5. The Master and his Daughter
‘Good morning and welcome! My name is Kitty, what is yours?’
‘Niphredil. Is the Master home?’
‘Yes, and eating breakfast. You can go in, go straight until the fifth door to the left, trough the two halls, and the middle door is the one you want.’
‘Some smial you have! I’ll try to find my way, although a map would be useful!’
Both women laughed.
She found Meriadoc with his son, daughter and wife. Estella looked very small among these three unusually tall hobbits.
‘Greetings, and good morning!’
‘Who are you?’ Merry asked.
‘A long-lost cousin! My name is Niphredil Baggins, and I’m the daughter of Frodo Baggins.’
Merry stood up and stared at her.
‘So you are! You have the Baggins nose and the tookish face and the hair of a Brandybuck!’
They embraced warmly.
‘You must tell me everything. How is he?’
Once again Niphredil told her strory, once again she left many things outside it, and even lied that all the servants at the Prancing Pony had been human.
‘This is my wife, Estella, and here are our children, Eowyn and Eomer.’
‘Nice to meet you.’
What followed was a long account of events in the Shire, and Niphredil had to pretend she had only heard a word or two from the guards.
After everyone had finished their breakfast, Merry walked Niphredil around the Hall, introducing her to the rooms her father had spent many years of his childhood in. They finished the tour in his study, where he showed her a book of herbal lore he was in the process of writing. Then he told her the tragic story of Lily, and Niphredil informed him of the incorrect ghost-story version the guards had told her, mentioning also that old Hob had known the true one.
‘I also have a lost love behind me, although he still lives.’
‘Can I ask who is this?’
‘You know him; it is Legolas, son of Thranduil.’
‘So that was the light I saw in your eyes every time you spoke his name.’
‘Why do you call your love lost?’
‘It is my fault. I did not take him seriously, and I betrayed him.’
‘I had been almost a month in king Elessar’s court, and although Legolas visited us often, he spent almost as much time in Ithilien, restoring the woods. In the court I had become a companion to the Queen, who wanted to hear everything I could tell about Tol Eresseä. The elves had given many messages for me to deliver her. Queen Arwen dressed me in the finest garb of a lady-in-waiting and had me seated beside her at every meal. One would think any beauty I might have would be always in her shadow, but it happened so that men who stared with hopeless longing at their queen, saw, when they averted their eyes, those women who sat near her. One of these men was bold enough to approach me; he was no man, actually, but the dwarf Nár son of Bárin. He was young in the years of his people, and his appearance appealed to me. He was kind to me, and I think he loved me. And my heart was twisted and turned to face two ways at once, undeciding, and I took the jewels Nár gave me and Legolas thought they were from the queen. And finally I took him, in the body, I let him have me and hold me. I gave him more than Legolas had ever dared to ask me. This was my betrayal. Later, I sent Nár away and broke his heart, and I confessed to Legolas. I confessed him other things, too, dark things of my past, that I cannot tell even to you. He could love me no longer.’
‘I see. Your secrets are safe with me. I only hope you have learned your lesson.’
‘Wish I had. But I just can’t say no to a handsome face, and my body whispers to me ‘what is one more time?’’
‘You mean - there have been others?’
‘Yes, loveless in loneliness. A man at Rohan, an elf in Rivendell, a hobbit - last night.’
‘You shouldn’t be so - outspoken. Not to mention so - open for anyone to - use you. I don’t think you really want to be like that. How did you become what you are, loveless in loneliness?’
‘At Tol Eresseä.’ She told him how she had seduced Eönwë.
‘Are you collecting races or what? All you lack is an orc and a troll!’
‘Tell me, who was the hobbit, last night?’
‘You won’t tell anyone?’
‘I’m good at keeping secrets.’ Merry felt he was younger again, talking to Pippin. Or Lily at her worst.
‘At the guardhouse?’
‘At a guardhouse full of sleeping hobbits and someone always on duty?!’
‘Er - he was on duty.’
‘Water-Lily, you’re hopeless.’
‘What did you just call me?’
‘Sorry, did I say Lily?’
‘Oh. I called her that, once. But she wasn’t half as silly as you are.’
‘Even Pippin was never as silly as you are, and I thought he was my most thick-headed cousin.’
‘But you’re still my cousin, and if you want, you can stay at Brandy Hall. Just don’t break anyone’s marriage.’
‘I’d never touch another’s man.’
‘Good. Also, my son is only twenty-two, which is too young.’
‘Twenty-two? He looks ten years older!’
‘Good thing I told you, huh?’
‘Will you stay?’
‘For the time being.’
‘You can have Frodo’s old room, it’s been a sort of guestroom.’
‘Now that you have told me your troubles, I would like to share one of mine. My daughter, Eowyn, is in love with her cousin.’
‘One of the Maggot boys?’
‘No, a Brandybuck cousin, my brother’s’s son Marron. I sent him away and he went somewhere near Bree, but kept sending letters for months after. They had been best friends as kids and Eowyn took it hard, but it was only her first love.’
‘How can you say ‘only’? Your first love was Lily!’
‘Let me tell you something. Yes, Lily was my first love, and also the first love of a couple of Tooks and one or two others. All of us now happily married.’
‘All right. But why did you send him away? Eowyn is adopted, after all.’
‘If Brandybucks start to marry each other, how to put an end to it?’ ‘You could cancel Eowyn’s adoption.’
‘Never! Lily asked me with her last words to raise her!’
‘Then you could have young Marron adopted into another family...’
‘He is too old for that.’
‘Is there a law about it?’
‘Not exactly... besides, he is my brother’s only child. He would not give him away.’
‘But he let you send him away?’
‘He agreed they should not marry.’
‘I could talk to Eowyn, woman to woman. Maybe I could learn the nature of her love.’
‘All right. You are welcome to try. But don’t give her any indecent ideas.’
‘Wouldn’t dream of it.’
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.