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Author name: Rhapsody the Bard (pinch-hitter)
Recipient's name: Cathleen/ceshaughnessy
Title: The Gift that finally came
Rating: PG
Request: I'd like a story about a young Pippin on the farm at Whitwell. Pippin is given a new puppy and has a lot to learn about caring for a dog. A family Yule full of fluff and humor with a moral at the end, with all the immediate Took's in the story.
Author's notes: attached at the bottom of the story.
Beta: Dreamflower/dreamflower02
Summary: Solstice is here and Pippin is quite distraught to learn that his sisters will get more presents than he... What has gone wrong? A wee Yuletide mystery.


The Gift that finally came

Something wasn’t sitting very well with him. Pippin couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but the more he watched how his sisters counted the presents beneath the tree, the more he started to wonder what he might have missed the past months. “… six, seven, and eight! How much longer must we wait?” Pearl sang cheerfully in the living room. “Eight for me as well!” Pimpernel happily joined in and then said, “But why does Pippin get only two?”

Pippin cringed; he knew his numbers well and could very well read his own name and that of his sisters, or mum and dad for that matter. It was that first thing in the morning that he had checked for himself, and what now his sisters had discovered. What had he done wrong? Dad had counted every piece of luggage when they left Tuckborough for the cosy farm here up at Whitwell. Nothing was missing; he knew that for sure since he stood beside his dad as his assistant.

What was it then? He didn’t dare to ask his mother who was humming merrily her own song in the pantry down the hall. To be honest: he was not sure he would like her answer. There were times that his mum could be very angry with him: things like forgetting to feed the chickens or cleaning the milk jar. It was just that stuff he would sometimes forget about when his friends asked to play with him. All she had to do then was not to utter a word to show her disappointment and it always made him feel very uncomfortable. The look in her eyes, the small line that had become her mouth… Today she showed nothing of that. He knew, he so knew that he had been a very good lad this year, especially since he promised dad last year after he smashed some of mum’s tree ornaments. She had been very upset with him for days since they had belonged to her own mum and she simply could not understand his very simple explanation. That all he had wanted to see was how they’d bounce on the cushions.

The facts were these: merely two presents placed beneath the tree for him and he had no idea what to do except to stare down at his food while his stomach was tied in knots.

“Pippin lad?” His mother suddenly called out to him and he shivered when her warm fingers brushed his cheek, “The snow storm will not abate for now and I think your dad won’t be home for some more hours. Do you want to join us for a quick snack and join us in opening the presents?”

He wasn’t sure what to say, something she’d like to hear like ‘Yes mum, I will soon join you’. The last thing he wanted now was to see how his sisters unwrapped their abundant solstice presents while he was left with two meagre ones? Instead he shook his head. “No mum, I'd rather wait for dad in his study.” He didn’t want to hear her answer and quickly he rose to his feet to leave the kitchen with his head bowed. Of course he heard his mother calling out to him, but the more she said, the more quickly he ran down the corridor as far away from the joy as he could. He simply did not wanted to be present. Tears blocked his view, but Pippin knew that his father’s study was on the right, facing the southern meadows. On clear days one could see Longbottom’s party tree.

Once he closed the door of the study behind him, he felt the dry heat coming from the fireplace. The crackling of the burning wood soothed his nerves and he felt very safe here. There wasn’t a big roaring fire as his father preferred, but it was enough to warm the room for the time being. Pippin moved towards the warmth and picked up some blocks to add them to the fire. Then his eye caught the empty basket next to his father’s chair and his heart sank. Another thing that he could always turn to when he felt unsettled was no longer there. As Dad told him, feisty Pepper had been called home to Huan’s halls and would forever roam on the green grasses, chasing down rabbits and other wildlife that would give him a merry chase. Of course Pippin knew that though Pepper would have been with his father on visits like this, he missed him all the same. Dad’s study was not the same without him. It all happened so soon: His father’s favourite dog passed away this autumn, leaving everyone to wonder as to the why. Many guesses had been made; some had said a food poisoning others had claimed that their family dog had been bitten by some foul creature. After Pepper had been buried in Tuckborough’s backyard close to his beloved Dogwood tree, his father had not chosen a new dog after that. Pippin missed the poor creature that always had been around as long as he could remember. He missed the tippet-taps on the floor, that wet nose that so stealthily would press against his hand during supper, begging for scraps that dad had strictly forbidden. Or just sometimes during a storm and Pippin had been tossing around in his bed, Pepper would jump up his bed to snuggle close. All would be well with such a friend at his side.

He knelt down next to the basket and noticed that the old pillow had been replaced by a new one. Pippin sat back at his heels and wondered why his father would have done that? Another mystery has been added to his own puzzle, not much made any sense to him now.

