3. Chapter Three
“Meriadoc, there is occasionally one born who, through no plan or design of his own, strangely affects the outcome of things. We call this a nexus, someone who connects things that would have otherwise gone unconnected. The most innocent action or word of such a one can cause events, people, destiny itself to go spinning and tumbling in completely unexpected directions. All of us influence things by our smallest decision and action, like a pebble causing ripples in a pond; but there is no doubt that the presence of someone like Peregrin on your journey would be much more than a pebble, causing much more than ripples. I regret my inability to explain it more fully, but this is something that cannot be mistaken. I recognized Peregrin immediately and so, I suspect, did Mithrandir. It is a very rare thing.”
“But I don’t understand,” said Merry. “Couldn’t such ripples lead to good results, to a successful end to our quest?”
“At first I did not think so. A venture such as this is of such fragile balance, the least of things can bring all to ruin. I had at first thought that speed and stealth would be the Company’s greatest weapons. A journey including one such as Peregrin could not possibly hope to venture far without drawing attention, without his unknowingly setting off some new or unimagined occurrence.”
Merry was confused. “But you now seem positively delighted with the prospect of Pippin accompanying us.”
“I have changed my mind, Meriadoc,” Elrond chuckled. “A rare thing indeed!”
“I am glad,” said Merry. “But why?”
Elrond’s gaze grew distant. “For many weeks I have sought to determine in what way Frodo can accomplish this quest, and the answer has eluded me. It is a dark and dangerous road, with very little hope for success. The Fellowship may get him far, in safety and concealment, perhaps even to the Black Gate itself. But then? I have been forced to conclude that only by the strangest of chances, the most unlikely and unlooked-for of events, can the Ring be unmade and Sauron defeated. And so……”
“……Pippin,” whispered Merry. ‘You believe Pippin to will somehow cause that unlikely and unlooked-for event.”
“Yes, perhaps. There may be one action, one word, one step to the left instead of to the right, that may determine the fate of many. Who can say? He is curious and impulsive; perhaps in that alone will the connections be made between whatever can best turn the tide. In my haste to prevent Peregrin from going, I was blind to the obvious. All four of you here at this place, at this time, and Peregrin so eager to join the Company the only things that would stop him were, what was it?” Elrond thought back. “Ah yes, being put in prison or sent home tied in a sack. When such strong forces are at work, I must bow before them.” Elrond turned to Merry, suddenly concerned.
“I hope this conversation will not place a great burden on you, my friend.”
Merry smiled. “No sir, you comfort me greatly. I feared you foresaw some dire peril in wait for my cousin.” He paused and continued, “But it’s odd, though. I have known Pippin all his life. He seems a perfectly ordinary hobbit to me!”
Elrond laughed softly. “I have known only five hobbits in my lifetime, Meriadoc, and all of you seem quite extra-ordinary in your own way. Perhaps there is something deep within each of you, needing only time or circumstance to reveal it. I believe this quest will awaken Peregrin’s true nature, and possibly it will do the same for all of you.”
Merry was quiet, trying to absorb all this. Elrond stirred, as if to leave, but Merry realized this would be his last chance to ask any questions.
“Lord Elrond,” he said softly, “Why did you agree to tell me about Pippin?”
Elrond turned to look at the serious young hobbit. “Tell me, Meriadoc, what river runs from the Anduin west through Rohan?”
Merry was so startled at this unlikely turn of conversation that he blurted out the answer without thinking. “The Entwash.”
Elrond nodded. “You have spent much time with the maps, learning about the lands you may see. You have tried to prepare yourself for the journey to come. I have opened my House to the outfitting of your Company, trying to anticipate what might be needed by any of you in order to prepare. Samwise has needed time in the kitchens, trying to assemble everything Frodo may desire to eat for the next several months that will keep on the back of a pony!” Merry grinned at the truth in this.
“You, Meriadoc, have sought information. Knowledge that might be useful. I do not know how this information about Peregrin may serve you, but I sensed it would not be unwise to tell you.” Elrond paused, then rose to his feet. “Come now, you should get some sleep. The Company leaves tomorrow. Shall we go back?”
Merry got up and bowed low before Elrond. “Thank you, sir.”
Elrond rested his hand gently on Merry’s curls. “May the stars shine upon you, Meriadoc.“
When Merry approached the room he shared with the other hobbits he heard Frodo’s ringing laugh. This was such a wonderfully rare thing that Merry hurried into the room to see what was going on, and found his three colleagues deep in a hilarious debate as to why Sam had named the pony Bill. Pippin was saying that Sam couldn’t possibly have named him after that pestiferous and skulking Bill Ferny, so he must have had his mother Bell’s name in mind. Frodo would not budge from the notion that Sam had named the pony in honor of Bilbo. Sam caught Merry’s eye and smiled delightedly. Merry suspected that Sam was so happy to have Frodo laughing and smiling again he would let the debate rage on unending, although he seemed aghast at the notion that Pippin would think he would name a pony after his mother.
Pippin turned to Merry with a grin. “C’mon, Mer, you know I’m right.” He grabbed his cousin and hurled him onto the bed. “Not that anything I do or say ever makes any difference around here!”
But it does, Pip, it does. Merry gazed deeply into Pippin’s laughing eyes and smiled, before being buried by Sam and Frodo leaping on top of both of them.
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.