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I'm so so SO sorry it has taken me so long to update! *grovels at the readers' feet* I had a crisis where I was beta-less for about two weeks, but the wonderful Marigold stepped in and beta'ed this chapter for me. Thanks, Marigold! :-)
And thank you all for your encouraging comments. I'm so glad you've stuck with me this long! Some very important events take place in the next chapter, so I hope you'll wait around to see what happens to Pippin and Diamond... *cackles*
* * *
Chapter 18 – Rainy Weather
January, 1427 S.R.
* * *
I am so glad you like your scarf! It was the first time I ever knitted anything so fine, and I was very nervous about how it would turn out.
How are you and your cousins? I imagine that things must be very hecktick—
Diamond pulled her quill away from the paper, frowning at the word she had just written. Then, with a heavy sigh, she reached under her bed and pulled out a large book. Fildigrim had proudly presented her with this book after learning that she could read - it was filled with more words than Diamond could fathom, and included correct spellings and definitions.
She flipped to the pages containing words starting with the letter “h,” and after a moment’s search found the word she was looking for. Scowling slightly, she scratched out what she had previously written, replacing it with the proper spelling. She was starting to become frustrated with her constant spelling errors; but though her writing was not as eloquent as she would have liked, and it took her quite some time to finish a letter, she felt she was making at least some progress.
Some time later, as she was blowing the ink dry on her completed letter, there was a knock at her door, accompanied by her sister’s voice.
“Diamond, may I come in?”
Diamond quickly put the letter underneath her bed as she replied, “Yes.”
Opal peered inside tentatively. “Are you busy?”
Diamond shook her head and gestured for the older lass to enter. Opal sat down on the floor across from her, and the two sisters stared at each other awkwardly for several seconds before Opal spoke up nervously.
“How are you?”
Unnerved by the seriousness in Opal’s tone, Diamond replied, “I’m… all right. Why—”
“Diamond!” cried Opal in sudden, desperate frustration, causing Diamond to jump in surprise. “I know something is wrong, but you refuse to talk to me about it! Why are you hiding things from me?”
Taken aback by her sister’s distress, Diamond struggled to find a response. “I… it… it’s nothing…” Her hands began to shake as she realized she was once again lying to a beloved family member.
Opal stood abruptly, pointing a trembling finger at Diamond. “Don’t, don’t lie to me like that! I know something is bothering you. You keep going through these horrid mood swings – one week you’re practically skipping with joy, and the next you look like the weight of the world is on your shoulders!”
Diamond’s heart was racing, and she felt herself grow faint; but she took several deep, calming breaths until the feeling departed. Suddenly she realized that this was exactly what she needed to do: to let everything out, if only to one other person.
She slowly reached under the bed and brought out a small box, filled with folded sheets of parchment. She moved to sit on the bed and handed the box to her sister.
Opal took the box and frowned in confusion. “What are these?”
“Letters,” said Diamond softly, meeting Opal’s gaze. “From Pippin.”
“Pippin?” Opal’s eyes widened. “Peregrin Took? But… why is he sending you letters, what does this have to do with—” Comprehension seemed to dawn, for she paled and stood frozen in place. “Diamond…” she gasped.
“I wanted to tell you before, but I…” Diamond bowed her head. “I’ve just been so confused.”
Opal sat down beside her on the bed, still wide-eyed and looking completely bewildered. “Diamond, what exactly is going on here?” She took Diamond’s hand and whispered in a scandalized tone, “Are you and Peregrin Took having an affair?”
Her cheeks reddening significantly, Diamond said, “We have been… seeing each other every few months, and writing to each other in between then.” She met Opal’s gaze. “I love him, Opal.”
Taking her hand, Opal replied gently, “And does he love you?”
Diamond was silent for a moment, pondering her answer. “I may be uncertain about many things, but this isn’t one of them. Pippin loves me. I—” She let out a deep breath, wishing she could fully describe what she and Pippin shared using such a simple form as words. “I know it sounds silly, but I can feel that he loves me – when he writes to me, when he talks to me, when he kiss—” She stopped abruptly, blushing again.
Traces of amusement entering her tone, Opal said, “When he kisses you?” Diamond nodded sheepishly, and Opal continued. “Well. If he’s going to carry on a secret affair with you, at least he’s doing it in a properly romantic fashion.”
The smile that had made its way onto Diamond’s face at this comment slowly faded, and she asked softly, “Are you angry with me?”
Opal replied in a trembling whisper, “I’m frightened for you. If our parents found out—if his parents found out!”
Diamond looked away. “I know. I know, and it scares me too, but…”
Opal turned to face Diamond fully, taking both of her hands. Her voice was soft but strong when she spoke, “He’s the Thain’s son. If it were anyone else—”
Diamond stood and walked over to the other side of the room, hugging herself as she breathed deeply. But she could not calm herself enough to fight back her tears, so she squeezed her eyes shut in attempt to prevent them from falling. She soon felt Opal standing behind her, wrapping her arms around her shoulders.
