Let me start off first by saying that all of your friends are alive. They are in different states of wholeness, but none were killed. I hope this eases your anxieties somewhat.
Now, the best news first. Frodo and Sam have been brought back to us! They successfully completed the quest, and are now back in our midst, healing. Aragorn has put them in a restful sleep, and they shall remain so for a few days yet. They have both been through much, but should both make a complete recovery in time.
Now, let us get to the matter of the one dearest to you. Peregrin is a hero; he saved Beregond's life by killing a troll that was about to skewer him. Words cannot express how proud I am of your young cousin. He was as brave as any man who marched with us. He is still holding his own, but he has been gravely injured. The silly Took found himself buried beneath the troll after stabbing him. Gimli found him, and Aragorn has steadily worked his healing upon him. He is much improved, but still wanders in dreams. He has not yet awakened.
Merry, it is time for you to join us here and be reunited with the fellowship. Aragorn believes that once you are here, Pippin will fight harder to return knowing that you wait for him. Please join the first supply wains that start out.
Slowly Merry folded the parchment and set it aside. Shakily, he sat upon the bed ... Pippin's bed. He had taken to sleeping in Pippin's room after he had set out for the Black Gate. He had felt too lonely in his own room.
He remembered the last 2 hours he had spent with Pip before he had left. They had taken breakfast together in Merry's room, and afterward they had sat outside on the balcony, smoking their pipes. The silence had lain heavy between them; there had been nothing left to say. All Merry could think about was that Pippin was leaving him .. again. Part of him fully expected to never see his cousin again, and the expectation of grief had welled up in him with force.
Now, finally, all of the waiting was over. And he felt many emotions at once. Immense relief had washed over him as soon as he had read Gandalf's first sentence. Alive! Everyone was alive...and that must include Pippin. Indescribable joy when he read that Sam and Frodo had returned. Beyond all hope, they had survived.
But the letter had simply stated that everyone was alive; Gandalf had been careful to make clear that not everyone was whole. And what he continued to read about Pippin caused fear to seize at Merry's heart. Pippin might still succumb to his injuries. Gandalf had not gone into great detail about what sort of injuries Pippin has sustained, but they were serious enough to keep him unconscious for several days.
Merry needed to be there. If Pippin were to leave him for a third and final time, he needed to be there before that happened, so that he could comfort his cousin as best he could. And so that he would be among friends when it came his turn to be comforted.
And Gandalf had known this. He had known that if Pippin died while Merry was still in Minas Tirith, that Merry would never recover.
Finally, it was all too much. Merry hadn't cried once since the company had left for the Black Gate .. in fact, he hadn't cried at all during the entire quest, except briefly and silently after Gandalf had fallen in Moria. Now, it was all he could do not to broadcast his misery to the entire city. Hot tears streamed from his closed eyes, hitching breath trying not to let sobs break out too loudly.
If he had only been there, he though irrationally. If he had been allowed to go and fight alongside Pippin, he would have been able to keep him from harm. He would have pulled Pippin away from the falling troll, and they would have been together to celebrate the victory. No sadness, no tears. Just happiness. And sheer joy once Frodo and Sam had been delivered to their midst. Why hadn't he been allowed to go!!
Gulping, he tried to get a hold of himself. "Stop it, Merry. Why are you grieving so when nothing has happened yet?" Except something HAD happened; his Pippin lay hurt, perhaps dying, in a field far away from his Merry.
Giving up, Merry threw himself onto the bed and gave way to his tears. Smothering his face in the pillows, he hoped to muffle most of the noise he was making. The last thing he wanted was for the folk of Minas Tirith to wonder what had come over this brave, heroic halfling that would reduce him to such. Brave and heroic indeed; Pippin was the brave one...and this thought produced a whole new torrent of tears.
Faramir had enjoyed getting to know Merry while they were both healing from their injuries. Now he had had the privilege of meeting all four of them, and what a pleasure it had been. Hobbits had a talent of worming their way into the hearts of the men they met, it seemed. He had stood beside Merry and Bergil as they watched the company start out for the Black Gate, and ever since then he had sought out Merry's company as much as possible. The lad was truly a pleasant sort, even wrapped up in his worry for his friends.
Now he was anxious to find the hobbit and compare notes. He had received his news directly from Aragorn, but he hadn't been updated on every person's fate, and he desperately wanted to find out what had happened to Peregrin, the hobbit who had saved his life. He was now making his way to Merry's room.
