16. Elf Blood
“Well do I know that, my lord,” Pippin said as Aragorn adjusted Bill’s saddle. “I don’t know how to thank you, Legolas,” he told the elf as he took a phial of red liquid from him.
“You needn’t try,” he answered with a smile, “The war may be over, but the Fellowship shall exist as long as any of us are still alive in Middle Earth.”
“And we shall readily answer any call or assist in any need you may have,” Gimli added.
Pippin suddenly realized they were right and he smiled. “Thank you,” he said, “And you know it is the same with us.”
Aragorn chuckled, “The help of such fine warriors shall be most welcome should we ever need it.”
Pippin slipped the phial into his pocket, then looked back up at them. “There’s still one thing I don’t understand,” he said, “Why did the Gurthweth attack only animals? Why not other people besides Merry and Éowyn?”
“It thought that by limiting its attack it would escape retribution,” Faramir said, “That we would care if it killed a hundred, but not if it only attacked two.” His face set hard. “It was mistaken.”
“You’re going after it?” Pippin asked, his voice laced with hope, anger and excitement.
Faramir nodded, “We shall go as soon as Éowyn is recovered. I must make sure she does not regress before I hunt down the beast that dared violate her.”
Pippin pursed his lips, “Well, when you go, stop by Tuckborough on the way. I’m coming, too.”
“Of course you are,” Aragorn said, with no trace of irony in his voice.
It was dark already when Sam heard the clomp of Bill’s hooves coming up the way. Quickly, he shuffled down the hallway to Merry’s room. Frodo was holding his cousin’s shaking hand. The pale visage of the younger hobbit reminded Frodo of those he’d only previously seen when he had worn the ring: the sunken, dead faces of the wraiths. He looked up, startled as Sam burst into the room. “He’s back,” Sam half-whispered.
Without a word, Frodo rose and, trailed by Sam, made it to the front door just as a wet and weary Pippin entered through it. They looked at him expectantly, not sure what to ask first.
With a solemn expression devoid of the victory that might be expected to be there, Pippin pushed back his cloak to pull out a large, clear phial. Inside, they could see something red and could easily guess at its contents.
“What is it?” Frodo asked cautiously.
Pippin’s answer was simple. “Help. From Legolas.”
Frodo just nodded. “And Éowyn?”
“It worked for her.”
Frodo needed no further evidence. He took the phial from Pippin, unstopped it, and looked inside.
“You’d best get out of those wet clothes,” Sam told Pippin, already helping him off with his cloak.
Pippin allowed the wet outer layers of clothes to be peeled from him. His eyes never left Frodo. “It’s not too late, is it?”
“I do not know,” Frodo confessed, “He still breathes, but the light has gone from his eyes. There is no more time to lose.”
As he finished the last sentence, he was already walking back down the hall. Pippin followed closely, with Sam bringing up the rear (and casting dismayed glances at the water Pippin was tracking down the wood floor).
Pippin stifled a gasp at the sight of his cousin that met him upon entering the room. He had much worsened since the Took left; Pippin knew why Frodo had been unsure of his condition. Merry was shaking violently against the restraints they had been forced to use on him still (though they were more lenient than before, only strapping his body down, not his arms). His skin was white and glistened with sweat. His pupils had completely clouded over.
Frodo rushed to the bedside, as did Pippin. Sam remained in the doorway out of respect and maybe just a little fear. Pippin grabbed Merry’s hand and almost immediately let go when he felt the coldness of it. Instead he grasped it all the harder. Merry didn’t even appear to realize he was there. Frodo put his hand under Merry’s chin and tilted his head back. He placed the mouth of the phial between Merry’s lips and poured.
The reaction was instantaneous. Merry stopped shaking and his free hand flew to his mouth, trapping the phial and Frodo’s hand with it in place so that Frodo could not have withdrawn it if he’d wanted to.
A soft gasp escaped Frodo’s throat. Instinctively, Sam took a step forward at this, but forced himself to hold back. Frodo was not injured, just startled.
The phial was quickly drained, but Merry continued sucking, then his teeth clamped down on it so hard that the end of it shattered in his mouth. Frodo yanked his hand back, afraid Merry would continue his frantic search for anything with blood in it. But the broken glass in his mouth distracted him and after spitting it out, he was calmer. Very calm, in fact. He lay quite still now, his breathing returned to normal. Within moments, he was asleep.
One week later, Merry was as good as new. Rosie was back in Bag End, to Sam’s great relief. The sun was shining, birds were singing, animals were no longer trying to attack people for no apparent reason...all in all, it was a pretty good day. Of course, they could not completely forget the incident, though they may have liked to. The scars Merry gave his friends still remained, though they usually tried to cover them so he wouldn’t feel the guilt of something he really was not responsible for. He himself was still a bit weak, but he continued to scarf down food like he hadn’t eaten in weeks – which he hadn’t. But now there was only one last task for him to see to.
Pippin bounded into the main room of Bag End, ready to go off and do something (though he never knew exactly what). He’d tried having some fun with Sam, but the gardener was too busy gardening to be very amusing. Frodo was reading and Pippin was content to let him be. Rosie was...well, Rosie. Even when he was young, Pippin was always a bit hesitant about asking girls to play, especially married ones. That left one person.
“Merry, aren’t you done with that yet?” he asked his cousin impatiently.
Merry tapped his pen on the desk, staring at the blank piece of paper. “Well, it’s not an easy task, Pippin. What exactly is the proper way to thank someone for giving you their blood?”
“Oh, sure,” Pippin retorted, “The elf you thank. What about the rest of us?”
Knowing he was just joking, Merry said, “Well, isn’t that what family’s for?” (What he meant was, ‘How can I begin to apologize, much less thank you, for what happened?’), “Besides, without the elf, you’d still be looking like supper. Maybe you should be writing him one of these, too.”
Frodo looked up and smiled at their bantering.
“You know, I wonder if elf blood cures anything else.” Pippin mused, “I don’t suppose you could ask him for some more samples to try out. You know, in case one of us gets a cold or something.”
“Will you be serious, Pippin? I really need help with this. I can’t just let this go without any response.” Merry’s brow furrowed in concentration.
“All right,” Pippin said, plopping down in a chair next to him, “How about this: ‘Dear Legolas, Thanks for the blood. It was delicious. Yours, Merry’.”
“Pip!” Merry looked stunned, “I can’t write that!”
“Why not?” Pippin asked him, feigning total seriousness, “He’s an elven prince. Are you saying he’s not delicious?”
“I...don’t remember,” Merry said, trying not to be flustered by the awkwardness of that question.
“You could always send him some of your blood. You know, sort of returning the favor.”
“You’re not helping, Pippin.”
Frodo chuckled and went back to his reading.
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.