Merry ran swiftly through the sea of bodies, searching for a familiar face. He saw it buried under the bulk of a troll. "Pippin!" he cried. Using all the strength he could muster, he pulled his friend from beneath the mighty troll's legs. "Please wake up, Pippin," he said quietly. "You've got to wake up…"

Peregrin Took and Meriadoc Brandybuck stood motionless, gaping at the scene before them. In one word, it was chaos. Hobbits were running about the valley, screaming, and every tent was ablaze.

"Was that my fault?" Pippin uttered softly.

Merry shook his head. "I don't know..."

Pippin couldn't tear his eyes away from the valley. "I just lit the match and the fuse, and -- fireworks aren't supposed to crash like that, are they?" He gestured with his hands as he spoke.

They exchanged a nervous look, then turned back to the fires, which were beginning to go out. Several hobbits had started dousing them with water.

All of the sudden, the fearful cries stopped, and were replaced by angry yells. A large group of hobbits were trudging out of the valley, toward Merry and Pippin.

They shared one frightened glance and ran. Off they went, running as fast as their feet could carry them. They went down one path, then another, turning here and there, not quite sure of were they were running to.

They only stopped when Merry pulled Pippin down a hill, near the Brandywine. "Duck down!" he said quietly.

Before he knew it, Pippin found his face in the cold dirt. Merry's hand had forced it there. For what seemed like a long while, bother hobbits lay absolutely still.

"I think we lost them," Merry stated finally. He listened once more, then sat up.

"That was a close one," Pippin said, pushing his hair out of his eyes.

Merry sighed. "We've got to stop getting ourselves into these messes." He looked around for any sign of an angry mob. "Come on, let's go."

For a long time, they walked in silence, listening only to the whistling wind blowing through the trees.

After a time, however, Pippin spoke. "What do you think your parents will say?"

"I don't know," Merry shrugged. "I'm sure they'll give me one of those responsibility speeches, and I'm positive they'll throw in a 'we're so disappointed in you, Meriadoc' once or twice." He turned to his cousin. "What about you? How do you think your parents will react?"

"Same way," Pippin replied. "Only they'll double my chores and make me skip supper."




He groaned. "Merry...I was just...wishing you were here, and here you are." He smiled, though a pained expression remained on his face.

Merry stared down at his friend worriedly. Pippin had a long gash stretching from his cheek to the center of his forehead. "You'll be okay, Pip."

Pippin shut his eyes as he felt Merry's hand brush across his forehead.

"No, Pippin, don't! Don't shut your eyes -- stay awake! Please, Pippin!" Merry pat his cheek and fanned his face desperately. "Come back, Pippin, please come back," he muttered.

Pippin's eyes fluttered open, seeing Merry's face once again. He was crying harder than Pippin had ever seen him cry before. "Merry, how -- how bad is it?"

Merry bit his lip. "Oh, not that bad."

"My head hurts."

Merry nodded, stroking Pippin's brow. "You're going to be fine. We've been in worse scrapes before. Back in the Shire, right?"

"The Shire," Pippin repeated lazily. "I was having the most wonderful dream aboutabout one of the things we've gotten ourselves into," he said slowly.

Merry laughed. "Which one?"

"The fireworks...when we set half the tents on fire..." He smiled, closing his eyes again.

"Pippin." Merry waited for a response. "Pippin!" He tried shaking his shoulders and fanning him again, nothing seemed to work. Pippin was drifting off again.

"I reckon I can do it," Pippin said, smiling.

"All right. Walk the log," Merry dared. "But I'm not going to save you if you fall in." He grinned evilly and sat down to watch the spectacle.

Pippin hopped onto the log and walked the first several feet with great ease, after that he got a bit wobbly. That was probably due to the fact that Merry continued to "accidentally" knock the log.

At one point, the log shuddered so much, Pippin slipped and fell down, clutching onto the felled tree for dear life. "Merry!" he yelled. "Stop it!"

There was a glimmer of fear in Merry's eyes for a moment -- he really thought Pippin might fall in. If there was one thing he remembered about the Brandywine, it was that it was cold, all year long. He hopped up and walked slowly across the log. When he reached his friend, he took Pippin's arm, and they carefully walked to safety.

Merry felt pressure on his hand and realized Pippin was gripping it, squeezing. "Pip, guess what? It's over. We won -- we made it." He smiled down at him.

Pippin opened his eyes and sat up with much difficulty, groaning horribly. He looked around, touching his head. His fingertips were covered in bright red blood. "Not that bad, eh?" He laughed, but it made him so dizzy he had to lie down again.

"Come on, Pip." Merry stood, picked his best friend up, and carried him off.

"What would I do without you, Merry?" Pippin asked, smiling slightly.

Merry shook his head. "What would I do without you?" He found himself stepping over numerous bodies: orcs, men, Uruk-hai...all dead.

As he stumbled on, he tripped over an orc. "Stupid orc made me trip," he grumbled. He attempted to stand up again, but realized his foot was caught. But what he didn't expect was that it was caught in the orc's hand.

Pippin, who was walking on his own now, rushed to Merry. With difficulty, he unsheathed his sword and swung down on the orc's wrist. He didn't cut the hand off by any means, but did do enough damage for the orc to release his hold.

Merry backed away, massaging his ankle. "Thanks, Pippin."

Pippin nodded, sheathing his sword. Breathing heavily, he offered Merry a hand, and pulled him up. He looked at Merry, wiping the tears from his eyes and sniffling.

Merry, who was crying as well, said sadly, "Oh, Pip, don't cry."

They fell into each other's arms, Pippin crying heavily into Merry's shoulder.

"We're all right, Pippin, we're all right."