An Old Friend's Visit

by Avondster

A pale light was growing in the East as the Sun woke up in Gondor. A small figure could be seen in the half-darkness, slowly making his way up the hill alone.
It was September the twenty-second, and old master Meriadoc Brandybuck was on his way to visit his friend.

Despite of his respectable age, Merry was still able to move around fairly good and without a walking stick, and was very proud of that, but the long way up the hill cost him some more effort in these days than it would once have. The Sun was almost up when he finally reached the stone square on top of it.
“Hullo there, Pippin,” he said, panting slightly.
The morning Sun bathed the great stone statues and carvings of Rath Dínen in her golden light as Merry reached a small bed at the west side of the square, and looked down at the stone image of his friend. He reached out and touched the face he knew so well, yet pulled back his hand when his fingers felt the cold stone.
“Pippin, my lad,” he said brightly to the tomb, “you ought to know what I have gone through for you today. One hundred and thirteen is not an age to be climbing any more, mind you, and you have chosen some spot for me to visit. But I had to come of course, I had to see you today. It’s Their Birthday, you know… My first without you,” he added softly.

For a moment there was no sound except the sounds of the City waking up down the hill, and the rustling of some early fallen autumn leaves on the square.
Merry sighed deeply and smiled at the stone coffin. “I am sorry I have not visited you for so long, Pip. It’s not as if I don’t miss you…” He swallowed hard, “in fact, I have missed you even more this summer. Sunny and Palagon came to stay here for a while after their wedding. How I wish you had seen them, they looked so happy!”
He chuckled.“Who’d have ever thought a granddaughter of mine would marry a Took! A future Thain, no less. How time flies. My sweet little Sunny, all grown up and married! I told her how I loved the way her name sounds now… Sunny Took. It reminds me of you.”
Merry looked at Pippin’s motionless stone face again and sighed, then lifted his head.
“Now listen to me rambling! I must be getting old. Here I am, talking about my granddaughter, while I came here to celebrate Their Birthday with you.”

Merry sat himself down at the top stair of the stone steps at Peregrin’s tomb, next to the stone head of his friend, and looked into the West with a thoughtful expression. “I wonder how they are doing over there. Frodo and Sam. Frodo must be happy, having Sam with him again. Alone is only alone, isn’t it? I know now how he must have felt.”
He shook his head. “No, I should not pity myself for that. I have only had to miss you since this winter, Frodo has been without Sam much longer. I don’t know if I would be able miss you that long, my lad.”
He swallowed yet again. “You know, Pippin, I often tell myself that you are with them now, too. It is certainly a bit more cheerful imagining you have gone there, than you lying here, on cold stone in a dark tomb. It just does not suit you.”
Merry touched the cold stone face yet again, and shivered. “No, this is not you. You are not under this stone, Pip. I refuse to believe it. You have gone somewhere else. To them, perhaps? I hope so.”

Another silcence fell as Merry continued to gaze into the West, from where clouds were now drifting this way. A cool, soft breeze brushed against his cheek.
“It looks like rain,” Merry mumbled. “Remember when we saw the Elfmaidens in Rivendell dance on the wet grass in the rain? They danced gracefully and silently, and there was no music. We wondered why. Then Glorfindel stood watching them and told us: ‘when the West wind brings the blessed rain from Valinor, you can hear their songs from beyond the Sea.’ We listened and listened, but we never heard it.”
He smiled as the first few raindrops touched his face and closed his eyes, listening.
Was it just his imagination, or could he hear fair voices in the whispering wind? Yes, he could hear them, faint and soft at first, but the sound came closer, though it did not get louder. He could hear the fair Elven voices’ singing being carried to him by the wind, and was enchanted by the words, though he did not understand their meaning.

‘A Elbereth Gilthoniel,
silivren penna míriel

o menel aglar elenath!

Na-chaered palan-díriel

o galadhremmin ennorath,

Fanuilos, le linnathon

nef aear, sí nef aearon!’

Then one voice was lifted above the others, higher than an Elven voice it was, and clear as glass. Merry’s eyes filled with tears when he heard this beloved voice, this sound so very dear to him, sing that blessed song.
Another voice joined in, it was lower than the other, and it sounded a little awkward as it joined in the song, but sang bravely along.
The addition of the third voice made Merry chuckle as he sat there with his eyes closed and listened; it was so enthusiastically high-pitched that it was sometimes dissonant, and kept mispronouncing the Elvish words.
“Why, you must be new to the place…”
He forgot all about the cold stone he was sitting on, he could not feel the cool raindrops on his face. He dared not open his eyes. If this was a dream, he didn’t want it to end. He refused to wake up feeling like he had the past year: old and alone. He just sat there listening to the song in the wind while tears of grief were mixed with those of joy. The song ended. He heard voices call his name. And finally he dared to open his eyes.
Three vague figures were standing before him, looking down upon him and smiling. There was golden light around them as if the sun was still shining. The light warmed Merry from the inside and he no longer felt any cold or discomfort. The cold, hard, sorrowful stones were gone, there was only light and joy and warmth. He suddenly longed to join them as he looked up at the figures before him, the images of those he loved so much.
One of them reached out a hand to him, and Merry saw it only had four fingers.
He smiled warmly as he reached out for it…

A small distance away, a handsome Elf prince suddenly leapt to his feet.
“What is it, Legolas?” asked Gimli.
Legolas said nothing as he heard faint, high laughter echoing in the hall, and the soft, almost inaudible sound of little feet slowly fading away.
“The four are finally reunited,” he whispered. “Nevermore will they part again.”
And he sat down again and smiled, as a single tear rolled down his fair face.

King Elessar found Merry a little later, still sitting on the stone steps of Pippin’s bed as if sleeping. His grey head was resting against the stone face of his friend, his eyes were closed and a blissful smile illuminated his peaceful face.