Summary: "As Pippin traced his fingertips across the scribbled words, he realized that Merry had written this while he slept."
Rating: Slash, PG-13
Feedback: Yes, please!
Author's Notes: A story for the Middle Earth University AU -- website for MEU is here. Takes place the Friday following "T.E.I.F." Written for the ringasm challenge #3. Cross-posted to bucklandblues.
Special thanks to thuri for the lightning-quick beta!
"Gooooooooood morning, MEU!" the student deejay announced grandly. "It's a beautiful day, so get out there and enjoy it!"
Pippin groaned as he rolled over in bed and pulled the comforter over his head.
"Activities week concludes today," the deejay continued. "If you haven't checked out all the fantastic clubs and student activities MEU has to offer, you owe it to yourself to pay a visit to the club tables in the Great Hall. While you're there, don't forget to sample some of the tasty treats at the TriChi bake sale, also in the Great Hall.
"Let's get back to some music. Here's a new jam from the Hole Dwellers. This is 'Eyes Like Jools.' You're listening to MEU radio, where the time is now 7:02."
As the bouncy drumbeat began, Pippin's arm emerged from the blankets as he fumbled blindly for the snooze button. He knocked over several picture frames on his desk before finally connecting with the clock radio. Pippin sighed contentedly at the silence and burrowed deeper into the nest of blankets.
An instant later, he sat up in bed abruptly. "Merry?" he mumbled drowsily, blinking at the sunlight streaming through the window.
"Morning, Pip," Merry said cheerfully from his desk, where he sat in a terry bathrobe, furiously scribbling in a notebook. He didn't look up from the page as he asked, "Sleep well?"
"What are you doing up so early?" Pippin yawned as he rolled out of bed. "You don't have class for hours."
"Oh, nothing special," Merry answered dismissively, "Just doing some writing."
"Writing what?" Pippin stretched, grunting as his joints popped.
"Just writing." Merry set down his pen and cracked his knuckles.
"But what is it?" Pippin insisted, peering over Merry's shoulder. "Something for the paper? Do I get to read it when you're done?" Merry often used Pippin as a sounding board for his articles for The Palantír, particularly for performing arts reviews. Not only was Pippin proud to offer his input, but it made him happy to share this important part of Merry's life.
Merry shook his head. "Nothing you'd be interested in, Pip. Just homework." He quickly flipped the cover of the notebook closed and turned around in his chair to face Pippin.
Skeptical, Pippin raised an eyebrow. "You woke up early to do HOMEWORK?"
"I couldn't sleep," Merry explained with a shrug.
"Well, if it were ME who couldn't sleep, I certainly wouldn't be out here where it's cold!" He shivered and rubbed his arms. "I would stay curled up in bed with YOU, all nice and warm and comfy." He crossed his arms and frowned. "Not doing homework."
"I didn't want to wake you," Merry explained, "but now that you're up...." He reached up to guide Pippin down onto his lap, pulling him close to kiss him softly. Pippin couldn't help but smile, his annoyance forgotten in Merry's sweet kiss.
Merry was smiling too as he pulled away, rubbing noses with Pippin. "Morning, you."
Pippin's eyes went wide. "You're freezing!" Pippin exclaimed, setting his hands upon Merry's cold cheeks.
"Mmm-hmm...but you're not," Merry murmured appreciatively, wrapping his arms around Pippin and nuzzling into his lover's warmth.
Pippin winced at the icy touch of Merry's hands on his bare back. "Okay, that's it," he ordered, "You're coming back to bed with me to warm up." He stood and pulled Merry up to his feet. "Now."
"Uh, Pippin," Merry laughed, "As wonderful as that sounds, don't you have to go to class?"
Pippin glanced at the clock. "Not until 8. Plenty of time."
Merry grinned. "You'll be late."
"So? I'm always late." Pippin took Merry's hands and led him back towards the bed.
