2. Chapter Two
Merry walked down the corridor toward the Hall of Fire, leaving Pippin and Sam behind in the room they shared. His colleagues were knee-deep in supplies, amazed at everything the Elves had given them for the journey. Pippin was especially delighted at the thick, warm cloaks, of a beautiful weave and design, although Merry and Sam had exchanged a look and said nothing. Weren’t they heading south? Where it would be warmer?
Tomorrow, then, the Company would set out. Frodo was rarely to be seen these days except at meals and bedtime, spending as much time with Bilbo as he could. Frodo didn’t say so, but Merry knew his cousin doubted he would ever see Bilbo again; Bilbo had grown weak and frail, but insisted he was the only one to write down their story “when they all returned.” It was an optimistic view Merry hoped Frodo would take to heart.
Merry drew near the huge hall, from which spilled the never-ending music and song woven, it seemed, from the very air around them. Spotting Aragorn just inside talking with Legolas, Merry approached them.
Aragorn smiled at him, then grew concerned at the hobbit’s serious look. “Hello, Merry. Is everything all right?”
“Strider……” Merry almost lost his nerve, but tried again. “Strider, could you ask Lord Elrond if I may speak to him? Alone?”
“Of course. Come with me and—“
“No, that’s all right. I’ll wait here if you don’t mind.”
Aragorn said nothing, just nodded and walked across the hall to where Elrond and Arwen sat together, listening to the singing. After a moment Elrond looked up and met Merry’s eye, then nodded and rose.
Merry felt a thrill of fear at being alone with the Lord of Imladris, but it was too late to back out now. Elrond reached him where he was standing with Legolas and beckoned Merry to accompany him out of the hall and into the corridor. When they were alone he bent down (Merry wished the Big Folk didn’t have to do that all the time, but it did make conversing easier) and asked, “How may I assist you, Meriadoc?”
Merry clasped his hands together and took a deep breath. “Lord Elrond, could you…… I mean, would you tell me why you didn’t want Pippin to go with us? Is he in some kind of danger? Please, I really need to know.”
Elrond gazed into Merry’s eyes and started to say something, then stopped. For a long moment he was silent, then he rose and took one of Merry’s cold hands. “Let’s walk together, you and I, shall we?”
Elrond led Merry outside to one of the many gardens. Merry breathed deeply of the flowers and fragrance of Rivendell, trying to imprint it on his memory. Time had seemed to pass rather strangely during their stay, and Merry could not to save his life piece together two whole months here. An odd place, altogether. But wonderful, too.
They stopped at a low bench and sat together. Elrond was silent for awhile, but Merry finally could stand it no longer. Perhaps Elves had countless years in which to speak and act, but hobbits did not.
“Was it because he’s so young, sir?”
Elrond gave a rare smile. “No, my friend, his youth is not an issue. All of you are as young as the new dawn to someone who has seen as many ages of this world as I. Peregrin’s youth and enthusiasm I now count as an asset. Frodo will need the cheer of a light heart as much as the defense of a stout sword.”
“Do you think, then, he won’t stand fast in the face of danger or peril? I vow to you, sir, he will. Although we are not warriors, we will stand with Frodo against anyth—“
“Meriadoc, there is no question as to the valor and strength of each of you. And that of which you are each capable is, I believe, even greater than you now know. No, I felt Peregrin should not join the Company because of something else, something…… quite unusual. I have not discussed this with anyone save Mithrandir, who had already guessed, but perhaps it is something you should know, after all.” He paused. “It is to be kept to yourself, Meriadoc. Forever secret.”
Merry frowned and said nothing for some time. Keep a secret from Pip? Forever? Finally he looked up at Elrond. “I promise.”
Elrond nodded. “I know the value your folk place on a promise once made, Meriadoc. Very well then, I will tell you.”
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.