He cried out in pain as he hit the ground roughly, his ribs cracking beneath him. The orcs about him jeered as he whimpered pitifully.
"Toughen up you little runt, we have a long way to go yet; don't think that's the first time you'll land face first in the dust!" a gnarled looking northern orc spat.
Pippin wanted to cry. Every part of his being was screaming with pain, fear, exhaustion and grief, but he knew that if he did he would be letting the orcs win and he would not let them, not after Boromir's life-giving sacrifice for the love he bore for his two 'Little Ones'.
Pippin tasted salt, and realized that he had failed and was crying once again. Heaving hiccups he looked around frantically to make sure the orcs hadn't seen him; it had been awful when they had seen him, the very first time he cried. Throwing himself into the ground, he wept into the sparse grass of the Emyn Muil.
Pippin woke from evil dreams and found that waking differed little. To his right lay Merry; he was pale and unconscious. He had been since he was knocked out by the orcs the day they had been captured. He seemed to be barely breathing and the blood from his gashed forehead was staining the dirty rag that bound it. Pippin reached out and grabbed his cousin's hand. It was dry and freezing as an old bone left by a pack of wargs in the wilderness. The young hobbit gulped, never had he felt such fear as he did now. It was clear to him that Merry was dying. His spirit was giving up the will to live and he was slipping from him faster than a drop of water from an icicle.
Pippin looked about him. There were orcs everywhere. Hideous, great monsters they were and none he found more fearsome as the towering Uruk-Hai as they called themselves. The largest of these was a beast called Uglúk, and he was tireless in his tyranny.
It was dark. There was no moon... no stars... and no hope that Pippin could see.
Pippin was startled from his despair by a sudden outburst of noise from all around. An argument had broken out, between the orcs who came from beyond the river Anduin and the Isengarders, about what was to be done with the prisoners. Uglúk had leapt forward and cut the heads off two small orcs beside the upstart, Grishnákh, who fled into the shadows. Several others gave way, one falling over Merry in his haste to set some distance between himself and Uglúk. But the ferocious Uruk leader managed to fell many more before the skirmish was over. One of the orcs who had laughed at him landed on Pippin, his head cleaved messily from his shoulders. Pippin felt something cold against his arm and noticed the jagged orc blade had slipped from his grip.
The hobbit stared at the blade, as yet uncovered with blood. As he looked around he saw that Uglúk was still intent on clearing off the rest of the mutineers. Looking to Merry, his condition worsening rapidly seemingly unnoticed, Pippin had an idea. He would not allow this torment for he and his cousin to continue, it also seemed that Uglúk and his bunch wanted them alive and unharmed. With a grim smile Pippin wriggled up and set the blade between his knees. He would shatter the Uruk-Hai's efforts, what would their master Saruman say if both halflings were dead? With a bit of luck... he may even see his best loved Boromir in the afterlife.
He trembled. He need only cast his hands down, let the notched blade cut at the rope and perhaps a little deeper into his skin. Then as he would bleed to death, he would use his remaining strength to cut the throat of his cousin. That would be the hard part. As close to death that Merry was now, it would be the hardest trial to take the life of his oldest and dearest friend.
Resolve flickered. It would be done, curse the orcs! If their punishment for their failure in their task was any worse than the torment they had inflicted on he and his cousin... Boromir... it would be worth it. Time slowed as he thrust his bound wrists to the knife.
"Pippin. What are you doing?"
Pippin frowned. That was not the voice of Merry, and certainly not an orc. Looking up nervously he saw that all about him had disappeared; all but Merry and a tall, handsome man clothed entirely in white.
"Take your hands away from the blade."
The voice was stern and commanding and... familiar. The hobbit made no move to do what he was told. His chin was quivering as he looked up to meet the face of the man in white, a name tottered at the edge of his tongue. It couldn't be... it wasn't possible.
"Boromir?" he squeaked.
A laugh, definitely Boromir's laugh and he should know!
