14. Poppy Paste
Pippin had eventually gone back to sleep after Merry was taken off into the night, but only after Aragorn fed him some more poppy paste and Legolas had rocked him gently for nearly an hour. Legolas then stayed by him while the others conferred with Treebeard and King Théoden about how to manage Isengard and the dethroned wizard.
The next morning, having had a few hours of sleep Gandalf collected Aragorn and Gimli and returned to the guardroom. "I have to decide what can be done for Peregrin. I have been avoiding this issue, hoping to learn more but I cannot delay any longer."
Legolas woke Pippin and carrying him over, sat him in the middle of the table. The hobbit no longer had any chains on as Gimli had removed them all and he was now dressed in one of Aragorn's spare shirts which was ridiculously too big for him. Legolas had tied the empty sleeve, which would not fit over his broken arm, around the middle of the shirt to hitch it up. The other sleeve was rolled over several times, but still covered his hand.
Pippin looked around fearfully at the four steady gazes. Aragorn touched him gently on the damaged wrist and shrugged his shoulders questioningly. Pippin cringed away at the touch, trying to back off the table away from Aragorn. Gimli held him in place.
Aragorn shook his head. "I was just trying to ascertain if he was in pain, but he seems terrified."
"Yes, this is hopeless," Gandalf agreed. "Legolas you will have to speak to him again and try to calm him. Just stay on the outer reaches of his thoughts and you should not encounter anything more disturbing than Pippin being hungry or missing Merry."
Legolas took Pippin’s face firmly in his hands and dipped into the first layer of consciousness. ‘Pippin, it’s Legolas, say my name little one.’
‘legolas!’ Pippin was getting used to this initial contact. ‘what i did do?’ Pippin sounded really afraid. ‘all angry at i – sorry – sorry!’ Pippin was not used to being the centre of attention without having committed some misdemeanour and now everyone was looking at him and Merry was gone, so he must have done something really bad. Perhaps it was the terrible voice in his head, he didn’t really understand it, he just knew it was bad.
‘No one is angry with you, Pip’ Legolas was sad that this innocent creature felt so ill of himself. ‘We all just want to help you – you’ve been ill, but it wasn’t your fault.’
‘Gandalf angry at i?’
‘No Pippin, Gandalf is not angry with you!’
‘make Merry go way - i bad!’
‘No, he did not send Merry away to punish you, Pippin.’ Legolas explained gently. ‘is that what you thought? Gandalf is not cross with you, I promise. Why would he be?’
‘cause dead he. bal-bal-grog was it come? woke up it - i fault at it – bad– sorry, sorry!
Legolas realised no one had actually explained to Pippin about Gandalf’s resurrection and he didn’t want to have to try and put it in Pippin terms now. ‘No! Gandalf is not dead! The Balrog did not kill him and he is not angry with you! Understand?’
‘legolas angry at i?’
‘No one is angry with you, Pippin, truly.’ Legolas calmed the tone of his thoughts. ‘Gandalf is going to talk to you. In your head like I do. But do not struggle against him, try to keep very still. He will not hurt you, but his mind is very big and you might be a bit frightened.’
‘frighted? what do to i?’
‘Nothing, He is just going to talk to you. All right?’
‘get Merry come back?’
Legolas sighed, Pippin could be very single minded sometimes. ‘Later - now be still and let Gandalf talk to you.’
Legolas withdrew and spoke to the rest of the company. "He thought he’d done something bad because everyone was looking at him. He also believes Gandalf that you are dead because of the Balrog and that it was his fault and that you took Merry away to punish him."
"Oh dear," the wizard sighed. "Quite a catalogue of sins for a small hobbit to bear. Is he in any pain from his injuries?"
"He does not complain, but yes I could feel the constant throb." Legolas stroked Pippin’s curls absent-mindedly. "He is more anguished about what he might have done."
"I could give him some more opium," Aragorn looked critically at the shivering little hobbit, "but I fear he is starting to get too accustomed to it."
"It might be best to give him some now." Gandalf was still unsure about invading Pippin’s mind. "If it makes him a little disorientated when I reach inside his head that would be for the best. Wizards do not communicate in quite the way the elves do. I always try to avoid mind touching with unworldly creatures like hobbits, their minds seem too fragile. But since this Quest began I have learned they are more stoic than I used to give them credit for."
"Is that why Saruman did not look into the hobbits' minds to take information from them?" Gimli asked. "Would he have just crushed their minds?"
"Not necessarily, Gimli," Gandalf watched as Aragorn gave Pippin some more of the potent paste, feeding it to him from his finger. "Saruman may have been wary of crushing their minds, but in any event, mind touching cannot be used to elict information from another any more than torture will necessarily make someone speak. the subject has to offer the information themselves."
Gandalf waited a little longer until Pippin became a little drowsy as the paste took effect. The hobbit seemed to enjoy the stuff now, perhaps he had had a bit too much. "I think he's getting addicted to that medicine, Aragorn." Legolas said. He had also observed that Pippin seemed to relish the poppy mixture.
"Yes, I know," the ranger agreed. "I'll not give him any more."
Legolas spoke to the hobbit again briefly. 'Pippin are you ready to talk to Gandalf?'
'no… go not talk… no one…shout me!' He slumped forward onto Legolas as though drunk.
Pippin sit up! Legolas sat him upright again. 'Try to behave.'
'…will… i feel too sssshhhh…s'gandalf… sssshhhhh…'
Legolas withdrew. "I think you'll find him very relaxed," he said to Gandalf. "Oh and one suggestion."
"What's that?" The wizard asked turning Pippin around and looking at him sternly.
"You could smile at him."
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