72. Chapter 71 - May 1436
It had tore his heart out this morning to leave Ivy like that. The poor girl was hurt, her heart broken, but he couldn’t give her what she wanted. He’d felt her tense at his reply to her “I love you”. He knew she wanted to hear it back from him, but he couldn’t give it to her. He wouldn’t do that to her. He wished he could tell her the words. He’d meant it when he told Merry he loved her. But he couldn’t get her hopes up. Even if they loved each other, he still had a wife. And she had her father.
Merry. That hurt Pippin more than anything. Merry angry at him. Beyond angry. The way Merry looked at him now made him sick to his stomach. He had betrayed his dearest friend and he didn’t know if Merry would ever forgive him. Not that he deserved forgiveness for what he’d done. No matter how much he loved Ivy--no, because he loved Ivy--he should never have done this. He’d been out of control from the drink and he’d given in to his desires too easily. He should have walked away from Ivy the moment she’d confessed her feelings in the hallway. He should have known he wouldn’t be able to resist her, not with his mind addled with whiskey.
No more drink. He’d not touch a drop of the damnable whiskey ever again. Too many had been hurt by it for too long, especially his son, but he’d been too wrapped up in himself to do anything to stop. But now he’d really hurt someone. He’d taken the maidenhood of a girl who had made the mistake of falling in love with him, a girl who had already had her heart broken once before, and he couldn’t even tell her he loved her back. He’d hurt Ivy, he’d hurt Merry, he’d hurt his son--all because he couldn’t deal with his miserable life.
He vowed to do everything possible to get a divorce. Diamond had hurt him enough, driven him to hurt those he loved. He only hoped he hadn’t ruined that. If anyone else found out what he’d done, he’d lose his only case against Diamond. Then he’d surely be stuck with her for good and he didn’t know how much longer he could bear that. He didn’t know how much longer Fari could bear it.
He looked down at the little boy sitting in front of him, leaned back against his chest. Fari was quiet, staring off into the scenery as they rode down Stock Road. Diamond had hurt him, too, and he would never forgive her for that. Pippin thanked the gods for the millionth time that the boy had nothing of his mother about him, in looks or temperament. There was nothing about Fari to remind him of Diamond. He sometimes wondered if his feelings for his son would be different if Fari took after his mother in any way. It frightened him to think of it.
Faramir hadn’t said much when they left Brandy Hall. He didn’t even put up a fuss about staying with Theo and Eomer. He seemed withdrawn this morning, more than usual. Theo and Eomer seemed happy enough, so he didn’t think it had to do with them. He worried for a fleeting moment that Fari knew what had happened last night, but that was unlikely. The boys had been away at breakfast when Merry was yelling at him.
Fari did ask about the bruise on his jaw this morning, after they’d left the hall and were alone in the stables. Pippin had told him he had tripped. Fari had looked away, trying to hide his tears. Pippin knew Fari assumed he had tripped because he was drunk. Pippin didn’t like doing that to him, but it was better than the truth.
He tried to engage Fari in conversation a few times, but his questions about what he’d been up to with his cousins were met with shrugs. Fari didn’t want to talk. So they rode in silence. Pippin didn’t want to push him. He’d try again when they got home.
They arrived at the Smials in the late afternoon. Pippin told the stable boy to have the pony returned to Brandy Hall, then he took Fari’s hand and they walked up the path to the back door. They met Diamond passing through the hall. She looked surprised to see them. Pippin wondered if Sancho was lurking about somewhere. Faramir didn’t say anything to her, but pulled away suddenly and ran towards his room. Pippin looked back at Diamond, but she had already continued on her way. Pippin followed his son.
Fari was lying on his bed, trying very hard not to cry. Pippin sat next to him and rubbed his back. “What’s the matter, Fari?”
“She doesn’t like you,” Faramir said softly.
Pippin sighed. “I know, Fari.”
“She was saying bad things about you with that hobbit.”
Pippin scowled. “What hobbit?”
“I don’t know his name. But he was kissing her.”
Pippin went cold. He had hoped his son wouldn’t find out what his mother was doing. “Where was this?”
“At the party. I was playing hide-and-seek with Theo and Eomer and the Gamgees. I was hiding in the bushes by the front of the Hall and I saw them.” Faramir sighed. “She doesn’t like me either. She called me a brat. She said she only had me so that she’d have a hold on Tuckborough, so she could...” He started to cry. “She said she hoped you’d drink too much and fall off the pony and die.” He was sobbing now. “Why can’t I have a nice mother, like Theo and Frodo?”
“Fari.” Pippin pulled his son up into his lap, his own tears starting. He vowed to himself he would be a better father. And he vowed to do everything he could to get Diamond out of their life. “I’m sorry I’ve let you down. I’m sorry for what she’s done. And I’m going to fix it. I promise.”
Pippin turned the key, the lock scraping into place on the small cabinet set in the shelves behind his desk. Inside were the drinks a Thain was expected to have on hand for guests. Or himself. He turned and put the key into Reg’s hand.
Reg closed his fist over the little brass key. “I’m proud of you, Pip.”
“Don’t be,” Pippin said. He turned away and went to the window. “I had to sink pretty low to realize what a bloody selfish idiot I’ve been.” He’d told Reg everything this morning on a private ride away from the curious ears of the Smials. Reginard was his closest cousin, besides Merry. Reg was just a year younger than Frodo and he’d always had the same patience with annoying young cousins that Frodo had. Pippin didn’t know what he’d have done without him during those times when he’d been too drunk or too ill to function. Reg had covered for him a lot.
“Well, at least you’ve realized you’ve been a bloody selfish idiot.”
“Thanks, Reg.” Pippin quirked a smile at his cousin. “I think.”
