A/N: Once again this chapter gives a little more background, setting everything up. But after this there shouldn't be more of it. Just something that had to be understood for later events to make sense (yes, I actually do have this story more or less planned out). Once again this story is dedicated to my very best friend Halo.

Warnings: Um this is rated PG-13 for some themes, maybe some language later on and (don't tell this to my sister) some slightly somewhat slashy undertones between Merry and Pip. *hides* Halo you've corrupted me!

Mornie Alantie

Pippin awoke that morning much the same as the day after they'd arrived, early and quietly. He groaned softly at the flaring pain in his chest as he stretched his arms. Softly he looked up at Merry who'd fallen asleep on Frodo, with his arm protectively around Pippin. Whatever conversation they'd had after he'd fallen asleep must have upset Merry badly to make him told him like that.
With still sleepy eyes the tweenager looked up at the face of his older, still sleeping cousin. Tear streaks were on the now peaceful face, exposing a little skin under the dirt and grime they'd managed to take with them, and Pippin felt a twinge of guilt.
It was his fault Merry had been crying. Since they had been small hobbit lads, he and Merry had often shared the same dream. As they had gotten older, and their friendship increased, they shared dreams almost every night and thought little of it now. And he had been dreaming of that night, almost a month ago, which meant Merry had relieved it all too.
Pippin shuddered, remembering Merry's reaction as they'd awoken from near unconsciousness near Brandyhall. All of Buckland had been burnt and destroyed. It was a land of desolation as far as any of the hobbits could see until across the Brandywine, were the Shire looked much the same as ever.
Frodo had looked downcast, he'd spent much of his younger years in Buckland, and Pippin and Sam had felt sorry that any part of the Shire could resemble Isengard and Mordor so closely.
But for Merry, this was home, the place he'd grown up in and the land he'd fought so many evils to protect. Yet here it was in absolute ruin. It was all gone, turned into thick black ashes that were whipped away by the wind. Even the Brandywine was a thick muddy red torrent.
It was the first time Pippin ever saw Meriadoc the Magnificent really and truly cry before, and it most certainly wasn't to be the last. Everyone cried in this god-forsaken place. He'd watched in sympathetic horror, being unable to go over and offer any more comfort, as Merry had leaned over and been violently sick, choking and sobbing with tears falling from his eyes. He didn't resemble a knight of Rohan much now, but Pippin knew he couldn't help it and that at the moment he really didn't care. His home was utterly destroyed, and it was safe now to say the gatekeeper was right about his father's death.
But the worst was yet to come. The gorilla like men, who shamed Aragorn by saying they were the same species as him and the valiant people of Gondor, dragged a sobbing and sometimes heaving Merry and the other hobbits the remainder of the way to 'camp number 18'.
This turned out to be Brandyhall, but not as the four of them had known it. The great halls and places Merry and Frodo had played in as children were destroyed, the stately rooms turned to cells. In essence Merry's home was now a prison.
They were dragged down the main hall and thrown into a cell that, ironically enough, had once been Merry's room. As the door slammed shut behind them, Merry fell to his knees. The few hobbits all ready in the room looked at them as if trying to place them with a family. Pippin knelt down by Merry, who had now fallen onto his hands and knees, and whose shoulders were shaking with repressed sobs.
"You can cry Merry. We won't think less of you." A great sob escaped Merry's throat and he was soon struggling for breath. Pippin gave him a sympathetic look, as Frodo got onto his knees and rubbed Merry's back in a soothing motion much as he'd done when they were kids. Suddenly, someone at the back of the cell jumped to their feet.
"Master Peregrin!" Pippin looked up, startled. He had to squint hard to see them in the dim light but he recognized them quickly.
"Ringo!" Pippin jumped to his feet and ran over, giving his friend a hug.
"Praise the Valar Pip, everyone said you were dead! My word you've grown!"
"No, no, I didn't die. I went to far away lands but I am back now." Ringo hugged him again, and then stood back with sad eyes.
"So much has changed since you left Peregrin. So much has changed." Pippin returned his sober look.
"Ringo what happened here, to Brandyhall?" Pippin's voice was barley above a whisper, and he motioned Sam closer so he could hear too.
"It all started barely a week after you'd left. Men came, and besieged everything this side of the Brandywine. They burned it all, and killed anyone they felt like. That was all of them, save a handful of the best Brandybucks, including Master Saradoc. We would have come to help but it was to far, and all over by the time anyone west of the East Farthing heard." Pippin's eyes were wide, and Sam was praying Merry wasn't hearing this.
"And what happened to the other Brandybucks, the ones who lived?"
"I wouldn't rightly call this existence living Master Peregrin. An' you know Brandybucks they won't take none lying down. They tried to fight an' escape loads of times but...none did. Master Saradoc was last left alive. He tried to escape long with...some others...They hanged up in Bywater. That was the last Brandybuck, 'cept Master Merry now." Merry had heard all of this, and was now violently trembling in Frodo's grasp with wide disbelieving eyes. Frodo wanted to beg Pippin to stop but he, like the other two, had noticed Ringo's hesitation at naming the others who had been hanged.
"Who were the others Ringo, that were martyred that day?"
"Ringo I must know! Who were they?"
"They...they...oh Pip! It were your da' and Gaffer Gamgee!" Sam stiffened, his breath caught in his throat. Pippin choked.
"They hanged up for the whole Shire ta see what happens to upstarts. An' they're last words I'll never forget, s'long as I live Master Peregrin. 'Our sons live on and will be the saviors of the Shire!'" Poor Ringo looked at the floor, tears welling up in his eyes. "'M sorry Master Peregrin, to 'ave to be the one to tell ye." Pippin crashed to his knees and could only stare in utter disbelief.

Sorry for the cliffhanger. I'll do more tomorrow, I promise!