West of the Moon
A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive
Casting Off the Scarf
Peregrin Took comes of age, and he knows exactly what he wants for his thirty-third.
Author: Briefly Del
"You... you want to what?"
Frodo straightened as he folded a spare shirt and tucked it into a traveling pack. "You heard me perfectly well," he said patiently. "I don't intend on missing this. Besides, the walk should do me good, I think."
Sam sputtered. "But -- but sir! You've not yet recovered from your last bout! Not three weeks ago you were--"
"And now I'm feeling a Shire April in my bones, Sam. I intend to go out and enjoy it. Besides," he continued with a wry note in his voice, "aren't you always telling me I ought to get out more?"
Sam frowned, not liking his own argument being turned against him so. "What I mean is you should get some fresh air in your lungs, 'stead of cooping yourself up inside all day. I was talking 'bout sitting in the garden, like you used to--"
"I also used to run wild all over the Eastfarthing with Merry. You're not going to change my mind, Sam, although I would awfully like it if you'd come with me." Frodo stopped packing and gave Sam an earnest look. Sam sighed.
"How long is this walk exactly?"
Frodo casually resumed his task. "It'll involve a night's rest somewhere. If we set out this evening, camp tonight, and walk all day tomorrow we can make it in time for the festivities."
The other hobbit sighed again, louder and more pointedly. "I just don't know about this, Mr. Frodo. A day and a half's exertion just to throw yourself into a mob of rowdy Tooks..."
"Sam," Frodo said sternly, "they're my people too, you know."
"As if them Brandybucks weren't bad enough," he muttered audibly, but with a fondness in his voice. Frodo smiled, and moved through the half-light to set his hand on Sam's shoulder.
"You're coming, aren't you?"
"I suppose I'll have to," he answered with mock-resignation. "You might need some carryin', should your legs give out on the way--" He stopped, realizing what had just nonchalantly passed his lips. Even four years later, some things time does not ease, as evinced by the uneven squeeze of Frodo's fingers. For an anxious second, his eyes darted to Frodo's face: it was tight and distant, but only for a moment. He relaxed, and patted Sam's shoulder, smiling once more. Sam gulped, nodded, and returned the smile. "I'll be in the kitchen then, see if I can put together a basket."
"It's been ages since I've seen the Westfarthing in spring," Frodo said softly, more to himself than anyone else. "I bet it'll be beautiful."
Not partway as much as you, Sam thought wistfully, and forgot his trepidations in a heartbeat at the much-welcome possibility of Frodo finally on the mend.
* * *
Sam's jaw dangled.
"Are you ready for this?" his companion had asked, his lips a crooked, amused grin, as they paused on the lane leading into the Whitwell estate. In the pinkness of sunset, Sam had seen the lush profusion of cherry blossoms, heard the sound of lively music, smelled the aroma of ten thousand delicious things, and told himself that perhaps he'd been overreacting, as he was prone to do. And so he'd affirmed Frodo's question, and stepped through the arching entryway. But he'd not taken into account that this was the Tookland, not Hobbiton: as far different from Mr. Bilbo's party of old as Spindle Grove to Lothlorien.
Tooks, as far as the lantern light glowed. One would never have believed so many hobbits could fit in an orchard, but there they were: dancing, drinking, churning, laughing masses of Tooks, swarming between the trees and spilling out into the field beyond. There were Tooks hanging off the trees, perched atop the beer kegs, falling off the benches, gorging themselves on endless stretches of tables piled high with food.
The corners of his mouth inching ever closer to his ears, Frodo leaned close, his voice heavy with conspiracy. "Worth the walk, eh?"
Sam cleared his throat and blinked. Never much of one for words, he was far past struck dumb at the sight. He had to admit, however, that one thing was patently obvious: Nobody knew how to throw a good party like the many Tooks of the Westfarthing; and if there was ever a Took among Tooks, it was Peregrin, son of Paladin, who had turned thirty-three today.
"Good gracious, lookit who et 'tes! Fro-do Baggins, or I'm kin to a Bracegirdle!"
The strange, clipped Tuckborough accent never failed to flummox Sam, but Frodo didn't miss a beat. "Thain Paladin!" he exclaimed, beaming and taking the proffered hand. "So good to see you! It has been a while, hasn't it."
Paladin Took was a willowy figure, a bit shorter than Sam, but with enough charisma to overshadow any slightness of build. "We wehrrent sure ef you'd be able to make it! Pippin'll be right glad to see th'pair've yeh, if I'm not much mistaken. You'll be Sam Gamgee, then?"
"Um -- uh, erm -- aye, yes!" he stammered, still trying to decipher what had been directed at him.
