Written for the LOTR-Community Nightmare Wedding challenge. Dedicated to Mews. Thanks as ever to RiverOtter for the beta.
And Just Whose Wedding Is This?
In the wake of Peregrin Took's birthday party on the occasion of his coming of age, at which he'd given Diamond North-Took a diamond necklace crafted in the form of the White Tree of Gondor, there was much excitement throughout the Tooklands and the North Farthing, particularly within the great smial of Long Cleeve. The knowledge that the Thain's son had spoken for the granddaughter of the family head of the North-Tooks seemed to send everyone into a mild form of madness, from what Pippin could tell.
He'd arrived three weeks after Yule to find the whole of Long Cleeve turned upside down. "But why?" he asked of Diamond's sister Sapphire. "The wedding isn't for nearly four months yet!"
She gave him a look he knew well from growing up with three older sisters--obviously as a gentlehobbit he was assumed too foolish to appreciate how it is with womenfolk!
"You'd best just come with me," advised his Aunt Jade's husband Morigrin, "and stay well out of the way save for mealtimes. It's only then that you will be expected to show yourself--at Diamond's side, of course. Then--well, one piece of advice: whatever she or her mother suggests, just agree with them. It's not worth while to do anything else."
"But it's my wedding, too!" Pippin objected.
His uncle gave a bitter laugh. "You just think it is your wedding," he said, shaking his head. "You'll find you're wanted to be there for the actual event only because it's customary to have the groom present. Oh, my lad--you will learn!"
"But, don't I have any say at all in my own wedding?"
"Very, very little, Pip-my-lad. Very, very little!"
And so it proved.
"You want me to wear what?" Pippin demanded as his bride began describing the outfit envisioned for him to wear.
"A blue waistcoat and vest," she repeated.
"I am a Hobbit, not a peacock!" he insisted. "Hobbits don't wear blue waistcoats and vests!"
"Your cousin Frodo is said to have worn blue and grey and looked quite well in them," she said. Had he been more accustomed to her tone, he would have realized that she was most annoyed.
"Well, Frodo was a special case. The Lady Arwen made him the blue surcoat he wore in Gondor, and sent him an outfit in silver, and I'll admit that it suited him especially well; but then he was----" He didn't finish; it was still difficult for him to speak of his lost cousin.
He cleared his throat. "At any rate," he went on, "he wore grey and silver there at the end, not blue. And I don't happen to care for blue for myself. It's just not a color we gentlehobbits tend to wear. I mean, it's all very well for a lovely lass like yourself----"
She was visibly growing annoyed, although the last compliment did apparently hit home. "Well, I'm to wear blue, also, and I tend to look very well in it. And I wish for the two of us to match."
"But I wanted to wear my uniform!"
She gave quite a snort. "Gentlehobbits don't wear blue!" she mocked him. "Well, since when do gentlehobbits wear black with silver embroidery?"
"Since this gentlehobbit was made a Guard of the Citadel, that's when!" he retorted. "And I will have you know the Queen herself did the embroidery on my new tabard!"
"Oh, did she? And why should I believe that you truly know the Queen?"
He looked at her, amazed. "And since when have you decided I've lied to you about knowing Aragorn and the Lady Arwen?" he demanded.
She apparently realized she'd gone too far. "It's not that I think you lied...." she began.
"You as much as said I had!"
She looked alarmed. "Oh, no, Pippin, dear," she said hurriedly, "I know that you didn't lie to me----"
"Then why did you say it?" he interrupted, feeling particularly hurt.
She didn't answer, merely staring at him with hurt eyes. Then she began blinking furiously, and he realized she was about to cry. "Our first quarrel!" she moaned.
"And don't start that weepy bit with me!" he insisted. "I'll remind you I have three older sisters, and I won't stand for it!"
The tears gave way to temper, and her face went first pale and then flushed. Her eyes flashing, she turned and flounced out of the parlor where they'd been discussing things, and Ruby, after glaring at him as she rose from her place by the door, followed after her, hastily tucking away her sewing as she went--something blue, he noted with dismay.
It was there that Morigrin found him. "Didn't I advise you to agree with anything suggested by your bride or her mother?" the older Hobbit asked.
"Well, yes--but she was saying I must wear blue!"
"And you must quarrel about it?"
