone to rise," said Legolas.

Sure enough, just a few minutes after those words were uttered, Sam rose and started cooking breakfast, despite half the fellowship sitting around looking suspiciously innocent. Something's being planned here, he thought to himself, probably best you don't get mixed up in it, Samwise.