76. Chapter 75 - August 1436
I’m afraid I may be to blame for Ivy’s actions. I spoke to her friends after receiving your letter and learned Ivy has had some feelings for Pippin for a while now. I believe Ivy actually spoke to me about it once, but I thought she was talking about a boy here in Gondor. She wondered if she had an infatuation or real love and I told her that real love is based on friendship. I think this may have led her to do what she did. She believes she loves Pippin. It may actually be real love. You are going to have to let her figure this out for herself.
He crushed the letter in his hand. Let her figure it out for herself! That’s what Estella told him, too. How could they be so casual about this? Ivy was just a girl and they both tell him to let her figure it out on her own? How could they do it? How could they stand back and watch Ivy make mistakes like this? And how was it that two women who had never met, who seemed so different, could end up telling him the same thing? He pinched the bridge of his nose. Well, maybe they weren’t so different. He was sure they’d both find it quite funny that he felt they were ganging up on him. He smoothed the paper out again.
As far as what she and Pippin have done--again I think I am to blame. I think I may have romanticized what happened between us. I have always tried to impress on her that the circumstances of her conception were not dishonorable, that she wasn’t a mistake. I told her that we gave each other comfort and strength during a difficult time. She is going through a difficult time now, and I think she was looking for that with Pippin.
He leaned back in his chair, staring off towards the books that lined his wall. Éowyn’s words hurt more than he wanted to admit. Romanticized and mistake leapt at him from the page. It had only been comfort for Éowyn, nothing more. But it had meant more to him than just ‘comfort’; he had fallen in love with her. And now he had Ivy’s angry words: “Just because my mother didn’t love you enough doesn’t mean I don’t love Pippin.” And he had to wonder at his anger at Ivy and Pippin. Was it that? Was it fear that Pippin didn’t love Ivy enough and she would get hurt? An unwanted thought niggled at his brain--was he afraid Ivy didn’t love Pippin enough and his friend would be hurt, like Éowyn had hurt him?
Estella had told him that she’d talked to Pippin at Pippin’s birthday party. Pippin told Estella he loved Ivy. Merry had scoffed at the idea, but Estella seemed quite sure that Pippin’s love was real. Fine. Maybe they really were in love. But it still didn’t change the fact that Pippin was older. And married. He was right on this. It would be better in the end if Ivy just found someone else. He looked back at the letter.
I’m sorry, Merry. I feel I’ve failed our daughter, and you, and I hope you can forgive me.
Merry tossed the letter onto his desk. Forgive her? Éowyn had, when it came right down to it, encouraged Ivy to do this, to seek comfort from Pippin. But she hadn’t failed their daughter. She’d only listened to Ivy and tried to help her the best she could. It was he who had failed their daughter. He had spent all of Ivy’s life denying she was different, making her play with cousins she wasn’t comfortable with, not listening when she said she was being teased. He had let her become so attached to Pippin, ‘her best friend’ Ivy called him, when he should have seen... What? Was there something to see then? No. As angry as he was at Pippin, he knew without any doubt that Pippin wasn’t lying about that. There had never been anything improper between Ivy and him, nothing different than Pippin and him tagging along after Frodo. Except Ivy grew up and fell in love with her favorite cousin. And Pippin fell in love with her.
Merry got up and went to the window, looking out over the garden. The plants were wilted in the August heat and they reminded him of Ivy and Pippin now, wilting in their own misery. But together... Other images came to mind. Laughter in front of a fire. The two of them pressed together on that pony--flushed and tense. Ivy watching Pippin across the room, Pippin holding her in the stable...
Merry slapped his hand against the wall and leaned his forehead against the glass of the window. When had he lost control of everything? His little girl had come home from Gondor a headstrong young woman, his best friend had done things he wasn’t sure he could forgive him for, Estella and Éowyn were ganging up on him... He didn’t know what to do anymore.
Ivy looked up from grooming Star when Theo led his pony into the stable. “Where have you been?” she asked. He was supposed to have been back days ago from Bag End.
“Ivy. I was visiting Bag End.” Theo spoke to her like one would talk to a very small child. “Remember? We said good-bye before I left?”
Ivy rolled her eyes at him. “I know that, orc brains. But you were supposed to be back days ago.”
Theo shrugged and patted the pony’s leg. “Narsil came up lame, so I stopped at the Smials to give him a rest.” He started unbuckling the saddle. “He got a nasty stone in his foot.”
“Oh.” Ivy eyed the pony’s leg. “You should have Dad look at it.”
“It’s fine,” he said, never looking up from his work.
“Uncle Pippin asked about you.” He flashed her a cheeky grin. “I told him you were pining away for him, driving us all mad.”
Ivy went cold. “You didn’t! Theoden! How could you?”
Theo snorted. “Really, Ivy! Do you really think I would do that?” He put the saddle on its hook. “I did tell him the ‘driving us mad’ part, that you were your usual bossy self.” He snorted. “He thought that was funny.”
Ivy shook her head at him, scowling, and went back to grooming Star, working out the tangles of her mane. “You’re a brat, you know that?”
Theo picked up a brush and started working the road dust from Narsil’s coat. “It’s my job. What fun would it be to be a bossy older sister if you didn’t have a bratty little brother?”
She snorted. “Eomer’s not bratty.”
“Eomer is a Bolger. He’s boring. If it wasn’t for me, he’d... Well, he’d do incredibly boring things all day. I, however, am pure Brandybuck, which means I have a long tradition of troublemaking to uphold.” He grinned. “It’s inevitable, really, especially since I even have a little Took cousin to help me.”
Ivy glared at him. “What did you and Fari do?”
Theo shook his head. “I’m not saying anything.” Then he looked up, a twinkle in his eye. “But I’m sure you’ll hear all about it from Elanor.”
Ivy had to bite her lip to keep from smiling. Theo and Fari did seem to come up with some pretty funny pranks. But she’d never let Theo know she thought so. “Sam and Rosie aren’t going to let you two stay at Bag End anymore,” she scolded.
“Ha! Uncle Sam loves us.” He ducked under Narsil’s head, to come around to work on the pony’s other side. “He said we make him nostalgic. Merry and Pippin all over again.”
“I see you’ve managed to drive Uncle Sam mad.”
Theo laughed. “He’s not the only one. Old Mrs. Bracegirdle called us Merry and Pippin when she yelled at us for...never mind.”
Ivy shook her head. “You’re incredibly nosy and a troublemaker. It’ll be a wonder if the Shire survives you.”
“I’m sure you’ll learn to appreciate me someday.” He winked at her.
“I doubt that!” Ivy scoffed, trying hard not to smile at him. She did appreciate her brother very much, for all he’d done for her these past few years. But he didn’t need to know that.
“We’ll see,” Theo said. He grinned at her, just a little smugly, and led his pony out to the paddock.
Ivy watched him go, frowning. What was that about? She shrugged and turned back to brushing Star. Just Theo being Theo.
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.