3. If I Read the Signs Aright
Diamond truly did not feel like getting out of bed. She dragged the covers back then slid her legs over the edge of the mattress but she still lay on her back. Sitting up just was not at all appealing; it took too much effort. Laying with her lower legs off the bed soon grew uncomfortable forcing Diamond to finally sit up, stand up, get her robe and shuffle out the door to go to the privy. Once back inside, she went to the wash stand to wash her face and brush out her hair. The face in the mirror still looked tired.
Diamond shuffled down the hall to the kitchen where, without even saying hello to Estella, she went down the stairs to the cellar to return a few moments later with the eggs for breakfast in her gathered up robe. She put them into a bowl on the table before going to the wall where the frying pan hung. She took down the pan and clunked it onto the top of the stove.
"Are you quite alright, Diamond?" Estella asked as Diamond started to grab a plate out of the cupboard.
"I am alright, Estella. Just tired," Diamond replied then covered her mouth as she yawned. She took a carving knife out of the drawer and turned towards the cellar. "I'll just head down to cut some rashers of bacon. I'll be fine, dear." Diamond patted Estella's shoulder as she dragged past her to go back down the short flight of steps. Estella was waiting for her when she came back up.
"You just sit yourself down, dear," she said as she took the plate of bacon and the knife out of Diamond's hands, set them on the worktable by the stove, then guided Diamond to sit in her usual chair at the table. "I can handle making the breakfast."
"And here you are!" Estella was all good cheer and smiles. "I got your coffee all ready for you just as you like it. Now you get some of that in you, and we will see if that doesn't wake you up a bit."
Diamond nodded again as she blew on the hot coffee to cool it. "I don't know what is coming over me," she finally said with a sigh. "I was quite fine a couple of weeks ago, when you and Merry had your outing." Diamond looked out of the window at the grey sky outside. "The weather has gone sour since then, perhaps I'm catching cold. I'm also a bit late this month. A cold can do that. Yes, I think I am getting a cold."
Diamond got up to get a mixing bowl from the cupboard. She got a fork , sat back down and started breaking the eggs into the bowl to scramble them. She was reaching for the third egg when she caught a whiff of rotten egg coming up from the bowl. It isn't a pleasant aroma, but it didn't usually bother her. This morning she suddenly felt queasy. She turned away from the table to get her nose away from the bowl, but the scent seemed to follow her.
"Estella." Diamond's voice was not much above a whisper. "Estella, there is a bad . . . bad . . .," Diamond couldn't finish. She was up and out the back door into the cold, grey morning light. She went down on her knees, leaned over but didn't get sick. She sat back, holding her stomach and trying to breath. Estella had run out after her and now was on her knees beside her, one hand on the back of Diamond's head the other on her forehead.
"You don't feel feverish," Estella said softly. "But you look frightfully pale, Diamond. Are you well enough to stand? You shouldn't be out in this chilly, damp weather. We need to get you back to bed." Diamond shook her head. "No. It was just . . . just the smell . . ." But she could not finish. Thinking about it brought the smell back to her, and she felt her stomach twist again. She took several deep breaths before the feeling went away again. "Just get those eggs out of the kitchen, and I'll be fine. Truly I will. And if you could break the rest, just in case there is another one." Diamond looked up at Estella and managed a weak smile.
"Of course, dear," Estella crooned as she rubbed Diamond's back for a bit longer then helped her to her feet. "You just go around and into the front parlor through the front door. Stay away from the kitchen until I tell you all is cleared up." As Diamond walked slowly and unsteadily around the hill, Estella began to wonder, "What might actually be wrong with you, Diamond Took?"
Diamond had her own ideas about that when two days later her monthly time had still not arrived. Women who share a home usually know what is happening with each other, and husbands do too. Diamond had always been extremely regular. She was not going to let anyone, especially herself, acquire any hopes that might only be shattered by the cruelty of a silly cold. She killed their oldest hen and bled it. She told Estella that the hen had been dead when she went out that morning and that she had buried it. Diamond hid the little corked jar of chicken blood in the privy using it to stain her cloths so no one was the wiser. But her time did not come, and the tiredness and the queasiness remained. Diamond hid it all as best she could.
A month passed. It was now half way through Blotmath, and again Diamond's time came and went with nothing to show for it excepting chicken's blood. After another day of dragging about feeling queasy all morning she finally decided to talk to Estella.
"Estella," Diamond whispered as they sat in the kitchen having a cup of tea after cleaning up from first breakfast. "Would you come with me to see the healer at the Hall?"
Estella looked up from watching Theodoc as he nursed. "You have decided to do something about all this at last?" Estella looked at Diamond with a odd expression in her eyes. "It's about time, dear Diamond! Are you wanting Madimas or," a sly smile came to Estella's lips, "Mistress Calendula?"
Diamond gasped, and her eyes went wide for a few moments before she slumped in defeat. "You know?"
"I guessed. Particularly after I found the little jar of. . . what was it, chicken's blood. . . hidden in the privy. I'm sure the lads didn't notice, and I've said nothing to either of them."
