Author's Note: I was wondering if I should let you all just sit and wait until Friday before I posted this but I have a busy weekend of work ahead of me so I doubt I'd get a chance to post this. Besides, I'm in need of some sort of boost... the idiots who work at HMV were oblivious as to the release of the RotK soundtrack so I am without CD and EXTREMELY pissed off. So... yeah... now the fic comes to a conclusion. Hopefully, you're satisfied by it.

Disclaimer: I am not Tolkien and therefore I do not own these characters.

Pipsqueak Peregrin

Chapter Ten: Bosom Buddies

I slept for most of the day, being awoken only a couple times when the healer came to give me my medicine and change my damp sheets. These events seemed like blurs to me; I wasn't fully alert or aware of what was going on. All I could grasp was how hot and horrible I felt. This movement, as minimal as it was, left me feeling even more drained than I already was. I hated being sick but I knew how much I had deserved it. What was worse though, was I had not seen Pippin since the day we had gotten lost in the forest and I began to worry. Anxiety began to overwhelm me with the separation but I couldn't figure out why.

It seemed I wasn't the only one of us which felt the same way for one night I discovered myself to have acquired a midnight visitor. I had only been sleeping lightly, my fever preventing me from being truly comfortable and so I distinctly heard the sound of hesitant feet making their way across my room. I chose to ignore them, the sound only vaguely registering in my head and only decided to chance a look at my stealthy visitor when I felt them scramble up onto the bed.

I was startled to discover Pippin sitting atop my quilt. His eyes were wide as he peered curiously at me. I must not have seemed awake to him as he tentatively reached out to tap me. I chose not to move. Pippin's tapping became more forceful. He was now jabbing my side hurriedly, hissing my name.

"Mer!" he whispered. "Mer! Mer, you wake?"

"No," I replied crossly. "No, I am not awake so leave me be."

"Wake up, Mer!" insisted Pippin. "Mer!!!"

"I'm awake!!!" I cried, sitting upright. This action had two effects. The first causing Pippin to tumble backwards, almost falling off the bed, the second causing my head to spin and me to lie back down, holding my head.

"Yay!" squeaked Pippin, scrambling back over to me. "Mer not dead!"

"Dead...?" I opened my eyes again to look at Pippin. "Who said I was dead?"

Tears had welled up in Pippin's large eyes as he peered at me cautiously and curiously. "Mer sick and I don't see him! Mama says you sick and I can't see!" His tone of voice lowered to a soft whimper. "I scared I lose my Mer..." Before I knew what to do or say, Pippin had crawled onto my chest and lay there quietly. "Don't want Mer to go away..."

"Pippin, I'm not going anywhere," I said softly. "It's just a touch of cold."

"I was scared when you fall," whispered Pippin. "Don't do it again, okay?"

I smiled and put my arm around Pippin, gently fingering his curls. Maybe it was the fever muddling up my mind, but for once I didn't mind Pippin being here. I wasn't cross at him for clambering on top of me now that I knew why. In fact, I felt almost sorry for the lad. He had been genuinely worried about me and had somehow managed to escape from his bed and find his way into mine. And all for what? Just so he could see me. Just so he could make sure I was still here.

I was touched to say the least. While I was locked up in bed with illness, Pippin easily could have won all the attention he wanted and replaced me. But for whatever reason he didn't. Despite his young age he seemed to have matured past the point of petty jealousy for the moment... something I had not managed. Pippin could have the attention and company of anyone he wanted and all he wanted was me? Why? All we had ever done was compete in life so far and I had done nothing but ignore him or try to make him miserable. I had even tried to abandon him in the Old Forest and yet here he was, clinging to my nightshirt for comfort.

Then again, I had never done anything with the truly malicious intent of harming Pippin. Even when I had left him in the woods, I only expected him to wander off and find some other family to live with. Or make it on his own. When I discovered this wasn't what would happen, I had gone back to get him. That was some form of redemption, wasn't it? I had made up for it, hadn't I? To Pippin that seemed to suffice.

I don't remember when it was I fell asleep again, Pippin curled up on my chest but when I awoke it was morning and the room was Pippin-less. The maid was busying herself over a wash basin; it must have been time for my medicinal bath. I groaned inwardly. I hated movement.

And so things continued as such for the next week or so; me lying in bed feeling awful and drifting in and out of sleep, and Pippin constantly trying to sneak into my room, only to be swiftly removed by one of the adults. When I asked one of the adults why Pippin was not allowed to see me I was told it was for his own health. That didn't stop his nightly excursions to my room though, and to be honest I seemed to mind the intrusions less and less. Now that he was sure I was all right, Pippin's cheery countenance had returned and he always managed to brighten my mood.

Eventually, the fever left me and I began to feel well enough to get out of bed. I lay awake one morning, debating with myself as to whether or not I could make it to the kitchen for breakfast when Pippin toddled into the room.

"Merry!" he squealed, scrambling up to his usual place on the bed. "Auntie says you better and Mama says I can stay!" I gave a small smile. He seemed thoroughly proud at no longer having to sneak into my room in the dead of night. "How you feel?"

"Better than yesterday," I replied, propping myself up on my elbows. "I think I shall get out of bed today."

Pippin shook his head firmly. "Oh no. My Mer sleep and get better!"

I chuckled quietly. "Who are you? My nanny?" Pippin giggled as I ruffled his hair.

"Oh! Mama gives me breakfast!" Pippin proceeded to fish around in his pockets before presenting me with squashed toast, lathered in sticky blackberry jam.

"Are you sure your mum really gave you that to stick in your pockets?" I asked, smirking at the sticky mess which coated Pippin's small fingers and probably the inside of his pockets.

"Well..." Pippin looked down bashfully. "Mama don't know..."

I smiled broadly at his first true act of mischief. With his cunning, stealth, and adorable looks Pippin held great promise as a partner in crime. As I humbly accepted a slice of linty toast I began to think ahead of the days to come. Once I was ready to be running around outside, I would surly bring Pippin with me to raid the orchards and knick pies from window sills.

To this day I still am unsure as to what it was exactly about Pippin which made me finally accept him. I still suppose it was my feverish state which led to illogical and brash thinking but regardless the two of us became almost cemented together. Pippin still had his faults, being only a small child and he still often slowed me down and often lost concentration and focus on our task at hand. But whether it was experiencing the wonders of winter or explaining the intricate workings of the universe to the lad (who seemed to always want to know why things were the way they were) I always managed to keep my patience with him and never tired of his company ever again. For Pippin may have been a tiny hobbit right up into his tweenage years, but he was my pipsqueak and I wouldn't have it any other way.

And thus the fic ends and I leave on a lengthy hiatus while I work on another fic I've started. Unless you would prefer I post it as it comes along. I dunno, I'm playing with quotes and crap so... yeah... cheers. *is feeling very peeved at the moment... could you tell?*