64. Chapter 63 - January 1436
Ivy glanced around at the party for Faramir’s birthday. Her friends were busy dancing and her parents were somewhere in the crowd. No one would miss her if she slipped away for a while. She smiled and nodded and Derwyn took her hand, which gave her a warm feeling in her stomach. They pulled on their cloaks and slipped out the back door into the garden behind the house.
“My father got some new horses yesterday, from my grandfather in Rohan. You should come see them.”
“I will,” Ivy said, smiling up at him. She’d been surprised to find out Derwyn’s mother was Rohirric. She’d been a refugee during the raids on outlying villages before the war and had come to Minas Tirith, where she met Derwyn’s father. Derwyn was half Rohirric, just like her.
They walked a while, talking of horses, then sat on a wooden bench, just close enough that elbows touched. Ivy glanced shyly at him and tried to control her nervous breathing. Sitting here in the quiet garden made it more obvious that they were alone. They’d always had her family or an escort present in the few times Derwyn had called on her since her birthday.
Derwyn fidgeted nervously for a moment, staring out at the empty beds of the garden. “I really like spending time with you, Ivy,” he finally said.
“I like you, too,” Ivy said, blushing.
He looked at her. “You’re the nicest girl I know. Definitely the most interesting.” He gave a nervous smile.
“Thank you,” she said, putting on her own nervous smile.
“And, I, uh...” He took another deep breath, then leaned forward and kissed her.
Ivy pulled back in shock. She hadn’t been expecting that.
“I’m sorry,” Derwyn said. He looked worried.
“No, I...” Ivy put her hand on his arm. “It’s all right. You just startled me. I wasn’t expecting it.”
Ivy glanced sideways at him and caught Derwyn doing the same thing. They both laughed.
“Mind if I try again?” he asked.
Ivy held her breath as he leaned in again. She had heard her friends talking about kissing boys, but she was unprepared for the warm feeling that spread through her body as their lips met.
She felt his tongue brush her lips and she gasped in surprise. Derwyn pulled back. “All right?” he asked.
Ivy nodded, not sure if she could speak.
He smiled at her. “Was that your first kiss?”
Ivy blushed and nodded again.
“It was good,” he said. “You just need to relax a bit.”
Derwyn laughed and took her hand. “Don’t worry about it. You just need practice is all.”
Ivy smiled, wondering if he’d like to help her practice. Derwyn certainly didn’t seem to need practice. “Have you kissed any other girls?”
“A few,” he said, shrugging. Ivy felt a twinge of jealousy at that, that he’d kissed other girls, too. But that really wasn’t fair, because they’d only just met and it was her he was sitting with in the garden, holding hands.
She saw someone at the window up at the house, looking out. She didn’t think it would be a good idea if they were spotted out here alone together. Especially by her step-father. “We should probably get back.” she said. “We wouldn’t want it to get back to Faramir that I was out here alone with you,:” She laughed at the look of horror on his face and took his hand to pull him back to the party.
Just like her birthday, the party ended too soon. She’d had fun with Derwyn, dancing and talking. She couldn’t wait to see him again.
Derwyn was in her thoughts a lot. After the guests were gone and the family was asleep, Ivy sighed, staring at the ceiling, unable to sleep herself. Her mind was too busy thinking of her future in ways that she never thought possible. Derwyn had kissed her! He liked her! She’d never imagined she would find someone who liked her. Who maybe would want to marry her. She had never let herself really, truly, hope that someone would love her.
Derwyn seemed to like her well enough. Maybe he would even love her. But she’d never know if she left for the Shire in two months. She might lose the only boy who could ever love her.
But what would her dad say, if she stayed here? Could she give up him and Estella and her family and friends back in The Shire? Could she give up The Shire? But what if Derwyn was her only chance? What if...? Ivy tossed and turned for a while, then came to a decision. As much as she loved The Shire and wanted to go home, she would have to stay in Gondor.
“I think I want to stay here.”
“Oh.” Éowyn stared at her, surprised, and settled back in her chair. Ivy had mulled it over and decided she needed to tell her mother her feelings. She hoped her mother could help her make this decision.
Éowyn studied her for a moment. “I would love for you to stay, Ivy. You know that. But your father--”
“I know.” Ivy stomach knotted and she felt a bit ill over the mention of her father. She missed him terribly. She didn’t want to hurt him. “But what if... What if Derwyn is my only chance?”
“I doubt that he is your only chance.” Éowyn leaned forward and patted her knee. “You do realize that it may be some time before someone could take you home if you change your mind? Are you sure you want to do this?”
Ivy hesitated. Was she sure? “Yes. I think so.”
“All right, Ivy. You still have a few weeks to decide. I won’t try to talk you into or out of staying. You must follow your heart.” Éowyn sighed. “If you decide to stay, do you want me to write to your father?”
“No. I’d better do it.” Ivy looked away, guilt gnawing at her. But she had to do this, right? “I’ll need to write to Estella and Pippin as well.” She knew she was going to hurt them. They were expecting her back, but instead the King would be delivering her letters. She hoped they would understand. She figured Pippin would at least. He had once told her she had to do whatever made her happy, no matter what other people thought of it. She only hoped Pippin could convince her father of that.
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