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A King's Thanks
Aragorn watched the four hobbits as they lay sleeping in the Houses of Healing. Frodo and Sam he grieved for, loved, admired and respected the most. He was well aware he owed them his life and the crown he would soon wear. All of Middle-earth owed their lives to them. Would those they sacrificed so much for ever know that? he wondered. He looked at their sunken cheeks, all the weight they had lost, the cuts and bruises and whip marks, the burn around Frodoís neck. But then he looked at their chests as they slowly rose and fell. They would survive. They must. If he could have willed it entirely on his own, they would not die. But they had to will it too.
Here the king smiled. Sam, so close to death himself, was still unwilling to let go or let his master go. Aragorn had seen their souls so near to accepting the Gift and he had wondered whether he should just let be and let them go, but he couldnít. Selfish, perhaps, but he couldnít. They had turned when he had called. It took some persuasion from Sam, but Frodo had come back and Sam with him. Their souls were nearly merged into one, Aragorn saw. Where one went, the other would follow. And Sam had still wanted to live. So Frodo had chosen that also. Even in their sleep, they were aware of each other and grew agitated and called out to each other weakly if they were ever more than an armís length apart. The king solved that problem by gently lifting the Ring-bearer and placing him in Samís arms. Neither woke, but slipped deeper into contented sleep as the gardenerís arms encircled his dear master and dearer friend. Frodo sighed as his arms wrapped around his beloved guardian and he placed his head where he could hear that much loved heartbeat.
So it was with Merry and Pippin who lay in the next bed, the elder with his head against his cousinís heartbeat as though to reassure himself they were reunited. They had certainly proved their great hearts as well - Merry had helped defeat the Witch-king and Pippin had saved Faramirís life. The king's admiration, respect and love for them was little less than it was for Frodo and Sam.
What strength in such small beings! the man thought in wonder. He leaned down and kissed each dear head softly. ďLe hannon, mellyn nin,Ē he murmured to each of them.
A/N: Aragornís words are Sindarin for Thank you, my friends.
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