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What Becomes of Snow?

Author: Mattygrl
Title:What Becomes of Snow?
Theme:September Young/Old Challenge
Elements:Fancy, wild, eager, narrow, and young
Author's Notes:This was beta-ed by Ladyhawke Legend, my good friend and dedicated beta. I don't own anything. LOTR is the property of the esteemed Professor Tolkien and any ideas from Fruits Basket belong to Natsuki Takaya. (This is an excellent anime, I HIGHLY recommend it! ;)
Summary: Gandalf talks with a restless Pippin in the Mines of Moria, while Aragorn deals with a recalcitrant Frodo. While talking to Pippin, Gandalf receives a startling revelation from the youngster. Apparently, the young can still have much to teach us all.
Word Count: 1,528



“Peregrin Took!” Gandalf thundered as loud as he dared in the dank and deathly halls of Moria. While he loved the small Hobbit dearly, he could be rather a handful. Pippin had darted away from the group and away from the somewhat narrow ledge which they were now traversing. He had wanted to peer over the edge into the depths of the Mines. He gave a squeak of fear and was immediately back with the group. “Never do that again, foolish Took!” Pippin hung his head in shame, his great, brown eyes watering with unshed tears.

Gandalf sighed. “Perhaps,” he said to the Fellowship at large, “it would be wise to take a rest.” He glanced over at Aragorn who nodded and both looked to Frodo. His head was drooping down, and he was staring absently at his feet, weariness written heavily upon his fine features. He was limping slightly and his breathing was ragged. No doubt these were due, in part, to his brush with death – most recently with the Watcher in the Water. Aragorn conveyed to Gandalf without words that he would tend to Frodo.

The whole group sat down upon the rocky ground, grateful for even this small respite from the tired routine of marching in silence. Most took off their packs or broke out water bottles, while Sam tended to his Master first, gently tugging off his pack and cajoling him into eating a bit of cheese he had saved from his lunch. Frodo’s gaze was distant, pain registering in those great, glassy Robin’s egg blue eyes.

Aragorn wended his way over and knelt in front of the Ringbearer, quietly asked what was wrong. Gandalf had been watching the exchange with a shrewd and worried look on his face, but was torn from his concerned interest by a small sob from his left.

He turned to find the youngest of them all, Pippin, curled up in a ball and shaking with misery. Had Merry seen this, he would have rushed over to his cousin, but at the current moment, Merry was too busy helping Aragorn and Sam by attempting to talk some sense into his elder cousin. Gandalf distinctly heard Merry say, “Now, cousin, if there’s nothing wrong with your leg, then how come you’ve been limping?”

A small smile played across his lips at this, and then he sighed, both in amusement and annoyance. Hobbits, he thought. Hobbits were a stubborn bunch, as tough as tree roots, yet also young in the ways of the world. True, it was exactly their stubbornness and tomfoolery that had gotten them this far already, but that still didn’t change the fact that they could be difficult, especially the one sitting so piteously next to him.

Frodo was wiser than the others, knowledgeable in a bookish way, and honest. Sam was not as educated as his Master, but he was certainly educated with what he called “plain Hobbit sense” as well as being diligent and unswervingly obedient. Merry was also well-educated, good with maps, and also very clever, often thinking in ways the other Hobbits did not; thinking outside the small secluded ways of the Shire. But Pippin…

Gandalf harrumphed. That Hobbit; he was energetic, infinitely so, and eager, wild, silly and foolish too, often to the point of danger. While he had questioned the wisdom of bringing one so young along, he knew it was the right decision. He knew it every time he saw Pippin say or do something silly that brought a smile to his eldest cousin’s face. Frodo had so little to smile about these days that any sort of relief from duty, anything that could help him forget, even if only for a moment, was well-worth the troubles that came from brining the always hungry and noisy tweenager along.

Though all these thoughts flashed through Gandalf’s head in a moment, he still reprimanded himself for taking so long to tend to Pippin; the real reason he had called this break. He would have called a break very soon for Frodo, but Pippin’s latest actions required that a talk be had.

