Author’s Note-Celebrate, everyone! This is my 33rd post! My articles have come of age! Pass `round the pint glasses and the mushrooms! We’ll have a jolly time! Read on and be merry!
“I’ll tell you something, Pip, my father relates often to having second thoughts about getting married,” Merry told his cousin as they sat up late one warm evening in May, “and I cannot relate at all.”
“You can, too, you big liar!” Pippin exclaimed, “Why, it was only last week you were groaning about staying out late and the like, and how you wouldn’t be able to when you were married. Don’t deny that, Merry, because I was right there to hear every word of it.”
“That was then, this is now,” Merry replied, exhaling smoke from his pipe, “There are no doubts in my mind, my dear Pippin. Estella is perfect.”
“Perfect by who’s standards?” Pippin inquired, impertinently, “For if I were in your shoes and you in mine, I’d probably say that you had the better deal.”
Merry raised his eyebrows, fixing his pipe between his teeth, coolly, and then blowing a cunning smoke ring out of the corner of his mouth. It took flight, gliding high into the breezes above before fading into a grey mist. At last, Merry spoke.
“One of these days, you’ll regret that Pippin,” he said, reclining in his chair on the terrace of Brandy Hall, “I can assure you, you will regret that.”
“What do you plan on doing to me?” Pippin smirked, “Set loose cockroaches in my chambers, or slip a worm in my mug? I tell you, after our little adventures with Frodo, I’m keener than ever and none of your tricks will get past my eyes unseen. Not a single one.”
“I never said they would be one of my tricks,” Merry answered, ominously, “for there are certain things in life that no hobbit can avoid. Not even one as keen as you.”
“I wouldn’t be so jolly clever if I were you, Merry,” Pippin said, frowning as he bit the end of his pipe, “Might I remind you that Tooks have never been your average hobbit.”
“Tooks fall to this kind of trick as well,” Merry said, starting to laugh, “if fact, if any hobbit is most guilty of it, it’s the Tooks!”
“You’re only jealous, Merry Brandybuck,” Pippin said, standing and a little perturbed.
“No, no, I’m not!” Merry said, his thoughts tickling him, “Sit down, my dear Peregrin! Or do you intend to spoil my bachelor’s party?”
“What party? I’m the only one here!” Pippin exclaimed, looking around, expecting to see hobbits hidden in bushes, lying in wait for some type of surprise.
“Exactly! So don’t go spoiling it!” Merry replied, gesturing to Pippin to be seated once again. Pippin obeyed his cousin, twitching a little from Merry’s comments about Tooks, but trying to be cordial for his cousin’s sake. This was, afterall, his last night as a bachelor. Merry would wed Estella Bolger on the morrow.
The sun rose with no less splendor than a day in Lothlorien. The sun displayed an invigorating brilliance to all the hobbits far and wide, and Merry was the happiest hobbit of them all. Pippin swore he had never seen his cousin to nauseatingly happy in all his days. But Pippin was glad for him. He needed to be happy. He deserved it.
Among the lilies and roses and tears, the Wedding was the loveliest since Sam wedded Rose Cotton. Pippin himself even teared up when he watched Merry wink at Estella as she joined him under the mallorn tree. He looked to Fatty, Estella’s brother, noticing that his eyes weren’t dry either. All hopes of putting on a manly demeanor were gone. Pippin shamefully had to ask for a handkerchief from his mother, full-grown hobbit of thirty-three though he was.
The Party afterward was the best part. There was food and wine and fireworks and great dances, and toasts proposed right and left. About half-way through the Party, Merry approached Pippin for the first time all evening.
“Are you going to be sitting like a bump on a log all evening?” he asked, tugging at Pippin’s sleeve. Pippin waved him off.
“I’m eating,” he said.
“You’ve been eating all evening, you great glutton!” Merry laughed, pulling at his sleeve again, “Why don’t you at least talk with some of the nice lasses! There are some who would love to meet you!” Pippin laughed at the idea, giving his cousin a little punch that said not to put anything between him and his food.
“Come on, my dear Pippin!” Merry cried, pulling him to his feet, “This is my day, and I have people I want you to meet. And there’s nothing you can do to stop me.”
“It appears not,” Pippin mumbled, as he was dragged through the dancing crowd to a large crowd of hobbit-women on the other side. Pippin groaned audibly, for he had never been one to be able to successfully talk with women. They confused him.
