It Takes a Took by Dreamflower

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AUTHOR’S NOTE: The characters of Tanto Hornblower and Largo Hornblower were created by Lulleny, in her story “The Prodigal Took”.


IT TAKES A TOOK

 

CHAPTER 1

 

The three hobbits felt the first few drops of rain with dismay. Although the sky had been threatening for some time, they had hoped the rain would hold off until after they had returned to the Great Smials. There was a crash of thunder and the rain quickly turned to a downpour.

Pippin laughed. “Well, now we’re as wet as the fish.”

His brother-in-law Milo Goodbody shook his head. “You are daft! What is so funny about being soaked to the skin?”

“I have to agree, Pippin,” said his other brother-in-law, Tanto Hornblower; “I don’t find this at all amusing.”

Pippin grinned. “There are worse things than wet. And being cross about it will not get us one bit dryer. Nor will running. It’s still almost a mile to the Smials. So why not enjoy it?”

They looked at him incredulously, and turned to head for a small copse of trees that might offer slight shelter from the torrents of rain. Pippin shrugged, and followed at a trot.

The three of them put down their creels, and leaned the fishing rods against the bole of the giant tree beneath which they huddled. Pippin remembered huddling just so, with his cousins and Sam, beneath the rocks in rain-swept Eriador. They had been surrounded by Big Folk, trying to keep the worst of the storm off the smaller ones. He felt a lump of sorrow at the thought of poor Boromir; he wondered how soon Legolas and Gimli might visit the Shire again. He missed his friends.

There was another crash of thunder, much closer this time, and Pippin began to think that being under this tree was not such a good idea. He was turning to point this out to his brothers-in-law, when another crash of thunder and a flash of light gave him only just enough time to register the ominous crack above.

With the reflexes honed by his warrior training, he had barely enough time to shove the other two hobbits out of the way before the giant tree branch came hurtling down upon them. But he was not quick enough to get himself out of the way. Oh, no! he thought, here we go again--as the limb pinned him to the ground, he felt an excruciating pain in his left leg. At least this tree limb doesn’t stink like a troll, he thought.

Milo and Tanto scrambled back over to where he lay pinned.

“Pippin!” shouted Tanto. Milo was tugging frantically at the massive branch.

“I’m alive,” Pippin gasped. “Leave it, Milo. It’s too heavy, even for both of you.” He groaned at another wave of pain. “I’m pretty sure my leg is broken.”

Calm yourself, Pip, he thought. Remember what Strider taught you. Focus on your breathing. The pain receded: there, but manageable.

“Tanto,” he said “I think that you had better go for help.”

His younger brother-in-law gave a nod and headed off into the storm.

Milo came over and knelt next to Pippin, who was beginning to shiver. It was hard to focus on one’s breathing when one was so very wet and cold.

“You saved our lives, brother,” Milo said, taking Pippin’s head into his lap.

“Y-you’d have d-d-done the…the s-same f-for m-me.” Pippin’s teeth were chattering, and the pain was threatening to overwhelm him.

“I would have *wanted* to. But I don’t believe I could ever have moved so quickly.”

Pippin wanted to reassure him, but it was taking every ounce of his concentration not to scream. You are a Knight of Gondor, he told himself, and you have been hurt far worse than this in battle. But that was then, part of his mind said, and this is now, and it hurts!

There was another peal of thunder, further in the distance, and the rain began to slowly slack off as the storm moved on.

Pippin was shivering even harder, and in spite of his best efforts, a whimper occasionally escaped him.

Milo was beginning to wonder if any help was ever coming (though it had not, in fact, been very much more than half an hour ) when he saw them coming: at least a score of sturdy hobbits, Tanto and the Thain in the lead, with the healer, Lavender Bunce, and her apprentice, on their heels.

Paladin sped to Pippin’s side. Pippin looked up at him fuzzily and managed a weak smile. “Hullo, F-father. I s-seem… t-to b-be… in a b-bit of…a p-pickle…”

“Hush, now, son,” he said, placing a hand on the wet brow, “we’ll have you out of here soon.” He looked at the other hobbits, who were trying to find the best way to move the branch. “Move it from the broken end, up and over! We don’t want to drag it across his legs!”

“No, indeed,” said Lavender, from her place by Pippin’s side, where she was taking his pulse. He was shivering violently now, and his pulse was thready. She was afraid he was going into shock. “Diamond,” she said to her apprentice, “you and the Thain hold onto his shoulders. The pain when they remove the limb is going to be intense.”

She took Pippin’s hand and looked into his face. “Don’t try to fight the pain when they do this! You will almost certainly pass out, and that would probably be for the best!”

Pippin swallowed the wave of nausea, and nodded slightly to show he understood. One thing he had learned at Cormallen: the body had its reasons when it decided it was time to be unconscious.

The hobbits had got a firm grip on the huge branch, and Cousin Reggie was counting: “One, two, three, and lift!”

Pippin cried out once, and then went blessedly limp.

The rain stopped.

Lavender moved to examine the broken left leg. It was a clean break, below the knee, and she breathed a sigh of relief. She remembered all too clearly last spring when poor little Opal, Reggie’s daughter, had needed an amputation for a leg shattered beyond repair. But it looked as though this break would respond to being set and splinted.

