106. Chapter 105 - July 1441
Pippin stood at the parlor window, looking out at the empty road. It was four days after he had spoken to Merry and still no one had come. He hated sitting around, waiting, doing nothing. Idleness on top of fear was terrible to deal with. He wished there was something to do to keep his mind off things. He soon regretted those thoughts.
He turned to look at Ivy. She was standing in the parlor doorway, a hand pressed to her belly. “I’m having contractions.”
His heart leapt into his throat and his stomach clenched in fear. “Now?” They were supposed to have more time before the baby came!
She shrugged an apologetic smile. "Now."
Ivy leaned on Pippin and groaned, burying her face in his neck. The contractions were coming faster now, more intense. “I need to sit now,” she said.
Pippin put his arm around her and supported her as they walked to the birthing stool set next to the bed. It was the same one that Estella had used to deliver her brothers. Ivy tried not to think of Estella. Worrying about her family only made her cry and she needed to concentrate on bringing her baby into the world.
She groaned through another contraction, then looked at her husband. He was kneeling in front of her. He looked frightened and maybe a little guilty. "It's all right," she said. "It's bad for a little while, then the worst will be over." She smiled. She could never have imagined she'd be saying that someday while she was having Bori.
When the intense contractions finally tapered off, she leaned back against the bed to rest. It had only been a few hours since she first had pains and she was already at the break before she'd need to push. She was thankful this one was going quickly, mostly for Pippin's sake. He was doing fine with the messiness of birth--he'd attended countless births of foals, after all--but he flinched every time she groaned in pain.
"Do you need anything?" he asked, touching her cheek.
She shook her head. "Just a rest," she mumbled. She held out her hand to him and he grasped it. He was shaking a little. "Everything's fine, Pippin."
"I know. I just... I don't like seeing you in pain." He kissed her palm. "I wish you didn't have to be in pain."
"Me, too," she said, chuckling a little. She touched his cheek. "But it's worth it, Pippin. When the baby is here, it will be worth it." She smiled. "You should go check on the children." She patted her belly. "We're taking a break for a little while."
He nodded and got up, then went to slip out the door. She heard Fari ask "Is the baby here?" before the door shut again. She sighed, trying to relax back against the bed. She couldn't help but think that she'd always had one of Pippin's sisters to lean against, to whisper encouragement in her ear, and she missed them terribly and hoped she'd see them again.
She wiped at her tears and took a few deep breaths. She couldn't think about that now. She needed to save her strength. She had to be strong for the baby.
Pippin was back soon. "Children fed and happy," he said. "But they miss their mum." He knelt in front of her again and took her hand. "How are you?"
"Good," she said, then yanked her hand away to grab the sides of the stool when a contraction gripped her. "Starting again," she panted when it was over.
Then her body took over, making her bear down and push, and it wasn't long before Pippin gasped and looked up at her. “I can see the baby, Ivy!” he said, amazed. He was grinning. A few more pushes after that and their baby slipped out into Pippin's hands.
"It's a boy," Pippin said, his attention on the tiny baby in his hands. He worked quickly, clearing the baby's mouth and cutting the cord. The baby gave a little cough, then started to wail. "It's all right, little one," Pippin crooned. He wrapped the baby in a towel and picked him up to show him to Ivy.
He was smaller than Bori and Willow had been, not surprising considering he was a little early, and he still had smears of the whitish cream that often covered the skin of very early babies. But his cries sounded healthy. Ivy touched his tiny head, running her fingers over the damp hair.
"Do you want to hold him?" Pippin asked.
Ivy shook her head and wiped back a strand of her sweaty hair. "I'm not done yet, so you can clean him up while I..." She gestured at the cut cord.
"Right," Pippin said. He leaned in and kissed her. "Love you."
"I love you, Pippin." She touched his cheek and smiled. "See? You did fine." He'd been so worried about helping her all by himself.
He smiled back, then stood and took the baby over to the dresser where a bowl of water and clean cloths were laid out.
When her labor was over, Pippin helped her get settled into bed, then handed her the baby. Seeing her son now, Ivy let the tears come as she inspected him. He was beautiful. She only hoped her family was still alive to meet him.
"Ivy?" Pippin asked. He stroked her hair. "Are you all right?"
