69. Chapter 68 - May 1436
The Mistress of Brandy Hall always took care of running these things, but Estella was rarely home right now. It seemed that every expectant mother in Buckland and the Marish decided to give birth at the same time. Though she had cut back on her duties as midwife after becoming Mistress, Estella’s help was needed this week. With Estella gone, Ivy took over organizing everything to prepare for the wedding. Merry was proud of her and it made him realize just how grown up she was.
On the day of the wedding, Merry stood at the gate in his Rohirric armor greeting guests. When Pippin arrived with Diamond and Fari, Merry could tell something wasn’t right with him. Pippin looked awful, like he hadn’t been sleeping. Or drinking too much.
Fari hopped down and was instantly whisked away by Theo and Eomer, with much whispering between them. Merry didn’t need to know--he knew what he and Pippin were getting up to at that age.
Merry stepped forward to help Diamond down from the cart so that Pippin wouldn’t have to. He kept his face neutral, forcing himself to be a good host as he greeted her. Diamond said a cold greeting in return then went straight out to the garden. They watched her pass close to Sancho Proudfoot and share a look with him.
“Well, at least I won’t have to worry about her the rest of the night,” said Pippin. His mouth twisted into a wry smile. “It’s a relief, actually, that old Sancho’s keeping her amused. Means I don’t have to deal with her.” He shrugged and Merry saw the shadow in his eyes. For all his talk, he knew that it still hurt Pippin that he had a wife who hated him and was unfaithful.
Merry reached out and straightend the shoulder of Pippin’s Gondorian coat. “We are the most handsome hobbits in the Shire,” he said with a grin, trying to lighten Pippin’s mood, “so why don’t we ever wear the armor except for special occasions anymore?”
Pippin shrugged. “Don’t know. Can’t exactly use it to chase lasses anymore.” He sighed and rested a hand on the pommel of his sword. “Sometimes, I wish I would have stayed, been a Guard for Aragorn. Would have been better than what I have now.”
“I think I’ll go taste the drinks. Make sure they’re good and all.”
Merry clenched his jaw, biting back what he really wanted to say. He knew it would only cause problems. “Don’t drink too much. Leave some for the other guests,” he said, making himself put on a cheerful grin. Pippin forced a smile and wandered out to the garden. Merry watched him go. He was worried about him. The last thing Pippin needed was to get drunk, but he was a grown hobbit and there wasn’t much Merry could do without creating a scene. That would only make things worse. All he could do was try to take care of him and make sure Pippin was put to bed before he passed out.
He heard voices and turned to see Estella and Ivy approaching from the front of the Hall, dressed in gowns Ivy had brought back from Gondor. Ivy’s had been worn for her friend’s wedding in Gondor. Merry still couldn’t believe his daughter had friends who were getting married.
He bowed to them and took their hands, kissing each one. “I am the luckiest hobbit alive to have the two most beautiful lasses in the world to escort.” He took their arms and led them out to the garden.
Pippin downed his tenth--eleventh?--glass of whiskey and watched the retreating back of Ilberic Brandybuck. Various friends and relatives had come up to greet him over the course of the day, but quickly made their excuses to be elsewhere. He knew he wasn’t a pleasant drunk--he tended to get withdrawn and bitter--but he didn’t care anymore. The whiskey drove the pain away. It was getting on to evening already and he hadn’t even begun to drink. He’d have to put up with Merry nagging him about it, of course, unless he could manage to get to his guest room before he passed out tonight.
He looked out at the crowd, remembering happier times when he would have been in the middle of it. Until he married her. Then his happy life had ended. Except for Fari. He would never regret having Fari. His son was the only good thing to come out of his disaster of a marriage. But even that had a sadness about it. Diamond wanted nothing to do with her son either and Pippin knew it hurt Fari.
He watched the laughing, dancing couples. His wife had only danced with him once, at their wedding, because she was expected to.
A flash of light blond caught his eye. He saw Ivy sitting on a bench at the edge of the dancers, her golden hair catching the light from the lanterns. She looked sad. He poured himself another whiskey. Ivy had been on his mind a lot this past week. She had certainly surprised him, coming back from Gondor a young woman. She’d changed so much. He felt a twitch in his groin at the memory of sharing the pony, of how his body had responded to her then. He had previously laughed off their flirting as harmless fun between friends. He had enjoyed it. It was the first time he’d truly felt happy in a long time. But when he’d been pressed up against her on the pony... She had invaded his dreams after that. Nearly every night this week he’d dreamed of her. He’d dreamed of her and... He drained his glass. No. He’d have to forget about that. It was wrong to have those thoughts about Ivy. He looked at her again, so sad on the edge of the crowd. He decided he’d go over and cheer her up, maybe ask her for a dance. They were friends. He would just have to forget about last week.
