This is the last of this batch of WIP Amnesty posts, and actually has a fair bit of story text in it.
Title: Merimas' Wooing
Rating: As it is: PG. As it would have been: PG-13 or maybe R for violence of various sorts
Characters: Merimas Brandybuck, OC hobbits and Ruffians
Notes: For danae_b.
Great Smials was always beautiful, and never more than in the spring sunshine. Merimas Brandybuck stood before the steps to the great double doors, soft spring grass curling around his feet, looking up at the waving apple trees to either side; they both bore scars where lower branches had been torn away, the only sign of the long year now past. As if to show that time was truly done and gone their remaining branches bloomed all the more profusely, scattering white petals like a warm snowfall all across the steps and the lawn, all around the children who chased each other through the white-spangled breezes.
Mim stood, hobbit-children dancing round him like a maypole, sweet-scented appleblossom petals falling all around him, and sternly ordered himself to wait calmly, not to go in and find Peridot. His visit was a surprise, and she was well entitled to send a message out instead of herself; after all, and his heart sank within him at the thought, he might well remind her of what she'd rather forget. Perhaps she might not even send a message.
Before he could take himself further down that path, the great doors parted, and Peridot stepped out, bright skirt billowing in the breeze, white petals catching in her glossy curls at feet and head, smiling at him as wonderfully as she had nine months before and a good deal more happily. Mim's mouth opened, but he could form no words, and Peridot smiled all the wider, and then laughed sweetly. "Hullo, Merimas Brandybuck."
"Oh, Peridot," he said, gazing up at her, hale and lovely in the sunshine, and then he had to join her in laughter. "Oh, Mistress Peridot Brandybuck Took, won't you call me Mim?"
When Merimas Brandybuck, thrown down whimpering on a trampled dirt floor, finally gathered himself enough to groan, his first coherent thought out of the red haze of pain was that he wished, achingly and heartily, that he had just died. He'd almost thought he would during the beating with which he'd been welcomed to the Lockholes, as the Men had kicked and cudgeled him past weeping; distant thumps, laughter and cries told that the Ruffians were serving some other poor hobbits so, and didn't they ever tire of wickedness?
But then, this entire place was proof they did not.
Mim lay for awhile yet, breathing the stale air, listening to distant whispers and sobs as he waited for his head to spin down to a stop. He ached all over, a patchwork of bruises and throbs, but a deeper breath didn't reveal any broken ribs, and he could still bend his leg and press his foot to the floor. Mim had broken bones before, and didn't feel that grating sensation now, though lifting his other leg to test it did pain him so badly he had to suck in his breath between his teeth.
"He's awake," he heard, from some little ways away, in a grown lass's low sweet voice, and he spared a fragment of thought from his own hurts to be sorry, and angry, that the Ruffians had locked up anyone with such a voice. "Poor lad. Here, Cowslip, give me the cup?"
Trying to turn towards that voice, Mim rolled to his side, and screamed as he fell. Pain shot up his arm as it folded beneath him; he had a brief flash of sunlight and shadow and black iron bars, before his eyes pressed shut as dizziness took him again, before he curled up around his hand and shook, tears running hot across his face.
"Lie still, Merimas," advised the sweet-voiced lass. "In truth, I hadn't thought you'd wake for hours yet."
"Or at all," muttered a matron in a Tookish accent, and the first shushed her. Mim coughed, his hand pulsing, and now he felt the dried blood stuck to his face, the separate throbs of his nose and his brow. He must look just lovely, and his hand felt like it might indeed be broken.
A cheerful tally, but if they'd killed him he wouldn't've heard that voice. He eased one eye open, finding the other lid swollen to stiffness, and saw through the bars across the path between the cells along the walls. Across from him, like a songbird in a cage, sat a hobbitlass with dark hair and a dress of stained Tookish plaid. A lass he knew, a cousin from his childhood. "Peridot?" Mim croaked.
"Hullo, Mim," she said, smiling gently and ruefully at him. "I can't say I'm pleased to see you here, poor lad, but I'm glad you're all right."