He turned to the sobbing tweenager and in a gentle and fatherly fashion, put his large, careworn hand on Pippin’s shoulder and gave a squeeze. The Hobbit in question looked up, face tear streaked and miserable. Before Gandalf even spoke, Pip muttered piteously, “I’m sorry Gandalf. I didn’t mean to do it, honest I didn’t. But it’s just so boring and quiet and dark and awful in here that I had to do something other than just walk and walk and walk. I promise I won’t do it again!” And with a small wail, Pippin lapsed into silent sobs.

Gandalf pulled his smallest charge close to him and said into his tiny pointed ear, “Peregrin Took, look at me.” When he seemed reluctant to do so, Gandalf put his hand under the quivering chin and raised Pippin’s face, forcing him to look at him. Though Gandalf was not one for fancy and elaborate shows of affection, the look in his eyes told Pippin that he was not truly mad at him, only worried should something happen to him.

Pippin wiped a hand across his face and sniffed, now giving Gandalf his full attention. “Peregrin Took,” Gandalf said again, “if you wish to do something else, let me know and we can consider it, but do not blindly run off. Your sisters would never forgive me if you did not come home again.”

Pippin grinned. His mother-hennish sisters would certainly threaten Gandalf with death should they discover that their dear little brother had died or gotten lost. Now that would be a sight. Seeing that Pippin’s mood was improving, Gandalf pulled him closer and said softly, “Think about why we are doing this.” He paused, and then said, “We are doing this so that your sisters can never fear what you are forced to fear. So that the biggest worry they will have is whether or not it will snow on their freshly put-out laundry in the winter. We are doing this for them. For everyone.”

Pippin nodded, realizing, for perhaps the first time, the full extent of just whom he was helping to protect. True, he loved his elder cousins and Sam and would do anything in the world to help them, but it now occurred to him that he was not only protecting them, but also his sisters, his mother, the Thain, old Uncle Bilbo, Fatty Bolger, Rosie Cotton, and all the Hobbits of the Shire. He straightened his back, feeling prouder and once again ready to tackle the task before them all.

Pippin nodded and said, “Yes, we’re doing it for everyone. Because my sisters would be very cross if they should have to worry about anything other than snow on their freshly washed clothes.” He giggled and Gandalf smiled.

“Gandalf?” Pip queried in a voice that suddenly seemed far too young to be there. “Speaking of snow, would you answer a riddle?” Gandalf smiled kindly and nodded his agreement. If answering this young scamp’s riddle was something that he could do to help break the horrible monotony of the Mines, then he would acquiesce. Pippin looked thoughtful for a moment and then said quietly, “When the snow melts what does it become?”

Gandalf snorted, obviously not much of a riddle. “Water, of course,” he replied gently. Perhaps Pippin didn’t yet understand the difference between a riddle and a question.

“Wrong Gandalf!” Pippin crowed gleefully with a look of triumph at the old Istari’s failure to answer correctly. “When the snow melts, it becomes spring!”

The wizard froze, and then looked down at the cheekily grinning Hobbit in admiration. Such a thought had not even crossed into his mind. Seemingly oblivious to Gandalf’s wonder, Pippin continued, “It’s something nice to think about anyway, especially in here where it’s dark and awful, and because outside, it’s moving toward winter. It’s going to be awfully cold and things will be dead, at least you can always know that once the snow melts it will eventually become spring.”

Gandalf nodded and patted the youngest Hobbit’s head comfortingly. “Yes, that is indeed true my lad; it is indeed.” Powerful Istari though he was, knowledgeable in the ways of the world, he had still been taught a valuable lesson in hope by a Hobbit, who was at least several generations younger than he was. And in that moment, Gandalf was humbled.

