109. Chapter 108 - March 1442
“I just don’t think I should leave now, Mister Pippin.” Sam leaned back and crossed his arms, his face a picture of stubborness. “How would it look, the mayor leavin’ for a year after all that’s happened?”
Pippin sighed. Sam had been planning this trip to Gondor for over a year. When the invitation had first come from Aragorn, Sam had talked excitedly about checking on his gardens in Minas Tirith and showing them to Rosie. But then the plague had come, and his plans had been put aside for a while. Now he was going to cancel them?
“I’ve thought about it a lot,” Sam said. “I think it would be best if we cancelled the trip.”
Pippin shook his head. “Come now, Sam. There’s no reason to cancel your trip. The Shire is recovering just fine. There’s no reason for you not to go.” Pippin looked over to Merry for support.
“And you’ve got Tom Cotton to cover for you on your mayorial duties. He’s a good, dependable hobbit. If he needs anything, we will be there for him.” Merry leaned towards Sam and Pippin caught the mischievous glint in his cousin’s eye. “And you know how much Elanor has been looking forward to seeing Gondor, especially after all Ivy’s told her about it.”
Pippin saw Sam’s jaw clench and he had to bite back a chuckle. Merry knew exactly how to get to Sam. Sam couldn’t refuse Elanor anything.
Sam gave a resigned nod.
“There, it’s decided then!” Merry slapped Sam’s knee and stood up. “Now, I have my grandson’s birthday party to get back to, but tomorrow--first thing--Pip and I will go have a visit with Tom and let him know he can call on us if he needs anything while you’re gone.”
“You won’t be leaving right away, though, right?” Pippin asked. “Willow will be very disappointed if her Uncle Sam isn’t at her birthday party next week.” Pippin grabbed Sam’s hand and pulled him up. “Oh, and Ivy said Elanor could borrow Star if she wanted and you’re more than welcome to as many of our ponies as you need.”
Sam opened his mouth to say something, but Merry cut him off.
“Take some of my mearas cross,” said Merry, taking Sam’s other arm and leading him out of the study and down the hall. “They’re far more comfortable for riding that long distance than a Shire pony.”
“Your little mare, the one who had the solid black filly last year,” Pippin leaned around Sam to talk to Merry. “She’d be a good one for Rosie.”
“Yes, I think you’re right, Pippin. And for Sam, I think the roan--”
“We’re going then?” Rosie asked. She was waiting by the garden door with Ivy.
“Of course you are,” Pippin said. He grinned and winked at Rosie. She had asked them to talk to Sam about the trip, to convince her husband that the Shire could survive without him for a year.
“Did you put them up to this?” Sam asked, frowning a little. Rosie shrugged and gave her husband a shameless grin. Sam shook his head. “That really wasn’t fair, setting the both of them on me.”
“Well, I figured it would take the both of them to get through your stubbornness.” Rosie took Sam’s hand and pulled him to her. “Now, how about a dance?”
They watched them go, heading out to the dancing in the middle of the garden, then Ivy stepped over next to Pippin. “Elanor will be thrilled you changed Sam’s mind.”
“Well, I think he wanted to go, he just needed us to tell him it was all right to drop his responsibilities.” Pippin put his arm around her and pulled her close. “Our Mayor has too much of a sense of responsibility. The Thain, on the other hand, would easily drop all of his responsibilities to have a bit of fun.” He kissed her neck, darting his tongue out to taste her, which made her sigh.
Merry coughed. “Time for me to leave.”
Ivy laughed and pulled away from Pippin, reaching out to grab her father’s arm. “No, don’t go. You owe me a dance.” She gave Pippin a little glare before she led her father away. She was always after him about being too affectionate in front of her dad. Pippin snorted. Merry was just being silly about it. Where did he think his grandchildren came from, anyway?
“Here’s all our letters for Rohan and Gondor,” Pippin said, slipping the package into a pack on the pony. “I hope all of Ivy’s letters won’t weigh the pony down.”
“Pippin!” Ivy wrinkled her nose at him, then went over to give Elanor a hug. “Have fun,” she said. “Wyn’s all excited about you coming, so you’ll have plenty to keep you busy.” Her sister and Elanor had become good friends during their time together around Ivy’s wedding. Elanor was twenty-one and Wyn was twelve, which put them at about the same ‘age’ now.
“Thanks, Ivy,” Elanor said. She stood on tiptoes to kiss her cheek. “I’ll miss you.” She grinned. “But I’ll have a wonderful present for you when I come back.”
Ivy smiled. Her mother and Faramir would be accompanying the Gamgees back from Gondor next spring. She kissed her friend, then stood back so Pippin could help Elanor mount Star. Ivy patted the pony’s nose. “You take care of her, Star,” she whispered.
Ivy said her farewells to Sam and Rosie, then they all stood back to watch as the three Gamgees rode out of Brandy Hall’s yard, out to the road to ride north to the East Road. The rest of the Gamgee children called out their farewells and waved, and there were a few tears, too, as their parents and sister disappeared up the road. They would stay at Brandy Hall for a few days, then she and Pippin would take them back to Bag End. Frodo and Rose were old enough to be left in charge while their parents were gone, and they had aunts and uncles who lived nearby in Hobbiton to watch out for them.
They walked back to the hall and Ivy watched Theo sneak up behind Rose and tug at a red curl.
“Theo!” Rose yelled. She chased him across the yard to cuff him, Theo laughing the whole time.
Ivy raised her eyebrows and looked at her husband. “I think my brother might be smitten.”
“You think?” Pippin laughed. They watched Rose stomp back towards her family, Theo following behind her, apologizing. Ivy caught the slight smile that Rose couldn’t quite hide. So it went both ways, then? She smiled. They still had many years before anything would become serious, but Ivy thought they would make a lovely couple.
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