6. Chapter Five
Frodo sighed quietly as he settled into the well-stuffed chair near the fire. He had loved this room since he could first walk, for books were one of his greatest passions and the Tooks’ collection was equaled only by the equally large library the Brandybucks had accumulated at Brandy Hall. It had become a family joke that if Frodo disappeared, you could always find him where the books were. He remembered that the first to say that had been his mother; she used to help him build towers and forts from the sturdier volumes when she brought him on visits here. Later he read his way through most of the Brandy Hall library, but had never had enough access to the Great Smials to do the same to the Took stacks, since Lalia’s dislike of both Bilbo and Frodo curtailed their time in Tuckborough. Frodo idly wondered if Paladin and Eglantine would let him borrow a pile to take home with him.
He glanced at the table beside the chair, and noted the chess set sitting there; the pieces indicated that a game was still in progress. Frodo grinned, for Paladin’s zest to play whenever possible never flagged. I bet he dragged Aunt Esmie in here at some point over the past couple of days—she’s the only one who plays as well as he does, since they’ve been chess partners from the nursery. There was also a tray with a decanter set, so Frodo decided to further indulge and poured himself a glass. The taste of the dark purple-red liquid made him smile. Blackberry cordial—Lilac’s recipe, but Pearl’s brew, I’m sure of it.
Pearl. He was almost certain why it was she had summoned him here tonight, and he felt his blood stirring in anticipation. How far is she intending to take things? Not too far, I hope, because I’m having more and more trouble pulling away from the brink of disaster every time we’re alone together. He flinched at the memory of a rainy afternoon earlier in the summer, when the two of them had shared a bottle of raspberry wine while waiting out a rainstorm, and things had gotten interesting, to say the least. That’s all we’d need, a baby on the way and a pack of upset relatives breathing down our necks. Lalia would try to scalp me for a certainly, and maybe Cousin Paladin too—but Aunt Esmie and Cousin Tina would be in our corner along with Bilbo, which might help. Frodo finished his glass and poured another thoughtfully. I shouldn’t be speculating like this at all, anyway, because I refuse to compromise Pearl no matter what she wants—it just wouldn’t be right. Feeling more confident as his resolution to control matters strengthened, he took a fresh sip of cordial and watched the clock hands reach the half-hour mark.
A soft scratch drew his attention. Pearl’s hand appeared through the slowly opening door, holding a candlestick, then her head, and finally the rest of her. She shut the door with a well-brushed heel and crossed over to stand before Frodo, a flirtatious smile lifting the corners of her mouth.
“Hello,” she said in a low voice.
Frodo gazed at her in stupefaction, unsure whether the cordial or Pearl’s appearance was muddling his mind more. She had changed into a nightdress and robe made of diaphanous cream-colored silk, embroidered with flowers and trimmed with lace around another notably bosom-displaying neckline. As she leaned towards the mantle to deposit her candle, the firelight outlined her figure with graphic clarity, thanks to the thinness of the silk. Frodo felt his mouth go dry, all too acutely aware he was seeing considerably more of Pearl’s physical charms than he ever had before, and drained his glass before he dared speak.
“Is this wise?” he asked, lifting an eyebrow. “While you indeed present a lovely vision, I hardly think anybody else would be happy to see you like that at this moment, with me.”
Pearl grinned, for despite Frodo’s flippant tone she could hear the ache of desire in his voice. She edged forward a little more, determined to shake his composure completely for once. “I pled a headache and fled company early, then changed into this and waited for everyone to go to bed. We’re quite safe, and if we’re interrupted, I’ll just tell them that I decided to go against custom again and give you another early birthday present.”
“You do enjoy defying custom, don’t you?” Frodo murmured, the scent of her rose perfume weakening his resolve again.
“Yes I do, but not as much as I enjoy spoiling you,” Pearl leaned towards an enraptured Frodo, delighted at the effect she was having on him. “You know, this isn’t all that different from when I was little, climbing into bed with you when you visited and making you tell me stories until we went to sleep.”
“Oh no, this is very different, my dear, and you know that perfectly well,” Frodo retorted, his hands gripping the chair arms a little too tightly. “So I think we should say our goodnights and go to our rooms now, since this is not a bedtime story for children.”
Pearl bent over Frodo, her lips only a few inches from his, aware he could see virtually all of her no matter where he looked. “No, this is a tale for grownups,” she whispered, “and aren’t you glad that you’re coming of age at last?” She kissed him and slid into his lap, forcing him to wrap his arms around her to keep her from falling.
As Pearl’s mouth began to explore his, Frodo let a deep-throated groan escape and tightened his grip on the warm and fleshy body sitting on top of him. So much for doing the right thing, he thought fleetingly, and then he was kissing her back with ardor. The minutes ticked by as the two of them continued to kiss intensely and Frodo’s hands caressed Pearl through the silken fabric. She responded by pressing herself against him, eager to finally get what she wanted and knowing it was within reach.
His blood pounding in his ears, Frodo decided the time had come to cross the line between the barely decent and the hopelessly indecent. He slipped the nightdress and robe off Pearl’s shoulder, bent his head and let his lips begin to trace the contours of one bared (and very ripe) breast. Just as he did, his sharp ears picked up another noise underneath Pearl’s moans. Was that a laugh? He stopped in mingled concern and anger, and Pearl, sensing something was amiss, fell silent.
