Gandalf the White was undoubtedly very wise, but there were a few things he had forgotten: things belonging to the years he roamed Middle Earth as the grey pilgrim with boxes of fireworks and a long-stemmed pipe, things that remained buried deep in his mind long after he had marshalled the facts salient to the War of the Ring. But now, he was starting to remember.

Hobbits. They had always had the capacity to surprise him, had they not? Frodo was bearing Bilbo's old ring to the fires of Mount Doom, and no one had suspected that. Yes, that was why there was still hope, after all. Sauron would bitterly regret the surprises that Gandalf knew hobbits could deal out.

But this. Hobbits were affectionate, far surpassing Elves, Dwarves and Men in this respect; but he did not think he had ever kissed one. Certainly he had never swept one into his bed, that he might kiss him some more. He would not have thought his hands capable of this sort of magic, nor expected the electric shock of a hobbit's hands on his cheek, running the length of his back, stroking in the most surprising places.

Peregrin Took was asleep now, having dropped off quite heavily after he ceased crying Gandalf's name quietly into the night. Sleep erased from his face the mischief that lurked in the corners, as well as the fear that had etched itself deep in so short a time. He looked terribly innocent and breakable, with his fine ivory lids, achingly long lashes, and tousled hair. Gandalf placed a protective arm around him as he himself gazed out through their window at the foreboding sky.

He half wished that this fantastic night could be forgotten by daybreak, but he knew that Pippin would remember perfectly, and he supposed he could not deny him that. Well, then, they would each remember as they fought to protect the White City.

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