74. Chapter 73 - June 1436
Ivy stared at the skirt gripped in her fist, at the spot of red on the grey fibers. She’d gotten her monthly, right on time. And she wasn’t sure how to feel about it.
She was relieved she wasn’t pregnant. She was relieved that she wouldn’t have to tell her dad she was pregnant. She was relieved that she wouldn’t have to tell Pippin she’d just made his life so much more difficult. She was relieved that she wouldn’t have to figure out how to deal with having a baby whose paternity would have to be kept secret. She was relieved about all those things, but she couldn’t help think about the little baby with bright green eyes that only existed in her dreams now.
She lay her hand over her belly, a gesture that had become second nature this past month. She’d wondered and imagined what it would be like, having a baby growing inside her, being as happy as Kel as she grew bigger and bigger until the day the baby was born and in her arms. And she’d imagined things were different, that Diamond was gone and Pippin was free of his unhappy marriage. She’d imagined that he’d married her and they were together, a family with her and Pippin and Fari and the baby. And maybe the baby would have convinced her dad to forgive them, and she’d have her dad back, too.
She dropped the skirt on the floor and collapsed onto her bed, sobbing. She shouldn’t be feeling like this! She should be nothing but happy she wasn’t pregnant, because in reality Diamond wasn’t going anywhere and Pippin could never acknowledge the child. She didn’t know how Pippin would feel about it anyway. She didn’t even know how he felt about her. And her dad would have been so angry with her...
“Ivy! Whatever is the matter?” Estella shut the door and came in to sit next to her on the bed. She put a comforting arm over Ivy’s shoulders. “Tell me what’s wrong?”
Ivy turned her sobs into the pillow. She thought about telling Estella she was fine, that it was nothing, but it wasn’t nothing and Estella would know that. And she wanted to tell someone her misery, so that someone else would know she was hurt. And there was no one except Estella she could tell. She rolled over on her back and wiped the tears from her eyes. “I got my monthly,” she whispered. “I’m not pregnant.”
Estella sighed in relief, pausing for a moment to catch her breath. But when she looked up at Ivy, there was only concern on her face. “Oh, love,” Estella said and she leaned over and hugged Ivy. “I know you’re disappointed. But you know it’s for the best?”
The tears came again, tears of relief that Estella understood. Estella always understood. “I’m sorry,” Ivy said, her voice trembling. “I know I’m supposed to be happy.” She sniffled. “I am happy, mostly. But...” She swallowed against the sudden lump in her throat.
“Ivy,” Estella said softly. She brushed strands of hair, wet with tears, from Ivy’s face.
“I just... I want...” Ivy sniffled and Estella drew back and pulled a handkerchief from her skirt pocket.
“Just take your time,” Estella said, handing her the handkerchief. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Ivy nodded and looked down at the handkerchief clenched in her hand. “I thought a baby might fix things. With Dad. With Pippin...” Her voice trailed off. Now that she’d said it out loud, it sounded ridiculous that she’d ever thought a baby could fix things. She’d have only brought more trouble for Pippin. “It’s stupid, I know.”
Estella shook her head. “You’re not the first lass to have had the idea,” Estella said. “I’ve delivered a good many babies less than nine months after the wedding.”
Ivy shrugged. “I wouldn’t have had to worry about a wedding,” she mumbled. “He’s married. And...” She wiped at the tears on her cheek with the handkerchief. It was so hard to say the words. “I don’t even know if he likes me,” she said softly. “What if I’ve ruined everything? What if he doesn’t even want to be my friend anymore?” She sighed and it came out as a whimper. “I don’t know if I could bear that, Estella.”
Estella gently stroked Ivy’s hair. “You really do love him, don’t you?”
Ivy clenched her fists tight, squeezing her eyes shut to keep the tears at bay. “Yes! Haven’t I been saying that?” she asked, her voice edged with anger. She thought Estella believed her!
