Questions and Answers
beta provided by Pipspebble

Pippin slept for most of the remainder of that day, coming awake long enough to have a few sips of broth and to drink the medicines Strider prepared for him. He passed the night in fitful dreams, images of the trip to Bree replaying in his mind, but he never managed to see beyond that night in the Prancing Pony. In the early evening he woke, covered in sweat but with a clear mind, and knew that his fever had broken. Looking around the dim tent, he spied the dwarf, Gimli, sitting not far from his bed. He thought to speak but found himself too drowsy and allowed sleep to claim him once more.

It was morning when he woke again.

"Good morning, Pippin. How are you feeling?"

It took Pippin a moment to locate the voice, which came from the far side of his bed. Blinking sleepily, he carefully turned his head to the side to see Strider. The movement, which made him slightly dizzy but less so than the day before, revealed the Ranger standing by the brazier, stirring something which Pippin suspected would turn out to be medicine for him.

"I'm feeling better, today," Pippin answered. "What day is it, Strider?" he asked after a moment's pause. "I suppose it must be at least the first or second of October, but I haven't been able to remember anything past that day in Bree, so I'm a little out of my reckoning."

"A little out of your reckoning, indeed," Strider said with a smile. "Today is the 29th of March."

"But..." Pippin was unable to find a response to that rather stunning revelation, so he simply trailed off into silence, closing his eyes against the terrible knowledge he had just received. Somehow, he'd assumed that whatever had happened to him, had happened in the days immediately following their visit to Bree.

He felt his cot dip and opened his eyes to see Strider sitting on the side of the bed, gazing at him in concern.

"I'm sorry," he managed to say. "You just took me rather by surprise. Has could I have lost six months?" The question came out plaintively.

"It happens that way sometimes, Pippin," Strider answered gently. "A great injury, especially to the head, can cause the mind to revert back to a previous moment. I cannot tell you why your mind chose that particular moment, six months ago. However, I can reassure you that there is every reason to believe that your memories will return."

Pippin let the words flow over him, knowing the Ranger meant to comfort him, but it wasn't comfort he wanted. He was feeling terribly adrift and alone here, in this strange place with all these Big People. He wanted something familiar, something that he could recognize and understand without explanation.

He was aware of Strider examining his wounds but paid him little heed, withdrawing into himself for a time. He summoned up an image of his home, the large, sprawling smial at Whitwell. Although his father had become Thain two years ago, and the family had lived nearly full time at the Great Smials for several years before that, Pippin still considered the farm his home. There was nothing he loved more than waking up early on a spring morning and smelling the fresh scent of the blossoming dogwoods and wild apple trees. He always slept with his window open, in spite of frequent scoldings from his mother, who was of the firm opinion that night airs were harmful.

It didn't smell like Spring, here, Pippin realized suddenly. The fresh smells of the season, if they were there at all, were overridden by the odours of sickness and injury, unwashed men, armour and animals. The image of home wobbled and disappeared, and Pippin opened his eyes to find Strider gazing at him in concern once again.

"Where are my cousins?" he demanded in sudden anger. He'd asked before but somehow, no one had ever answered him.

"Merry is on his way to you, Pippin. He should be here this afternoon, or tomorrow at the latest." Strider rested a hand on Pippin's forearm. "I trust you won't mind sharing your tent with him? Good," Strider rose before Pippin could answer. "I'll have another cot brought in. Now, it is time for you to eat." So saying, he turned to a tray sitting on a small table.

"You handled the broth I gave you yesterday very well but I know hobbit tastes and appetites, so I thought you might appreciate something more akin to real food." The Ranger set the tray on the side of the cot where Pippin could easily reach the food.

Pippin didn't want to be sidetracked from his questions, but the food did smell good and his stomach, turning traitor, chose that moment to growl loudly. Muttering under his breath, Pippin grudgingly gave in and ate. The food, a nourishing stew and soft, warm bread, had more substance and taste than the broth of the day before while still being easy on his stomach. Even so, it didn't take much to leave him feeling satiated. When he'd eaten as much as he could and pushed his plate away, Strider handed him a warm mug.

"It would be best if you drink it straight off. There is not much I can do to ease the bitterness of this brew, but it will help you to rest more comfortably."

Grimacing at the nasty taste, Pippin did as he was told and swallowed it down in a few quick gulps. "Gah," he muttered as he set the cup down. "That tasted awful." He gratefully accepted the cup of water Strider handed him next, and drank until his mouth was clear of the foul taste of the tonic.

"Strider?" Pippin started to ask about Frodo and Sam, but the Ranger hushed him.

"Rest, Pippin. It is what your body needs most now. I must check on my other patients and meet with my advisors, but someone will stay here with you. I'll send Legolas in for now." With that, the Ranger strode out of the tent.

Pippin lay back, already feeling sleepy again. He struggled to stay awake, determined to get some answers out of the elf when he arrived, but the tonic was potent and Pippin was unable to fight against its demands for long. He was asleep within minutes of Strider's exit.

He surfaced briefly when someone, possibly Legolas but Pippin was too sleep-muddled to tell, held a cup to his lips and again some time later to see that a new cot had appeared beside his, but for the better part of the morning he slept.

It was a sound that woke him next. Someone was moving around in the tent. Pippin lay still for several minutes just listening, not quite awake enough to open his eyes and see who was keeping watch over him now. There was very little to hear, the occasional footfall, a slight susurration of fabric, an exhalation of breath. Pippin smiled as an image of his visitor grew in his mind.

"It's about time you got here," he mumbled, voice still thick with sleep. Everything would be all right now. Merry was here.

The End

A/N This chapter aligns with Chapter Five of 'A New Kind of Courage', bringing Merry and Pippin together. At this point, I'm ending this fic but not Pippin's story. There are several other scenes that I want to write from Pippin's perspective, but they will be individual fics rather than a continuation of this one.

Thank you to everyone who commented on this story. I'm glad you all enjoyed it.