Pennies for a Sunny Day by Cathleen

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Author's Chapter Notes:

This story was a Marigold Challenge Fic!
March 2006
Beta: Marigold


“Pennies for a Sunny Day”

His penny jar rested high on the shelf above his books. Pippin stared at it in consternation wondering just how it had managed to get way up there. He plunked down the stuffed rabbit he had clutched to his chest for the past hour since being sent to his room and considered how he would go about retrieving his pennies from their resting place. His face scrunched up in concentration, Pippin dragged a chair across the bedroom and climbed on it. He shook his curly head. Uh, uh. Not nearly close enough. What next?

He pondered, looking about the small room with a studied eye. Hmm. His gaze fell upon the shelf containing his books. Excitedly, Pippin began piling the volumes on the chair and then stood upon them. In this precarious position he reached cautiously upward, his
fingers stretched out, inching ever closer but still quite unable to touch his prize. Pip wrinkled his nose in disgust, breathing in a whiff of dust as he did. A tickle began in his nose and he tried desperately to stifle the sneeze that threatened to burst forth. The distraction was his undoing and he tumbled down from his impossible perch, sprawling on the floor with a loud thud. The books showered down on him as the chair slid out and smacked the wall hard.

“Owww!”

The youngster sat up carefully massaging his left elbow, gazing up at the jar of pennies with a heated frown. A moment later the door to his room banged open and his mother and eldest sister flew in, skirts fluttering and identical expressions of alarm on their faces. Pearl fell to her knees beside her baby brother and began to examine him while his mother fussed.

“Pick him up, lass! Put him here on the bed so I can have a look at him.”

Pearl scooped Pippin up in her arms and placed him gently on his bed. Eglantine bent to study her little one, running her hands over his limbs as she sought to reassure herself he was unharmed. Pippin struggled against her ministrations, batting away his mother’s hands with some indignation.

“I’m all right Mum!” Irritated with the unwanted attention he scowled up at both of them.

Eglantine stepped back, hands on hips, and scrutinized her youngest. “Well I see that, Peregrin. And that little tumble hasn’t helped your foul mood either.”

Pearl laughed, causing her brother to turn his frown upon her. “Aye, Mum! The little rascal is in the same state of mind as when you sent him in here. What were you doing up there, Pip? Besides, of course, something foolish!” Pearl tapped him on top of the head.

Pippin pouted and squirmed away. “If you must know, I was trying to reach my penny jar. I don’t understand how it got up so high.”

“Thinking of doing a bit of shopping, were you?” Pearl grinned and reached the jar down to him.

“I believe it got put up there to keep you out of it, young sir.” His mother shook her head. “As I recall you were dipping into it for some nonsense every little while. You remember you are supposed to be saving some of your money for a sunny day, not fooling it away on sweets and such. Now, you may count your pennies but I want you to put every one of them back in the jar when you are done. Understood?”

“Yes, Mum.”

Pippin clutched his stuffed rabbit in one arm as he pulled off the jar lid. When they made no move to leave he paused and stared at them. Eglantine glanced at her daughter, a little smile quirking at the corners of her mouth.

“Well Pearl, I can see we’re not needed here anymore. Come, let’s leave this scamp to his own devices.” Eglantine tilted her son’s chin upward. “No more climbing, you hear me?”

Pippin nodded his head vigorously.

“And put those back on the shelf.” She pointed at the heap of storybooks on the floor.

Pippin nodded again and watched the door close behind them. He breathed a sigh of relief. It was bad enough being forced to spend the entire afternoon in one’s room for only a small transgression, but attracting the attention of the ones he was in trouble with only added to the problem. Pippin shook his head and then grinned. Well, it was worth it to see the look on Pearl’s face when she discovered the frogs in her bedroom! It had taken him hours to gather them, but then when was a prank not worth his best effort? Pippin giggled. Served her right, the tattletale. Telling Mum I didn’t finish my chores. Well, just try getting them all out now! Anyway, he liked frogs. They made a pleasant sound that lulled him to sleep on a summer’s eve.

