Pippin was declared dead today.
The candle flickers. Somewhere, a window shutter slams. I can hear Pimpernel's sobbing through our shared wall.
It has been five months since That Day. Rumours of the cause of his death have been circling since the third morning. Most Tooks gave up hope in the third month.
The moon doesn't provide much light. I drag the candle closer and dip my quill in the ink well.
Mother and Father seem to be in a state of shock. The thought of Pippin – dear, laughing Pippin! – being dead cannot be stomached easily. Politically, it is a disaster for Father, Pippin being his only heir. The more power-hungry Tooks began circling our distant cousins only days after Pippin disappeared, hoping to gain influence among the new heirs. Vultures, the lot of them.
I removed my mourning gown as soon as we arrived home from the memorial service. It is slung over the back of my chair, the stiff, scratchy material making a poor cushion. As children, Pippin and I loathed our formal clothes. Perhaps that is why it felt so wrong to wear them today.
The whole of the Shire seemed to be at the service this morning. The entire Took clan were present, naturally, and also the majority of the Banks: Mother's kin. There were Boffins and Bolgers, Chubbs and Clayhangers, Goodbodies and Smallburrows and many, many more. Some came from further afield, journeying from Bree and its surrounding villages. Also there – the only ones who can truly understand – were the Brandybucks and Gamgees. The funerals for Merry, Frodo and Sam were held last week.
Mother and Father have a close relationship with Esmeralda and Saradoc, Esmeralda being Father's youngest sister and Saradoc being one of Mother's childhood friends. This relationship has only deepened since the disappearance of Pippin and Merry, to the fury of Pearl. She holds Merry responsible for the loss of Pippin, as he was the elder of the two.
The service was held under the open sky, a beautiful, cloudless blue expanse. It seemed appropriate: Pippin often called this weather 'perfect for adventuring'. The service itself was far from what Pippin would have enjoyed. He has never been one for formalities.
Pearl and Pimpernel are inconsolable. The service was accompanied by their endless weeping. Father and Mother seemed almost lost, their grief beyond words. I was silent.
The majority of the mourners returned to our smial after the service. The children escaped into the gardens to raid the orchards at the first opportunity whilst the adults grouped themselves in kitchens, dining rooms and parlours, busying themselves in the preparation and consumption of food.
I retreat to my bedroom: impolite, certainly, yet bereavement allows a departure of manners. I am joined within minutes by Pimpernel and Pearl. We talk more than we have done in months, about Pippin mostly. His laughter. His humour. His love of life.
Pearl and Pimpernel were never close to Pippin in childhood. They were older, less inclined to explore the smials and surrounding fields. They regret it now, and pile me with questions about adventures I shared with our brother over the year, in which the only part they played was to scold over torn skirts or deliver dire warnings of our parents' wrath at our lateness.
It is not until the pair are yawning with grief-induced exhaustion that they ask the question that has plagued the entire Took clan for the past five months.
"Where do you think he is?" murmurs Pearl, finally. She has asked this question many times, with many inflections. Pain. Anger. Despair.
"The Brandywine, probably, or the Old Forest," Pimpernel sighs. Both are areas of the Shire avoided by most Hobbits. Both have been explored by Pippin, often with Merry by his side. Few other Hobbits dare to explore these areas: great swathes have not been searched at all.
"I don't think he is," I reply, to the astonishment of my sisters. I have never shared this view before.
"Where then?" Pimpernel asks, "Where could he be? The Shire has been searched from top to bottom; unless he went to Bree, there is nowhere else he could be. We shall probably never find his... his body."
"I don't know where he is, but we shan't find his body. Pippin isn't dead, sisters." They trade astonished glances but squeeze my hands. They probably believe my denial to be a way to deal with my grief.
I have never shared my belief with any other, yet in my heart I know it to be true. Somewhere, be it in the Shire or the wider world, my brother lives. I have never been more certain of anything in my life.
Dearest Pippin, your heart beats still. I do not know where, I do not know how, but you are alive. Know this Pippin: my love goes with you, brother. You are a Took, dear brother, and you are strong. Someday, dear Pippin, you shall come home.
Signed, your loving sister, Pervinca Took.