Thanks to all who have provided reviews of this work. I really appreciate it!
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 and currently of
Author's Second Note: This story contains prominent spoilers for The Return of the King.

"The Vision of Galadriel"
Chapter Seven: Do Not Be Troubled, Little Merry

Here, Galadriel's voice stopped, and all images and sounds vanished from the minds of the two hobbits. They saw and heard nothing. When they realized that they were not dead, but merely sitting outside in a courtyard, Pippin began to cry on Merry's shoulder. Merry put an arm around him for support, but looked at Galadriel with an emotionless face. "Lady," he said, "if...if it had gone as you say, would Frodo be whole? Would Lord Théoden still be alive?"

Pippin, who had stemmed the tears of shock, added, "Would the forests of Fangorn been unspoiled? Would fewer men of Gondor have fallen in battle?" He paused, and added, with a shaken voice, "Would Gandalf have fallen in Moria?"

Merry took up again. "If all that suffering and sadness could have been prevented, then Lady Galadriel, I'm not sure if I wouldn't wish that it had happened that way. Please do not take my words lightly, for I have faced death before, and I have made the conscious decision to lay down my life to help another. My words are backed by experienced purchased at a high price."

"Me too," chimed Pippin, and before Merry could chide him for foolish talking, he (and the Lady Galadriel) could see that Pippin was not merely imitating his cousin, but expressing thoughts arrived at through his independent deliberation. Merry sometimes forgot about Pippin's experiences at the Black Gate—they did not show on his face.

Galadriel did not immediately respond. Long had it been since she had been stirred thusly. She was the Lady of Caras Galadhon; a proud, golden-haired daughter of Finarfin who yet lived in bliss with the Valar and had herself dwelt with them; one who had come to Middle Earth after passing through the Helcaraxë long ago; and who had seen Morgoth, of whom Sauron was but a shadow, shackled. The most valiant moments of the Noldor, when they shone with glory and valor, these were her family history. She had lived through both joys and sorrows so high and so deep that words did not exist to account for them.

Still, she was moved by the words of Merry and Pippin. 'They will be accounted as the lesser of the four,' she thought, 'but all that is lesser is the deeds they were destined to do, not their sense of duty or their pure nature.'

After a time, Galadriel knelt so that she was closer to the level of Merry and Pippin. "I do not know how others would have fared. That was not revealed to me." She smiled and continued, "I am sure you have heard this from others, but even the very wise cannot see all ends."

Merry thought on her words and then said: "Perhaps I have spoken too quickly." He looked at Pippin, and embraced him.

"Yes, indeed I have. My Lady, I have never lost anyone dear to me before the events of this past year, and, well, I wish I could have rectified it so that no one had to die. But I guess that people must always die," and here he hesitated, "right Lady Galadriel?"

In Galadriel's mind, she heard the sea crash against the rocks, and her mind drifted to a place where death was not necessary.

'But even there,' she thought, 'death was. Death of the worst kind—kin slaying kin.'

"You are correct, Meriadoc. Here, there must always be death."

"Well, then," said Pippin, interrupting his cousin, "then I don't suppose we ought to complain. Our kin are here, and we've lost precious few friends in the scheme of things. We ought not feel guilty because we are here and in one piece," and here he hesitated like his cousin, "right, Lady Galadriel?" He gulped.

Galadriel laughed. "Yes, you are, Peregrin, son of Paladin. Rare is a heart and spirit as innocent as yours."

Pippin bowed gravely and in appreciation, though he was grinning in what Merry thought was an inappropriate manner. Thankfully, only Merry could see it. He was ready to give Pippin a swift kick if he started to say something foolish, but Pippin held his tongue.

"I feared greatly that you would suffer irreparable harm to heart and spirit, and it is with great relief that you appear before me unchanged in this fundamental way." Pippin was beaming with pride, as Galadriel rose to her full height again. She touched Pippin on the head, and turned to Merry. She smiled at him, and the corners of her mouth were edged with pity, for she felt that while Merry was remarkably undamaged by the ordeal, he had not remained as unscathed as Pippin. Likewise, she placed her hand on his head.

"To you both, I say Namarië! I must take your leave now. I will not tell you to never be troubled by these events again, but feel no guilt at what has come to you, for it was earned well." With this, she seemed to float away.

Merry and Pippin sat in silence. After a time, they went toward their rooms, but Merry mentioned that he wished to see Frodo before retiring. He broke in that direction, and knocked on Frodo's door.

"Come in," replied Frodo.

"It's me, Frodo," answered Merry. Without pausing to survey the room, he added, "Good evening, Sam." There was no response.

Frodo chuckled, "Sam's not here. I believe that some of the Elves have taken up teaching him more about Gil-Galad. What can I help you with?"

Merry approached Frodo, and Frodo knew the expression on his face. Merry looked as though he had stirred from a nightmare and the realization that things would be all right was making its way through his previously terrified countenance. When the two of them had been together at Brandy Hall, when Merry was a small lad he would always seek out Frodo's room after a nightmare, and crawl into bed next to him. The two hobbits stood only about a foot apart, and face to face. The age difference between the two of them had nearly seemed to vanish when Merry grew his wit and serious personality, but at this moment, the 14 years between them was as a chasm.

Frodo smiled a smile of age and experience, and softly said, "I was right. Look at you, Merry, you've quite surpassed me. If you don't stop, I shall have to look up to talk to you."

Merry chuckled a bit and said, "Frodo, you may not be the biggest hobbit I know, but you remain the bestest, and I will never surpass you in deed. I have come to see about your hand."

"It is fine," said Frodo, "very fine, an so much better than the madness of the Ring." A dark cloud passed through Merry's face, and he stared at the hand that was missing a finger.

Frodo was surprised at the horrified expression on Merry's face. "Do not be troubled, little Merry," he said gently, "for I promise you, it is fine."

"Yes," said Merry quietly, "I know that it is fine. I just wish that it could have ended differently. Even if you still lost the finger, that the madness could have been avoided."

Frodo sat in a chair, and Merry clasped the hand. He looked at the hand, and his eyes went up Frodo's arm, to Frodo's face, which was serene. Merry's spirit finally was lifted; all he desired was some peace for Frodo. Perhaps it would be possible to return to those days when he and Frodo would drink and laugh together. Perhaps.

Feeling rather silly, Merry made a request that he had not made in years: "Cousin Frodo, may I sit in your lap?"

It had been ages since Merry had called him 'Cousin' and Frodo's surprise delayed his response: "If you can fit!" After some shifting, they were both comfortable, and eventually drifted off to sleep.

Pippin was rather annoyed to find Merry not in his room. It made him worry. After some searching of the grounds, he remembered that Merry had said something about going to Frodo's room. He went there, and lightly rapped the door. When there was no response, he checked the handle and the door was open.

"Silly Frodo, not locking the door as if he was merely at Bag End," whispered Pippin to himself as he pushed the door open. He noticed that Frodo and Merry were both asleep before he could make a clatter. Merry looked calm, which was a great relief to Pippin. Despite the fact that Pippin was well on his way to showing off his independence and responsibility, he still hoped to be as independent and responsible and smart as Merry. For in his mind, his cousin was still as infallible as he had ever been.

A desire not to be alone swept over Pippin, but there was quite obviously no room for him to climb onto the Frodo-Merry pile without disrupting everything. Quietly, he moved the rug to the foot of the chair. He sat on the rug and propped himself against the chair, clutching the cuff of Merry's trouser, which was within easy reach. Holding the wool pant like a teddy bear, Pippin joined his two cousins in untroubled sleep.