37. Ménage à trois
As the elf took his face in his hands and lifted it up Merry almost felt, that with the touch of Legolas's mind and fingers, he could also see his gentle smile.
Gandalf and Gimli sat beside them as they joined, keeping a critical eye on the pair for anything that looked dangerous or even life-threatening. Aragorn stood at the door of the tent to be sure they were not disturbed. Gandalf, in spite of initial reservations had agreed that Merry's help might be the only way to bring Pippin back from despair and to make him realise his own worth. Gandalf was also concerned that if the little hobbit refused their help he might be tortured into revealing devastating information, although the wizard did not openly express this view to Merry or Legolas, it seemed altogether too cynical and heartless.
'Good, you are here. Now remember what we talked about and try to be firm.'
'I'm going to call Pippin now. If you feel him stir at all, join in so that he knows you are here.
'Pippin! Pippin! I know you can hear me. Please answer me little one. Pippin! Pippin! Peregrin Took! You must answer me! Come along Pippin, just say one word. Remember how you always say my name when we meet here? Say my name one more time – say Legolas. Come on Pippin, Please answer.'
'Pippin! Someone else wants to talk to you. Do you want to talk to Merry? He's waiting to talk to you – you only have to answer.'
'mmmrrh!' A tiny flicker of sound.
'pip! pip! it merry – say i hello – please pip!'
A tiny sob broke through the quiet of Legolas's mind. Merry persisted.
'pippin, please, please – don't go leave me 'lone – too lone-ely not got you'
'pippin, please, i neededing you – please help i – go dead not got you'
'not – not you go dead – i got go dead… go 'way i merry…'
'not! stay! need you my pip'
'i not get out here, merry – i got go dead – no one get i out'
'got try pip – we go help you – i try – you got try too!'
'legolas get hurted – 'cause i – not go hurt legolas'
"It's better now Pip.' Legolas joined the conversation. 'I recovered very quickly because it wasn't as real for me. It hurts me more to think of you suffering, little one.'
'not i be – go 'way - please go 'way'
'pip not say to i that! you not leave i! evrer!'
'not want leave i at you… got to if i go dead!'
'pip not go dead! you stay 'live! for i – please – you go dead – i go dead 's well'
'merr… i got want go dead – 'cause i not too 'fraid if i go dead'
'Sometimes fear is a good thing, little one,' Legolas broke in again. 'Fear will keep you alive. It is painful, but it helps you to survive. Do not be afraid of fear itself, we will help you through it, Pip. Welcome your fear, make it your friend. It will help you to find a way back to Merry.'
'back to merry?'
'If there is a way – only you can start on the road back, by surviving – by living. Pip you have to fight – you have to live – you have to let us help you, if not for you, then for Merry. Do you understand me?'
'pip, brave hobbt... i got go out legolas' head now - i been too much in'
'It's all right Pippin. He'll sit right here beside me and I will stay with you in your head for as long as you need me. Legolas could feel his mind balking at the lengthy intrusion. Pippin was less of a burden to him now, as he had established a firm bond with the smaller hobbit. But having Merry in his head as well was over-taxing his senses and emotions. 'Say goodbye to Merry and he'll be back later. I promise.'
'bye merr…i love at you… bye'
'bye pip…i love at you too - do what legolas tells you… bye pip'
Merry opened his eyes as Legolas let go of his face and felt Gandalf's hand on his shoulder. "He's talking again. He listened to Legolas and to me."
"That's very good news Merry." Gandalf breathed a silent sigh of relief. "Is he all right?"
"At the moment," Merry reached up and touched Legolas's face lightly to get his attention. "There's something wrong that he's not telling us, Legolas." The elf patted Merry's hand to show he had understood.
Merry turned towards Gandalf's voice. "Gandalf please can't anyone go and save him? Is there no way?"
"Merry, you know we cannot. Gandalf sorely regretted that there was nothing to be done to rescue the little hobbit, especially as he was largely responsible for these two coming on the Quest in the first place. "If it were possible we would try, but at the moment it is impossible to get to him."