"Who else Pippin?"
The man stepped forward, his face that much clearer, that much more recognizable as the man Pippin had once loved. Before Pippin could do anything the man had knelt before him and he was swooped into the enormous bear hug he so often had found himself in. As Boromir rocked him in his arms gently back and forth Pippin stared in shock straight ahead, his chin resting over the man's shoulder.
"Boromir..." he murmured.
"Yes Pippin. I'm here..."
Pippin snapped. He shoved the man away from himself roughly.
"NO YOU'RE NOT! YOU'RE NOT HERE, BOROMIR! YOUR DEAD!" he cried out violently. "I saw you get shot! No one could have survived that! You're not here! You're dead! You're dead! You're dead!" he screamed out beating his tied fists on the man's strong chest.
Boromir grabbed Pippin's wrists and stopped him from his assault. Now Pippin was crying weakly again. As he burrowed his head into the dead man's body he kept mumbling, "you're dead, you're dead..."
The large man once again wrapped his arms around the small body of Pippin, even in death he was not very good with words. How to begin? For now though he understood that actions would speak louder than words so he began to rub the little hobbit's back comfortingly and place small kisses upon his head. This seemed to relax the smaller being for his shuddering sobs began to slacken. Eventually Pippin's small voice could be heard from the region of the man's stomach:
"This is a dream."
The man chuckled slightly, "'Tis no dream, Dear One."
"Well, if it's not a dream why can I feel you if you're dead? Why does this feel all so real?" Pippin raised his head and blinked wetly up at the man in white. The little one from the Shire was ready for explanations.
"I am dead Pippin... though you may not believe it, this is the truth. I would give no less to you."
Pippin now met his eyes, no longer searching but steady with acceptance.
"I have been granted by the higher powers leave to meet with you. I saw you from afar and your plight and I knew I had to help you and Merry one last time and perhaps say a proper goodbye this time."
"Boromir don't do this. We are already in debt to you, don't heighten the price." Pippin moaned.
"I'm sorry Pippin, but you can't stop me. I couldn't live with myself if you did anything rash like this." The man paused looking up, eyes twinkling as they so often did right before he cracked a very nasty joke.
"Oh, that's okay. I already am dead!"
Pippin stuck out his tongue in disgust, "That was lame Boromir. Not funny."
Boromir chuckled, "I'm glad those orcs haven't totally taken away your taste in jokes Pippin, that would be tragic."
Just as quickly however Boromir's expression once again became stern.
"Pippin, what were you thinking when you had that knife?"
Pippin looked down ashamed, the knife still lay close by.
"I thought I could foil those orcs plans to take us to Isengard. I thought that I could save Merry and I from further torment. I... I thought I could see you again." His voice cracked as he met Boromir's eyes again. The spirit's eyes were filled with compassion and warmth; once again he bent to kiss Pippin gently on his trembling lips. Pippin was too shocked at how real the kiss felt to reciprocate it, but it was not needed.
Boromir's eyes traveled to Merry, lying still as ever on the hard ground, Pippin followed his gaze.
"Merry lies dying. There is one way yet to save him, and it is not through that orc knife." Boromir turned to Pippin, his green eyes piercing into the hobbit's own clear green eyes.
"Its you." The man finished.
"Your light is the only way to save him now."
"My light? Boromir, what are you talking about? What light? I don't have a light. Are you a bit touched?"
Pippin looked extremely confused and looked at Boromir as though he was bonkers. Boromir however looked completely and deadly serious. This unnerved the small hobbit somewhat.
Suddenly the man stood up and without warning as if from nowhere and everywhere at once a blinding golden light appeared. It was everywhere and so bright Pippin could hardly see; yet it did not hurt his eyes. He saw Boromir at the very center of the light, his eyes where clear and bright and he looked pure and holy. It was though the world was hurtling around them but they were staying in exactly the same place.