Mim could not truthfully say he was all right, not after that beating, not after the march roped together with Rebel lads from Frogmorton, not after being dragged from Buckland as captive of a nameless brute, and his thought nearly foundered at that memory... But he was here now, and he supposed, swallowing against queasiness, he was what passed for all right in this terrible place. So he breathed, waved his good hand, and forced as brave as smile as he could. "Hullo," he managed to rasp, and coughed again.
"Shhh," Peridot said, then urgently, "lie still, now," as a distant door creaked open and the dim light brightened. She set down the cup she held and crawled hastily to the back of her cell; head drooping so her hair covered her face, Peridot huddled against the wall as heavy footsteps and broken sobbing drew nearer.
A Man strolled down the way, dragging one of the Rebels by his collar. It couldn't be told who, with his head hanging limply, blood smeared across his face and matting his light-colored curls; Mim supposed this likely had been the manner of his own arrival. When the sound of the lad being thrown into a cell and a lock being turned, the nasty deep laugh and the heavy footfalls had all died away, Peridot peered cautiously through her hair, waited another few breaths, then crept forward again. What Mim had taken for a bundle of rags beside her proved to be a matron with dull red hair who now sat up, regarded him mournfully, and clucked her tongue.
Peridot, meanwhile, said, "can you catch?" as she pulled a scrap of white cloth from her pocket and dunked it into the cup. The sight of water made Mim's mouth itch dryly, but a glance showed his little cell had no cup, or anything else; he nodded, though it made his head spin again, and held his good hand out as steadily as he could.
"Be sure, now," Peridot said, carefully wadding the handkerchief. "It's all the water we can get you today." She tossed it, and it landed right in Mim's hand, despite his shaking.
"'Tis all the water we have," muttered the Took matron, but Mim was too busy sucking the scrap of cloth dry to reply. It was sweaty and muddy, but his thirst overcame his taste, and he wished for more when it was all gone.
Instead of saying so, of course, he said, "thank you," and Peridot's smile shone in the dimness.
[from notes: [great smials scene. Lots of great smials scene setting here.] The "what brings you to Great Smials" scene should be full of Great Smials scene setting. Hallways and pictures and kids running around, Mim noting he hasn't been there in years, etc. ]
"So, what brings you to Great Smials?" Peridot asked, walking just a fingersbreadth's distance beside Mim, yet not touching him, her sleeve just beyond where it would brush his arm.
Mim had prepared for that question. "I came to return your handkerchief," he said, but didn't draw it out. Not yet.
Peridot stopped at that, stopped and turned to look at Mim, her eyes wide and mouth gone round. "You still have it?"
"I have everything you gave me in those days," Mim told her with all the truth he could muster, and hoped, and hoped, as she stared at him, until her eyes glittered and shone and ran over, until her mouth softened to a smile and she wiped her eyes with her hand. He wanted to touch her, her shoulder, her cheek, her hair, but he stayed his hand, and she ducked her head, hiding her face with her curls for a few moments.
Then she looked up again, smiling truly. "Thank you, Mim," she said. "Would you have dinner in the Great Hall, or... or in a sitting room, with me?"
"I was just waiting for you to ask." He grinned, and her smile widened to a grin as well; she tucked her hand through his arm, and he laid his hand on it, her fingers long and delicate beneath his.
Mim dug his good fingers into the packed dirt below him, gritted his teeth, and flexed his broken hand once more. It hurt, badly enough to make his eyes run over as he bit down on words his sisters would've shrieked to hear him use, but at least that pain distracted him from how he ached and itched all over, the cell floor hard and cheerless underneath him, his bruises set and tender.
