Archive: If you liked it, just ask, and please
keep the header.
Time line: Return of the King – Between
"The Black Gate opens" and "The field of Cormallen"
Disclaimer: Middle Earth and all its inhabitants,
the Sundering seas and Over-heaven belong to the incredible
genius that was J.R.R. Tolkien. No copyright infringement is
intended, I am not making money from this at all, and will always
stay in deep and humble adoration of the wonderful world he
has created and in which I have lived since I was 4 years old.
Thank you. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or so
they say. I hope this is at least a little flattering and enough
to make the great man smile from up there.
Summary: They say the last thing that dies
is hope. But can Merry hope, after Pippin has gone to the final
battle before the Black Gate?
Feedback: Yes. Oh please, yes. I'd love to
hear reactions on this
Author's Note: Maybe I’m mistaken, but
Merry and Pippin never said good-bye before Pippin went with
Beregond, right? I know Merry watched Pip, but we never actually
see a farewell, right? Well, they do say good-bye in my wee
take on things.
Warning: Uncommonly dark for a Hobbit fic.
Italicised paragraphs denote flashbacks.
Dedication: Most of all: To my beloved Kati-Wan,
the master of incredible feedback and a writer extraordinaire;
to Fran, who shares my madness; to the amazing Quiller;
my wonderful muse, even though she didn't know I had
been writing this. MarigoldG - thanks for the constructive
criticism, it was greatly appreciated. Baylor - for
the additional beta-read and wonderful stories.
Last but not least: To the movie-Hobbits, whose extraordinary
performance has made the characters come to life so beautifully.
Do not go gentle
into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light!
There were two candles standing in front of him in a corner
near a window. Gloom fell through the high arch, no light had
touched this room since the second war of the ring had begun.
Two candles, spending a meagre light, barely conquering the
Meriadoc Brandybuck, still favouring his injured arm, leaned
forward and stared into the heart of the second flame.
This light was all he had left of his cousin. All he had left
since he had been left behind – again.
"Do you remember, Merry?" Pippin said. "That
one night in the Shire . . ." It sounded like a place from
a different world. "Back home . . ." Pippin trailed
off again, quickly trying to hide the sorrow in his eyes, covering
it with a brave grin.
Merry decided to let his cousin talk, rather than urge him to
continue. Even in times where there was not a precious moment
to be lost, it was necessary to say what needed to be said.
"We had just come back from the Green Dragon. Sam had walked
home and Frodo had retired. But we just sat there, in Bag End.
Two candles were on the table. And we talked the whole night
through, until they were all but burned down, and they began
to flicker and sputter. It looked so strange, seeing the light
Merry shivered involuntarily at the far-away look in his cousin’s
usually so bright green eyes. Then suddenly, those eyes turned
towards him, fixed him.
"Don’t let the light die, Merry. Keep it safe."
So solemn. Despite the smile on Pippin's face, his voice and
his words belied him. The embrace was hard and desperate, Pippin
was clinging to him as though drowning, just for an instant.
It ended too soon, and Pippin straightened again, ready to find
Gandalf and Aragorn.
Thinking back to that parting now, he was certain
that Pippin had known that he would go to battle alone. This
had been his way of saying good-bye. His way of letting Merry
know that he was scared.
The dark red sun sent weak rays of light into the city of Minas
Tirith, but soon they were devoured by the gloomy darkness.
On the wings of the sickly warm wind, the smell of decay and
burned wood surged into his chamber.
The candles flickered. Their light touched the walls of the
once so fair room. Now it was shrouded in the same gloom which
hung outside. Merry felt a great emptiness forcing its way into
This had been Gandalf’s and Pippin’s room, which
the wizard had vacated without question so that Merry and Pippin
might be together once more.
Merry’s sleep was uneasy that night.
Everytime he woke up, he saw Pippin. The picture which –
after their long time apart - should have brought serenity and
peace to his heart worried him instead. The younger hobbit didn’t
find rest at all. One image stamped itself into Merry’s
mind before all the others. The candlelight highlighted Pippin’s
fine, almost fairy-like features which gave away his origin
as a Took: The slightly pointed nose and chin, the wild, unruly
curls he had been unable to tame since his youth, the mouth
which was ever ready to break into that irresistible smile.
