This is a totally unauthorised Tolkien/Lord of the Rings fanfic. Previously posted on www.angelsandelves.com posting board, fanfic thread. Set after The War of the Ring. Enjoy! Comments are always welcome.

The Cost of War
By Olivia Sutton
Thain Peregrin Took I, awoke with a start, and sat straight-up in bed. Next to him, his wife of ten years, Diamond of Long Cleave, called Di, awoke. "What's wrong, dear?"

"Nothing, Di," said Pippin.

"Uh-hum," said answered, turning to lean on her elbow and face him, "It was a nightmare, wasn't it?'

Pippin nodded, quietly, focusing in the distance instead of on her sweet face.

"Why don't you tell me about it?

"I can't," he mumbled.

"It was about your service in the war, wasn't it?"

"Yes," he nodded, "But before you ask, I can't talk about it. Now come here."

Diamond sighed, and moved closer to her husband. But she vowed that this had gone on long enough, she was going to do something about it the very next day.

Pippin sighed and held Diamond close, burying his face in her hair. Before long they had both fallen asleep.

* * * * * *

The next day, Diamond left Great Smials early in the morning, immediately after breakfast, and hurried over to Brandy Hall. She knocked on the door, and was admitted by one of the younger Brandybuck cousins and shown into the parlour. A few minutes later, Merry Brandybuck came into the room.

"Diamond! Well, this is a pleasant surprise!"

"Hi, Merry," Diamond answered, nodding her head ever so slightly.

"Tea?" asked Merry, politely.

"Yes, please," answered Diamond, "I'm famished."

After a few minutes, the servants had disappeared, and Diamond sat, quietly sipping her tea and eating a small sweet breakfast cake. Merry politely discussed the weather and Shire gossip while she ate and commented.

"Well, I guess I had better tell you why I'm here," said Diamond.

"Something's wrong with Pippin," said Merry, quietly, looking at her intensely.

"Yes, How'd you know?"

"He's barely been to The Green Dragon-- only a few times these last weeks. Usually, Pippin is there every night. He hasn't visited Brandy Hall in over a month. I'm worried."

"So am I--and--.I hope you could talk to him?"

Merry walked to the fireplace, and then knelt in front of Diamond's chair, "Di-- Do you know what's troubling him? Before I talk to him, I'd like to have some idea."

"He's been having nightmares, something about his service in the war. But I don't know anything else. He won't tell me anything about these dreams. And he's always been so closed-mouthed about the war. I mean, I only know what everyone else in the Shire knows about the Battle of Bywater. And I know in was in service in Gondor--but he won't tell me anything about it. I used to respect his need for privacy, but now I'm just so worried about him, Mr. Meriadoc."

Merry took her hand in his own, "I'll drop by this afternoon. Try not to worry."

Diamond nodded, "Thank you, Merry."

Merry smiled and offered her his hand to help her up.

* * * * * *

Diamond hurried home, stopping at the farmer's market in Hobbiton to pick up a few treats for Pippin and Faramir. When she finally reached Great Smials, she found Pippin sitting and reading a book in the family library.

"Oh, you're back," said Pippin.

"I just wanted to visit the market in Hobbiton," remarked Diamond, adding "I saw a friend and chatted."

Pippin nodded, then returned his attention to his book.

"What would you like for second breakfast?"

"Whatever you want to make is fine with me, Di."

"I just bought some mushrooms--." she offered.

"That's fine."

Diamond hurried off to the kitchen, frowning. He wasn't even excited! She brings home Pippin's favorite food, and he isn't even excited, something was definitely wrong. She brought the mushrooms and other supplies into the kitchen, and cleaned them, then cut them up into a frying pan with bacon and onions. Before long, the whole kitchen was filled with the smell of frying mushrooms, onion, and bacon. Ten-year-old Faramir toddled in, without being called, and Diamond smiled before assigning him the duty of setting the table. Within minutes, the mushrooms were finished, the tea was made and Diamond set Faramir to find Pippin and bring him to the table. It was a quiet and subdued meal, though Pippin did think to compliment her cooking.

* * * * * *

Later that afternoon, there was a knock at the front door. Neither Diamond nor Faramir answered the door. Pippin sighed to himself in his library chair, and went to answer the door.

"Merry! What a pleasant surprise!" said Pippin, with a grin as he opened the door.

"Hi, Pippin."

"Well, come in, come in, I'll get us some tea and we can talk."

