Friends You Can Trust
By Rosie_Gamgee

” ‘It does not seem that I can trust anyone,’ said Frodo.
Sam looked at him unhappily. ‘It all depends on what you want,’ put in Merry. ‘You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin–to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours–closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo. Anyway: there it is. We know most of what Gandalf has told you. We know a good deal about the Ring. We are horribly afraid–but we are coming with you; or following you like hounds.’
‘And after all, sir,’ added Sam. ‘You did ought to take the Elves’ advice. Gildor said you should take them as was willing, and you can’t deny it.'”

~The Fellowship of the Ring, chapter: A Conspiracy Unmasked

Chapter One: It’s Coming Out in a Minute
In which Pippin makes a discovery, Merry receives a letter, and the Ivy Bush is quiet.

Merry says that I move too fast to notice subtle things. Either that or I’m too thick. I notice plenty of things, though, even if I don’t realize that they’re important. Or if I don’t understand why they’re important. But I do notice them.

It took me nearly a month to realize what was so important about Frodo’s odd behavior. He would go off into the country by himself and be gone until morning. He spent a lot of time in his study, looking over Bilbo’s old maps. He spent an awfully large amount of time with me and Merry, and even thought he would laugh and smile, his eyes looked sad. It finally fell into place when I heard him whispering to himself one May evening when he was visiting the Smials. “Will I ever look down into this valley again, I wonder?” he said quietly. And I understood. Frodo, my dear cousin, was going toleave. Just like Bilbo. After he left for Hobbiton the next day, I ran (yes, ran) all the way to Brandy Hall to warn Merry. I reached Merry’s rooms flushed and panting, for it is a long way from the Smials to Brandy Hall.

“Merry!” I gasped when I could finally speak. “Frodo’s…going to…leave!”

“I know, dearest,” Merry said calmly. “I’m glad you finally figured it out.” I gaped openly at my favorite cousin.

“You…you knew?” And you didn’t tell me?” Merry gave a half-hearted laugh and I suddenly realized that he was dressed to go out, and had a small pack in his hand and a worried look on his face.

“I didn’t know anything for sure until this morning.” He handed me a letter, written in Sam Gamgee’s sensible hand. “Sam promised a few months ago to let me know if Frodo looked like he was going to take off.” I quickly scanned the letter, then set it on Merry’s reading desk.

“But Merry, all Sam said was that you should come talk to him,” I said slowly, not sure what to think.

“Yes, but something’s worried him, Pip,” Merry snatched up the letter and pointed. “And look: it’s dated April 14th, that’s right after Gandalf came to Bag End.” He put the letter in his pocket and strode out the door. I followed him closely.

“But, Merry, why did you only just get that? It’s already May, and–”

“Look, Pip, I don’t know!” Merry paused in the doorway that lead outside. “The only way to get answers is to ask Sam. I’m going into Hobbiton tonight for Da, and I’m going to track Sam down tomorrow evening.”

“Well I’ll come too!” I happily burst out the door and climbed into the waiting cart, startling Merry’s our cousin Seredic, who was holding the pony’s head. Merry ducked back inside and came out a moment later. He climbed onto the cart and tossed an extra cloak at me.

“Wear that so you don’t get chilled,” he said, a note of unwilling resignation in his voice. “Ser, could you get someone to tell Pippin’s folks that he’s with me?” Ser nodded, and with a flick of the reins, Merry and I were headed to Hobbiton. As we drove, we talked, for a while, but it was a long run from the Smials to Brandy Hall, and soon my eyes were drooping. Merry must have noticed, because he scooted me closer to him and laid my head in his lap.

“You just rest. I’ll bet you wore yourself out coming to the Hall in such a hurry.” Merry laughed softly and combed his fingers through my somewhat wild tangle of curls.

“A story, Merry?” I pleaded sweetly.

“Pippin, you silly-goose. You’re getting too old for bedtime stories.” But all the same, he began telling me of Bilbo’s adventures, and I fell asleep with his voice falling over me. When I woke up, it was dark all around, and we were just nearing the Ivy Bush, in Bywater. “We’re staying here tonight, Pip,” Merry said, seeing that I was awake again. I sat up and pouted a little.

“The Green Dragon has better rooms.”

“Aye,” Merry laughed, “But the Ivy has better beer! Besides, it’s less expensive, since I’m putting down a room for two.” He looked pointedly at me.

“Oh, I’m sorry, Merry!” I rummaged desperately in my pockets. “I can pay for my own bed, truly!” But a thorough search of my pockets revealed only lint, crumbs, and a forgotten toffee.

“Oh, I was only joking, dearest.” Merry ruffled my curls. “But you must behave, understand?”

“Yes, Merry,” I nodded solemnly.

“Promise me, and promise me right,”

“I’ll be a good boy, all day and all night!” I giggled and placed a smacky, childish kiss on Merry’s cheek, sealing our childhood ritual as we pulled into the courtyard of the inn.

“Good evening, Master Merry!” Reggie Boffin called cheerily as he came out to see to the horses. “Hullo Pippin!”

“Hullo, Reggie,” Merry answered as he shooed me towards the door. “Has it quieted down?”

“Aye,” Reggie affirmed. “Most folk are in bed, but you can still put down for a room.” Merry gave his thanks and steered me through the door; I was already falling asleep again. Soon, I found myself in a room with Merry, and a dying fire in the hearth.

“Here now, sleepy-head,” he murmured, “You can sleep in an extra shirt of mine.” Before I knew it, I was bundled into my bed, and Merry put out the lights. I woke up a few hours later, after the moon had gone down. My thoughts were on Frodo, and his apparent plans, and I couldn’t get back to sleep. I needed comfort, so I climbed out of my bed and slipped into Merry’s.

“Oh, dearest, what’s wrong?” Merry questioned sleepily.

“Do you really think Frodo will leave?” I asked. Merry wrapped his arms around me and kissed my forehead.

“He might, dearest,” he said after a while. “But not because he doesn’t love us.”

“Mmm…” I mumbled non-commitally into Merry’s nightshirt. He tucked the blanket around me and rubbed my back comfortingly.

“Go to sleep, sweet-heart,” he whispered. So I did.

((The promise ritual is from Baylor’s story “I Always Know You”, from the chapter “The Tiniest of All”. Credit must be given to her writings, because they have very much influenced my views and portrayal of Merry and Pippin’s relationship.))

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