A Summer To Remember

Warnings: Slash

Disclaimer: I do not own any characters mentioned in the story, no matter how much I wish that I do. XD Pippin love + Merry

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There was a rushing, seemingly endless creek that cut through the heart of the Shire. Along this creek there were several convenient hiding places, all cleverly tucked away in the dense foliage and brush, and these special hiding places were perfect for secretive Hobbits to seek sanctuary. These hidden places also happened to be the ideal hiding place for terrified Tooks.

Merry knew very well that when Pippin couldn't be seen wandering the Shire he was most likely hiding away in his secret place. These occasions were rare, but when they did occur he had discovered long ago that the best thing that he could do was to just meet him at his hiding place and try in vain to comfort him, whether that meant that he had to wrap his arms around his Pippin and let him rest his head on his shoulder for a bit or just keeping well away and silent.

Merry discovered that today was a 'keep away' kind of day, or so he thought as he shifted some stray branches aside and breathed a sigh of relief when he saw his friend sitting amongst the decaying leaves and twigs. "Pippin, what are you doing here?"

Pippin just sniffled and wiped his nose on his sleeve. He looked up at Merry, his green eyes sparkling with pain and hurt, his left eye ringed with a blueish--black bruise. He didn't even need to speak to tell Merry what was wrong. It was Paladin Took, Pippin's temperamental father. Merry's eyes filled with tears at the sight of his friend in so much pain.

"Oh, Pip!" he whispered as he fell to his knees and wrapped his arms around Pippin and held him tight. "I'm so sorry! I should have known...I should have done something!" He knew just how absurd that this sounded, but didn't much care.

Pippin just chuckled weakly and scooted closer to Merry, so close that the flatness of their stomachs nearly touched. "But you didn't know, and if you had what could you have done? My father is strong when his temper flares, and I doubt that even you could make him see sense."

"Butwhyhas he abused you so? What could you have possibly done this time to anger him?"

Pippin shrugged and said, though his voice sounded muffled as he spoke into Merry's shoulder, "I...I don't know," he answered slowly as he looked up at his friend. "It all happened so quickly and--" his voice abruptly cut off as more tears leaked out of his eyes. He wiped them away in a sort of embarrassed way. Merry watched him do this, regret swimming in his eyes.

"I'm so sorry, Pip." he said in a quiet way as he swatted away Pippin's hand and wiped the tears away on his own. Pippin didn't resit, not even as Merry rested his forehead against his own, leaning so close to him that he could smell the ale on his cousin's breath.

A sudden realization had come over Merry the past few weeks. He had come to realize just how much he loved Pippin, just how much he needed him. These odd feelings had been building in him for sometime, and he still hadn't completely figured out what all of them meant, but he realized just how serious they were. Both Pippin and himself were older now, and the carefree days of their childhood was long past. Both Hobbits knew that they would soon have to court some fine lass and be wed, but neither wanted to, especially not Merry. If Merry could have things his way he'd just lie in the summer sun with Pippin all day, holding him tight in his arms, breathing in his scent of oddly tart yet sweet apple and cinnamon, and loving him. The time where he thought these fantasies perverse were long gone; if he felt like he could do it right now without rejection or protest, he would kiss Pippin right here, but he didn't. Instead he just held Pippin in his arms, tried to comfort him, and he did not stop until both their tears had ceased and they sat quietly in the bushes. It was then that Pippin looked at him and said hesitantly, "I've been thinking..."

"Oh, now Pip, you know that that's not good for you." he responded with some small amount of cheerfulness in his voice. It never hurt to try and bring some light to the situation.

Pippin's face remained unsmiling as he pulled away from Merry and, much to the other Hobbit's dismay, scooted a small distance away until he was sitting there in the grass, hugging his knees and staring up at the perfectly blue sky above them. Absentmindedly he twisted a single curl around his finger, making Merry shift a little where he was sitting as he began to drift off into his fantasy world where it was just him and his cousin lying in the sun, holding each other tight...

"Hey, Merry? Let's run away, just you and me."

Merry jumped a little at Pippin's words, startled by both the proposal and the sound of something more than the rushing currents of the creek. He met Pippin's gaze, now completely and, for one rare moment, serious. For a second he didn't quite know what to say, but soon his voice returned to him and he said with some difficulty, "Uh...I really don't think that we can do that now, Pip."

The other Hobbit's face fell and he stared back up at the sky, distractedly trying to cover the pain in his eyes. "But why can't we?"

"Well because we just ca--"

"I'm tired of it," he insisted, "tired of getting rotten glances from Farmer Maggot when he thinks that I've stolen some of his carrots, tried of getting beaten by my father...I haven't got any other friends in this whole world besides you, Merry. Please come with me."

Merry just stared at him for a moment, utterly shocked by this sudden display of raw honesty, his mouth agape and his eyes wide. "B-But Pip, you're wrong! You do have other friends besides me."

"Like who?"

"Well let's see...Frodo Baggins for one, and Sam and--"

A slight grin flitted across his face as he looked back at Merry. "Frodo is no fun! He and Bilbo just sit in their tidy little home drinking tea and waiting for Gandalf to come and bring some excitement and fun into their lives. No, he's too dull."

"Well there is Samwise Gamgee. He seems to like you all right." he observed. Pippin just laughed at this.

"Merry, please! Sam? Sam is too wrapped up with Frodo and his dull life to even consider hanging around with me."

Merry shrugged. "Understandable considering that the last time that he hung around with you was a year ago when you pushed him into the creek."

"He had it coming!" Pippin protested as Merry laughed. "No, really! He had...well, can you believe that I honestly can't remember what he did?"