Merry announced loudly to all the women who Pippin was, but Pippin was hardly paying any attention. His observance wandered through the crowd, looking for some way out. Instead, they landed on a hobbit lass of about his age. Her smile caused her eyes to sparkle like diamonds, which made her stand out. Her hair was a golden color, which was rare among hobbits. Her eyes were a fiery green, and her nose was small. As for her size, she looked as though she would barely come to Pippin’s waist. Her skin was pale and soft, but her cheeks glowed. Pippin quirked a little smile in her direction. To his amazement, she smiled back.
When Pippin had been formally introduced to the ladies and set free from Merry’s clutches, he slipped past everyone to the green-eyed lass. His mind raced, wondering what on earth to say. The light from the torches glittered in her diamond-like eyes, the color on her cheeks seen to crimson, and Pippin felt his mouth go dry. I am going to look like a fool, he thought, almost panicking. But it was too late. He looked down at her, realizing that she came only four inches above his waist. He felt awkward, to say the least.
“Hello,” he greeted.
“Hello,” she replied, laughing a little. Pippin smiled. There was nothing to worry about.
The hobbit-lass stuck her hand out to him, smiling brightly still.
“I’m called Diamond, Peregrin,” she said.
“It suits you,” Pippin said, without thinking. Diamond cocked her head a little.
“Oh? How’s that?” she asked.
“Er…I’m not sure. It just sounded right,” Pippin replied, laughing in his turn.
“I suppose it did sound nice, didn’t it?” Diamond said, “I can’t say I know what `Peregrin’ sounds like.”
“Neither do I,” Pippin replied, “that’s why nobody calls me that. My friends fondly know me as Pippin.”
“Can I call you `Pip’?” asked Diamond.
“If that’s what suits you,” Pippin replied.
“It does,” Diamond replied, “Pip is it, then. My friends fondly know me as Diamond, and nothing different.” Pippin grinned down at her, for he liked her spirit. And her smile.
Diamond had energy to spare and Pippin danced with her for three dances. Although, he had to be bribed with food, because he claimed that he was fatigued. Two jigs and a round dance proved otherwise. But Diamond didn’t seem to care, for which Pippin was thankful.
Bribery wasn’t the only trick Diamond had up her sleeves, Pippin found out. Apart from simply enjoying her cheery company, Pippin noticed that she kept giving a certain small tent long glances. He wondered what she could be thinking about, and that soon was out in the open.
“Pip,” she whispered across the table, “are you ready for a bit of fun?”
“Depends on what sort of fun,” Pippin replied, “Last time I had a bit of fun at a party, I was made to wash dishes.”
“I suppose you’ve learned of your flaws then,” Diamond assumed, “and perhaps we’ll get past, unscathed.”
“Diamond, I can’t make heads or tails of what you mean,” Pippin confessed. Diamond quirked a little grin, and stood, beckoning for him to follow. Pippin gave a few glances around, in case anyone was taking any particular interest in their retreat; and seeing that no one was, he followed his friend.
His instincts proved true as he watched Diamond sneak towards the little tent that she had so carefully been eyeing. She slipped inside, with Pippin close behind. Within the tent lay a few rolls of home-made fireworks that Merry and Pippin had sat around one evening, diligently putting together. Pippin had a fascination for these merry little things, and though theirs would never ever even come close to amounting to Gandalf’s, he and Merry both decided that it would be suitable to have a few that made little silver explosions for the pure joy of just having explosions.
“When are they going to be setting these off?” he heard Diamond asking.
“To be true-tongued, I don’t know if they will ever,” Pippin said, almost sorrowfully, “Merry was going to give the word, but he’s too, can we say, busy, at the moment.”
“Newly-weds,” Diamond mumbled, poking at a few of the fireworks, “If I ever marry, remind me not to be wishy-washy. It sickens me.”
“`If’? I don’t think that will be a problem, Diamond,” Pippin muttered, knowing afterwards that he should have thought about saying it first, but it was already too late. Diamond, raising one of her eyebrows in an almost saucy matter, looked over her shoulder at Pippin.
“Really, Pip,” she said, “your heart’s in the right place, but you’re a tinge more sentimental than I thought you would be.”
“Than you thought I would be? You thought I would be something? Diamond, I’ve never met you till now!” Pippin was slightly confused. Diamond placed her hands on her hips, turning to face him.
“Did you think that a few year’s time would leave me forgetful of the Battle of Bywater?” she demanded to know, “Pip, everybody knows the names of Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took! I’ve known about you for years!”
Pippin smiled as he stuck his hands in his pockets. He scorned his memory for thinking that she would not know of him.
