Epilogue –A little over One Month Later

Frodo sat, propped up with pillows, as he recovered from his ordeal. Beside him sat Sam, listening keenly to the tale they were being told. Merry and Pippin faced their friends, telling them of their capture, trek across Rohan, and the days following their arrival at Isengard. Merry was doing most of the talking, which Frodo found interesting. As Merry covered their dramatic rescue, glossing over the more gruesome details, and skipping over Pippin's near fatal injury at Pippin's request, Frodo spoke up.

"It's a good story, Merry, but what about Pippin. What was he doing all this time?" he asked, Sam nodded.

"There are some holes in the story, Merry" he admitted. Merry looked apologetically at Pippin. Who groaned and winced. Merry grimaced sympathetically, dreading telling Frodo about the incident about the Witch King.

"They're going to find out at some stage, Pip" Merry reminded him. Pippin nodded, still grumbling.

"At least yours haven't scarred up really bad" Pippin complained. It was true, Merry's wounds had faded well, and were now only faint pink lines, or completely healed, and it was very likely that he would be left without any physical scarring, according to Strider, save for the scar on his eyebrow that he sustained during the journey. Pippin's on the other hand, were still obvious and painful, and Strider had regretfully told Pippin that the wounds would likely never heal, especially one wound in Pippins side that was deeper than the others, and the ranger had identified it as where the poison had been introduced to Pippin's body. Some of Pippin's bruises were still obvious, and the cuts left from the whip lashings were now long, angry red lines along Pippin's body. Pippin scowled slightly, before removing his tunic. Frodo and Sam's jaws dropped as the saw the evidence f Pippin's torture. Frodo, weak as he was, crawled across the bed to embrace his cousin. Pippin stayed silent as Merry told the other hobbits what had happened to Pippin, as far as Strider could tell, leaving the poisoned wound till last, while Frodo looked over Pippin's wounds for himself. Merry trailed off when he reached the details of Pippin's near death injury. Frodo saved him from bringing it up

"What's this scar here, it looks like it's the worst, but you haven't mentioned it?"

"Because I didn't want you to know about. You'd already been through enough" Pippin told Frodo, his voice low. Frodo looked alarmed, glancing from one of his cousin's to the other.

"When we were in captive, I was tortured, beaten, knocked down and kicked so hard that I never thought I'd get up again. The only reason I was trying to survive was because Merry would be alone, and I never thought anyone could survive like that alone. As part of it, I was knifed. Not too bad, but still badly enough to hurt. Over the next few days, I felt sicker and sicker, until I told Merry that I was sure I'd been poisoned. It turned out, I was right" Pippin's head was bowed while he spoke, and Frodo enveloped him in a tight embrace, and Sam sobbed quietly. Merry took up Pippin's story when the subtle shaking in Pippin's shoulders told him his friend was crying onto Frodo's shoulder.

"It was a bit of a struggle to keep Pippin awake after that. Saruman didn't really help all that much. He didn't really appreciate Pippin telling him that Gandalf looked better in white, and well, he didn't wake up again after Saruman smacked him one." In spite of himself, Frodo laughed, as did Sam. After a moment, Merry and Pippin joined in.

"Anyway, we were thrown in those barrels and chucked out a window. Pippin was in the last couple that needed to be checked. Apparently he woke up and talked to Aragorn for a brief time, but passed out. After we left Isengard we set up a camp in Fangorn forest, and Strider spent the whole night cradling Pippin in his arms, and it was only the next day that Pippin was responsive. The day after that we left Fangorn." Merry concluded the take as Pippin pulled on his tunic again. Seeing that Pippin was preoccupied with his tunic; Merry leaned over and whispered in Frodo's ear.

"Don't tell Pippin you know this, but Aragorn told me I should tell you that Pippin's been having nightmares about being captive." Frodo's eyes widened, and then he solemnly nodded. At that moment, Strider decided to walk in, and he smiled as he spotted the four hobbits crowded together on the bed.

"What have you been talking about?" he asked them

"How you saved Pippin's backside back at Isengard" Merry cheerfully told him, causing Pippin to blush slightly. Aragorn grinned. Merry had been making a lot of effort to cheer Pippin up before Frodo and Sam arrived, and now they were all working together to cheer each other up.

"Ah, yes. The number of times in those first couple of hours after we pulled Pippin that there was a dying hobbit before me. I am very thankful that I am mistaken" Aragorn reminisced. The hobbits beamed up at him as he continued on his way, smiling slightly. As he left, he heard Merry raise his voice.

"I think we can safely say that, to use Gandalf's phrase, we are all examples of hobbits toughness" their were sounds of agreement from the room, and Aragorn smiled, thinking back on what the four small beings had done for Middle earth. He concluded that Merry could not have said a truer thing

A.N. The End. Well, what do you think? This story was supposed to be a lot shorter, but I think it still turned out okay. Pippin's angsty side came out again in this chapter, but I think it was appropriate, or maybe not? I hope you like it. Please review and tell me what you think

Another note. Thank you to the first couple reviewers who reviewed this fic, and alerted me to the MANY grammatical mistakes I have made throughout this story. I am sorry for the errors' existence, and I do not make any excuse for them other than my own poor grammar and spelling skills. My thanks to WendWriter and Tulip Proudfoot for their constructive criticism. Your assistance and suggestions were greatly appreciated.