West of the Moon
A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive
Cousins, Colds and Comforts
It's a cold and rainy evening...
Author: Anso the Hobbit
A/N: I`m not really sure who to thank for the idea to this, but Wadearturo, Elwen and Shirebound certainly all had something to do with it, lol! Also grateful thanks to Marigold for her wonderful betaing and coming up with the ending to the story!
Timeline: SR 1420, Crickhollow
"Pippin, would you please fetch another blanket from the settee?" Frodo said, wrapping himself snug in his own blanket, giving a little sneeze and tucking his feet up beneath him. The day was grey, cold and rainy, and couldn`t be spent better than by staying indoors by the fire and sipping hot tea and telling stories. "Merry will probably be freezing when he comes in."
"Mmm." Pippin grabbed another blanket and limped over to put it on the arm of an overstuffed chair by the fire to warm. Merry was out in the shed, fetching more firewood for them, and the way it was raining now, he would be sopping wet after the little trip out across the lawn. Inwardly Pippin cursed himself for not fetching more wood earlier in the day, when the sun still shone brightly.
Pippin sat down in his own chair and had just put his hands around his steaming mug to warm them and soothe the ache when Merry came in, sopping wet as predicted, the wood protected in an oiled cloth faring much better than he.
"You`re soaked, Merry." Frodo said, through his clogged nose.
"Yes, but I`ll just change quickly and wrap myself up in a blanket by the fire. Would one of you put the firewood in the bin for me?"
"Of course, Cousin." Both Pippin and Frodo rose to help out, simultaneously shaking their heads at Merry`s sudden care for himself. He probably knew he`d hear it to no end if he didn't make sure to care for himself, Pippin thought. He would normally have gone with Merry to fetch the wood, but being crushed by the troll had left him as aching and sore as an old gaffer when the weather changed or was bad, and since the weather didn`t affect Merry`s arm, he had cheerfully insisted on doing the task alone. Frodo would have willingly helped out too, but he had a cold and his cousins insisted he stay indoors, concerned for his fragile health.
Crickhollow was a cozy house, and Merry and Pippin thrived there, enjoying Frodo`s long visit immensely. They`d been down to Brandy Hall earlier the same week, at Saradoc`s summons, but were now left to their own devices for a few days.
"Any tea left for me?" Merry said as he entered, drying his hair with a towel before settling down in his chair with his warm blanket.
Pippin poured him a mug and the three cousins sat for several minutes in companionable silence, listening to the pop and crackle of the fire, and the rain against the window.
"Pippin?" Both Frodo and Merry frowned and stared at their cousin. Then "Are you all right?" came Merry`s concerned question and searching look and "Here," from Frodo, handing over a handkerchief. Pippin laughed. Bilbo had run out of his hole without a handkerchief but Frodo seemed to do the opposite, always having one in each pocket.
"I`m fine. And thanks." Pippin blew his nose and turned to the window to check on the weather. It hadn`t changed one bit. A story then, that would keep them all entertained for the evening. He observed his dear friends and cousins closely while pondering on which story to suggest. Frodo had been smiling and laughing heartily just a few minutes ago, despite his cold, the smile reaching all the way to his eyes, something Pippin had longed to see after the Quest and had almost despaired of ever seeing again. Merry also seemed...well merry again, and his arm wasn't hurting him. At least not that Pippin knew of, and he knew his cousin rather well, immediately noticing if Merry`s blue eyes clouded over with pain or if he started shivering. Of course, there were the nightmares, but he`d rather not think about them now.
Pippin scanned the room and found it cozy and well lit, something he understood was important for the health of both his cousins now, candles on all the tables and a good fire on the hearth. Maybe a story from another rainy day then. Something they could laugh at now.
"Merry, Frodo? Do you remember when it rained so much on our way to Rivendell?" It had rained several times, but Pippin didn`t think Frodo would remember the trip from Weathertop to Rivendell. But between the Midgewater Marshes and Weathertop, they had had a few very rainy and cold days, not unlike today.
