The Talk by Cleo Calliope

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Story notes: Thanks: Thank you MJ for the beta read and all your kind words and encouragements.

Dedication: This is for Ness, for making me think about young hobbits growing up. Good luck in Japan!
Pippin was utterly miserable. This had to be the single worst day of his life and he didn't have the vaguest idea how to make it better.

It had all started when his father had pulled him aside after breakfast, saying he wanted to have a bit of a talk with him.

Pippin had heard of "the talk" before. A few years back his sister Pervinca had come downstairs one morning, crying because there was blood on her sheets and she didn't know why. Mother had pulled her aside while Pearl and Pimpernel had exchanged a look and a nod. Pippin had asked what was going on, only to be told that it was time for Vinca to have "the talk". He didn't have the slightest idea what that meant, but neither of his sisters would tell him anything more about it. Only that when he was old enough, their father would have "the talk" with him. Pippin wasn't sure that he liked this idea. There was something serious about the way his sisters said "the talk" and it didn't sound particularly pleasant. What's more, the idea of waking up to find blood on his sheets didn't exactly sound like fun either. But Merry had arrived just then with that twinkle in his eye that meant there was mischief to be made, and Pippin had forgotten all about it.

Until this morning. If it had been anyone but his father, Pippin would have been certain the whole thing was a joke. He knew of course that lads and lasses would get married and then not long after, he'd have a new cousin. It wasn't much more complicated than that, or so he'd assumed. He'd also known something of the changes his body was going through. One day after feasting on the results of a particularly successful raid on Farmer Maggot's fields, he and Merry had taken a nice long nap under a willow tree by the river. When Pippin woke up, he was horrified to find one part of himself... somewhat bigger than it had been when he went to sleep. He'd been horribly embarrassed at first, but Merry had merely laughed and said it was something that happened to all of them from time to time. He'd then proceeded to tell Pippin exactly what was to be done to take care of it.

Pippin had been shocked to learn that those two things had anything to do with one another. As a matter of fact, the more he thought about it, the more he felt that whoever decided how young hobbits were to be made must have been out of their minds. Like every other little boy, he'd always been told that he'd like girls eventually and that he wouldn't find the sight of a lad and a lass kissing to be quite as repulsive as he did then. He hadn't known why this change in attitude would occur. He was only assured that it would.

There was only one problem. It hadn't.

At one point while his father had been explaining things, Pippin had interrupted. "But what about other boys?" he asked.

His father nodded, as he thought he'd understood the question. "Yes, this happens to all boys."

Pippin shook his head. "I mean what about when all this happens with a lad instead of a lass?"

His father had look utterly horrified. "It doesn't!" he said vehemently.

"Why not?" Pippin asked, confused.

For a moment his father had stared at him in shock, as though he'd just suggested that up was down and the sky was red.

Pippin was beginning to feel distinctly uncomfortable and he wasn't even sure what was wrong with the question. "But then what happens if all that..." he trailed of, uncertain what term to use for the bodily reactions his father had been describing. "What happens if it's because of a boy and not a girl? What do you do then?"

His father took a deep breath and spoke carefully, as if Pippin were very young or very stupid. "It's for the making of babies, Peregrin. It doesn't happen because of other lads. Ever. It's simply impossible and would be entirely unnatural."

"Oh," was all the response Pippin could think to make.

Unnatural. Impossible. The horror and distaste on his father's face and in his voice had been more eloquent than the words themselves. It was wrong and it didn't happen.

Except that it did. Pippin knew it did, because it happened to him. Girls didn't interest him in the least. And he certainly didn't want to kiss one. But he'd begun to wonder recently what it would be like to kiss Merry. And that thought did strange things to his body. Things that, according to his father, couldn't happen because of a boy.

Then there was the one time, not too long ago when they'd been visiting up at Bag End. He'd gone out into the garden. It was a hot day in the height of summer and Sam had taken off his shirt while he cut the grass. He'd grown of late and the sweaty skin of his back stretched over the muscles beneath as he worked. There had definitely been a reaction then. But mostly, it was just Merry who made him feel that way. It could be any number of small things that could make Pippin's breath catch or make his heart beat suddenly faster. Just the way he'd smile at Pippin or the way the sunlight would catch in his hair. Pippin had begun to realize that there was something beautiful about his Merry, something special and wonderful that made Pippin feel like the luckiest hobbit in the whole of the Shire because Merry was his best friend.

Only a week ago, Pippin had awoken from a dream of kissing Merry to find the bed sheets all wet and sticky, the way they were after he took care of one of his little problems, the way Merry had told him to. It had been strange, even a little embarrassing. But there'd been something oddly intriguing about it. As if there were possibilities involved in all this, if only Pippin could figure out what they were. He hadn't been worried or upset. Why should he be? Merry had assured him that what was happening to his body had been normal, that it happened to Merry, too. And if it happened to Merry, then it had to be fine.

Except that now Pippin knew it wasn't normal. Because he wasn't normal. Somehow, something had gone very wrong inside him and he didn't know what to do about it. Girls never made him feel the way Merry did. And Pippin didn't know why.

He sat on his bed, his legs drawn up and his arms wrapped around them. He buried his face in his knees and tried not to cry. He was too old to cry.

He wanted badly to run all the way to Brandy Hall and beg Merry to tell him that everything was all right, that Pippin wasn't... wrong. But he couldn't do that. Because he was wrong, what he felt was wrong. And he couldn't bear it if Merry looked at him in horror and disgust the way his father had. He just couldn't bear it.

Pippin sniffed dolefully and rubbed his running nose on his pant leg. He just didn't know what to do. He felt like his heart was breaking in two and oh how he wanted Merry here. But Merry couldn't be, he couldn't ever know about this. It would have to be a secret. Pippin's own horrible, nasty, dirty little secret. It would be so very hard, because he'd never kept secrets from Merry before. Not ever. Not even one. But there was nothing else he could do. He couldn't lose Merry, and he was sure he would if Merry ever found out.

No one could ever know about this. They could never know how wrong and... well just wrong Pippin was inside.

Pippin sniffed again and sighed miserably. Merry couldn't know, he told himself over and over. Merry can never know...
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