This is the second chapter of a fic that I’ve spent the last year writing. It’s an Agst AU that starts at the Black Gates and asks the question of “What if?” What if a member was lost in that battle? How would the Fellowship react?
I’ve tried to keep this story as much in character as I can, and I have worked very hard on it so any and all feedback would be greatly appreciated. The end result will be a total of 11 chapters long. Thank you for your time! I hope you enjoy.(end A/N)
“How can that be?” Gimli demanded. “Is there nothing you can do? Is there nothing you can give him? Are there no Elvish herbs or incantations you can use?”
“He’s beyond my help, Gimli.” Legolas shook his head sadly. “I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do.”
Gimli fell to his knees and punched the ground in frustration. “No!” he bellowed. Anyone not already watching the Elf and Dwarf now turned to face them with curiosity. “Not after all we did to find him! Not after the relentless hunting we did to save him! I won’t give up now! And you shouldn’t either!” He pointed accusingly at the Elf.
Legolas wordlessly lowered his head to look at Pippin, then slowly turned it back to Gimli. He shook his head sadly and despair crept into his eyes. “I’m sorry, Gimli. He’s gone.”
The Dwarf stood in silence and stared at the ground, his mind reeling for a solution. “We will find Gandalf,” he said with finality ringing in his voice. “He will know what to do.”
Legolas stood and looked down at Gimli. “I shall find Gandalf.” He nodded at Pippin as he continued. “You shall stay and watch over Pippin; I fear moving him any more will only cause more damage.” He turned and was out of sight in moments.
Gimli paced the floor and muttered angrily to himself. He’d pause every once in awhile, look sadly at Pippin, and shake his head, quickly resuming his march. `Never send an Elf,’ he thought, `to collect someone.’ It’d been awhile since Legolas left to find Gandalf, and with each second Gimli could feel the hope of Pippin’s revival draining from him.
At last Gimli caught a glimpse of the tall wizard and Elf quickly making their way toward him. As they drew closer, Gimli could see the head of Aragorn following behind them. The three approached the bed and Gandalf placed a hand across the Hobbit’s chest; a worried look came into his eyes as he studied Pippin’s face.
Gandalf shook his head and sighed. “I can do nothing,” he said.
Gimli couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “But you haven’t even tried!” he yelled. “Isn’t that what magic is for: healing people?” Gimli was glaring at the wizard.
Gandalf looked steadily back into the Dwarf’s eyes. “Some magic is for healing, yes,” he said slowly. “But not my magic.”
Gimli opened his mouth and shut it again. He looked at Pippin and back up at Gandalf with a hopeful smile on his face. “Your Ring!” he pointed to Gandalf’s hand that was still on Pippin’s chest. “The Elvish one! You could use its magic.”
Gandalf shook his head. “No, Gimli. This Ring’s purpose is not for healing, and I’m afraid now that it wouldn’t matter if it were. Since the destruction of the One Ring, I can feel its power slowly draining from me.”
Gimli looked from Gandalf to Pippin to Legolas and Aragorn, and finally back at Gandalf. “So you’re going to do nothing? You’re going to let him die?” he choked at the words as the restrained sobs in his throat fought to escape.
Gandalf removed his hand from Pippin’s chest and looked sadly down at Gimli. “He has already passed,” he replied solemnly. “And no magic can revive the dead.”
Gimli looked down at the ground, tears of anger and despair stinging in his eyes. Aragorn knelt on one knee and put a comforting hand on Gimli’s shoulder. The Dwarf looked up and saw that tears were in the King’s eyes.
“He is lost,” Aragorn said sadly, “but will never be forgotten. He will always be remembered, Gimli. We will remember him, and we’ll see to it that the world forever remembers him and what he did for us, for the Shire, and for all the peoples of Middle Earth.”
Gimli dried his eyes with the back of his hand and nodded. “All the Dwarves,” he said, “will know of his sacrifice.”
Legolas also knelt beside Gimli and smiled sadly. “And the Elves,” he said, “will sing of him for all the rest of the ages of this Earth.”
“And the kingdoms of Men,” said Aragorn, “will remember him as a Gondorian hero.” He lowered his head. “And remember that their King could not save his own companion.”
Gandalf shook his head and turned to Pippin’s still form. “Pippin’s passing was not your doing, Aragorn,” he said. “There was nothing you could have done to save him; he was beyond our healing. He knew the dangers of this quest before he set out with the Company. His fate was out of our hands since he left Rivendell.” The wizard turned his sad eyes from the small body to Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli, who all watched him silently.
“And you must remember,” the wizard continued, “that nothing happens without purpose or reason. We all feel regrets and frustration at the death of a dear friend, as I now feel grieved that I have been so hard on Pippin throughout this grim journey. However, we cannot let that feeling of grief take over our sense of reason. You, Aragorn,” he turned to Aragorn, “are the rightful King of Gondor, and if you do not continue to believe in your own strength, then you cannot expect your subjects to keep good faith.”
Aragorn nodded and raised his head. “I know, Gandalf.”
