Dreams of Air by James Walkswithwind

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Story notes: Sequel to Stories Told. Followed by Deadweight.

Website: www.jbx.com/~gila/ficindex.html
He hadn't expected it to be so...airy. Wide, open, and free. Free in ways not found in the Shire - which was only to be expected of course, but still, something to remark upon. If there were anyone around to remark to. Pippin looked around the room they'd given him. It was huge, much larger than anything a hobbit could possibly do anything in except hold a grand party and invite half the clan.

It was late, and most everyone else had retired for the night. Elrond, Sam and Gandalf were, of course, sitting with Frodo. Elrond had assured them all he would be fine, and after hanging around the room throughout the day, watching to make sure the elf's words were correct, Merry and Pippin had allowed themselves to be led away. Shown to rooms more spectacular than he was sure they deserved, and bid a good night.

Merry and Pippin had sat together by one large window, staring out at the dimming light until the waterfalls could only be heard. They'd shared a pipe, shared a story or two about days when Frodo had been just another instigator in their schemes and not...not dying. Even almost dying.

They'd sat together for hours, talking, smoking, wishing for a pint of really good beer. Then Pippin had glanced over and seen mostly shadow, where Merry's face should be. They'd lit no lamps, and there was no fire. The only light was from the night sky, and Merry's face was turned away.

It had been on the tip of Pippin's tongue to ask him. Even now, he didn't know what he'd have asked. Asked if he remembered yet another summer-rich story, ask if he wanted to smoke another pipeful. Ask if he wanted to sneak in and peep at Frodo, and make *sure* they weren't being kept in the dark for sake of worry.

But silence had kept his tongue, and Merry had eventually stood from his chair. He'd given Pippin a bright smile, and said there would be good food in the morning, and a soft bed tonight, and even Frodo would know, and awaken soon because of it. Pippin had walked with Merry to the doorway, and had raised his hand as Merry walked away.

Now he was standing near the window again. He could see little, but his ears were filled enough that it didn't seem to matter. Birds settling for the night, water rushing over the cliffs. There was a faint sound of music, coming from somewhere in the hall. He couldn't recognise the instrument, nor even if there were a voice accompanying.

He didn't suppose it really mattered.

The night was a pleasant one, with the allowance for Frodo's condition. After nights spent sleeping on the Forest floor, huddled in only his clothes for warmth, it was a blessing to be given an actual bed, with a well-stuffed mattress and fine, light sheets. The bath and supper -- and dinner, and snack -- had been blessings, too, and now Pippin was certain that he had almost everything a Hobbit could ask, to be truly comfortable.

Pippin knew he should crawl into bed. The hour was late, and he knew he would be up early come morning and back down the hallway to check on Frodo. He should have no excuse for looking like he'd sat all night on a cold rock, waiting for exhaustion to steal him into sleep.

The bed *was* soft -- he'd already leapt upon it, once, to check. The elf-woman who had shown him the room had smiled, looking as amused as Pippin's grandmother did when the toddlers came running towards her with faces sticky with stolen berries. Pippin wondered if elves ever jumped on their beds.

Well, after a few thousand years, surely you would try it once?

Pippin walked over to the bed, and looked again at the sheer expanse of it. You could fit five hobbits on the bed, with one left over to sleep across the foot. It seemed somehow absurd for him to sleep here. Surely a blanket and a pillow in Frodo's room would have sufficed? He and Merry curled up in opposite chairs, across the room, as Sam had done without word to anyone -- they could rest the night and be right there should anything....

He sat down on the edge of the bed, and stared out at the night, through walls made of open window. Even a small alcove in the hallway outside the room would have done. Some tiny closet, way up at the top of some stairs, out of the way of the elves.

Instead of here, in this room fit for a Lord, or a giant. This room built for air and wind and music, floating in without invitation. No walls, and a ceiling so high above him it might as well be sky -- a room large enough for a family, yet here he was, alone.

Perched on the edge of the bed, Pippin knew he would get no sleep tonight.
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