Pippin stared at the wall blankly. The crumbling and cracking stone wall felt cold beneath his fingers. Being with the Uruk-Hai had been back enough, but at least he had Merry with him. Now, he was alone. He stood on the tips of his toes to look over the wall. He could see black smoke rising into the blood-red sky. Osgiliath was burning.

The world of Men was falling; even the young hobbit could see that. The forces of Mordor greatly outnumbered them, and they had no aid to speak of. But there was still Rohan, he reminded himself. That is, if they arrived in time. Which they would. They had to…they had to…

"What troubles you, Master Peregrin?" Beregond of the Guard asked.

"The same thing that's troubling everyone," Pippin answered.

"You needn't worry," said Beregond kindly. "Lord Denethor will not yet send you to the battlefield."

Pippin smiled weakly at Beregond, before the guard walked off to his post. Then he frowned again. Beregond didn't understand that that wasn't what was bothering him. What if Sauron and his dark forces won? What would become of Merry, and Strider, Legolas, Gimli, himself, Frodo and Sam - poor Frodo and Sam? He wondered where they were at this very moment. He shuddered at the thought of his two dear friends going into that smoking mountain of fire.

Pippin sighed. He was weary and depressed, not to mention hungry. He wished he had someone to talk to - Gandalf was off talking with Denethor, Bergil…well, he was just a boy. Pippin could never sit down with him and smoke a pipe like he could with Merry, or even Gandalf, for that matter.

He missed the Shire terribly, as much - maybe even more - as he missed his cousin.

"Master Peregrin, are you thinking pleasant thoughts?" Beregond asked.

Pippin nodded, wondering how long Beregond had been standing there. "The Shire."

"Ah, your homeland," said Beregond thoughtfully.

"And my fellow hobbits as well." Pippin hopped down from the step he had been standing on. "Merry, my cousin, is riding with Rohan this very minute," he explained, his voice filled with pride. Changing his tone dramatically, he added, "But I wish he was here. I'd rather fight a whole army of orcs than be alone like this."

"The sun has set, why don't you take some rest?" Beregond placed a hand on the hobbit's shoulder and gently steered him toward the staircase.

Pippin looked back for a moment, then walked quickly down the stairs and back to his quarters. "Gandalf!" he called, expecting to see the old man sitting up in the dim light in deep thought. Upon realizing he was quite alone, Pippin took off his jacket and slumped down onto his bed. "Where are you, Gandalf?" he whined, falling back.

Soon, he fell asleep, deaf to the world around him. He didn't hear Gandalf when he returned, nor did he notice the old man gently covering him with a blanket and tucking him in.

"Dream pleasant dreams, my dear hobbit," he said quietly. "Dark sleepless nights still lie ahead." Lightly, the wizard caressed Pippin's brow, then blew out the candle and left the room.

And then there was only the sounds of Pippin's deep breathing and of thunder rumbling in the distance.