“Yes, I suppose I was a bit of a hero then, wasn’t I?” he said. Diamond laughed at him out loud.
“Don’t get arrogant on me,” she said, then added, “Come, almighty hobbit, help me with these fireworks!”
“For you, I will defy arrogance,” Pippin said, striking a gallant pose, but dropped it in an instant, “If we tie a whole bunch together, they’ll make a larger explosion.” He expected a hobbit-lass to show caution to his suggestion, but as he defied arrogance, it seemed Diamond defied caution. She almost seemed to throw it into the wind as she replied:
“Find some twine so we can tie the wicks together.”
They worked with patient fingers, tying and gathering. When at last they were finished, Pippin said:
“We have to take it outside and stick it in the ground. A bit of a lesson I learned when last I tried this.”
“It sounds like a plan to me,” Diamond replied, as they snuck outside. Pippin shoved the end deep in the ground, and Diamond lit a match.
“When it’s lit, you’ll have to run away fast,” Pippin was saying, “These wicks don’t burn long.” Diamond nodded her agreement, lighting the wick and both ran in separate directions.
Pippin flattened his body behind some bushes, waiting for the blast. His eyes were glued to the sky, watchful for the colorful outburst. But nothing happened. Had someone found it and extinguished it? Ruining their fun; how fair was that?! They didn’t mean any harm; it was all in good humor!
Pippin decided to check on their surprise. Inching forward on his stomach, he pulled himself around the bushes and into view of the fireworks. They sat, dormant, with a dead wick. Pippin sighed, exasperated.
“Diamond! Hi, Diamond! Something’s gone amiss!” he called, standing and walking to their masterpiece. Then, suddenly, with no warning at all, the fireworks exploded in an array of brilliance above the Party. The blast threw Pippin back several feet, where he hit his head, then knew no more.
Aches, pains, bruises… Pippin could hardly feel his legs, everything hurt so badly. He hadn’t felt so discomforted since his journeys with the Uruk-hai. His face was on fire, he felt sure of it. It hurt to even breathe.
“How much longer will he sleep?”
“I don’t know. It could be days more.”
“It’s already been a day! Why won’t he wake?”
Pippin found that only one eye would open; the other was swollen shut. And when he opened his mouth to speak, his bottom lip felt like it had been torn in two. He wanted to ease his friends’ minds, but he could hardly breathe, let alone talk. It was beyond frustration! It was madness!
He made an attempt to call for water, but he couldn’t move his mouth without pain shooting through his face. Finding no resolution, he simply let pained tears begin to fall.
“He’s awake! Estella, dear, bring him some water!”
Trying to make use of his one good eye, Pippin looked up at Merry in thanksgiving. Merry would know that he needed water. Good old Merry!
A cool hand brushed across his forehead. Pippin turned his eyes to look at Diamond, who was unharmed.
“Can you hear us, Pip? Can you talk at all?” she asked, concerned.
“Look at the size of the cut on his lip,” Merry mused, “I doubt he could talk if he wanted to. No doubt he probably does; he always does.” Pippin made a quick mental note not to forget Merry’s latter discourteous comment.
“This is all my fault,” Diamond grieved, “I should have thought first.”
Don’t be too hard on yourself, Pippin thought, I’m the dim-witted one who approached the lighted thing.
“I can’t believe that I got him into this. This is all my fault.”
That is not even close to the truth. It’s my fault. Come off it already!
Pippin found suddenly that his right hand hurt far less than his left did. In fact, he could move it. Finding that there was no other way to ease his friend’s mind, he placed his right hand over hers, giving it a tiny reassuring squeeze to say that he wasn’t dead, so stop blubbering. Even with only one good eye, Pippin saw her smile.
Pippin slept on and off for the next few days. He stayed at Brandy Hall, it being the nearest residence. His mother came to tend to him, since he was too sore to travel home to the Great Smials. He had burns all along his left arm, though, thankfully, his hair hadn’t burnt away. His eye was blackened and his bottom lip cut down the center. There was a long cut across his forehead, much like the one that Merry had obtained from the Uruk-hai, only Pippin’s hadn’t come from acts of honor, which made the pain seem almost worse. There were burns on his legs as well, though nowhere near as bad as the ones on his arm. Pippin had to wonder why he wasn’t burned like this when Gandalf’s fireworks exploded in his face years and years ago, and his only conclusion was that Gandalf’s must have been magical. Gandalf being the wizard, it seemed to make a little bit of sense.
