The child lay on the cold, rain-damp grass, his body strangely twisted, an angry red graze visible under the mop of soft brown curls which fell over his forehead. Running at full tilt across the paddock, his terrified father saw instantly that the boy's leg was broken. It didn't take a healer's skill to note the sickening angle of the bone, just above his furry bare foot. The boy's face had taken on a grim pallor, yet looked so strangely peaceful that for a long moment his father feared the very worst. The world around him swayed and it seemed to take forever to run the last few steps. Then he heard a whimpering breath and time returned to normal.
He grabbed the reins of the pony skittering nervously a few yards from the spot where its young rider had tumbled to the ground. Speaking quick, yet calming words to the animal he turned it in the direction of Great Smials and slapped its rump to send it galloping down the path. Hopefully the sight of the pony returning riderless would bring help.
Kneeling down next to the child he gently brushed aside the curls to look more closely at the head injury. The boy whimpered.
"Hush, Faramir," he whispered. "You're going to be fine. I'm here and help's coming."
They stood back, letting Alma Harfoot do her work as a healer, and gripped hands so tightly that the knuckles of both hobbit-parents were white.
Diamond Took could feel her heart racing even as she told herself that it could have been worse, that her son was alive and had been able to murmur a few pained words of recognition as he was carried to his bedchamber.
Her little boy’s face was almost as white as the pillow his head rested on and his eyes were screwed up tight. Every time he was moved he cried out. And every time Farry cried out she felt Pippin flinch as if he himself had been wounded. She looked sidelong at her husband. Pippin’s face was more grey than white and his eyes were still wild and panic-stricken.
“Right young Master Took, this is going to hurt.” The healer spoke firmly as she took a tight grip on Farry’s leg. Then there was a horrifying crunch of grinding bone and Farry screamed a long high-pitched wail of pure agony.
The noise stopped. Diamond felt her hand shaken loose and an instant later heard the door slam behind her and running footsteps echoing away down the corridor.
“There now,” said Mistress Harfoot. “All finished. We’ll just bind this with splints and leave time to do the healing.”
It was already past the middle of the night by the time he sprinted up the path to the front door of Great Smials and launched himself at the doorknocker, as he had hundreds of times in his youth. Pounding as it was from the fast ride across the Shire, his heart was filled with dread.
The door was flung open instantly by Diamond, and Merry Brandybuck realised she must have been waiting in the hallway for him – or else surely a servant would have answered the door.
Still standing on the doorstep, he grabbed her by both shoulders and held her so he could see her face. It told him everything he needed to know and he shook with relief. She had been badly frightened, he could see that, but it was a mother’s worry and not the shadow of grief that filled her countenance. He pulled her into a brisk hug of greeting and friendly comfort.
“I came as quickly as I could,” said Merry, releasing her. “How is he?”
“Resting now. Mistress Harfoot mixed up something for the pain. He’ll need to be kept abed for the next few weeks but he’ll recover. But… Oh Merry, thank goodness you’re here.”
“I don’t understand. If Farry is on the mend already why did you send for me so urgently?”
“It’s Pip,” whispered Diamond hanging up Merry’s coat and scarf in the hallway. “He’s so shaken. He’s barely said a word since they carried Farry in. He won’t speak to me and he seems very strange and distant. Please try to talk to him.”
Merry knocked gently on the door of the Thain’s office. There was no answer, so he pushed it open. He found his oldest and dearest friend sitting in his usual place at the writing table. It was obvious that there was much amiss. Pippin was staring vacantly at a blank spot on the wall swaying backwards and forwards slightly and muttering to himself under his breath. He seemed oblivious to Merry’s entrance.
“Pip,” said Merry, using the tone he might to an injured creature.
Pippin didn’t look at him but his words – in a strange, strained voice - became clearer and more deliberate.
“…already burning…..blown away on the wind….. Do not take my son from me! He calls for me!”
“Pippin!” Merry shouted this time as he ran across the room. He tried to grab for Pippin’s hands which were working frantically at the air in front of him.
