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Crown of Laurel  by Lyta Padfoot

"Crown of Laurel"
Part II: The Wedding Feast

       Diamond had never expected to marry someone like Pippin. The wedding she thought would be hers as a child was one akin to her parents'; the feast held inside her family home (furniture removed to make more room) and tables comprised of simple planks on barrels. Despite their lineage, Diamond's family like many in the north kept customs closer to the common folk the Shire.

       Before Lavender led her away to dress for her wedding, Diamond slipped away to wonder at the site of her wedding. Instead of her family smial filled with temporary tables, there were fine trestles collected from nearby families. The smell of beeswax polish and fresh-cut flowers filled the air. It was beautiful, but a bit frightening as well.

       She'd worried her wedding at the Great Smials would be intimidating, but from the moment her father led her into the hall and she saw Pippin awaiting her in his black and silver uniform, the movement of time altered and she forgot everything but him. It wasn't until she drank from the marriage cup that her mind started to return and she relaxed. Even the wedding wine didn't taste quite as terrible as she'd feared. When Paladin joined her hand with Pippin's and raised them high – it struck her: she was married; but had barely paid attention during her own wedding. It took an effort of will to keep from giggling like a tween. A glance at her new husband confirmed that he was in a similar state, biting his lip to keep from ruining the dignity of the moment with an undue fit of laughter.

       "Didn't pay attention?" her husband's warm breath caressed her ear as Paladin stepped back and Pippin put an arm around her waist. He led her around the high board to their flower decked chairs and helped her into her seat.

       "You're rather distracting in this uniform," Diamond said with a slight tug on his sleeve. Under her fingers, the fabric was cool and smooth.

       "It's it a good thing I'm the only knight of Gondor in the Shire?" Pippin teased as he poured them each a goblet of honeymead. The rest of the guests drank from pewter or wooden cups depending on their station, those at the high board had fine silver goblets from the Thain's hoard. "Otherwise, you might have made a mistake and wed the wrong hobbit."

       Diamond made a show of studying Pippin. "I doubt anyone else would fill out the uniform as well as you."

       "May I complement you on your attire as well Mistress Took? I have never seen a lady look so lovely in green," he said, raising his goblet to her.

       She plucked up her own goblet in an answering toast. "You may."

       "Your wreath is lovely," Pippin said. He ran a finger along the outer flowers. "Are those pimpernel and eglantine?"

       "You have an eye for flowers Mr. Took...," Diamond teased. "But I believe this wreath would look even better on the table than my head."

       Pippin colored. It was his turn to make a show, looking back and forth from Diamond to the high board. "You're far lovelier than the table."

       Diamond snorted. "There is something we can tell our children of this day."

       "Yes," Pippin grinned. "Dad thought Mum was lovelier than an old oak table."

       "It's an original compliment." Diamond noted a moment later as she began to fill her plate from the variety of dishes laid out on the table. As weddings meant more work for family and servants, it was tradition to set all courses out so that those who prepared the feast might enjoy it with the guests. There was roast chicken, beef, and pork for the main courses with numerous sides. Sweets included cakes, pies, and bowls of small flat wheat cakes made from flour grown by the bride's family or purchased with their labor. Unmarried tweens saved cakes to nibble the next day for luck.

       "I try."

       "So I've noticed."

       "Speaking of original..." Diamond glanced around to make certain that those around her were engaged in other conversations. Lavender was chatting with Fatty Bolger while Merry Brandybuck was engaged in conversation with Pippin's parents. It was strange how she kept forgetting she wasn't alone with Pippin, he had a way of making the world seem as though it had condensed down to just the two of them. "You promised to tell me your plans creating a diversion to cover our exit."

       "Yes..." Pippin hadn't been able to spend enough time alone with Diamond after he formulated his plan to inform her of it in any detail. "It'd be better to show rather than tell."

       She leaned forward to whisper into her husband's ear. "Pippin, love, your diversion doesn't include fireworks, by any chance?" She glanced down the table to where Paladin was breaking one of the wedding cakes in two to share with Eglantine.

       "Inside the Great Smials?" Pippin said, his lip twitching. "Father would never forgive us."

       "How then shall we escape?" Diamond asked. "If Merry or Folco catch us there will be no chance for revenge when they wed. Only the unmarried may pursue the bride and groom."

       "Patience love, all in good time," he raised her hand to his lips. His voice dropped again in volume. "I personally cannot wait to be alone with you, but custom must be satisfied."

       Diamond felt herself redden. "This feast is taking an eternity."

       Pippin's hand gently brushed back a stray lock of her hair; Diamond felt one of the pins holding her bridal wreath pull away. She saw it briefly in Pippin's palm before it disappeared into a pocket of his uniform.

       "How many more hair pins did Lavender use?" he whispered. His voice so low she almost believed his words existed solely in her mind.



       "No, five," Diamond corrected, "I wasn't including the one you pulled out."

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