8. Dried Leaves
'You have visitors, Lily.' Her gaze turned from her mother to the two tall youths at the door. Lily imagined what she must look in their eyes: her hair unwashed, her skirt tight over her belly. She hadn't fitted in the red dress for weeks.
Merry and Pippin greeted her courteously.
'I brought you some gifts', said Pippin. He gave her a bag of sweets, a box of cookies, and a bouquet of red lilies.
'Where did you find lilies? It's almost winter!' Lily exclaimed.
'They are dried flowers. My aunt can make them very lifelike.'
Lily examined the flowers. They vere papery to the touch and gave only the faintest of scents. Nonetheless they were beautiful. Lily could not help comparing them to herself.
What was she but a lifeless memory of something she once had been?
Lily led her guests into the great room of the house. Her mother brought ale for the youths and tea for Lily. Then she left them. Some members of the family were busy with their crafts around the room, but the room was big, so they would not hear the conversation.
Most of the talk was done by Pippin, while Lily gave short answers to the questions.
Was her family treating her well? Yes.
Did she feel all right? Almost.
Was there anything she needed, anything at all?
A husband, Lily thought, but she didn't say it aloud.
'Nothing', she said instead.
The conversation was polite, avoiding the big questions like:
Whom did Lily Maggot love?
And how long would Lily Maggot live?
Suddenly Merry broke their excange of pleasantries. Lily had wondered why he had come; Alfons Took had no need for a chaperon, so why did Pippin?
'Say what you came to say, you big oaf, and then let us be going', Merry told Pippin, obviously feigning boredom.
Lily gave them both a questioning glance.
'Meriadoc Brandybuck is my witness here, as I ask you, Lily Maggot: will you marry me?' Pippin stood up, looking very serious and faintly nervous.
Lily's lips started to form a positive reply, then halted. First time in over a year she had doubts about wether she truly wanted to become Mrs Peregrin Took. Pippin noticed her silence and started trembling slightly. Lily could not face his pain and found herself looking at Merry instead.
'It's not so difficult, Lily. Just tell him if you love him.'
In his eyes Lily saw another message: she felt her own deeds reflected back at her. She had adored Pippin for his father's high position, and later, his heroic reputation. She had also kept Alfons' heart in store, just in case she would need him. Love? Lily Maggot had not known love for a long time.
'I'm sorry, Pippin. I don't love you. I loved the heir of the thain.'
Pippin's mouth dropped open:
'But I am... oh, I see.' And the coldness in his eyes showed that he did.
Pippin said a hasty goodbye and went for his horse. Merry lingered a moment longer, gazing straight into Lily's eyes.
'You have backbone after all, Water-Lily, for it was a brave thing to do.'
'I need backbone to bear my burden, now all the more.'
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.