[identity profile] jimnpam.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] remix_redux
Title: Certain Things (Should Be Done Right)
Author: [livejournal.com profile] apple_pi
Summary: In which Merry and Pippin are drenched, Pippin sneezes, Merry is a fusspot, and it all comes out right in the end.
Rating: R
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Warnings: Slash (try to contain your shock!)
Spoilers: Takes place after the War of the Ring and the Scouring of the Shire.
A/N: Many thanks to my wonderful betas: [livejournal.com profile] tarteaucitron and [livejournal.com profile] buckle_berry for Britpicking services extraordinaire, and [livejournal.com profile] pippinmctaggart for not only beta'ing, but acting as camp counselor to the 14-year-old girl that lurks within me. :-)
Title, Author and URL of original story: Getting It Right, by [livejournal.com profile] danachan. [http://the-danamark.livejournal.com/27583.html]

Certain Things (Should Be Done Right)


Pippin walks the floors of Crickhollow at night.

It's a fine little house - snug and tidy, with just the right amount of cosiness and just the right number of draughts - the kind that let you hear a little whistle when the wind blows, but don't let too much wind in, if you see what he means. Pippin knows what he means, anyway, and when he walks from bedroom to parlour to kitchen to hall, he likes the wild sound of the wind outside, and the occasional flare of the fire as March sends a wayward gust down the chimney.

Sleeping's too much trouble. He can't do it much, anyhow, not without being weary beyond the measure or telling. Instead of sleeping, he paces the floors, pokes at the fire, reads Merry's books, listens for Merry's nightmares. Doesn't always hear them, but Merry comes and finds him, anyway.

He'll appear in the hall, or the doorway of the parlour. His hair stands in corkscrews, and his nightshirt is rumpled. He blinks at Pippin, opens his mouth to speak, mumbles something or other: nonsense, query, comfort. Pippin stops poking at the fire and sits on the sofa, and Merry always sits right down beside him. Closer than he must - it's a long sofa, and deep, and comfortable - but that's good. They sit shoulder to shoulder until Merry nods against him, head tipping heavy, or maybe it's the other way about. However it happens, it happens: Merry's warm, and he smells right, feels right, when Pippin curls his newly too-long body into Merry's and pushes his face in close, tight by Merry's sleep-sweaty neck in the heat from the fire. Pippin can sleep like that, tangled up with Merry, Merry tangled up with him.

Sometimes he wakes and feels Merry breathing slow and deep, still far away, dreaming. Sometimes Pippin wakes and finds him awake, too still. Pippin lifts his head and neither breathes, just for an instant. Merry has heavy-lidded eyes and messy, honey-coloured hair; his mouth is so sleepy and soft Pippin can't quite tell what to do with it, to it. The instant always passes. Merry pushes Pippin back with a smile and gentle hands, pushes himself up from the sofa and yawns and wanders to the water closet, scratching his head, mumbling something or other: nonsense, query, comfort.

Merry runs away.

They've moved to Crickhollow in March, all rush of wind in the branches, cry of crows against the fleeing clouds. The trees are budding early this year, and Merry and Pippin ride out into the wind and, later, the thin sputter and spitting of spring rain in their faces. The ponies aren't too fond of it, and the hobbits dismount and begin to walk, leading their mounts back towards home along the High Hay. Its leaves are glossy, so dark as to be almost black with rain and new life; the rain's paused for the moment, but life is still burgeoning. Pippin can feel it, green and wild under the high grey sky, in the fresh wet of rain on dirt and leaves and horse.

The rain stops, and a few moments later, so does Merry. They're halfway to home, standing in mud, quiet now though they've spoken often today, of Crickhollow and Brandy Hall, Bywater and Hobbiton, Frodo and Sam and how they might fare. The only sounds are those of the wind, of drips from the still-wet hedge, and the high, lonely call of a few birds on the wind.