"Actually, Pippin, I was wondering if you might want to take a nice walk. It's a beautiful day."

"Sure, Merry, let me grab a cloak and tell Di that I'm going out, come in for a minute."

Merry accepted the offer, politely, and walked into the entryway.

Pippin called out to Diamond, and she soon joined him in the hall. Pippin quickly told her he was going off for a tramp in the woods with Merry. Grabbing his gray Elven cloak from its hall peg, and a walking stick, Pippin set out with Merry. The two wandered down the land, and into the Tuckborough woods. They walked quietly together, and finally reached the top of a small hill.

"Let's sit here for a minute, Pippin," suggested Merry.

Pippin smiled and sat next to his friend.

"So how are things at Great Smails?"

"Same as always," answered Pippin. "And at Brandy Hall?"

"No different," said Merry, "You haven't been to The Green Dragon for awhile."

"I--.I know, I've been busy."

Merry thought about this for a minute, "With what, Pippin?"

"What?"

"Pippin," Merry grabbed his arm, "I've hardly seen you for a month. What's wrong? It's not Diamond or Faramir, is it?"

"No, no--.they're both just fine."

"So--."

"Did Diamond put you up to this, Merry?"

"She was worried about you. She came to see me this morning, and asked me to find out what was wrong. I would have come anyway, though, because I've wondered why you've been hiding in your study at Great Smials."

Pippin nodded, then decided he could trust his oldest friend and cousin. "I--.I have been having troubles sleeping lately."

Merry nodded, hoping his friend would continue.

Pippin swallowed then added, "I've been having nightmares, Merry, nightmares about Grishnâkh's attack, nightmares about the Palantír, even nightmares about Denethor setting himself aflame." He shuddered.

Merry nodded, and placed a comforting hand on his friend's shoulders.

"Merry, remember at the Battle of Pelennor? Do you remember much, about being wounded?"

"Not really, Pippin," Merry answered, his sight growing dim as he struggled to remember and put his feelings into words, "Everything about that day is all a gray fog. I remember images: Theodon being crushed by Snowmane, Éowyn's hair shining as it fell loose when she confronted--.confronted *him*. I know I struck at him as well, but that's always been really hazy to me. After, I remember being cold, so cold, colder than I had ever felt in my life. I vaguely remember seeing your face, hearing your voice, but not what you said or anything that was happening around me. The next I remember was waking up in the Houses of Healing."

Pippin nodded, "I've never forgotten that day, Merry. You were acting so strange, talking about the Houses of the Dead. When--..when you collapsed in my arms, I thought I had lost you."

"Pippin, I'm here, I'm all right. We are both all right!" Said Merry, his face full of earnest conviction.

"I know--.I know that, Merry," said Pippin, in earnest, "But--.I--.lately everything just seems so--.It's like it was *yesterday*, instead of, what, eleven, twelve *years* ago? My nightmares are more vivid and frightening than--.than when those events actually happened. I almost can't explain it. In my nightmares, things, events, don't turn out as well as I *know* they really did."

Merry stroked his cousin's shoulder, then nodded, silently imploring Pippin to continue.

"Merry, I--.it's these nightmares. As I've said, even in the daytime they occupy my thoughts."

"Pippin, you--.you don't want to leave the Shire yet, do you?"

"Leave the Shire? No, someday, maybe, but not yet. Bilbo is gone, Frodo is gone. Sam's told us he will leave when Rosie passes. Maybe then, when that happens. I just--.I wish there was a way I could get these dreams to stop. It's worse than when those events happened."

Merry nodded again, in sympathy, and said, "You were too busy at the time to think about it. So you think about it now."

"Aye, that's true. Do you remember, Merry? Do you remember the Orcs grabbing us at Amon Hen?"

"Now *that*, I remember. You distracted that big Orc, kept him away from me."

"You were hurt, I *had* to protect you."

"He attacked you, Pippin."

"I *know* that, Merry, I can't *forget* it."

"Pippin, I--.I don't know what to say. I've had my share of nightmares, but--.they've faded with time. I wish I could help you."

"You're helping just by listening."

"Pippin, come to The Green Dragon tonight. Maybe being around other people- -."

"Usually makes me feel more alone and miserable. But maybe I'll try it tonight. It's an idea. I'll see you tonight."

"Good. Let's get you back home, it's mid-afternoon already, Diamond will be worried, and Estelle will want me at home for dinner. See you tonight!"

"Thanks, Merry."

The two walked off together to Great Smials.
The End