31. Chapter 30 - December 1424
She padded into his study, across the big wool rug and around his desk to where he sat.
“Hello, birthday girl,” he said. He put down his pipe and opened his arms. Ivy scrambled up into his lap and leaned back into his arms. “I thought you were playing with your cousins.”
Ivy frowned and shrugged. “They don’t like me.”
“Now, why would you say something like that?”
She shrugged again. “They don’t talk to me.”
“Maybe they just don’t know you very well.” He patted her leg. “Did you talk to them?”
She shook her head.
“I bet if you go talk to them, they’d talk to you.”
She shrugged. “Maybe.” She didn’t really want to talk to them. They stared at her and whispered. She wished Elanor could have come for her fifth birthday, but it was too cold and snowy this year for the the Gamgees to make the trip from Hobbiton. She wished her birthday wasn’t in winter.
“Should we go find them?” her grandfather asked.
She looked up at him. “Can I stay here with you?”
He frowned at her a little and she was a afraid he was going to say ‘no’. “I’ll be quiet,” she whispered, snuggling down into his lap. She didn’t want to play with cousins she didn’t know. She just wanted to stay here all cozy and warm with Granddad. She liked Granddad’s study. It was warm and smelled of pipeweed and peppermint candies. Estella had helped her make the candies as her birthday present for him. Granddad loved peppermints.
Her grandfather tapped out his pipe and hugged her. “How about we go for a walk?” he asked. She nodded and he slid her down from his lap. “Let’s go bundle up and we’ll go down and see the ponies. How about that?” He winked at her and she smiled. Granddad knew how much she liked ponies.
They pulled on cloaks and scarves, then Granddad took her hand and they walked to the back door that opened on the path to the stables. The stableboys had shoveled a path to the stable and the banks went over her head! Uncle Pippin had told her they didn’t often get this much snow in the Shire, and then he told her about the Fell Winter that had happened when Bilbo Baggins was young and about the Long Winter hundreds of years ago that made lots of hobbits die. He got in trouble from her Dad for telling her stories that would give her nightmares, but those stories didn’t scare her. She knew her Dad wouldn’t let anything bad happen to her.
They stepped out onto the snowy path and she sucked in her breath at that first sting of cold on her feet. Her feet always seemed to get cold too fast. Her Dad had got her some boots from Bree for the winter, but she didn’t like to wear them. Nobody else wore them.
Her Dad was in the stable, with Uncle Pippin and Uncle Freddy and Uncle Berilac. They had one of the yearling colts out, a black one. The colt’s father was Stybba and he was taller than the other foals. Ivy wondered if he felt different, too.
“I thought you were playing?” her dad asked. She saw him glance at her feet, but he didn’t say anything. They’d had enough arguments about her cold feet and he’d finally given up on the boots.
“No,” she said, avoiding his gaze and slipping past him to the pony. He bowed his head to her and she stroked his velvety nose. She wanted a pony of her own very much, but her dad said she had to wait until she was older.
“She’s not being a nuisance, is she?” her dad asked.
“No, no,” her grandfather said. “I needed a bit of a break from ledgers and figures and I thought we could take a walk.” Her grandfather came over and patted her head. “Come on, Ivy-lass. We’ll go sit down and stay out of their way.”
They sat on a bench against the wall and Ivy pulled her legs up, tucking her cold feet under her skirt. Her father and uncles were talking about breeding, which Ivy knew had something to do with foals being born. She wasn’t really sure. Uncle Pippin had turned bright red when she’d asked and he’d told her to ask Estella. Estella had told her she’d explain when she was older. Everything seemed to have to wait until she was older.
She snuggled closer to Granddad and he put his arm around her. “Are you cold?” he asked.
“No,” she said, dropping her feet back to the floor. She didn’t want Granddad to get mad about the boots, too.
They put the pony back in his stall, their talk switching to Uncle Freddy’s farm. Ivy sighed, slightly bored, and got up to walk around the stable. She stopped at Stybba’s stall and and climbed up on the door to pat his head. He nosed at her, tugging at her skirt with his lips, and she giggled. “I don’t have any carrots,” she whispered into his ear.
“Time to go in, Ivy,” her dad said.
She kissed Stybba’s cheek and jumped down from the door. She’d rather stay out here and pet the ponies, but she knew her dad wouldn’t let her.
“How about a pony ride back in?” her dad asked. He knelt down on one knee and patted his shoulder. She smiled and trotted over to him. She put her arms around his neck and he stood up, shifting her so she was comfortably on his back. He wrapped his hands around her feet, which was nice. They were still cold.
As much as she liked the stable, Ivy was glad to be back in the warm hall. She slid down off her dad’s back onto the rug to wipe her feet.
“There’s still a while before dinner, so why don’t you go play,” he said.
Ivy frowned. “I want to stay with Granddad.”
Her father and grandfather exchanged a look and her grandfather coughed. “I really do need to get some work done, Ivy-lass,” he said. “Maybe you should go play with your cousins for a while.”
She looked to Uncle Pippin, but he was talking to Uncle Freddy and Uncle Berilac. She sighed. “All right,” she said. She trudged away into the hall, down towards the nursery where her cousins usually played. She peeked inside. The girls were sitting in a circle, braiding their dolls’ yarn hair. Ivy sighed. She didn’t have a doll. Not here, anyway. She had one that Estella had given her, but she’d left it at home.
She sighed and turned away to go to her room. They wouldn’t want to play with her if she didn’t have a doll, too.
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.