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Cousins On Watch  by Anso the Hobbit


TITLE: Cousins On Watch
AUTHOR: Anso the Hobbit
BETA: Marigold
CHARACTERS: Frodo, Merry, Pippin, Gandalf and Aragorn

TIMELINE: Spring 1419

SUMMARY: Two separate ficlets from the same starter. In the first, Merry watches over Pippin, in the second Frodo and Pippin watch over Merry...

DISCLAIMER: Not mine, they belong to JRR Tolkien.
NOTE: Written for Marigold’s Challenge #2


"No, please no..." whispered Merry. "Pippin can't die, not after everything that we have been through. Please, Gandalf! Can't you help him?" Merry desperately pleaded with the Wizard. Aragorn and the other healers had, of course done all they could for the littlest Gondorian soldier. But Pippin showed no signs of getting better and Merry did not know what to hope for now. Maybe Gandalf the White had such powers now that he could make his Pippin well? Aragorn had told him, time after time, that now it was all up to Pippin’s body to rebuild itself. He was given medicines and herbs and all that healers could administer, but it was his body that had to knit the broken bones and heal the cracked ribs.

For over a week Merry had watched. He had gone from bedside to bedside in constant vigil between Frodo, Sam and Pippin’s beds. His own bed was a little cot in Pippin’s tent, but almost every night he was found asleep in a chair or curled up on the ground by one of his friends´ bedsides. Gandalf had given up counting the times he had bundled a sleeping and exhausted Merry in a blanket and carried the brave little warrior to his cot, laying him gently down there and hoping he would stay put and not wake up to find himself a Ringbearer or Gondorian soldier to watch over.

Merry had become a familiar sight for the healers and their assistants in the camp. The little hobbit was almost never seen outside the tents unless he was on his way to or from a bedside or on a few occasions running errands for either Gandalf or Eomer; errands contrived so that Merry would get some much needed fresh air and exercise.

Gandalf would find Merry seated by Frodo`s bed, his cousin’s injured hand gently enveloped between his own, singing softly or telling tales of shared adventures in the Shire. Sometimes he would sit quietly and softly stroke dark, errant curls, silently crying over the effects his cousin`s great deeds had had upon him. Other times he would sit by Sam’s bed, talking about herbs and gardens, flowers and green grass. But most often Gandalf found the determined Brandybuck by Pippin’s bed, encouraging his young cousin in every way imaginable, then a thousand more, with soft talk, tales, songs and a feather light caress to cheek, curls or other uninjured parts of his body. If Merry`s love and will could heal Pippin, Frodo and Sam, they all would have been out of bed a long time ago.

Despite their grave injuries, Merry could not give up hope for them. He tried to keep himself in check, a rigid control over his feelings and thoughts. But sometimes, he would weep, so wracked with sobs that Gandalf had wondered how it was possible for the lad to cry that much without falling completely apart. The only thing he could do as Merry cried was to gather him in his arms, and hope that his presence and soothing nonsense words would make a difference. There had been more than one night that Merry had cried himself to sleep. But when he sat with Pippin, Frodo and Sam, Merry was always gentle, loving and calm.  While talking to Gandalf or others, Merry could be angry, arguing and fierce. The care of the other hobbits was his number one concern and he was unflinching in his vigilance and didn't hesitate to speak his mind.


Legolas and Gimli, together with Gandalf, did what they could to ease this lonesome, weary waiting for the young hobbit. One of them was always glad to sit with the hobbits when they forced Merry to rest or eat, and Frodo, Sam and Pippin were never left alone.

Merry was far from well himself. His right arm still hurt. Sometimes he could not manage to hold his spoon or cup properly and he had difficulty wielding a knife and fork. He gritted his teeth, but did not say anything. Several times when he was alone with Merry, Gandalf had taken the eating utensils from him and cut his food up, giving Merry only the fork back to eat with, if he could convince the lad to eat at all.

Gandalf had not thought he would ever have to encourage a hobbit to eat again. They had all needed to encourage Frodo to eat during the Quest, distracted by the Ring as he was. But that he would have to encourage Merry to eat, was beyond what he could fathom. Merry had an appetite surpassed only by young Pippin.


