An Afternoon Visit

The injured Man awoke to a startling sight. Of all the unusual things he had seen during the War, and here at Cormallen, a tiny pup sleeping on his chest had to be the strangest. The puppy stirred slightly, snuffling in its sleep, before burrowing deeper into the Man's nightshirt. The Man watched it curiously before a strange-accented voice called his attention away.

"Hullo." With surprise the man noticed the perian perched on his bed, his legs, one of them bandaged, dangling over the edge. It was the young halfling who had marched with the Men to the Black Gate. Now he smiled and greeted the Man in the manner of the people of Gondor.

"I'm Pippin, and that lazy pup is Crumpet," he said, giving it a good-natured pat. It woke with a yawn and scampered over the blankets to Pippin, its tail wagging happily. "Your name is Telemnar, isn't it? I remember seeing you before the battle. I'm sorry that you were so badly injured."

Telemnar nodded, still looking at Pippin in amazement. "I too remember you from the battle. A great hill-troll fell upon you. Were you not terribly wounded?"

"Oh, I was, a bit," Pippin replied with a wry grin. "But I was very lucky that my friend Gimli found me when he did. I'm better now, and so are Frodo and Sam and Merry. Strider – er, the King – says that it's very lucky that hobbits heal so quickly, or all four of us would have still been abed."

Telemnar glanced up and saw that three more hobbits, along with the King and Mithrandir, were visiting the other injured soldiers. Pippin pointed out each one in turn to Telemnar: Merry, who spoke with one of the Rohirrim who had lost an arm; Sam, who sat with an older Man wearing an eye patch; and Frodo, who sat beside a young soldier from Gondor who had lain unconscious since the battle. The Ringbearer gently stroked his forehead, but the young man did not stir.

Telemnar, who had broken both legs in the battle and who had spent every day since it ended restless and in pain, suddenly felt very fortunate.

"You see, we know how dreadfully boring it is to have to stay in bed all day," Pippin said, and Telemnar nearly laughed at the grimace upon the hobbit's face, though he could see that Pippin truly did understand. "We thought it would be nice to pay you a visit. Time passes more quickly when you spend it with friends." He smiled brightly and scooped up Crumpet, who yipped as Pippin handed him to Telemnar.

Looking from the small, furry bundle in his hand to the cheerful hobbit beside him, Telemnar smiled. "Yes, it does," he agreed, and scratched the puppy behind its ears.

With its tail wagging happily, Crumpet licked at his hand.