It didn’t shape into a smile that night. It was a thin,
almost white line. The candle-light mocked Pippin’s young
face and painted deep, dark circles under his eyes, and sharp,
deep-etched lines which never ever should have come to the face
of his cousin. Pippin stared into the candle, lost in thought.
Ever so often he would glance at Merry, and a ghost of that
radiant smile would touch his lips.
Seeing his cousin awake, Pippin crept over to his alcove and
pushed aside the curtains, peering around them almost timidly.
"Are you awake?" he asked, rhetorically.
"No. I always sleep with my eyes open. My family is related
to rabbits, didn’t you know?" His rather snide remark
earned Merry a full blown grin, and for the first time since
he was watching his cousin, Merry felt almost comfortable.
"It’s nice to see that you haven’t lost you
charming personality, cousin Brandybuck."
"And it’s nice to see that you haven’t lost
your cunning ability to wake me up at night, cousin Took."
Merry pushed him self upright in the bed and made room for Pippin
to sit down. He winced a little when a hot reminder of his wound
shot up his arm.
"Are you all right?"
Green eyes stared at him, wide with fearful worry. In this very
moment Pippin seemed young, so terribly young. Merry waved his
"It’s nothing. It just stings a little, that’s
"Are you sure?"
Merry glared at his younger cousin in his best imitation of
"The look" which had made the barely tweenaged Pippin
shut up back in their Shire days. The other hobbit raised his
hands in defence.
"All right, all right. You are fine if you can
glare like that." Once again a smile lifted the corners
of his mouth.
They sat in companionable silence for a while, listening to
the calming sound of each other’s breathing.
"Pip?" Merry finally ventured.
The bed squeaked lightly when Pippin shifted his weight.
"Why were you awake?"
Pippin shrugged, seemingly careless. "Couldn’t sleep."
"Oh, really? For once it wasn’t your stomach keeping
you up?" Despite his teasing tone, Merry was serious. "Level
with me, cousin."
Pippin’s gaze darted away, towards the candles. "They’re
beautiful, aren’t they?" His hand trembled on the
"Nothing. I just thought they were beautiful."
"And that alone makes you watch them all night long."
Merry gave a snort of disbelief. "You’ve never been
a very good liar, Pip." He reached for the ever-present
scarf around his cousin’s neck and tugged at it gently.
"What have you been watching?"
"Nothing, really. Let it go, Merry. Please." The young
hobbit’s eyes were pleading.
Merry let go of the scarf and reached for his cousin’s
hand. "No. You have never shut me out before, Pip. Don’t
A light breeze billowed the curtains of the alcove and the candles
flickered dangerously. Pippin stared at them, lost in thought,
his eyes unusually bright. The hearts of the flames were reflected
in his irises. Then finally, barely audible, he said: "You."
"Pardon?" Merry asked, confused.
Pippin drew a shuddering breath. "You. You asked what I
was watching. The answer is: You."
Seconds passed. Stretched into minutes. Minutes of silence,
and uneven breathing. The candles shone unsteadily. Somewhere
below their window, a dog barked. Finally, Merry asked: "Wh
. . . Why?" He felt Pippin’s hand grasp his own painfully.
"I was afraid that if I blinked, I’d lose you. That
if I fell asleep, you’d be gone in the morning. That I
would miss it when you needed my help most. That wound . . ."
His gaze strayed to Merry’s bandaged shoulder and arm.
"I was so afraid to lose you again. Those days when we
were apart, never knowing whether you were alive or not . .
." A dry, heaving sob rose from his chest. Hastily he rose
and walked towards the window, angrily wiping at his eyes.
"Are you happy now? I’ve made exactly the fool out
of myself everyone claims I am." He was only half-jokin;
his voice unsteady.
Merry sat in his alcove, amidst the fresh, white sheets and
couldn’t move. Pippin’s revelation had stunned him.
More than that, it had rendered him speechless – something
most uncommon for a hobbit. It took a while for everything to
fall into place.
Pippin had sat vigil all night long, watching him. The other
hobbit was fighting sleep because he was afraid to lose him.
