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Just to be With You
15: Wedding Day Jitters
“You look awful,” Pippin stated, as he entered Merry’s room.
“Thank you, Pippin,” Merry angrily replied. “As always, I am indebted to your encouragement.” As cranky as he was, Merry knew that his cousin was right. He was a mess. He had the shakes, and his brow was beaded with sweat.
Pippin sat on the bed. “Cheer up, Meriadoc. This is your wedding day! You’re supposed to be happy!”
“I am happy. I’m just terribly nervous at the same time.”
“No shame in that, Mister Merry,” said Sam, also entering the room. “I don’t know how I managed to say my vows at my wedding.”
Merry groaned. “You’re making it worse! Why did I agree to have such a large ceremony? We should have just had it here at Crickhollow, or at Bag-End, with just a few close friends.”
“We don’t have ‘just a few close friends’,” Pippin pointed out. “Besides, you’re the future Master of Buckland. It would be an outrage for you not to have a huge wedding at Brandy Hall.”
“I should have taken your approach, Pip, and threatened to hold the wedding in Rohan if I couldn’t have it my way.”
“Then you would have been stealing my idea. You know I don’t stand for that sort of thing.”
Merry sat next to Pippin on the bed, and put his head in his hands. Sam sat on his other side, and patted his back.
“There now, Mister Merry,” said Sam. “It isn’t all that bad.”
“Would you stop calling me that, Sam?” Merry grumbled. “We’ve been friends for long enough for you to drop the ‘Mister’.”
With a degree of discomfort, Sam replied: “Sorry, Merry. But I meant what I said. You’ll get through this just fine.”
“Of course he will!” Pippin cried. “Merry, you took on the Witch-King! You lead us through the Old Forest and Fangorn. You were head of our conspiracy. You’ve made it through many a thing worse than marriage.”
Merry noticeably brightened. “You two are right! I’m a knight of the Mark, an esquire to the King of Rohan. I think I can handle getting married!” He grinned at them. “Thank you.”
“Anytime, cousin. Now up you get. We have a wedding to get to.”
* * * * * *
Estella had opted to prepare at Brandy Hall itself, or perhaps more correctly, she had been bullied into doing so. Esmeralda wanted to help with the preparations, and so did Pimpernel, Pervinca and Diamond. Estella had corset strings pulled, hair twisted and flowers pinned everywhere.
“I never realised getting married was such a hassle,” she muttered.
“You have no idea,” laughed Pervinca, the most recently married of the ladies present. “Diamond, take some advice, and don’t ever get married.”
“Oh, my baby Stella, you look so beautiful,” Rosamunda cried. Though present in the room, she had done very little in the way of preparing her daughter. The other hobbitesses had not allowed her to. Rosa wiped a tear away. “I am so proud of you.”
“Do stop crying, Mother,” Estella joked. “I’m sure you will be doing enough of that at the ceremony itself!”
“We all will,” said Esmeralda. “It will be such an honour to have you as a part of the family, Estella – officially, anyway, since I suppose you always have been a part of the family.”
“Where are Pearl and Rosie?” Diamond asked.
“Rosie was setting Ellie down for a nap before the ceremony, and Pearl is dressing Peridot and Petunia,” Pimpernel replied. “Last I saw, they looked so adorable in their little dresses.”
As a result of much begging and pleading, Pearl’s two daughters had been allowed to be flower-girls at the wedding. At nine and six, there was nothing more exciting to them than being to play what their uncle assured them was the most important role in the ceremony.
“There, finished,” Pervinca declared. She stepped back to admire their handiwork. “Well, Stella, you don’t look too bad, but you’ll do to marry Meriadoc.”
Esmeralda laughed, and playfully slapped her niece’s arm. “This is no time for jokes, Pervinca. She looks like a princess, and more than worthy of marrying Meriadoc.”
“May I see for myself?” Estella asked.
Pimpernel led her to a looking-glass. Estella gasped when she saw her reflection. She hardly recognised herself. The Took sisters had given her the dress as a wedding present, a pale green gown, with images of their name-sake flowers and gems embroidered into the hems. Her red-brown curls were piled onto her head and dotted with more flowers. Around her neck she wore the necklace that Merry had given her almost seven years earlier.
