DIAMOND OF LONG CLEEVE

User avatar
shireling
Frodo's Stewed Coney
Posts: 6493
Joined: Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:37 pm
Location: Mordor? Make it so!

Re: DIAMOND OF LONG CLEEVE

Postby shireling » Fri Dec 03, 2010 4:20 am

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

Delagrim turned to the wiry bearer beside him, and the tween piper behind. “Fastred, you are in command. Cork, you're with me.”

Without hesitation, Fastred strode to the front. Raising his long arm briefly above his head, he pointed the patrol south. As they marched away, young Cork snapped to. “You,” said Delagrim, “shall accompany us to the guest home.” Without further instruction, the piper took Daisy and Diamond's belongings in hand and prepared to follow at a distance.

As Delagrim led his charges to the lee side of the wall, Daisy engaged the young commander in conversation. The dwarves didn't have a problem ignoring the piper, but his youth and service made Diamond uncomfortable, so she kept close but did not speak, for fear of causing him trouble.

They had only gone a few hundred steps when they began walking toward a dense stand of trees. The Shire hobbits were certain that they would either have to turn or risk bumping into them, but it was all an illusion. The trees were planted so that they only appeared to be impenetrable. Delagrim continued forward, without care, and a large round door, the color of the surrounding leaves, appeared before them. He turned the center knob and as it swung open, he stepped aside and waved the travelers in.

As they entered, Diamond expected darkness but it was lit well. Small lanterns, placed shoulder-height in the walls and at every several paces, greeted the companions and they had no difficulty adjusting to the change. The hall they entered had a domed ceiling. Leading off from it were three corridors, all warmly lit and even an elf would not have to worry about hitting his head. These were made of various stones and wide enough for four to walk abreast. While the ceilings and walls had some texture to them, the floor was smooth and surprisingly warm to the touch. The air was quite fresh and Diamond could detect a slight but sweet fragrance. The dwarves stopped at the entrance to the left tunnel, and Robin and Wren to the right.

“Here we take our leave, “said Thora, “but only until this evening. Our own lodgings are this way. I for one will be glad to rest in my own bed.”

“And our parents' home is this way,” said Wren, taking her sister's hand.
“We'd come with you,” said Robin, “but word gets around quickly and we've no doubt Mum is waiting at the door right now. So, until tonight?”

Diamond nodded. “Until tonight. And thank you all for what you've done.”

With broad smiles, Barin and Floin bowed slightly and followed their sister down the winding corridor, as the Took twins scurried down theirs. Both boots and foot-falls soon faded, and the Shirelings turned back to their guide.

“Right this way,” said the commander, starting down the center tunnel. Daisy was still on his one arm and now her daughter took the other, but not before a brief smile and nod to Cork, who took care not to notice.
“I have to ask, what makes the floors so warm?” asked Daisy.
“I was just about to do the same.” Diamond loved this feature and you could hear it in her voice. “And the air in here is not what I would have expected in such a close space.”

“It’s actually not as close as you might think,” said Delagrim. “There is a network of underground rivers. When the excavations began, Isengrim II stated that he wanted the ground level to be kept warm and the air breathable. Channels were built holding small mills and these are turned by the water. They keep the air flowing through vents like this.” He stopped and pointed to a narrow dark space in the ceiling. Diamond reached for it and could feel the upward draft. “The halls are cool during the day, but the heat they absorb from the water keeps them comfortable at night. The further underground we go, the more stable the temperature is. Some other benefits are that water is accessible from nearly everywhere. At least one room in every home has a deep basin, its own enclosed well if you like. Unfortunately the water is only fit for washing. Potable water comes from the main well, but it's attainable from all levels.”

“How many levels are there?” asked Daisy.

“Three, all told. There are buckets, and everyone brings their own pitchers. Most all are expected to help draw and deliver water at least once a day. Those exempt are the ill, the old, the very young and those with child. Ah, here we are!”

They reached the end of the passage to an oaken door. The commander opened it, and stood by as the women entered. At the bottom of a short flight of stairs was another door. As Daisy and Diamond came through it, he stayed behind them. Standing in the doorway, he smiled at their delight.

It was as cozy as one could wish. Smaller than the homes they had left behind, it had no windows or fireplace, but the floors were dotted with colorful rugs and tapestries graced the walls. Lanterns similar to the hallway ones hung throughout, casting a cheery light. The furniture was simple but the wood was richly carved and the cushions plush. Two small rooms peered into the main one. One held two beds with embroidered coverlets and feather pillows. The down mattresses were set low in their frames, and as Delagrim said, there was a deep basin in the corner of the other room. It was carved from peach quartz; a niche in its side held a lovely bar of soap. On the shelf above were two mugs and pitchers, filled with fresh cold water. On the opposite wall there stood an oaken closet and an upright chest. Diamond opened them and gasped to find everything from drawers to dresses, and sheets to towels. There were even few pieces of fine jewelry that Daisy recognized from her youth, placed here now for her enjoyment. At a glance from his officer, young Cork came in and set his burdens down before withdrawing altogether.

“Wonderful!” said Diamond. “But where is the kitchen?”
“Each level has its own kitchen. Scattered throughout are common areas for eating, as well as the main dining hall...Servants will be sent to fetch you in time for the evening meal.”
“When will that be?” asked Diamond, looking around.
“At seven,” said Delagrim. “But don't worry! We'll make sure you don't miss it.”
“Ah, might we have a clock of our own?”
“Of course,” replied the commander. “We're all used to the routine here and hardly use them. I'll make sure one is delivered to you without delay.”
“Thank you, Delagrim!” said Daisy, beaming from ear to ear. “And give our cousin our thanks as well.”

“You are most welcome, ladies, and rest assured I will tell him. Now, I bid you good afternoon.” And with that he bowed, stepped out into the hall and marched away.
Image

'By Elbereth and Luthien the Fair, you shall have neither the Ring nor me! Engage!'
Avatar courtesy of Candy Kane, Webmistress Extraordinaire and Slayer of Trolls

User avatar
shireling
Frodo's Stewed Coney
Posts: 6493
Joined: Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:37 pm
Location: Mordor? Make it so!

Re: DIAMOND OF LONG CLEEVE

Postby shireling » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:39 pm

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

When Delagrim reached the domed foyer, he didn't leave as he arrived. Instead, he turned down the hall which led to the dwarves' dwelling, and was soon at their door. One knock and he was warmly answered, ushered inside by the two brothers and wreaths of pipe smoke. They offered him their best seat – which he accepted – and a nice tankard – which he did not, while they took the stools on either side of the family table.

The lodging was as different from the hobbit guest room as hobbits are from dwarves. The air was cooler here, and musky with the scent of dwarf, ale and tobacco smoke. The furniture was rough around the edges, not unlike their owners, and a few tanned hides strewn about seemed the only luxuries. One lantern was the only light, giving the place the feel, if not quite the look, of a mine. Two doors led off this main room, and both of these were closed. Not unpleasant, to be sure, but certainly unique compared to the Great Smials' other housing and definitely lived-in.

“Is your sister here?” asked Delagrim, looking around.
“Thorie's takin' a nap,” said Floin, the pipe stem held tight between his teeth. “I don't think she truly slept from the time we left...Oh, and I hope you don't mind our smokin'. It's been more days without than with.”
“No, not at all,” said the commander. “I'd join you myself if I wasn't on duty...You were expecting me.”
“Aye,” said Barin. “We thought you might stop by. Thinkin' you'd like to know what's out there.”
“That I would. What was the state of the Shire?”

Floin sighed. “A bloody mess. Rubbished, burned, overrun with men of the worst sort...” Barin chimed in.
“We'd made camp outside, and let the lasses have a barn to themselves in Hobbiton...It was there that a brute seized on Miss Diamond.” Delagrim went pale.
“Was she hurt?”
“Nay. Thora cloved the beast's head for him before he could do much. But she had a real fright.” Floin drew in deeply, and held the smoke a mite before letting it out. “What do you know of a white hand, and a letter 'S'?” Delagrim leaned back in his seat.

“Where'd you see them?”
“Not far from here, to tell truth,” said Barin. “A gang of ruffians overran us a couple of nights ago, and it was on the clothes of some...”
“The rune was on the helms,” said Floin.
“And these were men?”
“Aye, but they fair swum in those rags. Like they were borrowed or stolen from giants...”
The commander pursed his lips. “You know somethin' of this?”

“Well,” said Delagrim. “You know the talk there's been – rumors and gossip enough to keep us all gabbing into the next age. It sounds like what's been going around about Saruman.”
“The wizard of Isengard?”
“It's said he made monsters and sent them out across the land.”
“But these were men, Delagrim, and a few of them were fair to look upon,” said Barin. “It about broke the hearts of the ladies to see them in the light of day.”

“All dead, then?”
“Oh, aye!” chuckled Floin. “We all did our part – even the Lady Long Cleeve got in a few with her skillet!”
“They're still out there?” asked Delagrim in alarm.
“Nay, there's naught left,” said Barin, softly puffing a large ring and catching it on a finger. “We made a fire, and sent them skyward. All you'd find now is ash and most of that's been blown away.”
The Took commander bit his lip, shaking his head at what he'd been told.

“Strange tales,” he said.
Strange times,” added Floin. “And I'm afeared they're far from over.”
Image

'By Elbereth and Luthien the Fair, you shall have neither the Ring nor me! Engage!'
Avatar courtesy of Candy Kane, Webmistress Extraordinaire and Slayer of Trolls

User avatar
shireling
Frodo's Stewed Coney
Posts: 6493
Joined: Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:37 pm
Location: Mordor? Make it so!

Re: DIAMOND OF LONG CLEEVE

Postby shireling » Mon Dec 27, 2010 4:44 pm

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

“Oh, Mummy! Isn’t this grand?” Diamond hugged herself with a gleeful twirl.
“Yes, it is,” said Daisy, though her smile was weary. “I'd love it more if I weren't famished and dinner so long away.”

Diamond tapped her nose, and headed to the basin room. There she fetched one of the filled pitchers, and, with the mugs, carried them to her mother.

“At least we won't be thirsty,” she said, setting them down on the round main table and pouring her mother a drink. “And I'm sure we could get a bite or two to tide us – if we asked.”
“I don't doubt it,” said Daisy, “but I'd as soon not put anybody out. I say, let's not trouble the kitchen for the present. There's a bit of unpacking that needs doing...”
“Not to mention that a bath wouldn't be welcome as well,” said Diamond. Daisy sniffed her own shoulder, and wrinkled her nose with a laugh.
“And not only by us – unless the company's all down wind! Whew! Well, let's make ourselves at home, shall we?”

And that's just what they did – opening the parcels they'd carried from the Shire, and choosing those things they loved. Except for some clothes and a comb or two, the rest of Daisy's luggage consisted of her skillet and other bits of cookware. These she left stacked together and pushed far under the bed, while Diamond undid the camp blanket in which she'd stored her beloved quilt.

Her heart leapt to see it, its colors all brave in the bright Smials light. But as she opened it, she saw something else. Saw, and then felt, and as Diamond slowed her roll– equally fearing and desiring to know what was there, for it was not a big something and never twitched when she paused – out fell a little loaf of cram, all tied up in a handkerchief. The girl gasped and that brought her mother to her side.

“I don't remember packing this,” said Diamond.
“Well, you shouldn't. I did.” At the sight of her daughter's face, Daisy blushed but quickly defended herself.

“I forgot. We were packing up and it was just off to the side – what? It's barely a mouthful, nobody's missed it! And now that we're here, you and I can split it and it'll hold us till dinner...It was the last bit, the very last. I didn't want it crushed and it was easier to slip it into the quilt than any place else. Do you really think I'd steal, Gemmy? Ever? And especially from such friends as these?”

“No,” murmured Diamond. “I was surprised to see it is all. I'm sorry.” Daisy pulled her daughter close, her lips aside the rosy ears.
“I know, I know, petal,” she breathed. “It's been hard, all of it, for the both of us. We went right from pan to cook fire, and I've not told you once how proud I am of the way you've held yourself. If only your dad had seen...”

The words stopped there and refused to go further. For a long time mother and daughter held each other, neither wanting to be the first to let go. But soon the little overlooked loaf, which had been warming in the cozy air, poked at their noses with its savory scent and soon went the way of all cram, washed down with healthy swigs from Tuckborough's ice-cold wells. It was just enough, and, with their hunger sated for the moment, the hobbits' thoughts turned to lovely soaps and water hot to lather in.

At first, they were trying so hard to be polite and let the other go first, it seemed as though neither might take advantage of the deep peach tub. But soon they decided – and it made sense – that they bathe together. So, for the first time in many weeks, the two Shirelings got an equally good scrubbing, washing the other's back and rinsing the other's hair until it squeaked. Towels, as big, warm and fluffy as one could wish, swallowed up the two halfings, and like footed cocoons they tottered to their beds. Tipping onto the down mattresses, they swiftly tucked up their furry feet and sighed contentedly as one.

She didn't know what was on Daisy's mind, but Diamond was thinking only to close her eyes and rest for the tiniest bit – fed, fresh and warm as a bunted baby...
Image

'By Elbereth and Luthien the Fair, you shall have neither the Ring nor me! Engage!'
Avatar courtesy of Candy Kane, Webmistress Extraordinaire and Slayer of Trolls

User avatar
shireling
Frodo's Stewed Coney
Posts: 6493
Joined: Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:37 pm
Location: Mordor? Make it so!

Re: DIAMOND OF LONG CLEEVE

Postby shireling » Sun Jan 02, 2011 12:14 am

CHAPTER SIXTEEN (cont.)

*******************************************************************************************************************************************************

“Gemmy...Gemmy-love, wake up.” Diamond's eyes flew open. “Do you remember where we are?” The girl stretched as far as the towel would allow and yawned.
“Yes...”
“Paladin sent a clock for us, and it's just gone six,” said Daisy. “Did the sleep do you good?”
“It has, though I didn't mean to...What a beautiful dress!”

Daisy stepped back and turned, showing off her finery. It was a floor-length velvet of royal purple, tied with a belt of the same. The sleeves were long as well, ending with loops that slipped elegantly over the middle fingers. Attached to the back of the dress was a wrap-around hood, worn down so that it draped softly about Daisy's neck and on the front – from shoulder to waist – was the White Tree of Rohan, embroidered in silver. With her snow white hair and fine bearing, the effect was dazzling.

“O Mum, you look like a queen!” Daisy beamed at the compliment.
“Now, it's your turn. And I've found something I think you'll love...”

Going to the bedroom door, Daisy gently pushed it closed. Hidden behind was a tall mirror, and hanging beside that, was the gown. Springing bolt-upright, Diamond's jaw dropped and her eyes looked to jump their sockets.

It, too, was velvet, but a shimmering scarlet hue. Long hemmed and sleeved like Daisy’s, it lacked the first gown's fine design, sporting instead a scooped neckline trimmed with sable. For the first time, Diamond noticed a set of lacy undergarments and a well-needled shift lying across the foot of the bed. Pushing and pulling her way out of the big bath towel, she let her mother help, surprised at just how womanly the touch of the silky stuff made her feel. In front of the mirror, she opened the dress, stepped in and Daisy fastened the tiny hooks up the back.

“Gemmy, I found the most lovely brooch!” she said, slipping it from its pouch and holding it up. It was a deer, wrought of gold and stepping lightly on Daisy's palm. Then she reached for the clasp on the leather thong that held Pippin's charm, but, at the slightest touch, Diamond flinched. Daisy was undeterred. “Let me take this off,”she said. Abruptly, Diamond pulled away.

“No, Mummy. I swore to myself that only Pip would undo it...Please? I want him.”
The apples of Diamond's cheeks glowed red in the glass, and the older woman withdrew.

Some hills you simply don't die on, and this was one. She knew to let her daughter have her way in this, but it was difficult for Daisy. Oh, Pip was all right and she knew they were serious, but when he runs off with that crackpot, of that even bigger crackpot – well, this was one of those times Daisy fervently wished she wasn’t a Took.

As grateful as she was to Paladin for granting them sanctuary, it was never far from her mind that the lad might not return. And if Pip doesn’t come home and my Diamond’s heart gets broken, what do I do then? Shaking her head and picking up the black satin bag, Daisy slid the prancing hind inside and pulled the silk strings.

Just then, there was a tap at the door...
Image

'By Elbereth and Luthien the Fair, you shall have neither the Ring nor me! Engage!'
Avatar courtesy of Candy Kane, Webmistress Extraordinaire and Slayer of Trolls

User avatar
shireling
Frodo's Stewed Coney
Posts: 6493
Joined: Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:37 pm
Location: Mordor? Make it so!

Re: DIAMOND OF LONG CLEEVE

Postby shireling » Sat Jan 08, 2011 5:30 pm

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

Diamond lifted the brush from beside her bed, and stroked vigorously from her scalp to the tips of her boy-cropped hair.

“Lady Long Cleeve?” said a now-familiar voice.
“Yes?” said Daisy.
“Dinner, milady.”

“One moment, Delagrim...Diamond?” Daisy rarely called her by name, and the girl paused. “I know I've not been kind, and I don't blame you at all for being angry. But we need to give each other the space to be wrong. I'm more than willin' to do that, Gem; you are everything, everything I hold dear – you know that. So I'm asking, my love, will you not do the same for me?” Diamond nodded, and tried to smile. But failing that, she dropped her brush and swept up her mother's frail bones firmly in her arms.

There was nothing more to say, and after a bit the Shirelings opened the door. Delagrim and another – they did not know him, but found him just as dashing – stood at attention in the hall. Dressed in the Thain’s colors but with added shine, Delagrim introduced the youth beside him as his brother, Orstrem.

“Older or younger?” asked Daisy.
“Younger, ma'am, but by mere minutes,” said Orstrem. His voice was light, almost musical and he bore less than little resemblance to his senior.
“So, you're twins as well!” exclaimed Diamond. “Like Wren and Robin!”
“Just so,” said Delagrim, with a smile, “but he never forgets who's first. Now, ladies, if you're ready...Lady Long Cleeve, may I?” Daisy chuckled and placed her hand on the crook of his arm.
“Most certainly, Commander.” Diamond did the same with Orstrem, taking her place behind her mother and Delagrim, and the four began their journey to the main hall.

The influence of dwarvish architecture was everywhere, and Diamond could only marvel at Isengrim’s genius. They were led through several passages, their escorts mentioning points of interest along the way. There was music and laughter, and as they turned the corner she saw they were entering another passage, one much higher and wider than any she seen before, but made like the rest of the same well-placed stone.

Now hobbits were everywhere, all in their party dress from crowns of curly heads to soles of furry toes, coming from other corridors and chatting merrily. They walked toward an archway, beyond which Diamond could see vast wheels of lanterns hanging overhead from a grid of wood beams. These were supported by pillars of that same hard wood, and at either end of that enormous room, was a fireplace of unusual height and make, their fires like blazing forests within. There were long narrow tables lining the center of the room, each filled to groaning with joint and roast, sausage and bacon, heaps of boiled potato and a field of sweet carrots. Mushrooms, swimming in crocks of stock, were jostled by baskets of bread and rolls, accompanied by hills of butter and mounds of striped apples and freckled berries.

The confectioner had been working overtime to fill the demand for his cakes, pies and custards. There was wine and beer and ale, but there was also tea and a tart cider called lemon-squeeze, which wouldn't know a lemon if it fell into it. Tookland had been self-sufficient for years and had very strict storage requirements, so food was not a problem, in spite of the siege outside. There was dancing for all ages, with games and entertainments set chiefly for the very young.

Along the back wall, raised just a foot or so above the floor, stood the Thain's table with its high-backed chairs. There in the middle sat a very dignified-looking hobbit. His pate was bald, but the hair the wreathed his ears was snowy-white and thick. Above his tailored coat could be seen a gemstone collar, and his buttons all gleamed gold. This was Thain Paladin. By his side was Eglantine, his wife and the mother of their four children - Pearl, Pimpernel and Pervinca – absent Peregrin. All were in gentlefolk apparel, their fabrics rich with jewel-bright colors and precious stone buttons.

Thora, Barin and Floin had a table down front and, when they saw the hobbits and their escorts, greeted them warmly. They dressed much as they had in the wild, but these clothes were of grander stuff, their boots a high polish. The twins, Robin and Wren, were there with their family; both girls decked out in identical gowns – burgundy for Robin, Wren's a forest green - and later danced the night away with every young swain that asked them. Wren, however, saved most of her dances for Delagrim, for, once she tired of her own fun, Daisy graciously released him.

Acknowledged by and seated at his table, Paladin arose, introduced his cousins, and after a formal toast to their good health, the festivities officially began.


But Diamond soon found the evening overwhelming. After the many weeks of relative quiet, the noise and merriment rang harshly in her ears. She accepted one dance from a third or fourth cousin once – or was it twice? – removed; she couldn’t remember. But it got her away from the table where her vivacious mother was holding court. Slipping out of the hall, she couldn’t go far. Neither she nor Daisy had the faintest idea of how to find the way back. But there was a small alcove, several feet away from the arch, with its own bench, and she perched there. Closing her eyes, she cradled Pippin's gift between her fingers and wept.
Image

'By Elbereth and Luthien the Fair, you shall have neither the Ring nor me! Engage!'
Avatar courtesy of Candy Kane, Webmistress Extraordinaire and Slayer of Trolls

User avatar
shireling
Frodo's Stewed Coney
Posts: 6493
Joined: Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:37 pm
Location: Mordor? Make it so!

Re: DIAMOND OF LONG CLEEVE

Postby shireling » Fri Jan 14, 2011 1:35 am

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN (cont.)

All the days and nights since Pip had gone were rolled up into one and the water flowed, but Diamond made no noise. Even here, with such gaiety on the other side of the wall, surely someone would hear something. Yet she was cautious, burying her face in her hands and hidden deep within the stone corner, as far as she could from any candle.

For some minutes, that is how she stayed. But when it was, exactly, that she knew she wasn't alone, she could never say. Whether it was the breeze upon her cheek, the sigh of perfume or the rustling of petticoats, Diamond opened her eyes and blinked away her tears.

A hooded figure, with slender hand, generously dotted her cheeks and pressed the white flannel against the girl's palm. "There," it said, in a hushed voice. "Grief such as ours has not no use for linen and lace." Diamond peered into the dark oval the hovered above her face. Two hands turned back the satin hood, and the cloak sat close beside her. In an instant and without mirth, it seemed to Diamond as though Pip had returned in the face and form of a woman. That delicate nose, and those lips, copying the ones of which she was so fond, smiled sweetly. But it was the eyes, so like his own, that caused her to weep again.

"Tush, child," said Madame Took, taking Diamond in her arms.
“I’m sorry..."
"Shhhh...there's no need. I can't tell you how glad I am to have you here and missing him as I do." Diamond sighed, and wiped her eyes herself.
"I really meant to have a good time tonight. He always wanted to bring me here - to meet you..." Pip's mother loosened her embrace.
"Why didn't you?"
"We always thought we had time. There was always later. I never thought I'd be here, without him." She stood up, toying with the charm, twisting it between her fingers.
“We never talked about getting married. It was just a given. I mean, we knew we were meant to be together - no discussion. We just knew. But we’re young, and thought we’d have time. Sometimes I get so angry with him - and with Frodo! That Pip would put him before me, before us!” Eglantine got to her feet.

"Come along," she said, taking Diamond's hand. "Come, walk and talk with me."

They didn't go back by way of the great hall, but turned outside the alcove and continued, arm and arm, down the calm and peaceful passage.
Image

'By Elbereth and Luthien the Fair, you shall have neither the Ring nor me! Engage!'
Avatar courtesy of Candy Kane, Webmistress Extraordinaire and Slayer of Trolls

User avatar
shireling
Frodo's Stewed Coney
Posts: 6493
Joined: Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:37 pm
Location: Mordor? Make it so!

Re: DIAMOND OF LONG CLEEVE

Postby shireling » Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:02 am

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

On they walked, until they reached a T-formation at the end. Steering her companion gently to the right, Eglantine led Diamond to the base of a beautifully-turned stairway.
Up they climbed, and as they did so, the girl could hear...

"Water? Is that..."
"A waterfall? Yes, and the only one inside the Smials,"said Madame Took, smiling down at her. "Once we reach the top, then we can talk in privacy..." Diamond frowned and shook her head.
"But I didn't mean to leave my mother alone," she said. "You see, I only wanted a minute to compose myself - "
"Your mother is perfectly capable of hosting in my place," soothed Eglantine. "We watched you leave the hall together, and I asked if I might spend some time with you. She was delighted to oblige." Diamond's eyes flashed at 'delighted', and she forgot herself.
"You needn't make it sound as though she were glad to be rid of me!" Turning with a kindly look, her hostess refused to take the bait.
"Oh, but you see, I didn't." And with that, Madam Took continued upwards, leaving a stunned Diamond to follow to the top.

When they got there, all that could be seen was a door. At least, that's what it seemed to be. It was solid and free of marking, not even having so much as a knob or grain, to show what it was made from. Taking her hands to the height of her chest, Eglantine placed both palms squarely upon the surface and it gently rolled apart.

On the other side, was all manner of foliage. Vines and trees, bushes and low-flowering plants, dotted with such vegetables and fruits that did not mind sharing. It stretched out like a carpet at their feet, as another stairway led from the platform where they stood down to the verdant floor. There was no roof, only the high-walls opened up to the sky, and a broad gate at the other end, so the tenders could come and go at will.

The words stuck in Diamond's throat, and in the end, she could only manage one.

"Amazing!"
"We like it," said Madam Took. "Of course there's not much in terms of variety, but there is plenty of what we do have. Mushrooms are best down here, as you can well imagine."
"No need for stealing them, then," chuckled Diamond, "is there?"
"I should say not. But that never stopped..."
Her voice trailed off, and she looked the girl full in the face.

"The Thain and I are of a difference of opinion when it comes to Peregrin. I would never have let him go..."
"But?" Eglantine shrugged.
"He went, and without a single word to me. Madness! A journey to the East - as if anything good came from there! Something, something about Bilbo's travels with the dwarves, back when we were all much younger. Something he had with him, something...terrible. It was weeks before I would let His lordship apologize; he said he realized that he should have encouraged Pip to speak to me. In any case, I probably couldn't have stopped him...I assume he told you more?"
"No," said Diamond, trying her best. "I know much the same as you. But I didn't know he'd gone without your blessing."

"Blessing?" Wonder and grief puffed the cheeks in the careworn face. She settled herself down on the top stair, looking out over the rich green bounty. "My blessing...You're not supposed to have favorites among your children, but I know whoever said that was no parent. I can't speak for the Thain, but Pip is mine. From the day I first felt him move till the midwife placed him in my arms, I thought of him as I had my others. But then he looked at me, with such a knowing glance. We've been like this," she said, twining her long-lean first and middle fingers, "from the moment he could talk. Whenever I was sad, he would seek me out, climb up in my lap and hum himself to sleep. And he could never - ever - keep a secret. As hard as he tried, it would fairly ooze out of him, so we kept all to ourselves. Any surprises - like parties or presents - were kept from Pip, right along with the soul for which the celebration was intended!"

"That's probably why he needed to leave," murmured Diamond. "As it was, I begged him to tell me, he was looking so...unlike himself." The older woman chuckled.
"You probably didn't need to beg for very long..."
And Diamond smiled to hear that.

"As long as we're speaking of secrets," she said, "for how long have you known about the two of us?"
"Last winter was when he first mentioned you, but I'd seen a bit of a change in him since May Day. He wanted to give you something for Yule, and I helped him chose that little heart you're wearing."

Diamond beamed, and swooping down, threw her arms around her. The hug was a match and the two sat there, neither wanting to be the first to let go.

"Thank you," whispered Diamond.
"You're welcome, sweetheart," Eglantine whispered back, giving her a squeeze. "I'm so very, very glad. And lest it cross your mind in the midst of this, he's coming home. I know he is."
Image

'By Elbereth and Luthien the Fair, you shall have neither the Ring nor me! Engage!'
Avatar courtesy of Candy Kane, Webmistress Extraordinaire and Slayer of Trolls

User avatar
shireling
Frodo's Stewed Coney
Posts: 6493
Joined: Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:37 pm
Location: Mordor? Make it so!

Re: DIAMOND OF LONG CLEEVE

Postby shireling » Sat Jan 29, 2011 1:17 am

CHAPTER NINETEEN

In the weeks following their great welcome, Diamond and Daisy settled into the life of Tuckborough.

They kept the original guest rooms they were given because they spent so little time there, and took to dressing in the style favored by most of the women. It included a calf-length shift over which was worn a tunic of the same length, either belted or not, and sometimes a loosely-wrapped scarf. The short hair, so practical for her journey in the wild, made Diamond a bit self-conscious though it didn't seem to bother anybody else, especially her tom-boy cousins.

Every morning they’d start out for one of their favorite breakfast spots. Afterwards they would go – sometimes together, but more often apart – to assist neighbors in the settlement. There was a lot of satisfaction in what they did, and both would have said that they got back far more than they gave.

There was vast residential wing that held all of the young Shire mothers and their children. Many of their husbands and fathers had joined them there and now worked as everything from carpenters to chefs & gardeners to members of the guard.

But the dwarves - Thora, Barin and Floin - were restless. They began making plans to venture out toward the city of Minas Tirith within a few days of their arrival. It was October 2cd when they left. Daisy and Diamond saw them off and watched until they disappeared. They were never to meet again.

As for the twins, Robin and Wren became Diamond’s best friends. They dressed at home as they had in the wild, and became small arms instructors. Wren and Delagrim began to see each other socially. Because of her youth, her parents wanted them to wait a year before they’d consider allowing him to court her. Her folks were very surprised and pleased when Wren acquiesced to this.

When Daisy wasn’t working, she was keeping company with a gentleman that she’d met through Eglantine, and Diamond was glad to see her mother so happy.

As for Diamond, the quilt she brought with her was finally mended and spread out upon her bed. She had wanted to do the work herself, but when she realized that it needed the care of someone more skilled, she turned it over to a woman whose needle work she had greatly admired. The stitching was done so finely, so cleverly, that if you had not known before that it was damaged you would never know it now. Instead, she took up archery and found that she had sufficient skill to compete if she wished.

Often her old life in the Shire seemed like a dream. There were folk that she did miss, especially Rosie and Estella, and often wondered how they were faring. In her heart, she'd hoped that one or maybe two of the lads that had set out with Frodo would make it back home. But she wouldn’t allow herself that one of them might be Pip, regardless of Eglantine's words. As it was, a number of young men showed interest in her, but she politely made it clear that she was not the least bit interested, and they soon let her alone.

She rarely mentioned him now, and when she did there was a wistful tenderness her voice. On the 23rd of September it had been one year since he had set out from the Shire. She remembered him saying that he didn’t know when he’d be back. Now she wondered if he’d really meant to say ‘if’.
Image

'By Elbereth and Luthien the Fair, you shall have neither the Ring nor me! Engage!'
Avatar courtesy of Candy Kane, Webmistress Extraordinaire and Slayer of Trolls

User avatar
shireling
Frodo's Stewed Coney
Posts: 6493
Joined: Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:37 pm
Location: Mordor? Make it so!

Re: DIAMOND OF LONG CLEEVE

Postby shireling » Sat Jan 29, 2011 10:41 pm

CHAPTER TWENTY

Autumn was Diamond’s favorite time of year, and despite her worries, she was looking forward to it. There was a great deal of work to be done before Winterset, with filling the harvest stores, packing up the summer clothes and airing out the blankets. The crops were gathered, the livestock was sleek, and the first cider was ready to drink. The outside world was just that – outside. She no longer missed having windows, and if she fancied a walk, she knew which tunnels would lead her there. She had heard so many rumors so often when living in the Shire. Here they had been very few and very far between.

Until these last few weeks. She'd heard much more than she ever remembered hearing before, and though most of it was good, the details were sketchy.

