1. Chapter One
Foreword: This rather fragile, and certainly sensual, mood piece is a pendant to my main stories about Frodo and his cousin Pearl Took. Here I try to both illustrate their earlier relationship and foreshadow their later troubles.
The sun shone down on the narrow path near Crickhollow; it was not yet obscured by the storm clouds blowing in from the west. The breeze ruffled the tall grasses on either side of the pounded soil, scattering the plump bees buzzing around the nectar-heavy flowers. The young dark-haired hobbit walking back to Brandy Hall paused and turned his face into the wind.
It smells like rain, he thought, but if I’m lucky, it won’t start falling until I get back.
Frodo Baggins allowed himself a small sigh of satisfaction as he began walking again and felt the weight of the pail he carried. It was full of mushrooms—big, meaty, ripe ones he had just picked near the High Hay. When he overheard one of the cooks at breakfast mention the place where they were, he had been determined to claim them for the private Midsummer’s Eve feast the Brandybucks were holding that evening. Such a festival had become uncommon in the rest of the Shire, but here in Buckland the Master decreed that the midsummer bonfires still be kindled every year, for Rory took pride in cleaving to the old ways.
Frodo had been reluctant to accept his aunt Esmie’s invitation to the feast, for Bilbo’s plans for a huge joint birthday party in September were proceeding apace. But Bilbo insisted Frodo go to the Hall, saying, “You need to relax a bit, my boy, before the real work begins!”
And he was quite right, reflected Frodo, as the savory perfume of the mushrooms wafted over him. Now I can enjoy a real feast with these—but I need to make sure Merry doesn’t make a pig of himself and that Pearl gets a large helping. The thought of his favorite female cousin caused him to look west as he wondered if the Tooks had arrived yet. His eyes widened, for the clouds were moving fast with the increasing wind. He could see dark blotches of rain underneath the fluffy masses. He uttered a sharp oath under his breath and started to run. I’m not going to make it—
But as the path dipped over a small hill, Frodo saw a barn in the distance, and hurried towards it, grateful for the shelter. His hair and shirt only became a little damp before he reached it and swung the door open. He set the pail down, took off his waistcoat and hung it on a nail to dry, and looked around in curiosity. It took him a second to identify the place; it was one of the dairy barns that provided Brandy Hall with its daily milk, he realized, and recalled playing in it when he was much younger. The smell of the haybales and the soft noises of the fawn-colored cows were comforting, reminding him of how safe he used to feel when he read in the loft.
“Well, I don’t have a book, but I might as well be cozy, don’t you think?” he said with a grin to the nearest cow. She mooed and swished her tail as Frodo climbed the ladder to the loft. He flung himself onto the softest-looking pile of loose hay, and began pensively chewing on a piece of straw. He could hear the steady pattering of the rain of the roof clearly; the sound made him think of elves and faraway places and all the things he wanted to see before he grew old. He hummed an elven song Bilbo had recently taught him and started to conjure up images of Rivendell.
A sudden clatter at the door broke into his daydreams, and he crawled to the loft’s edge to see who else had retreated from the rain. He grinned as he beheld his cousin Pearl, looking considerably worse for wear in a soaked cotton chemise and skirt, her honey-brown curls plastered to her neck and shoulders.
“Why, look what the storm blew in! If it’s not my bonny cousin! So when did you Tooks finally arrive from Tuckborough?” Frodo said laughingly.
Pearl gave him a wide smile, and Frodo felt his heart skip a beat, for even a rain-drenched Pearl was one of the prettiest hobbit maidens in the Shire. “About an hour ago, and when Aunt Esmie told me you were out mushroom-picking, I came hunting for you. You are the hobbit I want to see the most, after all.”
“And why is that?” he asked, though he knew the answer already.
“Why, because I’m in love with you!” said Pearl immediately, with a saucy tilt of her head. “Or maybe I don’t love you and just need someone to sample this.” She brandished a bottle she clutched in her right hand.
“What is it?”
“Raspberry wine! I finally mastered Cousin Lilac’s recipe, and who better to taste my first successful bottle than my future husband?”
Frodo smiled, for while he and Pearl were not yet formally betrothed, it was generally accepted in their extended family circle that if either of them married, it would be to each other and no one else. “Come here then.”
