It was the end of the war of the ring and lately there had been countless days of celebration, and even more nights. The four hobbits, however, had decided not to participate as much as they could have done and on this morning were sitting together in the house they had been given just talking like they used to. Except the subjects of their talks had changed. Light was filtering through the net curtains in the window, but the view could just be seen and it was of a beautiful blue sky over the recovering fields of Pelennor. Frodo was relaxed in bed, his finger still bandaged and Pippin was sitting with him, his own fingers bandaged and splinted together, though only his sword hand.

"How did Gollum bite off your finger if he only had six teeth?" Pippin said as he held the hand in his. He seemed to be the only person who ever mentioned Frodo's missing finger.

"Very, very painfully." replied Frodo, smiling at his younger cousin, a yellowing bruise was still apparent around one of Pippin's eyes.

"I think I can imagine." Said Pippin, waving his bandaged hand in the air.

"There's a big difference between breaking your finger and having one come off completely." Said Frodo out of experience, he'd broken that finger no less than three times in various ways and knew exactly what it felt like.

"Surely, Frodo dearest, four broken fingers works out to about the same as one missing finger? Not to mention a sprained wrist." Retorted Pippin, though his wrist hadn't been sprained very badly and had already almost completely healed.

Merry and Sam were sitting on a bench across the room having a conversation of their own. They were both of the opinion that a few Pippin conversations would do a world of good for Frodo. Their talk was a little more serious however, sparked when Sam saw Frodo smile.

"I never thought I'd see him smile again Mr. Merry. In Mordor if he were to smile his lips would have cracked and bled. He didn't have anything to smile about, not even memories. I never would have thought it was possible to grieve for someone before they died before Mordor, if you get my meaning.

"When there was no light and I couldn't see him properly, I knew he was starved and thin, like Bill the pony was when we first got him. I do wonder what happened to old Bill." Sam's eyes glazed over in thought for a moment while Merry waited in companionable silence. "His eyes, if ever I looked in his eyes, they were haunted and scared, like a rabbit caught in a trap with no hope left." He looked back over to his master sitting on the bed and caught little snippets of the conversation he was having.

"I'll wager I've got more bruises than you!" declared Pippin proudly.

"I may have lost a finger but I've not lost any sense Peregrin Took, of course you have more bruises than me, you were squashed under a troll!" Frodo laughed.

"And his skin," continued Sam, "His skin was so covered in dirt I couldn't see it, but I could tell is was pale, deathly pale."

"Dear Sam, you have no need to tell me about pale skin. Pippin's skin was paler than ever I thought skin could be. I thought him dead when I first saw him, despite what Gandalf had said. There was such contrast between it and his blackened eye, the blood on his lips, the dirt encrusted in his hair that they had not been able to get out." Merry rubbed his sword arm absentmindedly as the dark memories began to cool it, lulling it back into cold numbness. Sam saw and smiled sadly.

"You two have been through so much, You and Mr. Pippin, yet you come out the other side stronger and happier than before."

"I had to have three baths before I was completely clean!" said Pippin, as if to prove Sam's point. "Though I think you and Sam hold the record with four baths each."

"Four baths? I'm surprised I didn't look like an old prune when I woke up." Said Frodo, no one had told him much of what happened between leaving Mordor and arriving in Ithilien and to tell the truth, he really didn't care that much.

"Well, that can be debated can't it really?" said Pippin cheekily, sticking his tongue out and dodging aside neatly as Frodo tried to grab him.

"We've been through so much? That's barely anything compared to you and Frodo." Said Merry.

"Begging your pardon Mr. Merry, but I don't agree, not at all. I wasn't once captured by orcs, I didn't fight in any large battles and I'm as near to unharmed as any of the four of us." Merry didn't see fit to argue the point, Sam wasn't feeling sorry for himself and as far as Merry could see, that was a good thing. "Don't forget that Mr. Pippin is a fair bit younger than us all."

"I never did Sam."

"Ouch! Frodo! That's my rib!" Sam and Merry's attentions were drawn the small wrestling match Frodo and Pippin were having.

"Oh Pippin, I'm sorry! But it serves you right for calling me an old prune." Pippin appeared to think long and hard, and then said lightly:

"Fair enough."

"Imagine seeing the dark lord at his age, and yet he is still so full of life." Sam stared at Pippin for a moment.

"I was so scared and worried and ashamed after he'd looked in that damned palantir that I didn't say a word to him. I wish I had, I would have done so if I had known that the next time I'd see him I'd be collapsed in an alleyway in Minas Tirith." Merry said, balling his fists up as though he wanted to punch himself in the face for doing such a terrible thing to his cousin.

"Think of all the other things we would have done if we could see the future though. And all's well as ends better as my old gaffer says." Merry smiled at Sam, sometimes Sam never failed to make Merry smile, whether he meant to or not.

"What are you two doing over there looking so glum for?" Asked a radiant Pippin as he leaped off the bed. He staggered where he landed and went down on one knee, obviously in pain. But he smiled to show that he was all right.

"A little exuberant were we Pippin?" said Frodo teasingly. Pippin decided not to say anything but instead sprang up, far more steady in his step than he had been for day and threw the curtains open.

"It's a beautiful day, what are you two talking about that could make you so downhearted?" Sam and Merry looked at each other and silently decided that they wouldn't say a thing. "Fine don't tell me, but I've been having fun with cousin Frodo and I thought you might like to join us."

"Don't believe him, he only wants more people to insult." Accused Frodo as he flung the duvet aside and climbed down from the bed.

"Insulted? That was barely and insult, I have many insults of orcish origin stored in this head of mine and they are something I will not utter within the walls of this fair city." Stated Pippin joining Frodo as he walked to the window.

"Hopefully you won't utter them anywhere else either you terrible Took." Said Merry. He looked at Sam and rolled his eyes. Sam smiled, Merry loved having Pippin back with him and they both knew it.

"I think I know some Sackville-Bagginses that could do with some insulting." Said Pippin. He leant his head on Frodo's, he used to lean on Frodo's shoulder but he'd grown since.

"You two really are too tall now." Muttered Frodo. "They'll be no such thing as cheap clothes."

"Oh I don't mind." Said Pippin contentedly, "It's a small price to pay."