When he was well enough to get up and walk about five days later, Pippin found Merry, and the two went out on a little walk together in the Old Forest, as they had done when Pippin would visit Merry years and years ago when they were little hobbit-lads.
They reminisced for a long time about things of yore, the good and the bad, and with Merry now in wedlock, it seemed like the right time to talk about such things.
When they had come full circle and began heading back inside the great smial of Brandy Hall, Pippin piped up about a certain friend.
“Say, where has Diamond got to?” he asked.
“You mean your little partner in crime from the Party?” Merry inquired, “She had to return home with her family. She left four days ago.”
“Oh? Where does she live?” Pippin pressed.
“Long Cleeve, old chap. Should I have entreated her to stay longer?” Merry asked. Long Cleeve? Lady’s name, that far? Pippin’s disappointment was visible even to those who didn’t know him. His face fell, crestfallen, his brown eyes looking suddenly toward the ground in unexpected lament.
“What? Entreated her? No, she needed to return, you said,” Pippin said, though his expression seemed vacant. He drew a long breath, stepping a few paces ahead of his cousin. Merry halted at the door of Brandy Hall, tugging at Pippin’s sleeve.
“Say, Pip, don’t be like this,” he said, but Pippin hardly seemed to be listening. Pip…that’s what she wanted to call me… He cut Merry off by simply turning and entering Brandy Hall without another word. Merry followed, but only for a few steps.
“Merry, dear, what’s wrong with our Peregrin?” it was Estella. Merry turned to her, wrapping an arm around her waist, but still his eyes lingered after where Pippin had gone.
“It seems to me, Stella,” said Merry, “that our Peregrin is at odds with the Unavoidable.”
“Oh, so?” asked Estella, “Unavoidable what?”
“For lack of a better phrase, Stella,” Merry said, “our Pippin is in love.”
“Aye, that he be, the poor lad,” Merry shook his head, sadly, “It’s that lass from Long Cleeve that’s got him, and I doubt she even knows it.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t underestimate Diamond’s wit, Merry,” Estella said, “She’ll catch on faster than a Baggins can disappear.”
“Stella! They don’t disappear anymore!”
Estella’s only response was musical laughter as she wrapped her arms around Merry’s neck, kissing him on the cheek. Merry knew that he was just as guilty as Pippin for giving into Love, but he hardly had expected it to come so quickly for Pippin. He was only 33, afterall.
For a moment, all Merry’s thoughts of Pippin and Diamond disappeared as Estella slipped her little hands in his, whispering into his curls,
“Go on, love. Take him a pint and a mushroom or two. He’ll be back to his normal self soon enough.”
But Merry knew better. He himself still wasn’t back to his “normal self” after so many years of knowing Estella. And look where he was now: he was married to the lass!
And so the weeks carried on. Pippin returned to the Great Smials the day following his walk with Merry. His heart and mind were still heavy with the idea that he might, perhaps, never see Diamond again. Why? Why did his life have to take such awful twists of fate? His childhood was ended in the blink of an eye when he joined a Quest to the ends of the earth with his best friend. And now the only lass he had ever had feelings for lived on the other end of the Shire! His mother prodded at what could possibly be plaguing the mind of her only son, but he felt foolish. All this dratted thinking for a lass he had only met once! Anyone who knew the source of his grievance would only laugh at him. Not that Pippin had never been the source of amusement, but this was one injury he thought best to keep to himself. So instead of telling his problems, he drowned them in pints and bushels of mushrooms.
“I’m worried about that lad,” Eglantine, Pippin’s mother, confided to her husband, Paladin. Paladin diverted his attention from an afternoon meal to the window and the outside where their full grown son sat beneath the willowy leaves of the great tree beside the little creek.
“Look at him,” Eglantine continued, “That’s all he does. He has never acted this way before, not ever. And he won’t tell me what saddens him so. Can you get nothing from him?”
“Not so much as a peep,” Paladin replied, “He claims that nothing is wrong. So, I took matters into my own hands.”
“What did you do?” asked Eglantine, curiously.
“I sent word to his friend, Samwise Gamgee, to come and see if he could get anything from him,” Paladin answered, “We can only hope that Pippin finds confidence in Sam, otherwise busy-bodies will begin to talk. Hobbits like Proudfeet and Bracegirdles thrive on oddities like this. And if he is to be Thain, well…”
“I know, dear, I know.” Eglantine responded with nods.
