A/N: While I was researching things for Rusta Iira, I came across something very odd. If you turn to Appendix C, you will find the hobbit family trees. It says the guests of Bilbo's farewell party are underlined. Well I continued looking through, and discovered that on the one labeled "Brandybuck of Buckland"; Esmerelda is not underlined (if she is elsewhere I could not find her). This has been bothering me. Maybe she had a perfectly good reason for not being there. Then again maybe not. This is MY theory. Merry is eighteen in this story, making it one year before Bilbo's Farewell Party.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters, they are all owned by J.R.R. Tolkien and his estate. I don't think I'd be writing this in Geometry class if I did.


Part I

Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind, or forgotten. -Disney's Lilo and Stitch

"You're Mammy is sick, love." Was all Merry could seem to get out of anyone. He wasn't allowed to see her, and he kept being told to go outside. But that wasn't what was bothering him. What bothered him was that whenever he asked how sick she was, they'd all look down, and mumble some excuse to run off.

Besides this, there were several signs that something was amiss in Brandyhall. For one, Frodo was coming for a visit, with Uncle Bilbo. Normally Merry would travel to Bag End to visit, because the 110-year-old hobbit didn't travel much.

Another thing, were the whispers that followed him. When he walked by all conversation would come to a halt until he had passed, when it would start up again like ripples.

Then, of course, there was the fact that the hall itself was the quietest Merry had ever heard it. Normally, it was rare that one could find a place to hear themselves think, let alone what anyone else was saying. But now, whenever a child would talk or laugh they were instantly shushed, a very new development, with a "Shush now! The Mistress is sick."

But perhaps the most blaringly obvious clue was that his father seemed to have disappeared. Normally, the Master was too busy to sit and care for the ill. Actually, Merry could only remember two times his father had ever been there when he was ill, and both times he'd been close to dieing. Now his father had disappeared to his mother's room, and so greatly refused to come out that his Uncle Merimac had to be called in to serve as Master for the time. All this combined was making Merry very anxious, and when Frodo and Bilbo arrived he didn't hesitate in asking them for any information.

"Frodo, what's the matter with Mammy?"

"She's sick Merry."

"I know that, Frodo, but how sick? No one will tell me!"

"She's..." Frodo bit his bottom lip, and sighed before continuing, "she's bad sick Merry one."

"Like Pip and I caught when we were littler? That thing...you know?"

"Yes, I know. And I don't know what she's got." Merry's face fell, and he suddenly felt very ill. When he was bad sick was the first time his papa had sat with him.

"Could I...could I lose my Mammy?"

"I don't know." Merry nodded, and gulped shakily. Frodo gave him what he hoped was an encouraging smile, and brushed back some of his cousin's auburn curls.

"I'll t-take you to your rooms." Bilbo nodded to Merry, and the boy turned down the hall. Frodo fell into step with Bilbo, and leaned in close. Even then it was hard for Bilbo to hear what he said.

"He's doing it again, Uncle Bilbo."

"Doing what, Frodo-lad?"

"Trying to act grown up, like these things don't effect him. He just closes himself up inside, and makes it seem like he's not there. That can't be a good for him!"

"Maybe not, Frodo. We'll just have to watch and see." Frodo and Bilbo were staying in Merry's room, as it was the closest to the room of the Master and Mistress. Merry sat outside the door all day; watching people with solemn faces walk in and out, like a shadow. He didn't leave his chosen spot until someone noticed him, and sent him to bed. He curled up on the floor, so that Bilbo could have the bed and Frodo the couch, but he could not sleep. He just lay there, staring into the darkness, until Frodo and Bilbo walked in. They were quiet for a while, as if testing that Merry was asleep. When it seemed he was, it was Bilbo who broke the silence.

"They should let him know, Frodo. Let him in before it's to late."

"She was so pale and weak, Bilbo. And she was calling for him so often..." Frodo's voice was shaky and he sounded close to tears. "You don't think she's really going to..."

"Yes Frodo, I do. Esmerelda is to weak to fight this off anymore. She will die Frodo." Merry stifled his chocked cry in his pillow, and no one heard it over Frodo's gasp.

"No! Bilbo she can't! What about Merry? What about all this?" Frodo spread his arms wide, even though no one could see him in the dark. He sighed, and lowered them. "How long?"

"No longer than tomorrow afternoon. And we're taking Merry in to see her, no matter what anyone says." Frodo nodded, and pulled his nightshirt over his head.

"Good night, Bilbo."

"'Night Frodo." Both fell asleep quickly, and neither heard the sobs of the heart broken owner of the room.

Merry walked into the room; face as devoid of emotion as he could get it. He was not going to cry! He was not supposed to know any of this, and crying would only give him away. But when he saw him mother lying there, pale faced, almost transparent, and her dark auburn curls spread out on the white pillow, he couldn't help but let out a kind of gasping sob.

"Mammy!" Merry ran to her side, and took one of her thin hands in his. Saradoc looked away, and a few tears fell from his dark eyes. Esmerelda turned to her son, and gave him a weak smile.

"Hullo, Merry baby. You know what's happening, don't you?" Merry nodded, before he'd really thought about it.

"Bilbo and Frodo said you were going to leave Papa and me behind. You're not going to, are you Mammy? You wouldn't leave us to look after ourselves, would you?" Esmerelda didn't answer him. Instead she reached up with her other hand, and wiped away some tears that had fallen without Merry realizing it.

"You be a brave boy for me, okay baby. You're Papa is going to need all the help you can give him. You're gonna' have to be my big brave boy. I'm sorry I won't get to see you be a tweenager Merry. I'm sure you'll be a very handsome one."

"No! Mammy you can't go! You can't! I won't let you!" Saradoc's shoulders shook, hearing the pleading tone in his son's voice. This was going to be difficult.

"Don't cry, my Merry. You have to be a big boy now. You have to take care of Papa."

"I can't Mammy! I can't!" Merry buried his face in the bed sheet. His mother stroked his hair for a while, weakly. Then she cupped a hand under his chin, and smiled at him with glazed green eyes.

"I love you baby. Don't you ever forget that, okay?"

"I won't Mammy."

"You remember that always, even if you can't see me?"

"What do you mean if I can't see you? I can always see you. I'll never forget Mammy! Never!" Esmerelda smiled at him, gently, before her eyes glazed over completely and her hand went limp in his grasp. Esmerelda could not fight the pneumonia any longer, and succumbed to the waiting darkness. Merry's breath began coming in frightened, horrified gasps, and his eyes were round in his face. Frodo came over, knelt down next to him, and without words turned Merry to face him. Merry looked at him, before yelling out.

"Frodo! Oh Frodo she's gone!" With that he latched onto his cousin like he were a drowning swimmer and Frodo was the rope that would save him. "I couldn't make her stay Frodo! I couldn't save her!" Frodo said nothing, only held his young cousin as he sobbed.