Pippin was breathing in astonished gasps and suddenly he understood. He looked down at his own hand and saw a similar but brilliant blue light around and through his hand, looking at his arm and down at his feet his saw that the blue light was everywhere. It was his light, but it was very small compared to Boromir's and lacked the richness and intensity.
He turned his head slightly to see Merry. His light was almost nonexistent; foggy grey it lapped in and out of his skin like small waves on a shore. Desperation leapt in Pippin; his cousin's light was almost extinguished. Almost as suddenly he found the blackness around him again, Boromir's brilliant light had gone.
"You understand now." It was not a question, but an observation.
Pippin nodded meekly astounded by what had just happened.
"Then you know what you must do?" This time it was a question.
"No, what can I do? How can I make Merry's light come back?"
"Merry and you are connected in a way I have never seen before in two souls. The ties go deep. Incredible, even to the Valar it seems, is the curious way in which you and your cousin feed of each other's lights. You noticed your light was waning and Merry sees this."
"Merry can see my light? He never told me this!"
"Well no, not really 'see', 'see' is not really the right word. It is difficult to explain..." Boromir scratched his head and seemed humbled again; a mere mortal or spirit still seeking answers.
"Well, I guess it's more of a feeling. A kind of deep mutual caring of the other. You can see his light too, though you wouldn't recognize it for what it is. Merry in his unconscious state has seen your light clear as a bell. But it has dwindled since your capture by the Uruk-Hai and Merry's light fades with it."
"What can I do? How can I save my Merry?"
"Never loose hope Pippin. Hope is the key. Without it, how do you keep your spirits up? Reclaim your hope and Merry will be safe."
Boromir smiled gently and placed a hand comfortingly on the halfling's shoulder.
"There is always hope."
Then Pippin saw a certain sadness in Boromir's eyes and a deep sorrow settled once more on his heart as he realized inevitably what was to happen next.
"It is time for me to go, Dear One... come! No more tears! Be brave; do not think yet that the world has given up on you. I haven't..."
Pippin blinked away the water that had stung his eyes fiercely once again. The sorrow had not lifted, but the relief to know that Boromir was okay and still out there watching over him, made the pain of this parting bearable.
"Look after Merry. I know you're the younger one and he's the one always looking after you, but I know you can do this." Boromir embraced the hobbit one last time and Pippin felt tears, so real tears, land on his brow and he realized that the dead man was also crying. Then he was released and Boromir stood up and gazed at Pippin one last time.
"Be patient, it is not yet your time. But when that time does come, I'll be waiting for you. I promise you will see me again..." Boromir seemed to be dragged backwards, moving further away though there seemed to be no movement from him.
"Farewell my dear Pippin." And the man in white vanished.
Pippin was left in the darkness waving.
"Bye bye Boromir..."
Startling, everything went back to normal. The orcs returned, the sound of the argument raged on and Pippin found himself once again on the ground, kneeling with the orc blade between his knees, the rope touching the cold edge. There was one thing different now in this arena; Merry was breathing more deeply and to the utter joy of Pippin a small groan escaped his lips.
Thoughts of double suicide vanished in a trice, but instead of casting the knife away, a new thought entered his mind. He quickly cut the bond on his wrist, stopping before he cut his wrist and retied the pieces of rope in loose loops around his wrists, then he lay himself back on the ground. He would be patient.
Once again Pippin had been cast unruly over the back of an enormous, vile-smelling Uruk-Hai. It was the next day and he had managed to sleep a little and have not so horrible dreams, as he was hurried towards Isengard with his procession of orcs. All of a sudden the rumbling of hated feet ahead stopped and he was jolted to a halt. An evil voice arose from the front:
"What is it? What do you smell?"
Uglúk answered, "Man flesh."
Hope flared in Pippin.
"Aragorn." He murmured, a smile appearing hesitantly on his lips.
So Boromir was right. The world hadn't quite given up on he and his cousin after all. The next words confirmed it, "They've picked up our trail!" The first voice cried.
