The Houses of Healing hadn’t changed much since Pippin had been there last. It even seemed to have nearly as many people in it.
As Aragorn led Pippin quietly through the houses, the hobbit looked at each sick-bed they passed. Everyone suffered from the same injury – deep, red bite marks. Suddenly Pippin understood why Aragorn had brought him down here. Sort of.
“What did this?” he asked, unconsciously rubbing his own wrist.
Aragorn just gave him a wordless look and stopped at a large door. When it was opened, Pippin was met with another all-to-familiar sight.
Éowyn lay on a bed, shivering and staring at the ceiling. There were several healers in the room, as well as a three soldiers. When he saw this, Pippin understood.
“It’s the same thing,” Pippin whispered, then asked, “When did it start?”
“About a month ago,” Aragorn answered, looking at Éowyn, “Faramir brought her for help three weeks ago. It took a fortnight for anyone to realize what was going on.”
“Where is Faramir?” Pippin asked, suddenly worried, “Did she…”
Aragorn’s voice was almost a whisper, “Yes.” Pippin looked down. “He recovered, however,” Aragorn continued, “He’s gone now to find help for her.”
“Is there a cure?”
“I attempted every one I know and was able to do nothing. We found one glimmer of hope in the library. Faramir is seeking it now. He should return soon.”
With no more questions for now, Pippin stepped toward the unresponsive Éowyn. Aragorn’s eyes darted to him, but he did not prevent him. Seeing their king’s inaction, the nurses and soldiers did not move, either.
Pippin went forward, approaching the table that was to him at shoulder level. He was uncertain about getting within arm’s reach of her, but he could not help himself. He looked sadly at her beautiful face, contorted and discolored with this sickness.
“She will live, Aragorn,” his voice was soft, but rang in the silent room, “She has to.” By the tightness in his voice, Aragorn knew his thoughts were not really on Éowyn.
Aragorn made no reply as he had none that would provide comfort. The morose silence was broken by the sound of someone charging into he Houses. Aragorn turned to see Faramir burst into the room, his eyes instantly landing on his prostrate wife. When he had contented himself that she was still breathing, he looked to the king.
“You are returned too soon,” Aragorn said, “Could you not find them?”
His question was answered by two more figures walking, a bit more calmly, into the room. Pippin couldn’t help but feel his sprits lifted somewhat by not only the return of Faramir, but now this unexpected sight of an elf and dwarf.
Gimli smiled when he saw Pippin, “Faramir, it is some great company your wife has been keeping in your absence.”
Confusion flitted across the man’s face before his eyes landed on the hobbit. “I am sorry, Peregrin, I had not noticed you there. Hello.”
“That’s all right, Lord Faramir. I’m easy to miss.” Pippin offered a hopeful smile and Faramir weakly returned it. “So, you’re the help?” Pippin asked Legolas and Gimli, “What is it you can do?”
“We’re glad to see you, too, Pippin,” Legolas said with a smirk.
“Sorry, that’s not what I meant,” Pippin backtracked, “I was just wondering-”
“They understand, Pippin,” Aragorn said, “They have just been too long without hobbit company.” He looked to the two in question, “He has come for help, as well,” he answered their unspoken question, “The same thing has happened to Merry.”
A new dark shadow passed over all faces in the room. Faramir impatiently turned from where he was gazing at his wife. “Her time draws short,” he told the others, “We have not time to waste. Can we please begin?”
Pippin looked up at Aragorn, “Begin what?”
In the weeks since Pippin’s departure, Merry had only continued to worsen. The sustenance his beast had acquired that night had kept him in decent health for a time, but now he was beginning to deteriorate again. They kept him tied to the bed as before; he seemed hardly able to move, but they had seen him thus previously. They took turns staying up with him.
The door creaked softly as Frodo stepped inside with a bowl of water. The pale candlelight flickered in the breeze caused by the door’s movement. He padded softly across the floor and placed the bowl on the bedside table. Taking a washcloth, he dipped it gently into the liquid. He wrung it, then spread it lightly over Merry’s brow. A shot of steam rose from the cloth. Frodo pulled his hand back quickly, his eyes wide with surprise. He quickly pulled the warm cloth away and dropped it back in the water and put his hand on Merry’s forehead.
“Sam!” he yelled in a panic.