“I know, Ivy. But...” Estella patted her shoulder. “Lots of lasses think they are in love. And some of them are having babies soon after the wedding. And they’re not getting what they hoped for. Look at me, Ivy.”
Ivy opened her eyes and looked up at Estella.
Estella’s brown eyes were concerned, maybe a little sad. “That’s what your father worries about. He doesn’t want you to get hurt.”
Ivy rolled away from Estella, facing away from her. Why did she have to bring up her father? They’d hardly spoken since the argument, no matter what Estella tried. The most her father had said to her was telling her she couldn’t go to Tuckborough for Pippin’s birthday party. She’d been angry at that, that he wouldn’t trust her. “Well, he doesn’t have to worry about that anymore,” she snapped. “There won’t be any other lads and there won’t be any babies.”
Estella put her hand on Ivy’s back. “Don’t say that, Ivy,” Estella pleaded.
“It’s true, though,” she said bitterly. “No one else would want me.” She sniffled into the handkerchief. “I just lost my only chance to ever have a baby.”
“I really wanted to be a mum, Estella.” She dissolved into tears, the hurt too great to bear.
Estella didn’t say anything, just rubbed her back to comfort her. Ivy was glad. She didn’t want to hear Estella tell her she was wrong, because they both knew that she wasn’t.
“I wish I could fix this for you,” Estella said softly when Ivy’s tears had ceased.
Ivy nodded. “I know.” She sat up and turned to hug Estella. “I’ll be fine, Estella. Thank you.” She sighed into Estella’s comforting shoulder.
Estella patted her back and pulled away to look at her. “I’ll talk to Pippin at his birthday party. Let him know there won’t be a baby to worry about.”
Ivy bit her lip and bowed her head. “I didn’t tell him.” She glanced up at Estella.
“What?” Estella frowned at her.
She heaved a sigh. “I didn’t tell him, Estella. I didn’t want to burden him.”
“Ivy! It should have been half his burden! You don’t make babies by yourself! You should have--” Estella shook her head and threw up her hands. “Nevermind! What’s done is done and there’s nothing to worry over anymore.” She put a hand on Ivy’s shoulder. “You’re sure you’ll be all right?”
Ivy nodded. “It’s just... I’d been expecting to be...” She shrugged.
“I know, love. I know.” Estella kissed her brow, then stood up. “You come to me if you ever need to talk about it, all right?”
Ivy nodded again. “Thanks, Estella. For everything.” She meant it, too. She didn’t know what she’d do without Estella.
Estella turned at the sound of the door. Pippin stood in the doorway, looking a bit surprised. Behind him, his sister Pimpernel gave him a shove into the room. “I’ll leave you two to talk, then,” she said. She winked at Estella and closed the door.
Estella was grateful that Pippin had let his sisters in on what had happened. Nel had offered her parlor for this private chat, away from the crowds of Pippin’s birthday party.
Pippin stood at the door, eyes on his feet. “I’m surprised you’d want to talk to me,” he said. He sounded miserable.
“I think we have a lot to talk about,” said Estella. She sat down on the little couch near the window and patted the cushion next to her. “Care to join me?”
Pippin shuffled over to sit with her, still not meeting her eyes. He slumped into his seat. “Are you going to yell at me, too? Because Merry’s already done a good job of it. I know I was wrong, Estella, and if I could change it I would. I’m sorry, I...”
“Pippin!” Estella cut off his rambling apology and he cringed, obviously expecting to get an earful from her. But she wasn’t here to scold him. “Tell me how you feel about Ivy.”
Pippin stared at his hands in his lap. “She’s a wonderful lass and any lad would be lucky to have her.” He made an effort to sound calm, but his nervously clenching hands betrayed him.
“Pippin.” Estella leaned over, her hand stilling his. “Look me in the eye and tell me the truth.”
Pippin took a deep breath and looked at her. He opened his mouth to say something, then closed it again. He closed his eyes and sighed. “I think I love her.”
