79. Chapter 78 - November 1436
“Some of the guests for my birthday have arrived a little early,” she said cheerfully, “but I think one of them--a young lady--is more interested in seeing you.”
Pippin couldn’t help the broad smile that took over his face. He got up from his desk and hurried to the door.
Nel chuckled and took his hand. “You should see yourself, little brother,” she said, grinning up at him. She squeezed his hand. “I never thought I’d see you this happy ever again.” She kissed his hand and Pippin saw the tears in her eyes.
“I never thought I could be this happy,” Pippin said softly.
“Well,” said Nel, patting his hand, then slipping her arm through his. “Let’s get you down to your parlor and you’ll be even happier!”
Pippin probably would have raced through the hallway, making a fool of himself, if Nel hadn’t been there holding his arm. They finally made it to the parlor and he stepped inside, barely managing a hello to Merry before a soft, warm shape flung herself into his arms. He held her tight, burrowing his nose into golden hair that smelled faintly of roses, and he was suddenly on fire with need for her. Her hands clutched at his back and she turned her head, her breath warm across his cheek, to kiss him. The kiss started sweetly, gently, but something inside wanted more and he let his tongue brush against her lips. Her breath hitched a little, but she didn’t hesitate to open her mouth to him. But before it could go any further, an annoyed cough startled them and Pippin stepped back, pulling away from her, suddenly remembering they weren’t alone here.
He sheepishly looked over at the three pairs of eyes watching them. Nel was a bit wide-eyed; she’d never seen them together like this before, in private where they could freely express their feelings. Estella was smiling, her eyes twinkling with amusement. Her lips were pressed tight, obviously trying to keep her laughter at bay. Merry was frowning.
“Sorry,” Pippin mumbled.
Ivy huffed and took his hand, then turned to her dad. “We haven’t seen each other in three weeks!” she said.
“That doesn’t mean you have to...” Merry waved his hands at them.
“They weren’t doing anything, Merry,” Estella chuckled. She nudged her husband’s arm. “Nothing more than we ever did.”
“They certainly looked like they were heading that way,” Merry mumbled.
Pippin gave him an apologetic smile. Not that it would help
Estella just shook her head at Merry and turned to Nel. “Do you need any help to get ready for tomorrow, Nel?” she asked. “You can put Ivy and me to work.” Estella gave Nel a pointed look.
“N--” Nel stopped, cocked her head slightly at Estella, then nodded. “Yes! Yes, you two come with me, I’m sure we’ve got lots to do.”
“Estella!” Ivy protested.
“You can see Pippin later. I think your father would like a visit with him.”
Ivy sighed, then stepped close to Pippin. “I will see you later,” she said softly. She gave him a quick kiss and followed Estella and Nel out the door, throwing him a coy smile over her shoulder as she left.
Pippin made a small noise in his throat. He didn’t know how he was going to survive. He’d gone seven bloody years without sex, with very little problem, but now it was all he could think about. And when he wasn’t thinking about it, he could be sure certain parts of his body would soon remind him. And it was all Ivy’s fault.
A poke in the arm jarred him from his thoughts. “How about a walk down to the stables,” Merry asked. “You look like you need to cool off.” He headed towards the door.
Pippin furrowed his brow as he watched Merry leave. He could swear he saw just a hint of amusement in Merry’s eyes.
Ivy settled herself in a chair at the edge of the party, preparing for another evening of watching Pippin dance with others. Only one more month, she kept reminding herself. Just one more month and they could drop the pretenses.
She saw Pippin come in, talking with her father, and she got that fluttery, warm feeling in her body. She had missed him so much and even more than the wait for her birthday, she hated the wait for other things, for a possible future when perhaps they would no longer be apart. She sometimes allowed herself that dream, that someday she would be his wife. Then he could kiss her--and whatever else he wanted to do--anytime he wanted. He hadn’t kissed her again since yesterday, not even when they were alone. She guessed her dad had talked to him about that. She frowned. She understood her dad, now, but he could still be frustrating. It’s not like they were going to do anything right there on the parlor floor! Ivy squeezed her eyes shut and covered her suddenly burning cheeks with her hands. She really shouldn’t think about those things out in public.
She got up to get herself a drink, both to cool herself down a little and to avoid watching Pippin dancing with one of the girls who had flocked over near him as soon as he’d come into the room. She still hated that, though they’d talked about that last night. He’d insisted he really didn’t enjoy it, but she had her doubts about that. What lad didn’t enjoy having lasses swooning around him?
