Summary: "Rest easy, perian. You will see your Peregrin again."
Disclaimer: Not mine. I made it up. Tolkien's.
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Thanks to Cim, as always, and to Creatch and Pidge.
In that same company Pippin was also to go, as a soldier of Gondor. Merry could see him not far off, a small but upright figure among the tall men of Minas Tirith.
Chapter X: The Black Gate Opens ~ The Return of the King
As he was there for Pippin´s departure, Merry waited atop the tower of Minas Tirith for his friend´s return. Outriders had come hours past bringing news of victory. He´d been taken aside and gently told of Pippin´s condition.
He is wounded, but the elves do not think it fatal. A large hand had clasped his shoulder briefly. Rest easy, perian. You will see your Peregrin again.
Merry had looked up at the man towering over him and nodded silently. All the armor in Gondor could not have shielded his fears. The man took his leave, and Merry stared out over the causeway, watching for any sign of approaching soldiers. His heart raced when he saw small clouds of dust, but there was no glint off dark gold curls, no little body in among the larger ones. The outrider had not told him whether or not Pippin would be coming in on his own two feet or not, and so Merry felt his stomach lurch when he finally spotted a familiar silver and sable cloak draped over a small litter borne by two elves.
Pip! The nickname burst out before he could check himself. Merry shoved away from the wall, running down the tower steps as quickly as his booted feet could take him. After tripping several times near the bottom, he finally gave up and paused to wrench the thick shin-guards and offending boots off his feet, peeling the socks off with them. He hadn´t gone long enough in those trappings for the soles of his tough hobbit feet to soften, and the dirt path to the stables felt better than he might´ve imagined. He shed his thin leather gloves as well, but left the gauntlets.
Stybba was being groomed when Merry got to the stableyard, but the stable-lad just handed him the bridle and stood back out of the way. The smart little pony sensed his master´s urgency at once, barely waiting for Merry´s knees to touch his sides before galloping out of the yard. Merry knew his mount could only barely keep up with the larger horses, but Stybba seemed to have forgotten his natural limits in his haste to please his rider. He dodged and wove around the soldiers marching into the city, and once or twice Merry had to cling to thick silver mane in an effort to stay aboard. He didn´t have to twitch one finger against the reins for Stybba to skid to a halt, barely a foot from the first elf carrying Pippin´s litter.
He´s not - ? Merry panted, sliding off his pony. The first elf shook his head, his eyes kind though his face was solemn. He stood there, not daring to take his eyes off his dear Pippin, laying bruised and sickeningly white under his dark cloak. Foul black troll´s blood matted the young hobbit´s hair, plastering it to his skull like filthy rainwater. The skin around his right eye was mottled purple and green and swollen shut. A small moan slipped from between raw lips, and Pippin´s left eye cracked open, brightening at the sight of his friend.
Merry He breathed, and tried to smile before wincing and closing his eyes. The elves held the litter still for the small reunion while around them soldiers made their way into the city. Some mustered a hint of a smile or tipped their helmets to the periannath, a gesture Merry held dear to the end of his days.
Pippin managed to free one hand from beneath his cloak, and reached out towards him. Merry grasped it, wondering anew at its size compared to those of men and elves. He knew now that it was not one´s size that was of importance, but rather what they made of it that counted so much in the end. He turned Pippin´s palm towards him and pressed a kiss to the bare skin. The elves must have removed the soft white gloves earlier.
I´m here, Pippin. Right with you. He looked to the elves waiting patiently, then mounted Stybba, careful to keep a gentle hold of Pippin´s hand. He heard Pippin sigh as they began to follow the line of soldiers.
Are we going to the Houses of Healing, Merry?
Merry shut his eyes against the tears, concentrating briefly on the rhythm of the pony´s steps. Yes, Pip. The elves and men will help you.
Like they helped you. Pippin murmured. I think I should like it there, then.
They were silent for the rest of the trek. Merry held Pippin´s hand to his mouth for a few moments as the injured hobbit was given over to the healers, promising to come to see him as soon as he was allowed. The two elves that had brought his friend in told Merry that luck had certainly been with Pippin when the troll fell, as they´d been fighting on very soft ground. Much of the battle had been fought uphill from there, where the land was much rockier. Had they been there, Pippin would have likely been killed instantly.
He tried to keep busy while waiting, taking Stybba back to the stables and caring for the tired pony. When an elf came for him scarcely an hour later, Merry felt as Sam must have when he´d been told of Frodo´s recovery back in Rivendell. He paused only to gather food for a small meal, then followed the elf to Pippin´s room in the healers´. At the door, the elf bent a little, her blue eyes wise and kind, to tell him that Pippin was sleeping now and his body needed the rest in order to recover.
Your presence will be a great help to him, Master Meriadoc, she added, seeing Merry´s distress. As weary as he is, he´ll know that you are with him.
Merry nodded, speechless as ever in the presence of elves. He gave her a smile of gratitude, then stepped into the room. Pippin lay in a bed not much smaller than the one they´d shared in Rivendell, and only slightly less luxurious. He wondered if men and elves realized that luxury was of no importance to hobbits. Then again, he knew from their reactions to himself and Pippin that the three species had only rarely met for many years before now.
As the elf had told him, Pippin slept, one arm in a sling rested atop the blankets. His ribs had not been broken as they´d thought, so he seemed comfortable on his side. Merry quietly set the food on a table at the foot of the bed, and used a stepstool to clamber onto the mattress. He stripped off the rest of his armor; gauntlets, breastplate and mail-shirt, then added his trousers to the pile on the floor, sliding under the covers in only his soft cotton shirt and shorts.
Before the journey had started, Pippin had been a sound sleeper, but like the rest of the fellowship, he´d grown accustomed to startling awake at the faintest sound. It spoke volumes, then, for him to not stir at all when Merry settled in beside him. The elder hobbit made himself comfortable barely an inch away from his cousin, finally seeing how much better Pippin looked now that he´d been bathed. His deep gold curls were as unruly as they´d ever been, and Merry brushed them off Pippin´s forehead, carefully avoiding the bruised eye. This looked better as well, although the eye was still swollen shut. Merry had seen his friend Freddy get a black eye once during a rather rowdy night at the local pub. The barkeep had given them a block of ice wrapped in a towel to keep the swelling down, and he supposed the elves had done something similar for Pippin.
Merry watched his beloved cousin sleep for a while, feeling the anxiety that had filled him for many hours slowly drain away. Fatigue began to tug at his bones and muscles, and he soon found he could scarcely raise a hand to touch Pippin´s face. His last thought was that Pip would be there when he woke, and so he fell to slumber with a sense of quiet joy.