Merry thought back to the many times during his journey with
Theoden when he had thought about his younger cousin. The thought
had always consoled him, had brought some peace of mind in a
world gone mad. And now Pip, Pippin Took who had been with him
almost every day of his life, who had brought him to the Houses
of Healing and had saved him with his urgency, not for a minute
showing fear, was scared. Something inside Merry shattered.
"Pip?" It sounded strangely uneven, almost broken,
like a tweenager’s voice would.
The younger hobbit half-turned. Eyes downcast, he looked like
the little boy he had been, waiting to be reprimanded. Merry
opened his arms. "I’m not going anywhere."
The green eyes, with the reflections of the candles in them,
scrutinised him for a few seconds. Lost, sad. Then, suddenly,
a wild mop of unruly curls was resting on Merry’s chest,
warm and familiar. There were no tears. Just a desperate need
to be near the friend, to feel his heart beating, to make sure
he was alive and well.
Merry felt the younger hobbit’s warmth. He looked down
at the dark blonde curls, and the way the candle-light reflected
off them. But there was more. More than just the candle-light
brightening the dark room. Did Pippin know that there was a
light in him? It shone even through grief and pain and danger.
"M . . Merry?"
Both candles burned quietly now.
Pippin raised his head a little from his cousin’s chest
and searched for a more comfortable position. When he couldn't
find one, Merry sighed and lifted the spare covers of his bed,
allowing the younger hobbit to crawl under the warm sheets next
"Can I ask you something?" It sounded much more like
the old Pippin, and Merry was glad for it.
"Of course you can. Go ahead."
Next to him, Pippin propped his head upon his hand. "Am
"Oh, Pip. Don’t tempt me." The words had left
his mouth before Merry could stop them. He blushed crimson,
waiting for the inevitable reaction to that statement.
It never came. Seemingly unaware of the answer, Pippin snuggled
closer to his cousin, and pulled the older hobbit’s arm
around his shoulder, full of a child-like trust, searching for
peace in the familiar embrace. Within minutes, his breathing
was even and deep.
Merry smiled. "Foolish Took," he whispered into his
cousin’s hair. "Of course you’re not."
Murky sunlight hovered in front of his windows,
a sullen, unhealthy red. Three windows, overlooking the Anduin.
But there was no way he could see the Battle Plain of Dagorlad
from here, the plain on which he knew his cousin was fighting.
An icy ring constricted around his heart.
Dear, innocent Pip. He was too young to be fighting in a war.
Merry had desperately tried to make Gandalf stop Pippin from
going, but to no avail. Now all he could do was sit and wait.
He should be standing next to his cousin, protecting the younger
one, just like he had always done. Yet here he was, sitting
in his chamber like an old, sick man, watching two candles burn.
They were dangerously low now. All through the day, they had
burned steadily and the tiny flames had only moved weightlessly
when the ghost of a breeze had entered the chamber. But during
the last few minutes, the left candle had started to sputter
and flicker. Eerie shadows moved on the walls. A queasy feeling
settled in Merry’s stomach. With a desperate effort, Merry
tried to keep the small flame burning, but the hot wax burned
his fingers and dripped uselessly on to the table. Smaller and
smaller grew the flame, while the other candle shone brightly.
The emptiness and the dreadful cold in his heart grew. It mustn’t
He didn’t dare follow that train of thought. He had to
keep the candle burning. He had to keep the light alive.
Outside his window, the murky twilight suddenly grew even darker.
Great shapes darkened the weak sun and a mighty swishing, as
though from huge wings filled the air. Curious by his nature,
Merry went to look out the window. Just in time, he could see
the huge shapes of the great eagles flying over Minas Tirith.
Elegantly they moved, graceful despite their huge bodies. It
was a picture of a beauty Merry hadn’t hoped to be allowed
to see again. He returned to the table with a smile on his face.
What he saw there rooted him to the spot. His knees threatened
to buckle. The smile faded from his face. Blackness swam on
the edges of his vision.
The smaller candle had gone out.
"Don’t let the light die, Merry. Keep it safe."
He had only blinked, had only turned away for a few seconds.
And the light had died.