Pippin watches Merry, watches his eyes, the curve of his lashes as he looks down. His fingers are cold, fumbling for Pippin's hand; he lifts it and turns it over, presses a kiss into Pippin's palm.

"I think I love you," Merry says.

Pippin stands still for a moment as the world slots into place: there's an almost audible click, it's so neat: like a puzzle piece fitted, or the very last note of a phrase, the only note that could come and the melody still make sense. He smiles. "I've been waiting," he says.

Merry's eyes lift and he smiles back, looking dizzy with sudden knowledge, and just then (of course! Pippin thinks, wanting to laugh) the rain begins again, and Stybba stamps impatiently, and Pippin's mare snaps at the gelding. They grin at each other - Merry's grin is crooked, and Pippin feels like he might burst with laughter and this perfect new sense of right - and swing back into their saddles to set off for home, heads ducked against the thin, cold rain.

The ponies take tending, and the stable isn't too near their smial - by the time they push open the front door, laughing, they're wet through again, all the good of their neighbour's warm, dry haybarn undone by the second, shorter, journey.

Pippin laughs at the doorway, hears Merry's answering chuckle. Water streams from him, onto the clean floor of their house, as Merry pulls him close, kisses him clumsily. His lips are smiling, cold and wet, but he parts them soon enough, and it's warm inside his mouth. So warm - Pippin wants this, him, all of him, everything. He wraps Merry up tight for a moment before he remembers he doesn't have to be greedy - doesn't have to be so hasty. He laughs again into Merry's mouth and pulls back.

Merry looks dazed, happy: staring at Pippin, touching his cheek. "Pippin."

"Merry," Pippin says, mockery, love. "We should do something, I think, about these wet clothes." He steps back, tugging at his own buttons, watching Merry. Merry, who nods and reaches to help, fingers bumping Pippin, both of them smiling helplessly. Pippin's smile slides into a noise almost laughter, almost tears at the thought of what they could do, what they can have. "I would like to sleep," Pippin says. He stares into Merry's face, grasping his fingers. "Without..."

Merry nods. He knows, of course.

Pippin's shirt is clammy, stuttering down over his arms as he lets go Merry's hands to shake it off. Merry stares at his chest, lifting a hand to touch his shoulder; slides his palm lower. Pippin sucks in a breath and pulls Merry down, onto the floor, shifting till he lies over him.

Suddenly Pippin needs this, he's greedy again, bent over Merry and kissing him, kissing his mouth, his chin, throat. His hands never falter, stripping Merry's shirt away, peeling him free. Rain blows in through the door and Merry's eyes are enormous as Pippin sits up to straddle him, hands trailing down his chest, over his arms. "This is how you love me," Pippin begs, bending to kiss him.

"Yes." Merry's hands tangle in his hair, Merry's eyes flutter closed and he groans, far back in his throat, as they kiss.

"Pippin," he says later, as Pippin's hands are scrabbling at his trousers, pressing all along his arousal; Merry is hard and long under Pippin's palm, unbearably fascinating, and Pippin has forgotten all his leisure, all his willingness to wait. "Pippin, is this - is it - should we?" Merry gasps.

Pippin grasps him and kisses him, desperate and burning. "Yes, yes we should," he says. "Oh, please say we can." Merry kisses him back in reply, and lets Pippin pull their trousers off and press close. Pippin clutches at Merry, panting into his mouth, eyes screwed shut. "Merry," he says, "this - you." He wraps his legs around Merry. "Oh," he says, and Merry holds him close and rocks up against him.

"Pippin," Merry says, more quietly, voice low and intent, "yes, oh," and he kisses Pippin's mouth. "Please."

Pippin shudders and cries out, feels as if he's breaking apart as he arches and spills, slick warmth crushed between their shivering bodies. Merry gives a groan like pain and grips him almost cruelly tight, spending his pleasure even as Pippin draws in great, gasping breaths, floating in some faraway place for just those few moments.

