Title: Lost and Found
Summary: Frodo and Merry remember old times.
Disclaimer: Tolkien owns these characters. I'm not making any money off of them.
Story Notes: This is the sequel to "Christmas Traditions", but it isn't necessary to have read it in order to understand "Lost and Found".
* * *
The sun was slowly rising to a lovely April morning. Somewhere in Green Hill Country, two hobbits were sitting on top of a hill, looking at the new rays reflected on a small pond below them. Bread and fruits lay in front of the two of them, a modest breakfast for hobbits, but it was often so on the road. They had left Brandy Hall in the direction of Tuckborough three days before, but were taking more than their time to reach their destination.
Frodo turned around to look at the small figure that was snoring softly behind them by the burnt-out campfire, curled between two big exposed tree roots. "Pippin is quite a sound sleeper," he remarked.
"Light won't wake him, and neither will noises, unless very loud. If you were to cook something, however..." Merry looked at Pippin and a warm smiled appeared on his face.
"You've grown very fond of our young Peregrin, haven't you Merry?" Frodo asked.
"Oh?" Merry faked a somewhat surprised tone, not wanting Frodo to know how much, exactly, he had become fond of Pippin, although he suspected Frodo knew by now.
"I heard you two last night," Frodo smiled, "and unless you were kissing your own hand, dear cousin, I would say something is going on." Frodo laughed at the red colour rapidly crawling on Merry's cheeks. "I care not, Merry, but I wish you would have told me instead of letting me guess."
"I was worried of your reaction, Frodo."
"You of all people should know that I'm comfortable with these types of relationships." Frodo noticed the look on Merry's face did not pass. "If it's our past you worry about, Merry, you needn't to."
"I know Frodo, but I just can't help but..."
* * *
It was 1406 in the Shire reckoning. Frodo had been living with Bilbo for nearly 17 years, but he kept making occasional visit to his family and childhood friends in Buckland. That time was no different, and he was greatly looking forward to seeing everyone again, especially dear Meriadoc, whom he considered one of the hobbits he was the closest to -- save Bilbo.
As he grew closer to Brandy Hall, Frodo reminisced about his times with Merry. He was only a wee 7 year-old when Frodo left Buckland, but they'd grown close afterwards, when Frodo visited. They grew so close that Frodo decided to show Merry an isolated place he'd discovered in the woods behind Brandy Hall. "I'm not here enough these days," he'd said to Merry, "so I think this place should be yours as well now."
It had been simply called 'The Hole' by Frodo. It was a deep and large hole well hidden behind rows of thick trees that Frodo had found when he was only fourteen. He'd put an awkward wooden roof over the hole. It leaked when the weather was rainy but it gave the hole the feeling of a little house nonetheless. No hobbit of class would live in there, but it made a nice camp for hobbit tweens to hide in whenever they wanted peace or just to run away from their parents for an hour or two. With time, both Frodo and Merry had added furniture, which they mostly got from hobbits who didn't want it anymore. It made for an old furniture in awful condition, but it was their own little hole and they loved it anyway.
Nostalgia bit Frodo and he decided to make a short stop by The Hole. The entrance to it was a small trap that opened on a few stairs, which then led to the main (and only) room of the hole. Frodo closed the trap behind him and was surprised to see that he wasn't in complete darkness -- a light came from below. As he walked down the stair a low panting came to his ear. He frowned, wondering what was going on. He climbed down the remaining stairs quietly, hoping to be unnoticed.
His breath was caught in his throat at the sight waiting for him at the bottom of the staircase. Merry was sitting on a chair by the table, head thrown back and eyes closed. One of his hands was gripping the table tightly, and the other was down his trousers. Frodo could see it move up and down the shaft through the clothing.
For a minute he thought about turning around and leaving Merry alone, but curiosity got the best of him. Frodo had pleased himself many times but he'd never seen anyone else indulge in such activities.
Using the hand that had been gripping the table, Merry reached down and pushed his trousers open, giving himself more space, and unknowingly giving Frodo quite a view. He kept rubbing his erected cock, occasionally sliding his thumb over the tip. With his other hand, he carefully caressed his balls. Soft moans now interrupted the pants and gasps coming from his slightly opened lips.
Frodo was overwhelmed with the need to do the same. A painful erection had quickly sprung to life in his trousers, and all he could think about was to reach down and relieve himself. He was about to give in the need, when he was abruptly stopped. Merry's eyes opened and met with his, and the younger hobbit let out a cry of surprise. "Ahhh!" He screamed, pulling on his trousers and desperately trying to get them back on. "Frodo! Wha- When? How?"
Frodo was as embarrassed as Merry to have been caught watching. He hoped the darkness covered the bulge in his trousers. "I'm sorry, Merry. I didn't mean to walk in on you."
Merry turned his gaze away in reply, not even daring to look at his cousin. He was still trying to button his trousers, without much luck. His entire body shook with nervousness.
Frodo walked in the room and sat on the table, leg dangling in the air. He avoided looking at Merry. "I've done it before." He confessed.
Merry stopped his struggle with his clothing and looked at his cousin with amazement. "I thought I was the only one."