"I KNOW you're always late, you dork." Merry shook his head in fond exasperation, his smile turning to a concerned frown. "But your Theory class is small -- doesn't the professor notice when you come in late?"
Pippin shrugged. "At least I come to class every day."
"You don't get in trouble?"
Pippin shook his head. "Unh-unh."
"Lucky sod!" Merry remarked enviously. "My Composition professor takes personal offense if you're late for class. I was two minutes late on Tuesday, and he tossed me out. Two bloody minutes! He hadn't even finished taking attendance. If he had started the lesson, I could understand...."
"You're in the wrong major, Mer. The music professors are much more laid back," Pippin grinned. "Anyway, I usually help Professor Galadin bring all her papers and stuff back to her office after class, so it all balances out, I think."
"You are SUCH a teacher's pet, Pip. Do you bring her apples as well?" Merry teased, lifting Pippin's hands to kiss the knuckles. "Do you clean the blackboards, too?"
"Very funny," Pippin replied, even as his hands drifted down to work at the sash knotted around Merry's waist.
Merry laughed and attempted to still Pippin's hands, but the nimble fingers made quick work of the loose knot. The sash untied, Pippin slipped his hands into Merry's bathrobe, twining his arms around Merry's waist.
"Pip, we can't--" Merry began, but his words were swallowed as Pippin pressed his lips against Merry's. He kissed Merry slowly and gently, brushing his tongue lightly against Merry's lips. Pippin felt Merry melt into his arms, as Merry wrapped his arms around Pippin's back and opened his mouth to tease at Pippin's tongue with his own. They kissed for several long moments, darting tongues, gently scraping teeth, and warm, wet lips. Pippin broke off the kiss slowly, sucking at Merry's lower lip as he pulled away.
"Mmm," Merry grinned goofily. "Nice. Very nice. What was I saying?"
Pippin leaned in close to whisper in Merry's ear. "I think you were saying, 'Yes, Pippin, I would very much like to go back to bed with you and snuggle and make love to you all morning.'" He kissed Merry's ear and pulled away to look directly into his lover's eyes, smiling hopefully.
"Pip." Merry's brows furrowed, the way they always did when he was worried about something. "We can't do this now. I've gotta finish that." He gestured to the notebook on his desk. "And you need to get to class."
Pippin frowned. "You'd rather do homework?"
"I'm sorry, love." The lines between Merry's eyebrows deepened. "I know you don't understand, but it's really important. I must finish it this morning. Okay?" Merry rubbed Pippin's arms gently, looking intently into Pippin's face. "Pip?"
"When's it due?" Pippin asked, still frowning.
"This morning," Merry explained. "I'm sorry." He brushed a section of wild curls away from Pippin's forehead, and kissed the freckle just above Pippin's left eyebrow. "Can I make it up to you later?"
"When?" Pippin asked.
"I dunno, Pip. Later today, okay? I promise."
"Okay." Pippin's frown softened a bit. "Merry, do you love me?"
Merry smiled fondly. "Yes, sweeting. I love you very much."
"I love you, too." Pippin's mouth turned up into a grin. "But you owe me."
"I know," Merry grinned in return. "You can collect on the debt later. Now, go get ready for class."
"All right," Pippin sighed, collecting his shower caddy and towel. "See you in a few," he called over his shoulder as he exited the dorm room.
As Pippin left for Music Theory class, Merry exhaled a sigh of relief. Oh, Pippin had still been grumpy when he returned from his shower, but Merry knew that Pippin wouldn't be upset for long. It wasn't Pippin's way to hold onto anger or jealousy, or really, any bad feelings, for long. Pippin's sunny personality was one of the many things that Merry loved so much about him. Merry knew that Pippin would return from Music Theory with a smile on his face, his green eyes alight as he shared an anecdote about one of his music classmates or something interesting he learned in class, his disappointment from the morning completely forgotten.