"I ask you, Uncle--would you agree to wear blue at your wedding?"
Morigrin gave a bitter laugh. "I will have you know that at my wedding I wore a lilac-colored waistcoat and a dusky rose vest. Your aunt wished it, you know."
Pippin was shocked. "You didn't! Lilac and dusky rose?"
"It went with her dress, you see...."
But Pippin was literally shaking with horror.
The next argument was about where the wedding was to be held. As they finished a rather quiet and notably strained late tea, Diamond's grandfather Olimbard wiped at his lips with his napkin before asking, "And how many folk do you think will be coming from the Great Smial for the wedding?"
Pippin, still with a terrible image in mind of himself wearing blue at his own wedding, looked up with surprise. "What? Marry here?"
"Well, of course, Peregrin. Diamond was born and raised here in Long Cleeve, after all."
Pippin cast a concerned sideways look at his proposed bride--he and she had both spoken of their hopes to be married at the Great Smial by the Thain himself, after all. He noted she was blushing furiously. "Well, as we were considering marrying at the festival to follow the first sowing----"
"Oh, yes--a most suitable time to be married, just after the fields are first planted. Yes, yes--most suitable indeed. Most proper and propitious!" Old Olimbard gave a decided smile. "So we will expect you and your parents and your sisters, at least----"
"But we'd planned to be married in Tuckborough!"
Olimbard's face went quite stiff. "Out of the question."
Diamond's mother hastily explained in a low voice in Pippin's ear, "He made a vow, you see, years ago, that he wouldn't set foot in the Great Smial."
Pippin searched her face desperately. "A vow?" he asked in low tones. "But wasn't that made when Ferumbras was Thain?" At her nod he protested, "But my father is Thain now, and has been for ever so long! He can't think himself bound by that vow now, can he?"
She whispered vehemently, "Oh, yes!"
His heart sank the more.
Then after the meal Sapphire asked rather negligently, "Of course, Micolo will carry the flowers for the wedding?"
Diamond's younger brother, who was fifteen now, was flushing madly. "I'm too old to carry the flowers for the wedding!"
Pippin felt sympathy for the lad. "I was thinking," he said, "that with Diamond's agreement we might ask my nephew Brand. He's more of a proper age...."
Diamond glared at him. "Now you'd think of consulting me?" she sniped.
It was with relief he heard her cousin Elspeth crying out breathlessly as she hurried into the room, "There's a party of riders coming--it appears to be the Brandybucks, considering the height of the Hobbit leading them!"
"Thank the stars!" Pippin breathed as he took Diamond's hand determinedly and pulled her out of the room to greet his cousin.
Diamond and her sisters and Elspeth had taken Estella off to show her the rooms prepared for her and Merry and their companions--Merry's cousin Berilac and Gomez Brandybuck had accompanied the two of them from Brandy Hall. Beri and Gomez had been drawn away by Diamond's father to show them the orchards and sheepfolds that were sources of much of the North-Tooks' collective wealth, and so Merry and Pippin found themselves pretty much left alone save for Uncle Morigrin.
Merry was now examining his younger cousin's face carefully. "It would appear you are not particularly happy, Pippin."
Pippin allowed himself to flop onto the nearest chair, one that creaked ominously at the move. "We've had our first argument is all," he admitted.
"I warned him just to agree to anything Diamond or her mother might say," Morigrin announced in I-told-you-so tones. "But would he listen? No!"
"But it's my wedding, too!" Pippin returned bitterly. "Why must I wear blue just so I match her dress?"
Merry looked at him thoughtfully. "She'd have you wear blue? Actually, there are some shades of blue that would look quite good on you----"
"But I've never worn blue--not since I was a small lad!"
Suddenly Merry smiled--a rather wicked smile, as Pippin judged it. "Oh, so that's what this is about, eh--that shirt you used to have to wear when you were small, the one that you loved at first but that Sancho Proudfoot used to make fun of as he'd never seen anyone but Cousin Bilbo wear blue, eh?" He turned toward Morigrin. "You remember, don't you? He wore it to Cousin Agate's wedding when he carried the flowers for it, and it was such good cloth that Aunt Lanti kept it there for him to wear. But when he wore it in Hobbiton Sancho made quite a good deal of fun of it, and accused him of being a mam's lad."
