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Just to be With You  by Pervinca

Just to be With You

12: The Most Wonderful Reunion

During their time in the Lockholes, Estella and Diamond became fast friends. Estella discovered that there was more to Diamond than she first realised. Though most of the time she was bold and outspoken, like any Took, occasionally she seemed delicate, and Estella felt it her duty to protect her. Whenever Diamond started weeping because she missed her family, Estella would be there to comfort her. Fredegar also helped out when he could, though he was becoming weaker with every day. He still ate little of his food, leaving most of it for Estella and Diamond.

After a month or so sharing the cell, Estella and Diamond knew almost everything about each other. Diamond had said that she thought Merry sounded like a lovely hobbit, and hoped to meet both he and Pippin one day. Estella wanted to meet Diamond’s four brothers.

It was also not uncommon for Estella to wake and find that Diamond had migrated from her mattress onto Estella’s. Estella did not mind, in fact, she liked the responsibility of caring for Diamond. She reminded Estella of Pippin sometimes, so Estella assumed that this was how Merry felt about his young cousin. Though Estella and Diamond were not at all closely related, Estella almost felt that Diamond was her own little sister.

The nights in the Lockholes started to become colder, and Estella guessed that Autumn was upon them. Fredegar informed her that it was about halfway through (he spent much of his time working out how much time had passed in the outside world). Very little had changed, save perhaps, they seemed to receive less food. Diamond also stopped receiving letters from Lotho. At least once a week previously, he had sent a message asking her whether she had changed her mind. Around September (as Fredegar rightly guessed it to be), these messages stopped completely. Diamond assumed that he had finally given up.

A week after the messages stopped, something very interesting happened. Around midday, Estella, Diamond and Fredegar heard a great deal of noise coming from outside their prison tunnel. The new prisoner was not brought into their tunnel, but they heard enough to make a fair guess of who it was.

“I’d know that voice anywhere,” Diamond gasped. “Lobelia Sackville-Baggins!”

“But why would Lotho lock up his own mother?” asked Estella. “Surely he is not that horrid.”

“Perhaps Lotho is not in charge anymore,” Fredegar suggested.

In the following weeks, they noticed that the food rations had indeed been reduced. They only received one meal a day (if it could even be called a meal), and Estella finally noticed her brother’s diminishing health.

“You must eat more!” she ordered.

“No, Stella. You and Diamond eat it. I’ll be fine.” There were many arguments of this sort, and Estella was usually forced to give in. Fredegar would not eat more, and if she and Diamond did not east it, the food would be wasted.

The day they had dreaded finally came. It was late October or early November, by Fredegar’s reckoning. No food was delivered. Estella tried to console Diamond, assuring her that they were merely late in delivery, but when the chill of night set in, there was no doubting what had happened.

“They had left us to starve to death!” Diamond cried. She started sobbing. Estella sat next to her and stroked her hair.

“There, now. I’m sure it is just a mistake. They simply forgot about us today. They will remember tomorrow.” She looked at Fredegar hopefully for support, but he was so weak that he could only manage a small smile.

The following day came and went with no sign of food. Estella could no longer avoid the truth. They had been left to starve. But still, she tried to remain hopeful; she knew someone had to. So on the following day, she humoured Diamond by discussing ways that they could make the cell appear more homely. Her efforts were rewarded by a small smile from the younger lass.

Midway through this discussion, they heard the sound of a door being opened, and a loud voice cry, “There’s more down here!”

Estella gasped. She knew that voice, but surely it could not be! She forgot her doubt when the owner of the voice arrived outside their cell. He was taller and his clothes were outlandish, but he was still Peregrin Took. There was another hobbit with him, who Estella remembered as being Frodo Baggins’ gardener, Sam Gamgee. He held a large set of keys in his hands. The door to their cell was soon wide open, but Estella could not move. If Pippin and Sam were back…

Peregrin looked and her and smiled slightly, but other than this gesture, he paid her no heed. He bowed to Diamond and asked her if she needed any assistance. Diamond shook her head and slipped from the room, joining a group of other prisoners that Sam had freed from cells further along the tunnel. Estella saw many of the former rebels among them.

Sam returned and both he and Pippin focussed their attention on Fredegar. They held him on either side, seeing that he would too weak to move himself. It would be a long time before anyone could call him by his nickname.

Pippin gave a little laugh, but concern was evident in his voice. “You would have done better to come with us after all, poor old Fredegar!”*

Estella only just heard Fredegar’s whispered reply. “Who’s this young giant with the loud voice? Not little Pippin! What’s your size in hats now?”*

Pippin winked at Estella to let her know that she had not been forgotten. She heard his voice again, a moment later. “Oi, Merry! There’s another prisoner still down there. Can you help them?”

Estella’s heart skipped a beat. Another incredibly tall and strangely dressed hobbit arrived at her cell.

“Hullo?” he called, not seeing her in the relative darkness.

“Merry!” Estella managed to gasp.

Merry’s eyes widened and his mouth fell open. He had imagined countless versions of his reunion with Estella, but this had not been one of them. She looked thin, though not as painfully thin as Fredegar had been, carried into the sunlight by Pippin and Sam. Her face was filthy and her curls unkempt, but to Merry, she was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen.