He turned his attention back to the jar and dumped the coins out on his bed. There was a good deal of money here! Too bad his mum was making him save it all. Who cared about a sunny day, or a rainy one for that matter? He could find uses for his money on any old day. Pippin counted the pennies. He had been saving them for some time. His mum didn’t realize he had been sneaking some of them out despite her warnings. Pippin counted twenty-three pennies. He calculated in his head and then got up to look in his chest. Smiling, he withdrew the seven pennies he’d hidden beneath some clothing. He eyed the coins on the bed and added three more to his hand. Pippin studied the small treasure before stashing the handful of money back into the drawer and pushing it shut.

Feeling very pleased with himself he put the remaining pennies back in the jar and replaced the top, sliding it onto his nightstand. Ten pennies! Now he would have plenty to spend when he went to Bag End tomorrow! Pippin was very happy that his mother was letting him stay with his cousins while she and his sisters went shopping in Hobbiton. He knew Merry was visiting too and was very excited about all the fun they would have.

He considered his actions. Money for a sunny day. Hmph! He glanced out the window. It certainly is a sunny day. Too nice to be stuck indoors. Pippin felt he had been punished enough for his little escapade. He wondered if his mum would see it that way? He pulled the door open quietly and peered down the hall. No one was about at the moment. He crept into the sitting room. Looking carefully around he made it all the way to the front door before feeling a firm tug on his shirt collar. Pippin started and tipped his head back cautiously. He found himself looking up into the disapproving face of his mother. Pip flashed her an innocent smile.

“And just where do you think you’re going? Not out the door, I’ll wager.”

“Umm… Don’t you think I’ve been punished for long enough? After all, it was only a few frogs--”

“Only a few? My dear lad, in case you’ve forgotten, it was an entire sack full you dumped in your sister’s bed. Why, this entire smial will be alive with the song of frogs of all sizes croaking away for days! So the answer is no, I don’t believe you’ve had an adequate amount of time to think about your mischief. And here I’ve caught you trying to sneak out. So, for all your trouble young Peregrin, you may spend the rest of the day in your room right up until bedtime!”

“But Mum!”

“But what?”

Pippin considered his dilemma. He was tempted to stomp his foot in protest. Truth be told, he came very close to doing just that, but something about the gleam in his mother’s eye stopped him. He pouted for a moment instead.

“What about supper?”

“Oh, you’ll get your supper all right, my little rascal. In your room. And if you don’t want to have it standing up you had best get yourself back there before I tell your da what you’ve been up to!” Eglantine turned him around and gave him a little push. “Now march!”

Pippin shuffled his way back to the dreaded confining space, grumbling all the way as his mother trailed him.

“What’s that?”

“Nothing Mum.”

“Best quit while you’re ahead, lad.”

Pippin said nothing as he shut the door to his room once more. Sitting on the bed he placed his chin in his hand and surveyed his surroundings in glum silence. So much for a sunny day. Pippin stretched out on his bed and began to make plans for his visit to Bag End, entertaining himself with thoughts of adventure until he finally fell asleep.

*******
“Come, let’s go see what the other lads are up to!” Merry was already running ahead as his older cousin joined him.

“I don’t know, Merry. I think everyone’s gone down to the Water to paddle by now. It’s such a hot day.” Frodo fanned himself with one hand as he followed Merry.

“Besides, Aunt Eglantine is dropping Pippin off here about midday while she and the lasses go shopping in Hobbiton. Remember? Merry? They’ll all be spending the night. Merry? Where did you go?” Frodo looked around, puzzled. His cousin seemed to have vanished into thin air. He cupped his hands to his mouth and called out. Turning, he noticed Sam ambling up the lane and smiled warmly. It was good to see him being allowed some time away from work.

“Sam! It’s good to see you. What are you about today?”

“The Gaffer gave me the rest of the day off. It’s too hot, you know. He says he’s afraid I’m going to have a heatstroke out in the sun and he wants me to go get cooled off.” Sam mused as they walked. “I wish I could swim. Wish I wasn’t so afraid of the water.”

Frodo threw an arm around his friend’s shoulder affectionately. “I have offered to teach you.”

“I know. I just haven’t got over being afraid.”

“Well, you’ll do it when you’re ready. But you can still cool off with the rest of us. Just wade around a bit. Come! I’m sure Merry’s already down there by now. I have to be back in time to meet my aunt, though. She’s coming with Pippin and the lasses later today, so I’d best get to having some fun while I’m able.”

