Apart from You: Together

Note: After having been blocked for weeks for anything except the occasional angsty drabble due to stuff in my personal life, I finally managed to finish this little series. I hope you like the last part!
Beta: My thanks go to Khylea, who made it all better.

Neither one of them had imagined their reunion like this.

Merry could hardly remember it, he had been so close to giving up and just fading away. The only thing he remembered clearly was the relief he'd felt that he wasn't alone anymore. Pippin was with him, by his side, so whatever would happen, Merry knew it would be alright.


Pippin on the other hand remembered everything all too vividly and tried very hard to forget. The sight of Merry, his strong, brave Merry, so weak and close to death had scared him terribly, and when Merry asked if he was going to bury him, it had taken all his strength not to start crying.

But somehow he had brought Merry to the House of Healing, with Gandalf's help, and had to be shooed out of the room by the wizard, who assured him that Merry would recover. Pippin could hardly make himself believe the words -- Merry had looked as if he was dead already when they carried him in -- but he knew he had to, otherwise he would just curl up next to his cousin and just give up.

Instead Pippin asked to be put on guard at the House, thus making sure that he'd be close enough to learn about every change in Merry's state.


When Aragorn called Merry back from the Shadows, Merry was sure for a moment that he was back in the Shire and everything had been a bad dream. He opened his eyes and saw Pippin's familiar face close to his, and everything was how it was supposed to be.

Of course, then he noticed the lines of worry and sadness etched around Pippin's eyes and saw the strange uniform his cousin was wearing, and everything came back to him -- but the feeling of contentment didn't leave him completely. They were together once more, and alive, and that was all that counted.


Their easy companionship felt like coming home to Pippin. And when Merry said strange, deep things from time to time, or when his eyes got a distant look when he looked at Pippin, as if he was trying to figure something out, so was this just Merry being Merry, who sometimes enjoyed thought almost as much as a pipe or good food.

Pippin's Merry.

Pippin wanted nothing more than to tell Merry what he had thought about during their time apart -- but Merry was still so weak, and Pippin didn't want to excite him and make him get worse. Also, it was so wonderful, being together again, he didn't want to destroy the time they had.

There would still be time later.


Merry, on the other hand, was not quite sure what to say to this strangely grown-up Pippin, who, in a role reversal that felt both wonderfully comfortable and frighteningly alien, took so good care of Merry while still following his duties in the palace. Merry's Pippin still, who didn't complain once, only joked about human slavers, but sometimes watched Merry with a flicker of unrecognizable emotion in his clear green eyes.

He settled for simply taking in every moment, to burn everything into his memory, so that he could still hear Pippin's laughter, smell his warm body, and see every line on his face when he lay in his big bed at night, prolonging every precious minute.

Maybe that would be enough.


But then came Aragorn and told them that they would be separated once more, and Merry's heart clamped down as icy fear invaded his mind. He couldn't lose Pippin, not again, not after such a short respite! What if Pippin died out there, and Merry had to go on without him?


Pippin couldn't bear the thought of being away from Merry, but he was also glad that Merry wouldn't have to go into another battle, even if this meant that Pippin would have to go on his own. Even if this meant that Pippin might die on his own, apart from Merry.


In the end, neither one of them had to say anything. They both recognized their own feelings mirrored in the other as their eyes locked after Aragorn had left them alone.

Although Pippin babbled and Merry stuttered, words they couldn't make out in the waves of happiness and excitement flooding them both, it didn't matter. Not when their fingers locked shyly on Merry's bed cover -- a familiar gesture, but now new and enchanting.

Later, after Pippin had joined Merry in his bed, curling up next to him, they exchanged truths in whispers, about dreams and fears and might-have-beens. They didn't have time, Pippin had to join Gondor's other warriors, and they weren't sure what would happen if -- when, Merry insisted, when -- Pippin came back, but for the moment that didn't matter.


Watching Pippin's upright figure disappear in the mass of soldiers, Merry thought of a cozy hobbit hole with a burning fire and a well-stocked pantry and two hobbits sleeping in a soft bed.

He hoped that Pippin and he would get the chance to live that dream -- but no matter where they were going or what would happen to either of them, they would never be apart again.

The End

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