Tookish Thoughts and Toils - The Fellowship through the eyes of a certain Hobbit...

Disclaimer- All recognizable characters, places, and plot lines belong to JRR Tolkien and Co. I am gaining no profit from this story.

Obligatory A/N- Short, one-shot fic about the Fellowship's march through Hollin as seen by one Peregrin Took. Reviews greatly encouraged, as this is a more serious vein than I'm used to. Some might find it a bit less Pippin-ish, but I think he does have a good head on his shoulders, though he doesn't always use it. :-)

Tookish Thoughts and Toils

Trudge, trudge, trudge. Walk, walk, walk. Tramp, tramp, tramp. I dutifully follow my cousin and the rest of the Fellowship - save only Boromir and Strider, who are behind me. I am weary, more weary than even that time when I followed Merry all the way to Buckland without him ever seeing me. Of course, by the next day when Merry brought me back to Tuckborough, my rear end hurt more than my feet and when I crawled into Merry's bed in the spare room that night he wasn't angry with me. He just sighed and smoothed my curls until I felt better and didn't bother to wake me when I fell asleep in his bed. Returning to the here and now, I strangely envy the boots of the Big Folk, something I never thought I'd do, and even Bill's shoes seem preferable to the dull ache from walking through - where are we? Someplace that starts with an H, I think. But as I was saying, from walking through here with not a single thing protecting my sore feet from the sharp rocks and hard dirt.

I shake my head lightly. This kind of thinking will get me nowhere. Certainly not to our destination. I shiver slightly: Mount Doom, in the middle of the Land of the Enemy. But, no - that kind of thinking is even worse. And at least I am not as bad off as my poor cousin. I raise my head, and in the dim light before dawn I catch a glimpse of dark curls. Frodo is the one who has to take the Ring to that place. My only duty is to follow him and lend whatever talent I can to our Quest. I may not be skilled in weaponry or magic or anything like that, but if I can help Frodo by just being here, I will follow him to the ends of Middle-earth.

My reflection has turned my attention away from my pained feet, so I willingly consider the rest of the Fellowship. In the very front - I strain my eyes in the dark before I see a blue hat. Gandalf. It still amazes me that I'm off on a journey with him, the famous wizard from Bilbo's stories. The same Gandalf who fought trolls and orcs and Wargs and dragons, and dragged cousin Bilbo along to far off lands with a band of dwarves. The same Gandalf whose fireworks are still legendary in the Shire, even seventeen years after the last show. Bilbo's Farewell Party, as it has come to be called, seems much longer ago than that.

It seems years ago that we left Bag End. Years since the Old Forest, Old Man Willow - I still suppress a shudder at the name, remembering the dark, tight space inside the evil tree - Tom Bombadil, and the Barrow-wight, our first real brush with danger. Years since Bree, and meeting Strider - or Aragorn, I should say - whom we did not trust. And months at least since the disaster at Weathertop that nearly cost Frodo his life. Of course, Weathertop was months ago, but it seems longer. This march seems to have lasted months, at least. How long has it been since we left Rivendell? I try to work it out on my fingers but the days blur into each other and I quickly abandon that idea.

"Merry," I hiss, tapping him on his shoulder.

He turns his head to face me while continuing to walk. "What is it, Pippin?"

"When did we leave Rivendell?"

He is surprised by the question, I can tell. He probably thought I was going to ask him when we were stopping to eat, which, now that I think about it, should be soon. "A couple of weeks ago, I think," Merry answers. "Why?"

I shrug. "Just wondering."

He raises an eyebrow but then nods and turns back around, settling into the half-doze we - the hobbits, I mean - walk in. Frodo and Sam, ahead of my cousin and me, also plod along in this stupor, Sam absently stroking Bill's nose whenever the pony missteps. I wonder if Sam is really aware that he's doing that. He seems to be asleep on his feet, as does Frodo, from what I can see. Not that I blame them; if I wasn't in such a contemplative mood I'd probably be doing the same. Frodo slips slightly on some wet, dewy grass and Sam turns to him, suddenly alert. Frodo shakes his head slightly to show that he's fine; however, Sam persists in watching him shrewdly until Frodo claps him on the shoulder, most likely smiling in that "Don't worry about me, I'm all right" way he has of late. I hope he is all right; I hope that wound from the Black Rider's knife isn't paining him any longer.

