7. Hidden Strength
The next morning after breakfast Frodo and Pippin found Gandalf in one of the many libraries pondering one of the ancient scrolls. The wizard looked up to see the two hobbits standing before him, Pippin looking pale and nervous.
"Come here, Pippin," Gandalf said softly, and pulled the young hobbit into his lap like a child. Frodo sat down near them.
"Frodo told me you had a nightmare about the palantír and the wraiths. Did you have another?" Pippin nodded. "I've been thinking about it, and there's something I'd like to try." Gandalf spoke slowly, choosing his words carefully. "When Frodo was hurt last year I learned much about what had happened to him, to all of you, by reading his memories when he was sleeping. It's like opening a scroll and reading what is there before you. I'd like to do that now, Pippin observe what you saw and felt in Rohan when you looked into the palantír. I know you told me about it that night, but there may be something you don't remember, something you need to know to put it all to rest and help the nightmares stop. May I do that?"
Pippin was silent for awhile, then looked up into the wizard's face. "I don't want to see all that again, Gandalf."
Gandalf smiled at him. "You won't have to, I'll be the one seeing the memories, not you. It will just take a moment, and you won't even know it's happening."
"Do you really think this will help?"
"I don't know," said Gandalf honestly. "But I would very much like to try it."
Pippin looked at Frodo, who nodded at him.
Gandalf positioned Pippin so that he could wrap his left arm securely around the hobbit's chest and place his right hand over Pippin's brow. "You'll sleep a little, and when you wake up we'll talk. Close your eyes, now."
Frodo watched as Pippin closed his eyes. Gandalf did the same and seemed to concentrate deeply. Pippin slowly relaxed as he fell into sleep, his breathing growing deep and even. After a few minutes the wizard opened his eyes and looked at Frodo.
"Did you learn anything?"
"I did indeed," the wizard said thoughtfully. "I did indeed. I need to think about this." He rose to his feet holding Pippin in his arms. "Come, let's put him to bed. I daresay he can use the sleep." He chuckled a bit as they walked. "As can you, I suppose. Would you like me to----"
"Thank you Gandalf," Frodo laughed as they entered Pippin's room. "But I prefer to fall asleep on my own these days. I'll stay with Pip and let you know when he wakes up."
Gandalf bent to lay Pippin down. "It should just be a few hours. When he wakes let me know, and bring Merry and Sam here as well. I believe there is something the four of you should know."
Pippin opened his eyes and looked around. Frodo, seated in a nearby chair reading, saw he was awake and came to sit on the bed with him.
"Are you all right?"
"Yes." Pippin sat up as well. "Did, did Gandalf say anything?"
"Only that he wanted to be told as soon as you awoke. He says there's something he wants to tell you, tell all of us. But Pip," Frodo grew serious. "If you want to talk to Gandalf alone just say so. We don't have to be here."
"I want you to be here."
"All right," said Frodo, giving Pippin a hug. "I'll be back soon. Merry and Sam are just down the hall."
Frodo told Merry and Sam that Pippin was awake, and went to find Gandalf. When he returned to Pippin's room with the wizard they found the three hobbits waiting for them. Merry and Sam were sitting on the bed on either side of Pippin. Frodo joined the other hobbits on the bed while Gandalf pulled up a chair. He looked at Pippin so gently, with such a kindly smile, that the young hobbit relaxed.
"Pippin, I want to tell you something very important," Gandalf began. "I know this will bring back memories you may not want to think about, but there is something you should know." Pippin nodded.
"That night in Rohan, when you told me what the Dark Lord said to you, your exact words were, 'Tell Saruman that this dainty is not for him. I will send for it at once.' Do you remember that?"
Pippin nodded again, breathing hard. Merry took one of his hands and Sam took the other, and he held to them tightly.
"Those words burned their way into your subconscious, Pippin. They made you feel very small. Just a 'dainty', something trivial to be claimed and possessed by someone of greater power. I believe that is why, in your dream, the palantír is so large and you are so small. In your dream you have no power, no choice as to what happens to you. Isn't that right?"
"Yes," Pippin whispered.
"When you looked into the Stone that night something else happened, something that you don't consciously remember. You didn't know about it even then." Gandalf looked at Merry. "Merry, do you remember how Aragorn appeared after he looked into the palantír?"
"He looked older, sort of weary and drained," said Merry. "He did not recover quickly."
"Yes," agreed Gandalf, "So I have heard. It was not because he looked into the Stone, but because he, himself, took control of the Stone and broke contact with Sauron. It takes a great deal of energy and strength to draw back from evil of one's own free will. It takes a toll and one must recover. As Aragorn had to." He looked straight at Pippin. "As you had to."
Pippin shook his head, frowning. "I don't understand."
Gandalf leaned forward. "Sauron did not release you, Pippin. You tore yourself away from his hold on you. That is why you lost consciousness and had to be revived. In the beginning of our journey together to Gondor you slept so deeply and so long I began to grow concerned. Now I understand that you were recovering from what had happened." The wizard shook his head, smiling a little. "Of all people, I should know the strength that lies within hobbits, yet the four of you are still able to surprise me at every turn. Very few Men could have done what you did, it is an amazing display of inner strength. You broke the Dark Lord's hold on you, Pippin. It is an astonishing thing."
Pippin stared at the wizard in shock, then suddenly felt himself engulfed in an enormous hug from Merry. Sam pressed his hand and Frodo was grinning at him. He started to feel strange, light and joyous, as if something dark and oppressive had lifted from him. Tears streamed down his cheeks.
"Gandalf," said Frodo quietly, "Will this stop the nightmares?"
"It should. Pippin now knows that he is stronger than ever he thought. Not small, not a 'dainty' to be disposed of, but larger than any Stone, a very bright light in the face of Darkness. Now that he understands what he truly is, I cannot imagine any nightmare standing up to such knowledge."
Gandalf rose to his feet. 'Pippin, if you ever dream about that glass ball ever again, give it a kick until it shatters, all right?"
Pippin looked up, laughing through his tears. "I will, Gandalf."
"Frodo," Gandalf said, "When you withstood that Morgul blade for so long I never thought I'd see such strength again in any hobbit. Then Merry faced the Lord of the Nazgûl, and Sam performed feat after feat.... I wonder what else resides within all of you, just waiting for a chance to shine forth." He smiled at all four hobbits, then he left them alone.
Frodo and Sam sat quietly, beaming at Pippin who still clung tightly to Merry. Suddenly all four hobbits were in each other's arms, Pippin laughing and crying as something inside him broke free of a heaviness he had not even known was gripping his soul. Until it was gone.
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.