Beta and Additional Material: MarigoldG
Pippin was crouched over Merry's still body in the first circle of Minas Tirith, a cloth still bound about his head with pads shielding his too sensitive newly restored hearing. Around him a crowd had gathered, watching in awe and wonder at the strange sight. A mortally wounded perian had been brought in from the battlefield, carried on the King of Rohan's shield, draped in the King's purple cloak. He was obviously held in high esteem to be born so, especially as the Ernil i Pheriannath was mourning over his remains with such grief. So great was his anguish that it saddened the hearts of all who watched.
King Théoden himself stood at the head of the procession and born also was a fair maiden dressed in battle armour, but she appeared to live yet. There was some colour about her face as well as movement in her breast and she breathed, but the halfling was deathly white and moved not at all.
Now even the great Mithrandir himself was waiting by and the strange elf who had been put in charge of the City Guard, was trying to ease the living perian away from the pall.
At length the procession started up again with the King in its front next to Mithrandir who led the way. Behind came the stretcher with its four attendants bearing the fair lady. Then followed two tall men at arms, the King's device upon their tabards, bearing the mighty shield holding the tiny figure of the fair perian, closely followed by the tiny knight. After came the elf and the dwarf, their heads bowed in either sorrow or respect, or perhaps both.
The solemn group wended their way, guided by Mithrandir, to the Houses of Healing and there the Lady Éowyn was laid upon a bed as the healers began to tend her wounds. The shield arm was badly broken, but the sorest hurt seemed to be about her right arm, which was cold and grey in pallor.
The shield that bore Merry was set down inside the House, but the healer who came to greet them, shook his head in sorrow. "There is nothing we can do for this little one, you must take him hence to the mortuary until his grave can be prepared."
Pippin shuddered at the man's words and Legolas laid his hand upon his shoulder in sympathy.
'legolas! merry! not! not gone!'
'Pippin my sweet, I think you have to kiss Merry goodbye now.'
Pippin looked frantically around at the people waiting. Gandalf patted his arm and Legolas looked at him sadly with his head on one side, Gimli shook his head in hopeless acceptance. Even the King and his men looked grim and full of sorrow. "Gandalf, I got go look at – no, look for Merry. He fought hard and I not knowded – know if he still be in he."
"Let us have one attempt." Legolas agreed, although he was certain it was futile, but for Pippin's sake he knew he had to try.
"Do you feel Merry now?" Gandalf asked them both. They each in turn had to shake their heads.
Legolas drew Pippin to him and touched his face, looking into his eyes as they both concentrated. Each of them reached out a hand to touch Merry lightly, Pippin his face and Legolas his hand. So silent was the wait that all breathing seemed to stop. Gimli shifted from one foot to the other but no other sound could be heard.
'mer? where you go?'
'Merry dear heart, do you hear my voice?'
Wait… a pulse… a beat… wait… nothing… wait… a breath… a pulse… wait
'Legolas, Pippin, I fade, hold to me I beseech!'
'We are here. Do not go, you are safe now. Come back to us.'
'come back at we eow – it go good at you…'
'You are most sad, both. You have lost something? It is very dark – I too am most lost.'
'you founded now eow – come back at we – ope up eyes at you…'
'Not now – first I must sleep and find Merry.'
Then the voice was gone and there was no other. Pippin and Legolas searched a while longer but looked up when they heard Gandalf's voice gently urging them back. "Pippin! Legolas! Come back now and tell me what you have found." The wizard was anxious that Pippin's desperate search might draw the hobbit too deeply into a vortex of anguish from which he would never recover.
Both elf and the hobbit shook their heads slightly as they opened their eyes to the light. Legolas looked up at Théoden. "Éowyn spoke to us," he explained, "her mind is lost and wandering but it is whole."
Théoden clasped Legolas's shoulder, "That is good tidings that you bring to an old man's sad heart. But you found no trace of the little one?"
"He abides no longer in our minds or in his body." Legolas shook his head in deep sorrow. "Sadly he is gone and he takes a piece of my soul with him, but I give it gladly."
