58. Chapter 57 - May 1434
The letter from Theo confirmed her fears.
“Don’t tell Dad I told you this--we’re not supposed to know--but Uncle Pippin is not doing well at all. He fell off his pony and broke his arm. Mum told us it was because the roads were icy and the pony slipped, but Fari told me his Dad was drunk when Ferdy Took brought him home. Fari heard them say Uncle Pippin was lucky he didn’t break his neck. Fari says he’s been drinking a lot more. He manages his duties as Thain, so no one says anything. Fari said Diamond didn’t even care that his Dad got hurt. Fari said Dad, Uncle Sam and Uncle Freddy have all tried to talk to Uncle Pippin about this, but it always ends in an argument. Fari’s really scared something bad’s going to happen to him.”
Ivy’s stomach clenched and she felt the tears prick at her eyes. She was afraid something bad was going to happen to him, too.
“Is something wrong, Ivy?” Éowyn asked. Ivy shook her head and wiped her eyes. Her mother would probably tell her father if she found out Ivy was upset about Uncle Pippin. And then Theo might get in trouble, and she didn’t want that to happen because she was grateful to Theo for telling her these things. “No...um, Theo wrote and said one of the ponies is really sick. One of my favorites.” She excused herself and rushed to her room.
The first thing she did was write to Theo.
“I’m worried about him, Theo. Keep an ear out and let me know how he’s really doing. Dad doesn’t tell me much. Keep an eye on Fari, too. He’s going to need your friendship, especially if Uncle Pippin manages to do himself more harm.”
She didn’t have the heart to add “or kill himself.” Part of her was angry at Uncle Pippin for doing this to himself. He would only end up hurting everyone who loved him. He was the only real parent Fari had and she didn’t want to think about what it would do to her father if his best firend drank himself to death. She didn’t want to think about what it would do to her.
She sighed and pulled out a fresh parchment.
Dear Uncle Pippin,
Dad told me about the Thain. I’m sorry about losing your father and I hope everything is well with you.
Ivy sighed again. Did she want to tell him she knew about the drinking? Probably not. She knew grown hobbits usually didn’t like comments on their drinking habits. She’d take a different approach.
I am having fun here in Gondor. Legolas is still teaching me Elvish, so maybe I can help Uncle Sam finish some of Bilbo’s translations when I get back. I know you wanted to add them to your library. I really like Legolas. He tells me the funniest stories...
And she wrote about the stories Legolas had told her, and about seeing Gimli again at her birthday, and teasing her brothers, and her new friends and anything else that would make him laugh, or at least bring a smile to his face.
It seems a very long time until I’ll be home again. I miss you very much. Promise me we’ll go for a ride as soon as I get back?
I miss you.
Ivy bit her lip. Making him promise to be there when she got back wasn’t much, but she felt like she had to do something. She folded the letters, sealed them with her own stamp that Faramir had given her for her birthday, and went off to find out when the messenger was heading back north.
“Do you know what that is, Ivy?” King Elessar knelt down in front of her. He handed her a badge, engraved with the tree and stars of Gondor.
“No, sir,” she said. She shifted from foot to foot. Was she supposed to know what it was?
Her whole family had come to Minas Tirith on one of Faramir’s monthly meetings with the King, and the King had requested to see her. She could not imagine why. While her mother went to visit the Queen, Ivy’s siblings in tow, Faramir had brought Ivy to the King’s audience chamber.
“That badge is going to be sent to your father. And there’s one for Pippin and one for Sam. And it’s going to show that the Master of Buckland and the Thain and the Mayor are my counsellors in the North Kingdom, which means that they will be my representatives and advise me. They will be very important hobbits. Well, more important. I know that they are already very important.”
He took her hand. “Now, being a King, everything has to be done with a ceremony.” He rolled his eyes and smiled at her. She smiled back. She didn’t know why everyone was so jumpy around kings. She knew two and they were both very nice. “So how would you like to represent the Shire and accept this on their behalf.”
“Yes. I’ve already written to your father and he said they would all be proud if you did.”
She nodded and looked back at Faramir. He nodded and smiled. “I’ll take our young ambassador to get ready then, shall I?” Faramir said. They said their farewells to the King and Faramir took her back to the Steward’s apartments to get ready.