“I’m sorry, Diamond,” she said gently, sounding like she truly meant it. “But you have to understand: Whether he wants children or not, whether he loves you or not, he will need heirs of his own. And you can’t- we don’t know if you can give him that.” A repressed sob shuddered through Diamond, and Opal tightened her grip on her sister’s shoulders. “Maybe you should think about ending this now, before it turns into something you can’t control.”
Diamond turned to face her, eyes wide and mournful. “It already is something I can’t control. I can’t control who I love.”
Finding no words to say, Opal embraced her sister tightly, and for a moment they simply cried on each other’s shoulders. At last, Opal stepped away, wiping her eyes.
“It’s getting late,” she said, “I think I’ll go get some rest. You should do the same.”
She turned to leave, but Diamond said, “Opal, wait—”
Opal turned back to her, placing a hand on her shoulder. “I’m not going to tell anyone.”
Diamond breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank you.”
Smiling faintly, Opal kissed her brow. “Anything for my little sister.”
* * *
March, 1427 S.R.
She whirled around to find Pippin standing beside one of the trees. He grinned and ran towards her, embracing her tightly. The dreadful weight that had settled on her shoulders during his absence was lifted by the coming of his warm laugh. His eager fingertips slid up her back, sending chills through her ‘til she shook with giddiness.
“It’s so good to see you again,” Diamond whispered, pressing herself against him, clutching him tightly if only in an attempt to still herself as she trembled with overwhelming emotion. It had not been a dream – he was here with her again.
“How long has it been?” he asked. “Five years?”
Diamond laughed, pulling away slightly so that she could look at his face. “Five months, Pippin.”
“An eternity,” he murmured, bringing her hand up to his lips and kissing her fingertips. She sighed contentedly as she watched his lips brush against her skin, tracing her fingers along his mouth.
Pippin looked up at her a moment later and frowned. “You’re shivering.”
It was then that Diamond realized that she was no longer just shaking from emotion, and that she had forgotten to bring her cloak. “Oh... I suppose I didn’t think it would be very cold. But then the clouds came in...”
“Here,” said Pippin, taking off his own cloak. When Diamond started to protest, he shushed her gently and insisted, “Wear it! I don’t need it.” He then threw the cloak over her shoulders, clasping it at the neck.
She fingered the leaf-shaped clasp and said softly, “This cloak is beautiful.”
“I think most Elven things are,” replied Pippin as he seated himself on the grass, pulling Diamond down with him. They sat facing each other, and he smiled at her as he spoke again, sounding a bit sheepish. “But I know of a thing or two that surpasses anything the Elves have ever made.” Blushing at the admiring look he gave her, she looked down at her lap and smiled.
Just then, a tiny droplet of water struck Pippin’s nose; the two hobbits looked up at the dark grey sky and were greeted by a few more raindrops on their upturned faces. Those few quickly turned to several, several to countless, all now falling much quicker and harder.
Pippin returned his gaze to Diamond as the rain soaked into his clothes and said, “It would appear that I selected a bad night to visit you.”
She bit her lip fretfully before unclasping the Elven cloak and quickly returning it to Pippin’s shoulders.
Startled, he asked, “What do you think you’re doing?”
“I can’t let you stay out here in the rain without something to cover you!” she explained, pulling the hood of the cloak over his head.
“I could say the same thing about you!” he countered. He saw that Diamond was now being drenched by the swiftly falling rain, and he sighed deeply. “Well, there’s only one way to fix this.” He then wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her close. “Now don’t be startled, Diamond. I’ll understand if this makes you uncomfortable, but I simply cannot have you going without any sort of shield from the rain.”
Pippin moved one arm under her knees, keeping the other around her middle, and quickly lifted her onto his lap. He then pulled his cloak so that it covered the both of them, positioning his head so that she was not exposed to the rain.
Indeed for a moment, Diamond was a bit uncomfortable in this new position. But the moment was fleeting, and she soon was able to relax in Pippin’s arms. She snuggled closer to him, pressing the side of her face against his warm chest.
“I hate it when it’s overcast at night,” she said, using her small fingers to lightly circle the buttons of his shirt.
He nodded, burying his face in her dark hair. “I know; you can’t see the stars.”
“Exactly.” Diamond looked up at him, gazing deep into his shining green eyes. “Or,” she said softly as she ran her hand down his cheek. “Perhaps I can see them.”
Pippin tightened his grip on her as he brought their faces closer together, and their lips met in a soft kiss. But that kiss began to grow in intensity, as a newly kindled fire that quickly spread to a blaze. Diamond sighed through the kiss, repositioning herself in his lap so that she could gain a better angle. As a result, her upper body was now exposed to the rain, but she was only aware of it when she tasted the water between their lips.
