Change of Fortune

Note: fic for . With love and not too much shmoop! 🙂

Merry was not jealous. After all, how could he begrudge Frodo, who had suffered (was still suffering) so much for all of them, the solace he found in Pippin’s arms?

It didn’t mean that Pippin had stopped loving Merry – theirs was a love so deep that Merry could not tell where his heart ended and Pippin’s began. It was a part of him, had been almost since he first laid eyes on his little cousin, a love grown years before it had become physical. And during the War of the Ring, during the time Merry’s world had been bleak and desolate, made even darker by Pippin’s absence, Merry had come to realize how much their love was part of him, inseparably woven into the core of Merry’s being. Light had returned to his heart the moment he had regained consciousness in the Houses of Healing and felt Pippin’s fingers gripping his hand even before he saw him.

When they had returned, they had found everything different – yet it had also been very much the same. They were heroes now instead of a pair of roguish tweens that had to be watched carefully for mischief. But they were still a unit, MerryandPippin, one hardly seen without the other. Although naturally it had been a bit of a disappointment for a great number of enterprising hobbit matrons with unmarried daughters, no one had been surprised as they took up residence in Crickhollow together.

The surprise had been on Merry’s side, when Pippin approached him one evening. They were resting after a good meal, and Merry knew right away that something was wrong – had suspected as much ever since Pippin had returned from a visit in Bag End earlier that day unusually taciturn. The words had come haltingly but with a quiet certainty, and Pippin’s hand did not tremble on Merry’s thigh.

“He needs me. You should have seen how he clung to me, afterwards… He’s our Frodo, Merry, and you know he’s hurting. If there is something, just the smallest thing, I can do to give him even a moment’s peace, I will do it. I’ll return to Bag End soon, at the latest when Sam has to leave him again in a week or so.”
There were many more words, many more soft explanations, but Merry did not need to hear them. He had seen Frodo look at Sam and Rosie many time and had felt the haunted blue eyes rest with the same quiet longing on Pippin’s hand in Merry’s own. So he kept quiet, nodding every time Pippin’s clear gaze lifted to meet his searchingly. He only spoke when Pippin had finished his carefully prepared speech and was looking at him steadily, almost in a challenge.

“You know I love you more than my life, Merry-mine. But Frodo needs me right now. And I’ll always come back to you, you know that, too, don’t you?”

Merry did not hesitate, kissing Pippin’s lips softly, stroking his curls soothingly as Pippin clung to him with surprising force.

“I know, Pip. Don’t worry about me – it’s your big, caring heart that I love most about you and seeing Frodo… broken like this, has been hurting me as well. You go to him and look after him, the way you’ve always looked after me. And when you think it’s time, you come back to me. I’ll be here, in our home, waiting.”

They made love after that, with a fierce tenderness that reminded Merry of nothing more than their time in Minas Tirith, when they had clung to each other in terrified relief and happiness they were still somewhat hesitant to believe in. Burying his head against Pippin’s still sword-strong shoulder, Merry could almost believe that soon everything would go back to the way it was supposed to be. Soon after, Pippin left again for Bag End – and Frodo.

Merry was not jealous. He hoped with all his heart that Pippin’s love, together with Sam’s care, would be enough to heal Frodo, the way it had healed Merry. Resolutely ignoring the cold pain in his right hand, Merry saddled Stybba after locking the door of the suddenly all-too-empty house, where he had been so happy with Pippin.

Maybe it was time he accepted the change of his fortune and faced his responsibilities as Heir of Buckland. Maybe it was time to visit Estella Bolger.