And it was the same conversation over and over again. “I’m not hungry.” Merry would say, determined not to leave his current bedside watch for even a second. “You have to eat. You need to be strong for them now,” Gandalf would reply. Then they would have an argument about whether Merry actually needed to eat to keep watch. Then Gandalf would arrange for a tray to be brought so that Merry could stay right where he was. Most of the time he would reluctantly eat a little, out of politeness because Gandalf went to the trouble, but he seldom ate all on his plate.

All this went through Gandalf´s mind while Merry now pleaded for him to use some magic he did not have to heal Pippin.

“Dearest Meriadoc. I do not have such powers; don’t you think I would have done something sooner if I could? I…” He was interrupted by a small sound and a slight shifting of the hobbit on the bed.

“Mer?” Pippin whispered. Merry instantly forgot his argument. He forgot Gandalf. He forgot everything, and knew only that his little cousin called for him. Pippin had been awake before, but he had not really talked to him. Merry leaned closer.

“Pippin” he said softly, squeezing Pippin’s arm gently.

“Mer.” It was another whisper. “Don’t leave me.”

“Oh, sweetie. I would never leave you!” Merry felt tears gathering in his eyes, and he smiled sadly. “I’ll be right here. You just sleep now.”

“Love you, my Mer.” Pippin breathed.

“I love you too Pippin, my brave, strong lad.”


“You see, Merry” Gandalf said, tears in his own eyes. “There is hope. There always is.”





"No, please no..." whispered Frodo. "Merry can't die, not after everything that we have been through. Please, Aragorn! Can't you help him?" Frodo stroked Merry`s curls, frightened eyes pleading for the King to help. This had happened so very quickly, so unexpectedly, and he could not lose Merry now. The War was over, they had survived, and the Ring was destroyed. They would go home soon!

Merry shifted a little on his bed, oblivious to the world outside his own misery. Frodo shook his head in disbelief. He could not understand this. Merry had not appeared at breakfast, so Pippin had gone in search of his cousin and found him ill in bed. This came on very suddenly, as there had been no sign that Merry was not feeling well the previous day.


“Don’t worry, Frodo,” Aragorn said, after feeling the cold of Merry`s arm in contrast to the burning heat of the rest of his body. “Merry has been through some of this before.”


“But why is his arm so cold now?” Merry had told Frodo most of what had happened on the Pelennor Fields and in the Houses of Healing. What he himself could not remember, Pippin had supplied. Frodo knew that stabbing the Witch King would do much the same to Merry as being stabbed by the same evil creature had done to Frodo at Weathertop. But had he been like this after he had been wounded?


“His body’s reactions are very similar to how your body reacted after Weathertop.” Aragorn said, as if reading Frodo`s mind. “Your shoulder and side were cold too. “


“Yes, but I also felt like I was burning up, the pain was that intense. But why is Merry so feverish now? He was well yesterday.”


“You had a slight fever for most of the time due to the wound, and that cannot be compared to what ails Merry now. Merry`s fever is caused by something other than an injury.”


Aragorn examined Merry, and was pleased when he found that there were cures for what ailed him. Then he started asking questions.


“Pippin, what happened?”



When Pippin did not come back from looking for Merry, Frodo had abandoned his own breakfast and gone after him. Perhaps if Sam had been there Frodo would not have been so quick to go and search for his cousins, but he had gone with Legolas and some other elves to Ithilien at Faramir's suggestion to look at some sort of plants. If everything had been fine, Pippin would have come directly back, at least with some kind of message, probably about Merry just wanting to sleep in. Frodo had hurried to the sleeping chambers of the little house they shared while staying in Minas Tirith, and found his cousins in Merry`s room, Pippin doing all he could to help Merry.

“Go get Strider!” Pippin had yelled at him, before Frodo had even come completely into the room.

“Merry!” Frodo said, and came forward despite the urgency in Pippin’s voice. “What’s happened? Pippin, what is wrong?”

“I don’t know. He was like this when I came in. He looks like he’s lost to the world! And his arm is cold again.” Pippin said, gently soothing Merry`s face with a cool cloth hoping that his ministrations would bring his cousin round, not caring about the tears that silently crept down his own cheeks.

Merry did not look well, that Frodo saw clearly. He was sweaty and feverish, clutching his injured arm with his good hand, curled up into a tight ball. His eyes were glazed and Frodo could not make eye contact with him.

“I’ll get Strider!” He said, and hurried out of the room. What in the name of all that was good, was wrong with his dear Merry?