The most prominent and best was that a king had been crowned in Gondor - which almost no one believed. Then the bad news that a siege surrounding Tookland had seen some reinforcement, but no new intelligence as to a prepared attack. The routine patrols were now heightened in their scope, and swordsmen were joined to the archers. Diamond’s friendship with the twins gave her access to a great deal. But all that could be done was to take each day as it came, and to hope that the news of the coronation was true…


It was after dark and Diamond was tired. November 1st had been a very busy day. A mild illness was affecting some of the youngest children making them more cranky than sick. She had spent most of the day on her feet, walking the colicky little ones and giving their exhausted mothers some much needed rest. Now she was only to happy to have those same feet carry her back to the lodgings. Daisy had carried dinner to their quarters so they could eat and go straight to bed. But as she went along, she thought she heard a commotion coming toward her.

She saw in the corridor a troop, marching toward the south tunnel. It was one of a handful that opened into a grove that hid the entrance to the outside. She was familiar by now with the comings and goings of the various watches, but this one was early. It was not to replace the current one but to join it, and they were not alone. Marching hobbit feet could be heard on all sides, and cold shivers ripped up Diamond's spine. In another time and place, she would have gone clean the other way. But her curiosity got the best of her and she scrurried toward it.


Rounding the corner, Diamond spied the twins. In the deep blue livery of the guard, they ran with swords at their sides, their faces rapt with wonder.

“What is it? What’s happened?” Robin was giddy.
“Ponies galloping over the fields! They've got Shire folk on their backs, and they’re coming to Tuckborough!” Diamond's jaw dropped.

“How…?”
“Can’t talk now,” said Wren. “We've got to catch up! Come with us!” Grabbing both girls by the hand, the three of them ran together to the join the swelling throng, their torches held high.

Diamond stood among the soldiers, her long berry-colored gown and hood standing her out as a rose floating on the sea. Six Shire lads had smiles on their travel-stained faces, a spray of mud dabbing their cloaks. Their ponies pawed the ground, steam rising from their flanks.
“They must have run all the way from Hobbiton!” said Wren.
“But, who is that?” said Robin, pointing to first in line. Diamond followed her hand.

It was a hobbit – that is, he looked to be one from his feet – but his clothes were black and silver, and he bore an image of a white tree on his chest. He sat very straight in the saddle of his mount, a clean-limbed steed that was clearly not of Shire breeding. His face was solemn beneath his straw-colored hair, and as he dismounted, he stood head and shoulders above those about him.

Diamond looked at him, for what seemed an age. Then her eyes grew wide; she stood like stone, staring. All the world stopped...



The stranger was speaking to one of his companions when he paused. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw her, a winsome figure alone and dappled with shadows. Their eyes met and he came toward her, as if he beheld a dream that he may suddenly awaken from.

She didn’t move; she didn’t dare, until he was right in front of her. Timidly lifting her hand, she touched his cheek.

“Pippin?” she whispered. “My Pippin?” He smiled tenderly, and taking her hands in his, raised them to his lips. The spell broken, they fell into each others arms, weeping for joy. He swept her off her feet, laughing her name.

“My dear, oh my dear!” she murmured, and their searching lips found each others in the blazing torchlight.
Last edited by shireling on Sun Oct 28, 2012 1:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Image

'By Elbereth and Luthien the Fair, you shall have neither the Ring nor me! Engage!'
Avatar courtesy of Candy Kane, Webmistress Extraordinaire and Slayer of Trolls

User avatar
shireling
Frodo's Stewed Coney
Posts: 6493
Joined: Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:37 pm
Location: Mordor? Make it so!

Re: DIAMOND OF LONG CLEEVE

Postby shireling » Sun Jan 30, 2011 1:38 am

EPILOGUE


The glow from his bedroom lamps played over Pip's delicate features, his lips against Diamond's temple, his breath feathering her cheek.

Nestled in the hollow of his shoulder, she closed her eyes and filled her senses with his presence. In the peace of his arms, she cuddled in his warmth and that of his bed.

Her clothing lay draped with his, her silver heart on the mantle where Pip had set it down. At the foot of his bed lay his weapons, in repose like hounds after the hunt.

They had grown. They had passed through fire, and were the better for it. They had both changed, saw it was good and all the fears that seized on Diamond's heart were put to flight. Drifting now, Thora came to mind. She smiled at the memory, and Pip, as though he knew what she was thinking, rocked her in his arms.

"...you've nothing to fear and your heart will never lack for love."


The End
 

5/30/03  
written by Sara
Image

'By Elbereth and Luthien the Fair, you shall have neither the Ring nor me! Engage!'
Avatar courtesy of Candy Kane, Webmistress Extraordinaire and Slayer of Trolls


Return to “Fan Fiction”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest