Of Hobbits and Valor

by samwisegirl

Merry ran up the steps lightly, tears in his eyes and an unvoiced sob in his throat. He stood on top of the watchtower, and looked for the galloping blur of white in the distance. Aragorn came bounding up the steps behind him. “Merry!” he exclaimed; his face etched with worry for the young hobbit.

“What is it Merry? Pippin will be all right, if that’s what you’re worried about. He is in Gandalf’s capable hands.” Aragorn said, placing an arm around Merry’s shoulder.

“It’s not that!” Merry said irritably, making a point of not looking up at the ranger. He didn’t want Aragorn seeing his red-rimmed eyes.

“Then what is it?” Aragorn asked gently, kneeling before Merry. He placed a finger under the hobbit’s chin and tilted his head up. “Look at me” he said quietly.

“I…I’m afraid I’ll never see him again.” Merry said so softly that Aragorn had to strain to hear him. Tears began coursing down his fair cheeks, making his eyes shine in the morning sun. “Aragorn, he’s my best friend! I love him more than anyone in the world! We’ve never been separated for very long. Whatever shall I do now?” he choked out, then covered his face with his hands as his small frame was racked with sobs.

Aragorn reached out and held the small creature in his arms until his tears were spent. He gently stroked the curls on the back of Merry’s head and said, “Hush now, Meriadoc. Everything will be fine.” He felt a strong surge of affection for this hobbit. For all of them. They were such loving creatures.

Merry finally looked up at the kindly face of his friend and said sheepishly “I think I got your jacket wet.”

“It’s all right” Aragorn winked. “I think it’s seen far worse than hobbit tears before.”

“Yes” Merry agreed, remembering the cave troll.

“So…” said Aragorn, pulling out his pipe and lighting it, “tell me about young master Peregrin. Why is it that he always has to look? And touch? And question? Are all hobbits that inquisitive?”

Merry sniffed the air, and sighed. He pulled out his pipe, forgetting his tears. He grinned. “Well…”

Aragorn sighed. “Just Pippin, eh? I thought so.”

“I have known Pip since the day he was born. And yes, he has always been like that. Gotten him into more scrapes than I could get him out of, let me tell you! Its just so frustrating Aragorn! He hasn’t really grown up yet. I fear for him. I fear that this war will change him, and that he will be no better for the change,” Merry said glumly.

“Do you think you haven’t changed?” Aragorn said softly. “I have watched you and your kinsman grow and learn over these past few months. You are all brave, and true. And you are all changing. War changes people Meriadoc; sometimes for ill, sometimes for the better. Let Pippin grow up. He will have to do this whether you are with him or not.”

Merry looked at the ranger with great respect, and love. “You are very wise, Strider” he said.

“No. Just learned in the ways of war. I wish I wasn’t,” he said regretfully. “The time will come when both you and Pippin will have to test your valor. To fight for your home, and the ones you love. I fear for you Merry; I fear for all the halflings. You are a peaceful folk, and you should not have to see war, and pain, and death. But you will.” He said seriously, with great pain in his voice, and tears in his eyes.

“Strider?” Merry placed a hand on the ranger’s arm and looked up at him with fire in his eyes. “I will do what I have to do. I am not afraid.”

“I know” Aragorn said, and smiled. “I see why Gandalf loves the halflings so much. You are a remarkable race.”

Merry blushed to the roots of his hair, and grinned impishly. “So, do you want to hear some stories about Pippin the inquisitive hobbit?”

“I would love that,” said Aragorn.

Man and hobbit sat on top of the watchtower all day, smoking and sharing tales of the Peregrin Took, the hobbit who always had to look.