63. Chapter 62 - December 1435
“It’s your last birthday with us!” her friends complained when Ivy tried to be angry at them.
“Fine,” she’d said, rolling her eyes at them. But then they’d looked so hurt and she didn’t want that. “Thank you. I appreciate you wanted to do this for me.”
Hurt feelings soothed, Ivy then turned her attention to Kel, who had come from Minas Tirith with her husband. Kel was now six months pregnant and positively glowing. Kel had grabbed her hand right away and pressed it to her belly. Ivy was delighted to feel the little pushes and kicks of the baby under her palm.
Now Kel was busy chatting with her mother, and her friends were dancing, so Ivy was alone. She sighed.
“How are you?” Éowyn asked, coming up and putting an arm around her.
Ivy shrugged. She was sure she knew her mother knew how she felt about this.
“I’m sorry, Ivy. They were set on doing this and I figured it would be better if I was involved to keep them in check.”
Ivy looked around at the gathering. The guests were mostly her age, people that she knew through her friends. “It’s all right. It’s not so bad.” In truth, she had resigned herself to being alone, so it no longer bothered her that everyone else was dancing. Well, it didn’t bother her much. There was still twinges of jealousy and want inside that she tried her best to ignore.
“Can I interrupt for a dance?” Faramir asked. He took Éowyn’s hand.
“Of course,” Ivy said. Éowyn gave her a smile and then was pulled out to the dance floor by Faramir. Ivy watched them, happy to see her mother and Faramir so happy and at the same time fighting the wish that she’d have that, too, someday. The most she could ever hope for is some poor lad being forced to wed her in an arranged marriage, like poor Pippin, and maybe growing to like her. She was sure there were some Shire families willing to push a son into a marriage with the Master’s only daughter, even if she was strange. But she also knew her dad would never arrange a marriage for her. She honestly wasn’t sure if she was happy about that.
“Would you like to dance?”
Ivy was startled out of her by the young man standing next to her. She remembered Kelian had introduced them earlier. He was a cousin of Geron’s and had just moved to Emyn Arnen with his family. But she couldn’t remember his name.
“I’m Derwyn,” he said. “Kelian introduced us.”
“Y-yes.” She remembered to smile. “I’m Ivy.”
“I know,” he said. “It’s your party.”
Ivy felt the blush burning her face. “Right.”
“So, would you like to dance.” He held out his hand.
Ivy stared at it for a moment. She couldn’t move. She had never been asked to dance before, not counting family like Faramir or Legolas. It had always been her friends pushing her off on some boy they knew.
“If you don’t want to...”
“No!” she sqeaked out. She took his hand. “I’d like to dance.”
Her heart was racing as they moved through the dance. She risked a look up at his face. He was handsome, dark like many Gondorians. He caught her looking and smiled. She felt herself blush again and swallowed, trying to calm herself, focusing on the buttons of his shirt. She’d never felt like this before about someone, not this strongly. Well, except for the time she had shown her friends the painting in the Hall of Remembrance, but she quickly pushed that out of her mind.
“I see you riding sometimes,” he said. “Do you like riding?”
Ivy relaxed. This was a subject she could talk about. “Oh, yes. I love it. I’ve been riding since I was little.”
“Not many girls like riding,” he said. “My father is a horsemaster. He trains the new soldiers in riding, so I’ve grown up riding.”
They talked about horses and the ponies her father was breeding, Shire ponies crossed with ponies from Rohan, and the best places in Emyn Arnen to ride. Then the music stopped and Derwyn took her arm and led her off the dance floor.
“Thank you for the dance, m’lady,” he said, bowing.
Ivy gave a curtsy in return. “Your welcome, m’lord.”
To her surpise, he didn’t leave her standing there. He picked up the conversation they’d been having, about mearas, and Ivy had a moment where she had no idea what he’d said. She was too amazed that he wanted to talk to her.
They danced a few more dances, much to the delight of Ivy’s friends, who finally whisked her away at one point to find out what she’d been talking about with Derwyn. They’d been sorely disappointed when she’d only tell them ‘horses’. Which was true. But they didn’t believe it.