“Pippin?” Pervinca’s voice startled him and he looked up to meet her gaze. His elder sister could be very quiet when she chose to and he could not miss the look of pity that was in her eyes. “You can have half of my presents if you want to.”

“Vinca,” Pippin didn’t know what to say, but the thought of unwrapping girls gifts got to him unbidden. “Sweet Vinca, you know I cannot. Those presents are yours, you earnt them so much and …”

“I just don’t want to see you so sad, Pippin. You deserve as much as we all have gotten.” Pervinca sighed and replied sadly, “I wish I understood as well Pip.”

Pippin rose to his feet and hugged his sister tight, “There is something I must have done Vinca, mum is not angry with me as far as I can tell, so I have to ask dad.”

“Da mad with you? He left cheerfully this morning, I promise. There was nothing amiss with his mood, I swear,” Pervinca shook her head and stepped away from him, “I just don’t think this is fair.”

“Just go back to mum and the others, okay? Everything will be alright,” he sighed deeply and raked his hand through his hair, ’t will be okay Vinca.” His sister gave him a painful look and merely nodded to him. Once she had left the study, Pippin curled up in the chair next to his dad and waited for him to come home. Added to the confusion that was in his head now, it was of course his stomach that started to growl quite painfully as well.

~*~

The smial remained quiet once Paladin entered it. He knew everyone was at home, but there were no cheerful children surrounding him, no merry song coming from any the rooms. If he listened more carefully he could hear two of his daughters chatting to another, but that was it. It was as if the winter chill invaded his always so lively home. The basket he held in his hands stirred and he placed it carefully on the ground before he unslung his cloak from his shoulders. After a firm shake he hung it on the coat peg next to the door. Then he quickly stole a glance at the living room and noticed that most of the presents beneath the tree were still unwrapped.

“Tine? I am home!” He boomed down the hallway and heard how a door was pulled open. Instead of his wife he saw how little Pervinca stepped outside one of the rooms and shot him a serious look before she turned around and returned back from where she had come.

“She’s very upset with you. The other girls have chalked it down to Pippin’s all year long’s mischief, but she simply doesn’t understand. Neither does Peregrin, Paladin. I told you that this was a bad idea.” Eglantine admonished him with her hands firmly planted on her hips, with one foot still left in the kitchen.

“We’ve discussed this. It couldn’t be done sooner, you know that. It would even mean more work for the two of us if we’d gotten…” Paladin defended himself immediately, “I rode out as soon as I could and farmer Twofoot agreed with me. You cannot hold me responsible for their dismay with me. You and I both agreed on this gift and I couldn’t get it sooner, not with a good conscience.”

“Fine.” Eglantine relented, “but I have two very distraught children at my hands. Pippin hasn’t eaten since First Breakfast and Pervinca refused to touch her presents until Pippin got the same score as she has gotten.” She informed him. “What you have chosen for him: it had better be worth it.”

“Where is he now then?” Paladin sighed deeply and picked up the basket with care. He opened the lid and smiled. At least someone was happy.

“He retreated to your study. Don’t ask me why he wanted to be there since he’s not one for the books.” She replied and added, “Shall I send Pervinca there as well? It seems to me you have some explaining to do to them both.”

“If you fetch their presents as well, then I will be most grateful.” Paladin smiled, “You know, I might go back for another one if my girl is very upset with me. Then all will be well and this day’s misery forgotten. I promise.”

“Another one? Is one not enough?” Eglantine shook her head, stepped into the hallway and pulled the door shut. “Maybe, but hear me on this one Paladin Took. The next time we will do this differently!” Eglantine scurried off into the living room and Paladin watched how she bundled the gifts left in her skirt. He couldn’t help himself and had to look once more. Very carefully he opened the basket and saw that all was well. It even snored contentedly. Oh he could not wait to see Pippin’s face! Fond childhood memories washed over him a gift to himself when he was that young. It was then that Paladin knew for sure that his boy would soon be well again.

As his wife had told him, he found his youngest fast asleep in one of the chairs that were placed in front of his fireplace. His study was comfortably warm and cosy. Of all the rooms on this farm, he knew that Pippin always would wanted to be here, playing beneath his desk at his feet with his wooden cows and sheep while he attempted to check the books of the lands of Whitwell. Paladin could see that Pippin had cried and he could not resist stroking his son’s hair soothingly. “Ah Pippin lad,” he softly spoke to his only son and his boy merely mumbled. Some firm actions were in place then and tugged his ear. “Wake up Peregrin Took, your father has come home.”

Pippin awoke slowly and rubbed his eyes before he opened them, then stretched out the tangle of his long legs gingerly. A long yawn followed and then his stomach rumbled quite loudly. His boy had grown so fast the past year, where did the time go. Paladin could so vividly recall how his son would crawl after him down the hallways and out the door wherever his daddy would go. Sometimes he had forgotten how fast his son could crawl and that his faunt barely escaped from having his tiny fingers stuck between doors that he so haplessly could shut behind him. After some near escapes, Paladin had taught himself first always to look down to the ground before he would close a door. The habit still stuck and he could not imagine that he would ever cease doing it. His Pippin never had been a child that would hang onto Eglantine’s skirts; he always had been one for adventuring.

