Title: Knight of Rohan
Author: Anso the Hobbit
Characters: Merry, Pippin, Frodo, Sam
Timeline: On the borders of Rohan, SR 1419
Note: Written for Marigolds Challenge 9. Thanks to Birch Tree for putting me on the idea through a post in her livejournal. Written from this "Shirebunny": 3. On the way home, after the Quest, Merry tries to explain to his friends his deep feelings for Theoden and why he is so proud to be a Knight of Rohan.Great thanks and appreciation to Marigold for her excellent beta.
"Merry? Why are you so proud to be a Knight of Rohan?"
The question came so suddenly and unexpectedly that Merry jumped. He had been making himself ready to go to sleep, and while Merry undressed and put on his nightshirt, Pippin had crawled up onto his cot, watching his cousin's evening routine – and evidently thought about Merrys fidelity to Rohan.
Now Merry turned and looked at his cousin. "Why do you ask that?"
"Well" Pippin felt a little reluctant to bring it up. He was proud of being a Knight of Gondor, and felt he was paying his debt to Boromir, but he and Merry had not really talked about Merry´s Knighthood in other terms than exclaiming over beautiful livery and the differences in duties they had – Pippin mostly standing guard or running errands, and while Merry did that too, he also served as Èomers scribe among other things. "I watched you take farewell of Rohan earlier, and it occurred to me that I hadnt asked you before why you pledged your allegiance."
Just before the hobbits had retired that day, Merry had taken a for now last farewell with Rohan. The Company travelling north had stopped for the night on the borders of Rohan, and Merry had stood for a long time, gazing at the grassy plains and tall mountains of a country belonging to a people and a King he so recently had come to love almost as much as he loved the Shire.
He had stood there, watching and thinking, unheeded tears running down his cheeks. Sorrow for his lost King, but also for taking leave of new friends, and in hope for better times now that the war was over. He had sworn service to a King out of love and sudden devotion. He had been so weary and scared and alone that he had clung to the kindness that Thèoden King had shown him. And above all else, he had wanted to do something, to help in any way he possibly could. He had wanted to do anything that could bring him closer to his friends, his cousins and to the end of the war.
And there was something about King Thèoden that had reminded Merry of his father, whom he missed so very much. He had seen it the first time he laid eyes upon him in Isengard. A strong leader but also a kind man that saw each single person. Just like his da. As he gazed upon the country and people he had come to love, he had longed for the green hills and orchards and meadows and people of home, of the Shire, of Buckland and his family and friends there. And not for the first time. He was on his way home now, but in his heart he knew he would be back one day.
Merry came back from his train of thought with a jolt. He had stood lost in thought till Pippin spoke again, and now he climbed up to sit on the cot beside his cousin. "Yes, Pip?"
"You didnt answer my question. Merry – when I see you wearing that livery and standing on guard at Èomer or Èowyns side you shine. You stand so straight and the look in your eyes, Merry! Why are you so proud?"
What was he to say? That he had come to love Rohan almost as much as he loved the Shire? That he had found people that cared for him, even if it was only to keep him safe, and thought well of him even if he was a child's legend, a holbytla from the far north?
"Im not quite sure what to say. I put my sword in the Kings lap and pledged to serve him because he was kind to me and because he believed in me. He made me feel capable of doing something. I was so lonely Pip. You had gone off to Minas Tirith with Gandalf. Frodo and Sam – I didnt know where they were. Aragorn had hinted that he thought my path lay with King Thèoden, and then at Helm's Deep the King said that I might ride with him. He wanted me, and I was filled with love for him at that moment and so offered him my sword. Thèoden took me into his fold. For a time he was like a father to me."
Merry paused and looked at Pippin. Pippin was watching him intently, his green eyes full of love and compassion for his cousin, and Merry drew him into a hug. Keeping his little cousin in his arms Merry continued. "I missed you so horribly, and I felt like a bag and a bother. But Thèoden spoke kindly to me. He was interested in me, in the Shire, in us as hobbits.
