4. Chapter 3 - November 1419
He glanced over at Pippin, relaxed in his saddle and humming quite happily to himself. Merry frowned, irritated by Pippin’s happy mood, and looked away. Pippin had slept soundly last night at the Prancing Pony, while Merry had tossed and turned with worry. His cousin didn’t seem to understand the gravity of the situation. There would be a baby to care for, another person--a completely helpless person--to be wholly responsible for. But for Pippin, it was just getting another cousin to play with.
Merry got that heavy feeling in his stomach, the knot of panic that had become more and more frequent since reading Éowyn’s letter. A baby! What was he going to do with a baby? What was everyone in the Shire going to think? What were his parents going to say? He knew he probably should have talked to them beforehand, but he had wanted to leave as soon as possible. His father was going to be furious with him for leaving again. He could only hope his parents would be understanding when he returned to the The Shire with their grandchild.
And what about Éowyn? He felt guilty for doing this to her. It was still unbelievable that they were going to have a baby together! He’d never heard of a hobbit having babies with Big Folk or elves or anything besides other hobbits, those rumors about Tooks and fairies notwithstanding. What would the child look like? Him? Or Éowyn? Or both?
He worried about Faramir, too. Did Faramir hate him? He didn’t know Faramir very well. Pippin seemed to like him well enough, but that was no indication of how the man would react to seeing the father of his wife’s child. Merry figured he should probably be prepared to get punched at the very least.
Merry sighed, looking up the road that led them east, and his stomach did those flips again. About two weeks from now, they’d be entering Rivendell and he’d be seeing Éowyn again. And in another month, he’d be a father.
Their journey to Rivendell was much faster than their first trip to Elrond’s home. They had the luxury of ponies and a road not crawling with Ringwraiths. It took a little over a week to reach the valley that sheltered Imladris. Merry was grateful for that. The waiting and worrying was killing him. He just wanted to get this meeting over with.
His stomach churned nervously as they approached the gate. They were met by guards, who sent word that they had arrived. Their ponies were led away and they were left in the courtyard to wait. It was the very same courtyard they had once waited in to start their journey with Frodo.
“Remember Legolas and Gimli?” Pippin laughed. “Could you have imagined then that they would now be best of friends? If looks could kill they’d both have dropped dead on the...spot.” Pippin trailed off, his eyes focusing on something over Merry’s shoulder.
The sound of her voice made his stomach churn again, but he had to be brave. He turned around. Éowyn stood before him, clad in a loose elvish dress. Merry’s eyes instantly went to the slight bulge in her middle. This is really happening, he thought. His eyes met Éowyn’s again. “Éowyn.”
Behind him, Pippin coughed. “I’ll, uh, leave you two then,” he said.
“Faramir is in the stables,” Éowyn told him, never taking her eyes from Merry, “I know he’d love to see you.”
Pippin squeezed Merry’s shoulder and left.
“Come with me,” she said and he followed her to a chamber off the courtyard. She settled herself in a chair, but Merry remained standing. He was too nervous to sit.
“I’m sorry, Merry,” she said. “I didn’t mean for this to happen.”
“It’s not entirely your fault, is it?” he said. “I’m the one who should be sorry. You’re the one going through this.”
“You will take the child?” she asked, a waver in her voice.
“Of course I will! What did you think I would do?” He sighed. He hadn’t meant to snap at her. “Sorry. I’m just...overwhelmed, I guess.”
She closed her eyes, sighing, and nodded. She looked at him again. “I knew you would, Merry, but I had to ask. I didn’t know if it would be a problem for you.”
“No, it won’t be a problem. It may be a bit awkward explaining it to my parents, but the child will be accepted and loved.” He shrugged and gave a weak grin. “It won’t be the first child in the Shire born on the wrong side of the blanket.”
Éowyn sighed. “Good. I hoped that he...or she...would be accepted. It would not be so easy in Gondor. Besides being a hobbit, illegitimate children are not looked upon so kindly. Especially in a household of nobility.” She sobbed then, covering her face. Merry rushed to her, putting his arms around her. “I don’t want to give up the baby, Merry. I don’t. But I have to. For the child’s sake.”