"So did I," Frodo said.
"Do you think it's wrong of us?"
"I don't know. I thought these, um, areas, were only dealt with after marriage. But then I discovered that what I could do by myself..."
"Feels so good," Merry completed with a sigh, which made Frodo smile.
"And can be extremely annoying when not taken care of," Frodo added. "So do you think we should...?"
"'We'?" He looked at Frodo with round eyes. He saw the tent in his trousers and burst out laughing. "Did it arouse you to watch?"
Frodo's face turned a bright red. Merry stood in front of him. "Let me watch," he said.
Frodo hesitated a moment, then his hands went to his trousers. "I guess it only fair. I watched you," he said, before lowering the clothing covering his groin. His erection sprung out, and he wrapped a hand around it, using the other the balance himself on the table as he leaned back slightly. His eyes closed when he began rubbing, and his lips parted in a sigh.
Merry stared with unblinking eyes. It was more arousing than he had imagined. It didn't take long before he was resuming his own activities, but he couldn't keep his eyes off Frodo. The fingers sliding up and down the erected member seem to be moving in slow motion to Merry. A burning need rose in him, and before he could think about what he was doing, the tip of his fingers were brushing against Frodo's penis.
Frodo gasped and jumped back at the touch. He opened his eyes to find Merry's own boring into him. "I want to touch," he said. Frodo only nodded, and Merry allowed his fingers to trail up Frodo's cock, slowly, barely touching. It so different from his own, yet so alike at the same time.
Frodo couldn't believe how different it was to have Merry touch him. He thought fingers would be fingers. "Merry," he panted. "Merry, don't tease."
A moment of confusion passed on Merry's face but he seemed to catch on, and he encircled Frodo with his fingers. When he started up and down movements, Frodo had to dig his fingernails into the wood of the table to keep from shouting. He leaned back even more, almost lying down on the table. Eyes closed, head thrown back, his breathing came out so loud and ragged that it worried Merry. He leaned over Frodo and said, near his ear, "Are you alright?"
"Yes," he breathed out. He opened his eyes and reached down to slide his hand into Merry's trousers, grabbing his cock. Merry made a sound that he killed in his throat, and it came to Frodo's ear as a squeak. Frodo smiled and moved further up the table, allowing Merry to climb on top of him. Merry positioned his legs on either sides of Frodo's, and kept a good distance between their bodies to allow their hands to continue their task.
Positioned above Frodo that way, Merry couldn't help but stare at the beautiful face below him. The lips seemed particularly perfect to Merry. Without thinking about Frodo's potential reaction, Merry bent down and kissed him. The kiss was hard and passionate, and Frodo's initial surprise had faded into a moan by the time it had reached his throat. Their hands stopped what they were doing, and Frodo put his on Merry's waist, pulling him down against him.
The feel of the hard flesh pressing together excited the two hobbits. Thrusting came immediately from both of them, more eagerly from Merry as Frodo was constricted in his movement. Their tongues were fighting mercifully in their opened mouths. Every bit of shyness had flown away, and instinct had taken over, raw and animal.
Frodo dug his finger Merry's back and tensed below him, before Merry felt a wetness spread between them. He broke the kiss and looked at Frodo, so beautiful and angelic and spent below him. Frodo opened his eyes and stared into Merry's, and Merry felt a hand creeping back between the two of them, taking him and stroking him until he finally came as well. He shouted and let himself fall like a dead weight on top of Frodo.
"Merry... Merry-love," Frodo whispered against Merry's cheek after a moment. "I'm glad to be back."
"I'm glad you are too, Frodo. I missed you." He tilted his head and kissed him, less urgently this time.
"Hmm," Merry said when he broke the kiss, "I could do this forever." Frodo smiled and slid his fingers through Merry's hair, and brought him down to be kissed once again.
* * *
"That day in The Hole... I thought I'd found love." Merry looked at the pond, a rather melancholic expression on his face. "...but you never loved me."
Frodo pulled Merry to him. "Don't say it like that. I love you, Merry, and you'd better know it."
Merry gave a weak chuckle. "I know you do." He kissed Frodo softly, tenderly on the lips. "And I love you too." He closed his eyes and laid his head on Frodo's shoulder. "But we were never anything more than friends. We were never in love. I tried so long to convince myself of the opposite that it feels odd to say it now."
"You were young at the time. You saw love, true and eternal, in everything."
"That's what worries me, Frodo. Pippin is the age I was back then. What if he feels the way I felt back then? What if it's just an illusion?"
"It never hurt you when you realized that what we shared wasn't love. Maybe you were slightly disappointed, but you got over it quickly enough."
"I did. This isn't what I worry about. I knew when I walked away from what we had that I didn't hurt you. All we had was lust. We explored, tried different things, but that was it. What I feel for Pippin is love. I know it. I feel it in my bones. If he were to ever leave, it would kill me."
Merry turned around to look at Pippin, whom he expected to still be asleep between the tree roots. The blankets were scrambled on the ground, but there was no hobbit rolled in them.
"Pippin?" Merry asked, getting up and looking around. He heard no reply. "Pip?"
