<p>A soft breath escaped her lips, and Diamond Took softly bit her lip as she glanced toward the doorway, then back again to her needlework in her hands, her fingers moving swiftly over the cloth as the carefully stitched rose took shape in the cloth.
It was her first year as mistress of her own house, and her first Yule with Pippin. She smiled at the thought, but it was only a brief moment before her smile fell away again as she remembered the disaster that afternoon. She had wanted everything to be perfect for their feast she had invited his parents and sisters, but when his family had arrived, the goose had been a bit too dry, the potatoes a wee bit burnt, and the plum pudding… Diamond cringed to think of that sorry excuse of a pudding, pitying the poor souls who had eaten it with smiles for her sake, though she knew it had been as bad for them as it had been for her.
And now the house was quiet, the dishes washed, and the guests gone, and the remnants of the meal thrown out. Her husband had somehow disappeared along with the guests at dusk, and now she sat alone, with nothing but her stitching and her thoughts to keep her company.
No doubt Pippin had gone down to The Green Dragon to nurse a mug of ale, and to forget the wretched disaster his wife had created.
A faint tear touched her eye as Diamond stabbed the cloth with a vengeance, thinking how badly she must have disappointed her husband. Pippin was such a jolly, jovial soul, and his playful smile had held her heart from the time they were children. She had loved him for as long as she could remember, and these past months since their wedding, she had only grown to love him more.
She winced slightly as she stabbed the cloth again, accidentally impaling her finger with the tip of the needle. A slight sob broke from her lips as she inspected the wound, a bright red bead of blood forming on her fingertip.
Just then, the door creaked, and opened, and her eyes jerked up just as Pippin, a stack of firewood piled in his arms came tramping through, kicking the snow off his heels before he stepped through the door. The load balanced in his arms, he shut the door behind him with one foot as his brows raised at the sight of her face, the tears on her cheeks, her eyes, no doubt, red and swollen.
“Diamond, what’s wrong?” he asked, as he strode near, and dropped the wood in its iron cradle beside the fireplace. He dropped into the chair beside her, and took up her hand, his own was so cold but she was still glad for his touch, and studied the tiny wound on her finger.
“Ah,” he sighed, and lifted her finger to his lips, gently kissing the tip of her wounded finger. It was like magic on her skin.
She swallowed hard, barely able to speak past the lump in her throat.
“You were out chopping fire wood?” she managed.
Pippin nodded and grinned, still unwilling to let go of her hand. She reached out, and clasped his hand between her own, rubbing gently to bring back the warmth.
“I thought you’d gone off to drink away your bad memories-,” she began, before the tears cut her off, and she glanced quickly away.
“Diamond!” Pippin exclaimed with a faint laugh, though she could hear the concern in his voice. “What bad memories?”
“Oh,” she huffed, turning back, and managing a faint smile as she met his dear face. “You know. The dinner. I ruined it.”
“No you didn’t!” Pippin clipped with such jovial insistence, that she knew he couldn’t be lying.
“But the goose-, and-,” she cringed, “the pudding-,”
“You made ‘em,” he cut her off. “And you did your best. And I loved it.”
Diamond’s faint smile grew broader as Pippin reached out, and brushed the tears away from her cheeks as he leaned nearer. “And I love you.”
“And I love you too, but-,” she began softly, but Pippin merely grinned, and cut her words off as he leaned in and kissed her.</p>