Name: Home (Now and Forever)

Rating: PG (for footsies and general cuteness)

Fandom: LOTR

Pairing: Merry/Pippin

Disclaimer: Maybe it DID happen. Maybe J.R.R. Tolkien/Peter Jackson meant it to happen, but the book/movie was getting too long? Maybe… but I'm pretty sure this is all in my head.

Prompt: "Are you going to leave me?" "No, Merry, I'm going to take care of you." ~ Merry and Pippin; Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

He rested. He and Merry, reunited at last. Merry lay next to him, exhausted, but smiling. Pippin was leaning in the sickbed, his feet under the covers, while the rest of the plush blankets covered his brave friend. Merry's breath was even now, no longer jarred from the battle that had raged outside Minas Tirith's stone walls.

Deep in the castle they lay. Pippin only wanted to be near his cousin, because they had been separated for too long before. Even if the only noise was Merry's breath, and Pippin's breath, and the wind, and the rain and the… world.

Pippin breathed slowly as he shifted his body to face his cousin. He dipped down, so that Merry's feet were touching his own under the covers. He lay on his side now, propped up on his elbow. He wanted to touch Merry's face, to peruse it and see if it was actually Merry. He stopped his hands midway. Merry needed to rest.

Pippin placed his hands on the sheet in between them. His heart was beating hard in his chest. Distance had made his heart grow fonder of the other boy. Pippin had missed Merry more than he even missed Frodo and Sam. Even more that he missed the others that had stayed at Rohirrim. He missed Merry more than he missed the Shire.

Pippin had fallen in love with Merry.

Pippin was eye-level with the other boy. For a moment, Merry seemed to sigh in sleep. He breathed out sharply and cried out. Pippin grabbed his hand. Merry's eyes tightened, groping for Pippin, pulling him closer to him. Pippin held him for a moment, not wanting to know what was going on behind those closed eyes, yet wanting to be there to save him.

Merry's eyes opened sharply, the blue intense, even passionate. "Pippin?" he asked, looking into Pippin's soft, dark brown eyes.

Pippin smiled. Merry reached up and touched Pippin's face. He was slow and deliberate, moving his hands down the smaller boy's cheeks, tracing every feature. "It's me," Pippin whispered.

Merry breathed out, "You disappeared in my dream. Every night, you would disappear, like dust…"

Pippin hugged him closer, "I'm here now, Merry, and I said I would take care of you… I'm not going anywhere anymore…"

Merry breathed out sharply into the smaller boy's neck, sending shivers down both boys' spines. "Pippin… I… I don't know why, but I… love you."

Pippin smiled as tears formed in the corners of his eyes, "I love you too, Merry…"

Merry looked up, tears in his own eyes, "Pippin…"

Pippin looked into his cousin's eyes and his smile widened. Merry shifted so that he was sitting up, resting his back against the back of the large bed. Pippin moved so that he was next to his cousin once again, Merry's arm softly draped around him like a blanket. Pippin moved the blanket so that it covered both of them. Pippin placed an arm on Merry's chest. Merry sighed deeply. This was home, Pippin decided. Safe in Merry's arms. Now and forever.