In Dremes

- jan-u-wine

For Merry

Time. 
Always an old man's foe.  A king's, most of all. 
 
Tears bead the corners of his eyes, but no one sees them,
mixed as they are with battle-blood and oily sweat.
 
Theoden-King dies then. And the hobbit who'd stood by
him, distracted at the end, does not hear the last
whispered breath pass the lips of the lord he'd sworn
more than fealty to. 
 
Meriadoc recalls, of a sudden, just who he might be, and
where.

It is no dreme, this, no play of hobbit-lads on hot summer
days with supper and a soft bed at the end of it.  No dreme
that his Lord's body reclines with horrible leisure upon
the field, one of Snowmane's white legs lying in broken
embracement over the dull-silver'd breast-plate, no
dreme that empty black rags raise ragged wraith-fingers
when an errant dust-whirl happens upon them.
 
It is no dreme that a slender lass lies stricken before
him, gold hair poured about too-quiet, snow-pale features.
 
 
It is no dreme that he follows them into the city, no dreme
that he catches her hand, fallen from its place at her side.
There is no warmth there, no pulse within the slender
bracelet of her wrist.  There is only a great cut upon her
palm, a double-sided line of blood marking where her hand
braced the brave sword of Rohan, steadying it in its final
journey.
 
He manages to keep step with the biers but a moment more,
pressing her hand first against his cheek, then to its rest
at her side.  And he knows dremes, then, dremes of naught
but dread and darkness, dremes of no substance save
crushing fear, as if foul blood ran within his veins,
sweating all that is fair and fine (all that is Merry)
from him.
 
In that last moment, in dreme indeed, he sees his elder
cousin.  Only by his heart-sense does he know the ragged
and hopeless creature he perceives, darkness flowing like
water about him.
 
He sits upon the ground, the grey, cold, uneven stones
of no consequence.  No sound or scent, no sight or thought
or feeling touches him.  Perhaps he has died, too.
 
Perhaps he has died, and he might follow Theoden
Father-King, and the cold, fair grace of Eowyn.  Perhaps he
might wander the formless night and bring light and Home to
his cousin.   
 
Pippin finds him thus.  Eyes open to the darkened sky,
grief-words stuttering from blood-blackened lips.   

And Pippin has not come to bury him, nor to marshal him off
to the fearsome houses wherein the dead stay.  Pippin is
suddenly grown large and serious, even though there is a
bit of a crinkle about his eyes when he sends Bergil off to
garner aid 'for a perian, mind you'.   
 
Dremes in the Houses are deep as the Mirror-mere, and as
sweet as Lady Goldberry's smile.  Merry sinks into
them, like a skipped stone vanishing beneath the calm,
still'd summer face of the Brandywine