128. Chapter 127 - October 1447
Merry chewed his lip and glanced at the woman sitting next to him. He’d invited Éowyn out for a picnic, out to the very field where two years before, they had decided to move ahead with their relationship. And now, today, he planned to ask her if she wanted to move it even further.
He fidgeted, his stomach tight with fear and worry. He wasn’t expecting a ‘yes’. They loved each other, but was it enough to make her want to stay in the Shire the rest of her life? They had reached a point where they were dancing around each other again, where the lulls in conversation had gotten too long and the quiet talk after lovemaking had ceased. They needed to take the next step, whether that was closer together or farther apart.
He supposed he could just ask--Are you ready to move on? Do you want to leave and go back to Rohan?-- and pretend he supported her decision to leave. But that wouldn’t have been honest. Because he wanted her to stay. He wanted her to be his wife. So he had to ask, properly and officially, to let her know how he felt. There was even a chance she would accept. But realistically... He was a hobbit and she was royalty of Rohan and Gondor. He could not, and would not, hold it against her if she refused.
Now he only had to find the courage to ask.
He poured himself another glass of wine and thought about what to say. Not the same things he’d said to Estella when he had proposed to her, certainly. Estella had been the love of his life and not even Éowyn would replace her in his heart. Just the same as Faramir was Éowyn’s first love. And they both understood that, which made their relationship so comfortable--there would never be any jealousy towards lingering feelings for Estella and Faramir. So what could he say to Éowyn? That he loved her? That she was a dear friend and companion? That she--
“Is something bothering you, Merry?”
He startled and nearly dropped his wine. She was watching him, an eyebrow raised in amusement. He shrugged. “No. Well... Yes. I suppose.” He sighed. “I need to discuss something with you.” He cringed. That sounded so unromantic, like he wanted to ask her opinion on which mares to breed. “I mean... I need to ask you something. And...” He sighed. “I’m not sure how to say it.”
She smiled, her eyes twinkling. “Then just ask.”
“Would you want to marry me?” The words tumbled out and it surprised him. He hadn’t even thought about what to say. Well, what’s done is done. He looked into his wine glass, taking a deep breath to prepare for her answer.
His head shot up and this time he dropped the wine. “What?”
She threw back her head and laughed. “You should see your face!” She leaned forward so their noses were nearly touching. “Yes, I will marry you Master Meriadoc.” And she kissed him.
His mind was swirling, in such a shock that he didn’t respond to her kiss. He was still trying to grasp what she’d said. Yes. She’d said yes? He pulled back to look at her. “Yes?”
She grinned. “Yes.” She looked down. “You’ve spilled your wine.”
“Oh.” He noticed the cold, wet, spot on his trousers for the first time and scooted away from the puddle on the blanket.
Éowyn handed him a napkin, then used another to soak up the spilled wine. She looked up at him. “Did you think I would refuse.”
He hesitated for a few seconds, dabbing at the red stain on his trousers, then nodded.
She sat back. “Because you’re a hobbit?”
He chuckled and looked up at her. “You know me too well.”
“Yes, I do.” She slid over to sit next to him. “I happen to adore hobbits, you know. My beautiful grandchildren. My daughter. Her brothers. My son-in-law. And my daughter’s father.” She took his hand. “I love you all. And that’s all that matters. And you...” She leaned in and pressed her brow to his. “I didn’t think I could be happy again, Merry. And you made me happy. I can’t imagine my life without you.”
He touched her cheek. “I know. I feel the same.” He smiled and moved his head to kiss her gently.
When they broke apart, Éowyn grinned. “Our daughter is going to be beside herself!”
Ivy sat in her father’s study, her lips pressed together to hold back the giggle that wanted to escape. Theo and Eomer sat next to her, the three of them lined up on the couch. Her mother sat in a chair across from them, her cheeks pink and a smile on her face. Their father was standing. He looked nervous.
He had asked to speak to them after supper. And from the way her parents had been glancing at each other all day, like they were going to burst with happiness, she had a suspicion of what this was about. She hoped she was right.
Her dad glanced at her mother first, then at Eomer. He coughed and took a deep breath. “I’ve asked Éowyn to marry me and she’s accepted,” he said.
Ivy squeaked, clapping her hands over the squeal that nearly came out. Her parents were getting married. “I’m so happy for you!” She pushed up off the couch, using Theo for leverage, and threw her arms around her dad.
It wasn’t until her mother stood and wiped her fingers over Ivy’s cheeks that she realized she was crying. She let go to wipe at her eyes, then hugged her mother.
“I knew it,” Ivy whispered. Éowyn chuckled and squeezed her tigher.
“Congratulations, Dad!” Theo said behind her.
Ivy pulled away to look at her brothers. She had forgotten they were there. Theo was beaming and embracing their father, but Ivy never doubted that he’d be happy for them. She looked at Eomer.
He was standing behind Theo, a slight smile on his face. When Theo moved away and Eomer faced their father, his smile got bigger. “I’m happy for you, Dad.” Ivy saw her Dad’s shoulders slump, relieved, as he pulled his son into his arms. Ivy relaxed, too.
Her brothers took their turn to congratulate Éowyn, then their father coughed again.
“I’m glad you’re all happy,” he said, a little nervously. “I want you to know that I’ll always love your mum, but I--”
“You don’t have to explain, Dad,” Theo said. Eomer nodded his agreement. Then Theo looked at Ivy, a cheeky grin on his face. “Besides,” he said, nodding towards his sister, “it’s about time you made her legitimate.”
Ivy trod on his foot.
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