41. Rest and Recovery
Diamond's hand tightened on his. 'Oh, my love.' Tears filled her eyes, and she dashed them away impatiently. She decided to change the subject, to fix his mind on happier thoughts. 'Can you believe the two years are nearly passed?'
'I'm glad your father didn't make it three,' Pippin answered. 'He could have, you know, made us wait until you were of age.'
She laughed, 'No, instead he fixed the date as early as was decently possible! He's so eager to secure another son, you know... And I know Estella and Merry are just as happy not to have to wait another year.'
'Yes, they're practically an old married couple already. Next thing you know she'll be fetching his slippers and scolding him for staying out too late with the lads. Not that Jewel would let him get into any trouble.'
Diamond laughed, 'And he'll be washing the dishes and saying "Yes, dear" to all she says!'
'Oh, he already does that!' Pippin pulled her hand to his face, resting it against his cheek.
'My love?' she asked gently.
'I am so glad it wasn't a dream,' he said fervently. 'I was afraid I had lost you all over again.'
She told Estella over elevenses in the parlour, as they took a small break from their bed watching duties.
The next morning, Pippin awakened to see a watercolour propped against the water jug on the table by the bed. Diamond, crowned with a wreath of wildflowers, smiled at him, little tendrils of hair framing her face. On the bottom in tiny print was inked, 'For my former beloved, a promise of future happiness.'
Merry became aware that the fog had lifted, he was thinking clearly for the first time in days, he didn't know how many. His arms no longer felt afire, merely very sore, and he was breathing without difficulty.
He was facing the table by his bed when he awoke. As his eyes focused, he saw among the contents of the tabletop a folded sheet of paper.
When Estella saw his eyes open, she said, 'Good morning, beloved. Welcome back.' He turned his eyes to her, then back to the table. Following his gaze, she said, 'Oh, yes...' She picked up the paper and gently unfolded it.
'I found it in the shirt they'd cut off. When I saw it had been signed by Frodo, I knew it must be important to you. I've kept it safe, beloved. Do you want it now?'
Merry found his voice. 'Read it to me again?'
She made music of the words.
'No matter what happens...' he echoed.
'That's a promise,' she answered.
Taking tea in the parlour had never been so festive. Ensconced with Merry in the seats of honour by the hearth, Pippin soon had everyone laughing.
'This is how it's going to be in our old age, you know, Merry, when we're the doddering old Master and Steward of Buckland! Waited on hand and foot, venerated, hobbits hanging on our every word...' Diamond popped a savoury into his mouth to shush him.
'Would you like another stuffed mushroom, beloved? I made them myself!'
'Then I'll have ten... but I'll start with one.' Estella deftly fed Merry from their shared plate.
'Made them herself!' Pippin exclaimed. 'Are they safe to eat?'
'I dare not question,' Merry said. 'I have to stay on her good side or I'll starve.' Estella laughed and fed him another morsel.
Pippin picked up another mushroom and made a great show of examining it before putting it in his mouth.
'Well? Do you find it satisfactory?' Estella demanded.
'I'm not quite sure...' Pippin said thoughtfully. 'I'll have to have a few more before I can make a determination.'
'How's the new stable coming along?' Merry asked his father.
'Now that the spring rains have ended we're making great progress. The walls are nearly half built,' Saradoc answered. 'Though it's a wonder Merimas has done as much as he has, considering the amount of time he lavishes on Jewel and Socks, not to mention Wingfoot.'
'Well, I'd say the Eastfarthing pony races are quite important, nearly as important as the new stables!' Pippin said pompously, imitating a fat old Brandybuck uncle. 'Prestige of the Hall and all that, what?'
'Eat, love,' Diamond said firmly.
He turned indignantly to her. 'Are you still singing that song? "Eat! Eat!" That's all I've heard from anyone for the past two years!'
'And you'll keep hearing it, until you work at eating six meals a day like any other hobbit! I am not going to let you waste away to nothing when you're nearly within my grasp!'
Calm, dignified, ignoring the laughter of his aunt and uncle, Pippin picked up his fork and ate.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.