Coming Home by BlueKat

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Outside the night was cool, the air sharp and clean as the heavy raindrops coated the world in ribbons of silver. In the large ent's bed, the two hobbits didn't speak much, content for now with lying in the soft grass and leaves.

The thick, sweet scent of the fresh plants was making Pippin a little dizzy. Brushing his fingers over a smooth, dark green leaf he inched closer to Merry's side.

"Merry, are you sleeping yet?" he whispered, somehow the night didn't fit a normal tone of voice. He knew Merry felt the same way as the reply came in just as hushed tones.

"No." Merry studied him closely. "What is on your mind, Pip? There is something new troubling you, isn't it?"

Pippin smiled a little, mildly embarrassed over how well his friend could read him. Then he shook his head. Gently he reached out to touch Merry's forehead, stroking away some stray curls much lighter in color than his own. He frowned when he felt the tips of his fingers touch the small scar.

"Is your head bothering you?" he asked, concern evident as always in his voice. "I don't know what those creatures put on it, it looked painful to me..."

Merry's usual clear and happy eyes clouded. "It was," he simply stated. His voice got warmer "And no, my head is fine. If not...for the thoughts filling it..." He stopped, uncertain.

Moving so he could take Merry's hand in his, Pippin nodded.

"I know." A small sigh escaped him, both frustrated and sad. "If only I knew, you know! Knew where Frodo and Sam is, if they are safe... And Strider, Gimli the dwarf, Legolas the elf, and..." A minute of silence passed, communication only through locked eyes for a while, hands gripping each other tighter.

"They are safe," Merry whispered in the end, a look of determination crossing his features. "They have to be, Pippin. We have to believe that." He sat up slightly, pulling the other closer to him. "Don't think of Boromir and Gandalf tonight. We will mourn them later, pay due respect to their memory... But tonight..."

He rested his cheek against the soft mass of Pippin's curls. "Tonight it will just remind us of what is lost. We have to believe in hope tonight, my dearest friend."

Pippin curled up to rest his head on Merry's strong shoulder, his arms finding their way around the larger hobbit's chest.

"Yes. We will find them again, won't we? And Frodo will have thrown the awful ring back where it came from, and we will all go home... I don't think hobbits are made for this kind of adventure." He paused slightly. "At least not this hobbit..."

The last statement was delivered in a thin, pitiful voice and made Merry hug his friend tighter to him.

"You will see it differently tomorrow, my Pippin, when we are well rested and the sun is back. At least we are free, right? Away from the terrible orchs..." Dark memories made him shudder. A careful hand ran through his hair.

"I would have given up," a small voice whispered in his ear. "If you weren't there with me. We will make a pact, Merry, a vow to each other. We will always be together, and if we ever have to be apart for any reason, we will always come back to each other again." Pippin's voice grew both in confidence and strength. "Promise me that, Meriadoc? Please?"

Burrowing closer to Pippin as they lay together, Merry just nodded, then said: "I promise."

Nervously, he added: "Do you really think we have to part some time, Pip?"

"I hope we don't," Pippin replied, his fingers still braiding through Merry's soft hair. Looking down he met Merry's eyes, seeing the emotions written as clearly as the light of day. Forgetting to breathe in the sudden intensity of the moment, Pippin slowly lowered his head. Merry's eyes fluttered shut as their lips suddenly were dangerously close, and as secret gates, hidden and locked were sliding open.

The world stopped, only to be hammered out again in the beating of two close hearts. The rain fell heavier than ever, tighter, like an armor of silver over the sky and clouds. Hesitating a fraction of a blink of an eye, Pippin then pressed his lips to the ones of his best friend.

The taste conquered anything sweet ever created, it was silk and velvet all at the same time. Wonderful smooth plains, tinged with fascinating, slick roughness.

Tilting his head just a little, Pippin ventured further sliding the tip of his tongue over a full bottom lip, barely dipping inside the corner of Merry's mouth. The fleeting touch grew, as the last gate was pushed wide open.

Everything seemed to magnify, as it still diminished. Pippin reached up to cup Merry's face in his hands, eagerly bringing them even closer together. The warmth of Merry's hands on his back was hotter than what any flames could be, yet strangely soothing. To Pippin, it felt like coming home. The intimate kiss ended, leaving them both breathless and wide-eyed.

"Oh," was all Merry could say, staring up at Pippin.

"Indeed," Pippin agreed. "Oh..."

A sweet smile made its way over Merry's face, then he gently touched Pippin's face with his hand. Pippin covered his hand with his own, twisting his head so he could press a kiss into the warm palm.

"I think I love you, my Merry," he breathed, flustered from the kiss and from Merry's hand still in his. Before he knew it he was being pulled down for another kiss.

"I think," Merry stated, his voice warm and humorous, "that you better. Because I love you too."

A chaste kiss landed on the tip of his nose. "Of course. Makes everything as it should be, don't you reckon, my dear?" Embracing again, they snuggled closely and comfortably together in the soft and warm bed.

As the first light of morning crept in to reveal two sleepy hobbits, the rain had stopped. Clouds were carried away on a sweet-scented summer breeze and let the morning stars shine freely over the earth. The heavens were already set aflame in the East. Another day was in the making.
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