Seeing herself in the mirror made Estella realise that she really was getting married. It had been like a dream before, and she had almost convinced herself that was the case, but now she had to accept that it really was her wedding day. And it terrified her.
She gripped Pimpernel’s arm. “Pim, what if something goes wrong?”
“Relax, Stella, everything is under control,” Pimpernel soothed. “Father, Berry and Uncle Sarry are at the ballroom right now making sure ever is perfect.”
“Well, what if Merry changes his mind?”
Diamond regarded her friend in concern. She pulled Pervinca aside, and hissed, “What’s wrong with her? She was so happy only moments ago, and now she’s almost expecting the sky to fall.”
Pervinca smiled knowingly. “It’s perfectly normal. A bit of pre-wedding nerves – happens to everyone. No one seems to be able to accept that sometimes things really can be perfect.”
Diamond screwed up her nose, still to young to be considering marriage seriously. “Sounds silly to me. Stella, stop complaining! Everything will be fine.”
Pervinca, Esmeralda and Pimpernel had to laugh. Diamond had sounded so much like Peregrin when she had said that. But it had an effect on Estella, and she calmed down a lot.
There was a knock on the door, and Pippin called through, “Are you decent? Can we come in?”
Diamond, who was closest to the door, opened it and allowed Pippin, Merry and Sam inside. Their mouths fell open when they saw the appearance of Merry’s bride.
“Stella, you look absolutely beautiful!” Pippin cried. Merry was too dumb-struck to speak. With a grin, Pippin lifted Estella’s hand and kissed it. “Are you sure you don’t wish to change your mind and marry Merry’s far more attractive cousin?”
That was enough to break Merry from his trance. “Oh, no you don’t Peregrin! She’s mine, so keep your grubby hands away.”
Pippin’s grin widened. “Well, you can’t blame me for trying.”
“Peregrin!” Esmeralda scolded, laughing. “You lads look wonderful as well.” She placed her hand on Merry’s cheek and her eyes started to tear up. “My baby boy is all grown up now.”
“Honestly, Mum,” Merry laughed, “I hope you won’t be this bad during the ceremony. You have to give me away, and I don’t want you blubbering while you do it.”
“Meriadoc, is that anyway to speak to your dear mother?” She smiled at him, and placed a kiss on his cheek. “I shall try my best, but I can make no promises. I think you should also worry about your Uncle Paladin. He’s supposed to be conducting the whole event, and he loves you like a son. Don’t be surprised if he has trouble.”
“Uncle Pippin!” a small voice cried.
Peregrin was nearly knocked backwards as young Petunia Burrows projected herself into his arms. Her elder sister followed her into the room more calmly, with her Mother and younger brother close behind.
“The girls wanted to see their ‘Auntie Stella’,” Pearl explained, with a smile.
Estella smiled at the young lasses. “Just look at you two! The prettiest lasses in the whole Shire! Your mother had best keep an eye on you at the wedding – there may be some lads there that will try to steal you away.”
Peridot screwed up her nose, but Petunia’s eyes widened in horror. She clung tightly to Pippin. “Uncle Pippin, you won’t let anyone steal me away, will you?”
Pippin kissed the young girl’s forehead. “Not for a good many years yet, Pet.”
“Would you look at the time!” Sam cried. “I’d best be getting Rosie. I shall see you all at the ceremony.” He left the room to find his wife and daughter.”
“We should all be getting to the ceremony,” stated Pimpernel.
She went to the cradle in the corner of the room and picked up her own daughter, Garnet. Pervinca took Petunia from Peregrin’s arms. As appointed witness, it was his duty to escort the marrying couple to the ceremony.
He held out his arm to Estella. “Shall we, Mistress Bolger?”
She giggled, but winked at Merry. “Thank you, Master Took.”
Diamond shook her head and made her way to Merry’s side. “Well, come on then, Master Brandybuck. Let’s get you married.”
* * * * * *
A/N: Sorry this chapter was rather short, but I had to keep it separate from the wedding chapter itself, otherwise it would end up far too long!
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