"Merry, shouldn't you be asleep now? Are you having nightmares?" Though Merry had healed from the fever striking him after his encounter with the Witch King in Pelennor, Pippin still anxiously came to watch his cousin and friend at night.

Merry shook his head. "I am fine, Pip. Just thinking."

"About what?" The tweenager pulled a chair up to the bedside.

Merry grasped his knees in a childish gesture, sitting up in bed. "All this. Death. War. Pain. Grief. Destruction. War is not exciting. It is simply nasty: all bloodstains, tears, and sweat. Learning that our life in the Shire is a sheltered dream for many. That's what I wonder most. Why hobbits do not have this problem. Not only do the evil races fight, but so do men. Dwarves do, too. Even Elves. What makes us different?"

The Pippin of a few months ago would never have known what to think or say about this, but now... "I suppose we have found the way of simple happiness. No glory, no pride of battle, but just comfort and love and friendship."

"Until we have to fight."

"Yes, we do have a problem in that, do we not?" Pippin smiled sadly. "I tell you what, when I become the Thain, I will have the Shiriffs post notices around the borders of the Shire. They will say, 'You are now entering the Shire, a peaceful country. All war, dissension, and battle beyond family quarreling is strictly forbidden. Any violation of this rule will result in being forced to look after all the children in the Great Smials and Brandy Hall for up to a year. They will eat you alive."

Merry laughed softly. "To be serious, Pippin, I wish that other races could be as sensible. Adventure is fine. Just not war."

"Yes, Merry. I wish that too."