Lost in these thoughts, it takes a moment for me to register that the green blur that passed me a second ago was Legolas. He must've returned from another scouting trip; he is always running ahead or behind us then coming back to speak to Gandalf quietly. Another strange thing; before I left the Shire the only Elves I had seen were those pictures in Frodo's books. Then we met Gildor and now, the Prince of Mirkwood is traveling with us! It is odd to think of that so lightly. I suppose even the most unusual things can grow to be commonplace if they happen often. Did those heroes in Bilbo's old tales ever feel that way after so many adventures? Did they ever become - well, bored, of slaying trolls and fighting orcs and the like? Did their feet ever hurt quite this much?

I grimace in the dark; I thought I had forgotten that for a while. I peek as best I can over Merry's curls; how can he say mine are unruly when his are just as bad? Ah, of course, I remember as I spot a gleam of the rising sun hit a metal helm - I forgot Gimli. Dwarves are not as rarely seen in the Shire as Elves, but they are still cause for talk in inns after they've left. And this Dwarf is the son of one of Bilbo's old friends - Gloin, I think. That reminds me of something I recalled last night; if Legolas is the son of the king of Mirkwood, and Gimli is the son of Gloin who was taken prisoner by the king of Mirkwood, how can they be traveling together without incident? 'Without incident' excepting, of course, the daily arguments that they seem to begin whenever we stop for a meal or sleep. Really, couldn't they think of a better time to start that up? As soon as they begin, I know that supper or breakfast (we only get two meals, hard as that is to believe) will be delayed again until an agreement has been reached and the two sides grumble their acceptance of the treaty.

Deciding that thinking about food won't distract me very well, I chance a quick look over my shoulder. The two Men are behind me, first Boromir, then Aragorn. I don't know much about Boromir. He's not very outgoing, I think, and prefers to stay on the edge of any of the aforementioned arguments, stating his views only when they're asked of him. He did say he would teach Merry and me a bit more swordplay, since we didn't get many lessons in Rivendell. That would have been a better thing to be doing, I reflect in hindsight, than wandering aimlessly about the Elven land, fair as it was. If I were there, I'd still be sleeping, and have a proper seven meals to look forward to. Oh, well. I signed up for this journey, and I won't be going back now. I said they'd have to tie me up in a sack to stop me, and that holds true as much now as it did then - though I wouldn't turn up my nose at having seven meals again.

What was I thinking about? Oh, yes, the Fellowship. Hmm, me, Merry, Frodo, Sam, Gandalf, Legolas, Gimli, Boromir. Aragorn is last, then. What can I think about him? He's as much a mystery as he ever was - and how ever did he get so many names? I tick them off on my fingers: Strider, Aragorn, I heard Bilbo say he was the Dunadan, he told us at the Prancing Pony he was the son of Arathorn, Bill Ferny named him Longshanks in Bree, and Lord Elrond called him something in Rivendell - Estel, maybe. I wonder if Sam is still suspicious of him. I'm not; without him, we would never have made it to Rivendell. We might still be in Bree - or worse, the Black Riders could have taken us suddenly in the wilderness and -

I am aware with a start that I have frozen on the path and Boromir is tapping my shoulder gently. "Are you all right, little one?" he asks softly and I nod, not trusting to my voice not to quaver if I speak. He pats my head in a comforting gesture. "You'd better hurry on, then, Pippin."

I walk quickly to catch up with my cousin and refuse to think any more about where my trail of thought was going. I am distracted by my stomach growling and my feet sending complaints shooting up my legs to my mind. Will we stop soon? I poke Merry's back. "Merry."

"Yes?" he asks. What am I going to say this time, I know he is speculating. Shall I ask how much farther we have left 'til Mordor, or if we'll back in Rivendell before summer, or if he has any pipeweed for when we stop? I forego all of these important questions and instead inform him of a more pressing issue.

"I'm hungry."

"Goodness, Pippin, is that all you ever think about?" Merry's words seem harsh but there is an undercurrent of amusement in his voice, and I know he is only joking. "You have a very single track mind, cousin."

I grin at him, though he is still facing forward and can't tell. "I suppose you're right about that, Merry."

~finis~

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