"He wasn't the only one," Pippin muttered. Then, in answer to the inquiring looks given him by both his relatives he said, "Lalia used to make comments on it, too. Face it, Hobbits don't usually wear blue!"
Morigrin gave a snort. "What? Considering how she used to dress Ferumbras when he was a faunt, she had small room to talk!"
Merry considered Pippin appraisingly as he continued, "And Frodo looked quite nice in blue. You know that the Lady Arwen herself made him several blue shirts and tunics--and there was that surcoat she made for him, and even that soft blue shirt she sent him after he returned here."
Pippin was shaking his head. "I'm not Frodo," he insisted stubbornly.
Merry straightened. "It's a matter of compromise, cousin. No, Hobbits don't usually wear blue, but then look at the outfit Frodo had made for Sam. Now, I'd never thought to see Samwise Gamgee in an outfit made in dark blue and green, but now it's hard to think of him on a formal occasion not wearing it. And I can see you with your uniform tabard over a shirt of a dark blue with silver stars about the cuffs and the collar...." He smiled. "It doesn't have to be just the same shade of blue as Diamond's dress, you know."
"If I could wear it under my uniform tabard," Pippin said, his eyes finally beginning to soften in spite of himself, "then it might not be too bad." Then his face darkened. "But her grandfather wants us to get married here, not in Tuckborough as we'd planned. We'd intended to be married just after sowing was finished so all would be free to come to the Tooklands. But it appears Olimbard won't agree to go to the Great Smial even now, with my da as Thain rather than Ferumbras. He's still insisting he's held by that vow he made back when Ferumbras was trying to order his comings and goings, trying to keep the North-Tooks under the control of him and his mother. I don't know how we'll handle that! As I'm the Thain's son everyone at the Great Smial will want to attend the wedding, and most of them can't afford to leave the Tooklands to go to a wedding so far north, not that season of the year! Nor would Olimbard be able to house all who'd wish to come to begin with. He'd have no problems accepting you and your family coming, Merry. But what's he going to think of me insisting that Sam and Rosie attend with Elanor and Frodo-lad and the new babe once it's born? And I'll want Folco and Fatty and their families to come, too, and Berilac and his parents, and many of those who've always been closest to you and Frodo, you know! I don't think he has any idea how much resentment us being forced to marry here just after the spring planting is likely to cause with so many unable to come, or how much of a strain those who'd wish to come anyway would make on resources here in Long Cleeve."
"Have you told him this?" Merry asked.
"Well, no--but then I've hardly had the chance to explain--not to him or Diamond's parents, at least. But then, seeing how many here are keen to attend, I'm beginning to wonder if the Great Smial might just prove too small to contain it all, also!"
"Then let's choose some other place and time to hold the wedding, and on neutral ground where folks are accustomed to such crowds."
Pippin and Merry's eyes met. Pippin at last began to smile. "The Free Fair in Michel Delving! They are used to having most of those who'd wish to attend being there at that time of year, so it would be a trip all would be accustomed to taking anyway, and it wouldn't be any more of a hardship on those here than on those in the Great Smial or those coming from Brandy Hall or Hobbiton! Or," he amended, "no more of a hardship than they'd be expecting to take on anyway."
"And if we start planning it now, even though this isn't an election year we can make certain there's enough food and drink and entertainment there for everyone. And it would be more acceptable to Diamond's folks to allow your parents and even mine to send provisions ahead so as to have everything in place!"
Pippin could feel the tension in his shoulders giving way. "It's workable," he agreed. "Now, to convince Diamond and her parents and Olimbard...."
Morigrin took Merry to his rooms so he could wash up and change for dinner and speak with Estella while Pippin hurried off to find Diamond. He found her in her bedroom, and she was not happy with him.
"I wanted to apologize," he said tentatively. "What shade of blue is your dress going to be?"
"We'd wanted about three shades, from quite a dark blue to a light one," she said, eyeing him with a degree of suspicion.
"I still would wish to wear my uniform, but Merry had a suggestion. What if I wore a blue shirt under it with silver embroidery to match the White Tree on the tabard? It could then go with your dress and your promise necklace,"
It obviously wasn't what she'd been planning to date, but he could see her imagining it and finding it perhaps preferable to what she and her mother had been considering. "That might work," she allowed.
