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Daughters of Jerusalem by Celeritas

Author: Celeritas
Title: Daughters of Jerusalem
Rating: PG
Theme: Dialogue
Elements: a captain, a road, a tree, and the number four
Author's Notes: Title is taken from Song of Songs, 2:7 and 3:5. This fic is dedicated to all of my friends who have had experiences like Estella's.
Summary: A simple, natural act can have far-reaching consequences. Merry goes to apologize to someone he inadvertently hurt more than a year ago.
Word Count: 828

“So. What is it you wanted to talk about?”

“I wanted to apologise—for my behaviour towards you, last year. No, please don’t turn away, Estella—I know, it was shameful, and not befitting a gentlehobbit, and most unkind to you, especially without so much as a ‘by your leave.’ I thought—well, I thought a lot of things differently, then, and—”

“Please, Merry!”

“No! I dishonoured you, Estella. And I deserved your retaliation.”

“Good. I’m glad to hear it.”

“Actually I’m rather surprised you didn’t strike me sooner.”

“I was shocked, Merry. And not a little afraid.”

“Afraid?”

“Heavens! Not of you, you silly goose. There was something else there—something I couldn’t understand, and then I learned that the four of you had left and oh!—”

“How much did Fatty tell you?”

“Not much. But enough. Merry, I thought you had died…”

“I thought I was going to die. That’s why I was so rash, why I had gotten that fool idea into my head in the first place. You know how I like to think things through, and I got to thinking about what might happen, and I realised I still hadn’t… well, it was an idiotic thing, but there you have it.”

“So it didn’t have anything to do with me, then. I was just the closest thing at hand…”

“No, no, it wasn’t like that at all! I mean, yes, you were the only lass in Budgefords that I knew well enough to try; and yes, you did happen to be sitting all alone with your back to that apple tree, but—”

But?”

“You were so very, very pretty, Estella. My heart broke in me a little, knowing I would be leaving that kind of beauty behind.”

“Well, if it’s any consolation, once I heard the news I understood. And I didn’t know whether knowing that made it better, or worse. But, I said, ‘He’s dead now, or he will be soon enough,’ and I tried my best to get on with life—which was trouble enough, let me tell you! But now—now you have to come back here, all great and shining and honour and… and Captain, and apologise to me?”

“Well, I wasn’t going to sit idly by and let you think I thought I did right…”

“That is not what I am talking about, Meriadoc, and you know it!”

“What else was I supposed to do?”

“I don’t know…”

“You’re right—I did have to come back and talk to you. There was so much I’d learned out there—and many things I wish I hadn’t. I’d thought that maybe the memory of a kiss would comfort me when things got dark, but let me tell you, the comfort was pretty cold. Because whenever I remembered the kiss I remembered my aching jaw, and I kept on thinking that one of the last things I’d done in the Shire was hurt you. I had to get back alive, if only so I could say I was sorry.”

“I kept you alive?”

“I suppose.”

“Not in the way it’s supposed to happen, though.”

“No, I guess not.”

“Hm.”

“If it’s any consolation, I quite literally could not keep you from my head. The road gives you a lot of time to think. It would, of course, only be honourable to at least offer you suit after—”

“Heavens, no!”

“What?”

“You are not allowed to court me, Meriadoc, because you feel bad from one stupid whim of yours! You’re supposed to court out of love, not obligation!”

“…And what if I do love you?”

“You don’t, Merry. You went through a lot of terrible things and needed a memory to latch onto, and you latched onto me. That’s not love. And unless you can prove to my satisfaction that whatever affection you think you hold has nothing to do with that kiss, I’d just as soon you never spoke to me again.”

“Never spoke?—Isn’t that a little harsh?”

“…I—I wasn’t ready, Merry. I wasn’t ready, and you took something from me, and you gave me something I didn’t yet want, and honestly even looking at you makes it worse. Please, Merry, if you do love me, leave me alone.”

“What about letters?”

“Beg pardon?”

“What about letters? You wouldn’t have to look at me, then, nor hear my voice. It’d just be words between us, Estella, no more and no less.”

“Don’t even think of trying to woo me with your words!”

“No—no wooing, no courting. Just letters. At the very least I should know you better than I do now. I’d be content with that, Estella, really I would.”

“Don’t expect any replies.”

“Not on my life.”

“Don’t even expect me to open them.”

“I won’t.”

“Really?”

“Just don’t return them. It’d be a waste of the Post.”

“All right. I suppose I can manage that.”

“Will you forgive me?”

“I don’t know.”



Tags: 2009, challenge: dialogue, month: 2009 november, november
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