Yule Fires Burning

by Orangeblossom Took

“Come on, Pip,” exclaimed an exasperated Merry, “everyone else is going to be at the river.

“I’m coming, Merry,” sighed Pippin, “but I think you Brandybucks are crazy for congregating on the river on a freezing night like this.”

“That’s nice coming from a Took,” laughed Merry, “It isn’t that cold and there are the bonfires to keep us warm, you know, and the lasses…”

Pippin and asked, “You did invite the right lasses, I hope.”

Merry nodded and grinned in response.

He knew Merry had been admiring Estella Bolger of the wheat-colored curls and Pippin himself had been walking with his shy Diamond. He hoped Diamond was there. She probably would be. Most of the Shire came to admire the bonfires those silly Brandybucks lit along the river at mid-winter to give light to the darkest part of the year.

The two Hobbits picked up wool blankets, bottles of spirit, cheese, and bread and headed down to the river. The air was cold and Pippin exhaled a frosty breath while straining his neck to look at the sparkling stars, clearly delineated in the crystalline air. He could see the scars on the face of the moon the air was so clear and her pale face was so bright that it cast shadows.

When they got to the river, the bonfires were burning brightly. Merry shook Pippin, pointed, and said, “There she is.”

Pippin looked and had now trouble recognizing the delicate form of Diamond of Long Cleeve, even though she was wrapped up in a heavy wool cloak. He left Merry and went to meet the lass. He had been out walking with her and had conversation with her and her mother but here, by the river lit by moonlight and firelight, he felt much less safe somehow. He shook his head ruefully at the thought that a lass could make him, who had killed Orcs and saved the Shire, nervous. He steadied himself and spread the blanket before the fire and offered Diamond the bread and cheese as well as a nip of the spirits.

A band was starting to play. Merry, who was banging on a drum, motioned to Pippin and asked him to sing. Pippin sang a couple of rollicksome drinking songs to great applause then sang a plaintive one about a snowy when he saw how Diamond was looking at him with admiration and, he thought, love. He almost gulped. He hoped he could be worthy of it. He left the entertainment to the violin, drum, and flute and rejoined Diamond.

She leaned against his shoulder as the listened to the music and watched the moon and fire reflect on the water. Her slight weight felt very good resting there. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close, though the fire was quite warm. “Diamond,” he whispered, “will you marry me?”
She whispered her assent and he held her tighter as the fiddle sent a frenzy of notes as bright as the sparks from the fire into the air.

The young Hobbit couple contentedly stayed in each other’s company until the fired died down. Over the remaining embers, Pippin got up to sing again. It wasn’t seasonal but it was a good night song and would provide a soothing end to the festivities. In a clear tenor, he sang, “When Shire streams sing lullabies, there grows a lily fair…”

He walked from the river grinning as the first hint of rose and lavender appeared on the eastern horizon. He couldn’t wait to tell his father and sisters and Merry too.