18. Chapter 17 - March 1421
“Yes, sweetie, this is Elanor,” Rosie said softly.
“El-nor,” repeated Ivy. She lightly touched Elanor’s hand and wrinkled her nose. Then she turned away from the baby and went to Pippin, holding up her arms. “Pick up!” she demanded.
Pippin picked her up and she snuggled against him, wriggling into a position resembling Elanor’s. “Baby,” she said.
“No, you’re not a baby anymore,” said Pippin. He rubbed noses with her and she giggled.
Merry turned away from them. He tried very hard not to be jealous of Ivy’s current preference for Pippin. Pippin was almost as much a parent to her as he was, really. But it was still hard that she’d rather be with Pippin than her own father. He’d even talked to his mum about it. She’d told him to talk to Pippin, but he didn’t want to do that. It wasn’t Pippin’s fault that Ivy liked him, or that he was jealous about it.
He looked back again and saw that Pippin and Ivy were making goofy faces at each other. Well, all right, maybe Pippin was more of an older brother than a parent...
“It’s too bad Estella couldn’t come with you,” Rosie said, distracting him from the scene behind him.
“She’s starting to work by herself now, so she’s going to be busy around the clock for a while. Gammer Brook is having her start to take over some of the work.”
“Oh, that’s wonderful,” Rosie said. “She loves delivering babies. I wish she could have been here for Elanor, but it’s so far away.” Rosie and Estella had become close friends since Estella had started seeing Merry.
“I’m sure she’ll come out to visit in a few days,” Merry said. “She can’t pass up seeing a new baby.”
“I would love to have her visit. We haven’t been able to chat much since she got so busy and I’ve been confined to home.” Rosie smiled up at him. “So, any plans for a wedding yet?”
Merry got the tight feeling in his chest that came with discussions of a wedding. “We’ve... discussed it a bit. But I told her we shouldn’t worry about anything until after she gets settled in with her responsibilities. She’s got too much to worry about right now.”
A frightened squeal came from behind them. Merry turned, his heart racing, to find Pippin was holding Ivy upside down.
Merry let out the breath he’d been holding. “The baby is sleeping, you two. Outside if you’re going to do that!” he whispered harshly.
Pippin pouted. “Yes, Dad.”
“Yes, Dad,” Ivy repeated. Pippin waved goodbye to Rosie and left the room, still holding Ivy upside down.
Merry sighed and turned back to Rosie. “Well, I should probably get my children home,” he said, rolling his eyes. Rosie giggled and he leaned down and kissed her on the cheek. “She’s beautiful, Rosie, just like her mum.”
Rosie grinned and patted his cheek. “If you’re trying to sweet talk me, I’m already taken,” she said, then yawned.
Merry chuckled. “I will leave you to get some rest and I’ll tell Estella you’re expecting her.”
They said their farewells and Merry went outside. Pippin was leaning on the garden fence talking to Sam. Sam was catching up on some work in the garden. Frodo had said he knew Sam was nervous while Rosie was in labor because he never once thought of his gardens.
Frodo sat in the shade of a tree, a book lying abandoned on his lap. Ivy was kneeling next to him, smelling the flowers.
“Are we ready to go?” he asked.
Ivy scrambled up and Frodo brushed the dirt off her knees. Then he gave her a hug and a kiss. “You come visit me again, Ivy-lass,” he said, “and I’ll tell you a story about the elves.”
They said their congratulations and farewells to Sam and Frodo and walked down the path to the stable that Sam had built to get their ponies.
“Go ahead and get on and I’ll pass her to you,” Merry said. Ivy had insisted on riding with Pippin this morning from the Smials. Pippin mounted and Merry was about to pass Ivy up to him when she wrapped her arms around his neck.
“No,” she said. “Want Daddy.”
Merry felt a little dizzy at her words, that she wanted him. He looked up at Pippin. Pippin was grinning down at him.
Pippin dismounted and held Ivy while Merry got on his pony. He passed Ivy to Merry and she settled onto the saddle in front of him, digging her toes into Stybba’s mane.
Pippin guided his own pony up next to them. “See, there’s nothing to worry about,” he said. He winked and turned his pony up the road.
Merry watched him go, startled, then sighed. How was it that Pippin always seemed to know more than he let on?
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.