A Winter Tale

Author's Note: Birthday mathom for aelane, who wanted young Pip. Hope he's young enough for you, sweetie... *g* Also hope you like the style I wrote this in - was a sudden inspiration.

Once upon a winter night, young Peregrin Took had been playing outside Brandy Hall for a couple of hours too long. But he simply could not make himself go inside as long as the snowman he was building was not absolutely perfect. And it had turned out to be a splendid snowman indeed, maybe the most beautiful snowman ever built by a hobbit or any other creature in Middle Earth. Or at least that's what Pippin thought, as he finally tore himself away from his masterpiece.

When he entered the kitchen, naturally his first goal after so much exercise, Cook there was not happy with him at all. "Master Peregrin, I don't know what your parents would say if they saw you like this! And your aunt and uncle won't be happy with you either. You're soaking wet, and nose is quite blue -- as are your hands! Why didn't you wear your warm mittens?"

Even while she was scolding him, she started taking off his wet clothes, something Pippin resented strongly. He was not a child anymore, after all -- he was 16 years old and capable of looking after himself, thank you very much. But Cook ignored his squirming and protesting and would have undressed him completely, right there in the kitchen, had not his cousin Meriadoc happened to come in at that moment.

"Pippin -- are you alright?" Hearing his name called and using Cook's momentary distraction, Pippin wriggled free of the strong hands holding him and ran over to where Merry was looking at him worriedly.

"Oh, I'm quite alright, thank you, Merry. Just a bit cold -- but I built the most beautiful snowmen today! It's a pity you didn't have time to help me with it, because now you'll have to wait until morning to see it -- did your father talk to you about business all this time?" Pippin would probably have kept on talking right through the night, trying to tell Merry every little thing that happened while the older hobbit had been stuck inside. But Merry was used to this and simply let him prattle on, while collecting the clothes strewn on the kitchen floor, thanking Cook for her help, and loading a basket with several warm pies and tea, before he directed Pippin out of the kitchen.

Only when they reached Pippin's room, which happened to be right next to Merry's, did he interrupt his cousin's happy ramblings. "I'm really sorry I could not help you with your snowman, as that was certainly more fun than being stuck inside all day, but I'll gladly look at it in the morning. But now off with your wet clothes, Peregrin Took, and into the bath tub -- you're shivering all over."

Pippin obeyed gladly, as he was indeed quite cold by now, and could hardly talk anymore, his teeth were chattering so hard. And somehow it was quite different when Merry helped him undress than when Cook or another grown-up did. Merry's nimble hands undoing his buttons did not make him feel like a child -- quite on the contrary, the soft brushing of fingers against his skin sent very pleasurable tingles all over Pippin's body.

He had noticed his body's reaction to Merry's closeness on several occasions before and had asked Merry about it, who had kissed him lightly and had said that that was quite alright and very natural. "It's just love, Impling -- and in a couple of years, it will be more than tingles and I'll be happy to show you what exactly it means," he had ended his explanation, and Pippin had believed him. Because it was Merry,who Pippin had loved ever since he could remember.

When he had stripped naked -- by himself, because Merry never helped him with that -- and lying inside the steaming tub, without doubt prepared by Merry when he heard Pippin come in, Pippin felt the last remnants of the cold seep out of his bones. "Love you, Merry-mine," he sighed happily, and relaxed into Merry's sure touch as the older hobbit gently washed his hair.

Later he was tucked in his soft bed, and Merry was lying next to him on top of the feather duvet, holding him close and telling him from the latest book he had read in Bilbo's library. Pippin's head grew heavy and he snuggled even closer to Merry. "This was a very nice day, Merry-mine," he murmured and more imagined than felt the soft press of Merry's lips against his own, already half-asleep.

Once upon a winter night, young Peregin Took slept, warm and safe in the arms of his Meriadoc, and dreamed of snowmen and sweet kisses.