During the party in Rohan, Gandalf saw Merry and Pippin dancing on the table, singing a drinking song to the delight of the crowd. As the crowd cheered and enjoyed the song, Gandalf stared at the two Hobbits in question. For a brief moment, though, he didn't see two Hobbits dancing on the table. Instead, he saw two young dwarves laughing as they threw plates around a small kitchen.
"Blunt the knives, bend the forks..."
As Gandalf stared at Pippin, he thought he saw Kili. Kili, the dark-haired dwarf who loved archery and had an endless supply of funny quotes. Gandalf stared at Merry and there was Fili. Fili, the blond-haired dwarf who was proud, stubborn, and loyal.
Fili and Kili singing as they threw the dishes (and the rest of the company joined in). They were the boys who knew how to brighten up anyone's day. The boys who were killed before their lives could begin. The boys who reminded Gandalf of Merry and Pippin. Life was unfair.
Just then, "Pippin!" cut into his thoughts. Gandalf found himself back in the large hall where the party was taking place. The dwarves were gone; in their place were two Hobbits staring at him.
"Pippin, why are you staring at Gandalf?" said Merry.
"Gandalf's doing that strange look again," said Pippin.
"What strange look?" said Merry.
"He's always giving us that strange look," said Pippin. "He's been giving us that strange look since before we went to Moria. I'd like to know what's going on here."
Merry frowned, but he had to admit that Pippin was right. Something was off with Gandalf, and the Hobbits didn't know what it was. But knowing who they were, they were going to get to the bottom of the mystery, whether Gandalf liked it or not.