He stopped just short of knocking on Merry's door. He had heard the faint sound of weeping coming from the other side. Hanging his head for a moment, Faramir felt the sadness descend upon him. It must mean that Merry's little friend had not survived, and that thought was almost more than Faramir could take. Feeling the tears prick in his own eyes, he turned and made to depart.
Merry heard booted footsteps outside his door, and heard them pause. He jerked upright. Maybe it was Faramir! Merry rushed to the washbasin and splashed cold water onto his face, rubbing the teary grit from his eyes. Hurriedly he wiped his face dry with a towel, and made his way to the door.
"Faramir?" he asked as he opened the door. Faramir was there, but his back was turned to the door. He quickly turned around at Merry's voice.
"Merry? Is all well?"
Merry managed a sad smile. "Well, everyone is alive, but Pippin's been hurt. Come in, Faramir."
Tension seemed to drain from Faramir at Merry's words. "So Master Peregrin is alive? That is good news, Merry! But he is hurt, you say? Tell me all you know."
"Well, it is not much, at this point. Gandalf wrote to me to let me know that all of my friends were alive, but that Pippin had been hurt. He killed a troll, Faramir!" Even in the midst of Merry's anxiety for his cousin, his eyes shone with pride. "He saved Beregond's life! But then he was caught underneath the troll as it fell upon him." At this, Merry's eyes dimmed. "Gandalf says that he has been healing, but that he still has not awakened. He did not go into any detail about the extent of his injuries. I've been told to depart with the supply wains so that I may be there when he awakes. Oh, but you must already know that Frodo and Sam have been returned to us?"
Faramir smiled widely. "Yes, indeed! And that is the best news of all. The Dark Lord has been vanquished, Merry! Can you scarcely believe it to be true?"
Merry smiled. "To be honest, no. I must admit that I did not hold out much hope. I had fairly convinced myself that I would never see any of my friends alive again...not even Aragorn or Gandalf. I am ashamed to say that I had quite despaired. And that made it all the harder for me to be left behind. If it were to be the end, I wanted to meet it side by side with my friends. I feared to be the only one of the fellowship left alive. I would much rather meet my fate with the rest."
"But there is no more need to speak of such things," Faramir said gently. "It is over. Now is a time for rejoicing...and for healing."
"Yes...healing. Which means I must get ready to go to Pippin." Merry looked up at Faramir expectantly. "Are you coming too, Faramir? It would be nice to have a familiar face on the journey...to keep my thoughts from wandering into shadow."
Seeing the look of pain on Merry's face, Faramir gently pressed Merrry's shoulder. "Pippin will live, Merry, doubt it not. That one has an unquenchable spirit that cannot be extinguished so easily." Merry almost grinned at the truth of that. "And I'm afraid that no, I will not be joining you. I must stay here and prepare for the coming of the King."
"The King?" Merry asked, perplexed. "But Theoden is dead. What king do you mean?"
"Do you really not know?" Faramir asked, astonished. "Aragorn, of course; he is the king of Gondor now, or will be as soon as he returns to be crowned. He is Isildur's heir, you know."
Mortified, Merry hung his head. Of course he had known this; it seemed that recent events had muddled his brain more than he thought. "Yes, I do know. I don't know what is wrong with me."
"I do," Faramir said gently. "You have been most distracted, and with good reason. I'm sure that Aragorn would forgive you."
At that, Merry did grin. "It's going to be hard getting used to calling him 'Your Majesty', after calling him Strider for all this time."
Faramir smiled. "I have a feeling he won't allow any of you halflings to even bow to him. He'll probably insist that you still call him Strider."
Merry frowned. "Why do you say so?"
Faramir shook his head fondly. "Merry, don't you know that the four of you are the heroes in this story? Frodo and Sam, above all, for obvious reasons, but you and Pippin as well. You helped to bring down the Witch-King, Merry. His death won the battle of Pelennor Fields for us. And Pippin has played his part as well. Not only did he save my life, but he also proved himself a hero in this last battle. I don't think Aragorn will be making any of you bow to him anytime soon."
Merry smiled slightly. "Well, whether or no, that doesn't change the fact that he is king, and we will have to show him proper respect. And it is past time for me to start packing. I must be ready soon, and ... oh dear, Faramir, I DO hope that Pippin is alright."
Merry's ramblings concerned Faramir. He must be sick with worry, Faramir thought, and he may not even be fully healed yet. Faramir gently looked into Merry's eyes. "Just make sure you sleep well before departure, Master Hobbit. It would not bode well for you to fall sick again during the journey."
"I am no longer sick...it is someone else who needs looking after now. Take care, Faramir, and I will see you again soon."
"Fair journey to you, Merry, and may your friend find peace in your presence."