Dreaming of Estella by Celeritas

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He’d had dreams like this before.  He was in a green field, the wind was in his hair, and she was there, pretty as can be.  He took her hands in his, got down on his knees, wrung his heart out before her, and begged for forgiveness and the chance to start clean.

 

There was always that moment of eternal waiting, when his heart beat a little faster and his face went cold.  Then—then, she said yes, and—propriety be hanged—he kissed her, and she kissed him right back, lips not frozen in shock but warm, pliant, responding to him like a flower to the sun.

 

It was a good dream, and it was always a shame to wake and have to remind himself that it was not, and never could be easy—he had hurt Estella, and it was a long, long road ahead before he could even think about making it back to the Shire, if he was still in one piece at that point.

 

This time, though, when they pulled apart, she had his hands by the wrists and was looking at him in the eyes.  “Merry,” she murmured, “I’m sorry.”

 

“Sorry?” he said.  “What for?”

 

“It’s too late.  You took too long.”

 

“What?”

 

“We can’t start over.  Look around you, Merry.”

 

He did.  The grass was yellow and shrivelled, the ground hard under his feet, and on the horizon he could see plumes of black smoke.  He tried to leave, but his feet wouldn’t move, and Estella continued to hold onto his wrists.

 

“They put salt in the fields, Merry, and they burned our orchards, and they turned the sky dark.  We fought as long as we could.”

 

“No, no, Estella—we left to stop that from happening!  That’s why Frodo left!”

 

“Frodo.”  She sighed.  “Do you know where he is?”

 

“Yes, he—”  His head hurt.  Wasn’t Frodo still with them?  Why wouldn’t he be?  In a flash of insight, he remembered running, looking—

 

The ground beneath him crumbled into nothing: he was slipping, and he was sure he would fall, only Estella wouldn’t let go!  He could feel the air on the soles of his feet, and he warily looked down—a dizzying drop into a dark crevasse that reminded him of nothing so much as Moria.  Head swimming, he looked back up at her, kneeling over him.

 

“You don’t know where he is,” she said.  “That’s why you left, though, isn’t it?  To look after him?”

 

He nodded.

 

“Poor Merry,” she said.  “You’d have done better to stay here, for all the good you’ve done.  At the very least you could have made things right with me, before…”

 

“Before?  Before what?”

 

She shook her head, sadly.  “It doesn’t matter now.”  But she was changing before his eyes—she was thinner, dirtier, and she had a harrowed look in her eye—and he thought he could see the dark mark of a bruise on her neck.

 

He tried to climb up, but she wouldn’t help him—only held him there, pinching his wrists with hands that were too strong.  “Estella, what did they do to you?”

 

“I told you, it doesn’t matter.  You came back too late to do anything about it, and I don’t think you could have done much, anyway…”  A tear slipped from her eye, and it landed on his brow, where it burned like an acid as it rolled down his forehead.

 

“Estella, please!”

 

“Merry, I’m sorry… you know I could have come to love you, in time…”  He heard the sound of a wind whistling above him, and she turned her face away.  Her hands went cold, and he looked on them with horror as the flesh withered from them, leaving nothing but bones that still managed to clench his wrists, even when at last they snapped from her arms, and he was left to fall…

 

It was so wretched that he didn’t mind plummeting to his doom.

 

He was woken by a kick to the stomach, dizziness, and pain, and it wasn’t until they made him swallow something burning that he fully realised where he was—or with whom.

 

Standing up, he brusquely pushed the dream to the back of his mind and forced himself to focus on the matters at hand.  Frodo was who knew where, he was a captive, but still alive, and—oh, good, there was Pippin—also alive, though he couldn’t say “well.”  Not yet at least, and he was determined that there would be a “yet.”  “Hullo, Pippin!” he said.  “So you’ve come on this little expedition, too?  Where do we get bed and breakfast?”

 


Chapter End Notes:

Dreamflower mentioned that she wanted more Merry/Estella from me.  Sagitta, my cantankerous muse/alter ego, has a twisted, twisted sense of humor...



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