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Three rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men, doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne,
In the land of Mordor where the shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the land of Mordor where the shadows lie. . .
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Pippin's eyes hadn't left Frodo for the past hour, yet it wasn't his Hobbit cousin he was so transfixed by—it was the ring. Frodo lay there, his eyes closed, his chest slowly rising and falling, occasionally his finger or arm twitching, with the ring laying in his open hand.
He had been sleeping like that for quite sometime, but it was only over the past hour or so, when Pippin had been awoken by some dream, that he dared to notice it sitting there, so perfectly poised to be taken...so beautiful, its gold shining and reflecting the moonlight just so that it appeared a precious beam of golden sun. Precious, yes, that was the word. Precious...
"Precious." Pippin whispered the it and liked the sound of the word, the way it gently melted from his tongue, so easy and flowing.
It was indeed precious, and although Pippin had witnessed Frodo's daily burden of carrying it, he still had always had the barley containable urge to just hold it for a while. Wouldn't now be the perfect time? When all the others were asleep and Frodo wouldn't snap at him as he sometimes tended to snap at Boromir when he rested his gaze upon it.
Without quite knowing what he was doing, Pippin slowly rose from his sleeping place and hurried over to where the ring sat in Frodo's hand, so bright and shining. His eyes glistened with just the appearance of it and he felt as though he might like to slip it on his finger, just for a second.
The whisper was sharp and sudden, making Pippin jump. He looked back over his shoulder to seem Merry sitting straight up staring at him with wide eyes. "Pip, what do you think that you're doing?!"
Pippin pressed a finger to his lips and whispered back, "Sshh, Merry, please! I'm just trying something."
In an instant Merry's eyes went from warning to fear-filled as he rose from his sleeping spot and said in a dangerously soft way, "Pip, just come back and sleep. It's alright, you don't need to do anything, just come and go back to sleep." It was odd how Merry seemed to know just what Pippin was trying to do.
Pippin shook his head and guided his hand from his lips to the Ring in Frodo's open hand. His once elemental green eyes shined as his fingers gently caressed the cool gold. "No, Merry, it's quite alright. Just lie down now and go to sleep, okay? Everything's fine. Trust me."
Merry watched as his friend carefully plucked the Ring from Frodo's hand. Gradually he began to shake his head. "No, Pip," he said as he slowly rose from his spot and made his way over to Pippin, "No, I can't do that. I can't trust you when it comes to that ring. That cursed, vile...precious...Ring."
As he reached Pippin he dared to lay a comforting hand on his shoulder. He attempted to urge him away from Frodo, but as he did so Pippin turned to him and snapped, "No, get away from me!"
Merry's face fell and his grip on Pippin's shoulder lessened slightly in his shock. "But...Pip, I--"
"No, get away, just leave me be! Don't touch me!"
When Merry's hand still didn't leave his shoulder, Pippin let out a hiss of anger and pushed him roughly away, the Ring clutched in his fist. As he staggered back, Merry said warningly, "Pip, now don't be a fool. Give me the Ring." and he held out his hand, but the other Hobbit shook his head.
"No, I can't do that. It's mine, and I'm just using it for a second." Pippin retorted as he opened his hand slightly and peered at the Ring. It seemed to be glowing, producing a yellow, golden aura. His eyes grew dim as he brushed his finger against the coolness of the gold and whispered, "Yes, it's mine, my own. My precious."
"Give me that ring!" Merry suddenly hissed, his hand now demanding. Pippin shook his head, closed his hand into a fist, and pressed his fist against his chest.
"No! Leave me alone!"
"It's mine!" and with that he had gone from his spot and pushed past Merry out the door. His friend just stood there for a second, shock on his face, his eyebrows arched in a questioning way. The image of the Ring in his mind was so clear, so beautifully vivid, and the urge to feel it metallic coolness was irresistible.
As he hurried out of the door in search of Pippin no one bothered to follow, or so he thought. Although both Hobbits were unaware, all their arguing had awoken Samwise Gamgee, and at the mention of the Ring he had hurried after them, desperate to return what had once been Frodo's.
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"Let go, it's mine!"
"No, it's mine!"
Pippin glared at Merry, his eyes absolutely deadly, and this made the other Hobbit fall back a little. He and Pip had been friends for the longest time, they had always done everything and shared everything with each other, and now their friendship was about to be broken over something as frivolous as a ring? And he looked at it, now clutched in Pippin's hand.
It was a beautiful thing, absolutely breathtaking...the way it shined, the way it glowed...the wonderful things it whispered in his ear, the words light as a Spring rain, yet warm as the Summer sun...
Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul,
ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul. . .
Part of Merry's mind tried to pry his eyes away from the Ring, Don't listen to it! Look away, it's evil, it speaks in the rotten Black Speech...
But another, far more powerful part told him to take it, told him to just wrap his hands around Pip's neck if he wouldn't give it to him, and squeeze, squeeze the life from his body. It told him to slice his throat open with his sword and watch the crimson torrents of blood flow down his body until he fell limply to the ground and the light left his disgusting green eyes forever.
Merry tried to swallow then, but found that his throat had become completely, painfully dry. With a little grimace of pain at his sorely dry throat, he reached very slowly for Pippin's hand, in a meek attempt to snatch the Ring away from him. "Pip, please just give me the Ring." he hesitated before adding, "Don't make me hurt you for it."
"You wouldn't hurt me, Merry." he whispered as he retracted his hand and met Merry's eyes. "You wouldn't hurt me for anything in the world."
"For that ring I would," he admitted, not in the least bit shamed. "That ring is calling to me, Pip. It's meant for me. Give me the Ring." and once again he reached out and tried to take it, but Pippin recoiled and glared at him.
He growled in a horrible viciousness that Merry had never known him to posses, "No, get away! The Ring is mine, and it calls only to me! It is mine...my precious."
They stood a moment, both of their eyes fixed at the Ring and all its shining loveliness until Merry tried to snatch it from Pippin again. Once again Pippin drew away, but this time a sly smile spread across his once so innocent face. He said almost tauntingly to Merry, "Go. Leave me to be alone with my precious or I shall have to..."
What would he do exactly? Like Merry the horrible voice of Sauron whispered wicked things in his ear, terrible things, and the simple minded Pippin couldn't help but listen. Kill him, the voice said, stab him in the gut, make him suffer then take the Ring for yourself...do it...do it...do it...
"Do it..." Pippin suddenly whispered aloud. Merry stared at him oddly.
"What did you just say, Pip?" he was now truly concerned. What was the Ring doing to them?
Pippin just reaped, his face emotionless, his voice flat, "Do it...Merry, if you don't leave me be with the Precious then I will hurt you. I don't want to, but I--"
"Pip, give me the Ring please." Merry said, his mind suddenly snapping back to the Precious. It was calling to him again, this time louder than ever, and now as Pippin made to move away he reached out and caught his arm and pulled him back roughly.
"Give me that Ring!" he demanded as his hand desperately began trying to pry open Pippin's clenched one.
"No!" Pippin howled as he tried to brake free of Merry's grasp. His movements were jerky and wild; Merry had a difficulty time holding onto him as he twisted and pulled at his arm. Suddenly Pippin let out a loud yowl of pain as his arm was twisted, and as he tried to draw away it was out of pain, not greed.
"Stop, Merry! You're hurting me!"
"Then give me the Ring!"
He thought about it and allowed his eyes to water as the pain in his arm became nearly unbearable. "Please, you're breaking my arm." He looked into Merry's eyes and was shocked to find them darker than they had ever been, as dark as the finest, richest Brandywine. He swallowed and whimpered meekly, "Merry, please stop. You're scaring me."
His grip didn't lessen. Instead of letting his friend go, he tightened his grip until Pippin let out a horrible scream and dropped the Ring to the ground. It was only then that he let him go and knelt down and retrieved the Ring, his precious.
"It's so..." his voice trailed off as he searched for the right word. In the end, Merry decided that there really was no word in the tongues of Man, Nazgûl, or Elves could describe his Precious. He just smiled and ran his fingers gently over the Ring, his eyes still dark and frightening. Pippin stood off to the side, whimpering and grasping his arm.
"I...I think that you really did brake it. Can--" he peered over at Merry and asked innocently, "--we please go ask Gandalf to see it? It hurts so much..."
Merry gazed at him for one moment then spat, "Go by yourself. You're an old enough Hobbit. I don't need to watch you day and night, do I?"
Pippin took a step back and his eyes darkened once more, till they were the shade of shaded moss. "I...that...what's come over us? What is that thing doing to us?"
"This thing just happens to be the most precious thing in the world now, Pip." he said curtly as he delicately prepared to put it on his index finger.
Pippin shook his head and grabbed for his hand. "No, you can't do that."
"Leave me alone!"