He comes back gently, to the warm circle of Merry's arms and the cold gust of the wind over his bare back. "What a mess," Pippin says, and laughs into Merry's mouth.

"It'll keep," Merry replies. They gather their wet clothes, though - lock the door behind themselves and leave trousers and weskits and all draped over the edges of the great wooden washtubs. They eat standing in the kitchen in clean, dry small clothes. Leaning close, kissing despite the crumbs, or - Pippin thinks, licking the corner of Merry's mouth, laughing at him - because of the crumbs, perhaps.

Outside the wind is still gusting high and wild, and rain hisses into the banked fire as Pippin pulls Merry down the hall. "My bed is bigger," Pippin says.

"They're just exactly the same," Merry says.

"Come to bed," Pippin replies, tugging his hand. "Fusspot. Merry-mine."

They lie together under the great, soft, feather-stuffed coverlet, touching and kissing, words fading into sighs and then (oh dear, Pippin thinks sleepily) quiet, small snores. (He also thinks, just as he falls asleep, that perhaps it's him doing the snoring, and won’t Merry lord it over him then.)


Pippin wakes with a head that feels like it's been stuffed with wool. He also wakes with Merry curled into his arms, warm and solid and real and naked. Pippin is just deciding what to do with this gift - the naked-Merry part, not the woolly-headed part - when the woolly-headed part makes the decision for him. Pippin sneezes four times in quick succession, rolling away from Merry and muffling the last two in his pillow, and when he lifts his head - blinking, nose bright red, no doubt - Merry is awake and looking back at him.

"You've gone and caught a chill," Merry says, and if he sounds torn between irritation and exasperation, well: not everything has changed, Pippin thinks. Just certain things.

"It's nothing," Pippin says, or tries to say. He clears his throat - "I'm fine, Merry."

"Yes, yes. So I hear," Merry mocks, rubbing his hands over his face: "I'b fide, Berry," he mimics, and sits up.

That's when he seems to notice that he's not wearing a stitch of clothing, and Pippin watches with interest as Merry's face goes blank and rather stupid.

"Good morning," Pippin says cheerfully. And sneezes, whipping his head aside at the last moment.

Merry groans. "Oh, for the love of all that's sacred."

"I feel fine," Pippin repeats, and it's mostly true - his nose is running like a leaky tap, and his throat's a bit scratchy, and of course his head feels as wool-stuffed as before the sneezing began, but all in all: he's slept. And before he slept he kissed Merry, lay with Merry, brought Merry to his bed and wound about him like a vine and yes: Pippin feels fine.

"You sound awful," Merry says, and apparently decides that discretion is the better part of - well, something - because he doesn't comment on his nudity, or Pippin's. Merry just reaches over and feels Pippin's forehead, then climbs out of bed, reaching hastily for a robe. "You're a little warm," Merry says. "I'm going to get you some tea."

"Not that awful stuff Goody Torheaver mixes up," Pippin says, raising his voice at the end, for Merry's already vanishing out the door, leaving nothing behind but an impression of flying feet, quick flick of a sash (on Pippin's dressing gown, which the thief appropriated!) and wide, slightly panicked eyes.

"There's no good having it in the cupboard if we don't use it when it's called for," Merry calls back from the kitchen.

Pippin lies abed listening to Merry bang about for a few minutes - the creak of the pump handle, gurgle of water; clink and clang as the fire is poked up and the kettle hung to boil. There's light coming through the shutters, and the thin sound of rain. When it becomes clear that Merry won't return to the bedroom until he's got the tea tray safe in his hands, Pippin rolls out of the high bed, pulling the coverlet after and wrapping it tight about his shoulders as he walks to the window.

"Another wet day," Pippin says loudly, looking out the unlatched opening. Sure enough, yesterday's rain is continuing, and the trees that lean over Crickhollow are black-barked with water, the clouds heavy and damp, hanging just over the hedge, it looks like. Pippin leans against the windowsill, breathing as deep as he can - he sneezes three times - and wondering sleepily if he can get Merry to curl back up in bed. "I'm glad we can leave the ponies for now," Pippin says after a bit, almost to himself.