Théoden turned to Gandalf and the healer, "Where do you let lie noble warriors slain in battle in this fair City? For wheresoever that be let this Holbytla – let the valiant Meriadoc, Swordthain to the King be placed to rest there until a tomb befitting his deeds may be fashioned."
"Gone. He's gone. Merry's gone." Pippin was defeated. He had carried a slim hope that Merry's soul would linger nearby and that he was not yet dead and that perhaps he could still be revived. But now all was lost and he could do nothing but grieve for his Merry and then maybe, if the Valar allowed, follow him.
"Here Cap'n, some good bacon with crisp rind on it. I toasted it fer yer special." The little orc laid down a tin platter laden with food, which besides the bacon included some hard biscuits with a smear of bacon fat and a dollop of boiled and mashed neaps and tatties. "Can I git yer summat to wash it down wiv?"
"Less yer got some ale there, I reckon not." Smagnu took up the plate and dug in. "Not bad, 's good grub," he snorted in between mouthfuls. He glanced over at Grutfley who was being handed the same. Even in Barad-dûr, where they had both had some authority and clout, neither of them had ever had such devoted service before. But then again, neither of them had ever seen any reason to treat their subordinates with anything other than anger and surly orders, delivered with the occasional blow or whiplash. Both Smagnu and Grutfley would have thought nothing of wringing an underling's neck – but that was before they met the little Pips.
Almost unknowingly, but never unwillingly, a change had been wrought in the two orcs as a result of their care of the halflings. At first Grutfley had suspected some kind of bewitchment and even the down to earth Smagnu thought there might be something faerie about the pair. But it didn't really matter what had caused it. Gradually they had learned that kindness and co-operation was far more productive and rewarding than blows and curses.
It was not that either of them was inherently cruel, their maker had long since stopped troubling to include that gene in their makeup, there was no need, orcs were a cruel race, it was all they knew. So when the two little Pips had come into their lives, with the naïve trust that the orcs would look after them and rewarding them with respect and, in Smagnu and little Pip's case, a growing affection, gradually the two rough orcs had learned something new.
Now it was paying dividends. The battalion of little slave orcs that they had inherited from the vicious slave driver had realised with growing surprise and then bewilderment and finally delight, that these two did not beat them all the time and if one fell it got picked up and if another was slow, a companion would be set to help it. Fights were stopped quickly and underdogs were not allowed to be set upon by the others. All in all it was the best treatment they had ever had and now they were showing their appreciation.
Smagnu and Grutfley were brought their rations, ready cooked and their water bottles replenished by willing slaves, who sometimes even squabbled over who got the honour to wait on their chiefs. Their bedrolls were made up and the best spots found for them. At least six small orcs waited around at all times in case they should want something.
At present they were camped along with a vast army of orcs and men in the Udûn, waiting for orders to begin the major assault upon the armies of the West.
"Cap'n?" the small orc that had brought the food was back. "I got some ale, it's not much but I tooked it offen the Quartermaster Sergeant when he weren't lookin'." He handed Smagnu a half full flagon of brown liquid that tasted weak but was undeniably ale.
"Thanks er um… what's your name?" Smagnu took a swig. "Hmm thass something I ain't had in a while."
"It's Sniggin," said the small orc looking anxiously up to see if the beer was well received. "My name's Sniggin an' my brother here…" he indicated an almost identical orc standing just behind him. "He's name's Bloggin. We was borned together."
"Right," Smagnu wiped his mouth with the back of his great fist. "Sniggin and Bloggin."
"Please, Cap'n, if'n youse don't mind us askin', me 'n' some of the lads wuz wonderin', is we all gonna get killted in this here war thing?" Sniggin looked round at Bloggin who was staring at his feet, they had obviously planned the question together and were very nervous about asking it.
"I don't rightly knows Sniggin," Smagnu admitted honestly. "Me and Grutfley here, we don't know too much 'bout politicks an' such, but you know how 'tis when yer've got orders and all. But as for getting' killed, yer just have to do the best yer can."
