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The Michel Delving Mathom House  by Periantari

It is a long way, is it not, from Bree, where you did not like the look of me? A long way for us all, but yours has been the darkest road." ~Aragorn, The Field of Cormallen

“You’ve had a rough time, too didn’t you?” Frodo studied Merry’s face thoughtfully during their recovery at Cormallen. Middle-earth did not suffer the fate that all thought would’ve happened had the Ring not been destroyed. They were together at the fragrant fields of Cormallen, and finally Frodo had a moment with Merry just the two of them.

Merry’s face was flushed with shock, “Of course not, Frodo! I didn’t have it anywhere as tough as you and Sam.”

“You need not deceive me; oftentimes it is those that stand by those that are in need that need the most comforting. And your poor arm! You did not tell me how you feel!”

“Well, you know what they say, all heroes do live ‘happily ever after’ somehow,” Merry chuckled nervously. “How do you feel? Are you all right?” Merry evasively dodged the question about his arm. Merry studied his elder cousin’s features and demeanor. Frodo eyes were clear but they were more careworn than before. His finger was bandaged, his face thinner than before. Merry worried about Frodo’s recovery but Aragorn had insisted that Frodo would physically be all right.

“I am fine, my dear Merry. I want to hear about you. You need not worry about me- I know the last two weeks have been hard for you especially since Pippin, Sam and I were… out of sorts.” Frodo’s voice trailed. “I am sorry you had to go through this…” Frodo put his arm on Merry’s shoulder even though Merry was a few inches taller than him now.

Merry seemed more tired and Frodo could discern that Merry had been by their bedsides ceaselessly. Merry still had a sling on his right arm and he clearly favored his left still. He was always beside Pippin when he did not have duty to pass errands for the Rohirrim.

“Don’t you worry about me! It’s my job to be there for you! You and Sam have had the hardest road,” Merry’s eyes teared up.

Frodo embraced Merry, “You were the bravest to be there for all of us during this time of recovery! You need to take care of yourself, silly Merry. You need not worry anymore for we’re all together and we have all managed together.”

“Thanks Frodo. The greatest joy is to see you one and whole and to see you back from the Dark Land yonder; it’s really more than any hobbit could dream of. Imagine the stories we will tell our kinsman when we return to the Shire?” Merry smiled at the thought. “They would never believe us!”

“Yes, I look forward to the Shire again. Perhaps that is when I will forget the dark memories…” Frodo looked down at his hand with the missing finger. Would he ever really heal? He tried to push that thought away and think of the present.

“We will all have to learn to forget the bad and remember the good that we have experienced! Imagine telling my parents about Gondor and the Ents, Rivendell and elves! They would never believe me!”

Frodo smiled. “This was your idea to travel so long and far with me and Sam. And don’t forget, you are a hero for helping slay the Witch-king! You’re a hero in the greater Middle-earth, my dear Brandybuck! And to think I would have been content if you stayed in Rivendell!”

“And I would not sleep a day or have been at peace with myself if that were the case. I am not a writer like Bilbo so I would not like to hear the elves sing the whole day! And yes, I did make a difference in this Quest, not just some orc’s luggage!” Merry replied with a chuckle.

“Speaking about Bilbo, I would like to go to Rivendell before the Shire on our way home. No one has said if he will come for Aragorn’s coronation but I’m guessing the roads are still dangerous and it’s too long for him to travel so far.”

“It would be nice if he traveled to this part of Middle-earth, but yes, we would go with you to Rivendell first if that is your wish.”

Frodo nodded, “We need to see how he is and hopefully he’ll put into writing about our adventures. These would be great for his book.”

“It’ll be better if you wrote all the stores, Frodo. You can start recording all our adventures. Aragorn has a great one as well as he came up through the South in order to get to Minas Tirith on time, I’ve heard.”

“Yes, there is a lot to write about, but for now, I hope that you will take care of yourself too, Merry. Do not fool me that you’ve not been worried and now, you don’t need to worry about me anymore. Take care of your own health.”

Merry moved close to Frodo and sat beside him, putting his arm on Frodo’s shoulder. “I am just glad you’re here alive besides me. Thank you Frodo for being so brave.”

Frodo was touched; he hadn’t known in those dark days in Mordor what exactly would a happy ending entail but this moment with his beloved cousin felt sweeter than he had imagined.

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