38. Chapter 37 - August 1426
Éowyn turned to look at her husband, then leaned back into the arm he slipped around her shoulder. “I’m fine.” Faramir just nodded and hugged her from behind, resting his chin on her shoulder. Éowyn turned back to watching her daughter. “I’ll miss her.”
Ivy was busy watching her father and uncle play a game of chess. She didn’t understand the game, really, but she did know to cheer whenever a piece was removed--it didn’t matter to her whether it was Merry or Éomer who had lost the piece.
“You can still change your mind, Éowyn,” Faramir murmured to her. “She’s your daughter, too.”
Éowyn closed her eyes. They had talked about this, she and Faramir, just a few nights ago. About asking Merry to leave Ivy with her. Éowyn had decided against it then, but now...
Ivy cheered again as her father removed one of Éomer’s pawns and Éowyn sighed. As much as she loved Ivy, had loved spending time getting to know her daughter, Éowyn knew for certain that she had made the right decision. Ivy was happy with her father. She was happy with Estella--as much as it hurt to admit that--and with her brother, Theo. She was happy with her Uncle Pippin and Sam’s family and the Shire. Éowyn would not want to take any of that away from her.
“No. I won’t do that to them.”
Just seeing them together, it was obvious how much Merry adored his daughter. Taking Ivy away from him would rip his heart out. She would not do that to him. He had become such a dear friend to her in their time together during the war and in Minas Tirith. Sometimes she regretted having to hurt him with her betrothal, because she knew he had harbored feelings for her. She suspected he still did, to some extent. She often wondered what might have been if she had never met Faramir. What would she have done when she discovered she was pregnant? Would she have married her daughter’s father, though they would surely face difficulties being Hobbit and Rohirrim. She liked to think so. She liked to think that she would have had the courage to follow her heart rather than worry about what others would think.
But she would never know. She had Faramir and Merry had Estella. And to be honest, she wouldn’t want to change that. She loved Faramir deeply and from the look in Merry’s eyes when he talked about his wife, Éowyn knew that any feelings he had for her were but a small spark compared to his love for Estella. It had all worked out for the best.
Ivy cheered again and hugged her father, congratulating him on his victory. Éowyn sighed again and Faramir gave her a squeeze. She grasped his hand. She knew Faramir had become quite attached to Ivy this summer, too. It would be hard for both of them to say good-bye to her. But they would. Ivy belonged with her father.
“Good-bye, Ivy,” Éowyn whispered, hugging Ivy tight to her.
“Good-bye,” Ivy said. She had to sniffle a little, trying not to cry.
“I love you,” Éowyn said and kissed her cheek.
“I love you,” Ivy whispered back. Then her mother let her go and stood up. Éowyn backed up a little and Faramir put his arm around her. Ivy could see the tears in her mother’s eyes.
Ivy felt a hand on her shoulder and looked up at her dad. “Ready?” he asked.
Ivy nodded. The good-byes were all said and now they had to begin their journey home. She kept her eyes down as her father helped her onto her pony. She knew if she saw her mother she would cry. And she didn’t want to cry.
Ivy tried very hard not to look back at Meduseld or the people they had just left as they rode away. But she couldn’t help it. She glanced back. They were waving to her. Uncle Éomer, Aunt Lothíriel, Faramir, her brothers... and her mother. Ivy turned back, squeezing her face hard, still trying not to cry.
Her father reached over to touch her arm. “It’s all right, Ivy,” he said gently.
She couldn’t hold the tears back any longer. She would miss them all so much, but especially her mum. She’d had so much fun with her mother, even more than with Uncle Pippin. Her mother had taken her out riding nearly every day and she’d even convinced her father to let her teach Ivy a bit of sword work. They’d shared a knowing look when her dad had commented on how quickly Ivy had picked up the sword skills. Ivy couldn’t wait to get home and show some of the new moves her mother taught her to Uncle Pippin.
Sometimes during her stay in Rohan, Ivy thought she might want to stay with her mother. But she always felt guilty about that. Estella loved her, too, after all. And if she left, she would miss her grandparents and Elanor and she’d especially miss Uncle Pippin. And Ivy couldn’t imagine ever leaving her dad.
When the tears finally subsided, Meduseld was just a small golden spot at the top of Edoras. She sniffled and wiped her face on her sleeve.
“We’ll see her again,” her dad said, reaching over to pat her back. “We’ll try to come back every other year or so.” He gave her a comforting smile and brushed a damp strand of hair from her cheek.
She nodded and smiled back. As much as she loved Rohan, and her family here in the south, she loved her dad most of all.
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