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This is what happens when I listen to soppy Baroque music while writing.

Warning -- character death ahead.


He stared out at the crashing waves, marveling at the rush and roar of all that water, swelling and diminishing but always and relentlessly creeping closer to his feet. He had seen the ocean only one other time in his life, and that time too, it had meant loss and heartache, leavened with a sense of comfort that was hard to isolate. That was long years ago, and he’d not been so alone then. This time should be harder, he thought, but in some odd way, it wasn’t. He didn’t wondered why, just accepted it.

“I want to take a trip.”

Pippin stared at Merry in consternation. His cousin had been ill for many months now and Aragorn had confirmed just that morning that there was little chance of him recovering.

“He is old, Pippin,” The King had said, when Pippin argued against his conclusion. “He is old and tired. He is ready to go.”

“Not so old as all that,” Pippin had muttered angrily, denying even to himself the years that had passed.

Merry would have none of that, however. “Don’t be ridiculous, Pippin,” he’d rasped. “Of course I’m old. 108 years old is a perfectly respectable age and don’t you go belittling it, thank you very much.”

Now he was going on about taking some trip. Pippin worried that the illness had begun to affect his friend’s mind. “Merry, you need to rest. You can’t travel until you are well.”

“Peregrin Took, you know as well as I do that I’m not going to be well, ever again.” The one-time Master of Buckland paused to cough into a handkerchief before continuing. “I want to go to the sea. I want to smell the salt air and feel the mist on my face. Help me, Pippin,” he rasped, voice harsh with need, “help me do this one last thing.”

“Oh, Merry,” Pippin had sighed in sorrow and resignation, “of course I’ll help you. How could I not?” He stood and walked about the room, restlessly poking through Merry’s things. They had not brought much with them, out of the Shire, save a few odd bits and pieces of especial importance.

Pippin couldn’t help smiling as he noticed a small, delicately carved wooden apple that he himself had given Merry on his thirty-third birthday, saying Merry liked the fruit so much he should have one that would last longer than a few bites. Merry had laughed and said that he had one Pippin already and didn’t really need another. Nevertheless, there had been tears in his eyes and Pippin had known Merry was touched by the gift.

“What are you doing over there, you foolish old Took?” Merry asked querulously. His eyesight had been growing steadily worse the last few years and now both eyes were nearly blinded by cataracts. Pippin knew he couldn’t see much more than dim shadows although the older hobbit always denied that his vision was less than perfect.

“I’m just looking out the window,” he answered. “You have a marvelous view of the river from here.”

“So you say, every time you come here. I don’t know what’s so wonderful about it.” Merry coughed again, long and wracking, and when it was done he lay back on his pillows, spent. “Please, Pippin,” he whispered imploringly. “Speak to Aragorn. I haven’t much time left.”

“I know,” Pippin whispered back, choking back the tears that were trying to smother him. “I’ll go to him as soon as I leave here.” Brushing wetness off his cheeks, he turned back to his lifelong friend. Merry looked pale and shrunken, with just a hint of fever in his clouded eyes. He made sure the old hobbit was settled as comfortably as possible, with a fresh mug of water at his side, before drawing the blinds and wishing Merry a good night. Quietly closing the door behind him, he walked slowly down the hall, feeling every one of his hundred years.

The waves rolled in and splashed about his ankles, soaking and tangling his meticulously combed foot hair, bringing him back to the present with a start. The air had turned chill and he’d not brought a cloak with him. He should return to the others, now, he supposed, but he wasn’t quite ready. Ignoring the icy feel of the water, he stepped a bit further into the sea, feeling the sand erode from under his feet as the water drew back, preparing for another surge.

There was a metaphor for life in the waves, he knew, but he didn’t want to think about life right now. It was too difficult and he felt too numb.

The journey had to be difficult for Merry, Pippin reflected, but the ailing hobbit never complained. Aragorn had arranged for them to be taken by wagon to Osgiliath, where a ship met them. They sailed to the Bay of Belfalas, where they were provided with a house within sight of the sea.

“I...want to...go...alone, Pippin,” Merry insisted, his breathing sounding harsh and painful in Pippin’s ears.

“Don’t be absurd!” Pippin protested faintly. “You can’t even sit up by yourself. How do you plan to get down to the water’s edge?” Watching Merry struggle to breathe hurt more than anything had since Diamond had died, so many years ago.

“Pippin,” Merry groped until he found his cousin’s hand. “Please, cousin. Don’t...argue. Men...will...help.” His voice was growing weaker and Pippin knew that he could not deny Merry this last wish, but it was a hard thing.

Choking back the sobs that threatened to engulf him, he clung to Merry’s frail hand. “I...I won’t say good-bye to you, Meriadoc Brandybuck.” He paused to steady himself before continuing. “I’ll let you go ahead of me, this one time, but I’ll be along in a while. Don’t you forget to look for me.” He squeezed Merry’s hand gently before laying it back on top of the light coverlet. Bending, he kissed his cousin on the forehead one last time and left the room, knowing he would not see his beloved friend again this side of the death.

