54. Chapter 54
Theo followed his sister and Reg Took up the path to the Mayor’s office. Ivy had asked him to come along, for support. Diamond still didn’t know that Pippin and Fari had left the Shire.
Ivy and Reg went in the front door of the smial, but Theo stopped on the front steps. He turned to his two nephews, trailing behind him.
“You two behave,” he scolded, “or your dad will kick your arses when he gets back and I’ll help him.”
Bori shook his head. “Don’t worry, Uncle Theo. We promised Dad we’d be good. We’re just here as...” He gave the cheeky grin that marked him as a Brandybuck. “...persuasion.”
Theo nodded, though he was still not sure he could trust his nephews. He sighed and went in. Ivy and Reg were already seated at a table. Across from them sat Diamond, flanked by her two servants. Minto Burrows was sorting through some papers on a desk. Theo took the chair next to Ivy. Bori and Ari stood behind their mother, crossing their arms and glaring at Diamond. Diamond looked up at them and Theo thought she actually flinched.
Diamond scowled at them. “Where’s Peregrin?” she snapped.
“He had other business to attend to. I’ll be taking care of things today,” Ivy said calmly.
Diamond leaned forward. “My business is with the Thain!”
“This isn’t about the Thain,” Ivy said. “This is about my husband and our son!” The calm slipped on the last two words.
“Your son?” Diamond laughed. “I seem to recall that I gave birth to him. You were just a girl when Faramir was born. A little young to be having babies.” She sneered at Ivy. “For hobbits, at least.”
Ivy didn’t even flinch. “And I seem to recall that you weren’t a mother to him beyond birthing him! Fari was raised by his father and his aunts. You wouldn’t even touch him unless you absolutely had to!” Ivy leaned toward Diamond, “Even when I was a girl, I was more of a mother to him than you ever were.”
“Ladies, please!” Minto said, taking a seat at the table. “Let’s get down to business, shall we?”
“Quite, Mr. Burrows.” Diamond glared at Ivy again. “And where are the Gamgees?”
“They’re not coming,” Ivy said cooly. “There’s no reason for them to be here because nothing is going to be done on the betrothal.”
“I see,” Diamond said, glancing towards Minto. Theo knew she wouldn’t bring up her threat in front of the Shirriff. “Then I suppose that’s settled. I do hope they know what they’re doing,” she said pointedly.
“They do,” Ivy said.
“So that just leaves Peregrin’s retraction of his accusations against me and the voiding of Fari’s adoption,” said Diamond. “And, of course, the matter of him lying in an official statement.”
“The Thain does need to be here, Mistress Took,” Minto said. “If he’s presented false information--”
Ivy sighed. “I’ll be making my own statement. I think what I have to say will affect your decision regarding my husband’s claims of adultery, and his agreement regarding his divorce and Fari’s adoption.”
Theo reached under the table to take Ivy’s hand. This was going to be hard for her, but it may be the only way to save them. He and Ivy and Reg had discussed all their options on how to fix this, and this appeared to be the only way. He didn’t want to be around when Pippin found out about it, though.
“Very well,” said Minto.
Ivy’s grip tightened on Theo’s hand.”I’d like my sons to leave,” she said.
“Mum!” Ari complained.
Ivy shook her head and turned to look at him. “Please. I don’t want you to hear this.”
Diamond sniggered. “Oh! Some trouble in the perfect family? Something you don’t want your little boys to hear about mummy and daddy?”
Theo stood up, knocking his chair over. “Why don’t you keep your mouth shut!”
Diamond’s servants stood up as well. Ari and Bori both took steps forward.
“All of you!” Minto shouted. “Sit!”
“Boys,” Ivy pleaded. “You need to--”
“Wait,” Theo said. Ivy didn’t seem to know that Bori--and most likely Ari, too--already knew something about her and Pippin’s past. It would be better if they heard this from their mother. “Let them stay.”
She whipped around to look at him. “Theo!”
“Ivy, they’re going to hear it eventually anyway,” he said. “And not necessarily from reliable sources.” Ivy blanched, but then she nodded.
“Now, then, what do you have to say?” asked Minto.
Ivy took a deep breath and looked Minto in the eye. “It’s true that I had relations with Pippin while he was still married to Diamond,” Ivy said. “But it was only the once and it wasn’t his fault. He had no intention of being unfaithful to his marriage.”
“Really?” scoffed Diamond.
“Enough!” Minto glared at Diamond, then turned back to Ivy. “How can it not be his fault?”
Theo saw Ivy’s glance towards her sons, who had moved over to lean against the wall. She took another deep breath. “He was very drunk at that party, Mr. Burrows. We’ve got a list of witnesses who will confirm that.” She nodded to Reg, who pulled out a paper and passed it over to Minto. “Pippin didn’t know what he was doing. He was upset. We’d overheard Diamond making plans to meet Sancho Proudfoot. They were going to have relations in Pippin’s bed at the Smials.” Ivy closed her eyes for a second, took a few moe breaths. Theo reached for her again and she clutched at his hand. “Pippin...he looked ill, so I took him to my room and then...I...I seduced him. He had no intentions towards me, Mr. Burrows. In fact, he refused me--repeatedly--but in his drunken state I was able to...get what I wanted.”