Ivy watched the crowd sadly. Everyone around her was dancing and enjoying themselves. She would give anything to be able to dance, but no hobbit lad would ask her. She had heard their whispers, about how strange she was for maturing so soon and how tall she was. One of the Big Folk. Ivy sighed. She felt ugly and miserable.
“Why aren’t you dancing, Ivy?”
Ivy looked up. Pippin was standing next to her. She felt the little thrill of butterflies in her stomach, the warmth on her cheeks. He was in his Gondorian uniform and for just a moment she remembered how she felt, standing in front of that painting and realizing her feelings for him. Not that it mattered. Her feelings didn’t matter if they were never returned. She’d learned that lesson already. She frowned. “Who would want to dance with me?” she said bitterly. “Haven’t you heard? I’m a hideous giant.”
“Oh, I don’t know. I’ve seen hideous giants. Cave trolls. You look nothing like them.”
Ivy face cracked into a smile. Pippin could always make her feel better.
“I’ve been accused of being a hideous giant myself, actually,” he said. “Too much ent-draught. Your dad, too.” He leaned in close to her ear. “But between us, he was hideous even before he became a giant.” Ivy giggled and Pippin held out his hand. “So would the lady like to dance?”
She nodded and he led her out on the garden dance floor. She towered over everyone except Pippin and she could feel eyes on her. The song had ended and a new one started, a waltz this time.
She turned to her partner and noticed for the first time his bleary eyes and how strongly he smelled of whiskey. “Have you been drinking?” she whispered.
“It’s a wedding! Of course I’ve been drinking!” he said, his smile fading away. “So don’t you start on me, too. You’re as bad as your dad.”
Ivy gaped at him a moment, shocked. She’d never seen him like this before. She’d never seen him this drunk and this bitter. She decided then and there she wouldn’t take it. She wouldn’t watch him kill himself. Maybe hobbits had rules about criticising someone on their drinking habits, but Big Folk didn’t. She’d seen Faramir lay into his men about their overindulgence. “You’re drinking too much. It’s because of her, isn’t it?” She felt Pippin stiffen, but he didn’t say anything. “You need to stop this, Pippin. You can’t let her do this to you.”
“What do you know about it?” he asked harshly, avoiding her eyes.
“Theo told me everything. About all she’s done to you, everything that’s happened to you while I was gone.” She had learned a lot of things from Theo this week, good little spy that he was.
He shrugged and looked away from her. But she couldn’t let this rest. “So why don’t you divorce her?” she asked.
“Divorce isn’t an easy process,” he said flatly. At least he wasn’t going to deny his problems to her.
“You’re Thain. You can do anything you want.”
Pippin stopped dancing and stepped away from her, scowling at her. A few other couples bumped into them, so he took Ivy’s hand and led her from the patio, through the guests and into the empty Hall. When they were alone, he turned on her.
“Why are you doing this?” he asked angrily. “Why are you bringing up things you don’t know about and I really don’t care to discuss with you anyway?”
“Because I care about you,” she said. “I don’t like what she’s doing to you. I never liked her. You should have listened to me when I was seven!”
“Marriage advice from a seven-year-old with an infatuation?” He laughed harshly. “So I suppose I’m to divorce Diamond and what? Marry you instead?”
“Maybe you should!” Her own words surprised her, voicing something that had been hidden below the surface. But she didn’t waver. “I love you.”
Pippin eyes widened and he backed away from her. “Oh, no, Ivy,” he whispered, shaking his head, “Don’t do this.”
“Why not?” she asked, her voice shaking.
He turned away from her and ran a hand through his hair. Ivy couldn’t tell if he was upset or nervous. “It’s not real, Ivy. It’s just an infatuation. I’m sorry if I led you to believe otherwise last week. I don’t know what got into me.” He turned back and grabbed her shoulders, looked in her eyes. “Don’t waste your feelings on me. Go find yourself a good lad who...”
“I won’t ever find a ‘good lad’,” Ivy said bitterly. “I don’t fit. I’m too tall or too short. Too hobbit or too Rohirric. No one understands me. Except you.” She moved her hand to his face. “I’ve thought about this a lot. This isn’t just an infatuation.”
He pulled her hand away. “No, Ivy. You’re settling for me. There is someone out there for you, you just have to be patient.”