“Dad?” Pippin interrupted his reverie and he could not help to smile. “I am here, Peregrin.”

“Am I in trouble dad?” That was his son, immediately speaking his mind before thinking. Betimes it did get him into serious trouble and other times it broke a present tension between parties. “Do you think you are, my son?” Granted, that was a mean question to ask, especially since tears filled his son’s eyes immediately.

“No, my love. No tears, not today,” Paladin spoke to put his son’s mind at ease and lifted the basket he had brought onto his lap.

“Then why did I only got... two... presents,” Pippin started to cry and pulled his legs up as an apparent shield to hide behind. Eglantine had been right and Paladin wondered if he indeed should have woken his son that soon this morning. The chances were that Pippin would have refused to go.

“He didn’t wanted any of mine dad,” Pervinca interjected as she walked in, his wife following suit who first placed the gifts on his desk. Now why did he feel like the bad hobbit here?

“The number of presents tells you nothing about whether you have been bad or good.” He started to answer her and saw how his wife rolled her eyes behind his daughter’s back. “Size says nothing; it is the gift giving that matters the most.” Both his children simply gazed at him, and at least Pippin did not cry anymore now that the discussion was about gifts.

“But dad…” Pervinca started, “two presents compared to what we all got is just not right.”

“That depends my daughter, as I said, size and also how many gifts says nothing about how your mother and me think about you all.” Paladin explained patiently. “Your brother here will get three gifts and trust me, it will be enough.”

“You… brought me another gift?” Pippin suddenly bolted up straight and Paladin knew that he had caught his son’s attention.

“I will promise you, it will be the best gift you have ever gotten my son. Come and sit down on the ground with me.” Paladin slid down onto the floor, balancing the basket with care before he sat it down. He waited until his son sat on the opposite of the basket before he would start to explain. Eglantine sat down on his chair instead and he saw how she pulled their youngest daughter on her lap. He presented her a grateful smile and turned his head to meet his son’s curious eyes.

“Maybe you remember me telling you this, but this whole situation bears some explaining. When I was about your age the old Took once took me to the barn just across the road. It was a cold night, yet there had been no snowfall then unlike today. You were so fast asleep this morning young lad; I simply would not stand a chance in rousing you. So you see if I had seen the chance to take you, I would have. Now, do you remember how I once told you that your great grandfather thought that I could learn some measure of the responsibility of a man? Just like you I was the only son born to your grandfather, just like you have no brothers to learn from. As much as I loved my sisters - just as I know for sure you love your sisters - I missed having a friend who would listen to anything that I wanted to tell and who would accept me for who I was, staying loyally at my side.” Paladin paused and waited for his words to sink in. Then he carefully opened the basket and he heard how his daughter gasped. “Have a look Pippin, and tell me what this gift tells you.”

Pippin sat up on his knees and his eyes widened once he saw what was in the basket. “Go on, you may fetch it.” Paladin encouraged him and watched how his son carefully lifted a small bundle of fur from the basket that had started to yelp. “My Pepper may be gone, but our family cannot go without a new companion.”

~*~

Pippin lay sated on the rug next to his new friend who had chosen to curl up against him, all four legs up in the air as it slept on his back. Pepper had never done that, and judging from the looks, this dog would be very different. The bold black spot that covered his eyes, was very huge compared to the smaller spots in its creamy fur… it immediately had given him an idea to name it: Patches. In his hand he held a new leash and collar, but he simply could not take his eyes from the young puppy that was his Solstice gift. If he could only express his happiness properly, but his father simply had smiled and told him that he didn’t needed to explain himself further. Instead Pippin did get a lecture where his father told him that the puppy had only just been weaned, but still needed to learn the rules and more importantly it had to be taught where to relief itself. Well how hard could that be? Pippin knew for sure he could teach his friend all of that and perhaps some more tricks.

It was just that earlier that day he had fallen asleep so miserably and now there was this joy that he could hardly contain. His father had been right, this was the best present he had ever gotten, and Patches immediately had showered him with wet kisses the moment he had wanted to study this furry bundle. Of course he had promised Vinca that she could hold his new friend whenever she wanted to. His other sisters Pimpernel and Pearl had begged the same boon of him, but he simply had said no telling them that they had plenty of gifts of their own. They had not offered to share after all! Of course all the new ribbons, hats, dolls and so on could never replace a friend like this, but those facts he wisely had kept to himself for he might need their help one day if his little friend would mess up.

But most of all: this was the smallest and yet greatest gift he was ever given. The Shire would never be the same again as he and Patches would boldly roam it together!

