53. Chapter 52 - September 1432
Ivy tried to stop her fidgeting as Estella worked on pinning the hem of the skirt of her new dress. She hated this. She’d had an unusual growth spurt this summer and was now so tall that there were no hand-me-downs from older cousins that would fit her. All her clothes had to be made for her. She was only a few inches shorter than her dad!
The door to the parlor opened and her grandmother came in with a tray for tea. She set the tray on the table and turned to Ivy.
“That dress looks lovely, Ivy,” Gran said, smiling up at her. “But don’t slouch so. There’s no shame in being tall.”
Ivy pulled her shoulders back. “Sorry,” she mumbled. Gran and Estella were always reminding her to stand up straight.
“That’s my girl,” Gran said and patted her arm. “Merry’s just received a message from Gondor,” she said as she made her way to the chair by the sunny window. “He’d like to see you both when you’re through.”
Ivy noticed the worried look that passed between Estella and Gran. “What’s going on?” she asked.
“You’ll need to talk to your father,” Gran said, but Ivy suspected that she knew what was going on. She wondered if something bad had happened.
“Is my mother all right?” she asked. Her stomach hurt with worry now.
“Everyone’s fine, Ivy,” Gran said. “It’s just something your father needs to talk to you about.”
Ivy heard Estella sigh and looked down at her. Estella was rubbing her forehead, like she had a headache. “Why don’t you get changed and we’ll go see him now,” she said. “You’re going to be fidgeting anyway.”
Ivy stepped down from the stool and pulled the dress over her head, mindful of the pins. She pulled her old dress on over her chemise. It hung to just below her knees. As she tied the laces of her bodice, she heard Estella talking quietly to her Gran. “Might as well get it over with,” Estella said. She sounded sad.
Her father was at his desk, reading a letter. He was frowning. Ivy felt that pang of fear again, that something had happened. She sat next to Estella on the small couch near his desk.
“What’s wrong?” Ivy asked.
“Nothing’s wrong,” her dad said. He put the letter down and looked up at her. “It’s just that...” He sighed and got up from his desk. He came over to kneel in front of her. “I know you’ve been disappointed that we haven’t been able to go to Rohan for a few years. And I know you miss Éowyn, and she misses you as well, so... Éowyn would like you to come stay with her for a while.”
It took a moment for his words to register with her. “To Gondor?” she asked.
Her dad nodded.
“But I thought you couldn’t take time away from Buckland?”
“I wouldn’t be going, Ivy.” He took her hands. “Legolas is visiting his family in the Greenwood and will be travelling back to Gondor in the spring. He can take you to Gondor.”
Ivy’s heart was pounding. Go to Gondor without her dad? “For how long?”
Her father and Estella exchanged looks, then her dad looked back at her. “If you want, you can stay until the King makes his next tour of the kingdom. He can bring you back to the Shire.” He paused and sighed. “It would be three years.”
Ivy let out a shuddering breath. Three years? Away from her family, her home. But she did miss her mother and she always wanted to see Gondor and meet her father’s friends. She met her father’s eyes. He looked so sad.
“You don’t want me to go, do you?”
He squeezed her hands. “I won’t lie to you. I don’t like the idea of not seeing you for three years. But it’s not fair to keep you apart from your mother because of my responsibilities.”
Ivy bit her lip. This was hard. She didn’t want to leave her father, but she did miss her mother...
“I want to go,” she said. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Estella look away, wiping at tears. Ivy felt bad, but she knew she had to do this. She loved Estella, but she wanted to see her own mother.
Her dad nodded. “I’ll write to Legolas and Éowyn, then.”
Ivy sat alone out in the garden, wrapped in her cloak. It was cold out, a grey fall day, but she didn’t feel it. There was too much on her mind. In just a few months, Legolas would arrive to take her away to Gondor. She wanted to go, she wanted to see her mother, but she felt guilty about leaving her dad and Estella.
“What are you doing out here by yourself?”
She looked up at Uncle Pippin’s voice. He must have just arrived as he was coming up the path from the stables. She didn’t know if her dad had already told him about this trip.
“Dad’s letting me go to Gondor.”
“Gondor?!” He looked surpised. She guessed her father hadn’t told anyone except Estella and Gran. Pippin sat next to her. “How are you getting there? I didn’t think your dad could take any time away.”
“Legolas. He’s coming to get me in the spring. He’s visiting his family in Greenwood now and he’ll take me back to Gondor with him.”
Pippin smiled. “That should be fun! But if he offers you any lembas bread, only take a small bite. Trust me on this!” He laughed, but Ivy didn’t feel like laughing right now. He took her hand and she noticed for the first time how cold her hands were, wrapped in his warm fingers. “What’s the matter, Ivy?”
“It’s for three years, Uncle Pippin! I don’t think Dad and Estella are happy about me going, but I miss Éowyn...” She felt the tears start. She didn’t want to cry. She hated feeling this way, torn between her two families. Pippin put an arm around her and she leaned into him, tucking her head under his chin. He sighed. She could smell whiskey on his breath.
“Ivy, don’t worry about it,” he said softly. “You have to do whatever makes you happy, no matter what other people want. Promise me that, Ivy.”
Ivy pulled away and looked up at him. He looked sad. She realized he was thinking about his own unhappy life. He was unhappy because of what other people wanted. “I will, Uncle Pippin.” she said.
He smiled at her. “I’ll miss you,” he said and hugged her again.
“I’ll miss you, too,” she said. “You’re my best friend.”
He laughed and kissed her brow. “You’re lucky you inherited your father’s ability to pick the best of best friends then!”
Ivy smiled. He could always make her feel better. She would miss him dearly.
“And I got you to smile!” he said, patting her cheek. He stood up and offered his arm. “So how about we go in before you freeze to death out here?”
She smiled up at him and took his arm. He smiled back at her, but his eyes were still sad. They were always sad. She wished Uncle Pippin could be happy, 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.