She followed Faramir back into the throne room, which was now filled with people. She knew her mother was in the crowd somewhere, but couldn’t find her. She tugged nervously at the collar of the new dress she had been given, the wool scratchy against her throat. She felt a bead of sweat trickle down her forehead and suddenly had second thoughts about this and slowed. Faramir glanced back, noticed she had dropped behind, and went back to her. He knelt down and took her hand.
“If you don’t want to do this, Ivy, you don’t have to. We just thought you might like to.”
Ivy took a deep breath. It was scary, but she bet it was nowhere near as scary as facing orcs or a Nazgûl. “No. I’m all right.” she said. She’d make her dad proud.
There ceremony was thankfully quick. Aragorn talked about the Shire, and hobbits, and how important they were to Gondor. Then she accepted the badges--and the positions they represented--on behalf of her father and Uncle Pippin and Uncle Sam. Then it was all over. Faramir took her hand and they followed the King and Queen from the throne room and out of the White Tower into the cool spring air, then into the King’s House for a reception. Everything had to have a reception, Aragorn had told her.
Ivy was surprised when four figures attacked her in a group hug.
“What are you doing here?” she laughed, pushing her friends off before they suffocated her.
“Your mother invited us to come,” said Gwen. “Since it was such an important occasion for you.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Ivy huffed.
“Oh, we only found out yesterday,” laughed Kelian. “Lady Éowyn is smart enough to know that Eifa would never keep her mouth shut and ruin the surprise!”
They all laughed at Eifa’s indignant “What!”
Later, they escaped from the party to roam the upper levels of the city.
“Come on, the Guard’s changing!” yelled Kelian. The girls raced after her, over to a wall overlooking the street below. “There he is!” she squealed, pointing down into the sea of black and silver tunics. Ivy wasn’t sure which one she was pointing at.
“Don’t they look handsome?” said Brenna, dreamily.
“Which one do you like, Ivy?” asked Eifa.
Ivy shrugged. She was still embarassed that she noticed things like that now.
“You can tell us, Ivy,” teased Brenna.
“Leave her alone,” said Kel, “Maybe she doesn’t want to say.” She took Ivy’s hand. “Let’s go down. Maybe we can catch Geron coming off duty!”
The raced down the stairway to the next level. The soldiers were breaking ranks, dismissed from their duty for the day. Kel made her way to one of them and threw herself into his arms.
Geron was a handsome young man with the dark hair and blue eyes common in Gondor. When he smiled and shook Ivy’s hand in greeting, she was mortified at the blush she felt on her cheeks. She was still getting used to that, this new feeling she got from being around boys.
Kel was postively glowing by the time they left to return to the Citadel. She told Ivy she had known Geron all her life and always knew she would marry him.
“You didn’t love him much when he was pushing you in the mud or putting worms in your hair,” laughed Gwen.
“That’s when we were children!” Kel said, trying not to laugh through the pout on her face.
“Are there any boys in the Shire you like, Ivy?” asked Eifa.
Ivy shook her head, a bit surprised by the question. It hadn’t even crossed her mind while she was in the Shire. “No.”
“You were never sweet on anyone?” Brenna asked incredulously.
“I was too young for that,” she said, then blushed, thinking how everyone said she had an infatuation with Uncle Pippin when she was seven. She certainly wasn’t going to bring that up.
“There is someone!” crowed Eifa, grabbing Ivy’s arm. “You’re blushing!”
“No!” said Ivy, a bit more forcefully than she intended. “I don’t really know many boys in the Shire because I was always too tall and different and no one wanted to be around me!”
She tore away from Eifa and stomped off towards the stairs to the Citadel. She fought the tears that were pricking at her eyes. There wasn’t any point in being sweet on any of the lads in the Shire because none of them would ever want to be sweet on her.
Before she reached the stairs, a hand grabbed her.
“I’m sorry,” Eifa said and she pulled Ivy into a hug. Then the other girls were there, too, fussing over her.
Ivy backed away from them. “I’m fine. Really,” she said. She didn’t want them feeling sorry for her. She made herself smile and shrug. “I guess... I don’t know. I never really thought about it before. I wasn’t expecting to have to for a very long time. It’s hard to get used to, dealing with boys now.”
“Don’t worry!” Brenna said cheerfully. “We’ll help you!”
Ivy snorted. “Is that supposed to make me feel better?”
They all laughed and Ivy felt a little better now. “Come on,” she said, walking back towards the party. She gave them a cheeky grin over her shoulder. “I’ll introduce you all to Legolas again.”
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.