Reg smiled and dropped the key into his pocket. “I’m just glad to see you’re getting better.” He walked up to Pippin and leaned close to his ear. “I don’t think this was completely a mistake, Pip,” he whispered. “It’s changed you for the better, even if you can’t see it. She’s changed you.”
“I see how your eyes light up when you talk about her. When you just say her name.” He grinned. “So I wouldn’t go talking about Ivy when your old troll is around if I were you.” Reg clapped him on the shoulder and stepped back.
Pippin just nodded. He couldn’t argue with that. Just thinking about her gave him a flutter in his stomach. He’d have to avoid talking about Ivy in front of everyone then, not just Diamond. He couldn’t raise any suspicions. Nobody else could know. Only Reg. And his sisters...when he figured out how to tell them.
“Are we going to walk out here all day or are you going to tell us what’s bothering you?”
Pippin glanced at Vinca. “No. We can... sit over there.” He made his way to one of the apple trees in the Smials’ orchard and plopped himself down at its base. He drew his legs up and rested his chin on his knees. This was going to be hard.
His sisters knelt in the grass around him, all of them watching him curiously. He’d surprised them this morning by asking them out on a walk. He’d been avoiding them since his return from Buckland two days ago. But as much as he dreaded it, he had to tell them what had happened with Ivy, and he needed to just get it done and over with. If what he’d done was discovered, if it made it into the rumor mill, well... the gossiping would rival even the stories surrounding Bilbo’s disappearance. And he wanted to make sure his sisters heard it from him. So he’d asked them out for a walk, out here in the orchard where there was no danger of being overheard by nosy relatives.
“Do we get to find out about that bruise on your face?” Pearl asked. “It’s not from falling down, is it?”
Pippin shook his head, keeping his eyes on his feet. He couldn’t meet their eyes. He took a deep breath. “Merry hit me.”
“What?”all three of them exclaimed.
“Merry hit you?” Pearl asked incredulously. “Why?”
Pippin clenched his fists and took a few deep breaths. It was so hard to say the words. It was so hard to admit what he’d done. It was hard enough telling Reg, but his sisters... He looked up at them. Pearl and Vinca looked like their mum. Nel resembled Aunt Esme. Pippin dropped his eyes again. It would be like confessing to his mum and aunt what he’d done. What would he have said to them if they had still lived?
“Pippin?” Nel asked. She leaned over to touch his shoulder. “What happened? Why would Merry hit you?”
“Because...” Pippin took a deep, shuddering breath. “Because I had relations with Ivy,” he whimpered.
His sisters gasped. Pippin shrank down, knowing what was coming. He felt like he was a little boy again, about to get in big trouble. But this was far worse than anything he’d ever done before.
“What? How.... How could you?” Pearl’s voice was shaking, angry. “How could... ? She’s just a girl, Pippin! She’s only sixteen! And... Gods, Pippin, she’s Merry’s daughter!”
“I know. I know, I know....” He hugged his legs tight, burying his face in his arms and let the tears come.
A hand touched his back. “Pippin?” Nel asked, soft and soothing. “Tell us what happened.”
“You know what happened!” Pearl said angrily. “He got drunk again and he took advantage of a little girl who has an infatuation wtih him!”
“Maybe you should let him talk!” Nel snapped back. “You know him, Pearl. He wouldn’t take advantage of her. Not Ivy! And she’s not a ‘little girl’ anymore! You saw her! She’s as mature as any tween!”
“That’s no excuse!” Pearl said. “It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t change the fact that this is Merry’s daughter! He helped raise her, Nel!”
“I didn’t mean for anything to happen,” Pippin whimpered. “I didn’t. It’s just... “ He looked up at Pimpernel, the only one of his sisters seemingly willing to understand him. “She’s so hurt, Nel. She got hurt by a boy in Gondor. And... and she got this idea that we could comfort each other, like her parents did.” Pearl snorted, but he ignored her, keeping his eyes on Nel. “I didn’t mean for it to happen and I regret it more than anything, but I was drunk and she...” He bowed his head and Nel brushed her fingers through his hair.
“Are you saying Ivy seduced you?” Pearl asked.
“No! I mean... She didn’t seduce me. It’s just... She said she loves me and--”
“She’s just a girl, Pippin! Do you know how many lads I ‘loved’ as a girl?”
Pippin shrugged. Maybe Pearl was right. Ivy didn’t know what she wanted yet. He was an infatuation and she probably did think she loved him...
Nel leaned in to look in his eyes. “Do you love her, Pippin?”
He sighed. After what Pearl said, he was no longer sure what Ivy truly felt for him, but he was still pretty certain what he felt for her. He nodded. “Yes,” he said softly. “I love her.”
Nel gave him a sympathetic smile. Even Pearl’s face softened a little when he said it.
“Poor Pip.” Nel scooted over to sit next to him. She put an arm around him and rested her cheek on his shoulder.
He turned to her, holding her tight, grateful that at least one sister didn’t hate him now.
“Pip?” Another hand touched his shoulder and then Vinca was embracing him, too. “It will be all right, Pippin,” she whispered. “I believe you.”
He embraced Vinca, too, then he looked up at oldest sister. “Can you forgive me, Pearl?”
Pearl frowned at him. “I’m not the one you need to be asking for forgiveness, little brother,” she said.
He nodded. He feared that Merry would never forgive him for this.
Pearl sighed. “I may be terribly angry at you right now, but you’re still my brother and I love you anyway.” She held out her hand and he took it, squeezing it tight. “Come here,” she said. He let Pearl pull him over to her embrace. “Gods, Peregrin,” she murmured into his hair. “How do you manage to find trouble like this?”
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.