Sam and Frodo soon joined the other lads at the popular spot beneath the great oak tree. Merry waved wildly at them.

“Come on in! The water’s fine!”

He dove beneath the clear water and Sam suppressed a shiver as he watched. Frodo laughed at his cousin’s antics and peeled down to his short clothes. Urging Sam to join them Frodo jumped in and swam out to Merry, the lads by the bank watching them in awe.

“Come on in Sam!” Merry called.

Sam shook his head shyly and took a seat, sprawling out his legs and leaning back against the big tree. He yawned. A little nap would be just the thing.

After a long morning of swimming and playing in the water Frodo and Merry joined Sam under the tree. The other lads left to go home for some luncheon. The friends lounged about for a little longer, enjoying the lazy noonday sun.

“What are we going to do with Pippin here?” Merry complained, chewing on a blade of grass. “He’s too little to do anything with us.”

“No he’s not. We can bring him down here. Or whatever we decide to do, pretty much.”

Merry snorted. “Sure, and we’ll spend more time keeping him out of trouble than doing anything else! I thought we were going to have time to ourselves this visit, Frodo?”

“Well, I can’t help it! Bilbo has told Aunt Tina it’s all right.”

“Then why can’t Bilbo watch him?”

“Don’t be so selfish, Merry. It’s only for the afternoon. His mum and sisters will be back by supper time.”

“Almost as bad. They’ll talk our ears off! You know how lasses are. We won’t have any more time to ourselves for the rest of the day or the evening.”

“Well, maybe we can sneak off for a bit later tonight.” Frodo turned to Sam. “How about that, Sam? Can you come out later? We’ll come back down here, maybe take the little boat out.”

“I can probably manage that.”

“Good! It’s decided then.”

“Pip will whinge to come along. You wait and see.”

“It’ll work out. It will be late enough that Aunt Tina will make him stay in by then.”

“Right. You know how he always gets his way.”

“Nevertheless. We’d best be getting back.” Frodo stood and gathered his things. “I’m sure they’ll arrive at any moment.”

Sam and Merry trailed him as they ambled up the long path toward home. Reaching the top of the meadow, Frodo pointed.

“Look, they’re here. Come!”

“Aunt Tina!” Frodo grinned as he climbed the steep path to Bag End. “It’s good to see you.” He nodded to the girls as Merry and Sam caught up with him.

“Frodo!” Pippin stood up in the back of the carriage and launched himself into his cousin’s arms.

“Pip! Good aim, lad!” Frodo laughed as he caught him.

Merry stood to the side, moping a bit. Pippin spied him next.

“Merry!” Pippin swung down from Frodo’s arms and scooted over to him, clamoring to be picked up.

Merry couldn’t help but grin as he wrapped his arms around his small cousin and lifted him. “Hullo Pip. What are you up to?”

“Visiting my two favorite cousins for a whole week!” Pippin crowed.

Merry almost dropped him as he whirled to stare at Frodo in alarm.

Frodo was still wearing his smile, although it had twisted into more of a grimace.

Their aunt seemed oblivious to their distress. “Well, when dear Bilbo offered to let Peregrin stay to visit I just couldn’t say no. He does so love playing with you both.”

Pervinca snickered and teased her cousins.

“Oh, Merry and Frodo wouldn’t pass up a chance to spend a whole week with little Pippin, now would they? Bilbo is such a dear to take him off our hands!”

“Here, let me help you with that Auntie.” Frodo reached up to take two of the bags off of the carriage; his smile was now frozen in place. Merry rolled his eyes as he set Pippin on the ground and held out his hands to take a bag. Frodo simply shrugged at him, a soft sigh escaped from his lips.

The door stood open and just then Bilbo stepped out, busily brushing his hands on his trousers. “Well, come in, come in! Get out of that hot sun now. And how is everyone this fine day?” He acknowledged Sam with a nod. “Now Tina, I’ve placed those bags just inside one of the back bedrooms. That should suit the lasses just fine for tonight.”