"As for Micolo--well, Diamond, you had to have seen his face when your sister suggested he'd carry the flowers for the wedding. He was appalled! He's not a little one any more, after all."
"I know," she admitted. "That was Sapphire's idea, you must understand. I'd been thinking of...."
The mood of both had improved a good deal by the time they arrived together in the dining room for dinner.
Merry was wiping his mouth with his napkin after a marvelous fish course when he said, as if it were an obvious concern, "And what is this about you planning the wedding just after sowing? How are we to make it here to the North Farthing in a reasonable amount of time? We'll just be starting the thinning in our orchards there in Buckland then, as you well know, and from what I know of lambing there in the Tooklands you'll probably still have folk busy with it at that time of year."
Pippin noted glances being exchanged around the table where they sat with Olimbard, his children, and his grandchildren. It was plain that this hadn't yet been taken into account by the folk of Long Cleeve. "Well, we hadn't yet made it firm we'd be married then, Merry," he said, as if with reluctance. "We'd hate to not have you attend, after all."
"How about setting the wedding perhaps a bit later--say in May?"
"What? Just in time for sheepshearing?"
"And would there be room enough for all who'd wish to come? You know Mum and dad will come, and Merimac and Amaranth and Beri, as well as...." As the list of Brandybucks grew progressively longer and longer Pippin could see Diamond's father's face growing increasingly alarmed, while old Olimbard's expression was equally thoughtful. "As for your folk," Merry continued on implacably, "of course all three of your sisters and their families. And Isumbard's sister Linden, not to mention Reginard and Everard and Tollerand...."
"And I'd intended to ask the Cottons, considering how much they helped in keeping things calm around Hobbiton, Bywater, and Overhill and folks fed in spite of Lotho and Sharkey's restrictions during the Time of Troubles. And the Gamgees, of course. If it weren't for Sam and his brothers and their planning and ability to get folks working together, do you think that the Shire would be as close to being returned to its former glory as it is?" Pippin added. "And of course there are the Bolgers and Boffins...."
He noted that Diamond's father's eyes were beginning to glaze.
"What about putting the wedding off for a time?" Merry asked as if the idea had just occurred to him. "The Bolgers couldn't come just after sowing--why, Fredegar Bolger will just be marrying Melilot Brandybuck right then, you know, early in April. We wouldn't wish to lose wedding guests who found it inconvenient to attend both weddings, both so close together, after all."
"But the only time after that when we could be expected to get folk together for the wedding of the son of the Thain and the granddaughter of the family head for the North-Tooks would be at Midsummer," Pippin said, as if just considering the idea. He smiled. "Not that we wouldn't be in good company, as the King and Queen were married at Midsummer," he added, with a sideways look at Diamond's mother. Aha! That had hit home--to marry at the same season as had the King and Queen had obviously caught her imagination.
Micolo interrupted, "And how old are your nephews and nieces, Pippin?" he asked. "People all expect the flower carrier to be just out of faunthood, after all."
Pippin was proud of the lad--he obviously had a good instinct toward self-preservation!
But the final touch came after the meal when Berilac produced a package he'd picked up at the Brandywine Bridge addressed to Pippin--a package wrapped in black silk shot with silver and sealed with the King's own sigil. Once he opened it and found it contained a shirt of midnight blue embroidered with silver stars about the collar, placket, and cuffs there were no further discussions as to how the groom should be dressed for the wedding!
Aragorn opened the package that had arrived from the Shire with interest, and found it contained a carefully padded, flat wooden box. Once he finally had it open, he found within it a framed picture of Peregrin Took and Diamond North Took dressed for their wedding.
Merry's wife Estella did the chalk drawing of us, and I hope it comes to you unmarred, Pippin had written. Ah, what a glorious wedding, in spite of all the fuss and kerfluffle! And, in spite of the clear day we started out with, suddenly a thunderstorm broke over us! I'm afraid we had to move from the hillside where we usually sing on Midsummer Eve to the pavilion where the ponies are housed for the judging. But there is no question we are married now, and most happily so. And let your beloved wife know I was never so grateful for anyone's foresight as I was for hers the day her gift arrived....
The King smiled, and went in search of his wife to share the picture and letter with her.