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Consequences of a Fall  by Dreamflower


Hyacinth found the green vase, and arranged the flowers carefully. She did not want to give Euphorbia any reason to go out to the garden and cut more flowers. It would not do for her to notice the decimation in the front flowerbeds too soon…

It was quite late when Paladin slipped into Pippin’s room. Pearl was not dozing, as he had expected, but was sitting forward and watching her brother intently.

"Is something wrong, Pearl?" he asked softly.

"Not really, Father, but he is restless, and keeps trying to scratch in his sleep. I know the healer said he should not do that." She sighed and stood up stiffly. "He is waking up, as well, from time to time." She smiled at her father. "He will be glad for you to stay tonight. The last time he awakened, I had to go just outside the door and shut it while he used his chamber pot."

Paladin chuckled. He well remembered what it was like to be a young lad burdened with three older sisters, and trying to learn about privacy.

He took Pearl by the shoulders and dropped a kiss on her head. "Your Aunt Primrose is waiting for you. Get some rest, my dear."

"Yes, Father. How was the feast?"

"The *food* was excellent," he answered wryly.

She chuckled, and gave him a hug, before leaving the room.

Paladin sat down in the chair. He hoped he’d be able to stay awake, if Pippin were truly so restless. But it had been a very long day. And he was disturbed by hints Ferumbras kept dropping to him.

He sat back, and amused himself with a fantasy in which his cousin somehow found a wife, and was presented immediately with a bouncing little lad, thus sparing him the trouble of ever becoming Thain himself…


Ferumbras lay awake, thinking over the evening’s festivities. He really could take no satisfaction in being the Took, as well as the Thain. After years of being under his mother’s heavy thumb, he now was going to be under the collective thumbs of all the Tooks. More and more demands on his time and energy, less and less time for himself.

He had hopes. With his mother gone, he finally had hopes. But this business with Pearl could put a spike in his wheel. Until the gossip had been silenced, and the incident forgotten, there would be no way to go forward with his own long- cherished plans to be free. But there was no way he was going to spend the rest of his years at the beck and call of everyone else, when he could see his own freedom in sight at last.

He hoped Reggie could find out what had really happened, and that it would not be too dire. He wished he could get his hands on whoever had started all the ugly rumors to begin with. Just one more aggravation he had to deal with. So inconvenient and inconsiderate.

Why had his mother not had the decency to die in her bed like a proper hobbit?


Hyacinth put her jewels in her box, and began to undress. She put her dressing gown on and began to groom her foot hair. She admired her feet. For a matron, she had quite a nice foot of fur, if she did say so herself. At one time, Reggie had admired it very much.

All that had changed after she had Opal. She still could not quite understand why Reggie had suddenly turned against her. They had not shared a room since, and Reggie seemed to look at her with downright loathing at times. But it was his own fault if she had berated him for a lack of ambition. She was quite sure that if he had put things forward in just the right way, the Tooks would have come to agree with herself and Lalia that Adalgrim’s line had forfeited the right to the Thainship when he abandoned the Great Smials, even if Paladin had sired a son.

But instead, Reggie, the fool, had found the legal papers drawn up by Gerontius. The farm was the property of the Took family as a whole, just as the Great Smials were, and the Old Took had made it clear that his grandson was losing none of his rights in living at Whitwell. Those papers had been buried away in a dusty box and by rights should never have seen light of day. Annoyingly enough, they were properly signed, and not only by the principals, but the seven requisite witnesses that made for an "unbreakable" legal document by Shire standards. One of those had been Bungo Baggins. When old Bilbo had heard what Lalia was trying to do, he had come forth to attest that he had been there when his father signed the document.

And so Hyacinth had seen her hopes nearly dashed; completely dashed they would have been, had Lalia not been her ally. Lalia loathed the Whitwell Tooks, with a personal venom that Hyacinth often thought hid some offense.

But now... now she thought that Lalia might serve Regi’s cause—and Hyacinth’s--better in death than ever she had in life. As long as a cloud of suspicion hung over Pearl, Paladin was also tainted. Ferumbras *had* to see that. And she had done her best to point it out to him.


Paladin sat up with a jerk. He *had* dozed off--and what had wakened him? Pippin was writhing and whimpering in his sleep, but Paladin’s sleepy mind could not at first pinpoint the problem.

And then he realized--Pippin was lying upon his back, and was writhing against the sheets, probably in an unconscious attempt to relieve his itching. Paladin reached over.

"Pippin!" he hissed urgently, giving the lad a shake. "Peregrin! Wake up, son."

Pippin opened bleary eyes. "I’m sorry Father. I’ll put it back."

Paladin realized the child was confused and had been dreaming. "Pippin, son, you need to turn over on your stomach."

After looking at his father in sleepy bewilderment for a moment, he sighed and turned over.

"I’ll put some lotion on you," said his father. "That should help the itching."

"It’s very uncomfortable, Father." Pippin was on the verge of tears.

Paladin lit the lamp on the bedside table with his striker, and picked up the bottle of lotion. Then he drew up Pippin’s nightshirt. He gave a little gasp. Some of the blisters had ruptured, a thing the healer had hoped would not happen. With a sigh, he poured some lotion into his hand, and began carefully to rub it into the little back, trying to be as gentle as he could while avoiding the broken blisters. But he couldn’t, not completely, and Pippin whimpered. "It stings, Father."

Paladin put the lotion aside. "I think we will keep the nightshirt up out of the way and leave the bedsheet off, Pippin, if you are not cold."

"No, I’m not cold. The air feels good…" The little lad’s voice began to sound drowsy again, and he gradually drifted off.

Paladin found himself seated at the edge of the chair, as Pearl had been earlier.



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