“He is burning, already burning. Faramir! He will not wake again. Battle is vain.”
The words meant something, he knew, but they did not seem right. Faramir was not burned, he wasn’t even feverish. His mind groped wildly for a moment before he grasped that Pippin was locked in a recollection more than twenty years old. He hoped that plain hobbit sense would be enough to break the spell of memory.
“Silly,” he said throwing an arm around Pippin. “You are not Lord Denethor and Faramir is not Faramir.” He paused. “Well, he is, obviously, but not that Faramir. And anyway, Farry’s in one piece, if a little dented – and come to that, the other Faramir’s in fine fettle too – or was the last time I had a letter from the south.”
Pippin made a noise that was something of a cross between a splutter and a giggle, and then a sob. Merry wrapped his other arm around his friend and held him while he wept. Relief washed over him. The sobs sounded exactly like a miserable Pip had always sounded, since he was a tiny child – noisy and gulping and, thank goodness, normal. When Pippin finally stopped shuddering he let go of him and met his eyes for the first time. They were red and frightened, but Merry was reasonably certain that they now saw in front of them the Thain’s office of Great Smials and not the Stewards House in Rath Dinen. He handed Pippin a handkerchief and tousled his hair as if he were still the tweenager who had witnessed Denethor’s pyre in Minas Tirith.
“Poor, poor Denethor,” sighed the Thain, wiping his tear-stained face. “I understand at last. When I saw Faramir lying there, I thought…” His words were choked off by another sob, but he struggled on. “And, Oh Merry, if I’d killed him then I didn’t want to live either.”
“Shush,” said Merry, guiding him to a more comfortable chair. “Farry’s going to be fine, so there’s no need for all this.”
“But I told him I wouldn’t let him fall,” said Pippin dropping into the seat. “I let him down so badly, Merry. I don’t know if I’ll ever win his trust again.”
Merry shushed him again as he headed for the door. “I’ll go and see if Diamond can rustle up some supper for us, shall I?”
Pippin nodded. “Thank you Merry. What would I ever do without you?”
Merry stepped out into the corridor and leaned against the wall for a moment to gather his wits. ‘Without me?’ he thought. ‘My dear friend, you’d save the life of the steward’s son and do all you could to stop an old man from killing himself in madness and needless grief.’
Then he went in search of a worried wife and a teapot.
The Secret Diary of Faramir Took
17 Rethe 1441
Finally, I have my diary again. Dear Uncle Merry found it for me, saying it would do me good to practice my letters while I am laid up in bed. For I am in truth a prisoner of the sick room and very, very bored indeed. It is two weeks since I fell from the pony and broke my leg. Most of that time I have been asleep or rather hazy, but at last I feel properly awake and so bored.
Old Mistress Harfoot the healer says it will be a few more weeks yet before I can get up. She told me it was a bad break, then she exchanged worried looks with Mamma. Pa went very pale and left the room. He’s been doing that a lot. I wish he’d stay and talk to me like he usually does when I’m sick, but I think he’s very cross with me for fidgeting and causing Edwin to throw me off like that.
19 Rethe 1441
Mamma has been sitting with me, playing card games, but I am still very bored. Uncle Merry brought me some books from Brandy Hall, saying he’d found all the best adventure stories for me. I asked him if there were any about elves, but he said I’d have to try the library at Bag End for that kind of thing.
Pa still hasn’t been in much. Well, not in the day time anyway. I think I woke in the middle of last night and found him sitting in the chair by my bedside, but perhaps it was a dream. I wonder if he will ever let me ride Edwin again. If he doesn’t I suppose it will be my own silly fault. I remember hearing him shouting at me to keep still, but it felt so strange and high up.
My leg feels strange and tingly. I think it must be healing. It aches most of the time too, although they make me drink some horrid herbal tea to make it less painful. The tea makes me sleepy too, so I am almost nodding off as I’m trying to write this.