“I will not be carried!” came the now annoyed and very much awake voice of the Ringbearer.
“Frodo, you cannot walk on an ankle that is so badly sprained,” Aragorn reminded him calmly.
“But I do not walk on my ankle, I walk on my foot!” Frodo retorted triumphantly, thinking he had gotten the better of Aragorn with his statement. This was followed by a squeal of dismay as Frodo was lifted up into the Man’s strong arms. Gandalf sighed, the moment lost. If only all the Hobbits could be dealt with so easily…

Comments

( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
shirebound
Sep. 15th, 2008 03:05 pm (UTC)
This is very tender and wonderful. Gandalf's words to Pippin are perfect, and Pippin's riddle is just a delight. And I never tire of Frodo being looked after, with or without his consent!
mattygrl
Sep. 16th, 2008 01:43 am (UTC)
Thanks Shire for the complement! I am always honored to get a review from a writer of your caliber! I'm glad you like Pippin's riddle and that you think Gandalf's words were perfect. Who could ever tire of Frodo angst?!? Not me! ;) And I LOVE the custom icon! SOOO cute! Is it your dog? (And if it is your dog, can I borrow him for lotsa hugs?) :)
shirebound
Sep. 16th, 2008 11:26 am (UTC)
I wish it *was* my dog! slightlytookish found this pup-pic on the internet and made me this sweet icon.
nancylea57
Sep. 15th, 2008 06:52 pm (UTC)
very nice connections one to another and all through the group (as seen), cute play on words from pippin.
mattygrl
Sep. 16th, 2008 01:57 am (UTC)
Glad you like the connections between everyone. And I think the riddle is just perfect for Pippin - clever yet naive, but also somewhat sneaky. ;)
dreamflower02
Sep. 15th, 2008 09:23 pm (UTC)
“When the snow melts, it becomes spring!”

That's our perceptive and ever-optimistic Pippin. I am sure that at that time, this was something Gandalf could really appreciate being reminded of.
mattygrl
Sep. 16th, 2008 02:02 am (UTC)
Yes, I imagine of all people, Gandalf, would need some encouragement while in the Mines of Moria. I mean, come on, wouldn't you need encouragement if you knew you would be facing the same kind of thing that Gandalf knew he was going to be facing?!?
blslarner
Sep. 16th, 2008 03:51 am (UTC)
Mercurial Tooks and stubborn Bagginses who need to be carried in spite of themselves. Frodo must be fit to be tied at the moment, and Merry and Sam grimly glad to see him carried in spite of himself. As for Pippin--well, he's Pippin--what else can be said?

Nice.
mattygrl
Oct. 3rd, 2008 02:54 pm (UTC)
Yes, Frodo is fit to be tied at the moment - but isn't he at his cutest when he's being difficult?!? ;) Glad you liked it!
(Deleted comment)
mattygrl
Oct. 3rd, 2008 02:55 pm (UTC)
Wow, I'm glad you see such a future Peregrin! *blushes* Thanks for the GREAT comment! ;)
garnet_took
Sep. 16th, 2008 10:52 pm (UTC)
I love that riddle. I hate winter and just maybe I can think that when the snow melts it becomes spring. Thanks.:)
mattygrl
Oct. 3rd, 2008 02:55 pm (UTC)
Yes garnet_took I always thought that it was a cool riddle. Very perceptive and sort of sneaky at the same time.
harrowcatliz
Sep. 17th, 2008 06:56 am (UTC)
Very clever Pippin. Yes we all have things to learn from each other both young and old.
mattygrl
Oct. 3rd, 2008 02:56 pm (UTC)
People often surprise you with their unexpected insights and I see no reason why Pippin should be any different!
ceshaughnessy
Sep. 17th, 2008 11:38 pm (UTC)
So Pippin - lovely!
mattygrl
Oct. 3rd, 2008 02:57 pm (UTC)
Glad you liked "my" Pippin. I am a sucker for Hobbits at heart - I doubt you've noticed this, but since I joined this group, every single challenge I've written a Hobbit story, except for the "new perspective" challenge when I wrote Elrond - and even then he was tending to Frodo! ;)
golden80
Sep. 19th, 2008 08:06 am (UTC)
What a clever and hopeful riddle! Great story!
mattygrl
Oct. 3rd, 2008 02:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
claudia603
Sep. 26th, 2008 02:09 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed this conversation between Gandalf and Pippin. They are both so perceptive!
mattygrl
Oct. 3rd, 2008 02:58 pm (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed it!
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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