Both Hobbits began laughing and stopped only when their sides hurt and they couldn't breathe. Then, when they were both lying in the cover of the cool grass next to each other, Merry looked over at Pippin and smiled. "There, see? There's no reason to run away when everything is so nice here in the Shire. Not all places are so, Pip."

"Yeah," he said as he absentmindedly ran his hand through his hair and looked up at the sky. "Yeah, but there's that other thing..."

"What?" Merry inquired as he scooted a little closer to the other Hobbit, "Farmer Maggot giving you grief? Have you ever stopped to consider that he thinks that you're stealing his carrots because you are stealing his carrots?"

He laughed but Pippin did not, and as the sun shone brightly down upon him his bruised eye became all too visible. "No, I mean my father. No matter what I do that will never change."

"But.." He didn't quite know how to retaliate; it was true, no matter what Pippin did his father would always hit him for some reason or another, and somehow this hurt even him, and he wasn't even the one receiving the blows! Merry tried to swallow, but found that his throat had become dry. Instead he just reached down and plucked a blade of grass and began to twist it with his fingers nervously.

"I don't want to go home today, Merry. I'm too scared."

Merry looked over at Pippin and was surprised to see that despite the fact that Pippin's tone had remained flat, tears were slowly trailing down his cheeks, leaving shimmering trails behind them. "Oh, Pip." he whispered as he reached over and wrapped his arms around the smaller Hobbit. He pulled him close, so close that their bodies were perfectly fitted together, so that he could feel Pippin's chest rising and falling as he breathed, feel his heart pumping oddly fast. He had never noticed before just how perfectly Pippin fit against him or just how easy it was to wrap his arms around him and never let go.

He sighed and closed his eyes, relished the feeling of Pippin's body pressed against his, and hugged him closer until a nearly inaudible voice whispered in his ear, "Merry, I don't want to leave without you."

"Then don't leave."

"But Merry--"

"Please don't leave, Pip, please." his heart jumped a little when he noted just how desperate and pleading he sounded. Pippin just shifted a little then relaxed again, making Merry go rigid with pleasure.

"Why shouldn't I?"

Merry didn't even hesitate before blurting, "Because I'd have to come after you."

Pippin frowned and rested his head in the crook of Merry's shoulder. He smiled. "Maybe I won't. Besides, if I did leave then we'd never get to just lie here like this ever again."

"I couldn't imagine that." he whispered back. It was only now that he realized that his hand was gently rubbing the small of Pippin's back. He felt his body go rigid again as he fought for control, but this did little good.

"Merry?"

"Yes?"

"I love you, you know."

Merry's eyes opened at the sound of his words. "I...I love you to, Pip."

And they both looked at each other for a moment before they were both leaning closer into each other, so close that they were breathing each other's air. Some loose curls were in Pippin's face, so with a careful hand Merry reached out and put them behind his ear; this action made Pippin yield a small little sigh.

Suddenly Merry found himself losing control as he allowed his hands to find their way into Pippin's curly mass of hair and force the Hobbit's mouth against his. It wasn't something that he hadn't planned, only dreamed about, and somehow he found that he wasn't scared as he put his heart on the line. The fear that Pippin might reject him and pull away was only real for a second, because soon he was kissing back, his tongue teasing Merry's eagerly.

When they broke apart they were both breathing heavily, and Merry could feel Pippin's elevated heartbeat as the Hobbit let out a little weak moan and rested his head against Merry's chest. "Oh, Merry, I hate you so."

A sudden flair of fear filled his heart as he stared at Pippin, a worried look in his eyes. "What?"

Then Pippin chuckled softly and began to absently run his fingers through Merry's hair. "You make it so that I couldn't dream of running away." he paused and added, "I couldn't live without you."

"And if you were not in my life I would see no reason to keep breathing." he said back.

They both smiled and grew silent. For Merry nothing could ruin this moment, not even--

"Peregrin Took, where in the name of the Shire are you?!"

Both Hobbits froze and glanced at each other; it was Paladin! Merry gasped and his eyes filled with fear. Pippin looked absolutely petrified as the shock set in. He could not move, could not breathe. Maybe if we just stay quiet then he won't find us...Merry thought miserably as he held Pippin to him in an attempt to keep him from screaming or if the poor Hobbit did scream, then perhaps it would be muffled.

"Merry, what do we--"

Before he could even finish his sentence Paladin had burst through the brush, his chest heaving and his eyes blazing. When he saw his son laying there in his cousin's arms his eyes became dark and dangerous. "You," he pointed at Pippin and snarled, "on your feet."

Pippin had began crying again, and as he spoke to his father his grip on Merry became impossibly tight. "Please..." was all that he could manage to whisper as Paladin walked up to him and attempted to pry him from the safe arms of his friend. For a second Merry couldn't tell of the pleading 'Please' had been meant for him or Paladin, but in the end he wasn't sure that it mattered.

As he felt Pippin's heat leave his body, Merry snapped back to reality and his senses returned to him. In a flash he was on his feet, trying to rescue Pippin from his father's deadly hold. Paladin was strong, and when Merry tried desperately to grab Pippin from his hands, he resisted easily and dragged his son away from him.

"You just wait, Brandybuck, you just wait..."

"Father, please don't." Pippin begged as he was dragged away by Paladin. Merry just stood there, his arms hanging limply at his sides, the warmth that he had felt in his heart ebbing at a startling rate; he felt sick, and what made him sicker was the horribly pained and terrified look on Pippin's face as his father took him away. Merry sighed.

He knew that he wouldn't be seeing Pippin around for a few days at least.

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