Dry-eyed, now, he summoned one of the servants that had accompanied them, and issued orders for Merry to be carried down to the sea, before retiring to his own room. Closing the door behind him, he wearily settled himself in a chair by the fire and waited.

He felt the pull of the water and fought the desire to allow himself to be carried out to sea. It was time to go; the ship was waiting. He was taking Merry back to Minas Tirith, where his old friend would be laid to rest in the halls of Rath Dinen. Then, he thought, it would be time for him to rest as well.


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 21st, 2004 10:48 pm (UTC)
Oh, sadness! What a touching story--thank you for sharing. I love the idea that Merry, too, felt the pull of the Sea.
Aug. 22nd, 2004 10:36 am (UTC)
Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I intended to write something much fluffier, but this is what came out, lol.
Aug. 22nd, 2004 11:06 am (UTC)
It happens. :-) And, in cases like this one, it's lovely.
Aug. 22nd, 2004 07:51 am (UTC)
This is so sad, but very beautiful! I've often thought about how Merry and Pippin would feel, seeing the sea again, and the first paragraph captures that perfectly. It seems fitting somehow, that the sea would be a metaphor for life and death for them, especially as it took Frodo and the others away.

This image is so poignant, I can just picture him standing there: The air had turned chill and he’d not brought a cloak with him. He should return to the others, now, he supposed, but he wasn’t quite ready. Ignoring the icy feel of the water, he stepped a bit further into the sea, feeling the sand erode from under his feet as the water drew back, preparing for another surge.

The last paragraph brought tears to my eyes. Poor Pippin.

Aug. 22nd, 2004 10:50 am (UTC)
I'm glad you liked this. I wanted to write Pippin's thoughts about ents, while in Fangorn. I went back and read that whole section of TT and then wrote this, instead. I have no idea where it came from. That image of Pippin standing on the beach just sprang to mind and demanded that I follow it.

Poor Pippin. I don't like to see my favorite characters grown old and I rarely want to read fics involving character death. It makes me sad. I was very mopey after writing this, last night. I'm going to have to write some ridiculous tweenage fluff to recover, lol. :)
Aug. 22nd, 2004 11:07 am (UTC)
Go write it! lol.
Aug. 22nd, 2004 11:36 am (UTC)
Character death stories always make me sad too, especially Merry and Pippin. Please do write some tweenage fluff, that would be lovely, lol.

I didn't have the book to hand earlier, but I meant to say before that I've been wanting to read a story like this ever since I read in PME that the Elves hardly ever let mortals eat lembas bread because it made them long for Valinor - and ever since, I've had this picture in my head of Pippin standing on the beach on his own. So, I'm glad the same image came to you out of nowhere, even though you went somewhere else with it! :)
Aug. 22nd, 2004 11:53 am (UTC)
How interesting! I'd never read that. What is PME, by the way (I'm useless with initials - can never figure out what they stand for, lol). How funny that we both had the same image in our heads. :D
Aug. 22nd, 2004 12:30 pm (UTC)
Lol, sorry. 'The Peoples of Middle-earth.' :)

How funny that we both had the same image in our heads

And it was lovely reading it just as I imagined!
Aug. 22nd, 2004 05:04 pm (UTC)
Oh, gah. *wipes tears from her eyes* This is absolutely beautiful, and I admit that I'm in love with the idea of Merry feeling the pull of the Sea.

It was that last paragraph that really got me, I think.
Aug. 22nd, 2004 05:21 pm (UTC)
I'm glad I'm not the only one who got a bit teary over this thing. I was quite traumatized by the whole thing. I had to write me some Merry!fluff this afternoon as therapy, lol.

Thanks for reading, I'm glad you liked it. :)
Aug. 22nd, 2004 05:57 pm (UTC)
Actually, I'd saw in the comments that you wanted to write some fluff to make up for this, so I was going to go off and see if you'd posted it yet. :)

At least since reading what Pip said about PME, and Elves being reluctant to give lembas to mortals since it brought on a longing for Valinor, those times I've written Merry or Pippin with a fascination for the Sea, it wasn't just be being weird.
Aug. 22nd, 2004 09:30 pm (UTC)
This was very moving.You did a wonderful job.
Aug. 23rd, 2004 05:39 am (UTC)
Thanks :)
Aug. 22nd, 2004 09:38 pm (UTC)
That was sad, but also very beautiful. Your take on Merry's death is very moving. I really liked that he wanted to see the sea again. By the end, I was teary eyed as well. The last paragraph was just perfect.
Aug. 23rd, 2004 05:41 am (UTC)
Thank you. The whole thing came out of nowhere, so I'm glad it worked for you. :)
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )