Peregrin and Diamond by Pearl Took

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Chapter I The Cost of Notoriety


It was a warm day in the late summer. A lazy day perfect for dreaming beneath a shade tree and letting time float by like the clouds. Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took were doing just that. Meriadoc was stretched out full length on his back with his hands behind his head. The bowl of his pipe rested on his chest and he sent a trail of hazy smoke upwards to join the clouds. Peregrin sat with his back against the tree and was nibbling on a biscuit. He was still "filling up the corners", as the expression goes, delaying the end of the wonderful picnic lunch he and his cousin had enjoyed.

They both hated to admit it to themselves but these kind of days had become more a part of their time together than had previously been the case. They had seen and experienced more than anyone in the Shire would ever understand, except Sam who had been through even worse things than they had, and it had altered them. Even though the Shire had been invaded and nearly destroyed, those who had never set foot beyond it's borders were still less changed than the Travellers who had seen the far lands of Middle Earth.

They treasured the Shire more than they had before their long journey and spending slow days just enjoying the country side was a great pleasure. That and they were older. Their days of scrumping food and vegetables from all over the Shire were behind them. Their deepest pleasures now were time spent with friends singing at inns and taverns as they had in the past, many parties at their home in Crickhollow, occasionally playing practical jokes, the frequent company of hobbit lasses and quiet days enjoying the Shire. Pippin, at thirty-seven, was a full four years past his coming of age, as old as Merry had been when they had gone with Frodo on the Quest. And Merry was now forty-five. Not old. Not old at all for hobbits. Still, when they spent these lazy days in the meadows and small forests of their homeland, they were given more to thoughtfulness than they would have been in the past.

"So, what thought have you given to getting married, Merry?" Pippin asked in a dreamy voice.

"Married!" Merry's pipe fell from his mouth in his surprise. "Married! Pippin, what brought that up?"

"Well, you know, we really ought to sometime."

Merry grinned wickedly as he rolled over and up onto his forearms to better look at Pippin. "Is that a proposal Pip?"

For a second Pippin looked confused, then he reached over and smacked Merry firmly on the head. "You goose!” He said laughing. "You know what I meant! 'Though I can see that it sounded like that's what I was suggesting." Pippin chuckled some more. "You're really not my type, dear cousin. Your anatomy is quite wrong for one thing."

"Thank goodness for that!" Merry chuckled. "I was thinking I might need to have a talk with the lasses you've spent time with."

Pippin blushed a bit at this. "That's kind of what I'm talking about Merry." He said, getting suddenly serious. "I mean, you know that I've been . . . well . . . I’ve . . . seen more of a couple of the Shire's lasses than I ought to have. We’ve both shared some laughs and kisses with a good many lasses and no harm in that, but . . . well, I feel there is something missing."

The elder cousin held his tongue. He had already taken his younger cousin to task for his indiscretions. Though the relationships with neither lass had gone to the limit such a relationship can, one had been a near thing. But the lectures on being careful with one’s choice of lasses and subsequent behavior with those lasses had long since been delivered, there was no sense in re-plowing those rows. Merry sat up to listen better and see Pippin's expression. "Go on Pip," he said.

"Well, is it all there is to me that someday I'm to be The Took and Thain? Is all a lass sees in marrying me is that she'll be mistress of Great Smials, with the finest clothes and jewelry in the Shire?" He looked down at his own clothes and gestured toward them with a vague wave of his hand. He wore, as had become his habit, his uniform as a knight of Gondor though still with his scarf knotted at his throat. "And much as I don't plan to quit wearing my livery, do any of the lasses see past it? Is being with me like showing off a trophy of some sort? 'Look everyone, I've won the attention of one of the Travellers!' To hear them talk, that is what they're after. I feel I've become a bauble they wear."

Pippin's shoulders slumped beneath his tabard and mail. Quite unconsciously his right hand began to fiddle with his scarf. "I feel something's wrong, Merry. I do enjoy the attention, and I need never spend a lonely evening, yet I am lonely. Sometimes, even when I'm with someone, I still feel alone." He looked up. "Do you understand Merry? Have you felt this way?"

"Yes, I have felt that way Pip." Merry said, laying his hand on Pippin's shoulder. "They want the fun of showing me off, but when I talk to them about things I think are important, they don't listen. They look at their fingernails or look around the room. They only listen when I talk about them."

"Yes!" There was excitement in Pippin's voice, Merry understood. "Yes! That's it exactly! It's as though they really don't want to know me." Then Pippin looked down and his voice went quiet. "I want someone to know me, like Rosie knows Sam." He looked into his cousin's eyes. "Do you think there can be a lass in the Shire who doesn't just want our titles and our fancy clothes. Rosie liked Sam before we left, even though he didn't seem to know it, but she never thought she would be married to anyone the whole Shire knows. She never thought she'd have Bag End as her home. She loved plain old Samwise Gamgee. She wanted the shy simple gardener that he still is at heart."

"We've never been plain old Merry and Pippin though Pip. You remember the trouble I had when I came of age. It's always been a bit different with us. Not as much as if we were royalty or such, mind you. We aren't princes no matter what they call us in Minas Tirith."

Merry got up and walked a few steps away. He stood thinking for a few minutes then turned back toward Pippin. "But I think you're right Pippin. There should be some lass, some sweet, loving, gentle, affectionate lass that wants more than all the outward show and finery. There should be. I hope there is." Merry walked over to where all the remains of the picnic lunch still lay spread out on a blanket and started putting things back into the basket. "For now though, Pippin, we have a party this evening and I think we need to go home and set about doing those last minute preparations that we're so famous for. You know, having only half of things set up and ready when our guests arrive and everyone having to pitch in and help?" Pippin laughed at this reminder of parties in the past and came over to help clear up the mess.

"I'll worry about it all tomorrow then." Pippin said. "No sense in ruining a party by worrying. We did remember to get extra barrels of ale, didn't we?"

"Yes. Good thing too, or we really would be behind!" Laughed Merry as they mounted their ponies and headed home.


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