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Consequences of a Fall  by Dreamflower

(Author's Note: This is the last chapter of the story itself.  All that remains is the Epilogue, in which the identity of the guest will be revealed.)


"Hyacinth! Come along--we must get the meal ready--he will be here soon!"

She started up, quite as if the occasion were an important one, and flustered at her hair for a moment, looking wildly in the mirror, before taking hold of herself once more. Of course it wasn’t an important occasion. It was only a visit. That was all.

 After tea, Pippin was persuaded to play a few games of draughts with his father. He was quite engrossed when Frodo came to tell him farewell.

He turned at the familiar hand on his shoulder, and slipped out of his chair to give Frodo a quick hug. "I’m sorry you must leave, Frodo! I wish you could stay a bit longer!"

Frodo bent to give Pippin a kiss on the top of his head. "You know I must get home to Bag End, Pip, dearest."

"I know." Pippin reached out, and gave Frodo another squeeze, this one a bit longer and harder. He burrowed his face into his cousin's weskit, pleased that he now came almost all the way to the top button. ‘Thank you for finding me the other day. I suppose I would have been baked to a crisp if I had been up there much longer."

His cousin laughed and straightened up. "And then we should have had a sweet Pippin-biscuit to devour! But I do think I much prefer you *unbaked*!" He gave another chuckle, and ruffled Pippin’s curls, and then met Paladin’s eyes.

Paladin nodded gravely. "You have my thanks as well Frodo. Please do take care on your journey home. Are you sure you would not rather wait a day or two? I am sure that Esmeralda would not mind dropping you off at Bag End on her way home with the lads."

"No, Cousin Paladin, I do need to get back. And I like walking at night. I hope that they will stop over anyway, and at least take a meal with me, but I’m afraid I cannot linger longer now."

He said farewell to Eglantine and the lasses, including Pearl, who, now that all was over had come to stay with her parents in their guest apartment. He gave her a hug as well. "I am glad that things turned out well for you, Pearl."

"Thank you, Frodo. It meant a lot to know that I had your support." Her eyes glistened with unshed tears, but her voice was firm and full of affection.

He gave her a brief peck on the cheek. "Of course you did, cousin!" He turned and spoke to the entire family. "I shall at least see all of you here in a few weeks, at Lithe."

During Frodo’s farewells, Merry was waiting in the passage, and fidgeting a bit, for now it came to it, he was impatient and wanted to get the apology over and done with.

They walked in companionable silence to the wing of the Great Smials where the apartments of family members who lived there permanently were located. Reggie’s apartment was up the sloped passageway to the second level.

As they neared the round door, Frodo could feel Merry’s nervousness, and he gave his younger cousin a reassuring squeeze of the shoulder. Merry looked up at Frodo and bit his lip, even as he determinedly raised his hand and knocked on the door.

The door was opened by young Amethyst herself, and she gave a little squeak of dismay at the sight of Frodo and Merry standing there. She stood there holding the door open and not saying anything.

Merry was surprised as well, and was not quite sure what to say for his part.

Amused, Frodo caught the lass’s eye. "Amethyst, are your parents about?"

Recalled to herself suddenly, she turned and called out, "Father!"

A moment later, Reggie appeared before them in the entry hall. "Amethyst," he said reproachfully, "you should not keep guests standing in the doorway. Please, Frodo, Meriadoc, do come in."

"We have already had tea," he continued, "but they’ve not yet come to take the tea trolley away. May I offer you some refreshment?"

"No, thank you, Cousin Reggie," said Frodo, "we have just come from tea ourselves. Where is Cousin Hyacinth?"

But just then, Hyacinth came out, and glanced into the hall. She had been lying down in her room with a headache. "Reggie?" she asked querulously, "who in the world--?" She stopped, and looked in surprise at Frodo and Merry. She turned a glare on Merry, but it was short-lived, as she became aware of Frodo’s cool regard. She flushed. For some reason she thought he could see right through her.

Why were they here?

Reggie shook his head. For some reason Frodo flustered Hyacinth, but he wisely schooled his face. He had learned long ago not to show amusement when she was discomfited.

He invited them in. As they entered the sitting room, Reggie saw Garnet and Opal darting back to their seats on one of the settees. He glanced at the tea trolley. Apparently they had been at the biscuit tray. There was still a suspicious bulge in Opal’s cheek. However, he wasn’t going to reprimand them under present circumstances, and Hyacinth, who would not have allowed the presence of company to keep her from scolding them, had apparently not noticed.

Since Hyacinth seemed to be uncharacteristically tongue-tied, Reggie said "What can we do for you, Cousin Frodo?"

Frodo glanced at Merry. "Merry has something he would like to say." He gave an encouraging glance at his Brandybuck cousin.

Merry blushed to the tips of his ears, but spoke up firmly, fixing his gaze on Amethyst. "I would like to apologize to you, Cousin Amethyst, for pulling your hair. That was unbecoming of me." He stopped abruptly, and cut his eyes towards Frodo, as if asking approval. Frodo smiled and nodded.