And as he prepared once more to slip the Ring on, Pippin lunged at him with a loud yell. Both Hobbits fell to the ground, shouting and punching. The first few blows hit both Merry and Pippin hard, but there was also a fair manner of surprise as fists collided with flesh. Merry's fist flew against the side of Pippin's face, producing a loud smack. He raised his fist again, but stopped as Pippin let out a loud cry and tried to cover his face.
In this slight moment of hesitation Pippin lashed out at him and kneed him in the stomach. Merry let out a loud grunt and doubled over, but had enough sense to stomp his foot down on Pippin's already hurt arm.
"Ah! Merry!" Pippin rolled over on his side gripping his arm and sobbing. "Ow, it hurts so bad!" but Merry wasn't listening to him anymore. His gaze had shifted to Pippin's closed hand and a glimpse at the gold that was trapped in them.
Without thinking, Merry reacted on instinct; he jumped forward, wrapped his hands around Pippin's throat, and squeezed as much as he could. Pippin let out a startled gasp and with his good arm he tried to pry Merry's fingers from his throat. He was too weak.
Merry didn't let go. Instead he began to bang Pippin's head against the ground, relishing the horrible hollow bashing sounds this action produced as Pippin's head smacked the hard and unforgiving ground. He ignored the other Hobbit's weak gasping and raspy, failing warnings of, "Merry, Merry, I can't breathe! Please...stop...stop...sto...s..."
Gradually his warnings faded into nothingness and his body grew limp, his eyes closed. That's when he heard Sam's cry of, "Mr. Brandybuck, what in the name of the Shire are you doing?"
Merry released his grip on the Pippin's throat and looked up to see Sam's shocked face looming above him. In an instant tears began running from his eyes as he held out his hand and revealed the gold band that was the Ring. Sam gasped and without a second thought hurried over to Pippin.
"Mr. Took? Mr. Took, please wake up."
Merry felt a solid lump form in his throat as he thought, In the name of all that's good and green in this world, please let Pip live, please let him be okay...please...He whispered hoarsely, "I don't think that he's going to wake up, Sam. I think that I..." and his voice cracked a little as he looked at the ashen and motionless body of his friend lying there on the ground. What had he done? Had he truly killed his best friend in the whole world for a mere ring?
Merry opened his fist and gazed at the Ring. It was still so lovely and welcoming in it's bright goldenness. It was only then, when Sam caught a glimpse of the golden glimmer from the corner of his eye, did he turn to Merry and hold out his hand. "Please, Mr. Brandybuck, give me that Ring." His eyes were now wide and fearful.
"Why should I?"
Although Sam opened his mouth to speak, it was another, far more softer and weak voice that rasped, "B...Because it's time that we returned it to Fro...Frodo..."
Merry looked over and was overjoyed to see Pippin now sitting up, his face pale and twisted in pain, his hand distractedly gripping his bad arm. A small ring of bruises had already began to become visible on his throat, and with each breath he took he choked a little, shuttered, but somehow managed to breathe in desperate gulps of air. His green eyes were now as grassy and bright as they had always been, despite the tears that were running down his cheeks.
Upon seeing his friend sitting there on the ground, Merry let out a little sob and fell to his knees beside Pippin and embraced as he never had before. Pippin returned the hug and buried his face in Merry's shoulder, trying to hide his tears. "I'm sorry, Merry. I've made a horrible mistake, I know, but please forgive me. As long as I live I will never touch that Ring again, I promise."
Merry shook his head and whispered, "No, Pip. All that's important now is that you're all right." and he drew away from him and looked at his arm. "Are you hurt too badly?"
He half-shrugged and cradled his arm. On his face there was a little grimace of pain, and this only made Merry cry harder, but Pippin just shook his head and said softly, "No, I'm fine really, but that Ring..." both Hobbits turned and stared at Sam, who was preoccupied with running his fingers over the cool metal with a mesmerized gleam in his eyes.
Pippin frowned and asked, "Sam, what are you doing?"
Sam's attention snapped to him and he shrugged and stuffed the ring in his pocket. "Nothin'. I wasn't doin' nothin' aside from goin' to Mr. Frodo to give him back his Ring." and his eyes glimmered oddly as he took a few cautious steps away from Merry and Pippin. "And believe it or not, as it were, I was just eyein' it the other day and thought how nice it would be to take it off Mr. Frodo's hands just for a bit, just to share the burden, of course. I'd never keep it or nothin'. Never..."
"Wouldn't you?" Merry asked as he got to his feet and helped Pippin up as well. "Don't you understand what that Ring can do? It made me hurt Pip, and if you're not careful it'll make you do bad things to."
