12. Chapter 11 - April 1420
He left the disgusting diaper on the bathroom table, vainly hoping that Merry would suddenly come home and deal with it, and carried Ivy over to the bathtub. He’d already filled it with a few inches of water, anticipating from smell alone that he’d need it.
He set her down in the warm water, keeping a hand on her back to hold her upright. She splashed her hands in the water and laughed. She loved being in water. Must be the Brandybuck in her.
“You should wait for your dad to come home to do things like this,” Pippin told her as he gently rubbed the lavender soap over her skin. “Changing smelly diapers is the kind of things dads are good at, not your Uncle Pippin.”
She grinned up at him and he smiled back. She was adorable, even if she did make disgusting messes for him to clean up. He ran the cloth over her whisps of loose blond curls. She would take after her mother, no question, except for her hobbit ears and feet. And she had Merry’s deep blue eyes.
Once she was clean again. he took her to Merry’s room for a clean diaper and a new dress. Then he took her to the parlor. There was a blanket and pillows spread on the floor, where they’d been playing all morning. He lay her between the pillows and handed her the silver rattle that had once belonged to her father.
He crouched over her to look in her eyes. “You be good while I go clean up your mess,” he said, wagging a finger at her. She hit him on the nose with the rattle.
“Right,” he said, standing up. “First you make a horrible mess in your diaper, then you hit me. Poor Uncle Pippin!”
He went back to the bath and took care of the mess as quickly as possible. He tossed the no-longer-quite-so-soiled diaper next to the washtub. Next time, maybe he’d ‘forget’ about it and leave it for Merry. He cleaned himself up and started to head back to the parlor, but was interrupted by a knock at the door. He was surprised to find his sister standing on the front step.
“Vinca! What are you doing here?”
“Hello, little brother.” She held up a basket. “We’re visiting the Hall and Mum wanted me to bring some preserves over. She’s sure you’re starving to death out here.”
“You’re at the Hall...?” Pippin felt a thrill of panic run up his spine.
“Don’t worry, Dad’s not here yet,” Vinca laughed. “He had to take care of a few things at home first. He’ll be here in a few days.”
Pippin sighed. He still had time to figure out how to avoid his father.
“So are you going to invite me in?”
“Oh! Sorry.” Pippin stepped back from the doorway, giving his sister room to pass.
Vinca shoved the basket in his arms and looked in the parlor.
“There’s my sweet girl!” She went in and scooped up Ivy. Ivy giggled as Vinca smothered her in kisses.
“Ugh! What is it with girls and babies?” said Pippin. He set the basket down and took Ivy from her. “I just gave her a bath. You don’t need to slobber all over her.”
Vinca pinched his cheek. “You’re just jealous because we don’t slobber over our cute little baby brother anymore. Now we’ve got our precious little Ivy.” She brushed her fingers through Ivy’s golden curls and grinned. “She looks nothing like you.”
“You haven’t heard the latest rumors?” Pippin just looked at her blankly. Vinca laughed and shook her head. “You really need to get home more, Pippin. The current gossip in Tuckborough is that she’s actually your daughter, with some Bree woman, and Merry is covering for you. That’s why you’re not getting along with Dad.”
Pippin snorted. “Like I need any more reasons to not get along with him. So has he heard this?”
“Oh, yes. You can expect him to take an extra hard look at Ivy when he gets here.”
“Wonderful,” Pippin sighed. Then he looked at Ivy and cocked his head thougtfully. “Although, if I do claim her as my own and tell him I have an understanding with her mother, maybe he’d lay off on finding me a wife. I’m only twenty-nine! I’ve got plenty of time to find a lass all on my own! And I certainly don’t need any help!”
Vinca clapped her hand over her mouth, stifling a laugh.
“That’s not what some are saying in Hobbiton.”
Pippin narrowed his eyes at her. “What are they saying in Hobbiton?”
“They’re saying that...” She blushed and giggled. “That you and Merry are... you know...”
Pippin frowned and shook his head. “I know what?”
“You know. Living together out here. Alone.” She raised her eyebrows. “Together.”
Pippin’s eyes widened in horror. “Oh, for the love of...” He huffed. “How do they come up with these things!”
Vinca giggled. “Next time I’m in Hobbiton, I’ll have to go pester Frodo for more gossip about you. Who knows what else they’ve been saying.”
Pippin frowned. “Vinca, be nice to Frodo, all right?” he said, suddenly serious. “He had a rough time last month, with being sick...”
“Oh, don’t worry Pippin, I won’t be a nuisance. And I could be very nice to Frodo, if he’d let me.” She waggled her eyebrows.
“Argh! I don’t want to hear this!” Pippin groaned.
“Hear what?” Merry asked, coming in the front door.
“Vinca is sweet on Frodo,” Pippin said, quickly recovering from his disgust at the opportunity to embarass his sister. It worked, because Vinca turned beet red.
“What?” Merry exclaimed, clutching his hand at his heart. “I thought you loved me?” He wiped an imaginary tear from his cheek.
Vinca rolled her eyes. “Only in your dreams, Merry.”
“You wish,” Merry said, giving her a leering grin. Vinca smacked him on the arm.
“Ugh!” Pippin pressed Ivy’s head to his chest to cover her ears. “I don’t think Ivy needs to hear this! I don’t need to hear this!”
Merry leaned over to his daughter and tweaked her nose, making her giggle. “How’s my girl? Were you good for Uncle Pippin today?”
“She made a horrible mess in her diaper and needed a bath, but other than that she was good.”
Vinca laughed. “Good! I’m glad she’s getting you back for all the disgusting diapers we had to deal with from you!”
Pippin glared at his sister. “Don’t you need to leave?”
She stuck her tongue out at him. “Fine. But don’t forget you’re expected at dinner.” She kissed Ivy good-bye and left.
“You’re lucky you’re an only child,” Pippin said to Merry after the door had closed. “You, too, Ivy-lass.” Then he grinned. “Though, you may not be an only child forever, right Merry.” He grinned.
Merry shrugged and settled into his chair. “Well, I kind of need a lass for that,” he said, “and with my father and Ivy both keeping me busy, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.”
Pippin handed Ivy over to her father and shrugged. “You never know.”
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.