123. Chapter 122 - June 1445
“How have you been feeling?” Éowyn asked. She’d just arrived in Tuckborough and would stay until Ivy delivered.
“Exhausted,” Ivy said. She lay back on her bed, propped up slightly on the pillows, and pulled up her blouse.
Her mother blew on her hands before placing them on Ivy’s belly. “I’m told I have cold hands,” she said with a wink.
“I’m sure Dad doesn’t mind,” Ivy said and grinned. Éowyn just smiled and started her examination of Ivy’s enormous belly, gently pressing into her womb to try to feel the baby... or babies.
“Can you feel anything?” Ivy asked. She was worried. She was only seven-months along and she was as big as she was when she’d delivered the others.
Éowyn shook her head and smiled at Ivy. “But that’s not so unusual. Many women have been surprised by twins.”
“What if it’s not twins?” Ivy asked. “Rosie’s mum had told her she knew as soon as Rosie and Jolly started kicking that there were two babies.”
“Not every pregnancy is the same, Ivy,” her mother softly chided.
Ivy bit her lip. Lily hadn’t been able to feel two babies either. She could sometimes feel a baby’s head, but never two at the same time. And Ivy had never been able to tell from the kicks and movements if there were two. It only felt like one baby to her. She sniffled.
“Ivy...” Éowyn pulled Ivy’s blouse back down, then took her hand. “You’ll be fine. I don’t think a single baby would be this large. There’s no reason to doubt that it could be twins.”
“Except hobbits rarely have twins--”
“But they do,” Éowyn said. “Rosie and her brother are proof enough. And they aren’t as uncommon in Rohan.”
“Lily couldn’t feel anything, either. What if--?”
“If the baby is large, there are some risks. But it’s not your first delivery, so you should be fine.” Éowyn patted her hand. “I’m going to go have a word with Lily, to see what she thinks. But I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about.”
Ivy nodded and watched her mother get up and go to the door that connected to the parlor. She’d seen the momentary look of worry on her mother’s face when she’d brought up a large baby. Her mother was worried, but she was trying to hide it.
She heard her mother and Pippin whispering together just inside the parlor, then Pippin came in and closed the door behind him.
“They’re still playing hide-and-seek?” he asked, smiling at her, but the smile didn’t quite reach his eyes. He looked worried, too.
“I’m scared, Pippin,” she whispered, and rolled over to her side--with some effort--and sniffled into her pillow. “The baby’s going to be large, like me. I don’t want my child to go through what I did.” She started to cry and Pippin lay down next to her. He spooned behind her and put his arms around her, one hand on her belly. “I wanted to be happy with this birth,” she whimpered, “and it’s happening again. Just like I was afraid of. Something bad happens...”
He pushed himself up to move to her other side, lying down so he faced her. “This is not something bad, Ivy,” he gently scolded. “Don’t ever think that. If the child takes after your Rohirric side, we will do whatever we can to give him or her a happy life. You’re happy, aren’t you?”
“But that’s because of you, Pippin. If I wasn’t with you, I don’t know where I’d be now.” She didn’t like to think about that, where she would be without Pippin. Alone.
Pippin smoothed her hair back and kissed her. “Éowyn still thinks it could be twins.”
Ivy shook her head. “But they’re so rare with hobbits, Pippin. Rosie and Jolly are the only twins anyone can remember in generations. Chances are, I’m so big because the baby is going to be like me.” She touched her belly, just above where Pippin’s hand lay. “And if it’s too large, things can go wrong...”
Pippin kissed her again. “Ivy, you have to stop worrying. It’s not good for you to worry. We’ll be fine.” He rubbed her belly and smiled at her. “All of us.”
Ivy nodded, but her heart wasn’t in it. She wished she could be as optimistic as Pippin.
Pippin shot awake, breathing hard, his nightshirt drenched in sweat. Ivy! Ivy was dead! Ivy was dead and--
Ivy stirred next to him and he clapped a hand over his mouth to stifle the sob. He resisted the urge to clutch her in his arms. She was fine. She was lying asleep next to him, curled peacefully on her side, her hand resting on her still-pregnant belly. She was fine!
