Coming Home

Author's Note: Entry for my LotR FPS Secret Santa. Written for Kate, who requested Pippin/anyone and 'something nice and light but not TOO sweet and fluffy, no B&D or noncon please, angst and HC is fine and a happy ending please'. Well, after having watched RotK twice so far, I just had to write this little story, which is more inspired by the books anyway - hope you like it, although it's Merry-centered... Merry Christmas!

They had left Sam at the road that led to Hobbiton and continued on to Buckland and Crickhollow. At first they kept on singing, a carefree song they had started to cheer up Sam, but without Sam's presence Pippin had soon grown uncharacteristically quiet, following his own thoughts. Merry was grateful for the silence, since it allowed him to try and come to terms with the fact that Frodo was gone from their lives forever.

It was hard to imagine -- no, it was nearly impossible. Frodo had been a part of Merry's reality since he was born, spending at least a couple of weeks every year with his relatives in Buckland, and he'd been one of the most influential people in Merry's life. Without him and Bilbo, Merry would probably never have come to love books so much, would never have learned about the worlds that were hidden between thick leather covers or in old scrolls. Frodo had taught him so much, not just about books, but about decency, kindness, friendship -- and sacrifice.

Merry felt his eyes fill again and blinked violently to keep the tears back.

They had reached Crickhollow and were just turning into the lane leading to the house that Merry had helped Frodo buy as part of his ruse before leaving the Shire. It had still been standing untouched after they had freed the Shire, and Frodo had moved his furniture back into Bag End, leaving the house empty. Merry and Pippin, both feeling suffocated at the thought of going back to living with their families, had gratefully accepted his offer and moved in.

Crickhollow had been their home more or less constantly for the last years, and Merry found himself smile as he watched Pippin dismount and lead his pony to the meadow. He followed his cousin's example and slid down, smoothing his fancy clothing, rumpled from the ride.
Merry loved to dress up, but it would be nice to put on his comfortable clothes again after this long day, to just lounge in front of the fire and talk quietly with Pippin, smoking a pipe of Longbottom Leaf after a nice dinner. Just be himself, without anyone having any expectations or demands from the Heir of Buckland and Savior of the Shire.

And to Merry, this meant spending time with Pippin. Pippin who didn't need explanations, who just knew, because he'd been there and had seen just as much darkness than Merry. Merry was always most himself when he was with Pippin.

Just as he had come to this conclusion, warm and familiar like a favorite blanket on a cold day, Merry heard Pippin call him impatiently: "Merry, do you plan on standing there forever, or are you going to come in?"

With a smile, Merry did as he was told, leading his pony to the meadow and then entering the house through the kitchen, where Pippin was already busy cooking them dinner. Stepping up behind him, Merry rested his chin on Pippin's shoulders, muscled from their sparring sessions, and closed his arms around Pippin's stomach, soft again, the way it was supposed to be, not lean and hard from lack of food and too much traveling and fighting.

Pippin sighed softly and leaned back against Merry, leaving dinner be for a moment. "I'll miss him so much, Merry."

Merry pressed a kiss against Pippin's neck and tightened his hold on him. "Me too, Pip, me too. Nothing will be the same without him. But he wasn't happy here anymore, he needed to get away."

Pippin turned in Merry's arms and met his gaze seriously. "I know." Then he smiled, a small smile, but one that told Merry that things were going to be okay. "I'm just glad you're here with me, Merry-mine."

They shared a kiss, sweet and warm like a summer's evening at the Brandywine.

"I don't want to be anywhere else, Pip," Merry finally said. "I'm glad to be here with you. In our home."

Yes, life would be empty without Frodo -- but, looking into Pippin's clear eyes, Merry was content that it would go on.

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