“No, there isn’t someone out there for me! I’m only good for an interesting conversation or...” She bowed her head, ashamed at what she’d almost done to get Derwyn to like her. “A lad is only interested in me as long as I’m leaving for the other side of the continent soon.” Her voice broke.
“Oh, Ivy, I’m sorry.” Pippin reached for her but she grabbed his wrist before he could touch her. She didn’t want his pity, not over her own stupidity. She was alarmed to feel how thin his wrist was.
“She’s not being faithful to you,” she said, staring at the too-thin wrist in her hand. Theo had found that out for her, about Diamond’s affair with Sancho Proudfoot. She looked up at him. “Why do you have to be faithful to her?” Ivy decided then to take a chance and moved closer to him, their faces inches apart. “I’ve seen how you look at me. There is something there.” She was satisfied to see him blush. He didn’t deny it.
He twisted his wrist out of her grasp. “I can’t give you what you want.”
“What I want? I want someone who understands me, who makes me happy, who won’t judge me by my size. I just want to be loved for who I am.”
She stepped close and kissed him. She could taste the whiskey on his breath. He quickly pulled away and stepped away from her.
“No, Ivy. Please don’t do this.” He backed further away, shaking his head. “What would your dad think of you behaving like this?”
“If he wants me to be happy, then he will understand.” She stepped closer to him, they were nearly backed into the wall now. “He should understand. He gave the same thing to my mother. She needed him like I need you and I think you need me.”
She moved forward, meaning to kiss him again, but they were interrupted by voices in the hall. Ivy pulled Pippin after her, into the dark alcove of a doorway. Diamond Took came by, followed by Sancho Proudfoot.
“I hope those servants have the carriage ready. And make sure you wait long enough before you follow,” Diamond chided. She turned and stepped into Sancho’s arms. “How would you like to take me in the Thain’s bed?” she asked suggestively.
Ivy heard Pippin make a noise between disgust and despair beside her. She hated Diamond. Hated her.
“What about your husband?” asked Sancho.
Diamond snorted. “He won’t be home tonight. Meriadoc always puts him up here. He’s probably passed out somewhere by now anyway. He’s a right drunkard nowadays. Not that I mind. It keeps him distracted.” They laughed and went out the door.
“Pippin, I’m sorry.” She looked at him, leaning against the wall next to her. He looked like he was going to be sick. “Come with me,” she said, grabbing his hand. She pulled him down the hallway, down to her room, shutting the door behind them. He slumped down to sit on her bed, hunched over.
“They’re going to use my bed,” he said, his face twisting in disgust.
“You can get a new bed,” said Ivy. She held out the basin. “Are you going to be sick?” she asked.
“No.” He lay back and covered his face with his hands. “Why is my life such a nightmare?” he mumbled to himself.
He was quiet then, and Ivy thought he may have passed out. She set the basin down. “Pippin?”
“I stopped having nightmares when I lived at Crickhollow with you and your dad. Did he ever tell you that?” He pushed himself upright and looked up at her with sad, bleary eyes. Ivy shook her head. “You gave me a reason not to,” he said. He put his hand on her arm. “You’re a good lass, Ivy. Don’t get your feelings tangled up with me. I can’t--” He jerked his hand away from where his fingers had been softly brushing the skin of her arm. “Sorry,” he said, turning away from her, clutching the offending hand to his chest. He leaned his head against the bed post, eyes closed. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.
She watched him for a moment, sitting there in despair, then made her decision. She loosened the ties of her gown and let it slip to the floor, leaving her in her chemise.
She sat next to Pippin and started working on the buckle of his sword belt.
He looked at her in confusion. “What are you doing?”
“Taking off your armor,” she said matter-of-factly. “Unless you plan to sleep in it, but I imagine it would be uncomfortable. For both of us.”
“No.” He put his hand over hers. “Ivy, stop! You can’t do this. You’re too young for this!”
She pushed his hands away and continued her task. “In Gondor, my friend Kelian got married when she was the same age I am now. I am not too young.”
She finished the buckle and pulled off the belt. She moved to the ties of the Gondorian coat.
“Ivy...” he pleaded.
“We need each other, Pippin.” she said softly. She ran a hand through his cinnamon hair, catching flecks of premature grey in her fingers. “She’s hurt you so much,” she said and kissed his cheek.
Pippin closed his eyes and and let out a shuddering sigh, but he didn’t move. Ivy lifted the black coat over his head. She pulled the laces down the front of the hauberk, grateful it was ceremonial and not the full chain that the soldiers usually wore. Only the sleeves were chain, and they slid down his arms as soon as the lace was loosened. He just sat there, eyes closed, as she pushed the hauberk off his shoulders and then dropped it on the floor.