“Oh, ‘tis simply too warm.” Eglantine sank wearily into the nearest chair and fanned herself. “We really must be on our way soon, Bilbo. We have quite a bit to accomplish before the evening.” She smiled fondly at him. “Thank you so much for your kind invitation to spend the night.”

“Oh, it’s my pleasure! Truly, my dear.”

“And I am so pleased you invited Pippin to stay with his cousins for the week. It will give me such a break—er, such a nice bit of time to do some other things. Thank you again.”

Bilbo chuckled. It was certainly no secret in this family what a handful young Peregrin was. “Not at all my dear, not at all. Why, the lads will have a grand time together I’m sure. Won’t you?”

Pippin grinned and bobbed his head up and down happily.

Merry opened his mouth to speak but Frodo hurried to answer. “Of course we will, Uncle.” He poked Merry. “Won’t we?”

“Oh, of course we will. Can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing!”

Eglantine inclined her head toward her nephews. “And naturally you will be looking out for Peregrin at all times, won’t you?”

“Oh, aye Auntie! Of course we will.” Merry smiled sweetly.

“Well then, we’ll be on our way. We should be back by late supper time.” She called her son over. “Pippin, you behave yourself now, you hear? I don’t want to hear you’ve been up to anything naughty while we’ve been gone.”

“I’llbegoodMumbye!” Pippin was already running out the front door before the words were out of his mother’s mouth. She stared after him in dismay.

Bilbo nudged Frodo and nodded toward the door, raising an eyebrow. Frodo obediently took off after his cousin. Merry followed at a slower pace feeling resigned to his fate. He was already tired just watching Pippin go and envisioned the coming week as anything but dull. Sam just grinned and joined in the chase.

******
The evening sun was low in the sky as they sat down to enjoy the last meal of the day. Eglantine and her daughters were all abuzz with news of their shopping excursion and the lads were just as busy tuning out their bubbly conversation as they concentrated on their meal.

Merry nudged his elder cousin for the third time and rolled his eyes skyward. It seemed he’d had about enough of the conversation and was eagerly awaiting their escape. Frodo simply shook his head one more time. Merry glowered and kicked his legs restlessly underneath the table. Pippin was also becoming tired of listening and was playing with his spoon and fork. He finally attracted his mother’s attention.

“Pippin, if you’re done then get down from the table and stop your fidgeting.”

“Let’s be on our way!” Pip slid his short legs off his chair and hopped down. He had no lack of energy although the day was drawing to a close and looked up at his cousins eagerly, a bright twinkle lighting his eyes.

“On our way to where, Pip?” Merry asked uneasily.

“Umm, Pippin don’t you think you’ve had enough excitement for one day?” Frodo also stood and placed his napkin on the table slowly as he carefully considered his words. “Why not curl up with a book or something?” Even as the words left his mouth Frodo realized how ridiculous the suggestion sounded when addressed to Pippin. Sure enough, his cousin gaped at him as if he’d suddenly grown two heads.

“What? Of course I’m not ready to read right now Frodo! I want to go out and play with you and Merry.” He tugged at Frodo’s sleeve and bounced up and down. “Where are we going?”

Frodo sighed and glanced over at Merry, shrugging helplessly.

“Auntie, wouldn’t it be a good idea if Pip stayed in now?” Merry pleaded.

Eglantine eyed them thoughtfully as Pippin geared up for a tantrum.

“No! It’s too early stay in. I want to go with you! Mummm…” Pippin yanked vigorously on his mother’s skirt.

“Now stop that right this minute. Your cousins are correct I think. You’ve had quite the busy day and I believe it’s time for you to settle down a bit before bed. And it’s still too hot for you to be bouncing about like that.”

“Noooo! I want to go out with Merry and Frodo!”

Bilbo cleared his throat to speak, wishing to nip this little scene before it had a chance to explode. “Well, how about you lads just stay in with your cousin this time, hmm? You can read a book together, and later we’ll make toffee. What do you say?”

Pippin stared up at them, his hand still gripping Frodo’s sleeve. His tear-streaked face was hopeful. Frodo sighed once more and Merry joined him this time. Ever the responsible one, Frodo nodded.

“Certainly, Uncle. Come, let’s choose a book, shall we?”

