56. Chapter 55 - August 1433
She lowered her bow and gave her brothers a gloating smile, quite pleased with herself.
“Lucky,” Elboron muttered. He trotted away towards the straw dummy dressed in battered orc armor to retrieve their arrows. Only hers had managed a killing shot so far today.
“Very good, Ivy,” Faramir said. “You have a good eye for your target.”
“An excellent shot!” Legolas said. “You should recruit her for your rangers, Faramir.” He gave Ivy a wink.
Faramir chuckled. “I value my life too much, Legolas,” he said. “If her father didn’t kill me, I know her mother would!”
Ivy smiled up at Faramir. She’d never really gotten to know him very well on her visits to Rohan. She’d always spent most of her time with her mother. She did want to get to know him better--he was her other father, after all--so she’d happily taken up his invitation to join her brothers for archery lessons.
Today Legolas had joined them. He often made visits to Emyn Arnen, reporting on the work of his kin in the forests north of here. There was still a danger from rogue orcs and Easterlings, and the elves patrolled the northern borders with Mordor.
Ivy retrieved her arrows from Elboron and wiped her brow. She didn’t think she’d ever get used to the heat in Gondor. The air was thick and still in the southern summer, nothing like the cool summers of the Shire or the constant wind in Rohan. At least within the forest they were shaded from the sun, though it didn’t help the humidity at all. She felt sorry for the rangers who had to be out in this weather all day.
“Ready to try again?” Faramir asked.
Ivy would have liked nothing better than to go home and have a big glass of cold lemonade, but as her brothers were taking their stances and nocking their arrows, she’d do the same. It seemed it didn’t matter if her brothers were hobbit or Gondorian, she had a need to outdo them just the same.
Ivy was glad for the company of her new friends. Éowyn was often busy in Ithilien’s House of Healing, or with her duties as a Prince and Steward’s wife, so Ivy didn’t have nearly as much time with her as they did in Rohan. So during the day, the her friends would come to get her and they’d walk to the market or go to one of their homes, usually with Wyn tagging along. None of Ivy’s friends had little sisters, so Wyn was in her glory being pampered and preened and cooed over.
But some days her mother would set her duties aside and spend time with Ivy, just the two of them. They’d go riding--always with an escort, as the forests still held dangers this close to Mordor--or they’d just sit in the parlor and talk about things.
“Kel’s getting betrothed,” she told Éowyn one day, still a little shocked at her friend’s revelation from that morning. Kelian had come back from a trip to Minas Tirith with her family nearly bursting with the news. The other girls had squealed in delight, but Ivy had only stared at her in shock. She knew there was a boy Kel liked, a boy who had grown up here in Emyn Arnen but had gone to Minas Tirith to be a guard. And now Kel was going to marry him in a year.
“That’s wonderful news!” Eowyn said. “When’s the betrothal? If we have time, we’ll make a trip to Minas Tirith to find her a gift.”
“All right.” Ivy shrugged and sighed. She knew she should be happy for Kel, but...
“What’s the matter, Ivy?”
Ivy looked up at her mother. “She’s only fifteen. Only a year older than me. And she’s going to be getting married and... And I’ll still be...” She glanced down. Her friends all had breasts and hips and had started their monthly. She was still a little girl, like any other nearly-fourteen year old hobbit girl. A hobbit lass didn’t go through those changes until she was twenty or so. Once again, she felt so very different from the people around her.
“Are you afraid of being left behind?” Éowyn asked.
“A little.” Why would they still want to be her friend, when she couldn’t share in the things they were going through. She wasn’t even interested in boys. At all. Or in dresses or in what color ribbons were in her hair. She sometimes wondered why her friends even liked her. But they did. They’d ask her opnions on things, even if it was on which boy was cuter (she did notice that, a little), or they’d take great delight in doing her hair or dressing her up and, all right, so maybe she even enjoyed it a little, but she still felt a bit of an outsider to them.
She recieved her first letters from the Shire at the end of the month. Faramir brought a whole stack of them to her when he returned from a trip to Minas Tirith, letters from her dad and Estella and her brothers and Uncle Pippin. Gran, Uncle Freddy, Aunt Celly. All of the Gamgees old enough to write had written to her. Everyone she knew had written to her, it seemed.
She tore into them at the dinner table, too excited to wait. She opened her dad’s letter first, wanting to devour it right there, but upon reading his opening “I love you and miss you Ivy-lass, so very much,” she couldn’t stop the sobs that suddenly burst from her. She barely noticed Faramir shoo the rest of the children from the dining room while Éowyn held her as she wept.
“I’m sorry,” she sniffled when the tears were done. “I just miss dad, so much.” She hadn’t even realized how much, until she’d seen the words in that letter. She wiped at her eyes. She’d never gotten this upset over her mother’s letters. “Sorry,” she mumbled again.
“No, Ivy.” Éowyn shook her head and kissed Ivy’s brow, sweaty from the effort of her tears. “Don’t ever be sorry for missing him.” Éowyn pulled her into a tight embrace. “You won’t ever hurt me by missing him.”
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.