Somebody stop me! I never meant to write more than one chapter to any of these "reunion" fics! They seem to have a life of their own...

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



Chapter 2

"We seem to spend all our time high off the ground these days, you know. Being hauled about by Orcs and carried by Ents and up in wizard fortresses.... we'll probably end up at that white tower Boromir used to talk about." Pippin sighed, thinking about poor Boromir.

Merry nodded. He and Pippin lay on their backs, peering up at the sky from the top of the ruined arch. "Maybe we will." He was silent for a bit, thinking about the treeless, flooded, desolate ruin below them that was now Isengard. "I wonder what this place used to look like?"

"Sam said that Gandalf talked about it at the Council," Pippin said. "That it once was 'green and fair'. Hard to imagine now, though. Maybe Sam should do a little gardening and re-planting here when it's all over, if it's okay with the Ents, that is."

"Pip," said Merry quietly, "If Sam ever sees this place it'll mean that he and Frodo made it to that mountain, destroyed the Ring, and somehow got back in one piece." Merry sighed and shook his head. "After all that if the Ents don't let Sam do just about anything he wants to here, they'll have to answer to me."

"I haven't been thinking much about Sam and Frodo," said Pippin. "Gandalf hardly said a word about them except that they got across the River all right. I can't even imagine what they're going through right now." He shivered in the cold air and pulled his cloak tighter about him. "We've been pretty lucky, Mer, all things considered."

"I know." Merry thought for a while. "You know, getting the Ents to come here may be the only thing we get to do that's useful. You and I might spend the rest of the war wandering around Isengard, keeping from being stepped on or drowned or bored to death."

Pippin frowned at the thought. "Maybe we can do some exploring, though."

"Pip," Merry laughed, "We've seen everything there is to see east of here by being dragged through it. North is more mountains, south is the war, and west is.. hmmm. West is Dunland, where Legolas said those black crows came from. Kind of empty over there. Maybe we're safest right where we are, at least Gandalf knows where to find us here."

"I suppose so." Pippin sounded so downhearted that Merry's heart ached. Suddenly he sat up, pulling Pippin up with him. He wrapped his left arm around Pippin and took his cousin's right hand in his. He pointed Pippin's hand northwest. "There's the Shire," he said quietly. "It's a long way, Pip, but that's where it is." Pippin sighed and leaned back against Merry's chest. "We can explore there, all we want, when we get back. Don't you think?"

"Yes," Pippin whispered. He brightened, never one to be downhearted for long. "When we get back. After all the welcome-home feasting and parties and parades and such."

Merry grinned. "Especially the feasting, you greedy hobbit."

"We'll be taller than anybody, you know." Pippin found this notion delightful. "I guess we'll *always* be high off the ground, now."

"And we'll remember back to this night," Merry said softly. "Right in the middle of the third straight day of feasting, we'll look at each other and smile, and know that we're both thinking about this moment."

"I like that."

They sat, each with their own thoughts. Merry looked around. "The sun's coming up. Maybe we can get some sleep later when we know what's going on today."

"Oh, I forgot about that," Pippin yawned. "Feasting and parties and parades and *sleeping*."

"You won't be famous for anything you did in the war, Peregrin Took. You'll be famous for being the tallest, fattest, most well-rested Thain in history!"

They both laughed delightedly as they descended the stairs, and the Ents Treebeard had posted close to the gate wondered at the sound. It was unfamiliar to them, but it was a good little sound, of that they were certain.

** END **