73. Chapter 72 - May 1436
They sat across from each other on the parlor couches, stiff, eyes never quite meeting. Merry was tense, his hands occasionally clenching. Ivy was a picture of defiance, arms crossed, jaw tight. Her knee was bouncing slightly--from nerves or anger, Estella couldn’t tell. Estella sat in a chair pulled up between the ends of the couches. She would make sure things didn’t get out of hand.
Estella gave a gentle cough. “Well?”
Merry looked up at his daughter, frowning. “I’m very disappointed in you, Ivy.”
Estella cringed. Not a good start, Merry. She watched Ivy’s eyes narrow and her face go red. This was not a good start at all.
“You’re ‘disappointed in me’?” Ivy asked, her voice like ice. “Why? Because I want to be happy?”
“I’m disappointed that you’d give yourself away so easily!” Merry said. He shook his head. “How could you believe this would make you happy?”
“How can you say that?” Ivy said, leaning towards him, fists clenched. “How can you say that to me? Did my mother ‘give herself away so easily’’ to you?”
Now it was Merry’s turn to go red with anger. “This isn’t about your mother!” he snapped.
Estella had to fight the urge to say something about that, because Ivy was right.
Ivy rolled her eyes. “So it’s all right for you to bed someone ‘for comfort’, but Pippin can’t?”
“Not when it’s my daughter!” he said angrily, his voice gradually getting louder. “Not when it’s a child!”
“I am not a child!” Ivy screeched, eyes blazing.
“Stop!” Estella shouted. “No shouting!” She pinched the bridge of her nose and took a deep breath. “You’re supposed to be having a reasonable conversation.”
“How can we have a reasonable conversation when he refuses to see I’m not a child?” Ivy asked, glaring daggers at her father.
“You are not an adult, Ivy!” Merry shot back, jabbing a finger in her direction. “You haven’t even come of age for the Big Folk!”
Ivy crossed her arms defiantly. “But I’m not a child, either! I’m old enough to make my own decisions!”
Merry snorted. “And you haven’t made very good ones so far, have you?”
“Merry!” Estella warned. She wondered why she had thought this would be a good idea. Between Merry’s stubbornness and Ivy’s temper...
Ivy pounded the cushion of the sofa with her fists. “I just want to be happy, Dad! And yes, Pippin makes me happy! I love him!”
Merry ran a hand through his hair, sighing. “You don’t love him, Ivy. It’s an infatuation. You’re too young--”
“Don’t tell me how I feel!” Ivy shouted, tears on her cheeks. “You don’t know how I feel!” Ivy gritted her teeth and gave a strangled scream. She turned to look at Estella. “Estella!” she pleaded.
“Merry, you need to listen to her,” Estella said, trying very hard to keep her voice calm and reasonable. “And Ivy, you need to understand why your father feels--”
“He needs to understand how I feel!”
“And you need to understand that Pippin took advantage of you!” Merry leaned towards Ivy. “You come back, upset about that boy in Gondor, and suddenly you’re ‘in love’ with Pippin? And he just happens to return the feeling?”
Ivy turned away and Estella saw the pained look on her face. Merry had struck a nerve with something, but Estella wasn’t sure what it was. “Merry, don’t--”
“He used you, Ivy! You were hurt and he--”
“He didn’t use me!” Ivy shouted. “I wanted him, Dad! I love him! Why can’t you understand that!” She threw her hands up. “You don’t want to understand, so, I’m done! I’m done with this!” She got up and headed for the door. She stopped with her hand on the handle. “Just because my mother didn’t love you enough doesn’t mean I don’t love Pippin.” She hurried out the door, turning down the hallway towards her room.
Estella gasped at Ivy’s hurtful words and turned to her husband. Merry was pale, breathing hard, his hands in tight fists as he stared at the empty doorway.
Estella looked away. Merry was stricken, utterly stricken, by Ivy’s words. That Éowyn hadn’t loved him enough. The jealousy she always carried reared up and she wanted to run, too. But she couldn’t do that. Her problems didn’t matter right now. She had to worry about Merry and Ivy.
“Merry?” she asked.
Merry snapped out of his daze and scowled. “I don’t know how to deal with her!” He pounded his fist into his knee and stood up. “I don’t know what to do with her, Estella!” He stalked out the door, turning in the opposite direction from Ivy. Probably to go to his study and brood.
Estella sighed and rubbed her temple. “That could have gone better.”
Ivy gave a bored yawn and sighed. She’d been sitting here on her bed staring at the same page of Sindarin poetry since breakfast. Her mind just wasn’t into it. No matter how much she stared at the page. But her room was the only sure place to avoid her father since their fight, and there wasn’t much else to do. She looked at the passage again. Beren and Lúthien. She hadn’t even realized what she was looking at. Stupid love stories.
A part of her felt guilty for what she’d said to her dad yesterday about her mother. Estella had told her he was hurt by that. But another part of her felt he deserved it. How dare he tell her how she feels! At least Estella wasn’t pushing them to talk again. She thought they needed some time to cool off.
Her door opened and a quick-moving shape leapt onto her bed, landing heavily on the mattress next to her. She turned her head slightly to glare at Theo. He was grinning at her.
“So, Ive, you going to tell me why you’ve been holed up in here? And why you and Dad have spent the last two days not speaking to each other?”
“No.” She turned back to her book. There was no way she was telling her brother anything.
“It’s none of your business.” She flipped to a new section of the book. Ëarandil and Elwing. More stupid love stories. Was she cursed?