Sam was there in an instant, trailed by Rosie. He saw the worried, startled look on Frodo’s face and followed his gaze to the hobbit in the bed. He saw the unmoving, death-pale face and asked, barely above a whisper, “Is he…”
Frodo shook his head. “He can’t be dead, Sam,” he said, “He’s far too cold.”
They sat there in silence, the Lord of Ithillien and the future Thain, by the bedside of the princess of Rohan. Pippin looked on Faramir, holding his wife’s hand, his face tight with worry. The hobbit knew enough to be silent at this moment; he was relieved when Faramir spoke first.
“It tears the soul,” he said, “to see the fire of hate in the eyes of one you love. This is the second time my closest kin has tried to kill me.”
For a moment, Pippin wasn’t certain if he was talking to him or to himself. Then Faramir’s eyes met his and he spoke, “She does not hate you,” his voice was softer than he’d expected it to be, “It is the monster inside her that made her do it.”
He looked up, startled. “What is your meaning?”
Now it was Pippin who was startled, “Surely you know the nature of the beast that rendered her so.”
Faramir relaxed, “You mean the vampire. Yes, I know.”
Pippin couldn’t let that pass. “What else could I have meant?”
Faramir looked to him and sighed, “Éowyn is with child. We have told no one yet, but we’d just found out when this happened to her.”
“Well, that’s great news!” Pippin cheered, “Congratulations.” The serious look in Faramir’s eyes made Pippin’s face fall. “You believe I would have spoken of your child as a monster if I’d known?”
“I had not realized until just that moment, but I fear for my child already. If we can restore Éowyn, what assurance do we have that the child will not be born changed?”
Pippin was motionless with fright at the idea. “Could that really happen?”
“I don‘t know, Peregrin,” Faramir’s voice was tight and soft, “This evil is beyond my understanding.”
He spoke no more after this, but stared with sad eyes at the ghostly face of his wife. Pippin wished Aragorn and Legolas would walk through the door now, but they did not. Seeing the tears welling in Faramir’s eyes, he decided to turn the conversation to a more favorable topic, if he could.
“Do you have a name?”
”For the baby. Have you chosen a name?”
“No,” he confessed, “We had not had time to think of it.”
“What does your name mean?”
“It means ‘Jeweled Hunter,’ but I have never been fond of giving one’s children the same name as one’s self.”
“Oh. That is a pity. It is a good name.” Pippin flashed a cheery smile.
Faramir’s expression warmed somewhat. He did not have time to respond, as at that moment the door opened and Aragorn walked in, followed by Gimli and Legolas. Pippin and Faramir looked up at them hopefully. When Legolas entered, he carried with him a small basin, which he handed to Faramir. The man looked inside and could not suppress a flinch.
“Are you well?” Aragorn asked him.
“Yes,” he answered, “But it is not often I am handed a bowl of blood.”
“Legolas…” Pippin started. He had noticed the elf was not wearing his tunic, as usual, but only a sleeveless undershirt. A flax-colored bandage was tied tight around his arm at the elbow. He looked at Pippin and the hobbit did not need to continue.
“His skin is colder than ice. The life is leaving him,” said Rosie as she lifted one of Merry’s eyelids to look into the blankly-staring pupil. She could practically see the light dimming. “We cannot wait for Pippin’s return. He needs something now or he will die.”
“Are you sure, love?” Sam asked her, “How can you know that?”
“I don’t know,” she answered, “I just…know.”
“She’s right,” Frodo said, “Look at him. He’s farther gone than I was when Lord Elrond pulled me from the brink. Something must be done for him now or we shall lose him.”
Eyelashes fluttered first. Then, eyes moved under their lids. Suddenly, the eyes shot open and she gasped.
Éowyn sat bolt upright. “Where am I? Faramir!”
“I’m here, love,” said her husband, gripping her hand. She looked down and saw him sitting beside her and smiled.
“It’s gone!” her eyes lit with ecstasy, “I can’t feel it any more!” Faramir jumped up and they threw themselves into each other’s arms. Tears trailed from her eyes as she gasped, “How?”
“We have many friends,” was his only answer, and she let it remain at that for the time being.
Sam rolled his sleeve back down. The color had already begun returning to Merry’s cheeks. “How much longer has he got now?” Sam asked, leaning back into the chair.
“It’s hard to tell,” Rosie told him as she collected the scissors and scraps of bandage, “Hopefully long enough.”
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.