A wicked grin long familiar to Sam and Frodo (though never on this face) twisted the Thain's mouth. "Not used to this sort've thing, are yeh. Well, here's hopin' yeh'll enjoy what we've got to offer -- if not, well, there's a cluster of properly horrified Bankses towards th'back." With a jovial laugh, he clapped a hand on Sam's shoulder. "Suspect my son and Merry'll be 'round here somewhere. You'll find 'em soon enough -- hard to miss 'em, I'd think, what with all that outlandish gear from Away. Not to mention they're a head taller'n ev'rybody else..."
Frodo chuckled. "Cheers, Paladin. This looks like a splendid party -- it will definitely do Pip justice."
The Thain winked. "Eh, we've still the lad's speech t'get through -- we'll see soon enough, I'd gather." He patted Sam's shoulder once again and excused himself. Sam blinked, still a touch bewildered at the spectacle. Surreptitiously, Frodo wrapped one hand 'round Sam's. He smiled.
"Come on, Sam," he murmured, and lead them into the throng.
It never failed to amaze Sam how competent Frodo was at mixing: he could be equally at home all over the Shire, in Tuckborough, Buckland, or Hobbiton. They pushed through the thick, exchanging greetings and banter with various acquaintances, friends, and distant relatives until Sam's head was spinning. They'd not yet even had a glance at the feast weighing down the tables, a fact which Sam's stomach was protesting most violently. He was just about suggest a diversion along those lines when he suddenly came face to face with a riotously embroidered weskit, bounding in his general direction.
The owner of the weskit halted rather abruptly, and his face lit up. "Frodo!" a grinning Peregrin Took chirped. "And Sam as well! Merry!" he called excitedly over his shoulder. "It's Sam and Frodo!"
An instant later, Merry, sporting an only slightly more subdued, ochre-colored waistcoat, appeared behind Pip. "Hello, you two!"
They embraced each other warmly (although none of them, in truth, ever felt they would grow accustomed to the drastic difference in height). "Happy birthday, Pippin!" Frodo said, smiling. "So you've finally come of age -- how's it feel?" he asked ironically.
Pippin shrugged. "Eh, not too diff'rent, I suppose." He brightened. "Though I must say, never have had as big a one as this, eh? And more mathoms than you can shake a stick at!"
"I've never figured that one out," Merry mused in the background. Pippin lightheartedly elbowed him in the gut.
Frodo laughed. "What kind of things have you been getting? I daresay my thirty-third was an event and a half." Sam smiled at his feet.
"Hard to say, really," Pippin replied, cocking his head to one side. He affected the air of a hobbit much older and more boring, reminiscing on his long-vanished youth. "Since I've come of age, they're all so diff'rent and extravagant. Used t'be I got a scarf and a jacket and they'd push me out the door to play."
Merry smirked, and threw one arm about his cousin's shoulders. "Ahh, but no longer, Pip -- you're a grown-up now!"
Pippin smiled, his gaze not quite on any one person. "I suppose I am." He shook himself back into focus. "Will you two be here for long?" he asked, acting the host.
"Just a night or two, I think," Frodo answered.
"Accommodations will be provided for!" Pippin announced with playful grandiosity.
A look passed between Frodo and Sam. "With... with one bed...?" Sam asked shyly. It had simply been too long, too long, since last they had shared...
A knowing grin snaked across the youngest hobbit's features. "Oh aye, I'll see to it it's taken care of. We've thick walls here at th'Smials, there's nothin' to worry 'bout." He cleared his throat meaningfully. "Now, if you'll excuse us, I've a speech to give and you, my dear Meriadoc, need to introduce me." He hooked his arm in the crook of Merry's elbow and whisked him away through the crowd. Frodo looked at Sam, and the pair of them almost giggled.
"Well, Sam Gamgee, are you glad you came?" Frodo asked, giving Sam's paunch an affectionate pat. "I will be as soon as I lay hands on all this food sittin' 'round for us!" he answered, feigning indignation. "Honestly, you're much too hasty for your own good sometimes." He lowered his voice and leaned close. "And as for bein' glad I came, well... I think it's what happens after this party which makes it worth the walk."
* * *
"Did you really mean all that back there?"
Merry finished locking the bedroom door and looked up. "Before your speech?" He straightened. "Of course I did. I'd never lie about something like that."
Pippin's soft smile shone through the half-light. "That's what I love about you." He wrapped his arms around Merry's neck and pressed his lips to the corners of Merry's mouth. He pulled back and hovered, just out of reach, so he might take in again the face he knew so well. "The best friend I'll ever have," he murmured. Merry met his eyes and kissed him, slowly and sincerely. Neither bothered to stop for several minutes, until Pippin smiled and broke the rhythm. "You kiss like you forget what it feels like between times," he teased. He gave Merry's stomach a light poke. "Old man."