“Everything is my business!” Theo said, rolling over on his side to look at her. “And it’s your fault for making me so nosy, having to spy for you while you were in Gondor.” He paused and Ivy could see the expectant look on his face. She ignored him. He gave an exasperated huff. “After all I did for you and you won’t tell me why you’ve got Dad so angry?” Ivy glared at him. Theo stared back. “Has it got something to do with Uncle Pippin leaving so quickly?”
She quickly turned back to her book, hoping her blush wasn’t too noticeable. No such luck.
“Ivy! Tell me!” he whined. “Tell me, tell me!”
She ignored his pleas until he poked her in the side. “Ow! Brat!” She swatted at him, but he managed to roll out of the way down to the end of her bed.
“You might as well tell me,” he said, sitting up near her feet, “because I’ll find out anyway. I am the best at gathering gossip. The servants are even coming to me for news now.” He looked quite pleased with himself.
Ivy sighed and put her book down. He was right. Somehow he’d find out and there was no guarantee he’d get the story right. Who knows what he’d spread around after that. She sat up and leaned towards him. “Do you promise not to tell anyone? Not Eomer or Frodo or Fari? Especially not Fari.”
“Go shut the door, then.”
He grinned and hopped down to shut her door, then hurried back to his place at her feet.
Ivy took a deep breath. “I’m serious, Theo. If you tell anyone...” She shut her eyes against the sudden threat of tears. Who knows what people would start saying about her. And poor Pippin, if it got back to Diamond...
“Gods, Ivy, what happened?” He leaned forward to look in her face. Through her tears, she could see his concern. “I won’t tell anyone,” he said. “I promise. But for all you know, whatever you’re hiding may already be making the gossip rounds. You know how it is. And look at it this way, if something does get out, I can stop it getting around. I can say it’s not true. Everyone believes me when it comes to gossip.”
She nodded, then wiped her eyes and sighed. “I... I had relations with Pippin.”
His eyebrows shot up. “Relations? Like... sex?”
She nodded, her cheeks burning.
“Oh.” He thought about that for a few seconds, then cocked his head at her, confused. “Uncle Pippin?” He wrinkled his nose. “Fari’s dad?” he asked, obviously hoping for a negative answer.
She rolled her eyes. “No, Pippin Gamgee,” she scoffed. “Of course I mean Uncle Pippin!” She winced. It was weird to call him that, after what had happened between them.
“Gods, Ivy!” Theo shook his head. “But... he’s old.” He made a face. “Eww.”
She kicked at him, trying to push him from the bed. “Get out!”
“Ow! Wait! I’m sorry!” He avoided her kicks and crawled over to sit next to her. “Aren’t you a little young for that? Why would you... ?” He waved his hands vaguely, still looking slightly disgusted.
“Because I love him. And we’re both pretty miserable right now and I thought it would make us feel better. And no, I’m not too young for that. Girls my age in Rohan and Gondor can get married.” She looked down, her face warm again. She couldn’t believe she was talking about this with her not-quite-twelve-year-old brother.
“Oh. Well.” He shrugged. “I think you’re safe gossip-wise on that one. Haven’t heard a thing.” He looked up at her. “And Dad knows about this? That’s why you’re not speaking?”
He let out a breath, shaking his head. “I can’t believe Uncle Pippin got out of here alive!” Theo chuckled. “But then Dad would have had to explain to Fari that his Dad was dead because he gave his young cousin a tumble.” Theo leered at her. “So was it worth all the trouble?”
Ivy pushed hard against his shoulders, shoving her giggling brother off the bed. “I am not telling you anything! Aren’t you a little young to be asking that?”
He climbed back up on the bed and gave her a cheeky grin. “You get quite the education when you’re the center of the gossip circle. You know the laundry maid, Violet? You won’t believe what she lets cousin Serimas do to her--Ow, ow! Hey!” He squirmed away from the punches Ivy was landing on his thigh.
“I don’t want to hear your horrid gossip! Does your mother know what you talk about?”
Theo shrugged. “Of course she does. I asked her why Violet and Serimas would want to do something like that.” He sighed. “Which was a mistake, because then I got the whole ‘when a lad loves a lass’ and where babies come from lecture.” He shuddered, then eyed his sister. “You’re not going to have a baby from this, are you?”
Ivy drew her legs to her chest, resting her chin on her knees. “Don’t know yet,” she mumbled. “I won’t know until next month, when I--”
“Yes, yes. Mum explained it all,” he said, waving his hands, quickly cutting her off. “I don’t need to hear it again.” Theo moved over to sit beside to her again, putting an arm around her. “I’m not going to be able to throw them off that one, obviously. But I’ll do what I can for you.”
“Thanks, Theo.” Ivy leaned into him. When had her brother become not so much of a brat anymore?
“That will be weird,” Theo said. “He’ll be Fari’s brother and my nephew. And he’d be Dad’s grandson and his cousin once removed. Then I guess he’d also be my... ugh, forget it. Family trees always gives me a headache. Too confusing.”
“Theo, there may not be a baby,” she said, but her hand still moved to touch her belly.
“I know, I know.” He sighed. “You’ll name him after your favorite brother, though, right?”
Ivy started to glare at him, then changed it to a smirk. “Of course! I’ve always liked the name Elboron.”
“Oh, I’m wounded here.” Theo fell back, clutching his heart.
Ivy smiled and got up off the bed. She pulled Theo up after her. “Come with me. I’ll bake you a pastry I learned how to make in Gondor.”
“You’re my favorite sister, you know.”
Ivy rolled her eyes. “I’m your only sister.”
Theo gave her a cheeky grin. “Not my fault.”
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.