Still, Merry was grateful for the time alone, however brief, while Pippin showered. It had given him time to finish the note, and ensure it was delivered without delay. Merry felt a bit ashamed, expressing his feelings in a hastily-written note, instead of speaking them straightforward. 'The rising star of the debate team', Elladan had called him, and he couldn't even say it aloud, couldn't tell Pippin how he felt. But after the week they'd been through, Merry decided it was time he did.
Running a hand through his disheveled curls, he thought back to the confrontation with Grishnakh on Monday.
"You know, Brandybuck," the R.A. had sneered, pointing a massive clawed finger in Merry's face, "there's a RULE against cohabitation in the dorms!"
Merry was embarrassed that he hadn't stood up to the Orc, that Pippin had to come to his rescue, making up some ridiculous story on the spot as to why they had been caught necking in the basement TV lounge. Grishnakh let it go for the time being, but Merry would never forget the way the Orc bared his teeth predatorily as he snarled his parting words, "I've got my eye on you two. And don't think that your stories are gonna work on me next time, Took! I know what you two are REALLY up to at night!"
After that evening, Grishnakh was no longer just the bad-tempered R.A. -- he was a real threat. And if Merry and Pippin weren't careful, the Orc would have all the evidence he needed to get both of them expelled with little effort.
Pippin had laughed off the incident, completely confident in their ability to outsmart the admittedly slow-witted Orc, but Merry wasn't so certain. Orcs weren't the most intelligent creatures, true, but once they chose an enemy, they utterly destroyed it.
Since Monday, Merry had been almost paranoid -- shying away at the merest touch from Pippin, keeping his distance, very careful not to make any show of affection in public. Even in the privacy of their room, Merry was reluctant. They hadn't made love all week, and Merry hadn't said 'I love you' in even longer.
It wasn't fair to Pippin, and Pippin was not shy about telling him so. Merry recalled their fight on Thursday night -- only last night -- with regret. Pippin had assumed, logically, that Merry's distance was due to something HE had done. Despite all Merry's assurances to the contrary, Pippin was still hurt, and he said some things that he perhaps shouldn't have said.
But why, oh why, did Merry have to bring Eta Pi into it? Pippin's decision to pledge the fraternity had about as much to do with their relationship as Merry's decision to join the polo team -- nothing. Merry knew that. There was no reason for him to even mention Eta Pi. All it did was make Pippin angry.
Eyes narrowed, Pippin had remarked, "At least you know I won't be thrown from a horse and killed at an Eta Pi party!"
They had talked for hours, sometimes shouting, sometimes barely whispering over angry tears. It had been Merry's idea, originally, to keep their relationship discrete, something to be shared between them only -- Merry worried about how their friends, their families, their peers and teachers at school would react. But Pippin said he was beginning to feel like Merry was ashamed of their relationship.
"I don't care what anyone else says, Merry!" Pippin had exclaimed, tears welling in his eyes, "I only care what YOU say! Or I guess I should say, what you DON'T say!"
Merry rubbed at his eyes and sighed wearily. He and Pippin had made up last night, yes, and the make-up sex had been incredible -- intense and almost violently passionate. Merry stretched, groaning at the aches and twinges, and wondered with a grin whether Pippin's body bore as many reminders of their coupling.
Yet, despite the reconciliation with Pippin, Merry still felt edgy. He hadn't slept well all week. Writing the note had helped, definitely. Merry felt lighter, freer at finally being able to express himself. But he wouldn't be able to really relax until after Pippin read it. With a glance to the clock, he shed his robe and climbed back into bed.
Pippin descended the stairs to the basement level of the music building, smiling and greeting his fellow students as he passed, and entered the mostly-empty Music Theory classroom. Legolas sat in the back of the classroom, paging through a textbook.
"Test today?" Pippin asked as he dropped his backpack on the floor next to Legolas.
Legolas looked up from his textbook and sighed. "Environmental Science. That class is going to kill me."