She did her best to avoid the dancers, volunteering to help Pearl and Vinca with the party. But soon all the food was set out and even the servants had stopped working to join in the fun. Ivy sighed. Perhaps she’d go visit Elanor. She was taking turns with Rose watching their younger siblings in the nursery.
She jumped when a hand grabbed her arm and she turned to look into brilliant green eyes.
“I’ve been looking all over for you,” Pippin said, leaning close to her ear.
Ivy’s knees felt weak as she was suddenly overwhelmed by his scent and heat. She swallowed. “I was helping your sisters with the party,” she said softly, her voice a little shaky.
He chuckled. “That’s not your job yet,” he said, raising an eyebrow at her. “Now you are a guest, so you should be having fun.” He held out his hand. “Would the lady like to dance?” he asked.
She gasped. “Are you sure you should?” she whispered back.
“It would seem a bit strange if I’m suddenly courting you without ever having a dance, Ivy.”
She stared at his proffered hand, suddenly nervous. “But what about Dad?”
“He’s fine. I’ve already asked him.” He pouted, which probably would have been more effective if he hadn’t also been smiling. “Unless you don’t want to dance with me?”
Ivy gave him a slight roll of her eyes and slipped her hand into his. He grinned and pulled her out on the floor.
Ivy saw a group of girls throwing her dirty looks. There was quite a competition going on for Pippin’s affections and she wasn’t part of their group, the theory being that if he married one of their own they all were guaranteed to at least be ‘good friend of the Thain’s wife’. One of them, one of Pippin’s Took cousins who had just came of age last year, was rumored to be the most likely match for him. Ivy wondered if she should feel sorry for the poor girl. The girl scowled at her. Ivy smiled smugly to herself. No, she wouldn’t feel sorry for her at all.
Pippin turned to face her and Ivy was suddenly reminded of another dance, months ago. It was what had started this whole thing, really. But this time Pippin was sober and happy and he was tugging her just a little closer than proper. She wanted to forget about the dance and just tuck herself into his embrace, but she made herself keep the (mostly) proper distance until the song ended and Pippin led her back to the edge of the floor. He gently kissed her hand. “I’ll be back soon,” he whispered.
She watched as he went over to the crowd of girls, and the happiness she had felt during their dance suddenly sank like a stone in the Brandywine. She tried to quell her jealousy as the girls started primping and preening for the Thain. But then Pippin swerved and walked right past them, grabbing Rosie Gamgee’s hand and pulling her out on the floor. Ivy clapped her hands over her sudden giggles. Oh, Pippin, that’s mean! she thought gleefully. She saw Rosie trying not to laugh as she looked sternly at Pippin and said something. She must have noticed what he had done as well.
Pippin danced with Estella next and the whole time they danced they were in whispered conversation. Then he came back to her.
“My lady?” he asked and she took his hand again. This time he pulled her even closer during the dance and became bolder with his hands. When the dance ended, he held onto her hand and they stood together to watch an energetic reel.
Ivy looked around and spotted her ‘competition’. “They don’t look too happy.” she said, nodding towards the girls.
Pippin gave them the barest glance and shrugged. “They’ll have to get used to it, won’t they?” he said. He squeezed her hand.
Ivy felt her heart swell at his words and she laughed, suddenly too happy to keep it in. “That was really mean what you did earlier, by the way.”
Pippin thought for a moment, then he grinned. “Oh, yes.” He snorted. “Well, people shouldn’t try to pick out my wife for me. We both know how that turns out.” He winked at her.
Ivy smiled at him. She was glad he wasn’t too bitter about that.
He asked her out for another dance. And another. And another. All the rest of his dances seemed to be for her that night.
“You’re not going to dance with your other lasses?” Ivy asked him at one point.
Pippin shrugged. “The Mistress of Brandy Hall seems to think I should spend some time with her stepdaughter.” He shook his head and gave an exaggerated sigh. “Personally, I think she’s trying to play matchmaker.” Then he smiled at her and leaned in close to her ear. “And I think she’s succeeding.”
“Is she?” Ivy asked, fighting her own smile. “Are you sure you’d want to be saddled with a Brandybuck?”
Pippin laughed and pulled her out for another dance.
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.