He slipped out of bed, shivering even in the warm summer night as the air hit his damp shirt. He didn’t want to wake her, especially with this. The dream had been horrible. All of his fears about this pregnancy had come true--the baby had been too large and Éowyn hadn’t been able to save Ivy or the baby.
He went to the bath to splash cool water on his face. This wasn’t the first nightmare he’d had since Éowyn had spoken to him a few days ago. She was more worried than she let on in front of Ivy. While Ivy had been napping, they’d sat in his study and Éowyn had explained everything that could go wrong with the birth. And she’d made him consider some decisions.
If it was a large baby, there was a chance Ivy would not be able to deliver it. If that was the case, then the only thing Éowyn could do would be to cut Ivy open to deliver the baby. She had already discussed it with Lily, and Éowyn was the only one who could do it. Midwives in the Shire only cut into their patients when the mother was dead. Éowyn knew a procedure that the mother had a chance of surviving, but she had only observed it once and it would be a last resort. And there was still a good chance the child would not survive. They’d decided not to tell Ivy. She didn’t need the added stress, worrying about what could happen.
Images from the dream assaulted him and Pippin leaned over the basin, feeling nauseous. In the dream, Éowyn had to cut Ivy open, and Ivy had been screaming in pain and there had been so much blood--their bed had been soaked in it--and then Ivy’s pale face had gone slack, with staring eyes, like the Men on the battlefield who’d had their bellies slashed open...
He grabbed a towel to wipe his face and turned to look at Ivy. She was standing in the doorway, looking worried.
“Are you all right? The sheets are soaked--”
“I must be coming down with something,” he lied. “A bit of a fever. I’m fine, though. Go back to bed, love.” He smiled, trying very hard to make it real. He hoped she was too sleepy, that the light was too dim, for her to notice it was a forced smile. He didn’t know how he could keep doing this this, keeping up a brave face for Ivy when he was so frightened himself.
“I can make you some tea,” she said, backing out of the doorway so she could turn with her huge belly.
“No. I’m fine, Ivy.” He dropped the towel and went to her. He had to pull himself together. He couldn’t have Ivy worrying about him right now. “I’m already feeling better,” he said, taking her arm and steering her back to their bedroom. “I promise I’ll go see Lily in the morning.” Lily should have something to calm his nerves and help him sleep.
She went right to the cupboard near the wardrobe when they returned to their room. “We need to change the sheets--”
“Don’t worry about it,” he said. He took her hand and tugged her close to nuzzle her ear. “The bed’s big enough, I’ll just sleep closer to you.” He wanted nothing more than to wrap his arms around her, to feel her warm and alive against him.
“Are you trying to seduce me, Mister Took?” she asked coyly.
“Could be,” he said and this time his smile was real.
“I thought you were sick?”
He shrugged. “I told you I’m feeling better.”
“Hmmm.” She reached up to play with the buttons on his nightshirt. “I wonder what kind of illness goes away so quickly and makes you sob my name in the middle of the night? The same illness you had last night?”
He bowed his head. He hadn’t realized he’d called out. He hadn’t realized she’d been awake. Her back had been to him.
“What are the nightmares about?” she asked. She pressed her palm to his rapidly beating heart. “Besides me being in them?”
“Ivy...” he pleaded. He didn’t want her to know his fears. But it was too late for that, wasn’t it?
“Don’t hide things from me, Pippin. It’s about the baby, isn’t it?” she asked. “I know you’re worried. I know that my mother is worried. I know that Lily is worried. Pearl’s been giving me looks, too. You’re all worried about it.” She hugged her arms around herself and he could tell she was trying not to cry.
He embraced her and he had to lean in a little over her belly. “I will admit I’m worried, Ivy,” he murmured into her hair. “I worried with all the babies. This time, there’s just more to worry about.” He kissed her. “But I won’t give up hope that everything will turn out fine.” He took her hand. “Now, let’s get some sleep,” he said. He walked her to the bed.
“What if it something goes wrong?” she asked in a shaky voice as he tucked the blankets around her.
“Your mum will take care of you,” Pippin said. “She knows all that Gondorian medicine. She won’t let anything happen to you.” He kissed her brow and prayed to all the Valar that he was right.
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.