Merry raised an eyebrow. "Here now, you've lost your right to call me that, you know. Old man indeed. Old man yourself!" He grinned. "And anyway, it's not my fault that you taste better each and every time..." He leaned in for another kiss but Pippin chuckled before he could reach him.
"Compliments, compliments! They will get you nowhere, Master Brandybuck."
"Oh won't they? Shall I try the other end, then? Peregrin Took, you dull, obese excuse for a Sandyman!" He hustled forward, and expertly toppled Pippin onto the bed. The Took's mirthful yelp had barely fled his lips before he grabbed Merry's belt and yanked him onto the mattress.
"I think trying the other end will be in order," he purred, running his hand along the inside of Merry's thigh. "But seeing as it's my birthday, I'd like a promise from you tonight, yes?"
Merry felt himself responding to the touch, and he moaned softly. "Anything you want, love."
A glint sparked in Pippin's eye. "A dangerous thing to promise a Took, Meriadoc." He did not stop rubbing.
Merry closed his eyes and exhaled, the sigh shuddering in his ribcage. "I've done rasher things."
The next instant, Pippin was straddling him completely, his forearms pressed to Merry's chest and his face mere inches away from Merry's own. "Then here's what I want, my love. Tonight I want you to call me by my full name, yes, all three syllables of it. We're both grownups now--"
"You've been a grownup for a long time now," Merry gasped.
Pippin smiled through half-lidded eyes and dipped down to take Merry's lower lip between his teeth. He suckled lightly and quickly let go, leaving Merry squirming for something more satisfying. "Tonight, it's Peregrin," he said slyly, hooking the tip of his index finger behind his lover's lips. "Not Pippin, or Pip... And if you say it," he continued, sliding his finger into Merry's mouth and out of it again, "you'll remember to correct yourself soon enough."
"Peregrin," Merry breathed, testing the feel of it on his tongue.
Pippin nodded, and with skilled deliberation began unworking Merry's buttons. "Peregrin."
Merry let his neck loll on the blankets, taking a moment to collect himself in the heady rush of anticipation. "Peregrin," he repeated, and lifted himself upright for another kiss. This time he cupped Pippin's chin between his two hands, and let them slide down his neck and over his chest. His fingers sought the waistcoat buttons, and even distracted as they were, he managed to soon slip the weskit off from Pippin's shoulders.
Pippin now transferred his attentions to the underside of Merry's chin, lingering about his throat, pushing away cloth until enough skin was revealed so he might proceed to the collarbone. "Mmm, you always taste so good right here," he whispered. He shifted his hips and began to undulate, the arch of his back rippling through both their bodies as he suckled Merry's neck. They took care to break contact as little as possible, gradually shedding their concept of where each began and ended. Merry knew, in the one small logical remnant lurking at the back of his head, that his hands were touching something warm and smooth and wonderful, and that Pippin was once again exploring every last bit of him with his lips and his hands and his tongue and his skin, but really that mattered so much less than when oh! -- when Pippin did that...
Merry's breath hitched. It really hadn't ever felt this good -- and if had, it didn't matter -- but the small reasonable voice was becoming more insistent. They were building too quickly -- he'd never last an entire night of this: it would be over so soon... "Pippin, please--" he begged. Pippin looked down at him and abruptly slipped backwards. With a cry, Merry's eyes shot open. "Peregrin!" he yelped, repenting. Grinning mischievously, Pippin continued to slide until he was face-to-face with the top of Merry's britches. Slowly he bent down and took the top button between his teeth. "Oh yes," Merry groaned, squeezing his eyes shut. The clothing was achingly peeled away, each layer of fabric tormenting his senses. Skin that had been too sensitive for the rough weave of cotton screamed joyous welcome to Pippin's lips. His fingertips brushed here and there, so lightly -- they skimmed the joining of Merry's leg and torso, leaving an exquisite trail of heat in their wake.
"How's this feel, Meriadoc my love?" he murmured, kissing the inside of Merry's thigh as he pulled his pant legs over his feet. His reply was an unintelligible whimper. Pippin's gaze slithered, and he leaned down to slowly, inch by inch, take Merry in his mouth. Merry arched off the blankets and grasped them in his hands.
Pippin promptly slid back down Merry's length. The warmth in his belly abruptly became even more unbearable. "Peregrin!" he wailed, dropping back to the sheets. "Peregrin, Peregrin, Peregrin!"