She lay her hand on his chest, feeling his pounding heart. His linen shirt was soaked with sweat. He grabbed her hand and she looked up. He was looking at her. She gazed into his eyes. There was such sadness in them. But she saw a flicker of something else there, too. Desire? Love? He was breathing hard now. She leaned in to kiss him...
“I have to go,” he said, breaking her gaze and moving to get up. But she put her hands on his chest to stop him, pushing him back down.
She looked into his eyes. “If I wasn’t Merry’s daughter, would you want to stay with me?”
He cringed, turning away. She put her hand to his cheek, guiding him to look at her. She gently pressed her lips to his. He tasted and smelled of whiskey, but there was something else there, too. Something that was Pippin. His scent did things to her. Her heart pounded, her stomach fluttered and she had an ache low in her belly and between her legs. She’d never felt those feelings so strong before. After some initial hesitation, Pippin deepened the kiss, pulling her close in his arms. When they had to stop for air they sat, foreheads pressed together, breathing heavily.
“Ivy, we can’t...” he pleaded.
“You once told me that I have to do whatever makes me happy, no matter what other people want. We need this, Pippin. I need you.” She pulled back, looked into his eyes. “I love you, Pippin,” she said.
He shuddered, holding back a sob. “I can’t. I can’t,” he whispered.
Ivy thought the words were more for himself than for her. She kissed the tear away. “Pippin,” she whispered against his cheek, “let me do this. We can give each other comfort. Please? We need this. We need each other.” She kissed him again and he responded right away this time. Gentle kisses deepened to something that Ivy could only describe as desperate.
Kissing Derwyn had been nothing like this. His kisses had made her tingle, but Pippin’s set her on fire. And where she’d had doubts with Derwyn, she knew for certain that she loved Pippin.
She broke the kiss and slid back on the bed, taking his hands to pull him with her, never breaking eye contact with him. His eyes were bright again, filled with desire for her, and his gaze made her shiver. She lay back and he lay next to her, half on top of her. He kissed her again and she pulled him closer, pushing her body against his, and she felt him hard against her thigh. She took his hand in hers and slid it slowly along her side, down her leg, then back up again, pushing up her chemise. He didn’t resist.
“Love you,” she gasped. She kissed him again and he rolled over her, one knee between her legs. The kisses became desperate again as they clung to each other. Then his other knee followed, pushing her legs apart, exposing her. Her heart beat wildly. This was really happening.
He moved his mouth to her neck and Ivy gasped and squirmed. She threaded her fingers into his hair, holding him close, needing him closer. She brushed her lips against his ear. “Love you,” she whispered. He shuddered, pausing for a moment, and Ivy was afraid he was going to stop. But then he reached between them and she could feel him fumbling with the ties of his breeches. He pulled his hand away and she felt his erection, smooth and hard against her bare thigh. The reality of what they were doing fully hit her. Ivy bit her lip nervously, maybe even a little scared. But she didn’t want to stop.
She closed her eyes as he pushed into her, bracing herself. She knew to expect some pain from talking to her mother and Kelian, and she sucked in her breath as he took her maidenhood. It hurt a little, but nothing like she expected.
He was moving inside her now, and she didn’t know what she was supposed to be doing. She tried to remember things that Kel had said. She put her arms around him and tried to move her hips to match his rhythm.
“Ivy...” he moaned, and his movement quickened suddenly. “Ivy... love...” He groaned and thrust hard a few times, then collapsed on her, breathing hard.
Ivy lay for a moment, listening to him breathe, his weight pressing on her. Was that all? Was it done?
His shoulders started to shake, the breaths turning to sobs. “Oh, gods! I’m sorry!” he sobbed into her neck. “I’m so sorry, Ivy! I’m so sorry!”
Ivy held him tight, trying to comfort him as he clung to her, his tears soaking her chemise. She kissed his cheek and smoothed her hand through his sweaty hair. “No, Pippin. Ssh. It’s all right. I love you,” she whispered into his ear. “I love you, Pippin.”
When his sobs ended, he rolled off her and she gasped at the sudden feeling of loss. She turned to him and lay her head on his chest. He didn’t say anything, but he rested his cheek against her brow. She didn’t know if she should say anything to him, so she just listened to his heart, the pounding gradually slowing back to normal.
Ivy sighed. It hadn’t quite been what she expected it would be. It certainly wasn’t as magical as Kelian had made it out to be. Mostly awkward. She wondered if she had done it right, if she had helped Pippin, and if she would be different now.
She fell asleep, lulled by the beat of his heart.
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.