Then the evening was over and Ivy was sad to see the party end, something she’d never have thought possible just a few hours ago. She wondered if she would see Derwyn again.
He took her hand when he came to say his farewell. “Would you like to go riding with me some time?”
Ivy nodded, unable to speak because the butterflies in her stomach seemed to be fluttering up to her chest.
Derwyn smiled and she watched him leave until he’d disappeared out the door with his parents. Then she found herself dragged off by her friends again, so they could find out why Ivy was blushing so much.
It was a few days after her party and Ivy was sitting on the window seat in her parents room, the best place to get light for reading on a winter’s day. She caught a bit of movement out of the corner of her eye and glanced out the window. Someone was walking up the path to the house. Ivy leaned closer to peer through the glass, wondering who would be visiting Faramir when it was only just after lunch. Her eyes widened when she realized who it was and the history of Numenor slid to the floor when she suddenly jumped up and raced to the hallway.
She pressed herself against the wall, next to the landing that looked down upon the front door. The bell was rung and her breath caught in her throat. Derwyn was here.
She hadn’t expected to see him again. His talk about going for a ride had made her giddy at the time, but afterwards she realized he was only being polite. At least he’d actually talked to her. She was grateful enough for that. But now...
She heard Elisa, their maid, open the door and the murmur of conversation. Then Faramir’s voice, echoing up in the hallway. “Hello, young man. What can I help you with?”
Ivy edged to the corner of the wall so she could peek down below. Faramir had his back to her, hands on his hips. Derwyn stood near the door, looking like a frightened rabbit. Faramir was an issue she hadn’t considered.
“I’ve...erm...” Derwyn fidgeted then took a deep breath. “I’ve come to see Ivy, sir.”
Ivy saw Faramir stiffen slightly, then nod. He turned to look up the stairs and Ivy pulled back so he wouldn’t see her. “Ivy!” he called out to her.
Ivy leaned back against the wall, took a few deep breaths, then turned to walk across the landing and down the stairs.
She was sure her cheeks were on fire and she resisted the urge to press her palms to them. She pressed her lips together, to hold back the excited giggle that threatened to explode out of her.
“Master...” Faramir turned to her visitor.
“Derwyn, sir,” he said, bowing suddenly. “My father is Angarad, the horsemaster.”
“Ah, yes.” Faramir nodded and turned back to Ivy as she stepped off the stairs. “Master Derwyn has come to pay you a visit, Ivy.”
“Actually, sir...” Derwyn coughed and shuffled his feet. “I would like to invite Ivy out for a ride. Just to town and back.”
Ivy looked at Faramir. His jaw was clenched and twitching slightly, eyes slightly narrowed at the young man in front of him. He reminded her of her dad all of a sudden. Then her mother was there, coming up to stand next to Faramir. Ivy watched as her mother grasped Faramir’s arm...and squeezed. Faramir looked at his wife. They gazed at each other a moment, then Éowyn narrowed her eyes at Faramir. He sighed and nodded.
Ivy’s heart was pounding in her chest when her mother came and took her hand. “Let’s get you ready to go,” she said cheerfully. They went up the stairs, leaving poor Derwyn to squirm under the appraising eye of Faramir.
“He seems like a nice boy,” her mother said as she handed Ivy the long riding skirt from her wardrobe.
Ivy took the skirt from her. “Yes.” The giggle that had been sitting in her throat finally escaped and she clapped a hand over her mouth. Éowyn just smiled at her.
At the stables, two rangers were waiting to act as an escort. Ivy was relieved that Faramir hadn’t insisted on coming himself. She didn’t think Derwyn could take the stress.
Their escort following a few lengths behind, most likely charged by Faramir to watch Derwyn just as much as for orcs hiding in the forest. They only talked about horses again on their ride to town and back, Derwyn asking about Star’s bloodline, but Ivy didn’t mind. She was thrilled that Derwyn had actually wanted to see her again. And she always liked to talk about horses.
When they returned to Faramir’s stables, Derwyn reached over and touched her arm. “We’ll have to do this again,” he said.
Ivy heart leaped into her throat. “I’d love to.”
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.