"You'll do fine. You're really smart," Pippin said cheerfully, climbing up into a large desk. "You're just like my b-- roommate. He always stresses out about tests, but he always does well, because he's smart. It's always the smart ones who worry the most about tests, but they're the ones who have the least reason to worry." He swung his legs mindlessly as he mused, "I wonder why that is?"
"I don't know," Legolas chuckled, closing the textbook and returning it to his backpack. "But thanks for the vote of confidence."
Legolas watched as students poured into the classroom, and turned back to Pippin, eyes wide with sudden realization.
"You're EARLY!" Legolas exclaimed.
Pippin laughed, his green eyes sparkling. "So I am!"
"What's the occasion?" the Elf teased. "This is truly a rare event. We should celebrate."
"No occasion," Pippin grinned, "and no celebration, unless you count the sheer joy of getting a few extra minutes to talk to me this morning."
"Indeed," Legolas chuckled. He gestured to the small, empty desks in the front of the classroom. "Are you sure you wouldn't rather sit in one of the Hobbit desks?"
Pippin shook his head. "Nah," he said dismissively, "I'm getting used to these big desks anyway!"
Professor Galadin entered the classroom, punctual as always, and placed her books on the piano bench. She greeted the students, and began calling attendance immediately, eager to begin the lesson. When she came to the last name on her attendance list -- Took, Peregrin -- she didn't even bother to look up from her rollbook.
"Tardy," she murmured, raising her pencil. "As usual."
"Present," Pippin sang out cheerfully.
Professor Galadin looked up in astonishment. "Peregrin? You're on time?"
Pippin smiled sweetly. "Of course, Professor!"
"What's the occasion?"
Legolas elbowed Pippin, laughing.
"No occasion, Professor," Pippin said with a mischievous grin, "just a thirst for knowledge."
"A thirst for knowledge, eh?" Galadin chuckled. "That's a refreshing change!" She smiled at Pippin as she called the class to order.
Pippin pulled his notebook and a pencil from his backpack and settled into the large desk to take notes. As he opened his notebook to the first blank page, he noticed a folded sheet of lined paper placed inside. "Pippin~" was written on the paper, in Merry's distinctive slanted handwriting. Pippin glanced stealthily around the class, taking care to ensure that Professor Galadin was preoccupied, and unfolded the paper.
I love you, Pippin, the note began.
Pippin realized he must have gasped aloud, for Legolas leaned over to whisper, "Are you okay?"
Pippin nodded silently, turning to meet Legolas's concerned expression with a sheepish grin. The Elf smiled placidly and turned his attention back to the lecture.
Only half-listening to Professor Galadin's lesson, Pippin looked back at the note, at Merry's familiar scrawl.
I don't say it enough, and I'm sorry. I'm sorry if I ever made you doubt my feelings for a moment. I'm sorry if you ever thought that I took you for granted. You are so important to me, and I would do anything to make you happy.
I wonder if you realize how happy you've made me. I've loved you for so long, I can't remember if there was ever a time when I didn't love you. And this summer, to learn that you loved me, too -- it was like the world rearranged itself just for me. This summer was the best time of my life, and I never wanted it to end.
Pippin glanced up quickly as Professor Galadin began playing examples of cadences on the piano, then back down to the note.
My feelings for you haven't changed since we came back to school, but our situation has changed. I wish things didn't have to be different now. I wish everything could be like it was this summer. But I worry about us, Pip. I worry about what other people will think. I know you think it's silly, but I can't help it. I worry that we could get kicked out of school, because of the stupid cohabitation policy. But most importantly, I'm so afraid that you'll be hurt. I can't stand the thought that someone you really care about might reject you, just because of me.
This morning, I woke up early. I watched you sleep, peaceful and undisturbed, and envied how easy it seemed for you. You weren't losing any sleep over this. I wish I could do the same -- turn off my mind and forget about the troubles that keep me awake. I wish we could be like any of the couples in our classes -- like the boy and girl who sit in front of us in chem, who walk hand-in-hand to class. I wish I could hold your hand or kiss you in public with the same easy confidence.