"Yes," Diamond sighed. "It was chicken blood and yes, Mistress Calendula the midwife." She said the last so softly that Estella barely heard it.
As fidgety and anxious as Diamond had been on the way to Brandy Hall, she was now bubbling with joy on the way back to Crickhollow. The bare trees of early winter looked lacy, the sky was a sapphire, and the cold northerly breeze was exhilarating. Everything had changed with the words, "You're to be a mother, lass!" With Diamond's cycle the way it was, like clockwork as she had always said, it had not been difficult to figure out her due date.
"'Twill be the second week in Thrimidge I should think, Mrs. Took. A nice late spring baby to brighten your heart and home," was what Mistress Calendula had said.
"Early Thrimidge! Early Thrimidge, Estella!" Diamond exclaimed, bouncing lightly on the seat of the carriage.
"And whatever has become of that tired out, queasy young hobbitess that was in this carriage on my way to the Hall this morning?" laughed Estella. "You look a great deal like her but so much livelier. Whatever have you done with Diamond? Pippin will be upset that I've lost his wife."
Diamond froze. "Peregrin!" she gasped. "How shall I tell him? I want it to be special. He will be so excited." She grabbed hold of Estella's arm and shook it. "Estella, you must help me. How shall I tell him?"
Estella put the reins into one hand then patted Diamond's hands. "That was a problem I never had to solve. Merry was with me both times." Her breath caught a bit at the mention of the first pregnancy, but she quickly recovered and continued. "Both times Mistress Calendula stuck her head out of the door to her rooms and said, 'You've a baby coming, young Meriadoc!' And that was that!"
Diamond was a bit more subdued for the rest of the trip to Crickhollow, but she suddenly became excited just before they passed through the hedge that encircled the yard of the house.
"Stop the carriage, Estella," Diamond said grabbing for the reins.
"Of course, if you wish, though I think I can handle the reins myself," Estella laughingly replied, but then was startled when her friend hopped down and started to walk away quickly. "Diamond!" Estella hollered. "Where are you going?"
Diamond turned about and came back to the carriage. "Just tell Peregrin that I had seemed . . . seemed . . . unusually quiet. Tell him I got down to open the gate and you thought I was following along behind. But when you stopped the carriage and got down to grab a few things from the goods we bought in Bucklebury, you found I had not followed you and you didn't see where I went."
"But Diamond . . ."
"Just tell him that!" Diamond had already turned away and was nearly running along the inside of the hedge.
"Well," Estella said aloud to herself, "it will be true that I don't know where she went." She shrugged her shoulders, clicked to the pony and drove on toward the house.
The carriage had barely come to a stop when Merry, carrying Theodoc, and Pippin were out of the house to help bring in the supplies. Merry had come around to help Estella down and hand the baby to her, but Pippin stood looking about him with a blank look. His eyebrows drew together in concern as he looked over at Estella.
"Where's Diamond?" Pippin asked, worry giving an edge to his voice.
Estella hated to be doing this. Pippin looked so frightened. She only hoped his odd little North-took wife knew what she was doing. "She got down to open the gate," Estella said looking around and trying to appear surprised that Diamond wasn't there. "I thought she had followed the carriage on foot up the drive. I have no idea where she has gotten to. She was rather quiet the whole way home."
Estella had not even finished when Pippin lit out at a dead run. Merry looked questioningly at his wife who just shrugged and shook her head in return.
Pippin could barely see Diamond. Even with the branches winter bare the flet was rather well hidden. He ran up the steps until he stood upon the platform. She stood with her back to him, gazing through the gap in the branches that looked away to the southeast where Lorien lay. He took a few deep breaths to calm his breathing, but it did not work very well. Pippin walked over to stand behind his wife but, for some reason he did not understand himself, he didn't touch her. It was as though she was suddenly fragile.
"Diamond?" Pippin whispered.
"Are you alright? Estella said you were quiet coming home. Are you hurting? Did something happen in Bucklebury to upset you?" His right hand rose as though to touch her shoulder, yet he still did not touch her.
Diamond was biting her lower lip trying to keep her voice from betraying the joy she was feeling. 'If he could see my face!' she thought. To Pippin she said, "I'm fine, Peregrin. I'm quite fine."
Finally he gently touched her shoulder. "No," he said softly. "You are tense. I can see your hands on the railing, and you are clenching it so hard you're shaking." Pippin moved closer to Diamond letting his hand slide along her arm until his right hand rested on hers atop the railing. He now could feel that she was trembling. His face grew sad, and his head bowed. "It is me, isn't it? I've done something wrong."
Diamond's eyes went wide. She had not thought things would turn that way, that Peregrin would think he had somehow hurt her. She pulled her hand from under his and turned to face him. With his head bowed they were now looking into each other's eyes.
"Peregrin," Diamond whispered as she tenderly touched his cheek with her fingertips. "We have both done something right, something wonderful."