He wrapped his arms around her waist, pressing her against him. But for all his passion, the movement of his lips was still slow and tender, never once overbearing. Diamond’s heart swelled with love for this gentle hobbit as raindrops fell down her face like tears, and she melted fully and willingly into Pippin’s loving embrace.
He ran his hands slowly up her back; his hood had fallen back as he tilted his face to meet hers. A low moan rumbled in his throat as her small hands caressed his wet face.
“Diamond,” he whispered through the kiss. “My Diamond...”
She broke the kiss slowly, keeping their faces close. Pippin could see each dark lash, could feel her lips brushing ever so slightly against his skin, could feel her shaking in his arms.
“You’re getting soaked,” he said, his voice rather husky.
Diamond shook her head. “I’m all right.”
“No, you’re not,” he replied guiltily, shifting her body so that he could cradle her in his arms, wrapping the cloak so that it covered as much of her as possible. “I’m sorry. I...” He cleared his throat awkwardly. “I suppose I should be more careful about kissing you under certain circumstances.”
“Oh, Pippin,” Diamond chuckled softly, shaking her head. They sat in silence for a moment, listening to the trickling music of the rain.
“I feel so warm,” she whispered. Pippin rested his cheek on top of her head and held her even closer, as close as he could bring her.
“Good,” he said. “You’ll never be cold if I can help it.”
* * *
The light breeze tickling Diamond’s nose caused her to awake. Before opening her eyes, she tried to stretch out her arms, but something was impeding her movements. As she shifted in attempt to free her arms, she became aware of a hand resting against her back.
A bird chirped overhead, and Diamond’s eyes flew open as the memory of the previous night returned. She was lying on her side on the now-dry grass, and stretched out in front of her with his arms wrapped tightly around her was Pippin.
She sat bolt upright, pulling out of his grasp, her heartbeat quickening as panic overtook her. She was momentarily calmed when she saw that it was still dark; but the sky near the horizon was growing paler, and faint wisps of orange could be discerned.
Pippin groaned softly, awakened by her sudden movement. “What—”
“Pippin, get up!” she said frantically, touching his shoulder. Taking in their surroundings, he inhaled sharply and sat up.
“Come on,” he breathed, standing and pulling her to her feet. Still grasping her hand, he took off at a run towards the smials. As they ran, Diamond tried not to think about the muddy state of the dress that her mother would be washing that day, or the fact that Pippin was heading closer and closer to a place where he could be easily caught.
“Pippin,” she gasped as they neared the smials.
“No time,” he replied breathlessly, squeezing her hand.
At last they came upon her bedroom window, and Pippin glanced inside, then scanned either side of the smials; they were the only hobbits about.
He leaned against the hillside, chest heaving, and pulled Diamond towards him. She collapsed into his embrace, breathing deeply against his chest. But when she tried to pull away he would not release her.
“Pippin, you have to go,” she whispered. “You’ll be seen if you stay here much longer.”
He tightened his grip on her and buried his face in her hair, but made no move to step away. “Please, just a while longer,” he said softly.
“Pippin,” she whimpered imploringly, “I have to go, I don’t want you to get caught.”
She could feel his breath, hot and unsteady on her neck. “Not yet.”
“But it’s almost sunrise,” she said weakly.
“I don’t care,” he mumbled against her skin. “Please don’t go.”
“Don’t ask me to stay,” she begged through her tears, “you know I won’t be able to refuse!”
But then they heard a sound that made them both look up in horror: someone was knocking on Diamond’s bedroom door. Pippin immediately released her and lifted her up as she scrambled to open her window.
She crawled through the window and flopped onto her bed just as the door opened a crack; Bellamanta’s voice spoke, “Diamond, are you awake?”
“Yes,” she replied shakily, pulling a blanket over herself as the door opened wider, revealing her mother’s face.
“I was wondering if you would mind helping me with first breakfast this morning?”
“All right,” she responded, praying her mother would not notice her breathless tone. “Will you give me a few minutes?”
“Of course, I won’t start breakfast for another half-hour anyway. Thank you, dear.”
After the door closed, Diamond let out a long breath and sat up, crawling towards the window as Pippin stood from where he had been lying on the ground outside. He seized her hands and kissed them desperately, then held them against his face, breathing deeply. A sob escaped her, and she leaned out the window to embrace him.
“I love you,” she whispered brokenly.
He placed his hand on the back of her head and pulled her into a hungry, desperate kiss, his lips filling her with warmth and hope, declaring his love without need of words. When he could bring himself to pull away, he said firmly, “I’ll come back soon.”
Diamond nodded, biting her lip. He kissed her hands again, his eyes bright with tears and longing, burning into her soul.
When he turned and hurried off into the distance, she fell to her knees and wept.
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