Frodo got up as well and walked to Merry's side. A knot began to form in his stomach when he noticed Pippin's backpack was missing. "Merry..." he said, putting a hand on Merry's shoulder. "Merry, he's gone."
"Gone? How can he be gone?" He asked the question despite the fact that the horrible truth was already settling in his mind. He began searching around their camping site, looking frantically behind trees and rocks.
"He must have heard or seen us, and have perceived it the wrong way."
"Frodo..." Merry said. "We've strayed from the roads. Pippin doesn't know the Shire well enough yet to travel out of the roads." He sat down and buried his head in his hands, and began crying. "He'll get lost."
Frodo knelt next to Merry and hugged him. "We'll find him," he said softly. "Hopefully he'll do what every good hobbit teaches their children: if you get lost, to stay put and wait for rescue."
"But if he's trying to run away, he won't stay put."
"He has enough food in his pack to last a week, at least, maybe more if he realizes he's lost and start saving his supplies. That should give us enough time to find him, given that we start now."
"But where to?" Merry asked. "He could've left in any direction.
Frodo looked around. "Not East, in any case. We would've seen him."
Merry got up, picked up his backpack and threw it over his shoulders. "My guess would be that he went West. He might not know his way around the Shire perfectly, but he knows we were heading westwards for Tuckborough. Were I in his position, I would try to get home."
"We'll split up. You go West. I'll stay around here and search around. Maybe he'll end up going in circles."
"I'll wait for you in Tuckborough in five days. If neither of us have found him by then, we'll ask for help." Merry hugged his cousin. "Thank you Frodo." Then he took off running.
For three days Merry explored the region. He had started in somewhat of a dash, but soon slowed down and took his time to look around in hidden places of the land, hoping to see a dark purple cloak amongst the green and brown tones of the West Farthing. He was getting closer to Tuckborough and with each step he was getting more and more desperate.
The sound of branch cracking came from his left. Even after three days of reacting to every sound, and being disappointed when they turned out to be nothing more than an animal or the wind, hope still rose in him. Slowly he walked towards the sound, carefully observing his surrounding, when suddenly his heart cheered. Before him, sitting in the shadow of a tree, was Pippin.
"Pippin!" He cried out, running towards him.
Pippin's head whipped around in surprise, and he sprang up and ran away from Merry, leaving his backpack and cloak behind.
Shocked, Merry took a few seconds before he came to his wits and ran after him. "Pippin! Stop, please!"
Pippin had turned his head to look behind him and see how far away Merry was, when he tripped on an exposed tree root. He fell down with a crash. Merry caught up with him and all but threw himself down next to him.
"Are you alright?"
Pippin sat up and dusted himself off. "I'm in no pain. I should like to be alone, if you please." The tone was cold, but Merry ignored it. He threw his arms around Pippin and burst into tears on his shoulder. Pippin tried to be unfazed by him, but he loved the hobbit dearly and in no time he had his arms wrapped around Merry, comforting him.
"I thought you'd gotten lost, Pippin. I was worried I would never see you again."
"I was lost," Pippin said, "but I tried to use the sun to guide my path homewards. Was I on the right way, Merry?"
"You've strayed south slightly. You would've missed Tuckborough."
"Maybe I would've reached familiar territories eventually."
"Maybe, maybe not. But I've got you now, and I'm bringing you home. Come, it's not even a day's walk away from here."
"No." Pippin said, getting up and going back to the tree under which he'd been sitting earlier, to get back his cloak and pack. "Bring me back on the road, and I'll go the rest of the way alone. I do not wish to walk in your company, Meriadoc." The tone had gone back to cold, and Merry got up to follow Pippin.
"Why won't you accept my company, Pippin?" Merry asked. "Pippin, whatever you heard, whatever you saw, there is an explanation. Tell me what is on your mind, and I shall do my very best to give you that explanation."
"You kissed him, and told him you loved him," Pippin said. "And I heard... I heard about you and him, before... Before me. I thought I was the only one in your heart, Merry. I don't think I should be able to share you with anyone, so maybe... Maybe I shouldn't have you at all."
Merry stood in front of the young hobbit and looked his in eyes. "Pippin, my heart is entirely and solely yours. I swear, on my life, that it will always be."
"But you said you loved him."
"I do -- as a friend. My love for you goes deeper. What I feel for you is no mere infactuation. I am madly, completely, passionately in love with you."
"Oh, Merry," Pippin said, and stepped closer to Merry, who welcomed him whole-heartily into his arms. "I feel the same way."
"Hush," Merry said. "Don't say that. You see, there was a time I thought I was in love with Frodo, but I was young and foolish. I know now that it was never true. But you, my dear cousin, are the age I was then, and I must admit that my biggest fear is that one day you might make the same discovery I made back then."
"Very well. I will not say, 'I love you', if you believe am I too young to mean it. But I would very much like to stay by your side, Merry, and discover what love truly is. That is, if you'll have me in the meantime."
"I will," Merry said, and he tilted his head to kiss Pippin, a deep and slow kiss that lasted for a long time. Then Merry took Pippin's hand, and guided him back home.