Story: The Gem in Question

Author: Melissa Hendrix

Characters: Pippin/Diamond, Merry/Estella, Sam/Rosie

Rating: T for minor kissing

Author's Note: This is a bit of hobbit-centric fluff that popped into my head one day in gym… please read and review! Enjoy!

Pippin was nervous. Better yet, he was very nervous. Or perhaps even extremely nervous. It was a strange feeling to the young hobbit, who had a uniquely buoyant personality and was respected as a hero throughout both the Shire and Gondor. Pippin watched the cause of his anxiety whirl across the dance floor from the edge of the party.

Her white dress glowed in the semi-darkness, her eyes shining like diamonds. Diamond. Of Long Cleave, that is. A girl he had walked home a few times, gone to one or two celebrations with, asked for a dance once or twice. But Pippin knew she was different from all the other lasses he had courted. He loved everything about Diamond, her warm laugh, her bright eyes, her witty retorts, her lovely curls…he could have gone on and on. Pippin had even gone so far as to ask Sam for advice.

He could have talked to Merry, who had recently tied the knot with Estella Bolger, but Pippin had teased Merry to no end while he was courting her. Pippin had imitated the way Merry said 'Stella's name, the soppy look on her face when he returned from walking the lass home, even made fun of his cousin's proposal. Relations had in fact become a bit strained between the normally inseparable pair because of such extensive jesting. Really, Pippin knew in his heart of hearts he was jealous that Merry was closer to anyone else than to him. Not that he would admit it. Ever. If Merry ever found out about Diamond…Pippin didn't even want to think about it.

His heart did a little flip-flop as the gem in question stopped dancing and headed over to him, a gentle smile on her face. He steeled himself, recalling his conversation with Sam. Pippin had visited Bag End yesterday, and came clean about Diamond to his older friend. "So…you think she's the one?" Sam asked, listening to Pippin's confession while simultaneously feeding baby Rosie. "Yes." Pippin replied with certainty. "I've never felt this way about a girl before, but I don't know how to tell her!" he said, slightly desperately. "Tell her you love her," said Sam matter-of-factly, coaxing the baby into another bite.

Pippin blanched. He knew how to flirt, joke, tell stories of his travels to the lasses, but in deep heart to heart conversations Pippin felt out of his depth. He took life too lightly, but maybe it was time to change that. "Here, I'll prove it to you" said Sam, breaking into Pippin's thoughts. "Elanor!" Sam called to his daughter, who was passing the sitting room. "I love you!" The little girl ran to her father, giggled, and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Love you too, Daddy!" Sam shot Pippin a wink that said, 'See what I mean? Works every time.'

Now Pippin took Diamond's arm and led her to a side room near the kitchens, away from the rest of the party. He stood across from her, uncomfortably aware that a blush was already rising to his cheeks. He swallowed, looking at Diamond's slightly puzzled expression, cleared his throat, and began. "Diamond? I'm really glad we came together tonight. Um... I just wanted to say that uh, I'm really enjoying courting you, I've never felt this way before…" Pippin had lost his train of thought, forgotten everything he'd planned to say, and must be babbling incoherently. He bit his lip for a second, then involuntarily blurted out what he had been trying to say. "I love you!"

Pippin looked down at his toes. He'd just embarrassed himself horribly, what would Diamond, the girl of his dreams, think of him now? The great adventurer, future Thain of the Shire, a big softy, probably. She'd never want to court him again, he thought morosely. That was when Diamond threw her arms around him and kissed him passionately.

Pippin couldn't describe the feeling. 'She loves me back!' he thought, elated. His eyes opened lazily as Diamond deepened the kiss, then widened in alarm as he saw Merry watching them, frozen in the doorway, a surprised look on his face. Merry was carrying an empty jug of ale in his arms, obviously on his way to the kitchens. Pippin imagined for a second his cousin's face filling with hurt and anger, and wouldn't have blamed Merry. How could he have mocked, even presumed to make light of, this sort of love? But when Merry saw Pippin's panicked expression, he burst into silent laughter. In that moment Pippin knew everything would be all right between himself and Merry, that Pippin's resentment was already forgiven. The closeness he felt with Diamond was completely different from the near brotherhood he shared with Merry. Which was why Pippin attempted making a rude hand gesture at his friend, but on the way up his hand got tangled in Diamond's hair and he became rather distracted.

Finally they broke the kiss. Out of the corner of his eye, Pippin saw Merry, still unnoticed by Diamond, doubled up and with tears of laughter running down his face. Pippin gazed into Diamond's eyes, trying to reclaim the moment, and ignore his cousin. When Pippin next glanced at where Merry had been standing, he was gone, presumably off to tell the whole party what Pippin and Diamond of Long Cleave were doing on the back room.

'I am never going to hear the end of this' he thought, rolling his eyes but unable to hold back a grin as he pictured Merry's face swimming with tears of mirth. He was too glad. Smiling down at Diamond, Pippin took her arm and led her to a more private place, where they could continue what would prove to be a long and happy courtship.