Aragorn was hovering over Merry.

Would his dear cousin die, Frodo wondered as the King poked and prodded a bit more on Merry. Frodo knew that Aragorn had healed Merry with athelas when he had been brought to the Houses of Healing, but as he had not seen his cousin so affected by the Black Breath before, Frodo was terrified. Merry was so terribly pale, his face grey. Suddenly Frodo remembered that Merry had been touched by the Black Breath before while he was taking a walk in Bree. There he had just fallen unconscious to the ground, a fright the only “injury”. But then Merry had also been at Weathertop. That made three times. Frodo heard Pippin whimper, and quickly caught the young hobbit up in a hug, holding him close. Pippin sniffled a little, but showed no more evidence of tears. He remembered that Pip had been with Merry through this before, and that he was more prepared for this than Frodo himself was. Frodo wiped a hand over his own face, brushing away tears he had not been aware of shedding, squaring his shoulders. They would get through this, they had to!

“There is illness spreading amongst the Rohirrim, and he may of course have caught something from them. He is often among them. Has he complained to any of you?”

“No, but he’s had problems using his hand, and it is still cold at times.” Pippin said.

“He is weakened after stabbing that foul creature.” Aragorn said.

“That might be the reason then. Merry would not react like this to a simple sickness. He is one of the healthiest hobbits I know. He almost never comes down with anything. It`s a long time since he was ill in bed for some reason.” Frodo said. Pippin nodded.

“Yes. It’s usually Frodo or me who ends up in bed with a cold or a fever.” He smiled, despite the dramatic situation.

“Let’s see what some athelas can do for him then.” Aragorn said. He had brought several fresh leaves with him, and when Merry breathed in the scent of athelas steeped in hot water, he uncurled and closed his eyes, his whole body relaxing. He stopped clutching his icy hand.

“Merry? Merry! Are you with us?”

Merry opened his eyes again, two hobbits and a man slowly coming into focus. “Strider!” He said. “Pip…Frodo... What are you all doing here? And…” He looked around, finding himself lying in bed. “What am I doing in bed? What is the time?”

“Almost time for elevenses. How do you feel, Merry?” Aragorn asked.

Merry lay back and thought for a moment. “My arm was cold again, but it’s better now.” He sneezed, suddenly. “And I feel rather stuffy and achy.”

“You are ill. There are a lot of the Rohirrim soldiers who have been unwell the past few days, you know.”

“Yes. But my arm should not feel like this if all I have is a bout of the sniffles, should it?”

“No, not normally. But” Aragorn looked at Frodo and Pippin now “all of you are weakened after what you have achieved in this war. And it is not that long since you were healed, Merry. Two months is not a very long time.”

“No, I guess you are right. What happens now then? May I get up?”

“You are staying in bed today, and I’ll be back to see how you are faring tomorrow morning before I let you out of bed. If anything changes for the worse, call for me at once. You should sleep, Merry.”

Merry nodded, yawning and sneezing again. He shifted a little, uncomfortable. He had not slept much the previous night, and he felt tired. “Can’t I have a bath first? I’m all sweaty.”


Aragorn put his hand on Merry`s forehead. “I think that athelas cured your fever. A bath would probably make you feel better, and since you are a bit congested it will not harm you to drink something warm either.”

“All right.”

“You’d better take that bath, Cousin” Pippin stated, pinching his nose shut, mischief suddenly in his eyes. “Or else I won’t stay and keep you company.” Pippin shot a quick glance at the King. “If my liege Lord does not have anything else in mind for me today that is?”

“I order you to take care of your cousin today, Peregrin.” Aragorn said before he bowed and left the hobbits, smiling fondly.   

“Oh!” Frodo said, reaching out to hug Merry tight. “I thought you were dying!”


“Dying?” Merry said, puzzled.


“You did look like I found you after the battle, Merry. You gave us quite a fright then, and you scared us today too.” Pippin joined in the hug, and the three cousins stayed like that for a while, relishing the feeling of being safe and having each other close.

“Then it is settled.” Pippin said, when the need for air made its presence after a while. “Now, you just wait here while I get that bath ready. You keep an eye on him Frodo!”


“Aye, Cousin” Frodo and Merry said with an identical mock salute. Merry then settled down comfortably, suppressing a sneeze, while Frodo pulled a chair up by his bedside.




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