After I wrote "Reunion in Minas Tirith," another short-and-sweet reunion vignette clamored to be told. Hope you enjoy it! (Special thanks to Tathar, Elwen, and Death of Ba-Gook, who seemed to think I had another one of these in me!)

DISCLAIMER: Of course. The characters don't belong to me, I just get to think about them day and night.

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REUNION AT ISENGARD

"Merry," he hissed, poking me again.

I wanted to answer, I really did. "I saw him too, Pip," I wanted to say, or maybe "Isn't this wonderful?" But as I was in somewhat of a trance, I couldn't get the words out.

Finally I regained use of my body and turned my head towards him, at least. I beheld a glowing, joyous, awe-struck face mere inches from mine.

"Gandalf!" he crowed, grabbing me and whooping in my ear, "Gandalf, Merry!"

Something shook me loose, then, and I grabbed him back and started laughing. Surely this awful place had never heard such sounds as we were making. Alive, he's alive, how could it be, maybe everything will be all right, he's alive!

We sat back down, dizzy and delighted.

"Did you see what he was wearing?" Pippin was still awe-struck. "Where do you suppose he got it?"

"I don't know, Pip, wherever he got the old robe, I guess," I said. Pippin was thinking of clothes at a time like this? "No hat now," I said, musing. "Nicer staff, too."

Pippin turned to me with a grin. "I guess that Balrog is flapping around down in the dark wearing the hat, don't you think?"

I started laughing so hard I thought I would hyperventilate. "Oh Pip," I gasped, "Stop, please!"

After awhile we calmed down. The stones were uncomfortable and it was rather dark, but neither of us wanted to leave the gate just yet. Who else might come riding down the road? If Gandalf was back, what wasn't possible?

"He said he had ten thousand Orcs to manage," said Pippin thoughtfully. "Ten thousand, I can't imagine anything so awful."

"I know. And Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli are right in the middle of things, it seems." I took his hand. "The Orcs don't know what they're up against, do they?"

Even in the dark I knew Pippin was smiling. He was smiling again at last, at long last. Oh thank you, Gandalf, I thought. Thank you for this.

"Come on, Pip, Treebeard said not to linger near the gate. We have to find a place to hole up in." We got to our feet. We heard thunder, and saw lightning on the far-off hills. War, I thought with a sudden pang of fear. War. But I was distracted for the moment by Pippin's hand squeezing mine. A whisper so quiet I had to strain to hear it.

"He's alive, Mer."