Brandyhall was alive with song, light and laughter. The ale kegs, 10 big full barrels where almost empty and The Master of Brandyhall had sent lads to carry up more from the caller. Food was laid out under groaning tables; cakes, roast bird, boiled potatoes with melted butter and thick slices of homemade bread.
Pretty yellow and green ribbon's hung from tree to tree and beneath them hands clasped and cares to the wind the tweens of the Shire danced. But two young lads seemed not to be enjoying the merrymaking.
Peregrin Took stood rather forlornly upon the sideline of the dancing all alone with the girls whose teeth where crooked and laughed like horses. Pippin knew he was not ugly, and he'd been told his laugh was delightful but no-one, not a single lass or lad had come asking him for a dance. He didn't know why it hurt so much, it wasn't as if he wanted to dance but all the same he would have liked to have been asked.
Merry Brandybuck faced much a different problem to that of his cousin. Flora Bracegirdle had selected him as her dancing partner, an invite which Merry had gladly accepted. Only now they were over by the old garden shed, she pressed up against the wall, mouth seeking his ardently, and his hands up under her skirt.
The name hung between them liked ice, chilling Merry's blood. He'd forgotten it he told himself, every time he smelt apples and lavender, saw those sparkling green eyes so alight with mischief he told himself he didn't know what it was like to have the young Took's kisses, to have him writhing beneath him, to have his name whispered breathlessly in Pippin's Tookish drawl.
Flora pushed him away, eyes filled with angry tears. Merry thought she might hit him but she only shoved him away. "I never took you for the type" she said coldly, a sneer forming on her pretty face "and to take your perversions out on your little cousin" She turned away from him and began to stalk away, Merry let her go; there was no point in doing anything else she's tell everyone and if he stopped her; well she might well drag Pippin in as well.
Merry went for an ale to drown out the nagging feeling of horror at what was about to happen, he wouldn't be able to hold his head up again, his name would be ruined, his every movement watched, cruel rumours would fallow him everywhere in half-whispers in only caught the end of. And it would happen to Pippin as well, sweet little Pippin who didn't deserve any of that. Pippin found him later, three mugs down and alone on one of the grassy banks over looking the brandywine, he sat down besides him.
"They're talking about you" he said quietly.
Merry took a swig of his ale and swirled it around his mouth thoughtfully before swallowing.
"What are they saying?"
"That you...you called out my name, that you wanted to...to put it in Flora like you did me" Pippin's eyes became cold along with his voice
"That you wouldn't say no"
Merry laughed despondently "Well the first part is true"
Pippin looked at him, his mouth forming into a small 'o'
"Oh" he said, because nothing else seemed appropriate then lent across Merry to grab his ale and took a swig and handed it back to him. They sat in silence for a while till Merry put down his mug and turned to Pippin, determined look on his face.
"Do you know what I'd like to do to you?" he asked the young lad, who shook his head "I'd like to kiss you" and then he leant across and did just that.
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