Rating: PG-13 (mild violence and hobbit strife in later chapters) Summary: In the middle of a celebration after the destruction of the Ring, Merry is melancholy. While Pippin is with him, the Lady Galadriel happens upon them. Her words to them provide little comfort at first, but eventually the two hobbits find succor in them. Feedback: Constructive criticism is welcome. I attempt to keep as close to book canon as possible. Ideas on how to improve in this area are particularly welcome. Disclaimer: The places, situations and characters of The Lord of the Rings belong to the Tolkien Estate. This work contains no original characters. No money is being made from this work.

Author's Note: This story is inspired by discussions in the Merry's Mob and Pippin's Playgroup threads formerly of Imladris.net and currently of khazaddum.com.

"The Vision of Galadriel"

Gandalf the White was at peace. In the dark days that had recently gone down over the mountains, many concerns had haunted his mind. As he watched the four hobbits, the last of these drifted away. He had feared that he had set these jolly creatures a task that would strip them of their lives, or perhaps worse, not of their lives but of their joy. Yet as he watched them, unobserved, he could feel their cheer. It was an extraordinary cheer, and it moved him.

Each of the four had done great deeds and thus received his own praise. Still, they were happiest when singing the praises of each other, and it was clear that the greatest source of gladness to each was the mere presence of the other three. Merry and Pippin talked about how happy they were to be reunited with Sam and Frodo. They were relieved to have the two of them back, and both nearly burst through their livery with pride because they knew them. Likewise, Frodo and Sam lauded their younger companions for their deeds in battle, and were very keen to congratulate them on their positions in the service of Rohan and Gondor.

The sound of hobbits singing, laughing and jesting echoed off the walls of Minas Tirith. Indeed, the very stone of the White City, so ravaged by war, seemed to heal itself as the halflings passed. Gondor's last stand against the Shadow had left its chief city weary but the warmth of unabashed hobbit joy seemed to have a positive effect on all the things there, from plants to people. Indeed, Minas Tirith was to receive even more blessings, for after a time a great company of Elves arrived, and with them was Arwen Undomiel, who was to wed King Elessar.

There were great celebrations and in the hearts of all was the light of the sun at high noon. Yet after one particular night of celebrating, Merry retired early. This was not completely out of character for the hobbit, so no one thought ill of it. Pippin alone of the assembled knew something was wrong. He also left, and this too was of no concern to anyone, for Merry and Pippin were rarely seperated in those days.

"What's wrong?" demanded Pippin, as he caught up with Merry outside.

"Oh, it's one of my moods, Pip, and I'll get over it if I just take a nice walk."

This explanation did not please his cousin. "Now Merry, I've gone and left a very good party with my stomach less than full, so begging your pardon, but you will tell me what is bothering you!"

Merry smiled his gallows-smile and replied, "Oh, I'm just so upset with myself. Parading around in this livery like I'm some sort of grand hero, when Frodo's the true hero. He used to tell me all the time when I was little that I would surpass him. While I am taller than him, that doesn't mean a thing to anyone with some sense. I shan't ever surpass him where it matters, and I've gone and forgotten my place."

Pippin began sniffling, "Remember that day when I told them we were busy? We should have thrown ourselves down and offered service immediately! Will we ever not be young and foolish with our tongues?"

Merry sadly looked at Pippin. "Oh, dear Peregrin, I am so sorry to have dragged you into one of my quick-passing moods. But since you wallow too, let's wallow long and perhaps it will be long before we have to wallow again." For many minutes, Merry's face wore a distant expression, and then he said quietly, "I wish I had been able to do something as heroic as Frodo. Maybe I could have saved Lord Theoden, and spared Frodo's hand."

Truth be told, Merry's melancholy was indeed passing, but the two hobbits were not alone. A voice unseen said, "Unbeknownst to you, your wish was nearly granted. Many others were considered as Ringbearers before the task was appointed to Frodo."

Pippin and Merry turned around, unable to speak, for the Lady Galadriel now appeared before them. Both strained for words to properly greet her, and bowed low, but Galadriel continued: "There is no need for words. Sit and be at rest. Yes, what I say is true. For many years I sat in deep thought concerning the Ring, and in this time, I saw many visions. Two particular visions, each involving two halflings, came to me long before the Fellowship passed the borders of Lorien. One, in which I saw two halflings that I have come to know as Frodo and Samwise, was unclear and its end was not revealed to me. The second, in which I saw the two of you, was very clear and I saw the end.

"I do not deny that great fear passed through me when I first saw you at Caras Galadhon. I was relieved to see that Frodo had been chosen as Ringbearer instead."

Both hobbits were ashamed and unable to speak for quite some time. Finally, Pippin was able to say:

"We failed, didn't we, Lady Galadriel?"