A/N: this is an AU story, but I hope that doesn't disway you because I plan on making this very well written. This story is dedicated to my best friend Halogatomon. She's an awesome person, I hope you all have the chance to get to know her and become her friend. If not, please be sure to at least read her many fantastic stories. THANKIES HALO-CHAN FOR ALL YOU DO ^_^!

Disclaimer: I do not own LotR and never will. Sorry.

Mornie Alantie

It wasn't supposed to happen like this, Frodo could tell. After all their hard work to destroy the ring, Saruman wasn't supposed to be in complete control of the Shire when they got home. The hobbits weren't supposed to be slaves to men in their own homeland, and they certainly weren't supposed to kill people. Beside him in the cell, Merry shivered.
"It's cold." Merry stated the fact in full obviousness and honesty and rubbed his bare arms to warm them. It was true, the hobbits were only allowed one set of clothes and those were for summer. It was now winter and very, very drafty. Pippin coughed beside him, and Merry looked at him in worry and exchanged a look with Frodo. The young hobbit hadn't been doing well since they'd gotten back, and being exposed to conditions like this was not helping. Sam shifted his weight on the small bored beside Frodo.
"I don't like this Mister Frodo."
"Neither do I Sam." Pippin coughed again and pulled his knees up to his chest with a whimpering sound. He looked around with lackluster gray blue eyes at all the hobbits sitting together in small clusters, trying their hardest to stay warm by huddling up together.
"They shouldn't be so thin." Pippin whispered to himself. Merry perked up and looked at him.
"You say something Pip?"
"They shouldn't be so thin. Only hobbits like Frodo and me are supposed to be that thin. And the children shouldn't be die'n." Merry's eyes softened and he put an arm around the younger hobbits shoulders.
"I know Pippin, I know." He gave the thin shoulders a slight squeeze, noting how tense and slight they felt in his hands.
"We should tell Aragorn, Legolas, or somebody." Pippin whispered, one small tear falling from his eyes and smearing the dirt on his too pale cheeks.
"We will Pip, I promise, as soon as we figure out how." Pippin nodded gloomily, and laid his head on Merry's shoulder, breathing deeply and coughing every once in a while. Merry sent Frodo and Sam a pleading look, and it was obvious he sensed what the other two had long ago. If they didn't do something soon the youngest in their rank wouldn't last much longer.
"I'm tired Merry." Pippin whispered, shivering, his accent extra prominent with his exhaustion. Merry whipped the dark curly locks back and gently kissed the smooth, warm, forehead held in his hands.
"Then go to sleep Pip, and dream of better things." Pippin nodded and soon fell into the happy oblivion of sleep, unaware of his cousin's growing concerns for him, Frodo's anxieties about everything, and Sam's determination to do something before it was to late. He could not, however, dream of better things. His mind could only go back and replay their homecoming and how they had become like this...

"Home, home, we're going home!" Merry laughed along with Pippin's high spirits and Frodo shook his head in amusement. He did have to agree though; it felt so good to be going home. After all the places they'd all been and seen, coming back to the Shire sounded like going to heaven. The four of them rounded a corner and came to a gate.
"Hullo, what's this?" Sam asked while Merry held up his lantern to see better. The light fell across a sign hanging on a peg nailed into the heavy planks.
"'You have entered Sharkie's domain, keep out!' Sharkie's domain? But this is Shire land!" Pippin looked back at the others in confusion and only got mirrored glances. Merry kept looking upward, trying to get his lantern light to the top of the gate. Even when he had it held high as he could you could only faintly make out the sharp tipped edges of the planks.
"There's wire at the top, with pointed ends." Merry noticed, "Almost like tangles of a rose bush. No one would be daft enough to try and get over that nasty looking stuff."
"Yes but is it meant to keep people out or keep hobbits in?" Frodo whispered to himself. Sam was about to state his thoughts one the matter, when the gate creaked open.
"Who goes there?" The voice was venomous, and Sam shuddered. That was not a hobbits voice.
"We're travelers, who have seen many a distant land, and are now returning home. And you, sir, are on my land so either go tell the Master of Brandyhall that his son Meriadoc has returned or move so I may do it myself." Something of a face (consisting mostly of two dangerous looking eyes, an overly large crooked nose, and pointy canines)
leered at them from the darkness.
"You won't be getting any messages there young hobbit. Your precious Brandyhall has been destroyed and the Master killed." Merry cried out and drew his sword at the same time, but the man (or whatever he was) was faster. He reached out and grabbed the nearest hobbit by his neck. This happened to be Pippin, who was to shocked to really put up much of a fight.
"One step closer and he dies!" Merry froze midstep, while Sam and Frodo halted their ponies. "You all come with me or we'll do this to the lot of yah an' worse to him!" He picked Pippin up and threw him, none to gently, at a metal post some feet away. Even through the tough armor of Gondor, Pippin heard some very distinct cracks from the area of his rib cage and let out a whimper of intense pain.
"Pippin!" Merry cried and, unable to restrain himself any longer, made a dash for his beloved little cousin. Again the man revealed lightning reflexes, picking the small stunned hobbit up again and slamming his face into the afor said pole. Pippin felt warm liquid slide down his face, and heard Sam and Frodo's cries as if he were listening through water and was a fair distance off.
"Now no more of that or there'll be none of him left to save." The man dropped the not quite conscious Pippin a good two feet in front of Merry, who was looking very subdued. Then, just for good measure, a bored fell on the back of Merry's head with a crack. "An' no up starting." Merry crashed to his knees, hands clutching the back of his head, eyes sqooze painfully shut. The man sneered at him, then yelled into the darkness.
"All right! Get 'em boys!" Several large men appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, and seized the four hurt and/or startled hobbits by the scruffs of the necks.
"Take 'em to camp eighteen, and make sure they see all the stops along the way." Villainous laughter from the men holding them, and then the hobbits found themselves being dragged away. Frodo and Sam looked worriedly at each other as Merry and Pippin flopped along like rag dolls, both barely conscious.