Note: With the release of the TTT EE DVD and all those incredible spoiler pics for ROTK going around, my hobbit love is thriving. This little thing is what happens when I give in to it. For thuribrandybuck, who loves Merry at least as much as I do.

There was not much time for lovemaking during the Quest. Merry missed it, missed feeling Pippin skin to skin, bodies moving as one, cries muffled by hungry kisses to stop others from hearing them. But the most he missed the look on Pippin's face when he moved inside him, the love and need shining in his eyes, turning them an impossibly intense green. It had been too long since Merry had seen that look.

He turned over in the bed of leaves they had prepared themselves in the ruins of Isengard and cast a long glance into Pippin's sleeping face. He looked so peaceful when he slept, as if nothing that had happened had touched him. Sleep hid the seriousness, the pain, the age that showed in his eyes these days, gave Pippin a well-deserved rest.

It caused a surge of sudden tenderness to flood Merry's body, and he caressed Pippin's face softly, careful not to wake him. He was glad that Pippin still found such retrieve, something that eluded Merry. He couldn't help but worry about what would happen next. Yes, the Ents had destroyed Saruman's might, and Merry was resting here with a well-fed stomach and a pipe filled with the finest Longbottom Leaf -- but this was not the end of it. There was still the matter of the Ring, and everything they did was just a diversion as long as Frodo and Sam had not reached his goal.

Where might they be this night? Wandering all alone through the wilderness, with enemies all around them, two little hobbits far away from home, lost in a hostile world. Just like him and Pippin in a way, only even more so. With a sigh Merry tossed around once more, sleep further away than ever.

"Merry? Everything alright?" came Pippin's bleary voice, and Merry cursed himself for waking his cousin.

He turned over again and pulled Pippin closer, feeling his warm, soft body against his in a perfect fit that came from years and years of sleeping together. "Oh, I'm sorry, Pip -- I didn't mean to wake you. I was just..."

"...thinking. I know." There was a twinkle in Pippin's eyes as he cut off Merry's apology. "You always do -- you think and think and try to make sense out of everything, and drive yourself mad in the process. And me, too, because, Merry, you're a very loud thinker."

Merry's puzzlement must have shown on his face, because Pippin laughed, a sound that sent Merry's mind back to the Shire, to sunny afternoons spent next to the bubbling and dancing waters of the Creek behind Buckland.

"I've known you all my life, Merry-mine -- you don't have to say anything out loud for me to notice! It's all over your body, all over your face and around you. Your thoughts charge the air around you -- if they're happy it's like a warm sun is shining on you, no matter the weather. When you think happy thoughts, you shine, Merry! But if you think about serious, unhappy things, it feels as if there's a cloud over you, black and forbidding. And you've definitely been thinking serious thoughts just now, when by rights you should be sleeping and dreaming good dreams of apples and pipeweed -- and of me, of course."

Finishing his little speech, Pippin snuggled even close to Merry and planted a kiss on Merry's lips, sweet and tangy like both the apples and the pipeweed he had just invoked.

Merry couldn't help but smile, his ponderings dissolving, much like the cloud in Pippin's metaphor.

"So you've got me all figured out, now have you, Pip? Then I guess you already know what I'm thinking of now..."

Pippin grinned up at him, eyes bright with mischief. "Of course. You want to kiss me silly and then make love to me until the sun comes up and we have to be all serious again." Seeing the look of astonishment on Merry's face, his grin got even broader, if that was possible. "See, I told you that you don't need to say anything! But I also know that you can't make love to me right now, no matter how much you want to, because this is not the time or place for it. You're far too responsible sometimes, Merry!"

With that Pippin started to kiss Merry in earnest, and Merry couldn't help but respond to the urging of those ohsotalented lips and the insistent pushing of that beautiful body against his. Pippin had always been able to make him forget everything and just live, enjoy the moment with all his senses.

It was one of the things Merry loved about Pippin, and one of the reasons why he just gave in and let his hands stray under Pippin's clothes, caressing the smooth skin he had missed so much. Savoring the way Pippin reacted to his caresses, hearing his gasps, feeling his body tense and arch against him, he suddenly felt Pippin's deft fingers open the buttons of his pants and slip inside. He buried his head against Pippin's neck and bit down sharply as those fingers wrapped around his hardness.

His fingers fumbling a bit, Merry hastened to return the favor, resulting in a sharp "Yes!" and a push of hips against hips, and they clung to each other, gasps and moans, licks and kisses becoming increasingly irregular as their fingers worked practically in unison.

Too long, it had been too long. It was going to be over much too quick.

"Shhh, don't worry, Merry, just let go... Come with me, Merry-mine..." Pippin's coaxing was the last straw, and Merry felt himself tumble over the edge, just a heartbeat before Pippin, whose eyes shone, impossibly green with love and need.

How much had Merry missed this? A comfortable heaviness slowed him down as he finally moved again, to get a cloth and clean them both up at least superficially, his limbs tired and his heart warm. For a change his mind was free of thoughts and worry.

"See, that wasn't so bad, now was it?" Pippin's asked in a sleepy voice as he pulled Merry down to rest beside him again.

"Not bad at all," Merry smiled into Pippin's curls, feeling sleep finally approach. "Thank you, Pip -- that was lovely."

Pippin's giggle was barely audible, his breath ghosting moist and warm over Merry's neck as he drifted off once more. "Any time, Merry-mine, any time. Love you."

"Love you, too, my Pippin..."

There was not much time for lovemaking during the Quest. But Pippin was here, lying next to Merry, wrapped in his arms, where he belonged, so there was always time for love.