There was a shout from the front and the running began again. Pippin made a quick decision, if it was Aragorn and the others pursuing them, then he would assist them in their efforts. He grabbed the elven broach in his mouth and pulled it from the cloak, spitting in upon the ground.
His hope lifted once again and his light burned ever stronger; beside him, on a neighboring orc, Merry frowned and sighed.
Two years later...
The War of the Ring was over. Hailed as heroes, Master of Buckland, Meriadoc Brandybuck 'The Magnificent' and Thaine of the Shire Peregrin Took, sat upon a small hill where an apple tree had once stood overlooking the crops of Farmer Maggot. Yes, the very same hill that two years ago two mischievous hobbit lads had pillaged wrinkled apples from one blustery autumn day. Those same two, now gentle-hobbits, sat side by side together on that very same hill, sharing companionship and smoking quietly.
The two young hobbits had been forced to grow up very quickly the very next day after that joyful apple-abducting day. They had gone on a quest and had made new friends and enemies alike. They had learnt how to love and to look out for one another but they had also learnt to kill and the ways of war. But most importantly, the two hobbits had learnt how to live and what life was really like outside the safe confines of their little Shire.
Unfortunately, upon their return, the four hobbits, Merry, Pippin, Frodo and Sam, still had a lot of cleaning up to do. Evil men from the south and their evil master Saruman had claimed the once green lands of the Shire for their own, building factories, writing oppressive laws and, to the dismay of Samwise, cutting and burning down all the trees and flowers and all things once bright and colorful. Which included the old withered apple tree.
Pippin was distracted from deep reflections at a small cough from Merry. "I... er... want to tell you something Pippin." He said gaining his cousins attention.
"Well, er... your going to think me mad but..."
At this Pippin laughed, "Well I already do so your too late on that warning, so stop your blithering and spit it out, hobbit!"
"Fine, fine!" Merry laughed too, drawing a puff on his pipe, "I'll tell! Pippin, you remember when the orcs took us captive and that long race across the plains of Rohan?"
"I try to forget it."
"Yes, you would, but well... I've been meaning to tell you for a long time but when I was knocked out and unconscious, I could remember things... I... I think I was dying, Pip."
Pippin ears perked at this and he looked carefully at his cousin whose brow was now furrowed in deep concentration at trying to say the right words.
"But then I had a strange dream... you were in it, but the orcs were gone and there was this bright light all around... it was a marvelous thing. And then I had this sudden irrational thought!" At this Merry chuckled slightly and met his cousins eyes again, his were dazzling with the light of the setting sun with a mixture of amusement and grief. A peculiar expression that looked altogether confused and could not have been replicated.
"Pippin, I thought it was Boromir."
The smaller hobbit's eyes widened in surprise at his cousin's keen awareness to such things.
"I know, I know, it's crazy isn't it? What the mind cooks up when you're unconscious and on death's door, but then I began to get better after that. I can't explain it!" Merry laughed again looking a little embarrassed.
"Not so crazy." Pippin muttered.
Merry's superb hobbit hearing heard this statement however. "Why did you say that, Pip?"
Pippin grinned cheekily. This would take some explaining, but it was only too years ago and for Pippin the grief of Boromir was still too near, and he knew it would be the same for Merry; it would have been hard for him to get that much out. Maybe another time, when they were both ready.
"I'll tell you later Merry. When you're older and wiser..."
There was a hoot of laughter as Merry pushed Pippin down the hill.
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Story notes: Warning: Suicidal thoughts and a bit angsty but that's about as bad as it gets. Some spoilers for the RotK book.
The idea for this fic, as all of mine, came just as I was about to drop off to sleep and caused me to make a terrible decision: to fall asleep and try to remember it, or to get out of my cosy bed and find some pen and paper to write it down. I hope you like this fic because I didn't get out of bed for nothing! Once again thanks to my Beta reader Sam for making all my works so much 'beta' and for Merry my cousin. Also please read the disclaimers they are quite important you know and some are funny. Feedback is blessed!
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