She nodded and wiped at her tears. "I'm fine. I'm just happy." She sighed. "And sad, too. Thinking about Dad and everyone..." She clapped her hand over a sob. Pippin sat next to her and put his arm around her.
"I'm sorry, love." He whispered and kissed her brow.
She sniffled, then smiled down at her son. "I'm all right, Pippin." She smiled up at him. "You should probably clean up in here, then let the kids in. I'm sure they're waiting to meet their brother."
Pippin gathered up the linens, then opened the door. Fari was standing there. He had had Willow cuddled in one arm and had Bori by the hand.
“You have another brother,” Pippin said cheerfully. He stood back to let the children come in, then left to take care of the linens.
Fari came over to the bed. “Look, Bori, we’ve got a new brother,” he said. Ivy leaned over a little so her son could see his new brother. Bori stared at the baby, wide-eyed. Fari bent over with Willow. “See, Willow?” he asked. But Willow wanted nothing to do with a new brother.
“Mummy!” she yelled, reaching for Ivy.
“Willow, Mum has to rest with the baby.” Fari said.
“No, Fari! Mummy!” Willow started to wriggle in Fari’s arms.
“I can take her, Fari,” Ivy said. Willow hadn’t seen her mother in hours. “Can you take the baby?”
Fari nodded. He put Willow down on the bed, than took the baby from Ivy. Willow climbed up into her mother’s arms.
“What do you think?” Ivy asked, cuddling Willow. With her other hand she stroked Bori’s curls.
“He’s cute,” said Fari. He smiled at his tiny brother.
Pippin came back in. He smiled at Ivy and came over and scooped up Willow, who giggled and wrapped her arms around her father’s neck. “How about something to eat?” he asked. "And we'll let Mum have some rest for a while."
"I can take them," Fari said. He handed the baby back to Ivy and took Willow from his father. "Come on, Bori," he said, taking his brother's hand. "Let's go to the kitchen."
“Fari's a wonderful help,” said Ivy after they had left.
Pippin nodded. "I think Bori and Willow keep his mind off things," he said sadly. He leaned over to see the baby. "He's lovely, Ivy."
“Is he still getting the name we decided on?” she asked.
Pippin's smiled. “I think Aragorn is the perfect name for a baby born into such terrible times. Did you know, when Aragorn was a child, the elves called him ‘Estel’?”
“Hope,” said Ivy and kissed her son.
It was a week after Aragorn’s birth when they heard a pony approaching. They were just finishing elevensies. Pippin shared a look with Ivy. Today they would find out about their families. They had both desired and dreaded this day. He got up from the table and hurried out the door.
He had hoped it would be Merry who would come to him. He was certain it would have been Merry. But the hobbit on the pony was too short to be Merry. He tried to tell himself that Merry had too much to do, that he couldn't get away for such a simple task as to bring them news at Crickhollow.
“Freddy!” he cried when the hobbit's identity became clear, relieved that one of his closest friends was well. He ran up to greet him but slowed at the look on Freddy’s face. It was a look of immense grief.
“Freddy?” Pippin asked, looking up at him. “What is it?” Pippin felt his stomach twist, he felt faint. He grabbed Freddy’s leg for support. “Merry?” he whispered.
“Merry’s recovering now,” said Freddy. “As are the boys.” He paused. “It’s Estella, Pip.” He choked on a sob. “She died three days ago.”
“Oh, Freddy, I’m sorry.” Pippin buried his face on Freddy’s leg, letting the tears come. Freddy put a hand on his head. Not Estella! How could this happen to Merry?
“Pippin,” Freddy said quietly, his voice shaking. “Ivy’s at the door.”
Pippin turned and saw Ivy standing in the doorway. She was white as a sheet. He went over to her.
“Who?” she asked quietly.
"Sit down, Ivy," he said, taking her arm and pulling her towards the chair set near the front door.
"Who, Pippin?" she asked, her voice high-pitched, nearing panic. "Is it Dad? Tell me!"
He pushed her down into the chair and she grabbed at his hands, her fingers digging into his skin. She was weeping now and he didn't want to tell her, he can't bear to break her heart, but he has to.
“It's Estella," he said softly. "I'm so sorry, Ivy. She died.” Ivy went deathly pale and then collapsed forward into his embrace, sobbing. "I'm sorry, love," he whispered into her hair. As soon as Ivy calmed, he'd take them to Brandy Hall. They needed to be there for Merry.
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.