He paused to catch his breath and look up until his eyes focused; he'd already memorized the view, rough wood planking a foot above his standing head, a door of upright iron bars, three such cages to be seen across the way, and above it all a little window-square in the whitewashed wall showing just enough blue sky and golden cloud to whet the ache in his heart. Mim's sight grew blurry again as he stared up at that square of light, but blinking hardly cleared it. His head was muzzy, for every time he dozed off and rolled over whatever part he rested upon flared in soreness and woke him in pain, and his belly ached with emptiness, for this day's meal had been chunks of dry bread and slivers of mold-splotched cheese, distributed in the latter half of the morning by stumbling hobbits dragging oversized baskets and barrels, giving out handfuls of food and dipperfuls of water beneath the watchful eye of three Ruffians who walked along swinging cudgels, their leering grins at the prisoners making Mim nearly too queasy to eat.
You'd best get used to it, lad, he told himself, and flexed his hand again, and sobbed with the pain.
"Merimas, please, you're hurting yourself," Peridot observed from across the way, sounding rather less lovely and rather more like Mentha in a scolding mood.
"I should never have known but you've told me," Mim retorted, and it wasn't till he heard Peridot's silence, pain and annoyance and acceptance all in the tone of her indrawn breath, that he heard himself and rolled over towards her. "Peridot--" he began, grasping the nearest bar.
She was shaking her head,smiling gently. "It's all right, Merimas. This dreadful--" She waved her hand once above her head, and shook it again. "Let's speak of something else. Anything. Anything at all."
[He asks her why she doesn't call him Mim, she says, "I never thought of that. I haven't seen you since---" and he says, "Lithe at Great Smials, four years ago. How is your husband?" He's dead, etc.
[Mim's hand is aching. He's aching all over and uncomfortable. Describe tiny windows for light and air, the setup of the cells, walls and bars. Peridot talks to him to distract him. Her ragged neckline where the lace had been pulled away. He tells her he last saw her at Great Smials with her husband Suidard nicknamed Sudy, asks her how she came here, she says the story (which happened in April), he tells her his. Remembering his da's comment. Talk about the Brandywine, what they miss, who they miss, his sisters and her daughter (she says of her daughter only that she's safe); conversation ending suddenly when Men come by with food.
The last thing his father said to him that day in August was that he ought to get married soon. Then he ended up in the Lockholes: Saradoc sent him with goods to relieve some hobbits at Standelf, and the Men came to take them. Mim stood up to them, and in the ensuing incident Mim brandished his sword to bar the Men's way till the other hobbits could run off with the goods, and so got arrested. Two Men; one drags him to [Budgeford] and joins up with a convoy there (of captured Rebels, of whom Mim says that beside them he can't claim to have suffered), while the other stays in Buckland, having "business" there (leave business unspecified and all the scarier for it)
My Brandybuck lass is Peridot, and her husband was a Took who died before this year even began, in an accident of some kind. She was pulled from the crowd in Pincup as an example, and says of herself, "I did nothing heroic to wind up here."
Merimas followed where Peridot walked, and she walked into the woods along the East side above Great Smials, woods full of leaves like flowers, golden-green and tender crimson, and flowers white as clouds and pink as dawn. Mim had walked in the woods every springtide of his life, but the trees had never before seemed to surge quite so eagerly towards the sky, their branches so filled with sunlight and the air below so sweetly scented.
Peridot turned her face up to the clear light, her dark hair glinting, her cheeks rosy and rounded. "You look well," Mim said, understating carefully; she looked wonderful, and he had last seen her pale and careworn, grubby and half-starved, which made her look better yet.
She tilted her head. "And so do you," she replied, her smile turning mischevious. "Sturdy and browned and hale."
"Brandy Hall's cooks have striven to fatten me up," Mim explained, with a self-depricating shrug to make her laugh. "and there's as much work in Buckland as anywhere else. I've helped Sam Gamgee dig out saplings for planting. He's been going about, replacing some of the trees that were felled."
"So I heard, and well done; I knew you'd not be idle." Peridot looked up again, at the red-leaved beech they passed by or perhaps just not at Merimas. "All this, and all those lovely letters you've sent me."
I missed your company, Mim wanted to say, and did not, when there was so much about those days he surely did not miss. So he said nothing, shrugged again and smiled. Peridot smiled uncertainly back, and for a moment they stood beneath a rustling linden, silent like a pair of gawky tweens; at last he produced, "I thought for a change of pace I might send myself."