Theo looked up at his nephews. They were staring at their mother, wide-eyed. He supposed he would have done the same, if he’d had to listen to his mum explain how she’d seduced his dad while he was drunk.
Minto cleared his throat. “Are you telling me a sixteen-year-old lass seduced a grown hobbit?”
“I’m part Rohirrim, Mr. Burrows. I was nearly of age, for Big Folk. I was adult enough to make this decision.” She paused for a moment, staring at the table. She looked up at Minto. “After the party, my father didn’t allow me to see Pippin. He knew what I had done, although he wanted to blame Pippin for it. My brother can confirm that I was not allowed to have contact with Pippin. Pippin’s sisters knew about what happened as well, and they are also prepared to make official statements. Pippin talked to them afterward. He regretted what had happened between us. He had never meant for it to happen.” Theo squeezed her hand. “I had no further romantic involvement with Pippin until after he had divorced and my father gave him permission to court me.”
Minto nodded and looked over the paper Reg had given him. Getting that list had caused some stressful days for Ivy. They’d had to go around asking friends and relatives to confirm Pippin’s drunkeness and she’d had to tell them why they needed it.
“This does change things,” Minto said. He set the paper on the pile.
“Oh, please!” Diamond shook her head. “You’re honestly not going to believe this?”
“I do know that you were no mother to Faramir, Miss North-took!” Minto said. “And I know that the Thain did not lie about your adultery. I was a witness with the group that discovered you and Sancho at his family’s cottage. But you probably don’t remember, seeing as you were otherwise...occupied.” Diamond scowled at him, opening her mouth to speak, but he cut her off. “Don’t even try to deny that you had a long-term affair, Miss North-took. Your former lover was very forthcoming when trying to save his own reputation. Apparently there was some seduction on your part as well, some years before your divorce?” Diamond actually blushed at that, but she kept her face stony. “I only considered your demands because I was required to do so. But given Mistress Took’s statement, it appears that the Thain was incapable of making rational decisions when his infidelity took place. There’s a big difference between a drunken mistake and deliberately being unfaithful. I will let the original claims and contracts stand.”
Ivy sagged in relief and Theo pulled her into an embrace.
“You stupid hobbit!” Diamond stood up, glaring at Minto. “You cannot seriously accept her word?”
“I certainly can!” said Minto, standing up as well. He grabbed up the stack of papers and tore them in half. “I suggest you go back to Long Cleeve, Miss North-took, and leave the Thain’s family alone!”
“Maybe I should find a more qualified hobbit to make these decisions.”
“Go ahead! Find someone else! Not the Thain, surely? The Master? The Mayor?” Minto sneered at her. “Why don’t you go to Bree? Their Mayor, Mr. Longhill, is a very good judge. I’ve known him for years. Their Shirriff, Mr. Burrows, is also very honest. Runs in his family, I suppose.” Minto turned to Ivy and touched her shoulder. “Good day, Mistress Took. Give my regards to your husband and your children.” He turned and glared at Diamond. “All eight of your children.” He stormed out of the room.
“Thank you, Theo, for being here with me,” Ivy whispered. She kissed his cheek. Then she turned and hugged Reg.
“Well,” Diamond said, coming around the table. “I think I’ll go visit with some friends. So much to talk about, you know. Maybe we’ll discuss gardening.” She pushed past them and out the door, trailed by the two hobbits.
They waited until the front door to the burrow had slammed shut, then the room filled with laughter.
“Do you think she’s going to be a bit upset,” chuckled Reg, “when she finds out we’ve already been to speak to all of Sam and Frodo’s employers?”
Theo grinned. He’d been impressed that not one hobbit they’d spoken to would even consider firing Sam or Frodo, especially not because of Diamond. They’d learned that Diamond’s ‘friends’ didn’t actually think all that well of her. And they certainly didn’t have any objections to Fari marrying a Gamgee lass. “I think she’ll be even more upset when she finds out how many hobbits now want Sam and Frodo to do their gardening just to spite her.”
Ivy looked up at her sons. “Boys, about what I said, about your father and me--”
Bori shrugged. “Doesn’t matter, Mum,” he said. He grinned and rubbed his beard. “Besides, we understand how hard it must be for you lasses to control yourselves around us incredibly handsome Tooks. Right, Uncle Reg?”
Reg chuckled. “Can’t argue with you there, Bori.”
“They have the Took ego as well,” Theo muttered to Ivy.
Ivy laughed and stood up to hug her sons. “Well, we should go tell Rosie how things turned out,” she said. Rosie was waiting for news at the home of Emerald’s family.
“I’m glad this is over with,” sighed Theo. “Now, if only they can find Fari and Goldi before they do something stupid.”
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.