Title: I Always Know You (sequel to "Handkerchiefs and Mushroom Soup")
Author: Baylor
E-mail: baylorsr@yahoo.com
Web site: www.geocities.com/baylorsr
Rating: G
Characters: Merry, Pippin, Frodo (non-slash)
Category(s): General.
Archiving: Anywhere, just let me know.
Summary: When the Winter Sickness strikes one of the cousins, it brings back memories of their childhood and the friendship, fun and trials they faced.
Disclaimer: J.R.R. Tolkien owns them. I just borrowed them, and I promise to put them back.

Author's notes: I wanted to say thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read and comment on my stories. I enjoy writing them so much, and knowing that other people are enjoying them as well is a wonderful feeling!

The Goddess of Beta-Readers, MarigoldG, deserves credit not only for doing her usual fantastic beta-job, but for the idea of doing a sequel to "Handkerchiefs and Mushroom Soup." I had the bunny for "Handkerchiefs," and she had many bunnies for what we started referring to as the "sickly Pippin" series, which has become the four "remembering" stories inside this story. They seemed to fit together somehow, and this is what finally came out of the big jumble of those ideas. Marigold also wrote much of the Prologue and Interlude Three, and she gets credit for not only thinking up the Elvish phrase in "Bad Sick" but for translating it. And for everyone who complimented the final line of "Handkerchiefs," I absolutely agree with you -- it was perfect, it was brilliant, it was hilarious. And it was all Marigold! Where, oh where, would we be without her?

Thanks also go out to Llinos, Eretria and Murron, who agreed to be my "test subjects" for this story, and for the many suggestions, comments and insights they provided.

This story is a sequel to my story "Handkerchiefs and Mushroom Soup," and I encourage you to read that first. But if you just really don't want to, or if you need a refresher, what you really need to know for this story is that Pippin and Merry quarreled at Brandy Hall, resulting in Pippin riding across the Shire in the freezing rain, first to the Great Smials and then to Bag End. Naturally, he comes down with a cold and nasty cough, and bachelor Frodo is put to the test to care for the sick tween-ager. In the meantime, Merry has ridden to the Smials and learned that Pippin is sick, only he gets a garbled message that Pippin is life-threateningly ill, and dashes off into the night (and the freezing rain) to Hobbiton. He arrives in the middle of the night, discovers that no one is dying and everything is fine and promptly makes up with Pippin. This story begins the morning immediately following Merry's nighttime arrival.

The main body of the story (the prologue, the interludes, "Suo-Gan" and "I Always Know You") is set in the early spring of the year 1409 SR, so Pippin is 19, Merry is 27, Frodo is 41 and Sam is 29. Bilbo would have left the Shire eight years earlier, but it is nine years before Frodo leaves the Shire with the Ring. The four "remembering" stories ("Just in Time for Supper," "Green Hill Country," "The Tiniest of All," and "Bad Sick") are set at earlier times in the cousins' lives, and can be read as individual stories, if you so choose. I put a legend at the top of each one indicating the year and place.

About the story lines: nothing here conflicts with canon, but I have taken quite a bit of liberty with some characters' histories. There is nothing from Tolkien that supports the health history I have given Pippin, but his descriptions of Pippin in the books were the seed of the idea, and both MarigoldG and I had independently concluded that Pippin's health was frailer than that of the other hobbits. Specifically, there were several references to Pippin lagging behind, and to him being smaller than the other hobbits. Also, he had the most difficulty at the Redhorn Pass. He may not have been of age, but certainly was a full-grown hobbit physically, so if anything, he should have had more energy and stamina than his older hobbit companions. (Have any of you tried to keep up with a teen-ager on an outing lately? If you have, you know what I'm talking about.) The other serious liberty I have taken is with the history of Merry's parents in "Bad Sick." I won't give away story lines here, but the liberty will be glaringly obvious to Tolkien-versed readers. I wanted something to connect Merry to his parents through common experience, and it seemed to fit. The family trees do not support it, but given the circumstances, it might not have shown up there in later years.

I had not intended to post this in chapters, but changed my mind. I will post two segments at a time, and then three final segments together. It is finished, however, and I promise to update every two or three days. There are 11 parts in all.

I also wanted to let everyone know that I now have a Web site up and running. I will post this story there in segments, as I post them at this site. There also are two stories on the site that I have not previously posted elsewhere, one, "Nick and the Grogoch," because it is not so much a LOTR fanfiction as it is a fairy tale featuring hobbits, and the other, "Faramir the Great and Magnificent," because it is not strictly a story but just some streaming thoughts from a young Faramir Took. "Nick and the Grogoch" belongs to Pippin, and is mentioned in "Bad Sick." I hope some of you will take a look at the site: www.geocities.com/baylorsr.

So enough from me. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the story!

Baylor