Title: Solemn Promise

Author: Olivia Sutton

For www.fanfiction.net

Books/Lord of the Rings

Characters: Merry, Pippin, Aragorn

Formatting note: As always, comments between double slash marks, //like this// are thoughts. Words between asterisks *like this* are bolded or emphasised.

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: This is an totally unauthorised fanfic. The Tolkien Estate and New Line Cinema own Lord of the Rings. Please don't sue me, I have nothing to sue for. Enjoy! Reviews/comments welcome.

Summary/Tagline: Pippin's recovery after the Battle before the Black Gate, at Cormallen, is more difficult than his cousin Merry would like. Featuring Pippin, Merry and Aragorn. Non-slash. RotK Spoilers, after a fashion.

"Pippin had bowed crushed with horror when he heard Gandalf reject the terms and doom Frodo to the torment of the Tower; but he had mastered himself, and now he stood beside Beregond in the front rank of Gondor with Imrahil's men. For it seemed best to him to die soon and leave the bitter story of his life, since all was in ruin.

'I wish Merry was here,' he heard himself saying, and quick thoughts raced through his mind, even as he watched the enemy come charging to the assault. 'Well, well, now at any rate I understand poor Denethor a little better. We might die together, Merry and I, and since die we must, why not? Well, as he is not here, I hope he'll find an easier end. But now I must do my best." --p. 175-176, *The Return of the King*, JRR Tolkien, copyright 1955. (Del Rey, movie cover, edition)

Solemn Promise

By Olivia Sutton

Pippin awoke to pain. But even though he *hurt*, he felt comfortable. Then memory assaulted his brain. "No," he thought, an tears rushed to his eyes, "Oh, no," he murmured, aloud.

"Pippin, Pippin, wake up!" Called Merry, as he held his younger cousin's hand, "Please, wake-up."

Pippin heard the voice, a happy, hopeful voice, "No. . . he can't, not after what I did," he thought and pulled his hand away and he turned from the sound. Tears rushed into his eyes.

"Pippin, what is it? Are you in pain? Where does it hurt, Pippin? I can go get the healers," Merry looked anxiously at the smaller, younger Hobbit.

Pippin swallowed, "Go away!" He said, Then he closed his eyes.

Merry startled at that, "Pippin, I'm going to get Strider and the healers. You're going to be all right, I know you are. We'll make it better, somehow," Merry pushed his stool back and stood up, "I'll be back, Pippin. I promise."

Pippin murmured and cried.

Merry swallowed and stood up, as he left the tent used as a sickroom he said, "It will be all right, Pippin, I'll be right back."

Merry left the tent, then hurried to find Aragorn and the healers. "Aragorn, Aragorn, Strider!" He yelled, spotting Aragorn a few feet away, "Aragorn, It's Pippin! You have to help!"

Aragorn turned, and a very upset Hobbit flew at him.

"Merry, What's Happened?"

"I don't know, I don't know, Pippin woke up but he won't talk to me. All he does is cry. He... He told me to go away. I don't understand."

Aragorn nodded, "Merry, I want you to find Ioreth. She is the most experienced of the healers. I'm going to see Pippin, and try my best. Hurry, Merry."

Merry ran off, and Aragorn hurried to Pippin's tent. Within minutes, Aragorn reached the tent. Pippin lay on the bed, sobbing. Aragorn first went to a iron pot of water suspended over the fire pit. He dropped fresh Athelas leaves into the water that steamed over the fire. Then he ladled some of the water into a bowl and carried to a small table that sat next to Pippin's cot. He dropped more leaves into the water to seep, and a fresh smell filled the tent.

"Pippin-- Where do you hurt? What is it?"

"Strider?" said Pippin, then he sat up, tears streaked his face. "Strider, Where am I?"

"You're in Ithilien. And the war is over. The Ring has been destroyed."

Pippin said, "Frodo? Frodo and Sam? They're not dead?"

