32. Chapter 31 - April 1425
Ivy raised the little wooden sword. Her arm was tired but she wasn’t going to say anything. She didn’t want to disappoint Uncle Pippin.
She’d always liked looking at her dad’s sword, hung on pegs over Crickhollow’s fireplace. He’d even let her hold it once when he’d taken it down for a polish. She’d grasped the slightly worn leather handle and... she’d nearly dropped it, it was so heavy. Her dad had to slide the rug over the gouge she’d made in the floor with the sword’s point, to hide it from Estella. Estella didn’t like her messing with the sword.
She’d overheard some of the stories her dad would tell to guests when they thought she was in bed. One was about a very brave lady who had killed an evil creature in a battle. Ivy wanted to be brave, too, like that lady. But her dad had refused to show her how to use a sword. When you’re older, he had said. Swords aren’t for little girls. So she asked Uncle Pippin instead.
At first he said no, because her father didn’t want her to learn. But she’d pleaded and pouted until Uncle Pippin had finally gave in. But he made her promise not to tell anyone about it. It would be their secret.
They would walk out to the back of the orchard, where no one in the house could see them, and he’d give her lessons. Today he was showing her the proper way to kill an orc. She knew orcs were big scary monsters and her dad and Uncle Pippin and Uncle Sam had fought them in a war.
“Ow!” She dropped her sword and clutched at her arm. She hadn’t been paying attention and Uncle Pippin’s sword had hit her.
“I’m sorry, Ivy! Let me see,” he said, kneeling next to her and taking her arm. “Oh, you’re fine. You’ll have a bruise, but it won’t last long.”
Ivy looked at his hands as he examined her arm. He had scars on his wrists. Her dad had the same marks, but he wouldn’t tell her about them. “What are those from?” she asked, touching his wrist.
“That’s from a rope. I was captured by orcs during the war.”
She ran her fingers over the silvery lines in his skin. “Dad, too?”
“Yes. Your dad was with me.”
She thought about that, her dad and Uncle Pippin with those awful orcs. “Were you scared?” She knew she would be scared.
Pippin paused for a moment, then sat down and pulled her into his lap, hugging her. “I was very scared. But I knew that I would be all right, because your dad was with me and he’s always taken care of me, since I was a baby.”
She touched the scars again. “Dad wouldn’t tell me what they were from.”
“Oh.” He sighed. “Well, you probably shouldn’t say anything about it then. Your dad may not want to talk about it. It’s sometimes hard to talk about scary things, even when you’re grown up.”
Ivy nodded, wondering about how scary something would have to be to scare her dad.
Uncle Pippin patted her back. “How about we quit for today. I’m not really in the mood to fight orcs anymore.”
They stood up and he took her hand to walk back to Crickhollow. They put the swords back in Ivy’s hiding spot in the stable and then went and lay on the hill to watch the clouds. She rested her head on his stomach and Uncle Pippin pointed out all the shapes in the clouds and made up stories about them. He had told her that Uncle Frodo had done the same for him when he was a little boy. Ivy wished Uncle Frodo hadn’t gone away. He sounded like he was fun.
She felt a little sad as Uncle Pippin made up a story about a cloud that looked like a troll. She missed Uncle Pippin. She didn’t see him much anymore. He had to spend more time in Tuckborough with the grumpy Thain. She was lonely without him. She didn’t have anyone else to play with. Her cousins... well, she just didn’t know what to say to them. And they never said anything to her. Her granddad said they just didn’t know her very well, to give them a chance. Ivy wasn’t so sure. They always stared at her, making her feel strange for being so much taller than them.
Estella called them for supper and Ivy sighed. Uncle Pippin had said he would have to leave after supper.
They went back to the house and washed up, then sat at the table with Estella and Theoden. Theo was ten months old now and just starting to get fun to play with. Not right now though. Now his face and hands were covered in pea mush.
Her dad came in and sat next to her.
“What’s that on your arm, Ivy?” he asked.
She looked at the large red mark from Uncle Pippin’s sword, just now starting to turn colors. She looked up at Uncle Pippin, wondering what to say. They weren’t supposed to be playing with the swords and she didn’t want Uncle Pippin to get into trouble.
Pippin just shrugged. “She tripped out behind the stable and hit her arm on the fence,” he said, and continued filling his plate. Ivy nodded.
“You need to be more careful,” her father scolded. Then he turned to play with Theoden. Ivy smiled at Uncle Pippin and he winked at her.
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.