In his heart Pippin knew that he and Merry, last of the travelers, would not return to the Shire.
His thoughts were brought back to a sunny day, beneath the forest of Fangorn, when he and Merry had walked happily about, free from bondage and far from home. He wondered what Fangorn was like now, and if Treebeard still lived and had found his entwives. He wondered what had happened to all the places he had seen on his journey years before.
He felt like the five days between now and his departure would never be through. He wished to visit all the places he had seen on his dark journey, and see how they had changed during the happy years. He looked around for his pony, and found him grazing happily. He mounted and rode off towards Great Smials to speak to his son.
Faramir was not home when Pippin got there. He was probably out with one of his friends. The hobbit had grown up so fast. Now he had come of age and was married, and quite independent. Pippin still thought of him as a tiny baby in Diamond’s arms, but he would soon have his own child, and Pippin would not be there to see it. But Pippin was willing to make the bittersweet parting, he felt restless like he needed to leave the Shire. It was not the feeling that Frodo had, but more of a desire to gaze further than his small home, and see the lands far off that he had once dwelt in.
He sat in his fluffy green chair where he would often sit, and thought of the road ahead. He figured they would take it pretty easy, there was no need to rush anymore, and he secretly decided to try and follow the road of his first journey, but skip the dangerous parts, like Moria. He wanted to have a talk with old Butterbur, if he still lived and to see Weathertop again.
The day of their departure dawned bright and fair. Pippin, Faramir and Goldilocks were outside Brandy Hall at about eight o’ clock that morning. He was riding a pony and leading a baggage pony. He was taking some of his belongings with him, like his letters and writings, some of Diamond’s belongings and a picture of her. Girt at his side was his barrow blade, he would not need it, of course, but he felt it needed to be there, and his elven cloak was about his shoulders. He was fingering the brooch now as he waited for Merry, who was still saying good bye to his four sons. The veins of silver were as bright as ever and the cloak had long ago been healed of the stains of his journey. The brooch held special meaning to him, as he had for a few days lost it, and it always gave him hope, as it gave Aragorn hope long ago.
He was dressed in the sable of Gondor, the black and silver gleamed on him and he looked down on it. He had not worn it in several years, and it was unnecessary because there was nothing to guard from anymore, but it felt right to wear it on his return journey. He turned to his son, who stood on the steps before Brandy Hall with his wife at his side.
“Well Faramir my lad, this is it,” he said, he could find nothing else to say.
“Yes papa, but I will come visit you in the South,”
“That’s what I like to hear, my boy, but you keep a good watch on the Shire, your the rightful Thain now, and I hope you do a good job,”<BR
“Goodbye Goldilocks, my pretty girl, you keep Faramir in line okay, and tell me straight away if there’s a new addition to the family,”<BR
He hugged his son tight, Faramir had always been very close to his heart. His black hair was against Pippin’s cheek and he wet it with tears. Goldilocks gave him a hug as well and he kissed the top of her golden head. Her rosy cheeks were clouded over with tears and her ready smile, that reminded so many hobbits of Pippin, had vanished from her face.
“We will come and see you soon,” she said, and then stepped back with Faramir’s arm around her. She buried her head in his shoulder and wet his shirt with tears. Faramir didn’t cry, the hobbit was astoundingly like Faramir and braved all his challenges, small though they seemed compared to the first Faramir, without a tear or frown.
“Come on Merry, we’ll never get started at this rate,” Pippin said.
Many hobbits who had come to see the two off were standing near, and they cheered as the two travelers mounted their ponies and rode off towards the hedge. Merry wound his horn and blew one great note before they reached the gates. The hobbits cheered, but Pippin could not help the tears that flowed down his face at that sound. His experience at the siege of Minas Tirith was forever engraved in his memory. Merry turned to see him weeping and said.
“Sorry Pip, I forgot,”
“That’s okay Merry, were going back,” he said.
After the last of the hobbit children following them had turned back, and the gates shut with a thump behind them, Merry turned to Pippin, who had by now mastered himself.
“So, do we go straight to Rohan?” Merry asked, after a period of silence.
“I would dearly like to see Old Tom Bombadil, I want to see some of the places from our first journey again, its been a while,”
“Okay, but lets hurry along, no time to waste, a day or two with Tom and its off to Bree, a night there and were headed towards Weathertop, I want to reach Rohan by the Gap of Rohan before summer wans,”
“See that tree up there,” He pointed to a tree, a mile or so off.
“Bet I could beat you there,”
“Over my dead body!”
And the two were off at a run, their ponies flying over the smooth terrain of the road. Pippin laughed and smiled, and felt the joy surge in his heart, Merry was far behind.
Pippin reached the tree first and turned his pony to face Merry. He was riding up at a quick trot. Pippin looked around at the beautiful day. The sun was shining brightly, and the few clouds were white as swans and high up. He looked back to the green haze of the Shire, his home and love. So much would be left behind in those green, rolling lands, but so much lay before him. He gave a wild cry of joy as the wind began to blow and he and Merry (who had by now caught up) ran fast as the wind towards the unseen lands before them. Neither one of them looked back, and they came never again to the merry lands of the Shire.
And so the last journey of the Fellowship of the Ring began.
To be continued ……