Estella sat back. “You think you love her? You’re not sure?”
“I don’t know!” Pippin leaned back, staring at the ceiling. “I mean, I’m pretty sure I love her. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. You know how I always wanted to find the perfect lass? Well it’s her, Estella, I’m certain of that. She’s...I’ve never felt like...” He pressed the heels of his palms into his eyes. “It doesn’t matter how I feel.” He dropped his hands into his lap and looked at Estella. “I don’t want to hurt her, Estella. I don’t want to get her hopes up, like that boy did. Because as it stands right now, she could be the love of my life and there’s nothing I can do about it.” He looked down at his hands. “And I don’t want to close her heart to any other lads,” he said softly.
Estella took his hand. “Oh, Pip. You two have gotten yourselves into a mess, haven’t you?”
“You’re not angry with me?”
“No, I’m not angry with you. You did make a mistake, the both of you, but...I understand the circumstances.” She squeezed his hand.
He relaxed then, sinking back into the couch. “I asked Diamond for the divorce again. I offered her a tidy sum to agree to it and she still refused. I guess the one thing ol’ Sancho can’t give her is the status of being the wife of the Thain.” He sighed. “I can’t even get to her on that. Nobody can catch them at it and, believe me, we’ve tried. They’re very careful. And I don’t want to push her too hard about a divorce. Whenever I bring it up, she makes noise about sending Fari to Long Cleeve to ‘get to know his cousins better’.” He snorted. “Get brainwashed on what a horrible hobbit Peregrin Took is, more likely.”
“I’m sorry, Pippin.”
Pippin shrugged. “Fari’s the most important thing to me and I’ll do anything to keep him safe, even if it means putting up with Diamond.” He sighed again. “Fari’s been staying at Bag End. I miss him, but he doesn’t need to be around this. Not only with Diamond, but now I’m not getting along with Merry...” He stopped, squeezing his eyes shut to stop the tears. Estella embraced him.
“I’m sorry he’s being a stubborn ass about this, Pip. I’ll keep on him, but you know how he can be.” Pippin nodded into her shoulder, then straightened. He pulled out his handkerchief to blow his nose.
“How... how is Ivy doing?”
“She’s doing all right,” Estella said. She pursed her lips and made a quick decision. Now that she’d heard it from him, Pippin needed to know. “She loves you, Pippin.”
Pippin drew in a sharp breath and closed his eyes, then nodded. “I know,” he said, his voice barely above a whisper. “I wish...” He shook his head and looked at Estella. “I worry about her,” Pippin said. “She is still young, no matter what she thinks. I worry that I’ve hurt her even more.”
“Well, I don’t think it’s you that her hurts are coming from. She and Merry... Well, it’s not good between them right now.” Estella was prepared to put up with more angry silences, especially after Merry refused to let Ivy come today. They refused to listen to each other. She didn’t know who was more stubborn, father or daughter. She was about ready to lock them in a cupboard together, to force them to deal with each other.
“I wish I could talk to her... I wish he’d listen to me...” Pippin clenched his hands in frustration. “I’ve really messed things up, haven’t I?”
“That, what’s between them, is not really about you, Pip. It’s about Merry not wanting his little girl to grow up and Ivy wanting to grow up too fast.”
Pippin sighed and hunched over, head in hands. “I still feel like it’s my fault.”
Estella rubbed his back. “Pippin, you know you were in no condition to make reasonable decisions that night.” Estella gave a little cough. “And would I be wrong in guessing that Ivy was fairly persistent?”
Pippin blushed. “She’s quite persuasive,” he mumbled.
Estella nodded. When Ivy set her mind to something... “Thought so. So quit blaming yourself.” Estella patted his knee and stood up. “I will keep working on convincing my stubborn husband to come to his senses, and your job is to take care of yourself and figure out how to get rid of that wife of yours.” And maybe, just maybe, things would work out for everyone.
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.