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Consequences of a Fall  by Dreamflower


Even now, Hyacinth thought, she hated to be reminded of that night--over the years she had mostly managed to make herself forget it ever happened. But once in a while, something would bring it to her mind with painful clarity. She still had mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, it might have solved everything--rid her once and for all of the major obstacle between her and her ambition. One the other hand, it could easily have been a disaster--if she had, well, done it, and been caught...Marked. Banished from the Shire, not just the Great Smials. And then there was her own inexplicable reluctance, that had kept her from acting more quickly. But she would never know if she would have had the nerve to go through with it or not, thanks to the interruption from Primrose Took. She shuddered. If Primrose had known what was in her mind that night...  

The following morning, Pippin awakened refreshed by his long night’s sleep, and was delighted to find Merry in the bed next to him. If only he did not *itch* so confoundedly much! He sat up carefully, so as not to wake Merry, and looked at his arm. He gave it a careful rub with his fingertips, careful not to scratch with his nails.

That felt good. He looked with interest at the little white flakes appearing beneath his fingers. He rubbed a tiny bit harder and the little flakes began to fall like snow.

Now *that* was fun! he thought. But they didn’t show up very nicely against the white bedsheet. He turned and held his arm over Merry’s golden-pink back and rubbed a bit more. Oh, look at that! It really was like a little snowstorm!

Suddenly Merry sat up and gave a little wriggle. It had felt like something was crawling along his back. He looked suspiciously over at Pippin. "Pip--were you tickling me?"

Pippin made his eyes as big as he could. "No, Merry!" he said honestly. "I wasn’t tickling you! I promise."

Merry looked dubious, but... Pippin wouldn’t lie to him, he was certain of that. Still, that innocent look meant he probably *had* been doing *something*, if not tickling. Well, what *ever* it was, he had stopped now.

Just then there was a tap at the door. He pulled the sheets up, remembering one of the main disadvantages to just sleeping in one’s smallclothes.

The door cracked open, and Eglantine came in, Merry’s dressing gown hanging over her arm. "Merry, your mother brought this. You might want to put it on while I bring you lads a breakfast tray." Her eyes brightened still more as she looked to Pippin. "Good morning, my chick! Did you sleep well?"

"Yes, Mother," said Pippin turning his little face up for a maternal kiss.

Eglantine obliged with a peck on his brow, and then placed a forefinger against his nose, on the side of his face that had sunburned. She rubbed a bit, and brought away a good-sized flake of skin. She smiled at him. "I think, Pippin, that you have begun to peel!"

He looked at her, alarmed. "Is that bad?"

"No, I think it is probably good. But Mistress Hollyhock will be here right after breakfast, and she’ll let us know!" She went out long enough to allow Merry time to put on his dressing gown, and then returned with the heavily laden breakfast tray.

Breakfast consisted of scones and honey and coddled eggs and ham and sausages, with large cups of cold milk. The lads ate until there was not so much as a crumb left on the tray.

When Eglantine came in to take the tray away, the healer, Mistress Hollyhock was with her. Merry jumped out of the bed, so that she could examine her little patient more carefully.

Mistress Hollyhock looked at Pippin’s arm, peeled another flake off his nose, and then turned her attention to his back. She smiled, and with a gentle finger took a very large flake off the back of his neck.

"It looks like he’s doing just fine," she grinned, and craning around Pippin’s shoulder to catch his eye she added,. "I’ve no doubt, Master Pippin, that you are itching again this morning. I’ve another, different lotion that will help this itching." She looked at Eglantine. "The first lotion helped to dry out the blisters. This will help the skin to be less dry, and to keep it supple."

"What about the peeling?" asked Eglantine.

"No harm in it. But he can hardly reach his back. If someone else would do that, it will also help the itch. But see--the skin is pale pink and freckled beneath. He must be *very* careful not to burn again this summer." Pippin and Merry both sighed at this restriction, but then Merry put on a brave face for Pippin’s sake, and Pippin, seeing this, did the same for Merry.

Absently plucking at another piece of loose skin and then smoothing it down, Mistress Hollyhock said, "I think that he may get dressed and get up and go about today, though he should stay in, out of the Sun for another day."

The healer stood up and looked at Merry. She handed him the lotion with a knowing grin. "I think you can put this on. Apply it lightly, and rub it in well. You might also want to help your cousin with all that unsightly dead skin." She yawned. "I am quite wearied. Mistress Bolger was delivered of a fine healthy lass, and from what I can determine, the child was not early at all. I can only think her healer at home had miscalculated."

She went out with Eglantine, and left Merry standing there with the lotion. He turned a look on Pippin, who flopped over on his stomach without a word. "Well, Pip," Merry said, and then sat down, and poured a bit of the creamy stuff into one hand. As he rubbed at Pippin’s back, a bit of skin came free. He took it in his fingers and peeled it away. He looked in fascination at the translucent piece of pale skin, almost three inches long! He held it out to the side where Pippin could see it.

Pippin looked at it. "Merry! That felt so good." He reached up and took it in his own little fingers. "Ooh! That’s disgusting!" he said with a grin. "I bet you couldn’t pull off a bigger piece than that!"

For answer, Merry took his thumb and forefinger, and began to work away at a place just below Pippin’s left shoulder. Pippin’s eyes closed in bliss as he felt the long strip of skin peeling away.


Reggie looked with interest at the letter addressed to him. It was clearly penned by one who was unused to writing. He slit the envelope open, unfolded the single page therein, scanned the large and carefully formed letters, and smiled as he read:

"Dear Mr. Reginard Took,

I thanks you in regards to your letter about my Aunt Begonia. I am very sorry to hear about the old Mistresses passing, as I know she was your kin. I am also sorry to hear about my Aunt losing her position, as she had it for so long, and I know in spite of everything she was fond of her Mistress.

I have not spoke to my Aunt in many years, owing to the fact that her Mistress did not hold with her having company come to call. But I remember Aunt Begonia with fondness.

We’ve not much kin left in our old home, and that would be a fair ways for her to have to travel at her time of life. I have spoke to my Missus, and she has said as it is all right with her. So if Aunt Begonia would like to come and make her home here in Pincup with us, we would both be right pleased to have her. We have two little lasses, and they would do well to get to know her. My wife has her Da still, but no Mum, as she passed on two years back. So it would be good to have some female kin about the place.

If it is agreeable to my Aunt, then I will come in my waggon to the Great Smials on Highday next, and bring her away with me.

I thank you for your kindness.

Your obedient Servant,

Tolman Diggle, blacksmith"

Well, thought Reggie, that *was* good news. Poor Begonia deserved a chance to have something of a life of her own again, and it would be good for her to be able to be with her nephew and his family. Clearly, young Tolman was an intelligent hobbit--Reggie noted with amusement how tactful the letter had been in regards to Lalia--and it did sound as though he was truly fond of his aunt. It was a clear relief, especially as Hyacinth had been dropping heavy-handed hints that she would not mind having a chambermaid of her own--and Reggie believed that Begonia certainly did not deserve going from one selfish and over-bearing mistress to another!

He would go at once, and give Begonia the good news.

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