Hyacinth narrowed her eyes. What was he up to, apologizing like that?

Reggie glared at Amethyst, who was gawking at Merry. "Amethyst?" he asked his daughter mildly.

She did not say anything, but kept staring.

"Amethyst," Reggie continued, "don’t you have something to say as well?"

She looked at her father in surprise. What was she expected to say? Oh. "I, um, I accept your apology, Cousin Merry."

"And--" said her father. When she clearly still did not know what to say, he sighed, and prompted her. "Don’t you have an apology to make as well, young lady?"

Now she gawked at her father. He was aware, without looking up, that Hyacinth was glaring at him now. But he wasn’t going to back down, and she could not berate him in front of their guests, though he would probably catch it from her as soon as the door closed behind them.

"Amethyst," he said in a low voice, "*why* did Merry feel that your hair *needed* pulling? Didn’t you say something you should not have?" Behind him Hyacinth gasped, and Amethyst looked back and forth between her parents. She could tell her mother did not want her to say she was sorry, but she was used to being scolded by her mother; her father hardly ever said any such things to her. She was not going to risk being reprimanded by him--she wasn’t sure what he would do.

She took a deep breath. "Um, I’m sorry, too, Cousin Merry, " she mumbled. "I should not have said those things."

Merry flushed again, "Well, really, you know, it’s Pippin you should apologize to, not me. You hurt his feelings." Merry didn’t care whether that was the polite thing to do or not. He was *not* going to tell her it was all right.

Reggie looked at Merry, gratified. "You are quite right, Meriadoc, and I shall see that she does so." And he turned another serious look on his oldest daughter, who looked very surprised.

Hyacinth made a little noise of disapproval. But it wouldn’t do to say anything in this moment. She supposed that it would have to be done now, since Reggie had said so in front of others. But she would take her erring husband to task. He should not presume to interfere with their daughters like this. Discipline was *her* prerogative, and he knew it. She would see that he did not overstep himself in that regard again.

Merry had nodded. He had done what he had to, and was eager to leave. Frodo glanced from Reggie to Hyacinth, and knew that a storm was brewing. He gave Reggie a warm smile, and turned another cold look on Hyacinth, who went pale, her face pinched.

"Well, we’ve done what we came for, so we shall take our leave now."

No sooner had the door closed behind them, than Frodo and Merry could hear Hyacinth’s strident voice raised in disapproval. They looked at one another, and shook their heads at the same time.

"Do you want to walk down to the road with me?" asked Frodo.

Merry nodded, and they stopped in Frodo’s chamber to collect his pack.


The next morning, the Whitwell Tooks were surprised at second breakfast by a tap on the door.

Pimpernel answered. It was Reggie, with Amethyst.

Paladin looked up. "Do come in, Reggie." He was feeling very warmly towards Reggie right now. His cousin had handled the situation with Pearl very well indeed. "Won’t you join us for a bite to eat?" he asked.

"No, but thank you very much, Paladin. We are on our way to take second breakfast in the main dining hall. But first Amethyst has something to say to you." He put both hands on her shoulders and pushed her forward a bit.

She gave a glance at Pippin, and then blushed deeply, looking down at her toes. "I’m sorry, Cousin Peregrin," she mumbled.

He father squeezed her shoulder a bit harder. She looked up, and said a bit more loudly. "I am sorry, Cousin Peregrin, that I said those things at lunch." She still didn’t sound sorry, she sounded cross.

The Tooks looked at one another in surprise, except for Pippin who was staring at Amethyst in a way that made her feel very strange. It was as though he could tell what she was really feeling. He didn’t say anything at all.

"Pippin," said Eglantine mildly, "aren’t you going to say anything?" She had taught her son the polite way to accept an apology.

But Pippin said "Not to me." He looked a bit stern, rather an odd expression for such a young face. "You shouldn’t say ‘sorry’ to me. You should say ‘sorry’ to Pearl. She is the one you said bad things about." He didn’t sound the least bit angry, but more determined and matter-of-fact. Paladin and Eglantine glanced at one another in surprise, Pearl looked at her little brother in amazement, while Pimpernel and Pervinca looked away to hide their smiles--neither of them much liked Amethyst, and they were glad to see that Pippin was not going to let her off the hook too easily.

Reggie grinned, and tapped his daughter on the back lightly.

She swallowed, and face flaming with embarrassment turned her eyes on Pearl. "I am sorry, Cousin Pearl. I should not have said those things."

"I accept your apology, Amethyst. I hope you understand now that it is wrong to repeat unkind gossip, and that you especially should not repeat it to the person’s close family." Pearl turned a sweet smile on her little brother. She was going to give him a big hug, once Reggie and his daughter had left. It gave her a warm feeling to think of her small defender, who had been so distressed on her behalf. Come to think of it, she needed to thank Merry as well--he had been in a good deal of trouble for taking up for her.