"Get back into bed!" Merry exclaims, and Pippin jumps and turns, clutching the coverlet to himself. "Bloody fool of a Took, I should give you four times the dosing."

Pippin scowls and stomps back to the bed, climbing awkwardly up and yanking the heavy quilt about until it's (somewhat) straight. "You startled me," Pippin huffs; Merry blows a rude raspberry with his lips and sets the tray on the blanket at the foot of the bed.

"Oh, I beg your pardon," Merry says, "did I interrupt your quest to become the most foolhardy hobbit in Buckland?" He turns from the bed, pulling open a drawer in Pippin's bureau and throwing him a nightshirt. "Here, put this on," he says. "I'm going for handkerchiefs, since you've none here." He vanishes again, and Pippin looks at the wadded up shirt in his hands for a long moment before slowly pulling it on.

When Merry returns he's got on his own nightshirt (and Pippin's dressing gown, still), and he's carrying a stack of neatly folded handkerchiefs. "Drink your tea," he says, placing the cloths upon the bed and his hands upon his hips.

"Come up here and sit with me," Pippin says, patting the bed. He doesn't wait for Merry's acceptance; just leans down to pull the tray towards himself. He's rewarded by the dip of the mattress and Merry's cautious settling beside him.

"You were as likely to get a stuffed head as me," Pippin says, putting an enormous spoonful of honey into his teacup. "Also, you're lucky I can't smell a thing." He smirks at Merry over the rim of his cup and blows across its steaming surface before sipping. "Ugh, if only I couldn't taste as well."

"But I don't have a stuffed head, so drink up," Merry says, and he keeps his eyes down as he prepares his own tea.

The only sounds for long moments are the clink of Merry's teaspoon and the faint drip from the eaves; Merry, for all his scolding, has left the shutters half open, and the air that washes into the room is clean and cool and damp. Pippin empties his teacup as quick as he can, then refills it from the earthenware pot on the tray, adding milk and honey and reaching for the seedcake Merry brought in, too.

"How do you feel?" Merry asks.

Pippin sneezes - nearly drops the cake - glares at him.

Merry laughs.

"I still feel fine," Pippin says, smiling, all unwilling. He shakes out a handkerchief from the pile and blows his nose; tucks the hankie away and picks up his cake again. "It's just a runny nose. And honestly, I slept better last night than I have in - well, in a long time." He slides his eyes sideways at Merry.

Merry: swallowing his own hasty bite of cake, eyes lowered, lashes dark on his cheeks. Pippin can see freckles there, sprinkled across his cheeks, his nose, though pale with the long winter's lack of sun. His nightshirt has slipped sideways, and there are freckles on his shoulder, too.

"I slept well, too," Merry says. He raises his eyes; there's still a hint of panic in them. "Pip - listen - we, we can't, I can't -"

"We can," Pippin says.

"You sound very certain." Merry doesn't look away - Pippin recognises courage when he sees it.

"Of you? Of me?" Pippin shakes his head, frustrated. "Of course," he says, searching Merry's eyes. "I always have been."

"It's... new," Merry says. He touches Pippin's face. "I'm certain of you, too."

"Well," Pippin says. He sniffs, and reaches for the handkerchief again. "That's good."

He's aware of Merry's eyes on him as he dabs his nose; then after a breath or two or three, Merry says: "But no more - you know." Merry's ears, Pippin is interested to see, are turning pink. "On the floor. In a puddle, by the open door." He is stifling a smile.

"I make no promises," Pippin replies, grinning. "But in a bed?" He leans close to Merry. "Under the covers? Where it's warm and cosy?" He touches his lips to Merry's cheek, the corner of his mouth, his lips.

Merry exhales softly; purses his lips and kisses back. "Yes, that sounds," he murmurs, and leans into Pippin, kissing him more firmly, hand rising to lie warm along Pippin's cheek.