"Oh yeah?" Sam challenged, "Like what?"
"Well, for instance, like hurting Frodo." Pippin said as he watched Sam steadily take a few more steps back. The Hobbit's hand was slowly traveling down to his pocket, to where he had stored the Ring.
Just as the tips of his fingers grazed the ever cool gold there came a voice from a distance away. "Sam, where's the Ring? What's happened to it?"
They all turned to see Frodo hurrying over to them, his hands searching his pockets and his eyes wide. When he reached Sam he looked positively desperate. Desperate to reclaim his Precious. "Oh, Sam, I do believe that I've lost it!"
He pretended to act clueless and arched his eyebrows quizzically. "What?" he asked, "What have you lost, Mr. Frodo?"
"The Ring! I've lost it or Boromir has finally managed to steal it from under my nose. Oh, what shall I do if I can't get it back? What shall Gandalf think of me? What shall become of Middle Earth? What shall--"
"Oh, for pity's sake, Sam, return to him the Ring so that we may see about Pip's arm." Merry suddenly blurted. Frodo looked from him to Sam, his face puzzled.
"Is it Sam that has taken my Ring?" he asked.
Pippin shook his head, making his auburn curls bob up and down almost comically. "No, technically it was me."
Frodo's eyes widened at this. "You? But Pippin..."
"I'm sorry, but you were just sleeping and your hand was open and it was so lovely and shining...I couldn't help it."
Merry nodded, as if he were the only one who could truly verify this story. "Yes, and then I got scared for him. I was afraid that it might turn him into something like Gollum, so I hurried after him, but it took me to. I...I hurt Pip badly." and he turned his attention to his cousin, which stood to his left looking just as happy and innocent as ever. "Sorry, Pip."
Frodo turned to Sam and he held out his hand. "That's all fine. I can understand your mistakes, but in any case I must have the Ring returned to me at once." and he stared unblinkingly into his friend's eyes. "Sam?"
"But Mr. Frodo..." his voice trailed off as he clutched the Ring closer to his chest and shook his head. "I...But why can't I just carry it for a little while?"
"No, Sam. I don't think that that would be wise. Please return it to me." his voice wasn't hard or unforgiving, it was rather gentle, yet still somehow firm.
He swallowed and glanced down at the Ring in his hand once more. "I...I..."
"Sam, please. I know what hold it has on you. It has had the same hold on me for a long time, but you must let it go. You must."
Sam clenched his eyes shut and as quickly as he could manage he reached out and deposited the Ring in Frodo's open hand. Almost immediately he had the sudden urge to lunge forward and reclaim it, but he somehow resisted and looked down at his feet. "I'm sorry, Mr. Frodo. I just wanted to help."
Frodo smiled at him kindly and tucked the Ring away safely in his pocket. "Oh, Sam, you did help me, in more ways than you will ever know, but now isn't the time for that." and he turned to Merry and Pippin and motioned for them to follow him. "Come. We must go and see if Gandalf can help you, Pippin. Does it hurt terribly?"
Almost in a dazed way he asked, "Huh?"
Merry smiled and elbowed him a little in the ribs. "Pip, pay attention; Frodo asked if your arm hurt."
"Huh?" he asked again, but soon the light had returned to his eyes and his mind had come back to him. Pippin half-shrugged and answered in an almost childish way, "I guess not." and he thought for a second then added, "But my head does hurt a lot. Perhaps we could fix that? I have a headache."
Merry's eyes were questioning until he recalled how he had slammed Pippin's head into the ground in an attempt to get the Ring, and he felt a horrible stab of guilt. He looked away and muttered ashamedly, "Sorry, Pip."
Pippin turned to him and grinned. "Ah, Merry, it's all over and done with. There's nothing to be sorry about, nothing at all. Let's just promise each other one thing."
"Well," he said as he distractedly twisted one of his curly locks around his finger and bit his lip in thought, "Promise me that we'll never think of that stupid Ring again, okay?"
Merry nodded. "That I can do, Pip, that I can do."
And as all the Hobbits retreated back into the safety of their camp, all of them couldn't help but let their thoughts drift back to the One Ring. As they walked on Frodo sighed and reached in his pocket. When his fingers touched the Ring he thought, I've got to destroy it. For all of our sakes.
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Disclaimer: I do not own any characters mentioned in this story, or the poem at the beginning.
They are all J. R. R. Tolkien's...
I will never own them, no matter how much I wish that I did.
Anyway, hope that you enjoyed the story.
Remember that reviews are love.
Also, Merry + Pippin = LOVE.