Pippin hopped ahead of them, content only to be with his cousins. Merry followed reluctantly. They had been so close, until Bilbo interfered. It wasn’t fair!

“I’ll need to let Sam know we’re not coming back out.”

Merry nodded glumly as he followed Pippin to the bookshelf.

***

The sun rose bringing with it another unusually hot and humid day. Frodo opened one blue eye and found himself staring into his youngest cousin’s green ones, which were located just a hair’s breadth from his nose. Frodo released a groan. Pippin grinned.

“And just how long have you been standing there?” Frodo inquired, closing his eye again and not moving.

“Oh, not long. Only a few minutes I suppose. Are you going to get up now Frodo?”

“Why do you want to know?”

“Because! We’ve lots to do today! And the sun is up, and Mum and my sisters are getting ready to leave and I want to go down to the water and see the little boat and the swing under the tree. Oh yes, and I have ten pennies to spend while I’m here, maybe we can go into Hobbiton or maybe even farther than that what do you think? Frodo? Frodo? Wake up Frodo!” Pippin reached out a small hand and shook him, eliciting another groan from his cousin.

Frodo opened one eye again. “Pip. I have an idea. Why don’t you go wake up Merry? Just the same way you did me. Go and stand by his bed and wait for him to open an eye or two, all right? I know he’d really appreciate it. He told me once how much he likes it when you wake him up like that.”

“Really? All right! I’ll go do it right this minute.” Pippin paused by the door as he was about to dart away. “And Frodo?”

“Hmm?”

“After I do, I’ll be right back to make sure you got up too!” Pip scampered out.

Headed for your poor unsuspecting cousin. And I’ve no doubt you’ll be back, you little nuisance. Sooner than I want you to. Frodo grinned as he turned over in bed and tried to go back to sleep. A moment later he heard a loud moan from the room next to his and then a shout.

“He said what?”

Frodo chuckled, an evil sound even to his own ears. Served him right! He hurried to pull the covers up over his head as he heard the sound of feet pounding their way toward him.

“Oomph!” Frodo clawed at the blankets frantically as he attempted to push Merry off of himself only to be accosted by Pippin, who threw himself gleefully on top of him next. The tangle of hobbits landed hard on the floor, laughter emanating from them all.

“Oh, I’ll get you for that, Frodo! Just wait and see.”

Merry tackled him again and Frodo got the best of him and reversed their positions, pinning him down by the arms and sitting on his chest.

“You were saying?”

Pippin giggled wildly and threw himself on top of Frodo, toppling him over. The noise attracted the attention of Bilbo and Eglantine, who appeared to see what all the commotion was about.

Bilbo chuckled. “Ah, lads will be lads, won’t they Tina? Come now, get up and dressed before the hobbit on the bottom of the heap gets squished beyond all repair.”

Eglantine reached out and plucked her youngest off the top. “Come with me young sir, and we’ll get you ready for the day, shall we?” Pippin rewarded his mother with an impish grin as she settled him on her hip. “Little rascal! You woke your cousins up early, didn’t you now?” She laughed when Pippin nodded his head quickly up and down, obviously proud of his accomplishment.

First breakfast over and dishes washed up. No small accomplishment with this many hobbits underfoot, mused Bilbo. Only one day behind them and he found himself already yearning for a bit of peace and quiet in his study! Perhaps I can entice these lads into doing something on their own for the entire day? Something very tiring, he thought, remembering Pippin and his non-stop energy. Oh well, Bilbo. You did ask for it after all!

Drying his hands on a tea towel he went in search of his charges. They were still outside watching down the road as Eglantine and her small brood departed. Perfect.

“Now lads, do you think you might enjoy a picnic lunch? Hmm? You could camp out down by the Water, take the little boat out or go swimming? Or go for a hike across the meadow? As long as you’re able to keep a close watch on your little cousin.”

“It won’t be a problem Bilbo. We’ll take care of him. And your idea sounds lovely.” Frodo turned to his cousins. “What do you say? Shall we?”

“Yes, at least we’ll be outside.”

“I want to go in the boat!” Pippin tugged on Merry’s sleeve. “Merry, will you take me out for a ride? And then go swimming?”