20 Rethe 1441
The Gamgees came to visit and we had fantastic larks. For a while everyone was crowded into my room all prodding and poking me and my leg to see whether we were hale yet. Finally Mamma shooed out everyone except Merry, Pippin and Goldie and we spent the afternoon making up heroic stories and acting them out. Since I am still stuck in bed I had to play at being dying kings and ailing warriors, but it was still great fun.
They have all been very busy at home because there is yet another new Gamgee, who is to be called Robin. Sometimes I wish I had lots of brothers and sisters. Merry said I could be an honorary Gamgee whenever I want to. Of course I was very shocked and horrified at this as I am a Took through and through, and would never want to be anything else.
Pippin brought me a tin whistle. He said he had been banned from using it around their house because it was giving Aunt Rosie a headache and keeping Robin awake.
26 Rethe 1441
Oh dear. Have I really missed so many days? Well, once again it is my own silly fault. I tried to get up since I could not reach my tin whistle. I had no idea it would be so painful. There was a great deal of fuss and Mistress Harfoot was brought and Mamma and Pa were looking scared again.
Then Mistress Harfoot said I might never be able to walk normally again. I think Pa nearly fainted. I know in the stories it’s usually the women who swoon, but while Pa almost fell into a chair, Mamma just got very angry with the healer and I could hear her shouting in the corridor saying she shouldn’t have said anything in front of me. Well, of course she should. It’s my leg.
Anyway I was very upset for a few days, and my leg hurt a lot which made me too dizzy to want to write. Then my three dear Gamgees came over to visit again. Merry said it might not be so bad if I have a limp. “You’ll always get served first in the Green Dragon and the Hobbit-lasses will all want to fuss over you,” he said. Goldie already wants to fuss over me and had baked me a cake all by herself. It was not at all nice, but I pretended to enjoy it, since she meant well.
Also, if walking is going to be a problem, I will really have to learn to ride.
Thain Peregrin stood outside his son’s bedroom and fretted. What could he say? How could he tell his son that he was sorry? Would a ten year old lad understand how much his father needed a second chance to make things right?
Well, there was no use in just standing outside the room. He took a deep breath and pushed open the door. He was greeted by the sight of Faramir engrossed in a large volume of stories. The youngster looked up questioningly.
“Would you like to go outdoors today, Faramir?” Pippin hesitated, but he saw his son’s face brighten and was encouraged. “The sun is shining and I could carry you outside if you wish it.”
Thus he came to be staggering out of the door carrying Faramir, wrapped in blankets, for although it was sunny it was still only spring. He put the youngster down in a comfortable spot. As he did so Faramir, caught him with what was obviously a long prepared question.
“Pa, when my leg is well again, will you teach me to ride properly? I promise not to fidget and to do everything you tell me.”
Pippin looked at his son in astonishment as he dropped into a sitting position on the ground by his side.
“You want to ride again?”
The boy nodded solemnly, his brow deeply creased as if he were afraid that his heart’s desire was about to be refused.
Pippin felt tears prick at his eyes. Was Faramir really offering him this precious gift without even being asked? “And you want me to teach you?”
“More than anything, Pa. Oh please say yes. I’m so sorry for falling.”
“You are sorry! Oh Farry, I’m so sorry for letting you fall.” He swept his son into a great bear hug, only letting go when Faramir managed to squeak out: “You’re squashing me.”
They sat for a moment in companionable silence. Then Faramir reached inside the great bundle of blankets and pulled out the tin whistle Pippin Gamgee had given him.
“Pa?” he asked. “Have you any idea how to get a tune out of this?”
“Let’s see.” Pippin took the whistle. “I had one of these when I was your age.” He put it to his lips and produced a hideous tuneless squeak. Faramir burst into giggles. “No, that’s not it, not right at all,” said Pippin. He put it to his lips once again and played a cheerful tune.
“Teach me,” said Faramir gazing with pure admiration at the speed of his father’s fingers fluttering deftly over the whistle.
“Everything that I possibly can,” said Pippin.
A/N: Thanks to Forodwaith for beta-duty.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.