Peridot's eyebrows lifted, and her smile spread, wide and true, and then she laughed, bright and merry as the sunshine.
[Mim's hand is giving him trouble all throughout the story. Two of the fingers are hairline broken; remember what roommate told you.]
Dittany singing scene. It's raining, she leads them in a rain song. It's interrupted by the
Listening to them beating Dittany or to Dittany whimpering; to keep spirits up they talk about what they miss, including baths and walking in the woods and such. Start it with Mim pacing to keep fit, saying how he'd be out walking. (Talk about how sleeping on the ground makes him ache.) Peridot describes missing doing laundry, her least favorite chore. They laugh, and later they laugh over long baths, etc. Will we ever get home convo.
Do this: they talk (mention Gandalf's fireworks), then Dittany starts the singing, scene ends with them listening to her being beaten as they both start to cry.
Then convo about being home, etc. About being home. Kid shrieks, and they reflect on how screams make them jumpy. The pleasures of long baths. Mim talks about helping Sam dig up trees. Peridot talks about her daughter, tells Mim that Donie was stashed in the Northfarthing with other evactuated Took children. (Donie is staying with her friend Wisteria, whom she met in the North.)
(Afterwards, she went to her husband's people in Great Smials and he went to Buckland; he gets tired of sending letters and sends himself. )
October. Coming back from building cells (The later cells, being built by hobbits, have an unmortared brick or two in each wall.) She saved him food. Discuss increased rate of hobbits arriving; note his hand giving him trouble.
Cell construction (Pindy. Mim doesn't stand up for him, because he's afraid, to his shame. Will Whitfoot settling a dispute.) When he comes back, Peridot whispers to Mim to talk, so she can aim in the darkness, and throws a crust of bread at/to him that she saved for him. That's the day they tortured Pindy, and the smell of burned hair and flesh puts Mim off food, but he can't waste Peridot's sacrifice, so he eats it.
Him telling Viggy Hayward not to die when Viggy shows up, badly beaten and/or ill; he says to Viggy he doesn't want to have to explain to Callie. (Viggy asks him after Callie.)
April scene. They talk about nightmares, etc. Mention Dittany's singing, Rosemary's visits, torture of Pindy (and others for each of these, so, other singers, other visitors, others tortured) Callie's widowhood etc. Mim blames himself for Pindy's torture, and Peridot doesn't say "not your fault" but says, "you did what you could."
The Haysend fire
Lockholes. Hyacinth scene. Lobelia arrives and so does Hyacinth.
Hyacinth is a younger lass Peridot comforts on her arrival. She says she wants to die, and Peridot exclaims; she says Peridot doesn't understand, the Men did Unspecified Thing that makes her break down in tears (imply...). Peridot tells her "to me too, lass." and when Hyacinth is surprised, says, "so, I'm going to tell you what you're going to do. You're going to eat, and you're going to live, and one day you're going to go home with your head held high."
Next day Rosemary arrives.
April: Late night or next day. She says she doesn't know if she can marry again after what befel, and he says, "I know, Let's take a chance together." [Mention Mim's beating here. What he went through for her, and him thanking her for "all you did for me"] At end of scene she deliberately gets up and goes to sit in his lap and hug him.
In the scene where he's interfering put memory-flashes of what he underwent, the comment on his mouth, his captor arguing to keep him and the others saying "yeah, the lads don't look very different from the lasses, but still, we have to be going and we need you to go back to Buckland."
One day Mim is dreaming of being home, hears Peridot and Hyacinth whimpering. One of the Men came by their cell to take one, and Hyacinth freaks and Peridot nearly does and Mim (standing up against his fear; feeling as if he's watching himself do it) distracts the Man, which leads to Mim getting dragged away and beaten; he gets returned to cell next to hers, and barely manages to talk to her so she knows he's alive. When he recovers enough to wake, if not to really move, she leans against the wall and he leans against his and they cry on either side of the wall.
When the Man comes to bother P&A he says, "which of you pretty bits will I take to sweeten my nap?"