Out of the corner of his eye, Pippin saw Legolas raise his hand to ask Professor Galadin a question. Although there was still more to the note, Pippin refolded it and looked up nervously, glancing at his fellow students busily scribbling notes while the professor answered. He met Legolas's eyes briefly. Legolas acknowledged Pippin with the slightest trace of a knowing smile, but the Elf's pencil never stopped moving. Convinced it was safe, Pippin carefully unfolded the paper, continuing where he had left off.
I love you, Peregrin Took. I love you when you wake me up with a good morning kiss. I love you when you play your violin, and remind me how truly beautiful you are. I love you when you're so angry with me that you won't even talk to me. I love you when you're laughing so hard over some silly riddle that you can't catch your breath. I love you when we're getting into trouble together, and I love you when we're getting out of it. I love you when you do crazy things just to make me smile. I love you in chem class, when you hand over your quiz to pass to the end of the row, and you flash that wonderful secret smile you only show me. I love you when you're sulking because I'm not paying enough attention to you. I love you when we make love, limbs entwined, moving in perfect synch, so that I can hardly tell where I end and you begin. I love you afterwards, when we lay together, our bodies aligned perfectly, like we were made especially for each other. I love you when you kiss me, pure and sweet, or hot and urgent. I love you when you take my hand, lacing your fingers with mine. I love you when you're trying to read over my shoulder when I'm writing. I love you when you're too impatient to wait for something you want.
I love you always, Pip. Don't ever forget that. But if you need a reminder or if I don't tell you often enough, say the word, and I will tell you, over and over again. I love you.
Pippin felt his face burn hot as he read and reread the note. He remembered his disappointment at waking to an empty bed this morning, with Merry busily writing at his desk. As Pippin traced his fingertips across the scribbled words, he realized that Merry had written this while he slept. He smiled dreamily.
Pippin looked up upon hearing his name, and discovered to his chagrin that Professor Galadin was looking directly at him, her expression stern. The entire class was turned around in their seats, gazing at him. The Professor frowned, and Pippin shrank under her withering glare.
"Yes, ma'am?" he asked meekly, surreptitiously refolding the note and shoving it into the back pocket of his jeans.
"Would you please tell the class what type of cadence we just heard?"
"What type of cadence we just heard," he stalled, "Um...uh..."
Legolas nudged him gently. "Five-six," he hissed under his breath.
"Five-six," Pippin repeated, confident in his friend's answer.
"Very good, and what is another name for a five-six cadence, Peregrin?"
"A deceptive cadence," Pippin answered without hesitation.
Professor Galadin's frown vanished. "Hmm. So you WERE paying attention. Very good."
Pippin breathed a sigh of relief and silently mouthed "thank you" to his neighbor.
"Any time," Legolas whispered.
Feeling guilty for tuning out during one of his favorite classes, Pippin devoted his full attention to the lecture for the remainder of the class period. However, as soon as Professor Galadin dismissed the students, he wasted no time in packing up his belongings to leave.
Legolas laughed as he slung his backpack over his shoulder, "Where's the fire?"
"Fire?" Pippin gazed up at his friend, frowning in confusion.
"You're certainly in a big hurry. Don't you usually stay after, to talk to Professor Galadin?"
Pippin blushed. "Well...heh...I have...er...that is to say, I...uh...hahaha!"
Legolas smiled at the Hobbit knowingly. "Are you feeling okay, Pippin? You were fine before class, but now you seem a bit out-of-sorts. Are you sick?"
"I'm fine, I'm fine!" Pippin insisted, a bit too vehemently.
Legolas chuckled, and Pippin realized the Elf was teasing him. The Hobbit smiled bashfully.
"That must be SOME note, Pippin," Legolas laughed, "I've never seen your face so red."
