29. Chapter 28 - June 1424
“We’re ready for you,” she said and pulled him down for a quick kiss before he went in to meet his newest child.
Celandine walked past him, carrying a bundle of sheets. “Congratulations,” she said softly.
Estella was tucked into their bed with a small bundle in her arms. Mrs. Bolger was leaning over them, talking quietly and smoothing her daughter’s sweaty curls. Estella looked up as he approached, looking exhausted but happy. Mrs. Bolger kissed him, too, then backed away to let him sit next to Estella.
“I’m afraid Ivy’s going to be disappointed,” Estella said. She passed the baby to Merry. “Here’s your son.”
Merry looked down at the tiny face, red and wrinkled from his long journey into the world. “Theoden,” he said, touching the damp curls on the baby’s head. He’d wanted more than anything to honor the king he so admired by naming a son for him. He would have deferred to Estella if she had wanted to name a son after her father, who had died when Estella was in her early tweens, but Estella wanted Freddy to have that name to pass on.
He looked up at Estella. “He’s beautiful. You’re beautiful.” He leaned over and kissed her tenderly. “Love you,” he whispered against her cheek. He handed little Theoden back to her.
“I love you,” she said. Then her eyes looked past him and Merry turned. His mum was bringing Ivy in to meet her brother. Ivy pulled away from her Gran and came over to climb into his lap.
“Gran said I have a brother,” she sighed, leaning over to look at the baby. Merry couldn’t tell if it was disappointment or sleepiness in her voice.
“His name’s Theoden,” Merry said.
Ivy wrinkled her nose. “He’s all squished,” she said.
Estella smiled and patted Ivy’s leg. “That’s what new babies look like. Remember? We talked about it.”
Ivy nodded. Estella had tried to explain as much as possible to the four-year-old about how the baby would arrive.
“Was I squished, too?” Ivy asked.
“A bit,” said Merry. Actually, as tiny as she was for Éowyn, she’d hardly been squished at all. But Merry didn’t feel like getting into it with her.
“When can I play with him?” Ivy said, poking her finger at her brother’s hand.
“It will be a while yet, Ivy. He’s got to grow a bit,” Estella said.
“Oh,” she said, disappointment in her voice.
“Do you want to hold him?” Estella asked.
Ivy perked up at that. “Can I?”
“Come sit next to me and you can hold him in your lap.”
Merry put Ivy down and she raced around the bed.
“Easy, now,” Merry scolded. Ivy slowed to a walk, then climbed up on the bed.
“Sit back against the headboard,” Estella said, “and hold out your arms, just like you did to hold Frodo.”
Ivy did as she was told and Estella put the baby in her arms. Merry sighed happily at the big grin on Ivy’s face. It seemed she wasn’t going to be too disappointed she had a brother instead of a sister.
Merry turned at a touch on his shoulder. “Congratulations,” Pippin said. Pippin had arrived late last night and he and Freddy had sat up much of the night with him in the parlor while he fretted and worried over Estella.
Freddy squeezed in to kiss Estella and she grinned up at her brother. “Your turn now,” she said, winking at him.
“I’m sure I’ll be hearing all about babies from Celly,” Freddy laughed.
“All right,” Mrs. Bolger said, “Estella needs some rest, so everyone except Merry can go make us some breakfast.”
“I think she’s talking to us, Pip,” Freddy laughed.
Merry leaned over and touched Ivy’s leg. “Ivy, how about you go with Uncle Pippin. Estella and the baby need to rest.”
She sighed and gave the baby back to Estella. Then she stood up and walked across the bed to jump into Pippin’s arms.
“Oof, Ivy!” Pippin said, “You’re getting too big for that!”
She pouted at him. “You won’t carry me anymore?”
He hugged her. “Of course I will.”
Merry shook his head as he watched everyone file out of the room. Then he turned to Estella. “I can’t believe he accuses me of spoiling her. He’s worse.”
Estella rolled her eyes. “You both spoil her,” she laughed and patted his leg.
“Thank you, Ivy,” Estella said, taking the cloth that Ivy had brought her.
Ivy smiled, quite pleased that she could help Estella, and climbed up to sit next to her on the couch. “He eats a lot,” Ivy said, watching Theo nurse. Estella always seemed to be nursing Theo.
“He certainly does, doesn’t he?” Estella said, smiling and patting Ivy’s knee.
Ivy leaned her head on Estella’s arms to watch her brother. He was just a week old now. She liked having a little brother, though she still wished he would have been a sister.
Estella shifted Theo around to her other breast and now Ivy could touch the silky curls on his little head. Theo waved his hand and made little grunting noises as he nursed. Ivy giggled. He sounded like the piglets at Uncle Freddy’s farm.
When Theo was finished, Estella cuddled him on her shoulder over the cloth that Ivy had brought her. She murmured softly to him as she patted his back to get any burps to come out. Ivy wrinkled her nose when he burped up a tiny bit of milk. “Was I that messy?” she asked.
Estella chuckled as she wiped up Theo’s mouth. “Messier,” she said. “Your dad used a bottle to feed you, so you burped a lot more.”
“Oh.” She couldn’t imagine being messier than Theo.
Estella kissed Theo’s hands and Ivy frowned. She’d been thinking about her real mother more since Theo was born. Had her mother ever kissed her? She’d asked her dad about her mother a few times since she’d found out about her, but he didn’t say much about her. And he always looked sad after. So she didn’t ask him anymore.
“Would you like to help me give Theo a bath?” Estella asked, smiling at her.
Ivy nodded and smiled back. Even if she didn’t have her real mother, at least she had Estella.
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.