Title: The Family Way
Theme: "Wedding of Your Nightmares"
Elements: something borrowed
Rating: PG-13 for theme
Author's Notes: A couple of years ago, in a telephone conversation with danae_b, we were discussing the Family Trees of the hobbits in Appendix C, and realized that Rosa Baggins was only 24 when Adalgrim was born, while Hildigrim Took, her husband, was 40. We pondered for a while what that might mean, and the thought stuck in my mind afterwards, though until this Challenge, I had never thought to do a story about it.
This story is dedicated to danae_b who gave me the bunny for it in the first place.
Summary: Sometimes doing the respectable thing can be complicated…
Word Count: 2,012
"It's an utter disgrace, Mungo! I do not see how you can allow it!"
"It's out of my hands, Pansy."
"You are head of the Baggins family! You can forbid it!"
"Don't be absurd, sister! They have put the dessert before the main course, and there is no choice. Ponto and Mimosa are already resigned to it."
"Well, the least you can do is insist upon a quiet wedding."
Mungo placed the tips of his fingers to his forehead, and heaved a great sigh. "Rosa is marrying a Took. Do you really think there can be such a thing as a 'quiet wedding'?"
"What was he thinking, Gerontius? He is not just a flighty tween! He has been of age for seven years! She's practically still a child!"
"I do not suppose, Adamanta my love, that he was actually 'thinking' anything at all. And you must admit, Rosa does not look like a 'child'. She is a tween, and a rather buxom tween at that."
"Well," snapped Adamanta, "She most certainly does not look like a child at the moment. However, we cannot put a poor face on this. The Bagginses are going to be scandalized enough that our son disgraced Ponto's daughter! This will be no hole-in-the-corner wedding. I will call upon Mimosa Baggins tomorrow, so that we can begin to plan the wedding. Time is too short to allow for a long betrothal!"
Gerontius placed his face in his palm, and sighed deeply.
"Rosa, Rosa, please don't cry!"
"I can't seem to help it, Belba! I'm just feeling so weepy all the time. Everyone blames poor Hilly, and it's not his fault at all. I lied to him. I told him I was thirty-three."
"Yes, well. That wasn't the cleverest thing you've ever done, cousin."
Rosa's reply to this was another wail. "I never thought we'd fall in love, I never thought we'd ever even see one another after the Fair."
"You never thought at all, Rosa,"
"But he was so dashing and handsome and charming-- I knew he'd never look twice at me if he knew I was only twenty-four."
"Of course he was dashing, handsome and charming! He's a Took! And you weren't twenty-four at the Fair anyway; you were still twenty-three."
A fresh wail of despair from her cousin was the only response.
Belba put her head in her hands and sighed.
"You know she planned it, Hilly. Why else would she have lied about her age? Why else would she have kept coming around? And why else would she have slipped off with you into such a secluded place?"
"It wasn't like that, Isum. She was afraid we'd never see one another again. We didn't have anything more in mind than a few stolen kisses."
"Well, it certainly went beyond that in the end, didn't it?"
Hildigrim looked at his brother desperately. "You don't understand at all! We are in love!"
Isumbras shook his head, rolled his eyes, and sighed heavily.
The wedding was planned hurriedly. It was to take place in the ballroom of the Great Smials, and would be attended by hobbits from all over the Shire. Of course, everyone knew the reason for the hurry, and many were of the opinion that Solmath* was cutting things a bit fine.
The weather was cold and miserable, a dank chill drizzle and mud, mud and more mud greeted the guests as they made their way to Tuckborough. Pansy Baggins Bolger, one of the bride's paternal aunts, was vocal in her complaints, somehow managing to imply without actually saying so, that the nasty weather was entirely the fault of the Tooks.
The bride's Uncle Largo, who was to be one of the witnesses for the Bagginses' side of the family, sent word at the last minute that he would be unable to attend, as his young son Fosco was laid up with the spotted fever, and the entire family was under quarantine.
Mungo and Gerontius, who were jointly officiating the wedding, met in the Thain's study to decide what to do in this emergency.
"We already have three Tooks signing," said Gerontius, "Ponto will be signing as Rosa's father. We have Pansy's husband Fastolph Bolger, and Lily's husband Togo Goodbody. We need a Baggins if we can find one…"
"How about my son Bungo. He's young, but he is of age-- he's thirty-four."
"Well, an uncle or a brother would be better, but her own brother's too young. Your Bungo will do admirably."
In the bride's room, Aunt Pansy had been banned, since her pointed remarks had driven the bride into hysterics. Her mother had to follow Aunt Pansy out to try and smooth Pansy's ruffled feathers. Now Rosa was left with her cousins Belba and Zinnia Bunce, who would be her witness, and her groom's sister Belladonna, who were doing their best to sooth her.
"I'm not a hussy," she sniffed.
"Oh, pay no mind to Aunt Pansy," said Belba. "You know how she is."
Belladonna patted her soon-to-be sister-in-law on the back. "It's all right, Rosa. I know that you love Hilly very much, and you will make him very happy! Here, my dear, blow your nose, and let's get you into your wedding gown."