Aragorn shook his head. "They live yet. Both are injured, sick, and weak from lack of food and water, but they are alive."

"But what about. . . that guard, he had Frodo's mail shirt and Sam's sword!"

"That was a trick. Gandalf and I saw through it. But tell me, Pippin, Where do you hurt? Why do you cry so?"

Pippin's face lit up with hope, "They're alive? Frodo and Sam, they are alive?"

"Yes, and anxious to see you. As is your kinsman, Merry. He's been at your side since he arrived from Minas Tirith. Now, Pippin..."

Pippin instantly sobered at the reference to his cousin.

Aragorn noticed, "What is it? Have you quarreled with Merry?"

"Aragorn," said Pippin, seriously, "You're a soldier, and you've fought many battles. May I ask you something?"

Aragorn looked at Pippin's earnest face, "Yes, go ahead, ask me."

"Have you. . . have you ever. . ." Pippin sighed, "Strider, have you sought death on the battlefield? Have you ever, just wanted, wanted to find death. To meet your end?"

Aragorn looked at the little Hobbit with surprise, "Pippin, Is that why you won't talk to Merry? Did you fall into despair?"

"I. . . when that. . . that guard, whatever it was, when it held up Frodo's mail and Sam's sword. . . and you, you and Gandalf refused to pay ransom. I, as you say, I despaired. I wanted Merry at my side, to die. And I wanted to die, too. I was determined to find death on the battlefield, Strider."

"Oh, little one," said Aragorn, falling into the verbal patterns of a friend, "Oh, no. Pippin, you survived and all is now well. You need to go on, to continue, to put this blackness behind you."

"I'm not sure I can. I don't know if I want to. How can I face Merry, knowing that I had wished for him to be at my side, to die? How can I tell him. . . tell him that I didn't even try to get out of the way of that tottering troll? I thought it would be better if it crushed me."

At that moment a breathless Merry rushed into the tent. "Strider, I couldn't find...Pippin?" Merry looked from Aragorn to Pippin and back, "Oh, Pippin, no."

"Pippin, tell Merry what you just told me."

Pippin looked at Aragorn, then at his cousin, "I can't...I'm ashamed."

"Pippin, you must. To start healing, you need to talk about this. This is very serious, Peregrin Took, if what you told me is the truth."

Pippin glared at the Ranger, "Of course, it's the truth. Merry, Merry, I...when we were at the field of Cormallen, things looked grim. We all left, thinking we'd never return, and..."

"I know, Pippin, I remember."

"At the Black Gate, there was this creature, this guard, I don't think he was fully human, not really. I'd never seen a Man that looked like that. He...he had Frodo's mail shirt and Sam's sword, Merry."

Merry nodded.

"Aragorn and Gandalf, they, they parleyed with this thing, this 'Mouth of Sauron' he was called. And they refused to pay ransom for Frodo, and for Sam. For the first time in this entire...this war, I despaired, Merry. I lost all hope."

Merry approached Pippin, and placed a hand on his shoulder, "Pippin, I'm here. It's all right, go on."

Pippin took a deep, shuddering breath, "Merry, I...I lost *all* hope. I wanted to die. I was determined to find death on that battlefield. Death was all around me, so why not? I acted on instinct, saving Beregond, he had been so kind to me in Minas Tirith. I stabbed at that troll. But when it was tottering, I..." Pippin covered his face with his hands and cried, then he swallowed his tears and continued, "I didn't move out of the way. I could have, I easily could have, but I let it happen."

Merry turned white, "No, Pip...oh, no."

"I...before the assault, before we rushed into battle, I wanted you with me, too, Merry, to die at my side. I don't know why. I...went looking for death on the battlefield, and I didn't want to be alone."

"Oh, Pippin, Pippin no. It's going to be all right, everything is going to be all right. Pippin, listen-- when the Orcs captured us, I hope for swift death, Pippin. Swift death for both of us. I was filled with despair and I thought there was no escape. I thought what was before us was only torture and death. Your cheery nature, your determination to escape was the only thing that kept me going."

