25. Chapter 24 - May 1423
“Hello, Ivy-lass,” Merry said, catching her in a tight hug and kissing her cheek. He had missed her. He looked up at his cousin.”I thought you were in Tuckborough, Pip.”
Pippin shrugged and dropped Ivy’s bag on a chair. “I decided I’d stay at Brandy Hall and let your mum spoil me. I’m Aunt Esme’s favorite nephew, you know.” He grinned.
“Right, Pip,” Merry said, shaking his head.
Estella came into the parlor. “Hello, Ivy,” she said.
“Hi,” Ivy said with a sigh, settling back into her father’s arms.
Merry shared a look with Estella. Estella shrugged. “Did you have fun this week?” she asked.
“I guess,” Ivy said, shrugging.
There was an awkward silence as Merry looked from Estella to Pippin. He couldn’t figure out why Ivy would suddenly be rude to Estella.
“Well,” said Pippin. “Maybe I should get going back to the Hall. My last night of freedom before returning to Tuckborough.” He turned to leave and Ivy leapt from her father’s lap.
“Don’t go!” she cried, throwing herself at him and wrapping her arms around his leg. She was sobbing.
Merry sighed. He’d been afraid this might happen. Although they’d told Pippin he was more than welcome to stay at Crickhollow, Pippin had decided he should move back to Great Smials. He’d told Merry that he wanted to give them space to be a family. Merry suspected that it was a way for Pippin to give in to his family’s demands for him to return home without actually appearing to give in. Merry just hoped it would get Pippin to work things out with his father.
Pippin had moved all his belongings from Crickhollow a few days before the wedding, but Ivy had already been staying at Brandy Hall then, to ‘help’ her gran get things ready and, well, this was the first time she would really have to deal with Pippin leaving them. He knew it wasn’t fair to Pippin, but he wished Pip had let someone else bring Ivy home to Crickhollow, so they wouldn’t have to go through this.
“Ivy,” Pippin pleaded. He pried her off his leg and knelt down to look at her. “I’m sorry, love. But I have to go home to Tuckborough. I don’t live here anymore.”
“Because Estella’s here?” Ivy said angrily, turning to glare at her step-mother.
Merry glanced at Estella. Estella was staring at Ivy a bit wide-eyed, her eyes wet. Merry ran a hand through his hair in frustration. This was just not going well.
“Let’s go have a talk, Ivy,” Merry said. He walked over to his daughter and took her hand to lead her to her room.
Once inside he shut the door. “Sit,” he said, waving towards the bed.
Ivy climbed up onto the bed and sat there, arms crossed, pouting.
“Ivy...” Merry sighed. “It’s not Estella’s fault Uncle Pippin in leaving. He’s leaving because he needs to go home to Tuckborough. He’s going to have to start his own family soon. He’ll get married and have children of his own. Won’t you like that? Having some new cousins to play with?”
She shrugged. “I’d rather play with Uncle Pippin.”
“Ivy, he... He’s not going to be able to play with you much anymore. He has to be a grown up.” He sat next to her and put an arm around her. “I thought we talked about this. You knew Uncle Pippin was going to move to Tuckborough. Why are you mad about it now?”
“It wasn’t really real then,” she whispered. “But now he’s going to leave and...” She burst into tears again.
“Ivy.” Merry hugged her. He felt sorry for her. He knew it must be difficult for a three-and-a-half-year-old to deal with these changes to her family. But he’d hoped talking about it beforehand would have prepared her better. Apparently not. “I thought you were excited about Estella living with us?” Ivy had seemed very happy at the idea when he’d first explained what would happen after they married. But, he supposed she didn’t want to trade Pippin for Estella, if she thought Estella was the reason Pippin was leaving.
“I guess so,” she said. “I don’t know why she didn’t live here before.”
Merry blushed. He’d save that explanation for another day. Or maybe leave it up to Estella.
Ivy wiped here eyes. “But I want Uncle Pippin to stay,” she sighed.
“I know, love,” he said, kissing her head. “But he was going to have to leave us sooner or later, even if I didn’t marry Estella. Do you understand that?”
She pouted for a moment longer, then nodded.
“And he’ll come visit us as often as he can. All right?”
She nodded again, smiling a little this time.
Merry patted her leg. “Now, I think you should go apologize to Estella.”
Merry led Ivy into the kitchen. Pippin and Estella were sitting across from each other at the table, the lunch Estella had prepared uneaten. Pippin’s hand rested on Estella’s and Estella was wiping her eyes.
“What do you say, Ivy?”
“I’m sorry, Estella,” she said, looking at her toes. “I’m glad you live with us now.”
“Thank you, Ivy,” said Estella.
“Now sit and eat,” said Merry. Ivy ran to sit next to Pippin. Merry sat next to Estella. He put his arm around Estella and whispered in her ear “I’ll tell you about it later.”
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.