43. Chapter 42 - August 1428
Merry startled awake from his afternoon nap in the shade when a soaking wet Elanor Gamgee jumped into his lap. Behind her stood an equally wet Ivy, holding the biggest bullfrog Merry had ever seen. Ivy was giggling.
“What are you going to do with that?” he asked.
“She’s going to put it on my head!” Elanor said, burying her face in Merry’s neck.
Merry put his arms around her and fixed his daughter with a glare. “Is that true?”
Ivy gave him a look of total innocence that she most likely had learned from Pippin. “I was just going to show it to her,” she said, trying to sound like the very idea of putting the slimy creature on her friend’s head would have never crossed her mind, but Merry caught the glint in her eye.
Merry eyed the massive bullfrog clasped in Ivy’s hands. He was sure the thing would give Elanor nightmares. While his daughter was a tomboy and had no qualms at all about picking up frogs and bugs, Elanor was a little lady. It sometimes surprised him that they were such good friends.
The frog wriggled, forcing Ivy to renew her grip on it. She could barely get her hands around it.
“However did you manage to catch that?” asked Merry.
“Oh, it was easy! Uncle Pippin showed me...” she trailed off, like she did any time Pippin came up and turned to let the frog go. It leapt into the Brandywine as soon as she loosened her grip and disappeared into the tea-colored water.
Ivy stood and watched it go, arms wrapped around herself and her jaw set. Merry didn’t know what to do about her. She was still upset about Pippin but refused to talk about it. He and Estella had both tried talking to her, multiple times. She’d just sigh and give him that look, the one that Éomer and Faramir had laughed about when Ivy had given it to Elboron in Rohan. It was pure, stubborn Éowyn. Then she’d point out that she was being nice to Pippin and Merry couldn’t argue with that. She hadn’t said anything rude to him since he’d scolded her last year. But he thought that had more to do with her not wanting to say much to him at all. They didn’t see Pippin much as it was, maybe once a month, and Ivy always managed to avoid him.
He knew it hurt Pippin that Ivy felt like he had ‘abandoned’ her. But what could Pippin do? He was an adult now and had to act like it. Pippin was finally starting to patch things up with his father and needed to stay at home more. And he had Diamond to deal with.
Merry was angry that Pippin had had this marriage forced on him. His father hadn’t given him much of a choice in the matter. He wanted Pippin to be settled down and thinking about his future and he was willing to threaten his son with being disowned if he didn’t go through with it and settle down in his responsibilities. So Pippin had given in. He tried to keep a positive view of things. He had hoped that Diamond would at least be a kindred spirit in this situation--she hadn’t had any choice in the marriage either. But he was wrong. The sour attitude that Diamond had shown towards him since the first day they’d met hadn’t changed.
At first, Merry had just thought she was taking out her anger at the arrangement on Pippin. But she’d started endearing herself to the Thain, playing the dutiful daughter-in-law. Nothing Pippin or his sisters said would convince their father that Diamond wasn’t what she seemed. And now Pippin had his mother’s poor health to worry about. He had too many worries to have to deal with Ivy’s tantrums, too.
Merry sighed. He hated that there wasn’t anything he could do to help his best friend. Or that there wasn’t anything he could do to deal with his stubborn daughter.
He lifted Elanor from his lap and stood up. “Well, let’s go get washed up,” he said to Ivy. “Your gran will have a fit if we come to the table smelling like the river.”
Ivy and Elanor giggled, bullfrogs and Pippin forgotten. They ran back up to the Hall together, hands clasped. Merry smiled. He was glad that Elanor had been able to come this summer. Although Sam and Rosie relied on her to help with her siblings, they also knew that Ivy needed a friend. In fact, it was Rosie who had suggested they ‘borrow’ Elanor for a while.
That was another problem. Elanor was Ivy’s only friend. She still didn’t play with her cousins here in Buckland. He didn’t know what to do about that, either. He did realize that the other children thought her odd, but Ivy never made any attempt to make friends with any of them, either. How did he get such a stubborn daughter? Then he thought of Éowyn, defiantly going into battle, and Éomer, his eyes blazing as he listened to reports of raids by orcs. Merry sighed. He had a good idea now how he had gotten such a stubborn daughter.
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.