Bilbo sat down on the bench outside the door and beckoned Pippin to him. “I want you to listen very carefully to me, my lad. Do I have your full attention? Yes? All right. You are to mind every single word your cousins tell you. They are to keep you safe and I’ll not tolerate one bit of disobedience on your part or for the rest of your visit you’ll not enjoy any freedom at all. Do you understand me Peregrin?”

“Of course I do, Cousin Bilbo! I’ll mind them, I promise.”

“All right then.” Bilbo rose, still staring down at the young hobbit. He shook his finger at Pippin. “I certainly don’t want to find you hanging from your braces in the nearest tree either! Remember what happened last time you were here.”

“How could I forget when everyone keeps reminding me?”

“Now, don’t be getting cheeky with me. I don’t want you getting hurt.” Bilbo waved them off. “Go ahead then and get ready for your adventure.”

They started back in and Frodo laid a hand on Bilbo’s arm. “Don’t worry. I’ll look after him.”

“Oh, I know you will. But he is a handful. I have just never been able to get the picture of him hanging up in that tree out of my mind!” He shook his head.

“Well, I’ll have an extra pair of eyes because Sam will be with us for the afternoon. I’m trying to get him to let me teach him how to swim.”

“There’s a good lad. And Pippin? How is he doing with that?”

“Quite well, actually. But he’s not a strong swimmer yet by any means. Merry is doing very well though.”

“Just the same, you can’t be too careful around the water. Remember that.”

******
The gear was packed and they set off for the brook that lead to the Water, stopping by to gather up Sam as they left. Having an adventure was uppermost in their thoughts. Pippin swung his little pack as he marched, Merry grinning fondly at his back. His disgruntlement had been forgotten now that they were free to do as they pleased. He hoped Pip would keep his promise and not spoil their fun.

“Here’s a good spot!” Merry indicated an area well shaded between the oak tree and a willow. We can put up our tent here. There’s a good place to attach the rope.”

The others nodded in agreement and tossed their belongings down. The lunch basket was set carefully aside, a treasure in its own right and deserving of special treatment. The day’s potential stretched out before them but after they’d set up camp the first thing on all their minds was lunch! Sitting in a circle they rested their backs against the trees and shared a small feast. Bilbo had been very generous with them and Sam’s mother had added a few wonderful treats as well. Four utterly contented young hobbits settled back and allowed the warm day to caress them into dozing.

Stirring a short while later Pippin fanned at a butterfly that had landed on his nose, startling him awake. He squeaked in surprise and leaped to his feet. Finding that he was unharmed he giggled and watched the butterfly flit away. His gaze fell on the napping hobbits and a grin lit his face. I know what will get their attention, he thought. Still grinning, he dug into his large pack and pulled out a very small bow and quiver filled with arrows, just suitable for a lad his size. “Look!” He fairly beamed as he held them out proudly.

The others stirred and lazy eyes opened. Merry’s widened immediately upon seeing what Pippin waved in front of him.

“Oh, my! Where did you get that, Pip?” Merry jumped up. “Can I see?”

“Of course you can, Merry!” Pippin handed them over. “Da got them for me on his last trip into Bree. That’s a place where he goes every now and then to trade, but he doesn’t say very much about it. I wanted to surprise you! It’s the first time I’ve been able to take them anywhere.” He frowned. “I’m only allowed to use them with super…super…uh--”

“Supervision? I’m not surprised.” Frodo grinned and scratched his head. “But I am surprised that Aunt Tina failed to mention you had them with you.”

Pippin dug at the ground with his big toe. “Oh, well, perhaps she forgot.”

Frodo’s eyes narrowed. “Or perhaps you forgot to ask her if you could bring them? Pippin, really. You can’t manage to stay out of trouble for long, can you?”

“Well, you don’t have to tell her.”

“Yes, I do. I suppose it’s all right if you use them here as long as we’re with you, but you should have asked. And when we return we’ll have to give them to Bilbo for safekeeping.”

“But--”

Frodo shook his head. “No buts about it, Pip.”

Pippin nodded reluctantly.

They each took turns practicing shooting the arrows into a tree although the bow’s small size made it a bit awkward for everyone except Pippin. Merry was very excited and couldn’t take his eyes off the little bow. “I’d really like to have one of my own.” He grinned at the others. “Of course, I’d rather have one that’s a bit bigger!” He mused, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. “I wonder if I can talk my da into it?”

