The Eyes of a Child

The sounds of aching and pain subsided for a while, and Peregrin was not sure whether he had actually preferred them to the deathly silence of the room he was now sat in. He rubbed his palms together, more in anxiety, rather than in a bid to heat his hands up. The mid afternoon sun was streaming in through the window and had gathered in a shallow pool of light and warmth on the faded red tiles that created the floor of the Hobbit hole. He noticed, in the absentminded way of one whose dreaming mind was straying onto more pressing subjects, that one of the tiles was cracked down the middle, and that it appeared to him to look like a fresh wound. There was no dust in this recent slice of stone and its neighbours were caked with the dust and grime of everyday life.
Pippin stood up and wandered over to the broken tile, his mind still of another matter, and squatted down in the circle of warm space. He traced his fingers down the torn sliver of stone, and wondered what it was that had caused such a fracture. Perhaps a walking stick that had been too heavily beat upon the ground. Alternatively, a fallen gardening tool, carelessly dropped on the weak spot of rock. Diamond loved to garden…
The Took stood up straight again and, clasping his hands behind his back, strode lazily towards the window. Outside he could see the peaceful and quiet world of the Shire; Tookborough, to be precise. The clear, azure sky and the lushness of the rolling hills, behind the shady trees bordering his garden brought a tear to his eye and a lump to his throat. This was the land that he and his friends his companions had sought to save. Ford this land they had faced countless Orcs and Uruk-hai, a Balrog, an evil, twisted wizard, trolls and the Dark Lord himself. The Hobbits had battled shadow, flame and steel, and had been rewarded with their golden land, which they loved all the more for the strife they had endured to keep it safe.
Well, all except Frodo, of course–Frodo had given the ultimate sacrifice. He had gone to Hell and back again, to save his home and the simple folk in it that he loved, who had little to no notion of what he had endured, only to find that some wounds really would not heal in such an environment. It was 9 years ere Nine-fingered Frodo had left departed Middle-Earth as a Ringbearer, and so he would never see the child that was being brought into the world at this very moment.
As Pippin gazed out of his window and cast his mind to memories long smothered, he caught sight of his cousin and best friend meandering slowly up the garden path towards the round, green front door. Meriadoc Brandybuck did not bother to knock, choosing instead to simply push open the door and step inside the house. Pippin heard as he leant his walking stick against the wall, and as he shrugged off his jacket, he called, “Pippin?” softly into the stillness of the house.
“I’m here,” Pippin answered, just as quietly, still looking through his window, into the west. Merry followed the sound of his voice, and entered the room to come and stand beside his friend.
“Is everything alright, Pip?” he asked, a small note of worry creeping into his voice. Pippin opened his mouth to say ‘yes, of course’, to dispel any of Merry’s concerns, but that was not what came out.
“Am I going to be alright?” he asked. Merry looked wrong footed for a moment, but then the penny started to drop a little.
“Is Diamond having you child?” he asked gently, already guessing the answer.
“Yes,” Pippin said thickly. He finally turned to face Merry, and he could clearly see that the younger Hobbits eyes were bright and moist, his face tight with compressed fear.
“Oh, Pip,” Merry said, kindly. “You are going to make a wonderful father!”
“How can you be so sure?” Pippin pressed. “Only 2 nights ago we were at the Golden Perch, got hideously drunk and fell asleep in a hedgerow on the way home. That’s not–Merry! Stop laughing!” Merry had snorted with mirth at the fond memory of that night. Pippin’s face creased in anguish, for he was in no mood to jest. Merry stifled his laughter quickly. “Sorry…”
“After all, that is not the sensible action of a father, is it?” Pippin continued. “It is the action of a young Hobbit, barely out of his tweens. I’m 39 and should behave as if I were an adult, but I choose instead to lark about as though I were not married with a child on the way–practically born!”
Merry looked into Pippin’s face and the laughter died on his lips.
“Pippin,” he said solemnly. “You are going to be an excellent parent, I promise you. You were a member of the Fellowship, and you helped to save the Shire. You are a knight of Gondor remember? That is a position of great worth. But more importantly, you are my best friend and I believe in you.” Pippin was moved to silence, so Merry just held him in a fierce but loving embrace just as the sounds of a babies wailing permeated the til then quiet house.
“Mr Peregrin?” the Hobbits extricated themselves for one another and turned their attention to a weary Hobbit maid who was stood framed in the doorway of Diamond’s room. Pippin gulped, nervously. “Yes, Daisy?”
“You’re a father, sir.”