"After we left the muster at Dunharrow to ride to Minas Tirith, and Dernhelm – Èowyn, I mean - took me on her horse – both of us disobeying his direct order because we loved him so and would not be left behind, nobody paid any heed to me. Why, Elfhelm, the èored leader even called me a tree-root when he stumbled over me as I lay on the ground. But I am not bitter Pippin, I am glad. Because being unnoticed took me to where I was able to do something. For the Shire and for Rohan. Because I disobeyed my liege Lords direct order to stay behind, I was at Pelennor and so could stab that foul Witch-king. When I saw Èowyn defying him I had to help, though I was afraid. And then Thèoden died and I thought Èowyn dead too. And everything was just blackness and pain, and I felt I was surely dying myself."
Merry stopped speaking and closed his eyes, shivering. Feeling his cousins distress, Pippin pulled himself gently out of Merrys grasp and put a blanket around his cousin's shoulders before wrapping Merry in his own arms, rubbing his back. "Im so sorry Mer. Im so sorry you had to go through all that."
"Im sorry too Pip. But you found me. I dont think I would have survived if you hadnt."
The Shadow was hovering close again now that he had started to think about the battle, but Merry forced his thoughts back on Thèoden. "Thèoden was just as much in awe over us as I was of him. Do you remember when they found us watching the gates in Isengard?"
Pippin nodded, but let Merry continue. "We were a people out of legend to him. Rohan had been in the shadow of Mordor for so long, and here comes a people out of the north that helps do things hed never imagined possible. And Gandalf and Aragorn, all of us giving him hope I believe. Hope that not everything had been in vain and that there was still a chance to win the war."
Pippin remembered. He had thought the old King polite and kind too, and thought now that he would indeed have liked to sit down with him to talk about the Shire and pipe-weed and anything else Thèoden might desire. He had pledged his service to Gondor to repay his debt if he could because Boromir had died saving Merry and him. But there had been no debt for Merry to pay to Rohan. "So you pledged your service out of love, Merry? But couldnt you have gone with Strider?"
"I had already pledged myself to Thèoden before Aragorn and Legolas and Gimli left. I could not take back my oath. It was at Helms Deep that Thèoden asked me if I would ride with him to Dunharrow. He even had a pony for me, Pippin. I was surprised and delighted by his kindness towards me and that he had thought to find me a pony to ride. Then he said I should be his esquire if I wanted."
"Oh" Pippin breathed. Denethor had certainly not asked him to be his esquire. Pippin shuddered a little.
"Pip?" Merry looked up from his entwined hands that lay in his lap. "What is it?"
"Oh, nothing really. Just thinking about the differences in Denethor and Thèodens behaviour."
"I am sorry, Pippin. But at least Aragorn will put things to right in Gondor now." Pippins eyes had grown moist at the thought of the Steward and Boromir and Faramir.
"Come here. Youre shivering." Merry opened his man-sized blanket and drew Pippin in. It was big enough for both of them to be covered up from curly heads to furry toes as they sat on Pippins cot.
They sat like that in silence for a while, when Pippin finally spoke. "Im glad Merry, that you did what you did. That you pledged your service, I mean."
"Why is that Pippin?"
"Because if you hadnt, Èowyn might not have known how valiant and true you are. She might have left you behind at Dunharrow and you could not have joined the battle. And then Èowyn would have been killed by the Witch-king, and probably the battle would have been lost, and maybe even the war. And I wouldnt have found you and got you back. Perhaps we might never have seen each other again, and I couldn't bear that, Merry. "
"Oh Pip!" Merry hugged Pippin close, drinking in the scent that was Pippin and thinking that he was glad he had been found, so that he could have his Pippin back too.
"Now, whats this?" A voice said by the tent opening. Frodo and Sam entered, and took in the sight on the cot. The two cousins were wrapped in each other's arms, tears evident on both faces and a huge blanket covering them almost completely.
"Oh – were just talking about this Knight of Rohan here," Pippin says and sat up straight. "I think Merry loves Rohan even more than he loves the Shire now."
"I do not!" Merry said, feigning indignance. "Not more anyway, maybe nearly as much."
"We have made some great friends while being away." Sam said, entering behind Frodo and sitting down on his cot. "Right fine folk all of them if you take my meanin´."
"I do, Sam." Frodo said. "I shall miss them all dreadfully."
"Yes. But we can always come back and visit." Pippin said.
"And we can always write letters." Merry added. "But I am glad I´m going home now. I sorely wish to see the Shire and Buckland again. It's time we went home."