Describe Mim's beating thusly; he looks back to see H crying and P wild-eyed and staring after him in astonishment. [End scene there. Discuss beating in April bit. The beating is no worse and no better than the first one. All he can do is stay balled up protecting his gut, listening to their booted feet thumping his flesh.] -- use notes from April beating aftermath to develop how he felt after that.
[Maybe he never really knew her/thought of her till then, as else than his distant cousin] (Merimas says, "come be a Brandybuck again" as she'd married out, "You think too much for a Took.")<--do this
At end, have her say, "then there's one thing left: for you to meet my daughter."
Lockholes: The day they get let out, the first time they touch. Mim wakes to darkness and Peridot humming. Then soon after dawn, Hearing the noise of the fight, wonderng what's going on, Mim tries to tell Peridot he loves her but the rescuers burst through chasing a Man. The locks are up high for hobbits but Merry and Pippin can reach them. [Mim walks Peridot and Hyacinth out gallantly until] When Mim and Peridot are let out they hug each other, and are helping each other out when they find Betony, who can't walk (the Men broke her leg.) Mim sends Peridot out with Hyacinth and helps Mistress Starsley, a healer, get Betony up and out, limping all the way. He looks after Peridot and thinks, "this is the one I intend to marry."
When he leaves the Lockhole he tries to help carry out a bag of goods, and staggers and falls; hobbits catch him and take him home to stay overnight. But he can't sleep, unused to the soft bed, without Peridot's voice. He lies on the floor and misses her.
The coda is 4 years later, Mim watching Peridot come down the steps of Great Smials, preceeded by her daughter Cydonia (aka Quinceblossom.), for their wedding.
Merimas Brandybuck, 39, and a hobbit-lass he meets at the Locholes. Her husband Suidard had died the year before the YOT in an accident (he fell from an elm tree he'd climbed to retrieve a kite) ; the Men picked her out of a protesting crowd and arrested her. They talk across the bars, and throw a handkerchief back and forth, and so on.
Merimas' nickname is Mim <-- provided by roommate
A scene where the Men have a 'new arrival', imply rape, and Peridot and Mim have to listen to it. "Listening was the worst."
When obliquely discussing the rape: Mim remembering shaking on his hands and knees, sick with dread, his arms collapsing beneath him, his hair gripped and his head crushed down against the dirt OR dragged upwards painfully. Peridot calls him out of dark memories.
Broken fingers: they swell up. Straight splints hurt. They'd take 4-6 weeks to heal at malnutrition rates. They need to be flexed gently, a few times a day, to heal properly.
Peridot's daughter was smuggled away to the North Farthing; she's a couple years older than Merimas, so maybe she married young and had a child at 32 and she's 41 now. [the Kidlet Smuggling was slightlytookish's idea] She says her daughter would like Mim, after he does a trick with a handkerchief. (Peridot's daughter is called Cydonia aka Donie; Quinceblossom)
Clematis almost thought it a dream, it was so confusing and so wondrous. A force of hobbits, armed and strong, driving the Men before them, opening the cells and freeing the prisoners. She and Dahlia stared frozen at their open door for long moments before a lad, young like Cicely, so young it wrung Clematis' heart, ran into their cell and gave them his hands. "Come with me, my ladies," he said, voice light and merry beneath those dark dark walls. "Come walk out with me!"
From a note to Dana: I read an article by a woman from Burma who was a political prisoner, and how she and her fellow inmates shared care packages of food and memories of cooking better food as a way of getting through their imprisonment. One thing she mentioned was how "a good singer in prison was a gift from God". That made me think of Betony and Dittany, and Dittany's death. When they beat her to make her stop singing she said lots of defiant things to piss them off, till they beat her too hard and she died of the injuries.
Note Dittany leading them in song.
Note Rosemary's two visits.
Note cell construction. (Pindy.)
Note Lobelia's arrival
Sunlight on Ash: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/2408759/1/
The Tramping of Heavy Feet and other Tunnellys stories:
on hobbits generally
Hobbit of the Shire. Merimas Brandybuck was born in 2981. He was the oldest child of Marmadas Brandybuck. He had two younger sisters, Mentha and Melilot. The family attended the Farewell Party of Bilbo Baggins in 3001.
