103. Chapter 102 - July 1440
A warm kiss woke Ivy up.
“Do you want me to take them?” Pippin asked, when her eyes fluttered open.
She looked down at her babies, Bori and Willow each asleep at a breast. Bori had decided he wanted to nurse again after seeing his sister do it. At least Willow had proven to be a less demanding baby than Bori had been, and Bori was following Willow’s schedule.
She nodded and Pippin picked up Bori first to carry him over to his crib. Both babies were still sleeping in their room. Bori just wasn’t old enough to be in his own room yet. But that also meant he woke up in the night with Willow.
Pippin came back for Willow and Ivy lay back for a moment, the top of her nightgown still wide open to let her sweaty skin cool off. Who knew two little babies could create so much heat? Of course, it didn’t help it was a hot day anyway, and that fact, along with being tired, didn’t help her general mood. So when Pippin came back and climbed onto the bed next to her, and he lay his hand on her exposed breast as he kissed her neck, she flinched.
“Stop, Pippin!” She pushed him away. She just wanted her body back. She didn’t want to share it anymore with hungry babies or an amorous husband.
“What’s wrong?” he asked. “Are you sore?”
“No. I just need...” She sighed. Time alone. By herself. No one touching her or sucking on her. She looked up at him, wanting to be mad, but he was looking at her with such concern that she couldn’t bring herself to be mad at him. She shook her head. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to snap at you. I’m just hot.... and tired... and I don’t feel like being... touched.” She sighed and pulled her nightgown closed. Sometimes she wondered why she bothered closing it, it would only be open again all too soon.
“I understand, love. It’s fine.” He smiled and gave her a quick peck on the cheek. “You rest. I’ll go make you some tea... that cold Gondorian tea that you like.”
She smiled. “Thank you.” She certainly couldn’t be mad at him if he was going to get her tea.
After he left, she sighed and looked over at her sleeping babies. She loved them. She loved being a mother. But some days, she longed to be just plain Ivy Brandybuck again, with no responsibilities--not to children or a husband or to a household. And she felt guilty about that.
Her sisters-in-law were still covering most of her responsibilities. She felt guilty about that, too. She couldn’t hide behind the babies forever. Someday--soon--she’d have to find the energy to be Mistress of Great Smials again. She quirked a smile. At least it would be somewhat easier now. One thing being an exhausted mother had done was give her courage. Aunt Flora wouldn’t be sniping at her anymore, not after Ivy’s temper had flared and she’d told Flora off--quite loudly--at dinner a few weeks ago. Pippin’s sisters had giggled about that for days afterwards.
When Pippin returned, he didn’t have any tea. He came up to the bed and took her hands. “Come with me.”
She gave a tired sigh. “Pippin, I really don’t feel like going anywhere or being sociable--”
He chuckled. “You’ll like this,” he said, tugging at her hands and pulling her out of the bed. “And I can guarantee it won’t be anything ‘sociable’.”
She let him lead her to the door. “Shouldn’t I get dressed?”
“No.” He didn’t say anymore, just pulled her out of the bedroom and down the hall. They stopped in front of the bath and he opened the door and led her inside.
The copper tub was full and there was the scent of rose oil on the air. A chair had been pulled next to the bath and a tray with tea sat on it.
She felt a little lump in her throat and tears in her eyes, that he’d done all this for her after she’d snapped at him. “Pippin...”
“Go ahead and get in,” he said. “I’ll be back in a minute.” He kissed her, another quick peck, then was out the door again.
She pulled off her nightgown and slipped into the water. It was warm, but not hot, which was fine for summer. She lay back in the tub, letting the warm, rose-scented water caress her. It had been a long time since she’d had time for a relaxing bath.
Pippin returned and closed the door behind him. He came over to the tub. “Nel’s watching the kids,” he said. “So you can take all the time you need.”
“Mmmmm,” she sighed, her eyes drifting closed. They snapped open again when his hands touched her shoulders. He was kneeling behind the tub, sleeves rolled up. She sighed. She hated having to push him away again, but... “Pippin.”
“Don’t worry,” he chuckled. “This is completely innocent.” He gathered up her hair and moved it out of the way over her shoulder, then slid his hands together at the back of her neck.
She hissed when his fingers pressed into the sore muscles. She turned to look at him. “What are you doing?”
“You need to relax,” he said. “Loosen your shoulders and neck.” He leaned forward to whisper in her ear. “Trust me.”
She nodded and did what he asked, leaning forward a little and letting her shoulders slump and her head tip forward. He pressed in again with his fingers, massaging the sore muscles, and this time it didn’t hurt so much. In fact, it was really starting to feel good.
“Where’d you learn to do this?” she asked. She grunted when he hit a particularly sore spot.
“Legolas. After I was injured in Gondor.” He moved his hands lower to work on her spine. “You looked like you needed it, having two babies to carry around now.” He stopped a moment and kissed the back of her neck. “You need to ask for help more. Bori’s perfectly capable of using the bottle or a cup, and I can take him--”
“I can’t just push him away, Pippin. And I don’t want him to be jealous of Willow.”
“He won’t be if he’s with me, or his aunts, or even Fari.” His hands started moving again, dipping into the water to work on her lower back. “Willow should be starting solid food soon, right?”
“She hasn’t shown much interest yet, but Lily said she’ll probably change her mind soon.” Ivy frowned. Her little baby girl was growing up on her, just like her brother.
