28. Chapter 27 - April 1424
“I think the baby wants to say hello to you,” Estella said.
Merry smiled, glad to be home at Crickhollow with his family after a day at Brandy Hall. It was a beautiful sight watching Ivy pat Estella’s round belly. His daughter had never let up on her excitement since finding out about the baby. She was also still convinced she would get a sister, no matter how many times they’d explained that it could be a boy. They’d been very careful to always use ‘the baby’ or ‘it’, never indulging her with ‘she’. A part of him hoped for a girl just to avoid Ivy’s disappointment.
“Where’d she go?” Ivy asked.
Estella rubbed her belly. “Sleeping, I think. Babies get tired out from all that kicking.”
Ivy sighed and slumped back on the couch next to Estella. “I suppose,” she said.
Estella patted Ivy’s head and turned back to her knitting.
“How much longer until the baby comes?” Ivy asked, an almost daily question since Estella had started to show.
“Just a bit longer,” Estella said patiently. “Not until after Uncle Freddy’s wedding.”
Ivy wrinkled her nose. “I wish Uncle Freddy would hurry up and get married,” she muttered.
Merry snorted, quickly hiding the laugh as a cough. Ivy both surprised and amused him with the ideas she got in her head.
“Well, it will still take until June for the baby to come,” Estella said. “Uncle Freddy doesn’t have much to do with it.”
“Oh.” Ivy swung her feet impatiently. “I still wish she’d hurry up and come.”
“The baby won’t come until it’s good and ready,” Estella said. “You can’t rush these things.”
Ivy sighed again, a pitiful, dejected sigh, as if the baby was making her wait on purpose.
“Would you like to help me with the ponies, Ivy-lass?” Merry asked. Maybe he could distract her from babies for a while. Ponies always seemed to work for that. She loved ponies. Just like her mother.
“All right,” she said, giving Estella’s belly a last, longing glance.
“Ponies all taken care of?” Estella asked. She sat on the bed, sorting through the baby clothes that had been part of her bridal chest. She’d been doing that a lot lately, sorting through clothes and blankets and diapers over and over again. Merry had asked his mum about it, worried about Estella’s sudden odd behavior. His mum had just chuckled and told him not to worry, that it was perfectly normal behavior for a lass getting close to giving birth.
“Ponies are fed, Ivy is in the bath,” he said, bending down to kiss her cheek. He sat on the end of the bed. “She’s so excited about the baby. She chattered away the whole time about how she was going to teach her sister to ride a pony.” He frowned. “I just hope she isn’t too disappointed if its a boy.”
“She’ll be fine,” Estella said. She stood up and picked up the pile of diapers, carrying them back over to the trunk. She knelt down and opened the trunk to put away the baby things. “She may be a little disappointed at first, but I think she’ll come around rather quickly. She likes babies.” She turned to Merry and winked. “Even noisy boys. She seemed to like little Frodo well enough once she got to hold him.”
He handed Estella the stack of clothes. “Yeah.” He smiled. Ivy had been quite proud of herself that Rosie had let her hold the baby. And she’d been very gentle and careful with Frodo. She would be a good big sister.
Estella hummed softly to herself as she carefully packed the tiny clothes into the cedar trunk. Merry lay back, propping his chin on his hand to watch her. It had been amazing, experiencing Estella’s pregnancy--experiencing all the things he had missed with Ivy.
He had just a tiny bit of resentment that Faramir had experienced the things he’d missed--feeling Ivy’s first kicks and exploring the changes in her mother as Ivy grew--the things he cherished with Estella and this baby. But it really wasn’t fair of him to be resentful of that. Faramir may have felt Ivy’s first kicks, but Merry had her first words, her first steps... and he wouldn’t trade that for anything.
Estella closed the lid of the trunk and pushed herself to her feet--Merry knew better than to offer her help--and turned to smile at him. Was it possible that his wife had grown more beautiful since she’d gotten pregnant? He patted the bed next to him, raising his eyebrows suggestively.
“Daddy! The water’s cold!” Ivy’s shrill voice echoed from the bathroom.
Merry slumped back on his pillow, slapping a hand to his forehead. “I forgot she was in the bath.”
“I’ll get her,” Estella laughed.
A few minutes later a small body flung herself onto the bed and then onto Merry, burrowing in next to him and putting very cold hands on his neck.
“Ivy! You’re freezing!” He said, pulling her hands away from his neck.
“Estella said I should do that,” she said, giggling.
“Why?” Merry asked, pouting at her.
“Because you deserve it,” Estella said as she came in the room with a towel in hand. She flashed Merry a cheeky grin then held out the towel. “Let’s finish your hair, Ivy, then you can be off to bed.”
Ivy scrambled over to sit on the edge of the bed and Estella sat next to her to dry her hair. Ivy’s hair had straightened once she passed toddler age. It was fine, like her mother’s, and most days she needed Estella to braid it for her to keep it under control.
“All finished,” Estella said.
They took Ivy to her room to tuck her in, then returned to their own bedroom. Merry lay back down on the bed and patted the spot next to him again. He grinned at Estella. “Now, where were we?”
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.