Gandalf nodded and drew himself up to his full height, for he had been leaning his weight against his staff since his arrival at the bed. “I’m afraid,” said he, “that I must return to other councils and errands. Alas that it is too busy for me to lament as fully as I wish to! I will have to wait for another time to grieve. I trust that you will take care of Pippin properly; I must be off.”
Aragorn rose, his eyes still sadly looking at Pippin’s body. He let out a heavy sigh and turned to Gandalf. “I also should be attending to other things. This is a grievous day, and I’m afraid I won’t be able to concentrate on much else other than this grave loss.” He turned to Gimli and Legolas, the latter of whom was still kneeling on the floor. “For now, farewell, my friends. May not your hearts be too heavy with grief.”
Aragorn and Gandalf looked once more at Pippin before they solemnly turned and walked away from the bed. It could be later said by Legolas and Gimli that they noticed a small weariness in the King’s great strides as he exited the camp; it could be said by still others that he was quite distant and reserved for the remainder of the day, and kept to facing the ground as he walked in a solemn silence between his errands.
Legolas found the wizard pacing in the darkening tent. “Gandalf.” He tapped him lightly on the shoulder to wake him from his trance. Gandalf turned to face the Elf.
“Frodo and Sam have arrived.”
Gandalf nodded slowly. As the candlelight flickered across his wise face, Legolas saw what he believed to be signs of weariness and distress. His eyes shone a bit brighter than they had in the months before, for the world was in a happier time now, but it was apparent that they held a large weight of grief and hardship beneath them. His eyebrows were lowered and his forehead creased under the weight of his deep concentration, and a strained feeling of resistance surrounded him.
“How are they?” Gandalf’s voice was filled with concern.
“Unconscious. Gwaihir carried them out of the heart of Mount Doom before it was completely destroyed. Had they been trapped out there only moments longer, they surely would both be dead.”
“How is Frodo?”
Legolas sighed sadly. “His hand is mutilated and missing a finger. He looked deathly upon arrival, but he will heal with time. Most Hobbits do, and with surprising speed I might add.”
“That is something I’ve observed myself, though I don’t know how much a Hobbit can take before he is beyond hope of healing.” Gandalf leaned against his staff for support. “This will be hard for the Hobbits; harder than any other hardship that they have already been forced to face.”
Legolas nodded solemnly. “Are you going to tell them soon?”
“They must recover their strength; that is the only hope we still have that can keep them from despair. It is not guaranteed that with rest they will be spared depression, but it makes things look better for them.”
“Shall I send for Merry?”
“No!” Gandalf shook his head. “No, it would be too painful for him. He shall stay in Minas Tirith.”
Legolas frowned. “But surely that will drive him mad–having him wait that much longer to be reunited with his friends? He will be expecting to see Pippin return with us. What will he do when he realizes his cousin will never return?”
“We shall see when we arrive at the White City. Minas Tirith has become a familiar place to him; he has been given the time to grow comfortable in its surroundings. Grief is best felt in a familiar environment. I also believe it would be incredibly hard on the Hobbit to stay so close to the location where Pippin breathed his last breath. I would greatly discourage Merry from coming anywhere near this area at any time; it could be very painful.”
Legolas nodded and a great sadness crept into his mind. “It will be hard on Frodo and Sam, but I’m afraid it will be hardest on poor Merry.”
“As can be expected after their lasting companionship throughout this torturous adventure. Merry, I’m afraid, will never fully heal; he’ll never forget his love for his cousin. We can not expect him to.”
“And what of Frodo and Sam?”
“Everyone grieves in a different way. I believe Frodo and Sam will express their grief quite differently from each other, but they have the comfort of one another. I think it will hit Frodo the hardest of the two, but I hope he will heal with time.”
Gandalf nodded a farewell to the Elf and walked outside of the encampment. The site of a legion of huge eagles met his eyes. He walked up to the largest of the flock that was rested and waiting on the ground.
“Gwaihir, my old friend,” Gandalf addressed the great eagle and its sharp eyes turned to the wizard. “I don’t think I shall ever be able to repay you for all that you have done for our Company.”
Gwaihir’s eyes and voice were warm as he responded; “I do what I can to help a friend in need.” A mist covered the eagle’s eyes and his head lowered. “I only regret that I could not save the little one you have lost. On behalf of the flock, our deepest sympathy goes out to you and your Company.”
Gandalf nodded slowly. “These things happen, Gwaihir. Death may always come to those that do not deserve it, but those left behind will continue to carry on with their lives. The dead never really leave us entirely; they are always held in our hearts and minds.”
“Your words are a comfort to all who hear them, Mithrandir. May your days be long and fruitful. Until we meet again, my friend, farewell.” The eagle spread his majestic wings and pushed off from the ground. He rose higher in the air, wind ruffling against the golden brown feathers of his wings, until the entire flock was nothing more than a few small dots on the horizon.
Gandalf turned his eyes to the camp behind where Gwaihir had stood guard. He gripped his white staff and walked slowly towards the small forms bundled up in blankets on the ground beneath the trees. It would be a long wait before the hobbits woke again; he only needed to think of what to say when they are ready to hear him.