A/N: This story takes place after the War of the Ring, long after. In Appendix B of the Lord of The Rings, you can find a timeline of events of all the ages, including the rest of the Fellowship's lives. This story concerns this one:
In the spring of the year a message came from Rohan to Buckland that King Éomer wished to see Master Holdwine once again. Meriadoc was then old (102) but still hale. He took counsel with his friend the Thain and soon after they handed over their goods and offices to their sons and rode away over the Sarn Ford, and they were not seen again in the Shire. It was heard after that Master Meriadoc came to Edoras and was with King Éomer before he died in that autumn. Then he and Peregrin went to Gondor and passed what short years were left to them in that realm, until they died and were laid in Rath Dinen among the great of Gondor."
This story takes place near the end of Pippin and Merry's lives.
Merry watched the Elf enter. He had seen him on and off through the years, though not as often as he'd seen Strider. He knew that Elves didn't age as mortals did, but still it amazed him to look upon Legolas, for the prince looked just as young as the day they'd set out from Rivendell so many long years ago. For a moment, Merry forgot his own age, his gray hair and withered skin, and felt this was just days after he'd helped to slay the Witch-King before the Ring was destroyed. They were in the same room in the Houses of Healing as when Legolas and Gimli had come to visit after the siege had lifted.
Only this time, Pippin was the one in the bed. He coughed and the years came back to Merry, the good ones, the bad ones, and all the ones in between. He thought of King Éomer and their last visit and how that visit had stretched into this
one and how this one had become their very last. It was odd to think he and Pippin would end their lives in Minas Tirith and not the Shire. How their lives had changed when they'd decided to go with Frodo and Sam so many years ago!
"We were worried about you," Pippin said, his words coming slowly for the effort it took him to speak. This was his idea though, so Merry didn't tell him to save his strength. Not yet.
Legolas stood at the foot of the bed and gave Pippin one of those Elf looks: amused, confused, sad, comforting. All at the same time. Legolas was particularly good at such expressions. It was his eyes that carried it off, Merry decided.
"Me?" the Elf asked.
And his voice. Merry couldn't help but smile. Even in the darkest dark of Moria, Legolas' voice had had a lightness to it. Merry's throat constricted into a painful knot, but he willed the tears away. He was so proud to have been able to be companions with Legolas, for to him Legolas was not just one of the Fair Folk, he was the best of them.
"Yes, you," Pippin replied, but that started him coughing again.
Legolas stepped forward and picked up a glass of water from the table beside the bed and held it to Pippin's lips while he drank. Merry rubbed his cousin's back and the coughing subsided. Pippin waved the glass away.
Legolas replaced the glass and sat down in the chair Arwen had placed beside the bed. Merry had made sure not to sit in it, but instead had perched himself on the bed just beyond Pippin's feet. Arwen was in on their plan and had approved of it. She'd even gone so far as to help them decide what to say so that Legolas might hear it correctly. Merry took her advice now: Jump right in. So he jumped. "We've heard that Elves, though they do not age, can die of grief."
Merry watched his face closely to see what Elven expression that would provoke, but Legolas could have been a Man just then were it not for the points on his ears. His countenance fell until only sadness remained, and Merry wondered just how old the Elf really was, how much grief he'd already seen.
"You're immortal, Legolas," Pippin said. "You and Gandalf, but he left for the Havens a long time ago." It nearly put Merry's poor cousin out of breath to say all that.
"Let me, Pip," Merry told him. The knot came back to his throat. It hurt to know how weak Pippin was, to realize his younger cousin would die before him. But it also hurt to imagine the alternative, to leave Pippin behind to mourn him if he should be the one to go first.
Merry choked the knot back. That wasn't what this was about. Well, it was. But it wasn't.
"I'm dying, Legolas," Pippin said, ignoring Merry's offer, as he held out his hand to the Elf. Legolas took it and one of Merry's, too.
"Maybe not right now," Merry felt the need to add, "but soon enough, and we felt someone had to talk to you about this before it happens. And, well, we're going to be the first--since Boromir--to go. Frodo and Sam may be gone already but we don't know. Maybe they'll live as long as old Bilbo and be there to greet you when you go to the sea."
Legolas squeezed his hand gently. "I do know something of death, Merry, though doubtless it is different for my people." His voice was soft, but sincere.
"Yes, but you'll see the Elves again, won't you?" Pippin asked. "Like Glorfindel. You won't see us again. Or Strider or Gimli."