Estella was broken from he trance as he called her name. She ran into his open arms and sobbed into his chest. She could hear him crying as well, whispering over and over, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

“Oh, Merry. I’ve missed you so much,” Estella sniffled, pulling away and smiling up at him. How had he gotten so tall?

“I thought you said you never wanted to see me again,” Merry laughed.

“Well, I lied.”

“Come on. Let’s get you back into the sunlight.”

Hand in hand, they walked out of the Lockholes. Estella had to shield her eyes from the Sun. When they adjusted to the bright, she was able to marvel at the view before her. Many reunions seemed to be taking place. Pimpernel Took was sobbing, wrapped in Berilac’s arms.

“Good day, Miss Estella,” Pippin greeted with a bow. Estella just laughed and hugged him. “I’ll have you know that Great Lords of the West have toasted you, and that Merry here is a Knight of the Mark.”

“Pip!” Merry protested. “I was going to surprise her. Well, Pippin’s a Knight too.”

Estella laughed again. “I think there is a grand tale that needs to be told. But others things need to be seen to first. For instance, I believe I am dire need of a bath.”

* * * * * *

The reunion between Meriadoc and Estella was a short-lived one, since they both had a great many things to see to. Merry was deeply involved in cleaning up the mess Lotho, “Sharkey” and the ruffians had caused and Estella had to care for Fredegar.

A healer had seen to him as soon as he had been brought out from the Lockholes. The healer told Estella that Fredegar was suffering from severe malnutrition and that it was very lucky that he had been found when he had. Any longer and they probably would have lost him. Fredegar should have also thanked his size before his capture. A hobbit of smaller stature and girth would have not made it through the time they spent locked up.

Fredegar would need a lot of looking after and, as she felt partly responsible, Estella volunteered to be his carer. Melilot Brandybuck also came from Brandy Hall when Rosa and Odo came home, and Diamond was often visiting Budgeford.

It was a good month before they were able to spend any time together. Merry and Pippin came to the Bolgers’ home as Yule was approaching, and first told their tale to Fredegar, Estella and Diamond. All three hobbits were shocked at what had gone on outside their tiny little Shire.

“To be honest, we hardly expected to find it had come all the way home with us,” sighed Pippin, then he smiled. “But I suppose it all worked out in the end. And now, I want to hear Fredegar’s story! I’ve heard small snippets of the great rebels of Scary, so let us hear it in full.”

“If you don’t mind, I’d like to speak with Estella,” Merry stammered. He offered his hand and helped her to her feet. They escaped into the garden, but not before Pippin and Diamond made some very immature calls.

Estella softly laughed. “It’s incredible how alike those two are. Diamond really became my Pippin while we were locked up. I think I understand your friendship with your cousin.”

“We’re even closer now, after everything we’ve been through.” Merry seemed to shudder.

“You didn’t tell us the whole story, did you?”

“Some things are best left unsaid. Perhaps I will share them with you one day, but not now. They are still too near… But now, to happier things. I believe we were having a rather important discussion before I just upped and left the Shire.”

Estella took a sharp breath. She had been expecting this talk, but it still shocked her. “Please, Merry, before you go on, let me say something.”

“Of course.”

“I’ve had a lot of time to think about what you said in that discussion, about waiting. I think you’re right, especially with all that’s happening now.” She gestured towards the house. “It’s going to be a long time before Freddie is well again. He barely ate at all while we were locked up. Even though I have Mel and Di to help me, I could never leave him while he still needs me.”

Merry smiled broadly, and he kissed her on the top of her forehead. “You don’t know how happy it makes me to hear you say that. I do want to marry you so much, but I just can’t at the moment. We haven’t managed to rid the Shire of ruffians completely, and Frodo will need help to move back into Bag-End – that place was certainly a mess! Not to mention the fact that I don’t think Pippin’s ready to be left alone just yet.”

“Oh, you silly ass! Even if we did get married, it wouldn’t mean that Pippin would be left alone,” Estella laughed. “In fact, I insist that he lives with us when we marry, at least until he marries.”

Merry joined her in laughing. “Well, Frodo has told Pippin and I that we can live in Crickhollow together. I’d say there’d be more than enough room for you there, and for whatever lass Pippin chooses to wed.”

“He seems to have been reacquainting himself with Celandine of late.”

“My mother has always told me that a marriage between those two would never last, and I believe her. Pippin is going to have to marry another Took.”

“Diamond’s a Took,” Estella stated, with a smirk. She had noticed, on more than one occasion, Pippin regarding her young friend.

“Oh, really? And she’s nice and tall too.”

“Are you calling me short, Master Meriadoc?”

“Not at all, Mistress Estella.” They laughed together, and Merry kissed his sweetheart. It felt perfect to have her in his arms again. He never wanted to let her go.

* * * * * *

* Quotes directly from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, “They Grey Havens”

A/N: I’m just going to take a moment here to congratulate all involved with The Return of the King movie for their Oscar sweep. All eleven nominations! That’s incredible. I’ve been a bit of an awards ceremony freak for a while now, and I can’t seem to remember any movie getting every Oscar they were nominated for. I still think it’s a pity, though, that none of the cast was nominated. I mean, if Johnny Depp can get a nomination for Pirates of the Caribbean, then I certainly think Elijah Wood, at least, deserves one too! Well, that’s all. I’ll get down from my soapbox now.

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