77. Chapter 76 - September 1436
Merry looked up from his writing when Pippin’s voice shouted for him in the entrance of Brandy Hall. Merry went to the door of his study and was suddenly tackled in a tight embrace by Pippin. Pippin was laughing.
Merry pushed him off. It had been well over a month since the confrontation in the stable and his making up with Ivy, but he was still angry with Pippin. “What’s this about?” he asked, trying to be stern, but there was something deep inside that wanted to smile at Pippin’s exuberance.
“She got caught, Merry!” Pippin cried, a grin on his face.
“Diamond! Someone found out when and where their next tryst was going to be and sent a letter to Reg. Reg got some witnesses together and caught her and Sancho out at the Proudfoot’s summer cottage.” Pippin laughed. “Certainly surprised them! There was no question as to what they were getting up to out there!” He caught up Merry’s hands in his own, nearly dancing with joy. “The witnesses all gave their statements to Sam and he’s drawn up the papers. I’m divorced! I’m rid of her! She left for Long Cleeve this morning. Diamond’s gone!”
Merry laughed, too, momentarily forgetting his anger at Pippin, relieved to see him so happy. “Oh, Pip, that’s wonderful!” He pulled Pippin into an embrace.
“What is going on?”
Merry turned to Estella. She was standing in the doorway, Ivy behind her.
“Diamond and Sancho got caught,” said Pippin, pulling away from Merry. “I’m divorced!”
The two women stared at him in surprise. Then Estella rushed over and hugged him. “How? But...? Pippin! That’s wonderful!” She kissed his cheek before letting him go.
Ivy followed Estella in, but stopped a few feet away from Pippin. “I’m happy for you, Pippin,” she said softly. She glanced at Merry, then turned to leave.
“Wait!” Pippin called out. Ivy stopped and turned around. Pippin faced Merry. “Master Brandybuck, I request permission to court your daughter.”
Merry’s breath went out of him and his anger returned. He turned his back on Pippin and heard a choked sob from Ivy. He hated to hurt her, but how could he allow this? Pippin was so much older, and she was so young. Why couldn’t she just find a nice lad... Merry sighed. Estella and Éowyn were both right and he just refused to see it. Ivy was trapped between worlds. Not quite a hobbit and not quite one of the Big Folk, never quite fitting in. But Pippin didn’t care that her mother was one of the Big Folk. Pippin didn’t think her furry hobbit feet ugly. He also knew that Pippin was loving and loyal and would never do anything to hurt her. And Ivy loved him.
He turned back. Ivy was weeping, bent over into Estella’s embrace. They were sure he’d refuse. Pippin was trying to stand tall and brave, waiting for Merry’s reply, but he could see the joy at his divorce had fled and the sadness had returned to Pippin’s eyes.
Merry took a deep breath and, with a glance at his weeping daughter, made his decision. “So what do you have to offer my daughter?” he asked, turning his gaze onto Pippin. He heard a gasp, didn’t know if it was Estella or Ivy. Pippin’s mouth opened in shock. He must have expected a refusal as well, but had risked asking anyway. Because he loved Ivy.
Pippin took a deep breath, composing himself. “I am Thain of the Shire,” he said. “And a Knight of Gondor.” His mouth twitched to a smile. “I’ve also recently been named a counselor to the King.” He walked up to Merry and looked him in the eye. “But the greatest thing I can offer your daughter is my love.”
Merry studied Pippin. There was only truth in his eyes. He nodded. “I will require you have a chaperone, for a while at least. I’ve heard you’ve always been a bit of a troublemaker, Peregrin Took.” Merry tried really hard to keep from smiling, but it was hard when he saw the grin on Pippin’s face. “And given your current situation, I think you should wait a while, a few months at least, before officially calling on my daughter.”
“Of course,” said Pippin, his face lit with happiness now.
Merry turned to Ivy, following the formalities. She was watching him, wide-eyed, hands over her mouth. “Ivy, are you agreeable to the Thain courting you?”
Ivy burst into tears and ran to him, throwing her arms around him. He hugged her tightly as she sobbed on his shoulder. He looked at Pippin. “I think that’s a yes, Mister Took,” he said.
He hugged Ivy tight, suddenly realizing that this was the first step to letting her go. If things worked out, she’d leave him. No longer the Master’s daughter, but the Thain’s wife.
“I love you, Dad,” she whispered and he released her.
He took her hands and looked in her teary face, glowing with happiness, and smiled at her. “I love you, Ivy-lass.” He kissed her cheek, then let go of her hands.
She turned to Pippin and moved into his embrace. Merry felt that little pang of loss again. Pippin looked at Merry over Ivy’s shoulder. “Thank you,” he said.
Merry nodded and went over to his wife. He glanced back at Pippin and Ivy. Pippin held her tight, Ivy’s face buried in his neck. Merry turned back to Estella and sighed. He hoped he’d made the right decision.
Estella pulled him down for a kiss. “I’m proud of you,” she whispered. She took his hand and led him out of the room.
Ivy heard the door close behind her and raised her head from Pippin’s shoulder. Her dad and Estella had left them alone in the study. She shivered and held on tight to Pippin, laying her cheek back against the rough wool of his coat. She didn’t want to move, because she suddenly felt shy about looking at him.
Pippin swept a hand down her back, smoothing over her hair, and turned his head slightly towards her. “Ivy?” he asked softly, his breath warm on her ear.
Ivy made a strangled noise in her throat and squeezed her arms tighter around him. She was overwhelmed by this sudden change in her life. She’d gotten up this morning with a painful hole still in her heart, and now she was standing here in Pippin’s arms with her father’s blessing.
He pulled away from her and brought his hand up to touch her cheek, to turn her head to face him. She looked into his eyes and gasped. She couldn’t remember ever seeing his eyes like this, so bright that the green fairly glowed. They had always been tinged with sadness, even when he was laughing, but now there was nothing but joy and love. And it was directed at her. She choked on a sob, her hands flying to her mouth.
“Ivy, come sit,” Pippin said, taking her arm. He led her over to a couch and sat next to her, holding her hand. “Are you all right?” he asked, rubbing his fingers lightly over the back of her hand.
She nodded, but when she tried to speak it only came out as a sob again.
“Ivy, if you’ve changed your mind, I understand. I don’t want you to accept the courtship if--”
“No!” she gasped. “I want you!” She grabbed at his hands, desperate. “I love you!”
He smiled at her and brought her hands up to gently kiss them. Then he looked in her eyes. “I love you, too.”
She gasped. “I always wondered... I waited so long...” She dissolved into tears, no longer able to hold it back. He loved her.
“Oh, love,” he murmured and pulled her close again. She just clung to him and wept. “I’m sorry I couldn’t say it before, but I had to wait. I had to wait until Diamond was dealt with and I had permission from your father.”
“I know,” she whimpered. “I know.” She didn’t care. It didn’t matter anymore. He loved her.
“Ivy?” he murmured. She turned her head to look at him and it brought their faces close together, their breath mingling. Then Pippin closed the small distance and pressed his lips to hers.
It was unlike any kiss she’d ever had, nothing like Derwyn’s impatient kisses or the desperate kisses of the spring. This kiss was sweet and gentle and it made Ivy want to sob with happiness.
He pulled away and rested his forehead against her. “I’m going to do this right, Ivy,” he said softly. “We’re going to start over from the beginning and you’re going to get a proper courtship, even if it means we can only hold hands the first few months.”
She just gaped at him. Just hold hands? “No,” she said, with a little shake of her head. She leaned in and kissed him, much bolder than his kiss for her. When they broke apart, they were both breathing a little hard.
He grinned and chuckled. “All right,” he said, still breathleass. “I suppose I can steal a few kisses.”
Ivy grinned back. “More than a few,” she said, and kissed him again.
Ivy found her brother curled up in a chair in his room, reading a book. Her dad wanted to speak with Pippin alone--to try to work things out between them--and she had some business of her own to take care of.
“Theo?” She stepped into the room and closed his door.
“Hmm?” He didn’t even look up at her. Brat.
She walked over to his chair and looked down at him. “How’s Narsil’s foot?”
“There’s nothing wrong with Narsil’s foot.” He looked up at her with the slightest hint of panic, but it was quickly replaced by his usual cheeky smile. “I mean, it’s completely better now. Amazing. Must be the mearas blood.” He turned back to his book.
“Mmm.” Ivy nudged his leg. “I checked his foot that day. There wasn’t any sign of an injury. You just said he was lame as an excuse to stay at the Smials.”
“Now why would I want to do that? Fari was still at Bag End and the Smials is a pretty boring place without Fari. I don’t know how I made it through those days without dying of boredom.”
