‘You have to tell us!’ insisted Pippin again.
‘Leave him alone, Pip,’ said Frodo in a reasonable yet slightly amused voice. ‘This is none of our business.’
A single look from Sam silenced him and he crossed his arms, sulking a little. Merry laughed.
‘A gentlehobbit does not kiss and tell, and you should know it, Pip. Besides, this whole conversation is making Sam very red in the face.’
‘It is not!’ cried Sam who was, indeed, sporting the loveliest blush on his round cheeks.
Frodo squeezed his hand and kissed the redness.
They were all lounging on cushions and fluffy blankets in their shared lodgings of Edoras, resting after their travels and waiting for the banquet in Frodo’s honour to begin. The conversation had started, as it often did, with Merry and Pippin sharing their parts of the adventure. Merry had mentioned with great pride how he had fought side by side with the fair Lady Éowyn. He recounted with much detail their confrontation with the Witch King and how they both had been healed by Aragorn’s hands. But then his story had gone straight to the last battle and Pippin had decided he was having none of it. Merry was voluntarily hiding parts of what had happened in the House of Healing and the Took was determined to have him tell the whole truth.
And there they all were now, trying to decipher what had transpired between Merry and the Lady Éowyn just before the free people gathered their forces once more to march on the Black Gate.
‘Sam can blush all he wants’, retorted Pippin, pouting for good, ‘it’s not like he’s an innocent virgin, isn’t he, Frodo?’
‘Pippin!’ Merry and Frodo both cried in perfect unison.
‘Why do you target me, Mr Pippin?’ asked Sam, offended. ‘I’m not the one hiding my love-life to you all.’
Frodo snickered at that and Merry looked shocked.
‘Well, of all people, I did not expect you, Sam, to turn against me. Well, I didn’t want to talk about it because I didn’t want to shock any of your innocent ears. But since you’re all set on getting hot and bothered, I will tell you.’
Pippin let out a loud laugh and settled more comfortably on his cushions. Frodo curled into Sam’s side and smiled.
‘You have to understand that Lady Éowyn was Dernhelm to me until very late in the battle. That did not prevent me from growing very fond of him. It was unsettling to me since, as you know, I’m not usually attracted to males.’
‘You were attracted to Dernhelm?’ exclaimed Pippin.
‘This is no wonder to me’, said Frodo with mirth, ‘Merry’s love for the ladies is such that he could smell a lass from a hundred leagues!’
Sam barked a laugh before clamping a hand to his mouth. Frodo kissed his shoulder.
‘Very funny, Frodo. At least I don’t have scales on my eyes when it comes to knowing who’s attracted to me or not.’
‘Ouch, I guess that’s fair’, Frodo said, wincing.
Sam rubbed his back gently.
‘Anyway, I was both relieved and shocked, then, when I realised I was lusting not after a mighty male warrior but after the Lady of Rohan herself! But there was no time to ponder this, for the battle was upon us and then we were both wounded.’
‘But you recovered…’ Pippin said excitedly.
‘Yes, Pip, be quiet. We did recover, and spent a lot of time talking and getting to understand each other better. Drinking was involved.’
‘Oh, that can’t be good’, said Frodo.
‘Depends on what you mean by that,’ replied Merry brazenly. ‘At some point she started to ask questions about hobbit… anatomy. So I was more than happy to provide answers. Tangible answers.’
Pippin hollered and rolled around laughing. Sam opened big round eyes while Frodo snickered merrily.
‘I refuse to tell you all that happened then’, Merry said testily, ‘for that would not be courteous to the Lady. Even if what happened happened several times, with lots of anatomy studies on both our parts.’
And, indeed, Merry said no more. Pippin was laughing, both delighted and outraged, Frodo looked amused and Sam hid his face. They were talking about King Éomer’s sister, wife of Lord Faramir! Had they no shame?
‘Have you not been heart-broken at all, then?’ Sam asked shyly, ‘I mean, when the Lady married Lord Faramir.’
That question seemed to sober Pippin who wiped his eyes and waited for the answer.
‘Well, you have to understand, Sam, the Lady and I are like… war companions. With benefits. We care a lot for each other. But my heart belongs to no lady.’
‘For his heart belongs to all of them’, quipped Frodo, still smiling.
Merry threw a cushion at him.