Pippin reached absentmindedly for the folded paper in his back pocket. "Yeah, it is," he murmured, smiling wistfully. "It really is."
Legolas smiled, pleased to see his friend so happy. "Well, I better get to my next class. See you in choir, Pippin?"
"Yeah, see you in choir!" Pippin grinned. "And good luck on your test!"
Merry was jarred from sleep by a persistent, continual nudging. He groaned and pulled the comforter up to his chin.
The nudging escalated into full-fledged shoving. "G'way. 'm sleepin'," Merry grumbled.
Merry mumbled a wordless protest and squeezed his eyes shut.
A moment later, he felt a warm, soft pressure against his lips, and opened his eyes to gaze directly into eyes of bright green.
"Mornin', sleepyhead," Pippin said cheerfully, punctuating the greeting with a peck to the tip of Merry's nose. "I see you went back to bed."
Merry sighed and smiled in spite of himself. "Hi Pip. How was Music Theory?" he yawned.
"Great!" Pippin laughed. "As if you didn't know that already!" Pippin climbed onto the bed to lie on top of the blankets beside Merry.
Merry blinked drowsily. "Huh?"
Pippin propped himself up on one elbow and reached into his back pocket. "THIS," he held aloft a folded sheet of notebook paper, "my dear," he kissed Merry gently on the lips, "sweet," he kissed Merry again, this time a bit harder, "wonderful," he kissed Merry again, smiling widely as he pulled away, "Merry..."
Merry grinned smugly, raising an eyebrow. "You liked it?"
Pippin sat up and moved to straddle Merry, reaching to set the paper on the desk beside the bed. "I liked it. Very much." He leaned in to kiss Merry deeply.
Merry raised his head to prolong the kiss. "I'm glad," he smiled. "Love you, Pip."
Pippin glanced at the clock and frowned. "Don't you have class now, Merry?"
"Hmm? Oh no, I'm exhausted. I'm not going to class today." Merry laid his head back on the pillow.
"Good!" Pippin chirped, peeling away the covers to kiss Merry's exposed chest.
"Pip!" Merry laughed. "I'm skipping class so I can catch up on sleep!"
"Sleep?" Pippin sat up, wrinkling his nose in distaste. "You can sleep later. You have plans now." He resumed his exploration of the skin just below Merry's collarbone, kissing and nibbling his way downward.
"I have plans?" Merry chuckled. "Don't you mean YOU have plans?"
"I have plans FOR YOU," Pippin murmured between kisses.
"Pippin," Merry hissed as Pippin's teeth brushed one of his nipples. He threaded his fingers in Pippin's chestnut curls, and gently raised Pippin's head.
Pippin looked up, his eyes glinting mischievously as his tongue flicked over Merry's nipple. "Yes?" He grinned as Merry shuddered slightly at the touch.
"I love you. You know I love you. But can't this wait until later?"
"Later?" Pippin frowned as he sat up. "But you said," he retrieved the sheet of notebook paper from the desk and unfolded it, "you said, ' I love you when you're too impatient to wait for something you want.' This is something I want, and I don't wanna wait. Besides, you OWE me." With a self-satisfied smirk, he refolded the paper and shoved it into his back pocket, then leaned down to suck at Merry's neck.
"I DO love you, Pip. But I really need to get some sleep. I haven't had a good night's rest in days!" Merry protested weakly, even as he wrapped his arms around Pippin's waist.
"You can sleep after," Pippin mumbled against Merry's neck. "I'll join you."
"Pippin." Merry steeled himself, determined to win out.
Pippin raised his head to look Merry directly in the eye. "Merry. I love you."
Merry sighed as his resolve crumbled. "All right." He grinned impishly. "I suppose I could spare a minute."
"I knew you'd finally come to your se--A MINUTE?!"
Merry laughed uproariously as Pippin yanked the pillow from under his head and began a ruthless downy attack. He knew that sleep was no longer on the morning's agenda.