His expression lightened a little, and his lips parted slightly before he spoke. "But if it is something good, why . . . ," Pippin was stopped by Diamond's finger on his lips.
"I am carrying our little one. We are having a baby, Peregrin!"
There was no immediate reaction. Diamond had expected her normally energetic husband to let out a whoop of joy then begin to dance her about the flet. But Pippin just stood there.
"Little one. Baby." The words chased each other around in Pippin's head until he began to feel dizzy. "Little one. Baby." He heard no other words, had no other thoughts. His knees began to shake, as some part of his mind told him he was soon going to fall over. Pippin went awkwardly down to his knees, and found himself staring at his dear wife's little round tummy. Soon to be rounder he thought as a look of awe came to his face. "Little one. Baby." He laid his hand on Diamond's belly, then leaned his cheek against her while his other hand went around her waist. Their little one. Their baby. Their child was right now, this instant, growing within her. Growing! Alive! Life! The power of it hit him, and he gasped.
Diamond hugged Pippin's head to her with one hand while the other she laid on top of his hand that was gently rubbing her tummy. "You can't feel or hear our little one yet, Peregrin," she said lovingly.
"I know," Pippin replied, finally finding his voice. "But our child is there none the less, and he needs to know that his Da loves him." Pippin turned his head enough to kiss his wife's belly.
"Oh!" Diamond exclaimed with a laugh. "He is it! And what if it is a she, Peregrin Took!"
Pippin gave Diamond's tummy one more pat and kiss and then slowly stood. He wrapped his arms around Diamond then began to gracefully dance with her. "A little her will do just fine, Diamond Took. A lass would be just fine." He wrapped his cloak around both of them while he began to hum softly as they danced amongst the branches. Diamond pressed herself tightly against Peregrin's chest. She closed her eyes, smiling as she hummed along with him the tune he had hummed the very first time they had danced together in the garden at Long Cleeve. They didn't end their dance until the chill of the waning mid-Blotmath day forced them to go inside.
Estella had begun fixing a larger than usual meal and had gotten out their best dishes. When she asked Merry to fetch a bottle of the Hall's best brandy from the cellar, he began to wonder what was happening. Were Pip and Diamond having a row and Estella was hoping to help smooth things over? His question had barely formed in his mind when the back door flew open. Pippin grabbed him and was literally carrying him about the kitchen.
"A baby!" Pippin kept hollering. "A baby, Merry! A baby! I'm having a baby!"
"You are having a baby?" Merry inquired with a grin as Pippin finally set him down.
"Yes! Well, no. We, Diamond and I, we are having a baby. She's expecting, Merry. Our own little one is growing, growing inside her, Merry! Isn't it wonderful! I'm having a baby!"
Pippin was making up for his earlier quiet reaction, and Merry, Estella and Diamond joined in his ecstatic babbling and laughter. Pippin and Diamond were to sit as honored guests while the Brandybucks fixed the meal. They had done the same for Merry and Estella when they had made their joyous announcements the times they had found out they were to become parents. But Pippin was quite unable to sit still, getting up to help with fixing the meal more than Merry did.
"Peregrin," Diamond began as she and Pippin snuggled together in their bed later that night.
"Uh huh," came Pippin's sleepy response.
"There's something else you should know. I gave you our good news in the flet for a reason."
Pippin raised himself up on his elbow and looked at Diamond. "Oh! Really?"
"Yes," she answered, seeming suddenly shy. "Mistress Calendula and I had to work out when . . . well . . . as closely as we could we had to work out when I became pregnant. To determine when the little one will be coming, you understand." Diamond reached for Pippin's free hand and ran her fingers gently along the back of it, down to his finger tips and back again. She watched their hands instead of looking into his eyes. "When all was said and done, there was only one time, one time that I could conceive and that we . . . Well, the next day you and Merry had left for the two weeks that you spent helping with harvest business matters at Brandy Hall and over at Great Smials, so it had to be when it was." Diamond looked up and smiled at her dear husband. "The night that we made love in the flet, that was . . . well, dear, that was the time."
Pippin held and cuddled Diamond until she fell asleep, then he eased out of their bed and went into the Brandybuck's wing of the house. He quietly went into Theodoc's nursery, over to where the little lad lay in his cradle. Pippin knelt down, took one of the tiny hands in his own and kissed Theodoc on his forehead.
"You kept your word, Theodoc," Pippin whispered to the sleeping baby. "You kept it that very day. You've proved yourself the fine young hobbit lad I knew you to be, and I'm grateful. Auntie Diamond and I are both grateful." He kissed the small soft brow again. "I just knew something was different that night beneath the stars. And this is our secret lad. There are ways some of us Tooks know things. 'Tis none of your business how, but we do. We are having a lad baby. A lad cousin, so you and he can be like your Da and I. You'll even be the eldest, like your Da." Pippin kissed Theodoc again and stood. "Thank you, Theo," he said as he let go of the baby's wee hand. He looked out the window and sent thanks to Iluvatar as well, then silently made his way back to his bed and his wife.
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.