116. Chapter 115 - May 1444
Ivy smiled at her mother all through breakfast the next morning, occasionally turning her smile on her dad. Éowyn sighed. She didn’t want Ivy to get her hopes up for anything. She didn’t need both of her daughters disappointed with her.
It didn’t surprise her when Ivy passed the children off to their aunts and followed her to her room after breakfast. “So, how did it go with Dad last night?” Ivy asked, closing the door behind her.
“Ivy,” Éowyn sighed. She couldn’t say there was nothing between her and Merry, because there was something there, but she also couldn’t say where it would lead. “Your father is my dear friend. And perhaps there is something more between us...” She paused at the grin that lit up Ivy’s face. “But we have to give it time, to figure out--.”
“I knew it!” Ivy hugged her. “I’m so happy for you!”
Éowyn kissed her daughter’s head and stepped back. “I don’t know what will happen, Ivy. And I don’t want you to get your hopes up, then be angry with me when I go back to Rohan.”
“I know,” Ivy said. “I won’t be angry. I want you and Dad to be happy, even if it’s not with each other.” She shrugged and smiled. “But I am going to hope.” She embraced her mother again. “Don’t worry about disappointing me. You won’t ever disappoint me.”
Éowyn sighed, relieved, and hugged her back. It was exactly what she needed to hear.
“You be good for your mum,” Pippin admonished his children. They were out in the stable yard, just a week after Éowyn’s arrival in the Shire. Pippin had to be getting back to Tuckborough, but Ivy and the children would stay in Buckland for a while.
“Yes, Dad,” the four oldest said together, though Fari had a slight smirk on his face. Éowyn suspected he had plans with Theo to cause trouble somewhere. She had been told by many of the residents of Brandy Hall that Theo and Fari were the spitting images of their fathers as boys, and that included their fathers’ alleged propensity for trouble.
Eomer sometimes joined them in their pranks, but he could just as often be found sitting quietly with his nose stuck in book. She could see why Merry went to his younger son when he needed to be reminded of Estella. Eomer took after his mother in both looks and temperament. The only thing that seemed to be missing was Estella’s gregariousness. Eomer kept to himself, was maybe even a little shy. Éowyn had not yet had a chance to really get to know Eomer, whereas Theo had already talked her ear off a few times.
Her grandchildren were warming up to her as well. Bori didn’t hesitate for hugs anymore and Willow liked to cuddle on her lap--which was big enough for both her and Éoleof at the same time--and Ari... Éowyn chuckled to herself. Ivy had been right--Ari had stuck to Elfwine like a burr during his short stay, and he’d been sorely disappointed that his cousin had to leave the next day. But as soon as Ari discovered the other horse belonged to her, that she was the White Lady from his grandfather’s tales, he had become her shadow. She’d led the horse around the paddock a few times with little Ari perched on its back, his face aglow with happiness. Ivy had stood at the fence and fretted about her son falling off such a large animal, but Éowyn was certain there was nothing to worry about. Ari was a natural at sitting on a horse.
When she wasn’t spoiling her grandchildren, she spent time with her daughter. She had noticed right away how much Ivy had changed in just a few years. She’d matured so much in her life as wife, mother and Mistress of Tuckborough. Éowyn was happy to see that the unhappy girl she had known in Gondor was gone. Ivy was happily settled into her life, quite serious with her responsibilities but quick to giggle and laugh with her family. Éowyn was grateful her daughter had found someone like Pippin to make her happy. They were so in love that it took Éowyn’s breath away sometimes to look at them.
In the evenings Éowyn spent time with Merry. It had already become a routine, that after the grandchildren were in bed, Ivy and Pippin would say their good-nights as well and leave her and Merry alone. Éowyn suspected Ivy had said something to her husband, because Pippin never argued.
She enjoyed spending time with Merry. They talked about many things, but he was the one person with whom she felt most comfortable talking about Faramir. And she suspected he felt the same about her, as Estella was often the subject of conversations. They were able to reminisce about happy times or confide how they felt at their deaths. Sometimes words weren’t even necessary. They’d just clasp hands, perfectly understanding how the other felt.
They didn’t kiss again, except for formal pecks on the cheek or hand. It wasn’t a place either of them were ready to go again, and to be honest, Éowyn didn’t know if she’d ever be ready. Right now, she was just enjoying Merry’s companionship.
“Are you going to have more children?” Éowyn asked Ivy one day, as they sat in the garden watching the children play. Bori, Willow and Ari were rolling around on the lawn with a fuzzy yellow puppy, a gift from their Uncle Freddy.
Ivy sighed. “No,” she said, a bit sadly, keeping her eyes are her giggling children.
Éowyn frowned at her, surprised by her tone. She didn’t want to pry, but her daughter didn’t sound very happy about the decision. “Why not, Ivy?”
Ivy bowed her head and shrugged. “Ari was born when Estella died. Éoleof was born when Faramir died. If I have another, what horrible event are they going to be born into.”
“I can’t, Éowyn.” Ivy looked at her and Éowyn could see how much it hurt her. Ivy wiped away her tears. “The last two... it’s just been too painful. I look forward to their births with joy and it ends in sorrow. I’m afraid it will happen again.”
Éowyn took Ivy’s hand. “Merry told me one of the things that got him through losing Estella was Ari’s birth. Ari was a reminder that life goes on. You have to go on, Ivy. If you don’t want anymore children, then that’s fine. But if it’s because of this fear, then you’re just hurting yourself worrying about things that were just sad coincidences.”
“I know, Éowyn. But...” Ivy looked away.
Éowyn put her arm around her. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“I want to have more children,” Ivy whispered. “Pippin does, too. But I can’t...”
Ivy pulled away and turned her gaze back to her happy children, a slight smile appearing when the puppy bowled over Bori and started licking his laughing face. But Éowyn was still worried about her. Ivy was still burdened with this irrational fear.
Ivy shook her head slightly and Éowyn could tell by the stubborn set of her jaw--how many times had she seen that same look on Éomer?--that the conversation was over.
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.