"I'm so sorry, Merry, I'm sorry. . . I don't know what made me. . . Why I wanted you with me."

"It is easier to face death with those you love than alone, Peregrin Took," said Aragorn.

Pippin nodded, "Can you forgive me for. . . for seeking death, Merry?"

Merry grabbed the younger Hobbit's shoulders, "Only if you promise me, Pippin, promise me you will never, ever, ever think like that or try anything to. . . to end your life, ever again."

"I promise," said Pippin solemnly.

"And if you ever find yourself despairing and even thinking about desiring death, you will talk to me or another Hobbit that loves you and that you love and trust. Promise me, Pippin."

"I promise, " Pippin said again, solemnly.

Merry hugged his younger cousin, then, and the young Hobbit returned the hug, much to Merry's own delight.

"Mer-- Merry, Promise me. . . promise me the same."

Merry held Pippin's shoulders, "I promise you, Cousin Peregrin Took, that I, Meriadoc Brandybuck son of Saradoc Brandybuck, your cousin, will never, ever, again, seek to bring about my own death. And that if I am ever despairing, I will seek the counsel of you, Peregrin Took, or others that I love and trust, rather than resorting to any action against myself."

Pippin nodded, then answered, his hands on his older cousin's shoulders, "I promise you, Cousin Meriadoc Brandybuck, that I, Peregrin Took, son of Paladin Took, your cousin, will never, ever, again, seek to bring about my own death. And that if I am ever despairing, I will seek the counsel of you, Meriadoc Brandybuck, or others that I love and trust, rather than resorting to any action against myself."

The two Hobbits then shook hands, first right to right, then left to left. Merry bowed to Pippin, Pippin bowed to Merry, then they embraced.

Aragorn stood to the side. When the ceremony seemed over, he asked, "What was that? What ceremony?"

"We've made a solemn promise to each other, Lord Aragorn, Strider of the DĂșnedain. It's an old, old custom among our people. This type of promise cannot be broken, by either of us, nor by any other Hobbit. It's the type of promise spoken between fathers and sons, relatives, or close friends, and a similar version is even included as part of Hobbit wedding ceremonies. Each person promises the same to the other, in a formal manner. No one can ever break a solemn promise. It's more than simply Hobbit law. It's..." Merry stopped.

"Tradition, custom, but extremely serious. A solemn promise isn't entered into lightly. I knew what I was asking Merry, and when he began the words, I knew what he meant to do. And I agreed," replied Pippin.

Aragorn nodded. "Would that Men had such customs. Now, Pippin, How do you feel? Do your injuries hurt you at all?"

Pippin thought for a few moments, "I'm very stiff and sore, Strider, especially my legs."

Aragorn nodded, then examined Pippin closely, bathing his bruises and cuts with the Athelas water. Quietly, as he worked, he mumbled words in a language that Hobbits did not know. When he was finished he pulled the blanket up to Pippin's chin. "Rest now, Peregrin. Meriadoc, sit with him," Aragorn ordered.

"Strider, are Frodo and Sam really here? When can I see them?" Asked Pippin.

"Yes, they are here. And once you have recovered, you may see them. And if they recover faster than you, I will bring them here to see you."

Pippin nodded.

"Sleep now."

Pippin nodded, again, and slipped down until he was laying on the bed, the covers half covering his head. Merry sat on the stool at his side.

"Merry, bath him in fresh Athelas water when he next wakes. If he seems troubled, call me."

"I will, but he will be all right now. We've made a solemn promise."

"That you have, Meriadoc, that you have," answered Aragorn, and he left the tent.

Merry sat quietly on the stool by his cousin's side, and held his hand.

The End

"I made a promise, Mr. Frodo, a promise. 'Don't you leave him, Samwise Gamgee,' and I don't mean to. I don't mean to." Sam (Sean Astin), "The Fellowship of the Ring", New Line Cinema 2001

Solemn Promise "Olivia Sutton"

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