The tray shifts at their feet, teacups bumping with a loud chink, and Pippin pulls back, startled.

"After breakfast, perhaps," Merry says. His eyes are amused and heavy-lidded, lips curved up in a smile.

"There is no perhaps about it, my dear Merry," Pippin says.

They eat in a more comfortable silence, hands brushing as they reach for their cups and dishes.

"That's better," Pippin says, "and I haven't sneezed in ten whole minutes." He re-appropriates his dressing gown from Merry so he can carry the tray back to the kitchen. When he returns to the bedroom, Merry has brushed the crumbs from the coverlet and he's tucked under it, blankets pulled up to his chin, smiling at Pippin. "That's a wicked smile," Pippin says; the dressing gown and his nightshirt are dropped haphazardly to the floor as he climbs under the covers, seeking out Merry, who is - Pippin sighs happily - naked again, warm and intriguing.

They explore for a little while - mouth pressed to mouth, hands smoothing over skin, tracing scars and the pale marks of the past year and more. I am certain of us, Pippin thinks fiercely. He clutches Merry to himself, both of them trembling now, eager and frightened and excited. There's such tenderness between them, in the way Merry touches Pippin and the way he responds to Pippin's touch, and:

"Not everything has changed," Pippin says into Merry's ear.

Merry kisses his neck, holds him close. "Just certain things," he replies, and Pippin nods, twined around him.

~ the end ~

Pablo Neruda: Sonnet XVII

I do not love you as if you were a salt rose, or topaz
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
So I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-23 01:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rynne.livejournal.com
Oh. Oh, that's lovely, and adorable, and just...just right. *flails*

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-30 05:56 am (UTC)
ext_18066: Default (Hobbits - cheerfulpip)
From: [identity profile] apple-pi.livejournal.com
Thank you so much! So glad you enjoyed it. :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-24 10:53 pm (UTC)
ext_38381: (three trees)
From: [identity profile] melandry.livejournal.com
Lovely. I enjoyed the use of the theme of certain/certainty - including the clever title!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-30 05:57 am (UTC)
ext_18066: Default (Hobbits - cheerfulpip)
From: [identity profile] apple-pi.livejournal.com
Thank you! And thank goodness for poetry anthologies, where the needy author can go in search of titles. :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-26 12:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kassrachel.livejournal.com
Oh, this is lovely. Awfully sweet, and entirely believable. Thank you for this!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-30 05:57 am (UTC)
ext_18066: Default (Default)
From: [identity profile] apple-pi.livejournal.com
Thank you so much! The original story was so lovely, this was a pleasure to write.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-26 02:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] danachan.livejournal.com
This is absolutely lovely, and I want to thank you for writing it because of my silly old story. Thank you, really. ♥ I plan on coming back and giving you a better comment when I know who you are - so, look forward to that!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-30 05:58 am (UTC)
ext_18066: Default (Default)
From: [identity profile] apple-pi.livejournal.com
It was meeeeee! *waves hands wildly* Thank you for the kind words, I'm so glad you liked this, Dana! *hugs* :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-28 02:18 pm (UTC)
sophinisba: Gwen looking sexy from Merlin season 2 promo pics (pippin cheeky by danachan)
From: [personal profile] sophinisba
I really enjoyed this! I just love post-quest Merry and Pippin when they're mature and serious like this (They explore for a little while - mouth pressed to mouth, hands smoothing over skin, tracing scars and the pale marks of the past year and more. Awesome!) but also so tender and adorable and hobbity with their stuffy noses and cups of tea. Great complement to Dana's fic and her style too. And I love the Neruda at the end.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-30 05:59 am (UTC)
ext_18066: Default (Default)
From: [identity profile] apple-pi.livejournal.com
Thank you so much! I had most of it written and then found the poem and had to go back and re-write a bit, because it just fit so well with the mood I wanted. Glad you liked it! :-)


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