"Oh yes!" Merry said, looking up from his mug. "You were terribly cranky and bothersome because of all the midge bites, but then it rained so much you forgot and started to complain about being wet instead." Merry smiled at his cousin, hoping that the teasing in his voice would shine through.
"I`m sorry I was such a pest," Pippin said, contrite. "But the bites were awfully itchy and it was very uncomfortable being so wet and hungry and scared and tired from running after Strider." The Ranger had set a quick pace that made it difficult for the hobbits to keep up, but he had claimed it was necessary.
"Yes," Frodo said. "It certainly wasn`t the most comfortable adventure I`ve been on..." Frodo sneezed again, and earned a frown from both younger cousins.
"You all right, Fro?" Merry said, looking Frodo closely over and sniffling a little himself.
"Yes, yes. I`m fine Merry." Merry wasn`t too sure, but Frodo`d not been totally well at all since their return, and he seemed no worse now than he was on his best days, except for his stuffed nose of course.
"And speaking of colds," Pippin said, blowing his nose again to mark the point. "Do you remember how horribly stuffed Sam and Merry were then? Neither of you could so much as speak, and Strider made you drink some awful smelly stuff that almost made you retch instead."
Merry nodded. He had already been itchy from the bites, and cold and wet from the rain, and having a cold at the bargain had just added to his misery. During their long trek to Rivendell, and later through Hollin and on the Anduin, all of them had suffered colds at least once. Even Sam, who was healthier than Merry, if that was possible.
"Yes," Frodo said, laughing. "And if Strider wasn`t tired of caring for us, providing food for us and leading us already, having the two most stubborn and healthy of us both falling ill at the same time nearly undid him. Both of you neglected to care for yourselves, and you both denied that you were unwell, saying you just were a bit sniffly. And when you did both admit to being ill, you were completely miserable."
Merry hung his head a little, but couldn`t quite hide his amusement. "Well, you know my main concern was you and Pippin, and I couldn`t let a cold get in the way of taking care of you two."
"Oh, but you should have Merry. You snored so loud because of your stuffed nose, that none of us could sleep, and do you remember the night that you actually woke yourself up with your snoring? Poor Sam wasn`t any better, and as he snores without a stuffed nose, you know what I`m talking about." Pippin said, eyes sparkling. It was good to laugh about some of the things that happened on their journey. Sam was famous for his snoring and could probably be louder than an Oliphaunt if he got the chance.
Merry and Frodo returned his smile, mirth sparkling in their eyes, and Merry tried to hide a slight cough.
"Not you too!" came the reply from Frodo, and they all laughed. They were quiet for a while, thinking about the good things that had happened while they were away, that had brought them even closer together, and built such wonderful new friendships. Pippin finally broke the comfortable silence.
"You know," he said around a yawn "I`m starting to get tired, but..." he trailed off, not admitting that he wasn`t up to sleeping alone in his own bed this night. He ached too much, and the comforting presence of his cousins was a good distraction from his pains.
"You don`t want to sleep in your own bed?" Merry responded, rightly reading Pippin`s thoughts. "Hòw`s your bones?"
"They`re aching a bit, and I`d like to keep you close. Both of you, please."
"All right, Pippin dear." Frodo said.
"Well then, here`s what we`ll do." Merry, the master planner of the three rubbed his hands together.
In short order, three soft mattresses, an armload or three of blankets and a goodly amount of pillows were fetched, and the hobbits made themselves a cozy nest as close by the hearth as was safe. Being home and safe and having each other within reach were still too important for all of them to willingly give up a good cuddle. Besides, they had slept shoulder to shoulder for almost a year.
Wrapped all nice and snug in blankets and burrowing deep down between his cousins (so he could look out for them both if either awoke in distress) Merry yawned, sneezed and wished his cousins good night with a kiss to each curly head.
"The Quest would have been much more comfortable if you had thought to bring along a few fine featherbeds."
"Sorry Pip. I'll add featherbeds to the list, next time we go on an adventure."
"Really, Merry, the Quest would have been a lot more comfortable with featherbeds. Rather poor planning on your part."
"Go to sleep, Frodo."
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