Disclaimer: I do not own Lord of the Rings.

Author's Note: Diamond is a fun character to work with because Tolkien tells us nothing about her, aside from her name and what part of the Shire she came from. It provides so much room for creativity and I wanted to write something different from the usual hobbit romance, so here's my (rather angsty) take on the Pippin/Diamond pairing.

And One White Tree

She didn't fall in love with his armor from distant lands, the way other lasses did. She didn't love the chain mail that shone beneath the sun, or the splendid white tree on the pitch-black uniform, or the sword that had slain orcs and trolls and other foul creatures. She had seen the admiring looks he received when he rode his pony through the Shire, all dressed up like the hero he was rumored to be, and she had never understood how anyone could be dazzled by the outlandish garments and that horrible blade he insisted on wearing day in and day out. How un-hobbitlike it all seemed. How foreign and intimidating.

She preferred the plain breeches and waistcoats he donned during the night, along with the plain pipe and mug of ale he enjoyed in front of the fireplace. He looked more like a proper hobbit in the evenings, aside from his uncanny height, and she liked to pretend that he had never seen battle in foreign lands or acquired scars that would never truly heal. She liked to pretend that her husband was just a regular hobbit and that their marriage was like any other, without shadows from the past hanging over their heads like storm clouds that never blew away.

But then Pippin would polish his gleaming sword or read a letter from distant friends, and Diamond knew that she couldn't keep pretending. Pippin led two lives that were irrevocably twined together: the life of Pippin Took, a hobbit of the Shire, and the life of Peregrin son of Paladin, knight of Gondor.

Sometimes she wondered if she would ever truly know him.

He saw how she shied away from his sword, as if it was a snake waiting to strike her, and his face would fall as if she had rejected a part of his soul. He tried to tell her stories of faraway places, strange lands with names she could never remember, but she didn't want to hear about things she would never understand. She didn't grow up listening to the tales of Bilbo Baggins the way Pippin and his cousins did. She didn't know anything about adventures or brave deeds. Diamond just wanted the plain hobbit who stood beneath the bright armor and dashing uniform, but in her heart she knew that Pippin would never be a plain hobbit. Part of him would always be out of her reach, even if she did try to understand his strange adventures, and sometimes she wished that some silly, fawning lass had taken him instead.

She loved Pippin, she truly did, but loving him was harder than she had imagined.

He stood before her one day, looking impossibly tall with the white tree of Gondor gleaming upon his breast, and she knew he was leaving soon, for she had seen him saddle his pony outside. He smiled at her, looking like the dear mischievous hobbit who had won her heart in the beginning, and she could almost forget the sword he had strapped to his side.

"You're off to Minas Tirith, then," Diamond said quietly.

They hadn't been married long and he already wanted to leave her.

"You can still come along if you like," said Pippin, and the prospect of adventure glowed in his eyes. "See the White City, meet the king and Faramir. I've told them all about you, you know."

"I know," she said, though the king and Faramir were nothing more than strange names without faces, unseen members of the Big Folk who insisted on luring Pippin from the Shire. "Promise me you'll be safe, won't you?"

The light in Pippin's eyes started to falter. "You still don't want to come, then?"

"And spend weeks in the saddle? I barely know how to ride."

They both knew she was making excuses, but neither of them would say it aloud, and Diamond could see the plain truth in Pippin's eyes. He didn't want her to love just part of him. He wanted her to love all of him, including the parts she didn't understand, but she was too cowardly to do it.

The two of them looked at each other for a moment, then Pippin murmured, "Come here," and caught her up in his arms, wrapping her in a gentle embrace. There was something distinctly hobbit-like in the way he held her, despite the sword he wore at his side, and Diamond couldn't stop the tears that welled at the corners of her eyes as she buried her face in Pippin's chest.

"Why didn't you marry a lass who's smitten with your armor and revels in your tales of adventure?" she asked. "Why did you choose me?"

"I don't want a lass who only has eyes for what I wear and what I've done," Pippin said as he gently patted her on the back. "I want a lass who sees me."

"I do see you. I always have."

"I know."

They never spoke of that unbridged distance that lay between them, gaping like the caverns Pippin had seen in that great dwarf city, the one whose name Diamond couldn't recall, but they could both feel the unspoken words. The silent pleas. Love all of me, Pippin silently asked as he stroked her dark curls. That's all I desire.

She wanted to love all of him, day after day, but her hands traced the white tree he wore on his chest and knew she couldn't do it, at least not yet. She looked into his eyes and hoped he saw the apology in her face, the unspoken guilt that crushed her every time they touched.

She hoped he knew that maybe someday, somehow, she would find the courage to go with him.