Rating: G
Summary: This is a series of connected vignettes that shed some light on the last years of Merry and Pippin. The vignettes cover their travels to Rohan and Gondor, and their interactions with the remaining members of the Company. In "Riding to Rohan," Merry recovers a little bit of his youth.
Feedback: Constructive criticism is welcome. I attempt to keep as close to book canon as possible. Ideas on how to improve in this area are particularly welcome.
Disclaimer: The places, situations and characters of The Lord of the Rings belong to the Tolkien Estate. This work contains no original characters. No money is being made from this work.

The Further Adventures of Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took:
"Riding to Rohan"

Merry was preparing his mount when an unidentified rider came up to him. "King Eomer wishes that we make haste, Master Holdwine," he said. Merry merely nodded in reply. Though the Rider and his companion were already mounted and ready to go, Merry still had his stirrup in hand and was proceeding with great care. He knew he had to be cautious, for these Riders were watching him very carefully, and he did not want to embarrass himself by doing something silly and giving them a chance to intervene. Finally, he hoisted himself onto his pony, to murmurs of approval—and perhaps astonishment—but these he ignored.

'I am not old and dotard,' he thought to himself, as he adjusted all the appropriate straps and fixed his cloak. 'Besides, something's so very different this time.'

"Master Holdwine?" The Riders were clearly in a hurry. Merry could see that Pippin was already prepared to ride and at the front of the column.

"Yes, yes," he replied. "I'm coming."

The entire company moved out. The Riders were ahead on their full-sized horses, but this allowed Merry and Pippin (he had, of course, retreated back to ride with Merry), who were both on their faithful ponies, to converse with each other freely. "Something's different, you know," said Pippin to Merry.

"I was just thinking as such before I mounted up, dear Pippin," replied Merry. As he spoke, Pippin examined Merry's face. Merry still looked quite haggard in Pippin's eyes, and secretly, Pippin was very glad that they were leaving the Shire, though the leaving had been hard, and would soon be in Rohan. Merry needed a change.

"I think you and I have grown complacent," Pippin said, ostensibly to Merry, although he was staring ahead and looking at no one as he spoke. "The two of us, because we're 'lordly' and all, ride around everywhere so that we can look the part, even though we've not got a lot of control and end up being taken 'round like we are a pair of cabbages. It's not been good for either of us, I'm afraid. This feels different, because for the first time in too long, we ride with a purpose."

Pippin turned to Merry to see if he agreed, but the sun was at such an angle that all he could see was an outline--but it was an outline he barely recognized. He saw one who sat up straight, had firm control of the bridle, was looking ahead, and seemed quite alert. A patch of trees temporarily blocked out the sun, and Pippin went from looking at this silhouette to suddenly staring at Merry's face. Pippin could barely conceal his surprise and joy, for he found himself looking into the eyes of Merry, Member of the Company and Esquire of Rohan, not the aging though venerable Meriadoc, Master of Brandy Hall. Pippin had not been happier to gaze upon Merry since they had reunited in Minas Tirith, in older days.

Merry read and understood the look on his dear friend's face, and smiled at him. "Master Took," he said, "your assessment of things seems to be correct. We ride with Purpose, and as this Rider up ahead says, we ride with Haste. Onward, then!"

Suddenly Merry was off at a gallop. Pippin, as quickly as he could, urged his pony on and was soon at Merry's heels. The two of them darted right between the Riders, and passed them up. The Riders gave each other bemused looks, and moved their horses to a trot, so that they could keep pace with the hobbits.

Merry had not cast off all the effects of age though, and he soon found it necessary to bring his pony back to a walk. Pippin did likewise, and said to Merry, in between hard breaths, "Well, that was fun!"

"Yes," replied Merry, "it really was. I have to admit, that felt very, very good."

"You needed that," said Pippin.

"Did I then? And why do you think that's the case?"

"Well Merry, I've been worried about you for some time. All that time at the Hall, reading and dwelling on things, not getting out and about, I don't think it was good for you. You were concerned with dark things—evil things—it always seemed that you were looking for the bad in everything, and I think that aged you a bit." Pippin looked anxiously to his friend for a response; he had been frank with him.

"I do not understand why everyone is so concerned about my age," said Merry, and he laughed as he said this, so Pippin was relieved. "However, you are probably right about me."

They rode in silence for a few moments. Pippin could tell that Merry was being agreeable out of friendship, not because he actually agreed with what Pippin had said. As worry was setting in, Merry said, "Let's ride fast again, and try and leave the Riders behind!"

Off they went, once again, causing the Riders accompanying them to smile and laugh. Although Merry was enjoying his "race" with the Rohirrim, he had suggested the quick pace so that he would be unable to converse with Pippin and able to converse with himself.

'I wish Gandalf was still around,' he thought, 'for if anyone could answer me, he could. Maybe Pip is right. Perhaps I am being too vigilant when it comes to watching for evil. But still, evil in any degree can do such damage, and it seems that no one else really pays any attention to it until it is too big! Of course everyone was upright and at attention when Sauron threatened all the lands of Middle-Earth with enslavement! Yet, my own people allowed the seeds of evil to fester in the Shire, and from there it grew so large that it nearly destroyed them all. If someone had been vigilant, if someone had been wary and careful, I believe, and will always believe, that much of what was destroyed could have been spared! Still, Pip is right about one thing: evil will never completely leave the world, and I shouldn't ever hope to drive every evil thing away, for not even the Elves and Wizards had that power. But where is the line? If some evil must exist, how much can exist before worry should set in?'

Suddenly, he was jarred from this conversation with himself, because he was falling to the ground. His pony had stumbled, and since he had been going at great speed, and not fully concentrating, he had been thrown. The Riders, who were behind, pulled up right besides Merry and dismounted. Pippin, who had pulled ahead, had stopped his pony, and was walking back toward Merry.

Everyone was worried that the fall might have done some damage to the aging Meriadoc, but with true hobbit resiliency, he sat up quite quickly. He was covered in dirt, but there was a bit of a smile on his face. Merry felt peaceful—there was something a little nice about being covered with the soil of the good earth (although he was certain he would have no kind words for the earth when soreness set in, he was willing to be charitable at that moment). As he stood up, he realized that there was something even better about being able to dust the good earth off one's clothes.

"Are you hurt?" asked Pippin.

Merry looked at him and said, "No, dear Pippin, I am fine. Perhaps I lost my balance, but at any rate, I believe that balance is mostly regained."