She smiled. “Oh, I think you found a way to amuse yourself.”
Theo raised his eyebrows at her. “And what was that?”
Ivy was grinning now. She couldn’t help it. “It was you, wasn’t it? You sent the letter about Diamond and Sancho to Reg Took.”
Theo tried to look surprised and nearly succeeded. It was the hint of a grin that gave it away. “What? Me?” he protested. “I’d do no such thing! Why, that would involve sneaking about and finding out things that are most certainly none of my business.” He turned back to his book. “Besides, I wouldn’t be a very good bratty little brother if I did something like that. What would the other lads think, if I did something nice for my sister?”
“Right.” Ivy rolled her eyes. “Theo?” she asked.
“Hmm...Ugh! Ivy!” Theo tried to wriggle away from her, away from the kiss she was planting on his cheek.
She pulled back and grinned at him. “You’re definitely my favorite brother!”
Theo shrugged and wiped at his cheek. Then he gave her that exasperating, cheeky grin. “I know.”
“Well.” Merry handed Pippin the glass of wine.
“Well,” Pippin replied. He sighed and stared into his glass.
Merry picked up his own glass and sat next to him on the couch. They sat in silence for a while, sipping their wine and trying their best not to look at each other. Merry had insisted on this little talk, to ‘clear the air’, but now he didn’t know what to say. He never could have imagined talking to Pippin could be this...awkward. Might as well start with an apology of sorts. “I said a lot of nasty things,” Merry finally said.”A lot of things you didn’t deserve. I’m sorry for that. I was angry and if I didn’t lash out with words, I probably would have hit you again.”
“I’m glad you didn’t hit me again.” Pippin glanced over at Merry and they exchanged embarrassed smiles. Pippin sighed. “I deserved to be hit, though. The first time.”
Merry shrugged. “Maybe.” He flexed his now-mended fingers that he’d broken on Pippin’s jaw. “I know it wasn’t all your fault, Pippin. Ivy and Estella both have been trying to tell me that for months and I just didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t want to believe it was Ivy who initiated...” He couldn’t finish the sentence. His cheeks warmed and he took a swig of wine.
Pippin blushed, too, probably from memories that Merry didn’t want to know about. “I do love her, Merry,” he said, keeping his eyes on his glass.
“I know, Pippin,” Merry said softly. “I think I’ve known it all along. But...” He swirled the dregs of the wine in his glass. “It’s still hard for me to understand, how you can love her like that.”
Pippin gave a heavy sigh. “It was hard for me, too. I didn’t expect it, Merry. It was out of the blue. I just saw her that day and...” He closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths. “I’ve never felt like that about anyone. And then I spent the evening talking with her and I knew. She was perfect, Merry. Exactly the girl I’d been looking for. Just thirty years too young. And I tried not to think about her like that, I did...” Pippin’s voice shook. “I couldn’t get her out of my mind. And then she told me... she told me she loved me, and I couldn’t stop it, Merry. I knew it was wrong and I did it anyway. I was drunk and weak. I’m sorry.” He wiped at his tears. “I just needed her so much,” he whispered. “I still need her.”
Merry nodded slightly. He understood that need. He’d had it himself. He remembered his own courting days, when it seemed like he’d been in a near constant state of arousal thinking about Estella, thinking about what he wanted to do with Estella, how he wanted to wrap himself around her and bury his nose in her hair and just exist. That’s what Pippin wanted from Ivy. Merry coughed. He still didn’t like thinking about that, though he knew he’d have to get used to the idea now. “Well, just treat my daughter right and don’t give me a reason to hit you again,” he mumbled.
“I will, Merry. I promise. Nothing will happen. I’ll be a perfect gentlehobbit.”
Merry couldn’t stop the smile. He recalled saying those same words to Freddy. And he’d mostly lived up to them. After everything that happened, he was fairly certain Pippin would live up to them. Mostly. “There isn’t anyone I’d trust more with my daughter,” he said, turning to smile at Pippin.
Pippin’s shoulder sagged in relief. “I won’t let you down this time, Merry. I promise.”
Merry touched his shoulder. “I know, Pip.”
They went back to staring at their glasses, the awkward silence returning.
“Will it ever be like it was before between us?” Pippin asked, a little sadly. “I miss my best friend.”
“I think it will be, in time. I hope so.” Merry swallowed the sudden lump in his throat. “I miss my best friend, too.”
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.