19. Chapter 18 - July 1421
I visited Éowyn this spring. Faramir and I have both tried to get her to write you, but she feels she must let go of Ivy. She has not yet read your letters. I think it would still be too painful for her to hear about Ivy. It hurts that this is so hard for her. But we all know that the decision to give Ivy to you was the best choice.
Merry tossed the letter onto his desk. He sometimes wondered if it was the best choice. He was muddling through being a father, while her mother mourned for her. Maybe it would have been better to leave her with Éowyn.
He turned at a giggle in his doorway. Ivy stood there, grasping Pippin’s hand, grinning at him. Merry sighed. The ‘maybes’ melted away when he saw his daughter smile at him.
“She’s all fed and cleaned up,” Pippin said. He let go of Ivy’s hand so that she could toddle over to her father.
“Come here, my girl,” Merry said. He picked Ivy up and cuddled her on his lap, burying his nose in her hair. When he held her, he was selfishly glad that he had kept her.
“Look what I have for you,” he said to Ivy, pushing those selfish thoughts away. He picked up a small wooden horse. “Éomer King sent you a present!”
“Pony!” she said and grabbed the little horse.
“What did the King have to say?” Pippin asked.
Merry shrugged. “Éowyn’s still not ready to hear about Ivy.” He sighed.
Pippin nodded and sat on the bed. “Well, she probably just needs more time.”
Merry nodded and rested his cheek on Ivy’s head, watching her examine the little horse. He felt bad for Éowyn, that she hurt so much after giving up her daughter, but he couldn’t help feel glad that she had. And that made him feel terrible.
Merry finally finished passing out mathoms to his birthday guests and made his way out to the party. His mum had insisted on doing everything again this year. He’d only had to show up with Ivy and Pippin in tow.
He piled a plate full of food and went to find a seat in the crowded garden. He spotted Pippin, talking to a pretty hobbit lass with sandy brown curls. Neither of them looked happy. Pippin said something, obviously angry, and threw his arms up. The girl turned away, in tears, and fled into the crowd. Pippin went over to the ale casks, his expression stormy. He filled his mug and went to sit by himself at a table.
Merry waited a minute, then went over to Pippin’s table. “Where’s Marigold,” he asked casually, setting his plate down and sitting across from Pippin. Pippin just snorted and took a swig of ale.
Merry sighed. This was the third lass that Pippin had shown any interest in since they had returned to the Shire, and the third lass he’d broken things off with. Marigold Chubb had lasted longer than any of the others, a whole month. Astor Longbottom had been the first. He’d met her at Ivy’s birthday party. It had ended at a Yule party a few weeks later. Lavender Banks had lasted three days in April. Pippin didn’t like to talk about her at all.
“What happened?” Merry asked.
Pippin shrugged. “The same. As soon as it starts to get at all serious, they’re suddenly more concerned with how they’ll run Great Smials when I become Thain.” He plopped his mug down, sloshing ale onto the table. “They’re only interested in what I’ll become, not in me!”
“Well, Pip, maybe you just need to get to know each other better and--”
“I’ve tried, Merry! That’s the point. They don’t care! I try to talk to them about where I’ve been and what we all have been through, and then I’ll say ‘Wasn’t Boromir brave?’ and they’ll say ‘Who’s Boromir?’ They didn’t listen to a word I say.” He scowled and took another swig of ale. “And Marigold...” Pippin scowled. “I overheard her saying something rude about Rosie, because she’s ‘common’ and--” He waved his hand dismissively.
Merry reached over to pat his arm. “Well, there’s always more lasses,” he said.
Pippin shrugged again. “Maybe,” he muttered. He sighed and looked out at the party. “You’re lucky, Merry. Estella cares about you and what you’ve been through.” He nodded towards the crowd. “And she’ll be a wonderful mum for Ivy, too.”
Merry turned to follow Pippin’s gaze. Estella was talking with his cousin Celandine, Ivy perched casually on her hip as she chatted, the same as any mother carrying her child. Ivy’s head was resting on Estella’s shoulder, her eyes drifting closed after her busy morning of running around Brandy Hall.
Merry frowned. “Ivy already has a mum, Pippin,” he said, a little harshly.
“I know, but...” Pippin shook his head. “Forget it.” He tipped up his mug, now empty. “I’m going to get another ale.” He got up and walked into the crowd.
Merry slapped his hand to his forehead. Great! Now he’d have to patch things up with Pippin. He hadn’t meant to snap at him like that, it’s just... He looked over at Estella again. Anyone who didn’t know better would think that Ivy was her daughter from the way she held her. He knew it was an unspoken assumption, that if he married Estella she would become, for all intents and purposes, Ivy’s mother. He wasn’t sure how he felt about that. And he wasn’t sure if he was uncomfortable with the idea on Éowyn’s behalf, or if he just didn’t want to share Ivy.
He got up and went over to them. Estella smiled at his approach and he felt bad for feeling jealous of her relationship with Ivy. He knew he should feel lucky, that she was so willing to accept his daughter.
“I think it’s time for a nap,” he said quietly, gently touching Ivy’s back. She barely stirred.
“I figured she would be asleep soon. She was quite adamant that she didn’t want to go lie down,” Estella patted Ivy’s back. “I’ll go sit with her.” She started to turn towards the Hall and Merry touched her shoulder.
“I’ve got her,” he said, reaching for Ivy.
“It’s fine, Merry,” Estella said. “Enjoy your party! I have some knitting I can work on while she sleeps and--”
“No.” Merry took Ivy from her, cuddling her against his chest. “I want to take her.”
“She’s only trying to help, Merry,” Celly scolded. “You don’t have to snap at her!”
Merry sighed. Why was he in this mood all of a sudden? “Sorry,” he said. “I’m just...I guess my mood isn’t the best right now.” He kissed Ivy’s brow and handed the drowsy little girl back to Estella. “Thanks, Estella,” he said.
She smiled her sweet smile back at him. “That’s all right,” she said. She patted his arm. “I saw Marigold run past a few minutes ago in a right state. Maybe you should go talk to Pippin?”
Merry nodded. “Yeah, I think that would be a good idea.”
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.