Summary: A Frodo Investigates! mystery. When a very dear cousin of Frodo's is accused of murdering her husband and his lover, Frodo takes drastic steps to protect her while he hunts for the true murderer.
Categories: FPS > Pippin/Merry, FPS, FPS > Frodo/Sam, FPS > Sam/Frodo, FPS > Merry/Pippin Characters: Frodo, Merry, Pippin, Sam
Warning: Het Content
Series: Frodo Investigates!
Chapters: 35 Completed: Yes
Word count: 53958 Read: 68199
Published: August 06, 2012 Updated: August 06, 2012
Chapter 7 by Kathryn Ramage
"Was she speaking in that same way before I came in?" he asked Merry after they'd left the Thain's Hall through the parlor's garden doors and were walking toward Adelard's home next door. "Did you know that's how Aunt Eglantine felt about us?"
"About me, yes," replied Merry. "She's made no secret of her feelings since I seduced her precious son, although I must say I'm astonished to hear her so say in front of so many people! She didn't say anything like that before--I was mostly arguing with Uncle Paladin--but it's obvious she was itching to say something awful."
"I didn't realize she disliked me so much," Frodo murmured.
"You don't like her very much either, Frodo, so why should it trouble you? I've never let it bother me, nor stand in the way of my friendship with Pip. He's a grown hobbit and she can't do a thing about our corrupting influence upon him if he wants to be influenced by us."
"It's going to be rather hard on him now that it's all come out into the open. He'll have to pick sides between his family and us."
"Then he'll just have to pick a side. I'm not the one who's forcing him to choose." They entered Adelard's smial through the open door of the study and went to Melly's room.
Melly had been having tea alone in her room and reading when the tap came on her door, but she looked up eagerly when her cousins came in. Frodo told her briefly how he had occupied himself since he'd seen her that morning, and Merry explained the agreement he and the Thain had made about her accompanying them to Tookbank. "You can stay there quite comfortably until this business is finished and Frodo's found out who's really responsible. Then we can go home."
"Yes, I'd like that," Melly said. "Father Adelard and Pearl try to be kind, but I haven't felt welcome in their home, not even when Ev was still alive."
"Is that why you've stayed shut up here?" Frodo asked her. "Uncle Paladin said that you aren't under arrest."
"She certainly isn't free to leave," Merry muttered.
"Yes," said Melly. "That's why. It's hard to speak to them when I know they must be wondering if I'm truly guilty of murder. Ev's been laid out in the back parlor. Have you been to view him, Frodo? I haven't dared. Who knows what his father and brother would think if I asked to? Besides, it disturbs me to think of him lying there cold and pale. I did love him, once. Poor Ev." She then asked, "Are you going to Tookbank tonight? If you are, will you please engage a room for me and Addy? I'll join you tomorrow. I need to pack my bags, and pack for Addy too. I want to be sure we take everything of ours that's left here--even things I left behind before." She waved the book she still held in her hand. "If all goes well, I don't intend to return to Tuckborough once this is over. I may never return again. And, Merry," she turned to him with a sudden, purposeful look on her face, "if things don't go well for me, I pray you take Addy home to my mother. It'll break her heart to lose all three of her children. He'll be all she has left."
"Of course I will, but that's nonsense, Melly," Merry insisted. "When I take Addy back to the Hall, you'll go with us. Frodo will find the person who murdered Ev and straighten this out."
"Even Uncle Paladin agrees that things look promising," Frodo told her.
"Thank you, Frodo, but I do understand how dark matters are for me. Even if Uncle Paladin hasn't made up his mind that I'm guilty, others have. You'll do all you can, but in the end it might not be enough. You may not be able to save me." She smiled at him--a strange, despairing smile that made her look exactly like her sister Mentha had, just before Mentha had thrown herself into the Brandywine. Frodo was horrified.
"That won't happen," he snapped with a vehemence that startled both her and Merry. "I promise you, Melly, however this turns out, we won't let you come to harm."
"I'll break my word to Uncle Paladin before I allow it," Merry agreed. "One way or another, I'll see you safely home."
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