Never had it been drawn out this long between them. When had Pippin learned to do that with his tongue, and how long had he been holding it back? How could he have remembered, at such a moment, that if he pressed the heel of his palms just so at Merry's hips, a jolt would whip through his spine and send him reeling? Any piece of Merry not devoted to feeling and experiencing was long since departed. He was racing on the periphery of blindness, and the heat was so great he surely must be melting: his shirt and his skin were soaking wet...
And then -- release: the euphoric sensation of falling back into yourself. Merry lay limp for a moment, breathing hard as the aftershocks sent tremors through his body. Slowly he became aware of Pippin again, pushing away the sticky clothing and licking his way up Merry's side. His gusts of hot breath whipped across Merry's skin, sending shudders up and down his spine. "You," he chuckled, deep in his throat, "taste very good indeed, you know." He pressed his tongue to Merry's chest and licked a wide swath from nipple to collarbone.
A little moonlight floated through the window, but Merry's eyes outshone it. He lifted one hand and ran it through Pippin's tangle of curls. "Peregrin," he whispered, and leaned forward to claim another kiss. "Please," he said as they broke away, "let me--"
But Pippin shook his head, and smiled. Before Merry could let the disappointment register on his face, Pippin reached over to the bedside table and wrapped his fingers 'round a small ceramic jar. His eyes flickered onto Merry's, and this time it was they who asked permission. Merry understood, and ran one hand over Pip's shoulders. "Yes. Oh yes..."
The scent of the oil tumbled into the room: its aroma mingled with that of Pippin intoxicated Merry to the very edges of his control. Offering no resistance, Merry let Pippin do what he willed -- let him slide behind him, bury his face at the nape of his neck, kiss down the whole length of his spine, press him gently against the mattress...
"You're awfully quiet all of a sudden," Pippin said calmly from behind.
Merry's breath gushed from his lungs. "Not for long!" he countered.
He could almost hear Pippin's smirk. "No." He nipped Merry's ear lightly. "Not for long."
And they were both right.
* * *
Merry loved waking up to the sparkle of sunlight on Pippin's hair. The red undertones caught the light, turning the mussed-up curls into a crown of rosy gold. A languid smile melted across Merry's lips, and he slipped his fingers into Pippin's unruly mop. Beneath his touch, Pippin murmured and snuggled closer. His breath felt good against Merry's skin, as did the reassuring weight curled about his waist.
The morning was young enough that birdsong didn't overwhelm the air. Pippin's quiet breathing was music enough, though the lone lark or cardinal was not unwelcome. Merry closed his eyes and inhaled deeply, liking the feel of Pippin rising and falling atop his bare chest.
His cousin's eyes fluttered open, and he blinked up at Merry. He yawned and smiled, burrowing back into Merry's warmth. "Mmm, hello you."
Merry let his hand slide from Pippin's hair down to caress his cheek. "Fancy seeing you here." Pippin closed his eyes and turned his head to kiss Merry's palm. "Happy day-after-your-birthday, Peregrin Took."
"Mmm, Pippin's just fine now," he replied lazily. "It takes a lot of energy to be Peregrin all the time." He took Merry's fingers in his own and began kissing them, one by one.
Merry's eyes wandered back to the window. "What d'you say to a walk together once we get out of bed? Looks lovely outside."
Pippin stretched, and readjusted his hold on Merry. "Ooohhh, that would mean getting up," he sighed. "Can't we let someone else do it for us?"
Pippin beamed. "You mean it?"
Merry snorted, and laughed. "As always."
Pippin lifted himself upright and stretched. "Doesn't sound too bad, now that you mention it. Could do a bite to eat, too."
"You--" Merry declared as he hefted himself up on his elbows, "have a one-track mind."
"I do indeed!" Pippin retorted. Merry suddenly found himself on his back again, blinking up at a grinning Took. "And it's Meriadoc Brandybuck, all hours of the day for me." He kissed the end of Merry's nose and sat up again. "Let's take that walk. I want to go look at the orchard: bet it's an absolute wreck after that party." He slid nimbly off the bed and pushed away the linens clinging to his waist.
"The mist'll be up," Merry mused from the bed as he watched Pippin chose his clothing for the day. "It'll be a bit chilly. You going to take something warm?"
Pippin chuckled to himself. "Still fretting after my health, Merry. I'm a grown hobbit now," he said with some irony. But as he spoke he reached into his dresser and lifted out a weather-beaten scarf, which may or may not have been grayish-green at one point. He seemed to contemplate it for a moment or two, and then set it back atop the drawer. "No, I think a coat will be fine." He pushed aside the yellow curtains a bit and peered outside. "Mmm, Tuckborough in the spring," he exclaimed, inhaling deeply. He turned to face Merry, his eyes shining. "It'll be beautiful."
Merry's breath caught in his throat. "Yes," he breathed, looking his cousin over with not a little pride. "It will be."
~ * ~
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