Meanwhile, Pippin sat by himself and his thoughts. A pint and two or three mushrooms were his only companions at the moment. He so longed to leave for a while, maybe ride on the back of a Rohirrim horse all the way to Rivendell, and relax. He wanted to get away again…maybe take another look in a palantir to gaze what visions it might hold for him to see. There was no Dark Lord now, so there would be no worries, correct? He missed Gandalf. He missed Bilbo. He wanted to be young and little again; to have a second chance and not go to Merry’s Wedding Party. Half-pouting, he took another draught from his pint glass, and found that it was empty.
“Everything goes away!” he cried, despairingly, flopping onto his back.
“Oh, aye, Pip, I’ll not disagree with that.”
Coming into his view like an upside down angel of light, Diamond peered down at him with her cheery smile. All depressing thoughts of the disappearance of childhood and second chances vanished like Moria orcs upon hearing the rumble of a Balrog. And a beautiful Balrog at that…
Pippin sat bolt upright, smiling so hard he thought his face might break.
“Diamond! Diamond! Where in Arda’s name did you come from?!”
She held her arms open in a welcoming embrace to her friend. Pippin accepted the invitation and held her close. She laughed lightly at his outburst, replying:
“I came down to see how you fared. I would have written ahead of time, but I don’t plan ahead very well. I awoke yesterday morning and thought, `I ought to see how my Pip is,’ and here I am!”
“I’m glad then that you awoke, or, rather–I don’t know what I mean! You’ve got me rather ruffled, I’m afraid,” he laughed for the first time in days. She called me her Pip! I must be in heaven or better!
“That was the other reason why I didn’t write ahead,” Diamond added, “I had a feeling you liked surprises. I know I do.”
“You’re a right good marksman, Diamond, I love surprises,” Pippin said, “and this has got to be the best one I’ve had in ages. Thank you kindly, to be sure.”
“Well, then, you’re welcome, Pip,” replied Diamond, “I’ve been so afraid for you. You weren’t doing well when I had to leave. I felt bad about deserting, but my family was leaving, and I had to go also. You didn’t mind, did you?”
“Deserting? Nonsense, Diamond, you had to go. And it isn’t as if Long Cleeve is next door. You had quite the journey ahead of you,” Pippin answered, “Although, I have missed you. I didn’t think I’d ever see you again…”
“What?! Pip, I thought you’d think better of me than that! I didn’t even say `good-bye’!”
“No, you didn’t! And I’ve been sore about it for quite some time!”
“Don’t be sore, then. You know, you could have written me! It isn’t as if I’ve been all that cheerful about leaving.”
“How was I supposed to know?! And anyway, I didn’t know if Long Cleeve was where you lived or where you were stopping.”
“Estella could have told you.”
“Well, I simply fail to do anything right, don’t I?” Pippin felt slightly indignant. Was he supposed to guess everything?
“I didn’t say–” but Diamond stopped short, her eyebrow bobbing up in that saucy manner once again. She folded her arms, and cocked her head to the side.
“all right, then, if that’s your game,” she said, “I’ll bet you can’t do anything right. I’ll bet you can’t even beat me to the creek.”
“Oh, can’t I? I’ll have you know I’m a champion runner. Lasted a whole day running with Uruk-hai orcs, I did,” Pippin folded his arms, too, smiling in jest at their little stand off.
“Did you, now? Shall we see if your years have kept up with your imagination?” Diamond provoked. Without another word, she spun around, racing towards the creek with Pippin at her heels. Any injuries or hurts were forgotten.
Pippin wasn’t quite sure what it was that made him like her. Perhaps it was her free-spirit, or maybe her imagination. Or maybe it was her green eyes that kept him so captivated and so happy. Whatever it was, he hardly kept track of how much time they spent stomping down the little creek. Diamond did beat him, but he blamed it on her head start. She told him to come off it because, afterall, it was he, not she, that had run with Uruks, so she had nothing to brag about.
They took to trampling downstream on that little creek, talking about hopes, dreams, wishes, and, of course, family histories. It was typical among hobbits to talk about family trees, and almost a custom. Pippin had his learned by heart, but Diamond said that she cared more about the people’s lives than their names and places in history. Pippin told her that she was just jealous that he knew his family tree and she didn’t. She only splashed him in return.
Evening time and its chilling breezes were spreading over the land, and it became a little too cold for creek stomping. So, Pippin and Diamond sprawled out on their backs on the bank, looking up at the graying sky.
“You know, they say that if you climb the tallest tower on the Tower Hills, your eyes can look upon the Sea,” Pippin said, “I told Merry that I was going to climb it someday.” He looked at Diamond as her fair face gazed up at the sky, “No hobbit ever has.”