A rustle, whispering, and then a fatal childish giggle—the noises were coming from the hallway, Frodo realized. “Someone’s out there,” he hissed in Pearl’s ear. “When I count to three, I want you to get up quickly—I can catch whomever it is if I move fast enough—” He paused, and whispered, “One—two—three—”
Pearl rolled off to the side, climbing to her feet nimbly as Frodo made a swooping, lunging dive for the doorknob and wrenched it open. Merry fell onto the carpet with a spectacular thump as Pippin landed squarely in the middle of Merry’s back with a squall. The little boy sat up, pinning his cousin to the floor, and fixed his sister with a wide-eyed gaze. He said plaintively, “Merry told me you and Frodo were playing a game when I found him, Pearl, but he won’t tell me the rules, so can you teach me? It sounded fun.”
Pearl faced the fireplace, her cheeks burning, while she struggled to tuck herself back into her nightdress. Once she became presentable, she swallowed and turned around to confront her little brother. “Now, Pippin sweetheart, it’s not a game for little ones, so you’ll just have to wait a while longer,” she said coaxingly. She scooped him up onto her hip, and Frodo seized his opportunity, stooping down and dragging Merry to his feet by one pointed ear.
“Yes, Pippin, it was a game for adults, which Master Meriadoc here is perfectly aware of,” Frodo spat out, his eyes glittering with a rage he rarely permitted himself. “How exactly did you two end up out of bed and eavesdropping on private matters?”
He was pleased to see the smirk on Merry’s face fade to a look of real fear. His cousin coughed slightly, and glanced at his irate elder. “Before we talk, maybe you need to turn around for a few minutes too, Frodo,” Merry said cheekily.
Frodo grabbed a handful of shirt and pulled Merry closer. “Very funny, you nosy brat. I’m still waiting for an explanation—and an apology, especially for involving Pippin in this stupid prank!”
Pippin said tearfully, “Please don’t be mad, Frodo, it’s not Merry’s fault, really! I couldn’t sleep and went to you and Merry’s room and he wasn’t there and neither were you, then I saw him creeping in the hall and followed him!”
Frodo, his temper dangerously close to the breaking point, released Merry’s shirt but glared at him again. “Well?” he drawled. “I’m waiting!”
Before Merry could muster a reply, a nearby call echoed in the corridor. “Children, where are you? You should be in bed!” The three older cousins stiffened in alarm as they recognized Eglantine’s voice, but Pippin perked up immediately, for he was frightened and cold and wanted his mother.
“I’m in the library, Mama!” he called back happily as Pearl gasped in dismay. Eglantine swept into the library a few moments later, candle held high, and stared at the frozen tableau in front of her with surprise. Esmeralda trailed right behind her, also clutching a candle and with a grave look on her face.
“What ever are you all doing? I can’t find any of you when I go to look in on you, and then I hear what sounds like an argument!” exclaimed Eglantine.
Frodo, thinking the fastest he ever had in his life, said quickly, “Pearl checked on Pippin too, and when she didn’t find him, she came and fetched Merry and I to help her look for him. We’re sorry we worried you—Pip just wanted a story before he fell asleep.” And may that little scamp know enough to play along, he added silently.
“Oh, I see,” Eglantine said, equal amounts of relief and disappointment tingeing her voice. She motioned Pearl through the door, Pippin nestled against her side with his legs dangling below his nightshirt; Merry followed closely, his head hanging down. Frodo stood like a statue as Esmeralda brushed by him. She blew the candles on the mantelpiece out, and then turned and touched his shoulder.
“Come along, Frodo,” she said softly. He risked a glance at her face, but her sardonic, hooded eyes gave nothing away. He hurried out after the others, while Esmeralda stepped over to the open door and joined a flustered Eglantine.
“What do you suppose really happened, Esmie?” she asked.
Esmeralda allowed herself a dry chuckle. “Oh, I think we both know, Tina, but let us speak no evil—the walls have ears.”
“Well, yes, but one can never be certain—but if you’re right, what a pity Merry and Pippin interrupted—after all, there’s no better way to insure a marriage—”
“No, Tina, don’t think that way,” said Esmeralda sharply. “Creating a scandal helps nobody, especially Frodo and Pearl. If I were you, I’d have a serious talk with Pearl tomorrow. That hot blood of hers will produce real trouble soon if you don’t get her reined back in promptly.” She took Eglantine’s arm and they began to walk back down the hallway to the stairs that led to Paladin’s apartments. Eglantine frowned as she digested her sister-in-law’s advice.
“I suppose you have the right of it, Esmie. I will have a word with Pearl.” She peered at Esmeralda, taken aback by her smoldering expression. “What about Frodo and Merry? Should we ask Sarry to talk to them?”
“No, because Frodo is an adult now to all intents and purposes and not our responsibility,” said Esmeralda tightly. “And as for Merry, I think since Frodo is an adult, I will leave it to him to deal with my errant son. I daresay he’ll do so better than I would.”
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.