“There’s no way you could keep it? Maybe people will be more understanding now, after everything that’s happened with the war and--”
“I don’t want to risk it, Merry. I want my child to be happy and loved.”
“I know,” he soothed. He kissed her brow. “I’ll do my best to be a good father. And Pippin said he’d help.”
She laughed through her tears then. “That doesn’t give me a lot of confidence.”
He pulled away to look at her, grinning. “I know. But he’s really excited about this.”
She took his hand. “How do you feel?”
He shrugged. “It’s unexpected and I am a bit scared, to tell you the truth. But I’m happy.” He paused. “How’s Faramir with all this?”
“He’s been wonderful. I don’t know what I would have done without him.”
Merry frowned. “I’m still not looking forward to seeing him.”
“It will be fine!” Éowyn stiffened suddenly, her hand going to her belly. “Oh!”
“What?” Merry asked, but she just grabbed his hand and held it to her belly. He felt movement underneath. His child. He looked up, grinning, into Éowyn’s radiant face and suddenly wished that Faramir did not exist.
“You hobbits must like dancing,” she said, “because this little one seems to do it a lot.”
“Sorry about that,” he said. He pulled his hand away. It didn’t seem right to touch her like that. She was Faramir’s wife, not his. “How have you been?” he asked. “Everything all right?”
She nodded. “Aerlyn, Arwen’s friend, is a healer, and she says everything is fine. Nothing to worry about.” She pushed herself up from her chair.
They walked back out into the courtyard, arriving just as Faramir and Pippin were returning from the stables. Faramir was laughing at something Pippin was saying. Merry felt his stomach drop when Faramir looked up and saw him.
Faramir came forward and extended his hand. “Merry,” he said.
Merry took the proffered hand, trying to control the shaking of his own. “Lord Faramir,” he said.
“No titles, Merry,” the man said. “You are family now.” For a moment Merry thought he saw a shadow pass over Faramir’s face, but then he had turned away to greet his wife. Merry watched with a little twinge of jealousy as he kissed her. He knew he shouldn’t. He and Éowyn had agreed to be friends, nothing more. But seeing her pregnant with his child, it was hard to remember that.
They enjoyed a welcoming feast with Lord Elrond and were delighted to see Bilbo again as well. Their elderly cousin seemed unperturbed by Merry’s reason for being there. “I can’t fault you, lad. She’s a pretty lass, isn’t she?” he said with a naughty wink, then went back to discussing some ancient tome with Arwen’s twin brothers.
After their dinner, they retired to Elrond’s courtyard. Pippin sat himself next to Bilbo, but Faramir touched Merry’s arm before he could join them. “I think we should talk,” he said. Merry turned to Éowyn and was worried that she looked a bit worried herself. He took a deep breath and followed.
Faramir leaned against the low wall overlooking the valley. Merry warily stood next to him. He wondered how far up they were...
“I feel there is a lot of tension between us,” Faramir said, his eyes still on the river that snaked through the trees far below. “Understandably so. I think we need to clear the air.” He looked at Merry and Merry nodded, unable to say anything. Faramir looked back out over the valley. “I will be honest with you. At times I resent what happened. To watch your wife grow with another man’s child is not an easy thing.”
“Wait.” Faramir turned and kneeled down to eye level with Merry. “I tried to be angry at you, at her, but I couldn’t. She told me of her despair and that you brought her back. If it hadn’t been for you, she would have looked for death on that field. It’s because of you that she is here today. She needed someone to remind her of what is was to live and I’m grateful it was someone as good and honorable as you.”
Merry was speechless. He was expecting to be thrown over the wall, not this. He wondered if he could have done the same as Faramir, to continue to love and support Éowyn if the situation had been reversed.
Faramir watched him for a moment. “You love her, don’t you.”
Merry nodded. There was no use lying to the man. “I do love her, but I know she loves you. My only hope is to find a lass as beautiful as Éowyn. But I doubt I could find a hobbit lass to match her spirit.”
Faramir chuckled. “I think you would not find a woman anywhere to match her spirit!”
The tension broken, they laughed until Éowyn found them.
Her demand of “What is so funny?”, with her flashing eyes and hands on hips only made them laugh harder.
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.