"Did you wants to be in this 'ere 'n war then Sir?" Sniggin nudged Bloggin now making him look up and pay attention to the Uruk.
"Didn't rightly plan it," Grutfley answered now. "We just sorta got caught up in it all. What 'bout you an' yer brother Sniggin? How did youse two get here?"
"We was jest slave workers in Khand, never knew what's to do, an' then we's an' all our others got tooked up an' drivened here with a whip." Sniggin sniffed and poked a finger at his twin. "He's got beat real badly by 'em others."
"Why? What'd he do?" Smagnu asked as he took another swig of the purloined ale.
"Says he don't wanna get killted." Sniggin explained. "Not when we don't know what's fer, but the biggun, the one you done in, he said he'd give us what fer, and he did an' all."
"Well there don't seem to be no good reason for getting' killed." Grutfley helped himself to Smagnu's flagon. "Yer right enough there, Sniggin an' whassaname."
"Bloggin, Sir, it's Bloggin." Bloggin spoke up for himself at last. "I ain't s'much as I'se scarded, but 's'all the same t' us. We gets killted or we gets whipped an' don't make no differences how we ends up."
"He's got a point y' know, Smag." Grutfley himself had never considered not following orders until the recent escapade with the Pips. "Whass the best we can hope for out o' all this? Not ter get killed is all I reckon."
Smagnu considered this for a moment. He too, apart from a little honest thievery, had never gone against his masters until the little Pips' plight when they had tried to kill themselves had touched him so much. "I don't know. D'yer mean p'raps we shouldn't fight at all? Or what?"
"Nah – I don't see 's how we's got any choice but to fight." Grutfley admitted. "Mebbe the question is, are we fighting on the right side?"
Just as he finished speaking, the acres of camp were suddenly hit by a terrible tremor as a great and dreadful shriek rent the air. As the noise echoed away into the black and lowering mountains around them, a great clamour went up from all the orcs and men alike, as they began crying out or fearfully asking their neighbours what they thought the noise could portend.
Sniggin and Bloggin had thrown themselves to the ground in fear, their heads buried in their arms and Grutfley clutched at his heart as if he feared it might stop. "What the fug was that?" The orc gasped in horror. Then when no reply came, he shook Smagnu, who seemed to be in a trance. "Smag? Whass up?"
Smagnu bent his great head to his clenched fists as if in deep sorrow. "I dunno." He whispered the words, whether through shock or fear of being heard it was hard to tell. "It's the Pips – I felt something dreadful. Little Pip with fearful grief because… because… It was new little Pip, I don't know what happened, but Little Pip felt him die."
"Aaahhh! Sam what was that?" Frodo held his thin white hands up to his ears in pain. "That noise, it sounds like the very earth and sky was in agony!"
"I don't know Mr Frodo," Samwise was shaking himself from stunned shock. "I never heard anything like it in my life… 'cept, it were a bit like those riders – the Nazgûl, only more so, if you know what I mean."
"Yes Sam, very like." Frodo had taken his hands down from his ears to hear Sam and they both crept up a little from the gully in which they had been hiding in order to survey the barren, comfortless terrain. "But it was as if it feared, or was deeply hurt. That's not something I would ever have thought could happen."
"I know what you mean Mr Frodo," Sam agreed. "But look there, it almost seems as if the darkness has lifted a little, if that were possible."
"I do not see any change Sam," Frodo sighed. "I see nothing but fire now in a great ring, a living eye. It fills my every thought, waking or sleeping. But I do feel something."
"What's that, Mr Frodo?" Sam turned away from the bleak outlook to gaze at his master in surprise. "What do you feel?"
"A mixture of things." Frodo frowned a little as he tried to sort out his emotions. "A slight lightening, as if a tiny piece of weight had been lifted, but also an enormous grief. Sam it's as if something… no someone very dear to me had made a terrible sacrifice and is being grieved over." Frodo clutched at his heart with one hand and the Ring with the other, tears ran down both cheeks. "I feel as if… as… Oh Sam – I think it's Merry and – and Pippin has lost him!"
