Rating: PG-13 (mild violence, maltreatment of hobbits, sick/injured characters)
Summary: Pippin, held captive by the Uruk-hai and more alone than he has ever been before, remembers that it is Merry's birthday.
Feedback: Constructive criticism is welcome. I attempt to keep as close to book canon as possible. Ideas on how to improve in this area are particularly welcome. I worry that this particular story is short and/or cloying. If readers could comment on those aspects, I would appreciate it.
Disclaimer: The places, situations and characters of The Lord of the Rings belong to the Tolkien Estate. This work contains no original characters. No money is being made from this work.

Author's Note: Placing Merry's birthday during Merry and Pippin's time with the Uruk-hai (26-29 February 3019 TA) is a decision made by the author and has no canonical basis.

"Presents"

A thought danced at the back of Pippin's head--there was something he needed to remember. Something was supposed to happen today. Or maybe it had already happened? Pippin was not acutely aware of the passage of time.

The foul odor of his guards preceded their arrival. As they had been every single day of this miserable captivity, the guards were tall, dark, impossibly large Uruks whose mere existence killed any desire that Pippin had to make even the slightest movement. As usual, the guards ignored him and went over to examine the awful gash on Merry's head.

Merry! That was it! Pippin needed to remember something about Merry. But what? Pippin closed his eyes very hard, for this often helped him think better.

Birthday! It was Merry's birthday today. Well, it was probably today--again, Pippin wasn't exactly sure how many days had passed since they were taken.

'What a nasty way to spend one's birthday,' thought Pippin. The unimaginable thought that he was indeed imagining--spending one's birthday with a bad bruise and as a prisoner of these awful creatures instead of giving a nice party with nice party gifts actually made Pippin start to cry.

His soft sobs of sorrow were punctuated by a squeal and followed by the wailings of pain as his guard kicked him in the side. "He cries now, does he?" cackled the guard, uncouth in the strongest sense of the word. "Ha! How then will he cry when we have our fun with him? He won't be able to cry after that. He'll be like his little friend, who will probably die, hopefully soon, so then we can leave him and move quicker." The other guard laughed heartily and Pippin cried even harder. He wanted his mother. Or his father. Even one of his older sisters would have been welcome at the moment.

"How is the bigger one?" asked the second guard. "I do think we'll be rid of him soon," replied the first, "and Ugluk will make old Gawbash pay, probably with his own life, for inflicting that nasty bump on his head, because we will be breaking our orders by killing one of them. But no matter, as long as we properly search him before we leave him."

The guards were ignoring Pippin again, even though he was still crying. He felt very ill, and if he had any food in his stomach, he might have sicked up right then and there. It just wasn't possible. Merry couldn't die! Not on his birthday! Helpless, and almost angry--maybe this was anger; Pippin had never known the feeling before--all he could do was sniffle softly.

The existence of good forces is often forgotten in darkest times, but the good forces do not become spiteful toward those who neglect them. They instead exert their greatest power in the most desperate situations. When they are truly working on their highest level, these demonstrations of power are imperceptible. So it was when the guards threw Pippin and Merry down together after a day of running. It had been a long day and a painful day, but at least it was almost done. The horrors of the morning made Pippin non-responsive, and indeed it seemed that Merry was nearly dead, so the Uruks left the two of them close to each other and went to divide food for the night.

'Old Merry doesn't even know it's his birthday. He hasn't got any presents to give out or anything. How very sad, how very, very sad.' This was all Pippin could think.

Merry's eyelashes fluttered lazily--truth be told, that was the most response Pippin had seen from him since they had been taken. Having surrendered to sadness and having no more care for being caught or the punishment it might bring, Pippin was able to wiggle close enough to Merry, and somewhat position his bound arms as to give him a hug. He whispered, "Well, this is certainly unusual, but since you haven't got any presents for me, I will give you a present--a hug. I'm sorry, but it's all I've got, and when we get out of this mess--both of us--you will owe me quite a deal, you know. Oh, you can't hear me anyway, but happy birthday, dear Merry."

Although Uruks were not practitioners of the art of stealth, Pippin had been so lost in thoughts and feelings that he did not hear his guard come up behind him. He was cruelly torn away from Merry and endured a most unpleasant evening, which he unfortunately was unable to forget even unto the end of his days.
****
On Pippin's next birthday, Merry surprised him with a present, and told Pippin that he had felt his embrace and heard his words on his own birthday. For the rest of their years, while the one who was celebrating a birthday was giving out spectacular gifts to party guests, the other would quietly leave a small present where it would be found later in the evening.