I've often wondered why Lord Elrond changed his mind about allowing Pippin to go on the Quest. Pippin was very young and very inexperienced, and surely that single precious space could have gone to someone who would have contributed more to the Quest than this small cousin. Another mighty warrior, a great hunter, a scout who could have turned the tide when it was needed most. Yet Elrond let Pippin go. Perhaps this is one of the moments of reflection that helped Elrond reconsider.

This story takes place during the early part of "Recovery in Rivendell," as Frodo recovers from his wound in Rivendell.

Disclaimer: All original plots and original characters are the property of the author. The Lord of the Rings and all its characters and settings are the property of the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien, Tolkien Enterprises, and New Line Cinemas and their licensees. These works were produced with admiration and respect, as fan fiction for entertainment purposes only, not for sale or profit.

A Moment of Reflection

He had seen many strange things in all the long years of his life, Elrond thought, but the sight of a book from his Library floating apparently unsupported down the path towards him was surely one of the most peculiar. He paused, his tray with its medicinal tonics for Master Baggins momentarily forgotten, and watched.

The book was proceeding toward him most ungracefully; it lurched forward then staggered to the side, only to spin around, stumble back two steps, and teeter uncertainly forward. Only then in the twilight did he glimpse two pale hands locked on each side of it, a breath before the book said, "Bugger!"

"Pardon?" he inquired, reaching out a hand to steady the book.

The book froze. Several moments passed. Then, "Merry?" it said, not sounding very hopeful.

"I fear not, Master Took," Elrond said in a neutral voice. He had not had much contact with the other halflings outside of Frodo's care, but it took little deductive ability to identify this one. The other one, Meriadoc, was larger and this heavy book would not have been so difficult for him to manage. The third ambulatory hobbit, Master Samwise, would have had no difficulty at all, yet was the most unlikely suspect in nicking a book from his Library.

"May I be of assistance?" he asked, stepping back a pace so he could bend to see under the book.

Ah, the mystery of the floating was solved. Unable to actually carry a book nearly as large as himself, Pippin had resorted to balancing it on the top of his head and steadying it with his hands. Unfortunately, the weight of the book kept sliding it forward, causing the hobbit to tilt his head back to centre it, resulting in it nearly flattening his face.

Wide eyes stared at him a moment, then with a sudden, convulsive movement, snapped tightly shut. Pippin dropped the book – not on the ground, but upon his unprotected feet.

Elrond's lunge to help was instinctive but even elven speed could not outrace gravity. The tray went flying and delicate bottles of tonic clattered to the earth as he leaped forward, arms outstretched to catch the book before it hurt the little hobbit. He caught it just before the bottom edge slammed into the tweenager's toes.

Elrond lowered the book, his attention returning to the young one. Pippin stood frozen, his face screwed up into an astonishing grimace and his eyes still closed. Taking advantage of the young one's inexplicable immobility, Elrond cast about for his tonics. Ah, there – and there … there… The stoppers had not come loose. Master Frodo would not escape his dosing tonight.

"Are you all right, Master Took?" he asked in concern.

One bright green eye opened and squinted cautiously at him. Then both opened as Pippin squealed, "Oh, the book! The book!"

"It is unharmed, Master Pippin," Elrond reassured him, sweeping aside his robes to reveal it.

The relief on Pippin's face was almost comical. "I wasn't going to let it fall, my lord," Pippin said hurriedly, a quaver in his voice. "I couldn't hold it, but I was going to let it fall on my feet rather than the ground."

"Entirely unnecessary," Elrond said, studying his unexpected houseguest. "As valuable and irreplaceable as are the contents of my Library, there is not one I would choose over harm to you."

"Thank you, my lord," Pippin whispered, looking at his feet.

"May I ask which book is so important that it must be carried by one young hobbit in growing darkness such a long way?" Elrond asked, stopping to retrieve a tonic bottle.

Pippin darted forward and snatched it up, handing it to him, then began gathering up the others. "It's one of Bilbo's books, my lord. One of his translations of Elvish tales."

Elrond looked at the young one silently and Pippin rushed on. "Well … it's for Frodo, you see. I'm going to read it to him."

"Indeed?" Elrond remarked, having found centuries ago that that one word could incite a whole plethora of explanations. It did not fail him now.

"Well … Sam does for him, making sure he's warm enough … that he always has something nice to eat, when he will eat." Pippin sighed regretfully. "Sam's much better at taking care of Frodo than I ever could be. And Merry talks to him and studies maps with him and they discuss things I don't understand. And Bilbo … Bilbo just being there makes Frodo happy. I can't do for him as well as Sam, or look at maps with him as does Merry, or make him feel safe like Bilbo … but I can read for him."

"Indeed."

Pippin nodded vigorously. "Bilbo told me about this book, about translating it from Elvish into Westron. It's full of stories about great warriors and battles and wonderful adventures and quests and lovely maidens needing to be rescued." Pippin sidled closer and his voice dropped. "I think Frodo likes the soppy love stories the best. The more soppy it is, the better he likes it."

"Is that so?" Elrond remarked, aware of the amusement in his voice.

Pippin blushed. "You won't tell him I said that, will you? He'll deny it."

"I will not tell him."

Pippin relaxed visibly. "Thank you for catching the book, my lord. I'd best be getting it to Frodo. Those are for him, aren't they?"

The rapid changes of subject were becoming less confusing, Elrond thought. He nodded. "I am aware of your cousin's opinion of the taste of my medicines, Master Pippin, but they help him to rebuild his blood and body."

"I know," Pippin told him. "I'm hoping this book will take his mind off having to take them. I'll do anything I can for him."

Elrond looked at him silently for a long moment. Pippin looked back, the failing sun catching in his eyes for a moment and turning his bronze hair to fire. Then the sun sank completely, throwing them both into shadow.

"I will carry the book, young master, if you will carry the tray."

"Thank you, sir," Pippin replied, balancing the re-stocked tray carefully. "I am lucky you came along."

Elrond half-bowed as he picked up the heavy book. "I assure you, young sir … the good fortune was mine." Pippin beamed up at him then turned and led the way forward.