“I’ll go with you,” Diamond said, “When do you want to go?” Pippin laughed outright.
“Diamond, there are many stairs and we’d have to train for years to be able to,” he said, “It was only a child’s fantasy.”
“Child fantasies often lead to adult achievements,” Diamond replied, “When do you want to start training?” Pippin laughed again.
“You’re irrevocable, aren’t you?” he said, “No one will believe us if we go.”
“I don’t care,” Diamond replied, softly.
“I didn’t think you would,” Pippin answered, tenderly. For a moment, neither of them moved, but stared at each other’s eyes in silence. His were deep brown, hers a fiery green, and neither of them seemed to notice anything but the other’s eyes, until–
“Hi, Mr. Pippin!”
Pippin’s head whirled around, looking up the hill to where Sam Gamgee stood. It took a moment for Pippin to sort out everything. Sam? At the Great Smials? This day was just full of glorious surprises!
“Sammie! Gracious, is everybody out to make my day?!” Pippin cried, in delight, as he sprung to his feet, racing up the bank to meet his friend.
“I can’t say I know for sure one way or the other,” Sam replied, as Pippin embraced him, “Your Dad sent me a letter saying that you were down and out, and I was supposed to come and see if I there wasn’t anything I could do for you. But you see to be doing grand…aren’t you?” He eyed Diamond, suspiciously, as she propped herself up on her elbows, watching the joyous little reunion among friends.
“We were just doing a little bit of exploring,” Pippin explained, “Creek-stomping…”
“That’s plain enough,” Sam replied, “No one knew where you had gone off to. Thankfully, I’m the only one what’s looking for you, for now. Your mum’s riled up, to say the least. She’s worried that you had gone off and killed yourself.”
“Why would Pip do a thing like that?” Diamond piped up. Sam looked to her, then to Pippin. He seemed to have darker thoughts about their camaraderie than what was really there.
“Apparently, Miss, he’s been downhearted these past few days and everyone’s been rather worried for him,” Sam replied. Pippin looked to Diamond, hoping she understood. At least, a little.
“Oh, has he?” Diamond raised that eyebrow once again, giving Pippin a bit of a smirk. Pippin shrugged in her direction, hoping to offer some explanation.
“Will I be seeing you back at your father’s, Mr. Pippin?” Sam asked, “I came all the way from Bag End.”
“Yes, yes, I’ll be back sooner than you can blink an eye,” Pippin replied. Sam gave him a genuine Gamgee smile, turning and leaving.
Pippin turned in Diamond’s direction, in a sullen silence. She greeted it with a laugh to banish all downhearts.
“Pip, try not to so pitiful!” she exclaimed, “You look like I’m going to throw you in the Lockholes. Put on that smile of your’s and we’ll be doing a lot better.” She stood and trudged up the bank to his side, “It’s all right, Pip. Honest, it is. Why do you think I up and came to see you?”
“I don’t know; women confuse me,” Pippin replied, almost shamefully. Diamond placed a hand on his shoulder.
“To see you, Pip,” she continued, “because I missed you. I understand.” Pippin smiled down at her as the evening sun began to vanish beneath the horizon.
“Now,” Diamond was saying, “I do hope you shan’t begrudge me a night’s stay. I leave in the morning.”
“That soon?” Pippin’s voice was quiet, though not quite a whisper.
“Long Cleeve isn’t next door, you said so yourself,” Diamond replied, “My family farms and they’ll be needing me.”
Pippin bit his lip, a little sorrowful, but he understood. His father farmed as well, and it was no task for a small family. Everybody pitched in. Diamond needed to get home.
“Well, I suppose that’s all right, then,” Pippin said, “Why don’t we see what my mum can do for you tonight?” He offered Diamond his arm like a gentlehobbit, and they began their trek back to the Great Smials.
“Uh, I had hoped that…maybe,” Diamond said, after a few moment’s silence.
“Maybe what, Diamond?” asked Pippin.
“That maybe you could come and visit me next weekend,” Diamond finished, “We’ve got plenty of room, and you wouldn’t have to stay long if you don’t want to.”
“Diamond, it would be a pleasure! Of course I’ll come, but only if you promise to come the next weekend,” Pippin replied.
“Oh, you just try to keep me away…” Diamond answered.