Pearl scrambled up the ladder, threw herself down on her knees beside the prone Frodo, and uncorked the wine. He sat up as she passed it to him and took a deep swig. The taste was magnificent, he decided, sweet and rich and tart all at once, reminding him vividly of bright summery days spent picking berries that were then dipped in cream and eaten immediately. It also reminded him of Pearl, for she mingled the same qualities, her sharpness preventing her from becoming too cloying.
“Perfect, which means it’s definitely yours,” he said brightly. “Your turn now!” He handed it back to her, and she imitated his action. She spluttered a little, not used to drinking so much, and then she smiled.
“You’re right, it did come out well, didn’t it? Have some more.”
Frodo quickly lost track of how many times they passed the bottle back and forth. It was only when he saw that three-quarters of it was empty that he realized how much they both had imbibed. He blinked, feeling more than a little tipsy as he flopped onto his back again, and also realized that he could see every curve of Pearl’s full breasts thorough her wet chemise. She caught him staring and giggled wantonly.
“Like what you see, do you?” she asked pertly, and slid closer to him, bending over him.
“Of course I do, but we promised each other to be good, you know,” he said in a slurred voice.
“I hate being good, it’s boring,” she replied petulantly. “Besides, it’s just us here now, with no one to bother us, so can’t we play, just a little?” She swayed forward and brushed Frodo’s lips lightly with her own.
For a moment he thought things would go no farther, but then he tasted the wine on her lips, redolent of sunshine, and he reached up and pulled her head to him while he began to leisurely explore her mouth with his tongue. He was faintly aware of the lowing of the cows and the fresh scent of the hay, but increasingly he only knew how sweet the smell and taste and touch of the lass leaning over him was. Pearl gave a soft moan and sprawled on top of him as she clung to him; he could feel her breasts against his chest. She tipped her head back as he trailed a line of kisses down her throat; he let his thumbs tease her nipples through the cloth before returning his attention to her swollen mouth. She licked one of his ear points, making him groan. His hands wandered down and cupped her rounded buttocks, pulling her into his hips.
It was only when Frodo registered the throbbing ache in his groin that it hit him full force how close to making a mistake they both were. He grasped Pearl’s wrists and forced her to sit up. She looked down at him with a mulish expression, her jaw set. “Why are you stopping? You like what’s happening, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do, which is why we have to stop,” he said huskily. “I’ve told you a thousand times over that I don’t want to get you into trouble. Please don’t be angry with me—believe me, if things were different, I’d give in to the temptation, but not until we’re betrothed, sweetling. Don’t be such a spoiled little vixen.”
Pearl gave a frustrated sigh and climbed off Frodo reluctantly. “Oh, all right, if you insist,” she said petulantly, and lay down beside him.
“You are angry, aren’t you?”
“No, not angry—more frightened,” Pearl replied in a strangled voice.
“Frightened? Of what?” asked Frodo tenderly. He reached out and gently drew a finger along her cheek.
“Of lots of things. Folks die, you know, or go away and never come back. Some Tooks have done that, remember? And Bilbo went adventuring too. What if you go away before we marry?”
Frodo chuckled. “You’ve been listening to the spinster aunts once too often. I’m not going anywhere, my pearly queen.”
“Even if you inherit Bilbo’s treasure and then decide to look for more gold?”
“You silly girl, it’s even less likely I’d go anywhere if I have my inheritance. Now come here and stop worrying so.” Pearl slid against Frodo’s side and laid her head on his chest. They brooded in silence for a while, and then she spoke again.
“You really mean it? You won’t go away?”
“Yes, I mean it. I’m going to stay here in the Shire, marry you no matter who doesn’t want us to, and we’ll have a whole passel of beautiful babes together. And nobody’s going to die soon either, not even rotten old Aunt Lalia. This Baggins is no adventurer—especially with someone as lovely as you waiting for me every night in our hobbit hole.”
“Hmm . . .now that’s a future worth waiting on,” said Pearl happily. “I promise you to be more patient.”
“Thank you,” Frodo said gratefully. He kissed her brow softly. The two of them continued to listen to the rattling rain; but Frodo fancied for a fleeting moment that he could hear the murmuring of the sea against the far distant shores of Middle-earth.
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.