“Thain Paladin, I am going to set the bone and splint the leg before we take him back to the Smials. If you and Mr. Reggie would hold him, in case he comes to, I will need Diamond’s assistance here. Also, I suggest you send someone back with word to start fires and prepare some mulled wine. I want everyone who came out here to get clean, warm and dry as soon as we return. I expect to have my hands full with this one,” she nodded at Pippin, “and I do not need a hole full of people with colds to worry about. That includes you, as well, sir,” she ended firmly.

Paladin nodded. She made perfect sense. He looked about him at the circle of hobbits, all looking down at his son in concern, and felt touched that they were so worried. “Evvie,” he caught the eye of Reggie’s younger brother Everard. “Run on back and give Eglantine the healer’s instructions. Make sure she knows that Pippin is alive, though sorely hurt, and is in no immediate danger. And roust out a messenger to head for Bag End. He’ll need his cousins here once he comes to.”

Lavender nodded her approval. The Mistress would have things well in hand by the time that they were able to return to the Smials; and he was right about Peregrin’s cousins--they’d want to be with him as soon as they heard of his hurt. She’d not really known much of them until she had come to the Great Smials this spring, to take over for the Took family healer, Poppy Burrows. Poppy was taking a year off to journey south and learn new healing methods, and Lavender had agreed to serve in her place until she returned. Although Peregrin was no longer living here, but in Buckland, Poppy had told Lavender of the extraordinary bond between the three, especially since they had returned from their mysterious journey.

She moved down by the broken leg, and prepared to set it. Fortunately, Tanto had mentioned what Pippin had suspected, and she had brought splints and bandages along.

The healer and her apprentice quickly did what needed to be done. Pippin jerked convulsively, but did not regain consciousness. Working quickly, she and Diamond splinted and bandaged the leg, and she had the other hobbits lay down the litter she had them bring. Carefully they moved him onto it, lifted it up, and began the trek back home.

_________________________________________________

Eglantine had wasted no time. Even before Everard came in with his message, she had ordered a huge fire built in the main hall, as well as a quantity of wine to be mulled; hot baths were to be drawn for the hobbits who had gone out, and blankets were being placed in front of the fire to warm. She had sent her eldest daughter Pearl to prepare Pippin’s room for him--to light the fire, see to clean linen and hot water, get extra blankets. She also sent for Mistress Appleblossom, the head housekeeper.

“Mistress Appleblossom, please see to the guest rooms that Mr. Meriadoc and Mr. Frodo use. Prepare a room for Mr. Samwise as well--he may accompany them.” She had been firm with herself in using this new form of address for Frodo’s gardener. Frodo had every intention of seeing Samwise take a more prominent place in society, and this was one way in which she could help him.

“Cousin Tina?”

“Yes?” It was one of Reggie’s daughters, Garnet.

“Is there anything I can do to help?”

“Yes, dear. Would you please go and check on Pimmie and Vinca? They were very distraught over their husbands’ close calls, and they also may need some help with the children.”

“Yes, Cousin Tina.”

Eglantine drew a deep breath. She was beginning to run out of things to do, and that would not be a good thing--then she would have too much time to worry.

__________________________________________________

From the stables, a messenger on a fast pony headed cross-country towards Hobbiton.

__________________________________________________

Frodo, Merry, Sam and Rose were taking tea in the cosy kitchen at Bag End. After The Birthday last week, Merry had stayed on to visit for a while, and Pippin had gone to Tookland, to spend a bit of time with his family, and his new niece and nephew.

Frodo and Sam were discussing the building of a nursery. Frodo thought perhaps they might have workers come and dig a whole new room, while Sam thought it might be better to use one of the many guest rooms. Rose was smiling and shaking her head. She was not particularly concerned about a nursery, as she fully intended to keep the babe and its cradle in the room she and Sam shared. But she supposed that eventually they would need one.

Merry was not paying much attention to the conversation; he had felt uncomfortable and edgy all afternoon, as though something were wrong.

“Merry!” It was Frodo. He had obviously called his cousin’s name more than once.

“I’m sorry, Frodo. I’m afraid I didn’t hear you.”

“What is the trouble, Merry? You’ve been restless for hours, and you’ve scarcely touched your tea.” Frodo was worried. Merry had his own troubles from their time away, but it usually came in the form of nightmares, and rarely seemed to bother him during the day.

Merry shook his head. “Perhaps it’s the storm,” he said. And a crash of thunder punctuated his sentence.

Sam glanced out the window. “It moved up from the southwest; it’ll soon enough be passing over.”

Merry sighed. “I imagine Pip’s had a wet afternoon as well, then. If it’s over us now, it must have been over them before. I hope he’s stayed in and dry.”

Ah, thought Frodo, that’s it. He’s missing Pippin. Out loud he said “He’ll be back tomorrow, and then the two of you can get back to Crickhollow.”

Merry nodded. He’d enjoyed this visit with Frodo and Sam a great deal, but he was missing his other cousin, and their cosy little house in Buckland.

Just then there came a pounding on the front door.

“Who on earth would be out in this nasty weather?” asked Rose.

Sam went to answer the door, and they could hear his exclamation of surprise. He returned to the kitchen with a dripping hobbit following him. His expression was serious.

“This here’s a messenger from the Thain. Mr. Pippin’s been hurt.”

Merry gave a cry. “I knew something was wrong! We must go to him!”

  




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