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(A bit of Merry-angst, written for Anso)
Merry woke up feeling stiff and disoriented. Someone, Pippin of course, had tucked him up with a coverlet and banked the fire, but why was he asleep on the settee instead of his own room?
And then he remembered.
The long silent ride back with Sam.
The vain attempts to cheer themselves up a bit before arriving in Buckland and having to face curious kin. Breaking the news to his parents that *this* time, their Frodo was gone forever. Coming home at last to Crickhollow, cold, dark, and silent.
Pippin had been the strong one. Pippin had laid the fire, mulled some ale, toasted a bit of bread and cheese for their supper.
And when Merry had finally broken down and given in to the tears he had been holding at bay since they left the Grey Havens, he had wept in Pippin’s lap like a child, his younger cousin sitting quietly, fingering the curls on his brow, until he had finally fallen into deep sleep.
And apparently tucked him up comfortably and gone to his own bed, mournful and unsoothed himself.
He got up and glanced out the window. Fog. It must yet be early morning.
He folded the coverlet and placed it on the back of the settee; as much as his own grief was still so close to the surface, it wasn’t right that he offer no comfort back. He padded down the hall to Pippin’s room, and started. The door was ajar. Pippin was not there. He could not tell if his cousin had slept at all.
The bed was unmade, but that signified nothing, for they had left all their chores and tasks undone, as they had rushed off at Gandalf’s hasty summons. Fearful, so fearful, that they would be too late for that last farewell--as they very nearly had been.
But where was Pippin? No sound of him anywhere in the little house, which echoed its emptiness strangely. A panic siezed Merry, a sudden irrational fear that his *other* cousin was somehow gone forever as well.
He flung open the front door--and he heard it: the keening, wailing unearthly beauty of grief. Pippin’s pipes.
His cousin was somewhere, pouring his own pain out in music.
Merry felt moisture on his face. Only the contrast between warm and cold told him which were his tears and which the cold damp of the morning mist. He followed the sound, which soared out over the dawning day: down the lane, across the road, toward the River.
It was a haunting tune that Merry had never heard before in his life, filled with the kind of sadness he had sometimes heard in Elven songs, but this was different, warm and earthy and he knew that it was Pippin’s own, that his cousin was creating this music out of his own--their own--shared pain.
He came upon him as he stood on the riverbank, casting the music over the Brandywine. Sending a farewell down the River to the Sundering Sea.
Merry was sure the whole Shire must hear this grief, and grieve as well, that the fairest and best of them all was gone.
He walked up, and placed his hand on Pippin’s shoulder. He knew that Pippin knew he was there, but there was no interruption of the lament. Pippin’s tears ran freely, and so did Merry’s own, and they stood and sent their grief together until the Sun had finally burnt the morning mist away.
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