Pippin beamed at his cousin enthusiastically. “I’ll help you talk him into it Merry!”

Merry frowned. “Well, I’m not sure if that would help or not Pip.”

Frodo cast a knowing look at them and changed the subject. “Well then, what about a swim? Or shall we go out in the boat?”

“I’d like to go in the boat Frodo. I’m still not much for getting in the water, you know.”

“Of course. Who wants to go with Sam and me?”

Pippin jumped up and down. “Oh, I do! Come on Merry, let’s go in the boat!”

“No, I’m going to swim. You go ahead.”

Frodo pushed the rowboat out into the water and lifted Pippin in. Sam followed and climbed in while he held it steady and then helped Frodo in.

“Now, sit down and be still,” Frodo admonished Pippin. “And no standing up.” He suddenly realized how little the directions would mean to Pip and resolved to keep an extra close eye on him. Perhaps a lead. He found himself considering the idea halfway seriously for a moment before shaking his head and smiling to himself.

Merry watched as Frodo maneuvered the boat down the little stream and around the bend. The gleam was back in his eyes and he immediately sought out the bow once again. He ran his hands over it lovingly before donning the quiver and trotting off a little way into the woods. Merry laughed. Such a grown up plaything for a little lad of only six! What was Uncle Paladin thinking? Well, I’m glad he did. Now I can have some fun with it and no one will be the wiser!

Merry spent a delightful hour shooting the arrows at imaginary dragons. Stealthily he stalked them and occasionally leaped out from behind bushes and trees to slay the mighty creatures. He laughed, imagining himself as a tried and true mighty warrior like the elves he had heard stories about from Bilbo. Very quietly he sneaked up on a great dragon he imagined was flying over him high in the sky. Merry took careful aim and showered a volley of the little arrows into the air.

Frodo relaxed in the rowboat while keeping a wary eye on Pippin, who was trailing his fingers in the water as it moved down the stream. “Don’t lean over too far Pip.”

“I’m not!” Pippin quickly took offense at Frodo’s latest warning. He sighed. Pip, don’t do this, Pip, don’t do that. Watch out Pip! That’s dangerous! Keep your hands in the boat, don’t get too close to the edge of the water by yourself. Don’t my cousins think I am capable of doing anything right?

“What are you muttering about, lad?”

“Nothing.”

It was Frodo’s turn to sigh as he picked up the oars. Tossing a long-suffering look at Sam he began to steer the boat toward the shore.

Merry turned toward the sound of Pippin’s high-pitched squeal mingled with the laughter of the other two. He felt his face flush as he was drawn sharply out of his fanciful world and hurried to retrieve all the arrows. It would be a bit embarrassing to have Frodo and Sam find him stalking made-up dragons, not to mention the fact that he wasn’t swimming after all, as he had said. Gathering everything up Merry put the bow and quiver back with Pippin’s things and made a mad dash for the water.

As they reached the bank Frodo waved to Merry who was just wading toward the bank, and then hopped out and grabbed the boat’s line to tie off. He lifted Pippin out and offered a hand to Sam.

Pippin hurried over to his cousin. “Did you have fun Merry? You should have come with us, we saw all kinds of interesting things along the water and a bird swooped down over my head and I could almost touch it and I had fun putting my hands in the water, that is until Frodo told me to stop it and then I had to--”

“I told you to stop it because you were leaning too far over the edge Pip,” Frodo interrupted.

“I was not! I’ve been very, very good, Frodo.” Pippin was indignant.

“Yes, you rascal, you have been awfully good today and I shall be certain to let Bilbo know. All right? Come now, I think it’s about time we packed up and headed back.”

Without a protest Merry and Sam began gathering their things and taking down the little tent. It had been a very pleasant afternoon. Even Pippin didn’t argue as he joined in to help. He finished by lifting the little quiver onto his back and gripping the bow as he prepared to follow the others. Frodo halted.

“Pippin,” he began.

“I just want to carry it back! I’ll give it to Bilbo, I promise. Please, Frodo?”

“All right. Just don’t be shooting any arrows along the way, you hear?”