"Yes, Cousin Pearl." Amethyst was looking at her toes again, but she said it loudly enough that she would not have to repeat it.

"Very good, Amethyst," said her father. "Let us go and have our own second breakfast, shall we?"

After Reggie and his daughter had left with polite farewells, the family looked at one another smiling. Paladin began to chuckle, and the rest of the family also began to laugh. Suddenly all three of Pippin’s sisters descended on him with enthusiastic hugs and kisses.

"Oh, Pippin!" giggled Pearl, as she lifted him up, "I *do* love you so, dear."

Pippin looked into her eyes, grinning back at her. "So I did good, then?" he asked.

But it wasn’t his sister who answered, but his mother, who said affectionately "Oh, my darling Pippin! You did very well indeed!"


Mistress Hollyhock came by a short time after elevenses, in order to check on her young patient.

"Well, Master Pippin, I do believe that not only may you go about the Smials, but you may also go outdoors. But--" she looked him very sternly in the eye,-- "--mind you: You are to stay in during the hottest part of the day for at least a week longer, and you must be sure to stay well covered when you play out of doors. No more taking your shirt off and napping in the Sun!"

"Yes, ma’am." Pippin answered meekly; he had no desire to repeat his painful experience. "But--" he looked up expectantly, with pleading in his eyes, "when I get to Buckland, can I go swimming?"

The healer looked shocked, and turned her gaze to his waiting parents.

"Swimming?" she asked.

"Yes," Paladin reassured her. "He’s visited Buckland since he was only a babe. His cousins taught him to swim when he was only seven."

She shook her head in amazement, and then turned to the lad, who was biting his lip in anxiety, as he waited for an answer. "Yes, you may--but only if you cover up well as soon as you get out of the water! And you should not stay in the bright sunlight for more than an hour at a time."

He grinned. "Yes, ma’am!"


For the first time since the day that Merry had pulled Amethyst’s hair, the Whitwell Tooks and Esmeralda and Merry all went to have luncheon in the main dining hall. It was far less crowded. The majority of the guests had left.

Merry looked over at the children’s table apprehensively, but there was no sign of Amethyst, Garnet or Opal. In spite of apologies, the cousins had no desire to sit with any of them again. There were any number of empty seats.

When Pippin told Merry of their morning visit, Merry was amazed. Usually once an apology was given to his younger cousin, Pippin was instantly forgiving. "I’m proud of you, Pip! That was well done!"

"Well," said Pippin, "she said it about Pearl, and got you in trouble. I don’t mind it about me, you know."

"You shouldn’t be so quick to forgive people, Pippin," said Merry sternly. He often worried that Pippin did not seem to defend himself when people were unkind.

"Merry!" Pippin said gravely, "you know, Frodo would not agree with that!"

"Yes. Well," Merry flushed. "Frodo’s too forgiving, too, sometimes." He decided to change the subject--he was not used to Pippin disagreeing with him. "Are you packed yet?" For after luncheon, Merry, Esmeralda and Pippin would be returning to Brandy Hall.

They planned to take the post road north to Hobbiton, and spend the night with Frodo at Bag End, and leave early the next morning, staying at the Bridge Inn that night, and journeying to Brandy Hall the morning after. Esmeralda preferred that route to taking the Stock Road east, and then having to drive north to the Bridgefields.

Pippin looked down at his plate, avoiding Merry’s eye. "Almost," he said.

Merry chuckled. That meant he had probably stuffed one or two items into his travelling case. "Well, I’ll come and help you finish after we are through eating." He shoveled the last few bites in his mouth, and said, "Do you want any more ham and potatoes, or are you ready for afters? They have strawberry trifle?"

Pippin grinned. "Oh, strawberries, please, Merry!"


Hyacinth and her daughters took luncheon in their own apartment. Fortunately for Reggie, he was taking his meal with the Thain in his office. Otherwise, she had planned to have words with him over his high-handed decision to force their daughter to apologize to Peregrin Took. Poor little Amethyst had come home in tears, and shut herself in her room. Hyacinth was furious that her daughter had been humiliated like that. She would not forget this, not at all. If any reprimanding needed doing *she* was the one who would do it from now on!


The driver had stowed the travelling cases, and handed Mistress Esmeralda into the carriage. Merry clambered in after. Pippin endured another round of hugs and kisses from his mother and sisters, and then his father lifted him up into the carriage where he sat down by Merry.

"Remember to mind your aunt and uncle, and to be careful of the Sun! We shall see you here in a few weeks, at Lithe." He closed the door, and the carriage drove away. Pippin leaned out the window, and waved at his family until he could no longer see them. Then he sat back and leaned against Merry.

"You know what, Merry?" he asked.

"What, Pip?"

"I don’t much think I like funerals. And I don’t much think I like the Great Smials."

Esmeralda suppressed a smile and Merry chuckled. "No more do I, Pippin, no more do I."

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