Eglantine made a room for Diamond, and Sam stayed in Pippin’s room. It was quite visible that Sam was utterly confused, having been summoned because of Pippin’s disheartened moods, only to find him more like his old self than he had been in years. Pippin assured him that night that all was well and had never been better. Sam counted his oddities as a result of being a Took and nothing more. Afterall, none of us can deny that Tooks are considered the most eccentric, can we?
At dawn’s first alighted rays, Sam left for Bag End and his family, and Diamond began her journey back to Long Cleeve. Pippin promised to visit that weekend, little knowing that this was only the beginning of a long lasting friendship.
Pippin did go to visit, and Diamond came the next weekend. Back and forth the visits went, and sometimes they met halfway, or at different stopping points. Diamond was fond of Estella, and often they would both journey to Brandy Hall for visits. Bag End was another lively spot to meet, and with the two, energetic Gamgee children, the visits were usually high-spirited and full of tricks, as well as healthy meals.
“Watch me, Uncle Pippin! Look here!” cried young Frodo Gardner, one day at their visit to Bag End. Pippin turned to see the young Gamgee hanging by his knees from the rafters of the Gamgees new shed.
“Get down from there before you break your neck!” cried Rosie, holding her arms out to the young ruffian.
“He’s always playing tricks,” Elanor said to Pippin, disdainfully. She was the prim and proper type that rather looked down upon her brother’s games.
“He takes after his `uncle’,” laughed Sam, putting an arm over Pippin’s shoulders. Pippin laughed as he watched Rosie wrestled with the young rascal, trying to get him to button his shirt to look proper for company.
“Where’s your lady friend this fine day, Mr. Pippin?” Sam asked.
“Merry and Estella are both in town,” Pippin replied, “She and Estella are out on the streets of Hobbiton, buying and whatever women do in marketplaces.”
“Window shopping,” Rosie piped in, throwing the squirming Frodo over her shoulder, “Looking for things that we can’t have yet.” Pippin shook his head, laughing again.
“Then what’s the point of it if you can’t have it?” he asked. Sam shrugged, too.
“Why don’t we all head back inside for tea?” Rosie asked, as if to change the subject.
“Is it tea time already?” Pippin asked, perking up a little.
“It will be nearly high noon soon,” Rosie replied.
“Hang it all, I’m late! I was to meet Diamond at the Green Dragon five minutes ago!” With a quick word of farewell, Pippin dashed from the shed and down from the Hill, his hastened pace turned in the direction of Hobbiton. He had not gone far when he heard a familiar voice calling to him.
“Hi! Not so fast, Pippin!” it was Merry.
“Sorry, I’m a little behind schedule today, Merry, and I’m stopping for no one,” Pippin replied, “You will have to just try to keep up.”
“I was on my way to look for my wife,” Merry said, “so I’ll follow you. Where are you going so fast?”
“To meet Diamond for tea, and then we’re off for a bit of fishing,” Pippin answered, with Merry puffing at his heels.
“What? Again? Pip, don’t you care at all for your other companions anymore?” Merry asked. Pippin was a little surprised by the injury that reflected in his voice.
“Diamond’s my companion,” he replied.
“Oh, aye, but what about Sam? And Fatty? Or me? What about me, Pip?” Merry asked, sadly.
“What about you, Merry? Why are you so concerned now?” Pippin asked, indignantly quickening his pace again.
“Why are you so sour?” asked Merry, bewildered, skipping a little to keep up with his cousin, “Don’t be so hasty, to quote Treebeard. You walk as though you’re being chased by a Nazgul.”
“Nothing less frightening,” Pippin mumbled. By this time, Merry had caught up with Pippin enough to grab his arm and pull him to a halt. Panting a little, Merry confronted his cousin with more energy than it took to stab the Witch-King. This was worse than any wraith: his cousin gone sour.
“Pippin, what is the matter?”
“Perhaps I should be asking that question to the rest of the world!” exclaimed Pippin, with a dramatic little wave of a hand, “Everybody changed. Everybody but me. We get back and what does Sammie do? He gets himself married! Glory, do you know how hard it is to talk to a married hobbit when you’re a bachelor?! And Fatty’s next, and Frodo leaves. You were all I had, Merry. But there’s Estella, and you go off and get married. Go on, Merry, tell me nothing’s changed. Tell me that I’m the only one gone queer. Tell me that you’re the same Merry that tramped with me through the woods of Fangorn and braved the pursuit of Nazgul. Be honest with yourself, Merry: if none of that had happened then, and you were faced with going on to Mordor now, would you go? Would you dare leave your wife to rove the world with your cousin and your friends? Do you think that even if you wanted to, would she let you? If you would be honest with yourself, Merry, it wouldn’t happen. You wouldn’t come. You’re changed and I’m not.” Pippin could feel his eyes welling with tears as his lips quivered, “What happened, Merry? Why did–why did everybody leave me? First Sam, then Fatty, and Frodo’s gone for good. Now you. You’ve all…left me.”