Author’s end note:

Dear Cathleen,

I am not a dog person and I do not know a single thing about raising young puppies as you initially requested… but I do know about getting a pet who becomes your best friend and at a young age teaches you all about loyalty, responsibility and having a good friend who always listens to you. I hope that this story did captivate that. As inspiration, there is a quote about having a dog that I do cherish; the book is called “Marley and me”.

Here is the quote that inspired me and gave me a writing bunny to work with on how Pippin got his first puppy and how it shaped him:

A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours. Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things - a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty.
John Grogan, Marley and Me, 2005

May Pippin’s Patches teach him all that, but hopefully doesn’t wreck Tuckborough or Whitwell as Marley did with his family home (the book is absolutely fabulous)!

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
engarian
Jan. 1st, 2013 02:41 pm (UTC)
This turned out adorably. You did a great job of the introduction of a new puppy to it's young boy (hobbit, in this case). It was fun to read.

- Erulisse (one L)
rhapsody11
Jan. 1st, 2013 06:25 pm (UTC)
It was absolutely fun to write, although I felt so bad for torturing poor Pippin! I sometimes wondered if I could pull off the fluff part, knowing my muses! Thank you!
shirebound
Jan. 1st, 2013 03:15 pm (UTC)
I love hobbits-and-their-dogs stories so much! This story made me smile.
rhapsody11
Jan. 1st, 2013 06:58 pm (UTC)
I have to give credit to Cathleen herself for such a great prompt! But the thought of Pippin and his very first dog nearly wrote itself. :)
blslarner
Jan. 1st, 2013 04:36 pm (UTC)
A joyfilled gift, a new puppy. I pray that all continue to rejoice in Patches's company, although they will have a good number of items destroyed before he learns ALL of the rules. Heh!

And I, too, loved that book!
rhapsody11
Jan. 2nd, 2013 09:21 pm (UTC)
Hahaha, I think this combination will be good for a long friendship filled with adventures. The book was so marvellous, have you also read Dewey by any chance?
dreamflower02
Jan. 1st, 2013 05:49 pm (UTC)
This is such a sweet and adorable little story, and even has a little lesson to it: It's the quality of a present and not the quantity that counts!

I think Cathleen will adore this!
rhapsody11
Jan. 2nd, 2013 09:25 pm (UTC)
My kids, especially my eldest was very muchly busy with the number of gifts everyone got. I just had to think of that when I wrote it and *poof* I found the moral I wanted to include. Thank you for all you have done!
ladyelleth
Jan. 2nd, 2013 09:11 am (UTC)
Hobbit fic usually is quite outside my usual reading material, as you know, but you'll endear me towards it yet, Rhapsy dear. This was adorable - both Pippin's distress, which made me want to hug him, and the image of the puppy sleeping with all four legs in the air. Your recipient is very lucky to have gotten such a sweet story. :D
rhapsody11
Jan. 2nd, 2013 11:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you Elleth, it always makes me smile when I tempt you to read a hobbity fic, which is quite unusual and fluffy compared to those feisty and cunning Noldor! *hugs*
heartofoshun
Jan. 5th, 2013 04:49 pm (UTC)
If anyone had asked me if I wanted to read Hobbit fluff involving Yuletide gifts and a puppy I would have run as fast as I could have in the opposite direction, but I could not resist seeing how you would handle this.

Nice work. I can relate through my own memories of childhood to examining one's conscience over and over (as you can imagine, I was NOT a good little girl myself--more like Alex!). I loved his sister's loyalty and his mother's irritated prediction of the hurt that might result from the timing and the method. (Why I loath the idea of surprise parties, for example. They cause temporary hurt. I do not want to cause one moment of pain to my loved ones in exchange for other people's thrill at seeing surprise and relief on their faces.)

Your story turned out very nicely. Hobbits and Noldor are really not all that different. They are both human in the final analysis. I prefer Noldor fluff because it is my payback for enduring too much brooding Healthcliffian posturing in most Silmarillion stories--every good story has to include a balance of fluff and ordinary small pleasures along with the epic tragic parts. Noldor fluff is essential to my body of work, to contrast with the heavy parts.
ceshaughnessy
Jan. 13th, 2013 09:03 pm (UTC)
Rhapsody, thank you so much for this wonderful tale! A million apologies for being so late in responding. Things have been somewhat difficult in RL for many weeks and I probably shouldn't have gotten involved in the exchange this time. I know you had to pinch hit and I want to thank you for taking on an extra story and for making it such a beautiful one as well!! This is a subject very close to my hear these days, having lost 2 more of my fur-babies last spring. The message you left for me at the end tells me volumes about what you did with my bunny. You really stepped out of your familiar zone and I am forever grateful for this story. DF was right, I do adore it!! *Hugs* Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year's!!!
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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