Peridot's daughter: The 8-10 range. She was smuggled up to the Northfarthing (credit slightlytookish with the kidlet smuggling idea)
Azalea, and Will-lad looking in her cage one day and talking to her.
F/S story with descriptions of Great Smials
The parts in Great Smials need to be as detailed about life there as the
bits in the Lockholes are. Come up with stuff to happen in Tookland.
Subject: notes for Mim's Wooing
From my reading.
Peridot's dirty face; The taste of mud and bile in Mim's mouth
Lobelia screeching at the guards
From Sunlight on Ash:
"The night before, we didn't know it wasn't always going to be like this. We'd heard bits of conversations the guards had, shouts and arguments and shiftings of duty - we knew something was coming. We couldn't know it didn't just mean that we would be killed soon."
"She didn't look like she would ever laugh again, it looked like she didn't even want to see the light again. That's as bad as it gets, when even the will to survive withers away."
from Dana's fics:
Sometimes the guard would come and stare him down, grinning at him in a way
that made Moro want to crawl out of his skin. There wasn't much water and there was less food than that
They figured out after some amount of talking that they were sixth cousins
they shared Isumbras III and Minarta Took (who'd been a Baggins before she married, which made her Moro's great-aunt on his mother's side by some degree as well)
He'd been brave, or foolish, or maybe he'd been both foolish and brave, and he didn't feel much like either of those, now.
(hobbits led out to empty slop buckets. Thinking of it as servants' work, reminding self it's a stupid distinction to make now. ) But they'd be led back to the inside, pushed and shoved and laughed at, and if one of them tried to stand up and cause trouble they'd be beaten down with a quick blow or two of one of the clubs, and then when they were down on the ground, whoever it was, they'd be laughed at more.
Moro being beaten:
The man laughed, grinned at him, and swung. Moro felt his head crack to one
side and he stumbled back, clutched at his jaw and felt his legs give out
beneath him, and his knees cracked down, hard, against the floor. He was dizzy and he couldn't see clear and he was jerked up by his arms, and the order was given to bind him. His mind worked sluggishly, and he kicked and struggled but found himself pushed down against the ground, breathing in dirt and filth and gagging on it. His arms were bound up tight at the wrists, and then he was lifted up like that and dragged from the room.
There was a window in that room, though, so that meant they had to be closer to the front.
He had led Lobelia Sackville-Baggins out on his arm, Lobelia, who Mosco knew had never been cheered in her life. But she had been cheered, when she'd been brought out of the Lockholes.
'You never do know what you can do, until you have to,' Tully said.
The lads being kind to each other. Pindy putting down a fight with "we're all hobbits alike here; if we want trouble the Men'll give it to us" and Mim backing him up.
Jed wandered from darkness into light, his legs weak beneath him though somehow they found the strength to carry him on. It had been a very long time since he had lost track of the passing days. He couldn't tell how long it had been, and though the air was warm, there was the hint of autumn on the breeze.
standing up for someone against someone huge
note for Peridot's backstory:
she went to live with Suidard's aunt (Hyssop or Verbena) in Pincup, after sending her daughter to the North-Tooks.
From Estella's Opinion:
The one on crutches was the speaker; he hobbled forward on twisted, scarred, nearly hairless feet, and Merry hurried to meet him. "Patwise Moss," he said, face splitting in a wide grin, as he held a hand out. "My brother Pinders, and his friend Bando. " The other two looked awed, and Merry nearly blushed, but put on an appropriate smile and took Patwise' hand. "Well met, Master Patwise, Masters Pinders and Bando."
The Haysend Fire
'I suppose I should say, I had a friend, in Haysend, named Holly Grovesend. There was a fire there, the Men set it, I suppose ‚Äì they arrested a number of hobbits, killed some others who thought to stand against them, then... left others to burn.'
Great Smials Info-- contemplate life there