129. Chapter 128 - March 1447
Ivy walked into Brandy Hall carrying Legolas, brushing snow from his knit cap. It had been a hard winter and this was the first time in three months they’d been able to travel from Tuckborough on the snowy roads to visit her family. They’d left as soon as the roads were clear. Her parents were heading south to Gondor soon, for Théodred’s wedding in June, and she wanted to make sure she saw them before they left.
She and Pippin herded the children in, pulling off cloaks and scarves. The children were all wriggling around, excited to see their grandparents and uncles after so long. They’d been sorely disappointed they hadn’t been able to see them for Yule.
Their excited voices must have alerted their grandmother, because Éowyn came rushing into the entryway. “Oh, I’ve missed you!” she said, kneeling down so that she could get hugs from all seven grandchildren. Their grandfather wasn’t far behind and the children rushed to him to do the same. Ivy smiled as she watched her father lead his grandchildren to the kitchen for their tea, all of them clamoring to hold his hands, while Fari ran off to find Theo and Eomer.
Ivy hugged her mother. “How have you been?” Éowyn asked.
Ivy glanced at Pippin and felt the warmth on her cheeks. They hadn’t been expecting this. After the twins, they’d decided their family was quite large enough. But accidents do happen... “It seems Pippin gave me a present for my birthday,” she said. She smiled and lay a hand over her belly.
“Again?” Éowyn shook her head, laughing. She hugged her daughter again, then pulled away to smile at Pippin. “Maybe Sam hasn’t won yet?” she asked. It had become a joke, after the birth of the twins, that Pippin was looking to surpass Sam in children.
Pippin grinned and shrugged. “Well, it does seem as if he’s given up at thirteen. I suppose I do only have six more to beat him...” He made a show of rubbing his chin thoughtfully.
Ivy threw a mitten at him, fighting an amused smile. “Then you can have the rest!”
Her mother chuckled and kissed her cheek. “Congratulations,” she said.
They made their way to the kitchen, where her dad had the children seated around the table waiting for their tea. He was at the stove watching over the kettle. Without even turning around he said, “Put the cookies back, Bori, you can only have one. And you, Willow.” The two of them pouted at each other, then slipped some cookies back onto the plate in the center of the table. “All of them,” their grandfather said as he filled the teapot. Two little hands put more cookies on the pile. He then turned around to face the grandchildren.
“How do you know that, Grandad?” sighed Bori.
“Because I was you once,” Merry said, setting the teapot on the table to steep. “And seeing as how I was you, I would have had your dad, meaning Willow now, hiding a few more cookies...” he thought for a moment, “...up the sleeve?”
Willow looked up at her grandfather, smiling up at him with that look of innocent charm she had obviously inherited from her father. He shook his head at her. She sighed, gave an apologetic smile to her partner in crime, then shook the cookies out of her sleeve.
Éowyn laughed. “So that’s what it was like being around you and Pippin as children?” She went over and kissed Willow’s forehead and cupped her granddaughter’s cheek in her hand. “But how can you resist this face, Merry?”
He took his place at the head of the table. “Because I’m one of the few people in the world immune to the Took charm.”
“At least I have charm,” Pippin snorted as he and Ivy sat down. Her dad made a half-hearted attempt at a scowl at Pippin.
“Well, I know Ivy isn’t immune to the Took charm,” her mother said, winking at her. Ivy felt a blush color her cheeks again.
Her father cocked his head at her, brow furrowed with a question. Ivy smiled and leaned back in her chair to pat her belly.
Her dad shook his head and grinned. “Honestly, Pippin. You keep using your charm like that and you might just beat Sam yet!”
“Dad!” Ivy gaped at him. Did her father just say something crude about her and Pippin?
“No, Theo. You cannot be in charge. Now hand me that bag over there.”
Ivy rolled her eyes at her brother. Theo was still trying to convince their father to let him be Master of the Hall during his trip south. Did her brother really believe their dad was crazy enough to leave a twenty-two year old in charge?
“Don’t worry, Theo,” their cousin Berilac said, ruffling Theo’s hair. “Your dad said I can let you do all the accounts while he’s gone.”
Theo muttered and threw a dirty look at Eomer and Fari’s snickers.
They were nearly finished packing the ponies and the sun wasn’t even up yet. Her parents were leaving for their trip south this morning. They’d come out to the stable yard to see them off, though Ivy’s children were still asleep, having said their good-byes the night before.
Her mother came and embraced her. “I’ll miss you,” she said. “And I promise I’ll be back in time.” She patted Ivy’s belly.
Ivy smiled and tugged her mother down to kiss her cheek. “Give everyone my love. And good luck with Wyn.” She knew her mother wouldn’t have an easy task ahead of her. Not only did she and Wyn have unresolved problems about her coming North, but now she would be announcing her betrothal to Ivy’s father. Ivy had written another letter to her sister, pleading with her to be understanding. She didn’t know if it would help--Wyn hadn’t been writing back to her either. She stepped back. “I still wish I could go and talk to her myself.” But it was too long a journey with so many small children.
Éowyn shook her head, then kissed her brow. “It will be fine, Ivy.”
Then her father came over to her and she hugged him tight. “I’ll miss you, Dad,” she said.
He patted her back. “I’ll miss you, Ivy-lass.” He pulled back to look at her. “You take care of yourself and the little one.”
“I will,” she said. Then he turned away to go to his pony and Ivy backed up to stand with Pippin. She got sniffly then, watching her parents get on their mounts and start their journey down the path from Brandy Hall to the road.
Pippin slipped an arm around her waist. “They’ll be back before you know it.”
“I know.” She wiped her eyes and turned to the boys. “Well, you’d better get packed. We’ll be leaving soon as well.”
“Yes, Mum,” the three of them said together and took off, giggling, back up the path to the Hall. Theo and Eomer were going to come stay at Great Smials for a few weeks. Ivy hoped that mischievous boys, children to chase, and a new baby to plan for would help keep her mind off worrying over her sister and missing her parents.
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.