Shamefully, Pippin let the tears fall, hardly even caring, for he felt he had the right. He had honestly thought that when they returned, things would be normal again. The darkness would pass with new hope thriving in a new age, and all would be well. But it couldn’t. There was no hiding from change, even if it seemed to some to be for the better.
Merry, still holding Pippin’s arm, was almost rooted to his spot in the road. Somehow, though, somehow he found the ability to move and embrace his cousin. He wasn’t quite sure what to say, but something had to be said.
“Pippin,” he said, quavering at first, “Pippin, promise me that whatever happens, wherever we live, and whoever you marry, you will always be honest with me. What can I do to change back to the Merry you knew?”
Pippin pulled away, rubbing his eyes and beginning to smile.
“You’ll laugh and taunt me when I tell you that I’m in love with Diamond of Long Cleeve,” he replied. Merry, for his cousin’s sake, burst out laughing, slapping him on the back.
“You old fool of a Took!” he cried, putting on a booming voice that mocked Gandalf’s, then added, “I knew all along.”
“That’s something I’ll have to get used to!” Pippin laughed.
“What’s that?” Merry wanted to know.
“A sharper Merry,” Pippin replied, “I’ll want to learn to be more discreet from here on out.”
“That you shall!” Merry exclaimed, “And you’ll need stronger legs if you think you can out-run the consequences of such an injustice!”
“Oh? Try me!” Pippin challenged, sprinting off down the road. Merry laughed, thinking, Something’s never change… Pippin didn’t get very far before he was overtaken by his cousin and wrestled to the ground.
Pippin lost count of the times that he and Diamond went back and forth between one another’s homes. The months seemed to pass quicker as seasons gave way to chillier weather and frosty nights. Pippin enjoyed this time as much as spring, for he could wake up and see the filmy designs of icy droplets of water that clung to his window pane, looking like tiny works of art. When he was a child, he believed that fairies came and drew on his windows at night, therefore he must be lucky. And lucky he felt in these times when every weekend he could visit Diamond.
Diamond’s home in these frigid times could very well have passed as a fairy home. Her family was shorter than most, as far as hobbits go, and Pippin found that he often bumped his head when passing through door ways. Diamond would always laugh at him, telling him moments too late to “mind the beam”. Pippin always found creative ways to avenge himself, though. But no one in Diamond’s family ever found it offensive when Diamond would give sudden yelps upon finding some moldy, squishy mixture in her apron pocket. In fact, Diamond’s older brother told Pippin one evening that he had never seen his sister so happy.
Late one Sunday evening, when Pippin would have to return home the next morning, they were walking home from a short walk beneath the dying leaves. Pippin couldn’t have felt taller if he stood upon the tallest tower of the Tower Hills, for Diamond’s hand was in his. Diamond’s house was in sight, and their weekend was coming to an end. Monday was approaching.
Diamond paused for a moment, slipping an arm around Pippin’s waist and leaning her head against his arm. On a completely random thought, Pippin broke the silence.
“You know something,” he said, “I think I really will climb the tallest tower someday. Someone’s got to do it, why not that someone be a Took from the line of Bullroarer. It makes sense, doesn’t it?”
“And I’ll go with you,” Diamond said, softly.
“But you’re not from the line of Bullroarer,” Pippin said, then laughed a little, “Would you—would you like to be?”
“Aye, someday,” Diamond replied, as they held each other’s hands.
“I’ll wait,” Pippin answered, “I’ll wait as long as you like.” And he bent down, gently kissing her. Merry had been right from the start. This was a “trick” that no hobbit could run from. She was unavoidable.
Afterword: Pippin married Diamond in the year 1427, S.R. Their son, Faramir II, was born in 1430, S.R. And for lack of a better phrase, they all lived happily ever after.
Well, what did you think? I hoped you enjoyed it, because I enjoyed writing it. This being a slightly significant post, my 33rd, I entreat all of you to COMMENT. Please? I need to know how I’m doing. I usually don’t beg like this, but this is a special case. And even all you silent readers and non-members, if you don’t want to comment, click on my name and send me a quick e-mail. Just let me know how I’m doing. It’s what keeps me going. Thanks so much! ~Ainariel