"I know." Merry fell silent and moved a little closer to Legolas feeling that the physical presence of the elf brought him nearer to Pippin.
'Pippin are you all right, are you hurt much?'
'not – got bettrer fast and fast’
'Where are the orcs now? Are they with you?'
'orc come soon … i think …am…'
'What is it, Pippin? What do you think?’
'gone do bad… to i… verr bad'
'What do you think he's going to do?'
'tie i… no want say'
Pippin! You must let me help you. Tell me exactly where you are.'
'You're tied on a bed?'
'not… please legolas… not want say'
"Pippin, you have to trust me. Do you think he is going to do the same to you as Saruman did to Merry?'
'um… think is… am 'fraid 'much much’
'Perhaps he won’t. Maybe he will use the whip again.'
'take clothes 'way – touch i bad… can't go move – rope hurt i…'
'Is he there now?'
'not – gone 'way – not stay gone i think'
'Wait Pip. I'll be back in a moment. Be brave. All right?'
Legolas opened his eyes. Merry was still there with Gandalf and Gimli. "Merry you have to come back with me again. Quickly!" He caught hold of Merry's face without waiting for questions.
"Legolas!" Gandalf caught the elf's hands and pulled them away from Merry's cheeks. "You have spent too long with Merry in your mind tonight. You already have one hobbit in ingrained there, now have a care."
"I know," Legolas more gently this time lifted Merry's face up again. "But I think I am really going to need him." Legolas paused to check with Merry, "Is it all right, Merry?" The hobbit nodded his agreement. "Come then."
'what hap-pen? why need i?'
'Pippin thinks that the orc is going to do to him the same as Saruman did to…'
'…to i – no! poor my pip – what i do help?'
'Just hold him – in your mind. Talk to him and keep him safe. I will try to give him strength.
'…and Merry is here, too.'
'merr – back soon!'
'pippin, can hear me?'
'merr – can – i being too 'fraid 'gain – sorry merr…'
'…'s'all right pip, 'membrer – legolas said all right be 'fraid… you want…'
'merr … orc comes! comes now…in room!'
'pip… you 'membrer face i?'
'you 'membrer hand i – what feels like?'
'do – orc touch! merry…'
'think hold hand i now – i hold you back – touch you face – think of i – think hard.'
'am merry – am think hard… ohh it…'
"Pippin' Legolas spoke. 'He won't hurt you. Let me go where you feel hurt.'
'l-legolas – n-not'
'It's all right – I can. Let me.'
'pippin keep hold i hand…'
'am merr… am hold hand you…aeiik! am think you'
'arms mine round you now – tight verr tight – hold you close – face mine go your neck
Suddenly all three felt the orc's presence, much as Legolas had been trying to shield the two hobbits from it.
'aaiiee! merr – not want you get bad – i shame at orc do'
'no pip, no be shame at - 'member we go at or-thanc? sar'man did to i – you go help i – now i go help you – same'
'do member - aaaiiiieeee! – not do more!'
'hold me pip – hold i tight – i love at you.'
The watchers saw Legolas and Merry grip each other tightly as they both began to hyperventilate, gasping in unison. Legolas's eyes were closed and his mouth set hard and firm as Gimli held his shoulders, steadying him and hoping to soothe the elf a little.
Gandalf stroked Merry's fair curls as his face screwed up in pain and discomfort, the hobbit cried out every so often in obvious distress. The wizard was tempted to try and break the link, but then thought of the hobbit's stoic determination to help Pippin, no matter what, and decided to let him continue. Aragorn waited and watched, for once feeling quite helpless to intervene.
Pippin was all at once aware of the weight of the orc lying on top of him and realised it was over for now.
'stop now…merr? legolas?'
Gandalf lifted Merry up from where he had collapsed in Legolas's arms, cradling the unconscious hobbit's head against his chest.
Gimli gently laid Legolas down on the grass making a pillow of his folded cloak. The dwarf patted the elf's cheek, softly at first, then more firmly, but there was no response.
'…merry? legolas?… please say things at i?'
Only silence followed.
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