Merry had given his friends arm a reassuring squeeze and Pippin had hesitated on the threshold for the briefest of moments and then…
“Diamond?” he murmured softly, pushing open the door and closing it behind him.
His wife lay back reclining against her large pillows on their marriage bed. She looked up as he entered and smiled, exhausted but elated. In her arms was a tiny bundle of clean, white blankets, but no actual sign that there was another Hobbit inside the room.
“Come on in,” Diamond said in a hushed voice, so as not to waken their child. Pippin walked slowly up to the bed; he had dreamed of this moment for months, but now that it was upon him he felt sick to his very core and wanted to postpone it for as long as possible. He reached the bed, and Diamond pulled the cloth back to expose more of the child’s sleeping face. She looked up at her husband with wet eyes.
“We have a baby boy.” She said her face radiant with joy. Pippin looked down into the face of his baby, and gasped, the nauseous feeling vanishing completely.
“Oh my…” was all he could say at first. The child had round, pink cheeks, and a small mouth that was slightly open as he slept. A tiny wisp of light brown curly hair protruded from the linen that covered his head and one delicate little hand curled around his blanket.
“Oh, Diamond…” Pippin breathed with joy. He planted a kiss on her forehead, but his eyes remained fixed on his son. Diamond smiled up at him.
“Here.” She said offering him a chance to hold his baby. The terrified look was back on his face, and Diamond laughed gaily. “Don’t be afraid–he wont bite you.”
Pippin grasped hold of his child, one arm around his tiny body, the other supporting his head, and then…he was holding his son…and he was entirely speechless.
Diamond watched him, tiredly. “Will you think of a name for him?” she asked, courteously.
“What? But, Diamond, you did all the hard work–you should have that honour.” Pippin insisted, but Diamond shook her head.
“No,” she said firmly, “I’m leaving that task up to you. And if you do not give your son a name, he shall be forever only known as Took.”
Pippin smiled, and then looked from his wife into his son’s face again. Frowning slightly he cast his thoughts around to settle upon a suitable name.
“Perhaps you could name him after one of your friends from those dark years.” Diamond suggested innocently. Pippin looked at her, and then out of the window, that looked out in the direction of the lands Rohan and Gondor.
His first thought was to name his son after either of his cousins, Frodo or Merry, neither of whom had any children. But no, Samwise Gamgee had named his son’s so.
Aragorn…? He wondered, remembering the sinister looking man that he and his Hobbit companions had encountered in a tavern in Bree so many years ago. He had turned out to be one of the most valuable members of the Fellowship and had become a firm friend of Pippins. He was currently reigning as king in Minas Tirith of Gondor. Pippin cocked his head and tried to put the name to his son’s face…but something did not quite fit.
From one man of the West to another, Pippin saw the face of Boromir, the son of the previous Steward of Gondor. Pippins breath caught in his throat as he remembered standing, fearful of his life and of Merry’s, on Parth Galen as a large troop of Uruk-hair bore down upon the Hobbits…and then salvation… Boromir had come bounding into view, to save the two friends. Pippin squeezed his eyes shut at the memory of the arrows that flew swiftly into the chest of their saviour; the twang of the bowstring, the grunt from the man as his body was pierced. The painful, grief-stricken look in his face when he knelt before the Hobbits and looked into their faces, finding a last desperate resolve of strength and risen as if from the ashes to slay several more Orcs, before the Merry and Pippin were finally born away.
Pippin opened his eyes again, to dissolve the image and protect himself from the emotions locked inside. He found that a tear was trickling, oh-so-slowly down his face. He heard a tiny gurgle of noise and looked down in surprise.
His son was awake. His tiny hands were clutching his blankets and he was opening and closing his mouth as if in wonder at this new and unfamiliar world.
“Hello,” Pippin said automatically. His son cast his gaze upwards. Pippin looked down into the big, shining, warm grey/green eyes of his baby. “Hello there…”
His son continued to stare upwards into his fathers eyes, as if mesmerised, and Pippin looked back, feeling equally amazed.
And then the eyes, the large, kind grey eyes, were suddenly wreathed in fire. Pippin gaped, astounded, and then he remembered.
The highest level of Minas Tirith. A room of sold stone, a room of kings and stewards long dead. A pyre…a pyre for two who were still living. The madness of the Steward of Gondor, Denethor, to whom Peregrin son of Paladin had sworn fealty. Boromirs younger brother, the one loved less, the one derided for being weak and cowardly. The one who had ridden out to death and ruin to prove his love for his father. The one who had nearly burned alive…
Pippin looked into the grey eyes.
“Am I going to be alright?” he had asked Merry. Could I really be a good father, he had asked himself countless time over the past months. Could I love my child?
He already did. He was going to be a good father.
“Hello Faramir,” He said. Faramir I yawned and closed his grey eyes, falling asleep in an instant, to match his mother, who lay peacefully in her bed.
Merry entered and came over to Pippin to embrace him with one arm and too admire his son.
“His name is Faramir.” Pippin said serenely.
“Oh,” Merry smiled widely, and looked into the face of the child, “good choice.”

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