Pairing : NO SEX.

Rating : PG-13

Timeline : Lothlorien, after Gandalf dies.

Synopsis : Merry deals with a spirit in Lothlorien who tempts him to the side of evil so that he will take the ring from Frodo. Note : This was once a longer story. I am revising all my stories and the story that continues Following the Ring will have its own title for its focus is not entirely upon Merry.

Disclaimer : I don't claim to own anything or make any money. Suing me will not do any good, you'd get a quarter at the most. Tolkien owns the pretty hobbits.

4/1/2  Revised 10/11/03


Meriadoc Brandybuck was well regarded as being the kind of hobbit that had all the answers.  To his friends and family, he was known as "Merry". He had joined the fellowship because Frodo Baggins was not only one of his very good chums, but also his cousin as well.  Therefore, he was not about to let the intrepid hobbit go off to dark places on his own. Several months had already passed since they left the shire, and now they had finally made it to Galadriel's realm of Lothlorien.  Above a bright and full moon shone in the night sky, causing the trees around to glitter and sparkle, a truly magical site.  He had been resless after Legolas spoke of the lament and Sam's poetry.  He had needed to get away from the others, and have a smoke.   Rest, Aragorn had said, but the ranger did not know the troubles in his heart.


What happened in the mines of Moria had given the heir of Brandy Hall a rather rude awakening.  He wasn't on an adventure with Frodo, this was bigger than that.  This was bigger than all of them, and he -was- afraid.  He remembered the way Galadriel had looked at them all when she spoke about company being true to one another.  What if they failed? What if they could not learn how to resist temptation?


Smoking his pipe absently, he leaned against a tree as he listened to the lamenting voice.  Their song filtered through the wood throughout the night, dedicated to the ancient wizard.   So lost in his own thoughts he did not see her as she approached, coming out of nowhere like a faint breeze.  He hadn't even realized she was there until she spoke.


"Why do you continue to ignore what is in your heart?" Her silvery voice was immediately from right, and he started looking over at the elf.  How could she have snuck up on him like that? He was usually hard to sneak up on, always alert. He did realize that they were in Lorien, and these were elves. Indeed, they were special elves for the most part, as he had been told. 


"Who are you?" Merry demanded, quite colder than he had meant to as he disliked being spied on. His voice was not entirely sharp, but the trials of late, and the journey had taken a great deal of his patience.  He had not the desire to hold back his tongue.


"All that really matters is that I am here." she regarded Merry calmly, with eyes that flickered like the stars themselves.  She was a seer Galadriel, for she bore that kind of aura.  His spine tingled when she came closer to him, nervously turning his pipe from one hand to the other.  "You have been curious about the One Ring since the day you saw Bilbo vanish. That day, Merriadoc, changed your life." her words floated like whispers, and cut like the sharpest of blades as they dug into his soul.


"My only concern is to make sure my friends get through this safely." Merry responded irritably.  He also did not like being told what he thought about something. His Aunts at Brandy Hall used to do that all the time.  He made his own destiny, and his mind was his own, so no elf witch or seer was going to tell him otherwise.


She was beautiful, as all elves were.  Merry could not help but feel self-conscious as his eyes were drawn to her.  She was slight and pale with hair the color of winter and as soft as a rose petal.  It was a deep contrast to her eyes which were as dark and forboding as the black of the night sky.   "One by one…they will fall. It is written.  You can already see it. I know." she spoke softly, "You are worried about Frodo, and if you will be able to protect him from the others.  You are even worried if you will be able to protect him from yourself when the time comes."


Merry shifted, dragging his eyes away from the she-elf who seemed to be a cross between a dream and a nightmare.  "I know what I have to do. I know what my choice must be."  He knew what she was getting at, for he had been concerned and still was.  He had often wondered what it would be like to put on the ring, what he would see. Curiosity had burned in his heart ever since he saw Bilbo vanish that day.   He refused though, to dwell on what he might or might not do. If he did that he would never be able to get through this.  He had to keep his vision clear and focused on helping his cousin, and he would. He had no illusions or fantasies about taking the ring for himself. He did not.


"Aye you know what it must be, but you do not yet accept what you -want- it to be.  You've known it since the day you saw Bilbo put on the Ring, Merriadoc Brandybuck. You heard its call then as you are hearing it now. You are following it, deep in your heart it beckons you and you do not know whether or not you will be able to resist it when the time comes. You remain in the background because you fear of coming forward for you know where that might lead."


Merry turned around angrily, in his eyes a terrible truth was reflected that he had kept at bay until now. "Listen to me, whoever you are.  You don't know me. You don't know me at all. I don't -want- the ring. I want my friends to be safe. I want the Shire to be safe. I'm not here for the greater glory of Middle Earth, or for the One Ring, or for…" he scowled, curls falling into his sparking eyes. "Please just leave me alone."


"Merriadoc Brandybuck, you must decide why you are where you are.   Until you can, you won't be able to help your friends." she turned away swiftly. "Alone, I will leave you. For now."


Suddenly, she was gone, stepping easily down the path, no sound in her wake.  Merry was left staring after her in stunned silence until Pippin's cheerful voice cut into his reverie with a loud and jaunty. "Hey Merry! Supper!" Merry shook his head, clearing it as he turned to his cousin. It had not taken Pippin long to return to normal, but that was Pippin. Food always cheered him up.