Legolas' brow furrowed and lifted at the same time and Merry read a plea mixed with the sadness in Legolas' eyes. It was as if he was asking them not to do this, not to make him think of what was coming. It had been a long time since Boromir had died. Legolas had not had to face the death of mortals in quite some time.
But that was the point of this whole conversation. Pippin had felt, and Merry agreed, that Legolas would be safer if he were prepared for what was going to happen, especially considering that he, barring some unfortunate happenstance, would be the last remaining member of the Fellowship in Middle-Earth. "That's a lot of mourning, my friend," Merry told him. "So we're worried about you."
"We don't want you to die, Legolas," Pippin breathed. "We don't want you to grieve."
As they spoke, Legolas looked from one to the other. He swallowed and his breath pattern changed. They were upsetting him, but it couldn't be helped. It was better they sadden him now than that their mortality would end his long life. "We know you'll have to grieve," Merry said, "but we don't want you to grieve too much. Who would remember us to Gandalf?"
"We need you to remember us, Legolas," Pippin told him, enclosing the Elf's hand in both of his.
"We've had long lives, Legolas," Merry explained, "longer than most Hobbits. Good lives. Full lives. We love that you’re immortal, but we don’t want it for ourselves. We're tired. We're ready to go when the time should come. It'll be so much easier knowing we don't have to worry about you and knowing that you'll take us with you through all the circles of the world. Your friendship has been a gift to us, a joy. Allow us to burden you this one last time."
"It would not be a burden," Legolas said, shaking his head. His eyes glistened with unshed tears, but his voice was steady when he spoke. "It will be a privilege to remember you."
"Promise us then!" Pippin demanded weakly, but with a desperation that frightened Merry.
Legolas left the chair and knelt on one knee beside them. "I promise," he said, and he squeezed their hands, "I shall remember you and take your memory with me to the Undying Lands. And all the Elves there shall grow tired of hearing me tell the tale of the brave periain of the Fellowship of the Ring."
Merry couldn't hold back his own tears as the knot in his throat finally got the better of him.
"Thank you," Pippin whispered. Then he closed his eyes and relaxed into his pillows.
"Pippin?" Merry called softly, worried but not wanting to wake him.
Legolas rose and studied Pippin for a moment. "He sleeps, Merry. He is still here." He pulled the chair closer to the bed and held his hand out to Merry. Merry took it and slid off the bed. The chair was not Hobbit-sized, but Legolas was still there to help him into it. The Elf even found a pillow to place at Merry's back and draped a blanket over his lap.
Merry sighed as he watched the rise and fall of Pippin's chest. Not yet, he thought silently to Pippin, sensing that time was short now. They had done what they'd set out to do. Pippin had said his goodbyes and they'd secured their memory with Legolas. It was a strange feeling he was left with. They were finished.
Legolas remained and Merry thought how fitting that was. For Legolas would remain, and he was filled with pride again for the privilege to call him friend. "Has your father already gone?" Merry asked him as he took one of Pippin's hands in his.
Legolas nodded and knelt again beside the bed. "Many years ago. Few of my people remain now in Eryn Lasgalen."
"You're waiting for us, aren't you? For all of us." He knew the answer before Legolas could nod again. Merry touched his young, perfect face and marveled at the age he saw in his crystal blue eyes. "Go quickly then," he told him, "when the last of us leaves. Go to the sea and let her comfort you."
Legolas only nodded and Merry felt a bit of dampness on his fingers. Merry felt a little guilty for bringing the Elf to tears, but he just smiled once more for his immortal friend and let him go. He nodded back and then turned toward his cousin. He didn't even hear Legolas' soft footsteps as he left the room.
Legolas closed the door softly behind him and took a few steps down the corridor before he felt he couldn't go any further. He sat with his back to the wall and released his tears. He would not break his promise but he could not help but weep. It would be easier to keep his promise when the time truly came for each if he shed some of his grief now.
He felt more than heard when someone approached him. His eyes were closed but he knew it was Arwen by the lightness of her step and the shuffle of her skirts as she sat down beside him. "It is not very queenly to sit on the floor," he told her when she took his hand in hers.
"Nor is it princely," she replied. "But what are such titles between us?"
Legolas just nodded and wiped at his tears with his other hand. "You knew what they would ask of me."
She merely squeezed his hand and they sat long together, sharing their tears.
copyright 2002 Gabrielle Lawson
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.