In the Hall of the Tower Pippin sat cross-legged next to the still body and took Merry's cold hand in his.
"Oh Merry!" he sighed why did you make I stay?" Pippin was still having trouble talking properly "I would have comeded with you. Even being made dead with you is bettrer – better than being still 'live without got you."
As he spoke and stroked Merry's hand Pippin barely noticed at first the elven rope about Merry's waist had started to glow slightly but, as his tears fell upon the strands, the magic fibres had become imbued with energy once more. The rope started to shimmer and suddenly Pippin's whole attention was drawn to the unexpected light.
"Oh the magnic rope!" he breathed. Perhaps I should take it Merry and give it back to Sam if we meet again. Pippin's heart was filled with dread as he spoke these words with the thought that he might be the only hobbit of the Fellowship to survive. He began to untie the strands, trying not to think that this was a preparation for laying out his cousin's dead body. But as he loosened the first knot the rope started to unwind itself, snaking off Merry's body and twining around Pippin's fingers.
'How long it is.' Pippin thought, 'and what is this odd join in the middle.' All at once the idea struck him that this was not just Merry's half of the rope, but also his own that had joined back up with Merry's somehow. "Oh dear Rope," Pippin murmured sadly to the elven strands. "You go save at Mer and I so lots of time. I wish you could go have save Mer this one more times - time.
"If there is any bit of I that can go make Mer bettrer – better, you can have it – all I. I give all I am, all I might be, for Merry to be 'live – alive. When he go dead – I am go dead too anyway. Please Rope if you can take me go dead not Mer. I love him too much, too much for he to be dead. Please not let him be so dead.
The rope tightened slightly and Pippin felt a tiny thrill of energy course through his body until the tingling reached his heart. He held his breath.
Gandalf and Legolas were engaged in worried conversation, discussing what best to do for Pippin who they could hear murmuring his goodbyes to his dear cousin. Their gaze moved over to the grieving hobbit and they saw with astonishment a glowing rope spiralled around Pippin's wrist and arm. It was the rope that had been wrapped about Merry's waist when he was carried from the field of battle that was now entwined about Pippin. As they watched, the glow grew to a shimmering silver light and then to a brilliant incandescence.
The wizard and the elf rushed over to source of the light and Legolas touched Pippin's cheek lifting his face up to look at him. The perian's eyes were glowing brilliant green like two emeralds in the sunlight.
Gandalf looked down at Merry's still form expecting, what he did not know. But the little body showed no sign of life. The pallor of his face was still ashen and the blood of his wound had dried upon his chest. Not knowing what else to do they waited – but nothing changed. Gradually the light grew less and less and eventually it dimmed and died.
Pippin looked up at Legolas his eyes red and sore from crying and, now that the glow had left them, he seemed exhausted and worn. He held his arm up to the elf and sighed as Legolas slowly untwined the rope from about his wrist.
It seemed wrong somehow to take the rope off Merry now, so Pippin coiled up the loose end and placed it reverently upon the blood-covered chest. Then Legolas took Pippin's hand and Gandalf his other as if he were a small child and together they drew him up.
As they made to lead Pippin to the door, he pulled back. "Wait I Gandalf, I got go kiss Merry goodbye last time promsis – promise." The wizard let him go and Pippin tottered back on his sore feet and knelt once more at Merry's side.
"Night my Merry, sleep tight." he whispered, "love you all time, love you for evrer and ever and ever too."
Pippin leaned forward and brushed his trembling lips across Merry's cold face and tenderly touched their mouths together.
He lingered, not wanting to relinquish that special feeling that was his love for Merry and Merry's love for him. He knew he would remember every line and shape of his cousin's face but wanted to keep this last moment with him forever.
A moment passed and another, Pippin could not pull away, he could not leave Merry there, could not consign him to the cold and lonely grave that awaited. He kissed his lips once more.
A pulse beat… Pippin's heart almost broke, almost stopped! He felt something. Something wrong. No something right. A breath! Where? Upon his lips! As he kissed Merry he felt a breath upon his lips!
"Gandalf!" he screamed.
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.