The pink gown had been very cleverly constructed to disguise some of the bride's increasing girth, but it could not wholly hide the evidence of her indiscretion, and Rosa's face flamed as she saw her reflection in the mirror. Not only was her middle wider than a bride's ought to be, but her eyes and nose were red from weeping. Still, when Zinnia settled the bridal wreath atop her head, the pink ribbons fluttering down her back, she found a watery smile. Roses this time of year! But the Tooks had a hothouse, and of course they'd see that she had her nameflower for her wreath!
She gave a sniff. This was not the way every lass dreamed of her wedding day. This was more like a nightmare. The tears started to gather once more.
"Here, Rosa!" Belba held up a handkerchief to her eyes, and then to her nose. "Blow!" she said, as though Rosa were a mere faunt. Rosa blew, and then looked in dismay at the soggy wad of fabric.
"Now I don't have a handkerchief," she said in a very small voice.
Belladonna pulled one from her own reticule, and tucked it into the sleeve of Rosa's gown. "You can borrow mine," she said. "I've heard some folk think it's lucky for the bride to carry something borrowed."
Rosa turned to her with gratitude, and flung her arms about her. "Thank you, Bella! You are going to be such a good sister!"
"Here now, let's be off. They'll be waiting," Zinnia said, her tone brisk and bracing. Rosa followed her older cousin meekly. She had always thought that Belba would stand for her at her wedding-- they were best friends after all-- but of course it was impossible now. They were the same age. Zinnia was thirty-six, and so of age.
Belladonna and Belba followed the bride and her attendant. Belba was sniffling a little herself at the lost chance to stand with her dearest friend and best cousin. Belladonna, however, was feeling cheerful. It was clear that in spite of the circumstances, Hilly and Rosa were in love, and soon enough she'd have a new little niece or nephew to fuss over.
The ceremony was brief enough. Belladonna saw the love on her brother's face and was pleased enough. She watched as the various witnesses were called up to sign the contract. Rosa still looked distressed. In fact, she looked more than just distressed.
Her father called on Bungo Baggins to come forward to sign. That was Belba's brother, and he was rather a striking-looking hobbit; though more portly than many hobbits; he looked very dignified as he made his way to the table and took up the quill.
No sooner had he dipped it into the red ink and begun to write his name, than there was a gasp from the bride, as she clutched her middle. "Oh dear!" she exclaimed. She gave another gasp.
"Hurry up!" said Mungo to his son in a rather loud whisper. "You must finish signing it now!
Bungo scrawled his name quickly, and Mungo and Gerontius exchanged a quick look. "We now present Mr. and Mrs. Hildigrim Took!"
Rosa gave another gasp, and a cry, and suddenly she was surrounded by her mother, aunts and new mother-in-law, who quickly hustled her from the room. The groom stood uncertainly for a brief instant, and then darted after them.
The guests all stood about looking at one another, unsure of what to do or say next.
"Dear me!" said a voice at Belladonna's elbow. She turned to see young Bungo standing by her. "I suppose I finished signing just in time!"
Belladonna smiled. "I suppose you did. My brother will be most grateful."
He stared for just an instant, and then caught himself, and blushed. "You must be one of the Thain's daughters, then. Which are you?"
She dimpled at him and made a brief curtsy. "Belladonna Took at your service."
He sketched a small bow. "Bungo Baggins at yours."
She giggled. "I know. I heard them call your name."
Just then, Gerontius called for attention. "Please, friends and family! The wedding feast is prepared and there is no need for good food to be wasted. Please join us in the dining hall, to celebrate this marriage."
Bungo held out his arm. "May I escort you in to the feast, Miss Took?"
"You may, Mr. Baggins." She placed her hand on his elbow, as they followed the crowd.
There were a few empty spaces at the high table, tactfully ignored by the guests, as the food was brought in. But about halfway through the meal, Adamanta came in and whispered into the Took's ear. He looked at her, startled, and then nodded. He tapped on his glass with a spoon to get the attention, and then stood.
"It seems as if it was a false alarm, perhaps brought on by the excitement of the day. However, the bride and groom will not be rejoining us, as it is thought best for them to get some rest. Please enjoy yourselves-- when the afters are finished we will return to the ballroom for dancing and music!"
This announcement was greeted with a cheer.
Belladonna and Bungo enjoyed several dances together. At one point, he rather diffidently asked her age. "I am twenty-eight, Mr. Baggins."
"Ah!" he said.
She smiled. "Not of age, of course, but old enough to be decently courted."
He grinned. "Do you suppose your father would object if we corresponded?"
"I am sure he would not."
Belladonna was disappointed that Bungo did not suggest a turn in the garden-- but perhaps under the circumstances it was wise. He did fetch her punch after the dancing, and they sat at the side of the room and talked for a while.
But soon enough the guests began to take their leave, and Bungo noticed his father heading in their direction. "I suppose I must say good-bye, Miss Took. But as we are now connexions by marriage, I suppose we shall be seeing one another from time to time at family functions."
She smiled. "At the very least, I am sure we shall both be at a Naming Day in the very near future."
He looked thoroughly pleased at that thought. "Until then, Miss Took."
She nodded. "Farewell for now, Mr. Baggins." Her eyes followed him across the room as he joined his parents. He turned and gave her one last look.
Belladonna heaved a great sigh of happiness. Not for her the sort of thing that had landed her poor brother in trouble. She could wait. It was only five more years, and the delay would be worth it.
*Solmath is the Shire Calendar equivalent of February-- sort of.