“Well, then...” Pippin’s hands slid back up, working up her spine again and back to her shoulders. “How about, when Willow is ready for it, we take some time away? We can leave the kids at Brandy Hall and go to Crickhollow for a few days.”
She stiffened and turned to look at him. “I can’t leave them, Pippin.” She couldn’t bear the thought of leaving her babies like that, for days.
He smiled and rubbed her back. “We won’t abandon them, Ivy,” he chuckled. “Though, I think Estella might like that.” He winked at her and she relaxed a little. Right. Her dad and Estella would be watching them. They would be fine. So why did she feel like this? He kissed her shoulder. “You don’t have to decide now. We have a while yet, right?”
She nodded. A few more weeks, maybe. Then Willow wouldn’t need her so much anymore.
Pippin kissed her again, nuzzling her ear this time, then he kissed a trail along her jaw to her mouth. “I love you,” he mumbled against her lips.
“I love you,” she whispered back. They kissed again, a little deeper this time, tongues tangling. The bath and the massage must have worked, because she felt a little flame of desire low in her belly. She considered asking Pippin to join her in the bath.
He didn’t give her a chance to ask. He pulled back from the kiss, a smile on his face, then reached around to pick up a folded towel from the floor. He draped it over the back of the tub, then eased her back so her neck rested on the makeshift pillow. “You rest now,” he said. He picked up the mug of tea and handed it to her. “I’ll come get you when Willow wakes up, all right? Then Bori and I will go raid the kitchen while you feed her.”
She nodded, trying not to feel guilty about tricking Bori like that. Pippin kissed her brow, then left her to her bath and her tea. She sipped the tea and smiled--he’d remembered to put lemon in it. She really didn’t deserve him. She sighed, thinking of her wonderful husband, and she felt that little flare of desire again. Maybe she did need some time away with Pippin...
Ivy was lying on the bed, playing with Willow, when Pippin returned with Bori. She felt better now that she’d had a rest in the bath. “How did it go?” she asked. Bori hadn’t put up any fuss at all when his dad had scooped him up and carried him away after her bath.
“Great!” Pippin said. “We cleaned out the rest of the apple tarts, didn’t we Bori?”
“Apple.” Bori said and grinned at his father.
Ivy smiled, though she did feel a little sad that Bori hadn’t missed her.
Pippin set Bori down on the bed and her son crawled over to her. “Mummy!”
“Hello, Bori-lad,” she said, pulling him onto her chest to hug him. “Did you have fun with Daddy?”
“Daddy,” he said, and he squirmed away from her to crawl back over to Pippin.
Pippin lay down on the bed and pulled Bori up into an embrace. “Did you say hello to Willow? 1d;
Bori looked over at his sister. “Baby. Kiss.”
Ivy smiled, watching Pippin hold Bori so he could give Willow a sloppy kiss on the cheek. Bori giggled and then turned to cuddle up with Pippin.
“Oh, I have something for you,” Pippin said. He reached into a pocket and pulled out a folded paper. “A letter from your mum.”
Ivy grinned and took the letter. She’d been hoping for a letter from her mother soon!
My Dear Ivy,
I’m so happy to hear you and the babies are doing well. I’m sure you’re exhausted from two little ones! Get plenty of rest and listen to what Estella tells you. I cannot wait to see my grandchildren. Faramir and I are planning a trip to the Shire. However, it won’t be for at least another year, because of my next news.
Elboron is getting married next summer! A girl from Rohan that he met on one of our visits. Her name is Hildelith. She is the daughter of Erkenbrand, Éomer’s Marshal of the Westfold. She is a lovely girl and they are so in love.
“My brother is getting married next year!” said Ivy.
Pippin looked up at her, brow furrowed. “Married? Little Elboron? But he’s only...”
“Eighteen?” finished Ivy. “The same age that I got married?”
“Oh.” He shook his head. ?c;It’s hard to get used to you Big Folk growing up so fast.” He smiled, a touch wickedly. “But I’m glad you did.”
Ivy felt that little flare of desire again. “I’m sure you are, Mister Took,” she said. She continued reading the letter, news of her family and friends in the south, and one passage made her catch her breath.
I do not wish to worry you, but I think you should know that Ithilien is no longer as safe as it was when you visited. Some of the orcs have regrouped in Mordor with rogue Easterlings and their raids are getting more frequent. We are well protected here in Emyn Arnen, but I worry about Faramir and Elboron. They have had to step up patrols and are out more frequently. And next year, Théodred will be old enough to join them. Legolas’ archers are certainly a blessing. Hopefully, this danger will be eradicated quickly.
“Éowyn said there has been an increase in raids by the orcs. She’s worried about Faramir and my brothers.” The paper was shaking in her hand. She knew why Éowyn told her this, though her mother knew it would worry her. She had to be prepared for the worst.
“Don’t worry about old Faramir,” Pippin said softly. He reached across the babies to touch her cheek. “He’s made it through some incredibly sticky situations. He’ll be all right. And he’ll watch out for your brothers, too.”
“I hope so,” Ivy said, but she couldn’t help feeling that something terrible would happen to them.
A small hand grabbed at the letter and she smiled down at her daughter. “Is mum ignoring you, love?” she asked. She set the letter on the table next to the bed and turned back to kiss Willow. She’d finish the letter later. She reached over and touched Bori’s soft curls. Right now, she felt like cuddling with her family, thankful that hobbits didn’t have to worry about sending sons to war.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.