“Of course not!”

Sam leaned over and whispered in Merry’s ear. “Do you think it might be safer if we walk behind Pippin?”

Merry chuckled and nodded. “That’s not a bad idea, Sam.”

Bilbo was outside enjoying his pipe as the little entourage struggled up the path with their gear. He glanced up and smiled, the smile turning into a frown when he saw what Pippin carried. Bilbo turned a questioning eye to his nephew. Frodo held up his hands in a placating gesture.

“Before you say anything, we didn’t know he had them! And I made certain he played with them safely. In fact, we all had a turn. I told Pip he’d have to give them to you when we returned and that we’d have to let his mother know he brought them with him without permission.”

“Hmm!” Bilbo looked down at the youngster sternly. Pippin smiled winningly up at him, hopeful that the older hobbit wouldn’t scold him too much.

Bilbo sighed. Never a dull moment with this one around. “I suppose there’s no harm done. Well young sir! Is there anything else up your sleeve that I should know about?”

Pippin shook his head vigorously from side to side.

“All right then, why don’t you all get washed up for supper then? Samwise, I’ve spoken to your father and you have permission to dine with us if you’d like.”

“If I’d like?” Sam could not contain the huge grin. It had been a long while since he’d been able to have so much time to while away with friends. “Thank you Mr Bilbo, sir. That’s lovely!”

“Well, come on then!” Bilbo gestured to the door. He halted Pippin on his way in and confiscated the small bow and quiver, cringing inwardly at the little rascal’s ability to put one over on him. Pippin frowned as he gave up his beloved plaything, but knew better than to protest.

******
The week actually passed by quickly, a fact that surprised even Bilbo. The last day of the visit was at hand and Bilbo was taking the lads in to Hobbiton for lunch as a farewell treat. Sam would be unable to join them since the heat had abated and he was back at work in the gardens helping his father.

Pippin excitedly counted his pennies over and over as he sat in the little pony cart with his cousins. “Pennies for a sunny day!” His sing-song voice repeated again and again.

“Pippin, will you stop singing about your money?” Merry pleaded. “Or at least change the tune.”

Pippin grinned up at him. “I saved and saved and my mum wouldn’t let me spend any of my pennies for a long time.” And she doesn’t even know I have these! Pippin giggled at his resourcefulness.

“Yes, well aren’t you glad? You have ten whole pennies to spend now. That’s quite a lot of money, isn’t it?” Bilbo smiled down at his little charge.

“Aye! And it’s all mine,” Pippin chortled.

“What, you aren’t going to share with your poorer cousins?” Frodo hid a grin as he said this.

Pippin stared at him disbelievingly. “Of course I’m going to share it Frodo Baggins! How could you think I wouldn’t?” Pippin was insulted.

Frodo put an arm around him. “Naturally Pip. We know how generous you are, don’t we Merry?”

Merry grinned. “Of course we do.” He placed an arm around Pippin also. “And we’re going to miss you when you leave tomorrow. Say, since you’re feeling so generous, how about lending me your bow and arrows? I’d take really good care of them.”

“Merry.” Frodo looked at his cousin disapprovingly.

“What? I just thought--”

“Uh huh. And I just think that’s a bad idea, young Meriadoc,” Bilbo interrupted them. “At least as long as you’re staying at Bag End where I’m responsible for you. So I’d just be forgetting that notion my lad.”

Merry sighed and rolled his eyes at Bilbo.

“You just had to try, didn’t you?” Frodo laughed.

“I’ll bring them next time I visit Merry!” Pippin assured him.

“With your mum’s permission,” Frodo reminded him.

“Well, I hope that’s soon then!” Merry startled himself. “I can’t believe I just said that,” he muttered.

“I’ll ask mum if I can stay longer now!” Pippin giggled, and bounced up and down, delighted with his idea. “You know, she just may let me. She says she’s always able to get so much done when I’m visiting with relatives and you can tell her how much you like having me here and how lonely you’d be without me and we still have so much more we could do and then we could take that long hike in the meadow that we never got to do because it was too hot….” Pippin paused to take a deep breath and continued, “And Bilbo can take us into Hobbiton more than this one time and…”

All three of them groaned, Merry the loudest.




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